Tag Archives: racism

The Good, the Bad, the Ferguson

America’s pretty messed up right now.

We’ve got vitriolic divisions on racial lines, political lines, ideological lines, religious/non-religious lines… We’re divided on so many fronts, I still find myself unable to pledge allegiance to the flag. Why should I? It’s not true. One nation? Sure, even if a lot of people want to secede. Under God? Well, that’s definitely questionable. Indivisible? The only way we as a country could be indivisible right now is if we’ve already divided ourselves so much that we can no longer be divided. And we seem to be nearly there. With liberty and justice for all? That statement seems almost as laughable as “indivisible,” especially in the light of the events of Ferguson, Mo.

If you have no idea what events I’m talking about, go ye forth and seek ye a friggin’ newspaper and a house that isn’t under 6 miles of rock. The problems in Ferguson are so layered and numerous and ridiculous that one would THINK, as a nation, we could finally see eye-to-eye on something with only a few freak outliers in the data. I mean, we’ve got excessive, militarized police blowing responses out of proportion. We’ve got an unarmed, non-violent (at LEAST in that moment) person WHOSE SKIN COLOR OR CRIMINAL RECORD SHOULDN’T MATTER dead without a good explanation. If he was a criminal, he was executed without due process, a Constitutional right. We’ve got the freedom of assembly and the freedom of the press getting hampered by cops, not to mention the violations of the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments. And you’d better believe that 2nd amendment wouldn’t get upheld if a Ferguson protestor legally had a gun. We’ve got proof of this sort of activity happening all over the country for YEARS without appropriate punishments. We’ve got scientific data showing a decrease in police brutality and harassment claims anywhere cameras are required to be in cop cars or on their person. We KNOW, without a doubt, that there needs to be change. Race shouldn’t even be an issue.

But, no. Nothing’s ever that simple. See, too much has happened. There have been riots and looting. Those are bad, so Michael Brown deserved it. He may or may not have stolen cigars. Therefore, he deserved it. Oh, and he’s black. Which makes a difference. Because when you’re black, if you’re not an honors student planning to attend Harvard with a spotless record, a 4.0+ GPA and have never smoked, drank, had sex, owned a gun or hung out with another person of color who is less “perfect” than you, then you’re going to be demonized. This guy says all of this much more poignantly than I can, so I suggest you read it.

I was born extremely lucky. I reached into the lotto bowls of race and gender and got white male. As a man, I will tend to get preferential treatment over women when it comes to being hired and paid. I have a far lesser fear of sexual assault and rape. As a white person, I don’t have to worry about being treated as a stereotype. I don’t worry about being frisked. If I were to commit a crime, I’m likely to spend far less time in jail than a non-white person. And if I get randomly killed by police, at least I won’t get my name dragged through the dirt postmortem.

But do you know what the worst part of this all is? Nothing will really change. People will pretend it’s an isolated incident, like Eric Garner choked to death in New York, like Rodney King in California, like Trayvon Martin in Florida, like Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, like Michael Bell in Wisconsin. It was a fluke. It wasn’t a symbol of larger problems. They weren’t perfect people, so they deserved it. They goaded the cops. For goodness sake, we’ve got a crowdfunding campaign in support of Officer Darren Wilson, the man who shot Brown, and you can see how many people are apparently GLAD the boy got shot. Because blacks kill blacks and no one complains? Because he was a thug anyway? Excuse after excuse after excuse.

Nothing will change because we allow it to stay the same. Because we choose to see people as different and lesser than the rest of us.

America is going to be one of the most disastrously failed experiments if we let this keep happening, but there’s too much pride, ego and ignorance blinding people to that fact. Hopefully, I’m wrong. Hopefully, Brown’s death will ignite a spark of change for the better. Because we desperately need it before we burn.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Racist Sandwiches – PC Gone Too Far

Okay… this news is almost a month old, but I still can’t understand how it ever happened.

This is a story about racist sandwiches. Apparently, in Portland, Ore., Principal Verenice Gutierrez of Harvey Scott K-8 School believes some sandwiches are racist. Apparently, a teacher at the school attempted to use an example of a peanut butter sandwich in class, and Gutierrez claims that is racially discriminatory.

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?,” she said. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”

Now, maybe as a white American, the whole culture of racist food is simply lost on me. Not that I ever ate PB and Js. I hate peanut butter. We never really had peanut butter in our house, come to think of it… But, okay. Maybe the PB&J is a primarily white American food. But can we really consider the use of PB&Js in the classroom as racially discriminatory? Or, frankly, discriminatory at all?

To the best of my food knowledge, there is only one specific type of food that is shared in every culture: The meatball. Every culture, to the best of my knowledge, has some form of semi-ground up meat rolled into a sphere and prepared in some type of sauce.

But using meatballs as an example would discriminate against vegetarians and vegans, right?

See where this “all metaphors and examples in the classroom must apply to every individual student” type of thinking might go too far? One could perhaps argue that I’m making a slippery slope out of things… but I’m not saying the racist sandwich is a dumb idea because it will lead to dumb things… I’m saying it’s already a dumb thing. The fact that that train of thought could easily apply to far dumber applications doesn’t matter. We’ve already reached a pretty dumb application.

Of course, this comes from Portland’s “Courageous Conversations” initiative, which states, via The Portland Tribune:

“Through intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives, the premise is that if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.

Last Wednesday, the first day of the school year for staff, for example, the first item of business for teachers at Scott School was to have a Courageous Conversation — to examine a news article and discuss the “white privilege” it conveys.”

Now, I’m not trying to make light the predominantly white, racist culture pervading America. It exists. Some people thought our having a black president meant racism was dying off in America… I think it just made it more obvious. How many other presidents have had their citizenship challenged? Constantly, and after proof was given?

And racism needs to be tackled. However, branding the use of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich in classroom examples as racist is taking the political correctness thing too far, and in the wrong direction. It continues to divide people by their race and culture when they should be explained, taught and made inclusive.

…but, ultimately, we really need to tackle the larger, more damaging issues, I think. Maybe come back to sandwiches later.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

We Need To Talk About Racism

When Senator John McCain gave his 2008 presidential concession speech, officially making Senator Barack Obama our first black president, some of the first responses I heard were those of my roommates, since we were all in the dorm at the time. Two of those roommates I went to high school with and we were all cool with one another. One voted for McCain, and had no real negative response, while the other voted for Obama, like myself. The third roommate was randomly put into our suite. He was from the woodsy, redneck part of New York (a.k.a. anything not New York City, apparently), and kind of resembled WWE wrestler and “The Real World” cast member Mike Mizanin.

His response was to curse and say he was going to grab his shotgun and go out in the streets to calm any uppity… well, I’m sure you can guess the word, but it’s a rather derogatory term for blacks that resembles an African country a bit too closely.

That was one of many reasons I really disliked that guy.

During President Obama’s time in office, there has been quite a bit of racism floating around the country. Some of the racism has been simply personal, like the allegations that Paula Deen and her brother behaved in racist ways at their restaurant. Other examples have been politically charged, often specifically targeting Obama, like a federal judge insinuating that Obama’s mother had multiracial and multispecies orgies, or the more recent bumper sticker that manages to be both racist and completely opposite of what it’s trying to say (to not renege would be to keep Obama as president).

But racism isn’t always about whites being racist toward blacks. There’s always whites putting down Latinos, too. Some of these cases have been mentioned before, like Arizona residents calling to whiten a school’s multi-ethnic mural and the school almost doing so, or Arizona and Alabama passing severe and quite possibly racially charged immigration laws. Of course, there’s more obvious racism, like Southern Mississippi band members shouting “Where’s your green card?” to Puerto Rican Kansas State basketball player Angel Rodriguez, and the more subtle racism, like GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum rather foolishly suggesting Puerto Rico needs to put more emphasis on English.

Heck, you could probably even rightfully make the claim of racially charged ideas behind attempts to pin Obama and former Harvard professor Derrick Bell as anti-American black radicals by lying about, misrepresenting or blowing out of proportion their stances and the things they’ve said.

And, truth be told, each of these stories has their own awful, disturbing flavor of disgust. The fact that racism is still so prevalent in America today is revolting and is something that should be confronted head on and destroyed the way a plague should be.

Which, of course, makes it all the more disturbing when blatant, violent racism that shows a gaping hole in the application of our judicial system goes almost silently by. I’m talking about the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

It’s very possible you’ve not heard the story, especially if you’re white. Somehow, the story has been talked about by black media personalities en masse, but the majority of the media has decided to stay mum on the issue.

The story, for those unaware, is shocking and disturbing, more so than probably any of the other aforementioned tales, which is saying something. On February 26, Martin was visiting a relative’s house in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., outside of Orlando. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain, called police to say there was someone that looked “real suspicious.” The police informed Zimmerman they would be sending some people out and told him not to pursue the boy.

Zimmerman did anyway. Martin, returning from a store with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea, was confronted by Zimmerman, who had a 9 millimeter handgun. After allegedly engaging in a physical altercation, there was shouting. Then a gun shot. When police arrived, Zimmerman was covered in blood, and Martin was on the ground with a bullet wound in his chest.

Here’s the fun part. Zimmerman, who has confessed to killing Martin, has not been charged as he claims he acted in self defense. Zimmerman’s parents are claiming their son can’t be racist because… he’s Latino.

Even worse than the “I have a black friend” defense, it’s the “I’m not white” defense.

What’s hugely disturbing about all of this is the lack of public outcry. Imagine, if you would, the victim was a young white girl. The same way Natalee Holloway, Caylee Anthony or Amanda Knox were. How much national outrage would there be? How much attention would this story get? Probably even more than some of these other stories since Zimmerman is apparently Latino and it could be labelled as a “race crime.” Just against a white person.

But when the victim is a black teenager with a bag of Skittles, the culprit doesn’t even get arrested.

Am I suggesting that injustices like the Amanda Knox story shouldn’t be discussed? No. I’m saying justice should be blind. It shouldn’t favor the young, pretty white girls. It should favor all wronged people, no matter what race or creed.

If justice is not blind, it is not justice. The scales lose their balance when weighed with color and race and sexuality and all other defining characteristics used to separate people. If the scales are tipped, how can we trust our legal system to do what’s right?

And all this is without me even talking about how heavily stacked against non-whites our justice system is via the death penalty and other prosecution, such as the severely unjust execution of Troy Davis.

The first step to fixing these problems is awareness. If people are unaware of these events, the system will stay broken. You can help spread awareness by telling people about the story, or signing and sharing petitions like the one on Change.org.

But awareness isn’t enough. We need to raise hell. We need to let those in charge know we aren’t going to simply accept this kind of behavior. That we want liberty and justice for all. That we want awareness and fairness for all.

Otherwise, America will never be able to grow and become a great nation. We will fall into disrepair as a nation wholly unable to accept all its inhabitants and treat them all as equals. And history will mock us as we truly deserve.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Arizona: The Cesspool Of Legislation

Stereotypically speaking, the Deep South is supposed to be the most bass-ackwards, Jim Crowe, stationary, anti-visionary places in America, especially when it comes to legislation. Hence my mention of Jim Crowe. We here in the South are not generally seen as legislative visionaries. It took until the 1980s for us to allow interracial marriage, and it’ll be at least the 2080s before gay marriage is even talked about in our legislation in some way other than a ban.

But, lately, Arizona has been trying to one up the South.

It was Arizona that kicked off the severe anti-immigration legislation race, making a law that was seen as hugely draconian. But apparently it was necessary for jobs. …jobs which were almost immediately harmed as people created boycotts and protests. And, of course, once the immigrants, both legal and illegal, started leaving in droves, many jobs went completely unfilled for some time.

Of course, Alabama went and tried to one-up Arizona. And our fallout may even end up being worse. There’s more examples than just that one about the play, but I found it so ridiculous that I had to put it up. Seriously, we’ve got some idiots writing laws…

But that’s not my point. While Alabama may have won the “who wants to risk their economy and stability for the sake of getting rid of illegal immigrants” race, Arizona is still far ahead in the “making stupid choices” department.

For example: A couple of years ago, there was a massive outcry against an elementary school’s mural being too ethnic, an outcry led by City Councilman Steve Blair, and the mural was apparently going to be whitened up.

And who can forget that wonderful moment earlier this year when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer apparently got all up in President Barack Obama’s face about… something silly. Disrespectful and not becoming of a state governor, that’s for sure.

Then there’s the bill passed a few weeks ago requiring every single college student, in-state or out-of-state, scholarship/free ride, poor, rich or whatever, to pay an automatic $2000 for going to school in Arizona. And Representative Michelle Ugenti supported the bill with a blunt, “Welcome to life.”

But the one that really wins it for Arizona, the one that takes the backwards idiocy out of the South and puts it firmly in their hands, is the law that would allow doctors to commit the lie of omission with their patients, particularly if the doctor feels giving the information will encourage abortion.

Bravo, Arizona. You’ve done it. You, as a state and body of legislation, have become detestable and hostile.

I mean, I can kind of see where some of this comes from. Illegal immigrants are taking jobs that could be filled by unemployed citizens looking for work. Your economy is in the crapper, so you have to get money somewhere. And you want to discourage abortion. I get it.

But, seriously. This is all massive overreacting. It’s as though you suspect people are using cork in their baseball bats, so you ban the use of any wood products in all sporting events, including toothpicks holding together that random soccer mom’s treats for her kids. That’s not constructive. That’s destructive and pointless.

Not a one of these laws has been tempered with thoughts for consequences and stink of being driven by something far more sinister than the reasons I listed in an attempt to understand what your deal is. The odor of racism and attempts to control women waft from your Congress like a stench choking the life out of your state.

With the law about omitting information from your patients, can you not see the massive amounts of abuse that could occur? The way such abuse is now legal? Can you not figure out the potential for patient death rates rising for the sake of “morality”? Or do such things not interest you?

As for the $2000 price tag for education… you do realize that many students simply can’t afford college without scholarship? Whether I’ll sink into debt like the Titanic in the ocean remains to be seen. (I’m all about these weird metaphors tonight…) But I know there are some students that simply can’t get an education without the government’s help. $2000 for some is several months of work. Maybe even years. But worse than the law is the glib, “Welcome to life” response given by Ugenti.

Ugenti. Brewer. Can you please learn to act in accordance with your office? Maybe you shouldn’t say or do things that make you look and sound like terrible people. Not to mention uninformed and uncaring.

As for the immigration laws… this goes for Alabama, too. What exactly has that law accomplished? It hasn’t created jobs. It has sent jobs away. Sent potential work away. Taken money flow away from your state. Caused a hugely bureaucratic headache. What happened to downsizing government? Or is that only for the federal government? I know that Alabama practically needs its own Department of HB 56 just to keep up with all the myriad provisions.

If you want to be a state of the union, be a state of union, not a state that chases people out until you feel comfortable.

Tagged , , , , ,

White History Month: Are We Really That Stupid?

It’s February. For those unaware, that means in America it’s Black History Month, a month during which the social and commercial contributions of American blacks are given specific attention.

This, of course, has led to white people, fueled with a grand sense of entitlement, to get all upset and ask about when White History Month is.

At which point, I groan.

See, in America, up until the Civil Rights movement, every month was white history month. The positive contributions of blacks on American society were never discussed. They were completely ignored. And any holidays celebrating a prominent black figure were definitely not nationally celebrated. We’ve really only got the one now, Martin Luther King Day.

White people, who are actually on the fast track to becoming a technical ethnic minority in America, don’t get a “White History Month” because they get the focus every other day of the year. There’s no “White People Holiday” because, let’s face it, about half of federal holidays is one of those. Presidents Day (which is George Washington’s birthday), Fourth of July (While some blacks did fight for American independence, you ever hear anyone other than Mel Gibson in “The Patriot” mention them?), Columbus Day (Hooray for the genocidal lost guy!) and Thanksgiving Day (Native Americans? What are those?). And, depending on who you ask, Christmas.

Not that such revelations matter to certain Arizona legislators. Oye.

However, I’m going to admit something: Black history month actually does kind of annoy me. Am I saying I want a White History Month or a White Holiday? No. That’s dumb.

I am saying that I agree with Morgan Freeman though.

What he says, for those that aren’t going to click the link (Which, seriously, is way too many of you guys if WordPress is accurately checking the link clickage. Yesterday’s post was all about clicking a link and one person did it? Come on!), is essentially that segregating our history like that, delegating black history to a single month out of the year, is ridiculous. It’s almost a subtle racism. American blacks are Americans, plain and simple. Do I need to wait until February to learn about W.E.B. Dubois or Martin Luther King or Frederick Douglass? I don’t think so.

We shouldn’t be separating our history out by race or sexuality or whatever else. Let’s try to get more comprehensive in our history. Now, does that mean that history is still going to heavily favor whites? Yes. America was pretty white washed when it came to politics and national events. …sorry, is. But let’s talk about blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, whites, men, straights all in one chunk: American history. No one group is more celebrated or deserving than any other. American history is about all Americans.

Tagged , , , , , ,