This week marks the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown. The recent graduate was walking down the street when he encountered former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Three minutes later he was dead. Within hours of his death the first protests formed on the very street he was shot on. The protests have not stopped since.
Nor have the deaths of unarmed Black men and women at the hands of the state. The last year has seen the largest number of people killed by police, even as the nation has paid more attention to the issue, and the calls for action have been the loudest in decades. For anyone passing through America’s race problems unaware, this year provides an answer to a question that floated gently over America on the night of Obama’s first election–is racism over?–with an emphatic no.
From streets echoing with cries for justice to politricks and cable news echoing with old school racism, this past year has served to shake the sleepy giant of the American masses from their slumber and awaken it from its dream of racial harmony. Americans wake to find some of we the people are suffering the outrageous slings and arrows of white supremacy. They wake to see young leaders of the new civil rights movement taking up the arms of protest against a sea of troubles.
Even as republican presidential candidates bemoan the rise of political correctness, we sail past the tipping point, unlikely to make a full return to times when it is acceptable–and sometime good fun, wink, wink–to disparage blacks openly in the media. Significant because behind the battle over the words we use floats the scepter of power, hanging in the balance as the country moves towards a majority minority population. Make no mistake, this new world we find ourself in is not the promised land, but the wide murky territory between what we used to be and what we ought to be, a land full of deadly mines, traps and open warfare.
Being awake this year has been difficult at some times, soul-crushing others. Bearing witness and speaking truth and two heavy burdens born by the conscious. It does not alway feel good to be awake, but to close your eyes to the reality of the world you pass through isn’t really living. To ignore the oppression of the people of your own nation stands as treason to the dream of a people created equal. So stay up, and pay tribute to the life of Michael Brown with eyes that stay open.
Yup, that’s right, everybody’s favorite down home racist has done it again. despite being kicked off the food network for using the n-word, and having a heaping serving of her past unsavory racist comments exposed, this woman has learned nothing.
Deen posted this picture from the set of a new show she is shooting with the hashtag Transformation Tuesday–just in case you didn’t notice the brownface her son is wearing. this just a few years after loosing everything when her racist comments were exposed by a former employee.
What’s more, she tweeted out this photo from a set–meaning she is taping a show with her son in brownface. The first time, shame on her, but this time, viewers have supported Deen’s comeback, and that’s on you, Deen fans.
At what point to we acknowledge that she is willfully, knowingly doing this? Oh, I see we’ve passed that point. Paula, you are a racist.
It looks like NBC isn’t going to wait until primary season to dump the Trump. The network announced to day that it would be cutting all ties with the billionaire bombast, including Trumps once-bold-now-old reality show The Apprentice.
The Donald wasted no time before taking to the airwaves and blaming the break on political correctness. Trump released a statement today on Instagram which said in part “NBC is weak and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct…” showing that he is powerfully incorrect in his understanding of the current state of America.
Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and murders. That’s not edgy commentary; he is stating this as fact, going so far as to double down in his statement this afternoon. The fact that NBC is cutting ties with Trump before the GOP which has some heavy lifting to do with Latino voters if they are to have any kind of shot in 2016.
Political correctness is a term so loaded as to lose any real meaning. Most often it is swung like a bat at women and people of color who asked to be spoken to with dignity and respect. The always implied idea is that those who want said respect are overreacting, need to get over it, are whining and bitching and basically ruining everyone else’s fun.
But we all pay–in one way or another–for the media messages we consume. We pay cable bills and cell providers, click ads and pay with our time or attention. Sometimes we pay with a vote for the messages we want to hear. Why would any group of people want to be insulted by choice and on their own dime? Why should any group allow themselves to be unfairly characterized just to bolster someones dogmatic campaign? You, Trump can say what you like, and the people have the right to tell you to go screw.
Latinos make up 17% of the American population. Other oft-dissed groups: women make up 50% of the population, African Americans at 12% , Asians at 7%–that all adds up to a lot of people. People want to see themselves reflected and represented in a way that is respectful. That’s not to say people can’t disagree, but slandering 55 million people isn’t respect.
As America grows into a country lush with diversity, our entertainment, political and social dialogue should reflect. Media celebrities complaining about political correctness are behind the curve. Plenty of smart edgy controversial people talk about identity, but the days of being able to be outright offensive without people calling you on your shit are over. This isn’t Mad Men, Trump, and you are no Don Draper. Connecting rape and murder to an entire race of people isn’t politically incorrect, its just incorrect.
Saturday morning, activist Bree Newsome climbed a flagpole outside the South Carolina capitol building and took down the confederate flag capping a week of hot debate and fast movement towards removing the symbol of southern aggression from official state buildings. Sadly, the flag is flying over the capital yet again, reminding us that symbols are only as powerful–or weak–as the acceptance of the ideologies they represent. Removing the flags that celebrate America’s racist past will not eradicate the racist ideology that radicalized Dylan roof any more than removing a label from a can will vaporize what is inside.
Even as the President eulogizes the most recent victims of racism, the war rages on– arson, death and defense of the killer continue unchecked–and unexamined in the mainstream media. Instead, the flag has taken center stage in the discussion of the Charleston Massacre. A quick google trends search shows that the focus is squarely on the flag, not the victims, nor the ideology that sparked the killing.
You’ll recall the flag furor kicked up when killer Dylan Roof displayed one on his website. But while mainstream news has focused on the flag, the actual hate groups that pushed their racist filth on the internet, and whom Roof points to in his own radicalization continue to operate. The presidential candidates who have taken money from Council of Conservative Citizens and other racist hate groups get an easy pass for their support of the flag’s removal without addressing their own past ties to hate activists. There was no critical questioning of candidates ties to these group son the Sunday talk circuit, but plenty of flag not-waving.
Assuring us that there’s more than one hateful racist willing to perpetrate violence, six predominately black churches have burned in a string of arson stretching from Macon to Tallahassee. Ongoing investigations will identify perpetrators where they can, but the echo of the 1960’s replete with racially motivated murders and overt attacks on the black community via the black church sound in ears still ringing with this week’s gun shots. Mainstream media has all but ignored this string of violence in favor of the simply packaged story of the flag which looks to be moving toward a happy ending–audiences love a happy ending!
Two children lost their lives in the course of a police chase in Detroit–a chase that had been called off by commanders concerned about the danger to the public just moments before the deaths. Gunshots, rough rides and speeding vehicles all resulting in dead black bodies still happen daily, leaving the black community decimated emotionally, socially and politically. The flags that flies over Ferguson, baltimore and Detroit are all American, and the struggle for justice continues in all those cities.
Lets also not forget that Dylan Roof is not an old racist–he is a young racist, a millennial–from that generation that is supposed to mark the end of racism. The flag may be a worn out symbol, one long past its prime. Bu the perpetrator is merely 21–a man born in the heyday of hip Hop, and only 13 when Obama was elected–so squarely a member of new school racism, a racism proving just as deadly as old school. Racism won’t just die with the rise of the millennials–education is still key in stopping the spread of racism to yet another American generation.
The flag needs to come down. Removing this symbol from state grounds is important, yes, and long overdue. But more important than the flag is the ideology that the flag represents–that was what radicalized terrorist Dylann Roof and emboldened others to burn down churches or commit one of hundreds of thousands of hate crimes that happen each year.
Attacking the overt labels of racism is important. But we’re going to have to open our can of worms racism and deal with it if we are ever to reach a place free from racism and its violent devotees. Celebrate the small victories in this week filled with funerals, but stay conscious, stay activated and never settle for taking down the flags of the fathers without addressing the sins of their sons.
It’s been 22 days since Michael Brown was shot by officer Darren Wilson and left to lie in the street like a dog. For the first time in three weeks, the story of the shooting, the protests that followed it and the insane military police response is slipping down the news cast and out of the spotlight.
Much has been said in the last three weeks about the case, about race in America and what we should or shouldn’t do about it. A lot of what has been said is important and thoughtful, from addressing the systemic racism inherent to the case to exploring a wide range of activist responses for black people and white allies.
There has been a provocative and valuable outcry against media representation of black people, particularly #iftheygunnedmedown, which paired two pictures of a young person: one more socially acceptable and one stereotypical. The hashtag asks which picture is like to accompany a story of them being shot by police.
I haven’t yet said anything about the case. I’ve written to you a thousand times only to crumple up the web page and throw it at the wall. I’ve written through all the stages of grief, though admittedly too much from anger. In the end I am left feeling that there is little worth saying that has not been said a thousand times already. I don’t mean that I want an idea that stands out, I mean only that this seems too much like a script from beginning to end that I’ve heard before: the incident, the outcry, the authoritative denial, the protests, the smack down, the prayers, all devolving into an argument about whether racism exists.
And here is where I get stuck–in the face of a case that throws systemic racism into clear view, the dialog still trends to denial. I find my writing has been a defense, a plea that this is racism, that what the people protesting in the streets are saying is true. That black life matters.
In a Pew Research Center poll, less than half of respondents thought that the Michael Brown case raised important issues about race, and 40% thought that race was getting more attention than it deserved. The division deepens when broken down by the race of respondent.
Despite a million tweets and a thousand blog posts that clearly outline how and why the police shooting of unarmed black men is a problem, the public response, especially from non-black people is one of doubt. It reminds me of this scene from color of fear, a documentary about race when a group of men participated in a long dialog to untangle issues, and this happened:
Despite the wail of protesters, despite the avalanche of facts of he activists, despite the dead bodies of black men lying cold in the ground, still people choose not to believe.
Police kill black people with impunity. Race is the issue. Please imagine a summer when a young white mother of five was choked to death going to the store, when a recent white high school grad was shot in broad daylight, when a laid back young lady was shot while browsing Walmart with a sporting good sold in the store under her arm. You must imagine it because 5 white women weren’t gunned down by police this month.
This is the heart of white privilege. It’s not just accumulated wealth or housing or education or even political access; it is the power to deny the very existence of others and to negate their experiences even as they unfold before your eyes. It is the power to turn public discourse from the facts-in-evidence to your feelings while looking for the truth. It is the power to not see it, and therefore deny others see it. It is the power to think that others deserve what you do not for reasons that amount to little more than victim blaming and denial of overwhelming evidence.
In a country where some people are disadvantaged because of the color of their skin, there must exist a similar bias for people of the dominant group. Too often, we get mired in discussion about where the white whale of privilege exists–it does–and if this means all white people are living the dream– they’re not. But let’s not get sidelined by a conversation about white privilege.
The debate about white privilege masks an even deeper truth, one that may just draw us together. We are all–black, white, latino and asian–disadvantaged by a system of racial privilege. No matter your race, the shooting of Mike Brown matters to you and the ability of your family to life a happy life. Denying racism keeps the country dependent on a broken system. A country that is unfair to millions, that has laws legitimizing marginalization a and criminalization of some humans, while providing others economic and political immunity can never be safe, can never be just, and therefore can never be stable.
The massive militarization of American police forces was very profitable for the military industrial complex. Continued conflict between working- and middle-class whites and working- and middle-class blacks, stoked by a racist, fear-mongering mass media, diverts attention from the real economic challenges both races face in an increasingly corporatized culture. Since the recession, we’re all more aware of how close we could come to ruin. The politics of division don’t serve us. Fighting each other, and killing innocents when we have real villains lurking behind unfair tax laws and politicians’ pockets is madness.
Black, brown, female, poor, working class, elderly, disabled: isn’t a person on this list in your family? We can’t allow our national dialogue to run like a broken record every time evidence of inequity surfaces. We can’t stall out the conversation in “if it is”, or how to feel, and we can’t allow you to feel like you don’t have some skin in the games. No matter the color, your skin is a part of this system of privilege and disadvantage. You live in this game.
It’s time to end racism so we can unite to fight our greater challenges, like economic injustice and resource management. It’s not communist to want America to provide opportunities for upward mobility– currently we are 22 on the list of developed nations. It’s not un American to want our police and our politicians to represent people not super pacs. It’s not revolutionary to demand safety on your own street–it’s time.
The fight against the Redskin’s racist team name and NFL team owner Daniel Snyder, who has said he would never change the name, heated up this week when the US patent office entered the fray. The patent office has suspended the team’s trademark on the grounds that it is disparaging to Native Americans.
Before the good people breathe a sigh of relief, let me deliver the bad news: the Washington Redskins remain named so, and will for the foreseeable future while the appeal the team is already generating works it’s way through the courts. Team owner Daniel Snyder has yet to cry uncle.
What is exciting here’s that the government is taking a legal position, declaring racist language unacceptable, even in the service of massive profits. Native Americans and their allies have asked for a name change for years, but now both public pressure and the law are weighing in to tag team the team. Still, despite the widespread support, there is little that can legally be done to force a change. Even this week’s suspension of the trademark is not the first time the USTPO has taken a shot at Snyder–back in 1999 the office revoked the team’s patent, but the ruling was later overturned on appeal. One step forward two steps back.
Fear not, there is good news here. The recent dust up with the Washington team and the ongoing drama happening in L.A. with Donald Sterling means the courts will be forced to take up both cases. Can someone be forced to abdicate their business or their team traditions if they are found to be acting in a racist manner? The possibility exist for the courts to set new precedents that protect minorities from racism in ways that hold real consequences to those previously rendered untouchable.
The legal system has not, on the whole, done well to support the rights of minorities: slavery, Jim Crow, and today’s unfair prison sentencing policies are clear examples where our laws allowed blacks and other minorities to be oppressed without the perpetrators running the risk of repercussions. In fact, even if all Americans held hands, sang kumbaya and vowed to embrace diversity, we would still find that racist laws and policies continue to perpetuate racism. Systemic racism is pernicious and dangerous. Until racism is removed from the law, we cannot truly have a democracy that holds all men and women are created equal.
We have believed, much to our detriment, that racism is just about individuals who hold hate for others. The real heart of racial hate beats not in the chest of a man, but in the laws and policies of our nation’s systems. Public opinion is slowly moving towards inclusivity, but the courts and laws must follow or we will have done little eradicate racism. So pause, now to celebrate the courts arrival at the fight.
Just as the LA Clippers are getting ready to suit up for a promising post season game, Clippers Owner Donald Sterling was busted on tape making a host of horrible racist comments. Recorded by his girlfriend–a 20-something woman of color–Sterling ranted for nearly 10 minutes , including these fine comments curated by TMZ:
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” (3:30)
“You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.” (5:15)
“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.” (7:45)
Thankfully the officials at the NBA promise to get to the bottom of things with an investigation–and even promise due process! Wait, has he been charged with a crime? No, but I don’t think it will take much investigating. Is that you? Yes? Oh, then we’re done here.
This of course is not the first time that race has reared its ugly head in sports, nor even the first time that Sterling has broadcast his prejudiced proclivities–he was sued in a housing discrimination case in 2003 that he settled for 2.75 million, and another case some reports say settled for 5 million. More than just dislike, Sterling has a history of using his power to perpetuate his racist ideology.
Baylor spoke about what he called Sterling’s “plantation mentality,” alleging the owner in the late 1990s rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because of race. Baylor quoted Sterling as saying: “Personally, I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players.” Baylor said he was shocked. “And he [Sterling] looked at me and said, ‘Do you think that’s a racist statement?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. That’s plantation mentality.’ “
So it is well established that Serling is a text book racist. By textbook, I mean he uses his power and position to negatively affect people based only on the color of their skin. Despite lots of calls for Sterling to face some sanctions or a suspension, will the NBA, who has long known about this guy, do anything meaningful this time? Doubtful.
Tonight Doc Rivers and his team will suit up for this owner and play their hearts out. The team decided not to boycott–for the fans. The LA times reports that “players considered wearing black socks or armbands in protest during Sunday’s game but worried about being viewed as radical.” In a long list of Tweets, Rivers’ son encouraged people to support the players’ decision to play, saying one man’s racism shouldn’t stop the team.
But what if that man is called your father’s owner? What if that man has made it clear that he is okay with having “poor black boys” play for him but does not want to have to be associated with them? What if that man is long known to have a plantation mentality towards players and staff of color?
Wait–okay with employing blacks, has a plantation mentality and a history of thumbing his nose at people who criticize him–is..is Donald Sterling the long lost twin of Clive “Better-as-slaves” Bundy, the Nevada rancher who’s comments filled the airwaves this week with these racist gems?
Two men, within one week, making outragoues–and not unconnected–comments about black people. We have seen this too many times to pretend this is shocking or surprising. In fact, the idea that blacks are undesirables, poor wretches, depressed sitting on stoops or desperate to take any amount of abuse to play ball, welfare-bleeding baby-aborting self-imprisoning ghetto rachet free-lunch freeloaders, better-off-as-slaves is a prominent thread in our media environment. From politicians to celebrities to NBA team owning billionaire black-fetishist Donald Sterling, overt racism is everywhere. Maybe it’s time we stop treating these as isolated incidents and confront the epidemic in evidence.
If you follow smntks, you know there is no shortage of public people making overtly racist comments, usually followed by a weak apology, or lame reasoning. We hear this, we stomp our feet and holler, but long term, what do we really do? Tonight, Donald Sterling will take his seat to watch his “boys” play; Paula Dean is making a comeback; Michael Dunn got away with murder.
Its time to stop condemning and start acting. Boycott the game. Don’t vote for the politicians who tripped over themselves to support Clive Bundy. Stop yelling “black President” and start spreading the word that racism is real and we are all responsible for ending it.
If you think that socks and armbands are radical, then I’m telling you the moment is here. Put your black socks on. Rock a black armband. It is time to get radical.