Showing posts with label Inter-racial Relationships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Inter-racial Relationships. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Halloween and Blackface-Just Say No

When I was growing up long ago when dinosaurs walked the earth and Osborne Computers were state of the art products Halloween was something that as far as I could tell was primarily for young children. Because of religious/cultural reasons my family didn't celebrate Halloween so I never dressed up in costume or got to eat candy (another thing which was forbidden). But aside from teachers that would dress up along with their young, pre-high school, students I don't seem to recall a lot of adults or even older teens getting involved in the celebratory atmosphere. They could have been of course since being a kid I wasn't quite privy to much of what was really going on.  And perhaps I was just living in the wrong neighborhood. But that's just not what I recall. These days things are different. Halloween seems to have become much bigger and much more politically and adult oriented. Rather than a child dressing up as Spiderman or a Count Dracula, now children are dressing up as Klansmen. And rather than teens or adults dressing up as television characters or naughty maids, some people just seem to want to go for shock value and dress up in blackface.
Greg Cimeno posted a picture of himself dressed as George Zimmerman, with his friend, William Filene dressed in Blackface wearing a hoodie with a bloody bullet hole in the center of the chest.George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder after fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin through the heart on February 26, 2012.The girl in the disturbing images, Caitlin Cimenoalso posted the horrifically racist and insensitive picture and described it as “just for fun.”

Blackface has a long history in American and European culture. It's never good. It can't really be separated from ridicule and hatred of blackness itself. For an apparently sizable number of white people, blackness remains something to be mocked. Evidently Halloween has become a time for some folks when they can literally let their hair down and share with the world the racism they've been holding on to all year. When people get called on this as they usually are once the pictures and/or videos leak out there are occasional half-hearted apologies but just as often one is likely to see or hear unrepentant admonishments of other's so-called "political correctness" or ridiculous appeals to "free speech". This last was promulgated by a supposed left-leaning civil liberties loving attorney who really ought to know better. It makes one wonder about the cultural sensitivities extant in this country when Ebay can be shamed into ceasing the sale of Holocaust memorabilia with apparently no pushback from those sordid folks who really really wanted that concentration camp uniform with the ever so slight scent of Zyklon-B but apparently it's an affront to freedom to suggest that people refrain from mocking an entire race of people.

As we've discussed previously all free speech means is that within certain restrictions the government is not able to write a law telling you what you can or can't say, act like or dress like within the boundaries of your own home (or other people's homes). The government shouldn't and can't send you to prison or to re-education camps for having the wrong racial views, as one thoroughly asinine commenter on Turley's site claimed. I don't advocate any such thing. If you want to be a racist or traffic in racist tropes, I say knock yourself out.  It's actually sometimes easier for me to deal with a white person once I am clear beyond all doubt that he or she has nothing but contempt for black people. It's a free country and like everyone else people wearing blackface can say what they like. Free speech however doesn't mean that you are free from other people's criticism of your speech or actions. And it certainly doesn't mean that your employer can't decide that your speech, even if it took place outside of work hours, is something with which it doesn't want to be associated. 

But the deeper question, which people defending blackface depictions can't answer, at least to my satisfaction, is what is so humorous about being black to some white people in the first place? Why is it that some whites or other non-blacks year after year wish to have ghetto parties, or dress like a n***** parties?  What apparently deep itch are they scratching?
A University of Michigan fraternity is under fire after scheduling a “Hood Ratchet” themed party.Theta Xi created a Facebook event for a November 7 party, entitled “World Star Hip[-]Hop Presents: Hood Ratchet Thursday.” Started from da bottom now we here but now we goin back to da hood again!! [sic]” the since-removed invitation read.The event sparked outrage among minority students by specifically inviting: “rappers, twerkers, gangsters (no bloods allowed), thugs, basketball players, bad b*tches, ratchet p***y.”
Evidently there is something which is self-evidently tremendously humorous about being black. But I'm not getting the joke. Anyone care to explain. Generally speaking, and I've been around a while, I can't recall too many instances where black people have thrown a "Dress up like a white person" party and shown up in whiteface or stereotyped "white" clothing whatever that might be. No this racial mocking seems to mostly go one way. And the fact that it pops up consistently year after year lets even the most clueless observer know that racism is far from a thing of the past. It's part of the country's DNA and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I think that some of this might be reaction to the election and re-election of President Barack Obama. But most of this is just good old fashioned bigotry handed down from mother to daughter and father to son. The issue is that many of the people depicted will be in the future or are currently in positions of power whether we're talking hiring and firing, law enforcement or of course juries. If this is how they see Black people, and they are telling us that it absolutely is, how could any black person expect fair treatment. If you can mock Trayvon's Martin's death and you're on a jury with a black victim or a black defendant, can you really do justice. I doubt it. The reaction to a woman's Boston Marathon Halloween costume and the mainstream collective shrug to blackface/slave costumes tells me all I need to know.

Some whites talk a lot about the alleged racial divisiveness caused by Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or the other bete noire du jour. These blackface pictures are much more racially divisive. I don't think I've ever seen Jesse Jackson in whiteface...

Africa Themed Halloween Party

h/t Rippa


Friday, August 9, 2013

Iowa Police Beat Woman Shoplifter

There's no excuse for violence against women. We hear that theme constantly in society today. There are public and private messaging campaigns dedicated to telling men just that. However the real saying should be "There's no excuse for violence against women...unless you're a cop". Just ask admitted shoplifter Brandie Redell, who after being caught stealing in a Davenport, Iowa Von Maur department store, was treated to an apparently unprovoked and vicious beating when either her words or demeanor set off the police officers who were detaining her. I am not overly fond of cops for precisely these sorts of incidents. Of course no one is perfect. Who among us hasn't been angry enough to lay hands upon someone at some point in our life? Anyone can temporarily lose it. That is the state of the human condition. No my issue is that it's precisely because society authorizes police officers to detain, arrest, use violence against and even kill people that police activities need to be completely above board.

If a husband threw his wife a beating, gave her a black eye and damaged her eyesight because he claimed she bit him or was looking the wrong way at him or was clenching her fists, would anyone really give him the benefit of the doubt? Probably not, especially if the man was much larger than the woman and armed to boot. And if video evidence surfaced that showed that the man was actually the one who initiated the violence, well then the man would stand revealed as a liar. In today's environment he'd probably have some civil if not criminal issues to address. But if you're a cop, then you have a get out of jail free card as prosecutors will ignore the video and supervisors will downplay the apparent policy violation. After all you should be believed over a shoplifting white woman that evidently hangs out with black people. Watch video below.

As you can see the video contradicts the officer's claim that he hit Brandi Redell after she bit him. He has to walk to her in order to initiate contact. Is is possible that she bit him, ran over and sat down before the video started recording? It's possible but doubtful in my opinion. It appears that just as Redell stated, she and Officer Crow were engaged in some sort of verbal back and forth when the police officer lost his patience and decided to administer some street justice right then and there. And the reason the officer may have lost his patience? He could have just lost his temper. He might have just learned that his dog died. It could be racial animus and sexualized jealousy. Of course no one really knows but the officer involved. But in this country you'd be foolish to automatically dismiss the last as reasons.
Redell, who has two previous shoplifting convictions, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of shoplifting and is due in court on Aug. 23.She told CBS Chicago that the beating appeared to be triggered by a call she made to her boyfriend to ask him to pick the child up. The boyfriend, James Gibson, is a community activist who has conducted race sensitivity training with police. Redell said that when one of the officers heard his name, he told her "This is going to get ugly, real quick."
There is no audio on the surveillance video. "I don't think the police were really thrilled that a white woman was calling a black man for help, especially one that they already weren't fond of," she told CBS.
Davenport's Police Chief Frank Donchez said his department's investigation didn't find any evidence of racial bias. "Our policy says you are to conduct yourself in a professional manner." Was he within policy? No. Do we need to conduct an internal investigation? Yes," Donchez told CBS.

Men are often neutral to negative to one of "their" women shall we say "frolicking" with some man of a different race. That rightly or wrongly appears to be hardcoded in a lot of humans. So perhaps Officer Crow saw an opportunity to lash out against a woman who was not only giving him lip as he saw it but was sleeping with the enemy? I don't know. But I do know that traditionally a male role is to provide and protect. It is one of the worst insults to someone to harm their family, particularly a wife, mother, sister, daughter or girlfriend. Officer Crow's alleged statements would seem to indicate that Redell's connection with Gibson may have set him off. We've written before about tiffs between men and women. I don't like to see them. But arguably if a woman initiates physical confrontation she must be at least cognizant of the possibility that the man will respond in kind. Is it right? No. But it's life. In this case, at least from what the video shows, I don't see the woman initiating physical contact. It's the men. And it's quite cowardly to hold someone down while someone else beats them. Evidently Officer Crow is a real Billy Bada$$ in a fight, as long as he's punching a woman that's being restrained. Needless to say the prosecutors refused to file charges against Officer Crow. The Davenport Police Department has so far not fired the officers involved.

We've also discussed before with our two fine attorneys who blog here, The Janitor and Old Guru, about when a citizen may defend themselves against illegal police activity. Their general consensus IIRC was that the best bet was to just try to survive the event and do battle in court. That's good advice. However there are some police officers who delight in brutalizing citizens under cover of law. Such people are bullies. I'm not sure they deserve the respect or deference normally given to officers of the law. Eventually cops like that are going to try that tactic with someone who has nothing to lose and doesn't give a rat's a$$ about their badges or guns. Obviously no one condones shoplifting. Redell needs to go to jail for a while until she learns not to steal. Someone should have told to her as I've heard before "I can buy anything in this store. But if I can't buy it you don't need it. Don't ever steal." But the sentence for shoplifting or talking on the phone is not a beatdown in a backroom in front of your child.

What are your thoughts?

Did Redelle get what she deserved? Could this be justified if the officer told her to get off the phone and she refused?

Is this a clear case of police brutality?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Attraction, Fetish and Racism: Asian Girlz and Day Above Ground

Human beings (especially the male variant) are visual creatures. If we see something that we like then we either make it known that we are available or inform that person of our interest in the culturally appropriate manner. Everyone has slightly different preferences. If you favor red hair and a relative lack of melanin you'll probably look first in one subgroup of humanity. If you prefer a lot of melanin you'll look in another subgroup. Whether via inertia, deliberate political/romantic decision, lack of opportunity or childhood cultural imprinting most people wind up with folks from their own particular subgroup, however defined. But humans have always mixed and always will mix. There's nothing wrong with this. Some people even prefer people who are not from their group. I don't automatically think this is bad. It depends on the reasons. There's a thin line between having a preference and having a fetish. There's an even thinner line between expressing admiration for a certain subgroup's real or imagined particular characteristics and reducing a member of that group to a sexual stereotype. Saying I like Black women is one thing. Saying I like Black women because they just want to get f*****d all night is probably something different. 

The band Day Above Ground recently crossed that line between preference and fetish with the song "Asian Girlz". This five minute song listed every stereotype about East Asian women. The song may have been meant as a satire on some non-Asian men who do indeed fetishize Asian women. Angry people could be missing the point entirely. Or it could just be 100% racist crap. If it was meant as satire, which I'm not sure of, it didn't work. Levy Tran, the Vietnamese-American model who acted in the video gave an apology.

Check out the video and one funny response to it below. Both videos are slightly NSFW. There is no nudity but there's implied sex and sexually explicit language in the first video and profanity in the second.

One man's response


Was this satire gone wrong?

Is this the most racist song you've heard?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Virginia Walmart: Those Don't Look Like Your Kids

The other day I stopped in my local grocery store to pick up some items. I saw a black man and white woman couple. They had a white girl and a younger black (mixed) boy tagging along with them. Obviously the black man was a pimp and the white woman was his prostitute. The two kids were either criminals in training or had been kidnapped for some other unspeakably nefarious reasons. So I went to the store manager and pointed these miscreants out. The manager called the police. The police bopped the two criminals on the head with their nightsticks and threw them in the squad car. So I had done my good deed for the day. But sometimes we are called to do more. When I turned into the bread aisle I saw a white man with two young black girls. So he HAD to be a pedophile. Why else would they be calling him Daddy and asking for donuts. I couldn't let this stuff go down. Not on MY watch. So I tackled him and this time called the police myself.
And this sicko was hauled away just like the couple before him. I felt good about myself. My spidey sense was on the job, amplified by my bigotry, resentment and paranoia. What's that you say, that doesn't sound like me? Well you're right it doesn't. And it wasn't. Nevertheless there are some people in this country who still think exactly like that. And they aren't exactly shy about getting officials with guns and authority to follow up on their suspicions. Witness Virginia:

              DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG

A Virginia couple was shocked to find a police officer in front of their home when they returned from running errands, but they were even more surprised by the reason for the cop's visit-- to question whether or not they were in fact their children's parents.
Joseph, a white man who didn't want his last name revealed, and his black wife Keana told Fox5DC that they were outraged after the policeman told them a security guard at their local Walmart had suspected Joseph of kidnapping his three young daughters."He asks us very sincerely, ‘Hey, I was sent here by Walmart security. I just need to make sure that the children that you have are your own,’” Joseph said.
"I was dumbfounded," Keana said. "I sat there for a minute and I thought, ‘Did he just ask us if these were our kids knowing what we went through to have our children?’The couple, who have been married for 10 years, have a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old twin girls. Joseph had taken the girls to a Walmart near their Prince William County home to cash a check and left after spending a short time in the parking lot. After speaking with the officer, they called the store demanding an explanation...
Now far be it from me to suggest that citizens not be vigilant about protecting children from pedophiles, kidnappers or other adults who would do them harm. But in order to have a suspicion and act on it I think both citizens and law enforcement ought to have a little more to go on besides the fact that two people or a group of people out and about in society are of apparently different races. What happened in Virginia, although it thankfully did not rise to the level of official police violence or arrest, was wrong. It was a hunch based on stereotypes about the way the world works. Although most people still date or marry within their race, increasing numbers do not. So it's obviously incorrect to assume that any adult accompanied by a child of a different race is some sort of deviant. 

I don't know legally what exactly rises to probable cause or reasonable suspicion. I can say that if that had been me purely on principle I probably wouldn't have answered any questions from the police. This may have escalated to my disadvantage of course but I feel pretty strongly about avoiding unnecessary contact with the police or for that matter other government agencies. The ironic thing is that in the almost Kafkaesque system we've built around "protection of children", the parents may have done the right thing by speaking to the police because sometimes the police appear to be more bound by rules and protocol than child protection services. Child protection services may well have just stormed the house and removed the children first and asked questions later. So maybe all's well that ends well.

Still the same racial assumptions that started in someone's brain about seeing a white man with black (biracial) children are the exact same beliefs that I listed in the first paragraph that can rebound to people's disadvantage in several ways. Is that white man driving in the inner city at night coming home from work or is he looking to buy crack? Is that black youth walking in a nice neighborhood the son of a successful black attorney or is he a thug casing the area? Is that white woman in a SUV with a bunch of black teens a kidnap victim about to be raped or she is a suburban mom driving her son and some of his baseball team home from the game? Is that black young woman walking down the street trying to solicit sex or is she a teacher walking home late from student-teacher conferences?

We all definitely have biases and prejudices. There's no denying that. But we should try our best to rise above them. And before we stick our nose in someone else's business we ought to have a greater justification for interference than "well you and them just didn't look right together". I don't think bigotry is probable cause. It's ironic that it was a Virginia court case featuring a black woman and white man that the Supreme Court used to overturn anti-miscegenation laws.