Category Archives: Race

The Point of the Point

As I mentioned in my last post – we still have work to do as a nation with regards to racial relations.  We do.  A even pedestrian awareness bears that out.  Also in my last post, I mentioned:

And, as long as there is work to do, we should do it. And measure it. And always keep the eye on the ball.

And measure it.

As in, keep track of progress, or lack of it, so that one day we’ll know when we ‘have arrived’.  Which is an interesting thought.  What will ‘we have arrived at a post racial world’ look like?  I’m not sure, but I think I have one characteristic.

We will identify our heroes and villains based on qualities not race racial in nature.  We might like a football player because he is a great athlete [are we here already in this case?], or an actor for her skills on stage.  Perhaps a politician for his policies, or a movie character for his -her- ‘coolness’ as portrayed in a movie.

This might look like, for example, a black kid from Nigeria, or say randomville Indiana, might wanna dress as Cinderella.  Or, in a similar manner, a white kid might wanna dress as Moana.

Not because they wanna go as a white girl from Western Europe or because they wanna go as a brown girl from the Pacific Islands.  But because they wanna go as the heroic, or loveable, character they have fallen in love with in the screen or in their book.

And the fact that those characters are white or fall on some spectrum of color is as incidental as the fact that they have shoes, boots, slippers or no footwear.

That seems to me the world we’re striving for.  A world where the color of a person is not important in the calculus to the determination of their worth.

So why this?

At this point, you might be saying something like: “But, I dressed up as Jasmine as a child, and I’m not a racist!”, or, “It’s just a Halloween costume, please chill the f*ck out.” But one of the best things about time is that it moves forward. You should too. You can (and should) strive to be better than you were 10, 20, or 30 years ago. If you missed the mark when you were younger, maybe think about using this Halloween as an opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of cultural sensitivity. If your child’s dream costume feels questionable, don’t just throw up your hands and hand over your credit card. You’re the parent here, and the onus of what your child wears falls on you. If your kid wears a racist costume … you’re kind of wearing it too.

Recognize this: Moana is a really special character to young girls of Polynesian descent who have never seen a Disney Princess who looks like them, just like how Tiana from The Princess and the Frog likely resonated with young Black women who had waited decades to see themselves represented. White girls have plenty of princesses to choose from — there’s Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty … you get the idea. If your Caucasian son or daughter doesn’t get to be exactly what they wanted for Halloween, encourage them to take a step back and realize that they’re awash in privileges that the real Moanas and Tianas of the world will likely never see, because the world is full of racist assholes.

It’s views like this that drive me crazy.  Simply crazy.

  1.  We WANT white girls to see brown/black girls as heroes.
  2. We WANT to stop using race as an identifier.
  3. We have GOT to stop mind reading racist in far too many aspects of life – there are enough real life versions.

So, Cosmo, NYPost and Race Conscious.org – chill.  White parents letting their white kids idolize people of color is a meaningful step in the right direction.  Celebrate this development, not bash it.

I. Have. No. Words.

First, I need to say this.

My life is easier than the same life of a man who is black.  Same background, same education, same income, kids, cars, job and all the rest of it.  My life is easier.

Drop me off in any random city/town in the US of A and I’m almost surely going to be alright.

But today is better than yesterday.  And yesterday is WAY better than it was when I was born.

Way.

And until my life isn’t easier because I’m not black than it is form my friends who are black, we have work to do.  And, as long as there is work to do, we should do it.  And measure it.  And always keep the eye on the ball.

All that being said, and what was said is much more than just over 100 words typed, I have to say, this is some crazy shit.  Ca-Razy:

A university professor has claimed teaching maths perpetuates “unearned” white privilege.

What?  How..?  Are you kidding me?

She is not:

Titled “Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods”, Ms Gutierrez argues a focus on Pythagorean theorem and pi feed into the idea that maths was developed by the Greeks and Europeans.

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” she wrote, according to Campus Reform.

Does she know what we call our numeral system?  Does she know who is credited with the discovery of zero?  The development of algebra?  She must – she teaches this.  But how can she ignore those facts?

But now moving forward, history being history, she begins to question math itself:

“Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?”

She also believes society’s focus on maths as a key skill can perpetuate discrimination against minorities.

“If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she wrote.

Umm, yes.  We are really THAT smart because we can do math.  And yes, math is a key skill.  Key in getting a job, key in keeping a job.  Key in organizing one’s life.  And living it well.  And increasing the odds that upon death, there will be a legacy to leave behind for the next generations.

As I mentioned, there is work to be done; less than yesterday, but enough labor to go around.  Such labor would be easier to ear without the addition of unrelenting false victimization that we see in these times.

 

Ditka – Oppression

Mike Ditka waxing poetic the other day on the issue of football players kneeling during the National Anthem, had this to say:

All of a sudden, it’s become a big deal now, about oppression,” Ditka said. “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody. … If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort into yourself, I think you can accomplish anything.

Mike.

Over here sparky.

I get that you might not see color when you are dealing with players or colleagues.  I get that you might not be guilty of the profiling and bigotry that many folks are experiencing.  But pssst ….. things have been bad, WAY bad, for black people well inside of 100 years.

Think not being able to vote.

Own a house.
Go to school.
Play in Major League Baseball.
Marrying people you love.
Walking without fear of being killed.

There has been significant oppression in the last 100 years.  And a guy with your platform can’t afford to say otherwise.

Perspective

Lots of emotion going on lately.  Thought I’d take a break and see what someone else has to say.  I don’t agree with all of it, or even most of it, but there are friends and family out there that do.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Where Does the End Come

I just posted when I saw this on my feed:

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) —
Protesters in Durham rushed and toppled a Confederate statue outside the courthouse on Monday evening.

The monument of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle was erected in 1924 and inscribed on it are the words “in memory of the boys who wore the gray.”

Nobody wants this to end.

Reason Absent

 

Charlottesville is a hot shitty mess.   And it’s been a long time in coming.

My thoughts, bullet list style:

  • America is not a racist nation
  • White nationalists are racist assholes
  • Black nationalists are racist assholes
  • The first amendment matters
  • The sixth commandment matters
  • Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist
  • If you are a racist, you likely voted for Trump
  • The Civil War was fought over slavery
  • Many MANY Confederate soldiers and officers were noble honorable warriors
  • Removing Confederate statues does not carry moral worth

 

My heart breaks as Charlottesville unfolds.  So much pain, so much tragedy, so much misplaced … misplaced ‘righteousness’.

Such bullshit.

What is it about human nature that we always see the ‘other’ in the other?  Why is it that we can’t see the common?  See that each of us, almost all of us, wants the same thing?  We wanna love, deeply, and then fall ever deeper in love.  We want a home safe from danger, to live with the front door unlocked, and wake up to sunshine and birds in the yard.

I have never known a neighbor that didn’t want their kids to play in the street, to go to a good school, then a good college and then a good job.  Marriage and kids of their own are next.  We all want that picket fence.  Why do we need to hate?  And hurt?  And be so afraid?

When did we all become so afraid?

Why are we so afraid of the way each lives his life?  Why do we care if he reads Asimov?  Or he reads Othello?  Or she plays chess or he Pokemon?  How can it determine the content if he enjoys listening to this style of music or she enjoys studying this war; this artist or this general?  How can that matter so SO much?

As I watch the news and listen to the radio and read the papers I am inundated.  Inundated with the horror, the rage, the vile nature of the worst example of us.

This is not us – this is not who we are.

Reject it.  Simply reject the premise and make your own way; shit, continue on the glorious noble way that you’ve already forged.  Do it with honor, do it boldly, do it with the same compassion and love that drove you to that place to begin with.

Because the alternative is simply impossible.  It is impossible to live in the world envisioned by those who perpetuate the divide.

For just one fuckin’ second, consider how we are the same and stop focusing on how we’re different.

Racists and Affirmative Action

What’s Wrong About the “What’s Wrong With America” Narrative

A black cop shot a white woman.

And there is something wrong with America.  Or so says this article from CNN.  My thoughts.

There’s a predictable pattern to the aftermath of too many deadly police shootings: Neighbors and anti-police brutality groups take to the streets. Groups supporting the officers stand up for them. Social media lights up over whether the victim “did something” to provoke the officer.

This hardly ever happens.  Cops kill hundreds of civilians every year and we see protests rarely.

But none of that holds true in the case of Justine Ruszczyk, a white Australian bride-to-be who was killed by Mohamed Noor, a Somali-American black police officer in Minneapolis.

All of that held true.  Protests happened and the chief was fired.

Because the race and nationality of the victim and police officer aren’t what has typically garnered headlines, people who normally speak up aren’t saying much.

The race of the victim is the race most often killed by cops.  As for who aren’t saying much – it’s because even though white people are most often shot by cops, white people don’t think cops are targeting white people.

New York Daily News writer Shaun King wrote a column in which he said “Police brutality jumped a racial fence.”

See above – most victims of shot by police are white.

Love theorizes a different group of people may take the lead in rallying for the victim in this case: “people who may not have emphathized with the victims (in police shootings in the past) because the victims have been mostly black.”

The lack of fact based reporting is staggering.  Most of the victims are not black – they are white.

Too often in cases involving unarmed black men, Chatelain says, information on the victim’s criminal history or prior arrests makes its way into stories — even when they are irrelevant to the case.

Criminal history ABSOLUTELY is relevant to interactions with the police.

So what does this say about America in 2017, where the race, gender or national identity of a victim or police officer can affect the public’s reaction to a shooting?

Uumm, the only, and I mean ONLY, time we have cared about the race of the victim is when that victim is black.

“We haven’t reckoned with our history,” Goff told CNN, “so it shouldn’t surprise us to see a different reaction.”

When the victim is black, we have seen mass protests and destruction.  When the victim is white we see muted reactions, if any at all.  What is Goff talking about?

 

 

Police Shooting – Minneapolis

By now I am sure that you have heard of the woman shot by police in Minneapolis.  The tragedy is drawing national attention because, let’s face it, the race of the officer and the victim is reversed from the more common narrative AND the fact that the victim is a woman only adds to the optics.

You would have to be in a coma not to be aware of the conversation regarding the shooting of black men by police forces across America.  The narrative is that cops are killing black men indiscriminately and “getting away” with it.  Most recently is the case regarding Philando Castile, in the Minneapolis-metro area, and the cop that shot him.

In the case involving this young woman, I’ll take the stance that I’ve taken with other such cases.  Wait until the investigation is concluded.  And, as in other cases, I have questions.  Such as:

  • Why would Ms. Ruszczyk walk over 100 yards to speak to officers, with their lights off and dark, if she suspected a violent crime was being committed?
  • Why would Ms. Ruszcyzk, after having called 911 twice, not change into clothes?  She was wearing her pajamas.
  • Why would the cop in the passenger seat have his weapon drawn INSIDE the car?
  • Why would she have taken her fiance’s name before they were married?
  • Why would a 22 year old man refer to his father’s soon to be wife as ‘my mom’?
  • Why would you, given that the cops are investigating a violent crime, allow yourself to approach a police vehicle by surprise?
  • Why, after ALL of this time, were the body cams not turned on?

The whole thing doesn’t make sense to me.  Which, I suppose, is not surprising when things go so wrong so fast.

In the end, as always, I hope that justice is done here.  The tragedy that is the death of this young woman is horrible enough.  To wrongfully convict, if indeed not guilty, or to allow to walk, if indeed guilty, would only compound that tragedy.

Jeronimo Yanez – Not Guilty

The verdict is in:

ST. PAUL — A Minnesota police officer, whose fatal shooting of a black motorist transfixed the nation when his girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath, was acquitted of all charges on Friday.

Tragic.

Insufficient words, to be sure, to describe the events that unfolded that day when Philandro Castile was shot and killed by Officer Yanez.  By all accounts, a fantastic example of a human being was lost that day.

I’ve watched this trial more closely than some of the others.  Part because it was another in a long chain of such tragedies, part because it was in Minnesota, part because I thought that the cop might have been wrong.

Additionally, I’ve been back and forth on my feelings  of guilt or not guilt.  It really seemed that Castile did all the right things.

In the end, before the verdict, I had come to the conclusion that I felt the verdict should have been as it is – Not Guilty.

Officer Yanez suspected Castile of being involved in a robbery, he knew he had a license to carry a gun.  And, by his account, felt that Castile didn’t follow directions.  In the moment, the officer felt his life was in danger and he had to protect himself.

I resonate.

I don’t know if Yanez acted illegally, or with undue force or out of bias.  I don’t.  But I do know that traffic stops are inherently dangerous to officers.  That suspects fire on cops often enough that cops are right to be worried.  It took the jury days to come to this decisions.  We’re asking cops to make that same decision in a split second.

Finally, the publicity of the case cannot be ignored.  This case received national attention due to the fact that Castile was black during a time when the Black Lives Matter movement was in the national discussion.  I don’t know how this verdict is going to be received by the community in St. Paul.  Or the nation.  However, I think that it is important to notice that many people of multiple races lost their lives in confrontations with police in 2014 and 2015.

None of those cases resulted in a conviction of the officer.