Category Archives: Racism

Race And Racism Influence Our Reaction To Gun Violence

So I was thinking about the recent shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise and the reaction from the media thus far, and I gotta say – it’s time for some race-baiting.

A country can reveal it’s racism and racial bias in many ways.  Not just in the obvious ways, such as the existence or prevalence of neo-Nazis or Klansmen, etc.  But also in the collective reaction of its media and the talking points that are generated after a violent incident, depending on the race of the shooter.

I have noticed a stark contrast in the conversation which happens, depending on whether the shooter is white or black, Latino or Muslim.  In general, if the perpetrator of a violent crime is a minority, the perceived threat that they and their actions pose become something external, to be kept at bay or controlled with more policing or security measures.  If he’s a Muslim, it’s terrorism – and it brings up the issue of immigrant vetting, not to mention discussion (criticism) of Islam.  If he’s a black person, the issue which makes the media rounds, in particular on state media like Fox News, becomes about “broken homes” and “thugs.”  A Mexican guy would bring up a similar conversation about immigrants and gangs.

Which brings me to the Scalise shooter, a white man named James Hodgkinson.  The discussion thus far, and the issue of what to blame for the violence, has been concerning “political rhetoric,” as well as possible mental illness.  Conservative outlets like Fox have even had the nerve to try to blame “the political Left,” but other mainstream media sources have also raised the question – is our lack of civil discourse to blame?  Is the issue one of the mentally ill having access to firearms?  Are prescription medications making us crazy?  The problem becomes one that reflects an internal societal dysfunction, rather than an externalized threat.  The blame shifts from the shooter himself to a more generalized “have we become too hostile” or “is something making us violent” scenario.

It brings to mind the differences in approach between drug epidemics, depending on the communities that are affected.  The recent problems with opiate addiction and overdose deaths from prescription painkillers are viewed and talked about in terms of a health “crisis.”  Which is not to say that it isn’t.  But look at the difference between that and the way the crack epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s and other drug problems that plague inner cities (black people) are talked about and handled.  In the case of opiates, the issue is seen as one of public health, whereas with the latter, it is a dangerous scourge, and for years has been dealt with by harsh criminal penalties.

One of the problems with talking about race and racism is that far too often, the very idea of it becomes a sort of taboo that is linked with overt and obvious perpetrators.  Nobody wants to be considered racist, and what frequently comes to mind when racism is mentioned are extreme examples, such as the aforementioned Neo-Nazis or white supremacists.  What we often forget is that racism and racial bias can be more subtle and nuanced, and reflected in not only the beliefs and words of racist people themselves, but also in our general, more indirect characterizations of people’s words and actions and how they fit into our view of the way society should function.  Any honest discussion or race should include the latter.  We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about this issue, and we need to be aware of how media can and often does shape our thinking and perceptions.

Photo credit:  Pixabay.com/IIIBlackhartIII

Mike Huckabee’s Flippantly Racist Cinco De Mayo Tweet

Um, okay…

So, our favorite moron and two-time failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee tweeted this out today, May 5, which also happens to be Cinco De Mayo if you speak Mexican.  As of 10:37 a.m. pacific standard time, the tweet is still up, and is from his verified account.

I guess it’s another one of Huckabee’s lame attempts at humor, or a way to boldly proclaim “hey I’m a racist fucking asshole!” without using expletives.

Either way, it just goes to show how emboldened the racist fucks in the GOP have become under Trump’s reign.  They are apparently giddy at not having to disguise their bigotry in the slightest, because, well look at what a racist asshole the president is.

By the way, if you want to see Megyn Kelly almost call this fucknozzle “Mike Fuckabee” on live television, go here.

Oh, and go fuck yourself, Huckabee.

Donald Trump Seems To Think All Black People Might Be Friends With Each Other

Donald Trump’s casual racism was revealed recently at a press conference in which he asked reporter April Ryan if members of the Congressional Black Caucus are her friends.

Remember, this is coming from a man who says he is the “least racist person you have ever encountered.”  Yes, he actually said that.

The exchange also revealed further Trump’s status as one of planet’s biggest douchebags.  Apparently, he thinks it’s suitable to ask a professional journalist to set up meetings for him.  What else do you need Trump?  Should Ryan sweep and mop the floors, too?

Hey Laura Ingraham, I Did Nazi That Coming

Ingraham - Nazi

Back in July, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham made a gesture at the end of her Republican National Convention speech, which looked a lot like a Nazi salute.  She understandably got a lot of backlash on social media, and although it definitely looked bad to me, I thought that it could have been an awkward wave or unintentional. Besides, would someone really have the nerve to do that on national television in America, representing one of the two major political parties? I thought there might be a chance that it was sort of accidental.  Accusing someone of being a white-supremacist is a pretty heavy allegation, and it’s not something to be thrown around lightly.

However, after watching a recent video from The Atlantic which has surfaced, which shows white supremacists (I am refusing to use the passive euphemism “alt right”) offering up actual Nazi salutes and shouting “hail Trump!” at a conference in DC, any doubt that I had regarding Ingraham’s gesture has begun to fade. It simply looks like the exact same thing that Ingraham did, and there is no question as to the intention behind it, among the racists at that conference.  There are plenty of people who deny that Ingraham was actually performing a Nazi salute, and they often provide still frames of other famous leaders mid-wave which appear to look the same as what Ingraham did.  However, when you watch the video of her full gesture in context, it doesn’t look like just a coincidence.

How has the GOP come to this? I mean, full-blown white supremacists now? We have known there to be racists in the Republican party for years, but these days they aren’t even trying to hide it. Scary times, indeed.

#Resist

Jon Stewart Is Letting Trump Voters Off The Hook Too Easily

Jon Stewart recently did an interview on “CBS This Morning”  and was asked about his thoughts concerning the recent election of Donald Trump to the presidency.  I am seeing a lot of this conversation being shared online, with a highlight on Stewart’s claims of “liberal hypocrisy” regarding viewing all Trump voters as a monolith of racists.  He makes the point that a lot of people he knows that aren’t afraid of blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, etc. voted for Trump because of reasons other than his racist rhetoric, and the message is being taken that we shouldn’t call all Trump voters racist.  The interview can be found here.

Well, nope! Jon Stewart is wrong on this point. I know some people want everyone to get along, and unify and settle our differences, but in my opinion he is letting Trump voters off the hook too easily. Racism is not something that exists in absolute forms – that is, it’s not a simple black and white, yes or no question. There are varying degrees of racism that people can have and display. And racism is not just defined by one’s behavior, but by the behavior they tolerate. And at the end of the day, Trump voters saw a man who disparaged Muslims, Mexicans, the disabled and women, and ran a campaign promising to register people based on their religion, or outright banning their immigration to the country. And those Trump voters said, by voting for that man – “hey, that’s okay with me.” And that is despicable, and we shouldn’t forget it.

It’s like when we had slavery. Not everyone was personally a slave owner, but the people who supported those in power who did own slaves were in their own way supporting that practice. So, by voting for Trump, people validated and supported all of his divisive rhetoric and the campaign promises he made (whether he actually fulfills all of them or not.)

I understand that people have an instinctual desire to get along with other people, and it’s easier to brush differences under the rug than to expose them and talk about them honestly. But the election of Trump is and should be viewed as an outrage. Those who voted for him displayed absolutely no respect or empathy for any of the groups he routinely disparaged. So, we’re divided. And I don’t know if it’s even possible that we can “heal” that division. But that’s reality, and we shouldn’t hide from it. Hiding from and denying reality are part of the reasons that led to a president-elect Trump in the first place.

Trump Voters Racism

 

Photo credit:  Defense Dept. photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

What Does It Mean To Be A Patriot?

The whole situation with Colin Kaepernick and the way some of his detractors are slamming him for being “unpatriotic” because of his refusal to stand during the national anthem has had me thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a “patriot.”

To me, being a patriot means more than obediently falling in line and saluting a flag or standing for the national anthem.  Yes, those are ways that we show our love for our country as common and shared expressions, but they shouldn’t be used as a litmus test for deciding who is a patriot and who is not.

The real test of patriotism, in my opinion, is how much a person ascribes to the ideals that their country represents, how much they practice them in daily life and how much they are willing to defend those ideals, not just from outside forces but also from the very government institutions that we create which are supposed to uphold and enforce those ideals. As soon as those institutions begin to act in ways that are not in sync with the values that a country represents, I believe it is the duty of citizens to respond.

Which is exactly what Kaepernick has been trying to do, although many people have chosen to stick with the (in their eyes, disrespectful) imagery of him sitting or kneeling during the national anthem, rather than actually listen to his grievances.  With any protest or refusal to salute or pay respect to a national symbol or song, there needs to be consideration of the context of the intended statement.  If Kaepernick were simply trying to be ornery and troll others, and if he didn’t offer any legitimate reason for refusing to stand, then there could be an argument made that he’s just trying to piss everyone off by refusing to respect a song that has become treasured by millions of Americans who love their country.  It would still be his right, but he would probably look like a douchebag to pretty much everyone (except maybe other trolls) and it wouldn’t be as easy to defend him.

But Kaepernick has offered very clear and coherent public statements about exactly why he refuses to stand.  He is protesting what he sees as clear indications that people of color are being systematically and disproportionately harassed, injured or killed at the hands of corrupt police departments.  And we have seen some pretty obvious instances and reports that support that stance.  In addition to the several graphic videos that have emerged within the past few years which depict excessive force (or outright murder) being perpetrated on black men and women at the hands of police, there have been damning reports from the Department Of Justice which have revealed bias against minorities among police departments in major cities.  These are American citizens that are being hurt or killed unjustly at the hands of government institutions that are funded by taxpayers and are there supposedly to protect us.  The concept of what America stands for might vary from person to person, but I would pretty confidently say that injustice, and citizens’ deaths at the hands of police, are not fundamental values that most proud Americans would say are representative of their country.

I think the controversy surrounding Kaepernick does reveal deep-seated racial divisions within our country.  Because we have seen and heard countless instances of white citizens complaining about the “tyranny” of government, and the public response from most Americans towards them is very different than their views of Kaepernick.  They actually present themselves as “true patriots” while the government is this big bad entity that exists to quash our rights.  A big reason that the second amendment is so adamantly treasured and defended by gun rights groups is that it represents the ability of American citizens to protect themselves from the threat of the government stepping all over their rights and lives.  The fact that Kaepernick is a wealthy and famous athlete in the NFL compounds some of the resentment towards him, (which is wrong too,) but I think at the end of the day, his skin color and culture (have you seen his ‘fro lately?) is a major reason that he is not seen as a patriot while other (white) citizens who complain about the government are.

Patriot_Defend_EdwardAbbey

It is easy to be a “patriot” when all that means is flying an American flag outside your door or having it as your profile picture on social media.  But how “patriotic” is a person really being, when they choose to ignore the legitimate grievances of their fellow American citizens?  That’s not true patriotism, in my eyes.  American author Edward Abbey once said “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”  This is exactly what Kaepernick, in his own way, is doing.

 

 

Colin Kaepernick photo: by Au Kirk; cropped by Moe Epsilon [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Ann Coulter Is The Definition Of Ugly

Some people come to define words and concepts better than anything else possibly could.  When I think of Ann Coulter, all I think of is “ugly.”  I’m not commenting on her physical appearance.  I’m talking about the disgusting and repugnant hate and ugliness that she exhibits at seemingly every opportunity she gets.  Truly an ugly person.

Ann Coulter - Ugly resize

 

 

The Trump Legion Of Ignorance: Fighting For A “Hibeejabi”-Free World

 

An exchange happened about a week ago at one of Donald Trump’s rallies between the champion of making America great again himself and a female audience member.  For myself, it has come to symbolize everything wrong with Trump, his followers, and the state of stupid in this country.

As seen in the Youtube clip below, during a Q&A session a woman asks Trump why we’re not putting military retirees on the border or perhaps to work for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA,) and in the process, getting rid of all of those “hibeejabis” they wear there.

In case you are wondering what the fuck “hibeejabis” are or what this person is talking about, she is referring to hijabs, the traditional headscarves that those Mooslim women wear, and I guess the fact that she has seen people wear them at the TSA.

It has become difficult for me to decide what part of this exchange is more problematic – the bigoted, xenophobic anti-Muslim sentiment or the flat-out ignorance on the part of the woman…Or Trump’s failure to correct the embarrassingly incorrect name that was used or the anti-Muslim sentiment behind the question, and simply answer by saying “we are looking at that….we’re looking at a lot of things,” which not only fails to really say anything (which is nothing new for Trump,) but also reinforces the ignorance and bigotry.

It has become abundantly clear to me that Donald Trump and his campaign have offered up and fed upon the xenophobic and racist anger of many working class and poor Americans that feel resentment of “the others” (as in minorities,) in particular brown people such as Mexicans and Muslims, who are seen as people to fear and the source of America’s problems.  Oh sure, supporters of Trump will offer up all sorts of excuses for his bigotry, but I think any reasonable person would have to be wearing massive blinders to not see the glaring, ugly truth at this point.

And all of that is obviously disconcerting, but none of it surprises me.  I have been awake to the fact that America is still a very racist nation for a long time.  Racism from whites directed at minorities, to racism from minorities to other minorities, to that of some minorities toward whites – take your pick, it’s there.  What’s particularly insidious about the Trump campaign, though, is that he has the support of a pretty formidable voting block (white people.)  While racism and xenophobia can emanate from a variety of demographics, it has more institutional and social influence when it comes from the dominant population.

But perhaps what may be more unsettling is the extreme stupidity of it all, which is allowed to pass, by Trump and the crowd as if it is completely normal and okay.  The rise of news media outlets like Fox News around twenty years ago was reflective of a growing trend in America away from things like facts and towards blatant bias and ignorance, which has only seemed to have metastasized among disgruntled right-wingers since then.  Maybe Trump didn’t see fit to correct the woman, or maybe he didn’t want to alienate his xenophobic base or appear to be too “politically correct” or “elitist.”  Or maybe he is simply not that smart or doesn’t want to appear to be so.  And this is what we’ve got, people.  Isn’t it sad that having an education and not being ignorant is now seen as elitist by a lot of people?  People that vote?  Can you picture someone like JFK or any of the other notable past presidents fielding and responding to such a question in the same manner?

The late George Carlin mused about the sad status of intelligence in America often.  I can’t imagine what he would say about Trump’s candidacy if he were alive today.

Look, not everyone is going to be a rocket scientist.  People need to do the best with what they’ve got.  But this is willful ignorance.  Meaning, this person probably has the mental capacity to see the error of their ways if they would only bother to actually read something or do any kind of analytical fact-seeking, but it’s a culture of laziness and mediocrity that has infected this country for years.  And regarding Trump’s response, shouldn’t someone who is trying to be the president of the United States him/herself be, or at least aspire to be, intelligent or at least smarter than the average person?  Don’t you want your president to be smarter than you are?  I do.  If America elects Trump, we truly deserve him.  As Carlin has also pointed out, if you have ignorant, selfish citizens, you’re going to end up with ignorant, selfish leaders.  That has probably never resonated more truthfully than with Trump’s candidacy.

 

Donald Trump photo By Marc Nozell – https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcn/24622320840/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46901376

 

Should “Dora The Explorer” Be Deported?

 

So I’m at the clinic where my son receives his bi-weekly physical therapy sessions the other day, and next to us is another dad and his son, along with some therapists.  I overhear him explaining about how he had a bunch of “Dora The Explorer” cartoons saved on his DVR, but that he had deleted them, and was recalling his explanation of it to either his son or someone else who had asked him about it (I didn’t hear that part clearly.)

“I deported her ass!” he proudly proclaimed.  I didn’t hear any reaction from the people he was talking to.

Okay, I thought.  Another instance of racism delivered as a joke, which would either be dismissed by some as “just a joke,” or flat-out denied as being racist by others.  But it lingered with me for a bit, and I started thinking of precisely why the statement was racist.

First of all, is there anything about Dora The Explorer that would give someone the impression that she could be deported, other than being Latina?  After all, there are plenty of people who get all riled up about illegal immigrants being in the country, but whenever the notion of racism gets suggested, they are quick to point out that they are against illegal immigrants, not all immigration.

So, what would give someone the idea that Dora is an illegal immigrant?  Sure, she’s an explorer, so you might think that maybe she goes around to places where she’s not welcome, with her talking backpack and human-like monkey pal in tow.  But so was Christopher Columbus, who did much more than just explore “new” places.  And he is seen as a hero by many, along with the other European explorers from hundreds of years ago.  So it’s not just that.  And, from what I have seen, it’s not like she goes to places and establishes herself there, mooching off taxpayers and stealing jobs.  In fact, I think she goes to someplace new in each episode.  Maybe she has a travel visa, and is following the law to the letter with all of her adventures.

So it’s got to be something else.  Oh, that’s right, she’s brown.  So, simply because of that fact, she is deportable?  I guess.  This reflects the deep-rooted xenophobia that I think is at the core of a lot of anti-immigrant thought.  Sure, people will say that it’s only about the illegal immigrants.  But what they should really be saying is that it is about the brown immigrants.  If the cartoon was called “Susie The Explorer” and the character was white, there would be no joke whatsoever, whether she were an explorer or not.

And let’s not go with the “it’s just a joke” thing.  That is a convenient way to hide from ugly truths that come out through attempts at humor.  Whether we like it or not, there is an element of truth to jokes, which is exactly what makes them work (or not) as a joke.  If the guy who made this joke had said something like “she got abducted by aliens,” it wouldn’t make sense at all, because nothing in the cartoon has anything to do with aliens.  Dora is no more likely to be kidnapped by extraterrestrials than you or I.  But it’s the unfortunate attitude in many people’s minds that brown people aren’t as welcome in America as others which makes a joke about deportation possible.  Dora’s perceived vulnerability in this issue is due to the color of her skin, and nothing else.

What’s extra sad about this scenario, on top of it being an unfunny attempt at humor that makes light of a situation (deportation) that isn’t funny for the people who get affected by it (including those here legally,) is that it takes the innocence away from a kid’s show.  Among many other things, having toddlers of my own at home and watching different shows aimed at children has reminded me of how such programming is free from the ugly, selfish and “get yours” attitude that plagues adulthood in our society.  There are no immigration laws among the different inhabitants of Nickelodeon.  Nor are there arguments about taxes, or black versus white, or freeloaders, Obamacare, or anything of the sort.  I’m not sure if this dad was recounting his explanation to his son or someone else, but regardless, his son was right in front of him when he said it.  And that’s where this type of mentality is probably most ardently learned.

Come on, man.  Your kid knows nothing about being a racist.  Give him a chance.

Photo credit – Wikipedia Commons – Ian Gampon

America’s Lack Of Outrage Towards Institutional Racism

Over the past year in supposedly post-racial America, we have seen some glaring examples of racist viewpoints running the gamut from an elderly billionaire like former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling secretly recorded telling his then-mistress not to bring black people to his games, to college-age youngsters in the University of Oklahoma chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity engaged in a racist sing-along on a bus.  These repulsive displays of bigotry caused outrage among many Americans, and rightfully so.

However, while reading Facebook comments pertaining to the recorded chants of the SAE members proclaiming that “there will never be a n____” among their brothers, I came across a critical observation made from a former colleague regarding how American society and the media treat examples of racist attitudes from individuals versus institutional racism, as well as the consequences (or lack thereof) that come along with them.

The “bus o’ bigotry” incident of SAE led to the University of Oklahoma launching an immediate investigation into whether the people in the video are actually students from the university, and threatening to kick the fraternity off the campus if that were the case.  That didn’t matter, though.  The chapter was promptly shut down by SAE leadership anyway.  Donald Sterling was forced by the NBA to sell the Clippers, and received a lifetime ban from the league.  All in all, fairly clear indicators that such blatant displays of racism are not going to be tolerated and are unwelcome is today’s America.

Yet, there were also recent examples of both individual and institutional racism that didn’t seem to ignite as much of a response from the American public as the ones mentioned above, nor did they have immediate consequences that were as severe.  At least not for the institutional part.

The U.S. Department of Justice released a report weeks ago, highly critical of the Ferguson police department and court system for its use of racial bias in policing.  Data was compiled for months, which indicated higher incidences of the use of force with blacks, as well as other practices deemed unconstitutional.  Racist emails that had been circulated among officers in the department and others in the city’s court system were also found in the probe.  Those emails led to two police officers resigning and a city clerk being fired.

But it wasn’t until weeks after the announcement of the investigation’s findings that the Ferguson police chief, Thomas Jackson, finally voluntarily resigned.  There hadn’t been widespread condemnation and outrage directed at Jackson or the Ferguson police force for the findings of the DOJ.  At least nothing that could compare to the beatings that Sterling and the SAE bus bigots received in the media and online.  It is frustrating how, in America, what a person says seems to carry more weight than what a person actually does.  There are even racism deniers, such as the conservative, corporate-mouthpiece hosts of Red Eye Radio, Gary McNamara and Eric Harley, who assert that institutional racism just doesn’t exist anymore.

Just as there are surely more than a couple of individuals across the country that share the same repugnant attitudes of Donald Sterling or the former SAE frat boys, we can’t sit back and pretend that the Ferguson police department is the only American institution that is plagued by racism and discrimination.  And when it is demonstrated that institutional racism exists, there should be just as much, if not more, outrage directed at said institutions from the public.  Because it is this type of racism that has severe real-world implications and effects.  We can’t help what some individuals or groups of people may think of other races, but we can and should do our best to ensure that the institutions meant to serve all Americans do so in a fair and just manner.

Photo source – Pixabay.com – WikiImages