Site Meter

Monday, March 30, 2009

Officer Powell, Part 2

This from the Dallas Morning News (

Zach Thomas: Same Dallas officer mistreated my wife
NFL linebacker says line was crossed in 2008 traffic stop; Powell's attorney sees no improper actions

11:47 PM CDT on Sunday, March 29, 2009

By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

Maritza Thomas, the wife of NFL linebacker Zach Thomas, saw a familiar face as she watched the video of Officer Robert Powell detaining Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats as he and his family rushed to a hospital to see a dying loved one. That face was Powell's.

On July 27, 2008, while her husband was at training camp with the Cowboys in Oxnard, Calif., Maritza Thomas was pulled over by Powell for an illegal U-turn near NorthPark Center.

Maritza Thomas was issued five tickets by Powell, four of which were later dismissed. Thomas was handcuffed, placed in the back of a police cruiser, spent about three hours in the Dallas County Jail and was threatened with the possibility of spending the night behind bars.

"This in no way compares to what happened to Ryan Moats and his family," said Zach Thomas, who played for the Cowboys last season and is now a free agent. "But we wanted to tell our story, not knowing how many others have been affected by Officer Powell. We know the vast majority of the Dallas police force are good and professional people, but this guy just seems excessive."

The charges that were dropped were failure to show proof of insurance, running a red light, having an improper address on a driver's license and not having a registration sticker on the windshield. She accepted deferred adjudication for the illegal U-turn charge, and her record will be cleared next month.

In total, Maritza Thomas, who is Hispanic, was detained roughly five hours.

"This situation never should've happened," said Maritza Thomas' attorney, Brody Shanklin. "Unless extraordinary circumstances exist, no person should be arrested for a Class C citation. In this case, it was an example of Officer Powell being overzealous and exerting his authority in a manner that he never should have."

Bob Gorsky, Powell's attorney, questioned the timing of Thomas' allegations, saying she had not complained about her arrest until the Moats incident became public.

"After her arrest, she may have mentioned that her husband was a football player, but that played no role in her arrest or the disposition of the case," Gorsky said.

"I do understand that an arrest on multiple traffic charges happens often and is absolutely proper under these circumstances," Gorsky said. "Often, when there are multiple charges, an arrest made and bond posted, some of the charges from a single event are later dropped."

According to Maritza Thomas, a pharmacist with no prior criminal record, Powell would not accept the explanation of where the proper paperwork was before she was taken to jail. Her mother, Teresa Lozano, who was making her first trip to Dallas and speaks little English, was forced to ride with the tow truck driver when the car was impounded. She later posted bail for her daughter's release.

"My mom was begging for him to let her go to the apartment that was five minutes away to get the paperwork," Maritza Thomas said. "He unbuckled his holster, and she got scared."

The Thomases said Powell was dismissive, but they did not allege that he used abusive language. There is no dash-cam video available of the incident, but the police report lists the five citations and confirms that Thomas was taken to jail.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Urban League Pressures Obama

The Urban League (remember them?) is pressuring Obama to more directly address the issues (imprisonment, unemployment, affordable housing, etc.) most pressing for blacks. They issued a "State of the Black Union" yesterday and challenged Obama to do more to help African Americans. This is gonna be a tightrope walk for Obama, as it was in the campaign--to remain "black enough" for fellow blacks but not too black for the nonblack public. As far as I know, the Urban League has gotten no response from Obama. Good politics. Good ethics? Now that's another question.

Cop Prevents NFL Player from seeing Mother-in-Law before she died

Here's the story link:
Houston Texan running back Ryan Moats was stopped for rolling through a red light outside the Plano, Texas hospital where his mother-in-law was dying, and refused to relent from hassling Moats after informed of the situation, using threatening language like "I can screw you over," "shut your mouth" and threats to arrest him and take him to jail. By the time the officer, Robert Powell, was informed by other officers that Moat was telling the truth, it was too late. The dying woman's daughter, Moat's wife, was also in the car but left despite being told by Powell to get back in the car. She saw her mom before she died.

Of course, Moats is black; Powell is white. The Dallas police chief is siding with Powell after watching a videotape of the incident. The one point the article doesn't make: how much publicity would this have gotten had Moats not been a famous professional athlete? Would the police chief ever even have gotten involved? What do YOU think?

RIP John Hope Franklin

Perhaps the greatest African American historian, and the greatest historian of blacks, died yesterday. I just attended a conference on race at Duke last weekend that was in Franklin's honor, but he was unable to attend. One of my heroes. May God comfort his family, and may Franklin's life example inspire all of us to work toward justice and understanding between the races.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Name-Deaf America?

I came across this Q and A of Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal in Time Magazine, 3-16-09, p. 4:
Q.: Did you make a deliberate effort to transcend race in your political career? asked by Fatima Syed, Richmond, VA
Jindal's A: The great thing about the U.S. is it doesn't matter what your last name is. We live in this diverse pluralistic country where people are accepted for who they are.

The first time I read this, I thought: Just the usual colorblind ideology prevalent in the U.S. these days. Then I noticed Jinal's emphasis on the LAST name not mattering. Ironic. The questioner's FIRST name, too (Fatimah) is "foreign," "nonChristian" sounding. Jindal, on the other hand, changed his from "Piyush" to the inoccuous, even inane-sounding "Bobby." Contrast this with our president, who went by "Barry" to fit in in childhood and adolescence, but made a conscious decision to revert to Barack in college-age, and has stuck with it since. Revealing. Being true to self vs. trying to fit in.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Ending Racism in About an Hour" of laughs

Was reading a report by Julianne Ong Hing on Color Lines about black comedian Kamau Bell ( He calls his show "The W. Kamau Bell Curve Show: Ending Racism In About An Hour." Gotta love this guy for that title alone. Then there is this: apparently he offers a deal that allows folks who bring a friend of a different race to get two tickets for the price of one. He does this for a reason: “Most comedy club audiences are white. But there’s a critical mass of brown people who need to be in the room,” Bell says, “or else there are times when it becomes court testimony.”

Among the topics of his show: the tension of needing to be on his best behavior when he is the only black in a room full of whites. "He compared it to acting like Cuba Gooding Jr. ... before multiple slights make him feel more like Samuel L. Jackson, mouth set and shoulders clenched" writes Hing.

For the people of color in the audience, the laughs came from knowing recognition. If the whites in the room felt a little uncomfortable, Bell says that is exactly his intention. 'Sometimes I don’t want it couched in a joke,' he says. 'I want the statement to bounce off their foreheads.'"

As for how Obama's election affects Bell's routine: “The show needs to be even more specific than before, because people think racism is over. I feel the need to say it more directly and more specifically now.”

See his website at I like this kind of honest, squirm-inducing approach to race. Good for breaking through those troublesome, stubborn defenses.

Friday, March 13, 2009

"Resident Evil" goes "Racially Evil"

Resident Evil has been a popular video game franchise since 1996, selling over 12 million untis and producing nearly half a million dollars in sales. Now Resident Evil 5, released today, has raised some controversy among race-sensitive folks, although not apparently among most gamers. What's the problem? The game features the player as a protagonist white male shooting and machete hacking shirtless, ragged, red-eyed African zombies. Yeah, I'd say that might be a problem. THe criticsm started in 2007 when trailer previews were first released, but apparently few changes were made by the mostly Asian and white game programmers. ReporterMike Smith puts it well in this excerpt from

"Is it racist? Taken purely in isolation, the sight of a white male gunning down hordes of semi-mindless African opponents has provoked many reactions. But although only a few reviews have sneaked out so far, they largely brush off the racism allegations: it's currently scoring 87% at review aggregation site Even the BBFC, the group responsible for issuing age certifications in Britain, publicly declared the race controversy a non-issue.

Other commentators have been less charitable. One preview on slammed the game as playing "so blatantly into the old cliches of the dangerous dark continent and the primitive lust of its inhabitants that you'd swear the game was written in the 1920s".

But most video game critics seem to have ignored the race controversy. "For my money, fun is fun, and RE5 has near infinite ammo in that department," said IGN in this review, which goes on to award it a top score. In fact, it's turning in top scores almost across the board.

Some critics have even pointed (rather accurately, I would judge)to the outbreak of a zombie-like, walking-dead-like infection in poor rural Africa to the AIDS epidemic raging through that continent.

One more note: the protogonist's sidekick is a resident of the area, but is female, lightskinned, straight-haired, and much of the focus is on her booty, not her beauty.

Finally, I looked for a facebook protest group to join. A keyword search of "resident evil racist" brought up a group called "Resident Evil is NOT Racist!" with 617 members and many other smaller groups defending the game. The first one I found protesting it, "Resident Evil 5 is the most racist game ever," is a closed group, apparently because an open group was or would have been overrun with militant defenders of the game, and the closed group has only 9 members. I ended up joining a group called "CAPCOMd is Racist" at

CAPCOM is the game's publisher.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Binghamton Basketball Controversy

I read on article about Binghamton (a SUNY campus) basketball player D.J. Rivera, who led his conference in scoring, being left off the America East all-conference team because the league's coaches (who select the team)were "protesting the recruiting practices of Binghamton coach Kevin Broadus, who has been bringing in players with, um, questionable backgrounds." (,146880) Both Rivera and Broadus are black, while the majority of coaches and players in the league are white.

The irony of using the verb "blackball" in the headline and article is apparently lost on the writer.

Rivera, a transfer from St. Joseph’s who was academically ineligible for a semester last year, did not have to sit out a season because of the NCAA’s hardship waiver rule. That didn't sit well with other coaches. And Broadus has recruited other (black) players transferring from schools where they've run into academic or disciplinary problems.

Quoting from a Feb. 21 New York Times article by Pete Thamel (

Broadus, 45, said that his players had been “exceptional in the classroom” and that giving young men a second chance was part of his job. He referred to Georgetown’s acceptance of Allen Iverson [when Broadus was an assitant coach there] despite an arrest in high school for his part in a bowling alley brawl.

“Who knows how any of these kids are going to turn out?” Broadus said.

“Look back at Georgetown. Allen Iverson has been a model citizen in America. He’s taken care of his family and is playing well in the N.B.A. We’re in the business of giving kids opportunities to better themselves in life. That’s my job.”

The changes at Binghamton have been noticed by the America East, whose teams rarely make money or appear on national television. When the league’s faculty athletic representatives meet, they talk about modeling themselves after the Ivy and Patriot Leagues, not the Big East or the Southeastern Conferences.

Jim Fiore, the athletic director at Stony Brook, said, “It certainly causes you to pause when you think that on a different level in the league, someone has a different philosophy than we do.”

Broadus, however, does not answer to the conference.

“I’m running my program, and my administration is happy the way I’m running it,” Broadus said.

“I tolerate no nonsense with any of these kids and I’m doing it the right way.”

I think the reference to "the Ivy League and Patriot League" is especially telling, as both are predominately white in sports as well as overall.

One other note: none of the three articles I read on this matter mentioned race, instead leaving photos of black, tattooed players and a black coach to tell that part of the story.

Anti-miscegenation Poem of early 20th century

I was fooling around, looking at old print ads scanned into an archive on the internet last week, when I came across this sickening poem. Of course, the irony of whites' visceral fear and hatred of black man-white woman relations is that 95% or more of the mixing of black and white blood in this country has been a result of white man-black woman mating (often by rape), not black man-white woman. I think Freud would call this "projection." Here's the poem, if you can stomach it, presented as evidence of the sickness in our society.

“The Saddest Story Ever Told”
By Oliver Allstrom
When a White Girl Has a Black Baby
When a white girl marries a negro, her sun of life goes down.
And glaring spots of sin appear on her white wedding gown.
And white and black men stand aghast, while viewing this strange role;
And mutter, “they will wreck themselves, and damn each other’s soul.”
We know a carnivorous bug has crept into her brain
And gnawed away her self-respect, which left her half insane.
Now all her racial pride has flown beyond redemption’s fold
And she begin’s life’s saddest tale that ever yet was told.
Three days and nights she felt black lips press smug against her own,
And on the fourth, her troubled soul, let out a frightful groan.
And so the weeks and months flew by, and then a baby came;
She looked at it with tear filled eyes, and hung her head with shame.
And then she dreamed of other days, sweet, girlhood days gone by,
And of the white friends left behind, and so we hear her cry;
“O, could I turn life’s pendulum backwards a few short years
I would not bear this cross today, nor shed these bitter tears.”
“My baby would be white as snow, and sleep upon my breast
Like a fledgling robin that slumbers in its nest.
While now, O God, my mongrel child just whimpers through the night
Till in my sleepless dreams I scream, not white, O God, not white!”
And so I stagger through my days far from God’s love and grace,
Till now, I know, no black man lives, can take a white man’s place.
My offsprings shall be mongrel bred, their hue-skin shall remain,
For even God with all His power, cannot remove the stain.
I sold my birthright for a mess, I mixed my white-born blood
With black blood, so I languish here like one bogged down in mud.
Though God may grant a pardon, I never can retrace
My footsteps down life’s narrow road, back to the white man’s race.
So now I groan, “It might have been,” had racial pride been mine.
Today I’d hug a pure white child, and call him half divine,
I’d lift him up before the world, and praise his father’s name,
While now, my baby’s mongrel face, reminds me of my shame.
All other crimes may be forgiven when prayer its power fulfills;
The scheming crook may find new hope, and even the man that kills,
But all my prayers can never clear my baby’s mongrel skin,
Nor make him white as driven snow, nor cleanse my soul of sin.
I was my father’s future hope, my mother’s joy and pride,
But I got lost on life’s dark road, and there my spirit died.
I smeared my all-white heritage and left the white man’s track,
Now my descendants for all time shall be forever black.
I try to hide from all the stars, the moon and setting sun;
For all mankind of my white race, condemn what I have done;
I tremble and my teardrops flow, I pray, but pray in vain;
For nevermore shall I be one with my white race again.
And so dark clouds above me roll, deep waters crash below,
I sink, and reap what I have sown, and drink my cup of woe.
My mother sleeps deep in her grave, my dad lies at her side,
For both were crushed when I became a negro’s common bride.
Now, should I decide to leave him, where could I choose to go?
My misspent life will follow me like footprints in the snow.
Before me lie dark jungles where paramours seek a prey;
Behind me death keeps whispering, “I am the only way.”
This black and white, prenuptial mess, this racial suicide;
Must be forbidden by the law, men must find racial pride!
Then, never again, forever, shall tales like mine unfold.
With all its shame and sadness, that ever yet was told.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Geo. Wallace's daughter hugs Holder at Selma

I was just reading an article on the 44th commemoration of the Selma march to Montgomery--the one that was so abruptly interrupted by baton-wielding law offices. Says that among the participants today were former Alabama governor George Wallace's daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, and the nation's first black attorney general, Eric Holder. "It's reconciliation and redemption" Ms. Kennedy is quoted as saying.

Holder said, "I am a beneficiary of Selma." Adding to the historic overtones of Wallace Kennedy's and Holder's embrace" George Wallace had made his "stand in the schoolhouse door" to try to keep Holder's future sister-in-law, Vivian Malone Jones, from integrating University of Alabama in 1963.

"I so wish Vivian had lived to see this moment," Holder said after hugging Wallace's daughter.

You can

Happy International Women's Day!

Yeah, I know this blog is supposed to be about race, but in sociology race and gender make up two-thirds of the holy stratification/inequality trinity )race, class, and gender). And with intersectionality all the rage (rightly so), we folks who would emphasize the importance of race dare not miss the important interconnections of these two major "ascribed" statuses. So, again, Happy International Women's Day, everybody!

For more info, see or
A closer read reveals that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the first National Women's Day commemoration! More reason to celebrate!

"black on black crime" in UFC

This may seem a kind of trivial take on race, but I was reading an account of an Ultimate Fighting Championship (mixed martial arts--in other words, kicking, slugging and wrestling) bout. The first thing that caught my eye was the photo of a black guy and a white guy, nose to nose, eye to eye, both trying to look threatening. It turns out that the black guy won: "Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson was far from spectacular, but he pounded out a unanimous decision Saturday over Keith Jardine at UFC 96 in Nationwide Arena that landed him an even bigger prize."
"Jackson will get a chance to fight Rashad Evans for the UFC light heavyweight title May 23 at UFC 98 in Las Vegas after his workmanlike victory." The champ, Evans is also black leading to a funny, race-conscious quote from Jackson, seeking to hype the upcoming championship fight. Here's how the article puts it:
"Jackson came out unscathed and was clear about his intentions. He got into a nose-to-nose showdown with Evans in the cage and said, 'It’s going to be black on black crime,' before stomping away."