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Monday, December 16, 2013

Quote on White Privilege

Asking whites to notice white privilege "is sort of like asking fish to notice water or birds to discuss air" Frances E. Kendall, from her book Understanding White Privilege, 2006.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The n-word

There is perhaps no topic in the whole realm of the subject of race that I find more exasperating than that of the n-word. For every time the hateful and hurtful use of it by a nonblack person becomes news (most recently: Paula Dean, Tim Allen's defense of Paula Dean, Rush Limbaugh's response to Rachel Jeantel, Riley Cooper, etc., etc.), inevitably the defense is gonna be "but I hear black people using it all the time--so what's the difference?" At the risk of oversimplifying or using unequal offenses for comparison (there really IS no equivalent comparison, IMHO, in our language and culture, to the ugly damage and reaction that the n-word can inflict and prompt), let me take a stab at defusing the "so what's the difference?" argument:

If someone has a mental disability, it is (we all know this) hateful and hurtful to refer to that person as a "retard." If that person decides to refer to him- or herself as such, so be it. If that person, when getting together with other people with mental disabilities, decide to call themselves and one another "retards," so be it. It is not license for you and me, who do not suffer mental disabilities, to call them "retards."

If someone is from the rural hills of West Virginia, or Southwest Virginia, or Eastern Kentucky, or Eastern Tennessee, or Northern Georgia, or the Ozarks of Missouri or Arkansas, and decides to self-identify as a "hillbilly," so be it. If, when they are among their own, they refer to themselves and one another from time to time as "hillbillies," they have not offended you or me. That does NOT make it OK for US to begin referring to residents and former residents of those parts by that term.

If some lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and/or transgendered people begin to refer to themselves as "queer," it's no skin off my back. If they set up a "queer studies" university program, host a "queer studies" conference, engage in writing and discussing "queer theory," well, all right then. Am I then right in beginning to lable all LGBT people as "queer?" Of course not.

A hair-challenged person may refer to themselves as "baldy," a larger person may call themselves "fat," a short person may refer to themselves as a "shrimp". A mutlti-ethnic or multi-racial person may say they are a "mutt." None of this changes what terms someone NOT of these categories should use in referring to people of these categories. A friend may even give us individual permission to refer to THEM by these labels, but they do not have the authority to serve as spokespersons for their group, to authorize and justify our use of said label for all member of the group, in any setting.

And, finally, though I don't intend to go into a long discussion of history and power dynamics here, let me briefly say that a member of a historically kidnapped, enslaved, oppressed and excluded group referring to a member of the historically (and currently) empowered group as a "cracker" doesn't even BEGIN to compare in hatred, damage, inflamatory capacity, etc. to a white person's use of the n-word. Not even in the same galaxy. Nope.

Rachel Jeantel, etc.

Belatedly sharing my view of just part of the killing of Trayvon Martin trial. First, the prosecution, in my opinion screwed things up royally. Why hang so much of your case on whose voice is doing what in the background of the bystander 911 calls, or who the bystanders think was on top at any given time in the rainy dark, when they dared to catch a split-second glimpse? These are questions no one knows the answer to for sure. And they have nothing to do with who was in the wrong in instigating this whole, immensely avoidable, senseless and tragic killing. As I said on FB back on July 9: "I don't know or care who was on top, or who was screaming, and I don't know what the law is, but I Know this: if my teenage child gets caught in a rainstorm while walking and takes cover under a mail kiosk, and some armed stranger with no law enforcement authority starts eying and then following her or him, first in a vehicle, then stalking her or him on foot with a concealed gun, I want the law to say that stranger is committing a felony and recklessly endangering the safety of my child, and that my child is warranted (though not wise, perhaps) in confronting that stranger and kicking his a** if she or he so chooses. My prayers for Trayvon's loved ones who are about to get the shaft, I fear. God help us." The public, too, (as well, of course, the defense) was blatantly unfair in their opinions of and treatment of key witness Rachel Jeantel. I posted on response to FB friend Shawn Braxton's insightful comments on the exasperating trial: "Just watched cross-exam so far of Ms. Jeantel. She's been in poor quality Dade Co. schools all her life, parents aren't native English speakers, and defense strategy is to rattle her and discredit her by making her read, questioning her black dialect way of talking, by interrupting her, by keeping her up there forever, by confusing her, and by a complete lack of care for the emotion and nerves she is going through. Disgusting." I would add that it also came out (I would have realized it had I been a more astute observer) that much of what made her speech halting and harder to comprehend was the underbite that she suffers from and has appliances in place to correct.

Adam Jones, baseball player, victim of ugly racist incident on the field Yeesh...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sergio and Tiger

Best analysis yet I've seen on golfer Sergio Garcia's "fried Chicken" reference directed at Tiger Woods:;_ylt=AmRIACnYZ3.IKO9e12CJE34m7.x_;_ylu=X3oDMTRxcG05dXJvBGNjb2RlA3ZzaGFyZWFnMnVwcmVzdARtaXQDTWl4ZWQgTGlzdCBOZXdzIEZvciBZb3UEcGtnAzJhMWYzZDU2LTJmNTEtMzYwMi04NmVjLTA3OTM1MWYxOTY4YgRwb3MDNARzZWMDbmV3c19mb3JfeW91BHZlcgM3ZTE2MTc4MS1jMzNiLTExZTItYmZjOS0zOTEyYzQyZWUyMDQ-;_ylg=X3oDMTBhYWM1a2sxBGxhbmcDZW4tVVM-;_ylv=3 Even here, though, after the author reminds us that such comments don't just "come out of nowhere," he later backs off and calls the comments more stupid than racist, putting them in the "context" of Garcia's frustration with being allegeldy distracted by and certainly beaten up in competition by Woods. But such frustrating and tense "contexts" arew exactly when latent racist feelings and beliefs are bound to surface--that doesn't make the surfacing of them any less "racist."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Apology, Rucker, Quote

First, I apologize in posting wrong information about the racial identity of Ms. Knight, the least known captive set free in Cleveland a week or two back. It would appear she is white. Second, Darius Rucker received a tweet telling him to leave country music to white folk, and some question WHY he bothered to respond. "So the would can see them." Good answer. Hidden racism remains hidden, and can be denied by the mainstream. Bring it out in the open in all it's ugliness, and let it make us uncomfortable and maybe even open a few eyes. I commend you, Sir Rucker, brave soul and talented singer! Finally, a quote I came across for our consideration: Frances Kendall, in her 2006 book entitled Understanding White Privilege, says that asking whites to notice white privilege "is sort of like asking fish to notice water or birds to discuss air" (p. 22). Chew on that one for a while, if you like.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Race and the young women found in Cleveland

"Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms." --Rescuer Charles Ramsey, an African American and a hero today, telling it like it is. Also need answers to why Michelle Knight, the only African American among the three abducted, was never in the news, her mother couldn't get the state and the media involved in searching for her daughter, because authorities were convinced, wrongly it turns out, that she had left of her own accord. The media are a little late in reporting this aspect. Here's what little I've seen: Also, they are a bit uncomfortable with Ramsey's candid attitude regarding gender and race. See the GMA news anchor's reaction upon the playing of the quote I started with. (See especially 6:40-7:00)