Category Archives: race/ethnicity

Body Delusions

cameron tedCameron Russell transforms herself from hot model to girl-next-door in six seconds after walking on stage for a TED Talk. All she did was trade six-inch heels for flats, wrap a long skirt over her mini and pull on a sweater. 

Image is superficial.

But it’s also powerful.

Once when she had wanted to buy a dress, but forgotten her money, she got the dress for free.

Yet a brown-skinned woman might be followed around the store, identified as a potential shoplifter.

When a friend of Cameron’s got pulled over for running a red light, the supermodel uttered, ”Sorry, officer” and they got off scott free.  Read the rest of this entry

Whitewashing White Privilege

SegregationBy Sarah Shaver

I grew up in a white-only world. As a child I didn’t realize that segregation had this purpose: It’s easier to deny people justice when you don’t know them.

As a kid growing up in Ohio in the 1960s I lived in a white neighborhood and most of my friends were white. So were my teachers, my doctor, my dentist and anyone else of seeming importance. That world seemed natural and normal to me.

When an Asian family moved into our neighborhood someone painted “COMMIE” on their trash cans. They only lasted a month. When a black family moved to the very edge of our neighborhood my family moved out. I was told that blacks would ruin the place. Later I went back and was surprised that the whole neighborhood had become black. And clean and well-kept and beautiful.  Read the rest of this entry

On Burqas and Being Subordinate

1By Zaineb Alkhaleef

Last Halloween I saw a white teenage boy dressed as an Arab man. His friend wore a burqa — and a rope around (his/her?) neck, which the “Arab man” held as a leash. He kept pulling “her” around and shouting orders. I was shocked and wondered what their motive could be.

It got me thinking about women and rights.

I am a devout Muslim woman who wears hijab, a scarf to cover my hair.

Why do I do this? Because I am inferior and subordinate? Because it is my job to control men’s sexuality?

No.

I grew up hearing that men are sexual predators who are incapable of looking at a woman who isn’t covered from head to toe without wanting to rape them, or “mentally rape” them.

But that’s not why I cover my hair.

In fact, while some say women must dress modestly to keep uncontrollable men from sinning, I don’t buy it.

Read the rest of this entry

Turning Indian Girls Into Boys

india_1931596cIndian parents are paying to have their daughters turned into sons through sex-change operations that cost about 145,000 rupees ($3,200). Up to 300 girls have been surgically turned into boys in one city.

The procedure involves fashioning a penis from the little girls’ female organs. Afterwards they are injected with male hormones, which they will need to take throughout their lives. The procedure will leave these children impotent and infertile in adulthood. No sons or daughters for them.

The Madhya Pradesh government is investigating.

Read the rest of this entry

Trayvon Martin’s Right to ‘Stand His Ground’

trayvon-hoodie300x2851We’re told over and over that if Zimmerman was afraid of Martin, according to Florida law, he had the right to put a bullet in the chamber of his concealed handgun, get out of his car after being told not to by the 911 dispatcher and follow and confront Martin and shoot him to death.

That’s from CNN opinion writer, Miller Francis. He continues:

At the same time, we are told that Martin, who had far greater reason to fear Zimmerman, practically and for reasons of American history, did not have the right to confront his stalker, stand his ground and defend himself, including by using his fists. We are told that this was entirely unjustified and by doing so, Martin justified his own execution.

Talk about victim-blaming!

The contradiction-in-rights likely arises because we tend to see through the eyes of the powerful and not through the eyes of the powerless. After all, the powerless have little control over media or the political or religious pulpits. With that in mind, I’m reposting the following as the Martin v. Zimmerman jury deliberates:

The Crimes of Hoodies, Short Skirts and Fannie Mae

More guns, fewer hoodies” and we’d all be safer, Gail Collins advised in a New York Times piece after Trayvon Martin was gunned down for “eating skittles while black” – and while wearing said hoodie – in a gated community. A clear threat that had to be stopped.

That’s right. Guns don’t kill people, hoodies do: Trayvon Martin’s “hoodie killed him as surely as George Zimmerman did,” claimed Geraldo Rivera (who later apologized).

Sounds familiar. When women are raped short skirts become the culprit.

Yet few rape victims are wearing short skirts. And even nicely dressed black men can create fear. Journalist Brent Staples noticed that people got out of his way when he nonchalantly walked about. Amazed at his ability to alter public space, he tried humming Mozart to project his innocence. Seemed to help.

But why aren’t pricey cars, fancy suits and expensive watches blamed when rich, white men get robbed? What thief could resist?

Why? Because making more powerless members of society the culprit is meant to distract from the sins of the powerful. It’s women’s fault if men rape them, and it’s black men’s fault if lighter men kill them.

In another example, some blamed liberals for foolishly using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help Blacks and Hispanics “buy homes they couldn’t afford,” leading to the banking crises that nearly drove the U.S. economy off a cliff.

What really happened is that rich bankers gave rich campaign contributions to government officials, who in gratitude disposed of pesky regulations. That helped bankers get mega-rich by devising complex financial packages that no one could comprehend.

Used to be that when someone bought a home bankers made sure they’d get paid back. But under deregulation it didn’t matter because the loan was sold to someone else. And that investor sold the loan again. And financial packages were created and sold, composed of fractions of many people’s mortgage loans. They were rated AAA since they were 1) diversified – and hence “safe” investments and 2) the housing market never goes down. (Yeah, right!)

Fannie and Freddie entered the process late, thinking they’d better join in or lose out.

When the housing market dropped and people couldn’t afford their homes, or sell them for a profit, the banks began collapsing. Lucky for them, the taxpayers bailed them out (or the whole economy likely would have collapsed).

Did deregulation get blamed for the fiasco? By some. But plenty of the “powers that be” — and especially “hate radio” — blamed Blacks and Latinos.

Because blaming more powerless members of society distracts from the sins of the powerful.

The crime does not lie with the man who pulls the trigger, nor with the man who rapes, and certainly not with the fat cat who pays to rig the game. No, the crime lies with those who wear hoodies, short skirts and who bank while black or brown.

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Racism: Genetic or Learned?

end-racismEvolutionary psychology says racism is in our genes — a genetic adaptation that helps groups survive by favoring themselves over others. Skin color cues us in to who’s “in” and who’s “out.” (Yet the most prosperous areas of the world are those that cooperate and trade with each other?)

When I explain the theory, my students are appalled. (Though they readily accept evolutionary psych when it comes to explaining supposed sex differences.)

I once wrote a comment questioning evolutionary psychology on Slate and got the following response:

And what about all of those studies on doctors that found they treat patients differently because of race? What about those studies that show that we show preference to people wearing the same color of shirts as us?

Then shouldn’t children prefer parents who have their same hair/eye color? Not in my case. My mom has brown eyes and very light skin like me and my dad has green eyes and darker skin. Yet as a child I preferred him because mom was the disciplinarian.

And doctors could treat patients differently because they learn prejudice and not because they are genetically programmed to discriminate.

You also have to wonder why so many brown-haired, brown-eyed people have a preference for blonde, blue-eyed looks if our genes cause us to prefer our own type. But then, we’re all bombarded with messages that teach us that blue eyes and blond hair are best, at least on women.

Relatedly, about half of the Black people who take Harvard’s test of unconscious prejudice show a preference for Whites. If evolutionary psychology is right, shouldn’t they have a preference for Blacks? But again, Black Americans (just like the rest of us) are barraged with unfortunate messages that White is prettier, smarter, and less criminal.

Meanwhile, some people show “no preference” for either race when they take Harvard’s “implicit” test of unconscious bias.

Or consider the most recent presidential elections. The younger a person was, the more likely she or he cast a ballot for Barack Obama. Was there a mass genetic mutation that caused younger voters to be less racist? Or has society changed enough through the years that young people have simply learned less racism?

Evolutionary psychology says racism is in our genes. Looks more like it’s learned.

You inherited you grandmother’s eyes. Did you inherit her racism, as well?

February is Black History Month

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The Crimes of Hoodies, Short Skirts and Fannie Mae

More guns, fewer hoodies” and we’d all be safer, Gail Collins advised in a New York Times piece after Trayvon Martin was gunned down for “eating skittles while black” – and while wearing said hoodie – in a gated community. A clear threat that had to be stopped.

That’s right. Guns don’t kill people, hoodies do: Trayvon Martin’s “hoodie killed him as surely as George Zimmerman did,” claimed Geraldo Rivera (who later apologized).

Sounds familiar. When women are raped short skirts become the culprit.

Yet few rape victims are wearing short skirts. And even nicely dressed black men can create fear. Journalist Brent Staples noticed that people got out of his way when he nonchalantly walked about. Amazed at his ability to alter public space, he tried humming Mozart to project his innocence. Seemed to help.

But why aren’t pricey cars, fancy suits and expensive watches blamed when rich, white men get robbed? What thief could resist?

Why? Because making more powerless members of society the culprit is meant to distract from the sins of the powerful. It’s women’s fault if men rape them, and it’s black men’s fault if lighter men kill them.

In another example, some blamed liberals for foolishly using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help Blacks and Hispanics “buy homes they couldn’t afford,” leading to the banking crises that nearly drove the U.S. economy off a cliff.

What really happened is that rich bankers gave rich campaign contributions to government officials, who in gratitude disposed of pesky regulations. That helped bankers get mega-rich by devising complex financial packages that no one could comprehend.

Used to be that when someone bought a home bankers made sure they’d get paid back. But under deregulation it didn’t matter because the loan was sold to someone else. And that investor sold the loan again. And financial packages were created and sold, composed of fractions of many people’s mortgage loans. They were rated AAA since they were 1) diversified – and hence, “safe” investments and 2) the housing market never goes down. (Yeah, right!)

Fannie and Freddie entered the process late, thinking they’d better join in or lose out.

When the housing market dropped and people couldn’t afford their homes, or sell them for a profit, the banks began collapsing. Lucky for them, the taxpayers bailed them out (or the whole economy likely would have collapsed).

Did deregulation get blamed for the fiasco? By some. But plenty of the “powers that be” — and especially “hate radio” — blamed Blacks and Latinos.

Because blaming more powerless members of society distracts from the sins of the powerful.

The crime does not lie with the man who pulls the trigger, nor with the man who rapes, and certainly not with the fat cat who pays to rig the game. No, the crime lies with those who wear hoodies, short skirts and who bank while black or brown.

Popular Posts on BroadBlogs
Cheerleader Ordered To Cheer Her Rapist, and Other Stories
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Prejudiced People Are Stupid

Prejudiced people are stupid. That’s not me pre-judging. That’s science.

An article published in the Journal of Psychological Science, and reported in Live Science says children who have low IQs tend to become prejudiced adults who are drawn to socially conservative beliefs that – in turn – encourage prejudice, adherence to hierarchy and authority, and promote resistance to change.

The researchers suggest that low intelligence makes it difficult to grasp the complexity of the world, which could explain the appeal of oversimplifications like, “Poor people are lazy.”

But you also have to wonder if the appeal of prejudice comes partly from a desire to feel like you are better (and smarter?) than someone.

John Dean wrote a book (which he had begun writing with Barry Goldwater just before Goldwater died) called Conservatives Without Conscience. These two conservatives presented a list of characteristics that are common among right-wing authoritarian “followers” (as opposed to “leaders”). The traits seem to fall into two categories: those that would appeal to the less intelligent and those that are just mean. Right-wing authoritarian “leader” traits fell almost entirely into the “mean” category.

Examples of beliefs and behaviors that fit well with not thinking too hard include: conventional, submissive to authority, highly religious (follow God’s authority), prejudiced, narrow-minded, inconsistent and contradictory (“Get your government hands off my Medicare!”) and having little self-awareness.

The “mean” list includes these traits: prejudiced, aggressive on behalf of authority, dogmatic, mean-spirited, intolerant, bullying, and highly self-righteous. All suggest a desire to feel bigger and stronger than someone else — as in overcompensating for insecurities?

Ahhh, that was fun for a liberal like me who gets so annoyed by both right-wingers and prejudiced people.

But there is a crimp in the analysis. First, the researchers recognize, not all liberals are brilliant, nor are all conservatives dense. We’re talking averages here. Certainly there are smart conservatives, including John Dean and Barry Goldwater. Also, the less intelligent are drawn to social and not fiscal conservatism.

And of course, extremists on the left and the right may both be simplistic. As the authors admit:

A study of left-wing liberals with stereotypically naïve views like “every kid is a genius in his or her own way,” might find that people who hold these attitudes are also less bright. In other words, it might not be a particular ideology that is linked to stupidity, but extremist, over-simplified views in general.

The main advantage of this research is finding clues to decreasing fear and hatred. For instance, many anti-prejudice programs ask people to see things from others’ perspectives, but that might be too hard for those with low IQ. And since prejudice is more emotionally than intellectually rooted, it’s probably better to change feelings instead of thoughts.

Who knows, perhaps the fear of appearing dimwitted will itself advance the cause against fear and hatred.

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How Does Racism Hurt Racists? The Case of Emmett Till

How does racism hurt racists? In many ways, actually. Here’s one:

The case of Emmett Till.

In 1955 this 14-year-old African-American left Chicago to visit his cousin in Mississippi.

One day his cousin dared him to flirt with a white woman. Accepting, he whistled at a woman who was working at a grocery counter, and called her “baby.”

Later that night the woman’s husband and his half-brother hunted Emmett down, kidnapped him, and the torture began. They cut off one of his ears, gouged out an eye, and put a bullet through his head before throwing him into a river.

The men were arrested. At the trial witnesses placed them at the site where Emmett was tortured, and the two men admitted the kidnapping.

But they faced a jury of white men in a Mississippi courtroom. After deliberating for less than an hour, they acquitted the case. One juror told a reporter, “If we hadn’t stopped to drink a pop, it wouldn’t have took that long.”

We easily see how racism hurt the young minority in this case. But how did it also hurt the white people who were involved?

When one person can torture another, with no conscience or concern, and when others dismiss the behavior, we see that racism dehumanizes its target, but it also dehumanizes the racist.

February is Black History Month

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“Why I Left the KKK”: One Man’s Revelation

In The Republic, Socrates asked whether we should be good and just, and why.

A listener suggested that if we are trusted we’ll do better in our business and personal relationships.

But what if no one knows you are a good person?

“The gods will know, and reward us,” observed another.

But what if the gods don’t know that you’re good? Socrates pressed.

Later, I read Emerson on the same topic. His Minister had lectured that while the wicked are often successful, and while the righteous can be miserable, at least compensation would be made in the next life.

Emerson felt that the fallacy lay in conceding that the base estimate of the market constitutes success, and assuming that justice is not done now.

What really makes us happy? Doing ill to others? Stepping on others so we can get ahead?

What Emerson and Socrates were getting at was made more real to me when I heard a man talk about why he had left the KKK.

He and his wife had become so filled with hatred in that organization that misery had overtaken their lives. They left because acting hatefully, hurting others, had ended up mostly hurting themselves.

As it turns out, when we work to harm others we harm ourselves.

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