Category Archives: race/ethnicity
A lot of whites “don’t get” the uproar in Ferguson.
Why would anyone get upset over killing a thug who robbed and assaulted a convenience store clerk? A guy who struggled to get a cop’s gun? And who later charged at the officer?
Michael Brown is not an ideal martyr.
But the upset isn’t about Michael Brown so much as it’s about a world that says:
Black lives don’t matter!
Plenty of whites think we have overcome racism. They think blacks have the same experience with the police — and the world — as whites do.
Try putting yourself in their shoes. Read the rest of this entry
You’ve probably seen this anti-street harassment video:
It’s part of Hollaback’s ongoing work to empower women by boosting empathy, understanding and change.
But the video has been called racist for over representing men of color.
Around 1,400 children were beaten, raped, tortured and trafficked for over a decade in the lower-class town of Rotherham, in north England.
As authorities stood by. Or fined parents of the missing children for wasting their time.
Some of the girls were splattered with gasoline and told they’d be set afire if they reported the abuse. Some were forced to watch other kids being raped. Others were told that their parents or siblings would be killed or gang raped if they went to authorities, according to the New York Times. Read the rest of this entry
Trigger Warning: May be triggering for rape victims
Ten-year-old “G” was attacked in a rape so violent that it made a hole between her vagina and rectum.
She bled so heavily that she nearly lost her life.
In the hospital, G’s mother and aunt fretted over community pressure to kill her to retain family honor.
Little G felt homesick at the hospital, but no one had the heart to tell her that her family was conspiring to kill her. Read the rest of this entry
Cameron 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
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
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?
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.
Indian 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.
We’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.
Evolutionary 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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