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Making Black Men Look Scary

“I can’t breathe.” Eric Garner’s last words

“I can’t breathe.” Eric Garner’s last words

Black men who are killed by police officers often end up with a media makeover — and it’s not flattering.

For Black History Month I am reposting a Sociological Images look at how the images are selected and sometimes altered. The piece was published last August. Here it is (with permission): 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

Inflaming Feminazis: BEING Powerful? Or just FEELING Powerful?

As Women’s History month winds down I’d like to ponder the difference between being powerful and merely feeling powerful. Too often people chase the feeling and give up the real thing.

I sensed the phenomenon in a highly publicized event last year.

Last October a Yale fraternity chanted “No means yes, yes means anal” in front of the campus Women’s Center. One man concluded it was all meant to stir up feminazis. “The sole purpose of that building,” he opined, “is to give hatemongering academic feminists a base to spread their propaganda and recruit new members… They most likely (chanted there) because feminazis always go out of their way to harm men. Just about every policy implemented by academic feminazis is meant to incite misandry and marginalize men.”

Interesting tactic. “Who looks worse?” I asked.

“The guys will come across as arseholes, but they don’t care. All they care about is stirring up the feminazis.”

The commenter has a blog which seems to have the same goal. I just don’t know whether any feminazis go to his site so that he can stir them up.

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that his theory could be true. Do you think the Yale frat staged a blow to feminism? Or to sexism, instead?

While some seek to feel strong by chanting rape fantasies, real rapists and wife batterers are involved in the same loop. They want to feel powerful, so they beat down a woman or invade her body. Or both. They feel dominant in the moment. But their potency is actually pretty limited. And the acts are only destructive, not constructive.

Any time gang members beat or kill someone they probably feel formidable. But in the long run, how mighty are they sitting in jail, or dead?

A few early feminists made the error of feeling powerful over the real thing when they spewed man-hating rhetoric. In the moment they likely felt pretty tough. But the strategy did not create real muscle and feminists at large gave it up. For the effect was to repel potential female and male allies, alike.

Now we are left with the brand “feminazis.”

To all of the above I ask, why don’t you do something with your efforts and your lives that are both powerful and constructive, instead of beating others down in a basically weak attempt to feel better about yourselves?

And next time you seek power, consider whether you are being powerful only in your own head.

Georgia Platts

March is Women’s History Month

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Should Business Owners Have More Rights Than Blacks?

With the end of Jim Crow, business owners had fewer rights. But blacks had more rights. Whose freedom counts?

With the end of Jim Crow, business owners had fewer rights. But blacks had more rights. Whose freedom counts?

Black History Month has got me thinking about Rand Paul’s belief that business owners should have more rights than Blacks.

What? You say. Paul never said that!

Well, not in those words. He’s probably never thought about it that way, himself. But that’s the implication of his stand on the Civil Rights Act, which forced White business owners to hire and serve Black people on an equal basis with Whites.

Like other libertarians Rand feels there is a trade-off between liberty and equality. The more fairness arises via legislation, the more freedom is suppressed.

Government is tyranny, we are told. Government should not force private businesses to do anything other than abide by contract law and pay as few taxes as possible to support police and defense.

Under segregation, allowing Blacks to eat at any restaurant, stay at any motel or be hired for any sort of job would infringe on the liberty of Whites to keep Blacks out of their restaurants, motels or sundry businesses.

So last May, while running for senate, Paul stated that he would not have supported the Civil Rights Act at the time it was introduced (though as established law, he would not support its repeal now).

Too much freedom lost!

But whose liberty is lost, exactly? Did the Civil Rights Act infringe on the freedom of Blacks to eat, sleep or get a job? Or did it expand their autonomy?

When Black people could not find a place to eat or sleep, or even use a restroom while traveling in the South, health problems could arise, including falling asleep at the wheel — killing themselves and others. Health problems also stem from the poverty that comes from poor education and job discrimination. And a Southern resistance to paying for healthcare for Blacks was a key factor in fighting universal healthcare under Nixon.

How free is someone who’s sick or dead?

Whose freedom counts in Paul’s world? Really, who counts and who doesn’t?

Powerful Whites may have felt restricted under the Civil Rights Act. But powerless Blacks could gain liberty only with greater equality.

In Paul’s world might makes right: The powerful should stay powerful. And since they have much more control over political and economic structures, as well as media, they’re likely to retain privilege.

If there is a conflict between freedoms, whose rights should take precedence? Here we have property rights of Whites versus health, dignity, and self-determination of Blacks.

I personally feel that health, human dignity and autonomy should take precedence over property. But you make your own call.

Georgia Platts

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