Things Only Racists Think Of

I am appalled. The day after Gabrielle Douglas became the first Black woman EVER to win the Olympic individual all-around gymnastics competition, I see rumors that NBC released an “apology” for following up her glorious moment by airing a commercial with a monkey in it. A monkey.

Seriously? What is WRONG with people?!!!

NBC never should have apologized for airing that commercial, no matter WHO was on just before it. What NBC SHOULD have apologized for is all the racist jerks who associated a fracking monkey in a TV commercial with a Black athlete in the first place! Only a racist bigot would make such an association. The fact that some racist people put their bigoted spin on a random coincidence and then backed a spokesperson into a corner for a forced apology doesn’t make NBC wrong. It makes the racist bigots who thought it up in the first place wrong.

I was watching that segment. I watched Gabby Douglas win the gold medal in absolute superb style. I watched Bob Costas discuss her historic victory. I watched the ensuing commercial for NBC’s upcoming TV show “Animal Practice.”

And guess what!

I didn’t think anything remiss about it. I thought the commercial was dumb the first time I watched it. I thought it was dumb the umpteenth time I watched it that night. I thought about how Bob Costas looked older and wondered how long has he been hosting the Olympics. I thought about how proud I was of Gabby Douglas becoming the first woman of color to win a gold medal in the Olympic Women’s all-around gymnastics competition. I thought about a lot of things. But not one time did I associate the cute little monkey in that dumb commercial with the fantastically talented gymnastics genius I had just seen on screen. Do you want to know why?

BECAUSE I AM NOT A RACIST JERK.

Advertisements

Racism at Work

In terms of racial inequality and prejudice, his country is messed up. But it is a much better place to live than most countries on Earth. I lived in Russia studying abroad for a summer and have first-hand experience in how racist other people in other countries can be. FIFA-sponsored soccer tournaments are a prime example of the state of race relations (or lack thereof) in the rest of the world. The campaign for every tournament lately is something countering racism. For the FIFA World Cup 2014 (TM) the slogan is ALL IN ONE RHYTHM (TM) – spreading the idea that soccer is a socio-cultural phenomenon and a unifying force, and the unity and diversity of Brazil. In 2006 it was “A time to make friends.” Racism in Europe is a big problem.

But we got Theirry Henry out of it. So it’s a mixed bag.

I wish that philosophy of unity and diversity filled my office. I recently had an infuriating episode with a coworker. We were discussing why he felt the need to put an unnecessary, redundant note on a drawing for a foreign customer. I tried to explain to him why the note was unnecessary by getting him to reason through the customer’s actions. His response to me was, “Because I just assume they’re ignorant.”

He just assume’s the customer is ignorant.

He just assumes they’re ignorant.

I instantly got so mad, I loudly replied, “Well that is a completely inappropriate idea,” and stormed out of his office.

Would he have made such an offensive comment if the customer was not foreign? Personally, I don’t think he would have. Even if his comment wasn’t based on the ancestry of our clients, it was an entirely inappropriate, offensive thing to say about ANY customer and reflected an attitude of someone who won’t do his or her best to represent our company favorably.

I tire of racist jerks. Especially at work.

Racism Sucks

Just because you don’t say racist things and you have Black friends doesn’t make you progressive or colorblind or tolerant or whatever you want to call yourself.

Image

When you are a minority living in a city that is over 98 percent white, you notice. People are surprised when I tell them I have a graduate level college degree. Once, at the end of a conversation on racially-motivated hate, a girl told me never walk home by myself. I get those people who try overly hard to tell me how colorblind they are or how cool they are with Black people. And to top it all off, the theater by my house didn’t bother to show Red Tails! I mean, why would anyone around here want to watch a movie about Black history? (Sigh.)

Because of my innate novelty here, I have found myself questioning whether I really want to bring my children up in a place where they also would be an instant stand-out. The other night, a disgusting scene broke out in my favorite bar – a liberal enclave in this rural, right-wing county. Some guy whose girl was apparently seeing a new beau on the side, caught his lady friend having dinner with another bar patron who happened to be Black. I remember seeing him take a picture with his phone. But I didn’t think anything of it. That is until he confronted both of them. (The new guy, totally unsuspecting, was quite surprised of this man’s existence.) The man pointed straight at my (now) new friend and told him twice he was a “fucking nigger.” Twice. Pointing at his face. (That shit don’t fly in my favorite bar – he was promptly banned.)

Ya know, I don’t care if he was mad about finding his girlfriend with this other man. I don’t care if it was just something he said in the heat of the moment. The fact that he said it means he thinks it. The fact that he thinks it means he is a racist. I don’t want my children growing up in a place where they will be treated or even considered differently by people like him.

Just because you don’t say racist things and you have Black friends doesn’t make you progressive or colorblind or tolerant or whatever you want to call yourself. What you say matters. What you do matters. How you treat people matters. But most of all, what you think is what matters.

Did you know that there is no specific antonym for the words bigot or racist? Do you want to know why? Because such a thing doesn’t truly exist yet.

Immigration: Not Always a Burden

I came across the most interesting article today. A nonpartisan think tank called the Migration Policy Institute recently issued a report providing a profile of Napa Valley’s immigrant population. The report provides estimates of immigrants’ influence on local economic health.
The report shows that although the Latino immigrant population in Napa County has increased 35 percent since 2000, the poverty rate among Latino immigrants had fallen dramatically. A high percentage of employers offer health insurance to their immigrant employees, reducing public costs of Medi-Cal, and from emergency rooms and clinics for the uninsured.

Sure, Latino children get free education in our Napa’s public schools. (GASP!) But their parents pay taxes at the same rate as other demographic groups.

The researchers recommend the county invest in their immigrant population (well, shucks!), maintain quality education in the public schools, incentivize private health care coverage, offer more citizenship programs, and invest in affordable housing for their large commuting workforce.

Thus the burden on social services due to a high immigrant population that conservatives in this country contrive as an excuse to fire, deport and separate families becomes a non sequitur when immigrants are treated respectfully and are offered the benefits everyone else gets. I think Mitt Romney and his cronies would balk at such evil socialist ideas. But these ideas are working all the time all over the country! Napa County is proof there is more than one way to solve our economic problems.

Calling Art Racism Doesn’t Make You A Better Person

Makode Linde’s stated purpose for this work was to bring attention to the torture of female genital mutilation. In my opinion, he accomplished that quite well.

Makode Linde "Painful Cake"

Art is a peculiar thing. It is nearly always is created to portray a message, a message that is most times suspended in a fog of interpretation. And most people just don’t get it.

Enter Jezebel. The popular, pop-centric feminist blog released an article today criticizing a Swedish Official, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, who participated in a performance to raise awareness about female genital mutilation in Africa. At the event, a moving piece of performance art by Makode Aj Linde featured a Venus of Willendorf shaped cake, dressed in black icing and African jewelry, headed by the artist in blackface screaming in agony with every slice of Venus’ nethers – in relevant fashion, the cutting starts at her most intimate parts.

Jezebel (following suit with several media outlets), rather than attempting to explain or understand the history and issues being brought to light by the artist, chose to jump on the “OH EM GEE THAT SWEDISH OFFICIAL SHOULD APOLOGIZE” racism shout out bandwagon – complete with baseless reproach.

“Many Swedes are incredibly uncomfortable with photos from the event, where it appears that Liljeroth is not troubled at all by her role in the performance art, smiling, laughing, and drinking. And the crowd pictured laughing all around her sure looks like it’s full of assholes, too.”

Of course Swedes are uncomfortable with the photos – they are meant to be! Linde is throwing their racism right in their faces, after all. Oh, and way to go with the respect for others, ladies (not).

Makode Linde is know for his provocative artwork meant to bring attention to Swedish attitudes toward Black people. His art brims with symbolism. This installation was no exception. Makode Linde’s stated purpose for this work was to bring attention to the torture of female genital mutilation. In my opinion, he accomplished that quite well. I personally found the performance very disturbing; and probably would have had considerable trouble cutting into that cake.

Blackface has historically been used to dehumanize Black people. Linde’s purposeful use of blackface in his “Painful Cake” is meant to call out society for this dehumanization and show that Black women are real human beings. Blackface represents Swedish society’s view of Black women as simplistic caricatures of Black humanity rather than the real pillars of the family that they are. His performance proves his point with exemplary efficiency – no one seemed horrified by what they were seeing, at least not during the portion of the performance released on tape.

Black women suffer life-long pain from female genital mutilation. African baby-goddesses are being held down by their own mothers while their genitals are ceremoniously sliced off and sewn back up and they are then tied up for weeks to ‘heal’ badly while society is busy having cake.

Maybe if we scream loud enough, people will realize these girls are real.

I Am So Ashamed of Spike Lee

Yo Spike! I am so ashamed of you. You used to be an influential voice of black America. You used to be a role model for black American men. Now I you are just a coward.

You are not brave enough to be a hero. You are not strong enough to believe in due process. You are not influential enough to affect change in America.

What did you want to happen when you publicized an address for George Zimmerman? Did you urge concerned citizens to write him peacefully patriotic letters convincing him to admit his culpability and face his punishment? Did you anticipate a small cadre of peaceful protesters to rally against racial profiling by law enforcement near Zimmerman’s door? Did you expect his mail carrier and paper deliverer to slip him persuasive, non-threatening notes?

Or did you want the New Black Panthers to make good on their bounty? Or maybe you wanted to see George Zimmerman’s home firebombed? Did you want him violently ripped from his home and throttled by a maniacal mob. Did you want him harassed and intimidated? Did you want his family punished and frightened? Oh, maybe you just want to see him shot in the street.

What did you want to happen Spike?

I am so ashamed of you. With your platform, you had the chance to rise above the counterproductive fog of vendettas and violence with a message of solidarity. But instead you offered nothing but racism. An eye for an eye, right?