5-17-12 Links Roundup

In the broad resegregation of the nation’s schools that has transpired over recent decades, New York’s public-school system looms as one of the most segregated. While the city’s public-school population looks diverse — 40.3 percent Hispanic, 32 percent black, 14.9 percent white and 13.7 percent Asian — many of its schools are nothing of the sort.

About 650 of the nearly 1,700 schools in the system have populations that are 70 percent a single race, a New York Times analysis of schools data for the 2009-10 school year found; more than half the city’s schools are at least 90 percent black and Hispanic. Explore Charter is one of them: of the school’s 502 students from kindergarten through eighth grade this school year, 92.7 percent are black, 5.7 percent are Hispanic, and a scattering are of mixed race. None are white or Asian. There is a good deal of cultural diversity, with students, for instance, of Haitian, Guyanese and Nigerian heritage. But not of class. Nearly 80 percent of the students qualify for subsidized lunch, a mark of poverty. The school’s makeup is in line with charter schools nationally, which are over all less integrated than traditional public schools.

But some folk have more on their minds. They say that focusing on black and white reinforces a false racial binary that marginalizes the experiences of non-black people of color. No argument here. But I also think that trying to mix things up by putting non-black people of color in the middle is a problem because there’s no “middle.”

So there’s most of my answer. I’m sure I do suffer from internalized racism, but I don’t think that racism is defined only in terms of black and white. I also don’t think white supremacy is a simple vertical hierarchy with whites on top, black people on the bottom, and the rest of us in the middle.

So why do I expend so much effort on lifting up the oppression of black people? Because anti-black racism is the fulcrum of white supremacy.

At times his foster parents had 10 or more African children living with them, including Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s two sisters. “It was a strange relationship,” he recalls of his feelings for his foster parents. “It was one of love because that’s all that I knew, and that’s what love is: you accept people for what they are. If I’m honest, it was very tough. My father was a lorry driver, very rarely at home. The house was run by my mother, and because there were 10 or so kids, there was no time for individual attention. It was about survival. It was about where the next meal was coming from. We had to go out and nick things to get it. So there wasn’t any love in the sense of hugs or anything like that: there was just no room for it. The only haven I had was sleeping behind the sofa in the corner of the room – that was where I could get some kind of peace.”

If it was crowded and chaotic within the home, outside the young boy was in constant danger of physical attack from local kids who, encouraged by their parents, nurtured a violent fear of blacks. He learned to feel the same way himself, running away from the black sailors who occasionally visited the docks from far-off locations.

“I just remember being petrified,” he says. “It was as if they were the bogey man to us. Fish and chips and corned beef, that’s what I knew. Do you know what I mean?”

It happened on one of those freakishly warm evenings in March that drove Chicagoans in droves to the lakefront and city parks.

Boyd and her friends were hanging out at Douglas Park near 15th and Albany when off-duty Police Officer Dante Servin, who lives in the area, allegedly drove up in a BMW and told the group to “shut up all that m—–f—— noise,” Sutton said witnesses told him.

Antonio Cross yelled back “f— you,” at which point Servin allegedly stuck a gun out of the window and opened fire, wounding Cross in the hand and shooting Boyd in the head.

Police officials initially claimed Cross had a gun, but no gun was found, and Cross has been charged with aggravated assault, a misdemeanor.

Forty days later, Sutton still does not know whether Servin will be charged with anything for shooting his sister in the head.

“Right now we are just waiting for an answer,” Sutton told me. “Everybody has told me that it’s under investigation. We are just playing a waiting game.”

The family has filed a civil suit against Servin and the city.

Racism in America’s police force is linked to their role as keepers of the status quo in an unequal society. They enforce laws written by politicians on behalf of the wealthy — laws that end up trapping poor and working-class people in desperate lives. Racial and sexual minorities, legal and illegal immigrants are seen as threats to the social order. When we protest the law and “occupy” a space we are beaten and arrested. When we commit a crime to “get some” we are beaten and arrested. And when we do neither but simply live we’re busted to make a cop’s stop-and-frisk quota.

Language plays an essential role here. It starts with a defensive joke, a “perp” profile that becomes so blurred it encompasses nearly everyone on the street and a constant sense of danger. Each builds on the other until the change is complete and one day, they casually listen to NYPD Capt. James Coan give a racist hurrah speech to detectives executing warrants in Brooklyn. “They’re fucking animals,” he repeatedly said of black people from 2008 to 2010, “If you have to shoot, you shoot them in the head.”

“There are a lot of magazines that are still sort of … that only cater to a certain demographic and only put certain people on their covers,” added Saldana, who is half-Dominican, half-Puerto Rican. “And that’s fine — I never lose hope that one day certain big magazines can broaden their exposure of what is an American face.”

Saldana says that magazines have great influence and power when it comes to culture and that she just wants to be a part of influencing change in favor of diversity.

“I never like to get political, but when you have the ability, through your media, to influence a large mass of people, I would want to be a part of the evolving cycle of progress vs. keeping things the way that they are. I think that I speak for a lot of us, Americans, that I would want to see a little more diversity,” she said.

Janet Mock is a transgender woman, advocate, and writer for People.com. In a piece in the May 2011 issue of Marie Claire, Mock discussed her life journey as a trans woman, from her childhood longings to play with dolls and wear women’s clothing, to her sex change operation in Bangkok. But Mock’s focus in her speech was not primarily on her own life, but on the lives of Paige Clay and CeCe McDonald, two trans women of color who suffered for living openly.

Paige Clay’s story is one that has been told all too many times; the 23-year-old was found murdered in a Chicago alley on April 16th of this year. Though the details behind Clay’s murder remain unclear, many have reason to believe that Clay’s was murdered because she was trans. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 44% of reported hate murders in 2010 were committed against trans women.

CeCe McDonald, on the other hand, did not die for living openly as a trans woman, but, it seems, will be punished for surviving a near hate crime. On June 5, 2011, McDonald was verbally and physically attacked by group of racist and transphobic people, including Dean Schmitz. While defending herself, she stabbed and killed Schmitz, which authorities unjustly pursued as a murder trial rather than self-defense.