6-14-12 Links Roundup

Can we really quantify racial prejudice in different parts of the country based solely on how often certain words are used on Google? Not perfectly, but remarkably well. Google, aggregating information from billions of searches, has an uncanny ability to reveal meaningful social patterns. “God” is Googled more often in the Bible Belt, “Lakers” in Los Angeles.

The conditions under which people use Google — online, most likely alone, not participating in an official survey — are ideal for capturing what they are really thinking and feeling. You may have typed things into Google that you would hesitate to admit in polite company. I certainly have. The majority of Americans have as well: we Google the word “porn” more often than the word “weather.”

And many Americans use Google to find racially charged material. I performed the somewhat unpleasant task of ranking states and media markets in the United States based on the proportion of their Google searches that included the word “nigger(s).” This word was included in roughly the same number of Google searches as terms like “Lakers,” “Daily Show,” “migraine” and “economist.”

Although state officials on every level insist they hold no bias against the Black transgender community, their behavior at every stage of the CeCe McDonald case suggests otherwise. More importantly, the state’s mistreatment of McDonald is a reflection of a criminal justice system that systematically denies the fundamental rights, safety, and humanity of transgender bodies.

Even a casual review of the facts demonstrates that CeCe McDonald and her friends (all of whom were LGBTQ youth or allies) were the targets of hate and violence on the night of her arrest. By ignoring the evidence against her attackers, police reinforced the notion that violence against the Black trans community is not a significant concern for law enforcement. Studies show that, despite comprising only 8 percent of the LGBTQ community, transgender women account for nearly half of all LGBTQ hate crime murders. Among this group, transgender women of color are nearly twice as vulnerable to violence as their white counterparts. In addition, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 50% of Black transgender individuals face harassment at school and 15% are physically assaulted at their jobs. Such evidence speaks not only to the rising tide of violence against transgender populations, but a lack of commitment from law enforcement to protect and serve them.

As we see in the case of CeCe McDonald, police agencies tend to expend their time, energy, and resources criminalizing rather than protecting the Black trans community. By ignoring her obvious self-defense claim, instead arresting her and no one else at night, McDonald was legally punished for surviving a transphobic hate attack. This is a common occurrence, as transgender Blacks are routinely targeted, profiled, and often arrested for crimes linked to their gender, race and class rather than their behavior.

To his family and before the U.S. Supreme Court, he was Luther Campbell. To the fans who bought the raunchy albums he produced as a solo artist and as a member of 2 Live Crew, he was known as Luke Skyywalker (until George Lucas sued him), Uncle Luke or just plain Luke. To Tipper Gore and the others who called his music obscene, he was Public Enemy No. 1.

Now, Campbell wants to be known by one phrase: Coach Luke. In August, he’ll enter his fourth season as a high school assistant coach — if Florida’s Education Practices Commission will let him. For the past three seasons (two at Miami Central and one at Northwestern), Campbell has coached using a temporary certification. That certification expires at the end of the 2012-13 school year. To continue coaching in Miami-Dade County after that, Campbell will need a permanent certificate.

An administrative judge has recommended that Campbell be allowed to coach, but last week the Florida Department of Education appealed that recommendation. In the appeal, the department’s attorney, Charles Whitelock, wrote that “the Petitioner lacks the required good moral character” to coach students. The state has investigated Campbell’s past and present, and the Education Practices Commission will have to decide sometime this summer whether it should allow one of the men behind Me So Horny — and other songs whose titles aren’t printable in a family publication — to influence high-schoolers.

So when watching an Anderson film, as when watching an ambitious elementary school play, we’re always aware of human creative effort and will and it’s this effort and earnestness that makes the production significant, not the tradition of the play or the theatre. The satirization of the authority we’ve traditionally given established institutions and systems, such as the theater, is satirized: the family, marriage, school, police, the boy scouts, social services, and the church for example. Even maps, painted portraits, and signs and titles are portrayed with the corny and mythic aura we surround them with as children.

These combine to support what I see as Anderson’s main theme: The heroic rising of the weird individual’s creative will under the oppressive weight of tradition and history. Break free and do your own thing.

It’s a beautiful idea, and one I believe in, but as right as it is, it’s a notion usually born from a certain privilege (race, class, gender, and sexuality-wise), where will and effort can afford to be the most valuable thing. Any child of an immigrant mother will tell you that “good effort” does not fly, and remaining in a mental childhood for a second longer than necessary will get your face slapped.

“Today we talk about Chicana feminism almost exclusively in the academy,” Maria Cotera told an audience in Margaret Jacks Hall, “but in the 1970s, it was happening in the streets.”

The goal of Cotera’s ambitious online archive project, “Chicana por mi Raza,” is to recapture the once vibrant movement for the social, political, and economic justice of Mexican American, Chicana, and Hispanic women in the United States. When it launches later this year, the website will house a rich archive documenting the development of Chicana feminist thought and action from 1960 to 1990. The efforts of her and of the project’s co-founder, Linda Garcia Merchant, have amassed thousands of newspapers, reports, leaflets, out-of-print books, pieces of correspondence, and oral histories, most of which have been missing from mainstream archives.

In her recent talk, “Liberating the Feminist Archive: Mapping Chicana Feminisms in the Digital Age,” Cotera, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, previewed some materials from the database. She hopes that the site will “bring the history of Chicana feminism to a whole new audience, from public school educators to college students to established scholars.”

“Chicana por mi Raza” will fill a gap in social movement history, a gap that became starkly apparent to Cotera when she was teaching two classes at the University of Michigan – Introduction to Feminist Studies and Introduction to Latino Studies. In preparing for the classes, she found almost no anthologized material foThe Chicana Feministr either class about Chicana feminism. Cotera realized the images still most associated with second-wave feminism are those of white, middle-class women, while those associated with the Chicano movement are of male Brown Berets. She decided to find her own primary source materials to reveal the missing images for her students.