Links Roundup 12.20.12

When a singular mass killing occurs in mainly affluent suburbs, it shocks the nation — and rightly so. But it might be a shock to some to know that this year alone 117 children died from handgun violence in Chicago. These deaths do not get discussed, let alone memorialized in the national conversation of tragedy.

There are at least two reasons for this. First, these deaths do not happen in a spectacular fashion. They take place in ones and twos, often in the lonely hours of the night when bullets depart from their targets and settle in the soft tissue of children asleep in their homes, or in the afternoon as they play on the sidewalk.

Take the case of April 12. One-year-old Jayliah Allen was shot while she slept in her bed, the bullet entering the window. Seven-year-old Derrick Robeteau was shot in the leg while playing outside his grandfather’s home and a 7-year-old girl was shot as she stood outside her home. Three children hit by handguns in one day, but in an unspectacular form.

Second, old racist habits linger. These are African-American and Latino kids, whose neighborhoods are considered dangerous. Which is why when Jayliah and Derrick were killed no one called their neighborhoods bucolic or thought that this violence was senseless. There is a hardness that has entered our consciousness, allowing us to avoid the sealed fates of these kids.

There are a couple of things that I don’t want to have to do when I go see a movie: cover my eyes much of the time because of graphic violence, and hear the N-word dropped every 10 minutes. So why see a Quentin Tarantino movie? Gun violence and the N-word are among Tarantino’s favorite cinematic vices. Yesterday, “Django Unchained’s” Harvey and Bob Weinstein announced that they were canceling today’s Los Angeles red carpet premiere of the film out of respect for the families mourning in Newtown, CT. And although they didn’t specifically cite a connection between the gratuitous gun violence in the film and the horror of all that occurred on Friday, perhaps they should have. So too, with the film’s egregious use of the N-word, given the flurry of racist tweets that were sent out when President Obama’s speech honoring Newtown’s slain children preempted the first quarter of the NFL football game on Sunday.

I am neither an ardent nor a reluctant fan of Tarantino’s films. I recognize that he is a talented filmmaker who has managed to tap into the vein of cultural appropriation in a way that makes it seem like something else. And that subtle ability, that seemingly benign bit of exploitative trickery, is something that needs to be explored. Regularly.

If you haven’t seen the music video for 2 Chainz’s “Birthday Song,” the refrain is, “All I want for my birthday is a big-bootied hoe.” The video reduces women to bouncing breasts and backsides; one women is actually laid out on a table covered in frosting.

This video is simply the newest addition to a long-standing pattern of degradation of colored women in the media, specifically in music videos. Between the songs and videos that reduce women of color to a large backside and a willing mouth, and the very real violence that confronts many women, the assault on women — both lyrically and literally — is stunning.

As a member of the SPARKteam, a group of girls fighting objectification of women in the media, I recently had the privilege of becoming involved in the fight against the degradation of women in the media industry. To fight back against the culture of misogyny, especially towards women of color, that has continued to spread throughout our culture, the media literacy group FAAN MAIL, which stands for Fostering Activism and Alternatives NOW, is pushing back against these degrading images. Based in Philadelphia, FAAN MAIL’s founder, Nuala Cabral, wrote this moving and poignant criticism in the form of an open letter to CEO Lucian Grainge of Universal Music Group.

The nation doesn’t stop when the Heavens and Aliyahs of the world are snatched from us too soon. How many outside of our own communities demand gun control legislation when the victim is brown-eyed and kinky-haired, and not blue-eyed and blond?

White American children in this country who become victims of gun violence are a sign of shattered innocence, an anomaly that must be analyzed and dissected to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Black and Brown American children who become victims serve as an indictment of our communities, our homes and our parenting.

“It would allow Zenit to maintain the national identity of the club, which is the symbol of St Petersburg.”

Zenit have been the only top club in Russia to have never signed an African player while the northern city of St Petersburg is known to have a strong right-wing nationalist influence.

The fans said they want more home-grown or European players in the team.

“We only want players from other brotherly Slav nations, such as Ukraine and Belarus as well as from the Baltic states and Scandinavia. We have the same mentality and historical and cultural background as these nations,” the letter said.

  • a.eye

    Ummm… thanks for the 2 Chains link. I have students (all female) who are in love with him. I had never heard or seen any of his stuff. This is even more reason that I need to talk to them about this. We had a lesson this past Tuesday about misogyny in hip hop and saw a film at the Tribeca Film Institute. Even after, some of the girls said that they still saw no problem with things in the music videos they love.