Category Archives: racial profiling

Open Thread: The Rush To Memeify Charles Ramsey

By Arturo R. García

As both Kat Chow at Code Switch and Slate’s Aisha Harris have pointed out, it did not take long for Charles Harris to join Antoine Dodson and Sweet Brown as the latest figure to be posted on many of our friends’ Facebook pages with notes like “Best. Interview. EVER.” or some variant of “HILAR.”

Like Dodson, what got Ramsey into this spotlight was being the right person at the right time and helping three women escape from a Cleveland home where they had allegedly been held captive for ten years. Three people have since been charged in connection to the crime. But what got peoples’ attention was his interview with a local station in which he described how he ran into one of the women, Amanda Berry:

There’s a lot to unpack in not just his account of not just his interactions with the suspect, but his statement that, “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms.” (Not to mention the reporter’s cutting the interview at precisely that point.)

But that’s not what’s coming across in many people’s reactions to the story. Take, for instance, this comment I found on a friend’s thread:

I found this funny and I don’t think he’s a joke. It’s just cool the way he told the story. He was funny…not a joke.

And even as people are (justly) applauding Ramsey’s actions, authorities are already seeking to minimize his involvement. And the story of at least one of the kidnapping victims, Michelle Knight, is also getting far less attention than the other two.

So, this story is only just beginning to be told. But for now, let’s get your take on how Ramsey has been represented.

The Need To Grieve

By Guest Contributor Leigh Patel, cross-posted from Decolonizing Educational Research

I was on Mass Ave. and Boylston yesterday when the bombs exploded. You’ve heard more than enough to add the details of what it felt like to be there: panic, chaos, helping, screaming, running, falling, being helped up, mass confusion.

As I’ve been feeling the adrenaline pulse its half-life through my veins, I’ve been thinking steady on the need to grieve. How very important it is for us to stop and to share in moments of trauma and loss with each other. Many of us had the supreme luxury to do just that, and the grieving will continue. But I believe our collective need to grieve, to feel difficult feelings, may actually contain some answers to the questions roiling in our heads and bodies. The need to grieve and our lack of ability to grieve may have everything to do with the cycles of seemingly more frequent and deeper violence.

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Quoted: Sunil Tripathi’s Sister, Sangeeta, On Redditors’ False Accusations

Brown University student Sunil Tripathi (right) was at one point accused by Reddit users of being a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, despite no evidence. Authorities later identified two other men as suspects. Image via “Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi” page on Facebook.

“It’s had a huge cost on our family. We are all very depleted right now, just baseline over the past 34 days, and this has been very, very difficult,” she added. “Without Sunil in our life, it’s been very hard to have that publicity.

“We are absolutely convinced, with no question at all, it’s not Sunil. We are eagerly awaiting formal public news to calm the pain on my family. We have not received a public apology at all. The FBI is incredibly busy as you can imagine in the investigation. The second law enforcement releases complete information on the suspects, it’s going up on our Facebook page.”

On Friday afternoon, the Tripathi family received an email from Erik Martin, the general manager of Reddit, “to apologize personally and on behalf of all our employees for … some of the people on our site’s role in the spreading of this false idea about Sunny.” The Tripathi family immediately forwarded that email to NBC News.

“It’s an extreme situation and we are deeply sorry that your family got caught up in it,” Martin wrote in the email. “I can’t imagine what it must be like for your family to deal with this on top of what you must already be going through.”

The Tripathi family’s Facebook page, set up to help locate Sunil and, until Thursday, filled with messages of hope and pictures of the student, began being hit with posts Thursday evening “from individuals who for whatever reason were making the association between what happened (at the Boston Marathon) and him, Sangeeta Tripathi said.
NBC News

Editor’s Note: Sunil Tripathi is still missing. Anyone with any information that might help find him is encouraged to call police in Providence, RI at (401) 243-6191. For more on the efforts to locate him, visit the Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi page on Facebook.

Being Brown After The Boston Bomb Blast

By Guest Contributor Deepak Sarma, cross-posted from The Huffington Post

deepakill

The bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon are a terrible tragedy and a chilling example of the worst kinds of misanthropic human behavior. I weep for the families and friends for those immediately affected and for those whose lives and memories have forever changed.

I hope that they catch the perpetrator(s) of this crime.

But I worry, especially after inciteful and potentially dangerous rumors, momentarily validated by the NY Post, that automatically point the finger at (an) international terrorist(s), who, is/are in the imaginations of those easily deluded, brown-skinned. The subsequent and unavoidable racial profiling is a slippery slope toward a lynching mentality where color/ethnicity/race (all imagined categories largely invented for economic exploitation and advantage) is proof of guilt, and where all who are imagined to be part of that imagined category are inescapably complicit.

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Voices: RIP Trayvon Martin, One Year Later

It rained in Sanford, Fla., on Tuesday, just like it did exactly a year ago when Trayvon Martin died there.

The shooting death of an unarmed black 17-year-old at the hands of a part-white, part-Peruvian neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community catapulted the central Florida city into headlines around the world and launched heated discussions about race and guns and Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

George Zimmerman, 29, faces second-degree murder charges in the case after invoking that law, which allows the use of deadly force in some life-threatening situations.

Despite the damp conditions Tuesday, a crowd amassed outside Sanford’s Goldsboro Welcome Center and the Goldsboro Historical Museum by midmorning. Museum curator Francis Oliver said she opened the welcome center a few hours early to accommodate the score or so of people who gathered to get a glimpse at the items memorializing the slain teenager.

There are crosses and flags, dolls and pictures of the teenager, Oliver said of the items showcased at the permanent memorial made from the items that initially cropped up outside the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the gated community where Trayvon was fatally shot.
- Marisa Gerber, Los Angeles Times

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Race, Rehabilitation, And The Private Prison Industry

Image by x1klima, via Flickr Creative Commons.

By Lisa Wade, PhD, cross-posted from Sociological Images

In 1984 the U.S. began its ongoing experiment with private prisons. Between 1990 and 2009, the inmate population of private prisons grew by 1,664%  (source). Today approximately 130,000 people are incarcerated by for-profit companies.  In 2010, annual revenues for two largest companies — Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group — were nearly $3 billion.

Companies that house prisoners for profit have a perverse incentive to increase the prison population by passing more laws, policing more heavily, sentencing more harshly, and denying parole.  Likewise, there’s no motivation to rehabilitate prisoners; doing so is expensive, cuts into their profits, and decreases the likelihood that any individual will be back in the prison system.  Accordingly, state prisons are much more likely than private prisons to offer programs that help prisoners: psychological interventions, drug and alcohol counseling, coursework towards high school or college diplomas, job training, etc.

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