But an unfortunate and perverse consequence of Donald Sterling’s massive profits from the sale of the L.A. Clippers is that admitting one’s racism is profitable. Thus white men profit from saying and doing racist things, while organizations like the NBA get to claim that they are taking strong stances against racism in the league. But ferreting out individual racists will never solve the problem of systemic racism. It simply makes everyone feel better.
Similarly problematic thinking is evident in the Baltimore Ravens’ decision to terminate Ray Rice’s contract and the NFL’s decision to suspend him indefinitely after TMZ leaked video of his vicious attack on now-wife Janay Rice Palmer yesterday. First, the NFL is no stranger to domestic violence disputes. A recent memorable incident was the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher against his partner Kasandra Perkins in late 2012. Second, the fact that Rice received only a two-game suspension until this video surfaced suggests that the league is more concerned with the optics of Ray Rice knocking Janay Palmer unconscious than addressing the ways that the hypermasculinity of sport perpetuates a culture of violence toward women. By taking such a hard-line, if belated, stand against Rice’s actions, the NFL now appears responsive to the problem of domestic violence, although it has made no promises to implement any kind of consistent anti-violence training for NFL players. It has simply ferreted out Ray Rice as an ultimate offender and benched him until further notice. This strategy won’t make Janay Palmer’s life safer and it won’t help the current partners of players who are being abused in secret.
We should be concerned about living in a culture where we routinely disbelieve victims of racism, sexism or domestic violence unless there is video or audio evidence. When we acknowledge the pervasiveness of violence, and of racism and sexism, we will be more responsive to victims and less committed to the kind of dishonesty that greets “isolated” incident after “isolated” incident with shock and surprise.
– Ray Rice’s Second Horror, by Brittney Cooper; Salon
At one point, another officer is seen taking a cell phone and a pack of cigarettes from the 43-year-old Garner’s pants.
Even after the arrival of an EMT four minutes into the video, no medical aid is provided to Garner. He’s instead just loaded onto a stretcher and wheeled off.
Cops say he was pronounced dead a short time later after arriving at a Staten Island hospital.
NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, caught on another video putting Garner in a chokehold, is shown standing a few feet away and chatting amiably with a uniformed colleague.
Near the end of the clip, he gives a satiric wave to the person shooting the second video.
Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran, was placed on modified duty Saturday as cops and the Staten Island district attorney investigated the case.
Pantaleo was stripped of his gun and his shield and assigned to work desk duty. The police union immediately denounced the move as “knee-jerk” and “completely unwarranted.”
Image by Marcos Vasconcelos via Flickr Creative Commons
By Guest Contributor M. Shadee Malaklou, cross-posted from JFCB
My first impulse was to resist paying even a modicum of attention to the story following Richard Sherman’s postgame interview, namely because the goings-on of the sports industry — an industry that takes from Black bodies their bits and pieces of flesh, leaving Black athletes often permanently disabled and with little material or financial support in (a very early) ‘retirement’ — rarely surprise me or gives me pause for critical reflection. But then I saw the tweets. The disgusting, racist-cum-speciesist tweets.
By Guest Contributor Ruth Hopkins, cross-posted from Last Real Indians
Before I head out the door, I watch Morning Joe on MSNBC. It’s part of my workday routine. This morning they were talking about the latest issue of the New Republic and its lead story entitled, “How the NRA is Going Down: This is How the NRA Ends.” Since the Newtown tragedy, Republican Joe Scarborough, the show’s host, is openly advocating for gun control. Still, Joe disagreed with the assertion that the NRA’s power and influence is eroding, especially in the wake of recently defeated gun control legislation.
In the midst of this exchange, John Heilemann, an author, journalist and political analyst who frequents Morning Joe (and who occasionally says things that make sense to me), said, “But who’s the SCALP?” John paraphrased this statement by saying, “who’s gonna pay the price for having voted the wrong way?” In other words, John was questioning whether any of the congressmen who voted against the recent legislation in question will be defeated next election specifically because they voted against gun control, i.e. who will be the “scalp” (defined in the dictionary as a “trophy of victory”) that gun control proponents win.
Mr. Heilemann made a perfectly rational argument. Unfortunately his archaic phraseology took me right out of the conversation. The moment he said, “Who’s the SCALP?” my mind immediately raced to the fact that my ancestors (the Dakota people) were hunted down and murdered in their Minnesota homelands in the late 1800s, when then-Governor Alexander Ramsey placed a $200 bounty on their scalps. Yes, you read that correctly. It was once government policy to encourage civilians to hunt down American Indian men, women and children (human beings), kill them, and rip the flesh from their skulls. Anyone who did so was rewarded handsomely for it.
By Arturo R. García
When last we left Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale, it had earned both the top prizes and a distribution deal at the Sundance Film Festival.
Now known as Fruitvale Station, the film is continuing to win acclaim, this time at the Cannes Film Festival. As star Michael B. Jordan, who plays Oscar Grant, the victim of a police shooting on New Year’s Day 2009, told the Associated Press:
“It’s electric. It’s like March Madness. It’s that time of year where everyone’s just in it, talking about movies.
“I don’t want to be that ignorant American who comes over here and expects everyone to love it: ‘Oh, you got to love it because it’s hot over there. I want people to be excited about it because it really affects them.”
The trailer above offers a glimpse into not just the events leading up to Grant’s death, but the world he was trying to rebuild with himself, his mother (Octavia Spencer), his partner Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and their daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal). One thing that did strike me from the footage so far: we’re going to get at least some interpretation of how the shooting was captured on video by witnesses, and the police response.
Fruitvale opens on July 26, which places it in a relatively slow week in the middle of summer blockbuster season. The only “major” film opening that week appears to be Hugh Jackman’s The Wolverine. According to Movie Insider, the other films of note debuting are the Cate Blanchett/Alec Baldwin/Louis C.K. project Blue Jasmine and Blackfish, a documentary that uses the story of a killer whale responsible for the deaths of three trainers to shed light on how orcas are treated in captivity.
By Andrea Plaid
While I’ve been working here at the R–among other places–I’ve also been working as the Social Media Fellow at Maysles Documentary Center (MDC), home of Maysles Cinema in Harlem, NY. Started by legendary documentarian Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens) as a community-based movie house run by a mostly multiracial staff, MDC is also home to several educational programs to teach folks in the community to do the same thing he does–get the true-life stories that fascinate them on the screen. And not just adults: Maysles Documentary Center teaches them early, from the Film in Action film club for the 7-to-11 set to the Teen Producers Academy.
And the Academy has been producing some great short docs, ranging from the lessons of superheroes to racial identity to their take on “the Black Hair Wars.” Some of their flicks have been accepted at film festivals around the country this year and one–Triggering Wounds–just won (and what I mean by “just” is the director of the MDC’s educational programs, Christine Peng, sent me an email with the good news from her dying cell phone at 11PM last night) the Best Documentary Film Award from Tribeca Film Festival’s “Our City, My Story” program!
The film–a result of a collaboration with MDC, Harlem Hospital Center, the New York County District Attorney’s Office, Operation Harlem SNUG, and Harlem Mothers SAVE, called the Circle of Safety Initiative–main goal is to be shown to gun-shot victims before they leave the hospital.
I interviewed one of the film’s co-producers, the ever-thoughtful Alejandro Rosario, earlier this week about the film and the impact he hopes the film will have.
By Guest Contributor Chris Faraone
It’s been nearly a full day since the marathon was bombed. A few dozen reporters from various news outlets mill around the Park Plaza Castle–a grandiose stone reception hall on the edge of Boston’s theater district that’s connected to a Smith & Wollensky steakhouse. Inside, race organizers and emergency workers have styled an impromptu relief center; runners and their families are dashing in and out, retrieving items they lost track of after two explosions ripped through Copley Square, just blocks from here. Others are collecting their medals, while a few people are discussing housing for the night with volunteers.
Outside, a cameraman from a local television station is waiting, patiently, for someone to come out wearing a race jacket or some other cue to signify the tragic dynamic. From what I can tell, the plan is for him to shoot video while his colleague–a female broadcaster dressed in business casual for street reporting–ambushes the subject at a vulnerable exiting moment. It’s wholly inappropriate, but this duo is determined. Their chance for a dramatic interview presents itself. A petite woman wielding a shiny marathon medallion exits the castle sobbing, with family members in tow. Her husband, an incredulous gaze over his face, intervenes: “Please–not now!?!”
By Andrea Plaid
Different city, same racism.
Boston, as you may know, suffered from two bomb blasts during its marathon bearing its name this past Monday. As the city struggles to recover from this recent tragedy, we’re getting reports that the alleged bombers got into a shootout with law enforcement overnight–including throwing explosives–that moved through Cambridge and Watertown. According to reports, one of the suspects died in the shootout, and the police are waging a large manhunt for the other one. All of this has locked down the city, the reports continue, with MIT, Harvard, and public schools shut down, public transportation suspended, air space restricted, and advisories to the residents to stay indoors.
What we’re also finding out is about the suspects themselves: the police killed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the shootout and are looking for his brother Dzhokar. The siblings come from the Russian Federation country of Chechnya, in the Caucus region. The brothers are, literally, Caucasians–which, in the US, is the (inaccurate) synonym for white people in general.