Tag Archives: Boston Marathon

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: Al-Jazeera On Coverage Of The Boston Bombing Suspects

Muslims face prejudice, but Muslims from the Caucasus face a particular kind of prejudice – the kind born of ignorance so great it perversely imbues everything with significance. “There is never interpretation, understanding and knowledge when there is no interest,” Edward Said wrote in Covering Islam , and until this week, there was so little interest in and knowledge of the Caucasus that the ambassador of the Czech Republic felt compelled to issue a press release stating that the Czech Republic is not the same as Chechnya.

Knowing nothing of the Tsarnaevs’ motives, and little about Chechens, the American media tore into Wikipedia and came back with stereotypes. The Tsarnaevs were stripped of their 21st century American life and became symbols of a distant land, forever frozen in time. Journalist Eliza Shapiro proclaimed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was “named after a brutal warlord”, despite the fact that Tamerlan, or Timur, is an ordinary first name in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Her claim is equivalent to saying a child named Nicholas must be named in honour of ruthless Russian tsar Nicholas I – an irony apparently lost on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who made a similar denouncement on Twitter (to his credit, Kristof quickly retracted the comment).

Other journalists found literary allusions, or rather, illusions. “They were playing the nihilists Arkady and Bazarov in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons ,” explained scholar Juan Cole, citing an 1862 Russian novel to explain the motives of a criminal whose Twitter account was full of American rap lyrics. One does not recall such use of literary devices to ascertain the motives of less exotic perpetrators, but who knows? Perhaps some ambitious analyst is plumbing the works of Faulkner to shed light on that Mississippi Elvis impersonator who tried to send ricin to Obama.

Still others turned to social media as a gateway to the Chechen soul. Journalist Julia Ioffe – after explaining the Tsarnaevs through Tolstoy, Pushkin, and, of course, Stalin -  cites the younger Tsarnaev’s use of the Russian website VKontakte as proof of his inability to assimilate, then ranks the significance of his personal photos.

- From “The Wrong Kind Of Caucasian,” by Sarah Kendzior

Uncommon Ground: Why Did The Media Treat Marathon Bomb Victims Differently Than They Do Victims Of Urban Violence?

By Guest Contributor Chris Faraone

CNN correspondents report live from Boston during the search for suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. Photo by 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!?!”
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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.

The Racialicious Links Roundup 4.18.13

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

To spot the difference, you’ll have to go to building 18, where all but one unit is leased to renters of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent. Most of the other buildings have none.

The federal government thinks this is by design. According to a lawsuit filed by the feds on Thursday and first reported by the Morning News, complex manager Nancy Quandt systemically denied housing to “curry people,” as she called them.

Quandt, according to the lawsuit, instructed her leasing agents that they should funnel any person who had an Indian-sounding surname or accent or, basically, was brown and looked as if they might enjoy curry, into buildings 16 and 18. If those were full, they were to claim the entire complex was occupied, despite the fact that, throughout 2009 at least, there were no fewer than 20 units available.

It’s not just that Quandt didn’t want such people living in her complex. She didn’t want them living at all. She was once overheard musing to a tenant about how she hated Middle Easterners and wished she could put them on an airplane or island and “blow them up.”

Why the search, the interrogation, the dogs, the bomb squad, and the injured man’s name tweeted out, attached to the word “suspect”? After the bombs went off, people were running in every direction—so was the young man. Many, like him, were hurt badly; many of them were saved by the unflinching kindness of strangers, who carried them or stopped the bleeding with their own hands and improvised tourniquets. “Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood,” President Obama said. “They helped one another, consoled one another,” Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said. In the midst of that, according to a CBS News report, a bystander saw the young man running, badly hurt, rushed to him, and then “tackled” him, bringing him down. People thought he looked suspicious.

What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead—a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?

Want to prevent more Gosnells? Make sure abortion is safe, legal and accessible. The women who visited Gosnell’s office were largely low-income and of colour. The later-than-legal abortions and infant murders that Gosnell is accused to perpetrating were performed on women with few resources and few options. No one wants to have an abortion late in their pregnancy. But thanks to efforts from anti-abortion activists, many insurance companies do not cover abortion procedures. Medicaid, which helps to provide health coverage to low-income Americans, won’t cover abortion.

Low-income women who need to terminate pregnancies are on their own to figure out how to fund the procedure. While they are saving up the hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars that an abortion can cost, the clock is ticking. By the time they have enough money, it may be too late for a legal procedure. Low-income women and women of colour are also less likely to have access to things like affordable contraception, which help prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place. Again, you can thank pro-life actions against family planning funding, Planned Parenthood and birth control access for those gaps.

Gosnell preyed on those vulnerable women. The solution is not to make more women vulnerable. It is to deal with the factors that create that vulnerability.

While most press releases will likely celebrate the included “path to citizenship” for the undocumented who arrived prior to 2012, pay fines, submit to a background check, and learn English all while not taking a dime in any benefits programs, the proposal guts a key rallying point for many organizations, family unification.

While the bill provides for an unlimited number visas per year for foreign spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents, eighteen months after the law goes into effect, 70,000 visas reserved for siblings and married children over 30 years of age of U.S. citizens will be eliminated. Seems like family will only include your legal husband or wife and kid. The definition of family is further limited in the bill by offering no provision for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender couples. This can only be interpreted as a nod to conservative evangelicals who have always formed a part of multiple coalitions fighting for comprehensive immigration reform.

Often heard in the sweeping rhetoric leading up to the release of the bill is the “American dream” narrative, with migrants coming for better opportunities and creating them here, not arriving armed with the tools for success like higher education and money. The new bill will favor immigrants who have already achieved a certain level of success via academia or business.

The Diversity Visa program, a lottery which offered visas for individuals coming from underrepresented countries, many of them African nations, will be gutted. The Senate doesn’t want to take a chance on the kind of immigrant who arrives. Instead 220,000 new green cards will be offered to the “exceptional” including scientists and professors. Visas for highly skilled engineers and computer programmers would double from 65,000 to 110,000, possibly rising up to 180,000. The bill exempts those with doctorates in STEM fields, from annual limits, as well as qualified physicians and multinational executives. There will also be new start-up visas for entrepreneurs, and awards merit based visas to individuals based on a point system for education and employment.

On any given day, the color of a sign could mean the difference between an inmate exercising in the prison yard or being confined to their cell. When prisoners attack guards or other inmates, California allows its corrections officers to restrict all prisoners of that same race or ethnicity to prevent further violence.

Prison officials have said such moves can be necessary in a system plagued by some of the worst race-based gang violence in the country. Just last week, at least four inmates were taken to the hospital after a fight broke out between over 60 black and Hispanic inmates in a Los Angeles jail.

The labels “provide visual cues that allow prison officials to prevent race-based victimization, reduce race-based violence, and prevent thefts and assaults,” wrote the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in response to a lawsuit.

But legal advocates say such practices are deeply problematic. “I haven’t seen anything like it since the days of segregation, when you had colored drinking fountains,” said Rebekah Evenson, an attorney with the nonprofit Prison Law Office.

Boston Marathon Explosions: How You Can Help

Racialicious wants to offer our thoughts and empathy for the victims of yesterday’s explosions at the Boston Marathon. As we wait for more information to come in, here’s a couple of resources for helping out, via The Huffington Post:

If there’s any local organizations organizing their own relief efforts, readers are encouraged to share those resources in the comments.