Tag Archives: discrimination

On Being American and African Black

by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem

The first time I saw “Roots” I was in puberty, but since my birth the groundbreaking miniseries has been a running joke among my maternal relatives.

My mother is a black American, raised Baptist in Tennessee. My father is a Muslim from Nigeria. More specifically, for those in the know, he’s Yoruba.

When I was a baby my American relatives, all natives of small-town Tennessee and wholly unfamiliar with Africans, took to holding me up in the air and anointing me Kunta Kinte, like the character in “Roots.” Although the gesture annoyed my mother to no end, her family members found it hilarious.

Africans, you see, are hilarious. If there is one stereotype about Africans that has lingered throughout my life it is this. Perhaps because of this stereotype, before my birth my maternal grandmother envisioned that I would look less like a baby and more like an offensive cartoon character. She warned my mother to expect me to have coal black skin and bright red lips like Little Sambo. In expressing her fears, my grandmother ignored the reality of my father, who is dark-skinned but not especially so. In fact, he is a shade or two lighter than my mother is. Because Africans are an “exotic other,” however, my grandmother adopted a white supremacist gaze in connection to my father.

She’s far from the only black American to adopt that stance in relation to Africans. In Chicago, where my parents met and lived, my mother recalled being approached by a black woman curious to know if I cried in “African.” Now, I was born in the late1970s, before Akon dominated music charts or Hakeem Olajuwon (a fellow Yoruba) dominated basketball courts. Still, it’s somewhat shocking to note that some of the African Americans in my midst then viewed me as an entirely different entity from themselves. Continue reading

Can Victims be Perpetrators?

by Guest Contributor M. Dot, originally published on Model Minority

Yesterday the internet was abuzz with the fact that Prince might be homophobic.

Carmen from New Demographic commented on Twitter that this didn’t make sense. She wrote ,

“I’m still amazed that Prince is a homophobe. I mean, isn’t there a good chance he’s been gay-bashed in his life? (Even if he’s not gay).

I responded back saying that she presumed that possessing a “fringe Black masculinity” would make him more likely to be tolerant. I added that tolerance, like hate is taught. She responded saying she agreed, but it was still sad.

I agreed.

Even before I read the evidence of what Prince said, I suspected that if Prince was being intolerant, then perhaps may have something to do with his interpretation of the tenets of his faith practices.

This Prince moment also reminded me that our generation has a hard time accepting the fact that victims can be perpetrators. Continue reading

An increase in hate crimes during election season

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together) has been keeping track of an increase in xenophobic violence and rhetoric against South Asians in the weeks and months leading up to the 2008 elections, including assaults targeting immigrants who either supported or were perceived to support President-Elect Obama. Here are a few examples of recent violence against South Asians and other communities of color:

  • Hardwick, New Jersey — On November 6, 2008, an incident occurred in which Alina and Gary Grewal found a cross burned on their front lawn. The cross was wrapped in a congratulatory banner the family had made which read “President Obama, Victory ’08″.
  • Carteret, New Jersey — On October 30, 2008, an incident occurred in which an elderly Sikh gentleman, Ajit Singh Chima, was punched and kicked repeatedly in the face, suffering fractures in his jaw and near his eyes. This occurred soon after a 10-year-old Sikh boy, Gagandeep Singh, was attacked on October 8, 2008, by an individual who pushed him to the ground and forcibly cut his hair.
  • Staten Island, New York — In early November, an incident occurred in which four white men beat a Liberian-American Muslim teenager, Ali Kamara, near his home. The attackers jumped out of a car and assaulted him with a baseball bat after shouting “Obama.”
  • Providence, Rhode Island — In September 2008, an incident occurred in which a Sikh-American man was accosted by an individual who said, “I have a gun in my car and since you are a hajii no one will care if I kill you. You know why the police won’t do anything? Because I got blond hair and blue eyes.” As the assailant left, he screamed, “F*** Arabs and F*** Obama.”

In light of these incidents, SAALT is re-circulating a basic factsheet on hate crimes with answers to frequently asked questions and resources for those in need. To learn more about the work SAALT is doing, and its services and resources for hate crime victims, visit the SAALT website here.

Open Letter: Resisting the Racist Blame Game Post Prop 8

by Guest Contributor Adele Carpenter

Dear Friends,

I am writing because I am disturbed by the string of articles, blog entries, and list serve threads that have come out in the last few days suggesting that the high turnout of African American and Latino voters for the presidential election was responsible for the passage of California’s proposition 8, which dealt a heavy blow to LGBT families by banning gay marriage in the state’s constitution.

These articles mistakenly imply that the struggles for civil rights for LGBT people and communities of color are separate or even at odds with each other. They deny the work that LGBT people of color do to combat homophobia and transphobia in their families and communities, often while facing racism within the queer community as well. These articles deny homophobia among white people. They displace blame away from those who actually have the power to consistently deny others civil and human rights, and instead, charge that when communities that have long been disenfranchised and alienated from political processes participate, that the results with be negative for LGBT people.

I believe all communities need to be held accountable for their homophobia and transphobia. I want to acknowledge the suffering and hardship that the passage of Proposition 8 has caused for LGBT couples and families. But, while the media casts blame on communities of color for the passage of Prop 8, it is imperative that we struggle against the logic that tells us that struggles for LGBT civil rights and racial justice are separate—that we re-examine our strategies for advancing LGBT civil rights and gay marriage and, in particular, look at places where LGBT communities have failed to align our struggles for civil rights with ongoing struggles for racial justice. Continue reading

On Proposition 8

A Racialicious Roundtable

Alternet recently reprinted an article by James Kim (written for The Nation), reporting:

If exit polls are to be believed, some 70 percent of African-Americans voted Yes on 8, as did 53 percent of Latinos and 49 percent of Asians; each of these demographics went heavily for Obama; blacks by a 94-to-6 margin. Los Angeles County, heavily minority, went 50-50 on Prop 8. These results have shocked gay activists, who knew from earlier polls, for example, that black voters favored Prop 8, but they were seeing much smaller margins, closer to 50 percent.

The easy, dangerous explanation for this gap, and one already tossed around by some white gay liberals in the bitter aftermath, is that people of color are not so secretly homophobic. But a more complicated reckoning — one that takes into account both the organizing successes of the Christian right and the failures of the gay movement — will have to take place if activists want a different result next time. First, there’s the matter of the Yes on 8 coalition’s staggering disinformation campaign. Ad after ad told voters that without Prop 8, their churches would be forced to perform same-sex unions and stripped of their tax-exempt status; that schools would teach their children to practice homosexuality, and, perhaps most effective, that a smiling Barack Obama had said, “I’m not in favor of gay marriage.” This last bit went out in a flier by the Yes on 8 campaign targeting black households. Continue reading

University course not suitable for “oriental people”

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Some racist news from abroad, spotted over at the Resist racism blog… In Wales, an Asian woman has accused a university of racism after she was apparently told that an accountancy course might not be suitable for “Oriental people”: University in ‘Oriental’ race row.

Odgerel Hatenboer, who is originally from Mongolia, attended an open day at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, with the hope of enrolling for an accountancy course. However, she was told my a staff member that the course might not be suitable for “people like you, Oriental people”:

She said: “The man said something like ‘I’m not saying you’re Chinese but people like you, Oriental people, tend to accept what is written in the books and what the lecturer says, whereas this kind of course is nothing like you have studied in the past, it requires more analytical skills, you will have to do more yourself.”

Right. Whatever the hell that means. The guy apparently didn’t even ask about her background or qualifications. Just one look at this Oriental lady and a quick judgment. Thanks for the advice, now kindly shut the hell up. By the way, she happens to have a masters in development economics from the University of Manchester and holds a diploma from the Association of Accounting Technicians. Oh snap!

Ms. Hatenboer completed the application form anyway. She was told it would be passed on to the relevant department and she’d hear from the university within a week… However, when she later checked on the status of her application, she found out it had never been received. Where did it go? It’s a mystery! That’s racist!

Quoted: ?uestlove on The Little Things

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

Note: My boyfriend sent me this on September 23. As so often with conversations on OkayPlayer, the forums purge and the conversation is lost. The original link he sent to the topic comes up with an error. However, he did copy ?uestlove’s response to the thread, which was really a meditation on what it means to be a large black man, going about your daily business.


51. “well….i really wanna say skin”
In response to Reply # 41

but its like those are the small adjustments i have to make in everyday life to make white people happy.

here are some others.

-i remove the afro pick when im going to a city on a plane and we (the roots) are the only blacks aboard. im use to being a goldfish to people by now. but sometimes i just give up.

-i talk EXTRA job interview whenever the flight attendant reads the beautiful name my parents gave me aloud. just to assure the wall street journalites that im not going to pull the act you think im going to pull simply because you just heard two arabic names read aloud in first class.

-i turn my body hard to the left (as if in the dunce corner) when im on an elevator alone….

-actually part 2: i will get OFF the elevator sometimes cause the fear of entering the elevator is such a shock to some white women they will just play it off like they dont have to get on. so i get off….

….and next thing you know….they get on. Continue reading

A personal experience with the hatred of Islam

By Guest Contributor Shawna, originally published at Islam on My Side

This is an old post I’ve pulled out of the Islam on My Side archives, originally posted with the title “Give Me an Unbigoted Break.” It’s a bit more personal than I’ve been inclined to post on this blog, but as personal essays come in from contributors (deadline August 1st, so get to it!), I feel inclined to share a bit of my own experience–the roots of this blog and anthology, if you will.

****

As I thumbed my way through some favorite blogs this morning, I was inspired to touch on a hot topic in the Muslim blogosphere: bigotry. Islamo-Facism Week has encouraged the debasement of Islamic ideals stemming from a bigoted hardline against Muslims. I’ve grown used to being lumped into unfriendly categories. It often happens by friendly people who are misinformed by Horowitz-like others or simply ignorant to world affairs. I’m often tolerant of said lumping.

I spent six years in Oklahoma, three years in Texas, and another six years in Arkansas prior to the eleven I’ve spent in Indiana. For those of you trying to do the math, that makes me twenty-six years old. When I lived in Arkansas, I was the object of some pretty serious hate. My family was the only Muslim family in the tiny town we lived in. I started there in fifth grade. I remember my first day of school clearly. I’d changed schools a number of times as my dad moved up in the job world. I’d gotten pretty good at identifying who the kids I wanted to get in with were from day one. I was thrilled when one of the girls disengaged herself from the medium-popularity clique and offered to be my tour-guide. She never got to guide me though. I was handed off before that first period ended to a girl with wildly red hair who was clearly not as well-to-do or well-looked upon. This girl became my best friend for several years, mostly due to her honesty when I asked her why the other girl had ditched me.

She nodded when she said it, “The teacher says you’re part of a cult.”

It took awhile for the implications of this to sink in. My fifth-grade homeroom/English teacher had discouraged another student from being my handler because she somehow knew my family was Muslim. Or maybe it was because I entered the classroom with a wicked tan, the same type of tan my younger sister sported when we were on the local swim team and another teacher’s daughter came up to her and asked, “Do you take pills to be Black?” or something like that. Continue reading