Earlier this month, news surfaced of a Louisiana school psychologist who posted racially charged messages on Twitter. Mark Traina, who later resigned, worked as a psychologist at an alternative school in Jefferson Parish Public School System, a district that’s been under intense scrutiny in recent months. According to a court complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Jefferson County has been sending a disproportionate number of black and special-education kids to “languish for months” in the district’s alternative schools.
Traina had already taken to Twitter to post his support of George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch captain charged with murdering Trayvon Martin. But back in January, Traina went on a rant against “young black thugs.” Traina, a self-proclaimed “American Civil Rights Activist who unlike Jessie (sic) Jackson and Al Sharpton presents all Americas,” tweeted that “Young black thugs who won’t follow the law need to be put down not incarcerated. Put down like the Dogs they are!”
While black children aren’t often ceremoniously “put down like dogs”, they do face harsh school punishment at much higher rates than their white counterparts. Jefferson Parish’s problems are symptomatic of a disease that’s already been diagnosed nationally: the tendency to dole out harsher than average treatment for people of color. From the classroom to the clinician’s office, there’s a long and troubling relationship between racism and the mental health field.
By Guest Contributor Tami Winfrey Harris, cross-posted from What Tami Said
Sexism from a brown face is still sexism. Male privilege with a unique cadence and sartorial style is still male privilege. Patriarchy is still patriarchy when perpetrated by doctorate-wielding black activists. Demanding that a black woman march in lock step with your agenda or be labeled “treacherous” and “a fake and a fraud” is to further the twin demons of racism and sexism that black women battle every day. It’s disgraceful.
Cornel West on Melissa Harris-Perry in the latest issue of Diverse Issues magazine:
“I have a lot of love for the sister, but she’s a liar, and I hate lying,” says West. … Harris-Perry’s scathing critique, West says, has more to do with the fact that the Center for African American Studies unanimously voted against her when she came up for promotion from associate to full professor, adding that her work was not scholarly enough. “There’s not a lot of academic stuff with her, just a lot of Twittering,” says West, who added that her book Sister Citizen, released last year was “wild and out of control.” “She’s become the momentary darling of liberals, but I pray for her because she’s in over her head. She’s a fake and a fraud. I was so surprised at how treacherous the sister was.”
In the early 1980s the Reagan Administration engaged in an active campaign to demonize welfare and welfare recipients. Those who received public assistance were depicted as lazy free-loaders who burdened good, hard-working taxpayers. Race and gender played major parts in this framing of public assistance: the image of the “welfare queen” depicted those on welfare as lazy, promiscuous women who used their reproductive ability to have more children and thus get more welfare. This woman was implicitly African American, such as the woman in an anecdote Reagan told during his 1976 campaign (and repeated frequently) of a “welfare queen” on the South Side of Chicago who supposedly drove to the welfare office to get her check in an expensive Cadillac (whether he had actually encountered any such woman, as he claimed, was of course irrelevant).
The campaign was incredibly successful: once welfare recipients were depicted as lazy, promiscuous Black women sponging off of (White) taxpayers, public support for welfare programs declined. The negative attitude toward both welfare and its recipients lasted after Reagan left office; the debate about welfare reform in the mid-1990s echoed much of the discourse from the 1980s. Receiving public assistance was shameful; being a recipient was stigmatized.
Abby K. recently found an old Sesame Street segment called “I Am Somebody.” Jesse Jackson leads a group of children in an affirmation that they are “somebody,” and specifically includes the lines “I may be poor” and “I may be on welfare”.