Tag Archives: racism

It Was Big Weekend For Teen Heartthrob Race Relations

By Joseph Lamour

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Did everyone have a nice weekend? If you’re in the States, perhaps you enjoyed the invigorating spring weather we’ve been having on the East Coast. Or, maybe you were on the other side of the country in Indio, CA, taking in sets by Action Bronson, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or Jessie Ware (my favorite). If that was the case, then you were at Coachella, the three-day music bonanza, and I’m jealous. Jealous… of most of you. Nick Jonas? Not so much.

Justin Bieber, either, but, we’ll get to that in a moment.

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Let Me Break It Down for You: Brad Paisley’s “Accidental Racist”

by Joseph Lamour

I, like the rest of the internet and world (outside of the Arista Nashville offices, apparently), think “Accidental Racist“ is an absolutely awful song. With a title that sounds more like a play by Neil Simon than a country-rap crossover, this misguided attempt at finding racial common ground is so terrible because it’s just so ill-considered from both sides of the duet. Being like I am, though, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when things like this happen. I try to figure out why that actor called that other actor that homophobic slur. I hold on hope for fallen starlets for about a year longer than everyone else. But, because I  also Like being appalled (it gives me an excuse to make this face), I often break it down the whole process when something like this happens.

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Confessions Of A Black Morrissey Fan

By Guest Contributor Joshua Alston; originally published at Feminist Wire

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This week, Morrissey announced that he is canceling the remainder of his North American tour, due to an ongoing battle with a bleeding ulcer, Barrett’s esophagus, and a case of pneumonia in both of his lungs. I was disappointed to hear about the illnesses plaguing the singer who, since fronting the seminal rock band The Smiths in the 80s, has built a particularly cultish fan base of which I more or less consider myself a part. But there was also a rush of relief when I heard about the tour cancellation because it relieved me of a quandary that presents itself every few years: whether or not to see Morrissey in concert.

A friend of mine texted me a few weeks back to tell me when Morrissey was scheduled to play Philadelphia and to ask if I planned on going. The question startled me. It shouldn’t have. Like most Morrissey fans, I’ll find a way to mention his work if you talk to me long enough, and I often find myself pleading with Morrissey agnostics to listen to his work, particularly those who know nothing except for the penchant for whiny navel-gazing that has earned him the pejorative honorific “The Pope of Mope.” It only makes sense that anyone who’s gotten close enough to see how important Morrissey’s work is to me would ask if I wanted to see him in concert. But it’s a far more complex decision than it seems on its face.

Morrissey doesn’t make himself easy to like and has proved to be as deft at writing catchy, literate indie-pop songs as he is at erecting barriers that prevent the unqualified enjoyment of those songs. He’s egregiously precious and oversensitive and has a tendency to come off in interviews as self-important, vain, and smug. He’s a vocal advocate for animal rights–but perhaps too vocal. His passion for protecting all God’s creatures is an admirable one, but the rigid, bratty way he tends to express that passion represents the type of myopic zealotry that stunts movements more often than it fortifies them.

I could accept all of this, though, if it weren’t for the fact that Morrissey is also probably racist. I say “probably” for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that Morrissey is not at all shy about litigation where such accusations are concerned. Added to this, as with any damaging rumor that shadows a celebrity, Morrissey’s alleged racism is a conjecture built of equal parts fact, perception, and apocrypha. But in spite of his insistence that he isn’t racist–an assertion he’s repeated over the years–no one has done more to make the case that Morrissey is deeply racist and xenophobic than the man himself.

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We Are Oberlin…And Here’s Our Dirty Laundry

*TRIGGER WARNING: Racist and homophobic language*

By Kendra James

The Klu Klux Klan isn’t new to Ohio, but they were certainly a new addition to the Oberlin College Campus. At some time around midnight on Monday, March 4, a person dressed in Klan regalia was spotted on Oberlin College’s South Campus near the Afrikan-Heritage house and the Edmonia Lewis Center for Women and Transgendered People. Soon after the sighting–only the latest in a string of racist events on campus during the month of February–the college made the decision to cancel classes for the day.

Early this morning, there was a report of a person wearing a hood and robe resembling a KKK outfit between South and the Edmonia Lewis Center and in the vicinity of Afrikan Heritage House. This report is being investigated by both Safety and Security and the Oberlin Police Department. This event, in addition to the series of other hate-related incidents on campus, has precipitated our decision to suspend formal classes and all non-essential activities for today, Monday, March 4, 2013, and gather for a series of discussions of the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks.

As people slowly woke up on Monday, rumors about what had happened were already flying around Facebook and Tumblr. Oddly enough, I didn’t find out from a student or a fellow alum, but from a friend on Twitter who’d heard about it through her friend who’s a resident assistant. This was all before Gawker picked up the story later in the morning, along with a timeline of what’s been going on throughout the month.

Feb. 9: Vandalism in the Science Center included the replacement of “Black” with “N*gger” on Black History Month posters, drawings of swastikas, damage to the “Year of the Queer” posters and reported destruction of the Chinese calendar.

Feb. 12: LGBTQ Community Coordinator Lorena Espinoza found a note in the Multicultural Resource Center that read “N*gger + F*ggot Center.”

Feb. 16: Students found a number of offensive notes written around Burton Hall. “Whites Only” was written above a water fountain, “N*gger Oven” was written inside the elevator and “No N*ggers” was written on a bathroom door.

Feb. 17: The Office of Safety and Security released a Special Alert of a strong-arm robbery of a student near West College Street and Cedar Street. The student reported that he was approached by an individual who made a derogatory remark about his perceived ethnicity and then physically knocked him to the ground.

Feb. 26: Posters were defaced in [The King Building]  including those advertising “Year of the Queer” and the Affirmative Action panel, at least one of which had a swastika drawn on it.

Feb. 27: A swastika drawn onto the outside window of West Lecture Hall in the Science Center was seen being removed by custodial staff.

For a depressingly detailed account of Oberlin’s racial divide, one can also check out the Oberlin Microagressions Tumblr, which has a record of these events and more.

To put this all in context, let’s remember this is Oberlin College, the supposed bastion of liberal progressiveness. The first college in the country to educate both men and women together and equally (1841). The first college to accept African-American students (1835). The final stop on the Underground Railroad. The college of same sex dorms, dorm rooms and bathrooms, and the famed Drag Ball and Safer Sex Night. A college founded on “religious utopian principles” that boasts a Kosher-Halal food co-op. We read about the above behavior from larger universities like Duke and scoff and insist that it would never happen or be tolerated at Oberlin.

In 2009, a “Mexican Party” was thrown on campus where some attendees dressed as undocumented immigrants (whatever that entails) and drug dealers. During my senior year (‘09-’10), I was asked by a white girl one Saturday (in my own house, of all places) if my afro that day was in honor of the “Pimps and Hoes” party that evening. Both of these parties prompted campus-wide talks, solidarity meetings, discussions with the student senate and a forum or two. In 2011, someone spray painted “n*ggerf*ggot” on a dorm wall, and earlier this year, I saw a few posts on Facebook and Tumblr about someone scrawling “n*gger” on posters (different from the documented incidents above) along with a call to action, but there didn’t seem to be an overwhelming outpouring of student anger or responsiveness from the administration. In the end, incidents like these seemed to always blow over.

These actions may not be tolerated, but they certainly happen. It was happening when I was a student at Oberlin, and it’s happening now. What’s changed this time–I hope for the better–is the response.

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Two People I Dislike Immensely Unshockingly Do Something I Dislike Immensely

by Joseph Lamour

*Warning: Strong Language*

We’re living in an age where almost everything a person shares with their friends can now be permanently filed away on a server somewhere (in a room, not unlike where Olivia and Fitz like to make out, but that’s for another post). For some people, this permanence proves especially problematic. Laura Beck over at Jezebel rightly filed this story under “WTF”, and seriously, WTF, Lisa Lampanelli?

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From Star Trek To The Stars

The late astronaut Robert McNair. Via science.ksc.nasa.gov

The late astronaut Ronald McNair. Via science.ksc.nasa.gov

Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, was inspired by Nichelle Nichols’ portrayal of Lieutenant Uhura onStar Trek. But she wasn’t the only one boldly going to the final frontier. StoryCorps tells the story of Ronald McNair, the second African American in space and a casualty of the Challenger disaster in 1986. The short (captioned) video illuminates McNair’s inquisitive beginnings in the segregated American South, his teen years, and the realization of his dream.

 

[**TRIGGER WARNING**] Rape, American Style

By Guest Contributor Sikivu Hutchinson; originally published at Feminist Wire

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Image Credit: AFP

When I was five years old I was sexually assaulted by neighbors. Ours was a tranquil post-white flight neighborhood of beautiful single family homes, obsessively tended lawns, and keeping-up-with-the-Joneses home improvement.  It was the mid-seventies, before black women’s experiences with rape had come into broader public consciousness through works like The Color Purple and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

The term “sexual assault” was largely unknown. The language that rape-prevention activists now use to validate the everyday terrorism girls and women deal with was not a part of our vocabulary or classroom curriculum. In my critically conscious upbringing I was raised to clearly understand the racist police who abused and murdered us, the racist criminal justice system that jailed us, and the racist cultural history that rendered us invisible. I was taught to revere the black warriors who crusaded against the holocaust of slavery and its aftermath. But I was not taught to know, understand, or identify the casual predators that moved in and out of our lives without detection or censure; the parasites who posed as strong, upstanding black men in the light of day and terrorized with impunity behind closed doors buttressed by violent silence.

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Cab Drivers, Uber, And The Costs Of Racism

Uber’s Home Page.

Can disruptive technology provide a fix for social issues?

Silicon Valley darling Uber may be on to something. The service–which provides town car, SUV, or luxury vehicle service with a few taps of a smartphone–is considered the killer app for inefficient taxi service. Sitting pretty on close to $50 million dollars in venture funding, Uber is rapidly expanding its operations.

Uber is not without controversy. It’s a premium service with a premium price tag. The New York Times, in reporting on Uber’s new lower-priced hybrid option shows the high cost of convenience:

In San Francisco, for example, the hybrid cars will cost $5 for the base fee, and then $3.25 a mile after that. By contrast, the town cars cost $8 for the base fee and then $4.95 a mile. Taxis in San Francisco cost $3.16 a mile including a tip of 15 percent.

In addition to the steep cost, Uber is currently embroiled in lawsuits around skirting consumer protections, ran afoul of taxi laws in a few states, and is having problems fitting their tech into areas with safety rules about handheld devices on the road. Combine that with shady “surge pricing” practices that increase the price of a car in real time with demand, and there is a huge problem. (Also, see Paul Carr’s discussion of the ethics of hypercapitalism and Uber here and here.)

However, most analysis of Uber’s costs and benefits leave out one huge piece of the appeal: the premium car service removes the racism factor when you need a ride. Continue reading