Tag Archives: violence

I’m Sorry: Reflections on Shootings on Parliament Hill

by Guest Contributor Dorothy Attakora-Gyan

By now I am sure most people worldwide have heard about the October 22 shootings that took place on Parliament Hill in the nations capital in Canada.

Tragically the event took the life of Cpl Nathan Cirillo, a young 24 year old father.

The very fact that this fallen soldier lost his life at the National War Memorial has the nation in collective mourning.

As a student residing in Ottawa, one privileged to live downtown, mere minutes and walking distance from Parliament Hill, I have witnessed the fear and uncertainly that throughout the day evolved into moral panic.

More specifically, I speak of panic that has led to some very racist depictions in the media, over social media, and in public domains, some riddled with undertones of Islamaphobia and anti- Indigenous sentiments. As the day came to an end and night approached few still had answers and I was only left with my reflections.

So many ‘feels’ that left feeling conflicted and unsettled.

All I could do was sit in this pool of sorry’s that still threatens to drown me.

I’m really sorry that today was so awful and triggering for so many people. I’m especially sorry for the soldier who lost his life today as well as those affected a few days ago in Québec. Sorry for their families and friends. I’m sorry for the collective fear felt by all, children, youth, adults, and elders alike. I’m sorry for the lockdown across downtown Ottawa and University of Ottawa that kept people indoors when they could have been out getting fresh air. Sorry for the pregnant and expectant mothers, those that are differently abled who were inconvenienced unexpectedly from the lock out. Sorry for the classes that were canceled. For the dogs that couldn’t be walked. That time stood still for so many.

I’m sorry for all the victims of today that won’t be written about. I’m simultaneously sorry for any ‘Aboriginal’/ ‘South American looking’/ ‘terrorist looking Muslim’ folk who fit the ‘description’ of the suspect as depicted and labeled by the media. I’m sorry for those who embody such descriptions and the experiences they will have in this world walking the streets the next few days as a result. Continue reading

What Are Rappers Really Saying About The Police?

By Guest Contributor Lisa Wade, PhD; originally published at Sociological Images

Hip-hop music is frequently described as violent and anti-law enforcement, with the implication that its artists glorify criminality.  A new content analysis subtitled “Hip-Hop Artists’ Perceptions of Criminal Justice“, by criminologists Kevin Steinmetz and Howard Henderson, challenge this conclusion.

After an analysis of a random sample of hip-hop songs released on platinum-selling albums between 2000 and 2010, Steinmetz and Henderson concluded that the main law enforcement-related themes in hip-hop are not pleasure and pride in aggressive and criminal acts, but the unfairness of the criminal justice system and the powerlessness felt by those targeted by it.

Lyrics about law enforcement, for example, frequently portrayed cops as predators exercising an illegitimate power.  Imprisonment, likewise, was blamed for weakening familial and community relationships and described a modern method of oppression.

 

 

Their analysis refutes the idea that hip-hop performers are embracing negative stereotypes of African American men in order to sell albums.  Instead, it suggests that the genre retains the politicized messages that it was born with.

Steinmetz and Henderson offer Tupac’s “Crooked Nigga Too” (2004) as an example of a rap that emphasizes how urban Black men are treated unfairly by police.

Yo, why I got beef with police?
Ain’t that a bitch that motherfuckers got a beef with me
They make it hard for me to sleep
I wake up at the slightest peep, and my sheets are three feet deep.

The authors explain:

Police action perceived as hostile and unfair engenders an equally hostile and indignant response from Tupac, indicating a tremendous amount of disrespect for the police.

Likewise, Jay-Z, in “Pray” (2007), raps about cops who keep drugs confiscated from a dealer, emphasizing a “power dynamic in which the dealer was unfairly taken advantage of but was unable to seek redress”:

The same BM [‘‘big mover’’—a drug dealer] is pulled over by the boys dressed blue
they had their guns drawn screaming, “just move or is there something else you suggest we can do?”
He made his way to the trunk
opened it like, “huh?”
A treasure chest was removed
cops said he’ll be back next monthwhat we call corrupt, he calls payin’ dues

Henderson offers Jay-Z’s “Minority Report” as a great overall example:

Of course, the rappers — in their collective wisdom — are absolutely correct to suspect that the treatment that their communities receive from the police, corrections, and courts are unfair.  African Americans are routinely targeted by police (see the examples of New York City and Toronto), even though racial profiling doesn’t workBlacks are are more likely to be arrested and sentenced than Whites, regardless of actual crime rates; schools and juvenile detention systems are increasingly intertwined in inner citiesimprisonment tears families apart, disproportionately harming families of color; and even Black children don’t trust the police.

Steinmetz and Henderson conclude:

We actually found that the overwhelming message in hip-hop wasn’t that the rappers disliked the idea of justice, but they disliked the way it was being implemented.

These communities, then, have a strong sense of justice…rooted in the sense that they’re not getting any.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter andFacebook.

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

By Guest Contributor Sikivu Hutchinson; originally published at Feminist Wire

anti-rape.activists

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.

Continue reading

Scattered Thoughts on Violence and Non Violence

Fight Club

Going to the MLK memorial dedications gave me quite a bit to think about. I struggled, a lot, with Dr. King’s messages of non violence growing up, and I am working on a piece about these different schools of thought and how they influence us. I was grateful to Xernona Clayton, for being so candid about her struggle with accepting nonviolence while studying with Dr. King, because she articulated so much of what I felt.

So imagine my surprise this morning, while checking my feeds, to see this piece from Kenyon Farrow, titled “In Defense of Brontez—and the Rest of Us Too Proud or Too Trashy to Go Down Without a Fight.” In it, Farrow describes a situation where a friend of his was subjected to homophobic comments, and what happened after the situation escalated:

[H]e and friend/bandmate Adal had left the Paradiso nightclub when two Black men with some Caribbean accent began harassing them as they left the club. Adal is not queer, but the two men, according to Brontez, assumed that they were a couple, and began calling them “batty boy” and other epithets. Finally, they made the statement, “if we were at home you’d be dead by now.” Continue reading

Voices: The London Riots

London Riots

We can dispense with some mistakes, though. It is wrong to say that the riots are apolitical. The trouble began on Saturday night when protesters gathered at Tottenham police station to demand that the police explain the circumstances in which a local man, Mark Duggan, had been shot dead by the police. The death of a Londoner, another black Londoner, at the hands of the police has a gruesome significance. The police are employed to keep the peace and the police shot someone dead. This is a deeply political matter. Besides, it is conventional to say how much policing in London has changed since the Brixton riots of the early eighties – but not many people mouthing the conventional wisdom have much firsthand experience of being young and poor in Britain’s inner cities.

More broadly, any breakdown of civil order is inescapably political. Quite large numbers of mostly young people have decided that, on balance, they want to take to the streets and attack the forces of law and order, damage property or steal goods. Their motives may differ – they are bound to differ. But their actions can only be understood adequately in political terms. While the recklessness of adrenaline has something to do with what is happening, the willingness to act is something to be explained. We should perhaps ask them what they were thinking before reaching for phrases like “mindless violence”. We might actually learn something.

— Dan Hind, writing for Al-Jazeera

I’m digressing, personalising, because I am angry and despairing. Right and left are meaningless in terms of what has happened over the last few nights. If you genuinely think that this wouldn’t have happened if the coalition had been Labour/Lib Dem you need to get off the internet and get out more. That 13 – 20% have no respect or concern for or interest in any government, and probably can’t even distinguish between the range of worthies in suits who have ruled us during their lifetimes. I’ve even seen someone blame Thatcher for what happened last night, as if Cameron had achieved the kind of reversal of history that was beyond Pohl Pot. Politics does not concern the 13 to 20%; criminality is their norm, just as it was their parents’ norm.

They are not part of the society the people reading this belong to. Rioting last night gave them a sense of power and control, over the police, and over their neighbours. It’s a huge oversimplification to say these are simply poor areas. Patterns of housing – particularly the rental market – in London are way more complex than that and Hackney, Clapham, Brixton etc have been increasingly gentrified over the last thirty years. The communities are much more mixed than many commentators will acknowledge. What these riots – which aren’t demonstrations, but parties got out of hand, with fires and prizes – is the degree of alienation from their own communities, their inability to acknowledge that they are part of any community. They also don’t see themselves as angry or even oppressed, because they cannot look beyond the circumstances they are in and the peer pressures around them. And it is about bad parenting, to the extent that when the 13 to 20% become parents they have no aspirations or responsibilities for their children to inherit. That won’t change if you treat merely them as victims, and enhance their sense of entitlement to trainers and TVs, nor if you treat them merely as criminals and process them through a judicial system that encourages recidivism.

— Rosamicula on LiveJournal

Just let me be clear about this (It’s a good phrase, Mr and Mrs Cameron, and one I looted from every sentence your son utters, just as he looted it from Tony Blair), I am not justifying or minimising in any way what has been done by the looters over the last few nights. What I am doing, however, is expressing shock and dismay that your son and his friends feel themselves in any way to be guardians of morality in this country.

Can they really, as 650 people who have shown themselves to be venal pygmies, moral dwarves at every opportunity over the last 20 years, bleat at others about ‘criminality’. Those who decided that when they broke the rules (the rules they themselves set) they, on the whole wouldn’t face the consequences of their actions?

Are they really surprised that this country’s culture is swamped in greed, in the acquisition of material things, in a lust for consumer goods of the most base kind? Really?

Let’s have a think back: cash-for-questions; Bernie Ecclestone; cash-for-access; Mandelson’s mortgage; the Hinduja passports; Blunkett’s alleged insider trading (and, by the way, when someone has had to resign in disgrace twice can we stop having them on television as a commentator, please?); the meetings on the yachts of oligarchs; the drafting of the Digital Economy Act with Lucian Grange; Byers’, Hewitt’s & Hoon’s desperation to prostitute themselves and their positions; the fact that Andrew Lansley (in charge of NHS reforms) has a wife who gives lobbying advice to the very companies hoping to benefit from the NHS reforms. And that list didn’t even take me very long to think of.

Our politicians are for sale and they do not care who knows it.

Oh yes, and then there’s the expenses thing. Widescale abuse of the very systems they designed, almost all of them grasping what they could while they remained MPs, to build their nest egg for the future at the public’s expense. They even now whine on Twitter about having their expenses claims for getting back to Parliament while much of the country is on fire subject to any examination. True public servants.

– Nathaniel Tapely, “An Open Letter to David Cameron’s Parents

 

(Via Baratunde and Jason)

Of Spanking and State Violence

[TRIGGER WARNING. This is a very frank post on violence.]

So, last week Jill at Feministe has a post up on the first real-time spanking study.

Time Magazine reports:

[I]n the course of analyzing the data collected from 37 families — 36 mothers and one father, all of whom recorded up to 36 hours of audio in six days of study — researchers heard the sharp cracks and dull thuds of spanking, followed in some cases by minutes of crying. They’d inadvertently captured evidence of corporal punishment, as well as the tense moments before and the resolution after, leading researchers to believe they’d amassed the first-ever cache of real-time spanking data. [...]

The parents who recorded themselves represented a socioeconomic mix: a third each were low-income, middle-income and upper-middle-class or higher. Most were white; about a third were African-American.

Researchers broke down the data, detailing each spanking or slapping incident, what led up to it, what type of punishment was used and how much, how a child reacted immediately and then several minutes later.

“The idea is this data will provide a unique glimpse into what really goes on in families that hasn’t been available through traditional methods of self-report,” says Holden.

About a year ago, I got a request to talk about spanking on Racialicious, from the perspective of a black parent wondering why other black parents were so quick to put their hands on their children.

Renina has written about this in the broader context of policing masculinity with violence. She said:

In this video I just watched today a Black Uncle whoops his presumably 13 or 14 year old nephew with a belt for “Fake Thugging” on Facebook. He then forced the young man to put the video on Facebook. #triggerwarning.

I have long been reluctant to talk publicly about Black parents beating Black children, however, it needs to be done. Honestly, its one of the things that I have been scared to write about and I don’t scare easily.

bell hooks has said Black feminist’s lack of writing about how some Black parents, spank, whoop and beat their children is one of the ways in which Black Feminist have failed Black families. We analyze domination between men and women and Black folks and White folks and even global violence but we don’t closely analyze how parents dominate children.

Conversations around spanking, particularly in progressive spaces, take a very hard line around corporal punishment. Renee, of Womanist Musings, has written dozens of posts about why spanking is wrong. Some of the commenters on Jill’s post (somewhere back in the 100s) brought up differences in what is considered culturally acceptable. Most of Jill’s commenters came to an agreement dominating the thread – there is never, ever a reason to discipline your child physically. But most of these conversations assume certain things. That these are interactions solely between adult and child, and that generally, the household is in an atmosphere of peace. What isn’t raised is the reality of raising children in environments where random street violence or drug use is commonplace. Continue reading

Open Thread: The Shooting in Arizona

By Latoya Peterson

So the United States has had its first act of politically motivated terrorist activity in 2011.

On Saturday, Jared Lee Loughner fired into a crowd of people gathered in support of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, killing six and wounding fourteen. Giffords, who was shot in the head, is in critical condition, despite the heroic actions of her intern. Continue reading

South Philly High Cuts Jobs Focusing on Student Safety

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

Violet SuttonWhen South Philadelphia High School erupted into racial violence on December 3, community liaison Violet Sutton-Lawson was one of the few school staff members who actually did something — risking serious injury — to protect Asian students who were being beaten by mobs. Last week, she was laid off: South Philadelphia High aide who protected students from attack is laid off.

“I put my life in danger,” an angry, disbelieving Sutton-Lawson said in an interview. “They just laid me right off.”

Sutton-Lawson, who worked with pregnant students and teenage mothers, was bumped from her job by seniority rules, among 61 support staffers who were laid off to save money and consolidate duties.

Eleven community-relations jobs were eliminated, said spokesperson Evelyn Sample-Oates. But some of those employees had seniority that allowed them to displace other workers. Sutton-Lawson’s job at South Philadelphia High will be filled by one of those longer-tenured workers.

“It’s unfortunate,” Sample-Oates said. “Ms. Sutton-Lawson is welcome to apply for another position with the district.”

Sutton-Lawson earned about $36,000 a year, barely a decimal point in the $3.2 billion school budget but crucial to a woman who doesn’t own a car and lives in a tough area on Wharton Street.

Sutton-Lawson’s position was one of 61 jobs slashed from the payroll. Ironically, the job cuts have largely targeted employees who focus on student safety — 11 community-relations workers were 17 nonteaching assistants and 33 climate managers, who help keep schools calm.

They never even acknowledged her actions to protect students on December 3, but the school district was fine with sending her a layoff notice, no problem. And yet former South Philadelphia High School principal LaGreta Brown remains on the district’s payroll. How does any of this make sense?

(Image Credit: Philadelphia Inquirer)