Ignoring the context

Here’s a link to get you up to speed.

White people often bring up “context” in defense of racism.

Miley Cyrus made the “slant-eyed” face but protested that people took it wrong and “out of context!”

The Tribune discontinued running a much “beloved” illustration called “Injun Summer” and noted its “innocence of context.”

A Villa Park council member, Deborah Pauly, was videotaped stirring the racist pot to a boil.  When confronted, she said the tape was edited to “completely change the context.”

Murray State University professor Mark Wattier thought two black students were late to his class.  His comment:  “Do you know why you were late? There’s a theory that a way to protest their master’s treatment was for slaves to be late.”  (Click the link to read the students’ version.) What did he say in his own defense? “My comment was inappropriate. I regret having said this out of context and bluntly.”

We’ve heard the “satiredefense numerous times before as well (see We Heard It Before #18).

Of course, I think that context is often difficult to understand.  Continue reading

Thoroughly Racist ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’

Screenshot of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” from another high school production on youtube.

Thanks to Mia Wenjen for covering this topic so thoroughly on her blog, I Love Newton.

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” was a musical film from 1967.  It included a subplot about a hotel proprietor who dresses in yellowface and two nefarious Chinese henchmen.  It was developed into a musical 33 years later, and the racist subplot remained intact.

I was somewhat surprised that anybody would consider a remake of a dated movie to be a good idea, especially given the racism.  Of course, we’re only too familiar that white people find a great deal of entertainment in racism.  The entertainment value is often used as a defense of racism:  “But it was only meant in good fun!”

If you do a brief web search, you’ll find that “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is a popular choice for high school theatrical groups.  Undoubtedly because it’s so much fun.  Newton North High School chose it for its spring production.  Newton (MA) is predominately (82%) white, with an 11% Asian American population.  And although concerns were voiced before the musical was staged, it proceeded as planned.  Although a note about the “stereotypes” was listed in the program guide, apparently.  On page 49.

It’s been my general experience that when white people are confronted with their racism, they rarely will completely abandon the racist endeavor.  This is because they have too much invested in both the endeavor and the racism.

Continue reading

And it runs deep, part ii

In which resistance perseverates about internalized crap.

I am still angry with Questlove’s casual racism.  And I am upset by the reactions and non-reactions of others, which serves to inform about the state of post-racial America.

Because in post-racial America, we are still talking about how Asians are being offended rather than how white supremacy is being supported.  The former puts the blame on those pesky Asians.  So thin-skinned.  No sense of humor.  Chip on the shoulder.

The latter puts the crap back where it belongs. Continue reading

‘Continuing and significant internal and external stress’

He was awarded $38,000 for the trauma and suffering he experienced as a result of this event.  You remember the photograph and probably the video.  It was November 18, 2011:  A UC Davis cop pepper sprayed peaceful Occupy protesters.  The protesters received approximately $30,000 in a settlement with the University.

John Pike, the police officer, received $38,000.  He was also on paid leave for eight months before leaving the force in July 2012.

Story here.

The poisoned workplace

We’ve all been there. Because the poison runs deep.

The identification tags shown above are for an employee at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.  Maurice Walker has detailed five years of such abuse in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday against the hospital and his supervisors.  Among other things, the lawsuit details “racial taunts, stymied job promotion, and forcing him to wear official hospital ID badges with the image of Jimmie Walker.”

What was the hospital’s response?  Continue reading

Sutchi Hui

On March 29, 2012, Sutchi Hui was crossing Castro Street when Chris Bucchere plowed through the intersection on his bicycle.  Hui, 71, was thrown more than 20 feet, suffered extensive injuries and died a few days later.  Bucchere was trying to set a personal best speed record.  He posted about the accident on a bicycling forum: Continue reading

Walking while black


Let’s be realistic.  We know who had the injuries; we know who didn’t.  It was a sad and tragic affair, but Trayvon Martin did in fact cause his own death, and this man should not face the jury any longer than he has already.
–Mark O’Mara, defense attorney for George Zimmerman, arguing for a judgment of acquittal

Well, there’s a lot in these few short sentences, isn’t there?

First, let’s be realistic.  Because everybody knows that only white people can be realistic.  Or rational.  Or objective.  Everybody else?  Well, we have an agenda.

We know who had the injuries; we know who didn’t.  Yeah, I guess death doesn’t count as an injury.

It was a sad and tragic affair that just kind of happened.

but Trayvon Martin did in fact cause his own death … by walking around looking suspicious.  By not being a choir boy.  By being a young black male.  By being presumed to have been the aggressor when he encountered a white man with a gun.

and this man should not face the jury any longer than he has already.  Because he had injuries and he didn’t cause Trayvon Martin’s death.  Because his life should not be inconvenienced.  Because he has suffered enough.

I guess I just can’t imagine any scenario in which Martin and Zimmerman scuffled.  If Martin did in fact punch Zimmerman repeatedly, wouldn’t he have injuries to his hands and blood on his clothing?  People who don’t fight (and often even people who do) typically end up with busted hands, cuts, scrapes and even broken fingers from fist fights.  The head is a big hard object, and landing a bare fist on it with any force hurts.

Plus head wounds bleed like you wouldn’t believe.

A more likely scenario would be one in which Zimmerman threatened Martin with the gun.  In which Martin was the one who feared for his life.

But black kids with skittles or sleeping on couches are more dangerous than white men with guns.  And now they are dead.

In what world

Every once in a while, the lid on my box slips and I remember I’m not really living in post-racial America.  I try to keep that lid tightly clamped down, because otherwise I might find it difficult to function.  I don’t want to think about 17-year-0ld boys going out to buy a pack of Skittles and being murdered on the way home.  I don’t want to remember that justifiable fear is a black kid coming home from the 7-11 with some candy, and not a white man with a gun.

Some years ago a white man tried to have me arrested because he said I was “breaking into cars.”  I was on my way home from work and was carrying a briefcase.  Lucky for me the cop was black.

It’s not uncommon for people of color to be seen as criminals (or as a “suspect,” as George Zimmerman referred to Trayvon Martin).  But although sometimes mistaken identity is just annoying, it can just as easily be life-threatening.

Or deadly.

Then you find out what privilege really means. Continue reading