Category Archives: race

Racism, movies, the law, life, and self-reflection


So… first things first, I’ve decided not to address the Zimmerman verdict in any thorough manner. There’s a lot I can say about the trial, from a legal and common sense standpoint, but I’ll be as brief as I can. I have a lot of opinions on it, I have a lot of questions. I feel that the prosecution held back. There are a lot of key pieces of evidence that didn’t get brought up. I can accept that legally – legally – based on the way the law is written, Zimmerman is not guilty of murder. I accepted that a long time ago. I also said a long time ago that it wasn’t necessarily a race issue. Zimmerman technically had legitimate reason to call 911. There was a string of break-ins that all witnesses stated were committed by young black men. Mentioning that Martin was black on the 911 call was not racist. I don’t think that he singled him out with the intent of killing him simply because he was black.

But manslaughter? I really think that should have been there, only because I firmly believe he was the aggressor. He started some shit and ended it. Martin had the right to defend himself. Everyone talks about, ‘well why didn’t he just go home?’

Because he was being followed!

First rule of survival, someone’s following you, you don’t let them know where the hell you live! Not only that, but be wasn’t near his father’s house yet. He still had a ways to go. You can argue that Zimmerman wasn’t stalking him, but I’m sure to Martin, he was. And have you seen the picture from his grandmother’s birthday party taken less than two weeks prior? He was not this huge hulking beast that everyone makes him out to be.

Additionally, look at the way his body was found. If Zimmerman was getting slammed into the sidewalk and pulled out his gun, why was Martin’s dead body laying in the grass quite a distance away from the sidewalk? Then to back it up, there was quite some time between Zimmerman losing sight of Martin (per his 911 call) and the time that Martin actually started walking towards the ‘T’ in the sidewalk (per his conversation with his friend while he was walking), which means Martin was walking from the opposite direction Zimmerman says he was (per his walkthrough of the night).

So… as I said. He waited, he started shit. Martin defended himself first. ZImmerman’s self-defense is a fair argument, but it still doesn’t mean that he is innocent. The screams on the 911 tape? Why are you screaming for help if you know you are lethally armed? Full of shit.

But moving on. I feel that, in a way, this ties into something I read yesterday. Movies that really reflect life are some of the most amazing movies ever made, especially if you walk out of them feeling uncomfortable because the movie made you think, or question yourself and your beliefs.  I read an article yesterday that listed the top ten completely overrated movies (Titanic was #1, and I fully agree with that one). Number 8 was Crash.  Anyone that I know who has ever seen Crash, has talked about how it made them feel afterwards. The list said that the reason it was overrated was because it is “just filled with unlikeable characters being racist,” and that while “the world is full of terrible people, hard choices, and bad situations; however, it is also full of plenty of other things.” No. NO. It is filled with identifiable people, some of whom were being racist without even knowing it. That is the point.

Before I get into the whole rant, though, let me explain why it ties to Zimmerman – and frankly, any race-related thing (I’m sure your Facebook news feeds around election time showed you how some of your friends and family feel about black people). First off, non-black people are very quick to accuse black people of ‘playing the race card,’ and while I agree sometimes it comes out early, you have to understand. If you spend a lifetime actually being judged based on skin color, you’re going to see judgement everywhere. I’ve already shared the time I got pulled over in an affluent town and actually had a gun drawn on me before the cop ever even asked for ID. I was 19, dressed for the club, and I lived only five minutes away. The moment the guy saw a brown arm, he reacted. Think about the whole scene in the movie with Officer Hansen (Ryan Phillippe) and Peter (Larenz Tate) in the car. Why did Hansen react the way he did? Because Peter was a black man. How many Zimmerman supporters talked about Martin being some giant, muscle-bound street tough? Or – moreover, the “unbiased” photo of Zimmerman in a suit and some black kid (who wasn’t even Martin) throwing up ‘gang’ signs? Because as a young black man, Martin was automatically a thug.

So… to get into my critique of the critique of Crash… this submission shows that Kim Carleton (if she compiled this list completely alone) didn’t actually watch the movie. Or, considers it overrated because she saw something of herself in one of the characters and doesn’t want to face it.

The whole point of the damn movie was to show that racism is so ingrained that people sometimes behave without even being cognizant of said underlying racist motivation. That even the person who thinks they’re completely innocent of such behavior actually has some pretty intense discriminatory ideas. Once again, Officer Hansen. He requests a transfer from his partner Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon) because of his racial actions, but ultimately behaves in the exact same way with deadly consequences. In the meantime,  Officer Ryan, while he dishes out some verbal abuse to Shaniqua (Loretta Devine) and sexually assaults Christine (Thandie Newton) – though it’s unclear if the assault is a race thing or not – ends up saving Christine from a burning car without thinking twice about her skin color. Which one was actually racist?

Jean Cabot (Sandra Bullock) makes a comment about the locksmith giving keys to his Mexican gang friends, then later realizes that her Latina maid is the only person in her life she can truly depend on.  Detective Waters (Don Cheadle) who is the last person you’d expect to be racist, because he’s black, right, shows his indifference to all Latino/Hispanic cultures, implying that they’re all the same. The conversation between Anthony and Peter (Ludacris and Tate) about tipping, how the server expects them to leave a shitty tip because they’re black, and gives them less than stellar service, which leaves them deserving of a shitty tip – is really one of the most important scenes in the movie, in my opinion. SO many people are guilty of this – from both sides. I’m going to use black and white because that’s what I know. I know a lot of young black men who just assume all white people are going to treat them like ignorant thugs, and so they just act that way. They just meet expectations. Here’s my call to everyone: Expect more. Be more.

But honestly, if you saw that movie and the only thing you took away from it was, “If it is attempting to reflect real life, it went a little too far into the dark side,” then I suggest you watch it again. And again and again and again, until you get it. Until you’ve figured out which character represents you.


Inauguration Day 2013


It feel it’s fitting that this inauguration lands right ON Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I really do. I always hate to make it a race thing, but you really have to acknowledge it. It’s still a really big freaking deal that a black man (or even beige, cuz we’re the new black) is the President – the President – of the United States. I got emotional as hell on this day back in 2009, and I’m a little choked up again right now.

It shouldn’t even matter how you feel about his politics. You have to see what a huge advancement his becoming president is on this country, a country so young, not so far removed from our own history where a black man couldn’t even vote (143 years ago). It’s amazing. We still have a way to go, but we’ve come so far.

The dignity and that President Obama always carries himself with should be the inspiration for a generation of young black (no matter what percentage black you are) men and women alike. You want to hate on him, say he’s not black enough, call him bourgeois (or boo-jee), go ahead. He’s the President. What are you doing with your life?

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”

Dr. King… your dream lives on once more this morning through President Barack Obama. Free at last.

 

obama-inauguration-2013


Zimmerman Has No Regrets


Maybe we should give him some.

He says “I do wish there was something, anything I could have done that wouldn’t have put me in a position where I would have had to take a life.”

Uh, yeah, here’s something you could have done: not get out of the car when 911 dispatch tells you NOT TO GET OUT OF THE CAR.

I don’t even know what else to say, so I’ll let him do it himself:

 

 

Also… a response from Trayvon’s father:


Proof of Innocence


So after having watched this man refuse to identify himself as a US citizen (and even though he was kind of a douche about it and really defeated the purpose, because now he caused an even longer traffic jam behind him, he is right. Unless he was crossing a border, there is no valid reason to ask someone during a random checkpoint about citizenship, and even if he said yes, how would he prove it?), I started to think about other times people are unnecessarily forced to identify themselves.

And I remembered my own. Get ready for this.

Now, I understand that when you’re pulled over by a cop, you do have to identify yourself. You have to show your license, you have to show your registration. I get it. That’s the way it’s been every single time I’ve been pulled over in my life.

But what if the cop never asks for those things, and instead grills you, without ever telling you why he’s doing so?

Let’s go back (identifying towns and names removed)…
I was 18, in my ’89 Cutlass Supreme, going to pick up a friend in pretty affluent neighborhood and go to one of those 18 and up clubs. It was the first time I’d been to her house, there were no damn streetlights, and I was having a hell of a time trying to see the house numbers, so I may have been driving a bit slower than the unwritten 30. This apparently warranted a patrolling sheriff to pull me over.

This is not my car, but this is what it looked like. Without the tinted windows. And there was a dent in the front bumper where I misjudged how far I was from a cement pylon 3 days into owning the thing.
Also: It was nearly ten years old at the time. It only looked fast.

Okay, fine. Maybe it’s suspicious to see someone driving slowly down the street and he thought I was casing houses. I get that. But when you come to my window and I’m in my full club gear – sparkly top with cleavage, glitter on my eyes, the whole thing – do I look like I’m trying to be inconspicuous?

The resemblance is uncanny

Asks if I know why he pulled me over. No.
What are you doing in this neighborhood? Picking up a friend.
Where does your friend live? Address given on this street, explanation that I can’t see the numbers.
Have you ever been here before? No, that’s why I don’t know where I’m going.
How do you know this friend? I give the short story, that we work together, when the real story is that we met the summer before standing in line at 4am for Nsync concert tickets, but instinctively I didn’t think he’d find that one as cute as we do.
Where do you work? Title and address of nearby workplace given.
Where do you live? nearby middle to upper-middle town, address given.
Who do you live with? Face probably gives away confusion, but explain with my parents, I’m 18.

At no point has he told me why he pulled me over, or asked to see any ID. He then does not ask me to step out of the car, rather attempts to open my door. Here there is a problem: my seatbelts attach to the door, making the door near impossible to open completely whilst I’m wearing it. Now he finally TELLS me to get out, still trying to open the door himself. He’s shouting, I’m trying to unbuckle my seatbelt. Now his partner is out of the car, runs around to the front of my car, hand on his gun, yelling at me to show my hands. I hold my hands up, the first guy is still pulling on the door. This goes on a few more seconds, and now the gun is in this guy’s hand. I finally give up, I’m crying, pretty sure I peed a little, my hands are up, and I just start screaming, ‘I can’t open the door the seatbelt is attached! I didn’t do anything!’

Thank every God of every faith for nosy Pollocks at this point (I can say it, I’m Polish too), because my friend’s mom was in her window trying to see what the commotion was about down the street. Friend comes to the window, recognizes my car – turns out I was two houses away – and begs her mother to come outside with her.

So Mrs. Friend’s Mom is like, excuse me officer? Which first earns her a “please return to your home ma’am!” but apparently they didn’t know who they were talking to, because she was like, “um, no.” She was able to shut them up long enough for them to hear that I was a friend of her daughter’s, and then she indicates daughter next to her, dressed similarly to me. They still ask me to exit the vehicle, and the first cop steps back so that I can open the door myself, which I did, and made me stand behind the car with my hands on the trunk, while friend and her mom were told to stay on the sidewalk. They finally ask for my ID, run my license, and even did a reverse address check to verify my parents names. Only then did they let me go. No apologies, no explanations. The second cop just stay in the car while the first one hands my stuff back to me and says okay have a good night.

Seriously? You think I’m even capable of having a good night now? You gave me no reason for making this stop, it’s not like I have warrants or anything that would cause you to flag my car’s license plate (especially because I’d had the car for all of 2 months at that time), and yet I was somehow supposed to be okay with this? I wanted to be like, Do you know I’m half-white?

Which brings me to my next point.
I’ve told this story as a racial profiling one in the past, only to be told that it’s not, because the cop had a valid reason for pulling me over: My driving slow.

Okay, fine, as an adult, I can say, sure, he did. But after having pulled me over, after having seen that I was a teenage girl just ready for a night of dancing with friends, that particular suspicion should have faded. At that point, if he truly wanted to be a dick, he could have just waited until I found the house, to see for his own two eyes that I had a valid reason for being there.  He could have gone through his first questions, then asked to see my license. Once he’d seen that I did live five minutes away, that my car was in fact registered to me, and that I hadn’t actually done anything wrong nor violated any traffic law (if anything, I was doing what more drivers should be doing: driving slowly down suburban residential streets), then he should leave me alone. Again, if he still wants to be a dick, keep his car where it is as I go about my business, and watch me.

But no, this man saw a car moving slowly down a street in a well-to-do area. He thought to himself, “Oh shit, this person must be up to no good!” He pulled the vehicle over, and saw a beige person behind the wheel. “Bingo!” his thought, his eyes lighting up. “This black motherfucker has no business in this rich neighborhood!” Even after asking me a series of questions, all of which he could have easily confirmed as true within five minutes in your car, had he taken my license, he still thought, “Fuck this darkie! I know she’s hiding something!” and proceeded to attempt to pull me from my vehicle. When it didn’t open, he simply assumed I was holding it shut. When I reached down, he gestured to the other guy for backup, because he immediately thought, “Oh shit! She’s a drug dealing gangster! She’s probably got a gun that she’s going for!”

Even after having a resident of the very street that you’re trying to keep safe come out and identify me, even after seeing her daughter, who obviously knows me and is waiting for me to come and take her out… these two still couldn’t suck and up and be like, okay sorry. They still had to not just verify my identity with my license, but felt the need to check out my story about whether or not my parents actually owned the house that I said they owned, because they thought, “There’s no way black people live in such a nice area, this bitch must be lying.”

So, that’s my story. Had I been pulled over before that night? Yes, once for speeding when I was late to school, which of course made me later. Luckily, it was Spanish 101, which was carefully selected as my easy A, as I’d been taking Spanish since I was 10. It was in roughly the same type of area, affluence wise, but did I undergo any treatment not typical of a traffic stop? No.  Have I been pulled over since. Yes. Still for speeding and once for a stop sign (which I really didn’t see), and once because the completely clear, non-tinted, non-colored, plastic covering that I had over my plate was obscuring my license. Oh, and he could have also ticketed me for having decals in my back window and decor hanging from my rearview, but he let it slide that time. His words. I personally think he was trying to throw his non-existent weight around to compensate for the fact that while I was sitting in my car and he was standing straight up we were still at eye level with each other. Even with his douche larouche attitude, I have never been in any traffic stop situation (even border crossings) where I was treated with such a level of disrespect, and nothing you say to me will make me see that event as anything other than some serious racial profiling.

Okay that’s a lie – I was once pulled over and had my car searched while going into Canada. I had to go into the immigration office, where I was surrounded by people of varying Middle East and South Asian descent, and Hispanic and Latino descent. To this day, I wonder which one they thought I was. Definitely racial profiling at its finest – you look (insert ethnicity here), therefore you are suspicious – but everyone was very polite about it.


Black vs. African-American


One of these women is African-American, and it’s probably not the one you think.

There’s a huge chance this will offend some people, which only goes to prove the point that I’m trying to make. As a women of ‘mixed race’, I often jokingly refer to myself as a Halfrican, as well do many others of the white/black combo. However, I adamantly oppose the title of African-American to describe all black people.

Why? Well, for starters, as illustrated above, African-American doesn’t necessarily refer to a black person (Charlize Theron is from Benoni, South Africa). Also, not all black people are descendents from Africa. Again, evidenced above (Rihanna is from St, Michael, Barbados, which was originally a British colony).

Myself, I’m Irish, German, Polish, and West Indie (the specifics on that part are unclear). The West Indies included a large portion of Caribbean Islands, such as Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Antigua, Turks & Caicos, and again, were colonies of the United Kingdom. So if you take all those things into consideration, I’m really just European-American.

I always select ‘other’ on any form that asks for race/ethnicity. Luckily, I have seen, in just my 3-decade lifetime, a change on those forms. They used to say ‘check one’. Now they say, ‘check all that apply’. I still don’t check them, because I don’t feel they apply.

When I tell people this, they say it’s because I have racial identity issues. That may be true, who knows. I’m not ashamed to say that I probably identify more as a white person, having lived my entire life in 98% white suburbia (0.81% or 316 black people and 0.50% or 195 people ’from two or more races’… this is of 39,019 residents per the 2000 census), and having far more of a family base on my white side.

But then I’m also quick to notice when someone is acting discriminatorily toward me because of my beigeness. Any tint or hue in the brown color wheel automatically sends most brains to “black chick” and really doesn’t allow space for any other clarification.  No one bats an eyelash at the idea that my dad, who is significantly darker than I, is, in fact, my dad, but eyebrows often raise, to this day, as to whether my mom is my mom.

It’s like Obama. White people freak out that he’s black – even though he’s half white. Black people freak out that he’s not black enough – why, because he’s articulate?

Long story short, if you’re mixed, you’re never going to please everyone. And if you’re black, it doesn’t mean you’re African-American.


It’s Not a War on Women: It’s Uterus Envy


As per usual, the menfolk want to think they know best about our reproductive rights. In Arizona, a bill that actually made it out of committee addresses the completely nonexistent problem of abortion based on the race or sex of the fetus.

The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act initally reads as exactly what it pretends to be, protecting a potential baby from discrimination. But then it moves on to a section that says the father can take civil action against the woman if he believes she is pursuing an abortion based on race or sex.

I’m sorry, what?

First of all, the majority of abortions in the US are done during the first trimester, at which point it is too early to even determine sex. So, let’s rule that out. Secondly, who in the hell is going to a sonogram like, if this is a girl, she’s getting the boot.

And that’s half of this bill shut down.

Now let’s talk about race. Let’s say I’m racist against Hispanics, so I’m going to abort this Hispanic fetus. Wait a minute. If I hate Hispanics, why did I sleep with one? Is this a new belief that I suddenly took on?

You can say rape may be an issue, but let’s say a whitey-hating black woman gets attacked while she’s ovulating, and the hospital-administered emergency contraception doesn’t work (or worse, she doesn’t even report it). A few weeks she realizes she’s pregnant and calls and makes the appointment. Is she doing it only because she hates whitey? Oh you think so? So she’s not at all doing it because she was already violated in the worst imaginable way and now she’s having to deal with having her body hijacked again?

The craziest part about this whole scenario is that if a man brings a case against a woman, it could go on and on and on, until a point where she wouldn’t even be able to have an abortion. How the hell do you prove a woman is seeking an abortion based on race or sex?  How? Tell me. Like Tom Price said, “show me one woman.”

What’s next? A man starts a relationship with a woman, not knowing that she’s on the Pill, and a year later sues her because she hasn’t let him knock her up?

If we disect the religious side of things, we’re left in a circle of contradictive dogma (shocking, I know). The thing that makes me laugh about most religion-based arguments against birth control is this:   Because birth control prevents a ‘life’ from being created, it is immoral.

Okay, that’s all well and good, but, having a natural menstrual cycle and not having sex – living by the ‘correct’ standards – do the same thing.

In the perfect Catholic world (I use Catholic because I myself am a recovering Catholic and it’s what I know most about, not to mention, in this great BC debate, Catholic leaders seem to be the loudest), no one would ever use birth control and no unmarried ladies are having sexy time. Well, every month her body is evicting an egg – a potential life – and laughing in the face of these standards.

In Genesis 38, Onan was instructed by God to impregnate his dead brother’s wife, and every time they lay together, he let his semen spill to the ground. He was punished, yes, but for his act of rebellion against God, not for his contraceptive act.

Listen up men. Do you even know how birth control works? It prevents ovulation from even happening, thus, not wasting an egg, or our seed, but this is bad.

Really, the very act of choosing a celibate lifestyle prevents you from ever reproducing, so, by that belief, aren’t religious leaders like nuns and priests just going against everything right from the get-go?

Here’s what it is: Uterus envy. All these men are tired of centuries of not having the same reproductive organs as we possess, and they’ve just watched us blatantly ignore their functions. What they’re thinking is, “Why do these bitches get to have all this stuff, those ovaries, that uterus that they don’t even use?” And instead of simply evolving and growing one of their own, they want to punish us by forcing us to use ours to their fullest extent.


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