what if you didn't know it was racist? i had a golly toy when i was a little kid, i think it's still in storage somewhere, and i just thought it was a toy. it was a my favorite and i didn't even know it was supposed to be racist
Now you know, so you don’t do the same with your children. You were a child. Your parents, however…
How many times have you heard “I can’t get a job because ofAffirmative Action” or some variation of this line?
There is an ongoing rhetoric about how white men are the new minority. This idea that they, themselves feel the need to perpetuate. For the rest of the day, I am going to talk about that.
It’s not a law. That’s right, it’s an “Initiative.” What does that mean? Well, it means that companies have the option. Not just companies but states. There are actually a couple of states that say that they “Do not recognize” Affirmative Action. Yes, there have been several “Executive Orders” signed by a few different Presidents but…that was about “Diversity.” Which was also an initiative not so much a law. Yes, there are actual laws about discrimination in the work place. As a matter of fact, when people talk about “Affirmative Action LAWS,” that is what they mean. If someone were to sue because they believed that they were not hired or not promoted based on being “Diverse” it would be called an Affirmative Action Lawsuit. Tricky isn’t it? The wording in the Affirmative Action Initiative is “The standard of compliance is good faith.” Seriously, that’s what it says.
You only need one. That’s right! The companies that do have some sort of “Diversity initiative” within their company only need one to be able to call themselves “Diverse.”
One what? That’s the best part, the “One” they need can come from a very interesting list and still be considered “Diverse.” You may have known that racial minorities, women and the disabled were on the list, right? How about Veterans. Did you know about them? Well, it’s true. If you have someone who has served in any branch of the military, they can be your “Diversity hire.” Ever wonder why the question “Have you ever served in the military” is on every job application? Now you know.
Not All Companies Do it. When I say “Not All” I mean, very few. In America, EIGHTY PERCENT of companies DON’T have an Affirmative Action or Diversity Initiative. When you see that Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE) sign, it means they are not allowed to NOT hire you because of your diversity. Now, EOE actually IS a law. That is an entirely different story. Although, EOE get’s filed under “Affirmative Action Law” as well. It tuns out that the most common companies that DO use the Affirmative Action Initiative are Fortune 500 companies. Affirmative Action or having a “Diversity initiative” is more of a PR tool than anything else.
“Every company’s got a quota.” Funny thing about people who say that, they don’t know what the hell they are talking about. While diversity is only an initiative, company diversity “Quotas” are actually illegal.
Let’s go to college. Now, if you are of the “Oppressed white male” population, you know that getting into school is super difficult for you, right? Except it’s not. Yes it’s true, there are many schools that once helda certain amount of seats for racially diverse students. Problem with your complaining is the actual number! In 2003, a lawsuit went to the Supreme Court. Two separate students claimed that they did not receive admission to a Michigan college because they were white. Their lawsuits were largely spoken about in the media. No surprisingly, it was about how white people weren’t getting into college because of their race but there wasn’t a lot of time spent on any of the outcome. Hmm…I wonder why. They lost. Both lost for the same reason. They weren’t qualified under the schools guidelines. Keep in mind, although this tuned into a big discussion about race, at this time, “Diversity” had a large umbrella of things outside of race. Here’s my favorite part, because of the ongoing outcry of white people claiming they were being discriminated against, a study was done to see how Affirmative Action in college actually affected white applicants. It turns out, it does. Before you get to happy, Mr. White Men are Oppressed, let me finish! The nationwide study proved that yes, it did affect white applicants. If there were no “Diversity Initiative,” white applicant’s acceptance would go from 25% to 26.5%. Soooo…
BIA Livestock Impoundment crews are confiscating sheep, goats, horses, cattle belonging to the Dine People of Big Mountain/Black Mesa, Arizona right now. Human rights violations against traditional Dine (Navajo) taking away one of their major food sources as well as wool essential to their livelihood.
Please flood the office of Robert Carolin and tell him the elders need to eat during the winter and these confiscations are WRONG! Slow motion genocide in action. This must be stopped! … Mae Tso, Bessie Begay and Pauline Whitesinger are those whose names i have been given who are being impacted. We can’t let them get away with this!
Hopi Agency Bureau of Indian Affairs P.O. Box 158 Keams Canyon, AZ 86034 P: 928/738-2228 F: 928/738-5522 Robert Carolin
Last night, President Obama, our first African American President, delivered his third State of the Union address. On that same day, the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated two gifted African American actresses, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, for Oscars for playing maids in “The Help.” This is 73 years after the first African American to win an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel, garnered the award for the same role – as a maid, and a slave maid at that, winning the Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category on Feb. 29, 1940.
And here we are, in the year of our Lord, Jan 25, 2012. Maybe I’m getting old, but the irony of this is too much. Or perhaps I’ve heard this song before. In the 1970’s, when I was a freshman at Oberlin College, my white friends and I used to sit up and talk about racism and solving society’s problems all through the night until the sun rose. Not much good came from these talks, the least of which is I hoped to get laid, which rarely happened. But on those cold nights, I was convinced that when I walked out of college, racism would be just about finished. Instead, it smashed me across the face like a bottle when I walked into the real world. Now, 33 years later, I find myself talking about the same thing I talked about when I was a college freshman.
I have no take with Ms. Davis and Ms. Spencer. They’re outstanding actresses. But the nomination of these two women by the Hollywood community 73 years after Hattie McDaniel won for the same role speaks for itself. As co-writer and co-producer of Spike Lee’s newest film “Red Hook Summer,” and his previous feature film “Miracle At St. Anna,” I have a clear eyed view of what the cultural display of African American life means to hearts in Hollywood, a land of feints and double meanings and as tricky to navigate as anything inside the Beltway. I wish someone had told me this when I was a freshman at Oberlin.
America is a super power not because we make the biggest guns. We’re a superpower because our culture has saturated the planet: Levis, Apple, Nike, Disney, Coke, Pepsi, McDonald’s, Jazz, Rhythm n Blues, Rock ‘n Roll, and Hip Hop. Our culture dominates the world far more than any nuclear bomb can. When you can make a person think a certain way, you don’t have to bomb them. Just give them some credit cards, a wide screen 3D TV, some potato chips, and watch what happens. This kind of cultural war, a war of propaganda and words, elements that both Hollywood and Washington know a lot about, makes America powerful beyond measure. The hard metal of this cultural weaponry, much of it, emanates from the soul of Blacks, the African American experience in music, dance, art and literature.
But this kind of cultural war puts minority storytellers – Blacks, Asians, Latinos and people of color – at a distinct disadvantage. My friend Spike Lee is a clear example.
Three days ago, at the premiere of “Red Hook Summer” at The Sundance Film Festival, Spike, usually a cool and widely accepting soul whose professional life is as racially diverse as any American I know– lost his cool for 30 seconds. When prompted by a question from Chris Rock who was seated in the audience, he blurted out a small, clear truth: He said one reason we did “Red Hook Summer” independently was because he could not get Hollywood to green light the follow-up to “Inside Man” – which cost only $45 million to make and grossed a whopping $184,376,240 million domestically and worldwide – plus another $37 million domestically on DVD sales. Within minutes, the internet lit up with burning personal criticism of him stitched into negative reviews of “Red Hook Summer” by so-called film critics and tweeters. I don’t mind negative reviews. That’s life in the big leagues. But it’s the same old double standard. The recent success of “Red Tails” which depicts the story of the all black Tuskegee Airmen, is a clear example. Our last film, “Miracle At St. Anna,” which paid homage to the all-black 92nd Division, which fought on the ground in Italy, was blasted before it even got out the gate. Maybe it’s a terrible film. Maybe it deserved to bomb. The difference is this: When George Lucas complained publicly about the fact that he had to finance his own film because Hollywood executives told him they didn’t know how to market a black film, no one called him a fanatic. But when Spike Lee says it, he’s a racist militant and a malcontent. Spike’s been saying the same thing for 25 years. And he had to go to Italy to raise money for a film that honors American soldiers, because unlike Lucas, he’s not a billionaire. He couldn’t reach in his pocket to create, produce, market, and promote his film like Lucas did with “Red Tails.”
But there’s a deeper, even more critical element here , because it’s the same old story: Nothing in this world happens unless white folks says it happens. And therein lies the problem of being a professional black storyteller– writer, musician, filmmaker. Being black is like serving as Hoke, the driver in “Driving Miss Daisy,” except it’s a kind of TV series lasts the rest of your life: You get to drive the well-meaning boss to and fro, you love that boss, your lives are stitched together, but only when the boss decides your story intersects with his or her life is your story valid. Because you’re a kind of cultural maid. You serve up the music, the life, the pain, the spirituality. You clean house. Take the kids to school. You serve the eggs and pour the coffee. And for your efforts the white folks thank you. They pay you a little. They ask about your kids. Then they jump into the swimming pool and you go home to your life on the outside, whatever it is. And if lucky you get to be the wise old black sage that drops pearls of wisdom, the wise old poet or bluesman who says ‘I been buked and scorned,’ and you heal the white folks, when in fact you can’t heal anybody. In fact, you’re actually as dumb as they are, dumber maybe, because you played into the whole business. Robbing a character of their full dimension, be it in fiction or non fiction, hurts everyone the world over. Need proof? Ask any Native American, Asian, Latino, Gay American, or so called white “hillbilly.” As if hillbillies don’t read books, and Asians don’t rap, and Muslims don’t argue about the cost of a brake job.
There’s nothing wrong with being white. I’m half white myself and proud of it. There isn’t a day passes that I don’t think about my late white Jewish mother and the lessons she taught me about humanity. But bearing witness to this kind of cultural war over the course of a lifetime will grind a man or woman down in horrible ways, and that’s my fear. I remember as a young saxophonist, just out of Oberlin, standing at a tiny jazz club in West Philadelphia watching the great jazz tenorman Hank Mobley in his last days, sick, broke. It was a jam session, and he strode onstage to reach for the magic one more time, to conjure up the power of his younger years when his mighty tenor powered Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis when those guys were the toast of Europe. Drink destroyed him. He was helped onstage by the kind musicians around him, and he stood there swaying, barely able to hold up his horn in that rancid little joint. When he put his mouth to his horn to play, it broke my heart. I felt like I was being strangled. His ability to play had vanished, and I saw my future.
It was terrible lesson for a young man fresh out of college and I did my best to forget it. But I understand it then and I understand it now: This is what happens when you walk through a supermarket and hear muzak playing ninth chords borrowed from your history; when you see instructions books made from the very harmonic innovations you created, and in my case, when you spend a lifetime watching films that spoof your community. Your entire culture is boiled down to greasy gut bucket jokester films, pornographic bling-rap, or poverty porn. I used to think that if only there were a peaceful way, we could make Hollywood listen to the sound of America’s true drumbeat: the voices of working class poor, blacks, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, and the so-called rednecks of this country; the people that walk the land, work in the K-Marts, run the fast food joints, drive the trucks, stand in line at 4 a.m. for the i-phones, go to church for redemption, and sell the knockoff s on ebay. But the new breed of Republicans have taken that high ground. They’ve gotten rich off it. That leaves me with nothing but the notion that Washington and Hollywood may be just alike. They’re engaged in a cultural war. They take your gun and use it on you, and it makes you sorry you drew your gun in the first place. It makes you wish you were a maid.
“For poor minorities, entrepreneurship in small business is the key to future wealth. This is understood thoroughly by most of the Asians, partially by Latinos, and to a tragically small degree by much of the American black community.”—
I’m not segregating from you. But sometimes, I want to be around people who I can relax around.
Sometimes I want to be around people who will not oppress me, be it by accident, or on purpose.
Sometimes, I want to be around people who understand, fully, 100%, what I’m going through, because they go through it too.
Sometimes, I want to be around someone who will not make me aware of my race, and how I stand out on this campus, or anywhere else in this world that I might go.
Sometimes, I want to be around people who won’t make me feel like I don’t belong.
White friends, I’m not segregating myself from you. It’s just that sometimes, I need a break. Because I know that you mean well. And I know that you’re trying your best to avoid racism in its most simple form. But your white privilege. And having to deal with you exercising it tires me out. And having to constnatly think about battles because I have to choose which ones to fight, and which things to let slide, tires me out. And it’s not pleasant. And it’s not fun.
So when I run to the arms of people who look like me, and we all sit together for lunch, or hang out, or study together, we’re not segregating from the white population. We’re taking a break from white privilege, and pretending, just for a second, that we’re not under your feet.
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
The participants – all white – watched simple videos in which men of different races picked up a glass and took a sip of water. They watched white, black, South Asian and East Asian men perform the task.
Typically, when people observe others perform a simple task, their motor cortex region fires similarly to when they are performing the task themselves. However, the UofT research team, led by PhD student Jennifer Gutsell and Assistant Professor Dr. Michael Inzlicht, found that participants’ motor cortex was significantly less likely to fire when they watched the visible minority men perform the simple task. In some cases when participants watched the non-white men performing the task, their brains actually registered as little activity as when they watched a blank screen…
The trend was even more pronounced for participants who scored high on a test measuring subtle racism, says Gutsell.
”One day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s market place. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the oil?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the iron ore?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two thirds water?’ These are questions that must be asked.”
first off, note-a-bear has a great post on how those dreadlocks that the Celts were supposedly wearing actually weren’t dreadlocks as we define them today. that’s when shit like historical context and knowing of what the fuck you speak come into play.
but here’s the thing. the Celts were a really long fucking time ago. and it was one ethnic group amongst MANY of ancient Europe. now, i don’t do Ancient European Shit so i’ll leave it to someone who does to be a bit more detailed but at the end of the day, if you as a descendent of Europeans (i.e. if you as a WHITE PERSON) can only name ONE. ethnic group. that you are more than likely not directly descended from? that invalidates your argument that dreads/tats/body mod was a European “thing.” Just because ONE group of Europeans at one point did it, *does not make it a part of the culture*.
conversely, how many ethnic groups in Africa practice scarring, or piercing, or tattooing, or wear dreadlocks? How many indigenous groups in the Americas? In the Pacific Islands? hint: WAY more than just ONE. a SHIT ton. *more than* europeans ever did.
thusly, dreads/tats/mods is NOT a european cultural tradition. it’s just not. repeatedly referencing the exception to the rule does not make the exception the rule. it just makes you an supremacist, appropriating jackass. who’s also a piss poor historian.
like, if dreads/tats/body mods really was a European thing, wouldn’t we have seen MORE of that shit? like, wouldn’t maybe early modern Europeans *at the least* still be into it? but no. you don’t see dreads/tats in Renaissance artwork, you don’t see it being worn by King Henry or some shit, you don’t see any baroque-era symphonies with “tattoo” in the title or some shit………like, throughout the cultural products that modern europe has put forth since rome fell, dreads/tats/mods are nowhere to be found, and that would be the place that they would be found.
but you know when europeans did start writing about tats? when they starting going to places where brown and black people lived. and there’s a long history behind tattoos and colonization specifically that i’m not going to rehash here, but what do you think made tattoos taboo in western society to *begin* with? it was the fact that the only people who got tattoos were those savage, bestial, filthy natives and the heathen sailors who steered the ships to and fro. racism + classism. plus empire, because colonization was the reason why there were white folks in them brown folks house to begin with!
i mean, what cultural European tradition has been taboo in the west? the ballet? the english language? straight hair? like, think about it. if this really was a european heritage, do you really think it would have been as marginalized in western society as it has been?
i always think about Woodstock. like, if white folks were ever going to support dreadlocks en masse, *that* would be the time you’d see it. but you don’t. at. all.
you know when you do see white ppl starting to rock dreads, tho? after Bob Marley became an international mega superstar. but it’s not appropriation. right.
seriously, if you can find me a picture of a group of white people (from either the U.S. or Europe) wearing dreadlocks *before 1965ish*, and they *weren’t* consciously setting themselves off from the mainstream in some way (i.e. a religious cult or something) but wearing them as a cultural expression of their own culture, you win. you win everything, actually. because i’m pretty sure you’re not going to find it.
but don’t worry. i’ll wait.
ETA: i guess maybe the vikings had “dreads” too? even still, two(ish) ethnic groups a continental/racial tradition do not make. see: the rest of my post.
“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”—
thank you! I had a few friends actually stop and think, which felt great. I'm from a mostly upper class, white suburb, so most of the people around me are writhing in their privilege and don't even know it. And I am definitely going to read some of those book recommended!
That’s always wonderful. Those are the moments that make you feel grateful to be doing this work. Let me know what you think when you get done with those books! Lots of love! <3
“Martin Luther King once said, ‘I have a dream’, and in the spirit of this great man, I also have a dream that one day people will stop judging me for the color of my skin and that black people will stop being so racist because it’s 2012 and we all bleed red and Obama!! (I have a black friend)”—Every white person on Tumblr right now (via stfuconfederates)