11 Racist Caricatures Infesting Popular Culture

When I was little, my mom wants a Picaninny doll. I had no idea what they were, but the word was odd and sounded sort of cute. That’s what it’s like being a little white girl: racist caricatures that harm other people didn’t strike me as wrong. I had no idea they had anything to do with race, much less that they were based on horrible stereotypes.

Image shows an ad for Picaninny Freeze. A drawing of a black child with enormous lips and a huge slice of watermelon is being used to sell the product.

This ad from 1922 is incredibly racist… and people like my mother didn’t get that even recently. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Deeceevoice

There are all sorts of caricatures that infest our culture. If you’re not the target of the caricature, you can easily miss the racist connotations. You can be oblivious to the messages being sent, the harm they do, and the way they perpetuate the othering of black people. You can unthinkingly perpetuate racist stereotypes, have your opinion colored by them, even if you’re staunchly anti-racism.

Tony recently curated a series explaining eleven of these caricatures. I urge you all to read about them. In becoming more aware of them, we can avoid perpetuating them, and push back when others use them.

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Crowdsourcing Sociological Research on Race and Ethnicity

Anne Fennewick would like a post exploring some of the sociological research we have on race and how it impacts activities like applying for jobs and policing:

I hope some of the posts will look at strategies for overcoming these problems temporarily or permanently. For example, what happens when we anonymize all or part of the application process, and why don’t we, given how easy it would be? Do some police forces do better than others and if so, why? Do black/Hispanic police do better than white police? If so, can we capitalize on that? What social factors are associated with racial prejudice and under what circumstances are they diminished? It would be nice to start taking the sociological research more seriously – we might even end up with better sociological research!

I think this is a fabulous idea, but damn it, Anne, I’m a geologist, not a sociologist. Happily, I’m blogging on a network with lots of bloggers and commenters who know all about sociological studies, and often have many good ones right at their fingertips. So, my darlings, I beg of you: link me those studies, and blog posts about those studies! Send me pdfs, even! You can leave links in the comments, or email me at dhunterauthor at gmail.

I’d also love links to recommended sites discussing race and racism at various levels, from 101 on up. While you’re at it, point me at your favorite books, documentaries, and other resources. I can create a page here with everything gathered in one place. [Read more…]

Diversifying the Geosciences

There’s a pretty terrible fact about the geosciences: degrees and careers are overwhelmingly got by white people. Go look at these stats. Look at the fact that in America, in 2010, just 1% of the people employed in earth science careers were black. One. Percent.

No group other than whites made it past the single digits. Not one.

We’ve got to do better than this. And we can, even us pasty-pale folk such as myself. We can amplify the voices of geoscientists of color. We can work with minority students to bring more of them into the STEM fold. We can fund scholarships. We can ask minority students what they need us to do, and do it. We can listen to our professionals of color. We can make our spaces welcoming to people of color. We can start right now by visiting Black Geoscientists, and taking their suggestions to heart. [Read more…]

“The One Thing No One Seems to Want to Remember is How Much Opposition There Was to King”

David Futrelle reminds us that Martin Luther King, Jr. faced plenty of violence, frenzied opposition, and attacks by police and public. Sometimes, we recall the speeches without recalling the chaos. We hear “civil disobedience” and “non-violent opposition,” and forget that those opposed to civil rights used the power of state and terror in an effort to maintain white supremacy.

We should never forget that he didn’t back down in the face of those arrests and attacks. We should never forget his work isn’t finished.

It takes a lot of courage to change the world.

Image shows MLK Jr. in a pale suit and hat, sitting at a counter, surrounded by police.

AP photo of Martin Luther King Jr. getting arrested for loitering, Montgomery, AL, 1958.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: “A Riot is the Language of the Unheard”

Sixty years ago, the color of your skin determined your treatment on Montgomery, Alabama busses:

Under the system of segregation used on Montgomery buses, white people who boarded the bus took seats in the front rows, filling the bus toward the back. Black people who boarded the bus took seats in the back rows, filling the bus toward the front. Eventually, the two sections would meet, and the bus would be full. If other black people boarded the bus, they were required to stand. If another white person boarded the bus, then everyone in the black row nearest the front had to get up and stand, so that a new row for white people could be created. Often when boarding the buses, black people were required to pay at the front, get off, and reenter the bus through a separate door at the back. On some occasions bus drivers would drive away before black passengers were able to reboard.

Rosa Parks wasn’t the first person to challenge that treatment. Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t the only community leader who fought for an end to Jim Crow. But they rightfully become icons of the Civil Rights movement. We remember them for their peaceful protest. MLK Jr., especially, we remember for nonviolence and civil disobedience. So much so that he’s now thrown in the faces of angry and upset protestors in an effort to shut them up.

On this day, let’s remember more than “I Have a Dream.” Let’s remember that King also said that “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Let’s remember “The Other America.” [Read more…]

Racism and Society Week: The Unequal Opportunity Race

This past year saw a warranted wave of anger at white oppression, as the people of Ferguson, Missouri demanded justice for yet another unarmed black teenager murdered by police. Mike Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, and far too many others didn’t get justice last year. But I hope history records 2014 as the changing of the tide.

It won’t happen unless we take a stand.

Image is the British crown on a red background atop the words "Stand up and fight racism."

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Reveal That Metazoan! Roadcut Reptile Edition

Oh, look, it’s a brand-new mystery series! Many of you seem to enjoy these puzzlers, and I’ve got pictures of animals other than birds and bugs, so I figured I’d expand a bit. Branch out to other metazoan families, donchaknow. And that’ll help break up the relentless onslaught of mystery flora. The sad truth is, plants stand still. Animals often don’t. Hence, we have a dearth of animals as it is. We cannot afford to ignore any of them just because they don’t fly or don’t have an exoskeleton.

Here to inaugurate our new series is a delightful lizard seen in that incredible rhyolite road cut near the Nevada-Oregon border.

Image shows a gray-brown lizard with horizontal black stripes on its tail clinging jauntily to an outcrop of rheamorphic rhyolite.

Mystery Metazoan I

Saucy, innit? And large! It was quite plump and long. I’m used to Arizona lizards, which were skinny little things about the length of a finger. This one was longer than my hand, and definitely looks like it’s found good eating, out there in the rocky wastes.

Image is a close-up of the lizard's face.

Mystery Metazoan II

Look at those arch eyebrow ridges or whatever you call ‘em on a lizard! I love their dear little faces. There’s something about a lizard’s expression that just screams superiority. It’s like they know they’re better than those warm-blooded young upstarts that went infesting the planet. They almost seem to remember a time when reptilia ruled the world, and they haven’t bloody forgotten it.

Image shows the lizard now on a different rock, facing down and to the left.

Mystery Metazoan III

This one seemed to be curious about us, and also quite pleased to show off the remarkable rocks that were its home. It posed here and posed there, and I snapped away frantically, wanting to get a few good photos in before it decided it had graced the uncouth mammals with its appearance quite long enough.

Image is a close-up view of the head, showing a dark charcoal strip beneath its eye and along its head.

Mystery Metazoan IV

So really look closely at that glorious animal. Note the subtle but gorgeous patterns in its earth-toned scales. Observe the insouciant ease with which it perches in impossible positions on its rocks. Drool on the rocks a little, by all means, but do please return to perusing the lizard.

Alas, it eventually tired of us, and swept away across a rhyolite boulder, vanishing into some rabbit brush.

Image shows the lizard clinging to a rhyolite boulder, about to dodge into some rabbit brush.

Mystery Metazoan V

Look at those toes! They’re so agile. Amazing little critters.

I’ve got more photos over on Flickr for ye. Good luck in your identifications, my darlings!

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education V: Wherein We Map for God

Honestly, you’d think something as prosaic as mapping could avoid Godification. SPC doesn’t even bother with a chapter on cartography: maps are maps, and they’ve nothing to say about them.

ES4, however, devotes a whole chapter to the subject. And yeah, it gets goddy.

Image is a pastel-colored hand-drawn map of Jerusalem from 1650. ZION is printed in the bottom center-right.

Yes, possibly even as goddy as the Thomas Fuller map of Jerusalem. Image courtesy Geographicus Rare Antique Maps via Wikimedia Commons.

The chapter starts out fine: instead of a creationist cartologist, we get a nice demonstration of the power of maps, using, of course, Dr. John Snow’s cholera map. And the BJU staffers who wrote this chapter, at least, aren’t completely anti-vax. They discuss how government agencies use maps to track down areas with high disease rates, and say that targeting vaccination programs toward “areas with high rates of infections” is “far more effective and costs less than vaccinating a whole population.” Which may be true with rare or not easily transmitted diseases, I suppose, but I do wish their emphasis had been on getting everyone vaccinated for the common stuff. Herd immunity is an important thing. Still. At least they’re not taking this opportunity to say never vaccinate. Small mercies.

They do a fine job explaining what maps are, and scale, and perspective. But for some reason, there’s a textbox on Progressive Creationism right smack in the middle. I have no idea why. It’s nothing to do with maps, and they don’t even try to relate it. They just yammer. And it’s obvious they don’t like those progressive creationists, no sir. You can tell from this question: [Read more…]