American Police Still Allowed to Murder Black Children Without Consequences

“He was a beautiful child playing our fucked-up national game. Now, he’ll never be anything else, and we’re supposed to think that’s right.”

Stephanie Zvan

Tamir Rice was murdered.

Image shows a young grinning black child.

Tamir Rice.

You may not have thought much about it, because a child with a realistic-looking gun being shot by police in America may not have tripped your alarm circuits. You saw the uniform on his killer, and didn’t think thug or criminal. You didn’t think of all the times you played with toy guns as a child, and when you did, you weren’t worried that a cop would roll up and shoot you for it. Your games of cops and robbers were never interrupted by cops arriving, stepping out of their car, and shooting your friends dead. So you figure there must have been some reason for it. After all, the killer wore blue. [Read more…]

“I Am Too Busy Scratching the Ribcage of a Monster That May Never Set Me Free”

I’d like you to take two minutes to listen to this poem by Ashlee Haze. Just two minutes.

There’s a rough transcript at the bottom of this post if you’re unable to watch videos, but please do watch if you can: no typed words can capture the intensity of her voice. [Read more…]

But A White Guy Who Attacks Cops Would Get Shot, Too, Right?

On Tuesday night, I went to a boating party. It was full of liberal white folk, so of course the conversation turned to Black Lives Matter. One of the guys thought they shouldn’t build a movement around Mike Brown, cuz “he attacked a cop, and when you do that, you’re going to get shot.”

I was so flummoxed by that, I forgot to mention that Black Lives Matter actually started with Trayvon Martin, a kid with some tea and Skittles. (My friend wouldn’t have said anything like, “But if you try to keep some maniac with a gun and an outsized ego from assaulting you, you’re going to get shot,” and declare Trayvon disqualified as well. But I know there are people in this country – even some in white liberal circles – who would claim that, yep, Trayvon brought it on himself by not immediately prostrating himself before George Zimmerman and begging for his life to be spared. I hope they all come to understand just how deeply fucked up they are, and change accordingly.)

My friend is a Science Facts Guy. We’ll call him SFG. Evidence matters to him. And he just couldn’t get past the fact that Mike Brown had supposedly attacked Darren Wilson. I say “supposedly,” because in this white supremacist society of ours, one in which so many cops have claimed that they were attacked by that unarmed black dude, only to have evidence turn up that no, actually, they weren’t, that I remain skeptical of those results. But perhaps they scuffled. Let’s even concede all the worst facts we can find: that Mike smoked weed, that he shoplifted some cigarillos, that he was walking down the middle of the street, and mouthed off to an officer of the law, and attacked him. Let’s make it look really, really bad. [Read more…]

Some People of Color Bernie Sanders Fans Would Do Well to Listen To

Dear Bernie Sanders Fan Who is Outraged! Offended! by the Black Women Who Interrupted Him:

You’ve been all over my Facebook timeline with a wide variety of claims. As a fellow white person, I must beg you: please stop defending Bernie for a few minutes and listen to what people of color are saying. Look, I’ve even gone to the trouble of collecting a bunch of convenient links for you. And it’s important you listen up, because you know who’s going to make Bernie lose the Democratic nomination?

You.

Yes, you.

Okay, Bernie might fail to shut up and listen himself, and torpedo his own chances, but if all of you band together to make him understand he’d best be listening or else, we won’t have to worry about that. He’ll incorporate racial justice and excellent ideas on how to achieve it into his already awesome platform, he’ll make it a centerpoint of his campaign, and we’ll all be absolutely golden. (Look! He’s already started!)

But you’re the ones who will ensure he loses, if you keep trying to shush people whose lives depend on making this old white man understand what they need from him. You’re the ones who will sow division and disharmony in the ranks. I’ll tell you a secret about people of color I’ve learned by listening to them: They don’t need us, children. We have failed them time and time and time again. We need them to win. So I’ll appeal to that need to see another Democrat in office (a need I very much share), if I can’t appeal to your innate sense of justice and your progressive wish for the downtrodden to no longer be down and trodden: if you fail to listen to these voices that are telling you and your favorite candidate exactly what they need, you are the reason Bernie Sanders will lose.

It’s within your power to ensure we all become one big, happy progressive family.

So let’s lend an ear, shall we?* Even when – especially when – people are speaking in anger, let’s listen. Let’s listen like Seattle for Bernie Sanders’s admin did, right here. [Read more…]

‘Today is a Good Day to Deny’: The American Right Wing Refusal to Face Facts

I hope it’s only in America that a young white man can walk into a historic black church, tell the black people inside he’s there to kill them because they’re black, murder nine black people, tell the police he murdered them because they’re black, and publish a manifesto explaining he’s killing black people because they’re black… and end up with right wing blowhards claiming the crime has nothing to do with racism. People, if racism can’t be defined in part as “murdering a bunch of people because they’re black,” it’s time we strike the sapiens from our species’ name. We’re in no way wise if we can’t recognize the blatant racism that drove this horrific crime.

Image is nine photographs of the idividuals murdered in Charleston. The women are on the sides, the men down the middle.

The nine people murdered in Emmanuel AME Church. Via Ophelia Benson.

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Even Our Police Dogs are Racist – When Their Human Handlers Are

Here’s a statistic that should have you shaking with rage:

The Department of Justice’s report on the Ferguson Police Department is full of eye-catching numbers that reveal a culture plagued by significant racism. Statistically significant. For instance, nearly ninety per cent of the people who prompted a “use of force” by the F.P.D. were black. Even among such skewed percentages, there are some standouts. Among cases in which a suspect was bitten by an attack dog and the suspect’s race was recorded, what percentage were black?

A hundred per cent.

Let that sink in for a minute. [Read more…]

Responses to the DOJ’s Report on Ferguson’s Atrocious Law Enforcement

The DOJ may have cleared Darrin Wilson, but the city government of Ferguson is roundly condemned. The atrocious racism and massive problems with Ferguson’s law enforcement machinery is just a case study. They’re not unique: cities around the country operate this way, with one law for the rich and white, and another law for the poor and brown. I don’t know how we fix this, but we have to. [Read more…]

My Fellow White Folks: It’s Up to Us to Stop Racism

Racism is our problem to solve.

White people like myself are the ones with the problem, and the ones with the vast majority of the power. You may not feel like it. You may want to believe you’re a minority, too, that you’ve experienced racism, that you’re not a racist and never do racist things, that everyone you know is double-plus good, and anyway, it’s hard and not your problem. I’ve heard you. I’ve lived with you, and gone to school with you, and slept with you, and worked with you, and I have been you. And I’m tired of the excuses. So don’t make them here. If you aren’t willing to be the solution, if all you want to do is say, “Well, yes, but…” and come up with excuses as to why the systemic racism in our society isn’t your fault, then you’re not going to be happy with what I’m telling you. I wasn’t happy when I realized it myself, honestly. But shut up and bear with me. Practice your listening. Don’t stop listening until you’ve reached the end of this post.

Listen to Yemmy, for a start: [Read more…]

The Micro- and Macro-aggressions White Folk Don’t See

My friends of color face scenarios I remain blissfully unaware of. I’ll never forget the shock I felt when my half-Mexican friend told me he’d been pulled over for not making a complete stop at a stop sign on a dead-quiet residential street at two in the morning. Six cop cars showed up on short notice. This is in a town of a few thousand people. As one of the few people of color, he was often given increased scrutiny. It was an issue I’ve never faced. My skin color is invisible to most people, especially police.

If I’d listened, I would have heard many more stories. We white people, we need to listen.

Tony posts a cartoon on black folk sticking up being mistaken for stick-up robbers, and comments: [Read more…]

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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