Petition: Tell ABC and Tom Llamas to apologize. UPDATED.

[CONTENT NOTE: Anti-black media reporting and anti-black violence.]

UPDATED BELOW.

via Color of Change (email):

Dear Iris,

He called the police on them for trying to get food.

ABC News anchor, Tom Llamas, in Houston to report on Hurricane Harvey, spotted Texans who had recently lost everything entering a grocery store. Instead of reporting on the desperate circumstances with compassion, he actually diverted first responder resources that could be used to save stranded families–and called the police.1

That’s right. Houstonians desperately searching for uncontaminated food and water in order to survive were not only shamed and blasted on social media, but confronted with police as they fought for their lives.

And when we asked Tom Llamas to apologize for his biased and possibly dangerous treatment of Hurricane Harvey victims; instead of owning up to it, he blocked us on Twitter.

Tell ABC News and Tom Llamas to issue an apology now!

Tom Llamas didn’t only wrongfully criminalize disaster victims– he put them in harm’s way. Local authorities recently announced that anyone found “looting” will be faced with mandatory jail time.2 And the District Attorney has escalated burglary charges all the way up to life imprisonment–of course this disproportionately affects poor and Black people who may not have had the money to purchase goods in advance, and will be on the hunt for clean water and food.3

In times of emergency and natural disaster, television news is often the only way that bystanders can ascertain what’s happening. News media has the sacred duty of framing tragedies in an honest, unbiased, and compassionate manner. Unfortunately, we saw this same dishonest and biased reporting during Hurricane Katrina, when thousands of Black families were shamed and criminalized as “looters” while trying to feed their families. Meanwhile, white families were simply characterized as searching for food. And and we know that media representations can have a profoundly negative impact on the ways that people in positions of power and privilege interact with Black people. Research has shown that negative media portrayals can engender antagonism toward people of color and lead to higher tolerance for race-based societal disparities.

Tell ABC News, Tom Llamas to apologize now!

The victims of Hurricane Harvey need compassionate and unbiased reporting in the wake of this horrific natural disaster–not criminalization and unnecessary police intervention. It’s time for Tom Llamas and ABC to stop running and apologize.

Sign the petition.

Until justice is real,

— Brandi, Arisha, Rashad, Anika, Jade, Evan, Corina, the rest of the Color Of Change team

References:

  1. “ABC News reporter covering Hurricane Harvey gets slammed online after reporting alleged looters to police.” Business Insider, 28 August 2017. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/8690?t=9&akid=7843%2E2505660%2Eyv_d6J
  2. “In Houston, Authorities Are Toughening Penalties As Warning To Would-Be Looters.” NPR, August 2017. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/8691?t=11&akid=7843%2E2505660%2Eyv_d6J
  3. “Race and class are the biggest issues around Hurricane Harvey.” The Root, 31 August 2017. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/8692?t=13&akid=7843%2E2505660%2Eyv_d6J


Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

__________

UPDATE [h/t Alyssa Gonzalez]: If you want to know why this is so urgent and important, here’s why.

Armed Fascists Are Roaming Texas Floods Looking For Looters

Armed right-wing paramilitary groups are patrolling parts of Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey under the guise of helping hurricane victims.

A group of “Proud Boys” — a men’s rights group with fascist leanings — photographed themselves wading through flooded neighborhoods with assault weapons and flashing a hand signal associated with extremist militia groups. They refer to themselves as an “anti looting patrol.”

Of course they do. And that headline should read: Armed White Men Are Roaming Texas Floods Looking For Black People To Shoot. See, starving white people are not looters by definition. They’re simply “finding food.” Starving black people? Well, not so much.

Ladies and gentlemen, behold the power of YOUR LIBERAL MEDIA.

Sign the petition.

Dances with trolls.

[CONTENT NOTE: casual ableism]

Our troll story today begins as they almost always do: with an unprompted comment on an oooooold post. Behold my Facebook status from November 10, 2016:


Iris Vander Pluym
November 10, 2016 

JUST TO BE CRYSTAL CLEAR: If you voted for Donald Trump, or you live in a swing state and voted for a third party candidate or declined to vote entirely, UNFRIEND ME. You are now and always will be dead to me.

Now I thought I was being clear and fair. Kind, even, if not particularly nice. I felt that not only was I was doing a service to myself and my own online spaces, but to those who would interact with me, or decide not to. I then went ahead and proactively blocked some people, and apparently I did a pretty good job since only one Trump voter slipped by:

[Former IRL “friend”] Really

Iris Is a dead person trying to communicate with me? No, that cannot be. I don’t believe in ghosts. (Unfriended/blocked)

THE END.

Oh, wait no. NOT the end. Eight months later:

[Read more…]

Multicellularity, male privilege and also I need $10 million.

I watched the vid of my colleagues here at FtB, Matt Herron of Fierce Roller and PZ Myers of Tentacly Overlord infamy, discussing some very cool science-y stuff about the evolution of multicellularity. One of the most interesting takeaways for me is that it had long been thought that evolving multicellularity would be an exceedingly rare and difficult jump to make. But it has been discovered, only in the last five to ten years, that this is actually relatively easy and common:

Matt (@3:51): I think there’s been sort of a natural assumption that it has to be difficult. And maybe it is difficult to evolve a complex multicellular organism, with lots and lots of cell types and tissues and maybe even organs, because that hasn’t happened very many times. But Rick Grossberg has a paper where he argues basically what we’ve found, which is that at least the initial steps towards a multicellular lifestyle really aren’t that difficult. It’s happened lots of times that we know of, at least a couple of dozen times, and probably more because in a lot of cases these things don’t leave any fossil record. It is surprising, compared to what people thought five or ten years ago, that multicellularity evolves so easily, but now we’ve seen it in several of these experiments. And in a lot of cases it happens within just a few hundred generations.

OMG cool, right?

Then they touch on the intersection of philosophy and biology, and specifically the question of what exactly constitutes an individual organism, as opposed to, say, a colony of creatures that appear to function as one. I don’t know about you, but this kind of stuff really gets my beanie spinning. I am reminded of my unfortunate encounter with a species known as Physalia physalis, a.k.a. the “floating terror,” a.k.a. the Atlantic Portuguese man o’ war, which I would henceforth (and forevermore) refer to as a “sea squirrel.” Despite its similarity in appearance to the common jellyfish—an individual multicellular organism that will also sting the everloving shit out of you if given a chance—it turns out that the Sea Squirrel™ is actually something very different:

[T]he Portuguese man o’ war is not a jellyfish but a siphonophore, which, unlike jellyfish, is not actually a single multicellular organism, but a colonial organism made up of specialized individual animals called zooids or polyps. These polyps are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are unable to survive independently, and therefore have to work together and function like a so-called individual animal.

Mind: blown.

These weird little fuckers are carnivorous, wielding their wickedly venomous tentacles to paralyze prey (e.g. small fish), and to inflict upon barefoot beachwalkers excruciating pain even after they are long dead (the sea squirrels, not the beachwalkers).

Detached tentacles and dead specimens (including those that wash up on shore) can sting just as painfully as the live organism in the water and may remain potent for hours or even days after the death of the organism or the detachment of the tentacle.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention an interesting cephalopod angle here. Blanket octopuses are immune to sea squirrel venom, which is an amazing enough trick to evolve. But these cephalopods go waaaaaay beyond that: they rip the venomous tentacles right off of those critters (hopefully while mocking them mercilessly), and then they carry the tentacles around with them to wield as weapons for defensive (and possibly offensive) purposes. Now that is some serious next level shit, blanket octopuses! I mean, can you just picture that? Because I sure can!

Octopus Wielding Sea Squirrel™ Tentacles Against Douchefish.
©Iris Vander Pluym
8′ x 11′
(oil on canvas)
$10,000,000.00

But! I digress. As beanie-spinning as all of this clearly is (as evidenced by the foregoing blather), it has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this post.

[Read more…]

He seems nice.

[CONTENT NOTE: state violence, brutality and death]


David Clarke speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
[image: Gage Skidmore/CC 2.0]

Trump Nominates Actual Fascist David Clarke for Department of Homeland Security

Words like fascist and authoritarian get thrown around too promiscuously. But there is no other way to describe David Clarke, who today announced that he was named assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security…Clarke occupies the extremist, anti-democratic fringe of far-right officials, even by the standards of the Trump administration.

O.o  That certainly got my attention, particularly in an article written by Jonathan Chait, a pundit as conservative as Squirrel People conservative Democrats come.

Or so I thought.

[Read more…]

I’m becoming an Irish pagan!

OMFG you guys! I cannot help but think that I have found among the Irish pagans the place where I truly belong!

When I read the email exchanges posted by Pagan Federation Ireland on their Facebook page, I shouted hallelujah! (<-It’s a relic of my xtian upbringing. Obviously, I will have to learn what my new fellow Irish pagans are supposed to shout in similar situations.)

[Read more…]

Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It has become my tradition on this day of remembrance to post the text of a speech delivered by Dr. King on April 4, 1967 at Manhattan’s Riverside Church entitled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence (audio recording here), along with a short commentary about why I believe these words are so important. The speech is truly magnificent, yet it tends to be given short shrift relative to other works of the slain civil rights leader.

[Read more…]

Gangs of New York.

Over at The Nation, Simon Davis-Cohen has a piece up that will surprise no one who follows #blacklivesmatter. What’s new here, at least to me, is not the NYPD’s over-the-top militarization, or the disproportionate targeting of communities of color for aggressive over-policing. It’s not even that in the United States of La-La-Land, the criminal justice system does not work the way we whites think it does, the way were propagandized to believe it does. It’s that as the system’s tactics morph, new and different harms continue to befall these communities in unexpected—and unexpectedly devastating—ways. With apologies to our cephalopod friends for the unfair comparison, the tentacles of state violence are constantly shape-shifting without reason, compassion or constraint.

[Read more…]