Saturday, April 27, 2013

Can Talking About Race Create Unnecessary Animosity?

I just read an article from a British newspaper talking about how racism talks can cause students to be more intolerant. There was a recent study done in the Netherlands that shows that anti-racism lessons can cause animosity to other cultures and therefore increase over intolerance.

            The study does show that children who grow up in neighborhoods of mixed races are more likely to be tolerant and free of hostility. But, when more attention during class time is focused on a multicultural society, it can actually create animosity rather than liberating these hatred views. This is a clear “unexpected negative effect.” It shows that sometimes a certain animosity can be created when talking about discrimination among minority groups. Many of the students have never thought or done any racist actions, so this scholar asks why would we plant the racist thoughts in their head?

            This article brings up an interesting debate. But it seems like to me that by not talking about racial issues that we are in essence, avoiding them. That would mean that we are cowards because we are too scared to bring up racial issues. They’re here; we all know about discrimination and racial issues. There is no point in avoiding them in education. I think what needs to happen is that we need to change HOW we are talking about the racial issues and how we are teaching them to children. We do not want young children and teenagers to have any animosity towards another race. It is necessary to talk about racial issues in our present-day society AND our history. We should talk about the racial issues and instill a theory of multiculturalism within the children without festering up new ideas about hatred. We should talk about the issues but we shouldn’t “rub the children’s noses” in them. When teaching, we can’t be accusing the students of racism when they have never thought or done this. We must draw a clear line between our history and our current times, without totally separating the two. I know that sounds a bit crazy and I’m kind of contradicting myself. I believe we must talk about the history (the past racial issues) like they are in the past, but also realize that we can learn from the past. There are clearly still many racial issues in our society today and we can learn from history as how to fix this.

What are your thoughts on this article and study? Do you believe that talking about racial issues can cause animosity?

The Westboro Baptist Church and Racism

I think it is quite pertinent to talk about the Westboro Baptist Church. They are a well-known hate group that has quite extreme ideologies, especially against gay people. They are rather notorious for their protests especially when they are at funerals.

A girl from my hometown was killed several years ago at college. She had been kidnapped and then brutally murdered. Her parents were divorced and were from different religious backgrounds: Judaism and Christianity. She was raised with ideals form both religions and therefore had two services, one at a church and one at a temple.  The WBC picketed outside her funeral at the temple claiming that her death was well deserved because she attended and because she was Jewish. Not only is the WBC anti-Jewish, they are also anti-college. This caused much outrage throughout the town because they ruined such an important and meaningful time for the family while they were remembering her life.

Fred Phelps, the founder and leader of the cult, used to be a civil rights attorney. This is interesting, considering he is quite racist. He has a strong anti-gay view and also hates blacks. He makes his views very clear and they are definitely not in conjuncture with civil rights. As a former civil rights attorney, one would think that Phelps would want to help people and want everyone to have equal opportunity and same rights. In fact, he is quite the opposite.

Nathan Phelps, his son, has shed some light on this irony. Nathan left the cult years ago and is against all actions of the WBC. He claims that his father only went into law for civil rights because there was a large opportunity for money. This does not seem surprising considering his previous protests. Why does he have so much hate against people? Another question of importance is how after so many years of helping people gain their civil liberties, can he want to strip those away so quickly? I think we can all agree that Phelps is a clear racist. Does it surprise you that he was only a civil rights attorney for the money? It’s quite upsetting to me that he won a lot of awards for being a civil rights lawyer when he clearly was only helping the people for the money. He didn’t actually want to help them. What do you think about the WBC? Should Fred Phelps have his awards revoked for his clear hatred and opposition to civil rights?

Friday, April 26, 2013

University of Cali Irvine and Its Fight With Racism

Throughout time, racism has been actively present throughout the nation. It had been seen all over from restaurant counter tops to public bathrooms to educational facilities. Fast forward to the 21st century, one would think that we have moved to another level with issues of race starting to decline and improved race relations becoming an improvement. However these dreamed about notions have not come to past, especially when considering college campuses, in particular the University of California Irvine.

Recently at UIC there was a parody video of the Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z video "Suit and Tie." What has caught the attention of the video is not just the fact that it is a parody but who is casted in this parody. One of the students, who is White, is portrayed as Jay-Z is blackfaced. What may have been seen as a harmless joke has caused an uproar on the campus and brought into question whether the campus really understands issues of race there. This is not the first time issues of race have come up on the campus. The campus also experienced an issue when on the Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday, the menu in the cafeteria was Chicken and Waffle, a stereotypical food staple for Black people. I believe that the school has allowed the racial issue to go too far without it being properly addressed. Yes you can punish the students, put them on probation or even kick them out. But what good will it do if the proocess continues? There has to be a solution to ending the cycle of continued racism on the campus.

Here is the questions that I want to leave you with: Is there anyway that someone can be "unintentionally racist?" What can be done to ensure no racist acts are conducted on college campuses? Does racism exist on college campuses?

"Define Racism: Can We Talk?”-Beverly Tatum

Recently, I prepared for my work with Teach For America. They had me to read a few interesting excerpts from books as well as various articles. They were used as a basis to understand the culture and environment of people of different ethnic groups. I took time to read a chapter from a book written by Dr. Beverly Tatum titled Can We Talk about Race? and Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegration. The chapter that I read was "Define Racism: Can We Talk? Tatum to time to work through and find a way for "racism" to be defined and thoroughly explained.

Throughout the text, Tatum made vast attempts of explaining the meaning behind the word "racism." The chapter started off discussing racism staring young due to limited interaction with others outside of our racial/ethnic/socio-economic/religious backgrounds from our own and the lack firsthand experience with people different from others. It also discussed how stereotypes come from what we have not been told which was interesting perspective to look at for me because we typically say that stereotypes come from pre-conceived notions. The definition of beauty has long been on the basis of race.The article then goes on to discuss prejudice and describe it as preconceived judgment or opinion, based on limited knowledge

Here is where the article got very interesting Tatum defines racism as a system of advantage based on race; not just prejudice but a system. cultural racism as cultural images and messages that affirm assumed superiority of Whites and assumed inferiority of ppl of color. She attributes racism to “Smog in the air” whereas visible at some points but still less apparent at others; yet people still breath it in. For whites, racism, she says, is not completely our fault but it is our fault: We continue to add to the “pollution” of the air; we continue to allow our personal prejudices to intervene in our lives as we interact with different people throughout our interactions because we lack knowledge of certain groups; rejecting the fact that we have prejudices? Do I have positive images of another group before I truly know anything about them?
She then goes on to discuss what she calls Passive Racism versus Active Racism. Active racism is racism that continues to outwardly display racist ways and ideals such as the KKK. Passive racism is racism in which we see happening yet one continues to allow the racism to continue. Her question was : How can we move White people from a position of active or passive racism to active antiracism? She believed that it was up to whites to end racism.
Here lies a few questions. How do you define racism? Are all people racist or is it just a few groups? Who can help to end racism?


Racism in Home Buying

A recent study by Duke University found that Latinos and Blacks pay, on average, 3.5 percent more for their homes than White buyers. The study, which tracked over two million housing transactions in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C., controlled for factors of income, wealth, and access to credit, but found that none of these factors could explain the differences in how much more Blacks and Latinos paid.  Could racial prejudice account for these factors?
Senior author of the study Pat Bayer, said no, “we did not detect the pattern of obvious racial prejudice on behalf of the sellers. Black and Hispanic sellers sold at similar premiums to white sellers.” Instead, she attributed the discrepancies to age, saying that because Black and Latino populations “skew younger” they are more likely to be first time home-byers, and therefore less experience in negotiating home prices. She also added that because real estate agents tend to show minorities  “a more limited set of properties,” they may feel the need to pay more for a house that actually “suits their needs and tastes.” 
            This part of the study confused me. As I read Bayer’s statement, I thought to myself, “how is that not racist?” If real estate agents are not showing Blacks and Latinos the same quality houses that they show Whites and that results in the feeling, on the part of Blacks and Latinos, that they have to pay more, why was racial prejudice disregarded? In my opinion, racial prejudice seems to be a definite factor that contributes to the study’s results.
Do you think the factor of racism should be further considered? If so, why do you think the head of the study disregarded it? If not, what do you think accounts for the results of the study? 

It’s not racist because I’m not trying to be racist

A YouTube video, recently posted by members of Lambda Theta Delta, an Asian American fraternity at UC Irvine, has sparked outrage, controversy, and allegations of racism. The video is a parody of Suit and Tie by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z. In the parody one fraternity member appears in black makeup to impersonate Jay-Z. While the students said they were just having fun and in no way attempting to be racist, other student organizations and the university’s administration have condemned the video. The university’s vice chancellor for student affairs said that whether or not the video was intended to be racist, “it is reprehensible.”
            Many student organizations, including the Asian Pacific Student Association and the Black Student Union, have called the video “deeply offensive” and have made formal complaints. At last night’s Greek Council meeting, many students gathered in protest. In response to the apology, posted by the fraternity to its Facebook page, one black student said, “Your insufficient apology is not enough and it will never be enough,” and accused the fraternity of using blackface in their videos on multiple occasions. Lambda Theta Delta denied these allegations; however, another video surfaced in which a student wearing a grey undershirt and red bandana wears blackface. The fraternity president said that the video was recorded at a 2010 Halloween party and was then edited into the chapter’s 2012 recruitment video. He said that while the costume was not fraternity approved, it was “the equivalent to a female powdering her face to go as Snow White.”
            The fraternity has claimed that they believe the behavior of its members in the video is offensive, insensitive, and unacceptable; however, from the president’s last comment it appears that they don’t take the matter very seriously. It is obvious that they don’t view these videos as racist.  Instances like this have occurred at many colleges all over the country. For example, “gangsta” themed parties and fraternity/sorority swaps are very common. At these events, students wear the stereotypical clothing of rappers and girls in rap videos, and in some instances, even blackface.
            While blackface is typically thought of as racist, these college parties are not. Even when they are accused of being racist, the usual “its not racist because I’m not trying to be racist” defence is used. This was exactly the excuse given by the Lambda Theta Delta members that posted their Suit and Tie parody. In a case like theirs, where blackface is used, this excuse is rarely considered valid, but what about when things don’t go quite that far? Is this excuse ever valid?

Brittney Griner the Postergirl

           Brittney Griner Nike

Brittney Griner, the first pick of the WNBA draft and once rumored draftee for the NBA, has recently come out as a lesbian. She has been mercilessly insulted during her basketball career, and probably throughout her life, for her more masculine voice, appearance, and strength. Despite being under such a microscope, she has handled it well and has gained the respect of at least the basketball community. It takes a big person to be someone who is "always open with who [she is]," but now she will have to be even more so because now she represents three different groups who struggle to gain respect among the rest of her peers. She is a gay, black female.  She has been under scrutiny for having a more masculine appearance than other women, the tonality of her voice being targeted quite often.  While I have not seen criticisms for her race in the media or on social media sites, she more than likely has been insulted for that as well.  To top all of this off, she now has come out of the closet right as she is about to join the WNBA.

I really admire because she never makes excuses for who she is, but simply accepts it and leaves it up to other people to do the same. She does not concern herself with the taunts of others, but focuses on the people who matter, like friends, family, and teammates.  This kind of attitude, I think, makes her the perfect person to represent all three of these groups.  She has recently signed an endorsement deal with Nike as they were keen to endorse an openly gay player.  I think it is beneficial to combine movements, such as these three, because it makes their fights stronger.  Obviously, these are three pieces of her person that she cannot control, but she is still insulted because of them.  She owns who she is and is continuing to follow her dreams without paying heed to the naysayers.  I think it is wonderful that all of these movements have come together under the umbrella of basketball and sports in general because some sports fans may be among the naysayers, but if they see one of the players they keep up with regularly representing these groups, they will be more likely to accept and defend her. 

Do you think it is beneficial to groups struggling for equal rights to join forces? Does that detract from a group’s individual cause? Also, do you think these causes have a better chance when tied together with a popular pastime, such as basketball?

The history of certain Fraternities

I recently sat in on a Black Political Thought class and the issue of Fraternities on Rhodes Campus was brought into question.  It was brought to my attention that at least one  of the fraternities used to host public lynchings and that this same frat continues to celebrate the Old South as part of its tradition.  How do you all feel about this?  Is taking part in an organization that condoned lynching and continues to celebrate some of the same traditions that inherently connected with lynching and racial terror an issue?  Just something I would like to hear y'all opinion about.

The Murder of Steven Askew

This story hits close to home:

The murder of Steven Askew was in cold blood by a police officer with a less than perfect past.  Yes, Steven Askew was Black and the officer was white.  The report says that Steven was waiting on his girlfriend, asleep in his car after leaving work, when the police, who had been called to investigate a noise complaint, approached his car and startled.  According to the officer, Steven reached for his gun (which he had a license for) and he fired.  Thus, a 24 year-old black man is dead at the hands of the police.

The link that I just provided shows that this officer has a racist history as well as anger management issues which were of public knowledge to the police department.  What do you all think about this?  What do you all think about the fact the police continue to hire and keep people who they know are potentially detrimental to the society.  Now a young man is dead, and this young man could have easily been me or one of my family members or friends.

Has Roe v. Wade Led to an African American Holocaust?

                Roe v. Wade created the right for women to get abortions, but now an argument has come out that the African American community has be overly utilizing this right. In 2010 the CDC reported that African Americans accounted for 12.6% of the population, but account for 35.4% of all abortions. In the documentary Freakonomics, there is a claim that during the 90’s crime went down in New York City primarily because 18 years before young pregnant black women could get abortion, so that in the 90’s there were less poor black youth on the streets to cause crime. Has the court’s decision created what the article calls an “African American Holocaust,” or had it allowed the African American community to better prosper because less of the population was growing up in unsuitable conditions to prosper. Personally I am pro-choice, but the high number in the African American community brings a light to this issue I had not previously considered. In my final paper for this class I learned that an “institutionally racist” education system was harmful for African Americans and one of the problems was that the children were not receiving the appropriate amount of sex education. If this is the case then maybe higher African American abortions are only caused because other protection measure are not adequately understood by the youth, and the mothers do not feel fit to raise a child at a young age. However, the article quotes Dr. Martin Luther King, "The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety", which raises a counter argument against African American community. The context of comfort certainly seems to apply here, but the issue of safety is something that needs to be explored for this context. If safety means financial safety, and the parents do not think that they will be able to provide for the child it does not seem as if they are sacrificing the child but rather waiting to develop an environment that would be better fitted to a raise a child. Although Dr. King was a minister, I do not think that he would believe that the goal of the African American community would be to raise as many children as it could regardless of condition. I think that it is interesting how this court decision has played a crucial impact on the African American community, and the statistics provided by the CDC sounds like interesting research in trying to explore why this phenomenon has occurred.