Black Lives Matter

CHARLIE RIEDEL, AP

CHARLIE RIEDEL, AP

Please accept this post which has nothing to do with pop culture. What’s going on in Ferguson is too important to ignore. At the bottom are links to other articles on this issue. If you only read one thing out of this article, read one of those.

Let’s play “Which is More Important.” On one hand we have property damage, gunshots, and bottle-throwing perpetrated by a few members of a community suffering extreme grief and anger. On the other hand we have the widespread, nation-wide murder of young black men committed by representatives of the government who are never punished for it.

Yes, the burning buildings of option A make for a better picture and an easier headline, but the right answer is emphatically option B.

So it is incredibly depressing to see the media focusing entirely on the violence in Ferguson without discussing the reason behind it. I want to see national media coverage on why black people in Ferguson and across the country are angry rather than salivating over the broken store windows. And, while I’m wishing for unlikely things, how about having some people of color explain those reasons?

I am not black or brown person, so I feel unqualified to talk about the experience of interacting with police as a person of color. Nevertheless, I, and anyone else who cares to look, can find a wealth of evidence that black people are treated horrendously in our justice system, starting with the police and ending with the prison system.

For instance, just today we have a story of a 12-year-old black boy, Tamir Rice, shot and killed by a policeman because he was carrying a toy gun at a playground. Similarly, John Crawford, was shot by police in a Wal-Mart because he was carrying a toy gun. Both of these incidents occurred in open carry states. I’d like to emphasize that because even if those people had been carrying real guns, it still would have been legal behavior and yet, they were shot without warning or opportunity to explain. And one of them was a child.

Then we come to the case of Marissa Alexander, a black woman in Florida who, to scare off her abusive husband, shot in his direction but didn’t hit him. She spent almost three years in jail through the process, was convicted on three charges, and faced 20 years in prison for it. For not killing someone, remember. Except this is the same state that said a man who killed a black teenager wasn’t guilty because of Florida’s stand your ground laws.

If this doesn’t convince you that black people and white people are not equal in our justice system, then how about Eric Garner. Or Vonderrit Myers.

I could go on, but I think you get my point.

The fact that the people of Ferguson are angry is understandable and the fact that the media is using this as an excuse to continue to ignore the larger issues is despicable.

The truth is that America has a racist justice system and it’s not going to get better until we acknowledge and examine the racism in our society. Covering the rioting without making the reasons clear only provides a mechanism to reinforce racist beliefs that black people are inherently violent and their concerns should be ignored.

Instead, we should all be appalled by the treatment black people are subjected to by our government. We should all be standing with the people of Ferguson and demanding change. That change will be difficult and it won’t happen all at once. But it will start when we can recognize, as a nation, that racism in our society is the real problem, and it’s bigger than any rioting in any city.

Here are some more commentary on this issue and Ferguson. You should read them all:

About Ferguson, White Allies and Speaking Up When It Matters by Luvvie

If There Are Good Cops Out There, Prove It by Albert L. Butler

Youth are On the Frontlines in Ferguson and They Refuse to Back Down by Muna Mire

A Letter to My Unborn Son by George Johnson

Will My People Ever Truly Be Free? by Khadijah Costley White

On Ferguson – The System Isn’t Broken, It Was Built This Way at The Belle Jar

Citizen Radio: (2014/11/26) Darren Wilson acquitted by Ferguson grand jury, false equivalency of comparing property damage to murder by Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny

“Forever” Tackles Gentrification and Steps in a Pile of White Savior Complex

Warning! This post contains instances of nitpicking (and spoilers). Proceed at your own risk.

Have you seen Forever? It’s only on it’s sixth episode, so you’d be forgiven for having missed it. The premise is this: an immortal medical examiner in New York City solves murders with his trusty cop sidekick. I’m really enjoying it so far, though I have to wonder when the whole “protagonist is involved in every major historical event” will become too implausible to be borne.

tvpreview-forever__span

Starring Mr. Fantastic from The Fantastic Four

In the fifth episode, Henry, the aforementioned immortal, is trying to solve the murder of a black man in Alphabet City. It quickly becomes apparent that this man was fighting against the arrival of a new, shiny set of million-dollar apartments in the poor neighborhood he lived in, and it appears that the developer building the new apartments is the murderer.

Continue reading

Redskins Fans: Debate is Defamation and Racism is Honorable

image.adapt.960.high

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a football team based in Washington, D.C. called “The Redskins.” You may also have heard that the name is a racial slur. Seriously, it’s a dictionary-defined offensive term.

Recently, the Daily Show did a segment on the issue that collected some of the arguments for keeping the name and revealed some of the fans’  hypocrisy. Let’s take start with a quote from one of them.

If the name is changed, and I have children someday, what will I pass on to them?

How about you pass on your misplaced sense of persecution? Or, you could buy a new shirt with the new logo and pass that down to your kids. Or pass down your love of football and let your kids buy their own merchandise. Really, though, the questions you should be more concerned about is whether you want your kids to have a father who cares more about keeping his sweatshirt up to date than the disenfranchisement of an entire people.
Continue reading