Some years ago, a young man that I was casually dating invited me to a birthday party with some of his friends who all moved to New York City, from Florida, to go to college. It was a scenario I had long grown accustomed to: I was the only Black girl amongst a group of non-minority people, laughing, drinking and talking.
Then this statement came out of nowhere and immediately wiped the smile from my face: “The best way to keep America safe is to just deport all of the Muslims,” a young White boy said in between sips of a beer.
It pierced my ears, momentarily paralyzing me. My eyes darted towards my friend to gauge his reaction to the words that pierced the air like an arrow launched from a bow, striking me in my chest. He seemed completely unmoved.
“Well, we don’t have to get rid of all of them, just the terrorists really,” he responded plainly.
We never spoke after that day. Keep reading »
Theodore Wafer, the Michigan man who shot unarmed Black teenager Renisha McBride on his doorstep last year, has been sentenced to 17 to 30 years in prison for second-degree murder.
In November, 19-year-old McBride had gotten into a car accident and knocked on the door of Wafer’s Dearborn Heights home in the middle of the night. Wafer responded by shooting the teenager through a closed and locked screen door on his front porch, killing her. Wafer had initially claimed that his gun went off accidentally; he had also claimed he didn’t know the gun was loaded. Earlier this month, a jury rejected Wafer’s claim of self-defense and convicted him of second-degree murder, manslaughter, and one count of felony firearm. [Yahoo; MLive]
Having already seen “The Fault In Our Stars” and “Glee,” I don’t think I’ll be tuning in for Fox’s “Red Band Society,” a new dramedy produced by Steven Spielberg about teenagers living in a hospital. But it’s come to my attention that on a promotional ad for the show, which debuts September 17th, the Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer, who is Black, is labeled the “Scary Bitch.” Portraying Black women as unpredictable and scary — gee, we’ve never seen that in Hollywood before. To be sure, the show’s labeling of other characters in the promo ad isn’t too original either. For example, the hot blonde girl is the “Mean Girl” because of course she is. Still, Spencer’s “Scary Bitch” label stands out as especially harsh and problematic. There are plenty of ways to portray someone as an antagonistic character without relying on a tired stereotype. Would “Nurse Ratched” have gone over America’s collective heads? (If so, go watch “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” now.)
The New York Attorney General’s office announced this week it has found “loss prevention officers” at Macy’s department store to have followed Black and Latino customers more often than white patrons. In response to these findings, Macy’s has agreed to a pay a $650,000 settlement, hire an independent monitor, and release an anti-racial profiling memorandum to employees, among other responses. (It is perhaps too soon to say “reforms.”)
This fall, both Macy’s at Herald Square and the upscale department store Barney’s in New York City drew attention after several Black customers were detained by police and accused of stealing items which they had rightfully purchased. Macy’s most high-profile incident was actor Robert Brown from the TV show “Treme” and the movie “Finding Forrester,” who was detained after making an expensive purchase at the store, then frisked, accused of holding fake ID, and told he didn’t have enough money to buy the pricey item. Keep reading »
For the last week, the world has watched Ferguson, Mo., set ablaze by racism and the calculated indifference of the town’s police force. And over the course of the same week, the media, which was slow to do any reporting at all, has now cannibalized a story about the murder of an unarmed teenager at the hands of a police officer, into one which villainizes the dead and dismisses the living.
Now dead for a over a week, there is no shortage of ink devoted to understanding who Michael Brown was, despite the fact that he is dead and his killer remains free, alive, anonymous, and enjoying paid time off. To justify racist paranoia about the perceived threat of black life, blacks who die at the hands of white vigilantes and police, the reputation of the dead undergoes an active smear campaign, perpetuated and promoted by the media. Keep reading »
As sometimes happens, I came to it — rockabilly — for the clothes. I started collecting vintage clothes from the 1940s through the early ’60s when I graduated from college and was entering the working world, because I wanted more than black pants and a sweater for business casual. I clicked away hours on my laptop, gleaning important bits of knowledge from old photos and bloggers everywhere from Australia to Austin. These stylish women were wonderfully put together for work and play, and danced to a soundtrack of music more powerful and raw than what I’d been listening to at the time. Keep reading »