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 »
Last week, I found myself grateful for the conviction of Renisha McBride’s murderer, Theodore Wafer. This conviction did not bring back Renisha McBride. It did not atone for the miscarriage of justice that happened when George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. It did not lay to rest my fears for my niece growing up in a country where Black girls and boys, men and women, are still fighting to see the completion of our ancestors dreams and hopes for equality.
But I was grateful.
I was grateful because I thought that this may be a step in the right direction — an inching towards our goal. I was still reeling from the death of Eric Garner in New York, still raw from the violence against Professor Ersula Ore, but this was a bright spot in the overwhelming despair. And then Saturday happened. Keep reading »
“Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you, we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs upon the reasons they are dying.”
— Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex,” Sister Outsider
My younger brother is 16-years-old. He is six feet, four inches of gentle, timid, and awkward. He loves baseball and breakfast food, family and faith. He is quiet and complex, an introvert who often laughs with me about our frustrations with growing up in a small home with six people.
But in our Orange County hometown, he is feared. A Black teen with a physical presence that far eclipses his white and East Asian peers, he bears the psychic toll of being seen as a walking threat before being seen as a boy. He knows the police are not on his side. He is right; every 28 hours a black person is killed extrajudicially by law enforcement or vigilantes. And that terrifies me. Keep reading »