W.E.B. Du Bois and Double Consciousness

In honor of Du Bois and of the new header for our blog I'm posting a short excerpt from The Souls of Black Folk which Du Bois published in 1903:
After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

This history of the American Negro is the history of this strife—this longing to attain self-consciousness manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both Negro and American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.[1]
1. W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (New York: Penguin Classics, 1996): 5.


Saturday Beats: Acculturated to Violence and Getting Out

When I was only four (years old) I went to Sacramento to visit my Aunt Julie. My dad and step-mom were going to Reno for a couple days so that’s who I was staying with…

The first few days were fine, my aunt, uncle and cousins were fun to be with, ‘cause all we did was have fun! But by the second week things just changed. My aunt didn’t really smile anymore, she seemed different. My uncle always seemed angry and didn’t really play with me and my cousins anymore.

One day, before we were supposed to go out to eat dinner, I heard noises coming from the kitchen. Curious like any normal four year old, I snuck out of my room fully dressed and peeked around the doorway into the kitchen. What I saw made me fear my uncle from then ‘till this day…

He had her by her throat and her feet were at least nine inches off the floor. He was slamming her body in the wall with so much force that the walls shook and the little wall ornaments fell to the floor and broke. My aunt had her hands around his wrists, but he wasn’t letting go. Before he slammed her against the wall again, I screamed and started crying. I didn’t know what he was doing, but I knew it wasn’t good. I was scared!

At the sound of my scream, he let’s her go and she just crumples to the floor. She’s not moving… my uncle starts walking towards me, he looks even more scary than before. Getting more scared and panicky, I run to my room, but before I can close the door, he’s in there with me.

I crawl under the bed, crying…

My uncle kneels down and says in his deep voice “Sweety come out from under there.”

I stay quiet.

A couple minutes later he gets up and I hear the door close. I crawl out from under the bed and before I can look around, I feel arms around my waist and he’s carrying me to the garage.

I try to scream but he covers my mouth with his hand.

All I remember after that is that he hit me on my face, told me what I saw never happened and went back inside. I curled up in a corner and cried myself to sleep.

To this day, he never said he was sorry for anything. Not for hitting me or almost killing my Aunt Julie, who passed away four years later from a brain tumor… I’ll never forgive him, and I still blame him for my Aunt’s death. RIP Aunt Julie Brown. 1967-1999 I’ll always miss you.

When I first became a teenager, I stepped in the game
thinking the outcome would have changed
by the way that I played. I wanted out without a doubt
‘cause I was losin’ my brain
‘cause it’s the same shady ending
and I’m livin’ it, man
one step at a time
and I’m losin’ my mind
in my early teen years I was out on a grind
but I’m sayin’ “Peace, good-bye”
I want to get out of this game on the streets
that I could live without
free from the sorrow, the shame, the hurt and the pain
got my foot up out the door and I’ma leave the game.
I wanted out long ago ‘cause it’s shady on these streets
and all my brothas out here dying ‘cause they deep in the beef.
Image From:
The Beat Within


Hayat's Plea Falls on Deaf Ears

I recently came across this article yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle:
A federal judge denied a bid for a new trial Thursday by a Lodi man convicted of supporting terrorists by training with them in his family's homeland of Pakistan, rejecting defense assertions of juror misconduct and faulty evidence.
The case is about a young Muslim son and his father (both from Pakistan) and how they got caught up in an FBI dragnet in which they were accused of being trained as Al Qaeda terrorists. The only problem is, is that they were never trained by Al Qaeada terrorists and had never met top Al Qaeda officials.

There was a great PBS Frontline documentary (more on that below) on this very subject and they were able to show how the government has been trumping up charges against Muslim Americans (South Asian, Persian, Arab, etc.) in order to show to the public how they were "winning" the war on terror. Yet the reality of the situation was, and still is, is that when these cases come to trial the government has to drop many of the charges they orginially filed against these people and instead would reduce them to charges such as not updating their visa, etc.

This case is an example of how Muslim Americans, especially immigrant Muslims, are being targeted not because they are doing "suspicious" activity, but because the very fact that they are Muslim and people of color and recent immigrants makes them suspicious.

The article continued:
In his 59-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. only briefly touched on the strength of the case, which centered on a videotaped confession that Hayat gave to FBI agents in June 2005 after returning from a long trip to Pakistan. Prosecutors had no other direct evidence of Hayat's training, but they offered proof of what they called his "jihadi heart."
The problem with the confessions is that the father and son's confessions contradict each other and a former FBI official who's an expert in interegations, states that those video taped confessions should have never been allowed in court due to the way the FBI officials acted and due to the fact that the two taped confessions completely and utterly contradicted each other.
Hayat's trial attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, said she was "extremely disappointed" with the decision and that she planned to appeal.

She argued at trial that Hayat had told FBI agents he went to a Pakistani terrorist training camp only when pressured, and did so in a misguided attempt to be helpful. His confession, she noted, was full of contradictions.
I really recommend you all see the Frontline documentary "The Enemy Within." The Council of American-Islamic Relations stated:
However, a deeper look at the evidence creates uncertainty about what kind of threat actually did exist in Lodi and provides a case study of America's response to the threat of domestic terrorism. FRONTLINE and...Lowell Bergman examines the Lodi case and interviews FBI and Homeland Security officials to assess U.S. anti-terror efforts in The Enemy Within.
You can see the entire episode for free here.


This, and a recent article in the Chronicle about the president of the University of California system being exonerated, got me thinking about starting a new blog (I know, I know, I'm dong three already) that focuses mainly on the San Francisco Bay Area and on activist work in it. I was thinking the blog can have a couple of editors on it and a bunch of contributors from around the Bay. I was thinking most the contributors and topics would focus on people of color communities and issues that effect those communities. I was thinking all of the contributors could represent a diverse ammount of Bay Area activist orgs such as Bayan USA, Uhuru, POWER, etc. Any Bay Area bloggers out there interested?

Anyway, look for it soon!

Image From:
Militant Islam Monitor

Check Out the Newest Erase Racism Carnival

The Angry Black Woman hosted this months Erase Racism Carnival today:

This is a very media-heavy edition, mainly because media issues are very interesting to me. The summer movie season is starting to heat up and this season’s television shows are coming to an end, allowing us to examine them completely. There’s plenty to talk about in the realm of literature, too. So, get comfortable, grab a drink, and settle in. There’s a lot of great stuff to read.


[X]Press Newspaper: An Example of White Privilege and Ignorance: An Analysis

Since Christine gave you guys the background over this sad state of affairs at the newspaper we work for I'm going to be breaking down Maher's article (It's not online, only in the paper) word by word to show the utter stupidity, and recklessness, of his (not to mention completely unaware of his own white privilege) argument. The article was called "A note on diversity from next semester's newspaper editor." and it appeared in issue 16 of volume 82 of our paper (May 17, 2007).

Maher opens up by saying:
Discussions of diversity always make me squeamish,
Diversity making a white hetero-sexual male squeamish, hmmm...Well, nothing new there really.
chiefly because the discussion is usually based on presumptions that fundamentally reinforce the bigotry such conversation are meant to combat.
This is a classical argument that many whites (and some people of color) make about talks on diversity. We should only judge people by their character and not by the content of their skin. Therefore we should just ignore diversity and view the world in a color-blind way.

Ok, I buy that (sort of), we should judge people based on the content of their character just as Martin Luther King, Jr. told us to do. But talks of diversity have nothing to do with the content of people's character based on their skin color. What talks and discussions of diversity have to do with are looking at age old biases that are ingrained into our minds and souls. Discussions and talks on diversity are there to challenge our assumptions based on people's race. In a society that is saturated in white privilege and heterosexual privilege we never encounter real genuine discussions on issues such as race and diversity in the newsroom because we are blind to it. It is ingrained in us to see white as the norm, heterosexuality as the norm, etc. So when there are a bunch of white people in the newsroom and in the paper we don't question it or see anything wrong with it because that is what we've been taught to see as normal growing up (subconsciously and consciously). This is why we need to bring up questions of diversity in the workplace, newsroom, etc. because no one is there to bring them up.

And yet whenever someone tries to bring up questions of diversity there is always some white person, always, stating how this makes her or him "uncomfortable," or, in Maher's case, "squeamish. Yet that is why we need to bring up issues of diversity, because people are uncomfortable with it. We need to challenge our assumptions and bring us out of our comfort zone, if we don't than we remain ignorant to the realities of America and to the realities of our own assumptions and privileges.

Maher than goes on to say about the photo content:
The auditing process seems to be no more sophisitcated than looking at people in the photos and concluding, "That's a black guy; that's a Chinese girl," and so on.
I agree with Maher on this point. It's an inexact science to look at photos and guess what someone's race is. This is the reality of race, race doesn't exist (see "What Is Race?"), it is not biological, it's sociological. Race, especially the white "race" was constructed through privilege and through sociological presumptions that constantly changed over time. The Irish (an ethnicity) at first were considered Black (a race) and over a period of a few generations were excepted as white (a race based on privilege made up of different ethnic groups). Some light skinned Blacks could pass off as white (especially if they were half-white) to some extent, their ethnicity was African, or Black as it were, but in society's eyes they could be seen (sort of) as white. Now, when looking at a photo everyone looking at that photo will see, "hmmm, a Asian girl reading a book," or "Ah, a Black guy walking across the quad." There is no exact science to it, this is how we've been taught by society to look at others, through race. This is why the [X]Press editors decided to do a photo analysis of issues one through fifteen, to see how the paper (through photographs) was portraying SF State's population. This is how society will percieve the make-up of SF State's student population (to some extent). Exact? Scientific? No, of course not, but neither is race, yet this is the reality that the auditors had to work with and what they found was quite disturbing.

The demographics of SF State are 36% white, 34% Asian, 16% Latino, 7% Black, 1% Native American, and 6% "All other responses."

What the auditors found was that Whites were portrayed 47% of the time, a difference of 11%. Black's 20% of the time (which is positive). But, Latinos were only portrayed 11% of the time, and the second largest racial demographic, Asians, were only portrayed 13% of the time, a negative 21% difference.

To this Maher states:
setting aside even the absurd conclusion that skin color and bone structure are teh defining elements of one's cultural identity (remember, at the moment we were targeting the importance of representing cultures, not races), I'm astonished we're accepting this particular definition of diversity with so little scrutiny.
It's an encouraging thing that Maher knows that race and culture are two different things. But, at the same time, in America, race and culture are so intertwined it's impossible to set aside the two in most people's minds. Culture is what race was based upon in the first place. The Irish were culturally different from most Americans and were treated differently because of this. They had weird accents, strange and dangerous Catholic customs, wore cloths that were way out of date for their time, and had rituals that would make most White Anglo-Saxton Protestant U.S. citizens cringe in horror. Yet what happened to the Irish was a shift in their culture. They rejected their culture (for more see How the Irish Became White and my blog post "The Construction of Whiteness") and accepted a more "white" cultural way of living of the classical WASP variety. Because of their light skin (which has to do with their geographic location in the globe) and because of their changing attitudes they became accepted as white, so much so that John F. Kennedy was elected president just a little over 100 years after the great migration of the Irish to America from their homeland. Their light skin had to do with their geographic location. Their geographic location obviously effected their culture in some way, their culture also had to do with their originally being classified as "Black" by the ruling elite and their culture also had to do with their later becoming white and being accepted by the ruling elite. Their race, i.e. being light skinned, was concrete in America, that is why the ruling class pitted the "white" Irish against the "Black" Africans. While the Irish were being oppressed by the same people who were oppressing Black Americans there was no other ethnic group more racist against Blacks than the Irish.

So, therefore, while race is a sociological construction based on a number of factors (being cultural, legal, and social), race is also, in a sense, concrete. It's concrete in the way we interact with people, the way we perceive people, the way income is distributed in society, the way economic and ecological decisions can effect races differently. Just look at my home town San Francisco. There was (it was recently shut down) a PG & E power plant spewing toxic shit all over the Black Bay View Hunters-Point, but the white Pacific Heights had a fabulous view of the Golden Gate Bridge and wonderful fresh and clean sea breezes. Here we can see how race is concrete from an ecological standpoint, and an economic.

So, yes, it is absurd to view bone structure (whatever that means) and skin color as concrete examples of culture but it is also absurd to ignore the factors that race plays in America and how culture and race are obviously intertwined.
I've always struggled to maintain belief in the idea that what defines us as people are our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions.
Of course our thoughts, feelings, and actions define us as persons. I don't think the editors who wanted this content analysis think any differently. Yet Maher is also ignoring the harsh reality of America and the Western world. People's skin color defines who they are in other peoples minds. And the way other people define you, however unjustly this is, also defines, to a lesser or greater extent depending on the person, how you view your self. We only need to look at the bottom of this page to see what DuBois said about defining yourself through the lens of others.

"Always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."

Yet Maher doesn't see this, and justifably so. He doesn't see this because he is white. His white skin is his shield. As the co-editor of the paper Ian Thomas told Maher in a rage on Thursday. "I don't mean to insult you buy you are a white heterosexual male!" In society's eyes that is not an insult but a "complement" and for Maher to not see it as otherwise shows us his complete obliviousness to his white privilege, his male privilege, and his heterosexual privilege.
What makes a community meaningfully diverse is a wealth of individual beliefs, perspectives and behavior, not a bunch of different-looking faces.
Again, I agree with what Maher is saying, as anyone would, but I disagree, again, in the context of why he is saying it.

Maher sees diversity as differences in beliefs, perspectives, and behaviors, and not as cultural and racial. Yet one gets different opinions, beliefs, perspectives, and behaviors when one has a culturally and racially diverse social group. Of course, I also accept his argument that if I had friends who were of every different race and gender and all thought the same (such as if I was Bill O'Reilly and my friends were Michelle Malkin, Thomas Sowell, Condaleeza Rice, Ann Coulter, and Alberto Gonzales) I wouldn't be doing a service to my personal growth. Yet, one has to ask, people such as Rice and Malkin, how much of their "culture" have they given up to be accepted by whites. Will you more likely see a white person with an ultra-conservative person of color as a friend who doesn't question their white privilege and white supremacy or will you more likely see as white person with a person of color as a friend who challenges their own racist views and white privilege. Chances are the former rather than the latter is more likely. And if this is the case does that mean because that white person who has a person of color as a friend make her or him less racist, nope, not by a long shot. Ah, such are the complexities of our 21st century America. Why can't it be like the good ol' days when you could be for Martin Luther King, Jr. and clamor for equal rights and yet still think that Blacks were "kinda lazy?" Well, for one, those days are still here with us right now, only we don't have laws that help whites keep Blacks and other people of color "in their place." But, I digress.
When we define diversity primarily in terms of what people look like, we give credence to the idea that a person is defined by those appearances. We accept and assume that societal forces are beyond each individual's control to absorb and react to in his or her own fasion, and in so doing we demean and discourage individuality and help create the stereotypes we intend to dispel.

Indeed diversity is not solely on what a person "looks like" but the problem is that that argument is used to constantly justify why we shouldn't be critically looking at race as a factor in our everyday lives and is used to keep people ignorant to the fact that race is a reality to millions of Americans in their everyday lives. Race isn't a reality because those "crazy people of color" are making it a reality by "playing the race card," it's a reality because our society deems one race, the white race, the most important and educated race and the other races as unimportant, lazy, automotrans, illegals, etc. It is because of this reality that race plays an important role in people's lives and why it plays an important role in how people's lives our shaped.

Maher's life has been shaped by the fact that he is white. He can say such things as "what defines us...are our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions" and that what diversity is, "is a wealth of individual beliefs" because Maher is a white male. Race and gender have never been issues for him growing up. The only time race has ever been an issue for him is if someone gives him a mirror and tells him that the reason he is privileged is because of the color of his skin. This makes Maher "squeamish." To that I say welcome to the world of someone who is not white. This squeamish you feel when someone brings up diversity (how ever often that is for you) is a "squeamishness" that non-whites feel (subconsciously or consciously) every day based on the fact that in American society they are relegated to the fringes of everyday life. A perfect way of looking at this is if a young Asian child were to see the [X]Press everyday, she or he wouldn't see a whole lot of Asian faces, this child would feel as if she our he was not "normal" when in reality Asians make up the second largest racial demographic at SF State. While this one little example may seem trivial it is not trivial when amplified to every single little thing in the everyday life of being America. (For more see "'i wanna be white'," "'No! I"m Not Black, I'm White!'," "World White News Coverage" "Psychological False Consciousness").

Maher is oblivious to this. If he is surrounded by a sea of white faces who think differently and have different opinions on many things than he sees diversity. He's blind to the fact that the people around him are all white. He's blind to this not because of any moral superiority to someone who would see all of the white faces around him but instead is blind because he fails to look at his own privilege. The reality is, is that these white faces may have different opinions but including people from different races and cultures also adds to the diversity of the situation because people who come from different backgrounds can see certain things that others can't, they've experienced things that others haven't, and have different outlooks because of their experiences, gender, and race. Can a room filled with white Sean Maher's see that racism still exists, and exists strongly, in America today? Of course not, as Maher has pointed out to us in his woefully ignorant opinion piece about diversity. Chances are these white people won't realize racism still exists because of the simple fact that their whiteness has shielded them from issues of race. They don't need to look at race because of their race, because their race is the dominant and normal race. And when someone tries to bring up race and diversity in a conversation they shut them down because they couldn't possibly see how race is important.

Their white privilege blinds them to their own ignorantness in even thinking such a thought that race isn't important!

Yet, if there was a room filled with whites, Asians, Native Americans, Blacks, Latinos, females, and males than they could point out the many factors that shape this country, such as race, class, gender, because they've eperienced it themselves.

A good example comes from my own experience. I was having lunch with one of my good friends who's Pilipina and White and is a lesbian. She mentioned to me that the Dance Department at SF State has a very gendered view of the world and is very hetero-centric. Now this had never dawned on me. I had seen a few of the performances and noticed that there were a few homo-centric pieces in it and thought, "Oh, that's nice." My heterosexuality blinded me to the fact that yet, there were a few pieces that did have homosexual themes in them but the vast majority (probably 90%) had heterosexual themes in them with traditional gender roles. I was blinded by my heterosexual privilege. But my friend, who is a lesbian, could see quite clearly how the Dance Department is dominated by tradition gender roles and heterosexual tendencies. She could see this clearly because of her own experiences. Are you to tell me if I had a vast array of white heterosexual friends that one of them could have told me the same? I think not. While someone who was heterosexual could have seen this more than likely someone who wasn't heterosexual could see it more plainly because of their status in society.

Likewise, people of different races have different views and opinions of this country will call America. Also, think of the aburdity of the situation. You have a group of people who have different opinions, different ways of seeing the world, and different ways of thinking, and they are all white! Are you to tell me that's not significant!? All of their views cannot acknowledge the simple and straight up fact that there are a bunch of white people dominating a certain physical space!? That's the problem here. Maher isn't acknowledging the fact that while whites make up only 36% of the school's demographics they make up nearly half of all people pictured in our newspaper. Yet he is telling us that diversity does matter? But diversity in opinion and not racial? Even though race is still important in this country and that race effects the way people are perceived and the way people percieve the world. This is not just wholly ignorant but disgusting as well!
Skin color and gender are often important in determining the experiences that shape our believes and the way we behave around others...At the same time, I must make clear that my first priority will always be to promote a diversity defined by ideas and perspectives, above and beyond the aesthetic differences that have for so long afflicted our efforts to join together.

Again, Maher keeps telling us that diversity of opinions matter, not diversity of race. Yet while people may have different opinions leaving out factors of race leave out a vast more array of opinions than ever. Maher, as I have stated above, seems to be completely blind to his privilege. Think of it this way. If one touts that they respect diversity of opinion and what to challenge traditional beliefs and yet one it comes down to it their actions create a situation were whites dominate those "diversities of opinion" than isn't this showing us how utterly ignorant this person is of race in America and whiteness? If the content in question is only content that caters to a white audience how diverse are we being really? Are the diverse issues of opinions issues of the Bible being taught in schools, styles of dance, religious beliefs, capitalist vs. socialist? And if so who is representing what side? What if all of the faces representing those sides are white. A white atheist vs. a white Muslim; a white capitalist vs. a white socialist; a white land developer vs. a white environmentalist. Is this diversity, I ask you?

The simple answer is obviously no. It's not diversity if whites are dominating the discussion. Not only does this ignore the racial history in America were whites have dominated every single discussion about every single issues since the founding of the Jamestown settlement exactly 400 years ago, but it also ignores present day racial realties. The reality is, is that today, in the 21st century, whites still dominate the discussion, whites still hold economic advantages (see "Living on the Other Side of the Color Line") over people of color by staggering amounts, and that whites are completely unaware, as Maher is, of their own privilege in American society and on the fact that when someone brings up diversity someone will be attacked by a person like Maher, but when someone like Maher makes statements such as "diversity of opinion" matter and not "race" that person is perceived in this society as having the upper hand and when someone attacks the wholly ignorant and racist[1] ideas of someone like Maher than that person will be called out as using the "race card," as if a person like Maher hasn't been using the race card since birth.

A person who is Latino, who grew up in East Los Angeles and who experienced racism first hand from the LAPD (I, unlike some, do not dismiss the allegations of abuse just because they are Latino and poor) and from the larger society in general will obviously hold different views than a white person who grew up in a white suburb and who never had to deal with race. Both might be liberal and both might decry certain things in this society, yet one has truly experienced how the "other half" lives in America and the other one might, like Maher, be wholly ignorant to why racial diversity matters in the newsroom, the news pages, and in society at large. With diversity of cultures and with diversity in races obviously comes diversity in opinions, views, and outlooks.

If Maher's vision rings true and the paper has diverse opinions in it and yet those diverse opinions are being spoken only by whites (and by a majority of times male) who will be there to have the opinion. "Hey you stupid mother fuckers! You're a bunch of white people spouting issues that mostly effect bougie whites! Where are the opinions and articles that matter to the working class, to Latinos, to Asians, to Blacks, to Native Americans!? Were are those!?"

Sadly, that opinion would not be there, and that opinion is the most important of all because it forces whites to view themselves as they truly are, as privileged people whom have outlooks that are obviously different from other people who aren't of their racial category. And yes, that opinion will make people like Maher "squeamish," but their few minutes of "squeamishness" will not amount to the feelings of what many people in this country have gone through, and continue to go through, because of their color. And that "squeamishness" might help people like Maher realize their wrongheaded and ignorant views.

Maher ends his piece with this:
The true power of the press lies in its close communication with the people. With an engaged and scrutinous [sic] audience, I am confident we can build a newspaper of true diversity and integrity.

Sadly, with thinking such as his, [X]Press will only continue to contribute to the everyday acceptance of white privilege, white supremacy, and the ignoring of the racial realities of America.

1. By racism I don't mean the classical sense of the word but the contemporary sense of the word. For more detail and discussion see "Racism and White Supremacy."

[X]press Newspaper: An Example of White Privilege and Ignorance

Damn, I have never felt so awkward, disheartened, angry, and yet so very proud before in my life. A few days ago while I was sitting in the journalism lab at SF State, talking to the new [X]press newspaper editors for next semester, Ian Thomas, the current head editor, stormed into the room consumed with frustration. He was pissed off at the soon-to-be editor Sean Maher for his column that we published in this week's current issue called "A Note on Diversity from Next Semester's Newspaper Editor." (For content analysis of this article click here) Basically, Maher was inadvertently saying that race doesn't matter and that we need to be colorblind.

Several weeks ago [X]press had made the decision to put together a race package and with that a content analysis on the demographics of our photos for the last 16 weeks. However, in his column, Maher expressed that "what makes a community meaningfully diverse is a wealth of individual beliefs, perspectives and behavior, not just a bunch of different-looking faces. When we define diversity primarily in terms of what people look like, we give credence to the idea that a person is defined by those appearances." By saying this, it was if he was undermining the purpose of why we had even decided to do a content analysis on the paper in the first place. [X]press wanted to determine how accurately we were representing our diverse campus community in our news coverage. Like many other mainstream news periodicals, we found that we had not been and now we were asking our readers to please keep us in check.

Thomas flung the paper behind his head in outrage, exclaiming that he was pissed off. He was also upset that the team of editors did not consult him about this editorial because if he would have known, he wouldn't have allowed it to run. Thomas also didn't want our readers to get the impression that this represented [X]press' true beliefs. He told Maher that what he had said was very typical of a white, straight male to say. Ironically, both editors are white, straight male college students. But obviously, one is more conscious of class, racial privilege, while the other remains color-blind, ignorant, and oblivious to his privilege.

I understand what Maher was trying to get at, that we shouldn't judge people on the basis of the color of their skin but by their ideas and perspectives. However, we can't deny the fact that we do. He went on to talk about how he strives to see people as individuals and not necessarily as the group they're part of or associate themselves with. Well, if he wants to be representative of our SF State community, the majority of students agree that race/ethnicity is really important to their identity that helps define who they are on this campus, according to SF State's Campus Climate survey, explained Jamie Newton, an SF State social psychology who I interviewed for my piece on subtle racism (Apparently, Maher didn't read my piece on subtle racism that I had written a week before). You can't disassociate an individual from his or her group(s), especially if a person defines him or herself by that group. The survey also found that a substantial number of minorities –– not more than 50 percent –– said they sometimes or often felt mistreated on campus because of their affiliation with racial, religious, or sexual orientation, etc. groups.

So now tell me that race doesn't matter.

Not to boast, but I was the one who came onto the [X]press staff as a Filipino American, a person of color, this semester talking about why diversity is important and started the hoopla on it. I pitched my stories that included people of diverse races and backgrounds and then I argued that we didn't have enough stories on the Black student population on campus and in turn, wrote one. I also found that students do experience subtle racism at SF State on a daily basis (Just because we're diverse and liberal, doesn't mean we can't be racist). Now, if I wasn't a person of color, would I have wanted to cover these stories? Probably not, because these are stories that aren't always easy for people who aren't of color to tackle and comprehend. I'm not saying that every person of color is conscious and that all those who are white aren't. Don't get me wrong, I know there are white, conscious people, who aren't afraid to acknowledge social inequalities ( i.e. my boyfriend, Jack Stephens, the founder of this blog; my editor, Ian Thomas). However, it seems to me, not being affected by the struggle is an excuse used by many white people to not address it.

To some, being color-blind may be a good thing. That race doesn't matter. But how can we ever be color-blind when race is so ingrained into our minds, daily conversations, thoughts, institutional structures, systems, ideals, how we perceive things, etcetera, etcetera? Honestly, we've been colorblind for far too long to the extent that it's blinded us to the subconscious racism and racial privilege that exists. Instead of confronting these issues, we hasten to overlook and fail to address them along with other societal inequalities that have been detrimental, yet prevalent factors within American society. We've been socialized by our institutions, media, society, to not respond to race and yet, it's one of the first things our subconscious processes when identifying, categorizing, and relating to someone.

I was very disappointed by our race package. By the end, I was the only one working on it. Why? Maybe I was just too late in turning my couple stories, maybe people just got busy focusing on other things-- but for whatever reason, it was just another example of how race and its entourage of stereotypes, assumptions, and judgments, are once again shoved onto the back burner and neglected.

I was so proud that Thomas spoke up and that the situation literally brought him to tears-- a conscious, privileged male who's attempted walk in the shoes of "the other" apart from his own. With all do respect, I can't say the same for Maher (Sidenote: Maher was willing to continue this dialogue and carry it into the next issue to better address diversity).


Saturday Beats: Violence and Family

From this week's issue of the Beat Within. To view more visit TheBeatWithin.org.

My Bro
My earliest memory of violence is when I was 10 year old. I was on the block with my brothers and they were smoking and shooting dice on the block, and these boys walked up on the dice game and told my brother to get up and bang for his life.

I was only 10 years old and I didn’t know what was going on, and one of the boys told me to run, but I stayed there, just looking at my brother, then one of one of the boys shot my brother in the head two times and the after that shot him in his back. I just looked at my brother and started to cry, but before that my brother said, “you gonna kill me in front of the the baby (me)?” He then looked at me and said, “I love you,” and they shot him.

I then ran and ran, so fast, and just cried all day, like my brother is really gone.

What really keeps me strong is that before he died he told me that he loved me and I will never forget that, that made me a beast and just stopped listening to everybody and I just don’t care no more, but I am smart about it.

I want to stay I love you Dre.

-Lil' D, 150 Crew.

My Mom Suffers The Most
My mom is the one who suffers the most because she blames herself for lettin’ me run wild in the streets. But the reason she suffers the worst is because she let me take it this far. Every time I see her, she starts cryin’. I don’t let it get to me, though, because I know she just tryin’ to get me to stop bangin’. But it’s not going to happen.

My youngest brother wants to follow my footsteps. When I talk to him, I tell him that this shit ain’t cool, but he be like, “I don’t care. I want in.” I tell him when I see him I’m going to whip his ass, and he be like, “You can try, punk.” It makes me feel good inside because I know I raised him to be a killa, but I tell him, “You betta be ready for when I get out.”

Last but not least is my newborn baby sister. Man, she’s something else. I went to see her when I was on the run because I was stayin’ in the cuts. Well, anyways, she looked at me like, “Who the hell are you?” When I tried to pick her up, she started to cry. That made me feel hella sad because I know I haven’t been there for her. But I just bury all my pain inside because when you’re doing time, you can’t show your weakness to nobody. I’m out.
-Menace U6


Police Brutality in (duh) L.A.

Angry Brown Butch blogs about (and has a video of) the recent violence during the May Day protests in L.A.:
I’d heard about the police brutality at the immigration protests in LA, but I didn’t see this footage until today. It looks like a warzone. It is a warzone - the police vs the people. It’s horrifying.

Something striking about this particular footage - even Fox News (albeit a local affiliate) showed the truth in a “fair and balanced” way. The LAPD really fucked up this time, it seems, by not only attacking the protesters, but also brutalizing members of the media, who have the ability to put the story out there and who can’t be so easily written off as unruly protesters or “anarchists.” Who knows, maybe some change will come after this. Not holding my breath, though.


Saturday Beats

Every Saturday the Double Consciousness team will be posting a piece (or two) from the weekly magazine The Beat Within (see this post to learn more and check out my girlfriend's article on The Beat Within as well).

I Messed Up
I messed up
When my pants began to sag a lil' lower
Started pushin' weight instead of the lawn
I messed up
When I began to flash my rag around
Throwin' gang sings up all over my town
I messed up
When I made my mom's cry
Said I didn't care about life,
Screw livin', I'm gonna die
I messed up
When I started livin' life like a fantasy
Disrespected, neglected, didn't care about
I messed up
When I was posted on the block all night
Seen the enemies
And it was funk on sight
I messed up
When I took the first hit of the blunt
Got in the car, ridin' big, tryna stunt
I messed up
When I didn't want to go to school no more
Put that hoodie on
And went and robbed that liquor store
I messed up
When I stopped listening to my Pops
Did a drive-by
And got away from teh cops
I messed up
When I had to carry my nine
Grand theft auto from scraper to two-seaters
I messed up
When the girl that left,
Might be the one
Did everything for me
Helped me hide when I was on the run
I messed up
When I left the football field and b-ball court
Starting playin' these females
Like my name was Too Short
I messed up
When I began to do more dirt
Caused my real loved ones a lot of pain and
I messed up
When I went from stealing to dealing
Body went numb,
So I had no felling
I messed up
When my problems came
I jsut turned to the bottle
Living life too fast,
Runnin' full throttle
Runnin' at full throttle
I messed up
When I caught this nine-year bid
Livin' like a grown man.
But I'm really just a kid.
-Big Vic, 150 Crew

Sometimes I wonder what this life's about
Sometimes I wonder why I chose this route
Sometimes I wonder why the lights are out
Sometimes I wonder why I poison the body and minds of people for the
Here I stand as a dysfunctional man
Belly-raised by a dysfuncitonal fam
Sometimes I wonder why I never follow my heart
Demons pullin' at my soul till it's ripped apart
Sometimes I wonder why we live and die by the gun
Sometimes I feel it's impossible to do right, like landing on the sun
Sometimes the streets is under pressure and guns errupt
Sometimes I wonder why you turn your back for a second, and realize
your time is up...
-Yung Cutt-e

Image From:
The Beat Within


Man! That Shit is Racist!...Against...uh...Whites

My girlfriend is doing a story for our school newspaper about institutional racism and how it plays out in our everyday reactions on campus. She opens up with an example of a teacher describing to a class about the controversy between Native American burial grounds and construction projects. Then, one of the students in class (a white female) raises her hand and says, in disbelief. "Really? They bury their own kin? I thought they ate themselves!"

Pretty messed up huh? Especially when the teacher didn't address the issue she brought up and instead just told her she was wrong and left it at that. But why I'm blogging about this is that one of the editors (who's a Chinese and Latino male) who is editing her story said she should get rid of that quote because it's racist...against whites. Huh? Excuse me?

When I first heard this in the news lab and I was pretty flabbergasted and upset. "Are you fucking kidding me?" I asked my girlfriend out loud. "Jesus Christ. That guy's an idiot! Don't listen to that shit."

This brings up a whole lot of issues that I don't really want to talk about now, especially since I'm working on a multimedia piece right now and I have to go through all of the audio and pictures that I collected over the past seven weeks. But I will say this (and I will latter expound this point in an upcoming blog):

It's interesting to note that the editor seemed to focus on the fact that my girlfriend mentioned that it was a white woman who said that comment instead of the actual racist comment it self. He saw racism where it wasn't instead of where it truly was.