Sept. 2007 Erase Racism Carnival

This months Erase Racism Carnival was just posted up at ReadingWritingLiving, check it out:
This carnival’s topic is Erase Racism, and you can see the many other carnivals that have been posted so far. I’ve been collecting submissions since August, and there is a great collection of thought-provoking stuff. So settle down, get comfortable, click away, read and think.


bell hooks on Popular Culture

My friend Apurva (who lives in Bengaluru (Bangalore), India and is now working for a brief time in California) sent me this video of bell hooks on popular culture in America. I just finished watching the first part and I'm about to finish the other seven parts.


Jena Six = Anti-Gay Bashing Bullies?

While reading The Republic of T. I came across a link to a LGBTQI blog called Queerty and found a post about the Jena Six in where the author states that the Jena Six were a bush of bullies and how Human Rights Campaign should focus on anti-gay crimes just as much as race crimes. While I agree HRC should focus on homophobia and heterosexism just as much as on racism the author seems to make a disturbing point in lashing out against the Jena Six. One of the commenters, SeaFlood, wrote:
This is very confusing to me. To me, it seems like… that old trick where a divide is struck between gay and B/black and never the two shall mix. It is not politically craven if he considers that… well… quiet as it is not kept… there are PLENTY of gay B/black people who are really concerned about the Jena 6 case.


...something’s really wrong with what Crain is saying…

“The “Jena 6″ are the type of macho bullies (of all races) who victimize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students (of all races) every day outside school gymnasiums across this country.”

But the Jena 6 are B/black. They are not the bullies here anyway. The bullies are the white kids and then white supremacy at the court house.

Maybe there’s something I am just not getting… seriously.


Jena Six

Pop Startled posts a good blog entry on the Jena Six with links to some news articles about the incident:
The status quo is a white dominated society. Sure, its possible to think that nooses are not racially charged when you're a white person. That comes from the unwavering idea held by most white Americans that racism is dead and that everyone is equal in our enlightened American society. However, the fact that you can see a noose and think a radically different thought than a fellow American who happens to be black shows that the status quo is actually just an imposed historical forgetfulness, an amnesia of only 1-2 generations after the struggles of the civil rights protesters and the death spasms of Jim Crow (who's ghost continues to haunt white suburbs vs black urban neighborhoods).


Racism, Sexism, Black Males and Women of Color

In response to some comments from the previous post I decided to read up a little more on stereotypes of Black males in America as well as women of color and their struggles in a patriarchal society and found some pretty neat articles that I found helpful. You can probably find most of these articles at your local library, university or college, and you local library's website.

First, some articles on Black males.

Reisig, Michael D. et. al. "The Effects of Racial Inequality on Black Male Recidivism." Justice Quarterly 24, no. 3 (Sept. 2007): 408-434.
Macrostructural opportunity theorists posit that the unequal distribution of economic resources across racial groups promotes animosities among disadvantaged minorities, disrupts community integration, and fosters criminal activity. Guided by this framework, we hypothesize that Black ex-prisoners who reenter communities with high levels of racial inequality are more likely to commit new crimes. Support for this argument is found for a large group of males (N = 34,868) released from state prisons to 62 counties in Florida over a 2-year period. We also find evidence that racial inequality amplifies the adverse effects of person-level risk factors on recidivism for Black ex-inmates. In comparison, the effect of inequality on White male recidivism is far less meaningful. These findings underscore the need for researchers to consider social context when studying recidivism among Black males, and also support the efforts of correctional reformers who advocate for state resources to assist prisoner reentry.
Gaines, Johnothan S. "Social Correlates of Psychological Distress Among Adult African American Males." Journal of Black Studies 37, no. 6 (July 2007): 827-858.
This cross-sectional research investigates social determinants of psychological distress among adult males, with a specific emphasis on African Americans. Despite a sizable body of literature indicating that members of the African American community hold less favorable attitudes toward criminal justice, including the police and court system, than do Caucasians, hardly any empirical examinations have investigated the psychological ramifications of this discontent. Utilizing a sample of 377 adult male respondents from the 1998 General Social Survey, results reveal that the effect of being an adult African American male conditions the impact of (1) socioeconomic status and (2) confidence in the courts and legal systems on psychological distress.
Patton, Tracey Owens and Julie Snyder-Yuly. "Any Four Black Men Will Do."Ibid., 859-895.
This study examines the impact of false rape charges a former Iowa State University student brought against four Black males. Using textual analysis coupled with Barthes's theory of myth, the authors critically examine how the story took hold and the communicative impact of the falsified claims of rape that affected African American men, rape survivors, and women. Using previous scholarship on rape and race (macrocontext), the authors test the scholarly conclusions on the myth of rape and race in a microcontext case study. Thus, they are interested in how the false accusation revived the myth and how Iowa State University and the local community, the regional media, and the campus police perpetuated the myth. The authors argue that racism and sexism are allowed to continue in this situation because of the preservation of White hegemonic patriarchal power. This preservation of White patriarchal hegemony is echoed in macrocontext-level conclusions.
Now onto women of color and some (of the many) issues I was able to read up on and thought would be helpful for you all.

Perez-Monforti, Jessica, et. al. "Fighting From a Powerless Space: African American Women, Latinas, and the Politics of Incarceration." Conference Papers -- Western Political Science Association, 2004 Annual Meeting.
Much of the current literature that includes an examination of crime, communities of color, and gender tend to focus solely on men of color. Therefore in this piece, we will provide an up-to-date, descriptive analysis African American women and Latinas in the United States' criminal justice system. We find that African American women and Latinas are, like their male counterparts, more likely than Anglo women to find themselves under incarceration. Despite their disproportionate representation, the experiences of women of color have been left out of the discourse and activism surrounding the increased expansion of the criminal justice system. We argue that such an approach is not only flawed, but limits our understanding of the impact of this expansion on the quest for equal voice. In particular, it prevents us from understanding the unique factors that have led to the increased incarceration of women of color. Based on this, we propose a research agenda that addresses these factors while also enhancing our understanding of contemporary barriers to democracy, equality, and representation.
Smith Andrea. "Beyond the Politics of Inclusion: Violence Against Women of Color and Human Rights." Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 4, no. 2 (April 2004): 120-124.
Discusses the anti-violence movement strategies on the premise that the criminal legal system ids the primary tool to address violence against women. Goal of anti-violence movement; Development of strategies to address violence; Implication of the failure to see intersectionality of racism and sexism.
Kim, Lili M. "'I Was [So] Busy Fighting Racism That I Didn't Even Know I was Being Oppressed as a Woman!' Challenges, Changes, and Empowerment in Teaching About Women of Color." NWSA Journal 13, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 98-111.
Shares the challenges, changes and empowerment experienced by the author in teaching women of color, one of the courses in women's studies curriculum. Aspects of feminist pedagogy; Topics discussed in the course; Ability to recognize and resist racism; Objection of students to talk about homosexuality; Interrelationship between racism, sexism, classism and homophobia.


The Brave One...To Kill Blacks With a Gun?

So I'm relaxing for a bit after studying ancient 5th century BCE Greek for my class (Greek 101) and I decide to turn on the TV. Which was probably a mistake since I always find something on the TV I can't stand, like CNN (oh God!).

As I'm watching the tube a commercial comes on for the movie The Brave One. At the beginning of the clip Jodi Foster is siting down alone in a subway car in the middle of night with no one in the car with her. All of a sudden two young (menacing) Black men (their menacing because their Black, male, and young, duh!) walk up to her. One is wearing a black and green football jersey with a sideways black cap (ah he's gangsta cause it's sideways!) and a silver chain; the other is wearing a yellow and white jacket with a black do rag on (he's gangsta cause it's a do rag!).

As they walk menacingly up to Foster the guy in yellow says in a MTV type of Ebonics talk. "Awww, dis is too eazy man!"

With that they two proceed to try and rob foster buy her quick and skilled white woman reflexes kick into action and she pulls out a gun and pumps some quick lead into the two "thugs."

Now what strikes me the most about this scene is the way the director chose to caste two young Black men for the train robbery scene. Obviously the director wanted something to convey scariness, so he chose two Black men, and the director needed to portray vulnerability, so he chose a white woman. Now in a society where for hundreds of years white woman have been used to portray innocence and chastity and Black men have been used to portray savagery and hyper-masculinity, this movie trailer does not sit to well with me.

Now before you all jump on the "oversensitive band wagon" I'm not neccesarly saying Foster is racist or that the director is racist. What I'm saying is, is that Foster and the director and casting manager, and anyone else involved in this film and who is white is not aware of their white privilege and racial history of America and is in turn unaware of their racist actions...So that means...Oh wait...Yeah, I am calling them racist! Oh well. Get over it. Plus anyone who thinks I'm being oversensitive doesn't deserve an explanation on why their comment is ignorant, but I'm getting off track here.

In a country where race was one of the biggest issues in its founding, preservation, and expansion, a scene in where a white woman is in a dangerous situation that involves a Black male is going to illicit a strong emotional response from any crowd. And mostly that crowd's response will be of fear, fear for that "poor white lady" and hatred for the "menacing Black men."

When I or anyone else talking about a system of racism and white supremacy being embedded within our country and society this is one (of the many) things we're talking about. When we watch the news or television shows like Cops normally the only time we see a Black male is when he's being chased by a cop in the ghetto or a mug shot of a "scary" Black man on the run for doing something, such as robing a bank, etc. For a white person, or really any person, seeing this every single time on the TV or in the newspaper further affects the way we perceive and think about Blacks and Black males. Couple this with movies that portray Black men as gangsters and drug dealers we get an image stuck in our head of what a Black man is. Even movies that try to highlight the imense poverty and racism that Blacks have to deal with everyday, such as Boyz n the Hood, even end up reenforcing these negative stereotypes.

Now couple this with the history of using the hyper-violent and hyper-sexual Black man attacking or "ravaging" a white woman to instill fear and hatred in the white populace you can see how these modern day stereotypes are actually just the bastard step-child of the older, but as equally racist, image of the Black man attacking and raping the white woman in the film Birth of a Nation.

So when the director and producer were trying to convey a scene of vulnerability and fear what was running through their mind when they decided to caste Foster and two young Black men? The answer isn't that they just randomly decided to caste a white woman for the role of Erica (the character) and two young Black men for the role of subway attackers. The answer is much deeper than that and lies in the history of our country, our race relations, and the answer lies in the construction of whiteness and the continual propping up of the white race in our country today.

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