Tag Archives: racism

Paula Deen and the Problem with the Good Ol’ Days

As you all know, the butter has hit the fan for the Paula Deen empire. Her admission of using the N-word in the past in jokes and conversation, as well as a desire to give her son a true South plantation wedding with Black servants in white suits, did her in. There is also a discrimination law suit filed by a former White employee which brought all of this into the light of day.  Paula has done her best to apologize but with sponsors dropping left and right, the damage is done.

I don’t know what is Paula in Deen’s heart. I do know what is in her cookies and cakes and that alone should be a crime, but that’s another matter. Here is the problem with all of this: how do we punish people today for wrongs which were done in the past. She said that it has been a very long time since she had used the N-word. I’m not saying all have, but if you wanted me to bet on any elderly White woman from the deep South having used a racial slur at lease once in their lifetime, the odds would be heavily in my favor. If using racial slurs isn’t part of her current behavior and she is regretful of her past ignorance, why can’t we move forward? Why is she being attacked as if this is who she is today? Our three most recent Presidents have admitted past marijuana use, yet we accept that as a misstep that no way reflects on who they are today. But when it comes to past racial ignorance (so many confuse this with racism), we are so quick to have a lynching.

We should, however, discuss a different issue coming out of this PR disaster.  Southern Whites still have this habit of romanticizing all things Dixie. Paula Deen’s desire to have a real plantation wedding, with respectful and profession Black waiters (ahem…servants) goes to the heart of this problem. In their heads, they imagine a problem-free existence of Godly folks, cold lemonade, gentlemen and ladies, large porches and beautiful homes, and happy Negroes with a sole aim to please their loving caretakers. This is what the confederate flag represents to them: all things good and right and proper. And like Paula Deen’s cooking, this dream world looks good drenched in butter and deep fried, but underneath the surface was a foundation of heartache and death. I don’t think these Whites see themselves as racists but simply desiring a better, happier past. What they fail to grasp is that loving Dixie wonderland of the good ol’ days means loving the racial system those days were built on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Evil Race Statistics and Why the NAACP is IRRELEVANT.

There are many people and organizations which dread the end of systematic racism. Fighting against racism has fueled their power and filled their coffers. One of the easiest means to perpetuate great racism conspiracies is to use statistics and leapfrog to fearful conclusions. 50% of the prison population consist of Black males; well this is obviously because white vans drive through urban cities in the middle of the night and snatch up innocent Black men with nets. It can’t be because of complex internal problems which need to be addressed? High rates of single, Black motherhood….this is only because the racist government agencies which prevent Black couples from getting marriage certificates as easily as White couples can get them.

So, USAToday yesterday published an article discussing high rate of school suspensions amongst Black students compared to others. What makes these statistics evil is that the media never provides any context but simply takes in interviews of people representing racism dependent groups, who predictably make the leapfrog conclusions which help further their agenda. When the reporter asked the leader of the NAACP of Tennessee, Gloria Sweet-Love, what she thought of the statistics, she said they were ‘appalling’. This is great as they are appalling and would her next comment be about the need to address the internal issues which are causing Black kids to get suspended? Sadly, no.

Sweet-Love believes that white teachers are more likely to deem a black student “threatening” instead of simply disobedient, and therefore more likely to “make an example” by suspending a black students.

Of course this complete ignores the large number of suspensions in schools with mostly Black teachers and administrators. It also assumes that school staff simply ignore the times Asian, Hispanic, and White students engage in fights, bring guns to school, or engage in other standard violations of school policy. But here in lies the reason why the NAACP is completely irrelevant to solving the issues afflicting the Black community. To remain popular, they ignore the obvious and spend time and effort chasing external racism ghost.  A Black kid shoots another Black kid over a pair of sneakers and nothing is mentioned. But, a Black couple gets an undercooked hamburger by a White owned restaurant and a week long protest and boycott is organized. I’m not even sure what solution race baiters could come up with if suspensions are based on systematic racism. Should 100% of the White, Hispanic, and Asian kids be suspended for fights and bringing weapons to school but only 25% of Black students? This would certainly make the statistics look better but hardly address the underlying problems. If Black America is going to make progress for the future, it won’t come from these traditional organizations dependent on creating racism monsters where there are none. Furthermore, the dangling race statistics published by media outlets amount to irresponsible journalism. It is the equivalent of yelling fire in a movie theater to see what happens.

 

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Kentucky Fried Noooooooo

Seeing the latest Fried Chicken franchise commercial got me thinking.

I know companies like to strive for diversity, and showcasing minorities in commercials is an easy way to achieve this, but I officially would like to let the fried chicken people off the hook.

 

You no longer need to feature Black people. Honestly, we know what you serve and there is no threat of mass Black vegetarianism. How about pursuing that growing Latino market? You see, there are two food groups which have been ridiculously linked to Black folks : watermelons and fried chicken. Both of these foods are of Southern origin. Back during slavery, slaves were fed such high end cuisine as the feet and intestines of pigs, tails of cows, and greens growing wild. Understandably, when foods of higher quality were given or obtained by slaves, they were consumed with great enthusiasm. Thus, I suspect that the stereotype of Blacks having some kind of maddening love with watermelons and fried chicken simply developed during observations of these ‘luxury’ items being consumed. Of course, as Blacks migrated North, they carried their accustomed cuisine taste with them, further supporting the stereotype amongst Northern Whites.

What’s always struck me as strange is that Southern Whites love fried chicken a great deal, and almost every household in the South knows how to make it. So, all of these chicken franchises must be making the bulk of their money from Northern Whites. When it comes down to it, everyone loves fried chicken. Nonetheless, I, like many other Blacks, feel slightly uncomfortable with the topic of fried chicken in public. I won’t even eat it around other Whites. Which takes be back to these commercials. Every time I see one on TV, it makes me cringe just a little inside. Dave Chapelle explains it best. Black people eating burgers…sure. Tacos?….great.  But fried chicken…please someone change the channel.

 

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A Look At Blackness In China

I find the story below very insightful. Race is a complicated thing and in places lacking any real diversity, every racial interaction is a learning experience for all. It brings out curiosity and shows our common humanity, but can also reveal deep roots of ignorance and intolerance.

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A Look At Fair Skin Obsession In India

In most places on Earth where you find brown populations, you will also find a color gradient ranging from fair to dark. Though this sometimes came about naturally as different related ethnic groups mixed, often, the fair coloring was provided by their European conquerors. A common impact of European colonialism is the desire for those conquered brown populations to have the features of their conquerors for social advancement. Lighter and Whiter means more beautiful and desired. Though you would think that such thinking would be a relic of the past, apparently it is alive and well in India.

The British were the colonial power which took control of India. The vid belows gives you the history basics.

What I didn’t know until recently was how obssessed Indian communities still are about fair skin color. In fact, on one radio program I heard recently, I learned that some people from India even avoid sun exposure unless they get a tan. The point of this is to learn more about how brown is viewed outside of America. If you are a Black person traveling to or doing business in India, you might very well be negatively judged based on the complexion of your skin. Below are some videos to give you a good sense of what’s going on.

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Oscar Night: Thoughts on Beast of the Southern Wild and Child Naming

The little actress, Quevenzhane Wallis, is thought to be a strong contender for the Best Actress award in tonight’s Academy Awards. She definitely did a great job but I want to overall say how happy I am to have an original movie with a predominately African-American cast reach this level of praise and recognition. Black movies with Oscar buzz have traditionally centered around movies retelling the lives of the famous (Ali, Ray, Malcolm X, Lady Sings the Blues), horrific events ( Hotel Rwanda, The Last King of Scotland), music (Ray, Lady Sings the Blues, Cadillac Records, Hustle and Flow, Dreamgirls), or overcoming the system (The Color Purple, The Help, Glory, The Green Mile, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, the Blind Side, etc.). Others have focused on the affects of urban decay and the broken family through action movies (Boyz In the Hood, Training Day) or dark dramas (Precious, Monster’s Ball).

What makes Beast of the Southern Wild stand out is that it forgets about all of these agendas and standbys and just relies on what makes all great movies great – storytelling. Here you have a rich, uniquely African-American story full of wonder and visuals which  takes the bold risk of going without the traditional villains of racists and the system, the crowd pleasing music and big stars, or the safe path to Oscar glory by simply recreating history. Another unique element of Beasts is the rural setting. We seem to forget about all of the Black families who don’t live in the ‘hood’ and ignore our rural community. But these communities are still prevalent, especially in the South. All of those other movies are greatly entertaining, and I think no less of them. I think because of the past oppressions of Blacks in America, many directors have been limited on what kind of stories could get a green light to be made. But Beasts of the Southern Wild is a rare treat, and I hope it is just the start of a wave of amazing, original, atypical stories coming out of our long and rich culture.

Now here is the only negative I have to say about this topic: we really need to give a lot of thought into naming our children. The young actress, Quevenzhane, has a name which means ‘fairy’ in Swahili. I’m not sure how accurate this is though since one poster of a message board who speaks Swahili said there is not a ‘Z’ nor accents in the language. Anyway, I know we have a tradition of getting creative with names or looking to African cultures for inspiration, and I’m not totally against this, BUT you have to think about a number of things before making your child’s name final:

1) Can it be pronounced in the community and country where she is going to live? It’s nice to pick a Swahili name but how many people speak Swahili in the US again? I do think if she had an easier name, she would be in more conversations as a future star. But most people only can say ‘that cute girl’ when describing her. Of course, there aren’t a lot of Barak Obama’s floating around in the US either, but the syllables and letter combinations in that name can at lease be tackled by an English speaker. Most people wouldn’t even know where to start with Quevenzhane. Even worse, the name is NOT pronounced how it is spelled. That is not fair to the girl nor the people trying to communicate with her. Now, learning that her mother’s name is Qulyndreia, perhaps it’s a family tradition but you would think someone would want to change it.

2) What are the life outcome trends for people currently having that name? Are you naming your kid a name commonly shared with CEO’s of businesses, professionals, community leaders, etc. or one commonly shared among jail populations and pole dancers?  Sorry to say but in the real world, people draw conclusions of family education level, behavior, and values based on your name. It’s not right, but many resumes have been rejected because of how decision makers feel about a name.

3) Is the spelling of the name consistent with the rules of the language? We all want out kids to be different, but if you are naming a boy Zhtaool and telling us it’s an alternative spelling of Paul, that is a YOU problem. No one should need training on new English rules just because you want to throw some letters together.

I will say that this advice is not just limited to us. White America has gotten on the bandwagon as well. It’s great that you are finding rich names by looking into your Irish and Gaelic heritage. But please stop making us struggle with the Aine’s and the Sadhbh’s. And do we really need 100 different spellings of Kaitlin.

Anyway, I hope that the ‘cute girl’ in Beast of the Southern Wild, whatever her name is, gets her shining moment tonight and more such movies will be produced.

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Jessie Jackson Jr Goes Down..Without A Peep

I am never one to look at any man’s fall from grace with pride or humor, and I do feel bad about the demons which caused Jessie Jackson Jr. to break the basic rules of ethics and campaign finance. I can understand mistakenly using funds to purchase an extra meal during a business meeting, or upgrading to first class instead of flying economy. Those are little sins. But you have some nerve buying mink coats and $40,000 Rolex watches. But the point of this article isn’t concerning what Jesse Jackson Jr. did do, but what we as the Black community didn’t do.

You have a Black leader of prominence, with a family name linked to Martin Luther King Jr. and the fight for civil rights, facing charges of corrupting and ultimately forced to resign from power. The ‘System’ could be accused once again of racial harassment and targeting. Yet, what stands out about this case is the absence of protest and rallies. There are no Black leaders throwing out racial conspiracies. All seems to be oddly quiet on the racism front actually. And I think this is a bit of a milestone. We have looked at the accusations and evidence, along with his own admission of guilt, and took it at face value. No hidden agendas. No secret racial power structures. Just a politician with his hands dirty getting justice. I think this in large part is a side effect of the Obama presidency. It’s hard to support the idea of secret racial powers controlling the strings of politics when you have a Black president serving his second term. Better yet, with President Obama seeming to serve above board, despite the extreme public scrutiny of the position, for 5 highly visible years now, perhaps our expectations and demands of the Black politician have been elevated. Growing up in Washington, DC, I was shocked when Mayor Marion Berry got reelected following a drug and prostitution scandal. My friends and neighbors strongly felt that the scandal was just a BS attempt by the powers that be to get a Black man out of office and by voting for him again, they would show who truly was boss. I have a strong feeling that this would not be possible to happen today.

Chris Rock’s comments perfectly sums it up.

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