I Can’t Stop Talking About Race (or Maybe I Just Won’t)

07.19.13


I was with a girlfriend earlier today and we talked about Trayvon Martin and what it means to be a young black man in America. Typically I’d refer to him as African American but my friend uses the term black and I’ll appropriate it here. My friend describes herself as multiracial, she’s used the term half black in other conversations. I’m sure, though, that people describing her would describe her as a black lady because when one of your multiple races is black that’s what people can see. This is one of the only times in our friendship that her blackness or multiethnicity has come up in conversation.

We talked about the sadness of the Zimmerman verdict and the horror of a child growing up next door to my own and being treated so differently by the community. We talked about people just not getting it and white ladies changing their avatars to hoodies but not having a single friend of any race other than their own in all of their facebook friends (and presumably in their lives). We touched upon this breathtaking essay by Amir Questlove Thompson in the NY Times where he recounts one of the many times a lady has been afraid of him and he attributes that to his blackness. More on this fear later.

A smart and self aware woman would take this opportunity to delete this post but I think we’re at a point where I need to just swan dive off this cliff and know that a body of water will appear. I’ve used black, African American, multiethnic, and white in two short paragraphs. I do not know what the right term is. I don’t know what won’t offend people and I’m seldom sure that what I’m doing is right. I can’t guarantee that no one will be upset but I know that people like me, people who appear to not be a minority, need to talk about race before more horrible things happen.

When I’m with African American friends who call themselves black I sometimes ask them if I should say black or AA. They all give me different answers, they’re all different people.

In polite society we don’t talk about people’s color. When my kids were in kindergarten I’d ask them about their day and they’d talk about a classmate. I’d ask which kid that was and they’d describe them starting with white, Asian, African American, Hispanic and then move on to hair color and other traits. By the end of elementary school they’d start with hair color and then something about who they were and finally land at race, which is arguably one of the first things we notice about one another. My son is the red head, your son is Japanese, these are things that make them easily identifiable. After establishing these things we can talk about how they both have brown eyes and impossibly long legs.

In our rush to prove ourselves as being color blind are we creating other, larger problems?

Part of me wants to console Questlove and let him know that the lady in the elevator who was afraid of him in his swank apartment building might not have only been afraid of his color. She might have just been afraid of his size (though that’s probably wrong). We all have issues. Recently I was walking in my neighborhood with ear buds in and realized that someone was walking behind me. I turned over my shoulder, got a look at him and smiled, turned forward again and started walking some more. After two turns he was still behind me and I turned once again to look at him (I wasn’t afraid, it was midday and I live in a sleepy suburb, he was a middle aged man wearing loafers and carrying a bag of Indian food) and he freaked out. He apologized, explained he wasn’t following me and then started to walk on the other side of the street.

Some things are just complicated because we are men and women. Adding race to gender issues is terrifying for everyone.

Recently a young African American man named Brian Banks was released from prison after having been falsely convicted of  raping a white girl while they were in high school. Bank’s story is no less important than Trayvon Martin’s. You can’t make it right for Banks, we are incapable of giving him back ten years of living. Would a white teenager have been convicted? Would a white teenager have been accused? Banks’ story has a happier ending than most but it needs to be told and retold.

We have a president who is making us look at race, even when we don’t want to look.

It’s not enough to have an African American Community talking about race. We all have to talk about it and stop whispering. Try having uncomfortable conversations with your friends of other races and if you don’t have any friends whose skin or hair looks very different than your own ask yourself why that happened. How did that come to be?

No one needs answers today or tomorrow but what we do need today and tomorrow is dialogue. When we all pretend that there isn’t a problem and we’re all “ooh I love everyone I’m so liberal and post racial” then we never make changes.

Today’s challenge is to talk about the different Americas we live in. Even when we are neighbors.

 

 

Tragiblogging

10.29.12

Last week was a new low for the mommybloggers. There was a tragedy in New York where two children were murdered, the details really don’t matter that much because it could have been any tragedy on any given week. It just needed to be a tragedy of a certain sort. The victim needed to be a rich white family.

Babies die, children are murdered, there are wars happening right now and oh, by the way if you live in a poor part of Los Angeles like Compton there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been affected by violent crime in the last six months.

Compton is twenty miles from my home, in the past six months 16 of it’s residents were murdered. I don’t see bloggers wringing their hands and worrying about their futures when ghetto kids die. I’m not sure who those 16 people were but it’s safe to assume that the majority of them are young black men. That’s who usually dies in Compton.

This morning there’s some coverage of a Halloween party shootout. Complete with a crime map that should make your skin crawl. The red dots represent homicides.

I don’t think a whole lot of bloggers live in these neighborhoods. In fact, in the absence of a broken navigation system I’m pretty sure bloggers wouldn’t drive through these neighborhoods. There are lovely people who live there, and there are children being raised in all areas of Los Angeles so surely there are stories to be told.

When one of these red dots is reported on the news (or more likely as part of a police blotter) I don’t see bloggers writing stories about how they need to love their kids more, keep them safe, talk about the dangers of [fill in the blank with something innocuous]. Instead we focus on a family of privilege facing tragedy because we wrongly believe that they are more like us. We somehow see these oddball slayings, these incomprehensibly tragic slayings as being more likely to affect us than the violence that poverty and a lack of education cultivate like a virus escaping petrie dish.

It’s a vile practice bloggers have taken to. I suppose we emulate the newscasts we see and hope for great search results or some misery page views. It’s easy to talk about the fear of bad things happening to upper class kids because OhMyGawdTheWorldIsDangerous.

Well, the fact of the matter is that crime is dropping in the US every year. I know it’s easier to sell fear than hope. Many folks think a little tragiblogging will build their page views, and it will… it’s a formula we all understand to be true. The problem is that when bloggers get busy tragiblogging someone else’s story that puts them in a parasitic role where they have to continue to find other people’s tragedies and make them their own. There is an audience for this to be sure. The other problem is that you have to keep upping the ante and that means waiting for more white babies to disappear or die. Or you can do some charity traveling, because when black kids need help in other countries we get compassionate quickly.

Twenty miles from my front door are dozens of red dots. Those mothers cried too.

 

For Allyson: Dr. Christopher Thomas Thompson guilty

11.2.09

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Monday found Dr. Christopher Thomas Thompson guilty of assaulting cyclists by abruptly stopping his car in front of them on a hilly Los Angeles County road last year.

The assault case of Dr. Christopher Thompson in a Los Angeles court room has come to an end. It ended with Dr. Thompson guilty of all seven counts. He is being held without bail until sentencing.

The counts are:
01 23105(A) VC RECKLESS DRIVING CAUSNG INJURY
02 243(D) PC BATTERY W/SERIOUS BODILY INJ
03 243(D) PC BATTERY W/SERIOUS BODILY INJ
04 23103(A) VC RECKLESS DRIVING HIGHWAY
05 245(A)(1) PC ASSAULT W DEADLY WEAPON/INSTR.
06 245(A)(1) PC ASSAULT W DEADLY WEAPON/INSTR.
07 203 PC MAYHEM


VeloNews Does the real reporting, go and show them some love

Walmart Once Again Bungles, Offends and Alienates

12.16.08

I don’t hate Sam Walton, I don’t hate jobbers or discounts or international trade. I don’t even hate many lawyers. I hate when corporations jump through hoops to set up faux social media (social media includes listening) in order to reach out to everywoman and then they trample us.

Literally.

There is only one thing for Walmart to do at this point in time.

Apologize.

There’s a dead man and his father had to bury him. Yes, a father buried a son so that someone could get a flat screen TV, cheap. Rather than apologize Walmart has just today taken this off their website.

Just to be sure that search engines pick this up properly, let me give you the text.

11momsscreenshot-21

Bring a buddy!!! If you guys think you can do this alone, think again people! These shoppers are die hard and they’ll run you over like there’s no tomorrow! The more you have, the better!

This comes from Kim at Hormone Colored Days. Naturally the mom who had originally posted it come through with a thoughtful comment.

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