Spreading the Holiday Racism…Courtesy of Right Wing Conservatives

‘Tis the season to be jolly…or as right wing conservatives would have it: ’tis the season to be racist and to spread hatred.  Humanevents.com, a website which deems itself as the “headquarters of the conservative underground” is promoting the right wing’s newest shot at sick, racist humor, a holiday song parody titled “Illegals in my Yard”, which is set to the tune of “Feliz Navidad”.  The song is rampant with Latino stereotypes as drunken freeloaders who escaped from border patrol and are out to spread disease and to take down Lou Dobbs (you can view the lyrics here, but please keep a brown bag nearby, as you may just hurl).

“Feliz Navidad” was originally written and composed by Jose Feliciano who intentionally used both English and Spanish for his holiday song, as a way to “create a bridge between two wonderful cultures during the time of year in which we hope for goodwill toward all.”  Leave it to the right wing to take this well-intentioned Christmas song and turn it into a way to spread their hateful, racist agenda. 

Earlier in the year, the Republican National Committee released a “humorous” parody of “Puff the Magic Dragon”, and called it “Barack the Magic Negro”.  Though there was considerable backlash from those who saw past the “oh it’s just fun and games” excuse, the RNC refused to apologize.  Why apologize?  It’s just the right wing conservatives’ miserably failed attempt at “humor”.  There is unlikely any feelings of shame or remorse coming from the right wing for creating and circulating such parodies of popular songs.  According to right wing conservatives, racist “humor” is apparently alright, so long as it is “humor” aimed towards Latino Americans and African Americans.  And, if you cannot laugh at it and brush it off as good fun and humor, you must not be able to take a joke, right?  You must not be funny, and you must not have a sense of humor, right?

How do we address this type of “humor”, especially when it is created and perpetuated by those men who are racially, economically and authoritatively in posititions of power?  If they refuse to recognize and confront their own racism due to an enormous sense of hubris and denial, how do we respond?  Though the answers to these questions are difficult, they are important for us to discuss.  So I open this up to you: how do we deal with this particular type of racism?

Leave a comment

Filed under National Racism

Sarah Palin’s Got a Fear of Asians

Former governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has a fear of Asians and Asian Americans.  In an article reported on the Huffington Post:

Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, gave a different account to Conroy and Walshe. According to him, the presence of so many Asians and Pacific Islanders made her uncomfortable: “They were a minority type thing and it wasn’t glamorous, so she came home.”

Palin, who attended four different universities and colleges to complete her Bachelor’s, felt uncomfortable in Hawaii, whose population primarily consists of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.  She felt out of place in a state where white was not the majority.  In recalling her undergraduate experiences, Palin claimed to have most preferred her last school of attendance, the University of Idaho, which she considered “much like Alaska yet still ‘Outside.’ ”  In other words, Palin feels most comfortable at a place populated by a majority of white people — people she deemed to be just like her.

All this is coming from a former governor of Alaska, a former vice presidential candidate of the Republican party.  Palin, who embodies the socially conservative views, ideas and beliefs of the Republican party, appeals to those who also identify as Republican.  It’s only evidence to believe that the Republican party as a whole is falling further and further away from what the founding fathers had envisioned the party to be — a political party who in its earliest years had leaders who believed in and fought for civil rights — into a party of moral decline and social regression; a party whose values and actions are slowly becoming synonymous with white nationalism.

1 Comment

Filed under National Racism

Recession Racism

On November 30, the New York Times posted an interesting article titled “In Job Hunt, College Degree Can’t Close Racial Gap“.  Overall, it was an informative and useful article in identifying the tremendous amounts of racial discrimination in the workplace that still is rampant in the United States, as well as painting a portrait of pity for the African American men interviewed for the article.  What this NY Times article is lacking, however, is the recognition of why this racial disparity in hiring practices continues to exist.  Instead of explaining why this problem exists, the article does a fantastic job of tiptoeing around it, stating:

“Discrimination in many cases may not even be intentional, some job seekers pointed out, but simply a matter of people gravitating toward similar people, casting about for the right “cultural fit,” a buzzword often heard in corporate circles.

There is also the matter of how many jobs, especially higher-level ones, are never even posted and depend on word-of-mouth and informal networks, in many cases leaving blacks at a disadvantage. A recent study published in the academic journal Social Problems found that white males receive substantially more job leads for high-level supervisory positions than women and members of minorities.”

It’s painfully obvious from this excerpt, and from the article as a whole, why an accomplished person of color is at a grave disadvantage when applying for a job in this country.  Not only is the country’s current ‘recession’ a factor in the grim employment rate of people of color, but the fact that corporate America relies on institutionalized racism ensures that the grim employment rate of people of color stays just that.  America’s richest and most successful has been built on the backs of people of color, all the while denying those people truly equal opportunity to achieve, or at least to make a decent living in a respectable job.  Until we are able to admit that the reason we have such an enormous racial gap in the workplace due to a system of institutionalized racism controlled by a few powerful white elites, this disadvantageous gap will continue to exist.

1 Comment

Filed under National Racism

Thanksgiving: A Celebration of White Supremacy and Mass Genocide

Thanksgiving is an annual holiday celebrated by a fairly large number of Americans.  It’s usually marked by an oven-roasted turkey, golden corn, a hot apple pie and warm family gatherings.  We’ve all heard the myth of why we celebrate Thanksgiving; the Pilgrims settled in New England, and after a long, unusually harsh winter, celebrated with the Native Americans by sharing with each other fresh crops and warming hearts with honest thanks.  Thanksgiving has become a day where we recall this myth as we sit around our dining room tables with our families, reminding each other to ‘be thankful’ for what we can call our own.  Then we over-indulge our gluttonous desires with comfort foods and feel the effects of tryptophan take over our bodies…

In recent years, I’ve began to wonder: is Thanksgiving really celebrating the coming-together of Pilgrims and Native Americans in a fun, heartwarming feast of thanks and wonder?  Given the bloody, genocidal past of United States’ history, I became skeptical and decided to investigate.

Many Americans (particularly those white Americans in power…those who rewrite American history and create capitalist Hallmark holidays) believe in the myth of Thanksgiving and give it no second thought as they generously help themselves to Betty Crocker mashed potatoes.  They probably prefer to keep it that way, as is seen generation after generation of school children who come home from school with their paper turkeys, eager to tell their parents about how wonderful the Pilgrims were for inviting the Indians to join them in a feast of thanks giving.  What’s the harm in ruining this tradition of false teachings and beliefs?

The truth of the matter is: the first Thanksgivings were celebrations of victory by the white man who mercilessly slaughtered nations of Native Americans in their conquest of what is now the United States.  In their mission to fulfill Manifest Destiny, the white man wiped out thousands and thousands of Native peoples, audaciously celebrating each bloody scalping, murder, and rape by having feasts on their newly stolen land, over the dead bodies of their victims.  The truth of the matter is: following the mass genocide of Native Americans solely at the hands of the white man on a rampage to spread white supremacy, the white man (as capitalist history writers) needed a way to make what they have done appear not so bad.  They needed something to cover up their massacres and make them the heroes in the end.  Thus came the invention of Thanksgiving as we know it today: a Hallmark holiday and family tradition in which the kid-friendly version of Thanksgiving’s origin thrives and fools Americans into blindly celebrating mass genocide.

Leave a comment

Filed under National Racism

Happy Halloween?

Though there are many different versions of Halloween’s origins, we can mostly all agree that the occasion has evolved into a day on which both children and adults dress up in an enormous variety of costumes.  These costumes typically range in scope from funny to scary to imaginative; traditionally, costumes of clowns, cartoon characters, zombies, witches and wizards can usually be seen worn on Halloween — costumes in good humor and good taste.  However, since I’ve become more well versed in sociology, and more apt to observe the world around me, I have been noticing in the past few Halloweens — and this year’s Halloween in particular — just how distasteful, and downright insulting and racist some of these new costumes are. 

Since when is dressing up as another ethnicity, race, or stereotype an acceptable Halloween costume?  Browsing this year’s Halloween stores, such as the big chain iParty, Spirit, and Party City, as well as through online retailers offering Halloween costumes, such as Amazon.com, I can’t help but be absolutely appalled at how many different “ethnic” costumes I encountered.  Such costumes included “Native American Maid”, “Sexy Indian”, “Geisha Girl”, “Dragon Samurai”, “China Woman”, “Hot Japanese Woman”, “Sexy Spanish Senorita”, “Latina Dancer”, “Arab Sheikh”, “Arabian Dancer”, “Street Thug”, and by far, the most offensive, “Illegal Alien”.  Since when can a person freely decide to pick an ethnic category or stereotype and “be it” for Halloween?  Since when is it acceptable to consume culture and ethnicity in this way? 

Not only has Halloween completely capitalized on the idea of temporarily transforming a person’s ethnicity into another by quickly throwing on some cheaply made garbs made to look authentic, but in doing this and marketing it as acceptable, has made the entire notions of ethnicity, heritage, and race, as well as the seriousness of the problematic stereotypes that accompany such notions, a complete mockery.  This mockery has become so prevalent and accepted by mainstream American (read: white) society, that even supermodel turned television series producer, Tyra Banks, thought it a wondrous idea to transform her model-hopefuls into different races for their photoshoots, simply by applying darker make-up to the white and Asian American women’s faces (as seen on a recent episode of America’s Next Top Model). 

Though many may argue that there is no harm in dressing up as someone else’s ethnicity or a racist stereotype, and that it is all in “good fun”, the truth is, there is much harm in perpetuating this type of racism.  By allowing this sort of “covert” racism to continue, we are not only sending the message, but also inadvertently embracing the idea, that if a person’s skin tone does not deem them “white” by American standards, then that person is by default, susceptible to not being taken seriously at all.  By default, then, this person who is deemed not “white” by American standards, is a fair shot at mockery and racist cultural consumption by mainstream America.

Leave a comment

Filed under National Racism

Cyber Racism, Part I

The University of Connecticut lost a student athlete last week.  Jasper Howard, a junior cornerback, was fatally stabbed to death on the Storrs campus on October 18th.  His suspected murderer (John William Lomax) is now being held on bond for $2 million; two other young men (Hakim Muhammad and Jamal Todd) who were present at the stabbing were also arrested.  There are various sources (Associated Press, ESPN, the Courant, and many more, I’m sure, if you use the Google search engine) that cover the tragic event in detail, offering updates as they become available.  As unfortunate as this senseless murder is, all the racism that is being spewed after the fact makes the entire tragedy all the more devastating.

Racism that is spewed online via message boards and/or comment sections of websites, or even freely on independently operated websites, is called cyber racism.  Racist words and thoughts that are freely spoken on the internet fall under the category of cyber racism.  Individuals spitting hateful, racist words while hiding behind the comfort of their computer screens are avidly contributing to cyber racism.  Cyber racism is one of the biggest things to have come out of Howard’s untimely and unfortunate murder.

When I browsed my various favorite blogs and news sources in the past few days, up until today, I noticed a number of them reporting the story of Jasper Howard.  After reading the story on each site, I proceeded to browse the comments sections following the story.  I was appalled, but sadly, unsurprised, at the huge amounts of cyber racism I encountered.  Racism directed at both the perpetrators of the crime and at the victim was posted by all sorts of seemingly ordinary people typing hate-filled words and thoughts, while sitting safely hidden behind a computer screen.  Racist words claiming “now my taxpayer dollars will provide these criminals with free housing and 3 meals a day”, “these thugs have it better in jail than in the ghetto because now they can live and eat for free while smuggling their drugs in for free”, and “affirmative action allows thugs to get into college” were common on the comments sections I encountered.  Now I am no statistician, but I am confident to say that a large percentage — I would say the majority — of the comments left by “anonymous” individuals were of the racist sort.

My question amidst all this tragedy and hatred is: what is about cyber racism that makes it so appealing to racists to perpetuate?  It could be the fact that very little is done to reprimand those who participate in acts of cyber racism, or that there is too little regulation on what an individual or organization is allowed to say online.  It could be the fact that too many cyber racists overemphasize the “right to free speech” to justify their hatred and racism, not understanding that there are boundaries to that right, especially when that right infringes on someone else’s right to freedom [to live a stressfree life, to live without fear, etc etc].  It could be the fact that it is not an easy task to track down exactly who is saying what behind the screen names that appear on these website message boards and comments sections.  I don’t exactly know what it is that is making cyber racism so appealing and easy to perpetuate, but I do know that it must stop.  There should not be a ‘free pass’ to those who are “tolerant of all races” in public, but go home and unleash their “inner racist” in the cyber world.  We should not tolerate this. 

There is no excuse as to why this cyber racist behavior is acceptable anywhere.  There is no excuse as to why, following the tragic murder of a young, ambitious student athlete, there are racists hiding behind computer screens who blame the victim.

Leave a comment

Filed under National Racism

Miscegenation in 2009?

On October 15, the Associated Press reported the story of a Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple.  (The full story can be viewed here: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jy_z-Zo4fvJEf2TK1LCiiPIe9NDwD9BBNUJ80)

According to this reporting, the justice of the peace justified his refusal to marry the interracial couple based solely on his own “experience” that “most interracial couples do not last long”, further adding that he does not want to “put children [of the interracial couple] in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves”.  He is not a racist though, he claims, because he does “ceremonies for black couples” in his own house, and that despite having denied a couple a marriage license due to the fact that their skin tones do not match, he tries to “treat everyone equally”. 

The facts that make up this story are profoundly disturbing.  We can discuss and analyze in depth all the facts that make this story so problematic and disturbing, but we will only examine two of the most obvious.  The first circles around ideas of miscegenation, and the second around the widespread claim made by racists that they are not racists.

Since the very early days of colonization and development of what we know now as the United States of America, there has been a live fear of dark others.  Following the invention of race by Anglo-Saxons, who proudly took on the title of White, and therefore, better than anyone else deemed not White, grew a fear of some sort of genetic takeover of non-Whites (aka the dark others).  The fear stemmed from the idea that the White race was the pure race, and that any “interbreeding” with a non-pure (or more accurately phrased: inferior) race would result in the dying out of the pure White race.  Thus came horrific things like the Eugenics movement, ‘ethnic cleansing’, the rise and popularity of White Supremacist groups, and miscegenation laws.  Beginning in the 1800s, these miscegenation laws made it illegal for two people of differing races to procreate, marry, or even maintain relationships.  The fear of mixing races was so strong and ingrained in White America that it was not until 1967 (that’s thirty two years ago…very recently in history) that the last of the miscegenation laws were banned on the premise that it is unlawful for the government to dictate who a person can and cannot choose to marry.  It took until just thirty two years ago for the United States government to declare one of the many racist laws unlawful. 

The justice of the peace who refused to marry this Louisiana couple claims to not be a racist because he has married black couples in his career.  A person is not deemed a non-racist simply because he can co-exist with people of other races.  He is not deemed a non-racist because he “has black friends” or “works with black people”.  A person can be tolerant of a particular race or group of ethnic people, but that alone does not make him not a racist.  Racism stems from beliefs and inherent benefits and privileges of a person that said person does not necessarily recognize.  It stems from a bigger reality, one that is rooted in a country’s racist history, and modern day racist institutions that continue to thrive off relentless oppression of racial “others”.  Indulging in such racist institutions, and then turning around to claim non-racism based on the fact that there so happens to be a black man in the neighborhood who everyone pretends to be color blind around does not make a person not a racist. 

Neither does spewing racist comments and claims such as the ones this Louisiana jusice of the peace make.  He claims a handful of “statistics” to justify his own racism, most of which are “evidence” of interracial couples being unstable, and of the children of interracial couples more prone to suffer from discrimination and single parent households.  The fact of the matter is, there is no research or data for these claims to hold any truth.  If a child of an interracial couple does suffer from discrimination, or if an interracial couple is unstable, it is due to racism.  It is racism that is posing the greatest risk to children and to couples of color or of mixed race, which gives us more reason to fight against people like this Louisiana justice of the peace.  It gives us more reason to not sit back and just listen to such blatant racism be spewed and perpetuated.  It gives us more reason to speak out against racist words, thoughts and actions so that two people in love can be married and begin a family, regardless of perceived race.

1 Comment

Filed under National Racism