lnthefade:

Screen shot from a New York Times article.
No angel.
When I was 18, I was no angel. Hell, when I was 15, 16, 17, I was no angel. When I was 13, I stole change out of cars that were parked in the church lot for bingo night. By 14 I was smoking pot every day. I got caught shoplifting at Korvette’s and spent an hour being interrogated by security before they called my mother to pick me up. I cut holes in the pockets of my winter parka to make it easier to steal candy from 7-11. I sold joints to my fellow classmates at Holy Trinity High School. I had rough patches. I cut out of school to drink alcohol. I listened to angry and vulgar punk rock. I often got into fights with kids from the neighboring town.
So all those times when Officer Goldberg stopped me as I walking down the street and asked where I was going and what I was doing, he would be justified in shooting me because I was a troubled kid with a questionable past?
See, all those things were not relevant. Because Officer Goldberg didn’t know any of those things about me beforehand. And even if he did, they had no relevance on the fact that I happened to be walking down the street on any given evening.
Someone’s history does not always define their present. Being a “troubled” kid who once climbed over a baby gate or wrote on the walls in their house with pencils does not mean one deserves to die in a hail of bullets at the hand of a police officer. And it’s odious for anyone to imply as such, especially in a major newspaper on the day of the dead boy’s funeral.
The media suddenly seems to be in bed with the Ferguson police, posthumously trying Michael Brown for the crime of being young and black while walking in the street, bringing his past into the present. Calling him “no angel” has big implications, none of them good. 
We’re all “no angels” in one way or another. No one is perfect. No one has a past clear of any transgressions, even the smallest ones. No one should have to carry the burden of their past with them when they’re doing nothing more dangerous than walking down a street. Because Darren Wilson knew nothing about Michael Brown when he confronted him. When he killed him.
And we shouldn’t be learning these things about him now, like this. It’s unfair.


This is how decades of working the refs to be “fair” to bigots works.
It certainly helps that opting for “fairness” for dead black boys is always a default whereas if he was white, no ill would be spoken of him.

lnthefade:

Screen shot from a New York Times article.

No angel.

When I was 18, I was no angel. Hell, when I was 15, 16, 17, I was no angel. When I was 13, I stole change out of cars that were parked in the church lot for bingo night. By 14 I was smoking pot every day. I got caught shoplifting at Korvette’s and spent an hour being interrogated by security before they called my mother to pick me up. I cut holes in the pockets of my winter parka to make it easier to steal candy from 7-11. I sold joints to my fellow classmates at Holy Trinity High School. I had rough patches. I cut out of school to drink alcohol. I listened to angry and vulgar punk rock. I often got into fights with kids from the neighboring town.

So all those times when Officer Goldberg stopped me as I walking down the street and asked where I was going and what I was doing, he would be justified in shooting me because I was a troubled kid with a questionable past?

See, all those things were not relevant. Because Officer Goldberg didn’t know any of those things about me beforehand. And even if he did, they had no relevance on the fact that I happened to be walking down the street on any given evening.

Someone’s history does not always define their present. Being a “troubled” kid who once climbed over a baby gate or wrote on the walls in their house with pencils does not mean one deserves to die in a hail of bullets at the hand of a police officer. And it’s odious for anyone to imply as such, especially in a major newspaper on the day of the dead boy’s funeral.

The media suddenly seems to be in bed with the Ferguson police, posthumously trying Michael Brown for the crime of being young and black while walking in the street, bringing his past into the present. Calling him “no angel” has big implications, none of them good. 

We’re all “no angels” in one way or another. No one is perfect. No one has a past clear of any transgressions, even the smallest ones. No one should have to carry the burden of their past with them when they’re doing nothing more dangerous than walking down a street. Because Darren Wilson knew nothing about Michael Brown when he confronted him. When he killed him.

And we shouldn’t be learning these things about him now, like this. It’s unfair.

This is how decades of working the refs to be “fair” to bigots works.

It certainly helps that opting for “fairness” for dead black boys is always a default whereas if he was white, no ill would be spoken of him.

race relations on Mad Men.

White people awkwardly hugging black secretaries.

in order to make this seem less weird, let me first point out that "B" is black.

B:
So what are you? I mean, what's your background

me:
Half-white, half black.

B:
I thought so! You look like a light-skinned black man, all your features. I thought it when we were introduced, but that's kinda rude to say right off the bat.

me:
I was actually timing you. Knowing we recognize our own, I was wondering how long it would take.

B:
I knew it right away.

me:
Of course. Everyone does. But I'm always curious to see how long it takes people to get over their initial fear of asking.

theatlantic:

Fear of a Black President

Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police. And hence Barack Obama’s insisting that there was no racial component to Katrina’s effects; that name-calling among children somehow has the same import as one of the oldest guiding principles of American policy—white supremacy. The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation—that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially—or seemingly not at all—by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.
Obama’s first term has coincided with a strategy of massive resistance on the part of his Republican opposition in the House, and a record number of filibuster threats in the Senate. It would be nice if this were merely a reaction to Obama’s politics or his policies—if this resistance truly were, as it is generally described, merely one more sign of our growing “polarization” as a nation. But the greatest abiding challenge to Obama’s national political standing has always rested on the existential fact that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin.

Read more. [Image: Bill Sanderson]

The best long read I’ve tackled in a long time.

theatlantic:

Fear of a Black President

Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police. And hence Barack Obama’s insisting that there was no racial component to Katrina’s effects; that name-calling among children somehow has the same import as one of the oldest guiding principles of American policy—white supremacy. The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation—that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially—or seemingly not at all—by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.

Obama’s first term has coincided with a strategy of massive resistance on the part of his Republican opposition in the House, and a record number of filibuster threats in the Senate. It would be nice if this were merely a reaction to Obama’s politics or his policies—if this resistance truly were, as it is generally described, merely one more sign of our growing “polarization” as a nation. But the greatest abiding challenge to Obama’s national political standing has always rested on the existential fact that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin.

Read more. [Image: Bill Sanderson]

The best long read I’ve tackled in a long time.

I…I just….I mean, I can’t….

JESUS CHRIST, WHITE PEOPLE. 

Sigh. The Easter egg Weiner includes is also necessary:

Sigh. The Easter egg Weiner includes is also necessary:

thedailywhat:

Marketing Campaign of the Day: As if it weren’t enough that North Carolina already doesn’t recognize same-sex unions, the state votes next Tuesday on a ballot measure that reads: “Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized by this State.”
This ad campaign, by Winston-Salem agency The Variable, plays on segregation-era discrimination to shock voters into voting down the offensive legislation, called Amendment 1: “On May 8th, make history. Don’t repeat it.”
Yes, please.
[adsoftheworld]

And this is the type of campaign that makes some people spit blood.
Listen, I understand the metaphorical value of comparing discrimination of gay people today to black people under Jim Crow laws — even though black people were supposed to be equal under the law, states put laws in place that did everything but allow that. I get it.
I fully support marriage equality and think what N.C.’s doing is repulsive — BUT IT’S NOT LIKE YOU ACTUALLY HAD TO USE SEPARATE RESTROOMS OR DRINKING FOUNTAINS. YOU COULD HIDE BEING GAY. IT WAS FUCKING AWFUL AND NOT ANYTHING ANYONE SHOULD GO THROUGH, BUT YOU COULD PASS THROUGH SOCIETY BEING GAY OR LESBIAN. YOU COULDN’T HIDE BEING BLACK. YOU COULDN’T HIDE THE THING THAT MADE WHITE PEOPLE FORCE YOU OUT OF RESTAURANTS, HOTEL ROOMS, AND SHUNTED OFF BY REALTORS WHO WOULDN’T SELL A HOME TO YOU IN A CERTAIN NEIGHBORHOOD. YOU CAN’T FUCKING HIDE THE SKIN COLOR THAT DROVE WHITE MEN TO PUT ALL SORT OF ONEROUS GRANDFATHER CLAUSES, POLL TAXES, AND LITERACY TESTS IN PLACE TO DENY YOU A RIGHT TO VOTE.
Was there a black person working on this ad campaign at all? Because I understand the point they’re trying to make — it’s just clumsily done and with no respect to what my family members and many others actually went through decades ago.
(P.S. never mind that there could be a sizable number of people who really do agree with the image above and want to see it put in place.)

thedailywhat:

Marketing Campaign of the Day: As if it weren’t enough that North Carolina already doesn’t recognize same-sex unions, the state votes next Tuesday on a ballot measure that reads: “Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized by this State.”

This ad campaign, by Winston-Salem agency The Variable, plays on segregation-era discrimination to shock voters into voting down the offensive legislation, called Amendment 1: “On May 8th, make history. Don’t repeat it.”

Yes, please.

[adsoftheworld]

And this is the type of campaign that makes some people spit blood.

Listen, I understand the metaphorical value of comparing discrimination of gay people today to black people under Jim Crow laws — even though black people were supposed to be equal under the law, states put laws in place that did everything but allow that. I get it.

I fully support marriage equality and think what N.C.’s doing is repulsive — BUT IT’S NOT LIKE YOU ACTUALLY HAD TO USE SEPARATE RESTROOMS OR DRINKING FOUNTAINS. YOU COULD HIDE BEING GAY. IT WAS FUCKING AWFUL AND NOT ANYTHING ANYONE SHOULD GO THROUGH, BUT YOU COULD PASS THROUGH SOCIETY BEING GAY OR LESBIAN. YOU COULDN’T HIDE BEING BLACK. YOU COULDN’T HIDE THE THING THAT MADE WHITE PEOPLE FORCE YOU OUT OF RESTAURANTS, HOTEL ROOMS, AND SHUNTED OFF BY REALTORS WHO WOULDN’T SELL A HOME TO YOU IN A CERTAIN NEIGHBORHOOD. YOU CAN’T FUCKING HIDE THE SKIN COLOR THAT DROVE WHITE MEN TO PUT ALL SORT OF ONEROUS GRANDFATHER CLAUSES, POLL TAXES, AND LITERACY TESTS IN PLACE TO DENY YOU A RIGHT TO VOTE.

Was there a black person working on this ad campaign at all? Because I understand the point they’re trying to make — it’s just clumsily done and with no respect to what my family members and many others actually went through decades ago.

(P.S. never mind that there could be a sizable number of people who really do agree with the image above and want to see it put in place.)

The thing that sucks about Girls and Seinfeld and Sex and the City and every other TV show like them isn’t that they don’t include strong characters focusing on the problems facing blacks and Latinos in America today. The thing that sucks about those shows is that millions of black people look at them and can relate on so many levels to Hannah Horvath and Charlotte York and George Costanza, and yet those characters never look like us. The guys begging for money look like us. The mad black chicks telling white ladies to stay away from our families look like us. Always a gangster, never a rich kid whose parents are both college professors. After a while, the disparity between our affinity for these shows and their lack of affinity towards us puts reality into stark relief: When we look at Lena Dunham and Jerry Seinfeld, we see people with whom we have a lot in common. When they look at us, they see strangers.

Cord Jefferson in Gawker on the Girls kerfuffle and what whitewashing in television really adds up to.

This blog has been a little monomaniacal on the subject of a political commonwealth recently, and that’s only because a political commonwealth is the only vehicle we have to break out of the habits of oligarchy. We have to stop dreaming of wealth. We have to stop behaving as though a self-governing republic should operate on the same principles as a state lottery, where its benefits come to us only by blind chance. We have to start seeing each other in Deborah Stevens. We have to start seeing ourselves in the Kalonjis, and not calling the cops on them. We have to look beyond simply putting one foot in front of the other to get through the day and start thinking about why that effort is getting harder and harder. We are all we have left.

Charlie Pierce weaves a central theme on the story of a woman who’s suing the former employer who fired her after the former donated a kidney to the latter and an African couple wrongly arrested after the people in the neighborhood they’d bought a house in thought they were breaking into it.

Two Americas, and What to Do About Them - Esquire

Adding to the uncertainty and flux was the sense among some residents that this secured community was no longer so secure. There had been burglaries; at least seven in 2011, according to police reports. Strangers had started showing up, said Frank Taaffe, 55, a marketing specialist, originally from the Bronx, who works out of his home in the Retreat. He made it clear that he was not talking about just any strangers. “There were Trayvon-like dudes with their pants down,” Mr. Taaffe said.

From this lengthy but worth reading NYT piece on the Martin case. As Ta-Nehisi Coates noted, it’s amazing how much at ease Frank Taaffe is with casual racism, but that would not make him the first nor the last. It is why I remember my mother telling me I was lucky to have my father’s complexion when I would complain about not looking more like her.

Situations like these remind you that it’s not even been 50 years since black folks became full people in the eyes of the law (the Voting Rights Act), never mind the unspoken and de facto discrimination that still goes on.

It Is Never About Race. All those people arguing down through the years that the Civil War was about dueling conceptions of nationhood, or a clash of incompatible economic systems, or the ramifications of the 10th Amendment were all arguing, after all, that It Was Not About Race. Massive Resistance in the South in the 1960’s was about resistance to overweening federal power because It Was Not About Race. The Wallace campaigns, and the politically profitable adoption by modern conservatism of the leftover tropes and trappings of American apartheid was about the embattled white middle-class in the North and not About Race because It Is Never About Race. Ronald Reagan kicked off his campaign talking about states rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi, not far from where they dug three civil rights workers out of a dam, because he wanted to show that a new paradigm had been established in American constitutional history, and it was not About Race because It Is Never About Race. Amadou Diallo was Not About Race. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, which tracks such things, dozens of children are currently serving sentences of life without parole, of whom two-thirds of them are children of color, as a result of laws passed by legislators wanting to look tough on crime, and those statistics are not skewed because of race because It Is Never About Race. George Zimmerman saw a black kid with a hoodie and gave chase with his gun in his hand. But that was not about race, because Joe Oliver and the Sanford police and the oh-so-very fair-minded media are telling us, hell, don’t worry, It Is Never About Race.

Charles P. Pierce.

The ‘Color-Blind’ Delusions of the Trayvon Backlash - Esquire

Basic Fact: And, by the way, there is nothing worse than being both a bigot and a f*ck-up. So for God’s sake leave the poor Sikhs alone. Few Muslim men wear turbans, so if you see someone with a turban and a beard, he is likely from Indian Punjab and not a Muslim. I mean, you shouldn’t be bothering Muslims either, but your sad ass is definitely going to clown hell if you shoot down a Sikh because you mistook him for a Muslim.

Juan Cole reiterates the obvious.

Basic Facts on Clothing and Murder for American Bigots | Informed Comment

Cole writes on Kony 2012, Invisible Children, and why we really need to think before we demand action on countries we don’t know a whole lot about.

What stuns you about this “joke” is the sheer embrace of cruelty. Here is a woman who lost her life to cancer. And what touches your heart is imagining her son as the product of bestiality. Though less crudely stated, this embrace of cruelty is arguably the dominant feature of the present conservative movement. It has been repeatedly expressed in alleged “humor.” The assertion of a right of judgement over the First Lady’s physical person, for instance.Or watermelon patches on the front lawn. Or Obama waffles. There is little distance from that kind of cruelty to aspirin between one’s legs and from aspirin between one’s legs to transvaginal probes .

Ta-Nehisi Coates, on the idiotic and racist “joke” a federal judge on Montana passed along about the president’s father being a dog and the predictable half-apology when confronted with it.

One step we would suggest is for ESPN to demand that its writers and on-air talent find richer language and fresher turns of phrase. We’d be happy never to read or hear “chink in the armor” again on ESPN. That has nothing to do with political correctness or the possibility of an innocent phrase being misconstrued. Rather, it’s that the descriptive power of that phrase was leached away by overuse decades ago, and it’s now just clichéd noise — and a sign of someone on cruise control.

Reflections on ESPN’s apologies, actions - Poynter Review Project Blog Blog - ESPN

One of my big things about Poynter is that their folks seem to have spent so much time teaching journalism and media ethics that it’s been too long since they practiced it — and this bit in its latest column for ESPN.com on the Jeremy Lin headline incident proves it. 

Never mind that ESPN traffics in cliché in general — please see all those anchor catchphrases we knew and loved from Patrick, Olbermann, Levy, Steiner, Mayne, Kilborn, Eisen among others (and in Berman’s case, loathed) — but obviously the Poynter folks have not sat in on a television news consultant meeting or a writers’ workshop (one usually led by management) in a long, long time.

The first thing consultants and many managers will drill out of a writer is interesting vocabulary because we are writing for people who are not our peers and thus do not traffic in our vocabulary and/or references. This is actually useful advice: it helps the writer to write like someone would speak, but the flip side is that new and interesting turns of phrase are actively discouraged while cliché is disdained at the same time. (I have received a list of suggested “phrases to avoid” or outright banned terms at every place I’ve worked at, and at past stations, I’ve even been told I’m writing for children.)

This leads to mordant jokes about trying to work in words with more the four syllables. (One of my co-workers and I had one of them yesterday: I joked about using “audacious” while he wanted to use “cavalcade.”) In essence, you go back on tired phrases and writing two sentences when one is perfectly fine because you don’t want to lose the viewer. So on a deadline when time is tight, you’re going to churn out the first phrase you can — and the temptation is even worse on the graveyard shift. (This is not to defend Anthony Federico or Max Bretos: that alarm bell about “chink” ought to ring loudly, though Bretos’ case seems very harsh because there are good odds he’s ad-libbing.)

N.B. I really, really wish the Poynter contributors listed on the right would assign bylines for the individual column or blog. It really seems even more distant and institutional for a royal “we” without any idea of who’s really talking here and why he or she has come to the conclusions he or she has.

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