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01

Apr

THIS WEEK IN WHITENESS: Shaken Bottles (1-04-12)

1 April, 2012

Although gags abound in celebration of April Fool’s day, the compilation of headlines today are no laughing matter.

Before we start, we’d like to highlight a headline from last week:

Last week in whiteness, Canada’s Supreme Court took a surprising but excellent turn for the better when it solidified legislation that would work in favor of indigenous Canadian Indians facing convictions. Judge Louis LeBel was quoted as saying:

“When sentencing an aboriginal offender, courts must take judicial notice of such matters as the history of colonialism, displacement, and residential schools and how that history continues to translate into lower educational attainment, lower incomes, higher unemployment, higher rates of substance abuse and suicide, and, of course, higher levels of incarceration for aboriginal peoples,” he said.

For more, check out the report at the Globe and Mail. Thank you to BiscuitMunroe for forwarding the info!

And now for this week’s news:

Rick Santorum and the Government Negotiator

During a recorded event in Janesville, Wisconsin, presidential hopeful Rick Santorum stopped himself from calling President Barack Obama a “nigger” during his speech, which is available here. “It has been suggested he was trying to say “-nik”, as in peacenik or beatnik,” the Guardian's Paul Harris writes. “That is possible. Or perhaps, it was some non-specific verbal tic: a random vowel-consonent flub.”

Here, Santorum has previous form. In Iowa, he stumbled when discussing conservative opposition to welfare programmes:

"I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money."

In the face of later outrage at singling out black Americans, he insisted that he had not said “black”, but instead vocalised “bleugh”, as his mind became confused over his own train of thought. Full article available here.

We at This Week in Whiteness have always believed that Santorum’s rather frothy brand of racism would eventually slip out in a blatant way.

Smear Campaign Against Trayvon Martin Continues

To add to the many problematic elements surrounding the open case of Trayvon Martin, the Sanford Police Department released video footage from George Zimmerman’s visit to the police station shortly after murdering Trayvon Martin. While Zimmerman’s lawyer claimed that Martin had broken Zimmerman’s nose, the footage shows that Zimmerman was not bloodied, nor showed any signs of injury. ABC reported gaining access to the footage on Wednesday.

There is, unfortunately, more. A white supremacist recently hacked into Trayvon Martin’s email and social media accounts in an attempt to prove that Trayvon Martin was a thug, and was seen gloating about doing so on 4Chan. Gawker’s Adrian Chen reports:

A screenshot of Trayvon’s Gmail inbox our source provided us is heartbreaking. Martin apparently used his Gmail account for his college search, and it’s filled with emails about upcoming SAT tests and scholarship applications. (“Trayvon, now is the best time to take the SATs!”) One email included the results of a career aptitude test, our source said. It “talked about his interest in aeronautics and stuff.”

The Huffington Post has more details available here.

Update: Chicago Residents Demand Justice for Rekia Boyd

On Tuesday, Chicago residents held a rally demanding justice for Rekia Boyd, the young woman who was killed by an off-duty cop while socializing with friends near Douglas Park. The Black Youth Project reports:

Around 1 am last Wednesday, an off-duty officer approached a group of people in his car and asked that they quiet down. One of the individuals, 39 year-old Anthony Cross, approached the officer. Thinking he was holding a gun, the officer open-fired, striking Cross in the hand and (inadvertently) RekiaBoyd in the head. Rekia died later that afternoon. Full article available here.

About 200 protesters gathered in front of the officer’s home. For footage, visit The Huffington Post’s recap of the event.

Liar, Liar, Comic on Fire

Amid a flurry of criticisms,the University of Texas (Austin)’s school newspaper pulled an incendiary comic that suggested murdered teenager Trayvon Martin’s innocence was a lie. The image, drawn by now former employee Stephanie Eisner, appeared in theTexan’s Opinion section on Tuesday. By Wednesday evening, the newspaper issued multiple statements, including one from the cartoonist herself:

“I apologize for what was in hindsight an ambiguous cartoon related to the Trayvon Martin shooting. I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat. I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused.”

The cartoon and several updates are available here at The Daily Post.

Black Parents Murdered For Asking Man Not to Shoot

Raeford, NC resident John Oliver Hill, Jr. was shooting his gun outside and near the home of Thalia Rebecca Mook and Tommy Brown this past weekend. Brown had been outside with his and Mook’s children when Brown asked Hill to stop firing his gun, expressing concern for the children in the area. Hill responded by shooting Brown in the head, then Thalia Mook when she came outside. Their three children were present for the shooting. Extra details are available at ABC.

Black College Student Killed By Cops

In yet another case of “we thought his wallet was a gun,” young college student Kendrec McDade was killed by police officers after Pasadena, CA resident Oscar Carillo called 911 reporting being robbed at gunpoint by two Black teens. The police stated that they were set in looking for someone with McDade’s description and, after cornering him, shot him multiple times from their patrol vehicle as he reached for his waistband. He was unarmed, and no stolen goods were in his possession. For more info on the case, check out this article at the Pasadena Star News.

White Woman Stands Her Ground, Attacks Black Teenager

We will offer two accounts of what happened without comment:

Here is a citizen reporter’s account; here is the report that we managed to find on MSNBC.

We at This Week in Whiteness want to take a moment to reflect upon whiteness and the concept of belonging. All of these events have occurred because a person of color was somewhere they didn’t “belong,” even in their own neighborhoods. While history books will help one conclude that people are willing to defend their spaces to the death - of themselves, but preferably others - what does that say about white spaces in the 21st century? And what happens when white spaces expand to include almost ever pocket of the country?

The answer is that we have an open season on people of color - and while POC have always been under attack, those who aim and fire feel significantly more comfortable acting violently in broad daylight. Trayvon Martin’s death has triggered the shaking of a bottle of emotions. What will become of us, then, when the cork pops from the pressure?

Stay Vigilant,

This Week in Whiteness

25

Mar

THIS WEEK IN WHITENESS: Through the Looking Glass (25-03-12)

25 March, 2012

Whiteness and white supremacy are a constant threat to the lives of people of color. This week’s major US headlines - some of which may not actually reach mainstream news broadcasts - may seem like life on the opposite side of the looking glass. But what we see, while seemingly bizarre, is our society’s own reflection. 

The following events are not isolated incidents, but threads of a common fabric that muffles people of color.

Occupy Black Movements

Thousands of people gathered in NYC’s Union Square on Wednesday for the Million Hoodie March, in which participants came together to mourn and demand justice for Trayvon Martin. After Trayvon’s parents addressed the crowd, the march began. However, Occupy Wall Street, which advertised the event in-house, ended up detracting from the movement. Elon James White, who hosts radio show Blacking it Up and the This Week in Blackness series (to which we are unrelated), reports at NewsOne:

With chants of “We are the 99%” and signage to that effect as well, I was a little thrown off. I thought the purpose of this march was to bring awareness to the death of a young boy. Soon after the march started confusion was all around. Which way were we marching? Who was leading the charge? After we walked a few blocks members of the Occupy section of the march started running down the street knocking down trash cans…At various points in the march, as organizers tried to make statements, they were drowned out by Occupiers chanting whatever they saw fit at the time. Full article here.

White is not the only one to have written this sort of account: many who witnessed Occupiers behaving badly expressed frustration at the confusion created. While Occupiers say that theirs is a mixed group of people from all walks of life, witnesses say that those who really distracted from the march were white. However, we express relief that while some Occupiers attempted to struggle with NYPD via upturning trash cans and screaming “Fuck the Police,” the police did not break up the march or confuse Occupiers with those who wanted to mourn Trayvon’s death. It is worth noting that the NYPD has a high-tension relationship with Black communities especially because of their profiling, and any attempt to rouse them during a non-violent march would have been both insensitive and in poor taste.

Justice for Shaima Alwadi

32-year-old Iraqi American Shaima Alawadi died in the hospital on Saturday, three days after being found beaten into unconsciousness in her California home. Her 17-year-old daughter, Fatima Al-Himidi, found the unconscious mother of five in their dining room with the note “go back to your country, you terrorist.” The Huffington Post quotes one of the investigators, Lt. Mark Colt, as saying the following:

"A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that…We don’t want to focus on only one issue and miss something else." Full article here.

The note found with Shaima Alawadi was one of two, the first being sent earlier in the month. The young woman and her husband decided to move to California from Michigan, and had only been in their El Cajon home for a few weeks. The Al-Himidi-Alawadi family learned that Ms. Alawadi was brain-dead shortly upon hospital arrival.

The Facebook page One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi has slightly over 1,500 “likes,” but that number is sure to grow as news of Ms. Alawadi’s death spreads. While we cannot locate any demonstrations at present, we will publish further details as they are made available.

Follow Trains More Offensive Than Racial Slurs

Tumblr Staff continues to keep the torch of fail brightly burning as they make updates to the Terms of Service agreement and Community Guidelines. While they say:

Malicious Bigotry. Don’t actively promote violence or extreme hatred against individuals or groups, on the basis of race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation. While we firmly believe that the best response to hateful speech is not censorship but more speech, we will take down malicious bigotry, as defined here.

We all know that the real action’s here:

If we conclude you are violating these policies, you may receive a notice via email. If you don’t explain or correct your behavior, your account may be suspended and/or your IP address may be blocked. We do our best to ensure fair outcomes, but in all cases we reserve the right to suspend accounts or remove content, without notice, for any reason, but particularly to protect our services, infrastructure, users, or community. We reserve the right to enforce, or not enforce, these policies in our sole discretion, and these policies don’t create a duty or contractual obligation for us to act in any particular manner.

This wouldn’t be problematic if harassment of members of marginalized communities were not routinely ignored. While we won’t link to it here, it has been confirmed that Tumblr Staff uses the same cookie-cutter reply when POC report malicious users for harassment, no matter the case. This also applies to disabled communities on Tumblr and gender and sexual minorities; Sophie M. Herold, the person who has been outing LGBTQIA to bigoted Christian organizations, wasn’t taken down until mass outrage on Tumblr.

Please check out and signal-boost the blog POC Harassed, a steady-building archive of harassment folks have been receiving on a weekly basis.

We are looking for non-US headlines to discuss! If you’re aware of any, please forward a link to an article or drop a suggestion here. If you’d like to join This Week in Whiteness, please leave us a message!

Stay Vigilant,

This Week in Whiteness

18

Mar

THIS WEEK IN WHITENESS: Say it Loud, We’re White and We’re Proud! (18-03-12)

18 March, 2012

Folks, this week has been an overflowing fountain of whiteness. Does your cup runneth over? If not, here’s a run-down of some of the larger headlines this week.

We’ll start with one of the more grave events:

ICE Intimidates Woman into Death

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is a force of terror for people of color, regardless of their immigration status. Known to rip families apart, ICE has a penchant for ganging up on Latin@ sin papeles (without documents), or immigrants without documentation. This week, Miss Erica Delgado of Wyoming lit her home on fire, killing herself and her daughter Miriam, a week after receiving an early-morning visit from five ICE agents and two sheriff’s deputies.They informed her that she was expected to show up in court before an immigration judge, a hearing that would have been the beginning of expulsion proceedings.

According to Alternet, Delgado should not have been approached: ICE is not supposed to prosecute and expel survivors of domestic violence, and Miss Delgado was one such individual. She had made a life for herself and her daughter (who is a US citizen) after her abusive husband relocated to Chihuahua, Mexico. Alternet also adds:

Delgado was one of 35 current and former Little America employees—11 of whom were approached, all of them Latino—on the ICE list for the Cheyenne enforcement action on January 24. Full Alternet article here.

Although ICE had received the order from Washington to focus on high-risk criminals due to a limited budget, ICE has a history of going after those who do not present a security risk, such as those entering the country looking for work and a safe place for their families. However, the current US administrative program, ironically-named Secure Communities, is responsible for the disproportionate deportation of Latin@s, regardless of family status or absence of criminal record.

Southern Miss’ Slam-Dunk Racism

Although racism is certainly not fun and games, it will interrupt your attempts to have either. The University of Southern Mississippi’s marching band chanted “where’s your green card?” while player Angel Rodriguez took a free throw during the Southern Miss v. Kansas State basketball game. According to NPR, Southern Miss quickly reacted as Buzzfeed’s video hit the web. “We deeply regret the remarks made by a few students at today’s game,” Martha Saunders, the school’s president said in a statement. “The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university. We apologize to Mr. Rodriguez and will take quick and appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved in this isolated incident.” We at This Week in Whiteness think that such an accountability-free, PR-induced apology would come from a sore loser, after all: NPR reported that Kansas State beat Southern Miss, with Rodgriguez scoring 13 points with 4 assists.

Sanford PD Continues to Keep it Classy

Amid the demands for justice for slain Black teenager Trayvon Martin, the Sanford Police Department finally released the painful 911 call in which Martin’s screams were heard before George Zimmerman pulled the trigger. Meanwhile, sources have indicated that Zimmerman has targeted young Black men repeatedly in the past, and whose favorite number to call was 911. When asked to comment, Sanford police chief Bill Lee said:

We are taking a beating over this. This is all very unsettling. I’m sure if George Zimmerman had the opportunity to relive Sunday, Feb. 26, he’d probably do things differently. I’m sure Trayvon would, too.

I’m so sorry everyone, but I’m going to break composure for a second:

This investigation is a disgrace, from the 911 call to the police chief. Regardless of how professional 911 operators are supposed to be, hearing that phone call was one of the most painful things I’ve ever listened to. The mild irritation in the caller’s voice and the slow, unhurried way in which the 911 operator took the caller’s information were crushing. It seemed as if a young Black man being attacked on their front lawn was an inconvenience, not an injustice. Combined with that reporter’s “chicken” comment, I cannot simply contain my anger any more.

"I’m sure Trayvon [would do things differently], too." If he was alive.

This goes beyond being tone-deaf, beyond being insensitive or a little bit biased. THIS IS RACISM. THIS, RIGHT NOW, IS RACISM. Can we all agree on that now? Because Zimmerman STILL HASN’T BEEN ARRESTED. This man, who has a penchant for targeting young Black men, is walking free and the POLICE DEPARTMENT is apologizing FOR HIM. Meanwhile, Martin’s death hasn’t become a national outrage, probably because no one’s made a 30-minute video about what happened, but more likely because of RACISM. When will enough be enough? Can we go out in the streets and protest now? Can we? Because I assure you it’s going to get worse. Where are the 50,000 Tumblr notes on THAT?

And now with the rest of this Sunday’s post.

Things White People Do: Create Political Messes in African Nations

This section is going to address white North American activists from both Invisible Children and Save Darfur.

US celebrity George Clooney was arrested this week during a protest at the Sudanese Embassy, in response to President al-Bashir expelling all foreign aid workers from the country. This expulsion took place after Clooney and other non-Sudanese activists began demanding that al-Bashir be sent to ICC (International Criminal Court). Clooney appeared on talk shows all this morning. The NY Daily News reports:

I think I actually have a lot more influence on [Sudanese border politics and violence] here,” Clooney told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“No super PAC has given me money…There is no outside influence for me. I can actually have an opinion and it may not fit what the UN wants and it may not fit what other people want, and I can say this I think is right, and stand by it. I don’t have to check in to make sure and I don’t have to compromise.” Full article here.

But Clooney is not the only famous white North American do-gooder to be in the news for interfering with politics in African countries. Invisible Children continues to remain in the news-loop as more details on their affiliates are exposed, such as their funding from anti-queer, creationist Christian conservatives and their link to rabidly anti-queer Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa. According to Right Wing Watch:

Ssempa, a longtime anti-gay activist, is the chairman of the National Taskforce against Homosexuality in Uganda and a major proponent of legislation that calls for the execution of gays and lesbians who are found “guilty” of having homosexual sex. Full article here.

[Edit: Russell was “allegedly” vandalizing cars and making sexual gestures] Meanwhile, the primary face of Invisible Children, Jason Russell, was detained and placed on psychiatric hold this week after allegedly masturbating, vandalizing cars and making a public scene while in various states of undress while allegedly under the influence of a substance. Invisible Children responded with an official statement:

Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.

We agree that coming under fire for one’s imperialist, whitewashed and truth-twisting propaganda is pretty darn tough to handle, especially when the organization is unused to being held accountable and ESPECIALLY when Ugandans, other Africans and many others come out in full force against your film. We also agree that the shame of passionately promoting the diplomatic strategy of one’s 5-year old son is also quite tough to bear in public, and so wish Jason Russell a speedy recovery.

Police have not charged Russell for his bizarre activities.

We’re always open to user-submitted topics! If you’d like for us to discuss an event, leave a message or send us an article! If you’d like to join the This Week in Whiteness crew, let us know!

Stay Vigilant,

This Week in Whiteness

14

Mar

Mid-Week Update (14 March, 2012):

The Good News: it’s International KBURD Month! May the GIFs flow freely throughout the Tumblrverse.

And now for the bad:

"Playground Mafia" Uses White Anger in UK To Oust POC Headmistress

A group of angry white parents, enraged by the harsh reality of a WOC leading their children’s school, worked with school officials via harassment, passive aggression and other tactics to coerce now-former elementary headmistress Sudhana Singh out of her position. One child of such parents walked out of the classroom because Mrs. Singh expressed interest in Black celebrities; Mrs. Singh presented her case before education officials, but was ignored. More at the Telegraph.

Treyvon Martin’s Killer Still Not Arrested, Witness Tampering Ensues

As more details unfold before the public eye, it becomes clear that the Sanford Police Department is shielding George Zimmerman, the man who murdered Black teenager Treyvon Martin. “The cries stopped as soon as the gun went off, so I know it was the little boy,” witness Mary Cutcher said. But Sanford PD only wrote down minimal details, while flipping the documentation in Zimmerman’s favor. More at WFTV. You can sign the Justice for Treyvon Martin petition here.

US House of Representatives Considering Resolution to Increase Uganda Presence, Cites “KONY 2012” as Impetus

As the view count for Invisible Children’s “KONY 2012” rises, US House representatives Jim McGovern and Ed Royce presented a resolution before the House of Representatives to increase the US commitment to stopping LRA leader Joseph Kony. The two presented the first of such changes to US policy in Uganda in October of last year, resulting in the discharge of 100 military personnel to Uganda. More at the NY Daily News.

US Soldier Goes on Killing Spree, Heads to Kuwait Amid Demands for Trial in Afghanistan

The US soldier who killed 16 Afghani citizens in Afghanistan has been flown to Kuwait, according to an anonymous US military official. Afghani lawmakers have demanded that the soldier, who remains unnamed and otherwise shielded by the US military, face trial in Afghanistan so that the people can see justice properly served. More at the Washington Post.

These are just some of the major headlines in which whiteness becomes a terrorizing force. If we’ve missed something critical at This Week in Whiteness, please submit an article here! We are still accepting submissions for this coming Sunday’s This Week in Whiteness post through Saturday at 11:50pm EST.

Stay Vigilant,

This Week in Whiteness

12

Mar

The Monday “Early Bird” Special: White Folk Won’t Let POC Grieve (12-03-12)

Shout-out to Witchsistah for the heads up.

12 March, 2012:

This week, whiteness has served us an Early Bird Special: demands for inclusion (and complaints of exclusivity) in new Tumblr blog Let Us Grieve.

Let Us Grieve is a Tumblr about violence and police brutality against POC. It was created to give POC a space to discuss violence directed towards them without their voices being overridden and derailed by white opinions. However, whiteness demands inclusion in all spaces it feels entitled to and, as such, white people have begun asking why Let Us Grieve isn’t featuring white violence.

Seriously? Cut that out.

POC spaces are a place of refuge from racism, the harmful opinions of white people, and other ways in which white people unaware of their privilege attempt to interject in POC discussion. White discourses are available everywhere, from history books to the internet; far and few in between are POC perspectives presented and all in once place. Let Us Grieve is one of the pockets of safe spaces in which people of color can express themselves freely without being attacked. By invading it asking for inclusion, white people further prove the need for that type of space.

Whiteness demands that there are no places where POC can retreat and heal from the damage it levies on their communities. Those deeply enmeshed in white consciousness, therefore, will be offended by POC-only spaces. Why can’t I be included? What about my voice? After years of being marketed to and told repeatedly that their voices are important, it is almost incomprehensible, unconscionable, for a white person who isn’t an anti-racist that in some places, whites need not apply.

Or in this case, submit.