Esquire Theme by Matthew Buchanan
Social icons by Tim van Damme

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

15

Mar

Tumblr Staff Thursdays

Although harassment via inbox is fairly common for POC members of Tumblr, the Tumblr staff have repeatedly failed to take the needs of POC into account, even when those harassing POC are not anonymous. The blog POC Harassed is a steadily-building archive of screencaps sent in by various POC members.

Every other Thursday, we’d like to highlight a response from Tumblr Staff sent after a POC member contacted them about harassment. If you have one you’d like us to post, hit print-screen and  send one in! We will keep doing this until Tumblr staff begins to act with integrity.

Please help signal-boost what POC Harassed is doing!

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.

11

Mar

THIS WEEK IN WHITENESS: Living While Black (11-03-12)

11 March, 2012:

This week’s post only highlights a few of the major blows dealt to POC, specifically Black people, at the hands of white people unaware (or not so unaware) of their own racist tendencies. Although, as the subject of the middle topic suggests, the outcome is lethal.

Being Spoken For While Black: On Monday (5 March), non-profit organization Invisible Children debuted their new film “Kony 2012,” a film about the Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony. The film, which lasts about 30 minutes, decries Kony (pronounced Kohn) for his abduction of children in Uganda, turning them into tools of destruction and terror. “The arc of the video tells you that before, no one cared,” wrote Michael Wilkerson of The Guardian.

"But, thanks to technology and Invisible Children, everyone can now take the necessary action to earn Kony the infamy and arrest or death he deserves. But since Invisible Children as an organisation began with a few north Americans stumbling into a conflict they didn’t know existed and then resolving to help the child victims by making a movie, the base level of great white saviourdom is already high. Implying that finally now, by getting the word out about Kony via celebrities, bracelets and social media, can the LRA be ended plays into this narrative of white rescuers coming to help poor Africans and totally ignores the efforts, good and bad, by Ugandans to fight the LRA for 25 years."

Except one of the major problems with KONY 2012 is that it raises awareness without context, giving its newfound followers only one command: Stop at nothing. Apparently, this command has a corrollary: “Stop at nothing, even if Ugandans have told you to stop.” People from Tumblr’s own Amber Ha to the director of the World Peace Foundation to Anonymous have criticized Invisible Children, often citing its propaganda-like qualities and complete dismissal of African voices. Africans across the continent, especially in Uganda, have spoken out against Jason Russell and his organization’s film.

This case of drowning out Black voices is worse than The Help: should Kony 2012 enter US politics, the potential consequences - such as further US military intervention - will be dire for Ugandans. But this is lost on many of Invisible Children’s followers, who often cite supposed African helplessness and the US’s right to intervene.

The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening,” tweeted Nigerian-American author Teju Cole. There’s truth in those words: They [Hollywood producers] are getting in touch with the Academy Awards. They want this to be up for an Oscar.”

Walking While Black: Although the event didn’t happen this week, 17-year-old Treyvon Martin’s untimely death at the hands of a white racist vigilante Neighborhood Watchman is making the news as more details are released. Website Sandra Rose reports:

On his way back from the store, carrying only a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona ice tea, Trayvon was spotted by 26-year-old George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was the self-appointed Neighborhood Watch “captain” of the gated community called The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, 20 miles north of Orlando…A police report indicates that Zimmerman called 911 to report a “suspicious person” in the area. The police dispatcher reportedly told Zimmerman to “stand down” and wait for backup to arrive shortly.

But Zimmerman, who is white, ignored that order and exited his vehicle to confront Trayvon, who is black.

A fistfight ensued and Trayvon apparently got the best of Zimmerman. Police found him standing over Trayvon, who was dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest.”

Zimmerman has never been arrested; it’s worth pointing out that had Martin been holding the gun and Zimmerman was the one shot, Treyvon Martin would be sitting in a cell. The police cited Zimmerman’s “squeaky clean” record as part of why he has yet to be arrested and charged with murder.

Martin’s family’s lawyer asserts that race played a huge factor in Martin’s death, as it was “the 600 pound elephant in the room. Why is this kid suspicious in the first place? I think a stereotype must have been placed on the kid.” Zimmerman could very well plead self-defense, a plea that would unfairly shorten his prison time - if, indeed, he receives any.

Change.org has generated a petition demanding justice for Treyvon Martin, which can be signed here.

Arguing While Black: Today is the last day of “KBURD Week,” in which POC members of the Tumblrverse - especially Black tumblers - implemented an effective stonewall against the hateful, racist commenters flooding their inboxes. Tumblers such as thegoddamazon, thenegroxperiment, dumbthingswhitepeoplesay (who was actually threatened by Tumblr staff with suspension), and jwesterlings (who is being stalked and Tumblr staff have done nothing) have been under greater attack than normal for Black bloggers who dare to talk about race and white privilege. In reaction to Tumblr staff repeatedly ignoring harassment of POC on Tumblr while acting without discrimination whenever white bloggers cry wolf, the blog POC Harassment was created to archive the death threats, racial slurs and other terrible things that white people - some of whom claim to be Feminists and allies to POC - have hurled at them. It’s worth noting that the Tumblr staff is over 90% white.

If they continue to ignore the cases being built (and they shouldn’t have to be) by POC bloggers on Tumblr, the Tumblr staff and their replies to POC will be a regular feature of This Week in Whiteness. Racism and white privilege are never too hard to look for - and for many POC on Tumblr, it’s often right in their inbox.

Want to see a certain topic discussed? As you go through this coming week, feel free to send in any topics you want highlighted on This Week in Whiteness! Drop submissions here before 11:50pm EST Tuesday night (for the Mid-Week Highlight) and 11:50pm EST Saturday (for the Sunday post). If you want to become a regular writer for This Week in Whiteness, drop a message here.

Stay Vigilant,

This Week in Whiteness