All Articles Tagged "race relations"
Each morning, I start my day with a cup of coffee. I’ve been doing so since high school and I have yet to kick the habit. Initially a huge Dunkin’ Donuts fan, everything changed when I discovered Starbucks’ vanilla latté.
The usual order is a hot cup paired with a chocolate croissant, toasted please, and then I’m out the door–unless I plan to use the coffee shop as a workspace. It’s simple: get an overpriced coffee and croissant and bounce. But if Starbucks had their way, I would leave with a lot more than that.
You may have heard that the coffee haven attempted to add a layer of complexity to their cups of liquid gold. #RaceTogether – a campaign to encourage open discussions about race – lasted for just one week (ending on March 22) and is said to be in a state of renovation.
“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy — these are very complex conversations that are happening — and that some would be uncomfortable having them,” said Laurel Harper, a spokesperson for Starbucks, in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. “But really our intent was to build awareness and ignite conversations and begin to get comfortable in having conversations about race.”
And while I respect their intentions, I don’t necessarily believe that Starbucks is the proper forum to discuss deeper issues that plague society.
No one wants to be confronted with the harsh realities that discussing race relations brings. So tossing your views on race out there as you order a venti iced passion tango tea during your morning rush is irresponsible.
And while race is the hot topic many are too afraid to touch, it’s being discussed in some form everywhere; from Ava DuVernay’s release of Selma to the actions of the Alcohol Beverage Cops who used excessive force against Martese Johnson at the University of Virginia. We’re very aware of race relations and tension nowadays, but could that be holding us back from the discussions we need to be having?
Following the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Eric Garner, along with a wealth of new disturbing incidents, there is no escaping the realities of race. There is much to talk about and even more ignorance to deal with, but this isn’t a simple conversation to be had.
We are all scrambling for answers: How can black men still be getting lynched in the South? How can so many police officers get away with murdering black men and boys?
In our scramble, it appears that the discussions and solutions are watered down ones. This is a delicate issue that needs to be handled with care. One that should probably be discussed in a classroom, in the office, or better yet, at home. But a crowded and busy Starbucks? The setting does not offer barely enough time or opportunity to even share an introduction on centuries worth of hate.
We’ve become a community hell-bent on pointing out what is and isn’t racist, but with blinders focusing on one side of the argument versus the entire scope. There are discussions about “forgetting” race and pushing forward with a smile and forgiveness, much like Common tried to encourage in a recent interview, but that ignores the disturbing fact that race relations haven’t progressed much in this nation we live in.
I agree with Starbucks in the idea that there should be more of an effort made to have these conversations; but perhaps sponsoring a panel where a meeting of minds can take place is a better route than getting people to have a painful conversation while waiting in line for cappuccinos.
‘Whites Only’ Surfaces Again: Austin Lawyer Says He Was Posting ‘Exclusively For White People’ Stickers
A criminal defense attorney, Adam Reposa, has taken responsibility for posting stickers on Austin, TX businesses that say “Exclusively for white people.”
In addition, the stickers say “Maximum of 5 colored customers/colored BOH staff accepted.” BOH apparently means the “back of house” workers at a restaurant. The stickers also feature a city of Austin logo and claim to be “sponsored by the City of Austin Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program,” reports Yahoo. No such program exists.
According to Austin Mayor Steve Adler, the stickers were discovered Wednesday morning and he considers them “an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in our city.”
Racial tensions have been high in the city as it continues to grow and some people are being pushed out. In fact, a report last year found that Blacks were fleeing the city, opting instead for the suburbs.
Raul Alvarez, board president for the East Austin Conservancy, feels the stickers are probably in response to gentrification in the area on Austin’s east side. And he was right.
“I certainly share the concerns about the history and culture and affordability that’s being lost because of the rapid development, but our organization tends to focus on what it is we can do to preserve what makes East Austin unique and not focus on strategies that divide the community,” Alvarez told the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.
Reposa was much more blunt in his response, which is posted in the video below. Beware: There’s some NSFW language there.
While there might be some truth to what he’s saying, there’s more to the story. HuffPost Live says the stunt was also a promotion for his Facebook page. It’s called The Technology, but it’s unclear what exactly is going on there.
And he was in the news thanks to Vice in 2012 for an ad in which he’s basically screaming about being a lawyer and rear-ending a small car with his truck. Vice described him as “a lunatic.”
Starbucks’ “Race Together” campaign to help spark conversations about race relations will move forward without baristas writing “Race Together” on customer cups to spur conversations about race.
According to Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson, the coffee chain’s initiative to create dialogue on diversity and racial inequality will move forward but without the handwritten messages, as originally planned, reports The Guardian.
In a recent memo, company CEO Howard Schultz explained the cups were always “just the catalyst” for a broader conversation and that the company has already planned to end this phase of the campaign on March 22. Starbucks will go ahead with its planned forum discussions and co-produce special sections in USA Today as part of the Race Together initiative.
“Starbucks is also committing to hire 10,000 disadvantaged youth over the next three years and open new stores in communities with large minority populations,” reports NPR.
Many criticize the “Race Together” campaign as a tasteless marketing ploy and having the baristas write “Race Together” on cups was leaving the employees open to direct backlash and awkwardness for everyone. More than that, many questioned the depth of conversations you can have on this intense topic in that situation.
But Schultz stands firm behind the initiative. In the memo he added: “While there has been criticism of the initiative — and I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we didn’t expect universal praise. We leaned in because we believed that starting this dialogue is what matters most. We are learning a lot.”
Race Forward, an organization in pursuit of racial justice and publisher of Colorlines, has offered to partner with Starbucks and USA Today to help with their mercilessly criticized campaign, #RaceTogether.
While Starbucks’ attempt to address the racial divide in this country is admirable (at least in our opinion), the first thing we thought when we saw the information about this program is why they hadn’t partnered with a civil rights groups with more experience on this topic than your average barista. The good people at Race Forward agree.
“Change starts at the top,” said Jyarland Daniels, marketing and communications director at Race Forward. “It’s great that baristas are engaging to some extent, but they need training on systemic racism.”
You can also end up with conversations like this one between CBS Sunday Morning’s Nancy Giles and Jay Smooth, a DJ and cultural commentator. She proceeds to “tease” him for the way he’s talking about race in a video… until she finds out that he’s actually Black. (Go to the 5:30 minute mark. And listen to Chris Hayes’ prizewinning cackle when Jay drops the bomb.)
The focus, for Race Forward, is on “effective conversations,” seeking to further the discuss rather than just broach the topic to no end. Rinku Sen, the Executive Director of Colorlines wrote an open letter to the two companies, outlining the issues with the campaign and how Race Forward can help. It reads in part:
Effective conversations on race are grounded in the understanding that racial discrimination isn’t just, or even mostly, about what happens among individuals. It is about what happens as a result of systems. For example, if we consider that Ferguson was about an altercation between an unarmed teen and a police officer, we miss the opportunity to consider the entire picture. If, instead, we understand the shooting of Michael Brown as a result of a pattern of racially biased practices by law enforcement and the municipality of Ferguson, then we can identify policies and practices that truly change relations between residents and police.
Daniels adds, “If we have conversations about what this person does, what that person does, we stay in the same place… It’s about what kinds of policies reinforce supremacy.”
As with anything else, tackling that large civil rights issues we still face today takes more than just good intentions. Experienced groups that can speak to the different sides of the issue are better equipped to effect change.
“If I wanted to go into the coffee business [or] newspaper business, it might be a good idea to spend a little bit of time with people who do that,” Daniels says.
Do you think Starbucks should take Race Forward’s offer? It should be noted that the Starbucks program is in its initial stages, so there’s likely more in the works.
The GOP has been trying mightily (and mostly failing) to broaden its base by appealing to black voters. Then party members rally around someone like Cliven Bundy, who makes downright racist remarks and any baby steps that they may have been made disintegrate faster than you can say “negro.”
As Mo Elleithee, the DNC’s communications director, said about the issue, “If you ever want to be taken seriously for your outreach efforts, you might want to start by not defending racists.” Very good advice. While there are many on the right who have tried to separate themselves from these comments, there are others who still defend Bundy with excuses and “adding context,” going back to the initial issue that the government went too far when it tried to collect on what Bundy owes for use of federal land to graze his cattle. (Note the comments at that link from The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait on this issue, which are interesting.)
Some experts say that, at the heart of the issue, are “complicated” tensions that some parts of the population are trying to deal with. America is changing. Minorities are growing in population numbers, political power and visibility of every kind. And it’s bringing out this sort of offensive and prejudiced behavior. Writes CNN:
“We are looking at some of the ‘last white men standing,’ ” Mark Anthony Neal, an African-American studies professor at Duke University, said of demographic shifts that show minorities now represent more than half of the nation’s population born in 2010 and 2011, according to the most recent census data.
“His comments represent that, and people rally around him because of this idea that white men are under siege. They are calling out the political establishment to stand by them,” he said.
That article notes that it’s not just about race either. Steps to make same-sex marriage legal in more places have been met with ugliness. And efforts to make things more equal for women, who have made strides in society, the home and the workplace, have been met with sexism.
“The articulation of their views is somewhat fringe, but the underlying attitude is not. They are a minority viewpoint, but they are a large minority,” adds Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University.
Josh Barro, writing for The New York Times, goes a little further with Bundy’s comments, noting that Bundy also “wondered” where his Mexican and Chinese “brothers” are in this fight against the Bureau of Land Management. “They’re just as American as we are, but they’re not with us. If they’re not with us, they’re going to be against us,” Bundy said.
From Barro’s point of view, “Mr. Bundy is weirdly on to something here. The rush to stand with Mr. Bundy against the Bureau of Land Management is the latest incarnation of conservative antigovernment messaging. And nonwhites are not interested, because at gut-level an aversion to the government is almost exclusively a white phenomenon.” He follows that with stats from the Pew Research Center showing that, in 2011, Asians, African Americans and Hispanics were in favor of a larger government. And that cut across all economic groups, from those with money to those who depend on government programs to make ends meet.
We didn’t need Cliven Bundy to remind us that there are strides we have to make in the area of race relations. And it’s important that we have rational conversations about how to move things in a positive direction. But no matter how you feel about land rights or the government, Bundy’s words were clearly awful. It’s also important that we call out how wrong that language is.
Even though President Barack Obama listed himself as African American in the 2010 U.S. Census, most Americans don’t consider the President a black man.
A new study by the Pew Research Center examines Americans’ feeling about the country’s changing demographics and how perception of race has changed. The study, entitled “The Next America,” found that as America becomes less white, the way the country looks at race is changing.
According to research, by 2060 whites will no longer be a majority. They will represent about 43 percent of the population. Interracial marriages are on the rise and this not only affects the number of biracial infants being born, it also affects what Americans think about ethnicity, especially when it comes to the offspring of biracial couples.
Because of his background, the perspective on President Obama is much different from what he listed on the Census. Lots has changed since the “one-drop rule,” which would have deemed Obama black regardless of his interracial background. But today the study found a surprising 52 percent of Americans consider Obama mixed-race.
“Both white and Hispanic respondents primarily used this classification, with 53 percent of white participants and 61 percent of Hispanic participants saying they considered the president mixed-race,” reports HuffPo. Interestingly however, a majority of blacks–55 percent–said they considered Obama black. Only 34 percent of black respondents said they think of him mixed-race.
This is a question that has come up with other notable figures, for instance Tiger Woods. How would you classify the President?
[via The Huffington Post]
You would think in such polarized times as these, Americans would be conscious of race relations and the role persistent prejudice still plays in our society. But according to a new study, that is the last — literally the last — thing on folks’ minds.
According to a new Gallup survey, race relations occupies the final spot on a list of 15 national priorities, after climate change. An incredibly low 17 percent worry about race relations a “great deal” and 26 percent a fair amount. But a whopping 56 percent say they think about the issue “a little/not at all.” The economy, federal spending and the budget deficit, and the availability and affordability of healthcare were the top three concerns.
Twenty-four percent of respondents say they worry about climate change a “great deal,” reports The Huffington Post.
Maybe Americans are buying into the post-racial society notion. But evidence proves there is still a lot to do in terms of race relations. Since Barack Obama became the first black president, racial tensions have heightened.
According to a poll commissioned by the Associated Press, the number of Americans with “explicit anti-black attitudes” increased from 48 percent in 2008 to 51 percent in 2012. Implicit racist attitudes jumped from 49 percent to 56 percent. “Another set of A.P. polls showed anti-Latino attitudes had climbed between 2011 and 2012,” reports The New York Times.
The Southern Poverty Law Center found that the number of hate groups in America increased from 926 in 2008 to 1,007 in 2012, and radical-right groups rose even faster.
And then you have tone deaf comments from politicians that make preconceptions and stereotypes about blacks and other minorities legitimate. Just yesterday, Wisconsin Congressman and likely 2016 presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R) was backtracking and explaining away comments he made during a radio interview that had a marked racial undertone.
Calling the remarks “inarticulate,” he was speaking about his ideas for alleviating poverty and said, “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”
Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat and Congressional Black Caucus’s Poverty and Economy Task Force responded with the following in a statement, quoted on Politico, “My colleague Congressman Ryan’s comments about ‘inner city’ poverty are a thinly veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated. Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city’ when he says, ‘culture,’ these are simply code words for what he really means: ‘black.'”
Rep. Ryan maintains that he wasn’t talking about one community or culture, but rather “society as a whole.”
How often do you think about race relations?
‘He Didn’t Unite Us, He Did The Exact Opposite:’ Stacey Dash Says Obama Worsened Race Relations In America
Yes, she’s still talking.
By now we’re all pretty aware that Stacey Dash isn’t crazy about President Obama or the Democratic party. She rarely ever passes up an opportunity to let this be known. During a recent interview with Adam Carolla, Stacey expressed that she believes the nation’s first Black President not only failed to help unite us, but he’s actually contributes to division in this country.
“[In 2008] I voted for Obama and I have to say, I got ‘blacked’ into it. I didn’t know anything about him, but I just knew we needed a Black president. I thought, ‘He has a way to unite us in such a profound dynamic.’ But he didn’t [unite us]. He did the exact opposite,” said the former “Single Ladies” actress.
“There’s been more racial conversation over last five years than we’ve ever had before,” Carolla added Carolla. “If Hillary Clinton gets elected … I suspect there’s gonna be four years of feminist talk. It’ll be found in every story.”
Stacey; however, made it clear that she wants no parts of Hillary getting elected in 2016.
“I don’t want it. I hope not,” said Stacey. “There will be a big excuse on this big huge platform to say, ‘You’re doing this because she’s the President. She’s a woman, you don’t like it.”
Despite being ripped to shreds on social media, Dash says she definitely does not regret voting for and endorsing Mitt Romney during the 2012 elections—adding that it’s racist to vote for someone based on the color of their skin.
“I feel like I did the right thing,” she told Carolla. “It’s not a form of racism, it is racism. Racism is racism is racism. You should be able to make a choice based on the content of someone’s character, not the color of their skin.”
She also seemed to imply that Black people should get over racial inequality because that time has passed.
“It’s not 1965,” said Dash. “We’ve won that battle. We should move on.”
Growing up in Northern Kentucky, I got used to being the only Black kid in most of my classes. In high school, there were other Black students, but none of them in my close-knit drama and speech class circles. Because of this, I have dated quite a few White guys, and while there are similarities when dating any man, there are still some small cultural quirks that never go unnoticed when you’re with a White dude. LIke these nine things, for instance.
1. They will never understand the hair thing. It might start with an innocent “did you get a haircut” right after you wash your hair and there is shrinkage–but it does not end…EVER…after that. From moisturizing, to protecting with a satin cap, there is always a new and interesting thing for your guy to discover. Trust me, while it gets easier to explain, it doesn’t ever stop needing to be explained.
2. They don’t want to say the N-word, but they do want to talk about why some people do. Though I date smart enough humans to not ever be asked to be the voice of my entire race, I still get asked how I feel about rappers using the N-word, and who has access to it. This conversation doesn’t have to be uncomfortable if you’re certain of your stance, but if you waiver, they will be forever confused and your weighing-in on the subject can save them from physical harm and embarrassment in the future.
3. They will always be embarrassed about fried chicken. Every damn body loves fried chicken, but now he’s far too aware of the stereotypes associated and will be torn about it every time you pass a KFC.
4. They need help knowing what to tell their friends. As much as we live in a post-racial society <#sarcasm<, their friends may not be as enlightened as they are. Their friends want to know what the differences are, even when none are all that apparent. Give him some ammo. If he says the wrong thing, and you catch wind of it, he knows that’s his ass. Don’t be afraid to give him a script.
5. He’s just as scared to meet your family. While you might be dreading meeting older family members due to 50+ years of internalized racism, he just as much fears that your family wants to retaliate for having to endure ignorance while they were coming up. You will both help each other through this. Talk to your family, and if they don’t want to meet him, sit with that. Figure out what’s important to you. You shouldn’t not see a man just because your family has prejudices, and the same goes for his family.
Read on for more tips when dating a white man at Essence.com
Dear My Fellow Fed-Up Sistas and Brothas,
This has been a particularly trying year for people of color, hasn’t it? The cold-blooded killer of an innocent, college-bound, black boy went free. A former college football star was shot dead when running to the police for help. Blackface Halloween costumes seemed to be all the rage this year. A young black man was racially profiled, arrested and detained for buying a $350 belt at a high-end clothing store. A young black woman had her head blown off for seeking help after a car accident. Racist columnists showed, in no uncertain terms, just what they thought of New York City’s new mayor and his racially mixed family.
We are trying to process such regression of race relations and civil rights in a country that can boast progression in almost every other area. We are all dealing with it. How well we’re dealing with it is anyone’s guess at this point. Some of us choose to get involved in the legal processes. Some are engaging in thought-provoking, life-changing discussion. Some are creating art in all forms to spread messages of nonviolence, anti-racism and unity.
And there are the others. The point-of-view police. Calling folks out far and wide for tweeting or retweeting jokes, but not discussing Marissa Alexander’s trial. Questioning folks’ dedication to their race and The Struggle because they choose not to participate in race discussions. I do believe you mean well. You’re fed up like the rest of us. You’re livid and God knows you have every right to be. We all do. Trying to spread the message of racial equality only to be met with more murders and cases of racial profiling is enough to keep us all either living in a constant state of fear or animosity. We’ve been fighting the same fight for eons and forward movement seems slow at best.
What we have to remember is not to turn our frustrations on one another. We are all in this thing together. We are all coping the best way we know how. For some of us, coping looks like an hours-long Twitter discussion about the insistent choice of law enforcement (and society at large) to blame the victim of even the most debased hate crimes. For some of us, using that space as a starting point to unapologetically raise our voices and organize against racial inequity is powerful. For some of us, that is where our talents best serve. Others choose to talk less and involve themselves in whatever physical labors of unity their hands can find to further the cause. Protesting. Taking classes on race relations. Establishing relationships with local law enforcement.
And then some of us are silent and motionless. Some of us don’t know what to say. Some of us don’t know what to do. We feel helpless at first so we crack jokes, unsure of how else to bring comfort to so many of our people who are hurting and angry. Some of us avoid direct contact with the issues until we can make sense of them by ourselves first. And there is no shame in that.
We are all feeling our way through this. Lashing out at those who respond differently than you do is not a solution to the problem we’re facing as a people. Deriding each other for processing, thinking, feeling, reacting to troubling race related news in a way you might not readily understand does nothing to coax even the slightest bit of solidarity out from behind the shadows of fear, pain and indecision. Only patience, understanding and affirmation will do that. Let us remember to embrace one another, but bare our teeth toward racism. That is the only way to honor those we’ve lost.
Peace to Trayvon Martin.
Peace to Jonathan Ferrell.
Peace to Renisha McBride.
And to the rest of those whose lives have been lost but whose names will continue to inspire the fight against racism, peace to you.