All Articles Tagged "racism"
Ever wanted to relive what is was like for our ancestors during slavery? Of course not, we know the history all too well. But one Dutch company thinks people do, that’s why it’s making a video game about the slave trade.
History 2: Slave Trade targets gamers ages 8 to 14 and can be found on Steam Community, an online gaming site. Designed by the Dutch company, Serious Games Interactive, the game is said to give a true look at the African slave trade by using the narratives of people who worked on slave ships.
But Twitter isn’t having it. While the game has quietly lived in the shadows since 2013, Sunday night Black Twitter discovered it and discussed their outrage of the racist game.
Referred to as a ‘slave trade Tetris,’ users decide how to best stack Black bodies into a tight slave ship or be the eyes and ears of the captain by helping him make deals for slaves in Africa.
“Travel back in time to the 18th Century and witness the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade first-hand,” reads the game’s description.
Look at the last sentence of this game description tho pic.twitter.com/cvGtZS2xU9
— BlackGirlNerds (@BlackGirlNerds) August 30, 2015
So much about this is disgusting and disturbing. What on earth?!? https://t.co/y3HnOXu4wi
— Sheena Hunt (@SheenaD1) August 30, 2015
Despite the backlash, the Denmark-based company sees nothing wrong with the game, describing it as an educational tool. “Why play Playing History? To gain the opportunity to take part in history, within in a living breathing world. You will be able to learn about historic events that they cannot alter – instead, they witness how the historic events altered humanity as a whole. The learning process is autonomously conveyed throughout the story of the game as it progresses,” reads the Playing History site. Twitter isn’t buying it.
The company did not sit quiet while their historical game was bashed. Instead, the creator, defended the game and the company is offering 25 percent off to try the Playing History 2: Slave Trade first-hand.
Meanwhile, the Dutch still believe dressing up in Black face is totally okay as Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is a staple in their Christmas celebrations. I guess we can’t expect much racial sensitivity here.
Last Monday, over 5,000 Brazilians took to the streets of Salvador da Bahia to protest the deaths of unarmed Black people by police officers. Salvador da Bahi, the center of Afro-Brazilian culture, is feeling many of the pains endured by Blacks in America as Brazilian police have killed an average of six people per day between 2009 and 2013. Much like the U.S., these victims are disproportionately Black.
Over the past five years, Brazilian police have killed close to as many citizens as U.S. police have in the past 30 years. Last week’s protest is part of a larger movement in Brazil, “Reaja ou SeráMorto,” which translates to “React or Die,” and has many of the same concerns as America’s Black Lives Matter movement.
“This country loves our Black culture, our music, our bodies, but hates the fact we still exist as the majority,” one 26-year-old woman participating in the protest told Refinery29. “Salvador is the front line of the war against African people in Brazil. My people built this city — this country — through slavery. We will not be silent. Black lives have value; Africans all over the diaspora want to live.”
The New York Times reported at least 2,212 Brazilians were killed by the police in 2013. This number could be greater, but unfortunately not all states within the country record just how many deaths occur at the hands of police.
“Of course, the sense of outrage would be different if these victims were boys with blond hair and blue eyes who lived in rich areas, but they were not,” Antônio Carlos Costa told the Times after a 10-year-old was killed by police and his mother threatened at gunpoint. Costa is a Presbyterian pastor and works to keep track of how many children under 14 are killed by the police.
One human rights attorney who volunteers with the movement said Brazil has it far worse than America and the numbers attest to this. The Reaja ou Será Morto movement has existed for the past 10 years, but only recently have they taken to the streets to create large protests.
“When the police invade your community, your home, bash in your door, and slaughter a young family member before your eyes, it sets terror and a river of tears, and endless pain, a pain that lives after the dead are buried… We are calling this a genocide,” said one 24-year-old Afro-Brazilian woman at Monday’s protest.
Blacks in Brazil are no longer keeping quiet as police terrorize their communities, even in the face of possible death. A protest of last week’s magnitude isn’t widespread in Brazil due to the fact police often threaten the lives of organizers. Reaja ou Será Morto organizers have received death threats on their phones and social media pages and even unwarranted home visits from police.
But Reaja ou Será Morto is saying the time is now for justice in their country.
“We are not celebrating the dead; people are here celebrating life. The life of our children, to guarantee they will wake up every day and not worry about dying,” another protestor contended.
No one likes to feel like a stranger in their own land.
And yet, there are tons of Black folks who do.
Earlier this week, Slate ran an essay by Danielle Small entitled, ‘I’m Black, But I’m Uncomfortable Around Black People.’ Admittedly, the title of the article is off-putting. It sounds like it is going to be another one of those tragic “Woe is me, I’m so different” posts. Something written by an opportunistic Black person looking to one-up their brethren in exchange for White acceptance.
Thankfully, Small didn’t take that route. Instead, she wrote a piece about rooting out and challenging those insecurities, which made her incapable of connecting with folks who look like her. For Small, it all started with an awkward moment at the hair salon when her hairdresser attempted to give her “dap.” As some people know, a traditional Black’s person handshake has multiple steps, and it usually ends with a snap. Well, apparently Small must have missed the snap part.
It was a frivolous, albeit, awkward moment, which might have been shrugged off by most. But Small writes about how the experience triggered once-buried memories of what it was like to grow up in all-White towns in rural Wisconsin. A place where she heard “You are not really Black” as much as she heard the n-word.
I always brushed off those comments, because I knew I was black enough to be called “ni**er.” I was black enough that white people stared at me everywhere I went in those lily-white towns. And I was black enough to be accused of stealing during shopping trips.
But if you hear something enough, it can seep into your unconscious and start to guide your decisions. Somewhere along the way I started believing that I wasn’t black enough, whatever that meant. This is the clusterf**k of all realizations: Racism made me uncomfortable around my own people. Ain’t that some sh*t?
And it even affected my college experience. I never applied to any historical black colleges because I thought everyone would make fun of me because my black wasn’t cool enough. I was more comfortable with the thought of being around white people, where my blackness was for sure going to be denigrated in one form or another, than I was with the thought of being around my own people. By that time I had already accepted racism as a staple of life, but the thought of possibly being rejected by people that looked like me was too much to bear.
I think there is a lot of expectation when it comes to blackness. Unlike Small, most of my life has been spent in low-income Black enclaves – also known as the ‘hood. My family was on welfare. I went to dysfunctional public schools – two of which no longer exist. My neighborhood served as the focus of most hip-hop songs and the source material about Black urban life. We knew the slang, mastered the dress and had all of the cool dances down pat. Those were the norms. And that was expected of me.
And yet there were some things about me that didn’t always line up with expectations of me. In elementary school, I played string instruments: the cello, the viola, and the bass to be specific. I’ve been a huge book lover throughout my life. My Philly accent has been tainted and distorted from years of college and traveling. I hate the television show Scandal. And I am kind of a nerd. Of course, none of those things make me less Black. But because folks have expectations of what a person who wears those identifiers is supposed to look and feel like, my personal Blackness is constantly under attack.
Of course, the irony in all of this is that over the years, I have found myself attacked even when my attitudes and behaviors perfectly align with cultural norms. The so-called urban cool, which Small so desperately wanted to possess, has also been used to justify all sorts of assumptions about my overall viability as a contributing member of society. In short, I wasn’t smart or cultured because I used slang or other urban Black euphemisms. Listening to hip-hop meant that I supported violence. My funny-sounding name meant that I was ill-mannered and uncivilized (i.e., ghetto). And eating chicken wings smothered in hot sauce meant that I didn’t care about my personal health.
In the same vein as being labeled “not Black enough,” the “too Black” labels, at times, left me feeling both isolated and weird in my skin. But like Smalls, I had to learn that there was no right or wrong way to be Black.
As Small writes about her own epiphany:
In the foreword for the book “Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness,” Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writes: “There are 40 million black people in this country, and there are 40 million ways to be black … I do not mean to suggest that we are all of us in our own separate boxes, that one black life bears no relation to another. Of course not. We are not a monolith, but we are a community.”
It’s taken some time, but now I’m aware that there is no “black test” and that, even though I’m more Carlton than Fresh Prince, my blackness is still valid. My hair stylist doesn’t see me as some racial imposter. To her, I’m just some weirdo who doesn’t know how to do a proper handshake. Resisting the temptation to police my own blackness and the blackness of others has been a gradual process, but a necessary one.
And who knows what I’ve missed out on? How many friends I could’ve made, how many organizations I didn’t join out of fear. For years I isolated myself from the community that Henry Louis Gates, Jr. talks about, keeping potential sources of emotional support at arm’s length. And with new hashtags popping up every day, strong emotional support systems are needed more than ever.
It took several trips outside of the U.S. to fully understand the depths of our heritage, which we have managed to cultivate over the last 300 years or so in America. My international travels also introduced me to Caribbean Blacks, European Blacks, South American Blacks and continental Blacks, who all have their own norms and history. Being around that other kind of Black never made me feel less Black. Instead, it made me appreciate how vast and rich our people are. And although we express our cultural Blackness differently, we all are bound not only by history and lineage but by the same current oppression that seeks to hold us down based solely on the color of our skin.
Seeing firsthand how universal Blackness is taught me that being Black is a birthright, and no adherence – or even distance – from cultural norms will change that. Once folks accept that, the need to constantly prove or even disprove Blackness would dissipate.
Nestled just about 15 minutes outside of Detroit is the suburb of Southfield, Michigan – a community more middle and upper middle class African Americans move to, seeking a safer space for their family. But someone or ones want them out. On Friday, a flier circulated through the area stating “let’s get the Blacks out of Southfield in November” and it has the neighborhood outraged.
On the flier, a picture of Trayvon Martin is shown next to white Southfield candidates as the memo was placed into residents’ mailboxes over the weekend by an anonymous source.
The statement next to Martin’s picture reads: “Zimmerman was right we will stop these thugs.”
Tamika Denson, who grew up in Southfield and has a mother that still lives there, is upset at the racist campaign and the use of Martin’s image.
“She (Denson’s mother) experienced being hosed down by water hoses and once the decade started to change, you would think it’s better. But now it seems like we are reverting back” said Denson to Detroit’s Fox 2 News.
Southfield’s mayoral candidate, Kenson Silver, who is pictured on the flier told the news station no candidates shown on the flier support the message of hate.
“It goes against the diversity that makes this city of Southfield great,” noted Silver.
While I share Denson’s frustrations and in no way support hateful tactics set to push Blacks out of any neighborhood, maybe it is time for the Black residents to move back to Detroit. My mother is also a resident of Southfield, however 85 percent of my family still calls Detroit home.
Born and raised in the Motown city, when I left for college my parents moved to the suburbs. I’d spend the summers of my undergraduate years living and working in Southfield. Sure, the suburb boasts well-paved roads, better schools and safer neighborhoods. But maybe it’s time the Black community put more effort and pressure into Detroit looking just as good as the suburb.
Gentrification is happening at a widespread pace across America from Brooklyn to New Orleans, and my hometown is feeling the shift. Just last month, Black business owners could be seen protesting the wave of Black businesses being pushed out of the downtown district. The city is well on its way to restoration, but the African American community must fight to have a real stake in this comeback and they can’t do that outside city limits.
So, maybe moving out of Southfield isn’t a bad idea — not that it should be predicated on racists pushing them out. I still feel a heavy sense of nostalgia for Detroit, but every time I return home the city seems foreign. I remember a downtown Detroit peppered with Blacks from all walks of life. However, while recently walking the downtown riverfront I saw more and more White residents running with their dogs and almost offended as if I was in their way.
So go ahead racists, maybe you can take the suburbs (doubt it). But when Black Detroiters reclaim their homes and neighborhoods and restore the city to the economic and cultural powerhouse it once was, don’t be mad.
The Ferguson Police Department was so corrupt that yesterday Judge Donald McCullin announced that he was withdrawing every single arrest warrant issued before December 31, 2014.
Judge Donald McCullin, who was appointed to the bench in June, is seeking to restore faith in the city and its authority figures.
With his ruling he said, “These changes should continue the process of restoring confidence in the Court, alleviating fears of the consequences of appearing in Court, and giving many residents a fresh start.”
McCullin’s ruling comes after a report from the Justice Department proved that there was “unlawful bias” against African Americans. The police department previously used arrest warrants “almost exclusively” as a threat to compel payment of fines. A practice that lead McCullin’s predecessor to resign.
As you may well know, the Justice Department performed a thorough investigation into Ferguson policing after 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr., unarmed, was shot and killed by former officer Darren Wilson.
It always amazes me how companies and organizations fail to realize the strength and power of Black people. We are some of the number one users and “culture pushers” of social media. We tweet, post and share our disappointment, humiliation and outrage in being mistreated. Still, some companies, in an attempt to appease their White consumers or perpetuate their own racist policies, abuse us anyway, only to issue a ridiculous apology after they’ve been blown up all over social media.
Yesterday, the news of the Napa Valley Wine Train throwing 11 Black women off of the train, where they were met with police officers, went viral.
Most people, Black and White, read the story and knew it was discriminatory, racist even. And they, along with others who were on the train that day, said so.
Today, the CEO of the Napa Valley Wine Train, Anthony Giaccio, issued this statement saying his management team handled the matter poorly.
“The Napa Valley Wine Train was 100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue. We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests.”
Giaccio told Business Wire that he reached out the Lisa Johnson the leader of the Sistahs on the Reading Edge Book Club to apologize for their treatment. He pledged to learn from the incident and offer diversity training for his employees.
In a letter to the entire club, he apologized repeatedly for his staff’s mistreatment of them this past Sunday as well was the way his staff handled the incident afterward.
“I want to apologize for your experience on the Napa Valley Wine Train on Saturday, Aug. 22. We accept full responsibility for our failures and the entire chain of unfortunate events you experienced.
Clearly, we knew in advance when we booked your party that you would be loud, fun-loving and boisterous—because you told us during the booking process that you wanted a place where your Club could enjoy each other’s company. Somehow that vital information never made it to the appropriate channels and we failed to seat your group where you could enjoy yourself properly and alert our train’s staff that they should expect a particularly vibrant group.
“We were insensitive when we asked you to depart our train by marching you down the aisle past all the other passengers. While that was the safest route for disembarking, it showed a lack of sensitivity on our part that I did not fully conceive of until you explained the humiliation of the experience and how it impacted you and your fellow Book Club members.
“We also erred by placing an inaccurate post on our Facebook site that was not reflective of what actually occurred. In the haste to respond to criticism and news inquires, we made a bad situation worse by rushing to answer questions on social media. We quickly removed the inaccurate post, but the harm was done by our erroneous post.
“In summary, we were acutely insensitive to you and the members of the Book Club. Please accept my apologies for our many mistakes and failures. We pride ourselves on our hospitality and our desire to please our guests on the Napa Valley Wine Train. In this instance, we failed in every measure of the meaning of good service, respect and hospitality.
“I appreciate your recommendation that our staff, which I believe to be among the best, could use additional cultural diversity and sensitivity training. I pledge to make sure that occurs and I plan to participate myself.
“As I offered in my conversation with you today, please accept my personal apologies for your experience and the experience of the Book Club members. I would like to invite you and other members to return plus 39 other guests (you can fill an entire car of 50) as my personal guests in a reserved car where you can enjoy yourselves as loudly as you desire.
“I want to conclude again by offering my apologies for your terrible experience.”
Despite this apology, Lisa Johnson told MSNBC‘s Thomas Roberts that she will not patronize the Napa Valley Wine Train again.
“No, we don’t accept the apology… In the course of my conversation with Anthony, he was apologizing. And during the course of that apology he said to me, ‘You know it’s really troubling for us that we’re being painted in the media to be something that we are not. And I had to take that in a moment because I said, ‘That’s exactly what you did to us.’ was paint a picture of us in the media of something that we are not…I will never forget my first and last experience on the Napa Wine Train.”
You can watch Lisa’s full interview in the video below.
Good for her, his comments clearly illustrate the fact that he doesn’t get or understand the bigger issue here.
Did you hear the managing director of Hervé Léger say he didn’t want curvaceous women rocking the fashion house’s bandage dresses? Unfortunately, he’s only one of many designers who don’t want certain people wearing their clothing.
Yesterday, social media was in a tizzy talking about Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King and his racial makeup. A conservative, right-winged, historically inaccurate website Breitbart attempted to make King out of a liar saying that he’s only been pretending to be Black, pretending to be oppressed. And while King was a bit careful and guarded when he issued his initial response to the attack, today, in an extended essay for The Daily Kos, he told the full story, or as much as felt comfortable sharing with many who sought to discredit him yesterday.
On his parentage
The reports about my race, about my past, and about the pain I’ve endured are all lies. My mother is a senior citizen. I refuse to speak in detail about the nature of my mother’s past, or her sexual partners, and I am gravely embarrassed to even be saying this now, but I have been told for most of my life that the white man on my birth certificate is not my biological father and that my actual biological father is a light-skinned black man. My mother and I have discussed her affair. She was a young woman in a bad relationship and I have no judgment. This has been my lived reality for nearly 30 of my 35 years on earth. I am not ashamed of it, or of who I am—never that—but I was advised by my pastor nearly 20 years ago that this was not a mess of my doing and it was not my responsibility to fix it. All of my siblings and I have different parents. I’m actually not even sure how many siblings I have. It is horrifying to me that my most personal information, for the most nefarious reasons, has been forced out into the open and that my private past and pain have been used as jokes and fodder to discredit me and the greater movement for justice in America. I resent that lies have been reported as truth and that the obviously racist intentions of these attacks have been consistently downplayed at my expense and that of my family.
Learning and coming to terms with his Blackness
When I was 8 years old and in the second grade, black children first began asking me if I was “mixed.” In our house, my white mother, the sweetest woman ever and one of the best friends I’ve ever had, didn’t talk much about race. Most white families don’t. It’s part of the privilege. I didn’t even know what “mixed” was. This isn’t a secret. I’ve told this story publicly in front of thousands of people.
After that day when I was first asked if I was mixed, while I was still a very young child, kids and their well-intentioned parents began telling me they knew who my black father was, that I was so and so’s cousin, etc. This was in small-town Versailles, Kentucky, in the 1980s. It happened regularly for years on end. While I didn’t have an understanding of the national dialogue on interracial children, I knew even as a young child that what people were telling meant something very peculiar and unflattering about my mother. I was aware at how different I looked than my siblings, but didn’t understand DNA or genealogy. They were my family and I loved them…
By the time I reached middle school, I fully identified myself not even as biracial, but just as black. Of course, that was an oversimplification of my story, but that was what made sense at that time. Adults who loved and knew me, on many occasions sat me down and told me that I was black. As you could imagine, this had a profound impact on me and soon became my truth.
He also spoke in depth the very real abuses he suffered as a Black child in a rural town, including being called Nigger, being spat on, having tobacco thrown in his face and being jumped by a mob of angry, racist teenagers.
As a result of that beating, King has had to have several spinal surgeries. He had to have one after he was accepted to Morehouse, on a full academic and leadership scholarship. He subsequently lost the scholarship and was later awarded one by Oprah Winfrey.
She wanted it to be for “diamonds in the rough” and that was pretty much who I was at that point. I didn’t apply for it. Nobody does. The college selects brothers who need it and I was, very gratefully, chosen for it
And lastly he addressed the intentions with which people sought to question or raise doubt to his racial identity.
Not one person behind these reports has remotely good intentions—quite the opposite, in fact. Since these articles have been released, my family and I have received constant death threats and nonstop racist harassment. Multiple members of my family have been harassed and we now have been forced to take extra security measures for our safety.
This was the goal… divide and conquer. But I will not allow it to define or distract me for one more day and hope that all of you reading this will move on with me. I have promised my wife, kids, extended family, and friends that this will be the last time I talk about this publicly for a long time. My work has never been about me and I’ve never made a big deal about my race. I’ve actually tried hard to avoid ever making a big deal out of it and have, instead, simply tried to do good work that matters. I’m eager to get back to the cause that concerns me most.
My focus will continue to be ending police brutality. I believe it is the pre-eminent civil rights issue of modern America and that, together, we can fight against it effectively.
It is a complete and utter shame that Shaun had to come out and detail his parentage. Particularly when the people who are calling for it, could care less about whether or not he’s exploiting Black people. It was never about that. It’s sad. But if there’s any good that can come of this, people will think twice about the information and the source of the information they consume. And perhaps we won’t be so ready and willing to tear down our own letters just because White folks said so.
Amen, God Bless and goodnight, there’s nothing more to see here.
You can read Shaun’s full essay over at The Daily Kos.
Mary Engelbreit is a St. Louis artist who is known for creating comforting cartoon illustrations that started off as cards. As her card line grew in size and popularity, it drew attention from other companies anxious to license her artwork on nearly 6,500 products over the years, with more than $1 billion in sales.
She has a huge following, and her work is usually accompanied by positive slogans about life and family so she is the last person you would think would be involved in pushing a controversial message.
Fed up about what happened to Michael Brown, the Missouri teen who was gunned down by police, Engelbreit felt compelled to post the photo below. It depicts an African-American mother and child looking at a newspaper that reads “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot.”
Priced at $49.99, all of the proceeds are going to the Michael Brown Memorial Fund, which supports the family of Michael Brown. Engelbreit received lots of supportive feedback, but also lost a lot of fans because people were angry that she wasn’t highlighting the positive things that the police do with her art.
Some of the unsupportive comments on her Facebook included the following:
“Shame on you! This man was not an innocent murdered! I do not disagree that there is racism or bad cops, but this is the wrong platform to use for it! This officer feared for his life and was CLEARED from any wrong doing. These current “peaceful” protests are nothing but racism and cop hating.”
“Put ur hand up thank you! make it easier for me ammo is getting expensive”
“Carol Wright Am jumping on your side on this…and to those who are creating the DISTRACTIONS of WHAT ABOUT THIS…! WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT THAT…AND THIS WAS NOT REALLY TRUE. Knock it off and grow up.”
“No need for a book. Had Michael Brown had parents who raised him not rob a store and then attack a police officer he would still be here.”
“How about drawing a cartoon about a thug threatening a police officer and stealing with the headline: UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR”
Engelbreit responded to critics, saying:
“I also thought about disabling the comments today and just let those that wanted to buy the print do so. But then I thought, Well, I posted it—I should see this through to the bitter end. However, today, if anyone uses words like “thug” or “animal” or any other derogatory words to describe their fellow human beings, their comment will be deleted. That’s not free speech, that’s hate speech, and you can go pedal your hatred and bigotry on someone else’s Facebook page. We can only hope that all the people who said that they were going to unfollow me have done so, and maybe today we can have a more civilized stream of comments.”
Some of the supportive comments on her Facebook included the following:
“Following you and everyone who fights division!”
“You have made me a fan again! heart emoticon”
“Thank u for understanding the responsibility of being an artist! New fan!!”
“I ended up here from another site sharing the news about this and your response. I have always loved your work and now I love your heart and soul. Keep on keeping on!”
“I too found your site because of the reporting on peoples response to this work. I applaud your work, your message, and your response the the negative reactions. Ignoring the problem helps no one. From a fellow artist, thank you.”
What are your thoughts on the artwork?
Controversial comments about race always seem to make it into the headlines. But are these stars purposely race-baiting their fans? Are they looking for attention or do they actually feel this way about race issues?