All Articles Tagged "racism"

New Report Sheds Light on Disproportionate Arrests of African American Women

May 1st, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Disproportionate Arrests of African American Women

Source: Shutterstock

There has been a lot of talk as of late about the state of Black men and their disproportionate interaction with the criminal justice system; but little, if ever, do we stop to consider the mass incarceration of Black women.

A new study by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice offers us insight into the long-ignored topic and the numbers aren’t pretty. According to a fact sheet, which was published on Wednesday, African-American women in San Francisco are arrested at rates disproportionate to any other other racial or ethnic group.

As the report states:

“According to the data, black women compose less than six percent of San Francisco’s female population, but constitute nearly half of all female arrests and experience arrest rates 13 times higher than women of other races.

The fact sheet expounds upon a 2012 CJCJ research brief by Mike Males and William Armaline, which charts the increasing racially disparate arrest rates of African Americans in San Francisco over the past 40 years that continue today. While in 1980, African American women were 4.1 times more likely to be arrested than women of other races, as of 2013, black women in San Francisco were 13.4 times more likely to be arrested than non-black women. This, despite an overall decrease in the population of African Americans in San Francisco.”

As the fact sheet further states, African American women were 34 times more likely to be arrested in San Francisco for narcotics and 31 times more likely to be arrested for prostitution. Likewise, African American women were more likely to find themselves victims of “driving while Black,” as they were 17 times more likely to be arrested during traffic violations.

According to the report, the rate of arrests of African American women has risen sharply over the last 35 years. And despite having these facts “repeatedly reported” to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, Board of Supervisors and Police Commission, the report claims that little has been done to try to decrease those numbers.

Nationally, the rate of incarceration for African American women is on the decline, according to a recent report by the Sentencing Project, but as the Southern Coalition for Social Justice finds, African American women receive longer prison sentences than their white counterparts. This is particularly true if they are of a darker hue, according to a 2011 study by Villanova University.

Likewise, African American women are being targeted by the criminal justice system at much younger ages than their racial counterparts. According to the report, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected, African American girls are six times more likely to be suspended and often subjected to much harsher and frequent disciplinary actions at schools than that of their White, female peers.

And as this article from 2012 entitled What’s Gender Got to Do With Racial Profiling notes:

” What we do know is that racial profiling of women of color in the context of the “war on drugs” continues to drive the reality that Black and Latina women are the fastest growing population of people in prison. The findings of the well-known 2000 study by the General Accounting Office documented the practice of profiling Black women at the nation’s airports were just the tip of the iceberg . Pervasive profiling of women of color as drug users, couriers, and purveyors extends into highways, streets, and communities across the country. Such profiling also extends beyond African American and Latina women to Native women, who have consistently reported widespread profiling in the context of the “war on drugs.”

It definitely seems that when it comes to mass incarceration and racial profiling, Black women have not been exempt. And when we take issues, which largely affect the entire Black community and only look at them from the viewpoint of what is happening to the men of the community, we fail to address them at all.

Rioting, Looting And The Failures Of Black Leadership

April 29th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Failures Of Black Leadership

Image Source: WENN.com

In 2008, only a few months before the historical election that would eventually crown our country’s first Black president, I appeared on an online radio show and engaged in a loud and very heated impromptu debate over the current state of our political Black class.

At the center of the tension was then-senator Barack Obama’s comments on the acquittal of the four officers who shot and killed unarmed Sean Bell on the eve of his wedding. At the time, Obama, who was running on a platform of hope and change and bringing our country together racially, told reporters  the following (as reported by the Washington Post):

“Well, look, obviously there was a tragedy in New York. I said at the time, without benefit of all the facts before me, that it looked like a possible case of excessive force. The judge has made his ruling, and we’re a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down,” he said in response to a question at a gas station in Indianapolis, where he was holding a news conference.

“The most important thing for people who are concerned about that shooting is to figure out how do we come together and assure those kinds of tragedies don’t happen again,” he continued… “Resorting to violence to express displeasure over a verdict is something that is completely unacceptable and counterproductive.”

It is true that no one likes insurrection. It is messy, it is destructive, and things get f**ked up. However, after multiple generations of being a people who have protested, marched, voted, petitioned our government for reprieve, and appealed to the hearts and minds of the dominant culture, with no signs that anyone is listening, the so-called violent response is a viable option. After all, you can not expect a people who live under economic and social apartheid and who are getting killed out in the streets by police in state-sanctioned violence to always remain calm. If someone keeps punching me in my face, after I repeatedly asked them nicely to stop, I might just haul off and knock them out. And as far as I have always been concerned, after everything that has been done and continues to be done to us as a people, the mere fact that this country is still standing and not a heap of ashes is a testament to just how calm and peaceful we truly are.

Besides, it is disingenuous to say that calm and peace is the answer when our country routinely uses its might to not just defend itself, but to spread its agenda around the world. Violence was the answer during the American Revolution when with Crispus Attucks, a Black man, died in the Boston Massacre. Rioting was the answer when patriots threw the tea into the harbor with the belief that there should be no taxation without representation. No one championed peace and calm during the Whiskey Rebellion, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Seminole Wars (all three of them), the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion, World War I and II, the Bay of Pigs, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq.

One thing that America understands is that sometimes, violence is the only and just answer. And if violence is not the answer, then what does Obama, who was running for not just the highest office in the land, but the most powerful position in the world, propose that we do instead?

The thing is that nowhere in his calls for calm has he offered any viable platform position to deal with police brutality and killings. In short, his pleas to respect our nation of laws was shallow just as much as it was dismissive. And since he failed to offer even the tiniest bit of lip-service to our rightful grievances and political demands, he was and is no different than his Republican and neoliberal (ahem, Hillary Clinton) opposition.

This was my position during that radio debate.

Naturally, the hosts at the time, both Black, didn’t see it like that. At least they agreed with me about the need for serious Black political leadership in our community. But, in spite of our collective needs, they also felt that it was important we maintain a united racial front for the benefit of this one man. And whatever Obama needed us to do in order to get him elected, including ignoring the tragic murder of Bell and the courts of New York, which sanctioned it, we must do it.

Despite all indicators that our grievances weren’t even in the same automobile, let alone the backseat of Obama’s agenda, these hosts were certain that Obama was the changemaker that he claimed himself to be. Once in office, he would rip off his mask of neutrality and become the Black president the country needed. However, he had to be more strategic. That he couldn’t come right out and just say those things without sounding like a radical and risking his chances to become the Leader of the Free World. In due time, is what these hosts told me. All I had to do was be patient.

Nearly eight years later, I am still patiently waiting for Obama to rip off that mask. And nearly eight years later, now-President Obama is still singing the same tune about peace and calm that he once caroled as a presidential candidate.

As reported by CNN:

“There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive,” Obama said at a press conference from the White House. “When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting. They’re not making a statement. They’re stealing. When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson. And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities. That robs jobs and opportunity from people in that area.”

He also called those who looted and burned down the CVS in Baltimore “criminals” and “thugs.”

For all the talk about hope and change, and for all the hoopla over what the first Black president would mean for not only bridging racial gaps in this country, but for our community more specifically, it is clear that our President Obama is not thinking about us. And it is not just Obama. For all the Black mayors, governors, city council people, district attorneys, attorney generals and even dog catchers we have lifted on our collective backs and hoisted into office, they haven’t produced anything for our benefit other than symbolic “firsts.”

Sure, they have made strides in personal achievements and preserving the status quo, however, the dream of W.E.B Du Bois’ that the Talented Tenth would lead and raise up our people to a more equitable and fair future has been a dismal failure. When it is time for them to lead, we are reminded that they are not beholden to us or our interests alone. And when it is time to redress our grievances, we are reminded about the need for calm and peace. My question, Mr. President, is if the so-called violent response to a man having his spinal cord damn-near severed in half while in police custody is counterproductive, then tell me, what exactly is it counterproductive to? Because right now, neither he, nor many others within our Black leadership class, have offered any sort of suggestion, policy change, legislation, or even a got-damn speech to address the long-standing crisis of police brutality and killings. And this is unacceptable.

We chide our children for focusing on Jordans and other materialistic symbols of wealth, yet we engage in the same surface level facades of progress. We bitterly denounce the youth for their violent protests and not bringing about change in the appropriate way, without once considering the piss-poor roadmap we have left them to follow. Many in the leadership class are scared to rock the boat out of fear that they may lose what little bit of status and crumbs from the oppressor’s tables they have accumulated over the years. But they shrewdly try to hold back those who are out here risking freedom, life, limb, and liberty to free us all.

Obama, and everybody else within the failed leadership class, may be one man, however, he is one man with considerable power and a position to do a lot more for us than any other Black person in history. And just like I am one person, who every single day uses her voice and small platform here at MadameNoire to say, “No, this sh*t is wrong,” he can do the same.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am sick of symbolic gestures of progress; I want the real got-damn thing. And I will no longer be compelled to tell people to go vote, particularly for a Black candidate, when the best we have been offered thus far are spineless candidates and politicians who act like their hands are too tied to do anything. Or worse, they would rather blame the victim.

By the way, in addition to condemning the thug criminals for their so-called violent response, Obama also took a few moments to finally criticize America’s police forces for what he called “a slow rolling crisis.” He also pledged that he would send some representatives from the Justice Department to Baltimore to lead an investigation into Freddie Gray’s death. Something tells me that if folks would have continued to wait in the same old peaceful and calm manner, we may not have even been given that.

Later Slator! AT&T Fires President Aaron Slator Over Racially Offensive Texts

April 29th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.com

Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.com

AT&T confirmed on Tuesday that it has fired company president Aaron Slator, who is currently immersed in a $100 million racial discrimination case, The Huffington Post reports.

Slator, head of the company’s content and advertising department, allegedly used his work phone to send out racially insensitive images. According to International Business Times, one of the photos found on Slator’s phone featured an African child dancing with the caption, “It’s Friday N*****s.” The AT&T president reportedly referred to the meme as an “oldie but a goodie.”

The photos were found by an assistant who was instructed to transfer Slator’s phone data into a new device.

A lawsuit was filed against Slator by Knoyme King, a 50-year-old Black female employee. “Slator harbors obvious and deep-seated racial animus toward African Americans,” the lawsuit said. “Slator’s decisions regarding hiring, firing, promotions and raises are infected by his racism.”

King, who spent 30 years building her career at AT&T, asserts that she was hindered because the company favored less-qualified, “non-African-American” employees.

According to the lawsuit, AT&T turned a blind eye to discriminatory practices within the company:

“The appropriate reaction – the morally responsible and legally required one – would have been for AT&T to take steps to remedy this past, and to prevent future, racism by its top television content executive,…

“AT&T did not do this. Instead, AT&T’s engaged in an illegal cover-up, to ensure that its racism remained hidden-even at the expense of long-term, loyal African American employees.”

In response, AT&T kicked Slator off his presidential pedestal, saying, “There is no place for demeaning behavior within AT&T, and we regret the action was not taken earlier.”

King’s lawyer, Louis Miller, said this case is more than just one image and one executive. It’s a problem that permeates the telecommunications giant as a whole: “These images and issues were reported a year and a half ago, and the company swept them under the rug,” he said.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, board member Joyce Roche, and other executives are also named as defendants in the suit.

“I Don’t Want Him To Be A Freddie Gray” Mom Who Smacked Son In Baltimore Speaks Out

April 28th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Mom Who Smacked Son In Baltimore Speaks Out

Source: CBS News

The video of the mother smacking and pushing her son in the streets of Baltimore has gone viral. Most people are sharing it as a means to discourage others from protesting peacefully or rioting, not so peacefully.

They’re praising her for discipling him and taking her actions to mean, simply, that she disapproves of his decision to riot, that she believes the rioting is wrong and wanted to shame her son.

But to simplify this video like that misses the larger message.

And instead of making up the larger message, the real meaning behind her smacking and pushing her son in public, I’ll let this mother speak for herself.

CBS News caught up with Toya Graham and asked her specifically what was going through her mind as she was hitting her son.

In a snippet from the interview, she said:

“He gave me eye contact. And at that point, you know, not even thinking about cameras or anything like that. That’s my only son and at the end of the day I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray.”

 

CBS reports that his safety was her only concern and the only reason she struck him like that.

In the news coverage, I’m seeing far too much dismissal and demonization of the behavior and not enough critiquing or even questioning of the evil, the violence, the centuries of racism that caused it.

It’s the epidemic of racism that keep causing these riots. And it’s time to stop treating the symptoms instead of the disease. Once things calm down in Baltimore, if the issue of systemic racism in our country’s law enforcement is not addressed, it won’t be long before we see this happen again, in another U.S. city.

See more of Graham’s interview later tonight on the “CBS Evening News” at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday on “CBS This Morning” at 7 a.m.

Cash Cropping Our Cornrows: Is Cultural Appropriation The Sincerest Form Of Flattery?

April 23rd, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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cultural appropriation

Image Source: Tumblr

Did you see Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg’s viral video Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows? Her crash discourse on black culture has been changing the discussion on race in pop culture.

But now that she’s helped everyone get unconfused about what constitutes cultural appropriation, let’s talk about these stars who have found themselves in trouble for “borrowing” from other cultures.

Bananas And Watermelons: Celebs Share Their Most Side-Eye Worthy Experiences With Racism

April 22nd, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

Chrissy Teigen called a “chink”? President Obama mistaken for the help? These celebrities say their experiences with racism were so shocking all they could do was give the side-eye.

Officials Immediately Resign After City Elects First Black, Female Mayor

April 20th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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In my heart, I know that not all police officers are bad. I have family members who work in law enforcement. But Lord knows, in the news, as of late, the image of police officers is ranging the scale from completely inept to sociopathic.

And last Tuesday, we saw another example of that in the small town of Parma, Missouri.

Tyrus Byrd made history when she was sworn in as the city’s first African American, female mayor after beating incumbent, Randall Ramsey by 38 votes. Ramsey served as Parma’s mayor for 37 years, under two terms.

And while many supported Byrd’s new position, others didn’t take the news so well. The outgoing mayor said that five of the city’s six police officers submitted their resignations the same week, citing “safety concerns.” Parma’s city attorney, clerk and water treatment supervisor also resigned.

Ramsey told the local CBS affiliate that the government employees gave no notice.

Aside from stating that she was unable to find the resignation letters, Parma, who previously worked as the city’s clerk, declined to comment about the massive walkout. Instead, she’s waiting for more information before she speaking publicly about the loss of personnel.

That’s smart on her part but we all know what’s up. #Racism

While some city officials are in their feelings about Byrd’s elections, several residents are not concerned about the safety of the town, even now that a majority of the police officers have stepped down.

One resident told the CBS station, “I think it was pretty dirty the way they all quit without giving her a chance. But I don’t think they hurt the town any by quitting because who needs six police for 740 people?”

(I can’t tell you how long I laughed at this comment this morning.)

But even a few monkeys don’t stop no show. While they’re looking for new officers, a nearby town’s sheriff’s department will help monitor the city.

It’s a shame the actions of others are clouding the very exciting news of Ms. Byrd making history. But with city officials with this type of loyalty to the city, it’s probably best that they step down anyway.

BGR Founder Beverly Bond Responds Mad White Folks About The First Lady Attending Black Girls Rock Awards

April 10th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Beverly Bond Responds Mad White Folks About The First Lady Attending Black Girls Rock

Source: WBLS

After BET aired the “Black Girls Rock” Award show, a slew of White people were not particularly happy about First Lady, Michelle Obama appearing and speaking at the program. And they expressed their concerns, mostly via social media. They sounded off under the First Lady’s Instagram page.

This happens every year with the award show, the criticism was just louder this year because of Mrs. Obama’s attendance. Well, Black Girls Rock founder, Beverly Bond, has been doing this for years. And just like last year, she had to address the critics. This year was no exception. In a recent interview with WBLS, see how she eloquently and righteously defended the First Lady’s decision to attend the show as well as the reason it exists in the first place.

About Mrs. Obama attending: 

“I thought she’s a Black girl that rocks. Why wouldn’t she be there?” 

About people saying the show is racist. 

“There is a real blind spot when it comes to privilege in America and not understanding racism and the implications of that. It is very telling when people have no problem tuning into Black Entertainment Television but when they’re tuning in, they’re offended by Black Entertainment Television celebrating Black women. That says a lot about who’s really racist here. And the fact that there needs to be a Black Entertainment Television or a Black Girls Rock or an NAACP. These things came about because of our exclusion. That’s one of the reasons why they exist. 

So I think it’s very telling about where we are with our race relations with people being comfortable enough to tune into BET, not concerned when the images were not so stellar, never voicing their opinions about things that were degrading us or harming us. And to be offended by something that uplifts and empowers something that is an affirmation for young girls, that’s very telling. 

If people really felt like it was about exclusion or “White Girls Rock Too” then they would have approached it differently. We know White Girls Rock, no one’s ever denied it. But to be offended that we have taken this issue of self esteem in our own hands…the many messages that are directed towards Black women and girls that tell us that we are not good enough, that we are not beautiful enough, that we are not deserving enough. There are so many messages in media from cosmetic ads to just being the leading lady opposite men who look like us. 

And so this message has been going on for a very long time and for us to actually decide to say something and do something about it and people be offended, that’s like telling the slaves not to teach the kids to read. I think it’s really racist of them to be offended. 

But what I did notice this year was women, of all nationalities but especially White women that jumped in and said to the other women who were offended, ‘How dare you? How dare you be offended by our sisters celebrating themselves?’ And I thought that that was amazing.

Bravo Beverly! You can watch Beverly Bond’s full interview, where she discusses a bit of the process to get the First Lady there, to the words of encouragement she shared with her and more in the video below.

 

“Light Girls”: Actresses Who Say They Suffer From Shade Too

April 10th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

“You think you’re better than everyone else.” “Wannabe white.” “Check your privilege.” These actresses say it’s not just Dark Girls; light-skinned women are discriminated against too. Read on to hear more about their struggles with the skin they’re in.

Penny For Your Thoughts: Am I Naïve Or Ignorant For Not Thinking Certain Things Are Racist?

April 9th, 2015 - By Penny Wrenn
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

I admit it: I’m one of the millions of stupid Americans who keep up with the Kardashians. The KJs (as I call them) are my favorite Internet distraction.

Judge me, if you must. I get it. That’s fine. (And, no, this isn’t a post intending to defend the K-clan’s relevance and influence.) I’m just being honest about the fact that I’m a fan of TV’s most infamous family.

So imagine my surprise when I Googled Kylie Jenner the other day and these words showed up: Blackface.

Now, you’ve probably heard about the whole Kylie-blackface thing already. And upon hearing about the Kylie-blackface thing or seeing the photos that caused the controversy, you may have a) been morally outraged in the name of all things utterly racist and artistically abhorrent, b) earnestly thought, Blackface? Huh? She looks like a gold-dusted alien to me… c) disgustedly rolled your eyes and thought, Here goes more stupid Kardashian sh*t… or d) blithely rolled your eyes and thought, Like I care.

Or, perhaps, you had an altogether different response. (In which case, do tell!)

As far as my response goes, I would say that I was option b. I earnestly thought, Blackface? Huh? She looks like a gold-dusted alien to me…

And this is where I get self-conscious.

By writing that I honestly didn’t get a blackface vibe from Jenner’s photos, I’m opening myself up to the accusation that I suffer from the same racial naïveté that made Jenner think publicizing those photos of herself with darker skin was okay in the first place. Basically, I’m afraid that you’ll call me ignorant.

In my worst case scenario way of thinking, you will think of me as the Ignorant Black Person. To you, I will be someone who doesn’t “know our history” or “respect our struggle.” It’ll be as if the founders of my alma mater, Spelman College, are turning over in their graves (and all my Spelman sisters are lining up to unfriend me on Facebook). To you, I’ll be the Ignorant Black Person, simply because my racism radar lacks a knee-jerk “oh hell no!” reaction.

While “ignorant” isn’t a word I’d use to describe myself, I dare not pretend to be a scholar on race or race issues. As for issuing an educated response to the Kylie-blackface thing, I’m not armed with a history professor’s arsenal of references to 19th century minstrel shows. I wish I were the academic/intellectual type who could be a talking head in the 24-hours news cycle and speak knowingly about the historical facts that pertain to conversations about race. Thing is, I’m not.

And I’ll be honest again by saying that sometimes the “that’s racist!” online brouhahas somewhat elude me.

Don’t get me wrong: I get it. I don’t often feel the same way, but I get it. And when I witness another black person taking a “that’s racist!” stance, I don’t mentally charge her with the alleged crime of pulling the race card (or being paranoid, groundlessly suspicious, having a chip on her shoulder or anything else condescending like that).

Rather, I think (or, in some circles, I may say aloud), “Really? You went there? Yo, I didn’t go there at all. Not. At. All.”

Afterwards I may wonder, Wait, am I a race betrayer? A double-dealer? An Uncle Tom (or Aunt Tomasina)? A gullible house negro?

I don’t seriously believe I’m any of those things. While I’m not inherently distrustful of white people and the things they do, I consider myself to be more than marginally circumspect when it comes to race matters. (So “more than marginally circumspect” makes me what? Moderately watchful? Relatively vigilant? I don’t know.)

My bottom line on race, however, is simple: I’m incredibly in love with black folks and being black. That may sound trite (and/or offensive, depending on who you are), but it’s truer than true. Yet I recognize that my saying “I’m in love with being black” is a privilege. That’s right: A privilege. Granted, it’s a minor privilege if you even agree that it’s a privilege at all. Still, it’s one the very few privileges of being a person of color.

Most folks of any color would be okay hearing an Indian person say, “I love being Indian” or a Japanese person say “I love being Japanese.” The “I love being ____” privilege also extends itself culturally and religiously, not just racially. I’d bet a Jewish person who is white could say, “I love being Jewish” and not receive much, if any, backlash.

But I pity the poor Jewish or non-Jewish white person who says, “I love being white.”

Think about it. Here’s a picture of the beautiful Kimberly Elise wearing an “I love being black” T-shirt. I see that picture and I think, Look at her and her lovely afro and her lovely black self! But let’s say that, I don’t know, Ellen Pompeo (the star of Grey’s Anatomy, a show that Kimberly Elise once guest-starred) wore an “I love being white” T-shirt. Please. I might not call “racist!” but I’d give her the “You should know better” side-eye (especially since Ellen Pompeo’s husband is black, so I suspect she really does know better).

Now, I’m not saying that white folks should skip around town sporting “I love being white” T-shirts. But I’m also not saying that sporting “I love being white” T-shirts is something that white folks should not do. Would it be stupid of them to do it? Sure. Would it be insensitive? Absolutely. Is there a double standard? Well, yeah. Is the double standard fair? Well, historically speaking, white folks’ version of racial pride hasn’t been about positive self-esteem as much as it has been about blatant supremacy. So, yeah, while there might be a double standard, I’d argue that it’s a reasonable one.

As a black person though, I know can rock my “I love being black”-ness openly and it won’t be as offensive to white folks as it would be to everyone else if a white person were to follow suit by expressing pride in their own race.

And yes, I understand that publicly affirming one’s blackness isn’t wholly acceptable and can still be met with a lot of criticism. Consider the Black Girls Rock! vs. all girls rock vs. #WhiteGirlsRock commotion. But I suspect that the criticism that racially self-affirming black folks would get from white folks is considerably less than the criticism that racially self-affirming white folks would get from black folks.

What I’m saying is this: There are nuances wherein black folks kind of have an advantage in some race matters. And whenever I’m considering who has the most advantage in any given situation, I can’t help but feel a little pity for the person who has the least.

Which means that sometimes I feel a little sorry for white people.

Generally speaking, I certainly feel more support and empathy for black folks than I do pity for white folks. I know that in an overall who’s-more-disadvantaged contest, we’d certainly win. But despite that, I occasionally feel a twinge of pity when a famous white person wanders into a racial minefield. When he or she gets slammed for being racist after making some extemporaneous remark or display on social media or TV, I’ve noticed myself extending him or her an unsaid “bless your heart.”

A couple days ago, I virtually extended a “bless your heart” to Kylie Jenner during her blackface incident, just as I virtually extended a “bless your heart” to Giuliana Rancic after she made that bad joke about Zendaya Coleman’s faux locs in February.

When I read about Rancic’s comments the day after the Oscars, I was convinced it was hippiness, not blackness, that she was lambasting. To me, her bad jokes were meant to conjure up an outmoded stereotype of the tie-dye wearing, Grateful Dead-loving flower child. Yes, I know that “meant to” is a slippery slope, and that the “she didn’t mean to offend anyone” defense is spurious reasoning. Whether a person from one racial group knowingly intends for their words or actions to harm or offend a person from another racial group isn’t the point, as much as the point is whether that person’s words or actions actually do offend. But I believe that black women and dreadlocks aren’t inextricably linked to the same degree that, say, afros and black women are. If you ask me, Zendaya’s thoughtful Instagram response to Rancic could have just as easily mentioned non-black women who’ve worn dreadlock styles (i.e., Ani Difranco, Jennifer Aniston, Shakira or Lady Gaga).

Now, I concede that Kylie Jenner’s Instagram reply to the uproar was considerably less thoughtful and lacking in diplomacy than Zendaya’s. In response to blackface accusations, Jenner basically told her Instagram followers to just calm down, which is a fairly rude response, considering the very prevalent belief that when people surmise racism in a matter they’re being irrational or un-calm. Though, surely, a person’s suspicions of racism can be quite calm, rational, composed–and, more often than not, on the mark.

Just the same, I agreed with Jenner’s sentiment that her pictures were not distasteful and not the stuff of Amos ‘n’ Andy (or even the stuff of Julianne Hough, for whom I did not feel one bit of “bless your heart” pity during her blackface incident back in 2013).

And I don’t think I’m the only black woman who wasn’t offended. Even my friend Sharmane, who’s as racially conscious as they come, said she didn’t think twice about Jenner’s photos. For her, they only brought to mind the music videos for Salt-N-Pepa’s “None of Your Business” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give it Away.”

All I’m saying is this: Maybe my radar is off, but I haven’t been getting offended by some of these so-called racist events as of late. Or maybe I’m the 21st-century version of the house negro who chooses to empathize with the master. Or maybe I’m…*gasp*…ignorant.

Personally, I don’t think any of the above is true about me. (And, you know, feel free to disagree.)

But if I were a hashtag person (which I’m not because I forget that “hashtag” is even a thing people say and end up saying “pound sign” instead), I might initiate #RaceCardEtiquette, #RaceCardRules or #RacismRadar to gauge where other people stand on the topic of feeling, managing or expressing racial outrage.

So tell me: Were you offended by Kylie Jenner’s photos? Could you care less? Where do you typically fall on the public-outcries-over-racism scale when gaffes like this happen?