All Articles Tagged "racism"
The first thing you’ll notice about Lezley McSpadden’s book is the arresting picture of her on the front cover. She looks different than the way we’ve seen her in the news. Her already narrow eyes don’t appear to be almost swollen shut from crying. Her hair, as we’ve become accustomed to seeing it, is laid, with a purplish tint to it. And most importantly, she appears strong.
I hesitate to use the word strong here. Because far too often it’s been associated with Black women, in an attempt to diminish our pain and our vulnerability. And while Lezley is still hurting and will always hurt for the loss of her oldest son, her first child, there is strength in the way she’s chosen to move forward, for her three other children, for herself and in memory of her son Michael O.D. Brown, or Mike Mike as she called him.
And in her book, Tell the Truth & Shame The Devil: The Life, Legacy, and Love Of My Son Michael Brown, we see how she managed to accomplish this unimaginable feat.
Tell the Truth begins with Lezley’s pledge to do just that. The very first sentence of the book is “I don’t tell lies because I can’t keep up with them.” Immediately she establishes an accessibility and familiarity that we haven’t been able to see on our television screens.
I remember watching Lezley at her son’s funeral, briefly. She appeared vacant, like all she could focus on was holding herself together. I remember wondering why she didn’t speak, like his stepmother did. I remember wondering what she had to say about her son, in the face of what the city of Ferguson, the media and complete strangers were spouting.
Tell the Truth answers all of those questions.
It speaks about her decision to have her son at 16-years-old, the strained, formerly abusive relationship she shared with Michael’s father. And most heartbreakingly, she talks about the challenges she faced in getting him to graduate high school and achieve a goal she herself was unable to complete. But more than that, it tells a story about the girl she was before and after she gave birth to her son, the woman she grew into raising him and the fighter she became after his tragic death.
The story, as we know, is sad, devastating. But more than that, it’s a love letter to her son. I found more often than not it’s not only her recollection of Mike Mike’s death that made me cry but the description of his birth, his character and the sacrifices she made to love and protect him that broke me up. She fought, often at the expense of herself, to ensure that he was safe, that he was healthy, that he had a chance in this world. Reading her anecdotes of their life together and knowing how his life ultimately ended is soul-crushing to us, but no one more than Lezley. Long before any of us knew Michael Brown’s name or face, he was treasured and loved deeply. He was beautiful and he mattered.
What’s most inspiring is the way Lezley has been able to turn tragedy into triumph. It would have been so easy to give up. It would have been understandable. The loss was that great. It would have been fair for Lezley to live a life of complete seclusion, choosing to focus only on raising her other three children. We could relate. After being thrust into the public sphere for more than two years, in response to such grief, who wouldn’t want to seek some privacy, some time to mourn without the eyes of the world on you?
But instead, Lezley used her pain and channeled it to help others. Not only did she start a foundation, the Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons and Daughters Foundation, but one of the flagship programs of the organization is the way it gives back to other mothers who’ve lost their children. The Rainbow of Mothers provides women who’ve lost their children to violence or other tragic circumstances, with counseling sessions, legal advice and a support fund for women who’ve lost wages in the face of a tragedy.
Through Tell the Truth, Lezley McSpadden helped give us a glimpse of what and who Michael Brown was to her. She made him more than a hashtag or a catalyst for a movement. She made him a boy beloved. A boy whose death represented a great injustice not to just the Black community but to the country, to the world, to humanity. And beyond the words on the page, it’s her actions since then that have proven that his life, death and the sacrifices she made and love she showed to him, weren’t in vain.
To learn more about the Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons and Daughters Foundation, you can visit the website at MichaelODBrown.org.
I’m sorry… what year is it? I could have sworn it was 2016, but judging by the response to Old Navy’s recent ad image on Twitter… we may actually be firmly entrenched in 1950 complete with all the delightfully ignorant hate and close-minded sensibilities. Watch out for the water hoses y’all.
Old Navy used models depicting an interracial family on one of their latest posts on Twitter and their website, and all the racists came out to show their e-asses. Comments ranged from mildly miffed to thoroughly disgusted. I refuse to repeat what was said, if you enjoy ignorance you can go check it out on Twitter for yourself. People were acting like Old Navy really did something to them:
My family and I will never step into an @OldNavy store again. This miscegenation junk is rammed down our throats from every direction.
— Cultural Combat (@CulturalCombat) April 29, 2016
I was shocked that the response was so vitriolic. Hello… it’s an ad. These are models that just met each other 20 minutes before the shot was taken. Get a grip, hatemongers. They’re not trying to sell “race-mixing”… they’re trying to sell clothes.
"When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression."
(For the life of me I can't find who coined this phrase, but wow.)
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) March 17, 2016
Then I remembered the intellect level we were dealing with…
Not sure why I was surprised, really. That Cheerios commercial a few years back got such horrific responses. You remember the one, with the adorable girl (biracial) talking to her mom (white) and then we see her father (Black) in the last scene? People lost their minds on that one. Cheerios had to disable comments wherever the video was posted.
My fellow interracially-attached folks clapped back this time though. It made me proud to see so many people who feel that love has no color representing their relationships in direct response to the haters. They flooded @Oldnavy/#OldNavy with their family photos, wedding photos, and it was beautiful to see love in all shades giving a big middle finger to the imbeciles. I personally enjoyed seeing the multi-generational photos of very mixed families, and older couples along with young interracial couples.
— Renee Swift McCain (@Reneeitchka) May 2, 2016
I used to not think anything of interracial couples. But now I like seeing other mixed race couples whether on TV, in an ad or in real life. Being married interracially, I’ve certainly dealt with my share of side-eye-worthy drama. I’ve dealt with comments about my kids, their coloring and features, my husband, the cowardly under-the-breath muffled comments, the looks of contempt/disgust and the staring…oh the incessant starting… ::sigh::
We face it now more than ever being in south Florida. I guess being NYC born and raised spoiled me. Experiences I’ve heard from other mixed-race couples like having to tell hostesses at restaurants “Yes, we’re together,” are now happening to us down here.
Happily, I haven’t dealt with such direct, brazenly-openly, hate-filled commentary like what was spewed forth toward Old Navy. (Except a couple times when my husband – the “White devil”- and I would walk by the Black Isrealites that set up shop on the streets of midtown Manhattan) I’m sure it’s because on the internet you’re “safe” to be as racist (and sexist, and homophobic, and Trump-supporting) as you want, without consequence.
I love me some social media, I mean as a professional blogger, it’s a huge part of how I earn a living… but social media really gives racist trolls a free pass to spray their stupid all over the rest of us. That, is not fair and in fact it’s dangerous.
I’m grown. I’ve been with my husband since I was 19-years-old. These comments don’t impact me too deeply other than with a bit of disgust and pity for the children of the person saying it. My concern with these twitter comments, is for the poisoning that these words can do to a curious young mind who has yet to really figure out where they stand on anything. My concern is for the nervous little 13-year-old kid with a crush on someone that’s a different color as they are or who wears a hijab, or is the same gender.
It would be a shame for some random tween to be googling for an Old Navy coupon and stumble upon the conversations surrounding the add and get sprayed with that kind of stupid.
My hats off to Old Navy for using models to portray an interracial family, though. They haven’t spoken out about the ad other than to say they’re proud of the message of “diversity and inclusion” and hey, why not? Interracial relationships are on the rise. Despite the attitudes and views of the trolls mentioned above, we are in 2016. It is completely okay, natural, beautiful, and as of 1967 – shout out to The Lovings – legal to date and marry outside of your race.
Last Fall, the women of Sisters on the Reading Edge (SOTRE) filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Napa Valley Wine Train after they were removed for being “too loud.” Their lawsuit sought $11 million in damages, claiming the incident was triggered by racial bias; two out of the 11 women lost their jobs in the medical and finance industries because of the reports published about the mishap.
According to Mercury News, as of last week the lawsuit was settled between the two parties. An amicable settlement was reached through private mediation and the settlement amount will not be disclosed.
As we previously reported, the 18-year-old book club’s members were targeted when “a nearby passenger was annoyed by [their] banter” during their August wine tour. “[Lisa Johnson] a member of the SOTRE told the Napa Register [that] a passenger told the group, “Well, this is not a bar.” The women responded, “Yes, it is a bar, a bar on wheels.” In an uploaded photo to Facebook, Johnson wrote in a caption: “We are a group of 12… if we all laugh at the same time it’s loud! When we get to St. Helena they are putting us off the train.” Although Johnson admitted her group was a bit boisterous, they were not belligerent. Johnson also noted a manager asked them to quiet down but they didn’t understand why the staff and other passengers were offended by their laughter.”
“We’re relieved that we were able to resolve the matter. I think it’s something we can put behind us,” Johnson said in regards to reaching a settlement with Napa Valley Wine Train. Patrick Wingfield, who represented Napa Valley Wine Train during the settlement gave no comment on the case.
Anybody working in the digital space is trying to get like BuzzFeed. They have amazing, engaging content that is often both entertaining and informative. But this time,with their “27 Questions Black People Have For Black People,” they missed the mark…by a long shot.
No doubt, we have questions for each other, but none of them are the ones presented in the video. In case you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here.
For those who can’t watch, the good [Black] people at BuzzFeed asked questions like:
Why is so hard to be on time?
Why do Black people look at your shoes before they greet you?
Why are we more likely to engage in the new dance trend than we are to get involved in politics or opening a business?
Before we go any further, let’s just dissect these first few questions. Yes, there are some of us who struggle with being on time. I am one of those people. But trust me, I grew up with, work around and know tons of Black people who are exceptionally punctual. The lateness thing is a stereotype, true for some people but incredibly unfair to paint the whole community with that brush.
But you know, perhaps they just wanted to start things off with a little levity. And that would have been fine, if the following questions had more substance. They did not. Instead, the tardiness one was followed up with Black people looking at your shoes before they greet you. Listen, I’ve been Black for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never known that to be a thing. Do Black people care about footwear? Yes. (Arguably not more than any other race.) Do we look at a person’s shoes before speaking to them? Nah. In fact, speaking, acknowledging someone’s presence when they enter the room is far more important to Black people, across the diaspora, than a person’s shoes. So while we might notice the shoes, checking them out before we greet you, unless it’s inevitably the first thing we see, is not a thing.
And this last one about the latest dance trend and being involved in politics and opening businesses just pissed me off with its outlandishness. When you’re “involved in politics” or “opening a business,” it’s not visually stimulating or entertaining. Nothing about going to a rally, voting or researching a candidate’s platform is worthy of a YouTube video. And neither is the daily grind and sacrifice of opening up your own business. Those type of mundane activities aren’t going to go viral. Just because there are more videos of children, celebrities and everyone else doing the Nae Nae doesn’t mean Black people aren’t doing groundbreaking behind the scenes.
But I’m not here to provide answers to some of these ridiculous questions. The point of this post is just to question it, really. I’m wondering why BuzzFeed and the people who work for BuzzFeed were so quick to rely on stereotypes? In all honesty, most of the questions Black folks have aren’t for one another, they’re for White people. As many of the answers to these questions can be directed right back toward White people and they ways in which they taught us to hate ourselves.
Questions about the preferences for light over dark skin, the demonization and politics of natural hair all point back to Eurocentrism. And most Black people know that. Which begs the question, who really wrote these questions? What was the real purpose of the video? There are actually quite a few people suggesting that White people were behind it. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure but when they got to this question:
Why do we call each other the N word but get vehemently upset when a White person uses the N word?
I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, there were likely some White folks involved in this. Black people know the answer to that question. There is a grave difference between someone outside of the community using the N word than someone inside of it. Even Black people who choose not to use the word understand this.
And the same for those BLM question:
Why do you protest Black Lives Matter and then tear each other down in the next breath?
Stop it! Black Lives Matter is about addressing the systemic oppression of Black people not the way we chastise, criticize or critique one another within our own community. It’s the equivalent of someone bringing up Black on Black crime during a Black Lives Matter discussion. Black on Black crime is punished. We’re asserting the fact that Black Lives Matter because our lives have been devalued or taken by the people who are being paid to serve and protect us. There’s a huge difference.
Honestly, this whole video might have come off a bit better if White people were actually allowed to ask their questions as opposed to Black people pretending it came from them. Then the discussion could have gone somewhere instead of being dragged throughout Twitter and the Black blogosphere.
There were a few questions in the video that were actually of merit, like our hesitancy to support Black-owned businesses but that was about it. I would have been down with the homophobia in the community question as well, but I’m not willing to accept that Black people are more homophobic than any other race of people. The whole world has to work on that.
As I said, most of the time BuzzFeed gets it right. But you can’t always be on top. It just sucks that it was the day when they were asking Black folks questions that they decided to slack a little bit.
What did you think about the video and the questions posed?
Our children our being introduced to blatant racism at an alarming rate. In a country where their brothers, cousins, fathers as well as sisters are being shot and killed by police, it has become even more necessary to discuss racism at an early age. But, sometimes you’re forced to do so without warning.
This was the case with mother and award-winning blogger Shay Stewart-Bouley who uprooted her Chicago life and moved to one of the whitest parts of the country, Maine. She discusses it all on her blog Black Girl in Maine. When she isn’t hitting the keys you can find Shay working as the Executive Director of Community Change Inc., a civil rights organization in Boston that has been educating and organizing for racial equity since 1968.
Shay’s story, “When Gelato Gets Racial Or A Little Girl Hears The N-word For The First Time” is from a while back and we keep coming back to it…read it and let us know how you’d react:
As the wheels continue to fly off my personal life, moments of simple joy and normalcy are increasingly hard to come by. My son’s unexpected visit home this week promised to be an opportunity to simply be present with family and savor the simple joys of togetherness. To share in the love that makes us a family, without the heady labels that often weigh us down.
Yet, as a mixed-raced family in a white space, the reality is that anytime we leave our house as a family, we risk incurring the wrath of the ignorant and hateful. To partake in the joys of the first treats of spring can turn ugly without notice and, sadly, a visit to Maine’s most populous city yesterday was the day when the ugly became personal and my nine-year-old daughter learned that there are people who will never know her essence but instead will reduce her to nothing more than a nigger.
I had no intentions of blogging about what happened to my family yesterday in Portland, though in a fit of anger, I did tweet about it in vague terms. However, our degradation was witnessed by many, including a local news anchor who shared what she witnessed on her Facebook page and when a news anchor shares such a tale in a state the size of Maine… well, it seems I should just write about it myself.
My husband, son, daughter and I were walking in downtown Portland in an area known as the Old Port. The Old Port is a cute little area with cobblestone streets and an assortment of boutiques and eateries that draw crowds. We had already shopped at several local shops and were off to grab gelato before heading back to our little hamlet when suddenly and without warning as we were waiting to cross the street, a carload of young white men approached and without warning, the young man in the passenger seat yelled out very clearly and very loudly, “Hey, niggers!”
In that moment, I was frozen, I was scared… I was hurt. Yet before I had time to process what I was feeling, my son dropped the bags he had been carrying and ran off after the car. As I snapped to and realized that my son might be doing something foolish, the sounds of my daughter wailing for her brother to not run pierced my soul. I called out to him, too, in the hopes he would stop but he said he had to run and never paused for a second.
We stood there unsure what to do next, a sense of shame seeping into our souls. To be othered so publicly in such a vile manner is not a comfortable feeling. In that moment, the three of us stood, not sure if we should run after my son. My husband walked across the street to see if he could see our boy — he couldn’t. My husband asked if I felt he should go after him — I said no. We needed to be here when he returned.
In those excruciating moments, nothing was said to us, though what seemed like minutes later, a white man crossed the street and asked if we were okay. I explained what happened and he asked if I could recall what the car looked like and that he would go look for my son once his own ride arrived to pick him up.
Eventually, the standing became too much and the weight of worry caused me to start walking and look for my son, while I had my husband and daughter stay put. I walked a few blocks down the street and came upon my son who was walking back our way. He wasn’t harmed but his anger was apparent.
As we walked, I held his arm just as I had done when he was a small boy which, considering he is now a full head-plus taller than me, is laughable. I asked him why he ran, he told me he ran for every time growing up in Maine that a grown man had called him a nigger and he was too little to do anything but hang his head. He ran because he is tired of hanging his head and feeling nothing but shame. He ran because having his baby sister hear those vile words was simply not acceptable to him. He ran because a pack of white men calling his mama a nigger was not okay.
He knew the risk inherent in running but he also knew that at 23, he is tired of stuffing down the weight of racism and being asked to be the “better person” by silently taking the abuse and waiting for society to change when it clearly has little impetus to do so. He realized that sometimes, a man has to be willing to risk everything, including an ass-kicking or a jail cell, to right some of the wrongs in this world. It may seem… or maybe even be… foolish, but there comes a time when one is simply tired of dealing with injustice.
I have spent the last 11 years writing about race and racism. I head one of the few organizations in the United States dedicated to anti-racism work. While I can go into an academic head space about racism, the fact is it is very different when it is your family and your children living with the reality and weight of being different and being seen as less than fully human. It hurts and if you think about it too much, it will crush your spirit. Yesterday’s events were a psychic gut punch in a week that had already doled out a more than a few psychic kicks.
When I tweeted about the exchange, I was literally blowing off steam on the ride back home and had no intention to really talk about it again. But waking up to numerous messages and to see my painful exchange shared publicly and in detail, well… I am grateful for the anchor’s observations but I am also saddened — saddened that she was not comfortable enough after seeing the entire exchange to come over and ask “Are you okay?”
In my professional work, I work with white people on race and the white American culture is an all-too-polite space where too many times white people don’t speak up and unfortunately, silence can be harmful. Racism is a system, and that silence upholds that system even when we don’t believe we are actively creating harm.
In having the story go public, it created many questions and one being: What happened afterwards?
How would you react in this situation?
Comedian Ralphie May is doing some damage control this morning after a comedy routine featuring offensive jokes about Native Americans and alcoholism pretty much offended a whole bunch of folks, in particular, Native Americans.
According to the website Indian Country Today, the controversy began after snippets of one of May’s comedy routines, which had been used by indigenous rap group Savage Family on their 2007 album entitled Stealing the Sun Back, ended up on YouTube.
The 44-second audio/video, which you can listen to here, features the Last Comic Standing alum saying the following:
F–k a bunch of Indians. I am sick of hearing about it. Are we supposed to boo hoo over goddamn Indians? That sh-t that was 120 years ago. F–king get over it. Nobody 150 years ago is making you drink now. F–king dry up you bunch of f–king alcoholics and go get a real f–king job. Cut that f–king hair! Bon Jovi cut his, you should cut yours. The s–t is done, son! It’s done. F–k you, bunch of Indians. F–k the Indians. I’m sorry. They are a group that has never made it to the bronze age. I’m sorry they never invented the f–king wheel. I’m sorry, boo hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo. Boo-f–king-hoo. Maybe if they had done some of that s–t we wouldn’t have taken their country with three smallpox blankets and a bag of beads. F–k a bunch of Indians. F–k ’em!
That’s pretty bad, right?
According to Indian Country Today, the video was posted by Adrianne Chalepah, who is also a comedienne and a Kiowa/Apache Native American. And as she tells the site about why she felt it was important to dredge up the nine-year-old clip now:
“I posted the video because I saw that Ralphie May was performing in Bemidji soon and that is Indian Country,” Chalepah wrote to ICTMN in an email. “I wanted him to understand that incorporating hate and stereotypes into his jokes about us can have real harm, especially in border towns where racism is felt every day. It’s bad enough that some border towns view our people as lazy drunks who do nothing but feel sorry for ourselves. We see this every day with our high police brutality rates, our high suicide rates, and our high rape rates. We don’t need anyone with a national platform somehow implying we need to ‘get over it.’
I took offense because we Natives don’t have a huge voice in mainstream media or pop culture. How can we counter these attacks on our image? We can continue to push the world to accept us as 21st century indigenous people, and challenge them to leave the stereotypes behind. It’s not that we can’t take a joke. I joke about my ‘drunk auntie’ all the time. I joke about casinos being the only place where you need a ‘hickey policy.’ But the difference is that these are our stories, our voice, our image, and we have the right to tell our stories without mainstream pop culture countering it with one-dimensional stereotypes.”
Naturally, the clip went viral, and naturally, folks were outraged. Like people on Twitter (and Facebook too). Also, like the city of Bemidji, Minnesota, which announced yesterday that it decided to cancel his Saturday show “on the advice of city leaders.”
May responded to the backlash yesterday on Twitter, claiming that his joke had been edited and taken out of context.
More specifically, he wrote in a series of tweets:
“Someone stole my material and edited it. They used it in a hip hop song. The entire portion of the joke that makes it make sense is missing.”
“The whole crux of the joke was the buildup to a ridiculous reason to hate because all hate is stupid – a resounding theme in all my comedy.”
“My words were stolen & used illegally. No context. The threats to me are far more offensive & illegal. I never said I wanted to hurt anyone.”
“Anyone who has ever seen my comedy knows that I exploit all stereotypes. I point them out for all races and show how stupid hate really is.”
“My jokes take a long time to get from beginning to end. I don’t tell one-liners. You hear a 44 sec. clip & miss everything before & after it.”
“Look, if you’re truly offended by a joke that was edited and taken out of context, I am truly sorry.”
“I understand that words hurt, but the punchline of the joke is meant to hurt hateful, spiteful people. Not loving people such as the Natives.”
“You get everything leading up to the punchline which was designed to show how stupid hate, anger and stereotypes are.”
“I make jokes about whites, blacks, Asians, Latinos, Jews, Arabs, gays. None are PC but at the end of it they all show how hatred is stupid.”
May ended his statement with a link to a YouTube video entitled “Ralphie May: Racially Charged, Not Racist.” In the video, May apologized again to the Native American community before asking the city of Bemidji to reconsider allowing him to perform. He also extended an invite to folks who were offended by the audio clip to the show so that they could hear the full routine for themselves. Proceeds from the show, he said, would be donated to charity.
He also said:
I did hurt people’s feelings, and people did take this out of context, and we are all victims in this. My art was stolen for a political statement, taken out of context, and then the people that heard this were hurt and offended. And some felt betrayed by me. I want everyone, whether you love me or hate me, go find comedy, enjoy your life. I love you and you can’t do anything about it.
You can watch the video below:
Honestly, I don’t know.
Getting trashed for snippets of a joke, particularly when your business is comedy, does not seem fair at all. With that said, I haven’t heard the entire “joke” in its context. But this would not be the first time May has made a “racially charged, not racial” joke that has rubbed others, myself included, the wrong way. In fact, here is another YouTube video of May doing a routine in which he talks about why he uses the N-word:
That’s why with or without the added context, I feel like it is generally not a good idea for comedians to make jokes about a culture if they are not a part of the culture they are joking about. And no, having a grandma who was half-Cherokee on your father’s side does not count. Nor does having Black friends.
True, we people of color make jokes about ourselves – including our culture, our religion, and our pathologies – all the time. However, it is also true that we are the only ones who are forced to carry the burden of these identities, including all the bad stereotyping that comes with them. And often, making jokes and laughing at our identities is a coping mechanism meant to shield and protect us from what can be at times some pretty soul-crushing oppression.
Whereas when White comedians appropriate someone else’s identity for “a joke,” it just feels like they are mocking us.
Case in point: May’s defense for his use of the N-word (in spite of criticism and Black people saying he should not use it):
As you can see, he just doesn’t get it.
But if you still want to hear “the context” for yourself, May’s next show will be on April 13 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
What would you do, and how would you feel, if you wanted to name your child something unique, something beautiful, and something that meant a lot to you, only for your name of choice to be rejected? And not because something was actually wrong with it, but because those in charge felt it was a name that would set your child up for failure?
That’s what has happened to the mother and father of a newborn in Rio, whose parents would like to name her Makeda Foluke. According to the site Black Women of Brazil, the name has a lot of meaning. Makeda is the name Ethiopians use when referring to the Queen of Sheba, and Foluke is a Yoruba (Nigerian) name. Together, they claim that it means “Grandiose that is at the care of God.”
“It’s not a name phonetically alien to Portuguese, we thought about it,” said the child’s father, Cizinho Afreeka according to the site R7. And while Afreeka and his wife were well aware that European names are preferred, considering that there are so many Brazilians from Africa living in the country, they never thought they’d actually be blocked.
“It’s a form of racism that takes place in Brazil: the racism of subtleties,” Afreeka said. “It should be very natural a man and a black woman adopting an African name, as the country is made up of three races. It is difficult to prove. Only those in this skin is knows.”
So what exactly happened?
After being born on March 16, the child’s moniker was not allowed to be placed on her birth certificate because it had not been approved by the 2nd district of São João de Meriti’s registration office. According to Afreeka and his wife, Jessica Juliana, they were told that the name would cause embarrassment for their daughter as she got older, and felt that the way to go would be to change up the name. You know, to something less African. This, despite Afreeka speaking to a civil registration official by telephone beforehand who said he didn’t mind the name, according to Black Women of Brazil. However, a petition still had to be filled out and filed.
“He said he thought the name was beautiful,” Afreeka said. “They already knew that the name was African. They searched the internet before giving a negative. I made a petition and took a statement from my wife authorizing, but it was denied. The notary suggested I put a name in Portuguese in front. But I will keep on until the end. Either it will be Makeda Foluke or she’ll be with no registration.”
That registration official, Luiz Fernando, is defending the registration office’s decision.
“The procedure is necessary with any name that can be used to leave the child in a vexatious situation or bullying. You have to filter. These procedures are normal, no one refused to do the registration. It is not the name, not the meaning. It’s pronunciation, diction. Racism is really in people’s minds.”
Again, officials didn’t mind the use of Makeda, but they suggested giving the child a traditional name before it. Like, Ana Maria Makeda.
The registration office shared their decision on the name with the Internal Affairs Division of the Court of Rio, who offered up this full response, brought to you by Black Women of Brazil:
The prosecutor’s office issued an opinion against the use of the name because they considered it likely to cause future problems for the child, suggesting a pre-name was added to the other names…such as Ana Maria Makeda or something like this.
If the judge does not authorize, it will be up to the party to appeal the decision in the procedure in the proper registry office that will be forward to the Council of the Magistracy.
When you pronounce the name in Portuguese it makes no sense at all, except for coming out wrong, which could provide possible future suffering for the person in social life.
The criterion is the analysis of the magistrate and prosecutors who act to protect the child. Law 6.015/ 73 gives this power to avoid registrations with names that may affect the social life. The criteria are the social and historical phonetics of Portuguese, verifying the sense that the name may have to be spoken or read, must meet in these criteria elements that can classify it as vexatious. Thus are considered vexatious historical names of bloodthirsty dictators or persecuted characters or execrated over time, the objectification of the name or the phonetic pronunciation, which seems to be the case, because it will not make any sense to those who do not know its origin and its translation, favoring acts as “bullying” or discrimination. Several cases where the lack of care of the registers and deeper analysis produced cases that later forced people to go to court to change the first names are notorious due to the embarrassment caused in childhood. One of the most famous was that of the daughters of Baby and Pepeu (1).
The request is being examined by the responsible judge, but it is an analysis at the administrative level that provides for its consideration on appeal to the Judicial Council through a specific procedure.
Basically, the name is too out there for officials, and they believe Afreeka’s daughter will be mocked and bullied because of it. At this point, the family can appeal the decision if the judge also is against the name, having to go through the Council of the Magistracy next. But the fact that these are the lengths people have to go to name their children what they want, specifically, when the name does have meaning and isn’t insulting, is absolutely ludicrous. It’s clear that if it ain’t European, it just ain’t right to some–including those in charge–despite millions of Afro-Brazilians inhabiting the country.
What would you do? Would you change your child’s name?
Black people have a long history of distrust of doctors. From J. Marion Sims, “the father of gynecology” using enslaved African American women for his research, to the Tuskegee Experiment, to the use and misuse of Henrietta Lacks’ cells, Black people have had legitimate reason to distrust the medical community.
But that distrust can only go so far. Because when we’re really sick, we all need and want doctors to be available to step in and save our lives.
According to Fox 26, in Houston, that’s the predicament Ethel Easter found herself in as she was waiting for doctors to perform a hernia surgery on her. When her doctor told her she would have to wait two months for the surgery, she broke down crying.
“I was like, ‘I can’t wait for two months. I’m terribly ill. And he said, ‘Listen’—he got very abrupt. He said, ‘Who do you think you are? You have to wait just like everybody else.”
Based on her doctor’s attitude, Easter decided that she was going to record her doctors during surgery.
Easter had braids in her hair at the time of the operation; and before she was given anesthesia, she’d hidden a recording device in her hair, which she had fashioned into an updo.
When Easter started snoring, the doctor started telling the operating staff how he felt about the women lying on the table in front of him.
“She’s a handful. She had some choice words for us in the clinic when we didn’t book her case in two weeks…I’m going to call a lawyer and file a complaint,” he said jokingly.
Then another staffer said, “That doesn’t seem like the thing to say to the person who’s going to do your surgery.”
One nurse made fun of Easter’s belly button, while another one referred to her as “Precious meet Precious.”
The surgeon said that he even felt sorry for Easter’s husband for having to put up with her.
Right now, it’s unclear if Easter will sue the hospital or its staff. But the Harris Health System wrote her a letter saying that they used the incident as an opportunity to remind their employees to be mindful of their remarks at all times.
In a similar situation in Virginia, a man filed a lawsuit after he secretly recorded his doctor saying he wanted to punch him in the face during a colonoscopy.
The man was ultimately awarded $500,000 in damages.
Ethel better go ahead and get her money.
There is no reason why someone should make such disparaging comments after patients have not only given you their money, but entrusted their life in your hands.
You can watch Ethel retell the story in the video below.
As told to Veronica Wells
Late last year, I decided to walk off a decent job, with adequate pay but a terrible environment. Thankfully, I was able to get another position within the next month, for more money. But, at this point, I don’t know if the environment is that much better. In fact, it might actually be worse. At my last job, I was around a group of backbiters who could never address issues head on. In my new position, people are much more candid and upfront. They say exactly what they’re thinking.
And that’s the problem.
Unlike the last company I worked for, business is actually booming here. So the work place is much more lighthearted and jovial. Money has a way of doing that to people.
Just last week, one of our coworkers brought a couple of old school Nerf guns to work and launched an all out battle between their rival team. I watched from afar. Having been around more than my fair share of shady coworkers, I’m cautious about developing too many work friendships.
And sadly, my first mind was right.
The Nerf gun fight went on for far too long. What should have been a little, fun distraction for a couple of minutes, turned into an hour-long deflection from any real work being done. Hell, if I had known we were going to goof off like this, I could have had a V8…at home!
At the expense of sounding like a kill joy, it got old fast. And from the fringes of all the action, I plastered a fake smile on my face, reassuring myself that the shenanigans wouldn’t continue tomorrow.
I was wrong. Not only did the game continue the next day, my coworkers brought more guns and my boss created a calendar invite for the game, allotting a full hour to shoot each other with foam targets.
This, portioning off time during the day to have fun, wasn’t a bad idea in and of itself. But it was the wording on the invite that gave me pause.
My boss invited every last member of the sales team, including my Black a$$ to a “A Lynchmob.”
This is why I refuse to get too friendly with people. Here I am, a Black woman in the corporate world, in 2016, and I’m being invited to a lynchmob, as if that would ever be appropriate. I get it was a joke; still, it’s unconscionable.
Particularly when the town in which I work has quite the history of being extremely racist and hosting the very lynchmobs my boss felt so comfortable making jokes and calendar invites for.
The sad part is, I don’t even know if it’s worth me addressing it. They would probably just change the name of the event and talk about me being too sensitive behind me back. Perhaps, it’s just time for me to look for a new job.
When Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o told the world about how she’d prayed for lighter skin when she was a child, many of her African-American fans could relate. But we weren’t the only ones who could. Colorism has been a serious problem within and outside the Black community for quite some time. Sadly, it’s a struggle many women and men deal with all over.
Recently, South Asian women from all corners of the world have been sharing their struggles with colorism by spreading the hashtag #UnfairandLovely. Why’s the hashtag so fitting? Fair and Lovely is a bleaching cream used by women all over the world who have felt the pressure to have lighter skin in order to be beautiful or even accepted in certain circles. So, they took to social media to take a stand.
Whether they’re making a statement, or just sharing their beautiful #UnfairandLovely faces, we stand by the women of this Instagram campaign!