All Articles Tagged "racism"

Childhood Ruined: 15 Classic Kids’ Shows You Didn’t Realize Were Racist

October 15th, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Getting ready to pop in one of your favorite children’s classics for a nostalgic re-watch? Before you push that VHS tape in, check out our list of beloved childhood shows you didn’t realize were racist because nothing ruins a childhood movie like realizing your favorite character was in Blackface all along.

Kids' Shows You Didn't Realize Were Racist

Image Source: Tumblr.com

Annie

Remember this guy from Annie? First of all, his name is “Punjab” which isn’t a name so much as the state in India he’s supposed to be from. It’s like having Daddy Warbucks call you “African” instead of using your real name.

Only, the character can’t be from Punjab at all, because he’s played by black actor and classically trained dancer Geoffrey Holder (RIP).

Just Take Your L: The Importance Of Taking Responsibility For Your Actions

October 8th, 2014 - By Kendra Koger
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Responsibility For Your Actions

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I must say that the last few months of news coverage has been irritating, to say the least.  From the coverage of Mike Brown, Darren Wilson and Ferguson, to Danielle Watts, I’ve been feeling very mentally drained watching all of this.  The reason being, not just of the horrible atrocities that happened, but by the lack of culpability many of the guilty parties have exhibited.

Now, when the Mike Brown situation first happened, it was very overwhelming information to take in, especially for anyone who is like me who lives in and around the St. Louis area.  I was so hesitant to “cross the river” for a while (our own colloquialism) in these parts, due to all of the rioting coverage.  I waited before engaging with other people who participated in the many peaceful riots that weren’t covered (the cameras were there, but the peaceful footage wasn’t shown.  Go figure).  What we all realized was, it wasn’t just the egregious crime that evoked such strong and hurtful emotions, it was how the Ferguson police handled the situation.

Most people wanted answers, an explanation, just something to give us some peace.  However, we got a strong armed robbery video before we got Darren Wilson’s name.  Just the entire way that the situation was handled was to protect the police department, rather than serving the people who deserved answers.

Then, once that heat began to die down, the Danielle Watts situation happened.  At first it came off as racial profiling, and just like Charing Ball I remembered my own situations of being propositioned as a high schooler while wearing khakis and a polo shirt at my job.  I immediately felt horrible for Danielle… until I heard the full story.  Unlike the poor women at the Standard Hotel, Danielle’s perceived prostitution allegation seemed more so in her head.  Her accusations of profiling and statements of “this wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t black,” just immediately elicited an eye roll from me each time she did an interview.

I once wrote about how it seemed like apologizing was going out of style, but now it seems like the lack of apologizing has morphed into people creating ridiculous excuses for their poor behavior.  People seem more invested in creating alternate reality excuses for why they did what they did, rather than admitting that they were wrong.

Instead of saying:  “I handled the situation poorly,” we get horrible answers, or (in the case of the Ferguson Police department) no answers at all.  People seem so intent on protecting themselves, that they seem to overlook the negative ramifications of what avoiding blame can bring.

Just like the babysitter who put her boyfriend and friend up to rob the house that she was over, and decided to blame it all on the Black neighbor, when you throw rocks and hide your hand, you’re putting other people in danger.  It can cause other people hurt, and they can be negatively affected while you’re trying to save yourself.  It’s not fair.

I know that accountability is hard, and it’s very easy to want to deflect, but at the end, no one benefits from it.  Sadly, the person who tries to deny blame usually doesn’t end benefiting from it as well, because things always end up coming out.  So though it might be unpleasant, it’s better to accept your “L” than trying to throw blame somewhere else.  There’s honor in being mature and admitting fault.  Don’t cause others to suffer due to your own poor decisions.

Kendra Koger catches L’s and W’s, while simultaneously tweeting @kkoger.

Why Won’t Many Black Men Try To Save Themselves?

September 26th, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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Black Men Try To Save Themselves

Source: Bossip

The question over what social responsibility celebrities have to the greater society – beyond them entertaining the masses and making themselves personally rich – might have just reached peak importance earlier this week.

In an interview with Bossip, rapper Young Thug, best and likely only known for his hit “I’m A Stoner” gives us his heartfelt and thoughtful critique on the Justice for Mike Brown movement and what is happening in Ferguson.

More specifically, the exchanges goes:

Interviewer: There doing a special on the Mike Brown and Ferguson situation. What do you think needs to change in the way that Black men are policed in America?

Young Thug: I’mma leave that up to the critics and the law and all that ol’ other shit. We having fun. We iced out, we having money – that’s how we doing it.

Interviewer (trying to help ol’ boy out): You feel like it is not the artist’s place to speak on social issues?

Young Thug: No!”

Well there ya go.

Honestly, before anyone goes in on his poor delivery, let us not forget that we have heard similar yet more polished and tactful sentiments expressed before from other widely respected entertainers. Not to mention he has a point: from T.I’s ignorance of racism in Australia to Kobe Bryant’s denial of racism in the Trayvon Martin case to Mayweather, who…well, basically says lots of cringeworthy and counterproductive things, there are never a shortage of entertainers, whose opinions give me the straight-up “sads.” Seriously, not only do these “opinions” just dash on by the point of “not helping,” but for some of these entertainers, I’m not really sure if they have ever read a damn book before in their lives.

I’m not trying to sound like somebody’s old aunt here, but seriously some folks need to put down the Casio keyboard-beat making machine, and pick up a library card. Maybe then we can produce better content than,“My glasses are metro no blood off your chest. I control ya ho like Net-and-flix. Your bitch is my dinner she wet like a fish. I took off her three legs, T-Rex.” Um, what? That barely rhymes. See this is what happens when we sign orphans to record deals. Seriously, I’ve seen more solvable whodunnits on an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries.”

So in that respect, I totally agree with Young Thug: No!

But still…

It’s quite embarrassing to watch a young man, particularly a young Black man going into full adulthood, act so cavalierly about police brutality, misconduct and murder. However, as jarring as his apathy is to my sensibilities, Young Thug is not the only one who feel like this. Not by a long shot. One recent study shows that millenniums have a hard time seeing race in general. And in my personal observations and interactions, (both online and off), I too have witnessed that young Black folks, particularly young Black men, have a willingness to ignore or even flat out reject much of this dismissal of racalized violence.

So it it begs the question: when are Black men going to save themselves?

And I’m being serious here because for every discussion that has been had around why Black men aren’t sticking up for Black women, who find themselves on the wrong side of police aggression, there has been a lack of awareness over just how impotent men are in sticking up for themselves.

Even as it is, Black men, who will bare the brunt of wayward’s cop baton: Like being shot while buying a toy at Walmart. And being shot while retrieving his wallet for the police during a traffic stop over an alleged seatbelt violation. And being shot while surrendering with his hands up. And put in a choke holds for a $6 pack of cigarettes. And being beat-up by cops during an unprovoked attack while leaving a Baltimore corner store. Or having to double team with your brother as you both have to physically defend yourself against people who illegally harass you while entertaining a corner store. That’s happening all to Black men.

So is the fact that Black people represent 63 percent of all exoneration cases within the criminal justice system. And the fact that in New York City alone, they have been stopped and frisked more times than there are actual Black men in the city‘s population. And even the fact that there are studies that show racism and micro-aggression against Black people even impedes a black man’s ability to walk across the street safely. Even after all this evidence and all sorts of indisputable proof that their collective lives are in serious danger, there are quite a few Black men, who still insist on leaving their lives in the hands of the “critics and laws and shit.” I can’t even…

Not when I’m getting angry, worrying myself sick and putting my voice out here. Not when it is my young nephews, who are barely teenagers, whose lives at stake. Not when, after tirelessly putting my voice out there, I still get into long and drawn out debates with Black men, who are throwing their fellow brothers under the bus for their own victimization at the hands of law enforcement. They are usually the ones to yelling about, “what about Black on Black crime” and “how folks need to be focusing on instead” in a debate. However and most ironically though, when it is time to talk those issues, those men are blowing in the wind as well.

Like Young Thug.

Because while he might be cautious with his feelings (if he has any) on the very real racism and racialized violence happening within the country, he has no problem rapping about inflicting violence onto other men, who look like him. And on just about every single song too. I know, I might be asking lots from a man named Young Thug – then again there was Tupac, who was also about that Thug Life and yet still managed to have some level of social responsibility. Back in the day, the rappers used to have at least one song dedicated to an issue. Nowadays, you’ll be lucky if you get a mention in a verse. I’m sorry if this sound alarmist, but something is truly wrong here.

And I say this out of real love for the brothers because I am truly worried about the state of all of us in this country, in particular the normalization of police violence against Black people. But if he won’t even lift vocal chord to speak out on your own behave, why am I wasting my time and energy do so, especially when the sisters could need more voices licking shots in the air on our behalf (not that I’m not about that life too)?

So while I acknowledge that no artist or entertainer should be forced to speak up on a topic just because he or even she has a platform, I also strongly believe that folks should want to be both knowledgable and vocal on this topics like police brutality, because you are a Black person in America. You should want to know because it matters. And at the very least you would expect some self-preservation to wanna kick in here.

“Black Bachelorette” Resigns from Dentist Practices; Alleges Discrimination

September 24th, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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misee-1

Not only did she getting snubbed from having her own rose, but apparently Dr. Misee Harris is out of a job now for what she alleges was workplace discrimination.

If you recall Dr. Harris went on a full court online campaign to become the first Black bachelorette on the Eurocentric ABC reality television show of the same name, in a bizarre effort to prove to White people that Black women (and by black women, I mean mainly Harris) were above making a fool of themselves on trash television by actually going on trash television.  Well, that’s how I interpreted the matter.

Now, it seems that the good doctor of good “decorum” in front of White folks, was allegedly forced to walk out of her job as pediatric dentist at the Children Dentist Associates in Columbia, Tennessee over some pro-Justice for Mike Brown post she made on her private Facebook page.

According to the website Black Girl Nerds (and as told by Dr. Harris’ partner, who is noted in the post as “Emmy-winning producer Chris Silber”):

On Thursday, September 4th, Dr. Misee Harris (the Black Bachelorette) was called into an unannounced meeting at the dental practice where she has worked as a Pediatric Dentist and was recently offered a partnership in the practice. Dr. Harris, the sole African American dentist in the practice, has worked tirelessly with underprivileged young patients on Medicaid to ensure their smiles remain healthy, and the quality of Dr. Harris’s work has never been called into question. Once in the meeting, Dr. Harris was ambushed and presented with screenshots from her private Facebook page. Being that Misee had blocked work colleagues from accessing her account, it was explained to Misee that a doctor who is a partner at the office, and who led the meeting, had been having a friend spy on Misee’s Facebook page. Screenshots were taken of Misee’s Facebook posts and were sent to the doctor who led the meeting. Misee was then told that some of her Facebook posts about recent racial issues in America were “unprofessional.” The biggest bone of contention to the partners was a cartoon (see graphic below) related to the recent police murders of several innocent African-Americans across the nation. The partner held up the picture and asked Misee “Do you think we (meaning Misee’s White colleagues) are all like this?”

The picture is actually a viral meme of a Black boy with a bulls eye target on his chest under the caption: “OPEN SEASON ON BLACK FOLKS.” The picture then goes on to list various ways in which Black folks had been killed based solely on suspicions including “wearing a hoodie” and “asking for directions.” According to the post, Harris attempted to explain to to her all White employers the nature of the commentary however they were disinterested. Instead, they allegedly told her to either stop her “style of social media communication” or join the ranks of the unemployed.

Harris choose to resign. According to her Emmy-winning producing friend,

Dr. Misee Harris wants to go public with this unfortunate story of racial discrimination in the workplace because it has been her mission to empower Black women, many of whom, when subjected to this kind of discrimination do not have the financial freedom to leave with dignity the way Dr. Harris chose to.”

The post also reveals that this is not the first time Harris was told to tone down. The first time was when she was allegedly told by her bosses not to attend a President Obama sponsored event and the second time, during her social media campaign for The Bachelorette. Harris said, through her Emmy-winning friend, “I made it very clear that what I did in my private life was none of their business, but to keep the peace, I became very ‘robotic’ and vanilla about my views for quite some time.”

I reached out to Harris on Twitter to find out if she planned on formerly suing and if she ever found out who was spying on her page, however she did not respond. A call was also placed into the dentist office to find out if the doctors in question would want to comment, however at press time, the office also has not responded.

But in a follow-up piece with the Chicago Defender, Harris, speaking more directly, says she believes that she is a victim of racial discrimination and suspects that someone in her network dimed her out to her bosses. She also adds:

I am the least expected person that this would happen to,” she said. “If it can happen to a well respected doctor and public figure, then it can happen to other people and probably has.” “I think Blacks often feel stuck and if I were a low income single mom, I would be stuck, but I have the freedom to leave and I want other people to know this is not okay.”

What’s most comical here is that Harris believes that she is the “least expected person” discrimination could happen to. Unless she stopped being Black during work hours then yup, I would totally suspect her. Because she’s Black. And we’re in America. With that said, it does appear that this incident has served as a wake up call of sorts (listen, you can’t expect miracles), that no matter what you do,what kind of pedigree you believe you have, how much decorum you claim, White folks will trip! With that said…

If the allegations are true, it’s pretty cool that she decided to stand up for herself and her right to both privacy and personal opinion. And in particular, doing it at a time when so many of us have become so apathetic and even counterproductive in protecting our own rights. Yeah I’m still on that deplorable response from the community to the Daniele Watts/profiling situation. Folks might think she overacted but we could use more role models like that who stand for something.

Daniele Watts Has Nothing To Apologize For

September 22nd, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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Daniele Watts Has Nothing To Apologize For

Source: WENN

According to NewsOne, Djano Unchained actress, Daniele Watts, has issued a statement, via her publicist, rightfully telling detractors, who feel she should denounce her claims that she was both racially and gender profiled by an LAPD officer, that basically, it ain’t gonna happen.

The statement was issued in response to a demand made last week by a trio of Black “civil rights activists” from California who called on the actress to apologize. To whom and for what exactly she should apologize for?

Well as reported by the website Shine (For Harriet):

In a news conference in Inglewood, California, local civil rights activists called on Daniele Watts to apologize to the LAPD for, what they believe are, erroneous claims of racial profiling.

Daniele’s story spread quickly across the Internet last week. She says police detained her wrongfully under the suspicion that she was a sex worker when she refused to show ID.

Police say they were responding to a call that alleged Watts and her partner were committing “lewd” acts in a vehicle. Watts maintains that is not true, but many who came to her defense early now believe that she was not profiled.

“We took her word that she had been a victim, but now we know it’s not true,” said Najee Ali with Project Islam Hope. “So we feel that she has done a disservice to the community and especially those in the civil rights community who backed her claim initially.”

Author and activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Urban Policy Roundtable continued, “We cannot stand for just anyone to just scream and shout “racial profiling,” “I have been victimized,” “I have been targeted” if that’s not the case.”

Hutchison believes the LAPD acted appropriately.

“Don’t make us look dumb,” he said. “Don’t make yourself look stupid. Because when you do that, you totally do a disservice to what we consider is still a compelling, major, deadly issue, and that’s racial profiling.”

Yeah, it’s Watts, who is making you look dumb here.

Because Lord knows alleged civil rights activists would be concerned about actual violations of an individual’s civil liberties as well as profiling based upon race as well as gender. And let me be clear: I have no reason to disbelieve Watts’ story. And in my honest and blatant of opinions, neither do most people.

I mean, what exactly have we heard, seen or read thus far in this case, which would offer a shred of doubt that she isn’t telling the truth? I hope it is not because she was sitting on her boyfriend’s lap, making-out and doing something classified as unladylike? Whatever your personal respectability politics, that alone is not suspicious behavior – especially since you were not there to witness it, officer.

And I hope it is not because of the bogus pictures from TMZ, which report to show inconclusive proof that she was making this up and was in fact having sexual intercourse in a car? Even the though the picture does not: 1. show that and 2. remotely show that. Seriously, what about the guy in the mint green shirt?  While a couple supposedly and allegedly had sex with the door open in broad daylight,just mere feet away, he walks, casually and seemingly undisturbed, past the whole scene. I suppose we can argue that he didn’t see it, but if he didn’t know or see it, how the freak did an alleged eyewitness working in a nearby office make proper authentication that sex was indeed going on?

Likewise, I know the officer in this case swears that “People don’t make this shit up,” but actually they kind of do. In particular, suspicious, paranoid and flat out bigoted people have been known to fudge urgency to the police all the time. It was true of George Zimmerman as well as Ronald Ritchie, the “witness” who phoned police and told them that John Crawford III was waving a gun around an Ohio Walmart, moments before Crawford was shot in the back. The suspicious Black man and woman has long been a trope in the American social conscious, so excuse me if like Watts, I too believe that people will and do make shit up, particularly on Black people.

Racism Is Real: Three Black Women Mistaken For Prostitutes At The Standard Hotel

September 18th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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While actress Daniele Watts’ story of being mistaken for a prostitute has more holes than a flour sifter,  the occurrence of Black women being mistaken for prostitutes is, sadly, not uncommon.

When Kantaki Washington and her two friends went out to spend an evening at the Standard Hotel in the New York City’s meat packing district, a few weeks ago, they encountered a similar, undeniably racist, circumstance.

Washington and her friends Cydney Madlock and J. Lyn Thomas told AlterNet that during the early morning hours of August 28, a security guard from the hotel approached them and accused them of being prostitutes.

The women had just come from Le Bain, a bar at the top of the hotel, and were seated in the lobby, when several men approached them, offering to buy them drinks. Shortly after an African American man introduced himself, a security guard from the hotel whispered something in his ear and ushered him away from the women.

Washington told AlterNet, “After the security guard ushers the brotha away, he comes over to me and my friends and says, ‘Come on, ladies. You can buy a drink but you can’t be soliciting,'” Washington told AlterNet in an interview. “We were like, soliciting? He said, ‘Don’t act stupid with me, ladies. You know what you’re doing. Stop soliciting in here. We were like, ‘Soliciting what?'”

Washington incredulously asked the security guard if he was accusing them of soliciting sex from the patrons of the hotel. He responded, “Don’t act stupid with me, you know what you were doing.”

Washington responded, “Dude, I’m a lawyer and these women are educators. Why the hell would I be in here soliciting prostitution?”

He said, “I don’t know but that’s what you’re doing.”

As you might assume, Washington and her two friends were the only Black women in the area and believe they were racially profiled. Washington demanded the guard give her his name and his manger’s name. He gave her his first name only and directed her to the reception desk.

Washington says when she and friends spoke with the manager, their story was received with indifference. The manager claimed the security guard was an outsourced employee and not officially a staff member.

Apparently, a few weeks later, the hotel saw the error in their ways and attempted to extend a peace offering.

Washington received an e-mail from the Standard Hotel inviting her and “three guests back to The Standard for a bottle of champagne in The Top of The Standard or Le Bain, followed by dinner for 4 (valued at $400) at The Standard Grill.”

Washington provided the e-mail correspondence between herself and The Standard to Alternet and none of them made any mention of the prostitution accusation.

Instead, a staff member wrote: “Again, I want to apologize for what happened to you here that evening. We are extending this table for 4 as a gesture of goodwill for you and your friends, plus one more person. Please let me know when you would like to come back.”

Ugh.

The fact that they thought a $400 dinner would fix being called prostitutes…ridiculous.

Ladies, have you ever been racially profiled in this way?

You can watch the women tell their story in the video below.

Does It Really Matter If White People Don’t Have Black Friends?

September 17th, 2014 - By Ezinne Ukoha
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

This past summer was a harsh lesson about the complexities of race relations. The images from Ferguson following the tragic killing of another unarmed, Black young man, was another reminder that despite our best efforts, the racial divide is widening at an alarming rate.

Of course, this realization spurns a plethora of articles that attempt to utilize the chaotic climate as a guide for racially toned stories. Some of the ones that I have noticed due to their growing popularity tackle the fact that most White Americans either don’t have any Black friends or have very few of them. While this fact is not necessarily surprising to me, I am fascinated that it is even a topic of discussion. Are we trying to prove that the more Black friends a White person has, the less likely it is that person will be a bigot? Or are we encouraging White people to mix up more so that they become more empathetic to the plight of African-Americans? None of these scenarios are valid enough to yield promising results.

My personal journey with Caucasians has always been contingent on my life experiences. When I was in college, I started off at a two year college based in a remote town in Missouri. And yes, as I am sure you guessed, there were more Whites than Blacks. So naturally, most of my friends were White, it’s not like I had much of a choice in the matter. Later on, I ended up in Kansas City, Missouri where I completed my college education, and that was a completely different scene. There was a better mix of both races, but I ended up with more White friends than Black. It wasn’t something I planned, it just happened organically. I am not sure how other people form friendships, but I tend to gravitate to the ones whose energy bonds with mine. We have to have something in common, enjoy each other’s company and most importantly harbor a mutual respect. Those are just the basics, but there are enough to keep me invested.

I was never bothered by the fact that I had disproportionately more White friends than Black, and to be honest I didn’t give it much thought. Maybe because I am Nigerian, and perhaps my background gives me a level of nonchalance when it comes to social mixing. I have always had the ability to blend well and to attract people from all walks of life regardless of their racial makeup. I have never subscribed to the idea that you must have friends from all over the globe in order to fulfill a particular requirement. We are attracted to people for reasons that go far beyond whether or not they help us stay within the parameters of political correctness.

To define someone’s level of racial tolerance based on whether or not they have a healthy number of friends outside their race is a nonsensical endeavor. And if you do decide to investigate, you will find that in most cases, it isn’t necessarily a conscious effort to exclude people who don’t look like you from your circle. We are all drawn to the familiar and when we do explore the unexpected, it works only if there are certain characteristics that are relatable. Romantic relationships can’t be forced, it’s either you love the person or you don’t – the same notion applies to friendships. You either click or you don’t and if you are White and you get along best with your own kind then it makes sense to have them around you, and vice versa. So it’s time to stop critiquing other races for not having enough Black friends because it won’t alter their mindset either way and it comes off as unbearably trite.

 

The Drama Surrounding FCKH8: Should A T-Shirt Company Be Able To Profit Off Of Racism?

September 16th, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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FCKH8.com

FCKH8.com

 

I have always been on the fence about the sudden interest in social capitalism within the free market system.

On the surface it sounds great: using capitalism for the benefit of the greater community as opposed to the agenda of a single person or entity. However, when you think on it some, social capitalism is sort of an oxymoron. Seriously, using capitalism to right the wrongs, which are likely byproducts of the system of capitalism, sounds – for a lack of a better word –  kind of a** backwards. Or tone deaf. Or at the very least, self-centered, because how much of this special kind of capitalism actually benefits the greater society and how much of it is about feeding the ego of someone with a savior complex?

It’s a question, which Philanthropist Kevin Starr alluded to during this PopTech talk in 2010 (seriously, take a few moments to watch it). During that talk, he “eviscerates some of the (ex?) darlings of development design like the LifeStraw and One Laptop Per Child,” this according to the website Good. For those who are unaware, LifeStraw was a portable straw-like filtration device developed for Third World countries where clean water is sparse. However, the LifeStraw failed because it inflicted added cost on poor people. And while it cleaned pathogens out of water, it did not clean out waterborne viruses, which are most prevalent in Third World Countries. Plus, there was the matter of the exorbitant cost, which in some Third World communities where the filtration device was being marketed and sold, cost more than what the average person made in a whole week – if not a month.

In particular he notes that with his company, Mulago, they only consider new ideas for products to help people when the following questions are answered:

“Is it needed? Does it work like it’s supposed to? Will it get to those needed and a lot of them? And will they use it right when they get it?”

I like to use Starr’s questions as a guide when evaluating the usefulness of a particular charity or even charitable campaign. For today’s case study, let’s consider the social value of the website FCKH8.com. According to its About Us Page:

“FCKH8.com is a for-profit T-shirt company with an activist heart and a passionate social change mission: arming thousands of people with pro-LGBT equality, anti-racism and anti-sexism T-shirts that act as “mini-billboards” for change. Started in 2010 with comedic viral videos that captured millions of views on YouTube, FCKH8.com has shipped almost 200,000 equality tees, tanks and hoodies to supporters in over 100 countries. T-shirts emblazoned with bold messages like “Some Chicks Marry Chicks, Get Over It,” “Straight Against Hate,” and ”Legalize Love” have been publicly talked about by celebrities including Jane Lynch, Adam Lambert, Perez Hilton, and Zac Efron – who’s raved about his own “Some Dudes Marry Dudes, Get Over It” shirt in the press.”

FCKH8 also says that it’s a socially conscious T-shirt company that has given out more than $250,000 to various social justice campaigns. Sounds fantastic right? What could be wrong here? Well, according to ColorLines, the company’s latest campaign against racism, in particular, a viral video for its newest line of anti-racism T-shirts, has has some calling foul over concerns that the company is exploiting social causes for profits for themselves. More specifically, the website reports:

Titled, “Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America by #Ferguson Kids,” the video’s making lots of rounds on social media. Which will probably equal lots of money for the company behind it, called Synergy Media

The video features a group of unnamed black kids, purportedly from Ferguson, reciting parts of a script that’s clearly been written by adults. A script that will make you think race is solely a black and white issue, by the way. Even if the children are from Ferguson, it’s unclear if or how they’ve been compensated. Either way, the idea that these kids are from Ferguson is paraded for consumption.

Towards the end, a white adult and a black adult make nice and encourage viewers to buy a FCKH8.com T-shirt. Five dollars from each shirt will supposedly go to unidentified “charities working in communities to fight racism.” Which charities? Who knows! What communities? Can’t tell you.

You can watch the video here. Although I was initially turned off by the use of Ferguson kids in general, it’s the advertisement at the end that kind of cheapens what could have been a pretty decent bit of snark mixed in with cool messaging. But according to a note posted on the T-shirt company’s website in response to the Colorlines article, for every item sold, FCKH8 will donate $5 to either the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, the NAACP, the Michael Brown Memorial Fund and Crossroads Anti-racism Organizing & Training. FCKH8 is reporting that it has raised nearly $6000 for these four causes. Not bad considering all (well, at least some) are worthwhile organizations.

However, its anti-Racism gear ranges anywhere from $2.50 (for a bumper sticker) to $36 for a hoodie (with “Racism Isn’t Over But I’m Over Racism” written on the front). And that means a pretty sizable portion of the profits are still going back to the company. By default, it means that the company is making a pretty decent profit off of racism, which is very icky in itself. It’s almost as icky as when those Christian missionary groups use African children with swollen bellies to inspire donations for their campaigns to save the children.

It should be noted that the T-shirt company, which is definitely a for-profit and owned by entrepreneur Luke Montgomery, has drawn ire before from some in the blogosphere over claims that in spite of its anti-ism image, both the company and its founder have actively engaged in racial stereotyping and even transphobia. You can read about some of the accusations here at StopFCKH8. But in this Tumblr post entitled, “The Case Against FCKH8,” user RapACityInBlue writes:

Fckh8 speaks from a place of authority and presents themselves as a voice of tolerance. According to their mission statement, they want to educate people through their mini-billboards. But they misgender people, they trot out dehumanizing sterotypes[sic], and they scorn asexual and pansexual people. Every time they do this, they reinforce the perception that this is acceptable. They make it harder for marginalized voices to be heard.

So with that kind of polarizing image, it’s clear to see how to many people, the FCKH8 campaign does more to alienate people than it does to promote actual social justice. And when you consider Starr’s questions (Is it needed? Does it work like it’s supposed to? Will it get to those needed and a lot of them? And will they use it right when they get it?), you have to wonder if the FCKH8 campaign is really trying to help fix things or if it is just another phony feel-good venture using the theme of social responsibility to help sell T-shirts and make money? You know, like regular ol’ capitalism?

Atlanta Hawks Owner To Sell His Interest In The Team After Admitting To Racist Email

September 8th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Another day, another sports scandal. This time it’s the Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson who’s admitted to sending an offensive email in 2012 that said basically the Hawks games were populated by too many Black people.

The email came to light after June free agent discussions began. During the course of talks and a review of various documents, the email was discovered.

In it, Levenson expressed concern that White fans were “scared away” from Hawks home games because the fans in attendance were overwhelmingly Black, as were everything from the bars to the cheerleading squad to the kiss cam. In this respect, he says, the Hawks games don’t “look like” the games for other teams in the league.

“I have been open with our executive team about these concerns. I have told them I want some white cheerleaders and while i don’t care what the color of the artist is, i want the music to be music familiar to a 40 year old white guy if that’s our season tixs demo,” the memo reads in part, explaining that this isn’t the first time he’s spoken about these feelings. He expressed his belief that the lack of White fans was having a business impact, with the Black fan base lacking the money to purchase season’s tickets. He also noted his belief that it kept corporations away, who are also usually season ticket holders and big spenders at sporting events.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement last night saying that Levenson came to him with the email and his decision to sell his controlling interest in the team. “He shared with me how truly remorseful he is for using those hurtful words and how apologetic he is to the entire NBA family – fans, players, team employees, business partners and fellow team owners – for having diverted attention away from our game,” the statement says.

Levenson had actually been vocal about ousting Donald Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers after a racist audio rant from him was made public.

Atlanta is 54 percent Black and 34 percent White and has close ties to the city’s history in the civil rights movement. The Black population actually declined from 62 percent in 2010.

Moreover, as The Washington Post notes, the city is known for having a larger than average Black middle class, even if they took a hit from the economic recession.

Atlanta’s identification with the black middle class makes Levenson’s claims all the more mystifying. Though African Americans households lost more than half of their net worth in the Great Recession, NPR said Atlanta was “virtually synonymous with the black middle class” in 2011. Though it said that African American median income was much lower than that of whites, the Root pointed out in 2010 that Atlanta has the largest concentration of black millionaires in the country.” Among them at the time: OutKast and real-estate developer Herman Russell.

Hawks CEO and part-owner Steve Koonin will be in charge while the sale takes place. Today, he issued a statement on the team’s website, addressed to Atlanta residents and fans:

Today’s statement from Controlling Owner Bruce Levenson is extremely disappointing and the email that he sent over two years ago was alarming, offensive and most of all, completely unacceptable and does not reflect the principles and values of the Hawks organization. In partnership with the NBA, we will work to ensure that a new ownership team will be put in place that is united and committed to the Atlanta community.

United Nations Condemns U.S. Racism & Police Brutality

September 2nd, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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a katz / Shutterstock.com

a katz / Shutterstock.com

The United Nations is finally doing something activists since Malcolm X’s times have been calling for. The UN said it will look into abuses by the police of African Americans and other minorities. Just last week, the UN condemned U.S. police brutality and called for  a review of  “Stand Your Ground,” a controversial self-defense statute in 22 U.S. states.

This decision was reached by the U.N. racism watchdog following the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black teenager by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri.

Minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims at an unfair rate, states the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) after it examined the U.S. record, reports The Huffington Post.

“Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing,” Noureddine Amir, CERD committee vice chairman, told a press briefing.

Intense protests ensued after teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer on Aug. 9. The incident of one of many tragic events that put a spotlight on race relations in America.

“The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern and particularly in light of the shooting of Michael Brown,” said Amir.

“This is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials.”

A panel of 18 independent experts questioned a senior U.S. delegation on Aug. 13 about a perceived persistent racial discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities, especially within the criminal justice system.

Even U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper had to admit there was a problem. He told the panel that while the U.S. had made “great strides toward eliminating racial discrimination…we have much left to do.”

With Stand Your Ground, the UN panel said it needs to be reviewed to “remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to principles of necessity and proportionality when deadly force is used for self-defense.”

“The Committee remains concerned at the practice of racial profiling of racial or ethnic minorities by law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration, border enforcement officials and local police,” it said and urged investigations.

Also, the panel, which monitors compliance with a treaty ratified by 177 countries including the United States, said that the obstacles faced by minorities and indigenous peoples to exercise their right to vote effectively must be addressed.

Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union said the U.N. feedback showed “shortcomings on racial equality that we are seeing play out today on our streets, at our borders and in the voting booth.

“When it comes to human rights, the United States must practice at home what it preaches abroad,” he said.