A Rant About Michelle Bachmann & The Census & U

When my roommate and I got our census packet in the mail a few weeks ago, we immediately burst into laughter.

Now, let’s make something clear; the Census is very important and I think everyone should do it. Census data influences the allocation of much needed financial resources to your city or town, the number of seats your state gets in Congress, the number of electors each state receives in presidential elections, and the monitoring of compliance with civil rights laws and the delineating of where disparities exist. It seriously affects a lot of shit, and you’d only be hurting yourself by not doing it.

Yeah, we saw our census packet and thought of Rep. Michele Bachmann, actually. And that’s why we started laughing.

Hispanics are gone, but Negroes are here to stay.

I live with four people. Three of them are white and one is Asian, at least that’s what I would normally write on a form if asked. And if things were fair and balanced with this year’s Census, I would say one is Italian, one is Irish, one is Korean, and I would probably check other for the last one. She’s white, but beyond that, I scratch my head. Sorry Census folks, I don’t know their names. As for racial categories on the 2010 Census, it’s good thing I don’t have a Hispanic roommate because the option of selecting “Hispanic” as a racial category no longer exists. It’s there but in another question and in a million little pieces. No explanations are provided.

The Racial Contract (1997), a book written by Charles Mills asserts that the racial contract is a set of agreements between white people to categorize non-whites as inferior. To support this belief, whites set up a “two-tiered moral code” and in turn a hierarchy of rights, with the power being bestowed to individuals who were considered white. Of course, no system is as obvious as pre-slavery to Jim Crow times but we would be foolish to believe the continued use and manipulation of racial categories is a not a modern day version of old school ideology. Know your place! If “nationality” and “ethnicity” are so important as the Census would have us believe, why not provide options for whites to list their specific cultural affiliations? Why is “white” still a racial category and not Italian or Irish? And while the “Black” category remains virtually unchanged, the continued use of the term “Negro” is not because (as I’ve heard) older people still identify with the term–it is simply to remind everyone what box Obama will be checking.

March 15, 2010 – March 21, 2010

Summit opens dialogue with teens
Elizabeth M. Mack, Tallahassee Democrat, March 21, 2010

St. Cloud looks at race disparity suspension gap in schools
Dave Aeikens, SC Times, March 21, 2010

Engaging Seattle’s youth and families
Times Staff Writer, Seattle Times, March 21, 2010

Battle of the Youth Bulge
Addison Wiggin, Daily Reckoning, March 21, 2010

Minimum wage hikes harm teen workers
Thomas Oliver, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 21, 2010

Still Fewer Minorities In Gifted Classes
Rachel Monahan, New York Daily News, March 20, 2010

Pittsburgh police commend 3 under probe in beating of black student
Jill King Greenwood, Pittsburgh Tibune-Review, March 20, 2010

Graduates of Beach’s bygone black school get peek at new museum
Jaedda Armstrong, The Virginian Pilot, March 20, 2010

Students give perspective on school violence
Kristen A. Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 16, 2010

Study: Grad rates between blacks, whites widening
Antonio Gonzales, Associated Press, March 15, 2010

Conference focus: Mentors needed for at-risk youth
Ely Portillo, Charlotte Observer, March 15, 2010

Woman teaches girls self-esteem while they skate
John-John Williams IV, Baltimore Sun, March 15, 2010

Lockup’s racial disparity glaring
Rita Price, Columbia Dispatch, March 15, 2010

Kids killing kids
The Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2010

Why Black Students Are So Scarce at UCSD
Emily Alpert, Voice of San Diego, March 15, 2010

Fighting for Their Lives
Leticia Miranda, Colorlines, March 15, 2010

The New Jim Crow
Michelle Alexander, National Public Radio, March 15, 2010

UCF Study: Gap in Graduation Rates ‘Deeply Troubling’
Chad Binette, UFC Newsroom, March 15, 2010

A successful program to aid at-risk juveniles is caught in the budget vise
Dan Geringer, Philadelphia Daily News, March 15, 2010

Question 9: Black, African Am., or Negro?

On Tuesday night, friend of mine posted the following question to her twitter: “What’s the difference between African-American, Black or Negro?” I jokingly replied: “About 60 years”. She, of course, was speaking about Negro being included as one of the racial options on the 2010 Census. When the story first broke, there was quite a bit of backlash and conversation. Most seemed to be of the opinion that the term is at best outdated and maybe even offensive or dare we say…racist. I was one of the people who were upset about it. How dare we be classified as Negro? Not in “Post-Racial” America.

Healthcare, The F-bomb, and Uninformed Individuals

So far I have been having a wonderful spring break. I got to see two plays (The Illusion and Rent), went to a comedy club last night and saw Robert Hines (hilarious), and best of all, I got to observe one of the greatest political moments in this country since I became old enough to vote.  I watched President Obama sign the healthcare bill and it truly was a sigh of relief (for awhile I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or not). I am glad that this bill can positively influence over 32 million American lives. However, there of course will always be criticism and there of course will always be Vice-president Biden saying something inappropriate, that I usually like.

This time Biden’s faux pas came in the context of profanity. When introducing the president in what could possibly be one of the most formal situations within his position, of course Biden says “This is a big fucking deal.” Now I have an interesting history with profanity. All through my childhood I did not curse. Mostly because I was afraid of my dad (his whoopings were no joke), but also because I always thought there were enough words in the English language that cursing could lend itself to more intelligent vocabulary for communicating.  However, in 10th grade I gave it a try. I spent a week using curse words, and I came to the conclusion that they make life easier. People understand you better, some people listen faster, and others know when you’re serious once you use a curse word. So I cannot fault Joe Biden for wanting to express his joy/excitement through a word that seems to be less than appropriate.

Overall it still amazes me to read the comments that people write on the Internet articles. (See any yahoo, CNN, or MSNBC e-article.) It still baffles me to see people hate something that they are so ignorant about. I usually just dismiss them as “uninformed individuals” but today I have decided to create the “kings and queens of the uninformed.” Here are our top three winners, followed by the informed information that these people will hopefully one day read.

Vagina's Not a Dirty Word

On Friday night, in the basement of a local church next door to my high school, young people (including myself) gathered together in a positive environment in protest of the violence against women and children around the world. OPRF high school’s Students for Peace and Justice organization rallied students to participate by performing songs and monologues, informing us of shockingly high numbers of women who suffer from abuse, and promoting awareness about our own bodies and sexuality. Proceeds from the event supported Sarah’s Inn, a shelter that supports victims of domestic abuse. This V-day event was part of a much larger V-day campaign started with a play called The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, a playwright and activist who has raised awareness about women’s issues around the world.

According to Ensler’s website:

“V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls…V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.”

Game Time Politics

“And the crowd goes wild! Sort of.  It looks like the Donkeys have taken the lead. However, you can never underestimate those scrappy Elephants. If the Democrats can just hold the lead through the fourth quarter they may be the victors in this match.” If politics was a game (which it is), and Congress had a color commentator (not Maddow and O’Reilly) this might be something they would say.

The general manager of the Democratic party, President Obama called the shots on health care reform. Studying the playbook of his predecessors helped him to avoid their same mistakes. The idea of government run healthcare dates back to 1910 it was called compulsory health insurance back then. The American  Medical Association actually backed it. Healthcare reform was atop of FDR’s agenda in 1939 but by that time Congress was so upset with social security and unemployment that they nixed his idea. But just like Tony Dungy, President Obama found the courage and tenacity to turn a good team into a great team.

(Real) Pay for Play

Part of the reason I’m so unproductive during the first quarter of the year is because of sports.  The NFL Playoffs are quickly followed by March Madness, which is followed by the NBA Playoffs.  I do most of my work during the summer when baseball season is well underway.  Watching nine innings of baseball on television has never been my idea of a good time.  Anyway, the first weekend of the NCAA tournament is officially in the record books.  Although my Boilers have survived, thanks to Kansas and Georgetown, my bracket looks like a window during L.A. Riots: busted.  I’m still waiting for Duke to choke.  Though it doesn’t make up for the refs not ejecting Laettner, there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching Coach K. smugly accept defeat.  (Has Duke ever recruited a [black] ballplayer who was not from a two-parent home and ostensibly solidly middle class?’)

WHAT THE F@%! HAPPENED?! (PT. II): D'Angelo

Early on the morning of March 6th, 2010 Michael Eugene Archer, better known by his stage name D’Angelo, was arrested and charged with solicitation after allegedly propositioning an undercover female police officer for oral sex. D’Angelo requested a $40 blowjob from the young woman, yet upon searching his vehicle after the arrest, officers found $12,000 in cash stashed in his SUV. The incident made headlines across the country, many of them humorous and sarcastic (“D’Angelo: R&Busted!”, etc.), and news of the incident shocked both fans keeping track of D’s progress in regards to his recovery and return to music, as well as those who maybe haven’t thought much of the guy since he was half-naked on their TV screens every night for 3 or 4 months.

Now I guess after a decade of an utterly debilitating drug and alcohol addiction, and repeated run-ins with the law, one perhaps shouldn’t find such news all that shocking. But, delays and all, D’Angelo had seemed to be seriously getting the ball rolling on his looooooong-awaited third album, entitled James River. Collaborators had been announced, songs had been leaked; there were even reports that the guy had finally gotten clean, was hitting the gym, and potentially poised to make a triumphant return to the scene. And that only makes D’s most recent fuck-up all the more disappointing.

Ten years after taking R&B music to new heights, after becoming the sex symbol of the moment with his iconic “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” video, and after respected music critic Robert Christgau dubbed him “R&B Jesus”……

WHAT THE F@%! HAPPENED?!

Women’s Her-story Month: Why Not Sex Workers (Sofia Maldonado’s Mural)?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thzHCAjOgAI

There is a “moral panic” that Keysha Whitaker highlights in “Latin Female Artist draws criticism for Times Square Mural” brewing on the streets of Times Square where Sofia Maldonado, a young Puerto Rican-Cuban woman, is under fire for creating a mural that for many embodies the sins of rap videos . . . big booty black women . . . exotic looking Latina women . . . crouch mesmerizing poses . . . and at the end of the day “un-respectable” images of black and brown women. One incensed passerby said the mural harkens back to a time when 42th Street was a “red light” district . . . a place where prostitution . . . drugs . . . and un-catholic like debauchery reign supreme. People are mad not ordinary mad, but “witch-hunt” mad. Men of color are mad not ordinary mad, but I need to protect “my woman” mad. But the question is: why? Why are they mad? Why are they Mad Men?

And all that I can think of to answer this question is that these images are not “respectable” images. They do not paint black and brown women are Supreme Court Judges—Sonia Sotomayor—or as First Ladies—Michelle Obama—or as multi-billionaires—Oprah—or as activist— Linda Chavez-Thompson—or as writers—Sandra Cisneros. Nope . . . as one mural viewer said, “They look like prostitutes.” And in response to this I say [silent drum roll], why not sex workers? Why not a mural honoring sex workers during Women’s Her-story Month? Of course, this is not to say that the mural showcase sex workers, but the way in which people are talking about the images of the mural gives substance to the claim that people see the images as such.