Policing black [youth] bodies in an urban context

The kids are right in that freedom to offend is part of our democracy.  But no other ethnic group ever concluded that terrible behavior was a version of ethnic authenticity.  That is a black American innovation in cultural imbecility. –Stanley Crouch, Daily News 2010

When America Idol’s General Larry Platt “Pants on the Ground” gained popularity, Simon Cowell’s exasperated prediction that the old man’s song “could be a hit” proved true. “Pants on the Ground” became a national anthem–a joke to many, but a sort of Bill-Cosby-sings-the-blues to others. While many of us are smart enough to find it funny and simply a matter of dress, others use it to express the growing concern for the exposed rear ends of America’s youth, particularly black youth.

Politicians from Louisiana to New York have been leaning to introduce legislation barring the display of underwear. Many of the bills have been shot down in name of freedom of expression, but are gaining acceptance under indecency statutes. Of course, I think the bigger question is why does it matter enough to become a law. In a time where Arizona is banning ethnic studies one must wonder why politicians particularly politicians of color are focusing their energies on rounding up “improperly” dressed youth. Louisiana, really? For all of your failing schools, inflated poverty rate, and oil-infested water. What makes this priority?

Defining Beauty

In the past I have struggled with my self-image. Sometimes I feel beautiful, sometimes I don’t. It isn’t abnormal and it doesn’t mean that I don’t love myself. In fact, it’s probably more truthful to say that I struggle with my self-image in relation to what I think a man wants. And that is unfair to me. I had to come to terms with the fact that I don’t owe men anything. I don’t owe you a perfect body. I don’t owe you a made-up face. I don’t owe you manicured hands or perfect hair. I don’t owe you shit.

More Police Interactions

This weekend I spent sometime up north in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago. I usually don’t venture into the nightlife of gay Chicago (I’m just not big on clubs) but this particular weekend I figured I would deviate from the routine and explore a little. The first stop was Washington Park, a congregating area for south side gay youth. The park (and more centrally, the parking lot) had a carnival feel, negating the cotton candy and corn dogs, it was a couple hundred people walking in circles, socializing, enjoying the long anticipated warm weather and escape from a 6 month Chicago winter.

These people (myself included) were having fun, doing nothing wrong.  At exactly 9:58 (the park closes at 10) about 3 police cars came ramming through the parking lot with their sirens on telling everyone through their speaker system to vacate the area. It was like clockwork, and the last thing that I felt was any type of politeness from these officers. So as we were lead out of the parking lot like cattle by the “authorities” its seems like the general consensus was that people would either go home or go up north to Boystown.

Job Outlook for Teenagers Worsens

Job Outlook for Teenagers Worsens
Mickey Meece, New York Times, June 1, 2010

This year is shaping up to be even worse than last for the millions of high school and college students looking for summer jobs.

State and local governments, traditionally among the biggest seasonal employers, are knee-deep in budget woes, and the stimulus money that helped cushion some government job programs last summer is running out. Private employers are also reluctant to hire until the economy shows more solid signs of recovery.

So expect fewer lifeguards on duty at public beaches this summer in California, fewer workers at some Massachusetts state parks and camping grounds and taller grass outside state buildings in Kentucky.

Students seeking summer jobs, generally 16 to 24 years old, are at the end of the job line, behind the jobless baby boomers who are competing with new college graduates who, in turn, are trying to elbow out undergraduates and high school students. (Read the full article)

Israeli Assault on Freedom Flotillas

Medical and construction supplies, food, water filtration equipment, in addition to supporters from abroad sailed toward Gaza (a tiny strip of land controlled and blockaded by Israel but inhabited by Palestinians) in attempts to provide relief, or rather…sustenance. (…because even these flotillas would not have been able to relieve the suffering in the occupied Palestinian territories). The humanitarian flotillas that headed for Gaza had announced their purpose months in advance, asserted their non-violent intent, and even waved a white flag, signaling peace and surrender.

Previous to any contact, Israel opposed the flotillas, vowing to block any of them from reaching the Palestinian coast. Bringing aid to Gaza by boat, and not through Israel, asserts the right of international organization to give humanitarian aid directly to the Palestinian people.

May 24, 2010 – May 30, 2010

It is a G.R.E.A.T. program
Larry Brock, The Richmond Register, May 29, 2010

Local students visit historically black schools
Annie Martin, The Enquirer, May 29, 2010

Youth violence fight goes online
Kirsty Noffke, Twee Daily News, May 28, 2010

Basketball helps Stop the Violence
Ben Roberts, WALB News, May 28, 2010

Got a steep college bill? What to do now?
Jennifer Openshaw, Market Watch New York, May 28, 2010

Should We Also Outlaw Minority Scholarships?
A Barton Hinkle, Richmond Times, May 28, 2010

A complicated relationship: LGBT youth of color lose a hangout in an indifferent Boystown
Geoffrey Hing, Medill Reports Chicago, May 27, 2010

For KC teens, nothing to do but riot?
Juana Summers, Kansas City Free Press, May 27, 2010

Bullying–and how to deal with it–still a problem for schools
Joann Groff, Thousand Oaks Acorn, May 27, 2010

Religious Leaders Vow To Fight Youth Violence
Suzanne Collins, Baltimore WJZ, May 27, 2010

City rally will focus on youth violence
Jeff Pelzek, The Poughkeepsie Journal, May 27, 2010

Youth jobless crisis could have lasting impact
Chavon Sutton, CNN, May 26, 2010

Tough Love For Struggling Black Youth
Joseph A. Bailey, Black Voice News, May 26, 2010

Teacher Wrestles Student in Class, Gets Body Slammed
Ryan Wilson, Back Porch News, May 25, 2010

Teacher stands by lesson but would keep ‘Klan’ off campus next time
Ty Tagami and Marcus K. Garner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 24, 2010

Being ‘tough on crime’ is not the answer
Colin Long, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 24, 2010

New Law Would Force NYPD To Stop Saving Stop and Frisk Data
John Del Signore, Gothamist News, May 24, 2010

East Oakland’s peaceful Youth Uprising
Caitlin Donohue, San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 24, 2010

NYPD Recordings Confirm Racial Injustices
Cyril Josh Barker, Black Voice News, May 24, 2010

Spilling Black Guck On Obama's Presidency

Competition is inherent in politics. In our fast paced digital age we have shunned in- depth exposés for quick tweets about who is up and who is down. The talking heads elites in media and punditry use political sabermetrics to compare approval ratings at various times in presidential administrations. These politicos mainly use their heaps of quantitative data to extrapolate. In other words, if Americans thought Bush sucked going into the midterm elections and Barack Obama has similar approval ratings around that time, then barring any confounding factors, we can predict that Obama will suffer a similar fate. Although numbers technically do not lie, the people interpreting them do. Similarly, some comparisons are unwarranted, no matter the situation. For instance, Lebron will never be better than Kobe until he gets a few rings. I don’t care how similar their numbers are.  Hence, the media’s recent rush to liken the BP oil spill snafu to Hurricane Katrina is another example of too much extrapolation and not enough understanding.

Lawyer Says Evidence in Shooting of Aiyana Jones Shows Police Cover-Up

Fox News Detroit | June 1, 2010

OUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) – Attorney Geoffrey Fieger says an independent autopsy shows 7-year-old Aiyana Jones was shot through the top of her head during a police raid on her home

Fieger says Macomb County Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz has determined that the single gunshot exited through Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ neck, grazing her chest. Fieger said the shot was fired from the porch and through the open doorway.

Police said the girl was shot in the neck when an officer struggled with, or was jostled by, her grandmother inside the home.

“When officers entered the house, she was already shot,” said Fieger, who was joined in Tuesday’s press conference by Aiyana’s parents and grandmother. “It’s also clear there is no time for a scuffle.” (Read More)

Today's Feature Article

Miss. Middle School Bars Black Students From Running For Class President
Russell Goldman, ABC News | August 27, 2010

After 30 years of barring black students from running for class president, a Mississippi public middle school, reversed a Jim Crow era policy today and announced students of all races would be allowed to run for student government.

Students at Nettleton Middle School looking to run for class president, previously needed to maintain a B average, obtain 10 signatures from their classmates – and be white.

Rules issued last week outlined the school’s rules for seeking office. Students could run for president, vice president, secretary-treasurer and reporter, but some positions were off-limits depending on race.

In all three grades, only white students could run for president. In eighth grade black students could run for vice president and reporter. In seventh grade blacks could only run for secretary-treasurer, and in sixth grade only for reporter. (Read the full article)

**UPDATE** Since this story was covered, MSNBC reported that the Nettleton Middle School met in an emergency session and voted to repeal its policy to apportion student council positions by race.