We’re Done Being Polite: A Reflection on the Mizzou Protests

Social movements over the years have taught us that politeness and respectabiility rarely result in lasting social change. When 15-year-old Claudette Colvin first resisted public bus segregation in Alabama on March 2, 1955, she did so knowing that she’d be classified as unruly, dangerous, and a threat to the very fabric of American society. Nine months later, when Rosa Parks did the same, it was groundswell effect of women like Colvin’s actions which helped to shift the public’s attention to the nonviolent but very disruptive actions of Blacks in Montgomery, Alabama. But these women, their fellow organizers and their tactics weren’t polite. So, why is anyone demanding politeness from young Black organizers today?

We Are Still Asking: Who Is Burning Black Churches?

 

In the days following the June 17th massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, at least six predominantly and historically Black churches were set ablaze. It has only been a few days since the last Black church in the South was burned. Sadly, the brief reprieve from church burnings inspires both relief and foreboding as one has to wonder if the trend will resume in the coming weeks. Given that there has been little to no coverage from mainstream media outlets, many on social media have asked: Who is burning Black churches? Unfortunately, this is a question we may never see answered. Here is what we do know right now:

1. The first church burned was College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tenn. The church was determined to have been attacked by arsonists just four days after the massacre at Emanuel AME Church. However, investigators believe it was not a hate crime because there were no signs left behind indcating that the church was targeted for hate.

2. The second church fire was at God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia on June 23rd. Like the first fire, this event was determined to be an act of arson yet officials chose not to comment on why exactly the fire was set.

3. Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina was the third Black church to catch fire in the days following the Emanuel AME massacre. Investigators revisited this case after several other church fires denoted a pattern. They have not yet determined if this incident on June 24th was a hate crime.

4. On June 26th, nine days following the massacre at Emanuel AME Church, Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina was set on fire in the wee hours of the morning. After originally suggesting the fire might have been caused by an electrical problem, further investigations of the cause of the fire were inconclusive.

5. Also on June 26th, Greater Miracle Temple in Tallahassee, Florida was burned down. State officials determined that this event was an accident rather than an act of arson.

6. The last church (we know of) which has burned in the last two weeks is Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, South Carolina. The fire, which happened on June 30th, has been attributed to lightning. Officials have specifically stated that there was “no criminal intent” involved in this incident.

While fire investigators and officials have determined several of these church burnings to be accidental and non-criminal in nature, many people looking on struggle to see how these events could possibly be disconnected. Given this country’s long history of racism and intimidation from hate groups like the KKK, it seems odd that there would be any question as to who is behind the burning of Black churches in the South. Some congregants and pastors of Black churches have spoken out concerned that this issue has not been addressed in a more material way by mainstream news outlets.

These are all of the documented cases of Black churches burnings as of July 5th. This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Photo Credit: CLAREDON COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT VIA TWITTER

 

Jenn M. Jackson is the Editorial Assistant for The Black Youth Project. She is also the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Water Cooler Convos, a politics, news, and culture webmag for bourgie Black nerds. For more about her, tweet her at @JennMJack or visit her website at jennmjackson.com.

Michael B. Jordan Goes in on Racist Trolls

Michael B Jordan

Michael B. Jordan has a few words for the racist trolls upset that he will be portraying Johnny Storm in the upcoming “Fantastic Four” film.

From Entertainment Weekly:

You’re not supposed to go on the Internet when you’re cast as a superhero. But after taking on Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four—a character originally written with blond hair and blue eyes—I wanted to check the pulse out there. I didn’t want to be ignorant about what people were saying. Turns out this is what they were saying: “A black guy? I don’t like it. They must be doing it because Obama’s president” and “It’s not true to the comic.” Or even, “They’ve destroyed it!”

It used to bother me, but it doesn’t anymore. I can see everybody’s perspective, and I know I can’t ask the audience to forget 50 years of comic books. But the world is a little more diverse in 2015 than when the Fantastic Four comic first came out in 1961. Plus, if Stan Lee writes an email to my director saying, “You’re good. I’m okay with this,” who am I to go against that?

Some people may look at my casting as political correctness or an attempt to meet a racial quota, or as part of the year of “Black Film.” Or they could look at it as a creative choice by the director, Josh Trank, who is in an interracial relationship himself—a reflection of what a modern family looks like today.

This is a family movie about four friends—two of whom are myself and Kate Mara as my adopted sister—who are brought together by a series of unfortunate events to create unity and a team. That’s the message of the movie, if people can just allow themselves to see it.

Sometimes you have to be the person who stands up and says, “I’ll be the one to shoulder all this hate. I’ll take the brunt for the next couple of generations.” I put that responsibility on myself. People are always going to see each other in terms of race, but maybe in the future we won’t talk about it as much. Maybe, if I set an example, Hollywood will start considering more people of color in other prominent roles, and maybe we can reach the people who are stuck in the mindset that “it has to be true to the comic book.” Or maybe we have to reach past them.

To the trolls on the Internet, I want to say: Get your head out of the computer. Go outside and walk around. Look at the people walking next to you. Look at your friends’ friends and who they’re interacting with. And just understand this is the world we live in. It’s okay to like it.

Photo:  Monica Schipper/Getty Images/IMDB

Racism 2.0: How the Internet Reminds Us Things Ain’t Changed

Deray CHuck

By Jay Dodd

Earlier this week, Arrogant Internet White Man #456 or Chuck C. Johnson used Twitter to fundraise a “taking out” of community organizer and movement curator Deray McKesson. The threat spread quick and many mobilized to hold Twitter accountable for allowing such threats. While Black Twitter was critical in the quick response, McKesson’s high profile status signaled a larger issue around threats and harassment on the platform.

In the days following, news broke that Twitter permanently suspended Johnson from the site and many rejoiced. Johnson, however, is allegedly trying to sue stating, “Twitter doesn’t seem to have a problem with people using their service to coordinate riots, but they do have a problem with the kind of journalism I do.”

This case study in Arrogant White Man self-victimization is commonplace from academia to entertainment and seems to have found a complex home online. While Black folk experience threat and harassment in a variety of forms online, social media, Twitter especially, has provided a critical space for folks to claim identity and combat erasure. These are seemingly new tactics in Black survival and socio-cultural resistance; keeping up with the modernization of White terror.

We are undoubtedly not living the world of our parents or grandparents’ racism. As technology, wealth, and power continued to shift, strategies of systemic or covert racism has become standard. Erasure and silencing now gag the throats of Black resistance and scholarship. Overt actions of racism, like lynching and fire bombing are easier to shame but those, too, are still happening.  The false outcry of many (white) millennials is that we are living in a “post race” utopia with President Obama as a beacon of that cultural shift. However, consider his welcome to Twitter.

Red-blooded American spoke to the President of the United States with the most vitriolic racism. Whatever you want to say about patriotism, or the lack of surprise, consider how quickly American pride is proven as a fallacy. Any reverence that POTUS would be afforded is lost because of his Blackness. Not only is there the disrespect of alleged nationalism, but with the prevalence of threats and harassment on Twitter, are these trolls unbothered by potential repercussions. (by the way, threatening the president of the United States is a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.) Only racism’s arrogance can reveal such disparities in cultural codes or standards.

While technology and social media a multitude of ways to communicate and build, technology does not undo or minimize intergenerational racism. New media has unfortunately also meant a lack of ethics, accountability and safety for many Black folks online. There have been concerted efforts to defame, silence, and threaten Black/Indigenous (Trans) Women online. Government and news organizations vulture social media to co-opt/disable resistance movements.

While Black folk have truly begun mastering the digital landscape as a new world for us to connect through, we (unfortunately) are still vulnerable to White threat. It is on us to build our digital literacy and demand safety for our voices and narratives.

Photo: Jay Dodd/Twitter

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Jay Dodd is a writer and performance artist based in Boston, originally from Los Angeles. After recently graduating Tufts University, Jay has organized vigils and protests locally for Black Lives Matter: Boston. When not in the streets, Jay has contributed to Huffington Post and is currently a contributing writer for VSNotebook.com, based in London. Jay Dodd is active on social media celebrating Blackness, interrogating masculinity, and complicating queerness. His poetic and performance work speaks to queer Black masculinity and afrofuturism.

Noose Found Hanging From Tree on Duke Campus

dukenoose

A noose was found hanging from a tree on the Duke campus Wednesday morning.

A picture of the noose and statement was posted to the Duke People of Color Caucus Tumblr:

“To all black students, staff, faculty, and/or Durhamites on campus and in the area: Please take care of yourselves and each other. This campus is not a safe space, and has proven beyond any doubt that it is a hostile environment for any and all black people.”

This incident follows a case of racist chanting just two weeks ago, writes the Duke Chronicle. In that case, a black student claimed that white students chanted the same lynching song as the Oklahoma University SAE chapter at her while she was walking on campus.

Photo: Duke People of Color Caucus

 

And The Winner For Best Passive Aggression Is: Cultural Appropriation!

There is a major difference between appropriating and appreciating a culture. I love watching anime and reading manga, I appreciate the story lines and the artistic styles. Though I do not participate, many fans attend anime conventions fully costumed which is acceptable because it is apart of the event. Outside of this space, costume wearing could be offensive because eastern culture is ingrained in anime. Therefore the line between appropriating and appreciating is very thin.  Culture is not a trend nor is it a commodity to be exploited or used out of context.  So, if the line is that thin, take it as a sign and DO NOT DO IT. So, let the rant begin:

Cultural Appropriation is not new. Exploitation of marginalized culture has existed for a long time in the USA. For example, indigenous traditions have turned into fashion, logos for professional/college sports teams, and in movies without the indigenous population present or approving.  Black culture has been appropriated many times over for American entertainment and all people around the world. Minstrel shows is a great example of a perpetuated and stereotyped culture which included the degradation a group of people in the process. Another example is Rock and Roll.  White executives hired black artist to train white artist how to dance and sing so they would be more appealing to the masses. These black artist were never given credit and did not make a dime. So instead of thinking that Rock and Roll is from the black community, it has and still is associated with white America. So instead of Elvis Presley, we should be saying Little Richard or Chuck Berry as the foundation and growth of the genre.

The worst type of appropriation is when a culture is vilified but gets accepted because there is financial gain or is accepted because the dominant group decides to “participate”. It is one thing to be familiar and understand a culture, but its another when  members of a dominant group exploits the culture of oppressed people. The dominant groups rarely understand the traditions and experience of the culture that are exploiting. For example, Katy Perry dressing up as Geisha and  saying she was paying homage or a group of Russian women teaching a twerking class with no respect to African people, or everyone creating and wearing mask during the Day of the Dead Holiday but do not truly understand the Mexican ritual. Miley Cyrus (do I even have to explain this one?). The dominant group gets credit for being creative and innovators while the minoritized groups get criticized for their culture as if it wasn’t stolen and modified.

Museums and private collectors make money off our ancestors and claim to own it. How can you own artifacts that belong to another country, city, or a people? How can you own a mummified corpse? They open caskets and have our ancestors on display. How would you like it if someone dug up your ancestor and broken the sacred ritual? What if George Washington’s corpse was on display?

This part is for the opposition: Not everything is cultural appropriation. Respecting the culture while participating is legit. I do not agree with the dominant group wearing dreadlocks or wanting to be Rastafari without understanding or just viewing it as a fad or a portion of your identity. I do not like it when black people do it either. There is somewhat of a reverse side to this such as Usher or Kanye West wearing kilts. Why are you wearing a Kilt?  I have never seen them wear traditional African clothing in public. During St. Patrick’s Day, I see so many black people claiming their so called Irish Heritage or just celebrating but I never see them celebrating Kwanzaa, Black August, or even Juneteenth.  Another issue is the acceptance of being culturally appropriate. The viral video of a White Kappa shimmying (not even dancing spectacular might I add) has gotten more love than any black Kappa on social media is a great example. Oh, you want more examples you say? Missy Elliot chose to highlight Alyson Stoner in her videos Hip Hop dancing. While she was/is talented, you mean to tell me, out of the thousands of little black girls who can dance (probably better than her) they could not be picked? Usher with Justin Bieber (who actually thinks he is black now but when the revolution pop off, which side will he choose???) and T.I. with Iggy.  This is not a black and white thing or a attack on Europeans. Though I love anime, I see a lot of racism in Asian cartoons. They portray many of their evil doers as black people or stereotype hip hop culture. In Kill La Kill, one character talks “black”, is a pimp, gold teeth, and is powered by money. On the other hand, you have responsible anime like Samurai Champloo that merges Hip Hop and traditional/Feudal japan culture.

The melting pot concept is nothing but propaganda.  Just because many different people live in a country doesn’t mean they respect or share the same culture. How can this country be a melting pot when we were slaves, the indigenous murdered and non British Europeans discriminated against during the inception of the USA?Hip Hop is the closest thing to a melting pot, created by African people and accepted properly by many people around the world.  But like Paul Mooney said, “Everybody wants to be a nigga but no one wants to be a nigga.” Everyone wants the benefits of being a person of color, but not the struggle. Cultural appropriation is a wonderful thing isn’t it?

Elite Degrees Give Black Americans Little Advantage In Job Market

harvard

A new study from the University of Michigan shows that elite credentials give black Americans very little advantage in the job market.

From the University of Michigan:

Gaddis used a unique field experiment to test the value of different types of college degrees in the labor market for white and black candidates. He created more than 1,000 fake job applicants through email addresses, phone numbers and résumés, and applied to jobs online. Each candidate listed a degree from either an elite school (Harvard, Stanford, Duke) or a nationally ranked, but less-selective state university (University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of California-Riverside, University of North Carolina-Greensboro).

Additionally, the candidates had first names that likely identified their race: Jalen, Lamar and DaQuan (black/male); Nia, Ebony, and Shanice (black/female); Caleb, Charlie and Ronny (white/male); and Aubrey, Erica and Lesly (white/female).

White job applicants with a degree from an elite university had the highest response rate (nearly 18 percent), followed by black candidates with a degree from an elite university (13 percent) and white candidates with a degree from a less-selective university (more than 11 percent). Black job applicants with a degree from a less-selective university had the lowest response rate (less than 7 percent).

Read the entire study here.

 

Photo: Harvard

That SAE Video, Racist College Culture & Black Student Survival at University

SAE-video_protest

By Denene Millner

 

I don’t know why folks are acting all shocked by this SAE video madness, as if despicably racist, nigger-filled rants by groups of white college boys is somehow new, fresh, unexpected and unique. Any human who’s ever stepped foot on the campus of a predominately white college or university can tell you with relative ease that this kind of behavior, that kind of brazen foolishness, those kind of animals, are all par for the course on the soils of American institutions of higher learning.

It’s the same ol’ story: members of the University of Oklahoma’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a fraternity founded before the Civil War in the antebellum south, got busted singing this racist song about never letting Black people pledge. Though the SAE video doesn’t show the segregationist ditty in its entirety, the refrain repeated over and over again to the melody of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”—”there will never be a nigger in SAE”—is interspersed with a reminder of the frat members’ willingness to do what the good ol’ boys of the Jim Crow south used to do to terrorize Black folk into following their racist rules: “You can hang ‘em from a tree, but he’ll never sign with me.” Of course, the entire bus is practically rocking as its passengers, clad in tuxedos, heading to an event at an exclusive golf club, sing the song with great gusto and glee. A separate Vine video shows the frat’s house mother, looking like a Paula Deen understudy, repeatedly and rapidly saying the word “nigger” while she giggles into the camera—like she’s really used to letting it just roll off her tongue.

In typical fashion, the fraternity’s national chapter issued an apology and put an ocean’s worth of distance between itself and its errant members, claiming in a statement that the song is not one it teaches SAE brothers and that it’s totes cool with the University of Oklahoma’s move to drop kick the local chapter off its campus. The statement went on to say that they’re suspending the U of O students from their fraternity, they’re working with African Americans to “build a partnership that will address the need for additional training, awareness and resources on cultural and diversity issues” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…

And right there is where it gets especially stupid. Because everyone pondering this thing—from the university to the fraternity to the members to the media and beyond—is acting like this is some isolated incident that goes away with a statement and an expulsion and a meeting with the Black Student Union.

It doesn’t.

Racism on American campuses is as ingrained and regular and damn-near non-eventful as rain is wet, grass is green and sugar is sweet. Because, duh, the campuses are filled with Americans—all-too-many white folk who were raised at the knee of parents and grandparents and aunties and uncles and cousins and friends who can’t stand Blacks (Latinos, Asians, Middle Easterners and Indians and everyone else of color, too) and hold tight to stereotypes and privilege that makes them certain white folks are the shit and everyone else is nothing more than the soiled toilet tissue on the bottom of their shoes. This is not a white frat thing. This is not a southern university thing. This is not an isolated incident. This is America. This is fact.

I learned that much not more than half an hour into my college experience at my alma mater, Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y. My parents couldn’t have been out of the parking lot after our teary good-byes before one of my two roommates, a girl from the butt-crack of Pennsylvania, informed me that she’d never seen “a Black girl in real life before.” This while the other roommate, from Chicago, ran her fingers across my toiletries and, settling on my jar of Dax hair greased, asked me what it was for before informing me that while she’d seen Black people before, she didn’t know any personally.

I wasn’t sure what to make of what they’d said, but I didn’t know anyone on campus yet, so, operating on the “you all I got” philosophy, I pushed their treating me like a Martian aside and agreed to go with Chicago to meet some of her friends in a neighboring dorm. Hey, I had to start somewhere, right? Well, that was a disaster. While I stood in a corner of her friend’s room, trying to figure out what I could say to fit in with these girls—all white—another girl came barging into the room, pissed. “That stupid nigger downstairs wouldn’t let me into the door because I don’t have my ID yet,” she seethed, completely unaware that I was there until her friends, frozen and wide-eyed, introduced her to me, the Black girl.

“I didn’t mean nigger in a bad way,” she insisted. “I meant nigger like, ignorant person. Not black.”

I wish I could tell you that I had a pithy comeback, or that I punched her in the face in solidarity with my people or that I called her on her racist crap. But honestly, she caught me off guard, y’all. I did not expect to hear the word a half an hour into my time out in the “real world.” I did not expect to have to confront the person who said it. I did not expect to be paired with roommates who’d never seen or talked to Black people before and had only stereotypes and yes, racist beliefs, to work with before they met special, naive, nervous, “can’t we all just get along” ol’ me.

The experience grew me up real quick, trust. And by the time I left Hofstra, I was real clear on the ways of racist white folk.

But when I went to that school, I wasn’t ready because no one prepared me for it. I’m the first and only one in my immediate family to go to and graduate college and so it makes sense that my parents wouldn’t know thing one about campus dynamics. But I’ll be damned if I let my girlpies tap one of their manicured toes on the campus greens without understanding that American colleges and universities are but a mere microcosm of America, with a faction of racists who are often too young, stupid and drunk to hide their sick, twisted thinking when it comes to race. They sit in classes as kind as you please during the daytime, but in the cover of night, they whoop and holler and piss all in the hallways and tear up furniture and fixtures and sexually assault young women and yell racist shit at Black folk with impunity, knowing nothing will happen to them because the campus system, like the American system, is set up to protect them. To let them act any ol’ kind of way because they’re white and they just can. Campus security is too busy policing Black students, professors, administrators and workers to care that the others are tearing the campus apart and attacking and abusing students of color.

What those boys were doing in the SAE video was not new. It happens every second of the day in the dorm rooms, in the locker rooms, in the bleachers of the sporting events, and yes, at alcohol-fueled frat parties of every non-HBCU college and university in the country. Don’t believe me? Consider all the racist Black face, anti-Black and -immigrant kegers these idiots host then splash onInstagram and Twitter, with an attitude that’s totally, “Like what? We’re just having fuuuuun!”

While the University of Oklahoma’s president should be applauded for his swift action to denounce the offending students, kick them out of school, ban the frat and shutter SAE’s campus house—real talk, those were boss moves—each of us has to stop acting as if this kind of behavior is rare and happens in a vacuum. (I’m looking at you, four-star recruit Jean Delance, who rescinded his commitment to play at U of O after the video surfaced and instead chose to go to the University of Alabama instead—as if this kind of behavior doesn’t rear it’s ugly head ever in Alabama.)

Racism on college campuses is systemic.

It is real.

It is pervasive.

Let’s start the conversation there.

And rather than call in the good BSU folk to help white students understand why it’s hurtful to sing “nigger” songs, how about we put that effort into giving Black students the tools and mettle they need to make it through the race gauntlet they’ll surely face on America’s college campuses. Indeed, in America, period.

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Denene Millner is a NY Times best-selling author. She is the founder of MyBrownBaby. This post originally appeared on MyBrownBaby.

 

Photo: SAE protest/Screenshot

University of Oklahoma Expels Two Students For Racist Chant

640px-Oklahoma_Memorial_Union_-_Univ._of_Oklahoma,_Norman,_OK

Two members of SAE, the fraternity caught on tape singing a racist chant, have been suspended from Oklahoma University.

From Reuters:

The University of Oklahoma has expelled two students linked to a video showing members of a fraternity singing a song filled with racial epithets, the school’s president said on Tuesday.

The two students were “identified as playing a leadership role in the singing of a racist chant” connected to a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity event, President David Boren said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“There is zero tolerance for this kind of threatening racist behavior at the University of Oklahoma,” he wrote.

The university will continue to investigate all of the students engaged in the singing of the chant, he said. Once their identities are confirmed, they will be subject to disciplinary action as well, he said.

The university on Monday closed the fraternity after a video surfaced showing students singing the song. Members were ordered to move out of the fraternity’s house and the school labeled the actions of those involved “disgraceful.”

Read more at the Huffington Post.

Photo: University of Oklahoma/Wikimedia Commons