Dear Fellow White People: RE Justine Damond Shooting

Dear fellow white people who are shocked and angered by Justine Damond’s murder.
Dear fellow white people who are outraged that a woman was shot by the very police she called for help.
Dear fellow white people who are devastated that a beautiful yoga instructor and bride-to-be’s life was cut short by trigger-happy cops.
Dear fellow white people who are in disbelief an unarmed person would be so carelessly and ruthlessly gunned down by those who are supposed to “protect and serve.”
Where were you?

Where were you when Charleena Lyles was murderer by Seattle police after calling for help?
Where were you when Philando Castle and Sandra Bland, both pillars of their communities, were ripped away from their families and friends by police brutality?
Where where you when literally thousands of unarmed Black folx are murdered by U.S. police?

Dear fellow white people who are demanding “hashtag justice for Justine.”
Dear fellow white people who are appalled that a law abiding person could end up a victim of police violence.
Dear fellow white people who are frantically asking “how is this even possible in my country?”
Why weren’t you listening?

Why weren’t you listening to the cries for justice for Eric Garner, or Mike Brown? Or at least Tamir Rice who was just 12 years old?
Why weren’t you listening to Black and Latin Americans when they told you police violence was a serious and institutional problem that affects all of us?
Why weren’t you listening to Black parents when their young children were routinely terrorized by cops in their own neighborhoods?

If we’re just now getting angry,
if we’re just now paying attention,
if we just now started to care about police brutality.
If we are heartbroken over the death of Justine Damond,
but unmoved by the death of Jordan Edwards.
Please, let’s save our tears.

This is not to say Justine Damond deserved to die. No, she absolutely didn’t.
This is not to say we can’t be saddened or even enraged by her death. No, we absolutely should be.
Nor is this to say that white people have lost the right to be upset over the wrongful shooting of other white people.
And I am sure that Justine was wonderful person who will be missed.

However, we do not get to be outraged over the murder of seemingly wholesome, fair-skinned, conventionally attractive, blonde lady,
while simultaneously ignoring the systemic radicalized violence faced by Black folx, Latin folx, Indigenous folx, and other people of colour.

And as a special note to my fellow white people who are making racist comments about the police officer who shot and killed Justine Damond, kindly go fuck yourselves.
Because I know you’re the same fuckers who say shit like, “all lives matter” and, “stop making everything about race!”
So, sit down and shut the fuck up. You sure as hell don’t get to pretend racism doesn’t exist and then garner sympathy by being a racist piece of shit.

If you would like to read more about this story, I recommend Shaun King’s article on Daily News, “Police brutality jumped a racial fence with Minneapolis cop shooting of Justine Damond” here.

To the People Saying We’ll Survive Trump

1-yozfh5nygzkxmhjpn_h8lg

Image Description: Crowd of people standing and a few are holding signs. One sign reads, “this is not okay,” and the other sign reads, “fear…” and the rest of the sign is unreadable.

[TW: discussions of, and references to racism, Islamophobia, colonization, xenophobia, racialized violence, transphobia and other queerphobia, misogyny, sexual violence, ableism, and various types of hate crimes and bigotry]

This is to all the people telling members of various disadvantaged and oppressed groups to “calm down,” that we all just need to “come together,” and that if conservatives “survived Obama,” we’ll “survive Trump:”

SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.

Do not fucking tell us to calm down. We’re entitled to feel however the hell we feel. Do not tone police our reaction to President Toddler Hitler-lite. You have no idea where we’re coming from, and you clearly are not bothering to try to understand our very precarious situation. You’re blinded by your own privilege, so shut it.

And don’t you dare tell us we need to come together with Trump and his supporters. We are not obligated to unite with people who hate us, are bigoted toward us, and who terrify us. Trump and his supporters don’t get to be raging xenophobic, misogynistic, racists for a year and a half and then expect everyone they hate to be all hunky-dory and just fall in line. Fuck that!

How hell do you not understand that asking a person of color to set aside their own rights and well-being to make peace with a white supremacist is a giant slap in the face? Or how expecting Muslims, immigrants, or refugees to forget about all the hate and discrimination they faced from Trump and his supporters for the sake of your personal comfort is just plain heartless? Or how simply asking the LGBTQIA+ community to overlook the fact that Mike Pence and many Trump supporters think it’s perfectly acceptable to torture the f*ggot out of queer kids may cause actual trauma? Seriously, where the hell do get off asking these things of people?

Do not tell us we’ll live or we’re overreacting, because here is a list of people who will literally not survive the Trump-Pence administration:
1. Black folx and other PoC who will face increased racialized violence from police and white p*wer groups.
2. Native North Americans and Indigenous people whose land, water, and other resources will be polluted and stolen by the government and corporations.
3. Latinx people who will be racially profiled by ICE, many of whome will be illegally detained in inhumane facilities.
4. Undocumented immigrants who will likely be hunted down, rounded up into concentrated areas (does this sound vaguely familiar?), and deported.
5. Muslims who will be stigmatized even further, face an increased threat of violent hate crimes, be racially profiled by law enforcement, and who may have to register as Muslims (you know, like Jewish people in pre World War II Germany).
6. Refugees who will not be granted asylum in the U.S. Refugees who are running for their lives and have no where to go.
7. People with mental illnesses, disabled folx, and those who otherwise depend on state assistance for lifesaving healthcare.
8. People with pre-existing health issues and anyone else that relies on the regulations set forth in the ACA to obtain lifesaving health insurance coverage.
9. Any person who needs, or will need, access to affordable reproductive healthcare, including contraception, abortions, STI testing, reproductive-related cancer screenings, etc.
10. Trans and genderqueer folx who need accessible, legal avenues to change the gender identity on their legal documents (birth certificates, passports, state-issued photo IDs, etc.)
11. LGBTQIA+ folx who need access to safe transitional housing, to mental healthcare, to legal protections for their civil rights, and who will face increased rates of hate crimes.

If you don’t believe me, check out the links below. There are reports of trans suicides, racial violence, and violence against Muslim women.

And do not compare our terror and protests of Trump’s presidency to people’s animosity toward President Obama. Most people were angry about Obama’s presidency because they were racist. A few people may have simply been upset their candidate didn’t win, but let’s be honest, most of them were just racist assholes.

Those of us freaking out about Trump aren’t doing so because we’re sore losers, or because we’re bigoted assholes who are scared of losing our privilege. We’re freaked out because we know we’re about to face a living nightmare of hate crimes, police violence, and a loss of civil rights. We’re not shitty because other people might take a few steps toward equity and social justice, thereby narrowing the gaps in our social hierarchy and reducing our own privilege. We’re shitty because we’re about to take a giant step backward.

So yeah, sit your damn ass down and shut the fuck up!
Preston, Dominic. “Reports claim ‘at least 8’ trans youth died by suicide after Trump’s win,” Pink News. Nov. 10, 2016. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/11/10/reports-claim-at-least-8-trans-youth-committed-suicide-after-trumps-win/

Boyer, Ashley. Facebook Post screenshot via Kat Blaque. Nov. 10, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/kat.blaque.5/posts/1218259301582221

@Toure. Tweet screenshot via Shaun King Facebook page. Nov. 11, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/shaunking/photos/a.799605230078397.1073741828.799539910084929/1195912750447641/?type=3&theater

We can all be a Little Bill O’Reilly-ish Sometimes – Here’s how Not to Be

Michelle-Obama-700x525

Image of First Lady Michelle Obama, a Black woman with long dark brown hair, wearing a short sleeve blue dress and speaking into a microphone.

[CN: Discussion of slavery by a white person (me), please feel free to call me out if anything I am saying is racist or otherwise problematic.]

Bill O’Reilly recently said something racist, and in other breaking news, the sun is hot (click here to watch the video; TW for racism, discussion of slavery, and all around dumbfuckery). However, I would still like to take a moment to address his comments. Sure, O’Reilly might be an uninformed, self -important blowhard who will probably never bother to act like a decent person, but he still should not be allowed to espouse racist shit without consequence. We [white people] need to start holding fellow whites accountable for our racism rather than placing the burden solely on Black folx and other PoC to call out racism.

Additionally, while O’Reilly’s comments may have been overtly racist, the basic themes and misconceptions behind them are commonly held views of [us] white folx in general. All white people have the capacity to be racist, and we all say racist things. Just because the average white person is only subtly racist does not mean our racism is excusable.

There were many problems with what O’Reilly said, but I’ve identified a few racist behaviors that all of us white folx participate in sometimes. I think we [white people] need to learn to recognize these behaviors in ourselves and others so we can minimize our racist contributions to the world.

[In case you didn’t watch the video, Bill O’Reilly basically said the Black slaves who built the Whitehouse didn’t have have it so bad. This was said in Response to comments made by First Lady, Michelle Obama, about how she spent eight years living in a house built by slaves.]

1. Bill displayed a spectacular mix of white- and man- splaining when he affirmed Michelle Obama was “technically correct” about slaves building the Whitehouse. Of course, by “technically correct” he meant “wrong.” Thankfully, white-man Bill O’Reilly corrected Michelle Obama by saying that it wasn’t only slaves who built the Whitehouse. According to O’Reilly “free Blacks, whites, and immigrants” also helped build the Whitehouse.

I’m sure the “free Blacks” were treated just as well as the “whites.” And needing to distinguish between free and enslaved Black folx hardly indicates there might be a problem. Besides, where would we be if white men didn’t go around correcting Black woman about their own history?

PSA: [We] White people don’t get to comment on, or whitesplaine, the lived experiences of Black folx or their history!

2. Bill tried to preemptively defend his comments by explaining that he’s a history buff and can’t help talking about American history when the topic comes up. He even created a fun little quiz his viewers can take to text their knowledge. If I get 100% will I receive a free subscription to Bill O’Reilly’s latest magazine/newspaper/blog/whatever, Why White People Really Do Know More Than Everyone Else?

You know what else is a fun fact? Black slaves were raped, whipped, beaten, and tortured in ways I don’t feel particularly comfortable or qualified discussing as a white person. Slavery isn’t a fun little history factoid [we] white people get to sit around in our privilege chairs and talk about. Slavery was real and it was horrific. It’s effects are still felt by Black Americans, and we’ve done very little as a nation to make reparations.

3. When Bill so helpfully pointed out that it wasn’t only slaves who built the Whitehouse, he gave a shout out to the immigrants who also helped build the Whitehouse. He said there were “no illegal immigrants” back then because “if you could make it here you could stay.”

Putting aside the fact that the U.S. isn’t exactly known for our history of treating immigrants well who were employed for manual labor (see the history of Chinese immigrants), we were the illegal immigrants, moron! Euro-Americans were the immigrants (really, we still are) and we certainly didn’t ask the folx already living here for permission to live here, occupy the land, consume resources, and completely control the entire economy and political structure.

White Americans need to stop acting like we have a inalienable right to whatever lands, resources, etc. we stumble across. We need to acknowledge that our ancestors were invaders, not pioneers, and that we continue to maintain and benefit from imperialism. 

4. Finally, STOP trying to make slavery okay! Seriously! Knock it off! Like, wtf is wrong with you?! Of all the things people disagree on, the immorality of slavery shouldn’t be one of them.

 

The Privilege of Post-Terrorism Support & Sympathy

Paris overshaddowing beirut

Image Description: A photo of street in Beirut after most recent terrorist attack. There is a crowd of people, rubble, blown up cars, signs and banners, and Lebanese flags. There is a photo of an eye with the pupil the colours of the French flag with the Eiffel tower in the middle overlaid on the photo of the street in Beirut.

My Thoughts on the Paris Attacks and on Terrorism in General:

First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest sympathies with everyone impacted by the recent Paris attacks. The pain and fear Paris residents are experiencing is very real, and I by no means wish to invalidate or minimize that. I believe violence (except in the case of self-defense) is always intolerable, and there is absolutely no justification for terrorism.

I say all this because I know some people will be angered by what I’m going to say next. They might claim I don’t care about the Parisian victims. They might get defensive, claim they care about all victims of terrorism, but say Paris is just the most recent site of grief. They might argue that because the Paris attacks are such a fresh wound, this isn’t an appropriate time to focus on other cases of terror-based violence. So, I want to be clear that I do grieve for the loss of life and devastation in Paris, and I’m not excusing or minimizing terrorism or any other form of violence. And that is all I’m going to say in defense of my grief for Paris; anyone who doesn’t believe me can sod off.

The international support for France, and Paris specifically, after the terrorists attacks by ISIS was quick to appear and far-reaching in the western world. People rushed to tweet about their solidarity, change their Facebook profile picture to a a photo of the Eiffel Tower or French flag, or post an artsy “Pray For Paris” banner on whatever social media sight they favour (or use Google Translate to say “Prier Pour Paris,” which may or may not be correct, if they want people to know they really care about Paris). People all over the west are holding candlelight vigils in the name of France, Paris, and those who died. France’s neighbors and allies are supporting them politically as they drop 24 bombs on Syria in one night (Brumfield et al. 2015). Western media erupted with outpourings of sympathy for France, condemnation of terrorism, and demands for their own leaders to take action against ISIS. The New York Times, BBC, The Guardian, all the major news publications, and some local ones are talking nonstop about Paris, reporting on every detail, expressing their shock and grief. Even a certain well-known hacker group has declared cyber-war on ISIS because of the Paris attacks. (I could make a lot of jokes about this cyber threat on ISIS, but I don’t really want to get hacked by an angsty member of that group who randomly stumbles across this 9 months from now at 2 am.)

At first glance, this international support and sympathy might seem admirable to some folx. After all, isn’t it a good thing to have compassion for other people who are suffering? We might not be be French or live in Paris, but we care about the victims and their loved ones because they’re people too and we care what happens to them as global citizens, right? Yes, of course compassion is a good thing. But where was the mass international post-terrorist attack support for the people of Beirut last Thursday (the day before the Paris attacks) when 43 people were killed and 239 were wounded by an ISIS terrorist attack? (Wellman 2015) Or last April when at least 147 people were shot and killed in an assault by al-Shabab militants on a university in north-eastern Kenya (BBC 2015)? Or every day in Syria where a civil war has been raging for four years in addition to the “helpful” airstrikes from western “allies” that, at best, only destroy the country’s infrastructure. A total of 210,060 people have died in Syria over the past four years of war; that works out to be approximately 144 people a day – many of them civilians (Ahmed 2015). In fact, France is launching airstrikes over Syria now in response to the Paris attacks. Where are the candle light vigils for the Syrians who will likely be killed in those attacks?

None of those places received anywhere close to the same level of media coverage and international support as Paris did after terrorist attacks. And this is the norm; the western world largely ignores terrorism – which happens daily – until it happens to them. The global hierarchy places western life, specifically white, christian western life above the lives of Black and Brown folx living in countries we [westerns] don’t views as significant, autonomous players in international politics.

This double standard of support, sympathy, and even the recognition of incidents of violence as terrorism is problematic in several ways. First, it allows the west to ignore terrorism – the terrorism that we often fund, politically back, or are otherwise complicate in – in “insignificant” regions that harms “unimportant” Black and Brown people. The U.S. (and other western countries) like to think of ourselves as the world’s protector. We claim to have zero tolerance for global injustice and talk about our supposed duty to protect any week kids getting bullied by bad guys on the world’s metaphorical playground. (In reality, the U.S. is more like an abusive big brother who barges into their younger siblings’ bedrooms, uninvited, to fix problems which we often created in the first place.) Yet we ignore the daily violence and terror faced in places like Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Palestine, Somalia, and Nigeria because they’re unimportant to us. But when places like France are attacked, we’re deeply saddened and outraged. This allows us to oppose terrorism when it’s convenient and beneficial to our own interests, and turn a blind eye to – or even promote or engage in – terrorism at other times.

Second, this double standard prioritizes the life of white westerners over the lives of Black and Brown non-westerners. Beirut was attacked the day before Paris was attacked, but how many people did you see posting “Pray for Beirut,” or a Lebanese flag? In fact, Facebook didn’t even offer a Lebanese flag filter until a few people started pointing out how offensive that was.  Much of the west remained unaware Beirut had been devastated by a terrorist attack for days because they were only focused on Paris. Even when folx found out about other attacks, their reactions were… muted?… at best. To put it more bluntly, reactions to terrorism in non-westerns places were/are callus. We [westerners] either expect terrorism to regularly occur in places like Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Palestine, etc., and view it as an inevitable fact of life, or don’t care about those cases of terrorism because they’re so far removed from our own lives. And whenever someone mentioned Paris shouldn’t be given more media attention or international support than Beirut (or any other non-western country affected by terrorism), many westerns grew defensive about their one-sided sympathy for Parisians. “We supposed care about Paris?! We can care about more than one thing at a time!” For one, of course we’re supposed to care about Paris, so long as we also care about other cities devastated by terrorism. Two, that’s the whole point: we don’t actually care about multiple things at one time, but we should. We should care just as much about everyone affected by terrorism. And we should prioritize those who suffer the most from terrorism, which happens to be Muslim, Middle Eastern, North African, and some Southeast Asian folx – not white people.

Third, this double standard excuses western nations from taking responsibility for their contributing rolls in the rise of international terrorist organizations. The U.S. is not the only western nation who has contributed financially, politically, and militarily to international terrorism. However, I’m going to use the U.S. as an example. The U.S. funded the mujahideen (who were groups of religious extremist guerrilla fighters) in Afghanistan to fight our proxy war with Soviet Russia in the 1970s, because OMG! Communism! The war devastated Afghanistan’s infrastructure and political system, leaving the country unstable and vulnerable to violent authoritarianism. Infighting broke out between the different factions of the mujahideen. No longer financially backed by the United States, some of them sought refuge in religious fundamentalist schools in Saudi Arabia. The Taliban was born from these fundamentalist. The Taliban proceeded to destroy Afghanistan’s social and political structures, terrorize the Afghan people, and rule the country with an iron fist. By the late 1990s, the brutality of the Taliban had reached nearly all of Afghanistan. Afghan folx were certainly experiencing terrorism (and still do), but the west called this terrorism a civil war. There responsibility for Afghanistan’s perilous situation was thus removed from the shoulders of the west and places squarely on Afghanistan as a country (and their people), even though the State of Afghanistan didn’t start the proxy war with the Soviets. But because we don’t call it terrorism, but a “civil war,” we [the west] can remove ourselves from our role in this terrorism.

Finally, this double standard paints certain forms of terrorism, especially state-sanctioned domestic terrorism, as another form of  violence or mere tragedy. When we only acknowledge acts of terrorism as terrorism if they are committed in a western country by non-western groups, we erase the experiences of those victimized by less stereotypical terrorism. For instance: given that so many Black Americans (and other people of colour, espcially Native Americans) are killed by police under suspicious or outright brutal circumstances, what do you think people of colour in the U.S. feel every time they must interact with law enforcement? Terror? This is definitely a type of terrorism; it’s state-sanctioned terrorization of a particular group of people. Or what about trans and gender non-conforming folx? Over 20 trans women alone were murdered in the U.S. so far in 2015 (Kellaway and Brydum 2015). According to Trans Murder Monitoring Project reports, a trans person is murdered approximately every 3 days worldwide (Balzer 2009). Additionally, trans and gender non-conforming people face threats of abuse and harassment daily. Too many socially and politically marginalized folx have to live in fear of harm or death. If that’s not terrorism, I don’t know what is.

These one-sided reactions to terrorism and double standards in the way we [westerners] conceptualize terrorism have real world consequences. Namely, those most regularly and severely affected by terrorism go largely unnoticed by the powerful west, which allows the terrorism committed against them to continue. Terrorism and violence are always horrible no matter who it happens to, but westerns do have the privilege of sympathy, international support, and the recognition of being ‘real’ victims of terrorism.

Sources:

Ahmed, Beenish, “Syrian Refugee Puts Paris Attacks Into Perspective In One Simple Sentence,” ThinkProgress, 2015, http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/11/15/3722379/paris-refugees/

Balzer, Carson, 2009, http://www.liminalis.de/2009_03/TMM/tmm-englisch/Liminalis-2009-TMM-report2008-2009-en.pdf.

Brumfield, Ben, Tim Lister and Nick Paton Walsh, “French jets bomb ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria; few may have been killed,” CNN, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/16/middleeast/france-raqqa-airstrikes-on-isis/.

Kellaway, Mitch and Sunnivie Brydum, “These Are the U.S. Trans Women Killed in 2015,”  Advocate, 2015, http://www.advocate.com/transgender/2015/07/27/these-are-trans-women-killed-so-far-us-2015.

“Kenya attack: 147 dead in Garissa University assault,” BBC, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32169080.

Wellman, Nathan, “One Day Before Paris, There Was a Massive Terrorist Attack the Media Ignored,” US Uncut, 2015, http://usuncut.com/world/beirut-this-terrorist-attack-didnt-get-any-media/.

Non-Exhaustive List of Halloween Costumes to NEVER Wear

Please, please, please do not wear a racist, xenophobic, transphobic, or otherwise offensive Halloween costume

  • Native American (often referred to as “Indian”)
     
    IC1072

    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person wearing a Native American Halloween costume. The costume is a fake tan leather dress with beading and brown tassels at the hem and neckline. There is also tasseled leggings and a headband

    Image Description: A light skinned, masculine-presenting person wearing a Native American Halloween costume. The costume is dark brown, fake leather shirt and pants with a red feathered headdress.

    Image Description: A light skinned, masculine-presenting person wearing a Native American Halloween costume. The costume is dark brown, fake leather shirt and pants with a red feathered headdress.

  • Indian

    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person wearing an Indian belly dancer Halloween costume. The costume is bright blue with gold accents.

    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person wearing an Indian belly dancer Halloween costume. The costume is bright blue with gold accents.

  • Geisha

    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person wearing a geisha Halloween costume. The costume is a red floral print with a black belt and black neckline.

    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person wearing a geisha Halloween costume. The costume is a red floral print with a black belt and black neckline.

  • “Arab” or “Muslim”
    Image Description: A light skinned, masculine-presenting person wearing an

    Image Description: A light skinned, masculine-presenting person wearing an “Arab”/”Muslim” Halloween costume. The costume is light grey loose fitting shirt and pants with a dark vest, a long grey fake beard, and a dark flat hat.

    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person wearing an

    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person wearing an “Arab”/”Muslim” Halloween costume. The costume is a short black dress with white lace trip and black fake veil.

  • “Mexican” – Actually, just stay away from racial stereotypes or dressing up as any race/ethnicity other than your own
    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person (left) and a light skinned masculine presenting person (right) wearing

    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person (left) and a light skinned masculine presenting person (right) wearing “Mexican” Halloween costumes. The costumes have sombreros, brightly-coloured fake wool ponchos, and tequila.

  • Ray Rice (or any other known abuser)

    Image Description: A light skinned, masculine-presenting person wearing a Ray Rice Halloween costume. The costume is a Rice 27 jersey with a life-sized Black Barbi doll in a pink dress being held by her hair.

    Image Description: A light skinned, masculine-presenting person wearing a Ray Rice Halloween costume. The costume is a Rice 27 jersey with a life-sized Black Barbi doll in a pink dress being held by her hair.

  • A Rapist/Sexual Predator

    Image Description: A person of colour wearing a Bill Cosby Halloween costume. The costume is a turtleneck sweater, a blazer, and packets of jello.

    Image Description: A person of colour wearing a Bill Cosby Halloween costume. The costume is a turtleneck sweater, a blazer, and packets of jello.

  • “Terrorist” (this is so far from funny)
    Image Description: a masculine-presenting person of colour wearing a

    Image Description: a masculine-presenting person of colour wearing a “terrorist” Halloween costume. The costume is a padded muscle shirt, camo pants, a fake “turban”/head wrap, and fake machine gun.

  • Hitler/Any Nazi (or anyone who’s committed genocide)
    Image Description: A light skinned, masculine presenting person wearing a Hitler/Nazi Halloween costume. The costume is a black fake military outfit with a red armband that features a swastika.

    Image Description: A light skinned, masculine presenting person wearing a Hitler/Nazi Halloween costume. The costume is a black fake military outfit with a red armband that features a swastika.

  • KKK Member – Also, no racalized face paint, come on people!

    Image Description: Three people, one in a KKK Halloween costume (center) and two in black face.

    Image Description: Three people, one in a KKK Halloween costume (center) and two in black face.

  • Ann Frank
    Image Description: A light skinned, female-presenting person wearing an Ann Frank Halloween costume.

    Image Description: A light skinned, female-presenting person wearing an Ann Frank Halloween costume.

  • Trayvon Martin – AND NO BLACK FACE! STAPH! Also, don’t dress up as any sort of victim, talk about poor taste
    Image Description: Three light-skinned people, one wearing a Trayvon Martin Halloween costume (far left) and one wearing a George Zimmerman Halloween costume (far right).

    Image Description: Three light-skinned people, one wearing a Trayvon Martin Halloween costume (far left) and one wearing a George Zimmerman Halloween costume (far right).

  • An Eating Disorder (maybe just avoid all illnesses)

    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person wearing an

    Image Description: A light skinned, feminine-presenting person wearing an “anorexia” Halloween costume. The costume is a small black dress with a skeleton on it and a tape measure belt.

  • A Fat Person – No, just no

    Image Description: A masculine-presenting person of colour wearing a fat suit.

    Image Description: A masculine-presenting person of colour wearing a fat suit.

  • A Trans Person (or any gender or sexual identity that isn’t your own)
    Image Description: A light skinned person who appears to be male wearing a Bruce Jenner Halloween costume (left) and a Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costume (right).

    Image Description: A light skinned person who appears to be male wearing a Bruce Jenner Halloween costume (left) and a Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costume (right).

For more on why some of these costumes are offensive and should NEVER EVER be worn, check out an article by someone named Anna Keeler, Why Cultural Appropriation Is Okay On Halloween, here. Although, to be honest, if you don’t know why these costumes are offensive you’re probably one of the assholes who will be wearing them this Halloween.

A Note on “Reverse Racism”

“Reverse racism” is not a real thing. In order to be racist, a person must posses both racial privilege and power. White people have racial privilege which gives them advantages over people of colour even when they are disadvantage in other areas (e.g., class, gender, etc.). White people also hold positions of power, which essentially means society, culture, politics, the justice system, etc. are all on the side of whites. PoC do not have racial privilege or exert power over white people.

Therefore, prejudice and racism are not the same. While a white person may experience prejudice based on their whiteness, that does not constitute an exercise of racial privilege and power over them – i.e., it’s not racism – because it has no impact on the rest of their lives or on how the rest of society treats them. There is no systematic or institutional disadvantage to white people if a PoC is prejudiced against them.

Additionally, the term “reverse racism” is often thrown around in an attempt to derail discussions about race and racial injustice. Sometimes, it’s used to invalidate the response of PoC to the racism and oppression they face daily. Anger, attempts to rectify racist policies or social/cultural norms, forms of restitution for past racially-based harms/crimes, and the creation safe spaces for PoC without white people are all legitimate responses to racism.

Other times, “reverse racism” is used to make racial discussions about white people and refocus attention and resources toward whites and away from PoC. This only serves to maintain racial disparities and racially-based oppression. 

We hope this helps explain why “reverse racism” rhetoric is in fact racist, and is therefore not tolerated on any of BIAH’s sites.

Thank you,

BIAH admin team 

How Racism and White Supremacy are Reinforced by the way Whites Discuss the No Flagging Challenge

no-flagging-challenge

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Screen shots from a video shot of an Black man running up to a house, taking a confederate flag down, and running back toward the camera.

The No Flagging Challenge – where people photograph or video themselves taking confederate flags from [usually] private property – has taken off after a Sarasota man’s video (screen shots pictured above) went viral. The reaction from the U.S. media and from white Americans has been essentially the same regardless of political party affiliation. While there are some differences between comments from people and news outlets on the right and those on the left, the reactions have been two sides of the same coin. This article should therefore be read neither as a praise nor a condemnation of the No Flagging Challenge, but rather as a critique of the responses to it.

On the right, most have been shouting “free speech!” (even though the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects most – not all – speech from most – not all – government censorship), “that’s theft of private property!” and “nobody better trespass on my property, because I have a right to defend it and I have a shotgun!” …Or things along very similar lines. The main takeaway from this should be, conservative [white] Americans think Black Americans have no right to trespass in order to steal private property.

On the left, U.S. media and white Americans have been, on the surface, more forgiving of these Black trespassers and thieves. They say things like, “while I disagree with flying the confederate flag, a private person can still fly it on their own property. And these people are trespassing and stealing, which are technically crimes.” However, they still think a private [white] citizen has a right to fly a symbol of slavery and violent racism, and that [Black] people shouldn’t trespass on private property in order to steal these racist symbols. Self-proclaimed U.S. liberals and progressives are also expressing a very charitable (please note the sarcasm) concern for the safety of these Black trespassers and thieves. “These people are so stupid, trespassing and stealing like that, they could get shot!”

Those on the right and the left alike place heavy importance on property rights [of whites] which override any rights a [Black] person might have to live in a community that does not blatantly wave racial oppression and violence in their face. In fact, [white] rights to private property, and the protection thereof, override even Black Americans’ safety and right to not be assaulted or shot by [white] property-owners for the heinous (again, note the sarcasm) crime of trespassing on white property while being Black. These attidudes may be cloaked in individual rights rhetoric, but they are incredibly racist in three ways.

First, they contain a sort of subterranean white supremacy masquerading as individual liberty.  [Mostly white] people are talking of property rights, including the right to “defend” one’s property, as if property rights are universally distributed and protected. In reality, white people have a disproportionate amount of property, and therefore a disproportionate amount of property rights. Therefore, the phrase, “property rights” becomes a euphemism for, “the unique rights and/or privileges afforded to those with property,” who are predominately white. So, when property rights are prioritized over the rights of Blacks – e.g., their right not be executed for minor crimes without due process in the “defense” of [white] private property, or their right to not have Black slavery so brazenly celebrated – white supremacy is reinforced. Whites are privileged and their interests are protected in a way that denies Black Americans legal protections and rights, places them in physical danger, and essentially slaps them in the face with a celebration of America’s racist history.

Second, these attitudes ignore both racist U.S. history and the racist present, and thus invalidate Black experiences. Because of slavery, share cropping, Jim Crow, and racist policies like red lining, Black Americans have been excluded from property ownership. So, as touched on above, “property rights” refer primarily to white property rights, and thus do not include Black Americans. Heavily emphasizing the importance of property rights and assuming they apply to everyone ignores this racist American past. It also ignores the present day consequences of this racist history (e.g., the fact that very few Black Americans own property). Ignoring this very real and very severe disadvantage to Blacks in the U.S. is invalidating because it allows for alternate, racist explanations for Black poverty and other disadvantages faced by Blacks that stem from their lack of access to property ownership (e.g., most Americans’ wealth is tied up in their homes and this wealth allows whites to do things like put up their home as collateral for a college loan). Black Americans are thus often blamed for their financial instability when, in reality, it can be traced back to their exclusion from property ownership through racist policies and slavery.

Third, such attitudes define (or perhaps, confine) Black activism in terms of what is appropriate/acceptable within a white supremacist society. Many [white] Americans support Black rights so long as Blacks fight for their rights in ways whites deem acceptable. As long as Black Americans protest, campaign, advocate, etc. in ways white people are comfortable with. For instance, “taking down” the confederate flag from a government building, like Bree Newsome did, is fantastic; whites were even celebrating Ms. Newsome’s actions and became upset when she was arrested. However, “stealing” privately owned confederate flags from private property is not okay, and [Black] people who engage in such activities are committing crimes. The distinction of what is okay and what isn’t is demonstrated by the way [white] people talk about the two forms of flag removal – one is “taking down” a confederate flag and the other is “stealing” a confederate flag. [White] people are claiming they disagree with removing private [white] citizens’ confederate flags from their private property because trespassing and stealing are crimes. Yet legally, what Bree Newsome did was also theft, but whites rallied behind her. So, while [white] people try to come across as fair, and simply in support of individual property rights, there are, in reality, complex racial undertones to this rhetoric. Essentially, the message is: “We support your rights, dearest Black Americans, but don’t fight for your rights in that way. Be more civilized. Be less Black in your Black activism. Take a hint from us civilized white people. If you want our support, you have to do it our way –  the way that fits nicely into the current white supremacist society.”