American University in Washington, D.C. is at the center of its second racially driven hate act in eight months.
According to a statement released by the university, bananas were left hanging from what was designed to look like nooses on three separate locations on campus.
The bananas were “marked with the letters AKA”, the letters of a predominantly black sorority.
Last September, similar incidents occurred at American including an episode when someone threw a rotten banana at a student..
Students took to social media to express their anger with the racially charged incident.
It’s finals week and instead of studying, black girls are wondering who is going around scaring them, THIS IS UNFAIR! @AmericanU
— calkie $wag di$trict (@Calkielator_97) May 1, 2017
— luka (@lukssii) May 1, 2017
i’m gonna be fucking sick @AmericanU if this keeps happening i might as well leave this school now. you must not need my money.
— shut up and listen (@kandall44) May 1, 2017
— Chelsea Cirruzzo (@ChelseaCirruzzo) May 1, 2017
@AmericanU Those responsible should be expelled and brought up on criminal charges. Absolutely unacceptable.
— Kenny Lorber (@KMLorbz) May 1, 2017
American’s student body president Taylor Dumpson (who happens to be the college’s first black woman SGA president) released a statement about the incident.
“It is disheartening and immensely frustrating that we are still dealing with this issue after recent conversations, dialogues, and town halls surrounding race relations on campus,” Dumpson said. “But this is exactly why we need to do more than just have conversations but move in a direction towards more tangible solutions to prevent incidents like these from occurring in the future.”
Cover Photo Credit: American University/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
Asking whether cultural appropriation matters or not is like asking if a fat kid loves cake… Of course!
But it’s such a taboo subject to talk about that people usually keep quiet about it.
Let’s start with a definition of cultural appropriation.
Cultural appropriation is the exploitation or oppressive cooption of elements of one culture by members of another culture without permission.
Now that we got a working definition, let’s ask this question again: does cultural appropriation matter?
Yes, and especially in America.
This question sparked an interesting debate with my sorority sisters and me.
Some of them actually believed that cultural appropriation shouldn’t matter since everyone takes from everyone to make their culture unique.
However, the rest us believed it to be a bad characteristic of society that needs to be addressed.
We live in a country that was built on the backs of the oppressed.
Because of this, the melting pot that we are said to live in comes with double standards.
Many of these ‘new’ trends that appear in mainstream come from someone else’s culture.
Braids have been a part of the African American culture as a protective style to protect our natural hair from harsh weather conditions.
When worn by us, we are negatively stereotyped and ostracized by society.
Yet if someone like Kim Kardashian wears it, then it is accepted by those same people that called it ugly and ghetto.
For anything to be magically accepted by mainstream America, you have to be of a fair complexion.
Breaking out of her Disney barrier, Miley Cyrus decided to twerk as part of her on stage performances.
Before then, this was only heard of in the black community as a form of dancing.
She often kept black women in her videos and performances as pieces.
Usually having some sing and some dance but objectifying the dancers to those equivalent to a sex toy.
But she isn’t the only one.
Shall we go on?
Society is a monster.
From a young age, we are taught to hate ourselves, especially young minority girls.
As a black girl, I was often teased for my full lips, milk chocolate complexion, and my naturally curvy body.
Now that I’m older, the same things that I was being teased for are the same things that are being praised on others.
Let’s use the lovely Kardashians as the example.
Kim altered her body to have curves and an ass which she didn’t have naturally; Khloe got ass injections that are not proportionate to her body; and Kylie got lip injections that she swore wore not lip injections.
It seems like the features that many minorities have are favored on other women who are not in the minority.
Not convinced yet?
Cultural appropriation matters because it is a form of oppression.
Typically, the ones that are being oppressed are usually the ones that have a problem with this.
This is just another example of how white privilege works.
White people take something, give no credit for it, and claim it as their own and repeat the process.
White privilege and accountability don’t go together at all hence why we have cultural appropriation issues.
Minorities have given the false hope of ‘all man is created equal’, forgetting the fact this quote wasn’t meant to include everyone at the time it was first said.
So in turn, the foundation of this country has been built on the unequal stature of those who take from those who are defenseless.
And in the end, cultural appropriation does matter and needs to be recognized.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Alannah Giannino/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
I’d like to say celebrate it with a HUGE, YES!
Oprah is one of the most successful moguls of our time.
A self made billionaire who did it all without her daddy’s money.
She’s an icon who has great sway over millions of people across the country, especially in areas where Democrats performed poorly in 2016.
Some even say she’s the reason why Barack Obama became President.
A ubiquitous celebrity with a successful business record?
Sounds like the perfect person to take down Donald Trump in 2020.
But while it sounds like a good idea, there are reasons why it probably will never happen.
We are the same society who lets a rapist off with a slap on the wrist because he also swam on the Stanford swim team.
Then there’s the President.
President Trump had 20+ allegations of sexual assault come out while he was running to be president.
Many people in this country did not care.
America voted for a man with dozens of allegations of sexual misconduct because Hillary Clinton had a private email server.
It is just harder to do it as a woman in this country.
So the American people spoke and chose the person who has the characteristics and personality traits of a racist, misogynist, xenophobe, homophobe, etc.
So when I’m asked if I think Oprah could ever be president I unfortunately have to think that we as a country have a problem with women in powerful positions.
Not to mention black women in positions of power.
Remember how long it took to confirm Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General?
The United States is not ready to be blessed by Oprah.
She’s a humanitarian who actually gives a great deal to charity unlike our current President who just pretends to.
The country has spoken on how qualified one must be to be President and Oprah certainly fits the new qualifications.
Of course anyone does as long as they were on a middling reality show and are willing to “grab it”.
Many people spoke up and made it very clear they did not like President Barack Obama, of course what specifically they didn’t like about him was never made clear.
The moment President Trump was inaugurated it was clear that President Obama’s blackness was the problem greatly affecting our nation.
The moment he was sworn in “we took our country back” and America became great again.
In their eyes, Obama could never be truly American due to his blackness.
Even for those who don’t take it that far, the idea that Trump and Obama have been treated equally is laughable.
The Trump administration has what is an alarming amount of ties to Russia- not a conspiracy but a fact.
Had this been President Obama he would have been impeached already, and have had 20 different investigations on his involvement with Russia.
So it doesn’t take much stretching to say that Hillary Clinton lost because she was not the right gender for the job, and President Obama’s so called horrific job was due to him being a black man.
So unfortunately, America is not ready for an African-American female president- not even one who was forged in the same 1980s daytime television/ tabloid milieu as the current White House occupant.
The double standard has proven itself true too many times in the past few years for us to ignore it.
Someday, hopefully in our lifetime we are able to see that diversity siting in the oval office.
But it won’t be in 2020.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Alan Light/ Flickr (CC By 2.00
Critics and film journalists are expecting “La La Land” to walk away with Best Picture and Best Director tomorrow night at the Academy Awards.
Since the film premiered in Venice last fall, the film has been praised left and right for it’s charm, visual extravagance, passionate music, emotional impact, and joyous energy in an anxiety-ridden post-Trump America.
Now, on the eve of the Oscars, the film has somehow been bastardized into some sort of a win for Trump’s America.
There’s always a backlash.
And it makes no sense.
“Moonlight”, a great film, is considered the movie that should win by many because of its powerful resonance in today’s times.
Although it’s a great thing for art to be analyzed, I feel the politicizing and tearing apart of nearly everything in our culture is getting out of hand.
If you didn’t like “La La Land”, no problem.
To each his or her own.
Taste is subjective.
However, the idea that La La Land is racist or sexist is totally absurd and stupid.
As someone who is to the left politically, I think this is indicative of the shallow, hyper-political correctness that has permeated American culture.
It’s gone too far.
The series of clickbait articles about whether or not it is racist that Ryan Gosling’s character, as a white male, wants to save jazz is unbelievably stupid.
Yes, jazz originated as a black art form in New Orleans, where I’m from, but white people like jazz, too.
And many of the greatest jazz musicians of all time were white, and made major contributions to this type of music.
Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Herbie Mann, Gerry Mulligan, just to name a few.
Gosling’s character is not a “white savior”.
He just has such an appreciation for traditional jazz, he wants to open up a club that honors it.
I won’t even engage the articles that claim Gosling “mansplains” too much or that Emma Stone’s character isn’t enough of a feminist, because it’s just not worth it.
This year has seen an improvement in regards to diversity in film.
Films nominated for Oscars this year include “Moonlight”, “Fences”, “Hidden Figures”, “Loving”.
All of these films deal somehow with race in America.
Other documentaries nominated are “O.J. Made in America”, “13th”, and “I am Not Your Negro”.
These docs also deal with race issues in America, and one of them will win best documentary on Oscar night.
So what if “La La Land” has two white leads?
As Jerry Seinfeld puts it when speaking out against political-correctness in comedy: “People think it’s the census or something…this has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America?”
The same can be applied to film.
Does every race and ethnicity need to be present in every film?
Does every ethnic box need to be checked off when telling a story?
Liberals needs to stop crying wolf.
Not everything is racist.
Not everything is sexist.
Political correctness is diluting the impact of the equality movement that currently needs to be more powerful and dignified than ever.
This is not to say that there is not a problem of diversity in Hollywood.
There is a well documented lack of minority directors and behind the scene staffers and that is a real systemic problem.
But while that is a problem, does that mean that we can’t enjoy anything until there is total parity?
“Moonlight” is a very good film, but should not be considered the better film simply because it is about identity politics.
This is “ideology trumping aesthetics”, as writer Bret Easton Ellis would call it.
This is the message of a movie, or what it portrays socio-politically, being held in higher regard than the actual craft of the filmmaking.
Just because a film has a good message or has political resonance doesn’t mean it’s a good film.
Luckily, “Moonlight” is also excellent, but that’s what it should be judged on.
Giving the Best Picture Oscar to “Moonlight” to spite Trumpism shouldn’t be the goal here.
If it does win, that’s great, and I’d be happy.
But the message that the win would send to America is a byproduct, not the primary reason it should be voted for.
This Oscars will be political.
Speech after speech will reference the Trump Presidency.
I reject Trump, didn’t vote for him, and agree with most liberal values.
But I also understand the disdain felt by working class Americans towards the liberal elite telling them what they should or shouldn’t believe.
There are issues and concerns related to jobs and trade that don’t effect many of those in Hollywood.
The fact of the matter is, none of the anti-Trump speeches given at the Oscars will have any effect.
None of it will make waves.
It is preaching to the choir.
Voters across the country make their political decisions based on the issues and concerns happening in their immediate environment.
What a celebrity says has no effect.
It is up to the left and political leaders to address those concerns, and change to course of this country.
Stop putting it on the movies.
Cover Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
Another day, another desperate celebrity trying to bring attention to themselves and revive their 15 minutes of fame.
Tila Tequila, who became famous back when MySpace was still a thing and we had a Bush in office, has upped the crazy meter on her antics to DEFCON One.
In case you have either stopped listening to the news altogether since the November 8th Presidential Election, or you choose to ignore the growing white nationalist pride and racist rhetoric being spewed in this country, Ms. Tequila has decided that she wants to throw her hat in the race for craziest racist and modern day Nazi sympathizer.
Here is my problem with Tila Tequila.
She is a Vietnamese American sexually fluid woman who is named after a Mexican liquor who would have been exactly what Hitler would have tried to rid during his time in power.
She is everything white Nationalists want to get rid of. As much as she provides an outlet to spread the racist and vitriolic message that is promoted by the Nation Policy Institute, it also makes for strange bedfellows.
In an article in 2013 from Tablet Mag, they chronicle her journey from Jewish convert to her path to posing as “sexy Hitler” and openly and honestly explaining why she sympathizes with the man who proudly brought upon the deaths of over 12 million people who were deemed a problem and were not part of his perfect race.
Tila Tequila is not a credible person.
Having been a fan of Tila Tequila’s scandalous bi-sexual dating show “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila” I can’t quite fathom how she went from being someone who was representing the LGBT community to turning around and supporting an ideology that wants to see the end of those who brought her credibility.
Her brand is extremely tarnished and now she will continue to spew whatever comes out of her very fragile, damaged brain in an attempt to bring further relevance to herself, without thinking about the long term repercussions.
Unfortunately in 2016, it is no longer about your message having meaning, it is only about the message you are putting out.
While Tila Tequila has had a rough go of her life since she hit peak fame during the course of her show, she does not have much to show for herself since. Her failed relationship and then death of her girlfriend Casey Johnson, her very public and nasty abuse lawsuit against former NFL football player Shawn Merriman, her attempted suicide and subsequent rehab stint, her numerous outlandish and offensive remarks about the Jewish people all paint the picture of a woman who is not mentally stable.
As a Jewish-American, I am of course baffled by the idea that white nationalist pride and the growing Nazi sentiment are becoming prevalent in 2016, but I am also baffled at people who are part of the “minority” lying in bed with the people who view them as lesser human beings.
Even though I am still a white male in today’s society, I also understand the struggles of those who are not as privileged as I am because of the horrific history of my ancestors, those who had to suffer so future Jewish individuals could live a better life than they did.
The growing anti-Semitism and white Nationalist pride and assault on free speech by those on the extreme right are damaging the reputation of this country, and the true reason for the founding of the original colonies here in North America.
Our settlers were looking to escape persecution and no longer live in fear because of their beliefs.
Now we have celebrities like Tila Tequila (and using the phrase celebrity is being extremely generous) being used by the very individuals who they support, especially if what is being supported is not well received or downright inhumane.
America was, has been and will always be great, so if anything, we need to make America respectful again.
We need to make America tolerant again. We need to stop breeding hate and we need to be willing to turn away notions of racism, of sexism, of misogyny, of anti-Semitism, of xenophobia, fear of anything that is not homogenous with the dominant white patriarchy that has run this country for 240 years.
By Raphael Blet
Ethnic minorities are Hong Kongers, and only by assuming this fact can we achieve harmomy.
In recent years, debates concerning ethnic minorities and their role in our society have been ongoing.
Every now and then, it is common to read articles and hear media statements from the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in regards to ethnic minorities and possible ways to include them in our society.
Nevertheless, this debate has only been dominated by talk, not actions.
If actions were taken, they were either limited or temporary ones.
So then, how can ethnic minorities be fully part of our society?
What effective measures can we take to create cohesion?
First off, we should stop constantly referring to them as ‘minorities’, this is not about political correctness, but common sense.
In Hong Kong, those referred to as ‘ethnic minorities’ are mostly Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalese and other persons of Asian origins.
As around 92 per cent of Hong Kong’s population consists of ethnic Chinese, the territory’s non-ethnic Chinese population is undeniably smaller than the majority.
Thus, it is technically accurate to label them as ‘minorities’ given that their proportion is significantly lower than the majority.
However – in Hong Kong – commonly used words are usually a reflection of the city’s inequalities.
Technically speaking, all non-Chinese people living in the city should be referred as ‘minorities’ given that their races, cultures and native languages differ from the majority.
Nevertheless, Caucasians as well as foreigners holding important positions are instead called ‘expatriates’.
This makes even less sense as the so called ‘expatriates’ are minorities within the minority.
We should not forget that – despite being ethnic minorities – the majority of Nepalese, Indians, Pakistanis and other non-Ethnic Chinese are Hong Kong citizens too.
Many of them are fluent in both English and Cantonese, shortening the differences only to their cultural background.
As previously said, this is not about political correctness.
While South Asians and East Asians are ethnic minorities due to racial factors, they are technically Hong Kongers as they were born and raised in the territory, thus giving them the same rights as all other members of the community.
Yet, many feel that they are being separated if not segregated (e.g. in schools) by the administrative system.
Singapore is a great example of this problem.
One of Singapore’s core principles is racial harmony, their pledge starting as follows: ‘We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people. Regardless of race, language or religion…’
While Singapore’s Chinese population constitutes of around 76 per cent of the total population, the rest of the population, which is composed mainly of Malays and Indians is equally and fairly represented.
In Singapore, Malays and Indians are not called ‘ethnic minorities’ but instead, all Singapore citizens are seen as Singaporeans regardless of whether they constitute a demographic minority or majority.
Not only were Malays and Indians superficially recognized by simple terms but many of them are holding important position within the government.
Singapore’s first President, Yusof bin Ishak was an ethnic Malay.
Singapore’s sixth President, the late S.R. Nathan who served until 2011 was a Singaporean of Tamil Indian origins.
The current Minister of Home Affairs and Law, K. Shanmugam is also ethnically Indian.
Unfortunately, ethnic minorities in Hong Kong have no democratic representation as there has so far never been a legislator issued from an ethnic minority background.
In Hong Kong, Gurkhas have been contributing to the community for many years which they still do today.
However, they have been left aside by the public service, obliging them to apply for short term jobs while their professional skills would be of great use to the public.
While the number of Nepalese in the Hong Kong disciplined service is low (due to the lack of opportunities and language restrictions), the Singapore Police Force has equipped itself with a prestigious unit known as the Gurkha Contingent which is comprised of 2000 men who are mostly non-Singaporeans.
Through their knowledge, this unit strongly contributes to Singapore’s security.
Hong Kong might consider to elaborate a similar mechanism.
The Education system plays an important role
Schools play an important role in this issue.
Indeed, non-Chinese students are de-facto segregated from their fellow native Chinese speaking friends.
The Education Bureau’s (EDB) policies are partly responsible.
Instead of designing particular schools for particular groups, the EDB’s main goal should be to emphasize togetherness so that both Chinese and non-Chinese students can learn from each other and share their experiences.
Such reciprocity would be mutually beneficial and would avoid unnecessary stereotyping of one another.
Yet, only the contrary seems to prevail.
So what has been done in Hong Kong so far?
In recent years, some local figures including some legislators have shown their willingness to build cohesion amongst Hong Kong people, Claudia Mo being a great example.
Numerous NGO’s are pressing the government to take measures which would allow more ‘minorities’ to join the civil service.
Yet, we have to assume that some government departments took some important steps in including non-ethnic Chinese (NEC’s) despite the many restrictions imposed by the Civil Service Bureau (CSB).
The Hong Kong Police Force has made some symbolic yet noticeable progress in the past five years.
In 2012, the first Hong Kong born woman of Pakistani origins named Heina Rizwan Mohammad joined the organization.
The police also created a scheme of community liaison assistants (known as NEC) in order to build a bridge between NEC’s and the force.
At the same, the police has recently played emphasis on community relations with NEC’s by organizing different activities and seminars.
Yet, there are some Indians, Pakistanis and Nepalese in the Police Force and Correctional Services but it is still not proportionally representative.
The only South Asian high ranking official in Hong Kong was Harnam Singh Grewal who was Commissioner of Customs and later Secretary for the Civil Service.
It isn’t difficult to achieve, all we need to be is rational.
Contrasted to Singapore, there is still some work to be done in Hong Kong.
Nevertheless, cohesion amongst Hong Kong citizens is truly achievable.
We have the people, we have the ideas.
All what we need to do is remember that ethnic minorities are Hong Kongers, change the education system and employment regulations.
If we do those things then we can have the Hong Kong that we all want.
Let’s all play our part in making this place a better one.
You can also like our RISE NEWS Hong Kong Facebook page to stay engaged with our local coverage.
Cover Photo Credit: Jirka Matousek/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
Aren’t racism and race hatred the same thing?
Actually, no they aren’t.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, in order for one to be a racist, he or she must possess the belief that “all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”
If that is true, then the racists of the world form a rather big tent, consisting of two main camps.
In the first camp, there are those who can be considered racists on the grounds because they take racial stereotypes into account in their thought process, and therefore may subconsciously think one race is inferior than another because its members are unable to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes.
In the second camp, there are those who harbor an actual hatred for other races and seek to undermine and/or destroy them, because they believe that races are inherently designed to function as if they were countries, forming alliances with and against one another.
Although most people don’t stop for a moment and realize these distinctions when thinking about racism, it is important they do.
There are many good people out there who view racism as a cancer that needs to be eradicated.
However, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that the commonly accepted strategy to combat racism isn’t working.
A few days ago, I read an article written by my fellow RISE NEWS contributor Courtney Anderson titled “Only White People Can Have Racist Friends.”
The multiple uses of the absolutist word “only” to describe the traits of certain races (“Only one of us can actually experience racism, and it isn’t him;” “The only people with societal power are white people;” “White people are the only people who are not negatively affected by racial stereotypes;” “They are also the only ones who can safely have “dialogue” with racist individuals.”) is a perfect example of how a good-natured person can be racist without realizing it.
While Anderson is (hopefully) not trying to portray white people as an enemy, she is relying on stereotypes to make her point. Let me ask you two questions.
1) Is it possible for white people to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes of people who are unable to experience racism, hold societal power, are not negatively affected by stereotypes, and are safe to have dialogue with racist individuals?
2) Is it possible for other races to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes of people who do not hold any power and are not safe to have dialogue with racist individuals?
The answer to both of these questions is “yes.”
It is possible for white people to experience racism?
Any white person… sorry… any person who read that article technically did, due to the presence of absolutist language that creates stereotypes.
Is it possible for someone other than a white person to hold power?
Let’s ask Barack Obama.
Is it possible for white people people to be negatively affected by stereotypes?
Yes, because stereotypes are relied upon by race haters who seek to construct a narrative regarding the nature of what they consider to be monolithic entities whose members are incapable of dissenting, and therefore cause every single person who is a member of the races perceived to be at war to have weapons aimed at them, whether they know it or not.
And finally, is it possible for minorities to have dialogue with racist individuals without risking harm to themselves?
As previously stated, by writing her article, Anderson has displayed a racist trait, right here on RISE NEWS.
And that’s okay.
Because racism is such a broad topic, and there are different kinds of people who can be classified as racists, whose overall natures range from friendly to malevolent, the best way to attack racism and make it a thing of the past is to start at different levels.
Let’s ask ourselves a question.
Which racists are the most problematic?
The most harmful to our society?
The ones that are calling for open warfare between the races. Groups like the KKK, neo-Nazis, the New Black Panthers, etc.
These groups are willing to balkanize this country and cause it to descend into lawlessness in the name of their agendas.
Most people who like to crack jokes about racial stereotypes because they like politically incorrect humor, and most people who refer to racial stereotypes when issuing grievances about the state of our society, don’t want to see that happen.
In that case, those of us who do not abide by stereotypes in our mindsets, need to offer an olive branch to those who do but still want peace, law, and order, and vice versa. And those of us who do abide by stereotypes need to do the same with others who abide by stereotypes of our own race (and perhaps play “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” by Avenue Q on our phones when talking to them).
This suggestion may sound ridiculously stupid to you, but this approach has been made before. And the last time it was, it saved the country.
Let’s not forget that during the Civil War, when this country was on the edge of descending into oblivion, Abraham Lincoln forged alliances with Congressional Democrats who supported slavery but opposed secession, and even named one, Andrew Johnson, as his Vice President when he ran for re-election in 1864.
Hell, even Lincoln himself had some racist tendencies, having advocated the resettlement of freed slaves back to Africa and saying that his motivation for freeing the slaves was to protect the union and allow African-Americans to enjoy the fruit of their labor as opposed to them being entitled to universal human rights.
But yet, he knew what must be done. He put aside his feelings and acted according to his duties as Commander in Chief and as a citizen of the United States.
Another question that you may be asking now is, “is the state our society as grave as it was 155 years ago, that we must follow this course of action?” I say “no. Not yet.”
Our political climate is changing.
Prominent voices on both sides of the political spectrum are arguing that the current system isn’t working.
We have people like Bernie Sanders saying, “we must be more like the European Left.”
And we have the alt-right saying, “we must be more like the European Right.”
Both the European Right and the European Left are serving as destabilizing forces that are fueling the collapse of a once-promising economic bloc and the rise of ethnic nationalism and separatism. Some view this decay as the prelude to war in the region.
In that case, if our politics begins to resemble Europe’s more and more, shouldn’t we have the same fears as what will happen at home as well as abroad?
I have no doubts that if civil disorder or civil war breaks out, self-proclaimed “racial warriors” will be at the forefront.
If they are indeed planning what I suspect they are planning, they need to be stopped, and they need to be stopped sooner rather than later.
We need all the allies we can get. We need to put politics, religion, gender, age, differences on political correctness, etc aside. No more talking about “privilege,” “wealth,” or “power.” And no more talking about who needs to do it either.
Talk about government, and you will alienate potential conservative allies. Talk only about how we as a community are going to act on the individual level. Act peacefully. Engage in dialogue. Get those whose hearts are immersed in darkness to see the light. Only fight back when attacked.
Our country doesn’t have much time for infighting between those who love peace, freedom, and security.
Those who fought and won the Civil War realized this.
And I pray to my God that we do, too.
Cover Photo Credit: Daniel Lobo/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
By Courtney Anderson
When actor Daniel Radcliffe said that he had racist friends, I wasn’t surprised.
When he said that he “vehemently disagreed” with them, I was relieved.
It’s always nice to know an actor whose work you grew up with isn’t a racist.
But when he said that he remained friends with those people because he didn’t believe friendship “should be drawn on those lines,” I was disappointed and confused.
I couldn’t understand how anyone could remain friends with a racist.
How is it remotely possible for you to feel comfortable in presence of someone who deploys racial stereotypes and epithets?
How could one even think it is okay to be associated with people who actively participate in oppressing people of color through their language and actions?
It made no sense to me at all.
I can’t imagine even being able to be in the same room as a racist person, let alone feel comfortable enough with them to refer to them as a “friend.”
But then I remembered the fundamental difference between Daniel Radcliffe and I (besides the wealth, and the fame and the acting abilities).
He’s a white male, and I am a black female.
Only one of us can actually experience racism, and it isn’t him.
It seems to me that white people are able to have racist “friends” because racism does not directly impact their lives.
Black and non-black people of color cannot afford these types of “friendships,” because racism not only impacts us, but it dehumanizes and traumatizes us, as well.
This is where I have to remind people of the sociological definition of racism, wherein racism is achieved through a combination of racial prejudice and societal power.
Oftentimes, people only want to refer to the more palatable Webster dictionary definition that would place the onus on everybody in a given society to not be racist.
However, this is a society—and world, really—where the only people with societal power are white people.
White people are the only people who are not negatively affected by racial stereotypes.
While they may hurt some feelings, racial stereotypes about white people do not contribute to a societal structure that allows for discrimination in almost every aspect of life.
“Racism” against white people is just language and maybe some jokes about not seasoning food. Racism against black and brown people can literally lead to our deaths.
And since racism does not affect white people the way it affects black and brown people, they are also the only ones who can safely have “dialogue” with racist individuals.
Discussing race with a racist individual is an emotionally, mentally and spiritually taxing task for black and non-black people that often yields little to no results at all.
We are not just discussing language when we have these conversations: we are negotiating our right to have our humanity recognized and respected.
We are asking someone with societal power that we do not have to acknowledge that power.
We also ask them to acknowledge that they are using that power to oppress people when they behave in certain ways and use certain language.
We are asking to be respected, cared for and to have our experiences validated by people who have never had those experiences.
And it hardly ever works.
All these conversations really do is waste our time and energy.
White people have the privilege of not having their humanity on the line when they have to pull their racist friend to the side and request that they stop being so racist.
White people who actually believe in racial equality should be challenging themselves to stop calling racist people “friends” and put forth the effort to educate them on why their racism can’t fly.
They should also stop putting the onus of education on black and brown people all the time.
We really don’t have time for all that, anymore.
Cover Photo Credit: Elen Nivrae/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
Daniel Radcliffe, who will eternally be know for playing “The Boy Who Lived” aka Harry Potter, recently did an interview where he addressed having racist friends and stated that he doesn’t agree with their thoughts but remains friends with these individuals.
It raises the question about privilege and the “white ally” as well as not addressing racism head on.
Personally, I agree with Mr. Potter because you can have all the conversations you want with a person and engage in a dialogue about the issue, but you can’t make them drink the potion to magically fix the issue.
As a white male, I am the definition of privilege and on top of that I grew up in privilege.
I also went to public school and interacted with other students who were less fortunate than I, who came from families different than mine, who lived in areas that were not safe, filled with violence and uncertainty.
These individuals did not want to be products of their environment and welcomed conversation about our differences.
I am also a Jewish American and I do know that anti-Semitism still exists and I have encountered it many times before but instead of getting angry about it or writing a person off, I try to bring about a dialogue to understand where it comes from.
It has been drilled into my head since I was a child the history of my people, my ancestors and those of my heritage who have been slaughtered time and time again because of our beliefs.
It is about the education that comes as a follow up to the racism and anti-Semitism that is what matters.
Don’t be a bystander. Ever.
No one person can ever say they have never made a racist remark in their life because that is a fallacy through and through.
I do believe as a society though we have become so afraid of offending individuals and those who are not considered to be the “norm” that we continue to build the schism that divides our society.
It is entirely possible to remain friends with people who make remarks that may be deemed racist and that can be offensive.
Is there a line that should never be crossed?
These types of topics should bring about civil discourse and provide learning opportunities for all to engage and be a part of a larger conversation.
I look at Donald Trump as an individual who uses rhetoric that is meant to rule up those he is speaking about, riling up his supporters and those who believe what he has to say, who might not be exposed to those different from them, and it provides opportunity for racism to grow and become a much larger conversation.
The problem I have with the conversation about racism and deeming someone racist is that it often turn them into a target and gives them a stigma.
I have plenty of friends many who I disagree with and many who disagree with my opinion and statements, but we don’t throw away a friendship over that.
It is the understanding that we accept one another’s beliefs that continues our friendship.
It is the role of the parents and educators both at home and in school to teach about acceptance and understanding to give children the proper building blocks to grow and be more well rounded members of society.
It is up to the parents and educators to mold the future generations and teach them right from wrong but to also be understanding of those who don’t align with their views and values.
I look back at the history of this country and the American people have been a people who have longed for their own identity, their freedom and the right to live how they want without the constraints of religion or government.
As a people, we have progressed backwards in my opinion because we let our religion and our politics blind our views of the world, blind our ability to decipher the truth and bring about actual change.
We’ve become a society divided with a very black and white view of many issues.
As a member of the current society I am living in, it is my duty to engage with those who I come in contact with, whether they are coworkers, classmates or peers and learn about them, engage in conversation with them and allow them to share with me their life experiences.
It is up to the individual to decide whether or not they want to continue a relationship of any kind with an individual who may in fact say very racist things.
Together a community, as an educated and progressive society need to bring a better understanding of our differences and do our part to combat the true hate that is experienced by many.