Posts tagged racism
Posts tagged racism
DeWayne Wickham on Sam Lacy, the first black person admitted to the Baseball Writers Association of America:
Once, during a game in New Orleans, Lacy was forced to sit on the roof of the press box because no blacks were allowed inside. That outrage sparked several white sports writers to join him atop the press box. That act of protest helped shatter baseball’s other color barrier — the one that long relegated black sport writers to only covering Negro Leagues baseball games.
The column is generally about Lacy’s relationship with Jackie Robinson and how he was apparently omitted entirely from the recent film 42.
Today’s a heavy reading kind of day.
Okay, okay. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and I need to get this out because I feel that it’s important to explain, even if nobody is probably going to read it. So bear with me.
It is a common (mis)perception that Hawaii is racist “against” haoles*/white people.
*”Haole” is a Hawaiian language term that is best translated as “foreigner” or “outsider”. It could be contrasted with the term “malihini” which is often translated as “newcomer” or “visitor”. “Haole” has some modern racial connotations but was not, to my understanding, originally limited to people of Caucasian ethnicity. In my experience of the modern understanding, it both has a descriptive connotation (in other words, analogous to “white” but not necessarily with racist overtones, or representative of certain specific cultural characteristics associated with mainlanders/foreigners/white people, such as entitled attitude, brash or loud modes of expression, “touristy” portrayals/understandings of Hawaii, or simply being very ignorant of local culture.
This is true…. ish. It is, however, not taking into account many bits of context that, while not justifying individual behavior, set Hawaii’s “anti-white racism” against a backdrop of privilege and colonialism that negates any oppression implied by racism.
Let’s start with privilege. For those of you who are not aware, the sociological/social justice world uses the term “privilege” to define ways which participating in a certain social class (e.g., race, gender, heteronormative/cisnormative status, able-bodied-ness, socio-economic class, etc.) provides intrinsic social benefits not offered to people of a different class. It is often defined on an “axis of oppression” - that is, there is one (or sometimes several) class at the top of the metaphorical food chain and others on the bottom.
Race relations in Hawai’i are weird compared to the rest of the United States, and this is a really long and good read on how and why this state came to be.
To go off on a tangent, one topic keakealani doesn’t cover is local humor, which largely comprises racial stereotypes. I’m being extremely loose with ethnology there, but there’s kind of an agreement among the “constituent Hawai’ian races”—native Hawai’ian, Filipino, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Caucasian, etc.—that we can all tell racist jokes about each other and all have a good laugh.
On a personal level, I grew up idolizing De Lima, and I could recite many of his skits and songs from memory. (I probably still can.) I have distinct memories of trading jokes during elementary school. And members of my family, to this day, occasionally refer to doing boneheaded things as having a “Portagee moment.”
But it’s never done with any sort of malice. Was a person ever offended if I told a joke that applied to them? Probably not; far more likely, they would tell one right back that applied to me. We’d even tell jokes about ourselves. The popular sentiment is that it’s how we people of widely different origins deal with our differences.
So the question is, does that make it okay? If it’s all in the name of camaraderie and there’s no visible harm, then is there still a problem?
As someone who was born and raised in that culture, I have a really hard time answering “no” to the first question or “yes” to the second. I was there! I saw the laughs!
But as someone who now knows vaguely about such things as stratification, I have a hard time accepting that it should be okay.
In Vol. 30, No. 1 of the University of Hawai’i Law Review (winter 2007 issue), Karyn R. Okada wrote a piece titled “An Analysis of Hawai’i’s Tradition of ‘Local’ Ethnic Humor.” In section V, she analyzes the connotations of the common stereotypes levied against various races and some very real discrimination and inequality in the state that they reinforce:
On an individual level, evidence of harm inflicted by the racist messages conveyed in local humor is quite prevalent. Scholars have noted that amongst the local Filipino population, for example, feelings of self-doubt and shame of cultural background are especially prevalent.
This is all some very difficult stuff I haven’t figured out how to deal with yet.
Josh Voorhees of Slate with a weird update on a weird story out of Ohio:
A few updates to a story from yesterday about Oberlin College canceling classes after someone reported spotting a person walking on campus wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan-like hooded robe. Local police say they responded to the report, but weren’t able to find anyone wearing the hard-to-miss KKK garb. They did, however, discover a female walking with a blanket wrapped around her, suggesting the very real possibility that the eyewitness was mistaken.
Oberlin has had several racist vandalism incidents recently, so the alleged sighting was believable. It may have still happened, of course; it just hasn’t been substantiated by the police either way.
Tim Wise, author of White Like Me on when it’s acceptable for a white guy to say any form of the word “nigger” (spoiler: never ever)
The Boston Globe, earlier in the summer:
When news emerged earlier this month that Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford said he’d been called a racial epithet by an off-duty Leominster police officer before a minor league game in New Hampshire, reaction was swift. After an internal investigation, which turned up additional racist comments, the Leominster mayor fired the officer on Thursday.
But the epithet itself still has sports fans and commentators scratching their heads. Allegedly, the officer called Crawford, who is black, “Monday.” Monday? The day of the week? Is this really an insult, and one that has anything to do with race?
James Eng, msnbc.com:
Hordes of angry hockey fans – presumably Boston Bruins fans — unleashed a barrage of racist rants on Twitter and other social-networking sites after the Washington Capitals beat the defending champion Bruins a week ago Wednesday on an overtime goal by Joel Ward, the Capitals’ 31-year-old left wing. Ward is one of just a handful of black players in the NHL.
According to local media reports, several students at high schools in Gloucester and Danvers in Massachusetts, the Cumberland, R.I., School District, and Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire were among the tweeters.
What follows is a rather long discussion on free speech of students: what schools can and should do about what students say in and out of school, both legally and morally.
This photo by Jeff Kowalsky for the European Pressphoto Agency shows some modern pieces at the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan. MSNBC’s PhotoBlog has several more photos and a short article on the museum and its founder and curator, David Pilgrim.
Ugly stuff. Be sure to explore the links Ta-Nehisi Coates provides — in fact I’ll enumerate them here: Derbyshire’s original article, in all its ugly glory; an interview with Derbyshire from 2003 in which he proclaims himself to be “very mild, tolerant racist”; and, bonus, a follow-up to that interview in which he attempts to explain what sort of racism is “very mild and tolerant”.
D. Aileen Dodd, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
A Gwinnett schools investigation found former Beaver Ridge Elementary School teacher Luis Rivera was the author of a third-grade homework assignment that used slave beatings to teach math concepts.
In a statement to school officials obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday, Rivera, a teacher at the school since August 2008, apologized and said some of the questions he wrote were in “poor taste.”
Rivera’s 20-question homework assignment used slave beatings and picking cotton to link lessons about ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass to math computation. One of the problems read: “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”
What the fuck.