Archive for the ‘white people’ Category

Why Is This Racist? Really…

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

posted by Sam Richards

whitebasketballplayersSo this guy, Don “Moose” Lewis, wants to start a basketball league for white guys because, among other reasons, white guys need a place to play that “traditional brand of basketball” that they know and enjoy. (That photo to the right is what the roster would look like.) It’s easy to scoff at Moose, and not just because of his nickname–because on the face of it this seems blatantly racist. But my thinking is that the issue is more complex than it first appears–and this is why I want some other people to weigh in on the matter.

Moose says “he’s filling market niche,” that there are plenty of (white) guys to don’t like the upscale tempo of basketball that is played professionally today and they should have a chance to complete in venues where they can earn a living. And there are lot of people who would (and should be allowed to) pay money to watch them play. Good point, Moose. Unfortunately for Moose, there are undoubtedly black and brown men (and women) who want to play “white ball” and so they’ll also have to have a chance to show their (white) skills in the slow lane, so to speak?

Maybe I could overlook this moose-sized oversight if Moose didn’t reveal his hand by saying the following:

“With players on other professional teams carrying guns, attacking fans in the stands, and going through the motions of playing the game, fundamentally sound [W]hite players are a vanishing species…Fans have spoken to the AABA asking to restore on court sanity to the game of basketball. Their pleas are our mission. Only players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league.”

First off, the name looks like ABBA, that notoriously white band from the 1970s. abbaBad sign. Second, his words sound more like the standard white racist stance on black and brown people and less like a businessman responding to a market need.

Nonetheless, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and imagine that there are people out there who want to watch a slow style game that only native born white people know how to play. If so, then rock on to his bad self and let’s get to the tip off. Just don’t throw the ball too high…since the white brothers can’t….well, you know….jump. Here’s Moose explaining himself:

Avatar and the White Man’s Burden

Monday, February 1st, 2010

posted by Sam Richards

Admittedly I have not seen the film. The last time I visited a movie theater was in 2005. Before that it was sometime in the early 1990s. I just don’t get out much. And while Avatar does seem like the kind of film that ought to be experienced on the big screen, it’s highly unlikely that that is where I’ll see it given my track record.

Nonetheless, reading this op-ed by David Brooks makes me a bit curious about the movie. Not sure why, really, as it sounds a lot like just another film from a long list of other films that I was neither drawn to, nor do I feel somehow deprived as a result of not seeing. But Brooks makes some serious accusations about a film that is being widely and universally viewed that it does make me curious about this persistent theme that just won’t go away — about how it is up to white people to save people from disastrous fates that might befall them.

I supposed one could readily argue that Brooks is reading far too much into the film. But these conscious and subconscious themes that drive popular cultures have a way of landing in us and shape our minds and hearts and just because you didn’t draw his conclusions from the film does not mean that he’s not dead on. In fact, if you’ve grown up in this culture and you haven’t not critically restructured your thinking about gender and race and culture and imperialism, then it’s highly unlikely that you would come to his conclusions. It doesn’t make him “correct” or you “wrong”–but I’d give his ideas time to gestate.

Here’s what Brooks had to say: The Messiah Complex


Harry’s Negros

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

posted by Sam Richards

The uproar over Harry Reid’s comments is standard fare for anyone who pays attention to race relations as viewed through the prism we call “political correctness.” A misguided white man uses an unwise phrase (or two…or five…) and suddenly people are calling for his head, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee:

On Saturday it was released that in 2008 Reid made racially charged comments about then Senator Barack Obama. Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long history of embarrassing and controversial remarks by the senior Senator from Nevada. We hope Reid’s fellow Democrats in the Senate and on the campaign trail will stand up and rightly condemn these racially insensitive remarks by their elected leader. Sign the petition to condemn Reid’s remarks and encourage other Senate Democrats to do the same. ~ NRSC

Amazing. Wow. His comments must have been hard-hitting and over-the-top racist for this group to condemn them and give back-handed support to Barack Obama and other “colored” people. I mean, really, Republicans across the country are well known for taking offense at anyone–and I do mean anyone–who says mean things about black and brown people. I’m not sure if any of us fully realize that.

So here is a summary of the controversy:

The Obama controversy is centered on remarks published in the book “Game Change,” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The book cites Reid as saying privately in 2008 that President Obama could succeed as a black candidate partly because of his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” ~ CNN

Insensitive, is what the comments are being called. While I’m not sure what exactly is insensitive about his comments, since I’m not hearing many Democrats condemn the remarks my guess is that this is a moment when politicians can line up and spit on one another from across the great divide.

But I have to ask: how old is this guy? This is like referring to Pink’s new recording as a record album. “Did you hear that Pink has a new record album coming out?” If anyone said that to me I’d immediately assume that he or she has been totally out of the loop of pop culture and technological innovation for oh, let’s say…about 15 years!!! Maybe twenty. I wonder how many times Harry has heard the word “negro” in the past 30-40 years? Frankly, I’ve heard it maybe once or twice — and usually uttered by old fossils like him. Where’s the guy been? Does he watch TV? Go to the cinema? Engage in conversations with black and brown people? Does he have grandchildren? Why hasn’t someone told him that his drawing on old school vocab?

You see, while his comments aren’t insensitive in my humble opinion, they do open a window into his social world–and that sounds as though it is a very white place indeed. But hey, lighten up. He’s an elected official. Why should THAT matter?

Nice Apology, Ya’ll. Now What?

Monday, October 12th, 2009

posted by Sam Richards


The cartoon is by Marty Two Bulls, Sr., a Native American cartoonist who is saying something rather instructive about the recent Senate apology–the official U.S. Apology–to American Indians. Thought it might be worth reflecting on it today–Columbus Day. It’s an odd day to celebrate and my guess is that most of us would feel extremely uncomfortable doing so if we took just a bit of time to reflect on the history and current life conditions of Native Americans in both the United States and elsewhere in the Americas.

But we don’t…because THAT would require us to rethink the official story by which we live and that allows us to get on with our lives day after day and not feel some kind of way about the blood and bones that are buried beneath the land that we now own and the structures we now call “home.” And by “we” I guess I mean those of us who do not claim ancestry to some indigenous people or culture.

Genocide. There’s that unfortunate word again. Alcoholism and addiction. Unemployment. Reservations. Suicide. Rape. Violent attacks. So the apology is just a first step???

Take a few minutes (probably 6-8 total) and read the document–the apology. Unless you are Native American, it’s coming from you, afterall, and so you probably ought to at least know what it says.


Here is a quick video of Brownback discussing the apology.

The “Real Haters” or Old School Critique?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

posted by Sam Richards

twitterracismSo Harry Allen has an interesting critique of white racist rants about Kanye West that spread across twitterlandia in the hours (make that minutes) after the tantrum he threw at the VMA ceremony. If you’re not aware of what that means, it’s a yearly gathering of corporate created celebrities (along with a few organically talented artists) who hand out awards to one another so that the corporate owners can more easily entice unsuspecting consumers to shell out more of their hard-earned cash to consume the images-words-songs that very few of those celebrities created in the first place (because their not truly artists). Whatever…

So Mr. West has a moment of psychiatric infamy and the rest is FB and T history.

Back to Harry Allen, who trolls the Web and finds tweet upon tweet of insulting and racist comments about Kanye and asserts that these tweets represent the underbelly of whiteness — public faces of respectability and politeness followed by sudden bursts of racist ranting when one of their/our own (in this case, Taylor Swift) is publicly insulted by persons black or brown.

The tweets are pretty raw and clearly go into the “WTF Are They Thinking?” folder. It’s amazing that white people feel as comfortable as black and brown comedians to attach their name and face (and Twitter ID) to the n-bomb with such gusto and glee. Check out Harry Allen’s blog entry, which you can read here.

The Other Side of Skin Coloring

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

posted by Laurie Mulvey

Girl suffers burns over seventy percent of her body after lying 16 minutes in a coin operated suntanning bed.

Girl suffers burns over seventy percent of her body after lying 16 minutes in a coin operated suntanning bed.

Let’s not forget about skin darkening practices—and the premature aging, painful burning, sun poisoning and skin cancer that result because light-skinned people often don’t feel good about themselves when they’re “too white.” As a white person myself, this is a refrain I’ve heard many times—and one that taught me that it was normal to put oil on my skin and swelter in the summer sun even though the act made me cranky and uncomfortable. But I thought I was moving closer to a standard of beauty that I needed to attain. So I did it—as do many like me.


Collage of skin cancers

And let’s not forget about the orange-y complexions that result when white people bake themselves in space age tanning ovens all winter to maintain their “color.” What do we make of this? What do we think white people are trying to accomplish while dark skinned people have the idea that they should be lighter? Who are white people emulating?

sunbathingAnd what keeps all of us from ever really juxtaposing these practices of whitening and darkening our skins? Are we afraid to conclude that human beings are just sad creatures who are never satisfied with what they have inherited no matter what the power politics and hegemonic context in which they live?