Race & Ethnicity
This week at the Guardian (and in the national news media) there’s been much attention paid to the role of private contractors in our intelligence and military operations, after an NSA employee leaked classified documents about U.S. spying to Glenn Greenwald. I’m using my column this week to talk about a different kind of privatization in American security: The privatization of our prison system, which turns the building and management of prisons over to corporate entities. Of course, even non-privatized prisons in the U.S. are rife with abuses. But privatization creates strong financial incentives for increased incarceration; the actors who are incentivized are particularly powerful, politically connected and monied. There’s also little oversight and regulation of private prisons, as attempts to do so are met with significant push-back. A part of the column (content warning: the text below and particularly the linked column include descriptions of violent prison abuses):...read more
Today marks the 46th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision, the Supreme Court decision that declared Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statutes unconstitutional and ended all similarly discriminatory laws across the country. Mildred and Richard Loving were each sentenced to a year in prison for marrying in violation of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act after police raided their house late at night in response to an anonymous tip. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction on the grounds that Virginia’s statute violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment....read more
Guest Bloggers Paul and Renee: We blog and review at Fangs for the Fantasy. We’re great lovers of the genre and consume it in all its forms – but as marginalised people we also analyse critically through a social justice lens....read more
And it’s to so thoroughly entrance you with this unbelievably cute little girl that you’re to the grocery store, through it, and back out in the parking lot before you realize you’ve bought six boxes of Cheerios and you don’t even like cereal. I mean, look at her....read more
PepsiCo has pulled a Mountain Dew commercial that social commentator Dr. Boyce Watkins calls “arguably the most racist commercial in history.” [Content warning for racism, battery, and basically everything that's wrong with the world]...read more
Four Wilcox County high school students are raising money to hold an integrated prom. Racially integrated. Because they don’t have one, because ever since the school itself integrated 30 years ago, the parents have been throwing separate proms. The school declined to get involved, so the girls are doing the entire thing themselves. “If we don’t change it, nobody else will,” one girl says....read more
Indonesians idealize whiteness. It permeates every aspect of an Indonesian woman’s life, from clothing to beauty regimens. My relationship with skin color is complicated here. Having brown skin allows me to blend in more in crowds. Most Indonesians love Indians, having been raised on a plethora of ‘90s Bollywood movies.
At the same time, I sometimes find myself wishing for a little of the unwanted attention my white Fulbright friends receive. Indonesians don’t clamor to take pictures with me or seek to practice their English – I’m hitam manis. Instead, my skin color means I have to fight for my claim to be American.
The innocuous question, “Dari mana?” (where are you from?) is one I sometimes dread in the taxi....read more
Over at the Guardian, I’m writing about Adria Richards, and how victim-blaming for cyber harassment parallels victim-blaming in rape cases:
Of course it’s possible to disagree with Richards’ actions while still focusing on the real problem: misogyny online and in tech spaces. But it’s really not possible to pontificate at length on what Richards should have done without obscuring the fact that when women speak out, we’re met with rape threats.
Zerlina Maxwell received sexualized, racist death threats for daring to publicly say that women should not hold responsibility for preventing their own rapes when men should be trained not to be rapists. She refused to be bullied into silence....read more
An ad campaign by the NYC Human Resources Administration would like you to know that your kids hate you for being a teen mom. Or, more accurately, that your future kids will hate you if you become a teen mom, much like the kids of current teen moms hate them. Because Daddy left, and now he’s absent and stuck with child support, and Mommy’s alone and poor, and the kid will never make anything of herself, and why did you not just keep your legs together, Mom?...read more
Numerous blogs have noted the silence among many white, mainstream feminist sites about the horrible treatment of Quvenzhané Wallis at the Oscars. And they’re right. I had stuff planned out, and then I looked at so many other posts going up that said Holy shit, can you believe that happened? That’s not okay at all in ways far more eloquent than I, and then went on to say far more poignant and intelligent stuff than I’d think to say, and I felt mine was redundant. That’s a seriously fucked up way of thinking.
Here’s what I should have said....read more
As usual, Ta-Nehisi Coates is correct, and cuts right through the standard rhetoric to truth:
In modern America we believe racism to be the property of the uniquely villainous and morally deformed, the ideology of trolls, gorgons and orcs. We believe this even when we are actually being racist. In 1957, neighbors in Levittown, Pa., uniting under the flag of segregation, wrote: “As moral, religious and law-abiding citizens, we feel that we are unprejudiced and undiscriminating in our wish to keep our community a closed community.”