“Assault by Leer” or “Leering While Black”

When cleaning out the garage I found a copy of Quick News Weekly from November 24, 1952. On page 49, in the crime section I came across the short article titled Assault by Leer, describing how Mack Ingram was sentenced and jailed for simply leering at a 17-year-old white girl. According to the article, in North Carolina “assault by leer” was a possible offense in 1952, even though there was no actual physical contact. There seems to be no coincidence that Mack Ingram was Black and Willie Jean Boswell white.

To put the article into perspective, in 1952 Dwight Eisenhower was President, cold war tensions were beginning to brew and public schools were separated based on skin color. It was not until two years later that Brown v Board of Education was decided on. De jure (by law) discrimination is said to have ended after Brown v Board of Education in the 50s, but de facto (by fact) discrimination is still persistent in various forms, such as in the racial profiling of Blacks, often described as “Driving While Black” or “Walking While Black” (the killing of Trayvon Martin comes to mind). Other forms of societal racism are further called “Hailing While Black” (as Danny Glover puts it), “Learning While Black” or “Eating While Black.” If the persecution of individuals based on “Driving While Black” and “Walking While Black” is common de facto, then it seems safe to say that Mack Ingram was convicted of a de jure crime based on “Leering While Black.”

This picture was taken by Hennie Weiss and is shared under a creative commons license. You are free to share, copy and redistribute the work as long as attribution is given. You may not make commercial use of the work. 

Lawsuit Filed Against Anti-Choice Organization

The image at the center of the lawsuit

I saw an interesting article in the New York Times this morning. Tricia Fraser is suing the anti-choice organization Life Always for using her young daughter’s image on a billboard that contained the text, “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.” Ms. Fraser’s daughter is African-American. (Life Always is the same organization that recently used the famous “Hope” image of President Obama for another astoundingly offensive billboard.)

The billboard was denounced as racist and offensive almost as soon as it went up in the Soho neighborhood in New York City. Similar billboards went up in Atlanta early last year; those ads, sponsored by Georgia Right to Life and the Radiance Foundation, used an image of a different child and different text, but their message was the same. While those billboards were also met with controversy and disapproval, the lawsuit filed by Ms. Fraser is a first.

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Judith Butler Protests Homonationalism

Feminist theory icon, Judith Butler caused a scene a Berlin Pride in Germany last week by refusing to accept their “Courage” award and calling the organizers out for being associated with Homonationalist movements/sympathizers. You can watch the speech here (she’s speaking in German, so you’ve got to read the subtitles). When a friend posted this link on facebook I had to read it for two reasons, the same reasons I share it with you… [Read more...]

CNN’s Special Coverage “Black or White: Kids on Race” Airs Tonight at 10pm ET

This week Anderson Cooper 360 will be airing a four-part series on a CNN commissioned study that examines the way children feel about race. Not surprisingly, the results of the study reveal that white children show a significantly high bias towards white skin. Even worse, black children also show a similar bias towards white skin. Here are a few details about what the study revealed.

A 5-year-old girl in Georgia is being asked a series of questions in her school library. The girl, who is white, is looking at pictures of five cartoons of girls, all identical except for skin color ranging from light to dark.

When asked who the smart child is, she points to a light-skinned doll. When asked who the mean child is she points to a dark-skinned doll. She says a white child is good because “I think she looks like me”, and says the black child is ugly because “she’s a lot darker.” [Read more...]

Atlanta Signs Bring Controversy, But No Real Positive Change

Over the last few months there seems to be an increase in visible advertisements from the anti-choice camps.  One of the more controversial is a billboard campaign sponsored by organizations like Georgia’s Right to Life and Operation Outrage. These groups have posted between 60-80 signs around the Atlanta metro area. Despite the fact these organizations are predominately made up of white members, the message they are espousing is about black women and abortion.

The signs picture a cute baby with the headline “Black Children are an Endangered Species.” For me the most disturbing part of the sign is how they are treating black children as if they are a separate species from other babies. These groups claim that Planned Parenthood targets black women. This is an insult to black women and continues the dehumanizing theme of the billboards. It is as if black women do not have the intellectual capacity to make educated decisions for themselves, but instead are prey of the abortion providers.  

Reproductive issues for black women have been trying throughout history. During slavery, women were rewarded for reproducing thus increasing the plantations workforce, while an infertile woman would suffer more abuse and ridicule. Later, black women were more affected by threats to take away welfare benefits if they didn’t get sterilized.
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The Impossibilty of Tiger Woods’ Racial Identity

I couldn’t help but notice yet another news story about Tiger Woods and his recent “…low speed, zero casualty, minimal injury car crash in front of his own house.” This time, though, the author made an attempt to address, if from another angle, the racist undertones that are so foundational to this story.

Jesse Washington makes several important points about the way(s) that Tiger’s racial identity have impacted this story–from the perspective of the Black community’s reaction to the scandal. For him, the only area of the blogosphere discussing the racist undertones of this story is the black community and then only in terms of their belief that Tiger is both an outsider (not “really black”) and a traitor (a black man who likes white women).

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Talking to Kids About Racism and Diversity

mother talking to sonWhen my beautiful sister was little, she thought she was cursed. She had bright, coppery-red hair and many freckles of varying shades. She thought her brown eyes were ordinary and that her small frame just made her easier to push around. Other kids honed in on her red hair and freckles–like kids do, they picked up on her insecurities and they teased, harassed and bullied her incessantly. They exploited her difference in the merciless way children do.

One day, my mom was called down to the school to address one such incident. Not because the other kids–one of whom had pinned my sister down and tried to “rub” the freckles off of her face–had been picking on my sister, but because my sister’s response to it was racist.

My sister’s snappy comeback to one girl calling her “freckle-faced-strawberry” was, “well, you’re just a black patty!” Not the most mature insults, for sure. But what do you expect from 7 year-olds?
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Missing the Point: Racisim and Health Care Reform

There are a lot of discussions going on right now–on tv, on the net, all over–about racism and the health care debate. Most of what I have heard goes something like this:

Commentator: Some people say that the people who object to health care reform are racist. Is this true?
Guest: Of course its not true. The liberals always cry racism whenever conservatives object to things Obama wants to do.
Guest II: Of course it is true. The people showing up at town halls are waiving Confederate flags–that’s racist.

There are two major problems here: one, some people who object to health care reform are racist and two, not everyone who opposes health care reform is racist or is doing so because they are racist. Both sides are presenting arguments that are faulty–largely because they are both using an all or nothing sort of model.
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Tuesday News Roundup

mouse2Welcome back from the holiday weekend. Hopefully it was a good one for you!

Poll Finds Support for Domestic Partner Benefits – Gay Politics
Racism in the Fashion World – Womanist Musing
Utah Considering Comprehensive Sex Ed – Salt Lake Tribune
Planned Parenthood to Close 5 Clinics in Indiana – Fox

Confirmation Hearing Starts Today

sotomayor 7.12.09Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor begin Monday, July 13. At first the pro-choice community knew nothing about her record on choice and how she might vote on an abortion case. Unfortunately, we still have no hard evidence. We cannot make assumptions, but over the past few months of the media, congress, and non-profit organizations investigating her record have revealed she may have a progressive bent to her thinking and she may even resemble the legal demeanor of her predecessor, Justice David Souter, which was mindful of precedent, progressive and critically thinking.   

About one month ago, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg made a bold move and publicly announced her endorsement of Sotomayor. This past week, the NY Times ran an interview with Justice Ginsberg revealing her staunch feminist thinking and slightly re-iterating her desire to see Sotomayor confirmed as the first Latina nominee and the third woman nominee. Ginsberg is currently the lone female Justice among 9 members of the high court.  

If not read only for a brief history of women on the court, this exclusive interview is also a wonderful glimpse into a most accomplished woman who openly and proudly asserts her feminism. Justice Ginsberg is an extraordinary human being. Her acknowledgement of having benefitted from affirmative action further promotes the case that new faces and persons of differing opportunity levels must be given the chance to succeed. Our country has greatly benefitted already from the decisions of Ginsberg and how her perspective (juxtaposed with a white male) has brought change to our laws as well as serving as a reminder of the complexity of our world. I am, of course, not hating on all white men, but instead expounding the idea that our world should be lead by more than one group. 

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