In a time of segregated pools, Mr. Rogers asked a black singer to play a police officer. The two shared a foot bath with each other on television and sang a song about the many ways to say I love you. Francois Clemmons said he felt an authentic connection with Mr. Rogers, and that Mr. Rogers was intentional and conscious about the episode’s purpose and design. If black lives mattered, this kind of relationship would be the driving force behind policing today. Officers would look like their communities, and white allies would authentically acknowledge, welcome, and listen to people of color.Read More →

Back in 2010, Prince chided Beyonce for her lack of musical knowledge, but was impressed that she understood something about Mixolydian scales and Egyptian styles, WTF. Basically he thought she was quite talented and gifted, but her longevity and survival depended on learning a lot more. I’m not much of a Beyonce fan, and had no interest in Lemonade. The brouhaha over “Formation” is incredibly complex, but not enough to tempt me to listen or buy the album. Visually, the video is fascinating and brilliant, transgressive and offensive. The general invisibility of trans artist Big Freedia, the politics of colorism and authenticity in the deepRead More →

This picture of flesh colored crayons is George Takei’s Facebook meme a few days ago, and it’s a fitting one in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. My first thought in response to the image: “Because only Nixon could go to China.” There are lots of inferential leaps from crayons to Nixon and China, but it’s all about Star Trek’s ambiguous multiculturalism. On the one hand, the message here can be read as a colorblind attitude toward racism and assimilation. On the other, it can be read as something rather radical, and in that regard, George Takei is an excellent spokesperson for the message.Read More →

In the 1800s, the Irish were New York City’s ghetto thugs and unwelcome illegal aliens, much the way we think of black folks today.When they were required to defend the North in the Civil War, to risk life and limb for black slaves that most considered subhuman, well, that just added insult to injury. Irish and other impoverished immigrant males in New York City started the Draft Riots in the 1860s to protest. During that time, the New York police force was heavily populated by Irish. By the end of the 19th century, 70% of the New York police force were Irish. This is theRead More →

If you reject the idea of white privilege, please move on, because you will find nothing here to suit your purpose. The flurries of “criming while white” stories merely scratch the surface of illustrating white privilege. These stories just point out a double standard. They don’t show much beneath the surface about the structural racism that support double standards. Consequently, when the hashtags stop trending, our country faces the sad possibility of a memory wipe. White people have the luxury of forgetting. That’s white privilege, the privilege of forgetting and obliviousness. Profiling and police brutality, as overt examples of racial injustice, are tangible and concrete things. AlthoughRead More →

The latest viral police profiling confrontation is a black man, Brandon McKean, getting stopped by a Michigan cop for walking with his hands in his pockets in freezing cold weather. McKean’s video adds another example to the multitude of stories that are coming to white people’s attention about how police profile, harass, and brutalize people of color. What’s different in this case is that the police department defended itself with a counter-video on Facebook, demonstrating that McKean edited his version to make himself appear in a good light.The introduction of new media technology, which started changing the game with videos and Rodney King in 1992,Read More →

Bring Back Our Girls As the tragic spectacle of 276 kidnapped Nigerian girls receives international attention, I can’t help but feel sick to my stomach thinking about Nigerian Scams, and the context in which they arise, in the deepest Hunger Games kind of way. As celebrities stride red carpets in stunning pink, carrying bold posters for the cause, I want to root for “our girls” much the way I cheered for Katniss to save Rue in a mediated extravaganza, a spectacle the state designed to distract me from world poverty, hunger, slave labor, and mass slaughter. Hollywood is filled with the scandalous objectification of littleRead More →