Archive for discrimination

The Usual Suspect: an unarmed person of color

Posted in political commentary, politics, racial discrimination, social commentary with tags , , , , , on August 24, 2008 by joelle blackstarr

Although I normally don’t mind playing the angry Black man, I have to say that at this point, it’s gettin’ old.  I have fought tooth and nail to simply read the comics, do my cryptogram and crossword, and call it a day.  Inevitably, a story moves into eyesight and I can’t help but read it out.  There is such an inequity in the way that suspects are treated by the police and the subsequent actions taken by said police when it comes down to the differences in the way incidents are handled.  That seems to depend upon whether the suspect is Caucasian or is a person of color.

In January of this year in Ohio, Tarika Wilson and her child were shot by police who came to her home to arrest her boyfriend.  Ms Wilson was killed, the child shot in the shoulder and will survive.  Ms Wilson was Black.  She was unarmed.  Earlier this month, and all-white jury dismissed all charges against the police officer.

In July of this year, twenty-seven (27) year old Mack Woodfox was shot in the back and killed by an officer who said that he thought the suspect was reaching for a gun.  The suspect was being chased by police for driving under the influence.  At the time that he was shot  (three times in the back) he was posing no threat.  He was unarmed.  He was Black.  Seven (7) months earlier, the police officer, Hector Jimenez, shot and killed another suspect.

There are other stories that I decided not to add to this blog, but, one need only go back a few months at a time to find very similar stories of unarmed Black people being shot and killed by the police.  Diallo was murdered a few years ago.  Bell was murdered recently.  Both were unarmed, posed no threat, and were shot multiple times by the police.  The list goes on and on.  Each time, one reads that the suspects were unarmed and posed no serious threat to officers or others.  Yet, these Black people are dead.  Killed.  Murdered.  What’s the worst part of it all?  The officers have gotten off in almost every case.

The real pity, the part that angers me most, is that when it comes to Caucasian suspects, police seem to find a way to “talk them down” or to use minor force to subdue the Caucasian suspects.  I have read stories of Caucasian suspects with guns, knives, bats, and numerous other items usable as weapons.  In each case, the police saw fit to persuade them to surrender.  In the case of the suspects who were people of color, they have all been unarmed and posed less of a threat than any of the Caucasian suspects who were persuaded to surrender.

Black tribes in Africa, back in the day were mighty warriors.  They conquered nations without so much as a twitch of an eye.  They were feared as the most powerful beings to ever walk the face of the earth.  Apparently, the usual suspects must be killed as opposed to being brought in.  Evidently, the usual suspects are ominous enough without a weapon.  Clearly, the usual suspects must be dealt with in a manner in which they will never become a threat to anyone.

The usual suspects are unarmed people of color.

The usual suspects are unarmed people of color.

The usual suspects are unarmed people of color.

And the usual suspects . . . are dead.

copyright  ©  2008  freedom

Day 6 (racial discrimination 2)

Posted in racial discrimination, social commentary with tags , , , on July 15, 2008 by joelle blackstarr

“Just see if you can Jew him down.”

“Damned Asians!  Y’all can’t drive to save your lives!”

“Look at you, with them Puerto Rican shoes on.”

“They smell like dogs when their hair gets wet.”

Have you ever uttered any of those statements in your lifetime?  If so, did you realize the impact that they carry?  I have often said that while Caucasians may lead the pack when it comes to racism, they certainly hold no monopoly.  Almost all of us, at some point or another, have uttered some type of racial or ethnic slur, many times without even realizing that you have done so.

I try to add a little flava, and a little humor to my posts from time to time, but, the main reason for opening this blog is to help keep racism at bay, to help launch a platform for obliterating it from society in . . . well, someone’s lifetime, and to make everyone aware that racial discrimination is alive and well.  I am often accused of bringing up the issue of race in the course of conversation.  I am guilty as charged.  Unlike so many people that I’ve come across, I have no qualms about bringing up the subject of race.  I see no harm in making folks aware of the FACT that racism still exists.  It seems that it is sometimes very difficult to make others understand the concept of why their attitudes or statements are racist in nature.  I need no primers in the subject matter as racial discrimination is a part of my life, almost on a daily basis.

The first step that I take in explaining that a person’s words or deeds are racist in nature, is to try to get them to understand that there are two parts to racism:  the person practicing racism and the person who is at the brunt of the racist remarks or actions.  It is usually the one practicing the racism who has the most difficult time grasping the notion of racism.  For example, if a Caucasian has not been  a victim of racial discrimination in their lifetime, they will rarely understand why you take offense to something that was said or done.  It’s relatively close to the difference  in learning by the wisdom of others and learning by experience.  One can conceptually grasp an idea presented by another, but, will not necessarily get the full meaning of it unless they have actually experienced that concept in action.  Racial discrimination can be easily placed in the same category.

The tenets of racial discrimination can be either subtle, blatant, or both.  Those that are blatant are very easy to deal with.  They are usually as plain as the nose on one’s face.  We normally come across it when it is being used by someone who is all too aware of what they are saying or doing, and, more often than not, don’t really care.  It is the subtle form that gives us the most difficult time in both recognizing it and correcting it.  The examples that I gave at the very beginning of this post are some of the subtle forms of racism and racial discrimination.  They are subtle mostly because they are not usually directed towards a particular person, have been picked up by hearing it from family and community members, and are most likely used without even realizing the error of their ways.  Subtlety can often be determined by the intention, with ill-will not being a part of that intent.

To obliterate racism and racial discrimination one can start anywhere.  The important thing is to . . . start.  Since we are always in our own backyard, why not start there?  Let us take a closer look at the things that we say and do.  Let us be conscious of the impact that words and deeds can have on others and upon ourselves.  A wise man said that ignorance is bliss.  A wiser man said that ignorance is no excuse for bad behavior.  If we recognize that our words and actions are harmful, we can monitor them.  By monitoring them, we can weed that behavior from our daily routine, eventually obliterating it from our lives altogether.

copyright  ©  2008  freedom

i get ticked off. . . number two

Posted in social commentary with tags , , , , , , on May 28, 2008 by joelle blackstarr

i get ticked off by ignorant Black people. i’m not talking about “ignant” Black people. “ignant” Black people can be intelligent, likable, angelic, or basically just like nearly any person that you’ve ever come across. they just tend to become “ghetto” from time to time. they tend to get loud. they tend to get drunk. they tend to get . . . on my nerves. that’s ok, though. they’re cool with me. it’s the ignorant black people who have a way of arousing an anger from deep within me that gets out of control.

what does Tony Montana have in common with Al Capone? he is beloved, mimicked, honored, adored, and has been quoted by ignorant Black people all over this nation. these ignorant Black people range in age from ten years old to thirty years old and beyond. the clearest display of such ignorance comes from rappers. they take on names like Tony Montana, Al Capone, Idi Amin, and countless other names of some of the most despicable people to ever grace the pages of history. they, somehow, come to the erroneous conclusion that those people are cool, that they are suave. the domino effect takes place in that youngsters look up to those rappers and because their “heroes” think that it’s ok, then it should also be ok for them (youngsters) to do the same. these ignorant rappers find no fault in glorifying evil personified, or with passing on that idiotic behavior to those who are all too willing to follow their every move.

Denzel Washington portrayed the notorious Frank Lucas in the film American Gangster (2007). i have not been able to follow the fallout which may have ensued, considering that the movie was a huge success. i did happen to catch Mr. Washington on Oprah when he was marketing another movie which came out the same year, The Great Debaters. memory fails me, as i don’t remember the exact question that oprah asked, but, the response from denzel washington, regarding the character frank lucas, was something to the effect of “he wasn’t a bad guy. he was just a clearly focused man.”. coming from denzel, i was taken aback. i surmised that it was probably said with sarcasm (was it?). nevertheless, I took it at face value. if young America (old for that matter) looks up to anyone, denzel washington would be the king of all celebrity worship. for him to make a remark of that caliber with such a nonchalant attitude is irresponsible at best.

at a special Los Angeles screening of the movie, Denzel Washington said “you know i don’t like to categorize – good guy, bad guy. one has to decide for one’s self who the bad guy is in this film, who the gangster is in this film”. admittedly, that is a bit milder than the statement made on Oprah, but, come on . . . it makes a lesser mind wonder whether Lucas was actually a bad guy and whether or not his actions are worth imitating. again – irresponsible gibberish from a total icon. it’s one thing to watch, in awe, movies such as Scarface, American Gangster, and The Godfather. the flip side is to emulate their antics in real life – i.e. becoming dastardly, real-life characters and finding themselves behind bars for a very long time, or find themselves paying the ultimate penalty of ignorance – death.

i get ticked off by ignorant Black people who idolize gangsters and “bad guys”. i get ticked off by ignorant Black people who then proceed to pattern their lives after such heinous criminals. there were some extremely bad-assed Black people in recent history who are more than worthy of emulation. of all the Xs, of all the Hueys, of all of the Angelas, and of all the H. Rap Browns, who do the ignorant Black people choose to immortalize?

freedom says that no one gets a pass.

copyright © 2008 freedom –

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i get pissed off. . .

Posted in social commentary with tags , , , , , , , on May 27, 2008 by joelle blackstarr

i get pissed off at racist white people. i get ticked off by ignorant black people. i am miffed by black women who constantly put brothers down. i am angry at brothers who refuse to step up, man-up, and pay up for the children that they’ve neglected. i get infuriated with politicians. i get . . .

“i get” number one . . .

white people hold no monopoly on racism, but, they certainly lead the pack. most of my Caucasian friends have no clue as to what it’s like to be black and try as they may, their attempts are quite feeble, not to mention annoying. i am sick to death of being told to stop bringing up race. they are not at the receiving end of racial discrimination. evidently, they seem to think that discrimination is a thing of the past. one reality is that if we should stop bringing up the race issue, that will only serve to make them truly believe that discrimination is a thing of the past. i am that constant reminder that it is far from gone. i’m not asking for any of them to step into my shoes and feel the pain. the fact is, i hope that neither they nor anyone else ever has to feel the pain. i’m just asking that they stop intimating that discrimination is history, and that I should not continue to bring up the race issue.

why does there always seem to be a problem with me bringing up the subject of race? it happens to be a dominant portion of my daily life, and certainly not by choice. the fact of the matter is that i usually don’t have to bring it up – they bring it up themselves. the subject most often comes into play when they mention the holocaust (not the black one in Rwanda, the Jewish one in Germany). when i decry that it was an historic disaster but that slavery in the U.S. was just as catastrophic, the almost inevitable answer is : why do you always have to make it about race? unlike a lot of people, i’ve never seen race as a problematic piece of subject matter. i am beginning to believe that the reason my friends don’t want me to tackle the subject is that they know deep inside that they are probably guilty of some of the same disgusting habits that i often attack when it comes to race relations.

i recall my many years of being a part of the work force, and one blatant example comes to mind. i’d be sitting in the lunchroom, just about finished eating, when a Caucasian friend asks “you want these chips?” when i reply “no, thanks”, the retort is “i was only going to throw them away – you may as well have them.” that’s followed by them tossing the bag onto the table near me like they didn’t hear me say “no, thanks.” that burns me up like nothing else. they, somehow, don’t realize that what i hear is “here – take my trash. i’m done with it.” perhaps they do it to everyone, but, i can only see it from my vantage.

i’ll take a guess and say that as long as i am Black, i’ll continue to bring up the subjects of race and racial discrimination. that’s not because I want to keep something going or continue to blame them for many of the missed opportunities caused by their words and actions – in fact, the opposite holds true. i wish that there would come a day when i’d never have to bring it up again because it had been totally obliterated. things being what they are, i want to be . . . need to be that constant reminder that racial discrimination is still very much a part of most Black folks’ lives, and possibly always will be.

freedom says that no one gets a pass.

copyright © 2008 freedom –