Tag Archives: racism

Said Again

I keep having to look at the slew of calendars I have scattered throughout the house – the National Geographic, ASPCA, military veterans and one displaying houses I get every year from my real estate friend.  They all assure me of the same thing: it’s 2019 – not 1919.  Or 1969.  Or even 1999.  Nope!  It’s 2019, my friends.  We’re at the end of the second decade of the 21st century.  Oh wait!  Yes.  I had to check again: 2019 – the two and the zero being the key factors here.

I have to do this because of the recent series of tirades Donald Trump has lavished upon certain members of Congress.  Would somebody get the damn phone away from him?!

As if anyone should be surprised, our Dear Leader hasn’t quieted down verbal attacks against non-Whites who dare to speak their minds against him.  Via his Twitter feed while safely ensconced in the White House, he created quite a stir recently, when he assailed four alphamore U.S. congresswomen, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.  Denouncing them as “The Squad”, he became enraged, after they criticized him for his response to the growing migrant crisis along the southern border – among other issues.

Ocasio-Cortez had already identified herself as a socialist when she won New York’s 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens boroughs – both of which have large non-White populations.  In fact, I think non-Hispanic Whites are so scarce in the Bronx they might qualify for endangered species status.

Trump didn’t hold anything back when he assailed the four congresswomen (an attribute his devotees love) that, if the lawmakers “hate our country,” they can “go back” to the “broken and crime-infested” countries “from which they came”.  For the record, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib were all born and raised here in the United States; thus making them, well, natural-born Americans.  Omar emigrated to the U.S. with her family as a child; the clan fleeing their Somali homeland, as it sunk further into political and social chaos.  But she is now an American citizen.  Omar has been openly critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, which garners the usual cries of anti-Semitism from all sides.  But a statement about the 09/11 terrorist attacks as “some people did something” makes me think suspiciously of her.  Yet, one has to look at that verbiage within the context of her entire speech.  To her credit, she’s also said: “I do not blame every single white person when we have a white man who massacres children at a school, or moviegoers in a movie theatre.  And I think this really horrendous narrative that says, as a Muslim, I’m supposed to explain, apologize, for the actions of someone who’s also terrorizing me, is absurd.”

Now Trump has gone after Congressman Elijah Cummings who represents Maryland’s 7th District, which includes Baltimore.  Describing the majority-Black area as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live”, he drew widespread condemnation from Democrats and independents.  I don’t know what incited that particular discourse, but it’s obvious Trump likes to play the proverbial race card when things get rough in the political arena, which is something like, oh…100% of the time.  And I’ve found that, if you go for the jugular by mentioning race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality, you’ve essentially lost the debate.  You’ve run out of legitimate things to say; you’ve exhausted your gallery of facts and logical points, but you want to keep arguing because you just absolutely have to have the last word.

As I’ve stated before, not everything wrong with America is the fault of White males.  But again, I have to look at one of my calendars.  Seriously?!  We’re still dealing with this shit in 2019?!  I heard that “go back” crap when I was in high school!  It was a similar comment from a fellow student that propelled me into my first and only fight in high school – towards the end of my senior year.  During my alphamore year a substitute teacher said my last name is un-Christian.  I took that up with the school principal before I told my parents about it.  I was concerned my proud father would go to the school and want to kick some old White ass.

I heard a little less racist language while in college.  Key words – “a little less”.  Occasionally, some idiot would throw a “you people” in my face, and I was just as quick to slur right back at them.  By the 1990s, ironically, the people slinging racist vitriol at me the most were Black or other Hispanics.

So, how is it that this kind of talk has worked its way back into the mainstream?  Retro may be cool in some nightclub situations, such as retro-70s.  (I try to ignore “Retro 90s” nights!)  But it’s not necessarily cool with a spoken language.  Never mind that Trump’s “go back” comment might be illegal in a workplace setting.  I’m still perplexed that we’ve gone from No-Drama-Obama to Czar Trump in a virtual blink of our collective eyes.

But, after 200 or so years of civil rights progress, it seems we’ve now started rolling backwards.  To we Trump detractors, this is not news.  Trump had pumped fuel into the “Birther” movement: the band of morons who questioned the birthright of President Obama.  He never acknowledged he’d been wrong when he said his “researchers” had learned some odd things about Obama.  Yet, he sat in the Oval Office next to Obama and called him a great man.  Amazing how brave some people get when they’re behind a phone or a computer, isn’t it?  It’s so different in person.

Thinking back to my high school tenure doesn’t bring back many good memories.  I was so shy and introverted I often fell prey to bullies.  So I try NOT to think about that period.  It was so long ago anyway.  Yet, that “go back” shit slammed into my conscious harder than seeing a Windows 3 screen.

My mother used to recount the number of times people had called her “half-breed” because her father was German-American and her mother was Mexican.  My father told me of the day an older White woman at the printing shop where he worked said she saw “a bunch of Mexicans” working on a lawn and thought of him.  He responded by saying something like, “Well, I saw a herd of cows in a field on my way to work and thought of you.”

A friend of mine once asked how is it that, in such a large city as Dallas, our fathers happened to know each other.

“All those old Mexicans knew each other!” I replied.  “They were all crammed into the same neighborhoods and went to the same schools.  They had to stick together.  It was a matter of survival.”

She’s only a few years younger than me, and my answer seemed to surprise her.  But she understood what I was saying.

In high school – and to some extent, even in college – I often felt isolated because I was one of the few Hispanic kids.  But I was as much American as I was then and still am now.  Some of my Spanish ancestors were here in Texas long before the Mayflower pilgrims; my Indian ancestors long before them.  So I always pulled that from the depths of my mind whenever some fool threw a “go back” at me.

I suspect Donald Trump’s presidency is the final battle cry of the “Angry White Male” – the withering group of individuals who still feel they should run everything and should be allowed to say what they want.  But, as a mostly White male myself, I know Trump gives all White men a bad name.  I’ll never criticize people who voted for him in 2016.  They had that right, and it’s not up to anyone else to decide what their selection should be.  I definitely disagree with a recent essay by Pastor John Pavlovitz about Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment three years ago.

But still…“go back”?  I’m hearing that again?  From the president of the United States?  Pardon me just a moment.  Yes…still 2019.  Time just won’t stop or roll backwards, no matter how much we beg.

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Maids, Beauty Queens and Other Stupidities

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Recently, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump – trying desperately, yet involuntarily to retain his title as “Asshole of the Year” – defended his previous criticisms of 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado.  The Venezuelan-born Machado apparently had gained too much weight at the height of her reign for Trump’s taste and subsequently referred to her as “Miss Piggy.”  He later also dubbed her “Miss Housekeeping,” an obvious reference to her ethnic heritage.  While millions of women across the U.S. (and I’m quite certain, across the globe) resent the “Miss Piggy” sleight, I focused on the “Miss Housekeeping” comment and thought, ‘Here we go again with the racial crap.’  Once more, Hispanic women are being dropped into the narrow categories of maid, housekeeper, etc. by (imagine this!) an old White male.

Trump has made racism and misogyny hallmarks of his campaign.  But this latest verbal assault against Machado struck me personally and harder than his previous idiotic statements.  As the son of a German-Mexican mother, I’ve heard more than a few stories of bigotry about the American workplace.  But, as someone who labored in the corporate world for more than a quarter century, I know that Hispanic women fit into more than the standard housekeeper / maid job role.  Regardless of race or ethnicity, women overall comprise roughly 57% of the American workforce; both full-time and part-time.  It’s the first time in U.S. labor history that more women than men are working.  Such a figure would have been incomprehensible a generation ago.

Not long after I was born in 1963, my father demanded that my mother stay home and raise me; thus becoming a traditional mother and housewife.  He was invoking the machismo persona of the average American male.  Few women worked after having a child in those days – or at least that’s what the general philosophy held.  In reality a number of women entered the workforce after having children, long before it became socially acceptable.  Many had no real choice.  My mother may have had a choice, but she refused to bow to pre-defined roles.  She had already gone against tradition by telling a Catholic priest shortly before my parents married that she didn’t plan to have a child every year, as the Holy Roman Empire dictated.  It upset the priest so badly that he told her maternal grandmother, a woman who had raised her and her three siblings after their mother died in 1940.  The grandmother, in turn, expressed her frustration to my mother who stood her ground.  Unless the Church was willing to finance her progeny, my mother absolutely would not have a child every time my father got an erection.  It’s a good thing.  My mother had enough trouble with me.  She had lost two pregnancies before I was born and another afterwards.  Considering some of the financial troubles my parents experienced later, it’s a good thing my mother returned to work in 1965, when I was 18 months old.  She retired in 2003 at age 70.

In reviewing contemporary TV shows, I believe there are about as many Hispanic characters now as there were fifty years ago; meaning they could probably all be counted on one hand.  Among the most popular today is “Modern Family,” featuring Colombian-born former model Sofia Vergara.  (Apparently there weren’t enough Hispanic actresses in Hollywood needing an acting job, so the show’s casting director yanked this nitwit from the gutter of foreign refuse to fill an otherwise blatantly stereotypical role.)

In 2003, NBC presented “Kingpin,” a series about (surprise!) a Mexican drug cartel family caught between the brutal worlds of narcotics trafficking and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.  I guess these conflicts were supposed to induce some sort of dramatic intoxication in the viewer.  Entertainment insiders noted the show presented a number of Hispanic performers; folks who normally wouldn’t find much long-term work in Hollywood apart from character clichés.  Those of us outside of that insulated fantasy factory – that is, those of us with a firm grip on reality – saw it for what it was: yet more Hispanics in formulaic characters.  The cacophony of anger was loud enough for NBC to cancel the series after just six episodes.  They claimed it was actually due to poor ratings.  As far as I can tell, industry outlets such as “Entertainment Tonight” didn’t spend much time highlighting the glaring racism in the series.  But I’m certain if a similar show about Blacks or Jews had come out, protests would be louder than the sound of Donald Trump dropping another wife.  Hell, when “Seinfeld” went off the air in 1998, it made national news!

This past June the USA Network premiered a show titled “Queen of the South.”  Such a name might make viewers assume it focuses on the antics of a cynically witty granddame-type in Georgia or South Carolina; an old gal who sips mint julips, dons “Gone with the Wind” regalia every December 20 and longs for the old days Negroes had to sit at the back of the bus.  That, of course, would be more than enough to get a show bounced of the air.  But “Queen of the South” revolves around a woman named Teresa who grew up poor and loveless in a Mexican slum and falls in love with (wait for it) a Mexican drug cartel leader.  When he’s killed, she flees to South Texas and becomes involved with someone from her past in an attempt to avenge her boyfriend’s murder.  That’s bad enough.  Yet it gets worse, as Teresa realizes the narcotics lifestyle is just too good to pass up and subsequently becomes a drug czarina in her own right.  It’s a quirky spin on the life and murderous legacy of Griselda Blanco, a.k.a. “The Cocaine Godmother.”  In fact, Blanco’s story is currently metamorphosing into a Hollywood biopic starring Jennifer Lopez who – like the late Michael Jackson – is gradually turning Whiter as she gets older.

Once again, though, Hispanics and illegal drugs are linked.  Actually Hispanics are still paired up with almost anything illegal: gang members, prostitutes, immigrants sneaking across the border and the like.  If going from maids and groundskeepers to drug cartel leaders is supposed to be an improvement, I’ll stick with the maid / groundskeeper type.  It’s sort of like this year’s elections: one has to choose between the lesser of two evils.

Looking through production credits for some of these shows, I’ve noticed none had Spanish surnames.  It’s obvious, then, from the initial concept down to the actual filming of the program, people of Northern European extraction are in control.  A good number of them are Jewish.  Therefore, I dare any of them to produce a television show displaying Jews (or any-Hispanic) as crooks.  Let’s see if it even gets past its debut episode.

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I’m pleased to see plenty of Blacks and Asians (many of them women) in non-traditional roles; business professionals and law enforcement characters who actually speak perfect English.  The same doesn’t hold true for Hispanics, or Native Americans for that matter.  We’re still the drug dealers, maids, groundskeepers and / or illiterate wetbacks who comprise the much-despised “Other” group of degenerates; people who are too lazy or stupid to get a decent education and find a legitimate career.  People Donald Trump wants to wall off and deport.

I don’t want to be around drug dealers or prostitutes either.  But that’s simply because I don’t belong to either of those groups.  Nor does anyone in my family and nor do most Hispanics.

We’re educated and career-driven.  We’re concerned about national security and the economy – just like any other citizen of this country.  Race and ethnicity are wedge issues that some people love to exploit.  We’re fully aware of the myriad stereotypes that plague us as a group; whether it’s on television or in political discourse.  We’re fully aware that Donald Trump is appealing to the traditional Republican base: older White men who watch in dismay as the world they thought only they would inherit slowly slips into the chaos of what the U.S. Constitution promised – freedom and equality for all.

Hispanic and other non-White women (or “women of color” – whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean) are double minorities in this society because of two factors: their gender and their ethnicity.  Non-White women with college degrees, for example, often earn as much (or as little) as a White male with only a high school diploma.

Having grown up with a working mother – and seeing other Hispanic women struggling both to get educated and to maintain their jobs – I understand that the American entertainment machine and people like Donald Trump just can’t (or won’t) accept the truth.  Old prejudicial concepts are tough to eradicate.  But reality is reality.  And the reality I know is that beauty queens and housemaids aren’t the only roles where Hispanic women are allowed to exist.

 

Top image “Sonhos do carnaval” (Carnival dreams, 1955), courtesy Emiliano di Cavalcanti.

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More Frat Crap

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, March 9, 2015.  The letters have been removed, and the building now sits empty.

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, March 9, 2015. The letters have been removed, and the building now sits empty.

Last August I published an essay describing my experiences in a social Greek-letter organization I’d attempted to join three decades earlier. It still remains one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life. All of that came back to me recently, when the “racist chant video” incident from the University of Oklahoma (OU) exploded onto the national scene. In two different cell phone videos, members of the elitist Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity’s UO chapter were caught gleefully singing about the organization’s lack of Negroes.

Basically, the chant went like this:

“There will never be a nigger in SAE.
There will never be a nigger in SAE.
You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me.
There will never be a nigger in SAE.”

The group was on a chartered bus last Saturday night, March 7, headed towards the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club to celebrate the fraternity’s founding. Another student at the university, a young African-American woman, received links to the videos from someone she refuses to identify (out of concern for that individual’s safety); a person she declares wasn’t one of those who videotaped the incident. As videos are wont to do these days, the thing went viral, and now the reputations of one of the nation’s oldest fraternities and a major institution of higher learning are in jeopardy.

OU President David Boren reacted swiftly and ordered the fraternity to shut down. “You are disgraceful,” he publicly stated. “You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves Sooners.” (Sooners is the nickname for OU students).

SAE’s national office stripped the OU chapter of its charter. The massive house where the boys lived has been emptied out; its residents forced to scramble for other living accommodations. In a sign of solidarity, Black and White members of the university’s football team staged a silent march instead of reporting for practice. Two of the guys leading the bus chant have been identified as Levi Pettit, 20, a graduate of Dallas’ Highland Park High School, and Parker Rice, 19, a 2014 graduate of Dallas’ Jesuit College Preparatory School. Both schools are elite entities with hefty tuition tags. Highland Park is actually a section of Dallas that, along with neighboring University Park, is known locally as “The Bubble.” The idea is not so much to keep residents insulated, but rather, to keep those of us who occupy the lower rungs of the social ladder out. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you the area’s own police literally used to stop Black and Hispanic motorists just to ask them what they were doing there.

It’s also befitting that graduates of those two schools would make their way into a fraternity like SAE. It’s a high-priced outfit. When I tried to join that fraternity at the University of North Texas, all of the social Greek-letter organizations would gather their pledges in one arena for an introductory session. The SAE boys all showed up in tuxedos. I called them the “Ken Doll Gang.” They stood against a wall, as if announcing, ‘Look, but don’t touch. I’m too pretty for you.’

I also met two Hispanic guys in the dorm where I first lived who had made attempts to join SAE, but dropped out because of what they perceived to be the frat’s subtle, racist attitude. It wasn’t something overt, they explained, but they could feel it. They really weren’t wanted; no matter how much money they could dish out. I didn’t want to believe it back then. I mean, it was 1984. Hadn’t we moved beyond that shit?

When the Oklahoma fiasco erupted, I returned to that question and realized, quite simply, no. Well…in some circles, no. Pettit and Rice have blamed a convenient scourge: alcohol. In other words, they were too drunk to know what they were doing. Poor kids; they’re too young and naïve to realize that shit doesn’t go over well in the real world.

Listening to that chant, though, I kept thinking it’s not something they composed on the spot. It sounds well-rehearsed. Pettit and Rice claimed they were taught the song while at the frat house and therefore, like toddlers, only repeated what others had uttered. Again, poor kids. Both young men apologized after they were expelled from OU. The Pettit family has hired a top-rated Dallas public relations specialist, and the Rice family has temporarily fled their home. Both OU and SAE are now trying to identify other students on that bus, including two young women who, some claim, are sorority members.

SAE is also now investigating cases where that very song was allegedly performed at other chapters, including here in Texas and elsewhere in Oklahoma, but also in Louisiana. This is just the latest in a long line of incidents where fraternities and sororities have engaged in blatantly racist behavior since 2000 alone. There are too many to mention.

Ironically, SAE’s OU chapter employed an African-American chef; a gentleman named Howard Dixon who is now unemployed because of this mess. A fund has been set up to help him adjust.

I’m not going to sling every fraternity and sorority member into the same pile of ignorant morons. It’s always the worst elements of any group that get the most attention. I still maintain that social Greek-letter organizations serve no real purpose in higher education. Other people feel they’re vital in fostering camaraderie and unity. That’s fine, if they want to believe that. But, if anyone thinks lynching is something worthy of light-hearted chants, just look at the photos below of actual “niggers” hanging and tell me you see nothing wrong.

Back in the spring of 1985, as I stumbled through life – trying to balance my disintegrating academic regimen and still hoping badly to be a part of that fraternity – a senior-level member gathered everyone in the house one night and self-righteously slammed us for not taking the organization seriously. He condemned the group for “chasing tramps” and going to clubs “listening to your nigger music.” Off to the side, somewhat behind me, stood the only Black man in the group. He said nothing – and neither did I. That was 1985. What year is it now?

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Monumental

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Tomorrow evening, October 27, the Dallas Cowboys will play the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Currently, the Cowboys are on a winning streak, and hopes for a successful season look brighter than a cure for Ebola. But, amidst the usual revelry of a brutal contact sport, the issue of naming has arisen once again – the Redskins’ name.

Yolanda Blue Horse, a Dallas resident and member of the Lakota Nation, has scheduled a formal protest outside the stadium for 3 p.m. on Monday.

“When we all stand together as one, we also honor those before us and those to come after us,” Blue Horse declared. “The continued use of this negative word is not only derogatory, but it is offensive and we demand that the owner, Dan Snyder, stop using this racist word to promote his football organization.”

For years Native Americans have been demanding that Washington change its team name; a racial slur as bad as nigger, spick, chink, or elected official. And, for years, Washington has balked at the suggestion. But, in recent years, I’ve noticed something different: people are starting to pay more attention to the issue. Moreover, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has taken greater interest in the subject. For the first time in memory, they’ve actually contemplated banning radio and TV stations from using the term ‘redskin’ while broadcasting.

“We will be dealing with that issue on the merits, and we’ll be responding accordingly,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler admits he’s a critic of Washington’s name, calling it “offensive and derogatory” in a recent interview. He refers to the club as “the Washington football team” instead.

Banning the term ‘redskin’ would effectively prevent radio or TV outlets from utilizing it while on the air. If they do, in other words, they could lose their license. That would mean any TV network or radio station broadcasting a game featuring Washington couldn’t openly refer to them as the Washington Redskins. The announcers couldn’t utter it, and the name couldn’t be displayed even in written form. Therefore, it’s possible a network wouldn’t take the chance and decide not to televise the game. That could result in millions of dollars in lost revenue for the network and its sponsors. If Washington should make it to the annual Super Bowl, that could create a financial calamity. Earlier this year the U.S. Patent and Trade Office went so far as to cancel the team’s trademark; denouncing it as disparaging to Native Americans. That’s the closest anyone has come to banning ‘redskin’ from public usage at the national level.

This past spring 50 members of the U.S. Senate sent letters to National Football Commissioner Roger Goodell prodding him and the league to endorse a name change for Washington.

“The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” said one letter, signed by 49 senators. “We urge the NFL to formally support and push for a name change for the Washington football team.”

Not surprisingly, owner Dan Snyder has refused calls to change the team’s name, proclaiming it a noble moniker, not a slur. In a recent interview with ESPN, he once again insisted he won’t bow to public pressure. “It’s just historical truths,” he said, “and I’d like them to understand, as I think most do, that the name really means honor, respect.”

Snyder highlighted both William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, Washington’s first coach and for whom the team was named to honor his “Native American heritage,” and Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, the late former president of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of the Blackfeet Nation, who helped design and approve the team’s logo, as true-life examples of the positive history of the nickname.

I wrote up an essay on this issue a couple of years ago; wondering aloud if anyone would tolerate sports team names such as the Washington Niggers or the Houston Hebes. The word ‘redskin’ has a muddled history. Many claim it was a reference created by early European explorers and / or colonists who took note of the often-ruddy complexion some Indigenous Americans have. Others declare it was a reference to the reddish body paint some native peoples adorned themselves with, as they prepared for battle, or engaged in some kind of religious ceremonies. Whatever its origins, redskin is still a vulgar and racist term.

Quite frankly, though, some people of Indian extraction aren’t offended by it; seeing it strictly as a name only, with no racist overtones. In the ever-mutating world of American English, however, plenty of folks view attempts to ban ‘redskin’ and force Washington to change its name as another chapter in the ‘Book of Political Correctness.’

In an editorial last year, “Washington Post” columnist Charles Krauthammer lamented, “I don’t like being lectured by sportscasters about ethnic sensitivity. Or advised by the president of the United States about changing team names. Or blackmailed by tribal leaders playing the race card.”

The “Conservative Tribune,” deemed calls for Washington to change its name “absurd,” adding, “If anything, the team is showing respect to native Americans by actually naming themselves after them.” The same site also just published this brilliant photo of a “conservative’s reaction” to the ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ mantra over the Michael Brown shooting.

Erick Erickson, editor of RedState, blamed President Obama for the USPTO’s decision. “The lesson here is that guilty feeling white liberals are a threat to freedom and, in Barack Obama’s America, the key to survive is to not appear on the radar of in Washington, D.C.,” Erickson wrote. He further implicated “a bunch of overeducated white guys who cry during ‘Love Actually’” and “a class of men who pee sitting down.”

Rush Limbaugh noted the Patent and Trademark Office is part of the Obama Administration, which, in turn, is the source of all this “tyranny.”

Right-wing blogger Matt Barber sees an unsettling trend looming on the horizon with the USPTO’s decision. “Whether or not you believe the Redskins should change its team name, you should be concerned by this troubling development,” he wrote. “It’s a harbinger of things to come. The American free market and private enterprise are no longer free nor private. Liberty is under threat as never before. Here’s to the good ol’ U.S.A.! We’ve officially become an Obamanation.”

Comments to a “Dallas Morning News” piece about the matter last week displayed an exorbitant amount of vitriol. One man complained that he felt like suing the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain for its obviously racist name. Yes, I’m sure millions of Caucasian-Americans get sick to their stomach when they see the Cracker Barrel sign; that’s why so many of them keep patronizing those stores!

Okay, I get it! A bunch of middle-aged White conservatives are pissed off that someone dares to challenge their view of American society. It’s the same reaction many had to school desegregation and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They’re the ones who believe the United Nations still has covert operatives hovering along the U.S.-Canadian border, just waiting for the right moment to launch an assault and force gay marriage and mandatory abortions on God-fearing Americans.

No, you idiots, this isn’t political correctness. Political correctness is saying that all Indian people are great and wonderful, even if they’re drunk-ass bastards who engage in criminal behavior. Political correctness is telling men they must always respect women, no matter what stupid or awful things she does or says to him. Political correctness is U.S. foreign policy towards Israel.

Since Snyder is Jewish, he could easily change it to Washington Kikers, but then, political correctness would really get turned upside down. But, I believe the Washington Monuments would be appropriate. Washington, D.C., is home to some of the nation’s premier monuments to its heritage. Besides, a monument – as in the Washington Monument – is a long, thick column of granite, sticking straight up to the sky. I think it’s appropriate, considering football is the last bastion of male athleticism in the U.S.; a tribute to excess testosterone and men’s aggression.

Despite the right-wing rancor, this issue isn’t going away. And it’s never been a matter of political correctness; it’s simply a matter of respect.

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Accidental Dumbass

Paisley is the dark-eyed White guy on the right.

Paisley is the dark-eyed White guy on the right.

The pop music world here in the U.S. has been abuzz (somewhat) about a new duet by country and western singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool J (real name: James Todd Smith, because you know most rap singers can’t use their birth names).  The song, “Accidental Racist,” is Paisley’s allegedly bold confrontation of the South’s deep-seated and lingering racism.  If you listen to the media rhetoric, you’d think Andrea Bocelli and Leontyne Price had gotten together for a world tour.  Now, I’d drag myself off a death bed to see that!

I’ll be up front and admit I’m not a big country and western music fan – despite being born and raised in Texas – and I don’t care much for rap or hip-hop.  Paisley and J make a cute couple, but that’s about as much as either has going for them.  I haven’t heard many songs from either man.  But, if J’s singing is like his acting, I know Bocelli and Price have nothing to fear.

Paisley has come under the proverbial fire for his previous displays of the Confederate flag; an emblem of the “Old South” where Negroes and Indians were sub-human critters.  Looking at Paisley, I have to wonder if some Negro or Indian didn’t sneak into the main house of his family many years ago.  I mean, seriously, if you look at White people from the “Old Country” (e.g. Europe), they are nowhere near that dark-haired or dark-eyed.  Not even Southern Europe!  They just aren’t.  But, I’m nitpicking.

Many White Southerners are still trying to redefine the Confederate flag as a symbol of some ancient noble cause; what they call state’s rights; what the rest of us normal people call stupid.  The southeastern quadrant of the United States didn’t try to secede from the Union 150 years ago because of excessive taxation, or the charming “state’s rights” mantra.  They wanted the freedom to keep Negro people in shackles, right next to the cows and mules.  But, damn!  Some of those old White Southerners won’t let go of that myth.  They’ve been fighting the Civil War for all this time and still haven’t won!

Paisley apparently hopes to make us all realize that his inherently racist actions and statements aren’t deliberate; they are – as the song implies – purely accidental.  In other words, that silly White boy didn’t know what the fuck he was doing!  Hence, the innocuous placement of the Confederate flag on his tee shirt; a shirt that was probably sewn by a Chinese 5-year-old.

If I think about it, much can be said of the term “redskin.”  Who would guess the name “Washington Redskins,” for example, would make Indian people see…well, red?  It’s just a name, right?  Wrong!

It’s really amazing how stupid people can be.  Several years ago, while working as a customer service representative of a bank’s wire transfer division, a man asked me my name.  When I told him, he replied, “Oh, well, let me speak to someone who speaks better English.”  When I told him no one in the department spoke better English than me, he angrily said, “So, what do you have there?  A bunch of dumbass Mexicans?!”  I told him to close his account and hung up on him.  Back in 2006, a young White police officer who stopped me for running a yellow light asked if I’d ever been to prison “with a name like that.”  I got his badge number and filed a complaint with the Dallas police.  But, nothing ever came of it.  President Obama once said he knows what it’s like to be standing outside a restaurant, waiting for a valet to bring him his car, when a White person thinks he’s the valet and asks him to retrieve their own vehicle.

Accidental?  No, none of it is.  People really do know what they’re saying or doing in these situations.  They just haven’t thought much about it and what it means.  That’s no accident.  It’s ignorant.

Oops!  I forgot that was still there!

Oops! I forgot that was still there!

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A Matter of Respect

Imagine – if you can – there are two professional sports teams, the Washington Niggers and the Houston Hebes.  And, they are meeting to play a game; football, basketball, whatever.  And, outside of the arena, large numbers of African and Jewish American citizens have gathered to protest against the teams simply because of their names.  Meanwhile, fans of both teams – many of whom may be part Black or Jewish themselves – parade into the stadium dismissing the protesters by saying things like: ‘It’s just a game.’  ‘Don’t take it so seriously.’  ‘You people are so sensitive.’

This is taking for granted, of course, that any sports team could get away with names like those in these times.  But, if you can imagine the uproar that would cause, then you can understand how Native Americans feel about the Washington Redskins football team.

The term “redskin” is as vile and demeaning as any other racial slur; one created by early English settlers to describe the native peoples, a direct reference to the latter group’s often-ruddy complexion.  Yet, the Washington Redskins insist they will not change their name and that any such attempt is just political correctness run amok.

Well, there is a stark difference between political correctness and factual correctness.  For example, it’s not politically correct to say Christopher Columbus did not discover America.  It’s factually correct.  The Western Hemisphere wasn’t virgin land, devoid of people, when Columbus arrived.  He had wanted to find a western route to India to gain an advantage in the silk and spice trades.  His own country, Italy, refused to help him; so he turned to Spain.  Spain’s Queen Isabella consented and provided him with financing, ships, and supplies.  When he made landfall, he thought he’d reached the east coast of India and thus, called the people he saw Indians.

But, if you ask the average American citizen who discovered America, Columbus’s name is almost always mentioned.  In fact, in his 1997 book The Perfect Storm, author Sebastian Junger begins one particular paragraph with the statement, “Almost as soon as the New World was discovered, Europeans were fishing it.”  And, for many years, Italian-Americans have hailed Columbus as a cultural hero who paved the way for future generations, even though Columbus wasn’t on a mission from Italy in the first place, and people didn’t begin emigrating from Italy en masse until the 1880’s.

If American history has acknowledged the presence of people here before Europeans, it has done so begrudgingly and then, viewed them as nomadic bands of Neanderthal-like beings with no true sense of community or family.  In reality, most had established large, complex societies and spent more time interacting on peaceful, social levels than they did fighting.  Yet, images of “wild Indians” or, at best, “the noble savage,” persist, both in so-called historical texts and in popular literature.

Whenever I do mention the plight of Native Americans, the most common response is, “What can be done about it now?”  Well, the simplest answer is, of course, nothing.  But, then again, nothing can ever be done about past events, can it?  But, let me take that question, ‘What can be done about it now?’, and apply it to other tragedies.

Take Pearl Harbor, for example.  Sad as it was, shouldn’t the U.S. Navy have known better than to place so many of its warships in such close proximity to one another?  Besides, what’s left of the U.S.S. Arizona is a rusting shell of a vessel that is still leaking oil.  If its hull shatters, millions of gallons of oil could pour into the ocean, creating an environmental disaster.  Shouldn’t that be a far more pressing concern than honoring a bunch of dead sailors?

What about the European holocaust of Word War II, in which over six million Jews were systematically massacred by the Nazi regime?  Notice it’s always referred to as ‘The Holocaust,’ as if no other similar genocidal event has ever occurred.  The decimation of the Western Hemisphere’s indigenous peoples was also a deliberate, concerted undertaking by Europeans, especially here in North America.  One specific example concerns Abraham Lincoln.  During the Civil War, Lincoln directed the U.S. Army to hang over a hundred Indians per day in the western states.  He then limited the number of daily hangings to twenty-eight, but only because the bodies were piling up too fast.  Yet, there are no memorials or museums in this country acknowledging those horrors.

Let me come closer in time: the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.  Only two men were responsible for that act, as far as we know; two devout Christians, two former soldiers with a passionate hate for the U.S. government.  Both were caught and one is now dead.  So, doesn’t that mean justice has already been served?  And, there’s no need for a memorial?  Ironically, Oklahoma is where many Native Americans were forcibly isolated at the end of the 19th century to live out their lives in despair and poverty.

Let me come even closer: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in which nearly 3,000 people lost their lives.  But, as horrific as it was, does this mean we’ll be reliving that nightmare every September 11 from now on, just like Pearl Harbor?  Shouldn’t our government have realized sooner that foreigners with expired visas could pose a security threat?  And, why have airlines only recently taken greater safety precautions?  Now a memorial is being erected on the site of the World Trade Center.  Some call it hallowed ground.  Hallowed ground!  They were office buildings, not homes or religious centers.  White settlers destroyed thousands of Native American communities across this continent, believing such destruction was necessary and righteous.

Why do we keep dredging up these awful memories?  Aren’t we supposed to let these things go and move forward with our lives?  Is that how we should remember these events?  Is that how we want future generations to look at them?  Like trite insults.

Well essentially, that’s how this nation regards the Native American experience.  If building memorials means resurrecting the past to do something about it, then it’s pointless.  Jorge Santayana, the Spanish novelist and poet, once warned of such ignorance by saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

We are civilized and intelligent enough to acknowledge the injustices done to our native peoples without dismissing them or calling them names.  It’s not an issue of political correctness.  And, it’s not a case of being too sensitive.  It’s simply a matter of respect.

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Chief U.S. District Judge Sends Racially Charged Email About Obama

Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull on Wednesday admitted to sending a racially charged email about President Barack Obama from his courthouse chambers.  Cebull, of Billings, was nominated by former President George W. Bush and has served as chief judge for the District of Montana since 2008.  He insists he isn’t racist – he just doesn’t like Obama.

According to reports, Cibull sent the following email on February 20 to six people:

A MOM’S MEMORY

Normally I don’t send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.

A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’ His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’

Obviously, the email insinuates that President Obama’s Negro (Kenyan-born) father is a dog.  That means when President Obama’s deceased mother married his father, she committed bestiality.  Cebull went on to clarify his true sentiments, which somehow got lost in the commotion:

“It was not intended by me in any way to become public.  I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.  The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan.  I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is.  I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.”

As someone of mixed Spanish, Indian and German ancestry, I’ve been the brunt of such callous remarks, although no one has been so stupid to denounce my parents – or anyone else in my family – guilty of bestiality.  It’s typical of some extremist Caucasian conservatives to equate Negroes and Indians with animals.  That’s how the first Europeans in the Western Hemisphere viewed the indigenous populations and it’s why they started importing slaves from Africa.  They considered our ancestors nothing more wildlife, or at best, livestock.

The email came to light through the usual means.  One of its recipients forwarded it to another person, who in turn forwarded it to another person.  The email was eventually passed along to the Great Falls Tribune, who contacted Cebull for clarification and comment.   Cebull said he was surprised the recipients of the e-mail passed it along with his name on it.  Yes, of course!  Who could have seen that coming?

 

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