Sometimes, Racism Is Just Racism

University of Oklahoma students rally outside the now closed University of Oklahoma's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house  during a rally in reaction to an incident in which members of a fraternity were caught on video chanting a racial slur, in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, March 10, 2015. A moving truck can be seen at rear. Fraternity members were given a midnight Tuesday deadline to be moved out of the house. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

University of Oklahoma students rally outside the now closed University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house during a rally in reaction to an incident in which members of a fraternity were caught on video chanting a racial slur, in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, March 10, 2015. A moving truck can be seen at rear. Fraternity members were given a midnight Tuesday deadline to be moved out of the house. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The story about a bunch of young racists bound together under the fraternal bonds of exclusion and utter stupidity has grown with leaps and bounds over the course of the last week. For those not in the know, members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma were videotaped on a bus doing a disgusting and disturbingly celebratory fraternal chant. I’ll spare you the lot of it, but just know that the overall point is that black men are not welcomed within their organization.

The video shows the fraternity brothers with eager smiles as they delight at the notion of lynching.

What we’ve seen in this case is a swift and decisive condemnation of the culture of racism from the administration. The university immediately shut down the fraternity chapter, and some students have even been expelled. The most noteworthy thing about this response is the rarity at which bigotry is condemned so unilaterally and without tolerance. There is always someone to characterize a racist act as a lapse in judgment or an opportunity for growth.

But sometimes racism is just racism. Read more »

Medicating Women’s Feelings? What Else Is New?

woman health

According to a piece in the New York Times that ran on Sunday, “at least one in four women in America now takes a psychiatric medication, compared with one in seven men.” While the number is certainly jarring (and cause for alarm), the idea of “medicating women’s feelings” as a way of managing them is hardly a new one, though it as sexist as it is timeless.

“Female hysteria” was once a medical diagnosis, specific to women’s mental health and temperament. The all-encompassing diagnosis was a one-size-fits-all approach to understanding and controlling the so-perceived messy minds of women, including emotional outbursts and sexuality. Given the “Good Old Boys Club” nature of ancient and modern medicine, it is hardly a surprise that sexist opinions were not only allowed to flourish, but guided most research, with dubious (and sometimes dangerous) remedies for treatment. Read more »

What New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait Gets Wrong About Political Correctness

Jonathan Chait, previously a senior editor at The New Republic and currently a writer at New York magazine, spent a great amount of words last week espousing the virtues of freedom, liberty, and being able to say what you want. The New Republic is seen as something of an institution in journalism, though not without its problems, problems which have been discussed critically and ardently by prominent members of the journalism community, including The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates. In December, the magazine suffered losses as many staffers resigned in response to a change in editorial direction. Chait was among those who resigned.

Now on solid ground at New York, Chait once a voice on the front lines liberalism at his old post, is using his new footing to push back on the criticism he and his colleagues received as editors at The New Republic. Chait’s missive is a challenge to liberal culture’s need for so-called political correctness.

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Three Lessons for Police

Some police officers, left, turn their backs in a sign of disrespect as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks as others, at right front line, stand at attention, during the funeral of New York Police Department Officer Wenjian Liu at Aievoli Funeral Home, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Liu and his partner, officer Rafael Ramos, were killed Dec. 20 as they sat in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street. The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, later killed himself. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Some police officers, left, turn their backs in a sign of disrespect as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks as others, at right front line, stand at attention, during the funeral of New York Police Department Officer Wenjian Liu at Aievoli Funeral Home, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Liu and his partner, officer Rafael Ramos, were killed Dec. 20 as they sat in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street. The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, later killed himself. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

When New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio went on the record in saying that he and his wife have “had to literally train” their bi-racial son, Dante, about how to interact with police officers, it set of a battle of wills between the Mayor’s office and the New York Police Department.

De Blasio’s comments come on the heels of non-indictments over the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, and a wave of “Black Lives Matter” protests happening nationwide, including Philadelphia. Protesters are seeking aim to raise awareness about police brutality and call for reforms in the justice system.

Sadly, in the case of NYPD, the message has been distilled into a murky binary of black versus blue. The department has used the tragic shooting deaths of Officer Wenjian Liu and Officer Rafael Ramos to leverage their own passive-aggressive disrespect of both the mayor’s office and the community they are supposed to protect and serve. Officers have literally turned their backs at the mayor during funeral services for both officers (despite the families’ requests.) These self-interested acts have only widened the gap between police and people of color.

The Philadelphia Police Department can only learn from NYPD’s egregious mistakes. Here are three important things for police departments to consider in the wake of the protests:
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Why “I Can’t Breathe” Matters

Dec 8, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) wears an " I Can't Breathe" t-shirt during warm ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.  Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 8, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) wears an ” I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt during warm ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

There was once a time in sports where it was cool to be an anti-hero. Charles Barkley ran a money-making campaign to prove he was not a role model. Michael Jordan, the best to ever do it, never made it his business to prove that he cared about the community either, despite how the hood’s love of Jordans has kept his money long in the years after basketball.

“Republicans buy shoes, too,” he once said. (Or possibly didn’t. Either way, Jordan was famous for his non-political stances during his playing career.)

The 1980s and early 90s, the years of modern excess, were years where anyone could say anything what they wanted, because everyone seemingly had everything they wanted. It was easy not to care, especially if you were one of the world’s biggest athletes.

But something’s changed in a major way. There’s something very special happening in sports right now. People care.

Read more »

What Is Your Excuse for the Cop Who Killed Eric Garner?

Protestors at the City Hall tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday evening. Photo | Bryan Buttler

Protestors at the City Hall tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday evening. Photo | Bryan Buttler

“Negroes — Sweet and docile,
Meek, humble, and kind:
Beware the day — They change their mind.”
—Langston Hughes

Black people are angry. I don’t mean this as a euphemism. I mean this to say that the people you see protesting on the streets are pissed off and fed up. I mean this to say that I know quite a few black folks that cried at work yesterday. That may include allied folks of other communities, because it’s not just black people you see out there with signs. There is a storm brewing.

When I first started to write this piece, I was going to explain why the protests have continued long after the decision to not indict Darren Wilson. I was going to explain that it’s not just about Mike Brown or Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis or Renisha McBride or Sean Bell or Amadou Diallo or Tamir Rice (I could go on, really). I was going to use phrases I’d lifted from signs about how the system needs to be indicted. I was going to lay out a rational argument.

And then I got a phone call.

Read more »

Ferguson, Under Cover of Darkness

Mike Brown’s mom while hearing the decision.

A video posted by Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) on

There was a video posted on social media the night that St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch stepped in front of a worldwide audience to deliver the news that Officer Darren Wilson would avoid trial. The video featured the diminutive Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, stepping down from her perch outside the police station, amid a crowd of protesters, anguished and fed up.

For 109 days, McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr, the father of the teenager who was shot and killed by Wilson, waited for answers. They, like the rest of us, found out about McCulloch’s announcement by watching CNN.

It’s a curious thing, to make these types of announcements at night. It’s always curious to do anything in the dark of night that could just as easily be done in the day, especially when things are as tense as they have been in Ferguson. For weeks, the National Guard has been present among the people in Ferguson without any (public) disclosure of whether an indictment would fall; it took four days for the National Guard to arrive in the drowned city of New Orleans after Katrina.

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Picking the Right Husband for Your Career

shutterstock_105046586-LOVE-CAREER

In the modern age, finding someone with whom we can share the rest of our lives is about so much more than butterflies and the sweetness of true love. With people jamming so much into their busy lives, compatibility is also about the achievement of personal and professional goals, and aligning with someone who can help make those goal attainable — or, at least, not get in the way.

For reasons fair and unfair, children are often cited as a roadblock that can inhibit the progression of a woman’s professional ascent. There is, of course, the professional pushback on women who decided to have children — their careers are maligned by fewer opportunities and less pay.

But a new study by Harvard Business School’s Robin Ely and Colleen Ammerman and Hunter College sociologist Pamela Stone suggest it’s not the children online who are the problem. It’s the partners that women choose.

Read more »

Oh, Won’t Somebody Think of the Rapists?

Robert R. Jennings. Photo | Lincoln University

Robert R. Jennings. Photo | Lincoln University

Last week I wrote about street harassment and why women worry, with particular attention to the threat of the unknown and unfamiliar: the strange men that encroach upon a woman’s personal space in public, the terrifying possibilities that wait in dark patches of sidewalk and around the bend of a street corner. But there is something more pervasive that also causes concern: rape culture.

“We have, we had, on this campus last semester three cases of young women who after having done whatever they did with young men,” said Lincoln University president Robert R. Jennings in remarks to an all-women’s convocation in September. “And then it didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to turn out, guess what they did? They went to Public Safety and said, ‘He raped me.'”

If you weren’t sure what rape culture was before, you should be now: Jennings’ attitude embodies it perfectly. Read more »

This Is Why Women Worry

kidnapping-germantown

Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, 22, the victim of a horrific kidnapping, was rescued last night after having been missing since a little before 10 p.m. Sunday night.

The story of her abduction made national news, with reports detailing the use of her ATM card in Aberdeen, Maryland, multiple videos of a person of interest, and finally, graciously, her safe return. The surveillance footage was chilling, mostly because the man who took her by force into his vehicle seemed to do so indiscriminately. Amid reports that there was no relationship between Freeland-Gaither and her accused abductor, what’s most terrifying, and what hardly needs to be said, is that it could literally have happened to anyone.

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