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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Charles Barkley, Apparently Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome, Blames Black People for Lack of Success

Charles Barkley at the 2011 T-Mobile NBA All-Star Game, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA 02-20-11

Charles Barkley at the 2011 T-Mobile NBA All-Star Game, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA 02-20-11

Last week, Charles Barkley decided it was a good idea to say the following:

“We as black people are never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people. When you are black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people.

“For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person. It’s a dirty, dark secret in the black community.

“There are a lot of black people who are unintelligent, who don’t have success. It’s best to knock a successful black person down because they’re intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they’re successful. It’s just typical BS that goes on when you’re black, man.”

My life must be pretty a-typical then. I have never had any experience with this “dirty, dark secret.” In fact, much to the contrary. I’ve always been supported by my community for achieving professionally and obtaining advanced levels of education. My blackness has never been put in question.

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Privacy in the Age of the Internet

On the Internet, do we make sure that our passwords contain at least 8 case-sensitive characters and include at least one special character because we believe that our information is safe from prying eyes?

No.

Are we judicious about our privacy settings and visibility of our online profiles because we believe that our online reputations are not without consequence?

Of course not.
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Wrong-Sperm Suit Is Really About the Burden of Being Black

Jennifer Cramblett is interviewed at her attorney's home in Waite Hill, Ohio, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Cramblett has sued a Chicago-area sperm bank after she became pregnant with sperm donated by a black man instead of a white man as she'd intended.

Jennifer Cramblett is interviewed at her attorney’s home in Waite Hill, Ohio, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Cramblett has sued a Chicago-area sperm bank after she became pregnant with sperm donated by a black man instead of a white man as she’d intended.

A same-sex couple in Ohio is suing a Chicago-area sperm bank for wrongful birth and breach of warranty after receiving the wrong sperm, resulting in the birth of a mixed-race baby girl, Payton.

Payton’s mother, Jennifer Cramblett, has said that she and her partner will now have to relocate from their Uniontown, Ohio, farm town to a more diverse area in order to ensure that Payton is comfortable. Cramblett cites that their current community is mostly white and conservative, and notes racial intolerance in her own family.

Baby Payton is two years old. While it is admirable that her parents have noted their own shortcomings in their ability to care for a child of color (cultural understandings, or even more basic needs like hair care) the lawsuit is about a little more than negligence. And let us be clear, Midwest Sperm Bank certainly seems grossly negligent.

Payton’s parents want compensation for the inconvenience of living a black life. Read more »

Ban the “Redskins”

Can you start making these helmets after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled Washington's trademark?

Time for a new mascot?

“Redskin” is a slur.

Got it?

This is not up for debate. It is a slur, despite any arguments made about intent. Curiously, it is one that can be put in respectable print publications without censorship. It doesn’t get abbreviated like “the f-word” or “the n-word” and despite its vulgarity it doesn’t make people wince like the word “cunt.”

But it is a slur. A racist one.
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