Blackness Isn’t Transferable

Dylann Roof, left. Rachel Dolezal, right. (Dolezal photo: AP)

Dylann Roof, left. Rachel Dolezal, right. (Dolezal photo: AP)

Today marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States — the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with the news that slavery ended … some two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had legally, but not actually, freed slaves across the South.

On June 17, 2015, a terrorist named Dylann Roof walked into Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel AME Church, and opened fire, killing nine congregants he’d been praying with during the prior hour. Despite the end of the enslavement period and the current state of the Union, a Confederate flag still flies at full mast outside South Carolina’s state house, undisturbed.

All this, after two weeks of talking about an imposter. Read more »

Why Doesn’t Serena Williams Get Her Due? She’s a Black Woman

Serena Williams (USA) poses with the trophy after her match against Lucie Safarova (CZE) on day 14 of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros. | Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Serena Williams (USA) poses with the trophy after her match against Lucie Safarova (CZE) on day 14 of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros. | Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

After winning the French Open finals on Saturday — despite a terrible case of the flu that caused her to vomit in the middle of a semi-finals matchSerena Williams gave us another reason not to count her out. She is now the holder of 20 Grand Slam titles, closing in on Steffi Graff’s Open Era record of 22. She is the most dominating player in tennis (male or female) and greatest American athlete of this generation. Period. Full Stop.

Most people don’t know that about her. Some would argue that’s because tennis is a niche sport. They are wrong.

Serena Williams doesn’t get her due because she’s black and female. Read more »

In Campus Sex Assault, Rights of Victims, Accused at Odds

Though Columbia University president Lee Bollinger denies an intentional snub, he did not shake Emma Sulkowicz’s hand when she — carrying a dorm mattress — walked across the stage during that university’s College Class Day a few weeks ago. The mattress was the site where Sulkowicz says she was raped by a fellow classmate, Paul Nungesser, who also walked the stage that day.

Sulkowicz, by carrying her mattress as the symbol of the weight of the crime she says she endured, has quickly become the face of women speaking out against sexual assault on college campuses, forcing a conversation about privacy and process and who should bear the burden of a rape claim.

The answer to that question remains somewhat unclear — leaving us, in the meantime, with some ugly fights. Read more »

Tony Come Lately?

Hillary Clinton, left; Philly Jesus and State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.

Hillary Clinton, left; Philly Jesus and State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.

As a full supporter of the #BlackLivesMatterMovement, I wield a hefty amount of skepticism towards any candidate’s newfound interest or consciousness on this matter — whether in local elections or in the early going of the presidential campaign.

State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams wants to be your next mayor, Philadelphia. As the “Philly is Baltimore” solidarity movement took to the city streets last week, Williams could be seen out amongst the swaths of people. His campaign promise? Zero tolerance.

“I would have a character clause” in police contracts, Williams is reported as saying during a business forum held last month. “You don’t get to come back for arbitration.”

Eliminating the use of hate speech is an interesting idea, but language certainly does not always correlate to intent. There are a lot of bigots out there who’d be smart enough to mind their mouths, or who play the PC game well enough to not even consider themselves bigoted at all.

It’s a valiant effort, but hardly enough to create real change in communities and the laws that police them.  Read more »

Why I Won’t Watch Floyd Mayweather Fight

Floyd Mayweather gets a FaceTime call from Tom Brady before hi media workout at his Mayweather Boxing Club on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Salangsang)

Floyd Mayweather gets a FaceTime call from Tom Brady before hi media workout at his Mayweather Boxing Club on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Salangsang)

On May 2nd, Floyd Mayweather will go up against Manny Pacquaio in a much-publicized fight available at a premium price on Pay-Per-View. Mayweather has evolved into something of a pop-culture phenomenon with his flashy Money Team brand and bravado. As a fighter, his dedication to the sport means that he has often taken his work home: Deadspin has done fantastic reporting on Mayweather’s history as an alleged domestic abuser.

This is why I won’t be paying the hefty price tag to watch him pulverize anyone else. It’s why you shouldn’t, either. Read more »

The Astonishing Ubiquity of Walter Scott’s Death

Walter Scott Shooting

I spent the better part of the last week avoiding video of the Walter Scott shooting. I read the various articles that accompanied it as it came across my screen – up and down my Twitter timeline and in various pockets of my Facebook feed. In every report and opinion, the video of a man’s last violent, terrifying moments were embedded close by, as though the mere description of such tragedy was not enough.

As I sat for dinner at a quiet Italian restaurant, the video I’d long avoided confronted me again and again thanks to CNN’s insistence. As it looped, I looked around to see if other people noticed, or were disturbed, or took issue. Technology, which has made this conversation possible, is now preparing to make many of us desensitized. Read more »

Trevor Noah and the Never-Ending Cycle of Twitter Shame

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.04.29 PM

The thing about people is that they’re fallible; they do bad things, both intentionally and unintentionally. As we were all taught as children, people make mistakes.

The Internet, as we know, is less forgiving. And it makes discerning the offender’s intent a bit more of a dubious undertaking. Who knows if anyone’s lapse of judgement is really that or indicative of something more sinister in their character. Mistakes? Well, they become more than that. They become moments, and then they live beyond.

The latest example of this phenomenon, of course, is Trevor Noah, the comedian tapped by Comedy Central to replace long-standing host Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Read more »

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.

Read more »

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