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 »

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:
Read more »

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 »

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