The blog has moved to a new address:
Check out the new layout!
The blog has moved to a new address:
Check out the new layout!
Check out my new piece on Richard Heinberg’s speech as a part of the East Portland Area Project.
Racist costumes have become a hallmark of Halloween, especially on college campuses. Not long ago, I even remember running across an “Crips and Bloods Party” in my Facebook news feed. Students at Ohio University have chosen to start a campaign with posters saying, “This is not who I am and it is not okay.” However, a friend of mine suggested it might be more educational if we invited real Crips and Bloods to one of these events.
In the spirit of peace and snark, I came up with another solution, white stereotype costumes. If some white people are having so much fun with stereotypes then why should people of color not get to have a little fun too?
All it takes is a little creativity and you can have your very own offensive white costume. Just get some whiteface makeup and let your imagination and/or historical references flow.
Here are some ideas:
Police officer: Slutty cops and the dude from Reno 911 are pretty cliche at this point. Why not make it a little more realistic. You can use the same cop outfit you would find at any Target or Value Village. Just grab a plastic bag of sugar and make a “How to Fry a Nigger Manual” book cover to carry around with you.
Missionary: Surprisingly, the missionary doesn’t get that much play during Halloween. It’s easy to do too. The clothes can be wide ranging. What’s really important is that you have a Bible and dirty blanket.
Catholic Priest: Keeping with religion, the priest is more common, although quite tame on Halloween. To liven things up, just get a baby doll, preferably male, and make it into a hand puppet.
Overseer: The classic plantation overseer is another relatively simple costume idea. Find a derby, a button down shirt, some slacks and get a whip. If you want to make it more realistic, get a black female blow-up doll and decorate it with black eyes and red paint on the panties.
“I’m not racist but” kid: Getting back to current times, you could dress up as that person everyone knows, who will preface every offensive statement with, “I’m not racist but *insert the most racist thing you’ve ever heard here*”. Simply get a white t-shirt and write “I’m not racist but” with an arrow pointing to the back under it. Then on the back, feel free to write the most foul thing you can think of.
Hipster: Some people might wonder how a hipster could be offensive. If you live around the Portland area, you’ve probably noticed them quietly flooding formerly black neighborhoods like it’s nothing. To portray this image simply get some skinny jeans and whatever other tacky clothes you can find. To accentuate your costume, get some fried chicken and Alberta Street (or whatever historically black neighborhood is near you) mortgage papers.
“That” white girl at the club: If you’ve been out to the bar, club, or wherever to get your night life on then you’ve seen this person. Just get some regular hoe attire, a bottle of any hard liquor and a summer sausage in a glass jar.
Skinhead: If you want to add an addition to “that white girl”, try being her angry white supremacist boyfriend. Just get an orange jumpsuit, paint your hair to match the whiteface makeup and draw some Nazi tattoos on your neck. Perhaps even add some self inflicted bullet wounds.
Klansman: No negative white stereotype costume list would be complete without a Klansman. Just get a bed sheet, a rope to tie into a noose, a toy pony and a Bible. If you want to go all out, you could have your own version of those “Crips and Bloods Parties”. Simply invite every white person you know, burn some crosses and string up a black doll with one of the nooses. I think there use to be a word for these parties but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Oh yeah, a lynching.
For extra points, you could go beyond stereotypes and impersonate some historical characters:
Thomas Jefferson: All you need is a powder wig, some Revolutionary War reenactment attire and the aforementioned black blow up doll with black eyes and bloody panties.
J. Edgar Hoover: Just get a suit and a Martin Luther King mask. Instead of putting the mask on yourself, put it on a mannequin head to carry around with you. This will require some extensive forehead makeup.
Oliver North: This costume might be a little difficult because it will require some type of military outfit. Preferably one that resembles a high ranking officer. After you acquire that, get the same bag of sugar from the aforementioned police costume and you’ll be set.
Rick Perry: Lastly, you could imitate current events. Simply find a hunting outfit and tape the words “Property of Niggerhead Ranch” on the back of your vest.
I like to think I started putting limitations on my dreams when I quit playing basketball before my senior year of high school. Truth be told, I built a ceiling for myself months earlier when I got Ds in both Physics and Pre-Calculus.
I wasn’t necessarily a superstar in math and science but I was a grade ahead in one and got mostly As in the other.
However, when junior year came around I faced an inspiration dilemma.
My Pre-Calculus teacher did everything he could to discourage me but that was no excuse to stop working hard. Likewise, my Physics teacher had a hard time keeping me engaged but that was no reason to think I was above putting effort into his class.
I coasted for the first part of the year and figured it would be a tough phase before I got back to my normal good grades.
After I got Ds, that all changed.
At the time I had no idea how many doors I was closing for myself.
Recently I talked with a professor from Portland Community College and I was surprised to find that specializing in math is one way to get on the fast track to becoming a dean and a six figure salary.
Compared to my prospects as a journalist (especially as one with a soul) that sounded very enticing.
Considering that test scores are going down across the board in the US, there are plenty of openings, especially for people of color who are underrepresented in these areas to begin with, in math and science related fields.
The term “revolution” often evokes thoughts of violence. However, what would be more revolutionary than blacks taking advantage of the gaping holes in math and science.
These fields power everything from health care to energy to war. Mastering them could yield both wealth and significant societal control.
For example, America’s infrastructure is in shambles. We need construction work but if you talk to people in the field, many young, aspiring construction workers aren’t qualified because they aren’t proficient enough in math.
My father always encouraged me to take an interest in construction but I figured my focus on writing was already way more than most expected of me as a black basketball player.
As the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20.” If I had known back in high school what I know now, I would never have succumbed to the limitations I put on myself.
Instead of wallowing in what could’ve been, it’s important people like me ask ourselves what we can do to make sure we don’t lose the next generation as well.
My parents didn’t fail for lack of trying. I was just stubborn, like many young adults.
Part of the solution is connecting math and science to history and a sense of self. After all, this is what elevated my love of reading and writing.
The American education system does a poor job of teaching about the African kingdoms before slavery. This history holds the key to relating technical fields to the lives of our people.
Ancient Greeks used to go to Kemet (Africa) to study under men like the “Father of Medicine” Imhotep, a black man, to learn math and science.
These ancient kingdoms produced many new innovations like the step pyramid, which utilized the Pythagorean Theorem formula that Pythagoras would allegedly “discover” thousands of years later.
The knowledge of math and science gave these kingdoms control over civilization because other ancient kingdoms were dependent on their wisdom.
It is much easier to steer black children away from these subjects when they don’t know this history. However, they’re much more likely to take an interest if they can see the footsteps they’re following in.
Not to mention, having considerable influence and control over society is a much more enticing reason to take interest in a subject versus the prospect of simply getting a stable job.
When I was young I wanted to be an engineer. I never really knew why but the history of my people suggests it was something that was always in me.
We must take all measures to reawaken this spirit in our children as well as continue to encourage our aspiring black scientists, mathematicians, engineers, etc. who don’t get nearly enough support from society.
As black people we can overcome all the odds as soon as we stop putting limitations on ourselves.
Check out my new article in the Skanner on the Teaching with Purpose Conference here.
Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed tomorrow at 7 pm. He was denied clemency today in what may go down as yet another case of police corruption.
Davis was convicted for the killing of a police officer but he maintains his innocence. Despite several witnesses recanting their stories, Davis is still set to die. One of the two witnesses who didn’t recant his story is presumed to be the killer by many with knowledge of the incident.
This would strike many as shady. However, it might be another case of the corrupt police policy to coddle informants, even potentially dangerous ones.
Ethan Brown breaks down this phenomenon in his book “Snitch: Informants, Cooperators and the Corruption of Justice”.
According to Brown, prosecutors are allowed to reduce sentences on criminals if they are willing to cooperate with law enforcement under Section 5k1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Cooperation could include testifying against state targets or going undercover and implicating the targets in crimes.
Even though informants work for the police, they are allowed to participate in illegal activity like drug dealing in order to catch criminals in the act of crimes. Some informants have even been able to get away with murder.
According to Brown, Gary Thomas Rowe, one of former FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover’s informants, beat civil rights workers and attacked them with blackjacks, chains and pistols. He was also present for murders but wasn’t guided to intervene because that wouldn’t make him a “good informant”.
“Snitch” documents numerous cases up until the present of cooperators and informants who have been able to avoid harsh sentences by working with the police. They’ve been let loose on the streets for no other reason than to assist in investigations, often by providing false testimony. These criminals have used 5K motions to continue to commit crimes and “get out of jail free”.
The double game played by these criminals is both detrimental to society and the justice system that created the atmosphere for it.
“Snitch” highlights this corruption with stories of prosecutors relentlessly attempting to implicate innocent men in crimes, and often succeeding, as well as cooperators who never stop committing crimes (One was even implicated in the murder of a prosecutor).
Despite these clear dangers of police cooperation policy, efforts to bring them to light have been stifled, according to Brown.
One of the most infamous of these efforts was the “Stop Snitching” campaign. It started when a barber in Baltimore made a film interviewing people from around his neighborhood, including Carmelo Anthony, about people snitching in the community. The film was filled with threats but it also named names of corrupt police officers and informants.
Media and police tried to demonize the makers of the video for witness intimidation but the “Stop Snitching” movement became a cultural phenomenon anyway (or possibly because of the controversy).
When a policy endangers the public, people have the right to know. What good does it serve society if the police are as dangerous or more so than the criminals they’re assigned to protect us from?
It’s imperative to learn how this system works so more innocent people aren’t killed by it, as Troy Davis is scheduled to be tomorrow.
How do you sell products to a generation that doesn’t buy anything? As the Internet generation transitions into the workforce, we’re faced with the consequences of a rebellion many of us didn’t realize we were fighting.
We grew up being able to get music, movies, news and other media for free, whenever we wanted. Despite efforts by the music industry and others to push back, we’ve been able to successfully disrupt the system. Media executives have been virtually powerless to stop the creative, yet frugal youth.
In a sense, we are in a similar position to the freed slaves of the Haitian Revolution. We’ve used economic protest to take some power from the wealthy gatekeepers. However, these wealthy forces have found ways to retaliate and punish us for our newly found control.
In the case of Haitians, imperial powers like the French and U.S. imposed sanctions and/or refused to recognize them.
Our generation is facing massive unemployment and outsourcing of jobs.
One result has been an embrace of the arts, not just for fun but to help pay the bills and establish a career.
We are finding creativity and following our passions because we don’t have a stable alternative.
Whether you’re a writer, comic, poet, musician, etc., getting paid is a struggle. Most of us don’t have the mass marketing or distribution to reach all the people who might truly appreciate our product.
Not to mention, we’re a part of a piracy generation.
When I was at the University of Oregon, there were plenty of students with means who practiced urban scavenging, or freeganism, which is a yuppy word for dumpster diving.
How do we expect our peers to buy our art when they don’t even buy food?
It will only get worse when we become the establishment.
The next generation is only going to be crazier. Their schools are losing art and music programs due to budget cuts while the kids are being exposed to new technology without a context for creativity.
Our generation’s embrace of the arts will mean nothing if we’re marketing to youth consumers who couldn’t care less.
So how do we stave off this downward spiral?
We have to adapt our products to the needs of our communities and expand programs to teach youth the value of smart consumerism.
Young people are dying to express themselves in creative ways. We need more community art and recording studios as well as writing spaces. Perhaps if more of us get immersed in the media we consume then more people will understand the value of supporting it.
Also, people like to see benefits of their consumption. If we tie our businesses into our communities then it will motivate people to spend. There’s much more incentive to spend an extra dollar on a sandwich if the money is kicked back to your son or daughter’s school rather than some executive’s pocket in Chicago.
Reinvesting more money in the community also gives local businesses a better opportunity to hire residents. There’s a market for youth expression but people need money to support it in the first place.
Most importantly, young people need to be involved in decision making. We weren’t involved in the media decision making process and we responded by taking whatever we wanted. Once we become the establishment we will see the same happen to us if we don’t show the youth their proper respect.
Our generation revolutionized the media industry but if we’re not careful we’ll kill ourselves before we get the chance to reap the benefits.