sad sad sad world


For the past week I have been reading a bunch of articles from different website, some sad, some funny…but mostly sad.

There were a few cases of brutal shootings/killings by police officers on New Years Eve.  The most reported case was the murder of Oscar Grant III in Oakland, CA by a BART police officer. There have been numerous posts about this shooting, but I have chosen a couple to show here. Before I list them, though, I would like to say that I personally did not hear about the shooting until a week after it happened, from the New York Times covering the protests.


First, I would like to present Jessie’s post from racismreview. I have picked out some key parts of the post that I think are very good points:

Racism & The Murder of Oscar Grant III

It is not hyperbole to call this an execution. Clearly, this is an example of excessive force, and it is a nothing less than a racist murder.  And, racists are lining up to defend Mehserle’s actions.  For example, Michael Crook joined the Facebook group “Justice for Oscar Grant,” then started a discussion thread called “Quit Whining,” in which he writes:

“This was a justified shooting, and even if the officer was in error, another ape is off the streets. … This is just another family of black monkeys wanting a payday.”

Whatever Mehserle’s individual level of racism, Grant is still dead because of racism.  The racist idea expressed by Crook that some lives are less valuable than others is one that pervades our institutions, particularly criminal justice institutions, and operates without individual racists. Institutional racism assures that some people, particuarly young black men, are continually viewed as suspects and are perpetually vulnerable to assault by police.

the post by the facebook user really made me upset, but I am not surprised to hear that type of talk….

The second article I found was written by M.Dot, originally published on Model Minority. I read the post on Racialicious:

BART Police Kill an Unarmed Man, Oscar Grant, on New Years Day

It is really easy to think of Oakland as the home of side shows, The Black Panthers, the spiritual seat of pimp mythology. It is easy to think of Oakland as San Francisco’s pathologized other. However, there is a very strong thread of Wild Wild West street justice that permeates the culture of Oakland. A shoot first and maybe ask questions later steelo that is both reflected in how the police and how the hood resorts to violence to deal with rage and retribution. Furthermore, there is a shoot first and ask questions later attitude associated with American foreign policy. Operation Iraqi Freedom anyone? ….

Let’s be clear, the riots didn’t happen until a week passed without a word from BART executives.
Let’s also be clear that it wasn’t until the riots occurred that national news took an interest in what happened.
It is also important to note that the BART police are not OPD.
They are officers specifically hired, trained and compensated by Bay Area Rapid Transit. This merits being noted simply because they earn $64K per year, at the entry level. This is an important distinction because they are not under compensated $32K/year NYC cops….
When you live in a society where the people who taken an oath to serve and protect you, can conceivably smoke a person who looks like you in front several witnesses, you feel powerless.
Furthermore, it is reasonable for you to feel powerless and want smash the symbols of the power that you do not have.

Rage can only turn to violence when unchecked.

In many ways, rage is violence.

For many young folks, the idea is to carry a gat, because it is clear that no one will protect them. This means always staying

15 years ago, Ice Cube said on Death Certificate, “I would rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.” This is the code of the streets that I know….

What does an Obama presidency mean to Oscar Grant, Oscar Grants family, or the people who were in Downtown Oakland on Wednesday night saying “We Are All Oscar Grant?”

I know that some of you may balk at my bringing Obama in this.

Think about it this way. Where does Oscar Grant fit in our “post racial” society?

M.Dot also speaks about her own experience with the Oakland Police Department, as her own brother has also fell victim to their police brutality, so this case really hits home for her. At the end of the articel, M.Dot also included the e-mail he received from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, an organization that listened to her complaints against the OPD about her brother’s own case.  Here is an excerpt:

This week, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights joined the call for justice in the shooting of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year old unarmed man shot dead by a BART police officer on January 1st, 2009, at the Fruitvale BART station. As an organization that has tackled the issue of police brutality and accountability for the past 12 years, we share in the anger, sadness, and frustration this tragedy has stirred within our community and beyond.

Several Ella Baker Center staff members — and many of you — attended the January 7th rally at the Fruitvale BART Station. We were joined by hundreds of other activists from all over the Bay Area, a crowd that mirrored the incredible diversity of our region. Youth read poetry inspired not only by their pain, but also by their hope for justice; elected officials stood with the community; activists led chants and local performers shared their souls through song. It was a sight to behold.

As you may have heard, some people then led a march from Fruitvale to the Lake Merritt BART station. While most of the march was peaceful — and at times even beautiful — a small number of participants succombed to their overwhelming anger, rooted in a long history of police misconduct and lack of accountability, and lashed out with inexcusable behavior. The Ella Baker Center believes the fight for justice must sometimes be taken to the streets, and does not condone vandalism or the destruction of property while speaking truth to power.

That’s why we must keep our focus on the issue of justice for Oscar Grant and his family. We’ll need your help as we continue to speak out in protest to ensure that this case is handled with respect and urgency.

Specifically, we demand:

* A thorough, independent investigation into the training, supervision, and arrest procedures of BART police.
* A full criminal investigation to be conducted by the State Department of Justice of all officers involved in the shooting that evening.

In addition, we’re joining forces with the Courage Campaign and to support a bill by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and Senator Leland Yee that would create a civilian oversight board for BART police. Senator Yee and Assemblymember Ammiano are ahead of the curve in calling for this kind of legislation, and they’ll need our support to get it passed and signed into law. Click here to sign the petition:

Please also join us in helping turn this tragedy into hope for change by making a donation to Oscar’s family. Checks should be made payable to “Wanda Johnson” (Oscar’s mother), and sent to Ella Baker Center at 344 40th Street, Oakland, CA 94609. We’ll then pass along all donations to Oscar’s family.

We are all deeply saddened by this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Oscar Grant III. In the coming months we hope you’ll join us in demanding justice and continuing to work for peace and opportunity in our communities.

In solidarity,

Jakada Imani
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

I really have no words for this incident. When I sent a link of the newsarticle about the shooting to my friend at work, who happens to be a Black male, he just replied with “surprise, surprise”. It’s not right that people are so used to this kind of occurence that we don’t even feel enraged about it anymore. It is expected. The level of hopelessness is unreal. I hope this case makes larger media sources, so that the whole world knows about the unacceptable police brutality that continues to occur in the United States, with little to nothing done about it.

Another issue here, the promotion of illegal sex trade between South Korean women and American soldiers, by both the U.S. and South Korean governments. This article was published in the New York Times. Also, this does not surprise me…after hearing of the types of prositution during the Vietnam War (Miss Saigon, anyone?). Here is an excerpt:

Now, a group of former prostitutes in South Korea have accused some of their country’s former leaders of a different kind of abuse: encouraging them to have sex with the American soldiers who protected South Korea from North Korea. They also accuse past South Korean governments, and the United States military, of taking a direct hand in the sex trade from the 1960s through the 1980s, working together to build a testing and treatment system to ensure that prostitutes were disease-free for American troops….

But the women suggest that the government also viewed them as commodities to be used to shore up the country’s struggling economy in the decades after the Korean War. They say the government not only sponsored classes for them in basic English and etiquette — meant to help them sell themselves more effectively — but also sent bureaucrats to praise them for earning dollars when South Korea was desperate for foreign currency.

“They urged us to sell as much as possible to the G.I.’s, praising us as ‘dollar-earning patriots,’ ” Ms. Kim said.

The United States military, the scholars say, became involved in attempts to regulate the trade in so-called camp towns surrounding the bases because of worries about sexually transmitted diseases.

In one of the most incendiary claims, some women say that the American military police and South Korean officials regularly raided clubs from the 1960s through the 1980s looking for women who were thought to be spreading the diseases. They picked out the women using the number tags the women say the brothels forced them to wear so the soldiers could more easily identify their sex partners…

In some sense, the women’s allegations are not surprising. It has been clear for decades that South Korea and the United States military tolerated prostitution near bases, even though selling sex is illegal in South Korea. Bars and brothels have long lined the streets of the neighborhoods surrounding American bases in South Korea, as is the case in the areas around military bases around the world…

Transcripts of parliamentary hearings also suggest that at least some South Korean leaders viewed prostitution as something of a necessity. In one exchange in 1960, two lawmakers urged the government to train a supply of prostitutes to meet what one called the “natural needs” of allied soldiers and prevent them from spending their dollars in Japan instead of South Korea. The deputy home minister at the time, Lee Sung-woo, replied that the government had made some improvements in the “supply of prostitutes” and the “recreational system” for American troops…

Jeon, 71, who agreed to talk only if she was identified by just her surname, said she was an 18-year-old war orphan in 1956 when hunger drove her to Dongduchon, a camp town near the border with North Korea. She had a son in the 1960s, but she became convinced that he would have a better future in the United States and gave him up for adoption when he was 13.

About 10 years ago, her son, now an American soldier, returned to visit. She told him to forget her.

“I failed as a mother,” said Ms. Jeon, who lives on welfare checks and the little cash she earns selling items she picks from other people’s trash. “I have no right to depend on him now.”

“The more I think about my life, the more I think women like me were the biggest sacrifice for my country’s alliance with the Americans,” she said. “Looking back, I think my body was not mine, but the government’s and the U.S. military’s.”

A friend of mine from college who joined the Marines lived in South Korea and Japan for about a year, on the Marines bases there. And he would often talk about all of the girls there (I think he even may have had a Korean girlfriend at one time..) When I saw this article, it reminded me of him. And of the sex trade that the American military both supports and encourages at US Military bases throughout the world…

And why are there so many few whites in America who fail to take anti-racist action?  A recent post on racism review mentions some studies in both the US and Canada with college students and their reactions to a racist act by another white person. Sadly, most didn’t react at all. Here is a clip from the article:

Talking Anti-Racist Action: Why Rare for Whites?

Even white researchers working on racism issues like this seem to be unaware or unreflective about how fundamental and widespread the white racial framing of North America really is. A great many whites react this way because they in fact do think in blatantly racist terms about black people (but may reserve openly racist comments for white backstage areas) or because they do not find the racist actions of others to be “serious,” especially serious enough for them to intervene in and risk losing a friend or acquaintance….

Interestingly, in several of our relatively few accounts of active dissent, those whites who break with the traditional expectations and take some action to counter the racist performances of other whites act thus to protect intimate friends or relatives who are people of color. Apparently, very few whites take aggressive antiracist action solely because of a commitment to the egalitarian tradition of protest against racial inequality that erupts periodically in U.S. history–the antiracist protest that takes seriously the framing of society in terms of “liberty and justice for all.”

Our research also suggests that anti-racist action can be (modestly) socially costly even for privileged whites, such as losing friends, which is one likely reason it is rare even for whites who know racism is quite wrong. At least our students see such anti-racist action as potentially costly for them.

I really can’t comprehend how anyone could see racism as not a serious issue. This kind of information really makes me angry…I guess because many whites do not experience racism directly (as against them), then they don’t think it is important? Disgraceful. And the other part that really dissapoints me is “anti-racist action can be (modestly) socially costly even for privileged whites, such as losing friends“. Why would anyone want to be friends with people who express racist comments?? I just don’t understand it.


Speaking of racism, you know Santogold? Well if you don’t you should. She is awesome.  Very indie-ish, electro-rock…I’m not good at putting artists into genres. Well, in this article from shamelessmag, Santogold (real name Santi White) talks about how women of color are always pigeonholed in the music industry. I must admit, when I first heard Santogold, I did not think that a black woman was singing. There is a snippet of an interview that Santogold did with Lipster in the article:

Gold Standard 2009

White herself addresses the kind of pigeonholing that women of colour face in the music industry, calling out critics for formulating descriptions of her music based on what they expect to hear from a young black woman from Brooklyn, rather than what her music is actually like:

It’s totally racist. Everyone is just so shocked that I don’t like R&B. Are you shocked that Good Charlotte isn’t into R&B? Why does R&B keep coming into my interviews? It’s pissing me off. I didn’t grow up as a big fan of R&B and, like, what is the big shocker? It’s stupid. In the beginning I thought that was funny. I’m an ‘MC’, I’m a ‘soul singer’, I’m a ‘dance hybrid artist’. And some guy said I looked like Kelly Rowland! I just thought it added to the mystery, because there was so much wrong stuff being written about me.

Who knew that black people may not like rap, r&b, and soul?? (sarcasm). But it definitley is something assumed, like hey, you are black, you like rap music, right? And I see it ALL the time…

Lastly, a great post by Monica over at TransGriot, on why many Black GLBT do not using the term “queer” to identify themselves:

Why Some Black GLBT Peeps Hate the ‘Q’ Word

While there are some people who refer to the GLBT community as the ‘queer’ community, as you probably noticed as you peruse this blog I’m not one of them. It’s also a sentiment shared by some of my fellow GLBT African-Americans.

When I used to do the ‘After Hours’ radio show with Jimmy Carper back home on KPFT-FM, he’d use the tag line ‘Queer radio with attitude’. It made me uncomfortable, but since it was his show and I was only a rotating co-host, not much I could do about.

Some of my personal dislike with the ‘Q’ word not only has to do with it being used as a derogatory epithet, but the dictionary definition of it as well.

1. Deviating from the expected or normal; strange: a queer situation.
2. Odd or unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric. See Synonyms at strange.
3. Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious.
4. Slang Fake; counterfeit.
5. Feeling slightly ill; queasy.
6. Offensive Slang Homosexual.
7. Usage Problem Of or relating to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgendered people.

As a proud transperson of African descent, why would I embrace a term that doesn’t describe me? I’ve heard many of the arguments that raged in the mid 90’s about taking back the ‘Q’ word to strip it of the negativity, but I also heard the same parallel arguments about reclaiming the n-word, and I hated that reclamation project as well.

So why do Black GLBT peeps hate the ‘Q” word?

As the Task Force’s 2002 Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud report pointed out, the term ‘queer’ was selected by less than 1% of the respondents as an identifier in the 2000 Black Pride Survey that the report was based on.

Some of that dislike of the ‘Q’ word is fed by negativity to the racism that Black GLBT people found greeting them in ‘queer’ spaces. We also have our own created terms such as SGL (same gender loving) that became popular in the 1990’s or the ‘in the life’ one that dates back to the Harlem Renaissance and some of us are more comfortable with because they reflect our cultural heritage.

‘Queer’ has also become in the Black GLBT community a synonym for white, wealthy, privileged gay male. You also have to look at the reality that many Black GLBT peeps live in the Deep South, which is not exactly the most welcoming area at times for a GLBT person.

Our discomfort with the term also has to do with the fact that Black people, whether we’re GLBT or non-GLBT, are politically liberal but socially conservative due to our historic church ties. Those of us who grew up attending church, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School on the regular still struggle with reconciling our faith with who we are as GLBT people, and the ‘Q’ word doesn’t fit.

So if you’re wondering why most Black GLBT peeps use other terms to define themselves or get quiet when many of you start shouting at protest marches, ‘we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it’, now you know.

ANND….last but not least…

Have you been wondering what Biz Markie has been up to lately? You haven’t? Well, just like The Roots, he as been on Yo Gabba Gabba:

found it over at the bocks


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