This Week in Racism in America: Winter Edition

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A sampling of studies and articles reflecting the very reason national anthem protests against racism are wholly appropriate, justified, and still necessary. #NationalAnthemProtest4Life


   Philadelphia Stop and Frisk Policy Shows Anti-Black Bias (October 2, 2017)

 o   Villanova professor Lance Hannon analyzed police stop and frisk data from 2014-2015 that made several intriguing findings.  First, Hannon found that “black neighborhoods drew 70 percent more frisks than nonblack areas, yet yielded less contraband,” and that this disproportionate propensity for stop and frisks held constant regardless of whether said neighborhood was a high crime or low crime; that “the association between violent crime and the likelihood that an officer will frisk someone is contingent on the degree to which African Americans are present in the neighborhood.” Hannon accurately discerned the cause of this phenomenon when he stated that ‘[p]eople, police officers, and nonpolice officers tend to judge the dangerousness of a place based on racial predominance.’ It is one of racists’ most extraordinary achievements that they have managed to successfully brand Black people as the violent ones in the face of whites’ well-documented, centuries long, history of mass murder, genocide, rape, enslavement, and actions that are unparalleled in their savagery, barbarity, and depravity.

Racism in Silicon Valley is Alive and Well (October 3, 2017)

o   Turns out that the centuries strong model of race trumping all other factors as a predictor of upward mobility is evident in Silicon Valley.  A study by the Ascend Foundation of the leadership trajectory for the nation’s top tech companies between 2007 and 2015 reflects some familiar trends.  Black and Latino representation in these companies has declined.  Additionally, while Asian-American representation is quite high within the companies as a whole, they are less likely to move up the leadership ladder.  Finally,  “[e]ven though white women are now substantially more successful in reaching the executive level than ALL minority men or women, white men are still 47% more likely than white women to be executives.” In other words, white lives matter.

     Gentrification’s Harmful Effects on Blacks in Washington D.C. (October 12, 2017)

o   Washington D.C., once known as Chocolate City for its significant Black population, has become increasingly gentrified and thus, white.  One effect of this phenomenon appears to be that Blacks will be shut out of the anticipated growth in employment opportunities as they are fiscally forced out of the housing market, and lack the requisite educational or training level to compete for the city’s new jobs.  Maurice Jackson, editor of the report on Black employment, population, and housing trends published by Georgetown University, stated that D.C. “needs to enact policies and better support programs that will ensure that African American residents, who provide invaluable contributions to life in the nation’s capital, have equal economic and educational opportunities and incentives to stay in the District.” Blacks in the nation’s capital, and all over the country, are being thrust out of historically Black areas, neighborhoods, and cultural centers.  It’s amazing how the most depressed area in any city can be miraculously resurrected when whites become interested in its occupation.

     Missouri’s School to Prison Pipeline for Black Students  (October 12, 2017) 

o   The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri released a report reflecting that Black students were punished more harshly and more frequently than other students.  Key findings included that Black students are 4.5 times more likely to be suspended than their White counterparts; that Black students with disabilities are three times more likely to be suspended than White students with disabilities; Black boys are subjected to out of school suspensions nearly four times more often than White boys; Black girls are six times more likely to serve an out of school suspension than their White counterparts; and Black students are nearly twice as likely to be hit in school than Whites.  The report went on to discuss the impact of such discrepancies such as “perpetuating cycles of poverty, low-education attainment, and structural inequalities that span generations.” Our children are being subjected to the kind of mistreatment that can absolutely crush a young person’s self-esteem and self-worth.  What is being done to our children in order to facilitate the Prison Industrial Complex is another egregious transgression by America against her Black citizens.

Underfunded Homicide Research Adversely Affects Blacks (October 13, 2017) 

o   As is evident in the response to the opioid epidemic as compared to the crack epidemic, resources and empathy are in in large supply when the crisis in question disproportionately affects white people.  Researchers at Indiana University set out to determine whether there was a discrepancy in the resources provided for public health research depending on whether the subjects were Black or white.   The study found discrepancies between whites and blacks regarding the “years of life lost” regardless of the cause of death.  Years of life lost “measures the number of years a person would have lived if they had not died of a particular cause.”  As provided in a written statement by one of the researchers, “[h]omicide-related deaths in America, most of which are caused by firearms, constitute a public health crisis. Yet when we look at what kind of public health research gets funded and published, we find homicide to be conspicuously absent . . . [while] the top causes of death that impact the health of white Americans, on the other hand, are much better represented in public health research and funding.”

     Blacks Targeted for Minor Violations in New York (October 16, 2017) 

o   While Black New Yorkers are not the only ones failing to pay the $2.75 fare for the subway by jumping the turnstile, they are being targeted for the offense.  This is the conclusion drawn based upon an analysis of Brooklyn fare evasion data conducted by the Community Service Society of New York.  The authors, Harold Stolper and Jeff Jones, found “[t]he evidence implies that fare evasion arrests are concentrated at subway stations in and around the poorer neighborhoods of Brooklyn, but much more so at stations near high-poverty black neighborhoods.  And while area poverty and criminal complaints play a factor in fare evasion arrests, neither fully account for this racial disparity.” Per the article, Jones states that these tactics “[paint] a picture of inequality through ‘racialized policing’ that unnecessarily shuffles thousands of New Yorkers through the criminal justice system each year.” This kind of racialized policing coupled with a biased criminal justice system make for a harrowing mix.

     Black College Graduates Struggle to Pay Off Student Loans  (October 17, 2017)

o   The difficulties Black college graduates have in paying off their student loans is one of the many trickle down effects of racism and Blacks’ disproportionate representation among the nation’s poor.  A full 12 years after graduation, analysis by Ben Miller of the Center for American Progress of a Department of Education report  found that Black students, whether they graduated or not, owed more on the loans than the amount they borrowed.  Further, Miller found that Black students were more likely (78%) than white students (57%) to take out student loans.  Yet a separate analysis found that almost half of the Black students defaulted on a loan within the 12-year period, a rate that was twice that of white students, and four times that of Asian students. It’s most assuredly hard out here for Black young people who are college bound.

     Educators Have Low Expectations of Black Students (October 24, 2017) 

o   Black children throughout the United States are sitting in classrooms and attending high schools with white teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators who discourage them from pursuing their dreams and reaching for the stars in their pursuit of success.   The study, by two researchers at American University and Johns Hopkins University, is a thorough one.  Included are several extraordinary findings, including the devastating effect the disgraceful actions of teachers had on Black students.  “In sum, our analysis suggests that teacher expectations do not merely forecast student outcomes, but that they also influence outcomes by becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. Moreover, we find that the nature of white teachers’ expectations places black students at a disadvantage. For a student with a given objective probability of college completion, white teachers are less optimistic when the student in question is black.”  “[W]hite teachers, who comprise the vast majority of American educators, have far lower expectations for black students than they do for similarly situated white students.”

     Black Students Face Serious Impediments to Opportunities and Success (October 24, 2017)

o   The abysmal state of opportunities for Black students in America should be considered a national crisis according to the tri-annual report issued by the Ann Casey Foundation.  The study analyzed 12 factors which comprised an index number.  The factors considered were: 1)) Babies  at Normal Birthweight; 2) Children Ages 3 to 5  Enrolled in School; 3) 4th Graders Who Scored at or Above Proficient in Reading; 4) 8th Graders Who Scored at  or Above Proficient in Math; 5) High School Students Graduating on Time; 6) Females Ages 15 to 19 Who Delay Childbearing Until Adulthood; 7) Young Adults Ages 19 to 26 Who Are in School or Working; 8) Young Adults Ages 25 to 29 Who Have Completed an Associate’s Degree or Higher; 9) Children Who Live With  a Householder Who Has at Least a High School Diploma; 10) Children Who Live in  Two-Parent Families 11) Children Living Above  200% of Poverty; 12) Children Who Live  in Low-Poverty Areas  (poverty <20%). African-Americans.  While some states fared better than others overall, Black children were at or near the bottom in nearly every state.

     Alarming Number of Maternal Deaths Among Black Women  (October 26, 2017) 

o   Despite its world stature, the United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates amongst developed nations.  Black women have been especially vulnerable to this cause of death, especially in Texas where the numbers are very disturbing.  Per the article, one local non-profit director calls the situation in Texas a crisis.  Risk factors, some of which disproportionately affect the African-American community, include “obesity, diabetes, caesarean births and delayed prenatal care.”  Further, “Black women also had the highest rate of being hospitalized for hemorrhaging and blood transfusions, which are commonly seen in maternal deaths in Texas.” Like other medical conditions which disproportionately affect Black women, the requisite sense of urgency to eliminate the discrepancies does not appear to exist.  This is unacceptable.

     Study Details Devastating Effects of Racism on Black Americans  (October 31, 2017) 

o   A study based upon a survey conducted for National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health provided some extremely sobering findings regarding the deleterious effects of racism on Blacks.  The authors note that “[o]verall, African Americans report extensive experiences of discrimination, across a range of situations.”  Some of the findings included that “[i]n the context of institutional forms of discrimination, half or more of African Americans say they have personally been discriminated against because they are Black when interacting with police (50%), when applying to jobs (56%), and when it comes to being paid equally or considered for promotion (57%).”

With regard to Blacks’ personal experience with racial slurs or racially biased interactions, “51% of all African Americans report personally experiencing slurs that were specifically about their race. Similarly, 52% of African Americans say that someone has made insensitive or offensive comments or negative assumptions about their race. Forty percent say someone has acted afraid of them because of their race” and that “higher income African Americans are significantly more likely to report all these experiences, compared to lower income African Americans.”

More harrowing, “31% of African Americans say they have avoided calling the police or other authority figures, even when in need, out of concern they would be discriminated against because of their race. Additionally, 22% of African Americans say they have avoided going to a doctor or seeking health care out of concern that they would be discriminated against or treated poorly because of their race.”  Racism is endemic in America. 

     Black Writers Unrepresented in Television Writing Rooms (November 1, 2017) 

o   An extensive study by Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy organization, perfectly demonstrates why it is imperative that Black people dedicate resources to establishing our own media networks.  Color of Change analyzed all first run episodes of every original, scripted comedy and drama during the 2016-2017 television season.  The authors noted that “[t]he report demonstrates that the executives running television platforms today—both traditional networks and emerging streaming sites—are not hiring Black showrunners, which results in excluding or isolating Black writers in writers’ rooms and in the creative process.”  Some of the key findings were that “[o]ver 90% of showrunners are white, two-thirds of shows had no Black writers at all, and another 17% of shows had just one Black writer. “ The synopsis also noted that [t]he ultimate result of this exclusion is the widespread reliance on Black stereotypes to drive Black character portrayals, where Black characters even exist at all—at best, “cardboard” characters, at worst, unfair, inaccurate and dehumanizing portrayals.”

     Black Shoppers Experience Discrimination From Retailers (November 10, 2017)

o   There are any number of modifications of the phrase that reflects that doing ordinary things are different if one is Black.  Driving while black; walking while Black; etc.  In this study by Case Western Reserve University professor Cassi Pittman, the issue at hand is shopping while Black.  Pittman notes that although money is perceived as the great equalizer, such is not the case for Blacks who are not afforded the privileges that generally accompany affluence.  We’ve seen several examples of this over the years wherein wealthy Blacks experience racism while shopping as it is assumed they cannot afford expensive merchandise.  Disconcerting findings from the relatively small sample size of 55 Blacks were that: 1) 80 percent reported experiencing racial stigma and stereotypes when shopping; 2) 59 percent reported being perceived as a shoplifter; 3) 52 percent said they received poor or no service; and 4) 52 percent reported being perceived as poor. Even more sadly, “”[m]any shoppers feel their race undermines their credibility in stores.” The emotional and psychological toll of ubiquitous racism is enormous.

     Despite Comparable Overdose Deaths with Opioids, Black Suffering Overlooked (December 4, 2017) 

o   Many have noted the vast difference in the way the crack epidemic, which disproportionately affected Black people, was handled as compared to the opioid epidemic which has had a devastating impact on the white community. Now this CNN piece notes that currently, a study shows that Black deaths from cocaine overdose is on par with the deaths suffered by those by those who use opioids.  There has been little to no coverage of this epidemic, and probably for the same reason that the crack epidemic was treated the way it was—when it comes to the suffering of Black people, “meh” or “war on drugs” appear to be the likely responses by white America. Pitiful.

     Black Louisville Drivers Subjected to Racial profiling by Police (December 11, 2017)

o   And, yet again the police are engaged in racial profiling of Black drivers. A study from the Universityof Louisville found that Black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers, despite their smaller population, to be searched during traffic stops. All police should have to undergo psychological and bias screenings before acceptance onto the police force.  The potential consequences are too dire for the status quo to remain.

     Depression in Black Youth Manifests in Ways that Differ Than Other Groups (December 13, 2017)

o   A recent study found that Black youth did not have the same expressions of depression as youth from other demographics. “The Rutgers University-led study found that depressed African-American adolescents tend to complain about conflicts with others and about having difficulty sleeping, as opposed to feelings of sadness and lack of energy more typically associated with depression.  The researchers suggested these differences should be taken into consideration when creating treatment plans.” It is imperative that analyses of any kind address cultural differences and not simply conduct assessments from a Eurocentric perspective.  In a society where white people are posited as the default human, this kind of limited, biased analysis is not uncommon. 

     Media Provides a Negative Portrayal of Black Families (December 14, 2017)

o   The need to paint Black people as pathologically corrupt and dysfunctional, and by implication, in need of a paternalistic white hand, is rampant throughout society.  A recent study by Color of Change found that  “[t]he current media landscape is shaped by decision makers who continue to inaccurately depict Black fathers as absent, Black mothers as bad decision makers and Black families as destabilizing forces in society. . . .”  Three key findings confirmed this claim, including inaccurate depictions of Black fathers’ presence, family poverty, and receipt of welfare benefits. Additionally, such depictions were not limited to conservative outlets, which confirms the fact that racism is no respecter of white political affiliation. 

     Racism Suffered by Black Women Believed to be a Factor in Higher Incidences of  Unborn/Infant Deaths

(December 20, 2017) 

o   There is a growing consensus, after having controlled for other possible causes such as genetics, that the higher rate at which Black women lose their babies is caused by racism and its effects on said women.  Quite shockingly, “Black babies in the United States die at just over two times the rate of white babies in the first year of their life.” Though at first poverty and education were thought to be significant factors in the increased deaths, it was later found that even educated, middle-class Black women’s infants/unborn children suffered the same fate.  We are likely at the tip of the iceberg in understanding the vast reach and depth of racism’s impact on the physical and mental health of Black people.

Not…So Scholarly

    Dove Ad Edited to Show White Skin as an Improvement Over Black Skin (October 9, 2017)

o   In a poorly edited ad for its body wash, Dove posted a GIF which depicted a Black woman removing a brown t-shirt to reveal a white woman. While it is true that the entire campaign showed various women removing shirts after which another woman was revealed, the long history of racist advertising makes Dove’s editing choice suspect. Black people rightfully took Dove to task for its ad and the continued assault on the image of Blacks in America.  However, that backlash should have been with the sole intent of pointing out Dove’s racism and using it as a teaching tool to demonstrate how racism operates; not as yet another opportunity to whine about how white people don’t find us attractive.  We are entirely too dependent on their approval and validation, when we do not need either.  It is quite tedious and something we as a people must overcome if we are ever to get off of defense and onto offense.    

  Governments Surveillance of Black Activists Continues in the 21st Centurty (October 19, 2017) 

o   During the Civil Rights movement, we are all aware of the operations of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) which was designed to, among other things, disrupt and destroy civil rights objectives and organizations.  It appears that governments continue in this tradition in 2017 based upon a report of the actions of law enforcement officials in Clarkstown, NY.  Police “conducted social-media surveillance on BLM activists and continued to do so even after the unit’s supervisor was told by the lead detective in the prosecutor’s office that the surveillance had to stop.” This kind of targeted surveillance for the apparent white supremacist crime of fighting racism is an issue throughout the country, to include the FBI’s recent absurd labelling of groups like Black Lives Matter as “Black Identity Extremists.”  The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    White Woman Commits Vile Acts Against Black Roommate (November 3, 2017)

o   In one of the most disturbing and disgusting stories reflecting the depravity of racist white people and their irrational hatred of Black people, a white woman, Brianna R. Brochu, has been arrested for essentially poisoning her Black roommate.  Brochu bragged on Instagram that she’d wiped her used tampon on her roommate Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe’s back pack; placed molded clam chowder in Rowe’s lotion bottle; placed Rowe’s toothbrush in her rectum; and spit in Rowe’s coconut oil.  Apparently Brochu wanted to get rid of Rowe, whom she referred to in her Instagram as “Jamaican Barbie,” as a roommate; but instead of simply moving like a normal human being, Brochu engaged in the above truly sociopathic acts.  Such acts are a reminder of the thousands of instances throughout our history in this country wherein Blacks have been subjected to acts at the hands of whites that are almost indescribable in their cruelty and exhibition of a truly disturbed people. And while Brochu’s actions did not involve the level of violence reflected in the provided links, they were vicious and vile.

  Black Nascar Driver’s Very Existence Incenses White Racist Coach  (November 10, 2017) 

o   A white high school golf coach, Brett Nottestad, resigned after backlash arising from a series racist tweets he sent about  Darrell Wallace Jr., the only black driver in NASCAR’s top national series.  After Wallace posted a tweet likely in response to those tired of hearing about the “Black driver,” this coach took it upon himself to make the offensive comments; one of the comments included a reference to white supremacist rhetoric. It is always amusing to observe racists froth at the mouth at the prospect of Black excellence and success.

     Boston Noted As The Country’s Most Racist Among Eight Major Cities (December 10, 2017)

o   Blacks designated Boston, in a national survey, as the least welcoming city among eight major locations including New York and Philadelphia.  Boston is notorious for its racist history and regular reports of its citizenry engaging in the most overtly racist acts, especially related to sporting events.  What is worse is its faux self-perception as a bastion of liberalism and tolerance.  This ridiculous delusion is quite typical amongst white liberals who believe that their generally relatively more covert expressions of racism make them superior to their more overtly racist conservative cousins.  But Boston is an interesting mixture of both kinds of racist toxicity.

     Texas Restaurant Displays Blackface Sign, But Claims It’s Historical (December 18, 2017)

o   So this restaurant called Cook’s Garage in Lubbock, Texas has a sign that contains a blackface character with the words “Coon Chicken Inn” around its minstrel lips.  When confronted about this utterly offensive display which is part of its other vintage collection, Cook’s said the following: “[a]ut Jemima, mammies, and lots of other black collectibles are highly sought after, as is Americana collectibles with white characters” and “[t]he Coon Chicken Inn was an actual restaurant started in the 20’s. Again, we want to stress we do not intend to offend anyone, and are only preserving a part of history that should remind us all of the senselessness of racial prejudice.” Ok. And? So what there was an actual racist place called the “Coon Chicken Inn” and white racists like to see depictions of Black people as servants and mammies? Cook’s was informed that the sign was offensive and should have removed it.  Frankly, this restaurant is probably trolling us; it is reasonable to assume that a certain segment of racists actually enjoy causing Blacks distress.

Racist High School Student Ecstatic Over Black Deaths (December 29, 2017)

o In today’s iteration of “Young Whites Are Just as Racist as Older Whites” a high school student is facing serious backlash after a snapchat video emerged in which she stated “Black people are trash; they need to die” and “[w]hen the police were killing all those black people, I was so happy because I was like, ‘Fuck black people; go die, bitches.” You have to wonder what is wrong with these people?  You would be hard pressed to find Black teenagers making videos about white people with this kind of language; yet this kind of vitriol is expressed by young and older whites alike.  This unprovoked hatred of Black people for no apparent reason is a reflection of something very disturbing and sociopathic about these people.

White Woman Assumes Black Man Doesn’t Belong in First Class (December 8, 2017) 

o A brother handled himself far better than many would have when a white woman at the airport presumed he was incorrectly standing in the priority boarding, first class line and asked him to step aside so her Miss Ann self could board.  After showing her his boarding pass noting that he was in first class, she still expressed disbelief, asserting with no evidence that he must be military and, as such, still should not board before her.  Wut????  At this point she should have been thoroughly dressed down; but he simply pithily noted that he was a “nigga with money.”  Blacks suffer these kinds of indignities in thousands of different ways; but had he gotten angry, then he would have been labelled aggressive.  As the “Angry Black Man,” as if there was no reason to be absolutely incensed.

Enough is Enough: Featured Article or Resource

This is What Happens When a Black Cop Calls Out Racism  

 December 7 , 2017

By: Jesse Washington

This is an absolutely fascinating article detailing the story of police Lieutenant Yulanda Wilson and her decision to discuss racism in her department.  Her story includes the devastating consequences of her decision, a familiar story that any Black person who challenges racial injustice in a predominantly white space can attest to. Also included are the pressures she faced because of her minority status, and the various ways in which racism permeated the work environment in what is a naturally volatile line of work. Very well done.