Fragility and Disingenuity: Contemporary Racism Facilitation

Ugly, isn’t it?

I refer not to the aspect of the figure caricatured, but to the caricature itself; and I’m not talking about artistic merit.

The cartoonist in question, Mark Knight, of Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, offered this snapshot in response to multiple Grand Slam champion Serena Williams’ verbal altercation with the umpire, at the recent US Open. Unsurprisingly, the cartoon set the airwaves alight, with cries of “It’s racist!” and “It’s not racist!” ricocheting across the globe (or at least, the part of it occupied by people with nothing better to do).

Of course it’s racist. It’s considered racist because of the long history of precisely such caricatures–not caricatures of an individual, but caricatures of an ethnicity. As actor and activist Kelechi Okafor put it, it is racist because,

[It]plays on historically racist ways of drawing black people.

You find such images throughout the Jim Crow era; you see them in the trope of the “angry black woman“; in the trope of the “magical negro“; in the trope of Little Black Sambo; you see them in blackface, in minstrelsy; and on and on, and that’s only the US. Australia has its own troubled history on the subject. The depictions exaggerate, and thereby dehumanise, often portraying subjects animalistically. Bob Moran, the Telegraph newspaper’s cartoonist, and someone who is keenly aware of the pitfalls of such portrayals, lays out precisely why Knight’s cartoon is inappropriate, in a short video.

I actually have a harder time understanding how it could not be perceived as racist (but much ink has gone into shedding some light in that respect, in a fascinating study by sociologist Robin DiAngelo, for example, covered recently by The New Yorker). It’s not that I take offense personally; I don’t. I’m comparing this depiction against the backdrop of historically racist depictions.

What I find more offensive is the deluge of white commentary, deciding that this is not racist. That is not a decision that white people get to make, in the same way that I wouldn’t dream of deciding for a woman what’s misogynistic and what isn’t. It’s my place to listen and accept and learn; not to brandish my prejudices about. Nor does professing ignorance of racism absolve one of engaging in it. Aldous Huxley said “Facts don’t cease to exist simply because they are ignored.” The same could well be said of racism.


Charlottesville, Virginia: Statement from a Former Trump Business Councillor


White nationalists confront anti-fascism protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia (photo credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

Professional networking site LinkedIn is not generally a go-to source for news, so in light of the recent violent racial disturbances in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in one fatality, I thought this statement from CEO and Chairman of the Dow Chemical Company, Andrew N. Liveris, an insightful addition to the almost formulaic post-tragedy commentary we are accustomed to receiving from the mainstream media. Continue reading

No, White Friend—You Weren’t “Embarrassed” by Barack Obama | john pavlovitz

If virulent cognitive dissonance upsets you, I recommend not reading the comments section of this uncompromisingly truthful analysis. (Cognitive dissonance being by far the most common response to accusations of being a racist, with frank admission trailing  in a distant second place.)  Otherwise, have at it.

But I don’t believe [your embarrassment at Obama] had anything to do with his resume or his experience or his character or his conduct in office—because you seem fully proud right now to be associated with a three-time married, serial adulterer and confessed predator; a man whose election and business dealings and relationships are riddled with controversy and malfeasance. You’re perfectly fine being represented by a bullying, obnoxious, genitalia-grabbing, Tweet-ranting, Prime Minister-shoving charlatan who’s managed to offended all our allies in a few short months. And you’re okay with him putting on religious faith like a rented, dusty, ill-fitting tuxedo and immediately tossing it in the garbage when he’s finished with it.

Source blog post

What Does ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Mean? – The Atlantic

Probably the most articulate, most cogent commentary/exchange I have seen or heard yet, on the subject of cultural appropriation.

It’s a fairly lengthy interview, but well worth it, for the balanced, nuanced, and analytical approach taken by both participants.

“These aren’t genetic issues, they’re cultural issues, so I don’t feel ashamed for any of it,” he said. “I wasn’t there. You weren’t either. And we’re all obligated to use our talents for the good of others, whether our great-grandfather was a Russian immigrant, a slave, or a Southern plantation owner with 5,000 slaves.”

~Richard Rabinowitz, curator at the New-York Historical Society

Source: What Does Cultural Appropriation Mean?

Stand Down, Media. Are You There, Joe Average?

Rapes. Murders. Police shootings of blacks. Miscarriages of justice. Incitement of racism, of misogyny, of religious bigotry, of homophobic discrimination, all fuelling ethnic, sectarian, and gender tensions, which in turn stimulate the aforementioned incitement. Children killing children. Porn-addled priests. Continue reading