Linkdump for March 31st through April 2nd

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between March 31st and April 2nd.

Sometime between March 31st and April 2nd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Rosie’s Phenomenal Precision Insult Machine!: Don't reach for those old, tired gendered, ableist, or otherwise lazy and harmful insults. Trust the machine to help you find the perfect, targeted insult for your specific needs! (Does not contain gendered- genital-based insults, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, dis-ableism, body-shaming, slut-shaming. May contain peanuts.)
  • Joss Whedon’s obsession is not feminism: The problem is that at some point in his career, Joss became so intent on the masochistic fantasy of being hated by strong women for being a nerd that he spent a decade writing stories about violating those women to ensure they would hate him.
  • Of dwarves and gender: So one day a dwarf is talking to a human and finally realizes that when humans say woman, they generally mean “person who is theoretically capable of childbirth” because for whatever reason, humans assign social expectations based genital differences.
  • On Wm. Golding’s Lord of the Flies: Basically all the good Golding scholars agree that Lord of the Flies is intended as a condemnation specifically of western positivism and superiority, not a condemnation of human nature.  Golding believed that good societies were possible, but that he was not living in one.
  • What’s Wrong With Using The Word “Gypsy?”: TL;DR: It's racist. Here is a list of myths and realities about the Romani/Roma people.

Two Americas

Two profoundly different experiences of life in our country that you should be aware of: #CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack.

Two profoundly different experiences of life in our country that you should be aware of: #CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack.

Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people

‘…my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.’

Absolutely excellent interview with Chris Rock covering mostly comedy, politics, and the intersections between the two. The whole thing is worth reading, but this section I thought was particularly good:

What would you do in Ferguson that a standard reporter wouldn’t?

I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people.

Well, that would be much more revealing.

Yes, that would be an event. Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before

Right. It’s ridiculous.

So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

It’s about white people adjusting to a new reality?

Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.


The Washington Post has some additional commentary springboarding off of Rock’s interview, with some very interesting poll results looking at changes in racial attitudes over time. On the one hand, there has been a lot of improvement over the years. On the other hand, though, we still have a long way to go.

In 1972, for instance, nearly two-thirds of whites said homeowners should be able to discriminate against blacks when selling their homes. That number fell to 28 percent by 2008.

Fully one quarter of whites said they would oppose [a family member’s interracial] marriage in 2008, the same year America elected the son of a white mother and a black father to the highest office in the land.

More than four-in-ten white Americans still say whites are more hardworking than blacks, and one-in-five say whites are more intelligent. Similarly, a majority of whites say that lack of willpower among blacks is driving racial inequality, and one-in-ten say that blacks are poor simply because of a lesser ability to learn.

Today’s Lesson: Both You and Morgan Freeman are Wrong About Racism

I believe racism is my problem. _My_ problem. I claim it. It is not my problem because I am guilty. It is my problem because I am responsible. I didn’t create racism. It’s not my fault. But if I do nothing, I become a part of it.

From Today’s Lesson: Both You and Morgan Freeman are Wrong About Racism:

I believe racism is my problem. My problem. I claim it. It is not my problem because I am guilty. It is my problem because I am responsible. I didn’t create racism. It’s not my fault. But if I do nothing, I become a part of it. And it is not something I want to be a part of. I can make that decision. You can make that decision. We can all make that decision.

I know that it can be hard as a white person to read and talk about racism. It’s hard for everyone to read and talk about racism, because it is an ugly thing. When we confront racism, we commit to staring into the face of something both repellant and familiar. It’s hard for all of us, but what I know most about is what it’s like to be white and I can understand the temptation of defensiveness for us white folks. Of resentment. Of feeling accused. I understand the lure of clinging to all the ways in which you, too, don’t have it so good. I am more than familiar with the temptation to demonstrate your own oppression.

But it’s time to grow up. Children make excuses. Children engage in competitions to one-up each other. You’re not a child anymore. It’s time to do better.

Debate links regarding Ferguson and Darren Wilson

Just found this excellent Tumblr post laying out the most common arguments defending Darren Wilson or condemning the Ferguson protests, and linking to a wealth of stories and resources addressing those points.

Just found this excellent Tumblr post laying out the most common arguments defending Darren Wilson or condemning the Ferguson protests, and linking to a wealth of stories and resources addressing those points.

Points addressed include:

  1. It’s not a race issue!
  2. The officer feared for his life. It was self defense.
  3. Michael Brown stole from a convenience store. He was a thug and a thief.
  4. The jury saw all the evidence, they know better. / Something about insufficient or unreliable evidence.
  5. The riots and protests are out of hand and unnecessary. It’s just an excuse to be violent and steal things.
  6. You can’t fight violence with violence, what would Martin Luther King say?

Adding another one. Some of the links might be the same, some might be different, but it looked like another useful compilation.


And one more.

Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common

About twice a week, or every three or four days, an African American has been killed by a white police officer in the seven years ending in 2012, according to studies of the latest data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That number is incomplete and likely an undercount, as only a fraction of local police jurisdictions even report such deaths – and those reported are the ones deemed somehow ‘justifiable’.

About twice a week, or every three or four days, an African American has been killed by a white police officer in the seven years ending in 2012, according to studies of the latest data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That number is incomplete and likely an undercount, as only a fraction of local police jurisdictions even report such deaths – and those reported are the ones deemed somehow “justifiable”.

…Even though white Americans outnumber black Americans fivefold, black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed when they encounter the police in the US, and black teenagers are far likelier to be killed by police than white teenagers.

…there are parallels between the violence of the past and what happens today. Images and stereotypes built into American culture have fed prevailing assumptions of black inferiority and wantonness since before the time of Jim Crow. Many of those stereotypes persist to this day and have mutated with the times. Last century’s beast and savage have become this century’s gangbanger and thug, embedding a pre-written script for subconscious bias that primes many to accept what they were programmed to believe about black Americans, whether they are aware of it or not.

…A Pew study last week found that 80% of black Americans polled, preoccupied by the killing of Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson and its aftermath, felt that the case raised important issues about race. Only 37% of white respondents felt that way, due in part to de facto segregation and a majority status that does not require engagement with those outside their own group.

That racial isolation, combined with the negative messages embedded in American culture, create a lack in empathy that allows otherwise well-meaning people to turn away from the plight of fellow citizens. This implicit anti-black bias, present in varying degrees across races, extends to every sphere in American life, from harsher sentencing for black people in the criminal justice system to the likelihood that young men of color with clean records are less likely to be hired for jobs than white applicants with a criminal record.

via Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up | Isabel Wilkerson | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Post-Ferguson Decision Links

All originally posted to my Facebook account, but I need to post here more regularly (jeez, it’s been over a _year_ now), and I feel strongly enough about the discussions I’m seeing in the aftermath of the Ferguson decision that this seemed a good way to get some movement here.

All originally posted to my Facebook account, but I need to post here more regularly (jeez, it’s been over a year now), and I feel strongly enough about the discussions I’m seeing in the aftermath of the Ferguson decision that this seemed a good way to get some movement here.


12 things white people can do now because Ferguson

Let’s talk about an active role for white people in the fight against racism because racism burdens all of us and is destroying our communities. And, quite frankly, because white people have a role in undoing racism because white people created and, for the most part, currently maintain (whether they want to or not) the racist system that benefits white people to the detriment of people of color. My white friends who’ve spoken out harshly against the murder of Michael Brown end with a similar refrain: What can I do that will matter in the fight against racism?

White people who are sick and tired of racism should work hard to become white allies.

In the aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown, may he rest in power, here are some ways for white people to become white allies who are engaged thoughtfully and critically in examining the situation in Ferguson and standing on the side of justice and equity. This list is a good place to start your fight to dismantle racial inequity and shine a light on the oppressive structures that lead to yet another extrajudicial killing of a black person.


Ferguson, goddamn: No indictment for Darren Wilson is no surprise. This is why we protest

The young people know about John Crawford III, a 22-year-old black man who died after an Ohio police officer shot him for carrying an unloaded BB rifle in the pet-food aisle of Walmart, whose mother misses her son and doesn’t understand why an Ohio grand jury did not indict the cops responsible for this death.

The young people know about Eric Garner, the 43-year-old black father of six who died after a New York police officer put him in an illegal chokehold, whose family awaits in tears of rage as a grand jury still has not indicted any of the cops responsible for that death.

They know about Darrien Hunt and Vonderrit Myers Jr, another unarmed teenager shot dead by a white law-enforcement officer with a gun. After this weekend, they know about 12-year-old Tamir Rice and 28-year-old Akai Gurley. They know about Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell; I am teaching them about Edmund Perry and the Edmund Pettus Bridge. But do they know about Ezell Ford in Los Angeles or Marlon Horton in Chicago and all the black and brown bodies gunned down by cops every day since that August afternoon when Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown after those 90 seconds on Canfield Drive? Does a grand jury of our supposed peers – an extreme version of the kind I sat on – mean to say that if the cops are never wrong, they never shall experience any penalty or consequences for their errors, especially when they prove fatal? Or do we just expect this and that death, do we just embrace this failure of humanity?


It’s Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson’s Just Did

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.


Ferguson isn’t about black rage against cops. It’s white rage against progress.

Protests and looting naturally capture attention. But the real rage smolders in meetings where officials redraw precincts to dilute African American voting strength or seek to slash the government payrolls that have long served as sources of black employment. It goes virtually unnoticed, however, because white rage doesn’t have to take to the streets and face rubber bullets to be heard. Instead, white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.

White rage recurs in American history. It exploded after the Civil War, erupted again to undermine the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision and took on its latest incarnation with Barack Obama’s ascent to the White House. For every action of African American advancement, there’s a reaction, a backlash.


Ok fellow white folks, here’s the deal, and why I speak up when you tsk tsk people of color for things like the Ferguson riots.

As white people, it is NOT OUR JOB to tell black people how to react to centuries of still-ongoing oppression at the hands of white people. We all benefit from the institutionalized racism in this country. We don’t get to tell them how they’re doing Being Black (or Hispanic, or Asian, etc.) wrong. We don’t get to tell them they can get our attention, but only in ways we can ignore.

Not Really a Surprise

It is no accident that women have been complaining…for nearly 10 years now…. What was different? Suddenly an able-bodied white man is the one who was complaining.

Sad, but very true.

From elusis: (stix cartoon by eyeteeth of Small Pecul:

The thing is that nothing about this is new. Private citizens being arbitrarily singled out for intrusive searches and rough treatment by authority figures because of their appearance, their “attitude,” or just a momentary need for an endorphin rush by a small-minded bureaucrat? Welcome to the lives of people of color, the phenomenon of Driving While Black, the lives of women, of transpeople, of disabled people (oh hai, Canada!).

It is no accident that women have been complaining about being pulled out of line because of their big breasts, having their bodies commented on by TSA officials, and getting inappropriate touching when selected for pat-downs for nearly 10 years now, but just this week it went viral. It is no accident that CAIR identified Islamic head scarves (hijab) as an automatic trigger for extra screenings in January, but just this week it went viral. What was different?

Suddenly an able-bodied white man is the one who was complaining.

(via Bruce Schneier’s excellent roundup of recent TSA stories)

Imagine if…

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called ‘Imagine.’ The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead.

Via a number of people on my reading list: Imagine if the “tea party” was black, by Tim Wise. I’ve excerpted it heavily here, but there’s much more at the source link.

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters – the black protesters – spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? […]

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” […]

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” […]

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” […]

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

Skinheads I Have Known

Back in the mid- to late-’90’s, Anchorage used to have a fairly active skinhead community. I can’t say how they might have compared to similar groups in other cities, but as far as Anchorage went, they were well-known, and fairly hard core. Twice, I ended up having a couple of memorable run-ins with the Anchorage skinhead crowd.

Back in the mid- to late-’90’s, Anchorage used to have a fairly active skinhead community. I can’t say how they might have compared to similar groups in other cities, but as far as Anchorage went, they were well-known, and fairly “hard core.”

For a long time, I didn’t have a whole lot of contact with them. I’d see them around town every so often, but usually, that was about it.

A few years before, back in high school, a girl I knew was dating one of the leaders of the skinhead scene and I ended up having a couple chances to talk to him, as well as another skinhead a few years later at a party. Those conversations ended up being a _lot_ more interesting than I expected them to be, too, as these guys weren’t your typical skinheads. They’d each gotten into it when they were younger for all the usual reasons that kids are drawn into any sort of gang culture: power, community, a sense of belonging, friends. For people like these guys, the racism aspect of the typical skinhead persona had little to do with why they joined.

In the case of the second guy, who I spent time talking with at a party, he never really developed the racist bent that so many others in the scene did, and instead delved more and more into the roots of the skinhead and nazi movements. Eventually, while he still carried the look and general presence of your typical skinhead, he ended up approaching it not as a reason or excuse to denigrate other races, but simply his way of recognizing the history and background of where he came from. He had pride in his family and his personal history, but he wasn’t racist at all — in fact, his girlfriend was a beautiful asian girl.

I wasn’t entirely sure _why_ he chose to continue to wear the uniform, as there is certainly a very strong (and often not undeserved) stereotype associated with the skinhead look, and for whatever reason, he didn’t run with the SHARPs (Skinheads Against Racial Predjudice), but that was his choice. In any case, it was a very interesting discussion — while the skinhead stereotype generally tends to include double-digit IQs, some of them are amazingly intelligent. It’s how they choose to apply that intelligence that can make all the difference between whether they’re interesting or frightening (for a good example of the latter, see [American History X][1]).

[1]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/6305313687/djwudicom-20 “Amazon: American History X”

Of course, all too often, people like that are the exception, and I ended up having a couple of memorable run-ins with the Anchorage skinhead crowd.

One night, I and a couple of friends were hanging out at VINL (Village Inn, Northern Lights), our general place to go when we didn’t want to be at home, but didn’t have anything better to do. We had a booth along the outside wall of the smoking section, and had been there for around an hour or so.

About five tables away from us were four of the local skins. We didn’t pay much attention to them at first — either letting sleeping dogs lie or [wrapping towels around our head][2], pick your mental image — but after a while, it was obvious that they were paying attention to us. Glances were shot our direction, and the occasional muttered “faggots” would drift our way.

[2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravenous_Bugblatter_Beast_of_Traal#Ravenous_Bugblatter_Beast_of_Traal “Wikipedia: The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal”

To this day, I have no idea what caught their attention, or why we became the subjects of their ire. The only even semi-reasonable prospect I’ve ever come up with was that I was wearing a shirt for the band [Black Happy][3] — but that explanation seems a little far-fetched even for me to count as probable. Whatever it was, though, when they stood up from their table, rather than leaving, they came over to us. Three of them stood at the end of the table, blocking us in, while the leader of the group sat down next to me.

[3]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/external-search?search-type=ss&tag=djwudicom-20&keyword=%20black%20happy%20peghead&mode=music “Amazon: BlackHappy”

I don’t have a _really_ clear memory of the next few minutes. The goons were standing mute, while the leader spent a good five minutes spouting off, giving us a good long spiel, about how we should be proud of our race, stand up for our fatherland, and so on. The usual jingoistic propaganda that you tend to hear from either skins or Karl Rove.

We just sat and listened, saying as little as possible. In my head, though, I was going off on the guy — and as I’d just spent the previous summer in Germany, I had a whole spiel ready to go in German. Never opened my mouth, of course, as antagonizing the guy didn’t seem like the brightest approach…but it was _brilliant_ stuff, I tell you.

At one point during his diatribe, one of the other three went out to the parking lot, got their car, and drove it around until it was parked directly in front of the window we were sitting by. He then switched over to the passenger seat and got something out of the glove compartment. I don’t know what it was, but he was being _very_ careful to keep it down and out of sight. Draw your own conclusions.

Eventually, things wound down. The guy stood back up, tossed a few last verbal threats our direction, and then they went out to join their friend in the car. They didn’t leave, though. At first, they just sat in the car, talking and watching us. After a little while, they drove off, only to circle the block and come back to park in the parking lot again. This went on for about another half hour, until they finally left.

More than a little shaken, we stayed put for another hour or so until we were pretty sure that they were actually gone, and then went home.

Later in the year, I talked my way into my first public DJing gig. A new all-ages club, City Lights, had opened up in town, catering primarily to the top-40/hip-hop crowd. I started by just dropping by every so often with a couple friends to check things out, and struck up a conversation with the bartender. After a few visits, she got me in touch with the guys running the place, and I managed to convince them that there was a fairly large untapped market in the local alternative community, and eventually they agreed to give us a chance.

Things went well for a couple months, and then one night about an hour after we opened, who should come in but the four skins that had harassed my friends and I — only this time, they were accompanied by the leader of the local skinhead community. I wasn’t terribly sure what to make of this, but they didn’t look like they were out to cause any trouble, and they just walked to an open table against the back wall of the club and sat down to watch.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, the leader walked up, with the guy who had been the primary antagonist at VINL trailing behind him. “Hey — can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure,” I said, and cued up a slightly longer song.

“Look — the guys told me what went down a while ago. They want to say they’re sorry,” he said, and gestured over his shoulder at the guy behind him, who was studiously avoiding looking at me, preferring to scan the crowd on the dance floor.

“Oh,” I said, more than a little unsure how to proceed from here. “Um…okay.”

“Eehh, don’t worry about it,” he went on. “They were a little drunk, just blowing off some steam — nothing serious.” I just nodded — I wasn’t entirely sure I bought the explanation, but I wasn’t going to start arguing, either. “Look, we were wondering if you could play a few tracks for us,” and he held out a stack of three CDs.

“Um…well, yeah, sure,” I said, and took the CDs. “Why not?”

They went back to their table, and a few songs later, I tossed in the songs they had marked. All three songs were really high-energy, aggro skinhead punk. The skins moved onto the dancefloor (which cleared out rather quickly), and spent the next few minutes lightly pounding each other in a quick high-speed mini-mosh. The songs ended, and as I put something else on, four of them went back to their table while the leader came back up to the DJ booth to get the CDs.

“Thanks a lot, man,” he said as I handed him the CDs. “No hard feelings, right?”

“Sure, no hard feelings,” and I shook his hand.

“Good. Look, you ever run into any trouble, or need a hand or something — get ahold of us. You’re a good guy.”

“I appreciate that.”

And back he went to the table.

I never had to take him up on his offer, but from then on, anytime I ran into him around town, we’d say hi and chat for a few minutes. He and his boys occasionally showed up at the club, but never had me play anything for them again. They’d just walk in, grab a table, hang out and chat with each other for a while, then leave, never causing any problems. And for a year or two, if I’d needed it, I could have had the skins at my back.

It’s a weird little world I live in sometimes.