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Posts from the ‘Race’ Category

Paranoia on the Border: Immigration and Public Health

By Adam Turner

Like others, I find the growing humanitarian crisis in Texas deeply troubling. The number of minors making this dangerous journey alone, in search of a better life away from violence and poverty, is overwhelming and heart-wrenching, not least because they've been met with more hostility than sympathy at the US end of their long trek. The vitriol with which anti-immigration protesters have met these children and adolescents is both disturbing and nationally embarrassing. I don't dispute anybody's right to disagree over immigration policy, but I don't believe that the privilege of having been born in the United States entitles anybody to aggressively refuse assistance to children so obviously in crisis. I don't intend to discuss the merits of one solution over another here, though. Instead, I want to highlight the particularly worrisome -- but sadly familiar -- paranoia about these refugees bringing disease into US border communities.

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Hip Hop Breaks Silence on Mental Health: Pharoahe Monch’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Austin McCoy

While some hip hop artists and groups have addressed the issue of healthy eating, few have tackled mental health. Hip hop’s distant relationship with mental health should not be surprising, as many African Americans have considered issues such as depression, suicide, and other mental and psychiatric ailments taboo. Last month, the suicide of For Brown Girls' creator and blogger, Karyn Washington, served as a reminder of the enduring silence of African American depression sufferers. Washington’s death provoked conversations among black members of the media about mental health. Coincidentally, rapper Pharoahe Monch released his fourth album—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—a week after Washington’s passing. In the album, Monch highlights the intersections of the stresses of inner city life, drug use, suicide, and the structural and cultural barriers to pursuing mental health care. PTSD just might serve as the perfect opening to a conversation on African American mental health.

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Obama, Ryan, O’Reilly, and the Poverty of the Political Imagination

By Austin McCoy

President Obama, Paul Ryan, and Bill O’Reilly walk into a bar. Rather than engage in abstract conversations about the role of America in the world or the federal government’s role in the market, they decide to talk about an issue where they can forge some common ground. What issue could the three men come together around? It is probable they would likely converge around trying to explain and address the poverty of black men and women in the United States. This common ground is possible because national conversations about public policy never seem to escape the orbit of culture, meritocracy, colorblindness, and normative understandings of gender and family. More specifically, Ryan’s, Obama’s, and O’Reilly’s recent comments on the subject revolve around two political archetypes—the heteronormative family and the black male. When considered together, they take a special place in our nation's "gendered imagination."

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Renisha McBride and the Killing of Black Bodies

By Austin C. McCoy

Renisha McBride’s death once again reveals how the criminalization and dehumanization of black youth and the violent policing of black bodies persists in spite of triumphant declarations of post-racial America. On November 2, nineteen-year-old Renisha McBride became the latest African American to die because someone perceived her presence as a threat. That night, McBride was involved in a car accident with a parked car in Detroit. Two hours later, she was shot dead in the face at a house in Dearborn Heights. McBride’s parents claim she was looking for help. The homeowner thought she was trying to break into his home, and his gun discharged accidentally.

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My Children and the Limits of White Privilege

By Danielle Swiontek

The community in which I live held a march in memory of Trayvon Martin two weeks ago. It seemed so dated, in a way. In this 24-hour news cycle that we live in, it feels like forever ago since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed on February 26, 2012. It seems like ages since the jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of his death this past July. Yet the killing of Trayvon Martin continues to haunt me, as it probably does the people who joined the march. The news cycle has moved on, but the issues that Trayvon Martin's death brought to the forefront have not. When I first heard about Trayvon Martin's death, it made me fear for my son. That fear has not gone away in the last two months. It will probably never go away.

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A Historian’s Guide to Summer: Back-to-School Mixtape

By Adam Turner

Here in the Pacific Northwest the days are long and hot and the raspberries are ripening, which means that a new school year is upon us. For teachers, it's time to set aside the summer projects, chapters, and books, make a late-summer beverage, and think about teaching. In the interest of celebrating the end of summer, here are some songs that work well in the classroom.

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Don Lemon, Jay Z, and the Dilemmas of Black Bourgeois Politics

By Austin C. McCoy

Rap superstar Jay Z and CNN news anchor Don Lemon added some extra hot sauce to the “conversation about race” in the wake of one of the “hottest” and racially-charged summers in recent memory. In a July 24 interview with journalist Elliot Wilson, Jay Z responded to a series of comments that Harry Belafonte made about Jay Z, Beyoncé, and other black celebrities in an interview last year. When asked to respond to Belafonte’s lamentation about current black celebrities’ inability or unwillingness to use their fame to advocate for social change, Jay Z shot back: "I'm offended by that because first of all, and this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am. Just like Obama's is. Obama provides hope..."

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Sunday Mourning . . .

By Jacqueline Antonovich

I cannot bring myself to write Sunday Morning Medicine. Not today. Like many of you, I am heartbroken over the George Zimmerman verdict. My heart aches, not only for Trayvon's family, but for every young black man in this country. I find myself feeling helpless, enraged, and at a complete loss for words.

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“Unbought and Unbossed” at 40: Remembering Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 Presidential Campaign

By Austin McCoy
Long before Jesse Jackson, Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, Shirley Chisholm launched a campaign for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, we rarely mention her efforts when we look at the history of U.S. presidential politics in the last forty years. It would seem easy to forget how Chisholm blazed the trail for the likes Jackson, Clinton, and Obama after Clinton’s and Obama’s 2008 nomination battle. But the sexism that Hillary Clinton endured and the racism that Obama faced in 2008 arose from a longer context of racism and sexism structuring the outcomes of U.S. party and presidential politics. Chisholm stood as the first to confront the closed nature of national (and black) politics. Defending her campaign to the broader Democratic Party would seem par for the course; yet, Chisholm also battled the established black male leadership in quest to secure the nomination. In doing so, however, “Fighting” Shirley Chisholm, as she called herself, utilized various political styles and strategies seen in later candidates like Jackson, Clinton, and Obama.

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Holding it Down for Women: Nicki Minaj and the Problem of Gender Inequity in Hip Hop

On June 3, Hot97 DJ Peter Rosenberg took to the stage at MetLife Stadium to address the crowd at the radio station’s annual hip hop concert, Summer Jam 2012. While warming up the crowd, Rosenberg shouts, “I see the real hip hop heads sprinkled in here…I see them. I know there are some chicks here waiting to sing ‘Starships’ later – I’m not talking to y’all right now…I’m here to talk about real hip hop.”[1] Rosenberg’s comments referred to Nicki Minaj’s hit song. In one swift moment, Rosenberg not only alienated Minaj and her fanbase, he drew the line between “real” hip hop and “pop” not just in terms of aesthetics, but in a disrespectful, public, and gendered manner.

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