There Is No Racism Problem Here

I have always taken an interest in what people post on online comment sections, whether it is on newspaper articles or YouTube videos. A lot of people think that racist comments on these forums are all the work of “trolls”- people who deliberately make inflammatory comments for the sake of starting arguments. If we can pass off all racist online comments as the work of trolls, then we can imagine that there isn’t a single racist person online and that the internet is the idyllic bastion of tolerance and democracy.

However, plenty of research suggests that the anonymity of online forums just makes it more likely for people to embrace their prejudice. The book I linked to is just one source I used in a paper concerning this phenomena. A lot of online forums accept pseudonyms, and even if they link to social media, some people may still be bold enough to post racist comments since they can customize their privacy settings on these platforms. Unlike a face-to-face interaction, it is unlikely that there will be consequences for racist statements. I was reading an article in the Howard Journal of Communications that also studied how racists can become emboldened online,specifically on newspaper comment sections, since their racist comments or rants are often supported online. This then creates an echo-chamber where racists dominate discussion and silence more civilized conversations. There is no democratic debate.

This is to say that I don’t think I am over-analyzing when I pay attention to the comments people make online.  One common narrative that I have found on IMDB and YouTube is the idea that some countries don’t have the same racism that America does. I have seen such comments on videos or boards for films like 12 Years A Slave and Selma. The basic gist is that “my country has no problem with black people, either historically or now”, and typically comes from European users. Historically I would beg to differ. America’s history of slavery may be the most prominent but numerous European countries participated in the slave trade.

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Present day, my biggest issue with this argument is that it ignores one of the unfortunate realities of racism. Racism can be generated from a complete lack of interaction with a group, but it can also be generated from a certain level of sustained interaction. It is easy to say that your country has no problem with black people when there are very little or when they have very little impact on your city or country. When people feel like their culture is threatened, that is when they begin to lash out.  I am not empathizing with this view, or making excuses for racists. I am a minority as well and want to emphasize that people can become more intolerant when they “feel” threatened, even if facts do not line up with their view of the world.

Let’s see how tolerant people remain when they start competing with minorities for jobs. I came across a post on the IMDB board for American History X, which helped to crystallize how job competition can contribute to racism as well . The film follows Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton), a former Neo-Nazi who tries to save his younger brother from the life of racism he once had. As Derek reflects on what led him on the path to white supremacy, he remembers his dad being killed by black gang members after responding to a 9/11 call in a drug den. However, Derek also remembers an earlier incident; a conversation with his father.

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Years earlier, Derek tells his dad that they started reading Native Son in school, which is about a young black man in poverty. Derek’s dad makes it clear that he thinks “black books” are being used at the expense of good books. Derek’s dad, a firefighter, then shared a story of black firefighters being hired even though they weren’t qualified. We do not know how Derek’s dad knows they weren’t qualified. Derek’s dad also refers to the need for diversity as “nigger bullshit”.

An IMDB forum discussion titled “I agree with Derek’s dad on most point…” argues that Derek’s dad was undoubtedly racist but he had a good point about diversity trumping talent. A link is included but you may not be able to access it if you do not have an IMDB account. I have included screenshots below as evidence.

Most of the replies in this discussion echo the misconception that affirmative action results in unqualified candidates. There is a misconception about affirmative action flooding workplaces with black C students instead of white A students. However, such hiring is illegal and affirmative action mostly involves selecting a minority from a pool of qualified candidates. Affirmative action in the US also does not instil quotas, which is another prevalent misconception.

One response in particular got my attention:

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In case you can’t read it: “I agree 100%, my uncle and his friend years ago both tried out to be police officers in Philadelphia and despite having higher test scores than two black aspiring police officers, they didn’t get the job, it instead went to the other candidates. That shows how messed up the US is, employers should higher the most qualified candidates instead of trying to up their diverse employee stats. It’s simply stupid.”

I have heard similar stories before, and I have yet to hear such a story where there is proof that the black candidates were unqualified. I thought I would give the poster the benefit of the doubt and ask him how his uncle knew the black candidates got lower test scores.

His response:

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“This happened a little bit before I was born so this is what I was told (I was told the others were unqualified, I assume this was observed during physical training). I love how you automatically assumed I was racist, triggered much?”

So basically, this poster’s uncle actually has no proof that the black candidates were unqualified. I respect this poster for actually being honest; he could have just lied about his uncle seeing their test scores himself. Yet I also detest that he heard this story, doesn’t know the details and is now using it to fuel his attack on minorities. The next time a black person gets a job instead of him, he’ll likely assume they were unqualified. Then he’ll tell his kids this story, and they’ll tell their kids….

First we get this ignorance, disguised as an argument for merit. Next people might complain about having to accommodate new languages or religions.

Let’s see how tolerant your country is when immigrants and minorities are blamed for a poor economy, crime, changing culture etc. This is already happening more and more in Europe with the refugee crisis. No country lacks a racism problem. That is either a lie or the country has very few minorities.

 

Zootopia and Race

Warning: This post will contain spoilers for Zootopia.

I remember watching the Zootopia sloth trailer in front of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and laughing just as hard as everyone else in the theater. However, when the release date came around I was preoccupied with the hype for BatmanvSuperman and the film slipped by my radar. Zootopia returned to my radar after hearing about its box office success, and especially after a friend gave it a glowing review.

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One of the things that my friend liked the most was how the film tackled the issue of race. He said it wasn’t preachy or overly sentimental, but worked in allegories that were easily identifiable. I remember the one he told me about was the use of the word “cute”. In the film, it is okay for bunnies to call one another cute, but it is offensive if another species uses the word. I don’t think I need to elaborate on the similarity to the word “nigga”.

Another light-hearted allegory that got my attention was a scene where Nicholas “Nick” Wilde (Jason Bateman) touches a sheep’s hair, remarking on how fluffy it is. Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) then whispers that he can’t just touch a sheep’s wool. I can remember grade eight at Southbank International School in London, England. I was one of two black kids, out of a student body of at least 100, and my classmates often touched my hair. I am sure a lot of other black people, and women especially, can relate to someone treating them like an animal in a petting zoo and touching their hair without permission. I remember that a Buzzfeed article on Zootopia was filled with people arguing that this happens to anyone with curly hair. Black people, on average, are more likely to have curly or “kinky” hair so I think it is fair to say that the sheep wool can be interpreted as kinky hair.

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Aside from these smaller vignettes, Zootopia is loaded with messages of discrimination. What I like most about the film is that most of these messages or lessons don’t come from the depiction of highly vocal bigots. I have no sympathy for ignorant people but most of the discrimination in the film is presented as ingrained biases from otherwise decent people who do not seem to know any better. I have no problem with the depiction of more staunch bigotry (such as Imperium or American History X) but in this age of supposed “colour-blindness” it is important to see how people who claim to be tolerant can adopt stereotypes of other races.

Within the city of Zootopia, mammals (predator and prey) now live in harmony. The film revolves around the disappearance of fourteen mammals in Zootopia.  Their disappearance is revealed to be a move by Mayor Leodore Lionheart (J.K Simmons) to hide the fact that predators are going “savage”- reverting to their desire to attack and consume prey. Co-screenwriter Jared Bush has explained that predators in Zootopia only eat plant-based proteins and insects. Going “savage” causes the animals to lose the capacity for speech and return to the predator-prey mindset. Hopps, aided by Wilde, must uncover why the animals are going savage.

Wilde’s identify as a fox gives us one of our first insights into discrimination in this fictional world. In the film foxes have a reputation for being sly and deceitful. Hopps’s parents are wary of her living among them when she leaves their farm and goes to Zootopia. They make sure to give her fox-repellent, similar to pepper spray. Although Judy criticizes their bigotry she still brings the fox-repellent with her on her first day of work. Like real-life, someone who is outwardly accepting can still be affected by stereotypes that they have picked up from the media, friends, parents etc. I have had well-meaning friends tell me I speak well for a black guy, and Hopps also applauds Nick for how articulate he is. Nick has heard the compliment before, and thanks Hopps for not being patronizing (although his tone implies that he is not truly happy to hear the compliment again).

Wilde has long been the victim of prejudice, with the most pivotal moment being an incident of childhood bullying. Wilde had hopes of being the first fox scout, but was pranked and muzzled during his supposed induction ceremony. Zootopia is founded on the idea that anyone who arrives can be anything they want to be, similar to the American Dream. However, Wilde believes that all you can really be is what’s on the outside.  He knows other people only see a fox when they look at him, so he stopped trying to be different and became a con-artist. Obviously, I am not trying to say every criminal is simply misunderstood, and I don’t think the film is either. Wilde is simply an example of someone who is disillusioned with the world’s supposed equality, which he has yet to experience.

Meanwhile, Hopps is the first bunny cop, who is enlisted as part of a Mammalian inclusion initiative. Although she is accepted, Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) has little faith in her ability and assigns her to parking duty.

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Hopps and Wilde are able to form a bond over their treatment, but the bond is tested after they find the missing mammals. Hopps’s takes the stage for her first press conference, with Wilde watching close by, and is quick to reveal that all of the savage animals were predators. When probed, Hopps remarks that the predators might be returning to their old instincts. Wilde doesn’t approve of the comments, and Hopps initially dismisses him. She argues that Wilde should know she wasn’t talking about him, just “them”.

“I remember a mom of a friend of mine in the suburbs made some comment about a black person and – I had to be 12, about 60 pounds – and I said something and she said: ‘Oh no, not you. You are not black. You are great.’- Jesse Williams

That quote leapt into my mind during this scene. We end up being a “credit to our kind”, differentiated from “them”, the masses that deserve hate or mistrust.

It is later revealed that a serum, derived from a poisonous plant, is responsible for the mammals going savage. Mayor Dawn Bellwether (promoted after Lionheart is imprisoned) reveals herself as the mastermind behind the plot, aiming to use the public’s fear to eliminate the predator minority from Zootopia. Using a hitman of sorts, she was able to target predators all over the city and create an atmosphere of fear and distrust. This scheme isn’t just fiction; Donald Trump probably read an early draft of the screenplay and used it as a manual on running a Presidential campaign. As Bellwether says “Fear always works!”

I remember thinking about Zootopia unapologetically explored issues that many people are too afraid to nowadays. In many ways, this Disney film had more guts than most of the Disney produced Marvel films. There is a childhood scene where Hopps is attacked by a child fox, and when he moves to scratch her I was sure that she would be saved at the last minute somehow. Instead, we see Hopps sporting a scar on her left cheek. Life isn’t a fairy tale, and this movie isn’t afraid to let us know that. No pretty princesses, no flowery songs.  Zootopia has a great motto of equality but Hopps acknowledges it is only a motto and that the dream is a work in progress.

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The Unwhitewashing of Geek Culture

“The title of this post is in reference to this blog post I came across a few days ago. The post examines recent and upcoming instances of white comic book characters, such as Iris West on The Flash, being cast with people of colour (poc).

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The blog post has a very optimistic mindset, arguing that those who focus on instances of whitewashing are ignoring the progress being made. I disagree with the writer, but unlike some of my other posts, I don’t aim to vilify her. The idea for this blog post actually came out of our pleasant exchanges in the comment section.

Some successes do not overweigh failures in Hollywood’s casting decisions. Of course, I am happy for these successes but I believe that we can’t rely on the mindset that “things are so much better” to avoid pushing for things to be right. Of course, some progress is being made in terms of diversity in Hollywood and I am happy to see it. The author is right to say that we have come a long way but I don’t think complaints of whitewashing overshadow the positives, I think the positives overshadow the continuing legacy of whitewashing. The 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report showed that 17% of lead roles in Hollywood films go to a minority. This is despite the fact that minorities nearly make up 40% of the US population. Some may be quick to argue that there must be a shortage of actors from people of other races, but I don’t think I even have to dignify that argument with precise statistics. If there was a severe shortage of aspiring poc actors, we wouldn’t be able to make productions like The Get Down, Luke Cage and Straight Outta Compton. Not to mention a slew of diverse or minority dominated indie films like Dope. These indie films have numerous poc who wish to be on the big screen someday.

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Some may also argue that poc just aren’t as talented, but doesn’t their talent become a moot point if they are denied a role because their race isn’t viewed as marketable enough? Let’s use Ridley Scott’s Mohammad so-and-so comment to illustrate. Ridley Scott originally argued that Exodus featured a white cast since Ancient Egypt was a “confluence of cultures”. He later admitted he just couldn’t cast Mohammad so-and-so to get a film financed.  Very few people will deny that Hollywood favours white people for roles. They just find ways to defend it: “best actor for the part, race doesn’t matter” “It’s not about race, it’s about being relatable and marketable”. Yet if a character that is supposed to white is played by a poc then it is “reverse racism” “political correctness” or a “liberal agenda”. I have already discussed this blatant double standard in depth in two articles.

With those two arguments out of the way, I wanted to discuss the part of my conversation with the blogger that interested me most. I do enjoy my ongoing discussion with the blogger so yet again, this isn’t meant to vilify her. However, our discussion brought up a very important misconception about America that fuels Hollywood’s casting decisions, and is also created by them. The blogger used the oft-cited argument that whitewashing is about “relatability”- creating characters people can identify with. Firstly, this argument assumes that someone must be of the same race for you to relate to them. It is possible to relate to someone’s motivations, upbringing, struggles etc. if you are not of the same race. Why does Hollywood and members of its audience think that people can care about robots and talking animals, but not care about poc? Next, you don’t have to be able to relate to a character to care about them. Also, poc are meant to care about characters that are a different race and would likely be considered racist if they skipped out on a movie because it had too many white people. Main point: Hollywood creates the idea that whiteness is universal. Everyone will go to see white people, but only blacks will see blacks, Asians will see Asians etc.

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If someone needs to look like you to be “relatable” or marketable why was this movie so successful?

Once I responded with these facts, the blogger then brought up the misconception. When I referred to movies with mostly poc casts, she assumed I meant foreign ones; arguing that their lack of popularity is more related to the influence of their respective industries, which will likely pale in comparison to Hollywood. I was talking about American productions, like the ones I mentioned above. Hollywood has, for the most part, presented a very white America. Obviously there are prominent poc actors, but compare their numbers to the prominent white ones. Although people always deny the societal impact of films, films are shown to have a significant impact on how people view a certain city, region, country etc.

https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/mediarace/portrayal.htm

“Considerable public concern has arisen over the issue of media diversity, as it is generally accepted that mass media has strong social and psychological effects on viewers. Film and television, for example, provide many children with their first exposure to people of other races, ethnicities, religions and cultures. What they see onscreen, therefore, can impact their attitudes about the treatment of others. One study found, for instance, that two years of viewing Sesame Street by European-American preschoolers was associated with more positive attitudes toward African and Latino Americans. Another study found that white children exposed to a negative television portrayal of African-Americans had a negative change in attitude toward blacks. (Diversity in film and television: MediaScope)”

People may be quick to argue that they are much less impressionable than children but ask yourself honestly: Has the depiction of a certain area on tv or in a movie, ever affected your perception of the area, whether it be the demographics or crime of that region? I have heard plenty of friends complain of a region being depicted as too diverse, too crime-ridden and so on. People do notice these things and I don’t believe it is a stretch to say that someone who is unfamiliar with an area can form an impression of it from films. This blogger is likely American and also is not white, so she likely knows what America looks like. Yet years of Hollywood films disproportionately dominated by white people still creates the assumption that a mostly poc cast is the work of foreigners. Such a thing does not exist in America. The blogger has not responded to my most recent post where I pointed this assumption out, so we will see what other insights come from this. Either way, I thought it was a great example of how the impact of films.

 

Update: My last comment to the poster appears to have been deleted. I am assuming that the blogger is the only one who is allowed to do this, so it appears she didn’t take kindly to me calling her out on her assumption.

Talking About Race Will Unite Us

…but it will divide us first.

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The Republican Convention wrapped up last night and I avoided it by all means necessary. However, I can’t help but coming across some news of it on articles or some clips on YouTube. My curiosity gets the better of me and I ended up clicking on some links. A pervasive theme of the sound bites is the idea that we need to be more united. The idea that the current administration has left us too divided. I did not watch the entirety of the speeches and context is key, so I can’t be sure if the statement is meant to criticize the discussion of racism by the Obama administration and other democratic politicians.

However, I have come across that argument being used to criticize the discussion of racism. This argument is more prevalent online than ever with the recent deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. The subsequent shooting of police officers in Dallas also added fuel to the fire, with conservative outlets speculating that Black Lives Matter and the perpetrators are connected.

Many people want us to ignore the racism all around us, arguing that it is an illusion or that black people simply deserve to be killed by cops due their violent nature. Yes, blacks are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crimes. We also have a disproportionate unemployment rate. I can imagine someone saying “Get jobs then” and please consult this study as one example of persisting employment discrimination. I wonder how well American white people would be doing if they had the same unemployment rate we do and had the same racial biases against them. In my previous posts, I have included study after study analyzing the impact of racism on blacks. However, denial is strong and people argue that such statistics are only part of a liberal agenda. It seems that people are resistant now more than ever to discuss racism.

Hence, the argument that discussing it only divides us. They’re right, it does divide us. It brings anger and resentment to the surface. However,it also brings up ugly truths. The people using this argument are forgetting that a civil war brought us to where we are now. What we have now is not perfect but it is an improvement over 1861. What if Lincoln decided not to fight for the abolition of slavery because he didn’t want to “divide people”. At the time, only whites were considered citizens. Many of them were happy to keep things the way they were. There was no injustice being done, black people don’t need more rights, they’re property. Why couldn’t Lincoln stop race-baiting and just let peace exist, instead of dividing a united nation?

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Pictured Above: A “Race Baiter”

People may argue that the Civil War was about states rights. Yes, it was about the right of southern states, to continue slavery. Who knows how long slavery would have persisted if not for the civil war. Sometimes things have to get worse, before they get better. I am not condoning the shooting of police officers or violent resistance. I do support the discussion of racism and peaceful protests against a rising tide of  racism, such as police brutality that is increasingly inflicted on black people. I support the discussion of lingering racism at the individual and institutional level in many countries. I support the right to discuss discrimination without being dismissed as “politically correct” or a “social justice warrior”.

Race Is Socially Constructed- But it Still Matters

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I have recently made the commitment to post to my writing instagram account, “wmoviegrapevine” at least twice a day. I post to “moviegrapevine” 3-4 times a day, but posting to that account is generally easier. It only requires finding suitable images and offering some commentary. For wmoviegrapevine I also need to come up with original writing or find excerpts from my previous works, and then find a suitable image. For a while I was only doing one post, but I noticed a relatively quick increase in followers when I started posting more. The momentum took me from 73 to 84, where it has now stalled again. Either way, 2 posts are better than one and I think my laziness stopped me from committing to 2 earlier. It can be hard to post when juggling several other responsibilities, but I prefer trying to make time, instead of excuses.

Finding a topic to write on is usually the hardest part. I sat on the bus for a few minutes thinking of what I wanted to discuss and I remembered one of the arguments about racism that I detest the most. I have read many comments online saying that the discussion of race and racism is unnecessary, since we are all one race, the human race. After all, race is socially constructed, so it has no real impact on our lives and doesn’t matter. Firstly, the sentiment that we are all one race is lovely, but I hate the fact that it is often used to downplay the impact of racism in cases of police brutality, hate crimes, employment discrimination and so on. It is a convenient platitude offered to silence people who truly want to engage with an issue. If you just blurt out “we are all one race” you can bask in the glory of your own enlightenment while also ignoring facts that demonstrate that many institutions and individuals don’t act on that principle.

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As a starting point, I’d like to ask these enlightened ones to read this study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Research Fellows Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan sent out resumes in response to over 1300 employment ads, ranging from clerical work to customer service roles. The resumes were crafted to display identical levels of skill and qualifications. Some resumes had names that people may think of as “white names” or more race-neutral ones, such as Jacob and David. Others had names that people tend to associate with people of colour, such as “Jamal”. Despite equal levels of qualifications the resumes with white names received more callbacks for interviews. Each resume with a white name needed 10 resumes to get a call back, resumes with black names needed to send 15 to get a call back. If the resumes display the same level of skills and qualification, why is there a noted difference in callbacks? If people are colour-blind then the names shouldn’t have any impact. One of the most common beliefs among “colour-blind” preachers is that skill and a desire to work hard are all you need to be successful. Then why are “black names” (Jamal and many other names people think are black names are actually Arabic in origin) holding some applicants back? Keep in mind, these names are not all “ghetto” ones. What justification do you colour-blind people have for the results of this study?

The argument that a social construct doesn’t matter reminded me of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows. The Pulitzer-nominated book mainly examines the impact that the internet has on our brains but Carr also includes an interesting segway that examines how societal constructs can change the way humans think. His example was the use of time and I think it provides a perfect parallel to the oft-cited “race is a social construct” argument. Although categories such as “white” and “black” have not always existed, there have always been people with different skin colours. Likewise, the units of time that we now call “hours” and “minutes” have always existed. The only difference is that we did not always have names for them and we did not always arrange our schedules by them. We used to rely on the sun and the moon to measure our days, but overtime we adopted more precise times for arranging meetings, transit schedules and so on.

Now imagine that you are late for work for a work meeting for the fourth time in a row. You walk into the meeting room and everyone is already seated, with your boss at the head of the table glaring at you. Why don’t you tell him that the start time of 10:00AM is socially constructed, so showing up at 10:10AM doesn’t matter. The sun is still up, so it is still the morning. You are still on time and you refuse to let foolish social constructs dictate the way you see the world, or the way you behave. Do you think that argument will go over well?

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Getting rid of racial categories or pretending they don’t exist is not enough to end or even diminish racism. It is a fact that many people have racial preferences for their romantic or sexual partners. If we get rid of the category of “black”, people will just go from saying “I don’t like black guys” to saying “I don’t like dark-skinned guys” or “I don’t like guys with curly hair” etc. Cops won’t be more suspicious of “black people”, they’ll be more suspicious of people “of African descent”. It is true that race can at times be fluid, since some black people might be lighter-skinned than people of other races. However, people need to realize racism and discrimination as a whole aren’t just about melanin.

Everyone “sees colour”. The real test of whether or not you are racist is what you do with that visual information. There is nothing wrong with noticing that someone is lighter-skinned or darker-skinned, or that they are a different race. The issue is if you think less of them for it e.g. this person is black, therefore they are stupid. This person is black, therefore I will never date him. This person is black, so there is a greater chance he will attack me. That is racism.

Saying “I don’t see colour” just means that you don’t have the moral fortitude to actually make these distinctions. It is too hard for you to see colour and not be racist, so it is simpler just to pretend like you can’t see colour at all. Yet you will probably be the first person to argue that we don’t need affirmative action and that blacks would be better off if they weren’t so lazy. The next time you say “I don’t see colour” or hear someone else saying it, don’t get sucked into this black hole of denial. Ask them if they could see colour and still avoid being racist, which is what plenty of people manage to do. Ask them why they can’t wrap their head around that task. Better yet, ask them what they are physically attracted to, what they think that about black people disproportionately killed by police, or ask them what they think about affirmative action. You might discover that they do see colour after all.

 

 

Imperium- Racists Saying It’s Racist to Show Racists

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Daniel Radcliffe has undoubtedly been typecast as Harry Potter and he has worked hard to break out of the typecast since, with his roles in varied works like Equus, to his upcoming one in Imperium.

Imperium (2016) follows Radcliffe as a FBI agent who goes undercover to stop a group of white supremacists from carrying out a terrorist attack (yes, non-Muslims can be terrorists too).

The film got my attention and I went to IMDB eager to discuss Radcliffe’s latest attempt to escape his typecast. I have noticed that any film dealing with discrimination, such as holocaust or slavery films are always criticized for their depiction of racism. Far too many people see these films and get defensive, thinking that the films are accusing them of personally being racist. Or they think the film is trying to make them “feel guilty” and As a result, they argue that such films exacerbate racial tension and are the real cause of racism. Or they may even argue that racism would end if such films were no longer made. This ties into the colour-blind rhetoric that I have discussed previously, where people believe racism no longer impacts minorities. This leads to discussion of racism being viewed as unnecessary and an instigator for racial conflict. In terms of film, this mindset is very prevalent with Imperium.

I have stopped reading any online discussion since it is mostly one comment after another calling the film racist, because it explores racism or portrays white people in a bad light. These will be the same people to call you “politically correct” or a “social justice warrior” if you criticize negative portrayals of minorities in movies (which are far more common). This is the new order: arguing that negative portrayals of the dominant group (straight, white men) are part of an “agenda” while also arguing that negative portrayals of women and or minorities are meaningless. While whitewashing and one stereotypical minority character after another are cast aside as irrelevant, any negative depiction of white people makes the new colour-blind racist lash out.

“lisasmithandme” of IMDB explained it perfectly:

“Typical white racists who believe that only non-whites should be portrayed evilly. They do this type of complaining a lot in historical movies as well such as slavery and the holocaust. They think the media is ‘anti-white’ and is portraying them unfairly. Of course, when you complain about how blacks or other groups may be unfairly portrayed in the media, they start telling you to stop your “political correctness whining.” They are like reversed SJW except anything which isn’t positive about white males makes them go bonkers.

The other reason is that they secretly or subconsciously agree with white supremacy, so when you attempt to criticize it, they feel as if their ideals are being personally attacked and start to lash out and say incomprehensible things like: “I’m not a racist but this movie about white supremacist racists is…racist.”

On YouTube, you won’t see a bunch of Muslims invading the comment section of a video which speaks out against Islamic extremism. On the other hand, you will get a bunch of whites males attempting to justify white supremacy on any video which speaks out against white supremacy such as this movie. It doesn’t speak well for their character.

There’s really NOT much of a difference between a white supremacist and an Islamic extremist.
One will chop your head off for your RELIGION and believes you’re an infidel.
The other one would gas you for your RACE and believes you’re inferior. ”

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Aside from the colour-blind racists, we have the full on apologists who seem genuinely hurt that skinheads are being portrayed as racist. They are only people trying to “protect their country, their heritage” etc. I know some people may be tempted to say all of these comments are the work of trolls, but it is highly unlikely that every single racist comment online is simply someone seeking attention or looking to start an online fight. If anyone is bothered to look it up, instead of living in a cocoon of denial, there is evidence that racism is still alive and well. Online discussions are just one place where we can see this at work.

Like my post on Jesse Williams, I am making this one to get some thoughts off my chest and attack some of the straw man arguments that have cropped up in the wake of the film’s trailer release.

1) This film is stupid since most racists aren’t even skinheads.

This argument is the equivalent of saying films about serial killers are stupid since most murderers aren’t serial killers.

This film explores a pocket or subgroup of racists, it is not meant to argue that all racists are skinheads. This is elementary level reasoning but it seems to elude people once their defensiveness gets in the way. When people hate something (because it makes them feel defensive), they will look for any reason to tear it down.

2) It’s films like this that divide us. Typical liberal Hollywood etc.

Racism exists. Exploring it, studying it, depicting it in fiction should not divide us. What really divides us are the colour-blind racists, the apologists and the people who are openly sympathetic to white supremacy. Whether it is because they believe everything is equal anyway, or because they believe whites are now oppressed, far too many people have a hard time facing this topic. While racist practices by Hollywood executives, employers, judges, cops etc. are either ignored or supported daily, these apologists and colour-blind racists think they are now victimized because a film about racists is being released.

Radical Islamic terrorism is an issue now as well, and avoiding the topic in the news, books and movies won’t make it go away. People confront very few problems with the mentality that if it is ignored or never discussed, it will go away. Racism isn’t a bully, it is a pervasive issue that affects everything from entertainment to housing and police brutality. We can’t simply ignore it.

Bringing up the terrorism analogy also brings me to the next straw man argument.

3) There are more important issues now, like Muslims, and this film wants to focus on skinheads.

This film doesn’t say skinheads are the world’s only threat. One film normally focuses on one issue or one set of issues. Have you ever seen a film try to address every single world issue in 2 hours? The stupidity of this argument is simply baffling.

Anyone who is not living under a rock knows that radical Islamic terrorism is an issue. There are movies and books on that too. People only use this argument for specific topics they don’t want to see on film. You won’t see people criticizing romantic comedies saying that “with all the issues in the world, these filmmakers decide to focus on romance?”. You know what, let’s not make movies on any topic that isn’t trending in the news.

“Deep Breath”

Think I feel better now. Imperium looks very interesting and it will be my first time hearing Radcliffe perform with an American accent as well. With all the negative feedback it doesn’t look like it’ll be a box office hit, and it could possibly bomb. Either way, this is one that I am planning on seeing in theaters.

 

 

 

 

“I Like Hockey Players”

Hello everyone,

I have had these thoughts circling in my head for a while now so I thought I would put them down here.

I remember meeting up with an old classmate in Ottawa. It was great to catch up with her but one of the moments I remember best was when we were talking about our crushes and she said that she “likes hockey players.” I usually take this as a euphemism for I only like white guys. Of course, there are players of other races but I think that people often associate a certain sport with a certain look. For example, if you think of a basketball player you will probably think of someone who looks like LeBron James, Demar DeRozan or Jonas Valanciunas, not someone who is 5’3. For hockey, I believe that many hockey fans will have a white person in mind when they think of a hockey player. They will think of Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos instead of Jarome Iginla, Nazem Kadri, P.K. Subban. Even though these individuals are all players, some of them don’t fit the typical mold and will then not be associated with the typical image. I am not saying that is a right way of thinking, I actually detest this view, but I believe it is a truth about people’s perceptions.

One of my favourite examples of this mindset came from my first year roommate at the University of Ottawa. My roommate was of Irish descent and once remarked, in the presence of his black roommate (moi), that he hates black Irish people. To him, they are “wrong”. Although there are black Irish people, people born and raised in Ireland that are more Irish than my roommate, my roommate thinks they are wrong since they don’t match his perception of what a proper Irish person should look like. I have previously discussed my own experiences with people who assume I’m not really Canadian due to my skin colour. It is a corrosive and racist (yes, I said it), mindset that leads people to treat nationality, culture, religion etc. as an exclusive group, and not an inclusive one. I am of Jamaican descent and I believe it would be idiotic for me to say that white Jamaicans, Chinese Jamaicans or Indian Jamaicans are “wrong” because they don’t look like most of the population. They exist and they have had a big impact on the country’s culture, with the Chinese in particular having a great impact on the development of Jamaican music and food. I am not ignorant or pigheaded enough to deny that simply because I don’t like seeing other seeing other races in my country.

Funny enough, my roommate would probably be one of the people accusing people of “race-baiting” if they discuss racism, and then chastise those people for not being colour-blind.

Five Policeman Dead- Is Empathy A Zero Sum Game?

As many may know, five Dallas policemen are dead after snipers fired on police during a peaceful protest.

The cases of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling got little sympathy as it was, and now their deaths are overshadowed. The death of the Dallas policemen is undoubtedly a tragedy, but it brings up another issue.

I was reading a cracked article that a man wrote about being raped by a woman. I am currently at work and I am hesitant to type rape into a search, therefore I will add the link later.

The man made the point that he understood women get raped and that he was not trying to use his issue to detract from their issues. He made the point that sympathy for one group is not always antithetical to sympathy for another. Empathy is not a limited resource that we must devote only to one cause.

I find people always try to derail arguments by appealing to this zero sum mentality.

“Black people always complain about racism, but what about the racism my people face.”

“Women say they’re victims of sexual assault, but what about men?”

If people apply the zero sum mentality to this week’s incidents, then all sympathy will go to the policemen, and the two men killed earlier this week won’t get any.

The five policemen deserve our sympathy, so do Castille and Sterling.

Peaceful protest against police brutality is not meant to imply that all cops are racist or poorly trained. The peaceful protests are seeking justice for what was done and better training and evaluation of police officers at an institutional level. I am sure none of them condone the shooting. Why would they? It detracts from their efforts and creates more sympathy for the institution they are protesting against.

As this issue unfolds, let’s see if the zero sum mentality reigns supreme.

 

The Black Death

“Heard about Philando Castille and Alton Sterling shootings and I’m not even surprised anymore. Let’s see if any of the cops are actually punished for it, or just end up getting paid vacation and a bonus through a gofundme like Darren Wilson did.”

I posted this status to my personal facebook page earlier. Honestly, I know I should be full of rage at the two police shootings of unarmed black men this week, but I think I’m sadly becoming numb to them. I already know all the excuses the apologists are going to throw out.

“The one guy was a sex offender anyway.”

Of course people think someone has to be a saint to live. No one is saying Sterling was an upstanding citizen. The question here is did he deserve to die at this point and time. Was anything he did at that point and time worthy of execution. He was not a known criminal who the police had the authority to kill on site, or someone who was already wanted in connection with another crime. Trayvon Martin may have been caught with weed at school, but that doesn’t convert to being deserving of death when buying arizona and skittles. We are dealing with human beings, not checklists.

“We don’t have all the facts folks, let’s not jump to conclusions.”

A good principle, but often not applied well. Even in the case of the Walter Scott, where there was a video showing Scott get gunned down in the back by a cop, people still used this excuse. Even when we see Castillo strapped into his seat, with a seat belt, and bleeding out, people will still say we don’t have all the facts and can’t judge the policeman prematurely. Castillo was pulled over for a BROKEN TAILLIGHT. He has no criminal record. There was no warrant for an arrest. Castillo told the cop that he had a gun, which he was licensed to carry. The cop told him to put his hands, up, then told him to get his identification. Then shot Castillo when he got his identification. You can hear the panic in the cop’s voice. He is meant to be calm under pressure, well trained. I don’t see that reflected here. I see a jittery man who is panicking more than Castillo’s girlfriend is.

I am grateful that she recorded the incident, because if she didn’t I am sure there would be a lot more people assuming Castillo deserved to die.

People generally think it is okay to assume the victim was guilty, but it is not okay to use the evidence at hand to argue that they were likely innocent.

“White people get killed by cops too, why do we have to focus on black people? That’s race baiting”

If people would be bothered to do a two minute google search, they would see that black people are killed at a disproportionate rate. 31% of police victims, while we are 13% of the population. Those numbers don’t add up right? Maybe apologists will say we deserve it. Do you think Castillo deserved it?

“The cop in the Castille shooting sounds scared and sorry.”

That doesn’t change what happened. A crime was committed, and being remorseful does not mean that the cop should walk free. That isn’t how the legal system works.

“Not all cops are bad.”

No one is arguing all cops are racist or poorly trained. However, there is a growing trend (as evidenced by statistics, not just news coverage) and it is time that a cop faces consequences for his actions. Additionally, changes need to be instituted for better training for policemen and less profiling. A stop for a broken taillight should not have escalated to the point where a cop shoots someone four times. Especially if Castille advised the cop that he has a licensed firearm.

I’m pretty sure some or all of the officers involved will have money donated through a GoFundMe campaign and there is a good chance that some or all of them may be acquitted or face little jail time for their crimes.

Our anger, our “prayers” mean nothing. We need real action. We need to see accountability in the system. If not, this will keep happening. More outrage will poor out and nothing will change. Apologists and gofundmes will reign supreme.

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians, whether you are a citizen or a resident. This day brings up one aspect of citizenship that has bothered me at times.

I remember seeing this online

http://imgur.com/gallery/9HcXN

I laughed and appreciated the joke, and I assumed most people did. I forget which outlet I saw this on originally, but I remember comment after comment saying “But he’s Indian.”

Being a black Canadian, of Jamaican birth and descent, I have run into this conundrum as well. Not the conundrum of whether I am Canadian or not, but the conundrum of whether people can accept me as a Canadian.

I was at a bar with my friends one night in Toronto and we introduced ourselves to a group of tourists sitting at another table. My friend, of Indian descent, was talking to one of the girls. After he tells he’s Canadian she turns to me and asks if I am, with a tone that indicates she was expecting me to say no.

I then responded, “No I’m from the jungles of Africa.”

She shut up after that. My friend was upset that I said that since he was hoping to hook up with her, but I do not regret what I said.

The way she became quiet instantly, made it clear she realized why I was offended and probably realized she asked a stupid question.

I found the situation amusing as well since she never really questioned my friend’s nationality. It was as if she could accept Indian- Canadians, but a black-Canadian was like a unicorn.

Maybe I could understand the question if I had a noticeable accent that clearly indicated I was from somewhere else. I lost my Jamaican accent about twenty years ago. Of course, I might still have traces of it and I have been told by friends that I do have a slight accent they can pick up on. However, anyone who has seen my YouTube videos can probably note that my accent doesn’t automatically disqualify me from being Canadian. There was no reason for this woman to assume I was foreign, aside from my skin colour.

Despite the age-old truth that everyone has immigrant ancestry, unless they are Native, the falsehood that whiteness indicates a true Canadian or true American still persists. On a day like Canada Day, I think it is important to realize how foolish this mindset is. If you live in any of the (relatively) diverse areas of Canada, like Ottawa, the GTA or Vancouver, realize you will see people of colour proudly celebrating. Do not think they don’t have the right to, or that they don’t belong. Embrace everyone who wishes to celebrate the day. Visitors, residents, citizens of a few generations and citizens of a few years.

As Canadians we pride ourselves on being a cultural mosaic, not the melting pot that the US tries to uphold. If you want to be a “real Canadian”, uphold that principle.

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