Tuesday, July 20, 2010

VanGoghGirl Sure is Growing Up

My baby just made 15! I can barely believe that I have a kid who's that old. Today, I just felt like posting some pictures of my beautiful, talented little pixie.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And Who Said The Cops Don't "Protect And Serve"?

Jumping Jehosaphat, I just don't know what the heck is wrong with my people sometimes. Okay, so there's a story in the news right now about how a woman of color wound up being tasered, repeatedly, after calling the police for help because she was afraid that there might be a prowler outside. On one of the news sites reporting this story, I made the comment that what I take away from this is that people of color are better off taking their chances with the criminals because calling the police only increases the likelihood that they/we will be victimized twice. In response, a fellow woman of color criticized my statement saying,
"So people of color should not call the cops. Are we inconveniencing them and therefore should be subject to torture or murder? The problem is we are becoming too silent on issues we need to speak out on. After awhile we can't look them in the eye and should hold our heads down and always remember to say yes suh, no suh. Honestly I can't believe we forget people were lynched, beat, hosed so that we had our civil rights. Police protection or at least holding them as best we can to do their jobs without killing us is better than being silent."
I wrote back to her and said,
"It's up to you to decide if YOU should call the cops. However, if you do, there's no reason for you to think that you won't be victimized by them. Given their history in this nation, it would be extremely naive for a person of color to think that a systemically racist organization is going to work to the advantage of those who it was designed to suppress. Who has said anything about remaining silent? Not expecting them to be our knights in shining armor is not the same as being silent. By all means, speak out. However, it's hard to effect change as long as you're perpetuating the problem by not finding other ways of dealing with societal issues. If we make calling the cops the only correct way of dealing with issues of safety, what are we supposed to do when it is the cops who are endangering us (e.g. a case like this one)? Have you forgotten that it was often the police who were doing the lynching and beating and hosing of people of color? Don't you get it? These cops WERE doing their job. Their job isn't to protect and serve YOU. Their job is to protect and serve the system that codified the oppression of those people of color you're referencing."
If this story isn't proof that cops don't work for us, I don't know what would be. Sure, our taxes pay their salary, but that doesn't mean they work for us. It simply means that we are paying "protection money" to state-sanctioned mob. We're supposed to believe that if we don't pay them to protect us, then we'll be victimized by the "bad guys". However, they are the bad guys, so even though we pay them, we still wind up being victimized. Having a police force doesn't keep people of color safe, so what do we have to lose by not assuming that they are going to be there to protect us?

Oh no! There are Scary Brown People on Your Interwebz!

Today, a woman that I went to high school with was on Facebook talking about how she and her kids just watched an episode of Dateline that was all about this newest "online epidemic": gangs using Facebook and Twitter to recruit new members and organize their nefarious activities. Some people on her feed thought that she was joking, so she posted this link to a news story on the subject. I took a look at it and just felt so frustrated.

I mean, it's such crap! Okay, what does the picture of young men of color have to do with this story? Given the fact that there are wayyyyyy more white folks on Facebook and Twitter, why don't they have a picture of some white people, if they just wanted to add a random photo? See, it's articles like this that make our children into targets for the police regardless of whether they are guilty of anything. Ugh!

By the way, what's new about this crap? Before cell phones and the internet, people were using beepers and graffiti. Before that, people were using scarves and handkerchiefs. Before that, they were using word of mouth. This isn't anything new. I swear, the media is always trying to get white good, law-abiding folks all whipped up into a frenzy, making them think that there are some scary black or brown people they need to be afraid of.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Look it up, Dear!

Okay, start with this: War Bonnet Appropriation Etiquette=Don't Do It

"What? Stepping on your neck hurts? If I ask really, really sweetly, would you please explain to me why it hurts? Maybe then I can make up my mind about whether your reason for not liking it is valid enough for me to consider taking my heels out of your jugular vein."

It doesn't take a genius to see what's wrong with these kinds of comments. I am Native American and even I don't wear eagle feathers. If it's not appropriate for me to do, it certainly isn't something that non-Natives should even consider trying. There is absolutely no justification for it. I have an especially hard time being nice about this when conversations like this come up on the internet. If you had the time to sit there and request information from me, then you could have simply looked up the info for yourself without asking me to spoon-feed it to you. I mean, the last time I checked, teh googles were still working.

I spent the first few years of blogging taking the time to explain this kind of stuff to these oh-so-sincere folks. When other people of color said that they weren't going to explain it even when asked nicely, I felt sympathetic. I thought I understood their reasons. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me for an individual not to feel like having the same conversations over and over again. At the same time, I felt like at least some of us within the communities of people of color needed to give the answers to those who asked.

I had people of color who tried to explain to me that the person requesting this kind of information is the one who had the responsibility for finding the answers they sought. I still felt justified, though. I thought that a white person who asked these questions was at least taking the first step by asking questions. I felt like it at least showed they were acting in good faith.

Sadly, it took me a few years to see what other people of color were trying to help me see. When the information is so readily available, a white person asking a person of color to explain why something is problematic isn't really about educating themselves. If their goal was to understand these issues, then they could simply research it themselves. Asking us for information is really an attempt to make us justify our stance. Answering these requests made me an enabler. It undermined the efforts of those who were showing white people that they shouldn't expect for us to jump at their beckoning call. Asking sweetly doesn't change the fact that they're still trying to make us prove ourselves to them.