The week in racism 5.21.15

Deniers of racism love to assert that racism is a thing of the past, that the U.S. is a post-racial society (we have a black POTUS, so that means…absofuckinglutely nothing). If one follows the news, it’s clear that such a belief is utter balderdash and is directly contradicted by reality (the shared one we all live in. Not the faux reality created by outlets like FOX “News” or the Blaze). Here are five recent examples of racism in the U.S.:

Woman posts profane anti-Native rant; gets fired

A woman who went on a racist rant against Native Americans was fired from her job on Monday.

The woman in the video, allegedly Ryane Oliva, was a nurse at Rapid City Regional Hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota, until it went viral on social media over the weekend.

The 13-second clip first surfaced early Sunday morning, along with screenshots of other Snapchats and Facebook posts from Oliva, including one Snapchat sent to a 15-year-old girl that shows her making rude hand gestures with text reading “[expletive] bitch.”

Oliva had called her the N-word in the text.

Rapid City Regional Hospital is the same institution in which a Lakota elder, Vern Traversie, said he awoke from a double-bypass surgery in September 2011 with “KKK” and other wounds carved into his chest and abdomen.

In the video, Oliva is clearly featured saying, “The [expletive] Indians can suck a mother [expletive] fart out of my [expletive] ass because the [expletive] Indians, they suck.”

As video spread quickly on Facebook and Twitter, Oliva allegedly made her personal page private and reported anyone sharing the video, causing the video to be deleted and accounts suspended. Patrick Gauthier uploaded it to YouTube, where it seems to be staying put.

Screenshots of an explanation and apology surfaced before Oliva was able to make her Facebook private. According to screenshots of a conversation with Manila Thomas, the mother of the 15-year-old girl who received the racist Snapchats, Oliva claimed that a group of girls, including Thomas’ daughter, had chased a group of girls, including Oliva’s sister, with a bat. According to the screenshots of the conversation, Oliva later admits she was not present during the alleged incident.

Cody Hall, a community organizer in South Dakota, created a Facebook event page for a rally to protest Oliva’s employment at noon on Tuesday, May 12 at Rapid City Regional Hospital. Rapid City Regional Hospital was unable to return phone calls but did issue a press release confirming Oliva has been dismissed.

“Regional Health has a zero tolerance policy regarding this type of behavior by its caregivers inside or outside the workplace,” wrote Brent Phillips, President and CEO of Regional Health. “We will not stand for any type of racism or bigotry on the part of our caregivers or physicians. We take this type of behavior very seriously and the employee has been terminated, as it clearly violates the Regional Health Code of Conduct.”

Stories like this serve as a reminder that-

A: African-Americans are not the only minority group to feel the sting of racism.

B: If racism were truly a thing of the past, people would not hold biases against or negative prejudices about members of minority groups.

* * * *

‘I will fuck you up’: School nurse gets two-day suspension for racist tirade against sixth-grader

The sixth-grader and another boy were throwing a bag of chips back and forth in the cafeteria at Mundy’s Mill Middle School when Beverly Barnes started yelling at them to stop, reported WXIA-TV.

“The nurse kept asking why he threw it, (and he) was saying, ‘Huh, huh,’” said one of the witnesses. “Then the nurse got mad and pushed his head and was saying, ‘I will knock your lights and I will f*ck you up.’”

That seems like a perfectly reasonably way to resolve the situation.  Not. There is no excuse for pushing the student’s head, nor for those inappropriate comments.

Witnesses said Barnes used a racial slur and followed the boy “like she wanted to fight” before a teacher intervened.

I’m not surprised to hear this. From personal opinions and beliefs to corporate policies to whole institutions, racism permeates our culture. As a result, every person living within the borders of the U.S. lives in a racist society, and cannot help but absorb racist beliefs. So its not surprising to hear of people saying racist shit. That’s made all the worse bc so many people refuse to educate themselves on racism. It’s hard to get a conversation started on ending the racism in the criminal justice system when so many people (by this I mean white people, since that is the group that dominates and controls the criminal justice system in the U.S. and are the ones who have the power to change that system) refuse to acknowledge that racist beliefs inform cops, lawyers, judges, and juries.

The October incident was captured on surveillance video, which the boy’s mother was permitted to watch but has not been released publicly.

Why is that?

“My heart, I swear, was going 100 miles per hour, and I had to remind myself to breathe,” said Tormeka Ezzard.

She said the nurse’s actions were degrading to her son, Jason Ezzard, and completely inappropriate for dealing with an 11-year-old child.

“She’s abused my child physically, mentally, and verbally, and no one will help me,” Ezzard said.

My heart goes out to Ezzard. School officials should have her and her son’s back, but since we live in a culture that devalues black lives, they don’t.

School officials suspended Barnes for just two days, saying she was permitted to keep her job because no previous complaints had been lodged against her.

But Ezzard wants the school to reopen its investigation and punish the nurse more severely.

“If it would’ve been the other way around, Jason would have been locked up on the spot,” Ezzard said. “I would have been going to pick my child up at the Clayton County Juvenile Detention Center. What makes her any different from Jason?”

That two-day suspension is a fucking joke.

* * * *

FL Tea Partier kicked off county board for blaming black unemployment on laziness

I’m sure this guy has plenty of studies to back up his opinion and he’s not at all engaging in racist talking points that have been refuted over and over again…right?

Tuesday afternoon, Florida’s Marion County Developmental Industrial Board voted unanimously to oust member Marcel “Butch” Verrando after he posted disparaging remarks about black people on Facebook.

Verrando’s term would have ended in November, but his separation from the board is “effective immediately,” WCJB reports.

On Tuesday morning, Verrando wrote the following observation on the Marion County Political Forum’s public Facebook page: “Black unemployment percentage is exceeded only by Native Americans and in 2012 they had the highest unemployment rate, education is way a head of hispanic so why can’t they get a job? My experience was that the only time a black guy applied for work it was because they were on probation and HAD to have a real job.”

Verrando follows his grammatically unconventional observation with a link to analysis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which offers no data supporting the assertion that black people only seek employment when they are on probation.

So much for any proof to back up his assertion. Also of note-he goes from talking about black unemployment in general to an anecdote about a black man as if that is evidence for his assertion. Even if we take his anecdote at face value, anecdotes are not evidence.

* * * *


The above poem is a vile piece of racist whitewashing history that paints European colonists as kind-hearted saviors. The real history is one of European colonists invading and decimating the natives of the Americas, forcibly converting them to Christianity and enslaving them. The poem was taught in a music program at Visalia Unified School District in California. One of the students in the class, a 10-year-old Wukchumni boy, took issue with the poem:

Alex Fierro, a fourth-grader in the Visalia Unified School District, was uncomfortable with a song he was learning in the music program. The song, called “Twenty-One Missions,” references a difficult chapter in the history of California’s coast.

The Spanish missions in California, established by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order between 1768 and 1833, were part of the first major effort to colonize and Christianize the Pacific Coast. The missions, 21 of them built in a chain along the coast, were founded to convert, educate and civilize the indigenous people—usually by enslaving them and using them for labor.

The song, written in a minor key, calls attention to the missions, which were “made of earthen brick” with “massive walls, three feet thick.” The lyrics also explore the purpose of the missions: “To save the soul, soothe the savage breast.”

When he first heard the lyrics, Alex decided not to sing them. Eventually, he told his mom that they made him uncomfortable.

“When I heard the lyrics of the song, I didn’t really like them,” Alex told ICTMN. “I thought it was offensive.”

Alex took a copy of the lyrics home and his mom, Debra Fierro, wrote a letter to Alex’s teacher, principal and district administrators.

“I tried to get Alex to sing part of the song, but he wouldn’t do it,” she said. “He didn’t even want to say the words out loud. So he brought home the lyrics, and I just got this pit in my stomach. I felt horrible.”

Fierro also alerted Darlene Franco, chairwoman of the Wukchumni Tribe, who wrote a letter of her own to administrators, asking that the district do four things: remove the song from its list of approved materials, provide information about the origin of the song, introduce cultural sensitivity training for teachers, and apologize to Alex.

The missions almost wiped out the Wukchumni, Franco said. The tribe was located in central California, and the missions relocated the people to the coast.

“As a result, there was a lot of death,” Franco said. “It was another genocide. It was enslavement, mistreatment. It was 10 times worse than boarding schools, and as a result, most of the Native people on the coast are not federally recognized.”

The song, Franco said, was part of the curriculum for fourth-grade California history. It told the story of the missions from the Catholic perspective, but failed to capture the full impact on the Natives.

Franco also found the lyrics offensive, particularly the “noble goal” of “praying, teaching, searching, reaching out to the red man’s soul.”

“It’s all a part of the white fathers looking down on the Indians,” she said.

District officials jumped into action, responding to Fierro’s letter the day after she sent it, Assistant Superintendent Doug Bartsch said. Within a week, the song had been pulled from the curriculum and Alex received an apology.

I’m rather shocked that the school district acted as swiftly as it did and in the correct manner. I expected them to act like the administrators in the next story.

* * * *

School bans parents after they complained their daughter was told ‘niggers don’t belong in class’ 

An Indiana school recently banned parents of a sixth-grader for complaining about their daughter being called a racial slur in class.

Instead of confronting the racism, the school administrators decided to punish the girl’s parents for making an issue out of the incident.

NyZeria Neely is the only African American student in her class at Concord Intermediate School.

Neely is classified as a “gifted” student, and has been placed in a high-ability class.

But not everyone thinks she belongs in the class. For two weeks in a row, she has received threatening notes in her locker that have read: “Watch your back,” and “N****rs don’t belong!!!”

In the school as a whole, African Americans account for 10 percent of the students but only 2 percent of the school personnel.

NyZeria showed an image of the notes to her teacher, then school principal Chad Stamm.

“He told me not to worry because it’s just words,” NyZeria recalled. “But it’s more than words. I felt that it was offensive — very offensive.”

But her parents weren’t accepting that answer. They complained that administrators did nothing when NyZeria was called the same slur “n****r” three weeks ago, even before the notes were found.

“They have taken it lightly,” Gina Neely, NyZeria’s mother said. “It’s too severe of a case to ignore something like this. They don’t want to hear me.”

The parents showed up at the school with a sign that read: “STOP BULLYING OUR CHILDREN.”

But shortly after their meeting with administrators, they were issued a no-trespass order by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department.

Neely has now pulled NyZeria and her three siblings out of the school saying that it is absurd to send her children to a school that she has been banned from.

The family is now considering sending their children to Elkhart schools, where approximately 15 percent of the students are African American.

Words don’t convey the biases of the people who use them. Words can’t be used to persuade people. Words cannot move people to feel anger, sorrow, or joy. Words can’t be used to inspire others. Words can’t be used to immerse readers in a fictional world. Words can’t be used to demean others. Words can’t be used to reinforce social dominance. In short, being called a ‘nigger’ ain’t a big deal ya’ll. It’s just words and as we all know, words have no power.

The week in racism 5.21.15