The week in racism 2.12.16

Racial inequality has existed in the United States since the founding of this country. The institution of slavery had a profound and lasting effect on anti-black racism-an effect that produced ripples that continue to affect our country in the twenty-first century (and affect other racial/ethnic groups, not just African-Americans). From individual examples of race-based bigotry that occur between people to policies within corporations that deny equitable treatment to People of Color to initiatives within law enforcement that have a disproportionately negative impact upon People of Color to so much more, racism in the United States, contrary to the beliefs of some people, continues to exist. As with other posts of a similar nature (Police Behaving Badly, Irresponsible Gun Owners of America), I’ll be using this space to post stories and articles relating to the issue of race in the United States.

 Mother’s Pleas for Justice in Death of Her Daughter, Killed by Virginia Beach Police, Goes Viral

Gina Best knows heartache. And, unfortunately, the heartache she feels isn’t going away anytime soon.

In September, Best’s daughter, India Kager, a 27-year-old Navy veteran from College Park, Md., was sitting in a car in Virginia Beach, Va., with her boyfriend, Antonio Perry, and 4-month-old son, Roman. According to authorities, Perry was a person of interest in a homicide and the Virginia Beach police had information that alleged that he was going to commit a violent crime, but they didn’t know when.

After following the car, with Kager in the driver’s seat and Perry in the passenger’s, police approached the car—whereupon, they say, Perry pulled out a gun. It was then that officers started firing rounds, killing both Perry and Kager but leaving the baby uninjured in the backseat. Police said they didn’t notice the baby until after they were trying to treat Perry and Kager for their multiple gunshot wounds. Shortly after the killings, the four unnamed officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave.

Now six months later, Best is still looking for answers, and she posted a heart-wrenching video on Facebook.

“I want the world to know what a mother goes through when your child is stolen and executed for no reason,” Best said. “The SWAT team ambushed my daughter’s car. They threw a grenade at her car. They fired 30 rounds. Who does that? How do you do that? 30 rounds? 30 rounds? They executed my baby in less than 3 hours of her being in Virginia Beach.”

Best spoke about her grandson being in the car and said that her daughter died protecting him. Best is now responsible for her daughter’s two sons and has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the kids.


 5 Backhanded Compliments Women Of Color Are Tired Of Hearing

Being a woman of color in the United States is certainly no walk in the park.Women of color often experience backhanded compliments, deal with microagressions, are left out of discussions about feminism (also known as the phenomena called “white feminism“), and experience inequality at an institutional level. There are countless hurdles and barriers women of color have to jump over and cross to be heard and treated fairly and kindly.

Of course it’s also worth noting that it’s a pretty great time to be alive for women of color, too. We’re seeing more media representation of women of color in important roles, both in terms of fictional characters and real people — think Sassier Zamata and Leslie Jones on SNL, Kerry Washington onScandal, Michonne from The Walking Dead, Lucy Liu on Elementary, Priyanka Chopra on Quantico, and more. The narratives of trans women, queer women, and hijabi women of color are finally being told by actual trans, queer, and Muslim women. There’s no doubt that we’re in a better place now than we were 20, or even 10 years ago.

But even though diversity is being represented more frequently and more powerfully these days, people still say ignorant things to women of color, often without even realizing it. For example, women of color deal with these five backhanded compliments regularly — and most of us are pretty tired of hearing them.

Here are two of them-

3. “You’re so pretty, it’s a shame your parents are going to make you get an arranged marriage.”

4. “You’re so articulate.”


‘Hateful things’ exhibit examines history of racism in America 

A collection of racist memorabilia and objects depicting caricatures of black people will be displayed at a Saginaw museum this February, Black History Month.

“Hateful Things,” a 39-piece traveling exhibit from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University, is coming to the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History.

The exhibit “represents nearly 150 years of violence against African Americans through objects and images that embody the terrible effects of the Jim Crow legacy,” a Castle Museum news release states.

“Hateful Things” will be on display from Tuesday, Feb. 9, through Sunday, April 24, at the Castle Museum, 500 Federal in downtown Saginaw.

Because of the nature of the objects displayed, it is recommended for guests 12 years of age and older. Children younger than 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

The pieces coming to Saginaw represent a fraction of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia’s 10,000-piece collection.

“This exhibit furthers our mission at the Castle Museum because it opens the dialogue for people to talk about race, which is the goal of Dr. David Pilgrim,” President and CEO Ken Santa said in a statement.

Pilgrim, the exhibit’s creator and curator, “seeks to use the artifacts of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice,” the release states.

In the video below, Pilgrim says, “Jim Crow could not have existed without violence and it could not have existed without millions, I mean, literally, millions of everyday caricatured objects which supported that system.”

A slideshow of some of the memorabilia is available at the link.


Racists target plans to convert abandoned Chicago-area church into a mosque

Officials from the Muslim American Society (MAS), which has chapters across the United States, bought the vacant First Church of Christ, Scientists, on 12300 S 80th Avenue in Palos Park, Illinois, and said they hope to open in the summer.

Although Muslims in the southwest suburbs of Chicago have several mosques to choose from, MAS officials say that the community is expanding rapidly and another mosque is needed to serve it.

But it seems that not everyone agrees.

‘American, just like them’

Anonymous flyers distributed to homes near the proposed Palos Park site warned that an Islamic centre in the area would undermine home values and create traffic congestion.

The flyers, left in mail boxes and in some cases on doorsteps, perplexed MAS officials, who said that their goal was merely to utilise a building that already has government approval to be used as a religious centre.

“We are surprised because we are so involved and engaged in the local community,” Oussama Jammal, a spokesman for MAS and a vice president of the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation, told Al Jazeera.


Cleveland Officials File $500 Claim Against Tamir Rice’s Family for EMS

In what can only be described as the latest blow dealt to a grieving family, the city of Cleveland has filed a creditor’s claim against the estate of Tamir Rice. The 12-year-old was shot and killed by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann in November 2015.

The claim charges that the family owes $500 for “emergency medical services rendered as the decedent’s last dying expense.” It was served yesterday (February 10). Cleveland Scene reports that the first $450 of the bill is for life support services administered during Rice’s ambulance ride. The remaining $50 is meant to cover mileage for said ambulance. The payment is due on March 11.

“That the city would submit a bill and call itself a creditor after having had its own police officers slay 12-year-old Tamir displays a new pinnacle of callousness and insensitivity,” Rice’s family attorney Subodh Chandra told Cleveland Scene. “The kind of poor judgment that it takes to do such a thing is nothing short of breathtaking. Who on earth would think this was a good idea and file this on behalf of the city? This adds insult to homicide…. The mayor and law director should apologize to the Rice family and withdraw this filing immediately.”

Nearly a year ago, the Department of Justice released our findings in an investigation of the Police Department of Ferguson, Missouri.  Our investigation uncovered a community in distress, in which residents felt alienated from their own police force.  The Ferguson Police Department’s violations were expansive and deliberate.  They violated the Fourth Amendment by stopping people without reasonable suspicion, arresting them without cause and using unreasonable force.  They made enforcement decisions based on the way individuals expressed themselves and unnecessarily escalated non-threatening situations.  These violations were not only egregious – they were routine.  They were encouraged by the city in the interest of raising revenue.  They were driven, at least in part, by racial bias and occurred disproportionately against African-American residents.  And they were profoundly and fundamentally unconstitutional.  These findings were based upon information received from Ferguson’s own citizens, from Ferguson’s own records and from Ferguson’s own officials.  And they demonstrated a clear pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution and federal law.

After announcing our findings one year ago, we began negotiations with the city of Ferguson on a court-enforceable consent decree that would bring about necessary police and court reform.  From the outset, we made clear that our goal was to reach an agreement to avoid litigation.  But we also made clear that if there was no agreement, we would be forced to go to court to protect the rights of Ferguson residents.  Painstaking negotiations lasted more than 26 weeks as we sought to remedy literally years of systematic deficiencies.  A few weeks ago, the Department of Justice and Ferguson’s own negotiators came to an agreement that was both fair and cost-effective – and that would provide all the residents of Ferguson the constitutional and effective policing and court practices guaranteed to all Americans.  As agreed, it was presented to the Ferguson City Council for approval or rejection.  And last night, the city council rejected the consent decree approved by their own negotiators.  Their decision leaves us no further choice.

Today, the Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, alleging a pattern or practice of law enforcement conduct that violates the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution and federal civil rights laws.  We intend to aggressively prosecute this case and I have no doubt that we will prevail.


 Memphis cop under investigation after local news crew catches violent arrest on camera

The suspect, who does not display any weapons during the encounter, can be seen going to the ground after a brief chase, then raising his arm in an apparent defensive gesture. The officer hits him in the right arm with his baton, then kicks the arm.

After arresting the suspect, the officer and a colleague can be seen lifting him by the handcuffs before the officer puts his arm around his neck. Later, the officer shoves the suspect into a patrol car with his foot.

A report filed in connection with the arrest stated that the suspect was arrested for allegedly hitting a woman and his child, and that he fought with officers. However, the footage shows no sign of him resisting arrest after the chase ended. The department subsequently launched an investigation after WATN shared the footage.

Mike Williams, head of the local police union, defended the officer’s actions.

“I don’t think they took it to a point, to me, to where it was excessive because I don’t think anybody had to go to the hospital, anyone was injured,” he said. “You know, I think they deployed the [baton] right because you are allowed to strike people in the fatty parts of the body. But I don’t know if citizens are ready to see that, you know, because they’re like, ‘Oh, wow, they beat him.’”

The week in racism 2.12.16