WCC: Four White Privilege Truths for 2014

Since starting this blog, I have encountered a range of responses from readers. From the “I’ve been there so thank you for doing what you do” responses to the “Why do you keep talking about race?” comments, I have a broad swath of patrons.

One thing I see my white readers continue to struggle with is the notion of white privilege. Many can’t understand how they are privileged if they aren’t on Bill Gates status. So, I figured it was time to lay it out plainly just to clear up some confusion.

Truth 1: White privilege does not guarantee vast personal wealth

There is a rumor out there that if you aren’t white AND rich then you don’t benefit from white privilege. That couldn’t be further from the truth. White privilege isn’t a system of direct monetary transfer. It is a structural societal process wherein the white identity is the benchmark. Via private enterprise, educational opportunity, environmental barriers, and the US justice system, the majority (white) standard of what is good, meritorious, and “normal” automatically rewards whites for simply fitting the mold.

The justice system is especially blatant about these benefits. This is seen when states like Florida where Ricky Eugene Patterson was sentenced to life in prison for possession of a handful of crack cocaine while US Representative Trey Radel (R) got to return to Congress (with his job intact) and only a year of probation after purchasing 3.5 ounces of powder cocaine from an undercover cop. Patterson recently received a pardon from President Obama commuting his excessively harsh sentence. There was no direct transfer of monetary benefits here but it is clear that life in prison and a felony charge would have monumental economic impacts on someone like Patterson. Rep. Radel received what is akin to a slap on the wrist for a similar offense. And he still gets to collect a paycheck from the American people.

American Capitalism is not blind. Neither is the justice system. The ‘good ol’ boys’ still reign supreme in every facet of public life. That’s nothing short of white privilege.

Read the full post at WCC.

WCC: If You Still Eat McDonald’s Just Go Kill Yourself Now

So, by “eat McDonald’s” I mean you regularly patronize the chain restaurant consuming items from multiple parts of the menu. Need more clarification? If you only go there once a month to grab a salad, breakfast beverage or sandwich, or an ice cream sundae, this is not directed at you. I am talking specifically to those of you out there who still order Big Mac meals including fries and a drink. I am talking to you if you eat dinner at McDonald’s more than twice a month. Why should you go kill yourself? Because you are giving money to a company which outright says their food is bad for you and makes you fat. They are killing you. Why spend money when you can simply do it yourself?

When I was a kid, I ate McDonald’s at least twice a week. I usually had it after basketball practice on Thursdays as we scurried over to church for choir rehearsal. And, I sometimes had it on weekends for breakfast before church. I am no stranger to the McDonald’s menu. Trust me. I have eaten my fair share of double quarter pounders with cheese. My poor mother probably wouldn’t have been able to keep me full had she gotten me a normal portion of something healthier.

But, I have since sworn off the lunch and dinner menu. I will sometimes grab a breakfast there but not on the regular. And, I NEVER eat there for dinner. Honestly, I don’t even consider most of the items on the menu to be real food. So, when we are looking for something non-homecooked to eat, it doesn’t even make the list.

McDonald’s has been making the news recently because of their “McResource Line” website which is supposed to only be accessible to employees. On the site, they show a picture of food that bares an uncanny resemblance to a quarter pounder meal on their menu labeled “Unhealthy choice.” Then, they show another meal which includes a salad, sandwich, and glass of water labeled “Healthier choice.” In other words, McDonald’s wants you to go eat at Subway.

Read the full post at WCC.

WCC: Justine Sacco Challenged Black Twitter…and Lost

This weekend, I witnessed a brutal battle. It was a virtual battle but a battle nonetheless. I witnessed Justine Sacco (now former PR Director for IAC – a web company which owns Match.com, The Daily Beast, and other well-known websites) attempt to be racist against black people via Twitter. And, I subsequently witnessed (and participated in) Black Twitter’s swift pummeling of her actions thus causing her to be fired from her job. Did I feel bad about it at some point? Yes, sort of. I didn’t want to ruin this young lady’s life all because of a racist tweet. Did she deserve it? Certainly.

No one who works in PR has half a brain if they think that tweets like this one belong on the internet.

Read the full post at WCC.

WCC: Your White Privelege, My Microaggressions…or Death

The term ‘microaggression‘ became my “Word of the Year” last week when I first read it. It perfectly sums up the tiny little peckings I experience daily from people outside of my racial and ethnic group. The awestruck and gratuitous hair touching, the shock at me not being able to name a member of The Beatles (and being unapologetic about it), the questions about fried chicken, and the tip-toeing around conversations about race are all gateway drugs for the microaggressive addiction we have in this country. And today, I read something else that made me believe these microaggressions are mostly due to white privilege. Go figure.

Author Heben Nigatu derives the meaning of the term “microaggression” from Columbia professor Derald Sue. It is the “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” This definition is great because it includes accidental racism (you know, like the kind LL Cool J and country singer Brad Paisley recorded a song about) and the racism that happens when your mouth talks before your brain can tell it to shut up because you are in the wrong company.

In other words, microaggressions are what happen in a country that is still struggling to understand and accept the unique contours of a racially diverse environment. One doesn’t have to be racist to exhibit microaggressive behavior. All one has to do is forget that other races deserve the same dignity and respect as one’s own. That seems pretty easy right?

Read the full post at WCC.

WCC: On R.Kelly, Black Folks (and White Folks), and Plausible Deniability

Just putting a picture of this child-raping ingrate on my site makes me want to vomit. But, I am going to soldier through this because some things need to be said. R. Kelly is a rapist. He is a pedophile. He has preyed (and may still prey) on the demographic least acknowledged in this country: black girls. Not only that, for over a decade, he has still enjoyed success in the music industry despite the countless numbers of young ladies who have made allegations against him. Frankly, I am sick of it.

A few days ago I made this proclamation on my Facebook page.

“If anyone on my timeline says a word about copping that new #RKelly album you will be unfriended, unfollowed, and otherwise banned. #notplaying#tryme

And, while I gave no reasons for that declaration in the body of the post, I have now come to the conclusion that the best defense against a serial rapist like R. Kelly is a barrage of negative press outing him for the vile less-than-human that he is. This is not going to be an easy read so just mentally prepare yourself now. And, you should probably read this while sitting. Grab a glass of water or something too. Okay. Now proceed.

On R. Kelly

An interview posted this morning on The Village Voice by Jessica Hopper details the tireless work from Jim DeRogatis’ Chicago Sun-Times while reporting on R. Kelly. In the very detailed interview, the two reporters discuss a host of things. They cover R. Kelly’s marriage to, then fifteen-years-old, Aaliyah. They discuss the rape video which went viral wherein R. Kelly instructed a pubescent teenager on what positions he wanted her to assume while he ejaculated and urinated in/on her. The interview exposes the truth about the “dozens” of young women and girls who were paid hush money to keep R. Kelly out of court on rape charges. And, how some of them even attempted suicide after their victimization by the singer.

Read the full post on WCC.

WCC: The Case for Keeping Cursive in Schools

I learned how to write in cursive in the third grade. I hated it. Making all the curly letters frustrated me immensely. I felt like – at eight years old – I was wasting my time learning something I would never need. It just seemed pointless. I remember feeling much the same way in my ninth grade Chemistry class. And, again in my tenth grade Trigonometry class. Truthfully, I could have gone straight from Algebra to Geometry to Calculus without the boring detour to matrix sleuthing land. But, I digress.

In my childish ways,  I had no clue what learning those subjects did or would do for me in the long-term. Enduring them was probably part of the learning I needed. Today, I have no doubt that each of them developed me in some unique and imperative way. Sadly though, the one that I can likely credit with my enhanced hand-eye coordination and aptitude for written literature may be disappearing from schools at present. And, with that fate we will witness yet another self-inflicted disability for today’s children and tomorrow’s adults.

Recently, according to the Associated Press, the Common Core educational standards were adjusted to exclude the cursive handwriting training I endured so many years ago. Because the times are a changin’, “State leaders who developed the Common Core – a set of preferred K-12 course offerings for public schools – omitted cursive for a host of reasons, including an increasing need for children in a digital-heavy age to master computer keyboarding.” In other words, people don’t really write anymore so no need to teach children how to.

Read the full article on WCC.

WCC: I Want to Give Gabrielle Union Some Big Girl Panties and a Hug

Black women of the world, when are we going to stop sharing responsibility for our men’s philandering? Being Mary Jane actress, Gabrielle Union, is the most recent case of “I’m Partly to Blame Syndrome” after news broke that her long time beau and fiancé, Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade, impregnated his ex-girlfriend, Aja Metoyer, while they were “on break” in early 2013. Truth is, the only person on this earth responsible for Dwyane Wade’s sperm is Dwyane Wade. Union needs to put on some big girl drawls and hold him accountable.

In her recent interview with Glamour, called “My Dos and Don’ts by Gabrielle Union”, Union made it seem like having a busy schedule and spending too much time apart drove Wade into Metoyer’s arms.

DON’T write off an ex (or get back together) without really thinking it through. When you’re debating whether to go backward or forward, you have to look at the original issue. [When Dwyane and I broke up briefly in 2013], it was because of distance and scheduling. I finished filming the show, then I flew to Vegas right away to start shooting Think Like a Man Too. I couldn’t take time off, and I missed some quality togetherness we desperately needed. “

Union went on to elaborate on her personal relationship choices and the need for “compromise.”

“Over the summer, I reassessed priorities. I’d always wanted an awesome career with back-to-back projects, but I realized I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my relationship for it. Moving forward, I decided my work schedule has to make sense for our family. Bottom line: If an issue’s a deal breaker, it’s a deal breaker. If your relationship isn’t something you’re willing to give up and you can compromise, do so.”

I have a strong feeling she never gave that bit of advice to Wade.

It takes true talent to impregnate someone else while on a brief relationship hold only to convince your long term love interest that her working too much was somehow the cause. Some have said that Union is not blaming herself and that this is just another interview to yawn at. They explain that these may simply be her musings on love and relationships. That would be perfectly normal, expected, and innocuous had she not recently announced an engagement in the same month her surprise future stepson was born.

Read the full article at WCC.

EBONY.com: Black Women Slammed by Unemployment Cuts

On December 30th, 1.3 million Americans saw an end to “long-term” unemployment benefits. The 113th Congress allowed these emergency benefits to expire before taking a holiday recess. And while all Americans collecting long-term – longer than 26 weeks worth – benefits have been impacted by this lack of movement in Washington DC, Black women stand to face distinctly difficult circumstances if those benefits remain suspended.

Most states originally offered no more than 26 weeks of unemployment “insurance” or aid. But after the Great Recession— which began in late 2007–benefits were extended across the country. In some states, benefits could be collected for two years or longer. President George W. Bush ushered in these changes to unemployment insurance as he exited the White House. This infusion of capital into the middle and lower classes was seen as a method to keep the country afloat and stimulate the economy via consumer spending,

Six years later, the very same workers who were so integral to America’s economic recovery have fallen victim to Congress’ “government by crisis” style of legislating. The Republican-led House of Representatives signaled in early December that they would be working to end long-term emergency unemployment aid. Amounting to nothing more than a bargaining chip for congressional Republicans, emergency unemployment insurance benefits contribute to a healthy and thriving economy.

Black women have been were hit hard during the economic recession and continue to struggle even during the country’s recovery. In 2011, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) published a study which found that Black women only made up 12.5 percent of all female workers in June of 2009, yet accounted for over 42 percent of job losses for all women between June 2009 and June 2011. Similarly, Black women’s unemployment rate increased 2.1 percent in the same period— three times the increase of the next highest unemployment rate (Black men).

Read more at EBONY

WCC: I Was ‘Black While Mothering’ Today…

My husband and I have three gorgeous children. Our oldest will be six next month. Our youngest just arrived last month. We were married in 2006 after dating for three years. We are college sweethearts. Next spring, we will celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary. And, if you did the math, that means that all of our children were born in wedlock. They were planned. They were and are wanted. They are the best things God has ever blessed us with. Ever.

But, everyday, living in Orange County, California, I am reminded that my story, though beautiful and non-unique, will never be what is expected or assumed of me. Every side eye I get, every judgmental stare shames me. Yes, shame works that way. It can be evoked even from people who have nothing to be ashamed of. Why? Well, because I’m black. It’s just that simple. Being black while (insert most things) can result in shame, personal harm, or even death. For me, it’s usually shame. And, sadly, it has become another one of those ‘things’ I have normalized.

From the picture above, you may notice that I am taller than my husband. At six feet four inches tall, I am taller than most people. He and I started as best friends and never thought of dating until our love smacked us each in our respective craniums. Me being taller than him has never been an issue mainly because he is the foinest thing I have ever seen on two legs. I like to think he thinks the same thing about me. But, beyond that, my husband is a brilliant, understated man. He endures my insane ways and manages to do it with a genuine smile. And, he is the absolute best father I could have ever wanted for my children. Everyday he tries to improve himself and our household. We each take our responsibility as parents incredibly seriously. Sometimes too seriously. But, our kids are worth it to us.

Read the rest here.

WCC: Olivia Cole Says ‘F$?# You Miley Cyrus!’ [INTERVIEW]

You may know Olivia Cole from her frequent contributions at Huffington Post. Or, you may know her from her own site. If you don’t know her yet, let me introduce you. She is a writer, poet, and activist who offers her bold perspectives via the written word. I am smitten with this young lady. She perfectly sums up what I mean when I talk about “allies” outside of communities of color.

I asked Cole about her forthcoming book “Panther in the Hive.” The book is about Tasha Lockett, a bad-ass black woman with a knife and a Prada backpack in the inner-city of Chicago amidst a cybertronic Armageddon. I wanted to know what made her pick a woman of color to helm the dystopian sci-fi zombie novel.

COLE: “Well, first, sci-fi and fantasy kind of deal with what my friend Lamont actually said to me recently. He said ‘You know, it’s the people don’t wanna listen to current events issues that end up reading them in dystopian books.’ So, you know, people who are not necessarily into economic issues are reading the ‘Hunger Games’ and they’re like ‘Yeah!’ But, you know, I feel like it’s a sly way to get people thinking about these issues. And, my blog is the more blatant way of doing that. But I have been a writer, a creative writer my entire life. So that just seems like the most natural way.”

Read the full story here.