Wednesday, September 18, 2013

To protect and serve. Or just shoot a bunch of times--I forget which one.

Another day, another unarmed black man shot by the police.

I know that's not the reality, but that is certainly how it feels sometimes. I'm sure you can excuse my cynicism.

If you don't know what I am talking about, please click here. They've got a comprehensive summary of the events.

As I've said before, part of the problem when you are talking about race is that you can never really know if race was a factor in any particular incident, unless all the parties involved agree that it was. And 99 times out of 100 if there are white parties involved, they are going to say that it wasn't. Why? Maybe because if they admit it, they will get the devil's spawn label of racist.

So white people, stop lying to yourselves and others when you do something racist. And black people, stop using white people's racist behavior as an excuse to jump down their throats without offering anything constructive that might help them change. Sigh. I can tell I'm freakin' annoyed. But I'm going to press on, because I've got a lot to say about this.

In a number of ways it doesn't matter if Jonathan was white or black--he's dead. And a cop killed him. There are lots of things about this that open up the possibility that it wasn't racially motivated. It was Saturday night, it was dark, he was built like an ex-football player, he was running towards the cops, the woman who called 911 probably gave the impression that he was some sort of criminal, since she was calling 911 instead of asking him through her locked door why he was banging on it at 2:30 in the morning. And maybe the cop was new or something.

Also, I can off the top of my head recall a white guy in my city that was recently killed by the police (though he had a weapon,) a white pregnant woman that was thrown on the ground and handcuffed (though she was not visibly pregnant, and she got 250k for her ordeal.) And let's not forget about the white grandma and white college student that were tased by white cops (Don't tase me, bro!) Oh, there is an incident where a young white man with Down Syndrome was killed by police when they were trying to subdue him for sneaking into a movie that he wanted to watch a second time. That one didn't even make the news (at least not the channel I watch.)

So, just like police apparently need to learn that perhaps they should change their approach when dealing with a person with a developmental disability, perhaps they should try harder to resist the conditioning that they've gotten from The Birth of a Nation, their grandparents, and/or gangsta rap that tells them to shoot 10 times when a big black man that's just been injured in a car accident is running towards them.

And just a PSA for my readers: If you are ever walking towards the police and they tell you to stop and you don't, they are trained to shoot you--even if they believe you are unarmed. Why?

Because if they don't shoot you, you could get close enough to them to overpower them and take their gun and shoot them. Also, they are not going to shoot to wound. They are trained to aim for the largest part of your body (your chest.) And if you get shot in your chest, there is a good chance that you are going to die. So, all that to say-- just do what the police tell you to do.

It may not seem like it, but I'm not trying to bash on cops. Number one, I don't feel like getting harassed for the rest of my life. Number two, I know their jobs are stressful and they have to deal with a lot of BS. I was even arrested once (a story for another blog post,) and the cop that I dealt with was actually pretty cool. I just wish that cops wouldn't always stick together and support the few among them that are doing wrong.

Like, I can't remember the exact statistic, but in most departments there are a couple of officers who get complaint after complaint, and most officers get one or none. But those officers with multiple complaints against them are allowed to keep their jobs, in no small part due to the police unions that for some reason think those people shouldn't be fired.

I'm speaking directly to cops right now: Those "bad apples" are giving your profession a bad name, and everyone would be better off if they weren't part of your organization. Forget this code of silence crap, and listen to your conscience. You probably got into this profession to help people, but it can be hard to do that when some of your co-workers are unjustifiably abusing and killing others. Being able to legally kill people is a privilege, and it would make sense to me that you would want people that are given that privilege to be held to very high standards.

Ok, I'm not talking to the cops anymore. As a citizen of the United States, it should be reasonable to assume that the people that swear to protect and serve you will do just that. You shouldn't have to worry that your physical size, your skin color or anything else is going to cause them to take an action against you that has fatal consequences. If Randall Kerrick is actually guilty of this crime, I hope that he receives a serious and significant punishment, and that police officers across the country will applaud the verdict as a sign that the community (cops included,) will not just stand idly by and allow things like this to happen.

So, that's what I think. Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The 15th thing you can do to stop being racist.

[Editor's note: The stuff below was originally part of another post. I cut it out because I decided that post was too long. If you'd like to read that post, click here . And if you're wondering what things 1-14 are to stop being racist, click here.]

#15) Read blogs and websites whose target audience are people that are different than you.

Not like this blog (though you should definitely keep reading this one or I'll be sad.) is great, but it really only talks about one thing: -isms. I'm talking about sites that discuss music, current events, fashion, family life, etc. Places where you can read and learn more about different (sub)cultures without having to potentially annoy your one __fill in the blank__ friend by asking him/her questions. You also get to see what said _fill in the blank_ people think and say when talking amongst themselves.

Ok, as I write that last sentence I realize that what I am advocating might seem a little sneaky, but it's really not. On the internet, people know that whatever they say is public. So even if it's a site for say, Asian women--the idea that non-Asian women are not allowed to read is just dumb.

An example would be if you're a guy. I'm not going to give any more examples, because like a Romanian gymnastics coach, you can show me how badly you want it by finding these types of sites on your own.

But a key part to thing #15 is that you don't go there and start trying to take it over by commenting all the time, or asking to write articles, or telling everyone how you agree/disagree with them, or giving unsolicited suggestions on how the site could be improved. That's just annoying.

You're there to watch and learn. You'll get to hear about things that you probably won't hear about from sites that are run by members of the dominant group. And you'll get to hear about things that you are reading about on sites run by the dominant group from what is likely to be a different perspective. You'll also learn that the people on these new sites are just like the people in whatever group you're from--some seem smart and some seem stupid, some seem nice and some seem mean, etc. etc. etc.

If you have anything you think would make a good addition to my list, or you'd just like to leave me a comment--leave me a comment.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Gotta dance!

[Editor's note: On Sunday, September 8th, I decided this blog post was too long. So I split it into two. You can read the second part here.]

Hey y'all. I know it's been awhile. I've been busy (I'll explain later,) but now I'm back. I know some of you are/were looking for a Trayvon Martin post. Of course I have thoughts on the verdict, but I am not going to write them today.

Today, I want to talk about the video below. It's possible you've already seen it, since it went viral a couple of weeks ago. If that's the case, you don't really need to watch it again.

That was how Sam Horowitz, a 13-year-old from Texas, made his grand entrance at the party/reception following his Bar Mitzvah. I'm guessing it went viral because it could definitely be described as over the top. Although, it doesn't even have a million views so is that even viral? Whatevs.

One of the places that I saw Sam's video was a site that I have liked on Facebook that talks about all things Jewish. Whoever runs their Facebook page asked people what they thought about the performance. Surprisingly, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative. People talked about how his family had messed up priorities, were materialistic, were going to make other families feel like they had to "keep up with the Joneses" and other similar things.

One thing that really stood out to me was that the comment that had the most likes contained the phrase "[this] makes us look bad."

That of course, begs the question: Look bad to whom?

Well, we all know the answer to that. It supposedly makes them look bad to Goyim, non-Jewish people.

As a non-Jewish person, I thought the routine was fun, and just a young boy who likes to dance, performing for his friends and family. I heard on Inside Edition that he had done some fundraising for people in Israel. Community service is apparently part of what you are supposed to do when you have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

It also bugs me when people say things like, "The money spent on x could have fed y starving children!" It's like, "Um, the computer you're writing your self-righteous comment on could probably be sold to buy a poor person a whole new wardrobe."

I am of the opinion that people can do what they want with their money. If they did what you wanted them to do with it, that'd make it your money.

So I left a comment that said what I just said, minus the part about how people spend their money (I don't like to be snarky.) I didn't say, "I'm not Jewish..." but since I'm black and my last name is Gustafson...people probably figured it out. And yes, I know you can be a black person named Gustafson AND Jewish--but I'm not.

You know how many people liked my comment? Zero.

Another sidenote: Am I the only person who goes back to comments I've written on Facebook to see how many likes they get?


Ok, nevermind.

So all this brings me to my point: What is up with this concept that things that people do make other people look bad? You rarely hear about white, straight, tall, able-bodied men talking about how other people like them make them look bad.

Also, what is up with saying things about a member of your own group that if another person who wasn't part of that group said, would get them labeled racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, etc.? If you click through to see the comments on the video on youtube, you will see what I mean. And I have experienced this on sites that are about black people as well. And with people I know for sure are black, because they are sitting right in front of me.

If you find yourself being highly critical of members of your group for displaying certain characteristics, in a way that you don't allow other people to be, you need to realize that either:

1) Those people not in your group have a point, and don't be so quick to label them as evil and hateful.


2) Your internalized racism/homophobia/anti-semitism/etc. is so high that you are doing the work of your oppressors for them.

If you don't like materialistic people, fine.

If you think that video proves that the Horowitz family is materialistic and you don't like them because of that, less fine, but fine.

If you think that the Horowitz family is materialistic because they are Jewish, not fine.

If you think poorly of other Jewish people because you saw this video of Sam, not fine.

Of course, I want to hear what you think. If you are part of a marginalized group, what do you think about the idea of whatever making us look bad?

And the reason I have been busy...I had another baby! She was born at the end of June. If/when she does something blog worthy, I will call her Georgina. And no feet pictures, but you can rest assured that she is adorable (:

So seriously, leave me a comment. I've missed you all, and I want to know what you're thinking.