Tag Archives: race

New #SCOTUS ruling on affirmative action passes the buck and says let voters decide

The best possible spin on the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action in Michigan is that it doesn’t end affirmative action.

The decision did not say affirmative action was unconstitutional.

It merely narrowly decided that Prop.2, the Michigan initiative that voters passed to end race-based affirmative action in that state could be applied and that the equal protection clause was not violated.

It even sounds good. Let the voters decide, right?

OK, but why do we leave it to the voters to decide on that issue and that issue alone, and not on every single item that the University officials oversee?

Why take that power away from the professional educators?

As I went through the 6-2 opinion, I wasn’t that surprised that someone liberal like Breyer would vote with Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas.

Breyer stated he was for some forms of affirmative action, but didn’t see why the voters shouldn’t be allowed to weigh in.

But then there was Sotomayor’s lengthy dissent, which took the hardline, that this ruling indeed was setting up the situation where down the line we might  see the tyranny of the majority, and see the violation of minority rights under the equal protection clause.

That’s what was at stake here.

The majority of justices seemed happy enough to see the voters figure out where they stand on affirmative action.

After reading Sotomayor’s minority dissent, I’m not sure if that’s such a great thing.

We know how fair elections are now, with money driving everything.

That means we’ll probably see  a lot more SCA-5 style battles–until the court makes yet another ruling on the constitutionality of race based methods in university admissions.

UPDATE: 4/23/2014

It’s not surprising that the courts want to get out of the race business. Just like the legislatures have gotten out of legislating by relinquishing their role to the initiative process for the tough issues.

So if the elections are so important, why do electoral rights seem to be under attack? From the Voting Rights Act provisions, to campaign finance, has there been a more activist Supreme Court to reverse  the rights of minorities?

And now elections are the preferred way to settle racial fights? Sounds like SCOTUS just gave itself cover for its horrendous decisions, putting it all on the electorate.

 

 

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Oscars 2014: A turning point for diversity in the industry?

Like Hostess Ellen said, either “12 Years a slave” wins or we’re all racists. 

Good thing it won. But I don’t know if we’ve really turned a corner on diversity.  Under-representation and stereotypes still exist in Hollywood.  Asians are few and far between, and Native Americans?  In these times, Johnny Depp can still play Tonto.

But my goodness, the list of winners in the top categories this year is still  impressive:

Asian American of Filipino descent: Robert Lopez, composer, Best Original Song, “Let it Go,” from “Frozen.”

Mexican American: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity.”

African American: John Ridley, Best Screenplay adaption, “12 Years a Slave.”

Mexican Kenyan: Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress, “12 Years a Slave.”

Brit director Steve McQueen’s brutally honest telling of the Solomon Northup story is so disturbing, it’s hard to take.

But it needed to be told finally. Doesn’t put closure on the race issue by a long-shot. Don’t talk about post-racial America after a “Best Picture” Oscar.

But I think the industry is beginning to change as far as recognizing diverse audiences.

You can’t deny the winner’s list tonight.

I pretty much predicted how it would go.

“Gravity” was such a technical marvel, but didn’t quite get out of the planetarium for me.

I loved Amy Adams but knew she wouldn’t win. “American Hustle” was good but ABSCAM isn’t Watergate.  And for New Jersey folks, it’s not even Bridgegate.

So Cate Blanchett wins as she has most of the pre-shows.

Same with Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey in the  male actor categories.

Both of them gave great speeches.

I thought Leto’s mention of Ukraine and Venezuela, and AIDS victims brought things a little closer to reality. And McConaughey’s mention of God, was “all right, all right.”

But given the diversity wins of the night, Oscar folks still like things more  tactful than I would have wanted.

Never mind, Lupita Nyong’o’s acceptance speech struck the right chord. She recognized that her success was based on the pain of the past.(A show of humility there). And then after thanking colleagues, she chose to inspire:

“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid. Thank you.”

This was not a night or the time to beat anyone over the head apparently. Not with Ellen playing silly, ordering pizzas and doing selfies.  It was a fun, guilt free Oscars.

And the winners were among the most I can ever remember.

Leave it to Lupita Nyong’o  to help validate the night.

 

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PODCAST: Arthur Chu, “Jeopardy” Champ, On The Racist Twitter Reaction To His Success, And Racism in General, Part 1

Arthur Chu was in Ohio, still working as a compliance analyst for an insurance company, even though he could have many more appearances on “Jeopardy.”

At the time of our conversation he had amassed in excess of $235,000 in just two weeks of shows.

In Part 1 of our conversation, Chu talked frankly about his sudden fame, and how the initial reaction on the internet to his success was extremely racist.

He said the number of angry tweets actually surprised him. But he was most surprised that people tried to deny that race had anything to do with peoples’ response to him.

[powerpress]http://www.amok.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Arthur-Chu-Jeopardy-Champ-On-The-Racist-Twitter-Reaction-To-His-Success-Part-1.m4a[/powerpress]

 

Arthur Chu, "Jeopardy" Champ On The Racist Twitter Reaction To His Success, Part 1

 

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VIDEO: Classy, teary apology from MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry should be more than enough to satisfy the aggrieved on the Right

We can debate whether it was  a trumped up controversy or not, but MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry gave an apology anyway for comments made on her show about the adopted African American grandchild of Mitt Romney.

The apology sure wasn’t one of those infamous non-apologies that people who aren’t really sorry tend to give.  MHP’s was heart-felt, emotional, and sincere. As the namesake of the show, she showed real courage and integrity by standing up to the heat.  It’s the kind of apology that makes you like the person more, not less. And based on the alleged “crime,” I don’t think the Right needed much more than a clarification.  It shouldn’t have required  such a full blown apology.

But she did one. And took responsibility for everything.  She didn’t deflect, try to blame guests, producers, etc.  She put it all on her shoulders.  You’d think that should earn her  some brownie points from her critics. But she continues to be bashed on conservative sites for her “crocodile tears.” The woman’s from New Orleans, but those weren’t crocodile tears.

She deserves credit for putting aside the b.s. of political TV talk and just being real.

Here’s the apology:

 

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Demonizing Tiger: Woods’ villification has racial overtones

People talk about Nike using Earl Woods’ voice out of context in an ad prior to the Masters. But is anyone grousing about the full-page family values ads now appearing in the major dailies featuring Phil Mickelson and his cancer-suffering  wife Amy? 

Talk about exploitation. Even better that Mickelson is white, the better to offset and polarize the whole situation in a way America can understand. i.e., Mickelson good, Tiger bad.

Bad Tiger! This is your punishment from the culture at large for being a selfish, amoral, pleasure seeking human being.

If you had been a bank, you could have received a bailout. But now it’s everyone’s turn to dis and dish.

This is one bandwagon I’m not hopping on.

Now they’re even commenting on how Tiger swears on the golf course (no secret).  Suddently golf and sport has gotten all puritanical and proper.  Does anyone get on baseball players for spitting? Howabout how basketball players handle their mouthguards, then high five each other. How unsanitary. Oh, and about that vigorous ass patting…

All of that is nothing compared to jumping on Tiger, the devil himself.

I hope Tiger recovers soon.

Consider the sexual proclivities of other public figures and how they’ve bounced back. After Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton is a revered world crisis solver. After biting women in secret hotel trysts, Marv Albert is back doing the NBA playoffs. (“YES!!”). After dumping his longtime wife in favor of a scandalous affair with a younger woman, newly divorced golf anchor Jim Nantz was there at the Masters with the call. 

Even David Letterman gets a light lashing after his intern trysts. Always good to have an extortionist come in and trump your bad hand. 

So comebacks do happen. But is there extra joy in dumping Tiger because Woods happens to be of mixed race?

He is at once the greatest black and Asian American golfer to ever play. He may be the greatest golfer period.  When he was good he was treated like royalty. But his indiscretions find him being treated with a whole let less compassion. He’s not a pariah yet. His golf game is too good. But the culture seems to be turning against him more so now that Mickelson can be the public face for the new Victorian era of golf.

Never mind Mickelson’s gambling habits. That’s an allowable vice, I guess.

But just ask yourself if Tiger would  be treated differently if he were white? 

   

Jimmy Carter’s race statements are right, but at odds with Obama’s Plutonian race strategy

When Jimmy Carter says it’s about race, I believe him to be as true as his boiled peanut recipe.

But Carter’s bluntness in his comments to NBC that the animosity toward Obama is race-based, is much too direct for Obama’s current style, and could upset the president’s momentum.

Obama is too cool for direct. Apparently, his race politics are way too subtle for the country.

The way Barack Obama has become a winner in politics is by diffusing the race issue and making it seem irrelevant.

In the Obama universe, issues don’t revolve around race. In this political solar system, race isn’t at the center like the Sun.

It’s more like Pluto.

It really is the formula to Obama’s success, and his new politics of bringing the country together. That’s not to mean he’s a Clarence Thomas , or that he forgets the importance of ethnicity and race in public policy.

It’s just that he knows race bogs down everything . It’s polarizing. And it prevents him reaching the kinds of compromise that helps one effectively lead an entire country.

So he sidesteps it.

Obama’s compromise on race is to show up, make it obvious he’s a black president, but not to dwell on it. For Obama, race is more the subtle subtext and not the raging headline. It was his secret to his campaign and his success.

And it throws the GOP off-track. They don’t know how to deal with a 21st Century Race politician.

When the GOP can’t argue the facts, as in health care, or when it can’t stem the support for the president on real issues, then it goes ad hominem and race is the old standby. The whole birth certificate issue and the Islamic middle name issue are nothing more than racist attacks on Obama.

Of course, all the stumbling around on race is based on how most people don’t want to admit racism is happening or even in existence. It plays to the moral conscience of both the white perps and the white liberals, who think they are perfect. Aren’t we all better than that? We’ve gone beyond race, right?

Well, not exactly.

So when Maureen Dowd writes her NY Times column about essentially saying, “Damn, we got racism here;” And when Jimmy Carter, our Southern gentleman, starts talking from the heart about racism at play in the policy debate, well then, by gum, we have racism.
What are we going to do about it?

I’m starting to see the wisdom of the Obama strategy. He’s just figured out a way to deal with race so he can get things done. The answer. Don’t deal with it.

It’s a tad zen-like.

By comparison, those who know the old politics on race are like cold warriors. Maybe we should try to do as Obama and ignore all this and try to press on, hoping that policies and people can change, and that by focusing on the bigger picture we can all be led to a new place together. Does that sound too grandiose or Lincolnesque? So be it. To do otherwise, is to bog down in the past, polarize, and get no where. Didn’t Obama show us that?

Maybe this is another one of those times that race bubbles up in Obama’s path, like the Rev.Wright affair. That means one sure-fire prescription could work now: A little speech therapy to put everything back into order in the Obama political universe, where race is minor.

As I said, race is not the Sun, it’s more like Pluto, making the strategy absolutely Plutonian.

The Skip Gates arrest: Is this the national conversation on race we were meant to have?

I still think the Skip Gates incident is an example of the kind of racism we have now in America. If Gates wasn’t black, the officer in question would have been a lot more courteous to a man such as Gates. But Gates doesn’t look like a distinguished professor. Take away his Harvard ID and would he look like a crackhead looking to lift a TV in some expensive home?

That’s how far we have come on race in America.

I do want to be fair to the cop. So let’s take color out of the equation.

Then what do you have?

A pure battle of egos. The police officer and the distinguished professor, each of whom was pulling a little one-upmanship on the other.

A prominent black scholar gets asked to come out of his house by an officer. He knows the history of race in America and gets irritated as hell. He calls the chief of police on his cell phone.

Meanwhile, the officer at the scene reacts to said prominent professor pulling rank with the only thing he can do to show his authority and preserve his alpha maleness.  He makes a meaningless arrest, and thus documents his abuse of power.

At the core, it’s all ego, more than race, though race was there for sure, like tossing gasoline in a field of straw.

Get rid of race, and you still have an ego problem. And isn’t that the center of all our problems, especially when it comes to power and the exertion of power in unfair ways over those with less power (who more often than not are people of color)?

So  now that the Senate isn’t going to pass health care by August, maybe we’ve just been given something to chew on as a nation on vacation.

When Eric Holder called for honest frank discussions on race during Black History month, all he needed was something like the Gates arrest to kick things off. It’s actually quite fitting for those summer discussions at the beach house.  Over mojitos or a few brews, go ahead ask your friends who they think was right: Gates? The cop?

Hot enough for you?