Saturday, October 24, 2009

Black and Missing but not Forgotten: A must read article: How The Media Treat Murder

Sad, but it is the brutal truth. While the mainstream media is riveted with the Annie Le and the Ballon boy cases, 10 Black women had been murdered or missing in Rocky Mount, N.C. This goes to show where the media's priorities lie, and it's never about Black women.

Ten women have been found slain or have been declared missing in Rocky Mount, N.C., in recent years. But the rest of the country hasn’t heard about a possible serial killer stalking the young women in this Southern town of 60,000. The latest victim, Elizabeth Jane Smallwood, was identified on Oct. 12. Why have the Rocky Mount homicides been largely ignored?

“When you think about the famous missing-person cases over the last few years it’s Chandra Levy, Natalee Holloway, and Laci Peterson,” notes Sam Sommers, associate professor of psychology at Tufts University. All these women had a few things in common—they were white, educated, and came from middle-class families. The victims in Rocky Mount—which residents describe as a “typical Southern town,” and is about 40 percent white and more than 50 percent black—were different. They were all African-American, many were poor, and some had criminal histories including drug abuse and prostitution.

“If it was someone of a different race, things would have been dealt with the first time around; it wouldn’t have taken the fifth or sixth person to be murdered,” says Andre Knight, a city-council member and president of the local NAACP chapter. “All these women knew each other and lived in the same neighborhood; this is the sign of a potential serial killer. When it didn’t get the kind of attention it needed, it made the African-American community frustrated.”

Police have not officially linked all the murders and disappearances, but community members claim the similarities among the women, their lifestyles, and the location of their bodies make a connection all too obvious. “If you find two bodies in the same location, this could be the work of the same person or people,” says Rocky Mount Police Chief John Manley, who would not comment on a connection, but implied the possibility.

Rumors are running rampant around the town about the identity of the serial killer. There is not much physical evidence, leading some to speculate it’s a former law-enforcement officer or someone in the military. Others have deduced that the killer is targeting specific women as a form of revenge for contracting HIV from a prostitute. Along with Smallwood, the murders of Taraha Nicholson, 28, Jarniece Hargrove, 31, Ernestine Battle, 50, Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, Melody Wiggins, 29, and Denise Williams, 21, remain unsolved. Authorities are also searching for Yolanda Lancaster, 37, Joyce Renee Durham, 46, and Christine Boone, 43.

One man is in custody for the murder of Nicholson, who was the fourth victim, discovered back in 2005. This past September, police charged Antwan Maurice Pittman, 31, with her murder. He is accused of strangling Nicholson and dumping her partially clothed body in the woods. So far, authorities have not linked Pittman to the other murders. “There’s a lot of mixed sentiments about Pittman,” says Knight, referring to community speculation about whether police have charged the right man.

“In this Information Age, cases get solved through sheer publicity, whether it’s an Amber Alert or America’s Most Wanted, anyone could have a tip or be a potential source of information,” Sommers says.

But the national media did show some interest in the story after it was revealed that five women were murdered in or around the town. “Nancy Grace called and wanted to have some of us on her show, but before it aired there was a white woman from Georgia that went missing. The Nancy Grace show was canceled,” Knight says. HLN network, which broadcasts Nancy Grace, confirmed that Knight was booked for the show, which was ultimately canceled to profile the disappearance of Kristi Cornwell, a white woman from Blairsville, Ga., who went missing during an evening walk. Representatives from Nancy Grace told NEWSWEEK, “The booking was changed due to news that was breaking that day,” and emphasized the change had nothing to do with the race of the victim.
On Aug. 12, Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees covered the story.
That bit of media exposure brought new resources to the investigation. Originally, only a small amount of reward money was collected for information about the case. After the story aired on CNN , New Jersey philanthropist Peter Pinto, of the Kefalas-Pinto Foundation, donated $10,000 from a personal trust. In late September, the city donated an additional $5,000, which was matched by a $5,000 county donation, bringing the amount of reward money to $20,000. If there were no media coverage, there might have been no reward. The money isn’t just going to help with the investigation, it’s helping the families of the victims, specifically their children.

The money proved to be a blessing for Jurary Tucker, the mother of Yolanda Lancaster, who has been missing since February 2008. “We were able to use some of the money to get [Yolanda's] children ready for school,” Tucker says. “They have to wear uniforms to school and they are very expensive; the money came at a good time.” Tucker became the primary custodian of her granddaughter and grandson after Lancaster’s disappearance.

When Annie Le, a 24-year-old Yale pharmacology graduate student, went missing on Sept. 8, it only took three days for the university to offer a $20,000 reward. In the case of the Rocky Mount women, it took more than six years to raise that same amount of money for 10 women.
Concerned residents of the town tried to promote the case by distributing fliers and purchasing a billboard advertisement featuring the women, but their efforts may have backfired. Mug-shot photographs of the victims, many pictured in orange jumpsuits, sometimes appearing disheveled or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, were used in their efforts. Unlike the images of a smiling Annie Le, these images showed the women during darker times.

“Everyone has a dark side at some point, but you want to put your best out front when you are trying to appeal [to the public] for help,” Chief Manley says. “When you look at obituaries in the newspaper, [the photos] show a bright time in someone’s life; you really want to show the person when they are doing well.”

Manley says the police department used the victims’ driver’s license photographs to help with search efforts. “You don’t need to air dirty laundry. Seeing someone’s dark side doesn’t appeal to the conscience of other people,” he says.

Concern over the buried headlines and lack of national media attention isn’t the only thing upsetting residents; some say there are deeper festering racial tensions in the community. When a candlelight vigil was held to commemorate the murdered women, only black community officials attended. When other vigils were organized for deaths in Rocky Mount, there was no racial divide, and community members, both black and white, attended the events in droves. “When a prominent attorney’s wife died, we all came together and the church was full, but when the community was coming together to share their pain and reach out to these families, only black elected officials were there,” Knight says. “They [white officials] didn’t have an excuse, they just didn’t come.”

Audio: Chris Rock surprised by reaction to Good Hair

Use the link below to listen to Chris Rock discuss the negative reaction to his documentary Good Hair.He discusses the postings on black web sites and message boards. He also wonders out loud why it is okay to display black men in the worst light but why we can't even discuss black women's hair.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Interracial Marriages of Politicians

Breaking the last racial taboo

There’s nothing more traditional in American politics than the wholesome family portrait: a beaming candidate, beaming spouse, reluctantly beaming teenagers.

But when Bill de Blasio, a candidate for public office in New York City this fall, put his family in his campaign mailings and TV ads, there was nothing routine about it. De Blasio’s wife of 15 years, Chirlane McCray, is black, his children are of mixed race and, even in one of America’s most liberal cities, no one could remember anything like it.

De Blasio, 48, won the crucial Democratic primary in a runoff Sept. 29 and is in line to be the city’s next public advocate, a sort of high-profile ombudsman’s job that’s second in the line of succession to the mayor. The city councilman from liberal Park Slope, Brooklyn, had other things going for him — institutional support, newspaper endorsements — but in the view of his campaign, and of many of the city’s political observers, his interracial relationship was an almost unmitigated positive in a hotly contested election.

With Barack Obama having rewritten the history of race relations in this country, de Blasio may be demolishing one of its last taboos, “For so long in American history, interracial couples went out of their way to keep their relationships out of the public eye that it’s remarkable to see them used in a campaign like this,” said Peggy Pascoe, a historian of interracial marriage at the University of Oregon, who referred to the campaign as “a post-Obama phenomenon.”
That’s a perception McCray said she shared. Obama, she said, “opened a door” and “made it easier for us to go there.”

While de Blasio’s success in New York reflects the increased acceptance of mixed marriages, recent history suggests that the new tolerance may still be dependent on geography and race. A sharp counterpoint was the 2006 Tennessee Senate race which then-Rep. Harold Ford, an African-American, lost narrowly to Republican Bob Corker after the final days of the campaign were consumed by a Republican National Committee ad linking Ford to a scantily clad young blond woman. Ford’s allies charged it was a thinly veiled attempt to tap into old Southern fears about black men and white women.

And it seems to be a current that still remains just below the surface in Tennessee politics: Ford’s subsequent marriage to a white woman was widely viewed as a major barrier to another run.

While the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage in 1967, attitudes were relatively slow to change in much of the country. When Dean Rusk, who was secretary of state at the time, learned that his daughter planned to marry a black man that same year, he offered his resignation, which President Lyndon B. Johnson declined. Former Massachusetts Sen. Ed Brooke, an African-American, was married to an Italian woman he’d met as a soldier in World War II, something he later said was sometimes used against him even in that liberal state. And Obama himself faced challenges to his racial authenticity as the child of a mixed marriage.

Gallup surveys indicate that only 48 percent of Americans approved of marriage between blacks and whites as recently as 1994, a number that had risen to 77 percent by 2007.

Other barriers fell long ago: Phil Gramm, for example, a prominent conservative elected to both the House and Senate from Texas, is married to woman of Korean heritage who was born in Hawaii. This year, in deeply conservative South Carolina, state Sen. Nikki Haley, who is of Indian descent, has put her husband, who is white, and their children front and center in her campaign for governor.

“It’s a total nonissue,” said her spokesman, Tim Pearson.

The politics of black and white, though, have always been more sensitive. But de Blasio’s campaign, like Obama’s, reflects a New York political environment in which the politics of race are changing fast.

“It’s the right city — particularly if you’re the white man running for a citywide office — to show that you can be connected to and understand the issues of people of color in the city as a public advocate,” said Maya Wiley, the director of the Center for Social Inclusion in New York.

For de Blasio, his family seemed to serve two political purposes: establishing his credibility with African-American voters, and projecting the image for all voters of a candidate suited to the Obama era.

“It’s not post-racial, and it’s not nonracial — but it’s a different racial environment,” said Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College in Manhattan. The image, he said “is simply more modern, it’s more American, and it’s sort of an apotheosis of New York.”

De Blasio said in an interview that he had little choice about projecting his identity. “This is literally who I am, and these are the most important people in my life, and my life revolves around them. My wife is my partner in everything,” he said.

McCray narrates de Blasio’s first ad, concluding with an arm around him, “Bill’s a great husband and father, and he’ll be a great public advocate. I should know — this big guy’s my husband.” His second television ad, narrated by their 12-year-old son, Dante, closed with an image of de Blasio and his family to underscore a message of inclusion: “I’ll stand up for all New Yorkers,” the candidate intones.

His wife’s prominence wasn’t all a matter of course — a poll done early on for the campaign specifically included a question on interracial marriage. But de Blasio said he always hoped his candidacy could have a larger impact.

“I thought if I could do this the right way and show a multiracial family in a very positive light that that was good for the public discourse and also for candidates,” de Blasio said. “Every time a candidate who’s different ventures out and succeeds, it opens up a lot more space.”

De Blasio and McCray met when a more traditional racial politics was at its height in New York. Then- Mayor David Dinkins’s fragile coalition-building had brought together black and Hispanic voters and enough liberal whites to win a narrow majority, but that coalition ultimately fractured when he ran for reelection against Rudy Giuliani in a contest dominated by violence between blacks and Jews.

The Dinkins movement “wasn’t sustainable, because we didn’t reach deeply enough and ended up with an incomplete coalition,” said de Blasio, who, like his wife, worked for Dinkins. “That was a foundational experience to me — that the only way you make real change in society is to create a full coalition and sustain it.”

His efforts to make his family a kind of symbolic coalition drew some resistance. A black nationalist city councilman, Charles Barron, called his mailing “disgraceful” and “an insult to the black community.”

Rival campaigns, meanwhile, were unsure of what to make of it. A senior aide to one rival said they tested de Blasio’s mailings in a focus group and left hoping that voters would find the appeal “crass.” On the campaign trail, though, the reception was overwhelmingly positive, McCray said in an interview. “People loved the literature. Some people have it hanging in their living rooms,” she said.

De Blasio’s primary victory hardly marked the end of racial politics in New York, long split by tribes and their alliances, if shifting ones. The same day, a Dinkins-style minority coalition carried a Chinese-American, John Liu, to victory in a campaign marked by appeals to racial and ethnic solidarity —such as those from one black Brooklyn council woman, who said: “We stand with this minority because we, as members of a minority, recognize that when we stand together, we represent a majority.”

De Blasio, who is expected to win handily against a token opponent in next month’s general election, declined to offer a simple lesson from his win.

“We’re not in post-racial politics, but we’re in a politics of racial possibility,” de Blasio said. “Our obligation is to keep pushing it, ... to keep trying all the permutations of it.”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

ei: Report: Israeli intelligence illegally profiling travelers in South Africa

ei: Report: Israeli intelligence illegally profiling travelers in South Africa: "Sayed Dhansay, The Electronic Intifada, 16 October 2009

Despite our relatively recent struggle against apartheid, I highlighted in a previous article the disturbing level of bilateral trade and cooperation between the South African government and Israel. Bearing our own history in mind, one would expect South Africa to be at the forefront of political efforts to bring Israel in line with international law -- and perhaps even be championing economic isolation of Israel -- as this was a major factor in ending white minority rule in our country.

Unfortunately, however, this appears to not be the case. In the latest example of Israeli entrenchment in South Africa, it has been discovered that Israeli intelligence, or Shin Bet, agents are illegally profiling and detaining South African citizens in Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport."

The Rape of Black Women by White Men: Systemic Racism Again

The Rape of Black Women by White Men: Systemic Racism Again

Shared via AddThis

Once fully instituted, the two-centuries-plus years of slavery arrangements became much more than a machine for generating wealth. They constituted a well-developed system for the social and sexual control of men and women. During slavery, and later under legal segregation, many African and African American women were sexually coerced and raped by white men, including white sailors, slavemasters, overseers, and employers. Such sexual violence symbolized white male power to everyone in local communities. Under the North American system the children resulting from coerced sexual relations were automatically classified as black, even though they had European ancestry. Indeed, it is estimated today that at least three-quarters of “black” Americans have at least one “white” ancestor. No other U.S. racial group’s physical makeup has been so substantially determined by the sexual coercion and depredations of white men.

stuff white people do: fail to see how race and gender intersect

stuff white people do: fail to see how race and gender intersect

You'll ought to read this one from Macon d. Yes, racialized sexism is alive and well in 2009.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Now white men are dating options and not oppressors?

Its sad to see black women change their whole stance on white men when it comes to dating.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lena Horne - Stormy Weather (1943)

Eating Disorders & African Americans

Eating disorders are illnesses most frequently found in young women, although boys and young men are also victims. We often hear of high school and college girls plus fashion models being afflicted with these disorders, but we don't often hear about the problem in women of color. Click the link below to watch the stories of two black women comabting eating disorders:

Friday, October 09, 2009

OK Cupid and Racism in the Romantic Sphere

I agree with J. Chang at Racialicious. People may have romantic/marital preferences yet at at the same time want to deny that their decision are based upon racial/ethnic bias. America is incresingly segregated by race and ethnicity. It shows in school statistics, where one lives, plays, worships, and even shops(whole malls are coded as upscale/downscale/black/white/Hispanic).

We all know that Black women are the last picked by nonblack men across the board and that White women are more race-picky when it comes to choosing lifemates.

Before you say anything - it’s actually well done and an interesting read.
The OK Cupid staff processed some raw data to find out exactly how users matched across race and subsequently, how users respond to others across races. The results weren’t particularly shocking as I am living it everyday, but still, to see this chart I get a very real physical reaction. A general malaise. In short, Black women are the least desirable women on the site. And overwhelmingly so. I mean look at that sad pink/orange bar.
In the comment’s section of the post, hundreds of faux scholars (idiots) drolled on about how this data doesn’t mean anything, and maybe it’s just CULTURAL differences, maybe more black women are fat. Maybe more black women use bad grammar/text speak. It’s totally not racist to not want to date one race. It’s just a preference!
I wish there were a sound associated with plainface, blank stare blinking - the sound of eyelashes going up and down. Because that’s what you’d hear from me right now. Toothsuck.
I agree that a preference and inclination to your own race is not racist. But the buck stops there. EXCLUDING races is, in fact, fucked up. It’s not racist in the sense that Blacks riding in the back of the bus was institutionally racist, but I mean, come on.
In the article, they also display users’ answers to the question “Would you prefer to date someone of your own race?” Non-whites answered around the 25% yes, 75% no range while white men and women were around 45% yes. To this one man replies:
“The second question was worded as “Would you strongly prefer to date someone of your own skin color/racial background”. I answered that question “No”, because I’d be fine dating white, middle-eastern, latin-american, native-american, and asian women, but I’d simply not be attracted to african-american women. That is NOT racism, however – I work and socially interact with black women, and don’t have any problem with it. Developing an intimate relationship, however, is a very different thing.”
I would date every race except black bitches. BUT I KNOW BLACK LADIES SO I’M TOTALLY NOT A BIGOT. A lot of people think this way. A fucking lot. On the one hand it’s hard to fault people for being products of their environment - that is, finding attractive the people we are TOLD to find attractive. But on the other, I’m not about to give everyone a pass because “that’s just how things are”. My ass, you can kiss it.
It’s hard for me to really explain how it feels to be a part of the group that is overwhelmingly undesired. To be seen as universally unattractive. Of course there are so many factors that led to how this data came to be, geography, age, culture and so on, but let’s not kid ourselves. The data would tell a similar story no matter how you slice it.
The one group that has it worse that us - Indian men. Where my Indian fellas at? Let’s commiserate.
This is so fucked up. It’s just so depressing, yet I am not completely shocked about the results that were found. Damn.

These findings are a reflection of who we are as Americans. If anyone has something to say, please say it.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Missing woman Mia Lynn Nichols found dead.

The body of a missing woman Mia Lynn Nichols of Baltimore has been found almost a year after she dissapeared.

I would like to give my condolences to Mia's family whom I had the chance to meet last year at Mia's vigil and to all of her family and friends. This one hurts a little more than the rest. If her family and friends were any indication Mia was a great person.

Read more on this story and here:


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