Saturday, February 04, 2006

You look a little not pale, may I see your vagina?

The federal government has settled with a group of 87 African American women who were obtrusively searched (in some cases strip-searched) in the late 90s at O'Hare Airport for a sum of $2 million dollars.

Some articles on the topic:
CBS 2 Chicago
ABC 7 Chicago
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Sun-Times

There are a few issues here:
The government admitted no wrong-doing.
From the Sun-Times article:
The government admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, saying the searches at O'Hare are considered "border searches" that do not require warrants and need be based only on reasonable suspicion that the suspect is carrying contraband.

This makes sense, but what criteria were they acting upon?
From the Tribune article:

Jacquelyn Jordan-Akinola, a graduate student from Chicago, said she was strip-searched when she returned from Jamaica in July 1997.

Jordan-Akinola said about 70 percent of the passengers on her flight were white, but when she was steered into a line to be searched, she found herself among all black women.

From the Sun-Times:

All appeared singled out for their race, he said. One woman, an actress returning from Germany, was singled out for an extensive search because her "itinerary was suspicious," even though three white actress colleagues traveling with her had identical itineraries, he said.

So basically, our government agency had a clear policy of racial-profiling. So people might agree with that, others may not. But there's another problem:

From the CBS 2 article:

Victim attorney Edward Fox said, "The most frequently searched group of people were black women. And, at least in 1997, the group most likely not to have drugs on them, were black women."

Finally, the victims, rather than receive this settlement, had wanted to file a class-action suit. But this request was denied by the judge on the case.

So we have a situation where people of the same ethnicity were picked out of line for drug smuggling. When questioned, Customs said that they did so on the basis of circumstantial "suspicious" characteristics, which is a lie because they people they picked out's "suspicious" characteristics were no different than their white counterparts. They also did so on the basis of psychological cues such as nervousness. Of course, if customs agents and law enforcement officials in general have a history of attacking people of color, especially African-Americans, why wouldn't they be nervous? I get nervous in the airport, not because I'm smuggling, but because I'm worried that some assholes might decide to give me a body cavity search.

The group targeted was the least logical for racial pro-filing, unless of course, our government wanted to send a clear message that "We don't care about drugs, we just hate niggers". In the end, the court system refused to recognize this as a consistently targeted group and the government refused to acknowledge wrong-doing.

Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of those who pursued this case and brought attention to the injustice. Sometimes however, when our government decides on an institutional level to condone the sexual assault of women because their skin is too dark, I get a tiny bit ashamed of the country I love.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I don't need ESP--it's racially motivated

A white terrorist killed six others and herself in a California post office yesterday. All six victims were people-of-color. In addition, she killed a former co-worker at the woman's apartment, who was white.

According to the article:

Anderson (the County Sheriff) said it wasn't clear if the killings were racially motivated.

This might be hard to determine--as racist assholes tell me regularly, "You aren't in my head! Stop being so PC! You have no idea whether I hate you coloreds or not!"

Let's see what evidence there might be:
1. Acquaintances said San Marco, who was white, sometimes talked to herself and spewed racist comments.
A deputy clerk in the town of Milan said she once requested a business license to start a publication called "The Racist Press."

This is a problem with mainstream definitions of "racism". In order for a killing to be "racially motivated", the mainstream demands that someone actually be yelling, "I am going to kill you right now, you Chink, you, and I want to make it clear that I am killing you not because I'm just aiming your way, but solely because you are Asian. Also, I have no Asian friends, I have never had Asians over to my house, and am not married to an Asian person. I really just don't like Asian people, and that's why I'm killing you. Please pass out copies of this statement after I take my own life."

And then half the law enforcement agencies in the country would say, "Well, she killed herself and she's white, so it must not have been 'racially motivated'!

For those who are still unclear on how white privilege works, remember the Chai Vang case, and now ask yourself, "Does every white person in America have to fear that they will be threatened because some white women killed a bunch of people in a post office in California?" Will we start discussing racial profiling of white people for homocidal craziness?

No, and that's why, even if racial profiling worked, which it doesn't, the proponents of it are racist assholes. They hide behind arguments like, "It keeps us safer (to code people by race)" but what they really mean it that "I'm in favor of persecuting YOU for race, but I would not give up a single right for other Americans' safety!"

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"Cause the N-C-Double A**holes won't let us..."

The U of I in Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has filed a second appeal with the NCAA regarding its mascot. (Peep the typo in the USA Today online headline.) I figured it'd be good to update and trot out this piece again:

Please enjoy and comment!
Hail Alma Mater, ever so true...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hines Ward's Biggest Victory

Whenever you are inclined to gloss over privilege, just look at your own children or parents and ask, "Would I have been allowed to have a relationship with them if I happened to be the wrong color?" Hines Ward, superstar receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was one of the many babies of Asian descent taken away from his mother simply because she was of Asian descent. In his case, he righted the wrong that our court system committed as a second-grader.

This article details Ward's amazing journey, including an Anna Mae He-esque court decision:

Anna Mae He is still with her kidnappers. Will she need to run away too, or might we as a society right this wrong and stop kidnapping babies of Asian descent?

To really bring out the emotions in Ward, one needs only to mention his mother. Ward invariably gets misty-eyed talking about her, as if he can't believe how lucky someone could be to have a mother like his.

"She means everything to me," Ward said.

Kim Young-hee must feel the same way about her son.

Shortly after coming to the United States, she and her husband divorced, leaving her in a country whose culture and language she didn't understand, and with a young son and no way to support him.

Then it got worse.

According to Ward, a court determined she could not suitably raise Hines without being able to speak English or hold a job. As a result, Ward's father and a new stepmother were awarded custody of Hines. It was a devastating blow to Ward's mother, who could have been forgiven for giving up and moving back home to Korea.

Remarkably, she didn't. And when Hines was in the second grade, he ran away from his father and returned to the mother he had never forgotten, and never left again until he went to Georgia to play football.

To raise Hines, Kim Young-hee often worked three jobs nearly around the clock, taking breaks only to sleep for a few hours and to go home to get her son up in the morning and make sure he had dinner.

She washed dishes, cleaned hotel rooms, worked as a cashier. Nothing was for her -- her only concern was making sure her son had clean clothes, food and the best home life she could provide, even if it wasn't a high-income lifestyle.

Ward didn't have a father to lean on -- he says he has no communication with him today -- but he did have direction. Even as his football career took off at Forest Park High near Atlanta, his mother made him concentrate on academics, and Ward received excellent grades.

His mother also taught him about the importance of a work ethic -- lessons he took to the football field where, out of necessity, he played wide receiver, quarterback and running back in college. (A long-forgotten stat: As a quarterback, Ward passed for 413 yards and ran for 56 yards in the Peach Bowl.)

When Ward came to the NFL as a third-round draft pick in 1998 but, in essence, a man without a position, he threw himself into his work. Determined to create a role for himself, he quickly became the NFL's best blocking wide receiver, helping him earn playing time until he became a starter a year later.

Ward's background may explain why he often plays with an edge uncommon for a skill position player. And, perhaps, why his mother kept working her school cafeteria job even after Ward signed his first million-dollar NFL contract.

"My mom never gave up," Ward said. "She did everything she could for me, worked three jobs. She worked her tail off."

Ward's name in Korean is tattooed on his upper right forearm, directly above a smiling Mighty Mouse carrying a football. The smile, he said, reflects how he plays: with ferocity, a will to win but also for fun, another lesson learned from his mother.

"I could never pay my mother back for what she did for me," Ward said.

Props to Aelward from the Fighting 44s for the link.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Grey's Anatomy Gets Ready for the Super Bowl

Grey's Anatomy capped off its pre-Super Bowl run with a show concerning labor issues. From what I've heard, there were some protestations from Nurses and Health Care Professionals' unions regarding the portrayal of nurses on the show. This is something I admire greatly about the show--they seem to be receptive to criticism of the show, and often respond by saying, "Woah! We didn't think of that! We'll write an episode about that!" Normally, it seems like top-rated shows have more of a "We're a top show, we'll tell you what's appropriate!"

Standardized recommendations include “Code Blue” – Medical Emergency – Cardiac/Respiratory Arrest; “Code Red” – Fire; “Code Grey” – Severe Weather; “Code Black” – Bomb; “Code Pink” – Infant/Child Abduction; “Code Yellow” – Disaster/Mass Casualty; “Code White” – Security Alert/Violence/Hostage; and “Code Orange” – Hazardous Materials.

There is much hype and talk around the plot of next week's show, a cliffhanger which will attempt to win some new viewers bleeding over from what is usually the highest rated show of the year, the Super Bowl. The previews showed Isiah Washington calling a "code black" with blood everywhere and police attempting to clear folks from the building while the doctors demanded to stay and save patients.

There's been a lot of discussion of this on Grey's Anatomy forums and boards, but if you are curious (if not, stop reading) here is a list of hospital codes used at most institutions (black is buried in there, so once again stop reading if you don't want to know):

It seems like a good choice, especially for Super Bowl night and hopefully they will hook a few million more viewers for the best? (Boston Legal has a good argument) show on television.

In last night's show, the Seattle Grace nurses went on strike and set up a picket line at the hospital. The portrayal was far from the normal anti-union slant you see in the mainstream media. Realistically, the nurses both wanted their demands to be heard, but also were concerned for their patients. Like in most real strikes, they viewed the strike as a last resort that they felt pushed to by their unfair treatment at the hospital. George, the dopey intern, did a great job balances his allegiances to the working-class union way of life and his residency. Ultimately, he improvises and comes up with a constructive, successful middle-ground that helps the nurses win their victory, but also prevents the compromising of patients' health as much as is possible.
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