The 4 Worst Attempts to Talk About Racism
It's undeniable that our society has made some great strides when it comes to civil rights over the past 50 years. But America's still got its work cut out for itself. Just take the following four news stories, which prove that sometimes efforts to fix racial issues can be unmitigated disasters.
Field Trip Re-enacts Slavery to Teach Children Empathy, Gets Carried Away
When Sandra and James Baker let their 12-year-old kid go on a class trip to a camp called Nature's Classroom, they thought she would learn about the environment and such. Their daughter did get to know the woods pretty well ... as she was being chased through them and called the N-word. Yep, there was one thing the brochure apparently failed to mention: This was a slavery re-enactment camp.
Now that $10 chain fee makes sense.
According to the seventh grader (who happens to be black), as part of this educational experience the camp instructors (who happen to be white) threatened to "whip me until I bled on the floor" and "cut my Achilles so I couldn't run again." The kids had a chance to opt out of the Underground Railroad activity before it started, but it wasn't obvious from the name what exactly it was -- most of them probably thought, "Riding trains in subterranean caves? Shit yeah!" Instead, they were locked in a small room to simulate being on a slaving ship and had to pretend to pick cotton.
We can only hope one kid broke out and went Django on their asses.
Obviously, not telling the parents about this beforehand is bullshit, so the school quickly -- no, wait. The parents have been fighting this for the last 10 months.
College Professor Invites Students to Segregated Study Session (to Help Them Fit In)
At (the mostly white) Texas Christian University, assistant professor of religion Santiago Pinon recently sent out the following message to his new students:
"THAT MEANS STAY HOME, CHAD."
As a general rule, including the phrase "STUDENTS OF [ANY RACE] ONLY" at the end of your email, in caps, won't exactly endear you to the class -- and how does holding a segregated study session help race relations? To make matters worse, in order to send this email Pinon apparently just looked through the list of students and picked the names that sounded Hispanic-ish, as at least one white student with a Latino last name found out. So if there was a Mexican student named Gunther von Schellendorff or something, he sadly got left out of Pinon's elite group.
Pastor Requests White-Only Church Greeters to "Promote Diversity"
Pastor Makeda Pennycooke of Freedom House church in North Carolina felt that her congregation was becoming a bit too minority heavy and so decided to make her own heavenly gates a bit more pearly -- she sent an email to church volunteers requesting that "only white people" greet churchgoers, because "first impressions matter" and they want "the best of the best at the front door." Pennycooke is black, too, by the way, so she was effectively banning herself from standing at the front door.
"P.S. Anyone have the number for the Wayans brothers' makeup guy?"
Pennycooke sent out an apology email, but by then it was too late: An offended church member who suspected that the motive was to attract presumably wealthier white citizens broke the story to a media outlet, burying the church waste deep in holy shit. On the upside, this probably means that, somewhere, a KKK member is writing an email about "opening up to minorities" and "curbing hurtful language."
Politician Blames Black Problems on Chicken, Another Protests With More Chicken
Last August, GOP state senator Vicki Marble was part of a committee discussing economic disparity among races, where she pointed out the prevalence of sickle-cell anemia and diabetes among black folk. And then, so as not to sound racist, she says, "Although I've got to say, I've never had better BBQ and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South ... I love it."
You can listen for yourself in the following clip (her finger-licking sounds were presumably edited out) and see how long you can make it without cringing:
Marble quickly apologized, but because some people are as oblivious as a racist deer staring into headlights, another Republican lawmaker used this as an opportunity to support Marble's slip. How? By bringing in a box of Popeye's fried chicken as a "silent protest." (She wussed out and said she would be having chicken for dinner.)
It doesn't count as a "silent protest" if your body makes foghorn noises hours later.
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