"In fact, the War on Drugs began at a time when illegal drug use was on the decline. During this same time period, however, a war was declared, causing arrests and convictions for drug offenses to skyrocket, especially among people of color.
The impact of the drug war has been astounding. In less than thirty years, the U.S. penal population exploded from around 300,000 to more than 2 million, with drug convictions accounting for the majority of the increase. The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, dwarfing the rates of nearly every developed country, even surpassing those in highly repressive regimes like Russia, China, and Iran. In Germany, 93 people are in prison for every 100,000 adults and children. In the United States, the rate is roughly eight times that, or 750 per 100,000.
The racial dimension of mass incarceration is its most striking feature. No other country in the world imprisons so many of its racial or ethnic minorities. The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid. In Washington D.C., our nation’s capitol, it is estimated that three out of four young black men (and nearly all of those in the poorest neighborhoods) can expect to serve time in prison. Similar rates of incarceration can be found in black communities across America.
These stark racial disparities cannot be explained by rates of drug crime. Studies show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. If there are significant differences in the surveys to be found, they frequently suggest that whites, particularly white youth, are more likely to engage in drug crime than people of color. That is not what one would guess, however, when entering our nation’s prisons and jails, which are overflowing with black and brown drug offenders. In some states, black men have been admitted to prison on drug charges at rates twenty to fifty times greater than those of white men. And in major cities wracked by the drug war, as many as 80 percent of young African American men now have criminal records and are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives."
Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Things that you probably already knew but are worth repeating.
Singer Lady Gaga says she feels like a gypsy at heart and doesn’t fear being homeless.
The singer, who is yet to buy her own home, admitted she is still “homeless” because she thinks it would be a “waste of money” to splash out on a property when she spends most of her time on tour, reports contactmusic.com.
”I’m a gypsy, you know. I can’t plan my life out like that so much. Then I think well, gosh what a waste of money to buy a place and I’m on the road,” Gaga said on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”.
“Even though it might not seem like a big deal because I’m a pop singer or whatever, it still hurts to hand over that much. It’s a lot of money,” she added.
[Source: Times of India]
No, Gaga, you’re not a gypsy. What you are, is someone who relentlessly reinforces stereotypes. I get so tired of all these pop stars appropriating the word (Miley Cyrus, Shakira, Gaga to name but a few), a word that they clearly have no understanding of.
I also get tired when people tell me that anti-ziganism should never be compared to anti-semitism or other forms of racism.
Isn’t that a form of racism in and of itself? Oh, we understand that anti-ziganism is a bad thing, but our racism is worse. No, all racism is bad.
But, I would actually go with an unpopular opinion here:
anti-ziganism is worse (if we’re using qualifiers) because people don’t believe it’s a thing. People don’t believe in ‘gypsies’. If they do, they believe any form of racism or discrimination is because of something that we did (as one person said to me—stereotypes exist for a reason. He went on to say that ‘gypsies’ should just get a job and stop stealing things …)
The racism against Rroma and other Walking People has been so institutionalized that it seems impossible to address. In some countries, such as Bulgaria or the Czech Republic, the racism is blatant, even at governmental levels. However, in many countries it is hidden. Rroma are denied visas, building permits, medical care, jobs, housing, education and more on a daily basis.
You may not think so—but comments like Gaga’s do nothing to better our situation. As a real Rroma (gypsy) woman, Gaga has effectively wiped out my ethnicity and my lifestyle in two sentences.
Once last week when I clarified that I was “gypsy” (they gave me a blank look when I said Rroma) my classmate said “OH! Like Shakira?!”
I simply walked away.
i can’t even. lady gaga needs to shut up forever
An incomplete list of why that argument is flawed:
- Art can be racist. We wouldn’t have a western canon, or any art canon for that matter, if we hadn’t already acknowledged that years ago. Racism doesn’t negate something from being art and art doesn’t negate something from being racist. This is not a platform worth arguing on.
- Art has the power and scope to affect society in a way that nothing else does. Nothing is ever ‘just a book’ or ‘just a music video’ or ‘just a song.’ If it’s not important enough to think about, then it wasn’t important enough to be made.
- Art is a decent enough gauge of what some members of society were thinking at any given time. We study art to study culture and history. Visual art in particular is not simply a presentation of one’s inner-most feelings and beliefs but a reproduction of the culture the artist lived in and, often, a reproduction of that culture’s historical viewpoints; shorthand that the artist may not have even realize they internalized.
Also, a bonus tip! This one’s on symbolism but tune in next week for the next dumb racist thing fandom does for the next installment:
Having darkness represent evil is lazy and trite, but generally acceptable. Having a dark person represent evil is lazy and trite but also racist. Having a non-black person dress up in blackface to represent evil is not only lazy, trite, and racist but also a direct continuation of the same destructive shorthand that cost people their lives and livelihood. The time in-between has not allowed for it to be less offensive or more ironic.
In fact, let’s take this opportunity to segue into a preemptive offense of my least favorite literary device: Irony. In order for irony to work, there must be two layers involved: the implied, often traditional, meaning and the literal one.
Society at the time of blackface was casually and institutionally racist. The white population had unparalleled privilege over everyone else and were the ones who found any entertainment value in blackface. Society at the time of Florence + the Machine’s video is casually and institutionally racist. The white population has unparalleled privilege over everyone else and she, as a member of that population, is the one who sees any entertainment value in blackface. The only thing that is ironic about this scenario is attempting to use irony in the first place.
As for edginess, using blackface, an old racist visual tradition, in a music video in 2011 is about as edgy as pulling out the clothes that were worn during blackface’s heyday and wearing them in a music video.
You want to get into a discussion about how edgy or culturally appropriate something is? Try Annie Leibovitz’s 1998 photos of African American comedian Chris Rock in whiteface. Using the shorthand of blackface, which exploited blackness as a source of comedy for white people, and flipping it so a black comedian was put in whiteface as a commentary on modern day comedy actually is edgy and interesting. Or, if you prefer discussions and debates about symbolism, how about Annie Leibovitz’s 1984 shot of African American comedian Whoopi Goldberg simultaneously submerged and emerging from a tub of milk (which Leibovitz specifically stated was meant to symbolize her coming out from all the whiteness in comedy)? Here, the racial overtones of color are being used intentionally and smartly. In 1984!
Annie Leibovitz is, for anyone who might not be aware, white.
…But oh, wait, those examples actually give the visual power to the POCs! They legitimately challenge, or document the challenging of, the status quo! I guess something is only considered edgy if it’s someone doing, or defending their right to do, the exact same thing as their ancestors!
I may have reblogged this already, I can’t remember. oh well.
I weep for humanity sometimes…
People just don’t understand art.
UM LOL NO
1. It’s black face. It is blatant black face I can’t believe we are having this conversation on why black face is bad
2. It appropriates and stereotypes voodoo to no end
3. Talk about the over kill of the Scary Black Man trope here
4. It’s just all around racism. Seriously, check your privilege before you dismiss the complaints the group of people these stereotypes attack before you say such heinous crap like this.
If there is one thing you ought to be weeping for humanity, it is the fact that racism is so quickly dismissed by privilege denying people like yourself.
sorry for the spam y’all but it’s just so frustrating that people think this stuff is okay.
Can we please stop using “symbolism” as a catch-all apology for offensive things as if because something is ‘symbolic’ that absolves it of all problematic subtext — as if it is not the very symbolism itself which is making it problematic? Like. Not only did Florence + the Machine’s “No Light, No Light” video contain a man in blackface (already appropriative, tokenistic, and offensive) but he was symbolic of evil and a threat to Florence; his ‘voodoo’ was explicitly contrasted with Christianity, Florence’s salvation. This is the symbolism you’re invoking to try to absolve “No Light, No Light” of racism and it is explicitly racist symbolism. There is no deeper level on which this video is not racist. People who see the racism are not being too stupid to see past the racism to its ~intellectual and totally not-racist core. They’re seeing its core. Its core is, like, literally made of racism.
(Source: formerlyspectroscopes, via youarenotyou-deactivated2012022)
[TRAUMA WARNING for absolutely rank, stereotypical racist depictions and tropes, implied suicide.]
You’re fucking kidding me, right.
i just looked it up. uh….yikes.
here’s the video
what the fuck
ugh and i rly like this fucking song
way to take a big racist dump all over it florence
way to do that
ugh what the hell florence
REPEAT: DO NOT COMPARE NATIVE AMERICANS TO NATURE. DO NOT ASSOCIATE US WITH NATURE. DO NOT SAY WE ARE CLOSE TO NATURE. DO NOT SAY WE UNDERSTAND NATURE. DO NOT MAKE ANY FUCKING CLAIM ABOUT NATIVE AMERICANS AND NATURE.
That is racist. Equating Native Americans to nature is racist because what you are really saying, cognizant of it or not, is that we are wild beasts. We are animals to you. We aren’t real people, but these in between creatures that ~understand the land around them.
This isn’t some shit I’m making up. Look at old US paintings from the 19th century. When they weren’t posing the Natives with their Indian Peace Medals (look that shit up), they were adding them to landscape paintings. You know why we were put in landscape paintings? BECAUSE WE WERE VIEWED AS A PART OF THE LANDSCAPE BECAUSE WE WEREN’T CONSIDERED PEOPLE.
So when you say that you admire the Natives’ view of nature (besides perpetuating a Native mono-culture which doesn’t exist), or when you claim that you are a Native because you understand plants and shit, YOU ARE A LYING SACK OF RACIST SHIT.