Author: Stormy

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: My Experience Blogging

So, after a year or so of careful deliberation, due to the requirements of a college course I’m taking at the moment, I finally decided (?) to start blogging. I’ve been commenting on HuffingtonPost and YouTube channels for quite a while now, some people agree some people do not I’ve been told I should start a blog, but never was quite interested, mainly because I need an audience and I’m also impatient. I don’t want to grow an audience, I’d rather comment on a channel or website with a huge audience and get them interested in what I have to say, which is what I’ve done and continue to do. Unfortunately, due to me working in the media and some of my opinions being a bit controversial, I cannot disclose my YouTube profile. Anyway, I digress, back to my experience blogging.

My experience blogging has been an interesting one, unfortunately, having this be a requirement for a college course I’ve been just doing the bare minimum to skate by. When something is forced upon you it takes away the passion and the intrigue. Starting my own blog by my own accord would have been much better for me, having a class force me to create a blog within specific time-frames has made my experience dull, hasty and malcontent.

Therefore, and perhaps unfortunately, using social media to promote myself hasn’t been the best. Why? Simple, my blog isn’t anything I’m particularly proud of because it was forced on me. I’m not though, through cronyism and nepotism I’ve heard people actually getting internships and job prospects off of their blogs. Must be nice to have such connections, even though the work is mediocre or unimpressive.That may be the most effective tool, having parents and friends in positions of power and authority, all it takes is one glance of a blog, regardless of flair, and, BOOM, your foot is already in the door.

For me though, the most effective tool has probably been Twitter. It’s easy, it’s simple and it connects you to millions of people. No friendships needed or anything, you’re all connected. So simply putting #FDOM14 or #TXST in a tweet or another popular hashtag can give people tons of retweeets or favorites or even just views. The least effective for me has been the blog itself. WordPress, while popular, has been going downhill for a while. Also, the comment section is very specific to WordPress. Something like Tumblr or incorporating Disqus into the blog would have been a better tool because more people have Disqus profiles and Tumblr has been growing over the last several years, and it also has a younger fan base. So, those would have probably increased the visibility and comments of the blogs just by using popular tags.

While this blog specifically will definitely not be getting updated, I think that this experience has taught me a bunch of valuable things. It taught me A) creating a blog is super easy B) I know, or have a general idea, of what I can write a blog about C) taught me valuable ways to create videos, edit and properly take pictures, and use HTML. Being a Mass Communications major this is very important information, especially since, while transcripts are important, content is most important if one wants a job in the Mass Communications field. So, now that I have the knowledge I can include that into a better blog, that isn’t constrained by time and grading systems. Then, once I make it into the real world I can show employers even more content that I have, that I created and more importantly, that I’m actually proud of. As was told to us FDOM students by the panel at Texas State University’s annual Mass Comm Week from employers, they don’t care what you say you can do–they want to see what you can, and what you have done. Since I want to be a columnist eventually for a big time newspaper, magazine or publication in general, having a blog illustrating what I can do and what I’m passionate about is vital to my success in the field and will undoubtedly set me apart from others.

So, if you want to see what I can and have done then check out a blog I’m actually proud of which is Defiant wRiot, you can check out more information about us on the Defiant wRiot tab here on my blog (just scroll up).

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R.I.P. 12-year-old Victim of Police Incompetence, Tamir Rice

(Source) 12-year-old Tamir Rice

(Source) 12-year-old Tamir Rice

So, unfortunately, cops could not leave well enough alone. One would think they crippled the thought of “liberty and justice for all” enough in recent months given the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the lack of indictment for their killers. However, they could not stay out of the media and had to go and kill yet another black male extrajudicially. This time, their victim was a child. A 12-year-old Cleveland, Ohio native by the name of Tamir Rice.

Tamir Rice was in a park, playing with an airsoft toy gun. For those who think that sounds dangerous, it isn’t. Airsoft guns are actually safer than paintball guns and are regarded as toys. A citizen called into the police station saying there is a black man (mind you, the kid is 12) waving a gun around scaring people. He stressed that the gun is probably fake. Yet, cops drive up, directly in front of the child, completely forgoing protocol and proper training, Then, within 1.5 seconds of getting out of the car they shoot 12-year-old Tamir Rice dead on the playground. The video footage can be seen here (WARNING: Disturbing footage).

When delving into a potentially dangerous situation, what kind of officer would drive up to a suspect and then get out of the car shooting them dead. First off, cops have megaphones on their cars. They could have told the child to freeze or put his hands up, at the very least, from a distance. Speaking of distance, only a complete imbecile would not think to park further away from potential danger in order to remained protected, just in case, while investigating the situation. Lastly, within 1.5 seconds they shoot the child. Didn’t say freeze, didn’t taser, didn’t pepper spray, didn’t try to talk to him, didn’t do anything. No, nowadays cops’ first reactions are to shot first. Forget that whole “serve and protect” oath.

The disturbing thing is, we see how corrupt the cops are in this instance. Before the video footage was released from a nearby security camera in a store front, the officers on the scene put in their report that they told Rice 3 times to freeze. They furthered that he did not comply and began to take the “weapon” out of his waistband and that is when they shot him. However, as we see from the video. Unless the officers are the fastest talking people in the world, telling him to freeze 3 times, or even once, in the span of 2 seconds…doesn’t exactly seem possible.

Now, I can talk about the media’s horrible portrayal of the black victim, as they do all black victims (for more go to Black Victims vs. White Suspects/Killers). I could talk about how the media and people have constantly try to age this child, calling him a man and a young man. Which actually goes perfectly with recent research which shows that all children are seen as equally innocent…until 9, that’s when society starts viewing black children as both older and less innocent. Yes, you read that right, 10 year old kids! The American Psychological Association’s report on it can be viewed here.

However, I’m not going to go into any of those things. Not now at least, my heart is too heavy. I will point out that the cop involved in the shooting death of this unarmed black child, was deemed unfit by his previous police department. They stated, “time, nor training, will be able to change or correct [his] deficiencies.” However, once getting word of this he steps down immediately so he can still have a chance of getting a job at another police force. Which inevitably happened, and the Cleveland Police Department is so incompetent that they did not, or perhaps ignored, this on his record and/or chose to not even contact his previous employer. The consequence? He shoots and kills a 12-year-old kid within 2 seconds of arriving on a playground. Do better. Our blood and the lives of our children depend on it. I do not apologize for my blackness or your fear. Black lives matter, they may not have always mattered in the United States or in the Caribbean or in Latin America or in colonial Africa. But I am here to tell you all that black lives matter, and they always have.

The Unfortunate Case (or lack thereof) of Eric Garner

This past Wednesday, Dec. 3, a Staten Island Grand Jury decided not to indict a white officer in the killing of an unarmed black man named Eric Garner. The entire confrontation was caught on video and the last moments of Garners life can be seen here (WARNING: Disturbing footage). Garner is being accused of selling single-cigarettes (who knew that was a crime?) he asks the officers to stop harassing him as they do everyday, he’s practically pleading them to “just leave me alone.” They go to grab him, he doesn’t fight back, though because he is a man of considerable size a bunch of officers try to take him down to the ground one comes from behind choking him. As the officer is choking him he exclaims 11 times “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” The officer ignores his cries…Garner dies within minutes.

Again, this is all caught on video. Yet, a grand jury couldn’t find it in themselves to at least say “hey, I think this deserves to go to trial.” They aren’t convicting the officer, they aren’t sentencing him–just agreeing that Garner and his family deserve due process at the very least. The fact that they couldn’t come to that decision is sad.

Unfortunately, extrajudicial killing of unarmed black people is not an uncommon occurrence. When saw it with Mike Brown, then recently a 12 year old child by the name of Tamir Rice (we’ll get to that in another post) and now here with Eric Garner. Those are just the most famous cases within the past 3 months. According to a recent study by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, in the United States a black man is killed extrajudicially by officers every 28 hours. That’s a disturbing trend. To make matters worse with the non-indictment of both Darren Wilson in the Mike Brown case and now Eric Garner’s killer, cops kill unarmed African-Americans with impunity.

I’ll grant that in the Michael Brown case there was conflicting witness reports and a likely struggle between the officer and the victim, however, in the Eric Garner case there are no conflicting witness reports, the medical examiner called it “a homicide” and the entire ordeal is caught on video camera. Still, America continues to teach us from Emmett Till to Eric Garner, from lynchings to mass incarceration…that black lives do not matter. In the words of rapstress Tink, “my people shed blood on these acres you had stole, now my people shedding blood on the gravel left in the cold.” We shall never forget, the revolution will not be televised.

One of My Literary Inspirations: Blogger Abagond

One blogger on WordPress that has inspired me, specifically the content of my chosen blog, is blogger Abagond. His blog was created as just the ramblings of a white collar professional who always had a passion for writing. His blog’s literal catchphrase is “500 words a day on whatever I want,” talk about a man who has a knack for everything

While he says his content is non-specific one thing that he chooses to specialize on are topics regarding race and white supremacy. Mainly black issues, since he himself is a black man, but he also speaks on Asian issues, Hispanic issues, Native American issues, etc. Basically exposing white supremacy’s effect on these different sub-groups. Again, generally.

I remember I first got into his blog because I decided to google sub-Sahara Africa, which I thought as being a racial/racist term. His blog post on it, titled “Is the term sub-Saharan Africa racist,” was one of the top results. I clicked it and fell in love. I always find it funny how people say “black Africans” and relegate black people to “sub-Sahara Africa” as if we have never existed in other parts of the continent, or currently do not exist in the Northern region. Which is demonstrably false. This is the thing that lead me to googling this in the first place. Then his blog post, complete with facts, addressed my very concern and validated it.

I have literally spent countless hours on his blog just reading his post but most of the time is relegated to the comments on his post, some post have over 1,000 comments. The average ones, that I visited at least, have about 150-250 comments. The commenters are generally regular readers of his blogs and they are by far some of the smartest commenters I have ever encountered.

Very aware of everything and on the specific post on sub-Sahara Africa that initially intrigued me there were over 50 comments between two people discussing the biology and genetics of people. Not in simple terms, but words and phrases I have never even heard of, speaking in-depth and with links to journals and studies/research. I was thoroughly impressed at the knowledge of these two people and having been visiting the blog for the past 2 years now, most of the commenters are extremely educated. Then of course you have the typical white racist who comes in to disturb the peace and the commenters take them down effortlessly, without being nasty or rude, just truth and honest and facts.

All in all, Abagond is one of my literary inspirations. For a man that works as some kind of engineer, which I’d imagine takes up a lot of time, he writes and links some of the most meaningful things I have ever read. He was the catalyst for my pan-africanism views and my awakening into a higher consciousness in regards to race, race relations, and white supremacy perpetrated the world over for the past 600 years from colonialism to imperialism to purported moral superiority. I recommend everyone to check out this amazing man and his amazing content on his blog. Fair warning, he has a huge amount of content so tread carefully and utilize the search bar on his blog for whatever you specifically are curious about. Trust me, he has practically everything and even more than you thought you knew. The best thing, for me at least, is to read something that I find interesting then look at his “See Also” which shows other, similar (vaguely sometimes), posts.

U.S. Congressional Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Discusses Supporting Black-Owned Businesses

Adding Context:

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee started off talking about the non-indictment of Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. She saw it as a grave injustice and promises she will convene with Congress to have the federal government charge Wilson in the shooting death of the teenager. This outrage lead her to discuss a recent incident that happened in this predominately minority community of Houston, TX.

An elderly business-owner was attacked by a group of youths after simply telling them not to park in his car wash parking lot, because it deters customers and takes up his space for would-be customers. Now, that man is in the hospital in critical condition, hence why she starts off saying that man deserved to live.

The overview of her statement was the fact that we, as a community, need to support our own businesses at all times and one way of supporting those businesses is speaking up when something horrible happens like the case of the elderly man. We cannot tell other people to respect us when in our own communities there is not respect for one another. Of course, we can. That was just a false-dilemma fallacy, when can indefinitely do both, but it seems to lack legitimacy when you want respect and support on the national level when you don’t have nor fight for respect and support on the local level.

 

 

#AlexFromTarget and The Appropriation of the N-Word

Just a few weeks ago the internet did what it does best. Pick a random, vaguely attractive young person, pluck them out of obscurity and thrust them into the limelight for approximately 15 minutes. This time, it was a little boy who shimmied his way into the hearts of little white girls everywhere as he stood bagging groceries in his tight Target t-shirt. His name? Why, #AlexFromTarget of course.

Now, how exactly does this little boy exhibit a problematic part of American youth culture you ask? Simple, his appropriation and usage of the n-word, or, to be less censored, “nigga.” Below you will find one of his tweets which has since been deleted, as has all of his tweets using the n-word due to me and several others scolding him about his ignorant, insensitive and rude usage of the word and essentially donning verbal blackface. Thankfully, I was planning on writing about this for a while so I had this picture in my mentions on my Twitter page.

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Source - Twitter

Source – Twitter

I personally never get over the use of that word by non-black people. The history of the n-word is such a troubled and damaging one that for someone to trivialize it in such a way is beyond ignorance and beyond insulting to me personally. Many people nowadays make the excuse that it means something different now then it did back the. To that I say, yes, it does–to black people.

Black Americans took the hurt that comes with the n-word and turned it into a word, used among ourselves, for comrade or friend or simply a person. We reappropriated and reclaimed the word for ourselves, not to be used by teenage white kids jokingly as they try to boast their “street cred.” The nerve of some people is beyond me.

The least one can do is relegate that language to themselves and their own inner circles. The whole world isn’t your “hood” everyone is not your friend and using that kind of language around the wrong person just might get you popped. What someone says in the privacy of their own company has nothing to do with me and I don’t care nor can I regulate it. However, when you’re in a public space and you chose to call a woman “cunt” or a gay person “faggot” or a black person “nigga” or a Jewish person “kike” then prepare for the consequences and criticisms that come with such flippant use of historically oppressive words.

#AlexFromTarget will not learn anything from this, nor do I expect him to. He was the flavor of the month, his 15 minutes of fame are up. However, I hope he at least saw the tweets people sent him because in the words of Maya Angelou, “when you know better, you do better.” And appropriating the culture of oppressive language used against an oppressed class is far from doing better. It’s hurtful.

For a more in-depth look at appropriation of the N-Word, check out some of the links below:

The Farce of Youth Political Classification

A lot of times the political views of people can tell you exactly what you need to know about a person. So, I tried to find out as much as I can about some people, without them knowing, simply by asking what are their political beliefs. As the self-proclaimed Black Advocate, obviously I’m very liberal and fall on the left almost exclusively, as do many people who advocate for social justice and equality across the spectrum. So, seeing this trend of center-right politics among college students was interesting. Though, having took several psychology classes it was clear why exactly that was…

a) First and foremost, this wasn’t a statistically sound experiment. The people weren’t completely random and the pool was entirely too small to even fathom coming to any kind of conclusion.

b) Most of the people saw “liberal” as a nasty word, as it still has a stigma attached to it which is why many liberals choose to go with the word “progressive” in place of “liberal’

b) Some people just wanted to be contrarians and/or simply regurgitate the views of their friends/family

c) Most didn’t have a clue what they thought, so, in wanting to sound intelligent they choose to claim to be moderates/independents so as to not be deemed partisan

All of those things are what you’d expect among younger people. Sitting down talking with these people from anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes it was clear who knew what they were talking about and who was faking the funk. In any case, the past midterm election had the lowest voter turnout since 1942. 1942! The reason? Voter apathy, lack of knowledge, pure ignorance of the electorate? You decide.

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Youth voting in particular was also extremely low. The youth generally have an ambivalence to politics and, quite frankly, they do not have a dog in the fight of politics majority of the times. The laws do not, generally speaking, have to do with them. So, they are generally uninterested and lack participation in the political process.

At the same time, it is well-documented that college has a liberalizing affect on people. The more education you have, the more liberal, and therefore more democratic, you become. So, given that most of the people I spoke to were Freshmen, it is safe to say the tides could readily change. However, the farce of youth political classification still remains. They largely, do not have an idea what they’re talking about. Generally speaking of course. So, take whatever they say with a grain of salt. I know I did.

My App

My app is an app that will let people report when and where they experience some kind of racism or bigotry of any kind. This will allow people to anonymously connect with one another and rate businesses based on their inclusivity and respect for people unlike them.

Essentially, this will be a Yelp type of app but specifically to rate the inclusivity and tolerance of business and organizations. i think this will help whip people into shape and whip organizations into shape and realize they have to respect people who they may deem different.

For example: You’re at a eating place and you notice your waiters area bit homophobic, you give an H rating noting mild homophobia by the waiting staff. This lets people on the app know to steer clear of this place, depending on how their expression of their sexuality is. This works for sexism, racism, islamophobia and transphobia and all other things as well.

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The Interesting Case of Marissa Alexander

On May 10,, 2012 31-year-old mother of two, Marissa Alexander, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for “Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.” For what reason? Firing two warning shots into the roof of her ceiling while her admittedly abusive husband attempted to attack her once again. No one was shot, no one was hurt, yet the judge sentenced Alexander to 20 years in prison.

Facts of the case, her estranged  husband admitted, in a sworn deposition, that he did beat her that day and even threatened to have her killed. HE ADMITTED THIS! Let’s not forget, this all happened nine days after Alexander prematurely gave birth to one of her children. Not only did her estranged husband admit to beating her and threatening her, but he also admitted to beating other women he was previously in relationships with. Yet and still, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing warning shoots.

The trial of Alexander and her case drew immediate comparisons to the famed George Zimmerman trial. Not only were they both in Florida, but they both also sought to use the “Stand Your Grand” law as their defense.A defense that, worked for one, but not the other.

Experts argued that if Alexander would have shot at her husband and killed him, instead of firing warning shots, then she more than likely would have been protected under the “Stand Your Ground” law. Which is absurd and a miscarriage of justice if you ask me, on both accounts.

Funny enough, in a thought-provoking way, not a “hahaha” kind of way, the same prosecutor was used for both the Zimmerman trial and the Alexander trial; Angela Corey. Many shamed protesters attempted to get Corey off of the case citing her using this black woman as a way to get reelection. Playing on the racist undertones of her constituents. The Congresswoman, Corrine Brown, for Corey’s district even argued that she had overcharged Alexander due to long-held institutional racism.

Some have even gone as far as to equate her to Jim Crow era bigots.

“[Angela Corey is] a throwback to those Jim Crow era prosecutors and legal authorities – where there were instances of black people needing justice and they could not count on their local government official” – National Organization for Women

Thankfully, Alexander remains free at the moment as she awaits her retrial after an appellate court struck down her sentencing by the district court. Citing incorrect application of the jury process to the jurors. Hopefully this time Alexander will be freed for attempting to protect herself and the man who had abused her for so long. She could have killed him, but she chose not to. She had more regard for his life than he did for hers, and clearly more than the justice system has for the lives of black people across this country.

The Problematic Nature of Raven Symoné

Raven

Huffington Post

Former “The Cosby Show” cast member and popular Disney Channel television series, “That’s So Raven”, star Raven Symoné made headlines over her comments on Oprah Winfrey’s “Where are They Now.” The episode sparked controversy because of Symoné’s comments regarding race and labels.

“I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American, I’m an American…I’m an American, and that’s a colorless person.” – Raven Symoné, “Where Are They Now”

Ironically adhering to the label of “American” while claiming “African-American” as a burdensome label she’s tired of. Illustrating, she clearly didn’t think this whole thing through. The fact of the matter is she’s only tired of labels because of the stereotypes and bigotry that comes with the labels that she particularly falls under. No one ever says “I’m tired of being labelled as wealthy” or “I’m tired of being labelled as powerful,” it’s always someone saying they’re tired of being labelled as gay or black or transgender or some kind of identifier that has historically been diminished and discriminated against. Which only furthers the discrimination and disenfranchisement. Instead of rallying against the problematic views of people and using this as a educational opportunity, they seek to abandon the label because they don’t want to be compared with “those” people.

Raven attempted to double-down and clarify her statements during an interview with TheGrio where she stated,

“I never said I wasn’t black… I want to make that very clear. I said, I am not African-American. I never expected my personal beliefs and comments to spark such emotion in people. I think it is only positive when we can openly discuss race and being labeled in America”

Here we see a more nuanced explanation of Symoné’s comments on “Where Are They Now,” however, there is still something that she is missing. While I’m glad she clarified that she didn’t mean she wasn’t a black person, which I think is a reason for a lot of the backlash, there is one thing she’s missing and one thing she has a legitimate point on.

First, she’s missing the nuance to African-American labelling. It is a source of pride for those of us descendant of a stolen people who were stripped of their culture, their language, their religion and their names. She was right when she said we don’t know where we come from, however, the label seeks to connect us with where we come from! The label seeks to show that though you tried to disenfranchise us, we’re still here and we’re still connecting with our people. Even if we don’t know where specifically we’re from, we know we’re from the motherland and we seek to connect ourselves with a culture and a people who we’ve been distanced from. That’s the point and legacy of the “African-American” label.

Now, where she had a legitimate point. Yes, it is very true that European-Americans, seemingly, do not have to use a hyphenated form like the rest of us. Which does, in a way, “other” everyone else. Americans, for a lot of people, equal white people. Everyone else has to be hyphenated; African-American, Asian-American, Latin-American, etc. Meanwhile, we’re all just as much American as the people of European descendant. In fact, I’d argue more so. The overwhelming majority of African-Americans in America are descendants of slaves. A very significant, nigh majority, minority of European-Americans are descendants of the immigrants that migrated to America during the Industrial Revolution which started in the mid-late 1800s.

Overall, we’re all Americans. Yes. But we all must also find solace and community and power in the labels that describe us. Don’t fight against your label, fight for it. Better the opportunity of your people, better the views about your people, better the perspective and admonish the stereotypes. That’s what you do Raven. That’s what we do.

If you haven’t seen it, check out the video on the OWN Youtube channel here.