Being Non-White is “Playing the Race Card”?

My latest post over at Change.org:

Being Non-White is “Playing the Race Card”?

Manan Trivedi is a doctor and an Iraq War veteran who is currently running as a Democrat for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 6th District. He also happens to be South Asian American, the American-born son of immigrant parents from India.

Trivedi is one of six South Asians squaring off this year in congressional races against the GOP (which is even more riled up than usual over racialized issues like illegal immigration, the NYC mosque construction, and “Obamacare”). Earlier this year, Raj Goyle (a Democratic Indian American running in Kansas against Republican Mike Pompeo) made headlines when the Pompeo Twitter feed re-tweeted an article that referred to Goyle by the ethnic slur, “turban topper.”

Which tells you just how low some politicians will go to win an election.

Trivedi, who has already raised more than $390,00 dollars as a traditional candidate, in part by tapping a wealthy network of politically-minded Indian Americans in Pennsylvania, is now facing off against Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach (pictured above). Recently, Gerlach launched attacks against Trivedi, saying that he “doesn’t share our values.”

And whose values are those? One guess.

When concerns were raised that the Gerlach campaign’s statement could be perceived as playing on Trivedi’s ethnic differences compared to the average Pennsylvanian voter’s (85% of Pennsylvania’s residents are White), Gerlach dismissively said, “The only one who has played the race card here is him, by going to Indian-American groups to raise money.”

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Tell Gov. Schwarzenegger to Support Fred Korematsu Day

Fred Korematsu

My latest post over at Change.org:

Tell Gov. Schwarzenegger to Support Fred Korematsu Day

From Arizona’s SB1070 to anti-government rhetoric spouted by the Tea Party, this election season, threats to our basic civil liberties abound. Against this political backdrop, it seems more important than ever to remember the civil rights heroes and champions who paved the way ahead of us.

Fred Korematsu was one such champion — if an unrecognized one.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed Executive Order 9066, ordering the round-up and imprisonment of thousands of Japanese Americans along America’s West Coast. Families of Japanese Americans were herded into temporary internment camps, and later into permanent relocation camps that dotted the deserts of the Southwest.

An American citizen who was born in Oakland, California, Fred Korematsu refused to abide by E.O. 9066. As families across the West Coast were forced into barbed-wire camps, surrounded by armed guards, Korematsu refused to report for internment. In 1942, he was arrested and convicted in a federal court for violating a military executive order and forcibly detained at a series of internment camps. But that didn’t stop him from appealing his case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1944 on the grounds that E.O. 9066 was “racist.”

Fred Korematsu, who passed away on March 30, 2005, dedicated his entire life to fighting for civil rights. Now, it’s our turn to honor him.

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Act Now! And here’s the associated petition you can sign, inspired by the work of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education.

Why Pop Culture Matters to Race Bloggers

Another recent post over at Change.org:

Why Pop Culture Matters to Race Bloggers

Prince of Persia, TwilightThe Last AirbenderKarate KidRed Dawn — this summer’s blockbusters seem to have gotten the blogosphere humming more than usual, with many writers examining Hollywood’s relationship with race.In my experience, sardonic or critical posts focusing on the latest pop culture icons fare far better among readers than dry, data-heavy sociological analyses (which take about 23 times as long to prepare). Pop culture diatribes tend to be easy to write, widely read and more likely to go viral. For bloggers who live and die by pageviews and ad-clicks, this is our bread and butter.

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Fox News Would Really Like to See Evidence of Black Racism

My latest post over at Change.org, which addresses Fox News’ recent quest in search of black racism:

Fox News Would Really Like to See Evidence of Black Racism

Since the NAACP passed a resolution denouncing racist elements within the Tea Party (the details of which NAACP chairman Ben Jealous explained on Change.org last week), Fox News has been spinning its wheels trying to expose what it sees as racism among the black community.For example, as Prerna Lal recently reported,  Fox has lately been up in arms over the New Black Panther Party, a group that allegedly engaged in voter intimidation in 2008. In her post, Prerna cited video footage of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, in which he pointedly declares: “The evidence clearly shows the [members of the New Black Panther Party] breaking the law. Why were they given a pass [from the White House]?”

Forget about the fact that Obama isn’t the one that chose not to file a criminal case against the New Black Panther Party (that decision rested with Bush). O’Reilly’s choice of the phrase “get a pass” is a deliberate effort to suggest that certain minorities (specifically African-Americans) are getting preferential treatment in the Obama administration. He’s suggesting that whites are the real victim of racism here — a theme we also saw in the Shirley Sherrod case.

Across Fox’s coverage, we see the same message. It’s no coincidence that within days of the NAACP’s announcement, Fox devoted several segments to the New Black Panther Party — highlighting their supposed efforts to disenfranchise white voters. FoxNews.com also ran an opinion piece by Congressman Lamar Smith that explicitly accused the Department of Justice of racism in its failure to file a lawsuit against the group. In it, Smith writes, “Had the defendants been members of the Ku Klux Klan, I doubt the Justice Department would have dropped the charges. This appears to be a case of reverse discrimination.”

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Shirley Sherrod: A Lesson in White Victimhood

A recent post I wrote for Change.org, examining why the Shirley Sherrod controversy was intended to resonate amongst White viewers:

Shirley Sherrod: A Lesson in White Victimhood

Back in March, the speech Shirley Sherrod gave before the NAACP seemed innocuous enough. In it, the Obama appointee urged her audience to heed the words of Toni Morrison, declaring, “we have to get to the point where race exists, but it doesn’t matter.” Sherrod — the current state director of rural development — also movingly recounted how her attitudes toward race have shifted since growing up in the South, at a time when lynchings were still commonplace.

Yesterday, though, Fox News managed to twist Sherrod’s words. The network aired a video that was edited to suggest Sherrod currently discriminates against white farmers. (View the edited video here.). As edited, the video suggests Sherrod has previously tried to avoid having to actually help a white farmer keep his land — and that she made this decision based on the color of his skin.

Actually, what Sherrod discussed was how her views on race changed after witnessing how a white farmer whose land was being foreclosed suffered the same apathy and mistreatment at the hands of wealthy whites that she’d seen black farmers experience. Ultimately, she encouraged her audience to view the world not just in terms of black and white, but in terms of “haves” and “have nots.” (Full speech here — the relevant anecdote is around minute 17.)

But so much for “fair and balanced.” Instead, Fox News chose to insinuate that Sherrod actively discriminates against whites in her current job with the administration. Fox News also went a step further to argue that the NAACP was backing Sherrod’s supposed discrimination against whites.

Sherrod holds a fairly obscure position within the Obama administration, and it’s plain that the edited video that surfaced was just that — edited, and heavily so. So why the sudden controversy?

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