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Today in “White Women in Brooklyn”

can’t tell anybody where to live, but I can implore you to act like the guest you are.

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This friend of a friend went out of her way to start a “discussion” about why gentrification shouldn’t be synonymous with race, and then after she ran out of white tears, she fell back on misanthropy and her love for animals.

White people in Brooklyn get mad tight when you dare imply that they are part of the wave of gentrification, especially if they’re a Good White Person who has all the right politics and #BlackLivesMatter in their Twitter bio.

But being a good person doesn’t change the trend. You’re a white person who decided to move to a crowded, expensive city and took the rent you could afford in a neighborhood where you probably displaced some brown folks who can no longer keep up with the new rent average bumped up by other white transplants in your income bracket. And no, white transplants are not only to blame. I know plenty of brown transplants, self-included, and some of us add to the trend of rising rents. If a landlord kicked out a tenant who couldn’t afford the rent increase and then you sign that lease, you contributed to the rising rents in that neighborhood. This is not a new trend and there’s nothing to be done about it. People move, neighborhoods change, populations shift – it is what it is. But race is an extra complication to any social, economic, or political topic in this country, and it has to be part of the topic of gentrification as well.

If I moved to Brooklyn right now to predominantly Black neighborhood where gentrification is starting to take root, I’m not really changing the neighborhood all that much because I know how to act in my new surroundings. I’m gonna get to know my neighbors. I’ma go to the block parties. I’m not calling the cops over loud music because I have earplugs and I don’t expect the neighborhood to change for me.

White people bring change. They bring businesses that displace the longtime mom & pops that were there. They bring condos that nobody else can afford because real estate developers follow Chad who has money, not Jamal who has money. And they bring more cops, either by directly calling them, or by dint of the police wanting to make Becky and Ellen feel safe in their new neighborhood, and Black people minding their own business never benefit from having more cops milling around.

Pretending to be colorblind and longing for the day when race doesn’t matter anymore is all well and good, but we still live in the real world where:
1) White people have most of the money
2) White people have most of the audacity to plant themselves literally anywhere and expect the world to immediately revolve around them

In the context of gentrification, that means most of the people moving into an “up and coming” neighborhood are white and most of the people who move in and act like privileged brats will also be white. I can’t tell anybody where to live, but I can implore you to act like the guest you are. You don’t go into somebody’s house and immediately start rearranging all the furniture to suit yourself. Pick a nice chair in the corner and behave.

 

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Rockstar Rittenhouse

If you enjoy celebrating a murderer, that’s just who you are as a human being. And I don’t respect you.

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Kyle Rittenhouse gets a rock star reception at the Turning Point USA event in AZ.

The teen was found not guilty of criminal charges after admitting to shooting & killing two people in WI. He says it was self defense.

He’s now seen as a hero by some activists on the right.

(Twitter: Elex Michaelson)

I don’t really understand what’s happening. And I don’t mean that in the sense that I’m surprised or that I didn’t see it coming. We all said that Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal would become a cause célèbre for the Right. He had sponsorship offers before the trial and congressional internship offers during. He’s been celebrated by Conservatives from the moment he was arrested because he’s a symbol of White America’s fight against change, a visual representation of what can happen if you are brave enough to stand up to the forces conspiring to take Amerikkka from you.

I fully understand that, so this is not a surprise at all.

I guess what I don’t fully grasp is how am I supposed to respect these people in any way? Listen y’all, I was already at the end of my rope. Trump’s election in 2016 taught me that some people are irredeemable. Before that, I generally operated on the premise that most people, even people you do not agree with politically, are not inherently evil and that you can find common ground somewhere because we’re all people. 2016 taught me that, no, some people cannot be helped, saved, or taught.

You cannot force someone to have empathy for other people. I cannot teach someone they need to care about what happens to people outside of their perceived tribe. If you think poor people deserve to die because you feel like they didn’t work hard enough, I cannot fix that. If you think drug addicts deserve to die because you feel like they made a choice to become addicted, I cannot fix that. If you think undocumented immigrants deserve to die in their own countries (that the US made unstable) because we have our own problems at home (that you refuse to address), I cannot fix that.

Still, there was a little space left in my psyche for ignorance, misinformation, and the insular nature of social circles with a feedback loop of confirmation bias. I spent a lot of the summer in the rural Deep South while my dad and stepmom recovered from a car accident. I heard the conversations and watched the local news. Part of me feels like it’s not 100% your fault if you believe poor people are amoral and lazy. That’s what you’ve heard from your politicians, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your church, and the news. I’ll be honest: a lot of my belief system has been reinforced, if not outright formed, by the variety people around me. Ten years ago, I was making transphobic jokes. Five years ago, I was called out for fatphobia on Twitter. These are issues I didn’t know I harbored negative sentiments about, things that I quickly evolved my thinking around because the people around me called me out on it and forced me to reexamine how I felt and why I felt that way, intentionally or not. All that is to say, I get it. I understand being a product of your environment.

I don’t understand celebrating murderers. George Zimmerman signs bags of Skittles for his fans. Kyle Rittenhouse is introduced at events with a production worthy of a Wrestlemania top draw. Killing someone should be traumatic. If I had to kill someone in self defense, I would have to go to therapy for a long time to work through that trauma. I wouldn’t be able to be celebrated. I wouldn’t know how to book jovial interviews to laugh about what kinds of women I like. I wouldn’t know how to sit on stage and give life advice as a teenager who has never accomplished anything other than murder.

I don’t know how to respect people who celebrate death. And that’s not to say that I find life all that sacred, because I’ve gone on record many times saying I don’t. Not really. There are 7 billion of us. Seven billion of anything means a singular one of it isn’t that special, to me. But dead people have families and friends and loved ones who are hurting, and I don’t know how to respect people who revel in the pain of others. I understand not necessarily caring. I can understand dismissiveness. Outright celebration though is so beyond anything I can relate to. What kind of person are you that you would cheer for someone whose only claim to fame is looking for a fight and getting one? What am I supposed to say to these people? I’m so disgusted by their existence I can barely put my feelings into words.

There’s no part of me that could ever be in the same room with a Republican. This is who they are as a group of people. They are a political party whose guiding principle is “sticking it to the Libs” by any means necessary. If it makes the opposition upset, that makes them happy.

Wearing a mask is not hard. Getting a vaccine is not controversial. But Republican politicians, who are vaccinated and wear masks when no one is looking, just want to upset the opposition.

Singular They is not hard. We have been using they/them/theirs as a pronoun to describe the notion of an unspecific person forever. But Republican politicians have decided it’s the downfall of society to apply it to a specific person who asks for that pronoun.

Celebrating murder is wrong. Even murder in self-defense is seen as a tragedy. But Republicans want to use Kyle Rittenhouse to gloat. They’re turning a teenaged murderer into a rockstar to stick it to the Libs. That space I had left in my psyche to allow for ignorance and misinformation is gone. This isn’t about being ill-informed. They’re just bad people. And I can’t teach someone how not to be a bad person.

If you enjoy celebrating a murderer, that’s just who you are as a human being. And I don’t respect you.

 

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Politics

Some journalistic racism from Kentucky.

Something isn’t quite right about this mayoral coverage.

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This will be quick, but I just wanted to show y’all an example of racism I had not yet seen previously. I’m very familiar with racial bias in reporting, mostly the very blatant examples where a white man kills his entire family and all of the photos are Happy Vacation Pics and a Black man will be suspected of anything and have his mugshot published. This is a very sneaky example courtesy of WDRB Louisville in their reporting on the mayor’s race.

Here’s a nice headshot of Craig Greenberg with a caption stating that he’s running for mayor.

Here’s a nice headshot of David L. Nicholson with a caption stating that he’s running for mayor.

Here’s random photo of Shameka Parrish-Wright on her porch and a caption that says she’s the head of two racial organizations, no mention of candidacy for mayor.

Here’s a random photo of Rev. Tim Findley, Jr. speaking to a reporter and a caption that says what church he’s affiliated with, no mention of candidacy for mayor.

Is it an accident or is it intentional?

If you asked me 5 or 6 years ago, honestly I probably would’ve said it was an accident, without totally absolving the organization of guilt. When I say “accident” with regards to something like this, what I mean is, nobody sat down and said “I’m going to publish two headshots of the white guys and state they’re running for mayor, and I’m going to publish two file photos of the Black candidates with a blurb about who they are.” When I say it’s an accident, I mean it’s more likely that implicit bias has blinded them to the fact that they are handicapping the Black candidates. Implicit bias means they see the Black candidates as less qualified, so it does not register to them that the announcements in their publication are unequal. Implicit bias means had it been four white candidates, you would pick four comparable photos and make four comparable statements because you would notice the discrepancies between four candidates who hold equal place in your mind.

That was years ago though. Today? In 2021? I do feel like it’s intentional. I’m at a point in my adult life where I do not believe most “accidents” are accidents. Someone made the very clear decision to look for and publish the two headshots of the white candidates and simply use file photos for the two Black candidates.

Plus, the About Us section of the WDRB website says this station is owned by Block Communications. If you’ve never heard that name, it’s perfectly fine. Who pays much attention to who owns what newspapers and television stations? I’d only heard of it because of the White Pride March on the Capitol, after which Susan Allan Block, former board member and part of the founding family, made a post on Facebook.

She calls Vice President Kamala Harris a whore in the blurred out part.

So do I believe a media company with these kinds of people in their ranks — not just deplorable, but so boldly and proudly abhorrent that they post about it on social media — would hire a staff that would intentionally pick and choose headshots? Yes I do.

After Rev. Findley pointed it out on social media, WDRB swiftly (in 8 hours) made changes to their post.

But the problem is how racism is so pervasive that something as innocuous as a mayoral announcement is an opportunity to sway public opinion in favor of White is Right. So that’s your morning reminder: be skeptical of everything. There are Susan Allan Blocks everywhere behind companies shaping public opinion, and being as bigoted as they can get away with.

 

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Politics

Teach Critical Race Theory to kindergarteners.

Black children start learning at five, so why shouldn’t everybody else?

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For 25% of Virginia voters, Critical Race Theory was the single most important issue to consider when they ultimately elected Republican Glenn Youngkin. In all, 72% of voters said CRT was an important factor when deciding who to vote for. (x) Ask them to explain it however…

Since this well-informed voter can’t explain what it is, I’ll try. Critical Race Theory is an area of study in higher academia (typically law school) that examines how racism has affected the development of US policy.

CRT is an approach to studying U.S. policies and institutions that is most often taught in law schools. Its foundations date back to the 1970s, when law professors including Harvard Law School’s Derrick Bell began exploring how race and racism have shaped American law and society.

The theory rests on the premise that racial bias – intentional or not – is baked into U.S. laws and institutions.

(cont. Reuters)

In short, your 10th grader is not being taught CRT. Your kindergartener can’t even spell critical yet. Even in college, most of us never really come across CRT as part of a curriculum. However, Republicans got together in a room somewhere and decided this would be the next assault on the Left. They have once again successfully harnessed the power of the media, stupidity, and racism to make CRT into a boogeyman that’s going to make little Jimothy run home from elementary school ashamed to be white.

Those of us who have common sense have spent the past few months repeating this line: CRT isn’t being taught in schools! This is a non issue!

(PBS)

(NBC News)

None of this matters when the people being pandered to by the Right don’t know what Critical Race Theory is in the first place. If they cannot define it, but they still “hate” it, then it does not matter if you tell them it’s not taking place in schools. People they trust have told them it’s being taught. People who they do not trust cannot convince them otherwise.

So why are we trying? Republicans have now taken CRT from an obscure corner of academia and made it a generic term for anything about race that makes white people uncomfortable, so we should be forcing those people to stand ten toes down on their racist opinion. Instead of telling them to define CRT with that very Liberal air of “I know you’re stupid and I can’t wait for you to prove it to me so I can laugh with my friends,” tell them CRT is great and your kids should be learning about race in school. If you won’t properly educate your children, then somebody needs to.

Do you know who is actually being taught CRT? And I mean the Republican definition, not the actual academic definition.

Black children. We start learning about race in America as soon as we are made aware that race is being used to categorize us. Last year I wrote down some lessons I had learned as a Black man, and the first was in elementary school:

The first time I realized white people could do things I can’t, I was about 8 or 9 years old. I grew up in the rural South and it wasn’t uncommon for my mom to tell me to run into a store and grab something while the car idled at the entrance. I loved it; I was a big boy. She sent me into K-Mart to buy something (I don’t remember what it was anymore), and on my way out, the theft detection sensor went off. A white woman was leaving at the same time I was, but the greeter stopped me, called a security guard on me, told me to stay put while he waved the white woman on and told her to have a nice day. I wasn’t in the security office for very long before my mom, who sensed I’d been gone too long, rescued me and took me home.

I learned to wait until the doorway is clear before I leave a store, so someone else’s theft doesn’t land me in handcuffs one day.

This is a common age for children of color to start learning about race.

Those last two tweets are the reason why white parents don’t want race being taught in school — they are racist and they have been teaching their kids to be racist, whether intentionally or unknowingly. Their reaction to CRT comes from one of two places. Either they believe in white supremacy with their whole chest and have proudly said racist things around their children, or they are afraid to be confronted with their latent racism that they are unprepared to face or admit.

White people who have never addressed their unconscious (or conscious!) bias are the people who believe themselves to be good. Those are the suburban white moms who turned out to vote against Trump last time but flipped to support Youngkin for Governor. They believe themselves to be good people who couldn’t possibly be racist because they have a vague sense that everybody should be equal, but deep down they know they will be forced to confront viewpoints they didn’t know they had. The discomfort means they don’t want their kid in school learning about how the threads of race make cobwebs in every corner of American discourse because they didn’t learn it and they’re not prepared to. They have a nightmare scenario where they don’t recognize Hayleigh and Skylar anymore because one has so much white guilt and the other is so woke they challenge mommy and daddy’s racism at the dinner table.

Their children do not want to be racist.

And those parents cannot face the fact that their kids want to be better than they are.

There is no way to address race if most of the people in the conversation are unaware of how race affects policy. Children of color are the ones who are forced to learn about race in kindergarten. Waiting for white kids to come to some arbitrary age of majority to learn how to function in society wastes two decades of learning where we could have been having conversations together.  All of a sudden they go off to college and are confronted with an array of racial discussions they’ve been unaware of, and we are expected to teach white people for free because their parents were too afraid to let them learn how the world works before patterns and biases started to solidify.

So if a white parent asks me if CRT should be taught in school, I’m saying absolutely. If a white parent says they don’t want their children learning critical race theory, I’m not asking them to define it and I’m not explaining to them it’s not being taught. I’m telling them that I had to learn about race at five. If you are so concerned about your kids being left behind in school, you need to acknowledge the fact that by the time they’re in college, they’re about 15 years behind in racial dynamics. If you want to protect your kids, protect them from being called a racist for spouting misinformation that should’ve been corrected in 7th grade if you were a better parent.

 

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