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OP-EDS ON RACISM, FALL TERM 2010

Could You Be
the Bigger Nigger?

If 15 year-old Elizabeth Eckford could bring


dignity, determination, and courage to facing
an angry, white mob in 1957,
why can’t you and I face
structural racism
in 2011?

Anything that separates the human race


is a form of racism. This is our testimony.

On Sept. 4, 1957, surrounded by a white mob, including Hazel Bryan jeering behind
DR. KYRA GAUNT, PH.D.
her, 15 year-old Elizabeth Eckford (right) of the Little Rock 9 was denied entrance to
Little Rock Central High School. Her skin color didn’t cause the violence (watch live ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, CURATOR/MENTOR EDITOR
kyraocity@gmail.com
video). Photo from National Parks Service/Will Counts/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Revised 24 Jan 2011


Dedicated to the stand of the Little Rock 9 students in
1957, to James Baldwin (1924-1987) and his works, and
to the 25th anniversary on January 17, 2011 of the
national U.S. holiday recognizing the birth, service and
legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).

Whatever affects one directly, affects all


indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be
until you are what you ought to be.
This is the interrelated structure of reality.

– Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.


No Amount of God Will Make Me Any Less Gay by peer editor Valeesa AUGUSTINE page 27
A Good Fit for Debt by peer editor Chris KIPROVSKI  page 51
AloneTogether by Kristen MATONTI  page 34
Bravery & Fear by Michelle CHAN  page 50
Breaking the Barriers by Isaac SETTON  page 42-43
Colored Justice: For The Parents? by Jennifer GLASPER  page 40-41
Coming Out Illegal by peer editor IRVING page 10-11
Cordoba: Word of the Day by Rahat CHOWDHURY  page 9
Facing Up To Whiteness by peer editor Kevin GERMAN page 37
Fenced In Whiteness by Trevor SMITH page 46
History is Skin-Deep by Kashma EVELYN  page 13-14
Hit By Stereotype by Natali NASSIMIAN  page 48
I Am Not My Hair 我不是我的头发 by Jeanine “Nkechi” EZEH  page 38
Introduction by mentor editor Dr. Kyra GAUNT page 5
Naming the Inequity by Antoinette DAVIS  page 8
Nigger Rich by Laser SMALL  page 33
Original Songs by Matthew KISS page 28
Paying The Toll by Danielle MORA  page 51
Play with the Darker Children! by Kamylle MACINTOSH  page 20-21
POEMS by Quinton MCDONALD  page 45
Race Matters…No! I Do! by peer editor Abigaelle REVERS page 47
Racism as a Crutch by peer editor Dabney JEAN page 16-17
Re-Covering Islam by IQRA page 44
Roughing the Passer by Andrew BAEZ  page 55-57
Soy Sauce and the Milk by Hunter WEAVER-DANIEL  page 26
Stop Segregation by peer editor Nadege NAU page 35-36
Stripping My Pakistani Identity by Usman JAVED  page 29-30
The Black People Bubble by Tiana JONES  page 49
The Colorblind Bubble by Nicole BALESTRIERE  page 22
The Housekeeper's Daughters by Chloe ZALCMAN page 19
The Privilege of a Public Education by Sarah MANCIN  page 39
The Rules of Racial Engagement by Sidney CHEN  page 7
The “Struggle” by Duncan GOODWIN  page 18
The World in a Jar by Andre MENDEZ  page 31-32
White or Wong by Samantha WONG page 53-54
4

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Wordle.net

©2011
5
AN INTRODUCTION by Dr. Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Title million college students in 2007. Why is it UNDERSTANDING STRUCTURAL RACISM
It may alarm you but 34 students arrived at the book that we so seldom hear, or listen to, the
title by a unanimous consensus. One of them said, voices of young people and young adults
The superior position/whiteness:
“they’ll get it when they read our essays.” The price in key public opinion forums when so
15 year-old Elizabeth Eckford (cover photo) paid so many key issues directly affect their
1. Tends to receive greater economic remuneration and
that we all gained access to our educational civil and future? Writing op-eds (crafting a lede,
access to better occupations and prospects in the labor
human rights must have required that she be “bigger” learning to create an argument in various
market,
than she and especially whites “knew” her to be as a ways, crafting a “to-be-sure” response to
so-called “nigger.” In 2011, racism may be less overt anticipate opposition to an argument, and
2. Occupies a primary position in the political system,
for many blacks and perhaps more overt for Muslims a conclusion) and publishing them
and gays. These essays are our testimony to being together disrupts the structural inequity
3. Is granted higher social estimation (e.g., is viewed as
the “bigger nigger” or simply, being “bigger” than we and age subjugation that often separates
‘smarter’ or ‘better looking’ [or sounding]), often as the
ever imagined when it comes to racism. Who we are each and every college student from
license to draw physical (segregation) as well as social
in the small, ordinary moments that offend us matters. publicly engaging in her/his own
(racial etiquette) boundaries between itself and other
adulthood, learning to openly voice their
Racism Is Not Personal races, and;
citizenship and influence humanity.
At the start of BLS1003: The Evolution and
Expressions of Racism, most students consider Voicing Adulthood 4. Receives what W.E.B. Du Bois called “a sort of public
racism “a collection of individual-level anti-minority Take 34 emerging thought leaders and and psychological wage...[freely] given public deference
group attitudes” (L. Bobo in Gallagher 2009, 157). have each of them link an individual and titles of courtesy because they were white.”
During the course they discover the persistent experience with racism to a systematic
structural inequities found in symbols (i.e., skin color), inequity or embedded disadvantage From “Racialized Social System Approach to
discriminatory laws and practices, and social group known as “structural racism.” Ask them Racism”(Eduardo Bonilla-Silva in Gallagher 2009, 33)
position, power and privilege that we all were born to cite evidence from assigned readings
into whether experienced or not. and connect their experience to the often
elusive or overlooked aspects of race-as-a-social- friends through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Share
Why Op-Eds and Why Students Writing Op-Eds? construct. The brilliance created here is the collective it with leaders in your school and community. Send it
Last summer, I participated in The OpEd Project with wisdom of the stories of a student who is black with a to your principal, dean or local politicians. Don’t limit
the support of a grant for women in the Baruch white student, a woman with a man, or––relative to learning to the classroom--give it away! A former
College community given by philanthropist RuthAnn the nationally-recognized ethnic diversity at Baruch–– anthro class published SPEAK! The Miseducation of
Harnisch. The intention of the OpEd Project, created an Asian American with a Bangladeshi-American, a College Students in May 2010. To date, it has been
by Catherine Orenstein, is to expand and increase the Pakistani Muslim with a Syrian Jew, or a disabled read by over 4500 people in less than 6 months.
volume of female thought leaders in the world. I have mother with a Pagan lesbian and an undocumented
a similar aim for college students as they embrace student from North America (Mexico). The process of Dare to be Different: Go Public!
their adulthood.  voicing these op-eds about racism has been the most Think about it! Publish a “little” idea, a little story
powerful and emotional final project with a real-world/ along with your classmates’ little ideas on race or
According to data from 2009, of the more than 307 public impact that I could ever imagine. And it allowed social justice. Say to yourself “Maybe I’m right!” rather
million people living in the U.S. over 14%, or almost students to be courageous and compassionate. than starting from “Maybe I’m wrong.” Practice
43 million, are between the ages 15 and 29. According trusting yourself. Practice trusting your students.
to the U.S. Department of Education, there were 18.3 Create & Share a Racism Op-ed E-book What young adults have to say matters! Openly
We invite your class or organization to publish op-eds sharing prepared (and not-so prepared) thoughts in
together. Join us in a social media movement of public is the best education there is. Be the audacity
student thought leadership. We used Scribd.com but of that! <<
whatever you use, SHARE it widely with family and
24 Jan 2011, Crown Heights, New York City
6

White and Asian protesters in the Harlem Peace March to End Racial
Oppression on April 27, 1967. Source: Courtesy of Builder Levy, photographer.

White people will have quite enough to


do in learning how to accept and love
themselves and each other, and when
they have achieved this...the Negro
problem will no longer exist, for it will
no longer be needed.
“Letter from a Region of My Mind” in The New Yorker (17 Nov
1962) republished as “Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region of
My Mind” in The Fire Next Time (1963) by James Baldwin.

More demonstrators carry placard at the Harlem Peace March to End


Racial Oppression, 1967. Boxer/activist Muhammad Ali's stated about
his refusal to participate in the Vietnam War, "Ain't no Vietcong ever
called me nigger." Source: Courtesy of Builder Levy, photographer

More info
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 7

THE RULES OF day, the two of them were talking inside while racial inferiority. In our modern society, we need
my cousin and I were playing stick ball right to realize and accept that the “persistent
RACIAL ENGAGEMENT outside the store. While waiting for them to negative stereotyping of African Americans, a
by Sidney Chen finish their meeting, my cousin and I started to tendency to blame blacks that are used to
joke around about which girls we liked. explain away continued institutional racism and
On my 13th birthday, my father sat down discrimination or structural inequities” (Bobo in
next to me on my bed and softly said, "Son, you The subject of racial preferences came up. Gallagher 2009, 155-157), known as “laissez-
are at the age when you might be curious about Poking fun at my cousin, I jokingly said "Oh, so faire racism,” is an invisible hand influencing just
girls. I just wanted to say that you can date you're a nigger lover," and out of the corner of another evolution, another adaptation, another
white girls." I responded with "I know Dad, I my eye, in the grey reflection of the glass “step forward” for racism. 
know. Don't date black girls right?" He replied, windows, I saw the face of my father’s partner ,
"I'm glad you understand son." He pat me on who was of Puerto Rican descent, turn sour with But what do I know? I'm just a 21 year-old
the back and proudly walked away. disappointment. From that moment on, I student with a background in theatre and
realized "backstage racism"--“the racist talk business. My story was meant to tug at your
And soon I found out I wasn't the only individuals engage in when they are privately consciousness and if any of my points had any
person in my all Asian school whose parents felt interacting with same-race friends, family, or co- effect on you, as an individual, not as a group,
this way. My father is a great man and I would workers” (Bolton and Feagin in Gallagher 2009, speak up and make a change today. <<
like to think that he is the best father that 226)--is the fueling source for racial injustice.
anyone could ever ask for. I knew his words
weren't his but they were made on behalf of our Racism has surely taken a
community and culture. They left me conflicted s t e p f o r w a rd l i k e t h e w a y
but I felt I had no choice. “separate but equal” was a step
forward from slavery or Jim-Crow
My father had a business partner from whom laws were a step forward from
he would receive supplies and products. One the unwritten understandings of
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 8

Going to Disney World


and finding my name on a
key chain used to be
impossible.

NAMING THE INEQUITY


by Antoinette Davis
My name was Shelika. Now itʼs Antoinette. Some people may think I
adopted a European name or I am a sell out. Actually I just made my (Braverman in Gallagher 2009, 250). Iʼm in college and not long from seeking
middle name my first. But according to Steven Levittʼs Freakonomics, employment. I read this information after I legally changed my name to
“many parents seem to believe that a child cannot prosper unless he/she Antoinette.
is hitched to the right name; names are seen to carry great aesthetic or
even predictive powers” (2005), especially in a society where names Shelika was too ethnic and I wanted that explicit label removed. I wanted
reflect racial differences. individuals to be able to easily read and pronounce my name without my having
to correct them. I did not want to be pre-judged by a “black” name before I even
Going into Disney World and finding my name on a key chain used to spoke or showed up. I remember one day in class, immediately following my
be impossible. So I stopped looking. Why arenʼt the core values of legal name change, a professor noticed my email address on the class roster
equality represented in Americaʼs key chains? They register like a that still carried my former name. I was shocked when heard “Shelika?” as she
subatomic bomb for me. Equality--having you name represented in your called out names to mark me present that day. Confused, she questioned
own country on a key chain--is reserved for the majority. I can change my whether it was my middle name or not. I wanted to leave that name behind and
name to Antoinette but can I change my socio-economic status with that? there it was again lurking as a reminder in my email address.

What exactly did my name change bring? Joy, laughs, acceptance, closure,
Names give a first impression. Some professors can look at the excitement, and some getting use to. My family members mocked me while
roster and know how many black students are in the course. I often sat in friends accepted it. I now realize I can change my name but not the color of my
my seat patiently waiting for them to stumble upon my name. It was skin or the message that it signals. That label, that sign of racialized difference,
painful and embarrassing. As little as it may seem to others, it was a big persists. Antoinette still appears to be a black woman even though several
deal. generations ago one side of her family owned slaves. I, Antoinette formerly
known as ..., am both a descendent of the owning class and the slave caste.
In a figure labeled “Why Brad and Kristen Beat Out Jermaine and How do I name that?
Ebony” from the essay “Kristen v. Aisha; Brad v. Rasheed: Whatʼs in a
Name and How it Affects Getting a Job,” Amy Braverman said, “white To judge a book by its cover is silly. And to judge a person by their name is
applicants are called back 50% more than black applicants” all because even sillier. But there has been one advantage in my name change. Now when I
of the name at the top of a resume prompts racial discrimination submit a job application, the number of call backs have increased. <<
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 9

Cordoba: Word of the Day


by Rahat Chowdhury I'll drown them all and laugh aloud. Growing up I was never taught to ram a plane into a building
Won't let me babysit their kids, Was never taught to stone a woman when she's cheating
I'll teach ‘em hate, I'll teach ‘em now. Was never taught to kill a priest who might be preaching
Verse 1: They won't let me build the building, Was told to hear ‘em out and never start the screaming
They won't let me shoot some hoops, It’s cuz part of its Cordoba. Even prayed in a church once when the local mosque was in
I got a bomb in my shoe. A time of calm, a time of peace, need
They won't let me build that building, Between religions but that’s over. Look we can coexist, just stop, just breathe
What do you think i'm gonna do? Look how we allow fear and misunderstanding to rule us
I can't do arts and crafts, They don't understand what I'm trying to say, We human beings can't control our rage, Man! It's too much!
I'll take a scissor to their neck. They fear me, I fear them, fear's the word of the day. Vengeance shouldn't be served to those with clean hands
They say I laugh when I am praying, Just want a spot to chill wit my boys after class But you do it everyday so our future seems black. <<
When all I do is pay respects. But these racists can't for even a second stand for that.
They won't let me build a pool,
Had a vision created with our spray paint and ink pens
They defaced our graffiti with all of their hate then
Rallied together made us something we're not
Not a single one of em checked the info that they got.

Chorus:
This is what you made me, a cold blooded killer
You never understood me, but what made you bitter?
I didn't hurt any one of you, but-the blame runs thicker
Will gallons of blood spill from innocents and sinners?

Verse 2:
So, what happens now? Do we live and accept it?
That our differences in faith, will never be respected?
Park 51 was meant to promote unity.
Called Cordoba highlighting a multi-faith community.
Yet they walked up to our face, spat, and then they said
That if it weren't for us their brethren wouldn't be dead
While we promotin’ peace, they say we celebrate their
pain
Yea, ignore our real mission and call us all insane.
They say Islam is the work of the devil, and it’s evil.
Like a demon or a djinn possesin’ you while you’re feeble
The proposed Cordoba House in lower Manhattan. President Obama
was reported saying: “As a citizen, and as president, I believe that
Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else
in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship (the
Cordoba House) and a community center on private property in lower
“Growing up I was never taught Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

to ram a plane into a building.”


BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 10

COMING OUT ILLEGAL Americans my lack of documentation degree in the field of psychology and living in
simultaneously means I am not one of them. one of the greatest cities of the world. Life may
by Irving I am currently enrolled in a class in which we seem great, but it is not. I find that everywhere I
study the evolution and expression of racism in go, I am constantly reminded that I am missing
I, like Dr. King, have a dream. the United States of America. We had to read something—that something is my identity. ...
articles that helped us get a better
Writing this has liberated me from my hidden understanding of structural racism. Structural
identity. For years I have been hiding behind racism is the system that allowed foundations, cont. on next page
shadows concocted by the lies that I’ve been still stand strong today, to limit access and
telling in hopes of living a normal life. From opportunities to people of color. It ultimately
participating in this op-ed e-book, I finally have a creates huge disparities between people who are
medium to express what I have been feeling. I white and privileged, and those of us who are
have felt trapped in a place with no refuge or not.
escape. I could not see the light leading to my Recently I came across this article in the
liberation, and I still don’t know what the future New York Times called “Coming Out Illegal” and
holds for me, nor how this piece may effect it. during one of our class discussions a classmate
Despite the many things I have wanted to brought up the topic of the struggle that a
accomplish, I could not and cannot do what is particular race has dealt with. How “races” you
normal for others. I am limited by law. I am an can’t identify immediately, that you can’t see,
undocumented college student. have less of a struggle than those that can be
In this meritocratic society, you expect that identified because of their physical
the people who strive for education get the characteristics since they cannot be labeled.
education they desire, but the reality is that laws One of my classmates felt as though this was
limit many hungry minds. They do so by limiting false, as homosexuals also have to live through
scholarships and financial aid to students even if many hardships even though you can’t tell they
they merit them. Along with other vacuous have sexual preferences that are not the norm
accusations, the reasoning is that immigrants right away. This brought me back to the article
will steal jobs. Many people do not get to hear and with it a sea of emotions and thoughts.
immigrant stories like mine. I never really connected revealing my identity
I have struggled to claim my identity: I feel as an illegal immigrant to “coming
so American, and at times I feel so alienated out.” I had flashbacks about the many times
because I am excluded from activities due to my I hid this information from my friends and the
legal status in this nation. As a student, many times that I’ve made excuses because I
exclusion shows up when I have to provide a was afraid. I was afraid to come out due to the
social security number that I am not allowed to likely scrutiny and shame I would face—to hear
obtain. Unlike my college friends, I cannot get a all the jokes, to get the dirty looks, and to hear
driver’s license, I cannot vote, and I cannot the rude comments.
travel. It’s funny. When I’m with relatives from my It was not my choice to come to this country.
home country they say I do not fit in with them I was just 5 years old when I arrived with my
and their way of life. I am too “American”. The mother and sister to meet my father in NYC.
irony of this kills me because to my fellow Fourteen years later I am in college pursuing a
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 11

TO BE ABLE TO
STAY IN SCHOOL.
TO BE ABLE TO DREAM.
SUPPORT THE DREAM ACT

... It fascinates me how many times a Jew, so people do not question my I recall having dinner with my version of The Dream Act in a vote of
day I need to confirm who I am. status. I don’t look illegal, whatever friend’s grandparents who are from a 216 to 198 but it has stalled in the
Whether it’s going into school and that means. Also both my given name small town in Canada. During a Senate. This upsets me. Once again,
showing my ID or calling the bank. and surname could be linked to casual conversation over dinner, the history is repeating itself and the civil
They always ask for the famous card. Jewish roots. I have the perfect mask fact that I was in this country illegally rights of young people who didn’t
But I ask myself, what does that card but that doesn’t make me feel safe or c a m e u p . W h e n m y f r i e n d ’s choose their destination are being
really say about me? Does it tell of my liberated. grandparents found out they did what denied. In my opinion, people like us
struggles, my beliefs? Can this card N o w, m a n y w i l l a r g u e t h a t any employer in need would do. They are more American than the people
validate anyone as a true American, undocumented youth do not offered me a job in the farm fields who are opposing The Dream Act and
as a human being? contribute to our economy and that they own. I was extremely offended. I immigration policies. We appreciate
I don’t have the stereotypical the country won’t get anything in did not ask for a job. But here they the value of American equality in
features of what is known as a return for our possible citizenship. Did were offering something I did not ways they cannot.
immigrant. But what is a stereotypical you know non-residential aliens can need. What I really needed was the As a sophomore, I hope my legal
immigrant? The mass media has already pay taxes without a social support of people to make me feel at status gets resolved as soon as
portrayed the immigrant of the 21st security number. Many non-residential home pursuing my true dreams and possible so my dreams of becoming a
century mostly as Hispanic. The aliens actually do pay taxes, but their aspirations. successful psychologist can come
reality is that there are many different children do not get any of the benefits As I continue my collegiate true. I am coming out because I have
types of immigrants that come to the such as financial aid. pursuit, I question where it could take a dream...to be free at last. Let the
U.S.A everyday. They are not limited The Dream Act is bi-partisan me. Sure I can get a degree, but Dream Act begin. <<
to just Hispanics. legislation that if passed would without legal status in this country my [The U.S. Senate rejected the
T h e re a re m a n y C a n a d i a n s , require a 6-year conditional path to degree will mean absolutely nothing. I Dream Act days before production
easter n Europeans, Caribbean citizenship, completion of a college cannot even get a mediocre job while ended on this ebook]
peoples, Middle Easter ners and degree, and two years of military I study.
others who immigrate to the U.S., and service. Second, whether wage It’s not because I am lazy. It’s not
for many reasons stay here illegally. It laborers in farm fields or white-collar like do not want to work. I am not
infuriates me that only Hispanics and employees with degrees, we will allowed to and this discourages me.
especially Mexicans are targeted as contribute even more as legal citizens Why bother to follow your dreams.
the criminals. I am Mexican, but some by paying taxes on all our On December 8th, 2010, the
of my features resemble a Sephardic documented labor. House of Representatives passed a
12

“RETHINKING THE
COLOR LINE”
1) Rebecca Blank, An Overview of Trends
ON FACEBOOK in Social and Economic Well-Being by Race (Ch. 6)
READINGS in RACE & ETHNICITY 2) Thomas Shapiro, Transformative Assets, the Racial Wealth Gap
4th ed., edited by Charles Gallagher
ur and the American Dream (Ch. 8)
McGraw-Hill 2009
’s a t a ste of o s
H e re ation
li n e c onvers
on
One thing that really caught What really shocked me from
my attention in the readings the readings is to what extent
David Williams and Chiquita Collins, (besides for the number of charts economic and educational
thrown our way), was how black standings affect the "real" world.
“The Color of Health in the United States” families may never catch up to There is a direct result and
Ch. 7 in Rethinking the Color Line, 4th ed. the earnings of white families comparison between socio-
(Ch. 8) At one point it says that a economic capability and
middle class black family has to standing in regards to social
After reading “The Color of In "The Color of Health in the work 12 more weeks than a white structure and culture. The top
Health in the United States” (by United States,"... [i]t was family to make equal earnings echelon of society succeeds and
David Williams and Chiquita Collins, disturbing to read that research (pg. 58). HUH? And on that same have more opportunity as the
Ch. 7), I question why the economic findings have revealed that a black page, the book explains another "lower" groups falter and are
status of blacks has been declining man in Harlem is six times more reason why black (and other stuck in the same downward
and not getting better. likelier to die than a white male. minority families) may never have spiral. I feel as though it is not so
the ability to "catch up" to white much an issue of "racism" as it is
If I was to use my own judgment I like how Williams and Collins families: transformative assets. of fact. <<
I would say it looks as though blacks made a correlation between major As the old saying goes; "The rich
have been gaining economic status. historical events and life Andrew Baez
get richer, as the poorer get
However, actual statistics have a expectancy amongst blacks. poorer."
valid argument against my theory to
In the past Jesse Jackson's Matt Kiselenko
show the opposite. It surprises me
participation in the presidential race
th a t i nc ome, health, and life
seemed to have positive effects of
expectancy has been getting worse
the physical and mental well being
for blacks. In a world where there are
of blacks. Hence, I feel that the
continuous improvements for every
Obama victory in the 2008
aspect of life and yet this group of
presidential election must have had
people are not gaining the benefits
an even greater effect on African
makes me wonder why. Can this
American's health.
really be the effect of white people
trying to keep them down or is there Nadege Nau
more to it?
Kristen Matonti
13

HISTORY IS SKIN-DEEP shift my identification from West “What do you mean you are not no gud.” Translation: “Professor, I am
Indian to Black. This notion of Abigaelle? I’m looking right at you.” uncertain how you were able to
by Kashma Evelyn “racism” was new to me in ways I Then another classmate interceded, confuse Abigaelle with myself. I am
never experienced before. “Professor! She’s not Abigaelle. sure, you were quite mistaken.” That
“You’ve only known me for six I was sitting in the back of the Abigaelle went to the bathroom.” would have justified my feelings to
weeks and you’re telling me who I class that day. My history professor With the intensity of a thousand suns some extent but that moment got
am??!!” This is the thought I never was speaking to Abigaelle who had the professor lashed out, “If YOU are stuck in my memory; it left a history I
uttered when my history professor left the room, so when she narrowed not Abigaelle, then who ARE you??” wasn’t expecting.
insisted I was Abigaelle. Abigaelle is her sights on me and said, That line sent the entire class The thought of grouping
much taller than me, a different “Abigaelle, tell us about this picture into a fit of laughter, but I didn’t join individuals together simply based on
complexion of black skin than me, a that you sent to me,” I didn’t answer. them. As the laughter died, I skin color or outward appearance is
whole different personality than me. It was a photograph Abigaelle took answered with quiet insistence, “I’M reminiscent of being in preschool
She’s outgoing. I’m shy and quiet. of a painting in her house which she KASHMA EVELYN!!” when we put away the blocks as kids
Yes, she’s seen us together, alot, but apparently emailed to our professor; I was completely embarrassed. according to the shapes and colors.
I am short with completely different I, of course, knew nothing of this How easy it was for her to try to People are not objects. That history
eyes, nose, hairstyle, and persona painting. Finally realizing she was convince me that I am who SHE professor, a Caucasian woman,
compared to Abigaelle. Telling her addressing me, I said “Who me? I’m thinks I am. reflected what I read in the chapter
my name is Kashma didn’t help. The not Abigaelle.” As the class ended, I walked up by Herbert Blumer titled “Race
professor insisted I wasn’t me. And How do you convince another to the lectern and she looked me in Prejudice as a Sense of Group
she teaches history. p e r s o n y o u a re n o t w h o t h e y the eye saying, “Oh, I’m sorry for Position.” He wrote:
For the first twenty-one years of perceive you to be? Not a black confusing you with Abigaelle. As you
my life, I lived in a world where my person. In an earlier time, not a know, the room is very dark and plus “The second important aspect of
dialect, my thoughts and even my nigger. Not a person from the wrong you both have the same coloring.” the process of group definition is
behavior, were parallel to those side of the tracks. Not Abigaelle but All the lights were on and we see that it is necessarily concerned
around me. Before coming to the me, Kashma. distinctly different complexions. with an abstract image of the
U.S., as part of an ethnic majority on She said again, “ABIGAELLE! I’m I stood there dumbfounded, subordinate racial group. The
the island of Nevis in the Caribbean, asking you what you think of this unsure what to say next. Nothing subordinate racial group is
I grew up thinking we were like no picture?” I again responded quietly came to me but a measly “Okay.” defined as if it were an entity or a
other. Then reality set in. but still trying to emphasize the What I really wanted to say in my whole.” (Blumer in Gallagher
Arriving in New York City I was difference, “I...am…NOT… native Nevis tongue was, “Look 2009, 128) ...
thrown into a melting pot where I am Abigaelle.” ‘oman me ain kno how u cud tek
classified as a minority just from arbe for one another, right? U head cont. on next page
crossing a sea and being asked to
“Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 14

“One does not choose one’s race, but one HISTORY IS ... cont. one does not choose one’s race,
but one should be conscious, or at
least cautious, not to make race
should be conscious, or at least cautious, ... Confusing an African
American woman who is 5’5”, more than background cultural
not to make race more than background Abigaelle, with me, an Afro- information.” Therefore my race
should not define who I am!
Caribbean woman who is only 5
cultural information (Gallagher 2009)” feet tall, is possible, even valid Is it my duty to educate my
history teacher on differences
given the politics of race as skin
among races? Or how to refrain
color in the United States. Even
from telling people who they are?
my black professor has confused
The following week, as she
the light brown men from Arab and
returned my assignment, she
Muslim nations in our racism class
called my name “Kashma Evelyn”;
and she explained that it is often
I extended my hand to collect it.
not being present to our
She then said “Is Evelyn your first
differences. We would say in Nevis
name?” I paused and said “No it’s
“How u mistake dem two deh? Dat
my LAST NAME!” She then said,
deh like comparing chalk n’
“Are you sure?”
cheese” Like confusing Tyra Banks
In a world where our greatest
with Oprah Winfrey. The fact that
resource is people, we make up
Abigaelle and I are both people
various ethnic groups that enrich
with black skin, does not mean we
the human race. When barriers are
resemble one another or that all
created between these groups
our features are the same.
causing one to be seen as inferior,
As stated by Michael Omi and
racism becomes a reality. None in
Howard Winant “Differences in
a minority group is accounted for
skin color and other obvious
as an individual but as a whole.
physical characteristics
Generalizing then becomes a
supposedly provide visible clues
second nature solution read as
to differences lurking
natural attributed to the wrong
underneath” (in-text citation w/
lighting or similar skin tones.
page #). However, this is still not
Maybe learning about our history
so. In the United States many are
is not enough to differentiate
still judged and classed together
between skin color and the
based on their skin color rather
structural and racialized systems
than their intellect which causes
of difference that, according to
hindrances in seeking employment
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, reproduce
or proper housing.
racial phenomena “not by
I have been pondering
reference to a long-distant past
something from all this. Are we
but in relation to its contemporary
truly living in a color-blind society?
structure” (in Gallagher 2009, 37).
Photo credit: Charles Gallagher stated that <<
Telfair Museum, Savannah, Georgia. Photo: UGArdener via Flickr “Within the color-blind
perspective, it’s understood that
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 15

In the fall of 2005, teen filmmaker Kiri Davis re-conducted the


1954 “doll test” (photo upper right). In 1954 the wife-and-husband
team, Kenneth and Mamie Clark, asked black children, ages three
to seven, a series of questions about two plastic baby dolls that were
identical except for color. The responses (replicated by Davis in
2005) revealed a latent reality. Ten of the sixteen black children
studied preferred the white dolls to the black dolls (photo below).

How to Raise Racist Kids


by Jonathan Liu, GeekDad published in Wired (16 Feb 2010)

“It is tempting to believe that because their generation is


so diverse, today’s children grow up knowing how to get
along with people of every race. But numerous studies
suggest that this is more of a fantasy than a fact” (Po
Bronson and Ashley Merryman, NurtureShock: New
Thinking about Children).

• Only 8% of white American high-schoolers have a


best friend of another race. (For blacks, it’s about
15%.)

• The more diverse a school is, the less likely it is


that kids will form cross-race friendships.

• 75% of white parents never or almost never talk


about race with their kids.

• A child’s attitudes toward race are much harder to


alter after third grade, but a lot of parents wait
until then (or later) before they feel it’s “safe” to
talk frankly about race. <<
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 16

REAL EDUCATION
SHOULD CONSIST OF
DRAWING THE
GOODNESS AND
THE BEST OUT OF
OUR OWN STUDENTS.
WHAT BETTER BOOKS
CAN THERE BE THAN
THE BOOK OF
HUMANITY?

- CESAR CHAVEZ

Racism as a Crutch until, the interview began and boy, it minorities to the whites, and they 1776 and with that African
felt like she tore me to pieces! What want to keep it that way. Us black Americans could claim oppression
by Dabney Jean by whites for almost 400 years.
makes you so worthy? Tell me the folk will never have a chance.”
square root of three million. Is that Constantly reminded of my skin
Researched the company? Check. color, constantly reminded of my
all you did at your last job? I sat Did you know that by 2014 it is
Black business suit? Check. Train inferiority and constantly reminded
there knowing I didn’t get the job. As expected that the minority
Directions? Check! I was good to go. of my differences now even by my
upset as I was, I resigned myself to population will reach 50% of the
I was going on an important own ethnic group. With the
disappointment. population? Will “we blacks” still feel emergence of figures like Rosa
interview with what kind of as though we are a minority, singled Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther
business? finance, marketing??, one I told a friend of the horror that out and left behind? Are we creating King Jr. and Al Sharpton a courage
that forced [no one forced you! almost brought me to tears in that our own disparity? was brought forth to enact change,
Rewrite this me to research for days, to bring African Americans a
interview room. I thought I should
run out to buy a new suit, and The reasoning, "It's because I'm newfound hope for the present and
have been more prepared. I should
rehearse my presentation, so I was Black,” is widely accepted among our future. All this begs the question:
have anticipated her questions. It’s
nervous. Yet, I was still confident. African Americans to justify their lack Do I feel comfortable with the
all my fault. Then my friend said, “No
What did I have to lose? I was a of advancement, to justify their disparity of thinking we are inferior?
it wasn’t! It’s because you’re black.”
college student with good grades, reason for separation, to justify their That we can never win?
His reasoning rang through my ears reasoning a lot of things they don’t
relevant experience, and great Sometimes I live in a bubble fearful
like the sound of a bullet. I said that get. More than 150 years before this
communication skills. that I may still walk the streets with
couldn’t be the reason. The nation was founded, the first
interviewer was Asian. She is shipment of African indentured people who think of me the same
Then I sat down in that interview
considered a minority too. He slaves were brought to the colonies way people once thought of my ...
chair, laughing, smiling with my
replied, “They’re the closest in 1619. The country was founded in
Asian interviewer. She was nice, cont. on next page
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 17

EDUCATION IS INDOCTRINATION IF YOU’RE WHITE -


SUBJUGATION IF YOU’RE BLACK
- James Baldwin

Racism as a Crutch cont.


... ancestors. Therefore, I revert thoughts of the
"black" displayed by the media. The hoodlum, the
uneducated, the troublemaker. How does that apply
to me, a college educated black woman, exposed to
the culture of successful banking and small firms?
That's not my image, that's not how I see myself.
Am I angry? Yes! Angry that our ancestors weren't
given the chance to change history (this is a strange
expression, who can change history??), angry that
that treatment barely allows me to feel accepted
even today.
With all this I can definitely be sure that we have
been creating our own inequality. We are allowing us
to create attributes because of our skin color. How
are we beginning to oppress ourselves? The very
thing we have been trying to fight for years? As a
student in such a diversified school as Baruch
College, I’ve been exposed to so many different
cultures, and so many people. I refuse to keep
myself in a bubble. I refuse to create excuses for
myself, because sooner than you think we’ll be equal
in number to everyone.
P.S. I definitely got the job! You won’t hear me
saying, “It’s because I’m Black,” instead “It’s
because I deserve it.” <<
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 18

THE “STRUGGLE” little outward hostility from my Much like skin color, sexual orientation is
classmates; but that is not the experience not a decision. Biologically we are the same
by Duncan Goodwin many gay teenagers have. Too many gay and there should be no question about human
One day during a conversation about people grow up being bullied in school. rights. I recognize that some may say that
The most interesting facet of this type of marriage is between man and a woman, not a
race in the Evolution and Expressions of
harassment is that some of the people man and a man; for “God made Adam and Eve,
Racism someone said something in who are being bullied for being “fags” not Adam and Steve”. But what I say to that
reference to being Jewish. It was about may not actually be gay, in fact it is often is...um, okay? The question of marriage is one
how their struggle wasn't the same as the the case that the people doing the of human rights, not religious integrity. This
“black struggle” because people can't bullying are the gay ones. I have never fundamental violation of what are supposedly
immediately tell that someone is Jewish. been the type of person who is very natural rights calls to mind the civil rights
While she may not have meant it this outwardly gay though I am not unwilling movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, after all
way, it came across to me as saying that to say that I am, I simply do not think that separate but equal is not equal.
if someone cannot immediately see that I should have to; and yet I am still not
comfortable saying it and this is why it is Both homosexuality and race are
you are a minority it makes your struggle constructs of society imposed by a majority
in some way less ""hard"" than others, important for the subject to be explored.
The reason prejudice against group with no substantial claim. The two may
but I disagree. One of the most prevalent not be exactly the same because they are not
and complex types of prejudice existing homosexuality is such a convoluted one
is that it questions the mental state of the the same on the outside, but they can be
today is that against homosexuals and examined on similar levels. It is just as unfair
what makes this type of prejudice so subject, until 1973 the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual (DSM) classified for a group of people to be discriminated
complicated is largely the fact that there against in marriage as it is for people to be
is no physical characteristics that have homosexuality as a mental disease.
discriminated against in, say, college. I believe
been labeled gay so far. And yet what I it is often ignored by many that these two types
feel like is often forgotten is that the basic of discrimination are inherently the same and
notion of discrimination is unfair no neither should be “measured” as it were. We
matter who it is against, it is the same should recognize that it is petty to disagree
inequality because it is discrimination about how much one type of discrimination
against a minority group for unfounded effects the discriminated and understand that
perceptions proliferated by mass media. neither are okay, and neither are fully
They are different in essence but at the understood. It is 2010, it’s time to understand
core they are the same. that we are all humans and not one set
Being gay is something that has deserves more than the others. We may be
impacted my life in a way very different born in all different sectors of society but that
than the experience of many other doesn’t mean that one person is less human
homosexuals. I grew up in a town that that the other. <<
was relatively liberal, experiencing very
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 19

DID YOU KNOW?


THE HOUSEKEEPER’S The Jews of China built their famous “Purity and Truth” synagogue in the
third year of the Da Ding period (1163) of the Jin (Golden Tartar) Dynasty, in
DAUGHTERS the ancient Chinese capitol city of Kaifeng.
by Chloe Harari Zalcman
A member of my community fell in DID YOU KNOW?
Sitting in my racism class, I love with his African-American 15,000 Black African Jews, who trace their 3,000 year history to the time of
observe my surroundings. Thirty-four housekeeper made racism a part of my Israel’s King Solomon, were flown from Ethiopia to Israel in 36 hours in May
students, all of different races and life. In a religious community that 1991.
religions, each with eye-opening stories doesn't accept converts, the
of how racism has been apart of their housekeeper converted anyway and DID YOU KNOW?
lives. As some share their stories about the two, a Jewish man and a black Spanish & Portuguese “Crypto” (secret) Jews arrived in New Mexico some
immigrating from other countries, woman, got married. Twenty-odd years 500 years ago, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. Their descendants still recite
growing up as a minority, or being later, I see the struggles their daughters Shabbat blessings in Ladino (archaic Spanish).
judged by their skin color, I can’t help are facing with relationships because of
but feel jealous. No matter how hard I a choice their father made so many DID YOU KNOW?
try I can't muster up a story that will years ago, to step outside the bounds In India, the Bene Israel community—their ancestors arrived there 2,000
give my classmates the chills like of our religion and race. No family (in years ago—are called “Shanwar Telis” (Saturday Oil Pressers) as they refrain
there's have given me. our community) will accept these girls from work on the Shabbat.
Although racism hasn't affected me as wives for their sons.
directly, I have observed it in my Jewish Whether it is because they are the
community. I have gone back and forth children of a mother who is not Jewish,
a thousand times debating whether or who is a convert, or the children of the
not to tell this story. It’s not my life. Not house keeper, an an African American,
my story. Whether right or wrong, it is a it breaks my heart to see such young
story of racism that has left an impact relationships being broken up for
on me. something that is out of the daughters’
I live in a sheltered, Haisidic Jewish control. I cannot imagine the feeling of
community. Everyone I know and not being able to be with someone I
associate myself with is a member of love because of the choice my father
my community. I attended a small made decades ago.
private Jewish high school, to put it   As heartbreaking as it is, what is
bluntly, with everyone just like me. even worse is that this may never
Everyone there dresses the same, talks change. When I think of our community,
the same, and acts the same. However, the first word that pops into my head is
in this community I have observed a “close-minded.” In hopes of preserving
form of a racism that has burst the traditions and customs, families keep
bubble and broken my heart. to themselves and avoid contact with
"outsiders". I think it is unfair for these
girls to be punished for choices they
didn't make. <<
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 20

THE DARKER CHILDREN Challenges we face, It wasn‘t like my parents told me, “Only play
Challenges so great, with the dark children,” so where did I arrive to
by Kamylle McIntosh Beginning with race. such a conclusion? I suppose it can be argued
that children feel more comfortable with what
they are accustomed to and thus, me, growing
Particularly in the USA slavery is always up around people of the same skin color, I
referred to as history. Does not physically seeing assumed dark skin to be the safer choice.
something make it nonexistent? Many of us do
not believe this when it comes to faith, or the This being said, can this notion be engrained
stars, or the moon, but why is it that once the in us and nurtured, possibly unknowingly, until
shackles have been removed equality is instantly we grow into bias and prejudiced thought?
declared?
Whatever the reason for the continuance of
We are still bound by the chains of [mental] inequality there is no doubt that it exists.
slavery.
Walking into a store, I am made to feel
From the early age of six, I made a biased uncomfortable. The stereotype that blacks are
choice based on skin color alone. I was one of likely to steal is prevalent is most stores. Without
Things have changed, yet remained the same. the only three students at school on the first day. looking up I can feel that I am being watched.
Slavery is over, yet we’re still enslaved. Being new to the school and clearly the My every move guarded by the store employees.
Freedom (opportunity) for all is not the case. youngest, I knew that I had to befriend one of With every object I pick up and rest down. As I
The black man still suffers his “fate.” the two girls. I stood at a distance trying to figure reach for my cell phone in my bag I make it as
Fighting the fight for thousands of years (1619), out how to make the best choice. clear as I can that I am only doing that and not,
but people still have race to fear. instead placing an object from the shelf onto my
So much despair Finally, I chose the darker-skinned girl. The bag. This is just one of the things I do to reduce
only logic I had was that she would be the better and hopefully eliminate the assumption that I will
Can’t get a job ‘cause we aren’t the kind-- the choice because we had a similar complexions. steal from the store because I am black.
kind they’re looking for, the kind in need. My assumption could not have been further from
We’ve been trained… the truth, but I learned a valuable lesson that Slave status is evident at this time as I feel
Trained to judge based on what we see day. restriction even though I am “free.” This is not
Seems like it’s the way things are meant to what I know freedom to be. I feel like my every
be. As I pondered the situation years later I move is being guarded, like the “slave master” is
The color of my skin presents a shade for my begin to think about what made me think the watching over me waiting for me to slip up or do
opportunities. way? How did I learn to assess people based on something wrong. I feel like it is up to me to
A shade that limits how far I may reach. skin color? I have not been taught to do that…or represent my race and prove to others we are ...
Into the light some of us go have I?
Reach further than most and then told “no.” cont. on next page
At some point or another,
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 21

DARKER CHILDREN cont. segregation imply a restriction of


opportunity for blacks compared with
... not what they think we are. I feel other groups.” He continues, “In a very
real way, barriers to spacial mobility are
obligation, but most of all, I feel
barriers to social mobility: a racially
restrained- like I cannot move anywhere
segregated society cannot logically claim
or do anything without first being
to be color blind.” (Massey in Gallagher
seem as black and being first judged 2009).
by this.
From studies done and reported by
How can we as a nation claim to be Shannon N. Zenk et al. came to the
color blind when blacks [and minorities] conclusion that “The nearest
are not afforded equal opportunities as supermarket was significantly further
their white counterparts? away in neighborhoods with a high
proportion of African Americans and the
In the chapter “Color-Blind Privilege: most impoverished neighborhoods
The Social and Political Functions of compared with neighborhoods with a low
Erasing the Color Line in Post Race proportion of African Americans and the
America,” Charles Gallagher describes least impoverished neighborhoods,
“color blindness” as respectively (Why Are There No
Supermarkets in My Neighborhood? The
the idea that we should live in a Long Search for Fresh Fruit, Produce,
society where people are treated and Healthy Food).”
equally regardless of their skin color,
or the belief that we are now a color Furthermore. statistics cited by
blind society where race no longer Rebecca M. Black showed that poverty
shapes life chances (2009, 101). rates for non-white/minority groups are
much higher than those of whites (An
As much as we would like to believe Overview of Trends in Social and
that we live in society in which color Economic Well-Being, by Race)
blindness exists, it is simply not the case.
These exemplify how prominent racism is
From issues such as being excluded in America and that even with a black
from certain neighborhoods to food president and the idea of change
choice within and outside these becoming so popular, we as a black race
neighborhoods and significant income are still fighting for our freedom. <<
differences, minority groups have been
classified and thus made to endure
disadvantages because of their race.

As Douglas Massey wrote, “blacks…


traditionally experienced severe prejudice
and discrimination in urban housing
markets...High indices of residential
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 22

THE COLORBLIND BUBBLE “colorblindness” in “The Ideology know, I was surrounded by it in she replied, “Honestly, I know
by Nicole Balestriere of Colorblindness,” by Lani different aspects of life. nothing about racism, or that it
Guinier and Gerald Torres and in e v e n i s re a l l y s t i l l a ro u n d .
“Color-Blind Privilege: The Social Now, don’t get me wrong. I Enlighten me.”
How hard can a course on
and Political Functions of Erasing received an excellent education,
racism be? To be honest, I chose
the Color Line in Post-Race and found myself to be O b v i o u s l y, t h e i s s u e o f
this course because it was a
America,” by Charles Gallagher. successful. I loved the schools I colorblindness is affecting
1000-level course. I thought it
Colorblindness was the idea that attended. But, I have begun to society in ways that we can’t
would be easy. Oh, was I proved
we should live in a society where wonder why I did not realize the even imagine. People believe
wrong. This course opened up
people are treated equal, reality of racism and the toll it that there is equality among all,
my eyes to a whole new world,
regardless of skin color, and a takes on society. For one thing, when in reality, minorities are still
and a whole new way of viewing
belief that race no longer shapes the majority of the private struggling today. BLS 1003
the bubble that I feel I was
p e o p l e ’s l i f e c h a n c e s a n d schools I attended were white, opened my eyes to a whole new
brought up in.
outcomes. I began to realize including the teachers. Secondly, world. I listened to the stories of
I am a 19 year old young something that changed my life. I I was never really taught about students in our class from all
woman living in the great city of had lived for 19 years as a the racism around me, except in races and descent–black, white,
New York. I am proud of my colorblind individual. I spent my some history courses. Most of Asian, and more. My classmates
accomplishments, and especially whole life thinking race was just my friends growing up were and Professor Gaunt changed my
proud of the education I have some made up concept and that white, too. I learned to live in that life, my views, and burst my
received so far in life. However, racism did not really exist in my bubble and accepted the bubble. I realize now that racism
there was one thing my life or in our society. Little did I colorblindness without even is real, and not just some made
upbringing seemed to mask from realizing how much harm it was up concept. It surrounds all of us
me for years and years. Racism. truly causing me. every day in ways that are
sometimes blind to us. My wish
I was educated in Catholic I remember one of my high is for everyone to come out of
private schools in Staten Island. school teachers telling me and the colorblind bubble and
When I came to Baruch College my class to “get out of the change our society, rather than
in Manhattan. I was thrown into a bubble” that we supposedly lived making it acceptable to hide
whirlwind of diverse people, in due to the demographics of behind a belief that
different races and ethnicities. our area. To be honest, I never colorblindness as equality
Nothing seemed to be much really understood what she was benefits all. <<
different than from what I was talking about until I came to
used to at first. As a part of core college, until I enrolled in this
curriculum at Baruch, students racism course. photo credit
must take a course in cultural
I am sure I am not the only
studies. I chose the “Evolution
person who has experienced this
and Expressions of
feeling. When I mentioned the
Racism” (BLS1003).
realizations I was experiencing in
In the readings for BLS 1003, my racism class to one of my
I came across the term very close friends, Alyssa, who
attended high school with me,
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 23

A Facebook discussion thread from October 2010 regarding


RETHINKING THE
George Lipsitz, “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness” (Ch. 19)
COLOR LINE
ON FACEBOOK #3 #4 of 11
READINGS in RACE & ETHNICITY
4th ed., edited by Charles Gallagher To start I'd like to say that I agree I share the same sentiments
McGraw-Hill 2009 with both Natali and Tiana about as Tiana as I read the different
Lipsitz targeting the issue of statics of the proportion of
CATEGORIES OF RECEPTION
"whiteness". I thought that he did whites granted home ownership
this quite effectively, and right at to the minute amount of
CATEGORY 1 - already known the beginning. Lipsitz quotes blacks, it was eye opening just
CATEGORY 2 - unsaid but communicated Richard Dyer saying "white power to see how h
secures its dominance by seeming ard and impossible it was to
H e re CATEGORY 3 - never said before or new to me
’ not to be anything in particular." I
s h a re s a F B t h r thought that that was a very
have a “decent” home during
d afte ead those times. Even when homes
abou
t w h i r re a d i n g effective way of pointing out the were acquired by blacks, little
te pri problem, that "whiteness" is the
vilege emphasis was placed on
norm, the "unmarked category keeping those areas clean.
#2 against which difference is
#1 of 11 Category 2 for me was the fact
constructed..." I found a statistic that “high-income blacks were
which was a in a way a denied loans more often than
I feel like this reading was was a I found some of the statistics
combination of category 2 and low-income whites”, it really
blend of all three categories. A lot of between whites and blacks dealing
category 3. It was that shows that money had a “color”
the terminology I had heard before with home ownership to be
" C a l i f o r n i a ' s P ro p o s i t i o n 1 3 back then – either white or
(cat 1) but some things were also shocking. Even the fact that there
deprived cities and counties of $13 black. Also no matter how
category 2, noticeable but unsaid. were acts that refused to help
billion a year in taxes. Businesses much time I would hear or read
But the way Lipsitz goes about people of color was also shocking. I
alone avoided $3.3 billion to $8.6 that “black people are lazy” I
making analogies and statements, knew there was a difference, but i
billion in taxes per year under this fail to concur. Not that they
some things are borderline category didn't think it was that drastic. That
statute." I say that this is both (we) are lazy, it may be that
3. Not really, but kinda. would be a category 2 for me. I'm
category 2 and 3 because I knew many aren’t given or are able to
Lipsitz has some pretty interesting a w a re t h a t t h e re w a s r a c i s m
that there were many shady secure the same opportunities
things to say and its kind of refreshing between whites and blacks, but i
business dealings to make as as the wealthy, no matter how
to see someone take a different didn't think as far the government's
much money as possible for the much willpower is displayed
standpoint than some of the other going to discriminate me and not
people on top, but I never realized they would still be seen as
readings we have had. Some of the give me a loan because i'm black. I
that there was an actual law that black and suffer hindrances
other authors seem to give us totally agree with Natali, i really feel
kept money away from people along the way to becoming a
statistics and reasons for them while as if Lipsitz really targets the issue of
while saving billions of dollars for success.
Lipsitz seems to target the majority "whiteness".
big business.
aka "whiteness." Tiana Jones Kashma Evelyn
Duncan Goodwin
Natali Nassimian

cont. on next page...


BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 24

CATEGORIES OF RECEPTION

CATEGORY 1 - already known


CATEGORY 2 - unsaid but communicated
Continued...Facebook discussion thread CATEGORY 3 - never said before or new to me #8 of 11
on George Lipsitz, “The Possessive
Investment in Whiteness” George Lipsitz starts this
#7 chapter with an interesting quote
from a young man returning from
From the start of this chapter I war. The young man is asked about
#5 the "negro problem" and responds
was constantly reminded of a
mixtape from rapper Immortal "Their isn't any negro problem; their
I really like how Lipsitz opens the Technique called "The Third World" is a white problem."
article with the anecdote about the #6 in which he addresses the issue of Lipsitz continues this chapter
reporter and expatriate Richard Blacks and Latino's being denied by providing examples of ways
Wright. It perfectly explains an aspect I would like to add on to what loans and also by using category 2 minorities were given unequal
of the problem with racism. The group Kashma mentioned Lipsitz's section he shows how those investing in opportunities, compared to whites,
that is continuing the racism is lacking on segregated white housing in the whiteness actually keep other races weather it be with loans, housing, or
a certain...understanding that could be suburbs. I had always been familiar down, basically sending out he work.
a contributing factor towards easing with the fact that suburbs like the ones message that the poorest of our
the problem of racism...How do we found on Long Island, New Jersey, & The second part of this chapter
country live in a third world
know where/how to end [racism] if we C o n n e c t i c u t a re p re d o m i n a n t l y is more interesting. Lipsitz goes into
compared to those who have
don't really know who started it? While inhabited by Whites. Until I read speaking about how white people in
invested in their "whiteness". I
most people quickly assume that Lipsitz's essay, I did not really know today’s society are still made to feel
agree with the point that racism
racism in America started with black why these areas were mostly inhabited guilty about slavery, when most
changes over tie and it's gone from
slaves, it actually started with the by Whites and not by other groups people’s families were not even in
blatant discrimination to certain
Native Americans. Even though we are other than because SES issues. Yet this country during the slavery
people in society investing in
trying to understand the problem of what was Category 3 for me was that period. To me this falls in to a
"whiteness" to keep other
racism towards blacks, we are in the ‘50s & ‘60s the FHA (Federal category 2 conversation, its known
minorities down.
neglecting Native Americans....I can't Housing Agency) and private lenders about but not spoken.
help but think of the Native Americans. were granting loans to those Whites Rahat Chowdhury
Their were times back in high
They are among the poorest groups in who intended to move into the school when slavery came up, and
the US right now, and it is because of suburbs (even to those with bad credit) the few white kids in class were
the white colonists that they live in while Blacks & Hispanics who were of made to feel guilty and awkward
such poverty. the same or similar income bracket about the topic. We are worried
were mostly denied for loans intended about the past but we should really
Michelle Chan
for the same suburbs (even with good be worried about ways to change
credit). To think that a Federal agency the present.
would evaluate the color of one's skin
to determine his/her suitability for a Chris Kiprovski
mortgage surprised me.
Kevin German

cont. on next page...


BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 25

Facebook discussion thread continued...


on George Lipsitz, “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness” and #11 of 11
Peggy McIntosh’s Unpacking the White Knapsack: White Privilege (pdf)
I grew up in a predominantly
white neighborhood which exposed
me to the white privileges that many
of my friends didn't receive. But it
CATEGORIES OF RECEPTION didn't register to me that I was put
into certain programs and special
#9 CATEGORY 1 - already known groups at school because there was
no apartment # in my address, but a
CATEGORY 2 - unsaid but communicated house number.
Something that was a CATEGORY 3 - never said before or new to me I l i k e h o w L i p s i t z a rg u e s
category 3 to me was the urban "whiteness has a social cash
renewal project discussed in value" (2006, vii)) because it is very
chapter 19. It seems like racists true. Once you have that skin tone
will do whatever they have to do you get the 'okay'. And in Peggy
to keep whites away from blacks. #10
McIntosh's article she substitutes
During the 1950's and 1960's I completely agree with Michelle the word 'privilege' for the word
urban renewal projects destroyed Chan (See comment #5 on previous 'dominance'. I understand and
20 percent of the central city page). The way he began the completely agree with her reasoning.
housing projects, but only 10 reading was great. I was aware that Because privilege represents luck or
percent lived in by whites. I feel a few neighborhoods were mostly deserving - neither of the two even
that's horrible and then everyone predominated by whites. This graze the explanation of why white
wants to blame blacks for their reading brought tremendous light to people have not only been able to
dis-advantages, but no one wants the SES and their issues. maintain their power, but expand it.
to help them. The legal issues surrounding Another category 2 for me. <<
Laser Small racism in the 50s and 60s was Abigaelle Revers
definitely mind blowing. Even they
were contributing to the disparity in
dis- a Latin prefix meaning “apart,” race. Category 3? Much!
“asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or having Dabney Jean ...end of thread.
a privative, negative, or reversing
force; used freely, esp. with these
latter senses, as an English formative:
disability; disaffirm; disbar; disbelief;
discontent; dishearten; dislike;
disown.
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 26

“We are controlled by our confusion, far more than we know, and the
American dream has therefore become something much more closely
resembling a nightmare, on the private, domestic, and international
levels. Privately, we cannot stand our lives and dare not examine
them; domestically, we take no responsibility for (and no pride in)
what goes on in our country; and, internationally for many millions of
people, we are an unmitigated disaster.” (Baldwin 1963, 89)

Soy Sauce and the Milk how his father told him he wasn’t looking blame the society that forced these racist
forward to having her as a daughter in-law. concepts, ideas, images and fears on to him.
by Hunter Weaver-Daniel Other stories began to surface and my view   I have come to see that hate racism
began to broaden. because it confuses me. I hate racism
One afternoon, when my aunt was just After digesting these stories I started to because I have no clear concrete answer for
about old enough to date, her father sat her look back into my own vault of memories.   I it. I hate racism because we have to suffer
down at the dining room table. In front of her wondered if there was any evidence of my through a concept based on evidence that
he placed two items, a container of soy sauce grandfather’s racism in my past that I didn’t doesn’t exist.  I hate racism because it makes
and a tall glass of milk. He sat down across see or chose to forget.  I began to dig deeper the story of the soy sauce and milk
from her and placed a single drop of soy and I eventual asked my father about my acceptable, but the main reason I hate racism
sauce into the glass of milk. He pointed to the g r a n d f a t h e r. M y f a t h e r t o l d m e m y is because it forces me to balance the love
glass and in a stern rough voice he said, “You grandfather never liked him or approved of and hate I have for my grandfather. <<
can bring that home.” My aunt looked at the him being with my mother. He told me that
glass of milk, and then looked at her father, when I was younger and even still today he
not sure how to respond. Her father dropped would become annoyed when my grandfather
another drop of soy sauce into the glass and wanted me to relay the message to him that
repeated, “You can bring that home.” He he had done a good job in raising me.   My
repeated this mixture of soy sauce and milk father always responded to this by saying,
one drop at a time until the content of the “Am I not supposed to support my child, raise
glass was a slight shade darker than her skin my child be, be a father to my child?”
shade, and then said, “You can’t bring that Is racism powerful enough to infiltrate a
home.” family and divided it? Is it powerful to take my
I was 19 when I first heard the story of the grandfather, a person that I love, doubt and
soy sauce and the milk. It astonished me that belittle the man that made me what I am? If it
it took me 19 years to realize my grandfather, is, how do I deal with that? Should I blame a
who I have loved my entire life, was racist. man that grew up in a time where he himself
After my aunt shared her story amongst a feared for his life because he was not white?
small group of my family members and I, Should I blame a man who helped raise
more stories started to pour out.   My uncle children during a time where the closer you
told his story of how he introduced his brown were to being considered white the more
skin girlfriend, now wife, to his parents, and likely you were to make it home safe, or do I
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 27

NO AMOUNT OF GOD WILL even speak you have already


figured out who I am. Each person
MAKE ME ANY LESS GAY encountered is a story untold. Yet “Each person
by Valeesa Augustine the media, and “the common man”
of the white majority think they can encountered
Here, in the eyes of too many in
N e w Yo r k C i t y, “ b l a c k ”
judge a person by their skin alone.
I know that many non-
is a story untold.”
automatically means loud, Caribbean blacks like the things I
uneducated, ghetto, violent, or mentioned. But to say they, or we,
having roots and ties to Africa. Why are all the same is to say that all
on earth would you think that whites like... I stopped because I when the majority made jokes screwy to other people, but at
millions of people are exactly alike couldn't think of any good or portrayed us as comical or the slightest hint that the Bible
because their outsides are similar? stereotypes. as some sort of disease to be might be wrong, most
I doubt that my skin color can avoided. Yet those who preach Christians fly off the handle, or
tell you that I am an artist of Black Christians will look at my forgiveness and understanding close their minds to the rest of
graphic design as well as web skin and think that we are the same; curse gays and lesbians with the conversation.
design and photography. Or that my that I must be the same kind of the same breath that they pray
favorite genres of music are Rock Christian, too. If and when they find for the poor, the weak, or the My question is this: If you
and Japanese and Korean Pop; I'll out differently, I will become an unfortunate. Why? say you follow the Bible, why
listen to just about any genre in any outsider, an unwanted, a “black It was because of this and do things half-assed? If
language. I bet you cannot tell that I sheep” in a black flock. other things that I changed my Christians read the Biblical
am Caribbean or detect my favorite No amount of God will make me religion from that of a 'bad passage "If a man lies with a
foods--oil-down and roti; I could any less gay than I am. Though I Catholic' to a Pagan [Paganism man as one lies with a woman,
eat mangos every day and never have never killed, or been arrested, is a polytheistic nature-based both of them have done what is
get tired of ‘em. My skin color or gotten kicked out of any belief system]. detestable" (Leviticus 20:13) to
doesn’t tell you that I am quiet, that establishment, in the black I had a black community mean that dykes and fags
I am shy, but once I like a topic or community, where the church is a that constantly looked to "fix" should burn in hell, why do
conversation, I'll start to ramble and big deal, to be gay is to be a leper me. That told me I was wrong, they ignore the fact that the
grin. You wouldn't know any of sitting at Lucifer's right hand. unnatural, and that if I Bible also doesn't allow
these t’ings without speaking to It seems to me that if black continued down that path, I haircuts? Or wearing clothes of
me. Would you even know to speak Christians spent much of their would be condemned to eternal more than one material? Or
to black people about any of these existence being subtly and not-so- damnation. These people do eating shrimp? Most Christians,
things? subtly oppressed and discriminated not know me, yet they black or white, do not concern
What do you see when you look against by others because of the condemn my life, my actions, themselves with these "rules."
at me? Do my brown eyes display a difference of their skin, they would and my motivations more than They wipe these sins clean in
love of chitlins and collared greens? not be so quick with their cross my own mother...who accepts their minds.
Do my full lips verbalize an words or anger and so cold with me. People ignore my pleas for
exclusive love of rap and hip hop? their cruel thoughts. The worse part is the 'wall' justice, thinking they know
Do my cheeks warm with the It was just a few decades ago that comes up whenever what's best for me. Pardon me,
boisterous personality you are sure that black people in America had to re l i g i o n c o m e s u p w i t h a but I’ve heard that before? <<
I should possess? march, had to deal with constant Christian. I know and accept
I am a young Caribbean woman scorn, had to look the other way that my religion must seem
from Grenada, and before I can
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 28

“Trapped inside the fire with our freedom on the run.”

ORIGINAL SONGS Verse:


by Matthew Kiss We've been at war since before our fathers
trapped in this circle of malice and fear
#1: ENEMY EYES (JUST LIKE YOURS) our rifles are loaded and ready
to shoot down peace anytime
Verse: that it draws near
Here we stand holding thunder
Repeat Chorus
Ready to kill in a moment’s time.
I don't care how much you look like my Bridge:
brother Look at his mother as she cries, as she
I'll spill your blood to draw the line. dies Image credit
Verse: Look at her eyes, look at those eyes
You can swallow hatred when it's spiked Look deep into those eyes!
with anger Final Chorus
And the mixture is flowing through our
veins
Three shots ring out and I watch you #2: SONG FOR MUMIA
hit the floor
As the poison takes away my pain Too many shadows living in this cage, Chorus:
I've been here too long all these lines I asked for justice but no justice
Chorus: on my face, shown
Can you see yourself in your enemies I didn't kill him but they took me anyways, Beaten by the country that I call my
eyes? Because I was the one, the one they home
Can you breathe in the truth and rise could blame. They tried to kill me but they can't
above kill a lions roar
the lies? Born in a world torn apart by hate, I aint a saint I aint a killer I'm
Do you feel the darkness as you watch Almost predestined was my fate. just a prisoner of war.
his blood paint the floor? Grew up with my brother staring at the
Hold his beat-less heart in your hands barrel My war is for love my war is for peace
and you'll see it looks just like yours. of a gun, But these chains on my bloodline
Trapped inside the fire with our freedom they won't give me release. <<
on the run.
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 29

STRIPPING MY that opportunity. The floor manager was


forced by the older brother to seat
PAKISTANI IDENTITY women of color in the second or third
by Usman Javed row. The older owner wanted to be sure
the first row would be vacant for his white
9-11 changed American attitudes clientele, for white parties. The same
towards people of my ethnicity principle was applied to the VIP seats.
dramatically.  A male stripper revue would The opposite was the case for the shows
be the last place you’d expect to find of the younger owner who preferred the
racist business practices, or so I thought. Black and Latina women down front.
In my case, working at a male stripper Both owner-brothers had ways of
revue, staged entertainment with men rationalizing their preference. The older
stripping in front of a large audience of owner claimed that White women would
screaming women was different than you go online and publicly complain if they
might think. I was not treated differently didn’t get the best treatment, hurting the
for being Pakistani or a perceived reputation of his promotion, the shows
terrorist, I was treated differently because behaving like white people or you are and his bottom line. The younger brother
I was “too black” in the words of one of discriminated for behaving like blacks. claimed that Black and Latin women were
the owners. Of Portuguese descent, the owner- the loudest and most involved, which
In 2006, I entered the business as a brothers were raised in Jersey City, a made for a livelier and more entertaining
23 year-old dancer with an “urban” way mid- to lower-class neighborhood. I was show for others.
of speaking and dressing. I had long hair originally hired as a dancer by the older The younger brother was also the
down my back that were braided into brother who seemed to aspire to “be emcee and a headline dancer. He left the
cornrows, a typically African American white”. The younger brother identified position and his partnership with his
hairstyle. In 2010, I left the business as a with “being black”. The older brother b ro t h e r i n e a r l y 2 0 0 8 c re a t i n g a n
partner, looking, sounding, and acting like married a Brazilian woman of Russian opportunity for me to step up into his
a white businessman. decent and the younger brother married a former roles. I auditioned and nailed it. In
There are only a few male revues in Black woman. early 2008 I became the emcee and the
New York City. The shows I participated headline dancer.
in were owned by two Portuguese In the club, all the balcony seats were By the fall of 2008, just months later, I
brothers. Each promoted and sold tickets sold as “General Admission” seats while was replaced as emcee by an
to his own shows on his separate website the tables and floor seats were sold as Abercrombie-type Italian with little
and both organized a single show for all “VIP” seats. When the older brother’s experience.  There was no debate
their customers. The shows took place parties would attend the show, women’s amongst other dancers that I was the
every weekend all-year round. seating arrangement had a lot to do with better man for the job.  Everyone knew
The older brother (in his 40’s) owned race or skin color. Tables were seated on that the remaining older brother wanted a
and promoted his own show, while the a first-come, first-served basis to all “white boy” representing his business on
younger brother in his mid-30’s owned those with reservations. Even if a party of stage.  I don’t know what made me do it,
and promoted another. The differences Black or Latina women had a reservation in hindsight, but soon after that I cut my
between the two reflected the color line in and arrived early enough to choose a braids. ...
American culture: you either find favor front row table, it was unlikely they got
cont. on next page
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 30

STRIPPING... cont. long time ago and American society has


grown out of it.  W. E . B . D u B o i s w r o t e o f t h e
... By the winter of 2008, I didn’t know But racism is alive and well. It’s the “psychological wage.” I was drawing a
who I was anymore.  Was I the guy with elephant in the room.  It’s invisible. Every line between myself and the other
braids who black women avoided and once in a while we can see it, catch a minority employees of the business.  I
white women loved. Or was I the clean glimpse, then it submerges out of sight had license to draw that line once I
cut business-type dressed like a white again.  Taking this class was like tossing became “white enough” to do so.  (See
boy who black women were finding talcum powder on the invisible “Racialized Social System Approach to
interesting but not so much the white elephant. It’s in the room and I see it now. Racism” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva)  My
women. Racism impacts all forms of experiences behind the scenes of a male
relationships. The white group of laborers, while they revue revealed one of the true evils in
I didn’t realize that in trying to save receive a low wage, were compensated America.  There are structural inequalities
my position as emcee and headline in part by a sort of public and of race, a color line of black vs white,
dancer I started to lose my true identity.  I psychological wage. They were given inequalities that eventually lead someone
began to sound as different as I looked.  I public deference and titles of courtesy of Pakistani descent to choose a
behaved differently.  My self-confidence because they were white. They were Madmen appearance over braids to get
was crashing and confusion became the admitted freely with all classes of white ahead.  Now I am aware, and I hope I
norm. people to public functions, public won’t ever put myself in a position to
Although I was drowning on the parks, and the best schools (W.E.B. make that decision again. 
inside, believe it or not, everything DuBois, Black Reconstruction in
seemed to be getting better America 1965, 700).
professionally.  In early 2009, I became a
partner in a new show the older brother
and I produced in Atlantic City.  2009 was
the most profitable and the most
depressing year of my life.  I had no
identity.  I no longer felt Pakastani. I
wasn’t black. And I wasn’t white enough.
I could not live down pretending to be a
man that I was not. So by January of
2010, I quit.
During those years I never would have
thought that someone’s racist attitudes
could have a direct impact on my life and
lifestyle.  I was blind to the impact. 
Maybe I was too naïve.  I was detached
from any idea that we live in a racist
world.  I thought that stuff happened a
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 31

THE WORLD IN A JAR


by Andre Mendez

One day Professor Gaunt took us on an explained that I donʼt really talk in any of my
improvisational journey through Stephen Coveyʼs classes but something came to me about structural
analogy about filling a jar with rocks, gravel, sand racism and Stephen Coveyʼs analogy. I told her my
and water from his book from FIrst Things First. thoughts and to my surprise she was blown away.
Covey questioned whether the jar was full before She said, “Andre, you need to share this with
putting in each new item. Professor Gaunt asked us this class. That’s brilliant!” Next class, I did just
if we could make any similar analogy to structural that and once again to my surprise the class was
racism. A few students answered but instead of speechless and loved it. Since then, I’ve read
speaking up and sharing my belief, I remained silent. more deeply into my analogy and have a few
After class, I waited and approached her. I things to add from my Jamaican point of view.

The jar, rocks, gravel, sand & water analogy


has a message for us about the way of life we live
and the world we live in regarding racism. I try to
avoid singling out that most of the experiences I
have ever seen have mostly been happening to the
blacks but this is the case for me so I am pointing it
out.
Growing up in Jamaica Iʼve seen people without
shoes thinking it canʼt get any worst, but as I grew
older I not only noticed the people without shoes
but the people without feet to even wear a shoe in
the first place.
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva explained “racilalized
social systsms” as a society organized along racial
lines according to oneʼs placement in a racial
hierarchy which to me, given the analogy of the jar,
means the rocks are the first ones to be there so
they choose whoever else they want to be in there
with them. ...

cont. on next page


BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 32

THE WORLD IN A JAR cont

... The jar is basically the world we live in. It ones with the power & wealth. The rocks take their lives to the next level. These are
is simply made up of different continents that are pull the strings and the gravel does all the the people we look up to that made it on
made up of different countries that are made up work and manages all the businesses. They their own and in the future will have a
of different cities and to go more in depth itʼs also have the same way of life as the rocks so chance at living the dream of having a good
the different boroughs, blocks, hoods, projects they tend to do the same thing like hiring life.
and suburbs. Most of us live where we live not people their same skin color or as wealthy The “water” are the people we don’t
because we chose to but because this is what as they are leaving out the rest of the world understand that go through everything bad
we can afford. For some of us its because we to strive on their own for whatever space is like living without food, shelter and
didnʼt get a chance at good opportunities. Itʼs left. clothing . They struggle surviving 24 hours
sad to say majority of blacks live in the ghettos, The “sand” is the middle-class who have a day, 365 days a year until the only thing
made it to a nice job and home by giving a that might be good for them is death
hoods or projects and majority of whites live in
because they will be in a better place.
the suburbs, city or condos. What about the go at life through their hard work and
These are the people that sleep on the road
people that donʼt live anywhere and have no struggle. Some of them become sand and beg for money, who we walk past
home and the only shelter they can find is either everyday; the same people that share a sad
in the subways or behind a closed corner store? story on the train just to get a penny in their
Think about how hard, and let me emphasize pocket or even a sprinkle of water in their
again, how hard their lives are being hungry and mouth.
homeless each day not to know where the next The rocks are first in the jar then the
drip of water or piece of bread will come from gravel because the rocks brought them in
and even imagine when itʼs winter time and itʼs after themselves, the sand barely sneaks in,
freezing. struggling just to fit in the jar and the water
The “rocks” are the fortunate & rich people gets in but doesn’t get the pleasure of
that have the most power and the same ones spending life in the jar because they have
nothing so what happens is they overflow
that have life easy and call all the shots: 90% are
and die. “The unchanging element of these
whites & 10% are Other. The rocks are the first systems is racial inequality--the the
in the jar to choose wherever they want to subordinated races’ life chances are
reside, live or build empires. After they are significantly lower than those of the
settled they choose whoever else they want to dominant race. This is a feature that
be in that jar, bringing friends, family and people ultimately distinguishes this form of
with the same skin color along side them. hierarchical social organization” (Bonilla-
Basically, they choose who will be the “gravel” Silva in Gallagher 2009, 33).
that either comes to work for them or lives the And that is the world in a jar. First things
good life their living. first must change to make a difference in
The “gravel” are the people chosen by the because they got a great education, like a structural racism. <<
rich, famous & powerful (the “rocks”) who are the scholarship to proceed through school and
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 33

NIGGER RICH building and slit his throat on the way down. gave whites a better chance to BE wealthy. ;
"I find it to be troubling how blacks portray that isn’t the case I am arguing here.
by Laser Small themselves in the media, spending loads of I think it is possible for a black person to
money on flashy things like "rims" cars and gain wealth but it will not be an easy road.
"I'm gunna be rich when I grow up." Now
other unnecessary items. It makes me Blacks would first have to find a way of
that I'm grown up I want to be anything but
question if they have wealth or if the people getting out of the rat race of working just to
rich. Perhaps one day I will be fortunate
who manage them are obtaining the wealth pay bills. Once that is mastered the
enough to call myself "wealthy" but for now
and the stars just have riches. knowledge of how to become wealthy will
I will just have to imagine what that world
In terms of wealth, the average black become more useful and handy. As I’ve said
would be like. As an African American
family posses 10 cents for every dollar held before, although some blacks may have the
woman in America, people may say that I'm
by white families. With this ratio, odds are knowledge they have no way of putting it to
"reaching for the stars", when I speak about
against most blacks including myself to gain use. I also don’t see all upper class whites
becoming wealthy but that's always what
any type of status other than the ones we as being wealthy; some may have the riches
my dad taught me to do, that's what I've
were born into. "Since the vast majority of and lose it all.
always done, and that's the way things will
African Americans were first excluded and What I’m trying to say is that although
always be. Now the only question and
later precluded from the kinds of there are more wealthy whites than there are
perhaps the barrier that I am constantly
occupations, investments, and government wealthy blacks in U.S. culture, how do we
faced with is how do I attain this high status
policies and programs that lead to wealth become the David in the Goliath story?
of wealthy, and not just stay rich?
generation, transformative assets typically Some blacks have the knowledge of how to
I would first like to propose my definition
apply to whites from financial advantaged become rich, but how do you change the
of what being rich means, and what being
families and not blacks. According to the context all around that inhibits our economic
wealthy means. To be rich, is to have a large
New York Times, “Middle-income whites, for growth?
a m o u n t o f m o n e y o f w h i c h a l a rg e
instance, accumulated $74,000 in assets by I don’t plan on falling into the category of
proportion is disposable. Money that is here
2007, as opposed to high-income black those “black people who will put rims on a
today is gone tomorrow; Money that doesn't
families, whose median assets totaled just toaster,” as Chris Rock jokes but even so, it
produce anything else but a habit to spend.
$18,000 in 2007. (For both races, middle will take more than knowledge to put this
My definition of being wealthy is something
income was defined as $40,000 to $70,000 in barrier in the past without some form of
that people like Bill Gates and Oprah
2007 dollars.)” (Michael Powell, “Wealth, Race reparations for past exploitation and
understand and have mastered but
and the Great Recession,” 17 May 2010). economic injustices. Until then being nigger
something that the majority of the black
. rich may seem like the only alternative for
community may be aware of, but not sure
To be sure, the entire black community is the majority of black folk. <<
how to put into practice. To be wealthy, in
my opinion is to have money that will not doomed to be only rich and they are not
constantly work for you, money that will dumb because they don't know the
survive generation after generation. It is to difference. Blacks can become wealthy, but
have the ability to have a cushion in hard structural racism has put people of black
times, and allowing for mobility. This type of skin at a disadvantage because of
money is mostly found in families where discriminatory laws and practices like
people of my skin color are not common. George Lipsitz outlined in “The Possessive
I believe Chris Rock explained this Investment in Whiteness”. If this continues,
black/rich white/wealthy phenomenon best we will never have the chance to become
in one of his standup shows when he said "if wealthy. Even with knowledge how do you
Bill Gates woke up one morning with Oprah change inequities justified by past practices
Winfrey’s bank account he would jump off a and behaviors in lending and housing. that
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 34

ALONE TOGETHER bigger matter, the result of that big of a deal, those are a As I said before, this is just
history’s lack of progression few people who may see the my story but it is just one
by Kristen Matonti and those like me who fear to world in a new way. If they effect of the much larger
be in the position to try and become bonded with my picture of this racial bias that
break down this superficial boyfriend, they may stop has occurred forever that just
I am a twenty year old racial barrier. seeing the obvious color changes it’s shape throughout
Italian girl raised on Long difference and see him as a the centuries.
Island and I’ve been dating a human just as they are. I fathom people may argue
black guy my age just short of This is what I dream of if I just told my family about my
three years. We have been anyway, and it starts with me in relationship they would be
through a lot but not the gaining valor to bring him understanding and supportive
typical teenage drama, in fact around my family openly. I and that I’ve only built this
most of it does not root from begin to get hard on myself unnecessary apprehension in
us but everyone else; from because I should want to flaunt my head due to imaginary
family to strangers, who can the man I love and instead I judgments. However, if they
see we are happy but aren’t keep him to myself, in fear of thought about themselves
happy for us. As much as I am what isolation it may cause. being in my shoes, they quite
aware of where this animosity Why should I have to be the possibly would feel the same
comes from (generations of one to try and change the view way as I do, but something
blinded brainwashing) I am Although the acceptance of of these uncouth people? Why tells me majority have stayed
disappointed this facade of interracial couples has been can’t they just be more open- as far away from the possibility
racism still exists. more widely accepted, still minded and flexible? of entering the situation I have
I was in this relationship for only 4% marry outside their Life may be easier if I dated put myself in (dating someone
six months before I built up the own race, from a statistic of someone who didn’t create a outside their race).
courage to tell my mother I the U.S. Census Bureau in “night and day” picture when I alone cannot change what
was dating someone. 2003. Many factors go into the we were together and didn’t go everyone thinks, and therefore
Meanwhile, my mother and I cause of this but it is hard not against the norm. Or if I didn’t if I live my life the way I so
have always been close. I was to think a lot of it has to do have to deal with the chose, I can only hope one by
scared of what she might say, with this racial barrier along outlandish stares from one, people will start to
think, or do. Sure enough my with people who think it would strangers when we go out for understand genuine
fears came alive when I told be easier on them and their dinner or go shopping. But I connections can be made with
her. “What would Grandma families to not change tradition should not have to change who a human of any different color
say?” and “What do we tell or walk the less taken path. I am to make others feel more or cultural background, as I so
your father?” These unnerving What helps me is to think at ease and prevent fortunately have, after all, skin
questions have stuck with me although I alone cannot pandemonium. color is only skin deep. <<
since, and partially effect why I change the world’s view on this
still have not told my subject; I can bring us one Photo credit
grandmother or father directly, step closer. If I can get my
about who I am in love with. family and friends to
This deep issue that has an understand the big hype of
effect on my everyday life is skin color in society is not all
just a platform for the much
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 35

by NADEGE NAU Bay Ridge, Coney Island bound trains: the D, N,


Q, B, F and R trains. There are not a lot of black
I know this may come off as racist but I have folks living there. But if you do see Asians stick
this odd talent for using skin color to my around, they’ll most likely transfer at the Atlantic
advantage. Every now and again, after a long Avenue/Pacific Street station.
day's work, I use my expertise to target As my train makes stops through lower
unsuspecting passengers  on the subway train. I Manhattan, white men and women dressed in
target white people who will abandon their seat business suits exit the train first. That's when I
for me. My strategic method is to stand in front of start to jockey for a seat because I still have a
a white person who'll be getting off soon. I assure long way to go. As the business suits exit, I might
you it never fails. Let me share the method to my take their place. Depending on how crowded the
madness. train is, I may not be able to reach their evacuated
It’s six p.m. on a packed MTA train with position quick enough to possess their seat.
blacks among whites, Rastafarians among Jews, Then as the train approaches Brooklyn
rich among poor. In other words, an evident Heights, more white people leave while more
cluster of ethnic groups and social classes black people get on. They look like they are
commute together daily. This is New York City and leaving work or low-wage jobs in the area. I can
The “Index of dissimilarity” is the measure of
it is the 21st century, so this shouldn’t shock infer based on their skin color, style of clothes,
segregation in a given area (Massey in Gallagher
anyone. and their attitude.
2009, 165). Based on my train observations alone, Once past Brooklyn Heights, I should be
without exiting the train station, this segregation is
As an African American woman born and seated comfortably and I can continue my
evident to any other MTA transit commuter with
raised in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, I commute to observations of the exits. I hope I might be proven
perhaps the exception of the wealthier groups of
Baruch College in Manhattan everyday. I take wrong but this rarely happens. As the train passes
people, mostly white, who get off too soon to
either the #2, 4, or 5 trains and for a brief moment through downtown Brooklyn, more and more
notice the socio-economic index of dissimilarity at
I witness the expected integration of these whites exit. If I am on the express train, most of
play. The deeper you go into Brooklyn, the darker
clusters. Then reality kicks in. Simply put, the train them are gone after Atlantic Avenue and almost all
the train gets.
stops in different ethnic neighborhoods. From have disappeared by the Franklin Avenue stop.
I get off just before the last stop on the 2 or
mid-town Manhattan to Flatbush the extensive The local 2 or 3 trains are the exception. White
the 5 trains at Newkirk Avenue. The farthest stop
spectrum of skin tones and classes contracts passengers exit at the Park Slope/Prospect
into Manhattan I ever travel is up to 42nd Street. It
down to various shades of brown and if I play my Heights stops like Bergen St., Grand Army Plaza,
takes about 45-60 minutes to get back home
cards right I should have my own seat after we and Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum—all of
depending on traffic. Taking the train day in and
pass a certain stop. which are lovely gentrified neighborhoods.
day out over years adds up. So I have lots of
Yes, people from all walks of life from different Let me make a few further distinctions. If
empirical data to account for my strategic
ethnic backgrounds do indeed board the train there are white people present after certain stops,
method.
collectively. But we are not living together in they are most likely Jewish. They exit between
First, when heading home, I get on at 42nd
proximity to one another. To each its own Nostrand Avenue and the Crown Heights/Utica
Street. There’s a sizable body of blacks, whites,
destination. Where different groups of people get Avenue stop—a majority of them exit at Kingston
and some Latinos present. I have never noticed
off to work or go home reveals a segregated Avenue where all the synagogues are. After Utica
that many Asians on my line. This is probably due
population within New York City. Ave., the train passes through Brownsville ...
to the fact Asians tend to take the Bensonhurst,
cont. on next page
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 36

I grab their vacant seat


as if, for the moment,
it's best I can get.

STOP SEGREGATION cont.


... and heads towards East New York, Hispanics are clustered in Bay Ridge. space; some neighborhoods have claim their vacant seat, I initially feel
and I assure you that all you see then This supports my day-to-day safer streets, higher home values, relieved. I can relax and get
are different shades of brown. And observations on the subway train. In better services, more effective comfortable. But I realize how
when you exit the train you possibly “An overview of Trends in Social and schools, and more supportive peer dissatisfying it seems to live in East
see shades of grey in these poverty Economic Well-Being, by Race” by environments than others” (Massey in Flatbush compared to places like
stricken neighborhoods. Hopefully you Rebecca M. Blank she writes: “Whites Gallagher 2009, 165). If whites or any lower Manhattan.
don’t run into shades of red. East New are by far the most segregated ethnic group had access to safer With the passage of the Voting
York has high levels of crime. population, even more than their larger streets, higher home values, better Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of
If there is any type of diversity population percentage would justify. services, and effective schools why 1964, racial desegregation began to
past Franklin Avenue on the #2 train, The average White person lives in a would they lower their standard of be enforced in this nation. But the
white people usually exit no later than neighborhood that is more than 80 living? I wouldn't either. movement really began when Rosa
President or Sterling Streets—both are percent White. Blacks are the next After sitting down for at least half Parks refused to give her seat to a
very close to Prospect Heights, which most segregated, living in of my ride home, I'm finally in a white man and move to the back of
has a large Jewish population. Any neighborhoods that are, on average, position to exit like the white the bus 55 years ago. They say Ms.
remaining white faces are those about 60 percent Black and 30 passengers before me, but no one Parks took a seat to take a stand.
heading to Brooklyn College, the last percent White” (Blank in Gallagher bothers to take my seat with one stop As a white person gets off in
stop. This stop represents higher 2009, 48). left. What does that leave in East Manhattan or some other gentrified
learning, or they may reside in the Flatbush? I’ll tell you. Despite its area just inside Brooklyn, I grab their
Midwood area, (which surrounds I worry that readers might think I imperfections, where I live is rich in vacant seat as if, for the moment, it's
Flatbush) which is also a am racist for my special talent. But as culture and on top of that I am from best I can get. While things look so
predominately Jewish neighborhood. we explored in our course, "I could be there. And I am an amazing creative different than Jim Crow Laws in 1955,
In the NYTimes article “Brooklyn: right." Distinguished sociologist person. But whenever I ride the train it seems like we are still riding the
Demographics of an Ever-Changing Douglas Massey points to a home, if I’m lucky enough stand in same train. So tell me. When will "stop
Borough,” four Brooklyn maps show c o r re l a t i o n b e t w e e n a g ro u p ’s front of a white person and eventually segregation" stop? <<
the different locations ethnic group are geographic location in society and its
clustered. Whites live predominately in socioeconomic status or well-being.
Williamsburg, Blacks in Canarsie, He writes, “Opportunities and
Asians in Bensonhurst, while resources are unevenly distributed in
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 37

FACING UP TO drugstore in the Philippines the perpetuated everywhere by the shows, movies, and commercials
morning after my arrival. media. This ideal “Filipino” man or and being sold to them in the aisles
WHITENESS At the drugstore, I couldn’t help woman shared more physical traits of their local drugstores. This notion
by Kevin German but notice that every choice of face with Europeans than with Southeast that one is better if he or she was of
wash had some kind of skin Asians. This preference for lighter skin is a ludicrous assertion
I reacted in shock when former whitening formula. As I looked at European physical traits can be that is leftover from the colonial era.
superstar of  Major League Baseball other facial products, they all had attributed to the colonial past of the It is what continues to keep those of
Sammy Sosa appeared in public with labels that advertised some kind of Philippines. Once colonized in the a lighter complexion at a greater
significantly whitened skin. He used whitening. This was upsetting for me 14th Century by Spain, it was ceded advantage compared to those who
to be darker than me. Now he was because I couldn’t find a non- to the United States after the are “disadvantaged;” those who lack
even lighter. whitenening face wash at all. What Spanish-American War in 1898. This “white” skin colors. Perhaps people
Born in of the Dominican was more troubling was that this effectively put the Philippines under from the Dominican Republic, like
Republic with some African ancestry, was just the tip of an iceberg; a rude a Western-European influence for Sammy Sosa, who may be of
people compared him to Michael awakening for me. the next 500 years. African descent, but find themselves
Jackson, another dark-skinned There is a general preference for haunted and similarly afflicted by
celebrity who had a suspicious lighter-skinned Filipinos over their the “advantages” of this colonial
lightening of his skin color.  Unlike darker toned “kababayans” or mentality, cannot resist. There are
Michael Jackson, Sosa attributed his country folk. So skin color marks cues everywhere to fit in by skin
newfound white skin to the use of social class or backwardness. color in order to rub elbows with the
skin lightening facial cream rather Through the views expressed by my wealthy, with whites, more or less.
than a diagnosed medical condition. relatives and friends, lighter-skinned
In "How Our Skins Got Their people are expected to be of a
Color," Marvin Harris writes that "fair- higher social class, more educated,
skinned, nontanning individuals" who and are thereby more valued as
could utilize the most limited doses of potential mates than their darker-
sunlight were naturally favored in skinned comrades. Darker-skinned
colder climates. Those individuals country folks were seen to be the
tended to grow taller, stronger and Throughout my month-long visit opposite even when evidence
healthier than darker individuals over, I was exposed to Filipino suggested otherwise. As a result,
(Harris in Gallagher 2009, 8). This television shows, commercials, the wages of lighter-skinned people
natural selection did not apply in the movies, and print ads. The actors included more opportunities; the This European ideal of beauty
tropics. So what happened with and models appearing in these more one looked European, the means that darker skin is not pretty,
people like Sosa who are from the forms of media were all of light and/ better one’s chances for advancing not beautiful, not favored and not
Caribbean or closer to the equator? It or white skin. This was hardly up the socio-economic ladder. (See economically privileged in so many
never occurred to me to question re p re s e n t a t i v e o f m o s t n a t i v e “wages of whiteness” and ways. The photo above is an
skin color as a function of Filipinos who, for the most part, are psychological wage by DuBois) exaggeration but so is what is
colonialism until I visited my represented by darker skin tones. The idea of manufacturing happening as a result of white
mother’s homeland last August in the These role models were certainly not lighter skin, with creams and other supremacy and privilege. When will
Philippines.  reflective of the skin tones of my facial products, in order to fit the we begin to face up to the serious
On most trips I usually pack a own relatives or the Filipinos with ideal Filipino stereotype was very impact of colonialization on our
complete set of toiletries but this whom I had made acquaintances bothersome to me. I couldn’t believe present realities. Skin color is a
time I left my face wash behind. This during my stay. All this projected a that this idea was being marketed to social construct, not a reality. <<
required a trip to the nearest sort of ideal “Filipino” that was the Filipino public through TV
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 38

I Am Not My Hair 我不是我的头发 most certainly afford a fancy hair salon. Money empathy for difference. People should not be
was far from the issue. Apparently I wasn’t like so critical of things that they are unfamiliar
by Jeanine “Nkechi” Ezeh everyone else. My hair is not straight or extra with, but rather show common courtesy
long like those who sat on swiveled towards others regardless of their
thrones  looking down at me and my kind. “differences”. According to Lipsitz in the article
Tsim Tsa Tsoi, Hong Kong, 2003. Before I could even utter a request for service, “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness:
Skyscrapers. Sights. Big city, bright lights, a Chinese woman in the salon would bark, Racialized Social Democracy”, in the effort to
non-stop shopping. What more could a "Sorry, we don't do that kind of hair here!" make a change, “we can only become part of
teenage girl want? I was living in a major Being mistreated due to the color of my skin the solution if we recognize the degree to
tourist hub in metropolitan Hong Kong, with was bad enough; much less being mistreated which we are already part of the
bars, restaurants and factory outlet clothing. due to the texture of my hair. problem” (Lipsitz in Gallagher 2009, 154). I
But no hair salons. Not for me. So, my Attending a British international high already know that a place like Hong Kong
mother became my personal hair stylist. school in Hong Kong was no exception. We wouldn’t have a hair salon for people of
moved there because my dad is a Nigerian African descent and their hair. All I ask is for
diplomat and the questions were endless. inclusiveness, even though one might not be
“Why does your hair look like that?”, “Does it able to change the circumstances.
grow?”, “How do you wash it?”, “Can I touch
it?” You would think that I was an alien that
just teleported myself on to “their” planet.
According to Blumer in the article “Race
Prejudice as a Sense of Group Position”, they
were the dominant group, and I a member of
the subordinate race was “intrinsically different
and alien” (Blumer in Gallagher 2009, 126).
Even my younger brother, who was nine years
old at the time, was once referred to as
“microphone head” by his friends. It was
funny, though it was a backhanded insult. I
found their blatant ignorance quite comical at
Our living room became a combat zone. times, but there was a part of me that just
The hero: mommy dearest. Her weapon of wanted to scream…break down and cry.
choice: a brown wide-toothed comb. The On the contrary, in areas like Brooklyn and
battle field: my kinky head. Getting my hair the Bronx, it is quite easy to find a salon to
styled was the agenda. Finding a salon that Behind the glitz and glam of Hong Kong
manage what the Chinese consider a “shock lies a racialized society, where a person is
handled my kind of hair? A major dilemma. I of hair”. Here, when it comes to my hair the
am not a blonde nor am I a brunette. Still a characterized not just by the difference in their
feeling of being out of place is replaced by a skin color, but also by the difference in the
teenager, not yet an adult. Among the Chinese, sense of belonging. I look around and I see
I was a minority among minorities in one of the texture of their hair. In my eyes, the memory of
more of my kind, be it kinky, wavy, curly, its bright lights will forever be masked by a fog
most densely populated lands in the world. permed or natural, braided or locked, long and
With seven million people in Hong Kong, about of structural inequities; and my kinky hair,
short; not sticking out like a sore thumb for a which I have grown to love and embrace in
ninety five percent are Chinese with long and change is quite refreshing.
short straight, black hair. subsequent years, will always serve as a faint
My plight is not just about black people, reminder. <<
God blessed me with a mix of coils and but also about anybody who has ever felt like
kinks, quite uncommon to Hong Kong. I could they don’t fit into society. My plea is simple:
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 39

THE PRIVILEGE OF A held by a professor or having your occupations of the parents), just 3%
family donate a new wing to your came from the bottom
PUBLIC EDUCATION schools library.   socioeconomic status quartile, and
by Sarah Mancin Many students here are in roughly 10% came from the bottom
school with financial aid because half of the socioeconomic scale”. 
I grew up in an upper class, all they cannot afford the $5,000 Youth in higher income families with
white, primarily Jewish tuition.   Growing up kids would college-educated parents are
neighborhood in Long Island.  spend more then that in a day of undoubtedly privileged.  Therefore
"Upper" class is an understatement.  shopping, and with that they have they find the more selective colleges
When I was in high school, girls ran   no concept of money. It is not their and more expensive colleges more
through the halls with their $2,000 fault they do not understand people affordable.  More importantly, their
Chanel handbags while boys would white privilege comes conceptions with issues such as this, it is the childhood development created in
discuss which Rolex they were of beauty and intelligence directly whiteness surround our these sheltered neighborhoods, high
getting for their birthdays. The tied to being white.  Without these neighborhood that is to blame.  The quality schools and homes provide
senior parking lot was filled with privileges, I wouldn’t have been able way I look at it is yes, my friends support for their entrance into these
Range Rovers, Mercedes and to live in the area I did. might be getting a better education highly selective colleges.  Without
BMWs. I cannot deny I wasn't When the time came to apply for academically speaking, but I these advantages, these colleges
sucked into this fairy tale. I spent my colleges, it was all "naturally" definitely have acquired better social would not be attainable, which
high school years with the "in" competitive.   We each wanted skills and knowledge of the real provides support to the study listed
crowd, but it wasn't until post- bragging rights over what private world outside the bubble of my high above.  Isn’t it ironic to think then
graduation when I realized my school and/or Ivy League school (all school experience.  It is sad for me that most colleges are founded
socioeconomic privilege. costing at least 50,000 a year) we to think that many of my friends still based on the ideas of merit, but it is
Although unspoken about, got accepted into.  Transferring to a have not grown out of this cultural seemingly impossible for people of
blacks were not exactly accepted in city school after my freshman year, privilege because it has followed low socioeconomic status and racial
my community.  There had only especially a CUNY school, a public them onto college.  At their private minority backgrounds to enter
been one black student in my grade, university system, my entire mindset institutions they have never met them?
who later went on to attend Duke.  has changed.   Literally my friends someone that comes from Harlem, I cannot deny I would not have
One black student in a class of 350 wouldn't survive a place like this they have never rode a subway, and been able to access certain places
students; the sentence speaks for without someone holding their hand.  they have certainly never had to in my life if it hadn’t been for my
itself.  With socioeconomic privilege This school really requires you to be think twice about spending money being white or my economic
comes whiteness, and most of us on your own.  There are no personal for lunch. privilege.  But with all this rooted evil
were unaware that the advantages advisors to tell you when you’re According to “Socioeconomic created around money it makes me
we were exposed to have much to about to fail a class.  There is no one Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Selective wonder if all this privilege is really
do with us being white.  The to pass you through your courses College Admission” by Anthony P. worth it?  Will I ever really
whiteness advantage many take for like there had been in high school.  Carnevale and Stephen J. Rose, understand the struggles people
granted and is therefore often You have to work really hard for your “74% of students at the top 146 different from me face on a daily
invisible, although still preferred. But grades.  Not saying that the Ivy highly selective colleges came from basis?  With all these invisible
in fact with material privilege comes League schools aren’t as hard, but if families in the top quarter of the barriers within our country I wonder
better access to higher education needed there is definitely certain socioeconomic status scale (as who is to blame. The money or the
well paid jobs and a choice of safer unspoken help available to students, measured by combining family people? <<
neighborhoods to live in, and with whether it be attending a benefit income and the education and  
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 40

COLORED JUSTICE - In court, I didn't know what to What is indeed shocking is the
expect from the  judge and the first dis-proportionate numbers related to
FOR THE PARENTS? time we went it felt like we were the race/ethnicity involving actual
by Jennifer Glasper seen--my husband and I are neglect; 59% of them are children of
both  wheelchair-bound--but not color.
I thought that my mother getting heard.  With more than 72 million children
murdered when I was twenty three A few months later, in the fall of overall living in the United States, 41%
was the worst thing that  happened to 2008, I found myself in a courtroom are reported to be children of color
me. Going to court over child custody surrounded  by a sea of unfamiliar meaning Black, Latino, Native
was worse. I knew what author whiteness and familiar racial American, Asian, or some race other
Dorothy Roberts meant first-hand discrimination. As soon as  the judge than White. Contrast this with the
when she wrote, "Black children are saw us in our wheelchairs, she over-representation of children of
overrepresented in child protective seemed to have made her decision. color in the child welfare system;
services because of the interplay of Without hearing from both parties these kids account for twice as many
societal, structural and individual involved I couldn’t understand how as their percentage in the general
factors that feed into each other to she determined if the allegations were population (80%).
determine which families fall under true or not. My husband and I wanted Compare the statistics between
state scrutiny and supervision" (The to go to trial but the judge felt there Blacks and Whites. For every 1,000
Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child had been too much corporal Black children, 17 are in foster care,
Welfare, 2002, 97).  punishment. We plead not guilty to the but for every 1,000 White children, 5 financial obligation as a parent for while
In the mid-summer of 2008, charges and we were never heard.  are in foster care. For every 1,000 my child lived with a legal guardian.
detectives stormed the door of my The judge seemed to base her Black children, 17 are substantiated Without representation, as the court date
home. The Administration for Children decision solely on the alleged report of as victims of child abuse or neglect, approached, I was deathly afraid of the
Services in New York City received a abuse. We were told that if we but for every 1,000 White children, 9 outcome which could mean garnishing
call regarding the alleged sexual pursued a trial, we would lose total are substantiated as victims of abuse 2 / 3 rd s o f m y fi x e d i n c o m e w h i l e
abuse of my 13 year-old child.  custody. So, joint custody was or neglect. unemployed. I was in school to learn to be
They came on a Friday night. granted. Did the fact that we were What is also interesting is that a teacher--start a new career.
Though we refused to answer  any black AND disabled factor into her re g a rd l e s s o f t h e r a c e o f t h e Was my disability going to be judged
questions until we could speak to a decision? Whatever the case, I felt the investigator, Black, Hispanic, and again? Would I be seen as a helpless and
lawyer, the detective said, “You injustice of a decision that changed Asian/Pacific Islander children have a hopeless mother? Despite my worries, all I
can call your lawyer but I am not sure the life of my family forever.  disproportionately high number of could do was have faith and trust God.
that you will be able to reach him.” He I wondered how many other ethnic investigations regarding child abuse This time the court was run by a
added, “You can either talk to us or groups experience this type of and neglect compared to White different judge. He was an old, white man
we will have to arrest both of you treatment? Do most of the families children. with white hair. But I immediately thought,
and take you downtown with us.” that  appear in family court share a Recently, I found myself in court "It’s over for me." As the judge began, he
My family’s rights were being common trait – race, class or poverty? again, regarding alleged lack of child saw that I was gripped  with fear. He said,
violated but we had no choice; leaving According to statistics from St. support provided to the custodian of “Relax! Don’t be nervous.” After hearing
us to submit to the two white intruders John Law School, there are my child.  I needed to find free legal both parties, the judge made a phone call
calling themselves police  detectives. approximately 2.9 million child assistance, but no one in legal aid in to verify a part of my testimony. And then
To make a long story short, my maltreatment reports made annually in NYC could handle child support.  the judged ruled in my favor. WOW, this
husband and I ended up in court the United States. Of those, almost 1 Eventually, I had to appear without time I defended myself! ...
fighting the battle of our lives. million, less than 35%, were actual re p re s e n t a t i o n t o c o u n t e r n e w
victims of child abuse or neglect. allegations that I had not fulfilled my cont. on next page
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 41

The Color of Justice? cont... To be sure, there are abusive parents out there but the system should
be designed to protect children AND their parents. The Administration for
...
Just as everything was concluding, the judge said, “I commend you for Children Services should also help parents become better parents,
putting so much money away for your [child's] future; I don’t know anyone especially parents who have never been in trouble before just in case the
else who would have done what you did and I wish you all the best in this decision is wrong. For me, it seemed like the system was designed to
situation with your [child].”  break down family values not protect them. Minorities and the disabled
Though justice was served in his decision, I had to confront the fact are easy targets. These families may have limited resources to obtain
that not all white judges are bad and make poor decisions. I had to let go of legal representation in family court. This should not be the case. Justice
the prejudice developed from interacting with the cops and the previous should not be determined based on the race, disability, or income.
judge. I intend to start reaching out to my community leaders and voice my
Having been through this ordeal not once but twice, I would not wish concerns so these injustices do not continue. I cannot give up. I now
being in the family court system on anyone. believe my situation is not unique – I was just lucky to get a fair judge the
As a parent, I felt betrayed. There should be some form of supervision second time around. <<
over this Agency. Some way to contest their practices. Nothing can erase 1
these ordeals from my mind and to think that I followed all the necessary Hughes, T. The Neglect of Children and Culture: Responding To Child
Maltreatment with Cultural Competence and a Review of Child Abuse and
steps available to me and was still not heard. That made me bitter. And my
Culture: Working with Diverse Families.
child was taken away!
There is no compassion in the system that is in place. Who was I to
turn to when the system failed me? I refused to succumb to the harsh
treatment and the injustice. Being disabled is not a reason to give up. All I
wanted was to be treated fairly – just a simple and thorough investigation
was all that was required. No one ‘cared’ to follow through.
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 42

Not everyone was a white Jew like me. The


BREAKING THE BARRIER word of the day was diversity. Then it hit, did
by Isaac Setton all these people experience what I had been
seeing on the news? Would I actually meet
Walking through the doors of Baruch someone who has experienced it first hand?
College that first day, I immediately felt as Until fall 2010, when I walked into a course
powerless as a dead fish. Any power or called Evolution and Expressions of Racism in
dominance I felt I had was flushed down the the Black and Hispanic Studies. This class
drain in a matter of minutes. would change my views and help me become
more diverse. I heard one girl talking about
Twelve years of private school and it was how she was not allowed to shop at a store
not until I left the school that I noticed the because she was black, another person talking
bubble my community kept me enclosed in. about how people thought they were not who
After just one day in Baruch College, racism hit they were just because of the style of their hair,
me smack in the face. Being in a private and another student say how they were told
school with all white Jewish students like they were someone else just because the
myself prevented me from having a [photo credit]
teacher thought they were the same person
multicultural knowledge about the real world based on the color of her skin.
and how racism was affecting everyone If you asked me to tell a story about a
around me. close friend or relative that faced racism from Was I the only one seeing all of this as a
my early years, I would most likely stare new thing? I couldn’t be, there had to be many
For all those years, I was part of the blankly back at you. Racism? With people I others in the same situation as me. This must
“dominant group,” and all the power was know? Never heard of. Am I ignorant? I don’t have been going on everywhere. There needs
mine, which no one could take away. Until that think so. I could blame my community and to be an end to this ordeal. Students as well as
first day of Baruch College where I lost my family for this fault of mine, I won’t though, at non-students must be educated on what is
status as part of the majority, I was now part of the same time I would thank them for this fault happening around them, and not their small
the minority. Is it possible to adjust that fast? as well. community or city that they live in. Schools are
the first people needed to realize this
Being in this type of setting for all those I grew up in a Jewish Syrian community of controversy and work to find a solution. With
years did have its pros and cons. For example about 75,000 people in Brooklyn, NY. If you this problem they also must deal with it on the
a pro was that since the school had only about think you’ve seen protected and secluded, other end of it. Do non-Jews understand the
700 kids, grades 9-12, it was easier for them take a walk in my neighborhood for a day. A little details of the Holocaust? Do all whites
to keep up with each and every student to community member has no reason to be understand the small details of the genocides
track their progress. A con however was that outside the “boundaries” we live in. Name your in Rwanda or Darfur?
going to a school with so few kids, especially need whether it be groceries, restaurants,
dominated by white Jews; I would not have a entertainment, etc. it was there and in a This idea would make college students
sense of what was going on outside my convenient location as well. The kid who sits more aware of what is going on around them.
school. Baruch College needs to deal with next to you in class, will more times than not There’s also another thing colleges must do to
these problems of kids entering school facing live in walking distance to your house. help their students, which is to try and create a
problems like diversity and independence. system to keep track of each and every ...
The change from Brooklyn to Manhattan,
you could imagine was overwhelming for me.
cont. on next page
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 43

BREAKING THE BARRIER cont. high school and I feel that it is necessary and
vital to have. Everyone could benefit from it.
...student’s work. By doing this they could Now racism today does not hit everyone
make sure that every student will leave college like our hindsight about Nazi Germany or the
with potential. I received this kind of attention KKK. It does however limit us structurally in
in my ways we don’t notice until were put in a setting
that we are limited by. This course in racism
went from being a required course, to a course
that I could look back on and say that it
changed the way I viewed the world.

Kids need to be educated, especially the


ones who do not have knowledge of the world
outside their communities or cities similar to
myself. They need to get in touch with a wider,
more diverse world and not have a narrow A 16-year-old Yosef Abrahamson, a Yeshiva
view. People shouldn’t have to face the music student in Crown Heights, Brooklyn is hoping
at the age of 18 where they are already to help improve relations between Orthodox
molded into the person they are going to be. Jews and blacks in his Brooklyn community by
For some, it might be too late. For me, I trading on what makes him a curiosity to both:
changed my views before it changed me. << He is African-American and a Hasidic Jew.
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 44

RE-COVERING ISLAM adjusting to living here, is definitely not going this as a major topic which outrages us. If we
to be easy. What makes it worse is when look at it in terms of whiteness is what is being
by Iqra people are unnecessarily called F.O.B.(Fresh expected as a norm. Being white is not
Off Boat) just because they are doing mandatory, it is not what we have to do to
something differently than what is the white survive. Man was created from the union of
“Miss, can I see your bag please”, said the norm in America. I liked one quote from James two people; a white person did not say at that
police officer at the Jamaica Ave F train Baldwin’s book The Fire Next Time where he time we were born that we needed to be white.
station. It was my hijab that inspired his states, One usually gets accustomed to the society
request. Walking to school in the morning I they live around.
was stopped by two policemen with a table “Through the storm which rages about The chapter “Race and Civil Rights Pre-
between me and them. They searched my bag your youthful head today, about the reality September 11, 2001: The Targeting of Arabs
and found books. which lies behind the words acceptance and Muslims” by Susan Akram and Kevin
They left the book bag there turning their and integration. There is no reason for you Johnson (in Gallagher 2009, 137-144) reflected
faces to the side. I thought it was a guilty to try to become like white people and what I was trying to say about racism towards
feeling in them. That was the sign I was free to there is no basis whatever for their the Muslim community in New York City. The
go. The only reason they did that because I impertinent assumption that they must article says there are different ways Arabs and
was wearing a scarf and my skin tone is dark. accept you.” (Baldwin 1963, 8) Muslims are being hated in the US and
They think I am not from here or that I’m a especially in the media and Hollywood films.
terrorist. This seems to give evidence that racism is not
Whenever I remember that scene, the a small thing but it is being depicted on a
darkness of the train station, the two white national level, a big thing.
policemen and people passing by staring When a white person or a person from
reminds me of all that bad experience. It’s hard America converts into Islam, they feel proud to
to explain to everyone that you were born and be converting into a new religion and believe
raised here in the United States of America like they should stick to what is right. At the same
any other American citizen. I have never been time, knowing the criticism one gets when you
to Pakistan, even once. But the influence of hear a “Muslim” is amongst them, they might
the culture and tradition is still alive in my feel guilty in a way. Why did I even bother
neighborhood of South Asians. Seeing cops changing religions?
being racist towards me feels awkward. Most No matter how one looks at the situation
of the time I read this topic in history or hear it there is going to be a racist attempt on you
on the news. But when you feel a cop being with a scarf whether you were born in this
racist towards you it’s like a mountain has just country or not. In some way or another, there is
landed upon you. It’s like one is not included in This quote has significance. Shows that one going to be sure of racism from media or from
your own society. does not need to be accepted in a society outside people you may not even know.
Being brown skinned and that too from where being “white” is the standard to live.
South Asia people usually see you as cheap or Even though Muslims get
3rd world. Their reactions feel inappropriate. It a n g r y b e c a u s e w e a re
feels like Muslims and Arabs are being treated young and have free
like animals. Coming from a another country, thinking, we usually see
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 45
III. Ode to Being a Problem

POEMS Dear You,


by Quinton McDonald You know who I’m talking to.

This letter is to prove that


I’m not in love with you.
In the beginning it was harmless,
Only whispers in my ear
Echoes of another time, a fight from yesteryear
A lot of that has changed since then
At least within the structure
I. Scared For My Job The law is on a just side to protect us from one
another.
Living in a racist place I don’t belittle the struggle some had
A world filled with people who don’t have the same For that was one decision
face That demanded great faith, and bravery and
When bringing up the subject of race in this world caused great cataclysm.
I feel everyone has their own special pearl
Of wisdom or knowledge or experience You were always there for me
A story from back when or even present tense. Which makes this hard to say:
Over thanksgiving dinner my grandmother was I never loved you, not one bit.
offended Please go away.
When I told her that I have experienced the -ism.
I said to her I mean no disrespect to you I remember times of happiness
But racial divide is not some exclusive shoe. When you were far away
Not something that’s rare or one in a million II. Chaos But when your presence draws near
But a common offense, created everyday like My happiness never stays. <<
children. When the world is on fire
My experience with racism may be short And thoughts are the flames
But long is its history with the people its fought. People sit back and play blame games.
Now I have been followed in stores and mistreated Pointing to whom they feel is at fault
by some But not realizing they’ve forgot what they were taught.
But race is the last thing in my mind that comes. My mother did, and I know, so did yours,
I fight it but still it scares me down Told each and everyone don’t close any doors
As if we were in a circus and I was the clown. Possibilities, chances or opportunities
I remember one time racism came about through a Encounters, and of course avoid being discriminatory.
boss With minds set a blaze
I was scared for my job and thought “I can’t stand And the truth on the run
strong” Who can save us from the chaos we’ve become.
But with guidance my voice did come along Consumed by judgment and evil in essences
Enough to show and prove to her that she was We turn to religion for a most divine blessing
wrong. Lending our trust to cults and deceivers photo credit
EITHER ITS WHITE OR BLACK!
Why can’t we choose neither?
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 46

FENCED IN WHITENESS big guy, or shovel their driveway, or to care for their Now, this isn’t my whole community, or all the
by Trevor Smith home and pets when they would go away. This all whites that live there, rather it is two of the
changed once I began my freshman year. The adjacent 4 houses. My community as a whole is
majority of my friends from high school went away welcoming and helpful without judging a book by
How could racism affect a tall, white male.
to college. Then I began to hang out with the ones its cover. 
Everyone knows only minorities can be the victims
I had left; the majority were black and Hispanic. My parties continued. I continued to welcome
of racism. This is what our society has you to
any and all of my friends to my home, and with
believe. All black people are fantastic athletes, too
each non-white friend I had over, these families
bad they all steal cars and wind up in jail. Hispanic
would get more and more upset with me.
people are only useful to me so long as my house
Regardless, I stood my ground, as I didn’t care if
is dirty, after that, send em’ down to home depot
these people didn’t like me. I didn’t like being
and let them find a house to build. And of course,
associated with such ignorant people. I figured it
don’t ever board an airplane with a middle
was all said and done, I was more than happy to
easterner on it, because obviously they’re a
stop communicating with these "racists" and just
terrorist. These are just a few of the ridiculous
let them live their lives, assuming they would do
statements that can be formulated with the way
the same to me. But, one family had a problem
our society is today.
letting it go. They took actions that would destroy
 
years of neighborly friendship  resulting in that
Americans judge people based on the color of
family being ostracized from our small community. 
their skin because it’s easier to us than getting to
 
know them as a person. We don’t even have to
This became even more relevant in August
know someone’s name before we label him or her
when New York State was prosecuting me for a
a criminal, or a gang member. If you take two  
series of non-violent, non-drug, victimless felonies
identical cars but one is blue and one is red, you After enjoying a relaxing barbeque one night
for which I plead not-guilty. My future and my
still have the same cars-there is a parallel with skin with a dozen or so friends, I learned that my next
freedom were on the line. I was looking at no less
color and people. Skin color difference is about door  neighbor’s view of me was changing. There
than 7 years in a federal detention center. I was
environment or external factors, not DNA or were no complaints about the noise we may have
instructed by my lawyer to get letters of
character. People from different parts of the world made, nothing rational like that. He/she was upset
recommendation and letters vouching for my
have different tones of skin because of a mixture of with the fact that I had black friends visiting our
character from anyone willing to write.  The letters
vitamin D deficiency or UV light damage caused neighborhood.
starting pouring in, as I was calling in every favor I
from the sun. You don’t turn black the more terrible  
had at my disposal. One neighbor, who know
things you do in life, just as you don’t become Next thing I know, the neighbor just stopped
seemed to hate me and my non-white friends,
white for doing good. Our skin doesn’t act as a smiling back or saying hello. As my black friends
wrote a letter to the prosecuting attorney, stating I
mood ring or a karma meter, and Mother Theresa hung around longer, he/she neighbor pulled me
had "unsavory" friends and I was a strain on my
and a serial murderer could have come from any aside to inform me that a lot of the other neighbors
local community. "Unsavory" can mean  morally
ethnic or racial group. didn’t appreciate that I was bringing black people
offensive, distasteful or of  questionable moral
around. He asked me to stop. This appalled me. It
character. How can you see that from skin
The town I live in is 90% white. The average just took one sentence from this woman for me to
color?  He finished his letter with “I hope you
income per family is 3 times the New York state lose all the respect I had for her. How could this
consider my previous points, and that this young
average, and the average house value is over 1 woman, a distinguished doctor, think and act this
man ends up learning a very strict lesson,
million dollars. It is an upscale predominately white way? It felt like an episode of the Twilight Zone,
hopefully in Valhalla.” Valhalla is the location of the
suburb.  Before my first year in college, I never had and I was in some crazy racist parallel universe-
Westchester County Jail. <<
a problem with my neighbors. I was always willing nope, just my nice little community.
to help them carry a large or heavy object--I'm a
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 47

RACE MATTERS...NO! I DO! We all were born into this madness, so why This class made me look at myself
by Abigaelle Revers am I being subjected to the cruelties of it as differently, and I know there's something
if I’m the creator? Or is it just me? deeper that I need to reach.
 
   
I matter. Like you, I am someone, too.
Whenever I walk into a room, I'm 99% I wanted my essay to reflect my
And that is simply put why you are going to
certain that the first thought of others is emotions, my helplessness, and my hunger. 
take five minutes to read this. I deserve that.
“look at that black girl" rather than look at I was never true to myself in fear. It angers
that “girl.” Why do things have to be this me that I was so afraid of nonacceptance,
Tread through my past and swim through
way? Or is it just me? that I chose not to be my real self…and that
my  pain.  It was never an easy thing being
matters.
black and living in Westchester, New York. I
Change is the result of optimism,
don't have much memory of first-hand
something that's fading in me and in many Are you reading my words or feeling them? I
experiences with racism. I don't have some
in the black community. How can I aspire to need change; we all deserve it.
savory story about racism towards me, but I
be, to do something when people on the
have feelings. I am engulfed in fears of
other side of the white picket fence, as well
racism and its unpleasantness. I was never
as those on the outside, try to say you
black enough for the black people and I
certainly wasn't white enough for the white you're not going to be shit? You and your
people (hmm. why do they get the article people are worthless?
“the” in my thinking). It seemed I never
belonged, and it seems like I never will. Sometimes, I honestly feel like crying. I
  really do want to make a change, but I feel
Growing up in a neighborhood worth so helpless. I don't like feeling hopeless, and
I hate thinking this is just the way it is. This Before this class, even at the beginning
over 1/2 a million dollars, where my family of it, I was beginning to accept things as
was the only minority represented, I was the world belongs to me, too, and I shouldn't
have to settle. "the way it is". But after this class and
only black student in every class. I  felt  the several conversations with Matt, I'm now
little blackness I had left start dissolve. feeling like there is a handful of us who don't
During certain tests, my thoughts spiraled at Centuries ago the founding fathers
created the idea of race and slavery to gain want to accept things as they are; and for
warp speed. "You cannot get this wrong that reason solely, we shouldn't.
Abby... you CANNOT get this wrong!"  The economic prosperity and in doing so
pressure was on. I couldn't let my  people degraded African-Americans. Slavery ended
but not the ideology created despite proven There's a world out there that is destined
down.   to be ours, hell it is ours now. And all we
inaccuracies. I know that white skin isn't a
golden token in life, although it grants have to do is take it!
I used to wake up in the morning and
feel like the exception to the rule. And while I unearned privileges to a random phenotype.
I am also realizing that black skin isn't a first To my classmates: It's been real, people.
know that "race" doesn't exist--it is a social Don't act like you don't know me now that
class flight to hell.
construct--how can I live my life without the the class is over - sometimes all it takes is a
 
idea, when racism seems so real among my smile. ♥
I was talking to Matthew from our class
peers, professors, neighbors and strangers?
and we agreed that individual change should
be good enough. But I
honestly just don't feel that
it is.
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 48

HIT BY STEREOTYPE in. "Hi! How are you?" I greet her and ask if she of color despite what seems like a fact? Who is
needs anything. She ignores me and walks straight perpetuating the stereotype and on whom? Me or
by Natali Nassimian to the sale area. I make a mental note to walk over to them?
check with her in a second. I saw her fiddling in that It is baffling how much time and effort goes into
Picture this: a white sale area but she hadn't picked out any items. Three lining their bags or bringing in tools to take off the
and black woman both minutes later I walk to the back only to find her gone.  sensors. I can't imagine.
enter a retail clothing store The next morning, I hear those three words again I found the courage to tell this story in our racism
at the same time. You are that a retailer dreads: "We've been hit!" Notice the course and after the bomb dropped, after all the
a stylist at the store and language we use. As if we were physically shocked faces, I heard a couple of fellow students
you need to approach assaulted  and it feels that way if you say it enough. mumble, "Well maybe it’s because you are looking at
one of the clients to help We begin to make it personal. My manager was minorities more closely. That's why you see mainly
them. So, which one do fuming. She said, "That b*tch walks in here all the blacks stealing." At that point, I just felt guilty. Why is
you pick? Which do you time claiming we're all a bunch of racists and look at my mind telling me to look at the black woman? Am I
pick so you are not labeled a racist?  her like she's a thief. And then she goes and swipes really racist or maybe racism has me?
They are both dressed impeccably, holding three $129 skirts right off my table, sensors and all!"
designer bags, with other clear signs of money. You One recent weekend, I had a black client from
obviously want to pick a client whom you will enjoy I can't always judge a book by its cover. If a upstate New York come in the store. She came in
working with, but also one that will shop, who you client walks in talking about their new pair of with her husband. Instinct made me think...well, it
don't have to worry about stealing from right under Christian Loubitin designer shoes, even if it’s their wasn't instinct. My past experiences made me
your nose. After all, you work on commission and 17th pair, that doesn't mean they will spend a lot of suspicious of black women’s behavior and she was a
you want a bigger sale. money or that they won't steal. Conversely, just black woman. In the moment I thought “what do I
This was my situation a couple of months ago. In because a client is dressed sloppy or carrying what do”? Use my world-class service tactics--tailgate her
my case, I chose the black woman. She came in with seems like a "booster bag" (a hand-made bag used until she makes a purchase or leaves. She ended up
her daughters looking for a dress to wear out that to shoplift, typically lined in a way so that they can spending close to $900--after a 25% discount. And
weekend. Her daughters were all over the store get past security detectors), it doesn't mean they are for once I felt victorious over my guilt. For once, I
jumping from one section to the next. The mother going to steal. I am learning the hard way that I can't was wrong. That’s one more for the blacks. But
pulls one of our newest dresses and goes into the always tell; make conclusions about an entire group. that's crazy talk. This is not some kind of race.
fitting room. But the sad truth is that I do most of the time and I Noticing how everyday, ordinary interactions are
Fast forward an hour. The black client and her hate saying that. shaped by racism means getting it is NOT personal.
daughters are gone without having spent a cent. A Why does it tend to be the minorities? Why does It's not about me, per se. It's about a system of
new client walks in asking for the same dress. I ask a customer steal a pair of $19 earrings when she's conditioning that has us think how we see
her "What size?"  "Small." she replies. "Perfect! We already spent over $200 during the same visit? This differences in skin color is the way it is--not what we
have it. Let me go grab that for you." The black client is the perception I find myself fighting on a regular are taught unconsciously. Professor Gaunt asked me
had tried it on in the fitting room. But I couldn't find basis. Perception, they say, is reality. My clientele if I made any judgments since reading evidence that
it. A half an hour of searching led me to review the book isn't filled with a bunch of rich, white white people take advantage of the poor, of black
security camera footage. The tape confirmed it. housewives. I actually have the most enjoyable time debt, or of segregated suburbs in George Lipsitz's
"We've been hit!” I had solid evidence: black women with my clients of color, who makes up a good article on the "Possessive Investment in Whiteness"? 
steal.  portion of my list.  I don't think about that when white people walk
Three months passed and I’m trying to quiet the There are exceptions among white clientele and, into the store.  Guilt makes the inequities feel
accusations in my head. I had been talking to one of to be honest, shoplifting is not that hard. People of personal, rather than structural, and focuses
the managers when the store wasn't that busy, when both groups steal but how do I reconcile the fact that attention on stealing, not advantages. But that is a
I hear a door open and notice a black woman walk the majority of the those who steal have been black? place to start. Realizing it's not me and noticing this
Why do I have to be more careful around the people is a start. <<
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 49

THE BLACK PEOPLE BUBBLE I mean, I’m not that far off for thinking that different cultures do. I wanted to have my own
because the percentage of black people living in little melting pot of friends.
by Tiana Jones Elmont is 17%, and 10.7% of that is made up of I wasn't aware that New York was so much
Haitians. What amazed me about learning this more than my little town. Coming to the city
Coming to Baruch College as a freshman in was why is that number so low? To me it every day and finding out, oh my gosh, there's
Fall of 2009, I didn't want any black people to seemed like we’re everywhere! If it’s just 17% of Africans here! Becoming frustrated with all these
talk to me—at all. I really didn’t. Anytime a black us, then where are all the white people hiding? It different accents. An Asian who’s actually
person would sit next to me in class, I’d get wasn’t always like that. Chinese. Simple things like that amazed me. My
upset. Not that I have anything against black When my family & I moved to Elmont in first day at orientation, I knew I would have
people. December of 1991, we were one of three black absolutely no friends, besides the Africans, of
Growing up, I was under the impression that families on the block. Over the years, slowly but course. I didn’t know how to really interact with
if you live in New York, and you're black, you're surely, the white people started to move away, people in this new context. Not like they were
probably Haitian. If you're Asian, you're and the black people started to move in. Today, aliens, but everyone from my town is pretty
probably Filipino. Spanish, you're Dominican. in 2010, there are two white families on my much from Haiti. I had never met a Russian
And white people? What about them?  I grew up block. before. How do you talk to one?
in the same town, went to the same school, with My white high school teacher told me he My freshman seminar class had 3 black
the same people, for 14 years. It wasn't until I remembers white flight it happened. When he people in it, myself included. This was my
started to go to Baruch College in the city, that I talked about it then, back when I was probably chance to learn about others. Integration at last!
got exposed to so many different faces, just a freshman in high school, it didn’t really I became really great friends with a Ukranian, a
languages and customs. Living in Long Island all mean anything to me. I just thought, okay, haha, Chinese guy, a Lithuanian, and a Jewish kid. All
19 years of my life has sheltered me from what a we scared the white people away. But as I got semester we hung out. We had lunch together
diverse New York is really all about. older it angered me. Why don’t you want to live every day. Studied together. Sat together in
The majority of people with dark skin are of next to me? Because I’m black? Do you think class. After the semester was over, the only
Haitian descent in Elmont, Long Island. Elmont I’m not going to take care of my home? Or people I stayed in contact with were the other 2
is in the top 36 US communities harboring the lessen your property value? Why does my color black people in my class. Now every time I see
most people of Haitian descent, ranking at have to do that? What about my character? the Chinese guy, he’s got a whole posse of
number 16. Actually for the longest time I Nobody ever tried to get to learn to know us, Asians with him. The others associate with white
thought all the black people in Elmont, New York they just saw we moved in and left. How is that people. How did that happen? We were such
—where I grew up in Long Island—were Haitian. fair? good friends. And now when we see each other,
Now, I know I am not Haitian, but a lot of people When I got into Baruch, I was excited. My we give that awkward ‘I’m gonna pretend like
assumed I was. Yes, I am of Caribbean descent, chance to break out of the “black people I’m late for class’ greeting. How did this follow
but my parents are from Jamaica and the Virgin bubble.” Not having to be friends with black me from Elmont to Baruch?
Islands. It was kind of frustrating that people people, because that’s just what you do.  It’s not As I continued with my freshman year, I
would always assume I was Haitian. I don’t have like we’re segregated or anything. I have friends began to notice more and more the lack of
anything against Haitians. But that’s not what I of other races. Really good friends. But mainly, I diversity in groups at school. Walking up the
am. And it’s weird because I was the one who stuck to what I knew. And that’s just how things escalator in the Vertical Campus building I heard
put it my head—that most people are Haitians, were. Which was very frustrating. And I just---I a black guy say to his club crew, “OMG, look!
so why am I getting mad when others are doing didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to She’s black! Go talk to her!” He wanted me to...
the same exact thing? learn more about what other people from
cont. on next page
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 50

The Black People Bubble cont.


...join his group that consisted of mainly black
BRAVERY & FEAR people. He insisted I join. Ok, I understand it’s an
I’m sure my parents love each other very
by Michelle Chan opportunity, but why is that because I’m black
much, and had experienced heartbreak before,
you feel the need to text, call, and email me for
but I’ve never heard stories about their first
Every time we hear an unexpected sound weeks to join your group? Yes, I can benefit from
loves. I am sure we share a lot there.
at the door, our eyes will meet and widen with a it, but would he be trying this hard if I was
Relationships are just something we don’t talk
mix of bravery and overwhelming fear. Bravery Hispanic? 
about. If we aren’t able to communicate on a
because he and I both know that I’m strong But then, there's the opposite concern of
topic as mundane as having a first crush, then
enough to take on the inevitably confused, inclusion. When someone won’t give you a flyer
how would I possibly explain my situation? But
angry, and overwhelming reaction my dad will or ask you if you’re interested in their group
how can I not. This is more than a schoolgirl
have if he sees us together. We both know that because I’m black. How do you know I don't like
crush. Confucius also said: To see what is right,
this encounter won’t end well, and in the end, Asian culture? Is it because I don't look like
and not to do it, is want of courage or of
everyone will get hurt. someone who’s interested in Asians? What does
principle." But perhaps compassion comes
The idea of having a parent meet a someone look like who is interested in Asians or
before courage. For now I'm still scared and
boyfriend shouldn’t be this terrifying, and I’m Asian culture? How do you know I don’t want to
sad to be in this predicament. To love and to
just so sick of all this sneaking around. Every learn some Mandarin? I mean, I’m not really
hide love. What a tragedy. 
morning before he leaves, he asks me if he’s interested, but how could you, a stranger, know
I live in one of the most diverse cities in the
going to bump into my parents in the elevator what interests me? I understand that certain
world. I attend the most ethnically diverse
(my parents and I live in the same building) and groups of people, like Africans or Asians like to
college in the nation. My parents grew up in a
it just frustrates me to know that my parents, get together to share their common interests, but
different time, lived in segregation by necessity
the people who are supposed to love me what about the person on the outside who wants
and not necessarily choice.  I don't like
unconditionally, would be devastated if they to learn something different, discover a different
dishonoring my parents wishes. I'm Asian and
were to find out that I was dating a black man. culture? Wouldn't you want people of other
that is my heritage. But I am also American and
I’ve attempted to tell them many times before, cultures to join or at least be educated about
this is my freedom. Either I am caught between
but the conversation will always end up being your culture and what people inside it enjoy?
a rock and and hard place or I could take on
turned into a joke because they can’t bear the Is it weird that everyone I was friends with
two things Confucius said, "Be not ashamed of
thought of that being a reality. What’s so wrong during my freshman seminar class went off to be
mistakes and thus make them
with dating a black guy? Are they repulsed by friends with people who they resemble? Is it even
crimes"--"Everything has its beauty but not
black men in general, or by the concept of an stranger to me in hindsight that I did the same
everyone sees it." With time comes courage.
Asian with a Black person? Would it be different exact thing, even though it was the last thing I
Compassion for myself and my parents for now. 
if I were dating a White person? wanted? It is sad but interesting to notice in this
Wikipedia collective consciousness says a
All these questions are ones I have to figure racism course.
simple way to appreciate Confucian thought
out myself because my parents are the typical I don’t want people to become friends with
(Confucianism) is to consider it as being based
traditional immigrant parents. The type of me or sell their homes to me because I am black.
on varying levels of honesty, and a simple way
people who came here for a better opportunity I don’t understand why skin color or your
to understand Confucian thought is to examine
and worked so hard throughout their 20’s and ethnicity is a factor that people use to judge and
the world by using the logic of humanity... best
30’s that they didn’t have time to be romantic alienate you. I was guilty of it, too, but the more I
expressed in the Confucian version of the Ethic
with each other and therefore did not think saw it happening, the more I realized this wasn’t
of reciprocity, or the  Golden Rule: "do not do
about and learn how to teach their children the right thing for me to do. So, if you’re going to
unto others what you would not have them do
about “the birds and the bees.”  sell your house, so be it. If you want a new friend,
unto you." Learning to forgive takes something.
do it because I am a human being, not that black
Let me be first. <<
girl who lives next door. <<
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 51

PAYING THE TOLL (THE WAGES WE PAY) Maybe back in the day it was abnormal to see two different races
by Danielle Mora together. But, it’s just something you’re bound to see in New York City.
When people see an interracial couple they stare as if they have never
seen one before 2010. I overhear comments like “jungle fever”. I could
have sworn that “jungle fever” referred to an interracial couple and even
that is problematic. But both my boyfriend and I are “black” and much
more. I have to constantly remind myself that most white and black
Americans are ignorant of the complexities in New York City.
Generalizations and stereotypes are easier.

Recently, I heard something new. My own manager at work, who is black,


said he’s going to start calling us “rice and beans and collard greens”.
Yeah, people laughed like a domino effect; one person started then
another followed by another and so on. It’s ironic how they all know my
diverse nationality, they know I’m black and Spanish, and still they said it.
Others on-the-job make racial jokes about blacks despite the fact the
manager and I are both present. They think it’s cool, but it’s not! Yeah, I
said it. My parents told me to stay strong because “the comments come
like roaches” (they never die).

Growing up I chose to be tough about it. I had to constantly prove that I


was black. All the arguing and fighting just to prove to someone
something that shouldn’t even be of concern to them but this is how we
begin to learn about structural racism. It’s not personal but it sure feels
My parents warned me. They warned me about those people who judge like it. I look back now and I cant even laugh; it was sad. Sad that my own
others based on physical appearance. People who feel like that they “race,” my own people, so to speak, would make racist comments or pass
have a right to interfere in something that doesn’t even concern them. judgments against one of their own.
They always said “Danielle, whatever guy you choose to be with, people
are going to stop and stare. They’re going to make odd remarks or funny
sounds. Some will accept it and others won’t”. Not until recently did I I pray for the day when I can walk down the street and race doesn’t
realize why my parents warned me at such an early age. When I finally matter. I also pray for the day where interracial couples can walk down the
came face to face with that “real world,” I was actually prepared. street holding hands and no one would make faces or stop and stare.

I won’t call them “haters” but people do look at me with a weird and Sad part is something tells me that day may never come. To be sure, my
confused face, questioning who I am because of my light skin color and boyfriend and I have learned to ignore the looks and comments, but it
straighter hair texture. Comments don’t bother me. I feel that people are wears on you despite the warnings of those who love you and want to
making assumptions about things they really don’t know about. But protect you from harm in the future. The psychological toll is overlooked.
people simply won’t stop communicating nonverbally, “What is she?”
The looks on their faces suggest a wild stab in the mental darkness. I To the eye, skin colors are like crayons that never mix. But love, love has
say, “I’m mixed: Black, Spanish and Caribbean.” Most reply, “You look no color. <<
white”. Maybe that’s why the funny look. And my boyfriend is black... he
looks it.
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 52

A GOOD FIT FOR DEBT American woman who opened a line of credit They have to have straighter hair, lighter skin,
and then maxed it out “Why?”. To my surprise or more Caucasian like features.
by Chris Kiprovski her answer was “Because i can get what ever i
want and pay $10 a month (the minimum To be sure, no one is forcing black women to fall
Most women in general lose their minds when payment) to pay it off.”  into debt but given the history of their
it comes to buying underwear. There is no assimilation into white norms including clothing
satisfying their need for bras and panties. So With a limit of $500 with a 24.99% APR, and hair, perhaps we should take a different
when my job as one of the men working at a paying $10 a month would take her years to look at why this is happening. We should be
famous lingerie store that we will call pay it off. I was dumbfounded and could not taking a look at the pressures put on black
Natasha’s Mysteries requires me to offer a free understand why a person would want to women and maybe realize that it is time to
store credit card along with a discount it only continually put themselves in such debt. change, we should not be trying to form to one
adds fuel to the fire. Hell hath no fury. way but accept all ways. Because right now it
As a white guy in society i never took into seems thats some are literally trying to fit in at
After working at Natasha’s Mysteries for over consideration what it was like to not fit in or to all cost. <<
two years, I have noticed a few things about not be accepted. To be honest, i never even
women and debt.  thought about it. But through my racism class
i have started noticing things at my job that
With an APR of 24.99%, insane late fees, as normally I would not even care about. 
well as other fees, a store credit card is by far
the worst type of credit you can have For instance, black women who do not have
nowadays. This has never stopped me from any credit, on average, spend the least at
offering it. Hell I am required to as part of my Victoria’s Secret, while white women spend
job behind the register., to make it look like much more. 
God’s gift to women (and i never lied about
any of the details).  All it takes is a little bit of With these small observations and being
knowledge about the card, some flirting, and introduced for the first time to structural
confidence and you can sell. racism, i started to understand why a person
would go into debt for clothing. In a society
After offering the store card to anyone waiting still affected by race and racism whether it is
to pay with a credit card, I started to get a feel blatant or not, all a person can try to do is try
for who will and will not open a credit card. to fit in.
With over two years of observation, I have
come to realize that Black and Asian women High standards are set in society, that are not
open up a line of credit more often than white easy to live up to. People are expected to
women will. On top of this, if approved, often dress a certain way, look a certain way, and
the black women proceed to max out their even live in certain places. On top of these
new card. Asian women, on the other hand, high standards, their are many difficulties
never use the card; just the free coupons that placed on african americans. Jean Kilbourne
come in the mail. the creator of “Killing Us Softly” a film series
about how advertising shows distorted
After noticing these trends, I started to aspects of feminism, talks about how it is
become curious. So I asked the next African harder for black women in advertising as well.
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 53

WHITE OR WONG from another country.  me and said, “Oh! You're Samantha? I forgot.
  I only looked at your last name and assumed
by Samantha Wong "Do you have your first draft for the Bernie you were an immigrant and needed some ESL
Madoff paper?" I replied "Well Professor, I just but I was totally wrong.” (Yeah, she admitted
connected some notes and brainstormed in it as if her assumption left no mark like her red
“YES, I speak English!”  my notebook.” With a smile, she said, "Oh pen.) And she smiled adding, “Here, let me
that's perfect! Just rip out the draft from your cross it out. It wasn’t meant for you. Okay,
I grew up an All-American girl and I am a notebook and hand it in. That will do." She
3rd-generation Chinese woman. When I was a here you go.” Who was this prejudice meant
took a quick glance, skimmed through the for? Some other Asian-looking girl with a
young girl, I was a ballerina, a Brownie in Girl draft and accepted it. With her red pen she
Scout Troop #2196, and a cheerleader for the W(r)ong name?
wrote "first draft" in the top left-hand corner.  
high school football team. I was popular and  
had many friends though I was one of the few In "Race Prejudice as a Sense of Group
A week later, as she handed out the Position," Herbert Blumer notes that there are
Asian students throughout my primary and marked drafts with her notes on how to
secondary schools. Till then, I never really four basic feelings involved with race
improve for our second drafts, I could see, prejudice: "(1) a feeling of superiority, (2) a
faced racism. A couple of years ago, one of before she even got to me, that my paper had
my professors at John Jay College-CUNY feeling that the subordinate race is
two long paragraphs in red on the back. In the intrinsically different or alien, (3) a feeling of
first paragraph, she explained how I needed proprietary claim to (a sense of ownership
to organize and elaborate on my thoughts. over) certain areas of privilege and advantage,
She obviously didn't remember our initial and (4) a fear and suspicion that the
exchange. In the second paragraph, she subordinate race harbors designs on the
wrote, "It seems you need extra help. I grew prerogatives of the dominant race" (Blumer in
up in Poland until I came to America when I Gallagher 2009, 126). I was experiencing the
was 5 years old and learned English. Writing impact of both #1 (superiority) and #2
an English paper can be very difficult (difference and alienation). And the professor
especially if English is not your native was performing the privilege (#3) without the
language. Please take time to go to the fear (#4).
Writing Center for more assistance.”
  Blumer gives us some insight into this
After reading her comments, my jaw weirdness when he writes, "The sense of
dropped. I was on the verge of tears but I was group position is the very heart of the relation
so angry I didn't know what to do or say. Do I of the dominant to the subordinate group. It
make a scene? Do I talk to her after class? supplies the dominant group with its
How could any professor get away with framework of perception, its standard of
evaluating a paper based on a last name?    I judgment, its patterns of sensitivity, and its
decided to confront the professor. emotional proclivities" (Blumer in Gallagher
2009, 127).
At the end of the next class, I said,  
“Professor, I told you this was a first draft and Here was a professor of 25 years, a
you even told me it was acceptable. Why woman who migrated from Poland, who had..
took one look at my last name, Wong, and would you write these comments?” She
assumed from that that I didn't know how to reviewed her comments and then looked at
write English well. She even decided I was cont. on next page
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 54

WHITE OR WONG cont. (Huynh) and an estimated 1 million Koreans (linguistic discrimination). Racial slurs and
(Hwang). The name stems from a common discrimination will not deter us. Perhaps it
...adopted or been adopted into the position practice of adopting the name of the emperor helps us be confident in who we are and
of the dominant group. Was it because she and his territory in remembrance of a people's where we come from. Statistics indicate that
could be considered "white," unlike me? I origin, for example, the Huang Kingdom or the “42% of all Asian American adults have at
exhibit phenotypically Chinese features that current state of Wong in Hubei province (the least a college degree, highest of all the major
do not grant me that same privilege. Or was it region of present day Wuhan City). racial ethnic groups...and the highest test
because she was in the position of dominance   scores and/or GPAs" and "60% of all Asian
in the student-teacher relationship? Whatever Ever since that incident with the professor, Americans are immigrants" (Le, C.N., A Closer
the case may be, I felt subordinated, silenced I embrace being yellow. For the first 18 years Look at Asian Americans and Education in
by her prejudice, put in "my place" or some of my life, I was embarrassed to be Chinese New Horizons for Learning). 
position that was and never will be my place. I as an American citizen (a feeling of inferiority
and that the majority group was better than Asian students are doing well despite
was born here, dammit!  
my group). Everything happens for a reason; I perceptions of our "foreign" names and
finally became comfortable in my own skin. I accents. The sense of group position that
How easy it is for people with the wrong
didn't change my name, but I have reclaimed surfaced that day in class for me made race
skin color to be placed in a position of
my identity. I didn’t just settle, I finally prejudice palpable and as Blumer noted, race
inferiority justified by the possession of a
appreciate being who I am and where I am prejudice becomes "a protective device. It
Chinese last name as if that means you
from. functions, however short-sightedly, to
weren't born and/or raised an American
citizen in a democracy living in a city of preserve the integrity and the position of the
Here's an example. For the past two dominant group" (Blumer, 127). The question
immigrants.  Like me, many Asian Americans
years, I've been going to other cultural is was she protecting the affinity within the
face similar perceptions while completing their
parades in NYC such as the Puerto Rican, dominant group called "Americans" or "white"
education. But let me offer you readers an
Caribbean, and Israeli Day Parades wearing a Americans? Whatever it was, it made me
education in my "wrong" name and its history.
Chinese flag. In those moments, I get to show interested in learning about my Chinese
 
my pride just like everyone else since Chinese heritage and asserting my Chinese identity
A geneologist named David Wong
people never had a traditional major avenue with pride.
supplied the research on his personal
parade in NYC. I joined an Asian Sorority. I am
website.  Wong (or Huang) is a family name
learning Mandarin Chinese in college and my That professor at John Jay College-CUNY
that means "golden yellow," which  signifies
mother is even happy—I am starting to date gave me a gift—a blessing in disguise. Yes, I
mother Earth. The Wong clan dates back to Asian guys. I don't want to make a statement,
the founding of the Zhou dynasty (1122 – 256 am Chinese and I am also an American—tried
I want to start a movement for all Asians. We and true. I can also say I am yellow (Wong)
B . C . ) b u t o r i g i n a t e d d u r i n g t h e  X i a are not alone. and I am the red, white and blue.
Dynasty  from Ji Lu Zhong, a descendant of
the Yellow Emperor, Wong Di. It is the 7th most It is not right or fair to judge people
common surname in China, especially in because of their surname or worst yet, as is
South China. It is also the name of more than too often the case in college, their accent
2 million overseas Chinese, many Vietnamese
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 55

ROUGHING THE PASSER the NFL and the causes of it. My players may have been African
research into this has turned up American from the 1970s onwards,
by Andrew Baez
some pretty interesting facts. the increase of black NFL
quarterbacks is relatively recent.
Growing up I always loved
“An examination of 4,745 Though black athletes have
playing football games on my
attributions used to describe constituted at least 26 percent of
Playstation 1 and 2. My favorite
black and white National all NFL players since 1966, black
team back then was the New
Football League quarterback quarterbacks constituted a mere 20
England Patriots – which is
prospects over a ten-year percent of NFL quarterbacks prior
somewhat sacrilegious and
period revealed data patterns to the 1999 draft when Daunte
blasphemous to say as a New
that emphasized racial Culpepper was selected. The
Yorker, born and raised.
stereotypes. Black “stacking” phenomenon can be
While playing video games like
quarterbacks were primarily attributed to two longstanding
Madden NFL, I started to notice the
described with words and prejudices.
differences between the Patriots
phrases that emphasized their For decades, African-
and other teams. The most obvious Willie Thrower played for Chicago
physical gifts and their lack of Bears in 1953; first African American Americans who wished to play
being that the quarterback on the
mental prowess. Conversely, quarterback in NFL. Played a single quarterback were deemed not
Patriots, Tom Brady, is white – as
white quarterbacks were game and was cut by the Bears. cerebral enough for the position or
were a good number of other
described as less physically have been shifted to other
quarterbacks with the exception of
g i f t e d , b u t m o re m e n t a l l y that black athletes are not positions to take advantage of their
Donovan McNabb and Michael
prepared for the game and less equipped to play the “smart” “athleticism”. There is a
Vick.
likely to make mental errors.” positions, particularly quarterback. longstanding belief among football
When I saw Michael Vick on the
(“Roughing the Passer” by What occurs as a result is what is experts that the quarterback
cover of Madden 2004, and later
Eugenio Mercurio and Vincent F. known as “stacking,” which was p o s i t i o n i s o n e t h a t re q u i re s
Donovan McNabb on the cover of
Filak, Ph.D., 2008) coined by Harry Edwards in 1967. intelligence above all else. NFL
Madden 2006, I started paying
Stacking is defined as observers note that offensive
attention to the black-white divide
Stereotypes based on race “disproportionate concentration of playbooks have progressively been
in the starting quarterback position.
have been present in sports for ethnic minorities – particularly getting larger and that defenses
Being only 12 or 13 years old back
decades. It is not uncommon to blacks – in specific team positions. have been getting more complex as
then, I was oblivious to structural
hear them being thrown around in For example, each of the 32 well. The growing intricacies of the
racism. My mind was too young for
sports bars all over the world. The NFL franchises is allowed to carry a game, they argue, necessitate a
the inequalities to register the inner
stereotype about black maximum of three quarterbacks on “smart” quarterback to master
workings of this racial divide. I even
quarterbacks often lends itself to its roster, meaning a total of 96 these details and deliver victory. In
went so far as to make a list of how
the argument of talent versus quarterbacks could be in the NFL short, the argument goes that good
many black quarterbacks there
intelligence. For years, writers, during any given season. As of players need brains as well as
were in the NFL – you could count
coaches and social critics have January 2007, only 18 of those 96 brawn to be winners. This
them on one hand.
openly or subversively stated that were black. This proportion is emphasis on intelligence has
It wasn’t until I took this Black
black athletes rely on athletic alarmingly small, especially traditionally served as a barrier
Studies course (BLS1003 at Baruch
abilities while white athletes rely on considering that almost 70 percent limiting African-American
College) in the Fall of 2010 that I
intelligence. In terms of the sport of of the league that year was quarterbacks who were viewed as..
started to think of Michael Vick and
football, this leads to the compromised of African Americans.
Madden again. It opened my eyes a
perception Thus, while the majority of NFL cont. on next page
bit more to structural racism within
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 56

A study found “no statistically


significant relationship between
intelligence and compensation.”

ROUGHING ... cont. subsequent to its introduction, the test of their intellect. There were but for everyday professions such as
Wonderlic test has become a key few black quarterbacks, the sales, where a score of 24 is
performance prognosticator for many argument went, that had the mental expected or journalism, where a
...athletically gifted but not intelligent NFL franchises. Though most capacity to succeed on the test and score of 26 is the norm. Actually, a
enough for the jump to NFL prospective NFL players are put therefore on the field. An examination recent study found “no statistically
quarterback. through the test, those players in of relatively reliable Wonderlic scores significant relationship between
strategic (“white”) positions are shows that black quarterbacks, more intelligence and compensation or
There were two basic “facts” that scrutinized more closely. NFL scouts commonly than white quarterbacks, intelligence and draft number after
facilitated this discrimination: (1) In believe the test will helps them score lower than 20: Jeff Blake in controlling for passing ability.”
college, black quarterbacks played identify quarterbacks that will adapt 1992, Kordell Stewart in 1995 and After researching this topic and
and excelled primarily in less pass- to NFL playbooks quicker and make Steve McNair in 1995 all scored 17 or learning how much pull the
oriented (read intelligence-based) better decisions. Generally speaking, lower. “intelligence argument” has in the
and more run-oriented offense. (2) a score in the mid-twenties is I am as surprised as I’m sure selection of quarterbacks in the NFL,
Lower scores on intelligence tests considered acceptable for a most readers are. Surely, NFL owners I dug deeper and found that I had
justified that black quarterbacks were prospective NFL quarterback. justify the use of the Wonderlic only scratched the surface. There are
not intelligent enough to take over an In 1994, the Cleveland Browns Personnel Test because football is other causes for this structural
NFL offense. were looking for a quarterback that big business. Owners need to protect racism including, but not limited to,
These beliefs were prevalent scored at least a 24 on the their share of 7.8 billion dollars in m e d i a b i a s , r a c i a l “ h i e r a rc h y ” ,
since at least the 1970s when Tom Wonderlic. These high expectations annual revenue (2009 figure). So most cultural bias, “systemic set-ups”,...
Landry of the Dallas Cowboys have acted as an imposing intellect teams expect a quarterback to score
became the first NFL head coach to barrier for African-American 21 - 24 and an offensive tackle to
screen prospective players using a quarterbacks who, as an ethnic score 26. Compare this to test scores cont. on next page
generic aptitude test – the Wonderlic group, have historically had a tough
Personnel Test. Landry was looking time meeting this benchmark and
for a tool to quantify intelligence and thus were discounted from
draw a correlation between that and consideration by some NFL teams
performance. In the 30 years due to deficient performance on an
BLS1003 Evolution & Expressions of Racism - “Could You Be the Bigger Nigger?” 57

ROUGHING THE PASSER by Andrew Baez ... cont.

...“race-related” test anxiety, “racially motivated frustration” [blacks being


afraid of scoring too high / too low on exams], and so on. Knowing what I
know now, it is safe to say that I will appreciate quarterbacks from under-
represented minority groups more than I would have had I not researched this
trend. The obstacles present for them are ludicrous compared to what white
athletes have to face. If the Civil Rights movement taught us anything, it’s that
persistence is key and brings about the most change.
With that being said I hope for two things to happen. (1) I hope to see a
new quarterback’s face on the cover of Madden 2012 next year, one from a
minority group, and (2) the end of the bias of tests like the Wonderlic in the
NFL. I’m no longer a Patriots fan, but I do hope that the Jets can win the Super
bowl. A boy can dream can’t he? <<

A simplified and condensed version of the Wonderlic Test


appears in newer editions of the Madden NFL video game series.
Here are sample questions similar to those on an actual test.
Evolution & Expressions of Racism Course 58

I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from


the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strangely,
I am ungrateful to these teachers.

– Kahlil Gibran

©2011

kyraocity@gmail.com