Black people (especially President Obama) can’t be racists

Obama-Trayvon-Martin-thoughts

I know that President Obama’s comments on the George Zimmerman verdict stirred up a lot of emotions over the last few weeks. But the one thing that still doesn’t sit right with me is the fact that so many (white) people didn’t hesitate to lodge racist attacks on Obama for taking a moment to speak truth to power about race in America. (Read “Top 12 Conservative Freakouts After Obama’s Race Speech” from Think Progress) Continue reading

A progress report for Black History Month 2013: How far we’ve come and how far we’re going

Clarence Otis, CEO of Darden Restaurants, which operates Olive Garden and Red Lobster, is one of the 35,000 black millionaires in the U.S.

Clarence Otis, CEO of Darden Restaurants, which operates Olive Garden and Red Lobster, is one of 35,000 black millionaires in the U.S.

In the words of Kane Kinnebrew III, Black History Month is often spent mainly focusing on historic achievements. But what about the accomplishments of today’s African Americans? Despite how the media often portrays the black community in a bubble—or from one extreme to another—it’s time that we recognize the progress we’ve made in recent years, not just in the past. This is the first of what I hope will be many Black History Month report cards. Continue reading

Racism in the age of Obama: Obama Waffles, Planet of the Apes and a whole lot of denial

Obama Waffles (via Christianitytoday.com)

Obama Waffles (via Christianitytoday.com)

Updated April 8, 2013

Last month, I ran across a story about a young white woman’s racist rant against President Obama. The incident got under my skin so bad that I made a promise. Since we’re coming up on the New Year, you could call it one of my New Year’s resolutions.

This 20-something-year-old from Turlock is part of a growing group of Americans who engage in digital-era racism. Right after Obama was re-elected, she called him the N-word and said that she wouldn’t mind if he got assassinated—not in a private text to one of her friends, but right there on Twitter. Needless to say, she got the backlash she deserved. Continue reading

To all my black women, you are beautiful—no matter the skin color

"Dark Girls" movie posterI recently got word of an upcoming film called “Dark Girls” (thanks Robert Pierre), and the reaction to the film has seemed so strong that I almost felt obligated to chime in on the conversation.

The gist of the film is that there is still a deep-seated bias and negative attitude about beauty toward dark-skinned black women. Most black folks are aware of the divisions that have been created in our community because of slavery and the construct of race, which tries to place a value on skin color and causes all kinds of frictions among men and women (“Looks like light-skinned brothas are coming back…” You’ve heard them all before.).

I spoke to two of my aunts about the film, and they shared their experiences of being treated differently because of their darker skin.

I’m sure most people have also heard about the article evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa published in Psychology Today in May titled, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” You already know how that one ended.

I asked some of my Facebook people for their thoughts on the film, and the response I got from one of my former Cal classmates was so on point that I wanted to share it in its entirety. Continue reading

‘I sho is hungry…’

Photo by sfbike (via Flickr)

A story in the LA Times this past week (“UC Irvine says fried chicken and waffle dinner on Martin Luther King Jr. Day was insensitive”) immediately caught my attention not just for the obvious reasons but also because it brought up memories of a similar incident that happened when I was a student at UC Berkeley.

As background, the LA Times story was about a last-minute decision by the dining hall staff at UC Irvine to serve chicken and waffles for a Martin Luther King Jr. symposium organized by the school’s Black Student Union, which sparked an uproar among the school’s minuscule black population (only 2 percent of the school’s entire undergrad makeup).

Without being there and being in those UC Irvine students’ shoes, it’s difficult to come to any definitive conclusions about what the correct reaction should be. But for the sake of this post, I’m going to do just that because I know exactly how they feel, having had a similar experience. Continue reading

The other most important black people in America

Ursula M. Burns (via The New York Times)

I know the honeymoon period over President Barack Obama seems to have passed in the eyes of most Americans (his approval rating is now 44 percent). But in the black community you’re still likely to hear talk about how much Obama’s election has meant to African Americans–particularly, young African Americans.

The notion is that now that Obama has become the most important person in the land, black children all across the United States finally have been shown that they can do anything. To me, that thinking is still too small. Continue reading

Slavery a good thing for black people? Another perspective

Am I Not a Man and a Brother?

via PBS

As some people know, I’m planning to go on a reporting trip to Sierra Leone soon. In preparation for the trip, I’ve been talking to a number of folks who are familiar with the country. I had an interesting conversation not too long ago with a Sierra Leonean American living in the Pacific Northwest. He was telling me about how the people in Sierra Leone are some of the most welcoming people you will ever meet.

But as he went on about Sierra Leone’s unique history (as you know, Sierra Leone was settled by freed slaves brought there by the British navy in 1787) and how that history plays an important role in why Sierra Leoneans are so friendly and generous to foreigners, he said something that made me pause for a moment and reflect on my own experience as an African American. Continue reading

What would Marvin Gaye say about the number of black students at Berkeley High in AP classes?

black-student-classroom-hand-raised1This week, while I was at church, I heard the most disturbing bit of news from our pastor about Berkeley High (at one time called the most integrated high school in America): that Berkeley High, the school right down the street from my alma mater, only has one black student taking an AP class. Out of a school population of about 3,300 that is 31 percent black, this can’t be true, I thought to myself.

It immediately made me think of my own experience in high school where, like many other black students throughout this country, I felt like I was the only black student taking any advanced courses. Thinking back on it now, I don’t remember any of my AP classes having another black student in them. So it’s no surprise that Berkeley High is supposedly experiencing the same phenomenon. Continue reading