Jul 11 2011

Employers Prefer White Felons Over Blacks With No Criminal Record

You may remember the 2003 University of Chicago study by Devah Pager that sent young white and black “testers” with randomly assigned “felony convictions” to apply for low-wage jobs. The study found that whites with felonies were more likely to be called for interviews than black applicants without criminal records.

Eight years later, black male unemployment has hit the highest rate since the government began keeping track in 1972. It is estimated that only 56.9 percent of black men over age 20 are working, and the prospects for them to earn an honest living anytime soon in this crumbling economy are not good.

While Obama battles the GOP over raising the debt ceiling and preserving “sacred cow” tax cuts and entitlement programs, the unemployed poor are becoming increasingly desperate. Of particular concern is the reality that the once-supportive family members who used to serve as safety nets for struggling felons are now losing their jobs and homes in record numbers. The safety net exists no more.

According to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Economic Policy Institute in 2004, the median net worth of white households was $134,280, compared with $13,450 for black households. By 2009, the median net worth for white households had fallen 24 percent to $97,860; the median black net worth had fallen 83 percent to $2,170.  And, no, that is not a typo.  Algernon Austin, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy describes the wealth gap like this, “In 2009, for every dollar of wealth the average white household had, black households only had two cents.”

Two cents. Really? If anyone has the audacity to suggest to me that having a black president means America is now “post racial,” I will have to hold myself back. And, speaking of remaining nonviolent in the face of violent oppression… If there has ever been a reason to march on Washington, it is right the hell now. –originally published at rollingout.com.


May 23 2011

Sometimes ‘Scientists’ Really Aren’t

If you haven’t heard or read about Psychology Today blogger Satoshi Kanazawa’s recent proclamation that he could “scientifically” explain why Black women are the least attractive women on earth, consider yourself fortunate to not have that garbage in your head. (The article was quickly removed from the Psychology Today website, but if you really care what he had to say, you can find screenshots of that mess at BuzzFeed.)

Though Psychology Today hurriedly flushed this nasty PR problem, I’m keeping the conversation about the article alive because I believe Kanazawa has pulled the lid off an ugly little secret many people are hiding. He was idiotic enough to reveal his bias against Black women by trying to scientific­ally rationaliz­e it, but there are millions of others (of every ethnicity) who don’t even know or admit they have it.

Ideas about beauty are not “objective­,” they are learned. Western culture has systematic­ally diminished the value and dignity of Black women for centuries, while consistently offering Euro-featured women as the “ideal” or “standard” for what it is to be beautiful or desirable. The best thing about the disgusting sentence I just wrote is that if something can be learned, it can be unlearned and/or re-taught.

That a so-called scientist would try to “prove” why one group of women is inferior to another speaks volumes about him, but offers no insight into an issue as socially and psychologically profound as white supremacy.

If you read my previous post “The Darker the Berry…The More Invisible?” you saw how the LA Times Magazine’s article “The 50 Most Beautiful Women in Film” offered an excellent example of media bias against non-Euro-featured women. I received a lot of positive feedback about that post, but a few people wrote to let me know that LA Times Magazine doesn’t “owe” our brown-skinned daughters anything.

Right. Just like the Montgomery city bus system didn’t owe Rosa Parks a seat in the front of the bus.

The Media’s relationship with us is supposed to be reciprocal–we watch/listen to their broadcasts, buy their publications and support their advertisers. So, while I’m paying attention to the L.A. Times Magazine, why shouldn’t they be paying attention to whether my brown daughter sees herself in their public definition of beauty?

Ev­ery parent of a little brown girl knows how creative and diligent we must be if we are to successfully counter all that social brainwashi­ng and instill a sense of beauty, value and dignity in our daughters. But, we should not be the only ones doing that for them. ALL PARENTS of ALL CHILDREN should be instilling in their sons and daughters an appreciation of beauty in all of its diverse human expressions.

Why?

Because it is right.


Apr 9 2011

The Darker the Berry…The More Invisible?

Los Angeles Times Magazine celebrated the “50 Most Beautiful Women in Film” in their February, 2011 edition. Someone at the magazine was given the task of deciding what beautiful looks like and they came up with the following fifty:

Note: the little gold and silver circles with numbers in them next to the photos represent Oscar wins and nominations, respectively.

It’s hard for me to take seriously a list of beautiful women in film that boasts Halle Berry, Dorothy Dandridge and Beyonce as the best (and only) representatives of beautiful Black actresses. I definitely don’t mean to take anything from those gorgeous and talented sistas, but they all fit into a light-skinned, Euro-featured standard that excludes gorgeous black women like Angela Bassett (Oscar nominee), Diana Ross (Oscar nominee), Viola Davis (Oscar nominee), Jennifer Hudson (Oscar winner) and Regina King (30+ feature films). I don’t know who composed the list, but the person or persons really should expand their idea of what beauty is to include those who have been gifted with plenty of pigment and may have fuller lips and/or wider noses. (Asian and Native American women weren’t thought of too highly by the judges either.)

The magazine’s masthead proudly proclaims:

“Los Angeles Times Magazine celebrates the region we call home with stories and photos of the people, places and pursuits that reflect our passions, our confidence, our style, our innovations and our possibilities.”

Our confidence. Our possibilities.

Well, I live in Los Angeles, and I see plentifully pigmented Black women on the regular, so I’d like to know why the people whose job it is to uphold the magazine’s mission do not feel inclined to celebrate them too.