- Created on 20 September 2013
There are few social ills in the African American community that can't be solved by listening to a little bit of old Public Enemy. There's a great song on the Apocalypse 91 album called "I Don't Wanna be Called Yo Nigga." The song is pretty simple actually, it's just Flava Flav (the pre - Flavor of Love version) rapping about how he and most black people don't want to be called "Nigga" by anybody, under any circumstances.
How can you say to me, "Yo my nigga!"
Cursin' up a storm with your finger on a trigger
Feelin' all the girls like a big gold digger
Take a small problem
Make a small problem bigger
You say, "Yo; I ain't poor I got dough
You Don't consider me your brother no more?"
Goddamn kilogram, how do you figure
I don't want to be called yo nigga!
The point of the song is that no matter how common the term is amongst Black people, and Black culture it's still stings and there are very, very few circumstances in which calling somebody "nigger," or "nigga," or "niggaz" is appropriate. Perhaps someone should have explained this to Robert Carmona, the head of the STRIVE work program.
It might've saved him $30,000.
Rob Carmona, 61, is the founder and director of STRIVE an employment agency in East Harlem that focuses on helping convicted criminals find work and get back into the economy. Brandi Johnson, 38, was a STRIVE employee.
Both are African American. It's not hard to figure that the N-Word was going to come up eventually right?
Apparently on March 14 of 2012 Carmona went on a four-minute expletive and racial slur laden rant on Johnson about her workplace attire and professionalism. However this wasn't the first time that Carmona had gone off on Johnson at work, and because her previous complaints had been ignored she secretly recorded the entire conversation.
After the tirade, she claims she ran to the bathroom and cried for 45 minutes.
On the stand in her workplace discrimination case she testified: "I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed."
At this point this is still a simple discrimination suit, something that happens all of the time in America. Just ask Paula Deen, or anybody who's ever worked at Denny's.
But the reason this ganered national attention is because Rob Carmona and his defense lawyers tried to argue that he was using the term "nigger" as a term of endearment, and since nigger has different meanings in different contexts that he in fact wasn't really creating a hostile work environment for Brandi Johnson.
When asked to be more specific as to why he called her nigger eight times in the span of four minutes Carmona testified he was trying to tell Johnson that she was being "....too emotional, wrapped up in her[self], at least the negative aspects of human nature." You know.... being a nigger. Of course the jury didn't buy his ridiculous story either, and Carmona will pay Johnson $25,000 in punitive damages and STRIVE will pay another $5,000 on top of that.
To be honest with you, if every Black person in America got paid $30,000 every time we've been called ''nigger,' collectively or individually I think I'd stop complaining about reparations, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen. Already many press outlets are reporting this court ruling as some sort of major sea change in language, now that there is no longer this "double-standard" where Black people can say "nigger" and White people can't.
This is completely wrong of course and another example of the disingenuous double standard of race that we all still live under.
The workplace is the workplace; you are not supposed to use foul language at any job, no matter what race you are, or who happens to be working there that day.
If Carmona was a woman and had gone on a four-minute rant calling Brandi Johnson a "bitch" eight times and lost a discrimination suit, nobody would be calling this ruling a sea change in language or culture. Why? Because anyone with a lick of common sense and professionalism knows that words like bitch, faggot and especially nigger, may be okay when you're joking with your friends and family, but those words never have, and never will have a place in a workplace that isn't a recording studio or on the set of the newest Showtime drama.
Only White Americans who obsess over "not" being able to use the n-word and Black people who don't know any better, would view this court ruling as anything significant. The rest of us know better.
Of course Robert Carmona knew this from day one and simply got caught for being a verbally abusive boss. He could have saved himself $30,000 if he'd just listened to Flava Flav, nobody wants to be called "Yo nigger".
Dr. Jason Johnson is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College and an analyst for CNN, HLN and Al Jazeera English. He can be found at @Drjasonjohnson on Twitter and at www.drjasonjohnson.com
- Created on 19 September 2013
Nina Davuluri may have won the title of Miss America, but she didn't immediately win the hearts of America. The critical powerhouse known as Twitter almost erupted in racist tweets Sunday after the 24-year-old made history as the first Indian-American to win the beauty competition.
"If you're #Miss America you should have to be American," one woman tweeted.
"How the f–k does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab! #idiots," a man added.
"Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11," another user chimed in.
Despite the hate-spewed comments, the reigning Miss New York said she's glad to represent change.
"I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity," the Syracuse native said in a press conference after her win. "I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America."
"I have to rise above that," she continued. "I always viewed myself as first and foremost American."
Tyra Banks took to her Twitter account to offer Nina, who has remain posed in the midst of racial attacks, some much-needed love, as well as Questlove and Pam Grier.
Celebs weren't the only ones to offer their support to the beauty queen. Her 89-year-old grandmother had some kind words to say as well. "I am very, very, happy for the girl," V Koteshwaramma said. "It was her dream and it was fulfilled."
Love always conquers hate!
- Created on 19 September 2013
Referring to movies like the box office hit "The Butler" (pictured above) and the much-buzzed about "12 Years A
Slave,” Douglas (pictured at right) writes:
- Created on 16 September 2013
Capitalism's emphasis on property rights has been historically fraught with peril since its inception as an economic force in the Western world. Capitalism is an economic system in which assets are privately owned and commodities and services are produced for profit in an otherwise global and competitive market place. But, as seen when the many bloody European revolutions transpired during the fall of feudalism, capitalism has routinely placed property rights over human rights.
American roots in capitalism run deep, beginning early during the Transatlantic slave trade when Africans were brought to the eastern shores of what is now North America. Stolen from their native lands and placed in chains for the voyage to America, Africans were exploited for their labor power, leaving their status among the ranks of humans to be determined by elite white men. Slavery built up the economic engine that propelled American capitalism, creating enormous wealth for white elites on the backs of Blacks. The history of African Americans and other race-based conflicts provided a blueprint for further economic-based exploits that stratified people on the basis of social class position, further advancing economic class divisions by deepening the gulf between the haves and have nots. Class matters because it provides individuals with access to society's most valued resources like good paying jobs, stability and other financial rewards. The higher the class position the more resources afforded for individuals and families.
But not all people benefit equally and few actually move up in social class position in life, as we uncritically tend to believe. People of color and women disproportionately make up the bulk of the working class and working poor who are generally invisible and out of sight from the daily happenings of the shrinking middle class. Given our past development in maintaining cheap labor such as the utilization of "sweat shops" by our nation's major corporations, the mounting pressure of increasing inflation and economic instability have cause the working class to take matters into their own hands. Fast food workers in 60 cities walked off their jobs en masse recently, protesting the economic injustice they have long endured before a greedy restaurant empire.
The fast food industry has long exploited the working class for cheap labor, maintaining a protracted policy of low wages that only benefits corporate elites. Currently, the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour on the edge of the poverty line for an individual and certainly cannot support a family of four. The reluctance on the part of the government (Department of Labor) to mandate steady increases has contributed, in part, to the wage disparities currently under scrutiny. There is much evidence to show that paying living wages to sustain life above poverty is good for society and makes good business sense.
Research consistently shows that more unequal societies generally have higher levels of social problems, negative self-perceptions, poorer health status, and increased mental and emotional disorders than more equal societies. Conversely, there are also positive benefits to equal societies that translate into a better-educated citizenry and overall better general health, more innovation from within society, higher social mobility and greater levels of societal trust, which results in a lowered crime rate. Thus, when working class individuals are able to secure and maintain steady decent employment and compensation that allows them to rise above the poverty line, society benefits as a whole. As Dr. King so eloquently said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
The meager wages that fast food workers are paid in the United States compared to other parts of the Western world reveals much about where our national interests lie and the degree of pro-government involvement with the corporate world. This relationship has allowed many U.S. corporations to flourish, at times creating extraordinary profits even during economic downturn. But capitalism comes at a high price for the oppressed, usually at the at the expense of the poor and disadvantaged. In this case, the proletariat is primarily women with children, who make up the bulk of low-wage fast food workers. This sort of labor requires no formal education and generally attracts people from the fringes of society who are trying to maintain a good living in our downwardly mobile economy.
Many Western European democracies consider the United States an unequal and stratified society (https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/research/why-more-equality), historically divided around skin tone, religious persuasion, sexuality, wealth and income inequality. Capitalism deepens this suffering as the very idea of a system designed to allow great economic success for one must come at the expense of another. This history is now being met with contemporary appeals by a growing economically disenfranchised populace who are left to fend for themselves in a class-based society where there is more rhetoric over the ability to move up the ladder than research actually shows.
The degree of American discontent over the uncertainty of the economy and the class-based society that defines us as a nation, divided not only by race but by social class position, is our legacy to bear and hopefully undue as it is a matter of public policy for the common good. Like other forms of white-imposed oppression, class-based injustice presents a growing threat to our national security, image and standing in the world as well as our well-being as a nation. But it does not have to be this way. American understandings of work, which has notoriously placed property at the center of analysis, can reverse course by beginning to legislate and implement sound policies. To improve our society, these policies must include greater attention to wages and benefits that have the potential to economically empower its most valuable commodity, its citizens.