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A White-Saviour movie: The Blind Side

December 2, 2009 1 comment

I really couldn’t resist putting that picture up instead of the movie poster…I think it just makes my point come across better!

So anyway, by now, if you watch any TV, you have probably seen the advertisements for The Blind Side. I rarely watch TV and I have seen it a million times over. At first, I thought it looked like this wonderful, heartwarming, based on a true story type movie. However, the more I saw the previews for it, the more worried I got about this movie. I haven’t seen this movie, so I can’t speak on everything…but it just kind of irks me the wrong way.

I definitely have racial issues with this movie. I know it’s based on a true story, but I don’t really care. The fact remains that someone thought that this particular story was compelling enough to re-tell. But why was it compelling to re-tell? I absolutely have no doubt that this reason has to do with the fact that a white family is “saving” an African-American teenage boy. People think that this kind of shit is great. They eat this up. Because, “Ohhhh…that poor Black child! We need to help them! They can’t do anything themselves! There’s no hope for them! Our white privilege and resources is the only thing that will help all the Black babies and youth in the world!”

Of course, some white people, like the family in The Blind Side, feel sorry for minorities when they really just seem down on their luck. But a lot of these white people feel like this to make themselves feel better. I do not want to get down on white people for realizing that minorities are oppressed in many ways, but in so many of these cases, white people victimize the minorities without even considering how that person feels. That in and of itself is oppression. And what happens in this movie, is that this family takes in this African-American teenager and he just becomes soooooo great. All because of this white family.

The other thing that worries me is how this movie is being promoted. Generally, from what I’ve heard, it’s all about how the white family take him in. And how the white family helps him accomplish these football dreams. It seems to be focusing on what this white family is doing more than anything. I haven’t heard about his choices, his capabilities, his initiative, his determination, etc. It’s all about these white saviours.

If you aren’t one to believe that this movie brings up racial issues in the White-Saviour department, I want to ask you this question. Would the film studios ever make a movie where another African-American family “saves” another African-American child or teenager? Think about it, and get back to me!

Also, just want to point you to a much more articulate discussion about this White-Saviourness at Black Youth Project. It’s an awesome read.

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Why must activism happen AFTER the wrong act?

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Today, I read about how the Richmond High students came together, along with community members and the mayor, for an event to support the girl who was gang raped and speak out against sexism and racism which is still so pervasive in our culture.

The white streamers were everywhere – worn as armbands, headbands, neckties, leg-bands – as hundreds of Richmond High School students gathered on the football field with teachers, parents and community members to express their support for the victim of a horrendous gang rape on the school grounds and their determination to act together to prevent future violence.

The speakers spoke of “building a culture that rejects racist and sexist actions and comments and fights back against the underlying social conditions in which such attitudes flourish.” As well as mentioning how these injustices need to be faced on a daily basis, not just after “one acute problem”.

This is all great. This is all fine and dandy and in fact, it seems like a great community movement at this point and who knows, some of those Richmond High students could go on and be the next leaders in fighting social injustice. However, my question is this, why does it take one horrendously wrong act, or “acute problem”, to create activism within people?

If you think about it, many horrendous acts of sexism or racism (or any other ism) wouldn’t occur if the activism was done on a daily basis. As the mayor said at the Richmond gathering, there would be “no bystanders”. That’s the whole point, right? If activism is performed everyday and people are educated about things like sexism and racism, people will no longer be passive about what’s happening around them.

But what gets them to the point of activism? Obviously, to some extend, something has to be there already. Usually something broad, like sexism or racism. I mean, if those things didn’t already exist, we wouldn’t of had great activist leaders of our time, like Gloria Steinem and Martin Luther King Jr. However, when it comes to individual (but extremely serious) incidents, such as the gang rape in Richmond, CA, why wouldn’t people do something about this at the time it was all happening? Everyone knows that something like gang rape is wrong. I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that they thought that what they were doing was just fine, even if they might have been in an impaired state due to alcohol. Everyone has a moral compass, and gang rape is off the charts, screaming “WRONG”.

But had people not been educated enough about these things? Did these people who were bystanders, or participants think they didn’t have a voice and therefore couldn’t be against this? And how does one get a voice when it comes to injustice anyway? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but these are things that need to be addressed. We cannot just continuously wait for the next horrendous crime against a girl or woman to occur and jump on the whoa-we-need-to-fight-sexism train. This is an ongoing battle, and activism must take place before these incidents occur.

I’m not trying to knock whatever Richmond is doing right now. I think it’s good that they are collectively realizing what’s going on in our society today and will hopefully push towards a society where sexism isn’t so pervasive. However, what I am saying is that activism after the wrong act is too late. It’s too late for that 15 year-old girl. It’s too late for others who have been raped or murdered because of sexism or racism.

We all need to be collective in our actions and make sure that it’s never too late again, for anyone.

Obama signs new hate crime legislation

October 29, 2009 1 comment

After working so hard to get this off the ground, Obama has finally signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act yesterday, the Feminist Majority reports. This is some exciting stuff!

The bill extends the definition of federal hate crimes to include attacks motivated by sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability and empowers federal authorities to help local law enforcement investigate hate crimes.

This is what Obama had to say:

“Over the past 10 years, there were more than 12,000 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation alone. And we will never know how many incidents were never reported at all…no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability.”

Matthew Shepard was a university student who was tortured and killed, because he was perceived to be gay. James Byrd Jr. was an African-American man who was tied to the back of a truck by two white supremacists, dragged from it and decapitated in the process. They were both killed in 1998. Yes, this has been a long time coming.

Edit: Sorry, the link wasn’t right!

Sexism and racism found in customer service study

July 20, 2009 Leave a comment

A recent study found that customers in North America are found to be more satisfied when they receive service from white males, as opposed to women and minorities. How am I not surprised…?

The research by University of British Columbia professor Karl Aquino found that female and minority employees who exhibited the same behaviours as their white male counterparts were rated lower in anonymous customer feedback surveys.

The group that was conducting the study were actually very surprised.

“We had thought there would be some bias going on in the sense of people who were males or whites would be rated more positively,” Aquino said

“But we didn’t anticipate that for performing the same behaviours, the women and minorities would actually be rated lower,” he said of the study to be published in the Academy of Management Journal.

On statistic shows that a “white male clerk’s service, for the same pre-scripted actions, was rated 19 per cent higher than the service from a female or black male.”

Nineteen percent?! That’s a little ridiculous. Honestly though, I’m not overly shocked. I believe that we have this notion ingrained in us that the “white male” is the most trusted person on the planet, that there is none other more qualified, therefore they obviously provide the best service. Also, this of course has to do with the power that the white male has as well. It definitely affects how we respond to people, even if it is completely subconscious. But how do we get away from this thinking? I don’t know if I have a good answer to that. There are so many things that need to be changed in our society before we can change our thinking completely. We definitely need to vocalize how this sexism and racism is wrong, and that the white male is not the be all and end all of the human population, and we need to start teaching this to the younger folk who are being fed this patriarchal, white-power society.

This kind of thing just discourages me. It just reminds me (not that I need too many reminders!) that sexism and racism are unfortunately ingrained in our minds and that this kind of thinking is going to be so hard to beat.

Categories: inequality, men, racism, sexism, society, work