My friend Molly Crabapple uses her superb artwork to explain how “broken windows” policing harms people of color.
Last summer, a New York city police officer choked a black grandfather named Eric Garner to death. Garner was suspected of selling loose cigarettes. The arrests of people like Garner are part of a controversial policing tactic called Broken Windows. Broken Windows claims to prevent large crimes by cracking down on small ones. But it’s really about controlling and punishing communities of color, through police encounters that can sometimes be deadly.
Race, not a Biological, but a Social Reality: a guest post by Abbas Naqvi.
Mike Brown was not black. Neither was Eric Garner. Nor was Trayvon Martin. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that there is no such thing as black, white, or yellow, from a biological standpoint. Race is a cultural/political phenomenon that has been used to manipulate, control and oppress populations, at times under the veil of science; however, in reality from a scientific perspective, it is a mere optical illusion. As we struggle to comprehend how racially motivated murder can still be ubiquitous in America, it is helpful to consider the pseudoscience that has delineated, and thus divided, us as a nation, as well as the scientific research that shows that our differences are negligible, yet inform split-second life-and-death decisions. Decisions like whether a handheld object is likely to be a bag of Skittles or a gun.
On 22 June 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, asserted that burqas (or the burqa-clad?) are “not welcome” in France, adding that “[i]n our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity” and that “the veils reduced dignity.”France’s Muslim minority is Western Europe’s largest Muslim minority, estimated at six-million-strong. And this is just an approximation, as the French Republic implicitly claims to be post-race and post-religion via a prohibition on any census that would take into account the race or religion of its citizens. (This anxiety mirrors the brouhaha in Indian media àpropos the much-contested enumeration of OBCs or Other Backward Castes in the Indian census surveys of 2011, or the urgency to declare some spaces post-caste, post-feminist, and post-racist while casteism, patriarchy and racism continue unabated.)
Rakhshanda Jalil writes in The Hindu, 27 February 2011, about “that elusive connect with India when she was least expecting it” on a visit to Karachi, Pakistan. The title of her piece is “A city not unlike home.”
I am always amused when Indians are surprised and taken aback by Pakistanis (whether in Karachi or Lahore or elsewhere) who “speak Urdu and English with almost equal aplomb” or by their “silk sarees and natty blazers” or by their possible cosmopolitanism!!! (Class is class, unfortunately, and the élite exhibit their privileges in similar ways all over the region!) Does it not, if just remotely, smack of the loaded “praise”: “Gee! Obama is so articulate!” — also known as “the racism of lowered expectation”? Why would Indians expect otherwise from their class-affiliates on the other side of the border? Or is it that Bollywood’s Pakistan-bashing fantasies are actually swallowed uncritically — hook, line, and sinker — even (or perhaps especially) by the educated Indians, eliciting “fears about Kalashnikov-toting Taliban and marauding Muhajirs.”
And by the way, Pakistanis are not all “tall, well-built, good-looking people,” especially under the normative definition of “good-looking” in South Asia (fair-skinned or with a “wheatish complexion”) — thank god for the latter! Sadly, the former two ascriptions, of course, too easily go awry given malnutrition due to poverty. Continue reading “An Élite Not Unlike Ours! Who’d Have Guessed?!”
At this point, it’s not even clear whether Jones will go ahead with his pyrotechnics, but the lesson still stands.
Animosity toward Islam has reached such extremes in America that officialdom only rallies against anti-Muslim invective if it interferes with its warring on Muslim countries.
Perhaps it’s just the skeptic and former journalist in me, but that’s my impression as I review the recent blow-up about the planned September 11th Qur’an bonfire.
Terry Jones, the pastor of the tiny Florida church that may conduct the book-burning, has garnered endless—and doubtless desired—attention from media outlets as military commanders and administration officials fret over the fallout of his obscene reimagination of Farenheit 451.
General Petreaus, who is rightly concerned for the welfare of the women and men under his command, warned that Jones’s actions “would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan—and around the world—to inflame public opinion and incite violence.”
Petreaus’s pronouncements were followed by an equally onerous message from White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who averred that any behavior “that puts our troops in harm’s way would be a concern to this administration.”