If The Media Wasn’t There, Did It Really Happen?

all lives matter 2

Nobody got arrested. No stores were looted. No police cars were torched. They had all the proper permits.

No wonder the media ignored them.

‘All Lives Matter’ march draws more than 20,000 to Birmingham

Led by conservative activist and talk show host Glenn Beck, more than 20,000 people chanting “All Lives Matter” marched the historic civil rights route from Kelly Ingram Park to Birmingham City Hall this morning.

“It’s about taking our church out in the streets,” Beck said. He said marchers came from as far away as China, Dubai and the Netherlands.

Actor Chuck Norris, a conservative activist known for his martial arts, action movies and TV show “Walker, Texas Ranger,” marched about two rows behind Beck. Alveda King, a niece of civil rights activist the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., marched in the front row. Bishop Jim Lowe, pastor of the predominantly black Guiding Light Church in Birmingham, co-organized the march with Beck and marched with him at the front. As a child, Lowe attended Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where the march started, a headquarters church for the civil rights movement in Birmingham. Lowe and his sisters were in the church when a KKK bomb blew up the church and killed four little girls on Sept. 15, 1963.

“Love is the answer,” Lowe said as he marched. “God is the answer.”

Some Birmingham police officers said the crowd could have been as large as 25,000 to 30,000. It may have been the largest march in Birmingham since the civil rights marches of 1963.

Hmmmm. Deep South. White people and black people marching together in solidarity to affirm that all lives matter.

Who cares about that?

all lives matter

Posted in Uncategorized | 112 Comments

Sunday Reflections: With High Emotions, Logic Runs Low

Black Pain

The picture above was the focus of a snarky Tweet yesterday during the #BlackFair event, hosted by #BlackLivesMatter, at the Minnesota State Fair.  (Update: Via Denise VB, this is a picture of Dorian Johnson, the young man with Michael Brown in Ferguson last year.)

It’s easy enough to get caught up in the bitter back and forth that happens on social media around this topic, especially when people like Deray McKesson and Shaun King are the visible leaders of the movement. And the anger that comes with news of the assassination of a Texas Sheriff Deputy (in the county I spent my first 10 formative years, no less) for no apparent reason is understandable. I felt it. Police are indispensable to a civilized nation. They don’t deserve to be targeted and killed in the streets for their chosen profession, which is noble. And the purpose of #BLM does not seem to be to address the plight of young black people at risk on the streets of their own neighborhoods. It seems rather to be the disruption of society as a whole for the sake of electoral politics.

A gentleman in the neighborhood in which the killer of the deputy lived had this to say in a local interview:

When emotion is running that high, logic runs low.

And this, too, made me think…well, let me just unwind my thoughts for you. You may not agree, but I think it’s important that we talk instead of react.

I’ve taught what used to be called remedial English for several years at a local community college. Now they call it Skills Advancement. These are classes in reading and writing for students who either didn’t get the level of instruction needed in high school to prepare them for college-level academic work, or because their own life circumstances prohibited them from engaging sufficiently to acquire these skills.

My classrooms are diverse without exception. They are a metropolitan mix of black, white, Hispanic, mixed-race, young, old, and immigrant students. At least 95% of them come from or are currently in a lower socioeconomic class. In a classroom like mine, cultural differences stand out to a startling degree. Surprisingly, socioeconomic status is not the most visually pronounced among these differences. Almost everyone has a smart phone and at least one piece of jewelry.

Yet young people tend to have more tattoos, while older people and immigrants are generally more appropriately dressed for the academic setting. White students with the common Anglo-Midwestern accent come early and prepared for class, regardless of gender. White young men who have adapted to the racial diversity of their neighborhoods, who dress and talk like young black men, sit at the front of the class and tend to be loud and gregarious; their black counterparts generally sit at the back and hunker down in their chairs, sullen and reluctant to engage. The young black men who sit at the front of my classroom and answer my general questions to the class are, almost to the person, raised by grandmothers instead of mothers. These observations might lead one to make certain judgments, but then essay assignments come due, and the view changes.

The immigrant students often write about their journey to America, or the dire circumstances in their own countries that compelled them to pursue a passage to safety. The young black women in my class write narratives about the tattoos they have that mark the lives of two, five, or ten people they’ve known who have died, their grief over these deaths so profound they felt a permanent marker on their bodies was necessary. The children raised by grandparents will write an ode to that grandparent or grandparents, where relief and gratitude for the lives they’ve led are etched into descriptive techniques I teach them. Without fail, a young white girl will tell me she doesn’t have anything to write about, because nothing has happened to her yet.

Older students will write about how much of their lives they sacrificed to give a proper home to their children, or how that sacrifice did not prevent the consequences of a life of poverty. Prison narratives are common, as are arrest narratives, but they differ. Prison narrative are told where the significance of accountability is almost always pronounced. With arrest narratives, the significance tends to be the surprise that comes with having fun disrupted by the presence of police, and even though a confession of wrong-doing may be made in the essay, accountability is rare. Race is not a factor in the presentation of these essays, but it usually is in the likelihood of topic choice.

America means something different to each of these groups of students. The opinions and heart-felt beliefs they express are of a staggering magnitude. They are often in conflict with each other.

It’s the narratives of these diverse students and the pictures like the one at the top of this post that make me rethink my own harsh critique the Black Lives Matter movement. With #BLM, it’s not the topic choice I oppose; it’s the presentation. I know from personal experience, both from having lived a life of poverty as a child, and as a teacher now to students who, like me once upon a time, are seeking a way out, that poverty and police intersect frequently. I know that young people die on the streets of America’s poor neighborhoods, both as collateral to rampant crime and as a police reaction to that crime. I also know that as a country, we do have an ethic of human worth and dignity, but that ethic gets lost somewhere on the way to Cabrini Green, or Lincoln Park, or 42nd & Post, to use my own city as example.  It’s not that the ethic doesn’t trickle down; it’s that it increases as a result of having something to lose.

The young man in the picture has pain; it is evident in the scrunch of his face and the earnest, pleading look in his eye. A few months ago his expression was likely one of anger, but the Black Lives Matter movement has managed to unlock the grief in his heart that informed that anger.  They have done that by front-paging the deaths of many young black people, some (not all) of whom made choices that contributed to their own deaths. (Yes, that will anger some people who agree with #BLM, but it is nonetheless true.) But they have also done this through a callous organizing by activists who were trained to pull at the heartache of disadvantaged people and to provoke them with highly emotional incidents and subsequent gatherings that heighten that emotional state.

In this emotional state, logic abilities are not as accessible. Continue reading

Posted in clusterfucks | Tagged , , | 72 Comments

Open Thread ~ Back To School

Love this. Happy Sunday Open Thread :)

Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Comments

Cold Blooded Murder

A Texas sheriff’s deputy was killed execution style. The deputy was white. The killer was black. Excuse me, he had a “dark complexion”.

The suspect was described in multiple media outlets as follows:

Police described the suspect as a male with a dark complexion, about 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall, wearing a white T-shirt and red shorts and driving a red or maroon pickup-style truck with an extended cab.

I’m already seeing some frustration on social media in terms of the kid gloves approach that CNN and its competitors are taking in describing that situation. With that in mind, allow me to rewrite the introductory paragraph from the CNN coverage at the top of this article.

A black man shot a white uniformed sheriff’s deputy “execution-style” while he fueled his patrol car in the Houston area, killing him instantly, authorities said…

The black gunman walked up from behind him and opened fire for no apparent reason, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said.

When Goforth, who is white, fell to the ground, the black gunman stood over him and shot him some more, authorities said. He died at the scene.

Does that sound any different? It certainly seems to follow the standard journalistic style guide which is used every time the roles are reversed and it’s a suspect who is shot by a police officer. But for some mysterious reason the races of the individuals involved don’t seem to be worth mentioning in the immediate wake of this tragedy. Everyone is showing pictures of the deputy, who is obviously white. All the descriptions of the suspect include variations of the phrase, dark complexioned. That’s at least somewhat odd, since two of the witnesses on the scene clearly described him as a “black male driving a red or maroon pickup truck.” Granted, early reports can prove wrong and the still photo from the survellance camera is rather grainy so that may change later, but when you have multiple eye witnesses it seems quite curious that you wouldn’t report what they said.

This shit is really getting out of hand. Thanks Obama, for fanning the flames of racial unrest. Pretty soon the whole country will go up in smoke.



Posted in Uncategorized | 116 Comments

The Power Of Shunning


Two articles – the first is from Rick Wilson:

This was like a thousand other murders, carried out by a thousand other madmen. This was like a thousand other killings, be it with a knife or a hammer or a gun or fists. He was like a thousand other men, broken and dark and empty, punishing a woman who he imagines scorned him. He was like a thousand other killers, ridden by demons no mental health professional could correct or treat.

But this killing has the shock of the new built in. He set out not just to kill her, but to memorialize a digital record of his bloody vengeance. Instead of seeing the killing on grainy closed-circuit camera footage, or the tearful recountings of survivors and eyewitnesses, he’s turned his terrible work into a first-person shooter.

He recorded it on his phone. He posted his nearly-incoherent tweets, not as a justification but as a few final grunts out of his dead soul. He shared his video on Facebook. He faxed his manifesto. All the tools of our socially networked lives and world were used as a public channel for his rage. Even as a bit player on a local television station, he knew enough to exploit the boundless vacuum, thirsty for attention and clicks.


We’ve built a online society that posts our selfies, our food, our pets, our children, our high points and joys, all those manifestations of our best selves. There’s no turning the clock back, or unringing the bell of social media and technology, and we shouldn’t. The moral ambiguity of our tools is under-appreciated. We’ve become a people who believe in the agency of the weapon, not of the hand that wields it. The same social media account that lets you share something funny or touching or wonderful is the same social media the killer used today, and his ilk will use tomorrow.

There’s no solution to this problem. There’s no technical or regulatory fix. There’s no social structure to mediate this. We’ll see more first-person shooters, recording on their phones or their Google Glass or their brain implants, and we’ll stop feeling that this is new and shocking and just watch it settle into a terrible new normal.

I won’t use his name, because at least that’s a tiny, futile gesture to deny him his attention. All we can do is try to look away. Try not to click. Try not to share the product of the killers’ demented hearts.

But there is a solution, and he just said it. We can look away.

Why does someone shoot up a movie theater or school filled with total strangers? Because they want attention. They want infamy.

They want everyone to know their name. They want their picture in every paper and on every television.

We should respond the same way you respond to a child who is throwing a fit to get attention. We should look away. We should turn away the cameras. We should not say their names.

This isn’t censorship. It’s not something that the government could or should do. It’s something WE THE PEOPLE need to do. The best part is it won’t cost us anything.

What if each of us decided we would look away? What if we didn’t buy magazines, click on links, watch videos, tune into news reports or even talk about it?

What if we used social pressure to encourage the news media to stop sensationalizing these atrocities? Not a law, but a consumer-led campaign to deny fame to killers.

Imagine if the media treated these insane killers the same way they treated Kenneth Gosnell and the Planned Parenthood videos. Imagine if every tragedy wasn’t exploited by one side or the other. Imagine if the victims were more famous than the psychos who killed them.

Wilson is right – if only one person does it then it’s just a tiny, futile gesture. But it’s a start.

If you look away, and I look away, maybe those people over there will look away too.

Posted in Uncategorized | 94 Comments

Another Awesomesauce TCH Open Thread GaGa Style

Who knew Lady Gaga was was classically trained in opera, this is frilliant, warning goosebumps. Enjoy!

Latest on Erika:

Posted in Uncategorized | 49 Comments

Sure Happy It’s Taylor Open Thread

Last night at the Staples Center Taylor Swift surprised everybody with a special guest when she performed a duet of “Smelly Cat” with Phoebe Buffay.

(Tay crushed it.)

If I had a daughter I wish she was just like Taylor Swift.

Don’t forget, Tay is up for Video of the Year for Bad Blood on the MTV Video Music Awards this Sunday.

Posted in Uncategorized | 26 Comments