Savage Minds welcomes guest blogger Dana-Ain Davis, Associate Professor of Urban Studies at Queens College. She is author of “Battered Black Women and Welfare Reform” and, most recently, co-editor with Cristina Craven of the volume “Feminist Activist Ethnography.” Davis has served as President of the Association of Black Anthropologists and is currently editor of the ABA journal, Transforming Anthropology.
Heavy Hearted and Sick
by Dana Davis
It has been six days since the verdict. Nothing has changed; I was heavy hearted and sick then, and I continue to be. I was not surprised at the verdict, but I was glad I did not have a son. I was sad that I even had the thought. I wrote my friends with boy children and reminded them that they should ask their friends to make a protective circle around their sons to shield them from the atrocities of racism.
It has also been six days since Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, Florida received a sentence of 20 years because she defended herself against her abusive husband by firing warning shots inside her home at the ceiling to stop him from attacking her. As a result I must equally remind my friends that they should rely on their friends to make a protective circle around their daughters from the atrocities of racism and sexism.
In the moments just after the verdict of Not Guilty was announced in the case of the State vs. Zimmerman, on Saturday July 13th, and the State vs. Marissa Alexander, I was unable to fall asleep, unable to quell the rage. My mind in a state of excess activity, thinking about what this verdict meant, and what I might do. Because I stayed up most of the night mourning, I quickly found out that there were protests planned across the country one of which would be in Union Square in New York City.
In the days after Trayvon Martin was killed, I attended the vigil in Union Square, brushing lightly against his mother as she was ushered from the podium to the front of a line forming to lead the march. So it seemed fitting to go there again; it seemed like a good place to be in the company of others who also felt the same rage. No explanation for tears, or silence, hugs and handholding would be necessary. I went. I marched some, but the flame of rage would not die out. Continue reading
AAA President, Leith Mullings, has a must-read post on Anthropology News: Trayvon Martin, Race and Anthropology.
Anthropology is the discipline that fostered and nurtured “scientific racism,” a world view that transforms certain perceived differences into genetically determined inequality and provides a rationale for slavery, colonialism, segregation, eugenics, and terror. Our discipline also has a significant tradition of anti-racism that emerged from the tumult leading to World War II.
What I like about it is it’s self-critical stance, something I felt was missing from all the gushing over Obama’s comments on race. (Maybe he could do something about the “war on drugs“?) Namely, it criticized the AAA’s Race exhibit and racial disparities within the discipline. About the Race exhibit she writes:
Three easy to find definitions of racism:
1. A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others (dictionary.com).
2. Faye V. Harrison (from here): “My working definition of racism is the following: any action, whether intended or not, that reinforces and reproduces racial inequalities, which are ultimately structured around disparities of power.”
3. From Tim Wise’s FAQ page: Continue reading
The comments section from my last post about the Napoleon Chagnon controversy eventually led into a discussion about race, racism, and anthropology. If you read more about the debates surrounding Chagnon, it’s pretty clear that they bring up some important (and complex) issues about race, power, the academy–and anthropology’s place within all of this. Near the end of the comment thread, one of our readers mentioned an article that’s well worth reading (thanks, Kat): Interrogating Racism: Toward an Antiracist Anthropology, by Leith Mullings (Annual Review of Anthropology, 2005).
I thought that would be a good place to start for a discussion about some of these issues. So I read the article and jotted down some notes. I am just going to go through some of my own questions and responses to the piece by Mullings, and then I’ll open things up for discussion. Please feel free to jump in whenever you want. Continue reading
In describing the subject of our film, Please Don’t Beat Me, Sir! we often tell people that the situation of India’s Denotified Tribes (DNTs) is very similar to the kind of profiling that happens against African Americans or Muslim Americans. Recent examples from the states include Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker getting stopped and frisked leaving a Morningside Heights deli, and the “Stop and Frisk” program of the NY City Police Department (NYPD) which was recently ruled unconstitutional, as well as the news that the NYPD was “engaged in a massive surveillance operation on the city’s Muslim community.”
In fact, it turns out it is exactly the same. Indian papers recently broke the story that police officers in Ahmedabad have “prepared a dossier on 207 men and women” in the Chhara community – the very community where we shot our film.
Some folks argue that we are living in post-racial times. That the days of racism are over. After the Civil Rights era, it all just evaporated. And the election of Barack Obama was somehow more proof of the fact that racism is no longer an issue in the U-S-A. This “racism is no longer a problem” argument is a pretty common narrative these days. Hmm. From Gawker.com today:
Some Americans are racist. We know this, though there’s nothing quite like a black guy winning a national election to bring them out of the woodwork. The sheer volume of racist Tweets is disheartening, but can we learn anything from them?
Because this stuff is now nationally broadcast rather than confined to poorly Xeroxed newsletters, there’s data waiting to be mined. Floating Sheep, a group of technologically minded geographers, has attempted to determine just where the racism is coming from.
Read the rest here. For more check out these links:
The National Monitor
Floating Sheep FAQ response