Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Racism Round Up

As we enter the waning days of Black history month, it's somehow inexplicably necessary to point out racism still very much exists. Apparently extensive historical research has turned up the fact that MLK didn't magically end all racial prejudice which, I know, is pretty damn shocking.

As Louis CK points out far more eloquently than I (or pretty much anyone else alive) could, even educated white people often downplay the historical horrors of American slavery and especially its impact on contemporary America. One of the best points he makes in that bit is that slavery was, historically speaking, not that long ago (and as he astutely follows up that observation, it takes a little while to get past major historical crimes).

How not long ago? Again, as Louis points out, it's about two 70 year old people living back to back. A long time to you or I, but historically speaking, just a little blip. In fact, such a small blip that we still have a significant number of artifacts and records from the era. Sometimes even incredibly horrifying artifacts.

The article linked to in the previous sentence is about a Texas man, Shun Mullins, whose mother died after fire fighters on the scene refused to give her CPR because she was Black (and I guess they thought they'd catch Blackness if they touched her?). So doing what any normal human being would do, he went to file a complaint about the trained emergency responders who watched his mother die rather than help her (which, to clarify, would be the exact purpose of their job -- helping people in emergency situations).

But instead of receiving his complaint with embarrassment and a promise to look into as any normal human being would, the state investigator, William Sewell, instead told Mullins a story about how he owns a knife-sharpening crop made from the skin of a Black man his grandfather had lynched.

Let me just re-state that really quickly: the state investigator owns a strop made of the skin of a man who was lynched, a gory trophy passed down to him by his grand father. For even closer (historically speaking) than slavery is a time in which it was still entirely legal to murder someone in cold blood, tear their flesh from their dead body, turn that human flesh into a household tool, and then pass down the household tool made of the human flesh of a person you murdered as if it's a fucking family heirloom.

And not only is Sewell not, say, mortified of this, he instead thought it to be a peachy-keen story to bring up to a man whose mother just died because of racist inaction.

And again, because it bears some repetition: the object in question is made from the human flesh of a murder victim. But, don't worry, Sewell is already on the media beat apologizing. Whoops! Just kidding! He's actually claiming to be the victim of the whole ordeal because he was made to feel like maybe he shouldn't be proud of owning the flesh of a human being who was murdered.

Oh, and while all of this was going down, a Florida man murdered an unarmed Black teenager and was not convicted of murder. But hey, at least he didn't then rip the flesh from the dead kid's body and keep it as a family heirloom. This is surely a sign of progress...

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