Tag Archives: Race Relations

I’m a Scholar, Not a Criminal: The Reality of LAPD’s Hostility Towards Black Students

923359_625978247414218_1610157230_nBy Makiah Green

Instead of studying for the last final of my undergraduate career, I am writing this letter in protest of the University of Southern California’s latest atrocity. On the night of May 3rd, students gathered at a house near campus to celebrate their completion of another rigorous school year. Many attendees were graduating seniors. Almost all attendees were minority students: African-American and Latino.

I did not attend the party, but I could hear the helicopter circling from my dorm room over a mile away. When the Facebook posts and photos started appearing on my news feed around 2:30am, I had flashbacks to an era I wasn’t even alive to suffer through. I was too scared to go outside, legitimately fearing that an officer would see me and arrest me for being Black and inquisitive. I can only imagine how my peers felt when they saw over twenty LAPD patrol cars pull up and release 79 officers to end a peaceful, congratulatory party.

It is inexpressibly disheartening to hear fellow students recount horror stories of police brutality two weeks away from being among the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university. To know that my college degree holds no weight in the face of institutional racism and discrimination is sobering. Since the three most recent shootings, all triggered by non-USC affiliated Black males, that occurred on and around USC, there has been an increased presence of LAPD and other security forces around campus. Amid the tense racial climate that followed, I patiently endured the ignorant comments, racist blog posts and suspicious stares, but the intolerance has reached a new high. Six of my friends spent the night in jail.

To be clear, I do not have a problem with increased protection or security. Who’s to say that a shooting won’t occur at the next student party? It could happen, God forbid, and I understand why USC wants to be prepared. My issue lies within the selective surveillance of minority-hosted parties, as if crimes only happen among high concentrations of melanin. Criminal offenses, including sexual harassment, rape and assault could be happening every Thursday night on Greek Row, an undeniably white establishment. Yet, the culprits of the Department of Public Safety Crime Alerts distributed to USC students and faculty, seem to be strictly limited to Black and Latino males (5’10-6’2 in dark hoodies). These reports, together with the newly constructed, other-izing gates around campus, have instilled an unhealthy amount of fear in students, administrators and safety officials. We have been trained to double check for USC logos on the sweatshirts of minority males on and around this campus to make sure that they’re “one of us.” It doesn’t surprise me that LAPD has adopted the same attitude. For them, it has been this way for decades.

If the USC Department of Public Safety feels justified in allowing nearly a hundred police officers to shut down a minority attended house party due to the fact that African-Americans were responsible for the recent shootings, we’re in for a bigger battle than most students bargained for when they decided to enroll here. That ideology reeks of racial profiling and associates the behavior of a few criminals with the entire Black student body, a comparison that makes my stomach turn. While LAPD is busy sending all of their manpower to harass the future of America’s leaders, the real trouble lies within my campus’ freshly painted fences.

USC should not be permitted to reap the benefits of diversity without facing its complexities. You can’t help the hood without loving it first. When USC decided to break ground in South Central instead of Malibu, it signed up for a difficult and delicate community partnership that needs to be revisited.

To me, protection means opening our gates even wider for at-risk youth who are in desperate need of positive role models, not locking them out after 9pm. I will feel safe on this campus when I see DPS officers negotiating with LAPD, pleading with them to leave students of color party in peace. I will feel welcomed when I see a public statement from President Nikias acknowledging the discrimination and blatant racism that my people have had to endure since we were first admitted into this school. I will become a proud Trojan when the USC community finally grows to reflect and embrace its resilient surroundings.

To my peers, I am sorry that we have to dedicate hours that should be spent studying to defend our freedom of assembly. None of us have the time to write letters, plan meetings and rally against injustice, but we must. The next generation of brilliant Black students is depending on us to guarantee their right to a dignified college experience.

Ways to Act:

Sign this petition to help end racial profiling at USC.

Attend the DPS & LAPD Campus Discussion on Tuesday, May 7 at 6pm in the Ronald
Tutor Campus Center Ballroom

*Meet in front of Tommy Trojan at 5:00pm to pray over the meeting.

 

Originally published on The Interloper @ USC

Photo credit: Christopher James

* * *

headshotMakiah Green is a USC senior majoring in English-Creative Writing with a minor in Screenwriting. She is the creator of Makiah-isms and plans to write paradigm shifting television and film upon graduation. When she is not changing the world one thought-provoking sentence at a time, Makiah indulges in think tanks on the beach, nail painting parties, and impromptu praise breaks. She also raps in her free time.

Discussing Race With Love

It’s important that we talk about race if we’re ever going to become the society of fair, accepting and loving people that many of us long for. But most of us are afraid to discuss race openly in a way that is the least bit controversial because we’re afraid of being labeled racists. So we settle for shallow public dialogue about race and remarks behind closed doors that are based on views about people of another race that are limited at best.

Our views about people of other races are limited because we don’t really know each other. We interact with each other every day. We pass each other on city streets. We live in the same neighborhoods in many cases. We attend school together and work together. Yet most of our interactions with each other are superficial.

We’re afraid of each other—afraid of being too real with each other because we don’t want to do or say anything that might offend the other person and their race. The truth is, we’re afraid mostly of ourselves—afraid of what’s really in our hearts about people of another race, and that it might come out of our mouths. Ironically, the truth is that whatever negative or positive feelings we have about others is more an indication of how we feel about ourselves.

If we feel accepting and loving towards others, it’s an indication that we are accepting and loving with ourselves. If we are overly critical, resentful and impatient with others, it likewise indicates that we feel that way about ourselves.

The key, therefore, to discussing race in a way that makes a positive difference is to approach it from the inside out instead of the outside in; i.e., to be loving–starting with ourselves so that we can love each other, too, despite our differences and circumstances. That way, we can better approach a dialogue on race from a position of love yielding understanding and appreciation instead of from a position of hate or fear yielding separation and blame.

How can you make sure you love yourself? It takes some soul searching and inner work, but if you’re serious about knowing and loving yourself on a deeper level, it’s worth it. Here are three techniques I’ve found to be very effective.

1. Listen to your words, and listen even more closely to your thoughts. Why? Because your words and your thoughts will determine your actions. One of the things that has helped me to listen to my thoughts has been to keep a journal. It is not necessary for you to record in it everyday, but it helps to record various insights you gain as you go about living your life.  Instead of using a big notebook, you might use a small note pad that you can keep in your purse or pocket for easy access to record your thoughts as they occur to you. (I’ve found that if I don’t immediately write down ideas and insights as they come, it’s hard to remember them later, at least with the same degree of clarity.) Whichever method you choose, what’s most important is that you write your thoughts down. It will help you know what’s in your heart.

2. Be honest with yourself by paying attention to your actions. Actions speak louder than words, and they always tell the truth. What do your actions say about you? If you say you love people, but your actions say otherwise, which do you think is more true—your words or your actions? What can you do with this insight? You can use it to make more loving and beneficial choices in your life. By being honest with yourself about your previous and actions, your actions moving forward will be based on truth instead of just what you tell yourself.

3. Take quiet time out during the day to listen to your inner voice. I call this inner voice the voice of God. This is similar to point number one, but it takes it a step further—beyond listening to your natural mind to listening to your supernatural heart. You may want to use your quiet time to pray or meditate.  However you use this time, the key is to shut out all of the noise around you by focusing deep within yourself. Breathing deeply during quiet time will also help you focus. I know it’s hard to find quiet time during a particularly busy day, but it’s so important—even if it’s just 10 minutes a day and you have to sneak away to get it. Quiet time can really make a difference in your life. It enables you to hear God speaking to your heart reminding you of His perfect love for you.

While it may seem easier not to discuss race openly and “ in mixed company,” it’s the only way we will mend the division racism has created among us individually and collectively. Discussing race openly may seem awkward at first, but it will get easier and will make a positive difference as long as we discuss it from a position of unity and love.

 








Cynthia Legette Davis is author of the book, Peace Be Still: Inner Healing for Racial Harmony, its companion workbook, Peace and Racial Harmony Inside Out, and another inspirational book, I Know How You Feel. All are available at www.peaceinus.net

 

Discussing Race With Love





It’s important that we talk about race if we’re ever going to become the society of fair, accepting and loving people that many of us long for.


But most of us are afraid to discuss race openly in a way that is the least bit controversial, because we’re afraid of being labeled racists. So we settle for shallow public dialogue about race and remarks behind closed doors that are based on views about people of another race that are limited at best.

Our views about people of other races are limited because we don’t really know each other. We interact with each other every day. We pass each other on city streets. We live in the same neighborhoods in many cases. We attend school together and work together. Yet most of our interactions with each other are superficial.

We’re afraid of each other—afraid of being too real with each other because we don’t want to do or say anything that might offend the other person and their race. The truth is, we’re afraid mostly of ourselves—afraid of what’s really in our hearts about people of another race, and that it might come out of our mouths. Ironically, the truth is that whatever negative or positive feelings we have about others is more an indication of how we feel about ourselves.

If we feel accepting and loving towards others, it’s an indication that we are accepting and loving with ourselves. If we are overly critical, resentful and impatient with others, it likewise indicates that we feel that way about ourselves.

The key, therefore, to discussing race in a way that makes a positive difference is to make sure our hearts and minds are ready. The only way our hearts and minds will be ready is to make sure we love ourselves first so that we can love each other, too, despite our differences and circumstances. That way we will be approaching a dialogue on race from a position of love seeking understanding and forgiveness instead of from a position of hate or fear seeking separation and blame.

How can you make sure you love yourself? It takes some inner work, but the results are worth it. If you’re ready for more love, personal peace, and racial harmony in your life, here are three strategies to help you move forward.

1. Listen to your words, and listen even more closely to your thoughts. Why? Because your words and your thoughts will determine your actions. One of the things that has helped me to listen to my thoughts has been to keep a journal. It is not necessary for you to record in it everyday, but it helps to record various insights you gain as you go about living your life.  Instead of using a big notebook, you might use a small note pad that you can keep in your purse or pocket for easy access to record your thoughts as they occur to you. (I’ve found that if I don’t immediately write down ideas and insights as they come, it’s hard to remember them later, at least with the same degree of clarity.) Whichever method you choose, what’s most important is that you write your thoughts down. It will help you know what’s in your heart.

2. Be honest with yourself by paying attention to your actions. Actions speak louder than words, and they always tell the truth. What do your actions say about you? If you say you love people, but your actions say otherwise, which do you think is more true—your words or your actions? What can you do with this insight? You can use it to make more loving and beneficial choices in your life. By being honest with yourself about your previous and actions, your actions moving forward will be based on truth instead of just what you tell yourself.

3. Take quiet time out during the day to listen to your inner voice. I call this inner voice the voice of God. This is similar to point number one, but it takes it a step further—beyond listening to your natural mind to listening to your supernatural heart. You may want to use your quiet time to pray or meditate.  However you use this time, the key is to shut out all of the noise around you by focusing deep within yourself. Breathing deeply during quiet time will also help you focus. I know it’s hard to find quiet time during a particularly busy day, but it’s so important—even if it’s just 10 minutes a day and you have to sneak away to get it. Quiet time can really make a difference in your life. It enables you to hear God speaking to your heart reminding you of His perfect love for you.

While it may seem easier not to discuss race “ in mixed company,” it’s the only way we will mend the division racism has created among us individually and collectively. Discussing race may seem awkward at first, but it will get easier and will make a positive difference as long as we discuss it with love.

 

Michael Jackson: At little girl’s crush and a grown woman’s love!

Every woman remembers her first crush. Mine was on Michael Jackson. I’ve kept a diary since fourth grade. It’s titled “My Life So Far” and the second sentence reads: “I love, love, love, a boy named Michael Jackson in the group Jackson Five.” So began my love affair for this young, talented, Black boy with the big Afro and bigger smile who could sing and dance so well even my little girl heart would melt.

I begged my Father to take me to see the Jackson Five when they came to Philadelphia. My Dad, a man I love more than words can ever adequately describe, always wanted to please his baby girl. So, Daddy took me to see the Jackson Five in an over crowed concert hall in Philly. Because I was so short I couldn’t see the stage and had a panic attack. So, my Dad being the best Daddy ever, picked me up, put me on his shoulders and let me watch the entire show above the crowd where my love for Michael Jackson grew and grew. Poor Daddy, here he was looking at the back of some other parent’s head, listening to music he could care less about, and surrounded by screaming little girls. Dad is in heaven now laughing about that I’m sure!

As the Jackson Five albums were released, I got them hot off the presses. I sang to each song and knew every single word. Daddy soon got me a subscription to Right On! Magazine. I soaked up everything written about my favorite singer and my favorite group. I’d cut out Michael’s photos from the magazine and make beautiful, colorful, collages that were plastered all over my bedroom wall. Every little Black girl now had a little Black boy to fantasize about and it was wonderful. Well, we thought it was, the brothas in my class didn’t like it one bit. They were hatin’ on the J-5 something awful. “He ain’t all that”, Todd would say. “My ‘fro is better than his”, you’d hear Edsel whisper. “He can’t even sing!” Edwin lied. I paid those still little boys no mind. “I’m going to marry Michael Jackson one day”, I said to myself… and I meant it.

In grade school we’d have arguments about which member of the Jackson Five were more deserving of our love. Little brown girls, sitting around the lunch table getting in heated debates about these boys who we never met, who lived across the country, who didn’t even know we were alive. I must admit, there was a short period of time when I thought I was in love with Marlon Jackson (that boy could dance) but my heart belonged to Michael and soon I came to my senses and went back to the little Black boy with the big Afro, big smile and even bigger voice who originally stole my heart.

I can remember like it was yesterday the first time the Jackson Five were on Soul Train. I was playing outside with my friends and someone yelled “it’s time for the Jackson Five on TV! Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” We scattered in all directions trying to make to the TV in time. There were no DVD or VHS recorders and no one could have even imagined TiVo. If you missed the show, you missed The Jackson Five and I was NOT about to miss my heartthrob. I also remember when I got the ABC album that opened up to reveal private photos of the Jackson Five. I looked over each photo at least a thousand times trying to get a look into his personal life. Looking for some clue to tell me something about this little boy I was so infatuated with.

My fondest memory was when I was getting ready for my very first play. I was all dressed up in my costume and had on red lipstick… thinking I was grown. I was walking out the door, stopped in my tracks and then ran back into the living room, grabbed the “I Want You Back” album and kissed it for good luck. I still have that album and the lipstick stain is still there. It’s not worth anything to anyone but me. The album cover is so worn out that it’s being held together by staples. The LP itself is so worn you can’t hear the background singers anymore. It would be decades later that I even knew Jermaine was singing background on the “I Want You Back” single after hearing a digitally mastered copy of the song.

Fast forward to college. One of my ex-boyfriends who to this day is a very good friend of mine, reminded me just last night, that as an eighteen/nineteen year old young woman I actually told him I was going to marry Michael Jackson. Can you imagine? He thought, “either this girl is delusional” or “you know, she might just marry him.” See, at that time Michael had not blown up yet and the possibility I could be Mrs. Michael Jackson still remained. The Up Against The Wall album was just about to drop. When it did, it was over… Michael was on his way to being a star. By the time Thriller came out I was at BET. By then I knew I wasn’t going to marry Michael but I’d be telling a big fat lie if I didn’t think getting a job with BET would give me access to him. I wasn’t completely wrong. BET allowed me to get tickets to his concert and that of the group, now renamed The Jacksons. After many years I even got a chance to meet Michael Jackson but by then he was no longer the person I was once infatuated with. By the time I met Michael he was slipping away from us. He was a superstar. He was an icon. He was untouchable. He was the King of Pop. He was strange.

I defended Michael and his antics for years, decades even. I stopped defending him after his trail. I had lost my infatuation. It was replaced with frustration, questions, accusations, and finally indifference. I didn’t even purchase his last CD. I laughed at jokes made about him. I turned my back on him. But now that he is gone I can only remember the love I felt for him. I can only remember how much joy he gave me. I can only remember what a great singer, dancer, performer and artist he was.

Michael Jackson, you were my first love. I am broken hearted that you have left us. I know you are at peace now… a peace you couldn’t find on earth. In my mind, you are still that little Black boy with the big Afro, big smile, and apple hat on. Or, you are the young man in the video wearing a sliver outfit living off the wall. You left us with an incredible catalog of music. You left me with a boy to swoon over, my first crush, and my first love. Maybe that’s why I never married. I was waiting for the little Black boy with the big Afro and big smile to come propose to me. That won’t happen now but I love you, Michael Jackson, and I always will. Say “Hi” to my Dad and let him tell you about the concert he took me to. You two will like each other. It makes me feel good knowing my two greatest loves are together now. I still have some living to do but in due time “I’ll Be There.”

Post-Obama singles scene: Is black now the new white?

A woman and I were chatting up the impending inauguration last week. I didn’t know this woman, but she was attractive, young and Caucasian. We were talking about dating when the subject turned to interracial dating. At a point in our conversation she acknowledged that she had up until now never dated outside her race and then, she laughed loudly and said, “But hey, with Obama in the Whitehouse, Black has become the new White.”
Her statement rolled off her tongue as though she had been practicing the phrase, waiting for the opportune time to fire it off and that time obviously had arrived. I wasn’t offended by the remark. Actually, I laughed along with her as I did find it funny…

Last night I attended a post inauguration party where probably 60 people crammed themselves into a tiny cottage in Northeast Portland to relive the inaugural not 12 hours old. For readers who may not know, Portland is, while a great city with many things going for itself, conspicuously a white city. And its demographics were well represented that night as I was the only one who would have been barred from such a gathering 60 years ago. As we listened to President Obama’s speech replayed on the cottage-owner’s home-made version of a jumbo-tron, I reflected on the nature of dating, particularly interracial dating and whether Obama’s rise to the Whitehouse was going to have an impact on the way blacks are viewed in the singles world and the world in general.

For example, it occurs to me, although this may not be a fact, that in the dating world, African American women tend to be the last chosen among potential prospects. Like that guy nobody wants on their team, African American women sometimes end up the last considered in the dating world. I recognize this is an overgeneralization, but perhaps some people will see an element of truth here. Now, I’ve seen representative black-female-white-male couples, even here in Portland. And I’m aware of a few such paired married interracial couples in real life and a couple of them represented at one time on television. And yet I recall a time not too far back when black women looked disdainfully (and at other times, plainly angry) at a black man caught out with a white woman. Has this circumstance changed? And if it has, why? Are black women accepting this as a fact of life now? Are they indifferent? Or are they getting their own taste of “chocolate looking for its milk” as one dating profile I saw put it?

Several years ago, I attended a medium –sized gathering of black men and women who came together to try to work through issues between black women and black men around dating each other. One issue was the fact that some black men seemed to prefer white women. That discussion didn’t go so well. That was quite a few years ago, but have things changed? And now that there’s a black man in the White House, will things change even more?
What about the workplace? Will affirmative action give way to something different now that Obama’s in place? Will blacks be given a benefit of the doubt generally speaking? Or have we reached the point where each man is judged according to his merits?

Reverend Dr Joseph E. Lowery’s inaugural benediction concluded with a humorous allusion to the plight of race in America. He said:

 “Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around … when yellow will be mellow … when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.”

Similar to my acquaintance’s quip about dating black being in vogue for white women, I had to laugh at Lowery’s words, as did President Obama. Humor can go a long way in lightening our heats to harsh realities. If Obama’s Presidency can incite the kind of change this woman and Lowery humorously point too, good on us. I can’t help feeling that it will…..and it won’t.