Privilege by Proxy: "White People Sports" and The Validation Of the Oppressor

I told myself I was taking a break from heavy stuff this week. But as in the godfather, someone always drags me back in. I was giddy yesterday to get a chance to watch the video clip of my mentor (sshhh, don't tell her. I'm keeping it a surprise), Denene. There she was on the Meredith Viera show in all her shoeologist splendor!White-People-Sports

It was a great segment with a mom panel being asked their perspective on a couple of subjects. All good, right? Not so fast.

The shit hits the fan (at least for me) around 3:15 when the question is posed as to whether or not the moms on the panel would let their children play football considering the potential for injury. Carolina Bermudez, a New York radio deejay makes a comment that still makes me cringe.

"My son is half half Latino, half white and I want him to gravitate towards the white sports. I want him to play tennis,  I'm going to give him a racket, golf..."

You see Denene's epic side eye as she names black people that play the sports that Carolina is mentioning? I want to tell you that I do not know where I was when Denene was standing in line and God was handing out patience and poise. I'm thinking I was getting coffee. This is probably why I can't have nice things, like bomb shoes and invitations to be on television. She held it together on screen and gave it to us on My Brown Baby today.

Y'all, I don't know how to come at this. The statement reeked of this privilege by proxy that so many Latinos are prone to. I recall  my best friend being told that she had to marry a light skinned man to "better the blood". The fact that this was said on national television by a Latina who obviously has a social following and fan base...talk about disappointment.

First of all, the initial question was thrown to the side. The question was clearly about football and really it was about contact sports. The fact that this person equates football with, let's say...non-white and somehow that tennis and golf become the sport that she wants her "half Latino" son to play because...why exactly?

Mel B (Scary Spice) makes a comment about Carolina's statement and it is clearly waved aside. Moreover, Carolina took to Twitter to dismiss and belittle the comments from people who were offended by her statement. Telling folks to "get over it" and it was just a joke.

I'm tired of the damn jokes, Carolina! I'm tired of the ignorance from my own people. It's sad that you see nothing wrong with what you said. It's not even about an apology. It's about the fact that you don't seem to get it. This is self-hatred at its best whether you see it like that or not.

Can someone get me the pivot table where I can clearly see the detailed sports to race combination so I get it right? Wanting your son to gravitate towards "the white sports"? Because the white sports are good, is that what it is? And then the black sports are...and what about the Latino sports?

This privilege by proxy in the Latino community needs to stop. Having a child with a white man doesn't transfer his white privilege to you. And perpetuating the narrative that sports that have traditionally been associated with privilege and with the exclusion of people of color makes you just as bad as the folks who tried that.

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This IS important! The fact that she trivializes her statement, attempts to say that it was a joke and then dismisses folks who are offended by it is ludicrous. That "joke" is heard behind closed doors every day. That "joke" is what keeps ugly commentaries from continuing.

And the worst part is that by having someone on national television, a Latina at that, making that type of statement, the folks with those centuries-old beliefs and racists views receive that as confirmation that they've been right all along. And THAT'S what hurts the most. That the joke is in juxtaposition with how things should be. And from where I stand, it's not funny at all.

Waking Up White

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Let's just drop this title in under the "things I could never say" category. Amirite? Confession: I'm not finished with the book. But dammit I couldn't wait to tell you about it.

This week has found me completely frustrated with the privileged white people of social media. It started with the comments I read on a MomsRising Facebook photo and seeped over to the comments I read regarding the Renisha McBride tweet when the AP broke the news of the guilt of her killer and how so many white folks didn't see anything wrong with the original wording.

As an Afro-Latina, there are things said that burn me up inside and make me wonder about the world I'm bringing my child up in. A world where I have to kinda lie to her when she says she's scared of the police because, are they really here to help US?! I have to always measure the words. One cup of reality, 2 cups of self preservation, 3 cups of love, 1/2 cup of raw, painful truth.

When I got the email asking me to review this book, I jumped at it. Then, because of the mayhem currently going on in Casa Sili, it got put on the bookcase. I picked it up knowing it had to be reviewed. Of course, the timing was perfect.

First, I will tell you that I know some pretty awesome white people who use their privilege to bring into focus some of the inequities of this world. I'm proud to call them friends and colleagues. I also know plenty of privileged white folks who show me the thing I fear the most: their blinders.

MyMamihood.WakingUpWhiteWaking Up White delves into Debby Irving's privileged life as a white woman coming from an established New England family and finding things she never knew, questions she didn't know to ask and truths that are hard to bear.

I can appreciate her story because it leads to her understanding of the blinders. How history is taught and the narrative it serves (white people). I have probably underline more in this book than I have my bible (okay, maybe not so much but this is definitely second). Things like:

"Racism was't about this person or that, this upset or that, this community or that; racism is, and always has been, the way America has sorted and ranked its people in a bitterly divisive, humanity-robbing system."

And...

"Prior to the Wheelock course, my attempts to make sense of racism has been akin to trying to understand a game just by watching its players." "Advantage in the game can take several forms: male trumps female, straight trumps LGBT, able-bodied trumps disabled, Western religions trump Eastern religions, higher class trumps lower class and so on. But nowhere, as far as I can see, is any advantage as hard-hitting and enduring as skin color."

Y'all, she gets in it. These last two quotes come after her eyes are opened to the systematic "affirmative action" that was the GI bill and how much that affected people of color to today! As I was reading that chapter, I was reminded of my girl's grandfather recently telling of how, after Vietnam, he had applied to a university in Georgia and how they requested a picture of him. After receipt of said picture, he was placed on the "wait list" which he knew meant that as a black man, he wouldn't be accepted.

Meanwhile, Debby's father went all the way through to law school on the government's dime. While Papa went on to do great things, it puts in perspective the obvious disadvantage that he and plenty of other men of color were faced with. It also showcased how  this lack of knowledge affects the way that white people see things like the GI bill. The narrative is different. The idea that everyone has a chance in this country if you only work hard for it takes on a sick twist.

Debby asks questions at the end of each chapter. Questions that make us think. For me, this book gives me an understanding of what I am faced with when I encounter racism (which sadly, is every day). This book explains how the people that haven't yet been enlightened  have come to the conclusions that they've come to. Don't get me wrong, there are still outright racists out there that will lynch you just as soon as look at you.

I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about the good people with good intentions that pave that road to hell that we all know exists.

I think this book needs to be read by those good people. And it also needs to be read by those of us that encounter them day in and day out. Debby expertly quotes Daniel J. Boorstin who said "Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know."

I invite you to get a little education and pick up this book.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book in order to review it. All thoughts and opinions are purely my own.

America La Bella

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Have you seen the Coca Cola commercial that sparked hate-tweets that we have now grown accustomed to? I'm at a point where I watch a commercial or a story and can pinpoint the level of hate that it will be spewed by the populous.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSMos09N7VM

 (original was found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=443Vy3I0gJs but was taken down).

But even though I knew it would incite hate and awful words, even though I could feel the rolling waves of ignorance about to attempt to crash onto the rock of reality, I teared up while watching it. As I tear up whenever I sing the national anthem. First, I am reminded that my little brother belted this song out at his kindergarten graduation in a big auditorium. I still recall the awww's heard in the audience and the slight laughter at the thought that this little man was going to do anything but whisper. And I remember his beautiful voice resonating through each person in that space. And I cried then as well.

I don't want to explain. Or tell you how every person here except for Native Americans are descendants of someone who probably didn't speak "American". I could say that I, an immigrant who speaks English as her second language probably has a better handle of "American" than the people who misspelled words in their hate tweets or referred to America the Beautiful as the national anthem. But does it matter?

Did you know that America the Beautiful was written by a gay woman? Her name was Katherine Lee Bates. Has anyone taken the time to look at the fabric of this country and the words that we so proudly repeat when we sign the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance or any number of songs that we hold dear in this country? I think Brenda Wood, an anchor at WXIA-TV in Atlanta, expresses it better than I ever could:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHFp3xM2WcA

America is Bella. Beautiful to so many of us who stepped off of an airplane or a boat. Who drove in or were carried over. And the thing is, that no amount of hate will stop those of us that not only love this country, but love the melting pot that defines us. Because it does define us, in spite of the ugly words and the negative thoughts. United we will stand. In this, our America.

New Colossus (the Statue of Liberty poem)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Statue of Liberty