18 March, 2012
Folks, this week has been an overflowing fountain of whiteness. Does your cup runneth over? If not, here’s a run-down of some of the larger headlines this week.
We’ll start with one of the more grave events:
ICE Intimidates Woman into Death
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is a force of terror for people of color, regardless of their immigration status. Known to rip families apart, ICE has a penchant for ganging up on Latin@ sin papeles (without documents), or immigrants without documentation. This week, Miss Erica Delgado of Wyoming lit her home on fire, killing herself and her daughter Miriam, a week after receiving an early-morning visit from five ICE agents and two sheriff’s deputies.They informed her that she was expected to show up in court before an immigration judge, a hearing that would have been the beginning of expulsion proceedings.
According to Alternet, Delgado should not have been approached: ICE is not supposed to prosecute and expel survivors of domestic violence, and Miss Delgado was one such individual. She had made a life for herself and her daughter (who is a US citizen) after her abusive husband relocated to Chihuahua, Mexico. Alternet also adds:
Delgado was one of 35 current and former Little America employees—11 of whom were approached, all of them Latino—on the ICE list for the Cheyenne enforcement action on January 24. Full Alternet article here.
Although ICE had received the order from Washington to focus on high-risk criminals due to a limited budget, ICE has a history of going after those who do not present a security risk, such as those entering the country looking for work and a safe place for their families. However, the current US administrative program, ironically-named Secure Communities, is responsible for the disproportionate deportation of Latin@s, regardless of family status or absence of criminal record.
Southern Miss’ Slam-Dunk Racism
Although racism is certainly not fun and games, it will interrupt your attempts to have either. The University of Southern Mississippi’s marching band chanted “where’s your green card?” while player Angel Rodriguez took a free throw during the Southern Miss v. Kansas State basketball game. According to NPR, Southern Miss quickly reacted as Buzzfeed’s video hit the web. “We deeply regret the remarks made by a few students at today’s game,” Martha Saunders, the school’s president said in a statement. “The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university. We apologize to Mr. Rodriguez and will take quick and appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved in this isolated incident.” We at This Week in Whiteness think that such an accountability-free, PR-induced apology would come from a sore loser, after all: NPR reported that Kansas State beat Southern Miss, with Rodgriguez scoring 13 points with 4 assists.
Sanford PD Continues to Keep it Classy
Amid the demands for justice for slain Black teenager Treyvon Martin, the Sanford Police Department finally released the painful 911 call in which Martin’s screams were heard before George Zimmerman pulled the trigger. Meanwhile, sources have indicated that Zimmerman has targeted young Black men repeatedly in the past, and whose favorite number to call was 911. When asked to comment, Sanford police chief Bill Lee said:
We are taking a beating over this. This is all very unsettling. I’m sure if George Zimmerman had the opportunity to relive Sunday, Feb. 26, he’d probably do things differently. I’m sure Trayvon would, too.
I’m so sorry everyone, but I’m going to break composure for a second:
This investigation is a disgrace, from the 911 call to the police chief. Regardless of how professional 911 operators are supposed to be, hearing that phone call was one of the most painful things I’ve ever listened to. The mild irritation in the caller’s voice and the slow, unhurried way in which the 911 operator took the caller’s information were crushing. It seemed as if a young Black man being attacked on their front lawn was an inconvenience, not an injustice. Combined with that reporter’s “chicken” comment, I cannot simply contain my anger any more.
“I’m sure Trayvon [would do things differently], too.” If he was alive.
This goes beyond being tone-deaf, beyond being insensitive or a little bit biased. THIS IS RACISM. THIS, RIGHT NOW, IS RACISM. Can we all agree on that now? Because Zimmerman STILL HASN’T BEEN ARRESTED. This man, who has a penchant for targeting young Black men, is walking free and the POLICE DEPARTMENT is apologizing FOR HIM. Meanwhile, Martin’s death hasn’t become a national outrage, probably because no one’s made a 30-minute video about what happened, but more likely because of RACISM. When will enough be enough? Can we go out in the streets and protest now? Can we? Because I assure you it’s going to get worse. Where are the 50,000 Tumblr notes on THAT?
And now with the rest of this Sunday’s post.
Things White People Do: Create Political Messes in African Nations
This section is going to address white North American activists from both Invisible Children and Save Darfur.
US celebrity George Clooney was arrested this week during a protest at the Sudanese Embassy, in response to President al-Bashir expelling all foreign aid workers from the country. This expulsion took place after Clooney and other non-Sudanese activists began demanding that al-Bashir be sent to ICC (International Criminal Court). Clooney appeared on talk shows all this morning. The NY Daily News reports:
I think I actually have a lot more influence on [Sudanese border politics and violence] here,” Clooney told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“No super PAC has given me money…There is no outside influence for me. I can actually have an opinion and it may not fit what the UN wants and it may not fit what other people want, and I can say this I think is right, and stand by it. I don’t have to check in to make sure and I don’t have to compromise.” Full article here.
But Clooney is not the only famous white North American do-gooder to be in the news for interfering with politics in African countries. Invisible Children continues to remain in the news-loop as more details on their affiliates are exposed, such as their funding from anti-queer, creationist Christian conservatives and their link to rabidly anti-queer Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa. According to Right Wing Watch:
Ssempa, a longtime anti-gay activist, is the chairman of the National Taskforce against Homosexuality in Uganda and a major proponent of legislation that calls for the execution of gays and lesbians who are found “guilty” of having homosexual sex. Full article here.
Meanwhile, the primary face of Invisible Children, Jason Russell, was arrested this week for public masturbation and intoxication and vandalism. Invisible Children responded with an official statement:Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.
We agree that coming under fire for one’s imperialist, whitewashed and truth-twisting propaganda is pretty darn tough to handle, especially when the organization is unused to being held accountable and ESPECIALLY when Ugandans, other Africans and many others come out in full force against your film. We also agree that the shame of passionately promoting the diplomatic strategy of one’s 5-year old son is also quite tough to bear in public, and so wish Jason Russell a speedy recovery.
Police have not charged Russell for his bizarre activities.
This Week in Whiteness