Thursday, August 28, 2014

Empirical Data, Michael Brown, Ferguson, and Race: How do Police Decide if You are 'Suspicious'?

Why am I still writing about the murder of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown by the thug cop Darren Wilson?

The problem of police brutality, militarization, and the violation of the American people's human rights is an ongoing problem. The black community in Ferguson still lives under under the boot of a herrenvolk gestapo. Michael Brown's family, friends, and people remain traumatized by his murder. Most importantly, the police and the prison industrial complex are the brass knuckles on the fist of white supremacy and white privilege in the United States and the West. As such, the murder of Michael Brown is one example of a centuries-long institutional process in practice.

There is a diminishing amount of interest by the mass public in the Michael Brown murder. This is a result of the following dynamics.

The 24/7 corporate news media creates a public hysteria which then reaches a crescendo. The now fully misinformed public is made to feel exhausted. The media and the public then transport their manufactured outrage to another issue. In a modern corporateocracy, the media serves an "agenda setting" function in which they help to frame issues and set boundaries on what issues are considered "important" matters of public concern. The 24/7 news media is also a type of spectacular entertainment that overwhelms the viewer with sound, noise, fury, and "information". However, the same media--because they serve elite interests and not those of a radical, liberated, or forward thinking democratic populism--is not interested in substantive social or political change.

The corporate news media serves Power; it does not contradict or subvert it.

The occasional public criticism of some branch of elite authority by the corporate media is just in-fighting within the same clique.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The New York Times 'Niggerizes' Michael Brown: I Wonder How They Would Slur My Life and Memory?

There is no liberal media. There is only a corporate media. The corporate media is deeply involved in maintaining and sustaining a society that is racially hierarchical and where whiteness is privileged.

Social scientists have repeatedly demonstrated how the news media misrepresents, distorts, and presents stereotypical depictions of non-whites. This bias is especially true with the coverage of crime.

For example, black people are depicted by the media as criminals at rates which are much higher than the actual amount of crime which the former commits. Conversely, crimes committed by white people are under-reported by the news media. The news media "humanizes" white criminals, presenting a narrative of a good person who somehow went wrong. By comparison, black and brown "criminals" are monsters. Thus, there is no effort to psychologize, explain, or understand what would motivate the latter to break the law. Why? The White Gaze deems deviance and bad behavior as the natural state of affairs for black people: this is especially true of black men.

The killing of an unarmed black teen named Michael Brown by the incompetent white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri is one more example of how the news media defaults to a habit where black people need to be saints and angels in order to receive a modicum of its empathy and sympathy. The news media's desire to niggerize Michael Brown is greater than the obligation to locate his life within a broader context. This is a function of old fashioned racism, implicit bias, and a deep American cultural belief that black people are inherently pathological and dysfunctional.

America's news rooms are predominantly white, the media is dominated by white men, and the American "public" as imagined by the corporate media elite is "naturally" white. Consequently, the white racial frame operates at every level of the corporate media to naturalize whiteness as good and normal while blackness is made into something grotesque, bad, maladaptive, and deviant.

The depiction of black criminality as salacious and common is also circulated and legitimated by a massive prison industrial entertainment complex that includes TV shows such as Cops, The First 48, Orange is the New Black, Lockup, etc.

On Monday, The New York Times slurred Michael Brown's memory by defaulting to a narrative of black criminality and bad behavior in this much-discussed piece. The Times then issued a piss poor weak sauce raggedy explanation for their observation that Michael Brown "was no angel". The editors of the Times should be embarrassed by their rebuttal: it is a pathetic lie, one that the liar himself would not even believe.

Writing at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates has returned from his walkabout and self-imposed contemplative exile and retreat to write about the murder of Michael Brown by the cowardly killer cop named Darren Wilson.

"Michael Brown's Unremarkable Humanity" is a short and honest essay. As good writing does, it moved me to think about my own life in relation to how Michael Brown has been "niggerized" by the news media. If a snapshot of my life, either as an adult or as a child/teenager, was condensed down to a few hundred words, in an essay lacking any connective tissue or context for who I am (or alternatively would like to believe that I am) how would the story read?

Moreover, what cultural biases and frameworks would be used by the reader and the public to interpret the meaning of my life as a working class black man?

I could pull out some gems about school, grades, and other achievements. But, my personal life inventory contains some of the following facts and details too. Someone working to niggerize or otherwise slur my life and memory would likely emphasize events from my childhood that could potentially be viewed as nebulous, problematic, or titillating.

For example:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Did Chauncey DeVega Survive His Epic Battle With Godzilla? Photos and a Report from Chicago Comic Con 2014

I had a great time at Chicago Comic Con 2014. I would like to thank all of the nice people who threw money into the donation bucket to make that trip possible. I did not need my Stree Overlord pills. However, I did engage in an epic battle with Godzilla--that I lost in short order. I was subsequently healed with a large dose of beer, chicken tenders, and supplies from the Dollar Store.

The Star Trek panel was fun. After seeing all of the Star Trek. The Next Generation cast and William Shatner together, my suspicion that the latter really is a bit of a "challenging" personality is now fully confirmed. When the panel inevitably makes its way to Youtube, do watch it to see Shatner's perpetual line stepping and Burton's putting him back in his proper place.

Here is a picture of Brent Spiner ("Data") and Levar Burton ("Geordi") from their Q and A session on Saturday:

I attended the Guardians of the Galaxy panel featuring Michael Rooker and David Batista. I was lucky enough to ask Batista a question which he answered in a direct and honest fashion--there is something down to Earth and real about the brother. He came up the hard way, becoming a wrestler and an actor relatively late in life. You can sense that in his demeanor. The panel was fun and we all got the added bonus of doing some Groot dancing...

There were some great costumes at Chicago Comic Con. The amount of detail and time that cosplayers put into their work is very impressive. The difference between the average and expert costumes are significant: it is all in the details, commitment to accuracy, materials, and craftsmanship.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Semi-Open Thread: Will I Need My 'Stree Overlord' Sex Enhancement Pills at Chicago Comic Con 2014?

Earlier today, I stopped by Chinatown in order to buy some candy to snack on while at Chicago Comic Con 2014. In the store that sells the overpriced ginseng, assorted teas, candies, and scary looking things in glass jars embossed with  labels and price tags that were written in Chinese, I discovered the Stree Overlord super sex power pills.

They cost 30 dollars. One can buy them online for far less. Price gouging offends me on principle even as the copyright infringing logo of Street Fighter 2 characters engaged in vigorous coital thrusting intrigues me. I wonder if Stree Overlord will have a powerful placebo effect--or alternatively cause a priapism--on its users? I will leave such discoveries to other, more brave explorers.

[In middle school, I knew such a courageous young man. He used "Spanish fly" with one of his conquests. Several weeks later, he complained that his "dingus" was burning. Our Lothario attributed such pains to the Spanish fly; we all know that the root of his complications lay elsewhere.] 

Stree Overlord sexual enhancement pills make me smile. I am a big kid. There is much ghetto nerd energy channeled by them. Alas, I do not not need such aids. My Ming the Merciless power potion is more than enough to arouse my aging lingam.

Moreover, I am attending Chicago Comic Con 2014 because of the kind friends of this site: thus, I will receive my fill of ghetto nerd energy in other ways. I have already thanked folks for their kind donations via email. Now, I would like to publicly thank those good, kind, generous, and supportive folks who threw some money into the donation bucket to send me to Chicago Comic Con 2014. I would also like to give a more general "thank you" to all of the folks who have ever donated to, commented on, or shared my work here on WARN or elsewhere. Your support is very much appreciated.

I will be recharging my batteries this weekend. I will post some photos of the event on Sunday or Monday. I have my fancy pink linen eating shirt, white linen pants, and fancified summer walking shoes ready for Sunday's Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion event. I can't wait to see William Shatner moderating a panel with all of the Trek: TNG cast. Awesomeness awaits me.

As is our weekend habit, do treat this as a semi-open thread to share and discuss whatever issues of public or private concern that you would like to offer up. I will be checking in from time to time. But, most of my energy will be spent on people watching, going to discussions, and having other assorted fun at Chicago Comic Con 2014.

There is also an Outback Steakhouse near the convention center that is hosting Comic Con. I love me some Outback. I consider it one of the jewels of the mid-tier American dining pyramid. It is below Maggiano's but distinctly better than Friday's. While there, I will relish my chicken wings, a steak and shrimp combo, and several margaritas in honor of the friends of We Are Respectable Negroes.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Profits of Racism: The Coward Darren Wilson Who Killed Michael Brown Has Now Raised 170,000 Dollars

“Ferguson” is now a meme as opposed to a place; it is a story that individuals can read themselves into depending on their own politics, values, and life experiences.

A person’s response to the explosive combination of race, crime, and the law in Ferguson is a litmus test for deeper political values and life experiences.

Black Americans have historically and in the present been victims of police abuse and disproportionately punished by a racist and classist criminal “justice” system. The killing of Michael Brown is one more death in a necropolis of unarmed black people killed by white police, white street vigilantes, and others with like power and orientation.

The killing of Michael Brown is not a surprise or a shock to most black Americans. We have either personally experienced racially motivated harassment by police authorities, have a relative or friend who has, or live in a community where such norms govern our day-to-day lives and limit our full citizenship. Police abuse is part of the collective memory of black Americans. Understanding how to navigate that maze and mine field is a necessary skill which is taught to us early in life.

Black parents, and those others who love black or brown children, have to rob the latter of their childhood innocence by teaching them that their very personhood will be looked at as a threat by the police and other white authority figures. We have to tell our children that they will be “niggerized” even if they are unarmed innocent victims. We will adultify them so that they will not be surprised when the world does so in ways much, much crueler.

Responsible parents and mentors of black children must rob them of their innocence by teaching them about the realities of life in a racist society. We are their “hard masters”. These lessons are not mean or some type of child abuse. No, they are acts of love, because if you love your child you want them to live, prosper, and grow into adulthood. A black child who does not learn how to interact with the police is more likely to end up killed and dead at the end of a police officer's pistol or rifle.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Semi-Open Thread: Balancing Smiles and Cries About the Events in Ferguson and Michael Brown by Watching Baby Groot Dance in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

The events in Ferguson, Missouri are critically important. While we reflect on them, it is also essential to maintain a balance between our smiles and cries.

As such, I will continue to post essays and comments on the murder of Michael Brown by the thug police in Ferguson.


Something is happening there which is connected to the angst and rage felt and experienced by the young, the Other, and the subaltern around the world. Moreover, I love it when American Exceptionalism is forced to confront how unexceptional it really is because that experience, if channeled properly, can make the United States a better place.

I will be recharging myself this weekend at Chicago's Comic Con. I am able to take that medicinal and sanatorium-like holiday because of the kindness and generosity of the friends of WARN. You have my back whenever I extend my hand; you help to push the sails on this ship forward. I will be going to Comic Con in good style, and not in the cheap seats, because of your positive energy. I thank you very, very, much. 

As promised, I will keep you all informed about my adventure.

Baby Groot, a character in the great movie Guardians of the Galaxy, makes me happy. Groot fills me with smiles. He is my happy pill in the summer of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

What are you doing to keep yourself balanced and happy? 

The culture of cruelty exhausts those who oppose it. Your and our greatest defense against it, is to maintain a balanced, happy, positive, and focused state of mind in the face of wickedness. 

White supremacy wants to exhaust black and brown folks--and those white folks who have decided to stand with us against it. 

Your positivity and sanity are a direct blow against white supremacy. We are not crazy. It is they who are deranged.

Do treat this as a semi-open thread in which to share information about the events in Ferguson, Missouri relative to the killing of Michael Brown by a cowardly thug police officer. I have one caveat: if you share a news item or other bit of information that is of public concern relative to the events in Ferguson, I also request that you tell us how you are staying positive, happy, and wise in these times.

Smiles and cries folks. Smiles and cries. 

Do please balance them. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Michael Brown and Ferguson in Historical Context: No One Does It Better. White People are America's Foremost Experts on Rioting

Events continue to develop in Ferguson, Missouri. In the aftermath of Sunday night's civil disturbances, the Missouri's Governor has deployed the national guard to supplement the local police department. The autopsy results on Michael Brown's body indicate he was shot several times in the face, arm, and torso. The evidence from the autopsy is consistent with the witnesses who say that Michael Brown was surrendering and the killer cop Darren Wilson shot him multiple times. 

President Barack Obama delivered a careful and empty statement on the events in Ferguson, Missouri where he played Scold-in-Chief for Black America while also trying to condemn police violence in his role as Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the United States. Eric Holder--Obama's conscience and mouth piece on matters of the color line--is going to Ferguson to monitor the federal investigation into the murder of Michael Brown.

Ferguson is now a theater for race and politics. It features many actors.

Historians, sociologist, political scientists, and other experts who could put these events within a broader context have not been featured by the mainstream media. For example, I have yet to hear someone talk about the Kerner Commission Report on national TV or radio. Alas, for the corporate news media the money is in the sizzle and not the steak. Consequently, substantive answers to questions about the horrible events in Ferguson are less compelling than is a narrative that the events in Ferguson are a surprise, mysterious, or complicated.

To point.

The Right-wing propaganda machine has offered up a woman by the name of "Josie" who has crawled out the bowels of the White Right's propaganda sewer to now be interviewed by CNN about "what really happened" when Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. 

Josie is a Darren Wilson's low rent version of "Deep Throat".

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Inevitable 'Niggerization' of Michael Brown by the Ferguson Police Department and the Right-Wing Hate Media

First, I would like to thank all of you who kindly shared your resources for the informal "Send Chauncey Devega to Chicago Comic Con 2014" donation drive. I will send out individual emails of thanks very shortly. We are now very close to making that happen. You are such a very kind and generous group of people. I mean that. Wow.
The niggerization of Michael Brown has begun in earnest. The police and the Right-wing media have decided that like all other black people who have been killed by the police and white (identified) vigilantes, Brown is guilty of causing his own execution-style murder.

Writing about the behavior of the police department in Ferguson, Missouri and their efforts to derail, obfuscate, lie, and dissemble about the murder of Michael Brown is an experience akin to Bill Murray's in the movie Groundhog Day. It is a cultural script that plays out repeatedly in the United States--the events of which are only a surprise to the naive, willfully ignorant, dishonest, and/or stupid.

Those of us who write about race and work the "racism beat" have to struggle to find something new to say about the seemingly endless parade of black unarmed men killed by police and other white-identified authorities. Being a truth-teller on such matters is tedious, not easy, and mentally exhausting.

Cornel West's use of the word "niggerization" to describe how black people are robbed of their humanity by the White Gaze and White Supremacy is cited and mentioned so frequently for a reason: it is one of the most precise and sharp ways of describing both the institutional as well as the ethical and moral violence visited upon black people by centuries of white racism in the United States and the West.

While "Black Twitter" developed a meme designed to point out the twin lying nature of the White Gaze and racial paranoia in how it selectively frames black people's humanity, Right-wing hate media such as the Drudge Report, Fox News, and other conservative sewers defaulted to the black rapist "Bigger Thomas" frame, wherein Michael Brown is a "thug" who got "what he deserved":

Sociologist Joe Feagin's concept of the white racial frame dominates this moment:
In the book Systemic Racism I develop the concept of a white racial frame holistically and comprehensively. Since its development in the 17th century, this racial frame has been a “master frame,” a dominant framing that provides a generic meaning system for the racialized society that became the United States. The white racial frame provides the vantage point from which European American oppressors have long viewed North American society. 
In this racial framing, whites have combined racial stereotypes (the cognitive aspect), metaphors and interpretive concepts (the deeper cognitive aspect), images (the visual aspect), emotions (feelings), and inclinations to discriminatory action. This frame buttresses, and grows out of the material reality of racial oppression. The complex of racial hierarchy, material oppression, and the rationalizing white racial frame constitute what I term systemic racism. This white racial frame includes much more than the usual concepts we use in the study of racial matters, such as stereotyping and prejudice or discrimination.
Black people who have had violence visited upon them by the white racial state and its agents are forced into a type of bizarro world. Like women who are the victims of sexual assault, black victims are forced to defend their right to exist; rapine logic as applied to women is a neat analogy for white racial logic as it applies to black victims of white police (and other) abuse. In this framework, Michael Brown, Renisha McBride, and Trayvon Martin were somehow asking to be killed.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A 'Ghetto Nerd' With Hands Open and Outstretched: Can You Help Chauncey Devega Attend Chicago Comic Con 2014?

With all of the madness in Ferguson, Missouri, I just need to cleanse my palate for a moment...

If one does not ask he or she most certainly will not receive.

Two years ago, the good friends of We Are Respectable Negroes threw monies into the donation bucket so that I could attend the World Science Fiction Convention here in Chicago. I greatly appreciated the gesture. It was good fun. I showed the flag for WARN, networked, attended some panels, and offered up some disruptive and challenging interventions against those who thought that "sci-fi" was/is synonymous with white and male.

Chicago Comic Con 2014 is taking place next week from August 21st to the 24th. I would very much like to attend the event. I had actually put the money aside to go. Alas, the universe had other plans.

Many of you can likely relate to the following experience.

As the only child of a parent who is getting older, I have learned that calls in the middle of the night are rarely good; a series of voice mails left minutes apart from the same number labeled "mom" in the cell phone are assuredly never good; and when the timbre of my mother's voice begins to change over the course of several days (especially at the end of the month) I know that money will be leaving my wallet and going somewhere else.

So between having to pay for her car to get fixed and the other related expenses from that accident, as well as her most recent crisis (of which there seem to be more of as time goes on), the money I had allotted for a nice and fun few days at Chicago Comic Con 2014 has gone to take care of my "adult responsibilities".

I will always help her out of love, and would thus never deny my mother anything--even if I could not reasonably provide it. But, said responsibilities are still demanding, stressful, and require that resources be reallocated from one ledger column to another from time to time.

We have many kind donors who support my work here and elsewhere. I do not want them to feel a sense of obligation. The other friends and supporters of WARN should also not feel any pressure to contribute to my informal "send Chauncey DeVega to Chicago Comic Con 2014" effort.

There are enough folks who read, enjoy, and find my work useful on a daily and/or weekly basis, that hopefully, their contributions will likely be sufficient for my trip.

1. As I did with Worldcon, I will post some photos of Chicago Comic Con 2014, Tweet if I can, and share my experiences there with all of you as is my habit.

2. If I can conduct some interviews with interesting folks while at Chicago Comic Con 2014, I will do that too.

3. There are some great guests and panels scheduled for Chicago Comic Con 2014. I will be checking out the Star Trek: TNG reunion (fingers crossed I will still be able to get tickets), the various TNG panels, and the discussions on race and gender in comics, graphic novels, and other genre entertainment. I will also try to get a ticket for the Guardians of the Galaxy panel discussion.

4. Plus, Chicago Comic Con 2014 is my several weeks early birthday gift to myself, and also a moment to recharge my batteries before the school year begins. Who wouldn't want to give Chauncey DeVega a birthday gift? I am so cuddly and sweet! Plus, Virgos are the nicest and coolest Zodiac signs. We give nice hugs...or so I have been told.

5. Let's be real. Chicago Comic Con 2014 will be lots of fun. How can I not make my best effort to attend it?

6. Any monies above what I need to go to Chicago Comic Con 2014 will be donated to some of the homeless brothers and sisters who I try to say "hello" to during my daily walks around Chicago. I will be especially generous to those folks who have pets.

If you can, and are able, do please throw some centavos into the donation bucket via the Paypal link on the right hand sidebar. Alternatively, you should be able to click here and access it as well--Paypal can be fickle, but it should ultimately work.

Again, and as always, thanks for the kindness and support.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

10 Ways that Racism Killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner

A New York City police officer put his arm around Eric Garner’s neck and choked out his life as he screamed “I can’t breathe!”

A police officer in Ferguson, MO aimed his gun at Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager and shot him multiple times while he reportedly pleaded, “I don't have a gun. Stop shooting!”

Michael Brown lay dead in the street for hours. The police treated his body like common street refuse.

While the police ended the lives of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, it was white racism that actually killed them.

American society is organized around the maintenance and protection of white privilege.

Racism is not an opinion. Racism is a fact. 

The reality of the color line, how whiteness is a type of material and psychological privilege, and that people of color are disadvantaged in American society, are among the most repeated findings in all of the Social Sciences.

Critics of white supremacy and white racism work from the reasonable and informed belief—given the mountains of empirical data in support of the claim—that racism is one of the most powerful social forces in the United States. White racism deniers, and those others who have perverted the notion of “colorblindness” in order to advance and protect white supremacy as one of the United States' dominant ideologies, proceed from the opposite assumption.

Gravity is a fact. It does not need an extraordinary proof. Likewise, the fact of how racism continues to structure life chances in the post civil rights era should be a given for any fair-minded and intelligent person.

Colorblind racism and the white racial frame invert and distort reality: reasonable and sensible claims are rejected in favor of extraordinary proofs for the well documented social reality that is white racism. As such, for white racism deniers and their allies, the standards of evidence are made so absurdly high as to be virtually impossible to satisfy or meet with any degree of confidence or certitude.

Events such as the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown are a nexus where white racial resentment and white supremacy are made to confront black pain, reasonable hurt and righteous anger.

From the American lynching tree of the 19th and early 20th centuries, to the police harassment and racial profiling of the present, white racial logic deems black humanity to be a type of perpetual threat and poison in the white body politic. The black body must be controlled and terrorized in order to create a sense of safety (and community) for the white public.

Consequently, white racial paranoia twists the murder of two unarmed black people by the police into “justifiable” acts, where the victims of gross and unjust violence are somehow made responsible for their own deaths.

Colorblind racism, white racism denying, and police brutality do the work of white supremacy. They are also micro-aggressions, the goal of which is to exhaust and confuse black and brown people by invalidating their life experiences and assaulting (quite literally in the case of police violence) their personhood. 

Colorblind racism, and the related claims that racism does not influence how police and the broader criminal justice system interact with black and brown people, are also assaults on empirical reality and the truth.

Justice for Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and the many hundreds and thousands of innocent black and brown people who have been killed by the police requires a clear and direct engagement with the twin facts of American racism and white supremacy.

Eric Garner and Michael Brown were killed by white racism. 

What is my evidence for this claim?