When TV collides with life: Trump, House of Cards, FBI & CSI Cyber

Standard

Quick note to start – yes, I am still training and fundraising. In fact, it would be fabulous if you would throw in $30 to the cause. I pretty much need $30/day for the rest of the time to meet the minimum. Also, things are starting to hurt a little. I’ll save that for another update (really!).

Project Athena Harbor to Harbor – $1,800 needed, please help!

And now, on to the main event!

These are the thoughts rattling through my head in recent weeks.

The first, I realized while watching the story about the FBI and Apple unfold that my impression of the whole scenario was being influenced not by any actual knowledge I have, but by the TV shows I watch! As I would read how the FBI needed Apple to create a back door hack into an iPhone that had been used by one of the San Bernadino terrorist attackers, all I could think was “But why? Can’t they just hack it themselves?! They do it ALL THE TIME on CSI Cyber!” You know, just throw the phone at Crummy and he’ll just type away madly on a keyboard for 20 seconds and VOILA! Phone unlocked! That’s all real isn’t it? Seriously I have just been SO unimpressed with the the REAL agents did here – asking the county to change the password and somehow not knowing how to get the backed up data or perhaps even locking themselves out of it? Meanwhile, since it was the guy’s work phone, not his personal one, I seriously doubt there’s anything on it worth having. At this point I am pretty much leaning towards being happy that Apple is standing their ground. Makes me feel pretty good knowing that darn little pass code I have on my phone is so impenetrable!

As an aside, can we talk about how damn awful CSI: Cyber is? I got suckered into watching it since my son and I are addicted to all things CSI and we were feeling major withdrawals when the original one wrapped up. I liked that they transitioned the Ted Danson character over form Vegas to DC, but from the absolutely atrocious episode that aired most recently, it looks like he is now out of there. I swear he probably went to the producers and said “Dear god, please write me out! The writing and acting are pitiful! I don’t need a paycheck this bad!” I mean, CSI: Miami was not anything fabulous either, but at least they seemed to be writing that one with tongue firmly planted in cheek. That’s why the Horatio meme of making a dramatic statement and then sliding on sunglasses is still going strong on the internet! But Cyber has NO CLUE they are bad. They are just…really really bad.

Meanwhile….House of Cards Season 4 dropped. WOW. No spoilers, but I pretty much think I loved this one as much as Season 1. Like most I totally binge watched, though I did spread it out over 3 nights. Here’s the thing though: some of the “Holy shit did they just DO that?” bite was somewhat diminished by what is happening in our very REAL election this year!! Every time I would think “No Presidential candidate could get away with THAT sort of theatrics/scheming etc.”, I would think to myself “Oh yeah. Trump.” That man has broken every single rule of class, decorum, leadership, respectability….whatever you want to call it. At this point I don’t even care what his policies are, I am just stunned at what he says, the vitriol he incites, and now the way his own supporters are behaving at his events. I mean (and this isn’t a spoiler)…there is a segment on House of Cards when an old picture of Frank Underwood’s father standing next to a Grand Master of the KKK is blown up and draped over a billboard in his home state of South Carolina. As always, Frank wiggles out from under what would normally be an End Of Your Campaign moment. But THEN…I immediately flashed to Donald Trump being endorsed by David Duke (he of the modern day KKK/White Supremacy movement). I remembered the many times when he, personally, has re-tweeted statements made by known White Supremacist leaders. Just today there is an NPR story about a family who has never been involved in politics who is now phone banking for Trump. The images show the woman with tattoos on her hands depicting the Hitler 88 symbol and the white supremacy associated star. And is ANY of this sticking to Trump in a negative way to devalue his campaign? He claims he doesn’t know about “any of that” and he simply manages to bluster louder than the people who deign to question him. And does it impact his campaign? Hell, from where I sit it seems to be HELPING him to have latched onto these sorts of voters because damn if he didn’t win a bunch of states again yesterday!

Please take note that in House of Cards, it was about the character’s FATHER’s association with Klansmen. This is directly about the candidate himself. In real life!

I just….really…don’t understand how the GOP 2016 campaign has turned into something LESS shocking than House of Cards! Are we living in a reality TV show?

Please tell me a President Trump would really NOT be worse than a President Underwood?

Just my .02 – I’ll go back to either working or walking now.

 

 

 

NOT Acceptable

Standard

I was listening to This Week In Blackness Prime yesterday as they discussed/reacted to the despicable shooting in Charleston that happened this week. The phone lines were open and at one point a caller from Georgia spoke about living in the south where “an acceptable amount of racism” is just always in existence.

Now, I get that she meant that people IN the south just accept it. Not that racism itself is ever acceptable in her mind. The problem is, I have heard this line before and it ALWAYS makes my hair stand on end.

NO, there is NEVER an ACCEPTABLE level of racism.

There is also never an acceptable level of homophobia, trans-phobia, islamophobia, antisemitism, misogyny, or any kind of ‘phobia’ or ‘ism’ that centers around the demonizing and “othering” of humans!

When it came up on the podcast, the caller also responded when asked what does she DO when she hears the random ‘n’ word and racist jokes (which is what she considers the culturally embedded level of accepted racism) and she said she would be exhausted if she pushed back on every single one.

Yeah, well, I imagine it is even more exhausting for the person who IS in the category being attacked. For how do they know if the person telling the joke or using the derogatory term is “just” your casual everyday racist or could turn into someone who would kill them?

I immediately flashed back to around the year 2006 or 2007. I was at a party with a bunch of the families who we knew thanks to my son’s participation in youth sports. One of the men who I had known since our kids were in kindergarten and who I really respected and enjoyed being around used the “f” word. No, not fuck – you know me, I will type that one – he used the one to put down gays. I remember it like it was yesterday. In my head I know I groaned, then I checked myself for maybe 2 seconds, and then…I told him I didn’t think he should use that word any more than he would use the ‘n’ word. I swear that time stopped and it was just SO quiet as he looked at me after this very mild chastising and I knew I was risking my friendship with him by doing that….but….to his credit he said “I’m sorry. You are right, I should back away from that term.” and we went right on talking easily (and still do to this day). PHEW, but…the point is…I HAD to say something because it wasn’t acceptable at all.

My story was easy though. I don’t live in the south or in a place where there is an underlining level of “acceptable” phobias and isms. I can stand here and say that I will *always* push back against those words but I am also fairly confident I wont ever be around them that much.

Words matter. They really do. The rise in the last 20 years of combative, loud mouthed radio and TV programs disguised as “news” has eroded our ability to be empathetic allies. It’s more “acceptable” to be a hyper critical bully putting down everyone with whom he disagrees than it is to be kind, measured, pragmatic and empathetic particularly in media and politics.

This country celebrates “anyone can make it here” reputation. We love to talk about how inclusive we are. Freedom! Independence! Democracy! Be who you want to be, worship how you want to worship! Yet we say there is an “acceptable” level of racism in certain areas?

I say that I agree with the people who say it is time to “take our country back!” Only thing is, I want to take it back from THEM – the bullies and white supremacists and people who carry around deep seeded phobias of OTHER PEOPLE! I want to take the country back and actually turn it INTO the place it was meant to be. No fear of differences, all inclusive and equal opportunity for all.

Now THAT would be acceptable.

Debunking An Oft-Used Term: Black on Black Crime

Standard

Sorry to get serious, but sometimes I need to get these thoughts out there so that they stop spinning around in my head. In this case, I also want to preserve some data from a valuable post at Demos from last summer:

Black on Black Crime Facts

Additionally – in MOST cases, crimes are committed inTRAracially. Folks naturally gravitate to people of their own culture. Sure, we mix it up here and there in some urban centers and at work but LARGELY people spend their off hours within their own race/cultural background. Therefore, the opportunity for crimes happens within our own spaces. White on white, black on black, Hispanic on Hispanic, Asian on Asian etc.

When someone brings up the “black on black crime” topic, what they are doing is perpetuating the MYTH of “scary black people” and also DERAILING (often successfully) any constructive conversations that are attempted on race relations.

Don’t fall for it.

Own Your White Privilege

Standard

Since I wrote this post: Dear Trayvon last year, you knew I had to react to the verdict after the trial of George Zimmerman.  Let me share with you some things I’ve learned over the last year and a half.

I HONESTLY had NEVER heard of, or at least, internalized the concept of White Privilege before last year. That post in reaction to Trayvon’s murder was me expressing myself rather passionately after truly coming face to face with what it meant. That it means my sons can walk around without worrying about HALF of things that non-white people have to worry about.

Yes, I say “non-white” not just black because that is the reality in America.

I think back to over a decade ago when my Chinese American boyfriend described to me how he was profiled on the streets of the house he had purchased. A neighborhood of over half million dollar homes back then. He was driving a bit of a “beater” car as he called it since he used to have two jobs and his second job was in food delivery. He wasn’t going to risk the wear and tear, and food smells in a nice car when he did that job. He was questioned outside his new home twice as the homes were under construction. Once by a security cop tasked with keeping an eye on the newly framed homes, and once by a policeman patrolling the area. On one occasion there was another soon to be neighbor – white – also checking out his new property who was not approached. White privilege on display.

Now I need to introduce you to some folks who have exposed me to the continuing concept of it that has made me more deeply aware of how it is all around me, all the time.

IMG_3104

Elon James White, Aaron Rand Freeman and Dacia Mitchell aka Team Blackness from the ThisWeekInBlackness podcast.  I’ve been listening to all their shows since before Trayvon, but no voices have been more clear and reasonable on the topic than theirs. This pic is from NN13 in San Jose when I was lucky to sit in front of them as they broadcast from there. I’m not getting into that here, that will be a post on my other site as I continue my NN13 write up…BUT…last night after the verdict came in, they jumped online at the spur of the moment and started broadcasting live and taking phone calls. Three hours last night, and another three this morning. Just letting people vent. And no, not all black people.

In fact, one of the first calls that really stuck in my mind was a white teacher from the midwest teaching mostly black children who wanted to know what he could do for his students. He wanted to make sure he knew the right way to let them talk and direct and hopefully ease their anger and anxieties. Allies like him are golden.

But then there were many moms and dads calling in. Expressing fears and anger similar to my first post. How their children cannot walk through their days in the same way that white children can. A mom talking about how her 13 year old cried upon learning of the verdict and expressed how the results sent him the message that he was expendable.

That was a really hard message to hear. But, I get it. There is a constant message out there that (as Jasiri X wrote in his song about Trayvon) “Only white life is protected in America.” I never thought about that, and of course I don’t want to believe that it is ALWAYS that way 100% of the time, but I am certainly completely aware that it IS that way a vast majority of the time.

I get why the callers expressed feelings of still not being completely valued as 100% American citizens in their own country. Look at the recent ruling about the Voting Rights Act. There are some deeply felt opinions – amongst the straight white males seeped neck deep in their privilege – that racism is not a problem anymore. Oh, they are so wrong.

It is different to be sure, but it is not GONE.

Aaron called in and expressed his sadness at learning that a good friend – a “brother” who he loves, but who is white – displayed his white privilege last night in reaction to the verdict. He referred to Trayvon as a troublemaker. A thug, just as the defense had so effectively argued. In other words, as Aaron said, his friend thought Trayvon was “shootable”. You could hear the hurt in Aaron’s voice. Some people don’t get that it had NO bearing on the case what Trayvon had done before. He was not expendable. not shootable. Not a valid target for arbitrary elimination. There are white people who think that they are not racist, and they probably are not 100% of the time. But like Aaron’s friend, they also have bought into some narratives about black men that influences their opinions on their value. This friend really does NOT understand, or empathize, with the reality of Aaron’s daily life in New York when he can be stopped and frisked for no earthly reason. He doesn’t GET that they could be walking together, and Aaron would be stopped, and he would not and the worst part is, he probably doesn’t think that would be a problem. Well, he would think it was unfair if it happens to Aaron because he knows Aaron isn’t a “thug”, but he doesn’t think it would be a problem for most other black men.

White privilege AND unconscious racism right there.

I think the one that struck me the deepest though was the last call of the night. A fourth generation military veteran. Black. Who cried talking about how he still isn’t free in his own country. He makes sure he has a veteran tag on his license plate so that WHEN (not if) he is pulled over the cops will see he served his country and maybe not hassle him too much. The same country that looks at him with wary eyes. That clutches its purse tighter and walks over to the other side of the street of slides further away on the park bench or bus. Because he is *never* seen primarily as one of US, but as one of THEM. A scary black man. Though he has done nothing to deserve that. He wept talking about how he LOVED that when he was in Germany, if he was harassed, he knew it was for being an AMERICAN. And only that. When he comes home, he is harassed for being black. He still doesn’t feel like he belongs.

Whites have privilege. My older son has had multiple run ins with the law. But I never feared for his life or safety. When he approached the many judges he did, I never felt he wouldn’t get a fair shake. He was hampered and delayed in clearing up his court issues due to his own lack of responsibility and money. But, he is done now. He’s cleared all his cases and debts and will have his driver’s license back next week. I have a hard time believing that if he were black, it would not have been much worse.

Here is the message that I took away from the conversations as I wondered what I could do:

Talk and listen to people not like you. Empathize with their situation. Be an ally.

Recognize and own your white privilege. Because every time one of us does that, it loses a little of its power.

#JusticeForTrayvon

He started it!

Standard

He started it

Ah, the classic way to dodge responsibility for your own bad behavior – point the finger at someone else who has done the same thing as if that somehow absolves you of guilt.

Happens in the political sphere ALL THE TIME. Conservatives disrupting town hall meetings preventing any real discussions from happening? It’s OK, the left did the same thing during the attempts to privatize social security! Joe Wilson says those famous two words during a Presidential address and the *first* thing I heard was “Did the Dems ever do anything like that?” as if finding an example of their bad manners would excuse his. Oh and the left does it too. So many times on the blogs I’ve seen “But THEY started it!” or “They do it too, and worse than us!” and so on and so on. Tit for tat and no one ever actually acknowledges that whatever the behavior is is just flat out wrong and unacceptable no matter WHO does it. And therefore no one ever stops.

If you are still defiantly thinking it’s a perfectly acceptable way to get out of trouble,how about in this scenario?

At a youth football game, a coach is screaming at his kids. Loudly. Loud enough that everyone on the other side can hear it. Dropping f-bombs and other foul language and statements at his own players, at the opponents, at the refs, you name it, he’s yelling at ’em. You are a volunteer parents holding the down markers for the game which are held on the same side as this offensive coach. For reasons you don’t understand, the referee is not flagging this coach. Yes, they can hear him because one of them even says to you as he walks by “Man, I’ve about had enough of this” but nothing happens. Finally, after 3 quarters of this nonsense and with him standing right next to you as he yells you cannot help it and say something like “I really think you should control your language around these kids. Not to mention that everyone in the stands can hear you.” His response? “Well, that side does it too!” You respond with “First of all, no, I haven’t heard anything close to your language from the other side at all and, even if I did, what bearing does that have on your behavior?” Which of course elicits an even more vitriolic response from the coach and now there is attention being paid to the sideline and who gets flagged and thrown out? Yep – you – the volunteer parent who was trying to get the guy to behave! But you, rather than playing the “He started it!” card and arguing with the refs who you KNOW heard this stuff, calmly represent your side with some dignity and leave without incident so the real point of everything – the kid’s game – can continue in relative peace.

So what happened there? The coach was clearly in the wrong correct? Even IF the other side was “doing it too”. All that would have meant is that both sides were wrong. The point was, the behavior needed to stop. You would probably have no argument with that if you had to hear your kids being yelled at like that, right?

Since when did we stop insisting that people actually grow OUT of their childhood bad habits? Since when did we, as a nation, start letting people get away with the “He started it!” crap?

When is bad behavior just BAD no matter who does it? What example are we setting for our kids? Do you let your kids get away with this? I doubt it! I mean, if you would have gotten in trouble for that kind of out of control, rude, uncivilized nonsense as a kid, then for heavens sake don’t even *think* about doing it as an adult! Or are we really just letting the loud, insecure bullies take over?

I don’t care who used Hitler as a comparison to which President first or that both sides have done it – it’s just plain WRONG – stop it!

I don’t care that both sides have shouted down debate in town hall meetings – it stifles healthy exchanges of ideas that could help everyone and it’s just RUDE – stop it!

I don’t care who started cussing out their team first – it’s also just plain WRONG – stop it!

I don’t care who started it – I want to be able to say like I did to that parent who walked away at the right time – “Thank you for being the adult” and stopping it.