Seattle Takes Steps to Eliminate Institutional Racism

Look at Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes hold it down versus Fox’s Megyn Kelly!

Fox News anchor Kelly, to her horror, recently learned of Seattle’s anti-racist initiatives, and was able to manufacture a controversy out of them five years after they were implemented. City Attorney Holmes didn’t find it too challenging to defend his work to reduce institutional racism.

“If we start to learn and understand that one of those institutional causes of racism is actually in the criminal justice system,” [Pete] Holmes said, “it’s our obligation as prosecutors to address it.”

Police Chief John Diaz supports the social justice initiative.

“We firmly and wholly support those programs,” Diaz said. “This is something that’s critical to how we run our department and this city.”

Sadly, Megyn Kelly isn’t the only one to find improved treatment of racial minorities and immigrants suspicious. Seattle Police Officer (but, interestingly, non-Seattle resident) Steve Pomper calls anyone who supports racial justice initiatives “the enemy.”

“The city, using its Race and Social Justice Initiative, continues its assault on traditional and constitutional American values such as self-reliance, equal justice, and individual liberty,” Pomper says. “But more to our concern, the city is inflicting its socialist policies directly on the Seattle Police Department.”

The staunchly anti-socialist Pomper is a member of the police union and is paid $96,696 a year by the tax payers, putting him in the top 20% of wage earners in the United States. Clearly, being encouraged to be less racist has caused him serious harm.

The “controversial” anti-racist initiatives include training to reduce racial profiling, reducing sentences for certain crimes by 1 day to avoid triggering automatic deportation for immigrants, and reducing prosecution for “driving with a suspended license in the third degree” (a nonviolent, non-repeat offender charge that was disproportionately leveled at Seattle’s minorities).

More deets:

Driving with a suspended license in the third degree is almost always charged when a person’s license has been suspended for failure to pay a fine. City Attorney Pete Holmes says 44 percent of the people prosecuted were African American. …[H]is goal is to reduce prosecutions by 90 percent. (**blogger’s note: Blacks make up 10.7% of Seattle’s population)

…[Holmes is also] considering a one-day reduction in the minimum sentence for misdemeanor crimes so as to not trigger the deportation of legal immigrants convicted of crimes in the city. A 365-day suspended sentence automatically initiates immigration hearings for any immigrant. Reduce that by one day and immigrants are allowed to stay in the U.S.

Here is an article on this topic by a less adversarial source than Fox News: the Seattle Times.

And here is an article debunking some of the claims made in the video at the top.

Coca-Cola Concocts Flimsy Excuse to Close Unionized Plants

What I learned at Ms.Marx:

According to a Seattle news broadcast this morning, coca-cola is closing 3 plants in Washington (Aberdeen, Bellingham, and Marysville) despite having negotiated with striking workers. These plants will close permanently on September 17th, 2010.

…The main issue in the strike was the company’s attempt to raise insurance premiums for workers. Far from a small increase, workers’ insurance rate would increase as much as 800% and retirees would no longer be able to buy into the health care program. Coca-cola cancelled the striking workers’ benefits, leaving them without any health care and forcing them to return to work prior to bargaining, which left them in a tough position at the bargaining table. The strikers then filed a class action lawsuit and unfair labour practices against the company for cancelling benefits.

…A company spokesman cited a new tax as a reason for closing plants. This tax will cost them a total of 2 cents per can (that will likely be passed on to consumers).

That’s interesting… Coca-Cola recorded $1.54 billion in profit during the last quarter of 2009. It seems like these taxes and unions are a real hardship for them.

Seattle Police Beating Up People of Color

From VivirLatino:

Here is a a video of a white police officer trying to arrest some black teenage women for jaywalking. He punches one in the face. You can read from the police transcript of the event here.

Here is an earlier incident where a white police officer, Shandy Cobane, kicked a young Latino man in the head while calling him racial slurs. The young man was eventually allowed to go free and was charged with no crime.

Notes from Post-Racial America

Arizona Elementary School (Almost) Whitened The Faces Of Its Own Students On A Mural Because Some Racists Yelled At It
From the Huffington Post:

An Arizona elementary school mural featuring the faces of kids who attend the school has been the subject of constant daytime drive-by racist screaming…

From AZ Central:

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity. But the school’s principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.

From Mother Jones:

While creating the mural, “We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” said artist R.E. Wall of the Prescott Downtown Mural Project. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”

I assume you can fill in those blanks.

Prescott Councilmember Steve Blair said on the radio:

“I am not a racist individual, but I will tell you that depicting a black guy in the middle of that mural, based upon who’s President of the United States today, and based upon the history of this community when I grew up, we had four black families, who I have been very good friends with for years, to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, ‘Why?'” (Blair was mistakenly identifying the Hispanic boy on the mural as black.)

Back at Mother Jones:

The school district head and the principal, confronted with a crowd of protesters, made a dramatic about-face and announced by bullhorn that the mural would remain as is. “Miller Valley made made a mistake,” said principal Jeff Lane. “When we asked R. [the artist] to lighten the mural, we made a mistake.”

*My note: “hispanic” is not a race. A person can be hispanic and white, hispanic and brown, hispanic and black. Just saying.

h/t Shenanigans.
Prescott Arizona Mural
My Daughter, Her Hair, and the Seattle School District
Sez Charles Mudede at the Slog:

…just last week, my daughter—who is 8 and happens to be the only brown person in her Accelerated Progress Program class at Thurgood Marshall Elementary—was ordered out of the classroom because her teacher did not like the smell of her hair. The teacher complained that my racially different daughter’s hair (or something—a product—in the hair) was making her sick, and then the teacher made her leave the classroom. My daughter was aware of the racial nature of this expulsion not only because she was made to sit in a classroom that had more black students in it (the implication being that this is where she really belongs, in the lower class with the other black students), but because her teacher, she informed me, owns a dog. Meaning, a dog’s hair gives the teacher less problems than my daughter’s human but curly hair. Most white people do not have to deal with shit like this. Shit that if not checked and confronted will have permanent consequences for the child.

The lawyer hired by the Seattle school district, if he knows anything, knows that THERE’S NO RACISM HERE!

Any allegations of racial insensitivity or negligence are “wholly untrue,” [Kevin] O’Neill says, “because, well, because the district would not tolerate employment of a teacher that has racial animosity towards a student.”

…However, O’Neill also says he doesn’t know what exactly happened or “the reasons that this child was asked to leave.” Until the investigation is complete, he says, it’s unclear what was offensive about the hair product that reportedly made the teacher sick, why the district hadn’t done anything for three days, whether an incident like this had ever occurred before, whether anyone had spoken to the teacher about the incident, whether school district rules prohibit any cosmetics, or what current or future steps are required for the investigation.

Mudede concludes with:

Feeling the seriousness of this situation, we decided not to send our daughter to school until the teacher had medical proof that our daughter’s hair or something in her hair was to blame for the nausea. (The last thing you want to happen to your daughter is for a teacher to faint or vomit at the mere sight of her.)

Days passed and the school took no action. This unresponsiveness left us with no other choice than to turn to a lawyer.

h/t Scorn


JoJo Tran Won Asylum in the US

PhotobucketEdited 7/20/16 to add:

JoJo has contacted me and let me know that he successfully obtained asylum! Congratulations JoJo.

My friend Ally writes:

“Just a moment of your time could save my friend JoJo Tran’s life.

JoJo’s attempts at gaining asylum after being in the US for over 13 years have been denied. At this point, his only hope of staying here and safe from prosecution in Vietnam is if ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) reopens his case. A team of volunteers in Seattle is trying to collect as many signatures as possible to convince them and our local politicians to lean on ICE to do this.”

More info on JoJo.

Here’s the petition.

JoJo’s story:

We are calling for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reopen Dung Anh “JoJo” Tran’s asylum case.

JoJo Tran fled Vietnam in 1996 fearing politically motivated persecution after helping American military veterans as a guide to view sites that the Vietnamese authorities claimed were not authorized, and being called in, questioned and threatened by the Vietnamese intelligence agency.

Since moving to Seatle shortly after his arrival in America in 1996, JoJo has been busy working and volunteering for numerous organizations in the Puget Sound area.

Our updated information from JoJo’s attorney is that March 28 is the last day of his voluntary departure period unless ICE consents to grant him some sort of stay while his petition is being considered.

Help us help this amazing man who has turned adversity and a fourteen year effort to become an American into thousands of hours of volunteering in the community he wants to call home.

Kitty Photographer Has Gallery Show in Seattle

Cooper Interview
Cooper during a TV interview

Cooper, a kittycat in Seattle, currently has a show up of his photographs at the Urban Light Studios in the Greenwood Collective. The gallery website.

His owners attached a small camera to his collar that would take pictures every two minutes. He wore it once a week for a year. Now, his best pieces can be viewed at the gallery or on the internet. You can even own a Cooper original for only $275!

The Seattle PI story.

Macho Christ

Mars Hill

The New York Times has a big story on the Mars Hill church in Seattle, led by fiery hipster pastor Mark Driscoll. Driscoll is a born-again evangelical who got way into Calvinism. Apparently, he has struck upon a method to draw crowds of nontraditional Christians in secular Seattle: by painting an image of a Macho Christ!

New members can keep their taste in music, their retro T-shirts and their intimidating facial hair, but they had better abandon their feminism, premarital sex and any “modern” interpretations of the Bible. Driscoll is adamantly not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal and mainstream evangelical churches, “singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.”

…God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.” What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

…Driscoll disdains the prohibitions of traditional evangelical Christianity. Taboos on alcohol, smoking, swearing and violent movies have done much to shape American Protestant culture — a culture that he has called the domain of “chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists.”

How cutting-edge! A Christian leader who mocks women and gay people. I love how Driscoll puts down other brands of Christianity by hinting that they are effeminate and queer. Nice one! *High fives Driscoll*

What does this remind me of? Oh yeah, the taunts of a schoolyard bully.

The only reason I can see that the NYT is painting this as something “new” is that the church attendees have tattoos and dyed hair. Or did I miss something profound?

Just for Immigrants: New Domestic Violence Hotline

Some good news! Somehow, the city of Seattle is funding a new domestic violence hotline aimed at getting help to immigrants and refugees. There will be 14 language options!

From the Seattle P-I:

Seattle is the first city in the nation to set up a toll-free number to connect immigrant and refugee domestic-violence victims to a social worker of their language and culture.

The help line, announced Wednesday, is called the “Peace in the Home” line.

…Domestic violence can be a big problem among immigrants, said Someireh Amirfaiz, the director of Refugee Women’s Alliance.

…Of roughly 600,000 Seattle residents, about 100,000 were born outside the United States, according to the mayor’s office.

The line will offer help in 14 languages: Amarinya or Amharic, Japanese, Khmer, Lao, Mandarin, Romanian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Tigrigna, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Cool. The number is 888-847-7205. Remember, this is for the Seattle area only.

Trans-Racial Adoption

h/t to cp

Seattle’s normally irreverent hipster weekly, the Stranger, published a surprisingly frank and introspective piece on trans-racial adoption: Black Kids in White Houses by Jen Graves. I recommend checking it out.

The article is written by a white woman, and deals with white parents who adopt children of color. Even though it has its flaws, it really gets down in there in addressing race.

Transracial adoption is awkward to discuss at first, because although it is designed to chart a radically integrated future, on the surface its structure repeats the segregated past. Just look at the basic structure of a family and apply race to the equation. The most crude way to put it: Whites are in charge, children of color are subordinate, and adults of color are out of the picture.

Gratefulness is the most powerful silencer in the adoption world. Even if a transracial adoptee breaks the silence to make a criticism about his or her experience, the immediate response always is: Would it have been better if you’d never been adopted? It’s a rhetorical cul-de-sac, a false runaround that continues to stifle conversations about more complicated subjects, like what’s the difference between a family that’s tolerant and one that’s actively antiracist, or why are there so many children of color adopted in the first place?

Read it. Comment on it below or at the Stranger’s site. One thing I would like to address here is the nature of the comments by the (predominantly white liberal) Stranger’s readers. We see a lot of familiar sentiments: we should all be colorblind, only minorities have “culture”, we shouldn’t talk about race anymore, slavery happened 200 years ago – why don’t we get over it. And in spite of the author talking about gratefulness, several commentors suggested that trans-racial adoptees who talk about their struggles are just “ungrateful.”

Ungrateful for the awesome opportunity to be raised as white, the best race of all! Ug.

There are, of course, thoughtful and appropriate comments posted after the article. But just to illustrate how far white liberals need to go in thinking of race, and how unoriginal old race-silencing tactics are, here are some gems:

Home is just a place where you grow up for a few years. Go out into the world and live your own life after that! Don’t sit staring at your navel, feeling sorry for yourself about where you come from!

This is such a non-issue. Dangerously sentimental. Should gay parents be allowed to adopt straight children?

I believe this feeling of loss is also a normal part of the mainstream “white” culture. For the most part, “white” in America isn’t any particular ethnic group or culture–it’s just the catch-all category for people who have assimilated and lost their ethnic ties, their peoplehood, their tribal identities.

anyone who doesn’t favor their race is fucked up. I’m not saying it’s right, but it is absolutely human. I am continually amused at liberals trying to raise their children according to the child’s color/national origin. It is hilarious and sad at the same time. … Chicken and watermelon don’t make black children feel more black, the misguided gesture does.

And don’t group all white people together as a race. I do not consider myself to be of White heritage- I am a second-generation American of Italian descent. Grouping all white people together is as insulting as saying all black people listen to hip-hop and eat watermelon.

Two more generations and all this is mostly moot. Sorry, but mother nature want the gene pools to mix, and, so they will.

Look around. Lingering on all the stuff from the last 200 years is basically useless – of course – many will cling.

Blacks have committed the vast majority of murders in the Seattle area in the last year and most of the victims were black. Until those numbers and situations change drastically, blacks and guilty-white-liberals who whine about “white racism” can go eat shit.

and my favorite:
I live in holland. I have friends of all races, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, etc. And i honestly dont see color. I mean… what makes black people, white people and asian people so different? honestly? It seems as if in america people try to get rid of racial prejudice so hard they only make it worse. Its as if they are trying to make all races equal.