Children may play cops and robbers all the time, but putting a pretend jail in a public housing playground in a historically black community struck some residents as an insult.
“We started complaining because it was like promoting kids to go to jail,” said Natasha Godley, 37, who has a 6-year-old son.
The prison look, including the offending word, was part of the original design of the playground, which was made by a company called Landscape Structures and erected in March 2004, the New York City Housing Authority said on Wednesday.
JailMonifa Bandele/Black and Brown News The jail, as it once was.
But it had not elicited complaints until this week, said Sheila Stainback, an agency spokeswoman.
Lumumba Bandele, a lecturer in black history at the City University of New York who lives nearby, said he began complaining to the housing authority and local officials about the playground this past weekend.
“The fact is that this community along with six others in New York City makes up the majority of the prison population in New York State,” he said. “And to have this here under the auspices of NYCHA is absolutely insulting.”
The jungle gym, tucked behind a building near Throop and Park Avenues, sits across from a handball court adorned with paintings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Oh yes, let’s make this a race thing. Let’s belabor the insensitivity of a playground that simulates one of the classic kids games: cops and robbers. Children are naturally inclined to see rules broken in (dare I say it) black and white. “Jail” is often a routine result. “You’re stuck in jail until you’re tagged out!”
Meanwhile, let’s ignore the underlying problems causing so many of these kids to end up in a real penitentiary. It’s too painful to examine generations of government dependence, the devaluation and absence of fatherhood, and the destruction of a moral underpinning to families with (mostly) boys ending up in prison.
Let’s pretend that playground equipment will be the psychological straw that will drive a youngin’ into a life of crime, since we’re living in fantasy land and emphasizing nonsense.
What isn’t going wrong in American and the world today?
Lynn Sweet’s question about the Henry Gate’s arrest (white officers arrested a black Harvard scholar breaking into his own home) at the press conference seemed coordinated and purposeful and at first glance, strange. The press conference was regarding nationalized health care, why would a reporter talk about the Henry Gate’s arrest? As Yuri says over at the National Review, normally, a president would say:
It’s the kind of question to which a president would normally reply with something like: “That’s a local police matter, I don’t know the details and I know it will be worked out responsibly,” and move along. Obama gave a lengthy review of the facts, called the police officers involved stupid, and implied they are also liars. Very odd behavior for a president.
My take was that President Obama wanted to talk about race in a grand way. He wanted to remind the country that his presidency was historic and historic changes (i.e. health care legislation that is a human right like racial equality is a human right) needed to happen for a historic time. While I believe the president choosing to talk about this was an error in judgment, I certainly don’t believe the topic was accidental or a simple “gaffe”.
The Politico’s Ben Smith sees a pattern but I think he missed the big idea that Obama was trying to convey:
His dryness was all the more striking by contrast with the press conference’s conclusion, when he suddenly re-engaged with a question that he’s spent much of his life mulling — race, in the form of the arrest of a black Harvard professor.
The appearance was striking by its absence of a move that’s long characterized Obama’s political career: When in trouble, go big. Faced with a crisis of confidence or with a political furor, he’s repeatedly shown an ability to rise above the storm and to broaden the playing field, as when he turned a flap over his pastor into a meditation on race in America.
Now, facing his hardest test as president, Obama chose to go small.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/25320.html#ixzz0M5sZOcek
President Obama intended for this last question to be big and general and capture a huge theme. I’m quite sure the president wanted to start a discussion of race. I’m quite sure President Obama is furious about what he perceives as systemic injustice–both with regards to race and to health care.
Americans are not fully realized. Fully realized and civilized people recognize that socialized health care is a right, just as fully realized and civilized people recognize that all people are equal regardless of skin color. He’s making the juxtaposition but it was an oblique one because most people don’t view health care as a birth right. They view it as a benefit. They view health care as a pain to deal with that needs to be fixed–not some grand human rights issue.
President Obama also took the opportunity to focus on race specifically before knowing the facts. Clearly, he was affronted by what he perceived was a wrong that happened to his friend. Evidently, he hadn’t read the police report now scrubbed from the Boston Globe. It seemed a strange diversion at the end of a health care conversation to be talking about race, but for another professor, it was a teaching moment.
When all the facts are revealed, the event could well be a racially-motivated. Moe Lane comments:
But the encounter is anything but over. Some of Gates’s outraged colleagues said the run-in proves that even in a liberal enclave like Harvard Square, even with someone of Gates’s accomplishments, a black man is a suspect before he is a resident.
Bolding mine, and there to highlight my sardonic observation: what do you mean, “even?” Not to be rude about it, but there ain’t no racist like a Bostonian racist*. Which is not necessarily a knock on the cop; it’s a knock on the neighbor who called the cops on Prof. Gates in the first place.
Does racism exist? Yes. Does elitism exist? Yes. (As in, “Do you know who I AM?!”)
But that all didn’t seem to be the point of President Obama’s answer. It was a broader answer,”We have lots of work to do.” That is, America is still rather a stupid place that needs to be made better by smart people. And when the smart people are listened to, racism will magically go away and health care will be perceived as a civil right and America will finally be a place to believe in.
The unintended consequence of the President’s answer to the question was that he framed himself as the black man who is President rather than the President who happens to be black, talking about health care. He started the press conference saying, “this isn’t about me” and in the end, made it all about him. And worse, made it, again, about how America is a bad place for men like him.
The Fan Page on Facebook is not subtle. The last status update reads:
Israel is not fighting war against Terrorism; it’s fighting WAR AGAINST HUMANITY and INNOCENSE!… “Fuck Israel”.
It’s also not very literate, but that sort of enhances the foaming-at-the-mouth sputtering. Distressingly, there are 121,363 fans of this page. That’s a lot of people who hate Israel.
I wonder where to find the “Hate Women” fan page. I’m sure it’s close to the “Hate fill-in-the-blank racial epithet-here” fan page. And of course, there’s the I Hate Iran Group with a whopping 117 members.
But the Fan Page isn’t anti-Jewish, no sirree. It isn’t antisemitic. They LOVE the Jews they just want the state where Jews live destroyed. And the names of the haters aren’t Muslim. Nope. They’re just your average open-minded Middle Easterner expressing their free speech.
This Facebook Fan Page would be an example of ignorant philistines using the modern Western culture against itself. These people do not believe in free self-expression. They do not believe in individual rights. And they most certainly do not believe in Israel’s right to self-determination free from being bombed by their neighbors. They are racists and fascists and it is shameful that Facebook allows this group to exist when similar Fan Pages aiming hate at other groups or people would be banned.
If Facebook is a safe community, why is this tolerated? And if it is tolerated, will the Ku Klux Klan be allowed to start a Fan Page with pictures of burning crosses? Just trying to clarify their terms of service here.
Over at Huffington Post,
MELISSA CLOUTHIER: “By which I mean, get down off that cross, because we need to burn it, on someone’s front lawn.”
The South wasn’t as solid Republican as it should have been. Can it be reenergized?
I’ve arrived! I’ve been called a racist by a group who makes their identity their brand identity. Man, only one day into president-elect Obama’s win. I really thought it would take longer.
P.S. I think the dude at Huffington Post was trying to be funny. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that I didn’t write that nor do I believe it.
P.P.S. The whole notion of racism is about to be completely demolished, isn’t it? I mean, when the epithet is lobbed over anything and everything, it begins to mean nothing.
Cross-posted at RightWingNews.com
You have read here before my supposition that if Obama loses, America will be proclaimed racist. It is not, of course, racist if a person votes for Obama only because he’s black.
Shrinkwrapped wrote an excellent post titled “Some Thoughts on Race, Racism, Capitalism, and Paradigm Shifts” and you MUST read it:
I do not think America is a racist country yet that is a subtext of Barack Obama’s candidacy. Every criticism of Obama is immediately attacked as racism and we have already been told that if Obama is repudiated it will be because Americans are racist. Only by electing Barack Obama can we prove to the world and to ourselves that America is no longer a racist country. Beyond the “boy who cried wolf” quality of the charge, I suspect a great many Americans resent being called racist for opposing a candidate who is not only as far to the left as any candidate in memory but also uses race to further his political interests.
It’s not skin color, it’s ideology. Beliefs matter. If Obama loses, it won’t be his skin color that decides it. It will be the fact that he’s a liberal who doesn’t seem to like America very much.
Cross-posted at RightWingNews
When Jesse Jackson groused, supposedly off-mic, that “See, Barack’s been, um, talking down to black people on this faith-based… I want to cut his fucking balls off. Barack, he’s talking down to black people.” Well, yes, Barack Obama talks down to black people. Hells bells, he talks down to everyone.
And now, Barack Obama talks down about the only black Supreme Court justice. It’s not Clarence Thomas’ judicial philosophy he disagrees with:
Mr. Obama took a lower road, replying first that “that’s a good one,” and then adding that “I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don’t think that he, I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretation of a lot of the Constitution.” The Democrat added that he also wouldn’t have appointed Antonin Scalia, and perhaps not John Roberts, though he assured the audience that at least they were smart enough for the job.
Reaaaaaaly? Barack Obama has a problem with Justice Thomas’ qualifications and intelligence? That’s rich. Obama might be smart, though he has yet to demonstrate that incisive mind we keep hearing about and he for damn sure lacks qualifications as the WSJ editorial easily demonstrates. What the hell is his deal? Women reporters are “sweetie“. And the black Supreme Court justice isn’t much of a legal thinker. Oh and then, there are the gun-clinging mountain nuts that really can’t be blamed for their ignorance. And let’s not forget Obama’s “typical white person” grandma.
LaShawn Barber has a must-read piece over at Pajama’s Media about how Obama injects race into the presidential race:
At a fundraiser in June, Obama said this about Republicans:
“We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. They’re going to say, ‘You know what? He’s young, inexperienced, and he’s got a funny name. Did I mention he’s black?’”
In both cases, Obama implied that his white opponents would inject race into the campaign. After a backlash, he tried to backtrack, accusing the McCain camp of cynicism instead of racism. But the intended damage was done.
People of any color have a natural tendency to use whatever advantages they’ve got. There’s nothing special about Obama. He understands very well that his ethnicity distinguishes him in this election, and he’s counting on that distinction to help inspire voters. It’s why he’s injected race into the race. Yes, Obama is more than the color of his skin, but even he knows it’s an integral part of why some people support him.
The rule seems to be that Barack Obama doesn’t have to abide by the P.C. rules because he’s post-racial, post-sexual, post-modern, post-provincial, post-American. Heck, like Bill Clinton, Obama will be the first woman president, breaking barriers for the ladies. So he can call a woman “sweetie”. Obama is a racial melange, so he can use race. He can be condescending and diminishing to women, blacks, whites, Americans, because he’s just that much better. His universality gives him the ability to disparage with impunity.
And if you don’t like his policy positions, his attitude, his lack of experience, the problem isn’t him. It’s you, of course! And, by the way, if you don’t like him, you’re a racist.
Is Barack Obama racist? Sure, he is. He has barely hidden contempt for whites generally and blacks who disagree with him receive scorn too. Is he sexist? Well, he freely lets fly with demeaning language, but I suspect his wife doesn’t put up with that crap at home.
Obama has been indoctrinated with identity-politics. He sees every issue through the spectrum of skin color or gender or some other fractionated value. The end result is predictable: a racist, sexist outlook. How can it not? People desiring a color-blind society don’t obsess over skin color, they obsess over ideas, policy and character. Barack Obama is not one of those people. He knows damn well that race serves him in his desire to become President. And so he uses race. In doing so, he becomes what he claims to be beyond: a racial, racist candidate.
Cross-posted at RightWingNews
Obama Shocked By Unknown, African American Comedian Bernard Mac’s Sexist and Homophobic Jokes At FundraiserSunday, July 13th, 2008
Obama is now distanced from Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson, Grandma, Tony Rezko, and now, Bernie Mac. I know the list is longer than that, these are just the only people I could come up with on a fuzzy Sunday morning. So why is Obama distancing himself from Bernie Mac? Ed Morrissey shares:
Given that, why did Obama have Bernie Mac perform at a fundraiser at all? Mac is hilarious, but his comedy is filled with similar references, outside of his television show. If it’s not good for Don Imus and for rap, why is it good for Bernie Mac and Obama fundraisers? Could it be that money trumps his principles yet again?
Oh, Ed, say it isn’t so! Not the Obamessaiah! He’s above money. He transcends economics. He, he, he….I’m weepy.
Before it is all over, Barack Obama will be so distanced–he will be alone, so very, very alone. He seems to find out too late, what everyone else already knows. Really, now. Has Obama ever heard Bernie Mac’s schtick? I mean, he’s a modern comedian who makes racist, sexist jokes. John from StopACLU says (he also posts the entirety of the joke):
Bernie Mac is well-known for profane language so Obama should have known what he was getting when he approved the hiring of the man. But Obama often seems to find out with surprise that people he knew were not what he thought they were.
Either Obama has becoming exceedingly adept at feigning ignorance or he’s actually ignorant. Either way, it’s not good.
Ann Althouse notes:
To say, this is a “family affair” implies that we could talk like this in an adults-only environment — as if there’s no difference between sex and sexism. Ed notes that it’s particularly bad when Obama needs to win over Hillary-supporters.
Comedians are oftentimes funny because what they say is true, but politically incorrect. I don’t know it this joke has any truth in it or not, but it certainly was politically incorrect. Will Hillary supporters really care? I think they’ll all be good girls and get on the Obama bus when it comes time to vote.