Define “racism”

With the verdict of the the Ferguson trial having been announced, and riots occurring

all over the nation, the concept of racism has been a heavily discussed topic. Race has always been an issue that is regularly debated and discussed, but the events that have been taking place in Ferguson have become a catalyst for national discussion. This is a something that will go down in history. Michael Brown is the not the first black boy to be killed by a police officer, and sadly he won’t be the last (in fact, many have been killed since him). But the activists that have taken inspiration from this case are hoping to make it so that it is no longer a standard.

But, I’ve digressed. What I really want to focus on is the recent discussions of race themselves. One  very interesting concept that has been touched upon before is the very definition of racism. There is an argument held by many that no one but white people can be racist. Reverse-racism is also being debunked as something that can not be possible. Why? Because “true” racism is Prejudice + Power. And who is in “power”? Why, white people, of course.

Now, I 100% agree with the concept of white privilege. I believe that there is an injustice in our society that stands on the foundations of hundreds of years of oppression of POC. As a POC, I highly resent the imbalance in opportunities. I very highly resent the fact that a young black boy who peacefully surrendered to the cops was shot down and killed out of “fear”, when a white man who shot up a movie theater in Colorado was arrested peacefully.

That said, I disagree that POC can’t be racist. I believe they can be racist toward other POC, as well as white people. Someone said that POC can have a “racial prejudice”against white people, but that it is not actual racism.

To be racist is to think, speak, or act out on negative feelings toward someone based strictly on the color of their skin. White people, historically, have show to be more prone to racism. Our nation was founded by white men who believed they were superior to other races…and unfortunately that is the foundation upon which our society is based.

Because discrimination and racism is very much institutionalized in our society,  I believe that the power for change lies with those have the privileged. So, obviously: white people.

But I stand by the idea that racism is not so much based on power, but on perceived differences in general.

In Defense of Kim Kardashian

So let’s talk about the portrayal of women in the media. Okay, so that’s a very broad spectrum, let’s narrow it down: the portrayal of women in ads and magazines. Photographs that are photoshopped, portraits that have been distorted.

paper-kim-kardashian-hed-2014

I hesitated to write about this because it is such a widely discussed topic, like, I figured it’s just like beating a dead horse. However that notion quickly went away because I realized why the photoshopping of women’s bodies in the media is so widely-discussed: because it’s still happening everyday. Things aren’t changing. It’s just a widely renowned fact that the images of women are distorted into cartoony versions of themselves.

The most recent and talked about example of this is the fully nude spread that reality star, Kim Kardashian, recently did for Paper Magazine. Everyone and their mother seem to be so concerned about how Kim hasn’t grasped “motherhood” because she’s released these nude photos, but why aren’t more people criticizing the use of photoshop in those photos?

Some parts of Kim’s body were vastly altered to be much smaller than they actually are: waist, arms, even nipples for crying out loud. The magazine’s distortion of Kim’s body is ultimately them rejecting her actual body as a woman and a mother. Yet people are saying that Kim is at fault for not grasping the meaning of “motherhood.” Women need to stop attacking each other for being comfortable enough to expose their bodies, first of all, and realize that their opinions are based on old-fashioned standards set by a patriarchal society.

Instead of shaming her, why aren’t we shaming the magazine industry for contributing to the culture of distorting perceptions of women’s bodies? By making her waist thinner (thus accentuating other parts of her body) they are objectifying her. Her body is no longer her own but a tool used to peak the interest of men.

Sure, perhaps Kim intended for that. I’m sure she is very aware of her status as a sex symbol, but I applaud her for making a decision regarding her own body nonetheless, and I doubt it was her idea to do all the “touch ups” that are obvious in the photo.

Women’s bodies aren’t something that they should be shamed for. It’s our culture that needs to stop twisting things around and hiding the truth about women’s bodies: like men, we too come in all different shapes and sizes

“That’s just America”

Since coming to college there have been three major fatal shootings of minority teens by police officers that have really taken not just communities, but also nations, by storm.

I have written before on the atrocity of Trayvon Martin in Florida, and how the verdict acquitting George Zimmerman, was a crime in itself. I remember hearing about Trayvon’s death in my freshman year of college, but I didn’t really think anything of it besides “what a shame”. By the time the summer of my Sophomore year rolled around, I was much more educated and aware of the social significance behind Trayvon’s death. An innocent young black kid was killed. He had no weapon. He had candy in his pocket. We all know the story.

So, why is it that the man who killed him, who was not even a police officer, was let go with only manslaughter? Manslaughter is when someone accidentally hits a person with their car. It’s an accident, a tragic one that still requires severe consequence, but an accident no less. Trayvon’s death was not an accident.

Moving forward, as a junior in college, another event happened a little closer to home. About 15 miles away from my college campus, just a town over in Santa Rosa California, a young boy named Andy Lopez was shot at several times and killed because he had a highly realistic air soft gun and refused to put it down when cops asked him to do so.  The unfairness of Lopez’s death caused many to protest in the the city of Santa Rosa…which is similar yet vastly smaller than what is currently happening in Ferguson, Missouri.

Mike Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in August of this past year in front of several witnesses. It is an event that has sparked great debate and controversy throughout the nation due to it’s link with racial issues. Currently, the Mike Brown issue has gone to Supreme Court level, and whatever verdict is made regarding the cop’s innocence is going to have serious consequences for the neighborhood of Ferguson. So, this is a pivotal case and I, for one, will be incredibly disapointed if the Ferguson PD gets off free with this one.

I firmly believe that the reason Trayvon Martin, Andy Lopez, and Mike Brown are no longer alive is because of their skin color. If they were young white males, they would not have paid with their lives. Why is it that there are not more cases on TV where a cop accidentally shot a white teenager? Even if/when there are cases like that, the cop generally gets a much more severe punishment. They’d no doubt be deemed guilty by the court. I think it’s incredibly blind of people to say that there are not issues of race being dealt with here.

Until people stop closing their eyes to what is right in front of them, then tragic events like these are going to continue.