Quick Snarks

28 Feb

A couple quick items of irony from reading the paper this weekend:

Charlie Rangel is getting a slap on the wrist for taking at least three corporate bribes trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008. How did he avoid further discipline? While his aides wrote memos to Rangel detailing that accepting the trips was illegal, no one could prove that Rangel actually read the notes. Incompetence and illiteracy win as a defense. Speaker Pelosi, for her part, says she’s going “just see what happens next.” So much for running the most transparent, ethically pure Congress in history.

A white sorority is being accused of cultural theft for winning a “black” stepping competition. Stepping is a form of performance clapping and foot stomping, and there are big competitions around the country. But when a white sorority won, not only did event sponsor Coca-Cola give the runners up (a black sorority) an additional first place prize, but the white group is being told to “let the Black folks have their own thing for once.” Quick! Is it too late to kick Jerome Iginla off the Canadian hockey team, because he is stealing white Canadian culture? Only in PC America is it alright to beat down racism and sexism everywhere we see it . . . unless it involves “historically black colleges” and African-American culture.

If you think Forbes lists are crap, so are all those ballot-stuffing “awards” Buffalo loves to get. Just sayin.

Turns out we’re not the third poorest city in America. Turns out we have poverty rates equal to just about every other city the same size. Of what, oh what, will the “third poorest city” rebranders do now that their sound bite is debunked?

12 Responses to “Quick Snarks”

  1. Brad March 1, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    #2: The source of the “raging debate” is the comment section of a youtube video. So, yeah, the white sorority “is being told” (nice use of passive construction to elude this point, by the way) to give it up by one anonymous internet commenter. Oh no! PC reverse-racism gone wild! The AP artice basically places equal weight on the opinions of 1) members of sororities who participated in the competition; 2) an author who has written a book on the origins of stepping; and 3) anonymous posts on the internet. There doesn’t seem to be much controversy among #’s 1 and 2. This controversy seems to be confined to #3 only. Is that really “PC bullshit”? Or is that just incendiary race-baiting bad-reporting bullshit by the AP?

    If we applied similar standards locally, everything that ever happens around here ever would be the subject of a raging debate.

    • Brian Castner March 1, 2010 at 11:03 am #

      1) Everything in Buffalo IS the subject of raging debate. How important is $30K worth of kitchen utensils stolen from One Sunset? You’d think the world was ending.

      2) The PC bullshit is not from Youtube commentors. The PC bullshit is Coca Cola creating a second first prize to make sure that a black group won as well. Some controversy must exist for Coke to take that action.

  2. Colin March 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    I wonder what it must feel like to have every aspect of your culture subject to being taken/used/occupied by others, many of whom loathe you. Or to be reminded in every aspect of public life that you’re just not quite right. And to be told that the few places you feel are really yours should be open to those who would cross to the other side of the street when they see you coming down the sidewalk.

    • Brian Castner March 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

      So when is racism okay? When someone from the outside is in a place that is “really yours?” When your culture is involved? When its from the minority towards the majority? In how big of an area? If I’m white living in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, and am in the minority in that 12 sq block area, am I allowed to be racist then? See, funny me, I thought racism was always bad. Your fake empathy and equivocation has a bad end.

    • lefty March 1, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

      Sorry but I think this is ignorant. I think Brian pretty much took apart your BS here and probably the reason why you have not responded.

      The all-white Zeta Tau Alpha team from the University of Arkansas should be commended for what they did, not insulted. This group participated in local and regional competitions before they arrived at the finals. At the finals, by all accounts, they kicked the shit out of the competition. This was a result of many hours of work on their end not only to learn the winning routine but the culture behind the performance art itself. They embraced another culture..something that we are all told to do…and you want to insinuate they were in the wrong? What a tool.

      • Colin Eager March 1, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

        lefty —

        Where is the line between “embracing” another culture and appropriating another culture? It’s an honest question. Victorian England certainly “embraced” the cultures of places like Egypt and India, and that embrace was in many ways an honest expression of appreciation for those cultures. But it also involved dominating those peoples, taking their culture and putting it on display in London. That kind of “embrace” has marked white appreciation of black culture in the US right from the start. From minstrelsy up through jazz and rock and roll, whites have “embraced” elements of black culture until they took it over. It’s problematic. If these ideas seem crazy to you, maybe you should change your name.

  3. Colin March 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm #


    I think it’s telling that you didn’t actually address the content of my comment, which sought (in a limited way) to suggest some reasons that black people might get upset about a white group winning a step competition. There are actual people and real reasons that get glossed over by your “PC bullshit” label.

    So to answer your question: racism is never ok. But then, black people trying to maintain black cultural traditions isn’t an example of racism. For that matter, female-only organizations aren’t an example of sexism, and LGBTQ folks clustering in certain parts of a city isn’t an example of heterophobia. To suggest that they are is to ignore the disparities of power that words like racism are supposed to describe and diagnose.

    What is racist, I’d argue, is a situation where white people are free to avail themselves of blackness — on the weekends, just for fun — while black people find the benefits of white privilege out of reach.

    • Brian Castner March 1, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

      I didn’t address the reasons that black people might be upset, or the content of your comment, because it legitimizes racism. I can give lots of reasons black people don’t like whites, Or the other way around. Or Latinos hate blacks. Or Indians hate Asian Americans. Listing the reasons one group of real people might be upset by another group of real people, based only on their race, is not just counter-productive. It legitimizes the racist feeling.

      And I disagree about what is racist or not. One group holding power is not a requirement of racism. Only the prejudice, dislike, hatred, etc based on skin color is required. But to even use your definition – in an all-black competition of black culture, a white group hardly has the power.

      Soo, to your final point. Is every black, Latino, Asian, etc in the crowd at the St. Patty’s Day Parade racist? They are enjoying, on the weekend, for fun, another culture, but are not of that culture themselves? To that point, its okay to say on St. Patrick’s Day that “everyone is Irish” on that day. I’m Irish, and that’s always kinda bugged me. But its clearly okay, in society, for that to happen. Being Irish in this country wasn’t always such a great thing – should I be screaming culture plundering if non-Irish celebtrate? Give me a break.

  4. Colin Eager March 1, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    Brian —

    Your definition of racism aligns you with every dimwit out there crying about reverse racism. Mine aligns me with the current thought on the subject by scholars and those actually working to dismantle racism and white supremacy and privilege.

    Your St. Paddy’s analogy is pretty wacky. Even during the worst moment of anti-Irish sentiment n the 19th century, Irishness wasn’t in the same ballpark as blackness. To try and compare them today — when Irishness and other white ethnic identities have been folded into white racial identity for many decades — is just silly.

    Instead of banging our heads against ideas like “racism,” let’s try privilege. White people have the privilege of sampling what they like from the black cultural buffet — a little jazz here, a little hip hop there. If they like, they can even avail themselves of the black culture of resistance to racism. Yet there are huge areas of white life — legacies of property accumulation, political power and cultural representation — that are simply unavailable to many blacks. Is that fair? Given that situation, can you understand how some black people might see places like historically black colleges and even step contests as defensive measures motivated by something other than the fact that they “don’t like whites?”

    • Brian Castner March 1, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

      If your scholars are writing about white supremacy in 2010, its time to dip your toe into the non-conspiracy portion of the literature. But speaking of ignoring points, you ignore mine. I am describing situations where being white is NOT a privilege (living in broadway-fillmore), or a white culture is being co-opted (St. Patty’s Day). Are you telling me neither situation is relevant because whites ALWAYS have more power and privilege than blacks? I think if you are white at a traditionally black step-off competition, you have neither. You want to focus on real individuals – not every black or white person in America embodies your convenient story arc of oppression and privilege. I think the dimwit ignores any data that doesn’t support their narrow agenda.

      Oh, and I never said I don’t understand why blacks might see traditionally black colleges as defensive measures. I understand lots of underlying reasons of racism. I understand why some whites hate blacks too. I understand why blacks got lynched in the south for decades. I understand why the KKK is recruiting to fight Latinos in Dixie, because they are “stealing” jobs from whites. I understand why Latino and black gangs kill each other in LA. Understanding the reason doesn’t legitimize the feeling. And are you more concerned about catagorizing the feeling (racism vs priviledge in your narrow majority on minority conceit) or the effect on real people?

  5. Brad March 1, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    What rights have been infringed upon by Coca-Cola? What principle are you standing up for? Racial equality? HA! The effect of your position on “real people” in this case would be to deprive the black sorority of scholarship money given to them by an incomprehensibly wealthy international corporation. Telling wealthy private corporations how to spend their money sounds like nothing more than racially-motivated spite to me. You have no moral high ground. If you care so much about racial equality and you really think that Coca-Cola is a racist corporation, then start advocating for a boycott. Use your platform to start a movement againt Coke. Even if it’s only a local movement, that’s ok – nobody wants to support a racist corporation. You could even write a letter to that 2nd-place-sorority telling them how they don’t deserve that money and they are just benefiting from America’s racism. Tell them to give the money back because it’s tainted with inequity. Cease with the academic blog debate and stand up for what you believe in!

    • Brian Castner March 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

      I said Coke was overly PC, not racist. Reading is fundamental.

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