CFW Published at POPSspot.com

One of my persistently most popular pieces is one that I published back in December of 2010 entitled “Redskins, Sambos, and Whities: Racism in Sports Mascots.”  It is regularly at the top of my daily hits, having garnered more than 2,200 hits since initial publication.

Well, the folks at POPSspot.com, a blog highlighting Power, Oppression, and Privilege in Sports, have given it a nod by publishing it!  Since I’ve had an insane week and was really stressing about writing something new this week, I am instead just going to link you on over to POPSspot to check out my piece!

Redskins, Sambos, and Whities: Racism in Sports Mascots at POPSspot.com

Anti-Semitism and Criticism of Israel

I grew up in a community that staunchly supports Israel.  It’s the kind of place where you would regularly see billboards like this one:

In the U.S., there are three main pro-Israeli lobbies.  One is a mixture of interests that sees Israel as a key ally in a region that is volatile and that contains many American interests (like oil – lots of it).  Another consists of Jews and Jewish organizations that support Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.  The last describes most of the Israel supporters in my hometown: Christian Zionists.  Christian Zionists are Christians who see the return of all Jews to the Holy Land as key to the prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ and the Rapture.  Growing up around a lot of Christian Zionists, I couldn’t help but support Israel for similar reasons, but as I got older, I came to realize that Christian Zionism is super freaky and actually pretty anti-Semitic.

You see, Christian Zionists believe that once all the Jews return to the Holy Land (read Israel), the Second Coming will begin, and in that process, all of the Jews (who many Christian Zionists believe were responsible for the death of Christ the first time around) will be struck down by God for their refusal to accept Christ as Lord and Savior.

So . . . Basically the Christian Zionists want to kill all of the people they claim to support . . . THIS IS THE RIDICULOUSNESS I WAS RAISED TO BELIEVE!!

In college, I was introduced to the other side of the narrative, a side where Israel is not some benevolent home of the Jews (“A land without a people for a people without a land“) but is actually a political pawn of the United States that uses its funding from the U.S. (to the tune of $3 billion per year) to oppress the Palestinians in an Apartheid-like system of suppression.  I learned of the narrative, counter to the dominant one in media and in the Churches and schools I had attended, where Palestinian loss of life and land is wildly disproportionate to that of Israel.

Israeli and Palestinian Children Killed since Sept. 29, 2000.
Source

0 Homes of Israelis have been demolished by Palestinians since Sept. 29, 2000. 24,813 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israelis.
Source

Then in June of 2009, I visited Israel and Palestine.  In Israel, I saw a bustling, Western country with seemingly-endless resources.  In Palestine, I saw poverty, desperation, and violent oppression.

Palestinian olive trees that were cut down by Israelis after the 2nd Intifada in an effort to damage the Palestinian economy.

The Israeli Apartheid Wall, meant to “protect the Israelis from Palestinians,” though it actually acts as a land grab that cuts deep into the West Bank.

These experiences helped me to understand the tremendous power imbalance in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with one side backed and funded by the most powerful country in the world and the other being forcefully thrown from their land with little recourse.

As a result, I’ve long been active in the movement to secure a free and independent Palestine, partnering with Palestinians, Jews, and other concerned citizens in the U.S. and around the world.  In this activism, I found a troubling trend.  One of the first times I experienced it was while marching in a pro-Palestinian march in Chicago.  People were lining the street where we were marching, screaming at us and holding up photos of the atrocities of the Holocaust.  They were screaming, “BIGOT!  ANTI-SEMITE!  IF YOU HAD YOUR WAY, ALL JEWS WOULD BE WIPED OFF THE MAP!!!”

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Talking About Race = Racism?

I’ve been told a lot lately that I’m a racist.  Now, I’m down with owning the racism that I know exists inside of me: the racism against People of Color that comes from being raised in a culture that has taught me from birth that I am superior because of the color of my skin.  I understand that such racism is a part of my lived experience.

But lately I’ve been called a racist for a whole different reason.

Apparently I’m a racist because I talk about race.

You see, I’ve long understood racism to be a combination of prejudice plus power.  Sure, any person of any race can be prejudiced.  Anyone can treat someone else poorly for the color of their skin or for their ethnic identity.  But for the power of racism to be leveled against someone, the person benefitting from racism needs to have a system of power behind their prejudice that makes it possible to actually deny the target of their ire something substantial: jobs, education, access to politics, etc.

That is racism: prejudice plus the widespread legal, political, economic, or social power that backs up the prejudicial thinking.

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I am George Zimmerman: Reflections on Zimmerman, Trayvon, and the White Racial Frame

I have spent a great deal of time in the last few weeks arguing the semantics of the Travyon Martin murder with friends and family who do not believe race had anything to do with the case and who think that George Zimmerman was likely justified in his shooting of Martin.  We have gone back and forth about Travyon Martin’s past (suspensions from school and accusations of theft) and George Zimmerman’s past (history of aggression and paranoia).  We have gone back and forth about what the 911 calls say about what happened and about whether Zimmerman’s injuries justified his violence or were merely an excuse for the murder.

These conversations had been frustrating the hell out of me, but I didn’t realize quite why until this weekend at the 13th Annual White Privilege Conference.

I was in a workshop led by the incredible Lee Mun Wah, and he remarked, “I’ve seen a lot of people saying or posting, ‘I am Trayvon Martin.’  I think that misses the point.  I want to see people saying, ‘I am George Zimmerman’ because whether or not we want to admit it, every single one of us is socialized in a system of White Supremacy that says, ‘FEAR BLACK MEN.'”

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