My Takes

It's Just My Take

Archive for the tag “Racism”

Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face?

Nick Troller has two Star Trek themed licence plates. This one that reads 'ASIMIL8' is being recalled by Manitoba Public Insurance. His other plate reads 'Voyager.'Yesterday I watched the news about a city man who had his personalized Star Trek-themed licence plate recalled because ‘Manitoba Public Insurance received a complaint.’  Yes, all it takes is one solitary complaint.  Even over a 2-year old licence plate that is obviously, in a blatant way, not intended to be offensive in the least.

Now as a black man, I do understand and know offensive, (Trust me, I have seen and heard my share of thinly-veiled offense). and I’m happy to know that you Caucasians are looking out for us minorities, but sometimes you over-do it and I’m left embarrassed.  I feel as though you are helicopter parenting me.  My co-workers sometimes say they are ‘working like a slave’.  Should I file a complaint?  What if another caucasian hears it and feel offended? Well that’s just wrong.  Why should YOU feel offended if I am not offended?  I do understand the plight of the Aboriginals who were forced to assimilate and give up their culture but do you think they cringe every time they come across the word while reading a book? Should it be banned then?  Should Star Trek also be banned?  See?  There’s no end to it if we go down this road.  We are cutting off the nose to spite the face.

In this situation, I would recommend a meeting with an aboriginal group and the licence plate owner.  Hear how each party feels about the situation and take it from there.

My two older boys claim the don’t love each other.  In fact, the word hate is used. Whenever I catch them hugging or playing together I would say ‘Look at you! You do love each other!  They would promptly back away and give each other space. So what I learn here is, if you leave some things alone, they would be forgotten but if you keep digging things up and looking under rocks for allusions, you re-open wounds.  Words have multiple meanings and memories for many of us.  Some good and some bad.  Don’t cut the nose to spite the face.

Just My Take



Magazine Ranks My City As Most Racist In Canada And I’m Not Surprised

Official logo of Winnipeg

Official logo of Winnipeg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week Winnipeggers were shocked, dismayed and maybe a little embarrassed, to learn that Maclean’s magazine had singled them for an unenviable distinction.  That of being the most racist city in Canada.  No surprise for some, including me.  In fact, last October I blogged about the way we treat our Native people. Please read here.

Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t, it doesn’t matter.  The fact that we are mentioned in that light is bad enough to make us want to stop and take notice.  I hope that this ‘out’ will serve as an eye-opener to the people of Winnipeg.  The Aboriginal people face injustices daily, not only from us but even from those who are paid to protect them.  They have no one to turn to, (No wonder some turn to alcohol and drugs).  It’s sickening that it has morphed into an acceptable norm.  Indians will be raped, it’s normal.  They will get drunk, their murders would not be thoroughly investigated as they are ‘only Indians’.  They will kill each other and if they don’t, it’s ok for us to murder them…They are our dispensable race as I blogged here.

Our license plates tell visitors that we are ‘Friendly Manitoba’ and maybe we are, but to who?  Remember, racism is not always black and white.  My Take

I Am Not A Racist But Those Indians…

As a person of color, a black man, I have heard it all.  The veiled racist comments, the not-so-veiled ones, the ill-timed apologies for saying something that had racial undertones for fear it would offend me, yes I have heard it.  What always gets to me though is when someone says to me,  “I am not racist but I can’t stand those Indians!” Then they go into a rant about the ‘lazy and drunk Natives’.  No racism there.  I feel so much better knowing that at least they could stand me, which makes them no racist.

I am sorry, well not really sorry, but if that’s how you feel about ANY race, then here’s your card, you are racist and ignorant!  Oops, pardon my directness. Well not really pardon. You see, racism is not always black and white, it’s a racial thing. Every human is from a race, one can’t pick and choose which race they accept and which they don’t, after all, we are all from the same race when it boils down to it.  The Human Race.

It’s usually just My Take but I have a feeling those ‘Indians’ feel the same way as I do…

‘Gentle Giant’ Teen Murdered By Overzealous Cop With Clean Record

I have been following the story of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen shot and killed by police in Missouri.  For the family of both the victim and the officer, I feel for the pain and grief caused by this overzealous act.  I call it over-zealous as I can’t understand why in any situation, a cop would feel that his life was in such danger than it warranted pumping 10 bullets into a young man, (two in his head), whether he be black, white, Asian or other.

The cop was identified as 28 year old Darren Wilson who apparently was given a commendation for ‘extraordinary effort in the line of duty’ back in February.  Michael Browne was described as a ‘gentle giant’ by his family.  He was apparently shot when he was stopped along with his friends for walking in traffic and disturbing traffic. His non-compliance caused the tragic chain of events.  Unknowingly to Wilson, Michael was also the prime suspect in a robbery that had taken place only moments before.

Now, I find it interesting when someone’s past is used as a yardstick to determine whether or not they are bad people.  Having a previously clean record of service with a commendation does not mean Mr. Wilson is not a racist or a rogue cop who relished the chance to use his firearm.  Being a ‘gentle giant’ with no priors does not mean Michael Brown did not have the potential to rob a store.  On the flip side, even if he did commit that crime, it still does not make him a monster deserving to be shot dead and left lying on the streets for hours.  (In my early teens, I gave in to peer pressure and stole comic books from bookstores, not once but a few times.  Until I was caught and reprimanded).  At the time of the Missouri incident, what each of these people did in their past means squat.  I am sure serial killers had a few clean years under their belts too.

So what I’m getting at is this, dispense with the regaling or dehumanizing of the deceased and the perpetrator.  Deal with the incident as what it is.  An unarmed teen was shot by a cop who displayed a lack of judgement and self-control in carrying out his duty.  His act should be thoroughly and independently investigated without bias and he should be dealt with accordingly.  A sequence of unfortunate events saw a life lost.  Maybe it’s black and white, maybe it’s not…


No Apologies

4b4fcfe5040e199a387f5bd073e6ff4aI think celebrities are dumb and stupid and should all be herded up and sent to Mars!  (A couple of days later, reading from a prepared script given to me by my agent…) I am really and truly sorry for saying what I said the other day.  There’s no place in the world for my rude and childish comments.  No one is stupid, well except me for making that statement.  I want Hollywood’s forgiveness and promise you that this would never happen again.

(The above is just to make a point by the way).

And that my friends, is how your Hollywood untouchables roll.  They utter hateful and ignorant statements about minorities, gays, lesbians and even their fans in general, then think that reading a scripted apology should soothe everything and make it all go away.  Happens everyday.  Jonah Hill, gay slur, Justin Bieber, racist remarks, Pharrell Williams, wearing an native headdress, (Not sure what that one falls under) and those are just this week’s offerings.  If you want more, inbox me and I’ll send you a list of the perps.

Aren’t you sick of it?  I am.  The apologies that is. It’s like me punching you in the face then saying sorry.  It’s how you feel man, don’t apologize to me, stand up for your opinion.  I would think you are a jackass but so what? You would be a strong jackass. A jackass with a backbone.  And that means a lot.

It’s too bad the luxury of having a spin doctor to fix our slip-ups is not to our avail, isn’t it?  No sir! Not us pee-ons.  We can’t afford it.  Which sucks as this means we have to be more responsible for what comes out of our mouth, what we write and in Pharrell’s case, what we wear.  We have to ask ourselves, “Would I be apologizing for this later or is it something that I could take a firm stand on and say, this is My Take?”

As a kid, I was always told that there are 4 things that do not come back.  The spoken word is one of them…





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My Take On Donald Sterling

thThe web is awash with criticisms for Donald Sterling over his alleged racist remarks caught on tape.  On the recordings, the voice alleged to be Sterling’s, who is also the owner of the NBA Los Angeles Clippers, was heard telling his girlfriend that he does not want black people at his games and other anti-black remarks.   The irony of it is that his obviously gold-digger girlfriend was part black and so too is 99.9% of the team he owns!

Everyone from President Obama to Michael Jordan has voiced their opinion on the matter.  The Clippers also showed their displeasure by turning their jerseys inside out during a playoff game, hiding the team logo.  I usually don’t let stuff like this bother me nor do I get surprised when someone displays such ignorance. I take it all in stride.  Why?  Because I have come to accept that the world is not a perfect place and people are not always what they seem.

Now at first sight, one might think that owning a team made up of mainly black athletes would mean that the owner has some form of race acceptance, especially of blacks, right?  In fact, you won’t be going too far to think that he might even be a cool guy like say…Rob Ford.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  As my Grandmother would say, “Every shine teeth nah good laff,”  loosely translated to mean that not everyone smile is genuine. And Mr. Sterling proved just that.

As long as there are races, there would always be racism in just the same way that there would be murders as long as there are humans.  So as the young people would say, ‘Let the haters hate.’  Donald Sterling is ignorant.  Donald Sterling is a disgrace.  Donald Sterling is a setback to civilization.  Too bad there are many Donald Sterlings out there.  You can read about some of them here.

My Take.

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Sears Employee Pushed Too Far

Sears Mall Entrance

Sears Mall Entrance (Photo credit: JeepersMedia)

Last week in Winnipeg, a heated confrontation between a Sears Clerk and an unruly customer took a turn for the worse when a racial comment was uttered by the clerk.  It was in response  to the clerk’s mental acuity being challenged but that didn’t matter.  The customer asked the clerk what Domo, (gas station) he came from and the clerk unwittingly and in violation of all customer service rules, engaged the customer in an argument.  “Let me guess, you came off the boat?” Was his response.

To be quite honest, and in my opinion, it was not a bad comeback for one-uppancy.  It was
designed to hurt, belittle and embarrass the customer in front of the
shoppers and employees.  Foolish?
Definitely.  There’s no place for racist comments.  I doubt that the
clerk himself was a racist.  He reacted to the customer’s punch with a wicked
counterpunch.  A punch that unfortunately was heard and felt around the
world because of its racial undertones.

In any argument, making racial comments and gay slurs are never taken
lightly.  Given the history of hate crimes against these groups.  Because of this, one must be
sensitive and level-headed.  Some of us have thinner skins than others. We bristle at the slightest negative comment directed against us.  We also say the first thing that comes to us in trying to defend the verbal personal assault.  Sometimes it is not from the heart but unfortunately, it falls in the category of the things we cannot take back.  I have done it and I’m sure you have too.  It really doesn’t mean we are bad people, homophobic or racist, just people who were pushed in a corner and reacted instinctively. Lashing out blindly, using whatever we could find.

The clerk was fired soon after.  Do I think he should have been? I don’t.  He should have been suspended.  Cops get suspended for doing worse things.  With pay to boot!  The clerk should have been made to attend classes on how to deal with situations like these. Unfortunately, Sears employees are not provided training in customer service. Maybe spend a day volunteering in the soup kitchen would be helpful too.   The customer is not a victim.  His behavior doesn’t warrant him being treated like a hero.  He was belligerent, forceful and rude. He was not a saint.  He should have been escorted out before his behavior cost someone their job.  The clerk is the victim.  But the victim of his own doing.

Looking at the video, you can see other Sears employees standing close by without intervening.  Why wasn’t security notified at the first sign of unacceptable behavior on the customer’s part?  Why didn’t the employee back away from the situation, as per protocol, and alert his manager?

I once got a friend, who was white, so mad at me that she uttered the dreaded ‘N’ word in anger.  It never crossed my mind that she was racist.  I just thought that I must have really pissed her off.  Did I just step off the boat?  Was that your best shot?  Well to be honest, I don’t like being on boats so I took the plane and I got off that plane 26 years ago.

Just my take.

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Go Black For Halloween And Don’t Apologize

1382806919_julianna-hough-467Halloween is a time when some people dress up as their favorite movie character, storybook person, celebrity, or anyone famous.  Sometimes the character might not be of the same race as the person who wishes to play them and that could create some problems.  Not to me.

Recently, beautiful but white professional dancer Julianne Hough decided to dress up and go out for Halloween.  The problem was that she chose to go dressed as Crazy Eyes, a black character from a show called ‘Orange Is The New Black’.  I still don’t see an issue here considering that’s the whole point of Halloween, to be who you are not, but apparently some were offended and found it bordering on racism.  And that my friends is one of the things that pisses me off. Like seriously?  Why does everything has to have racial connotations?  Were seniors mad at me when I dressed up as an old woman once?  How about Nuns and Priests and Presidents?  How do they feel about people imitating them?  Isn’t it illegal to impersonate an officer?  Whey is no one getting arrested?  COME ON, LIGHTEN UP A BIT!

The Real Crazy Eyes

The Real Crazy Eyes

Julianne, because she’s a nice person, apologized for crossing the line with her blackface costume.  What’s that and what line?  And here again is another thing that pisses me off.  Unnecessary apologies.  I know it’s nice to be a good person and apologize when you are wrong and blah blah blah but please spare the sorrys for when you really messed up.  Like telling racist and homophobic jokes in the office.  Is there a Halloween memo she didn’t get?  For the records, I didn’t get it either then.  In my humble opinion, the only apology needed was if she did a horrible job of pulling off the character.  She didn’t.  Sometimes unnecessary apologies adds fuel to the flames.  An explanation would be better served.  An explanation that explains what Halloween is supposed to be and also maybe to tell those who are getting their undies in a tangle, to take a long look in the mirror and maybe they might see someone who is and has the real problem.

If a white woman could pull off looking like a black woman on Halloween, props are due.  The same thing goes for the opposite.  I love role playing, (not that way).  I have actually urged my friends to act like me so I could see what they think I sound and look like.  It’s harmless and it’s fun.  Julianne should be applauded for stepping out of her comfort zone to don the costume and makeup of a black character in public.  That’s confidence.  No apologies. No offense. None should be taken.

On Halloween, feel free to let your imaginations run wild.  Dress up as your favorite character, be he/she black, white or whatever.  Just one thing you have to bear in mind, once you go black, you just might never go back!  And that’s My Take.

Oh, you have a Happy Halloween too.

Is It A Black Thing?

imagesA few weeks ago I was having a chat with my 16 year old cousin about school.  We were talking about his gym activities when he mentioned to me that he was one of two black kids in his class.  No biggie there.   Then he added that when they picked teams, the gym teacher would make sure they were not on the same team.  Interesting and funny at the same time.

This is a perfect example of how we are programmed to see people by their color and culture even though we repeat the same rhetoric about not seeing each other as color but as people.  That’s also why remnants of racism will always stay among us.  The gym teacher did nothing wrong in separating the only two blacks in his class.  It seemed the natural thing to do, like not putting the two tallest players on the same basketball team.  He didn’t see the boys as just two people but as two black kids.  Just like not seeing the tallest guys as just people but two very tall guys.

Now because we see color or race first, yes we do, when we see someone who is not one of ‘us’ our brain immediately goes into a type of racial profiling.  For example, if we see a group of athletes with one black guy among them, we automatically think the black guy is superior.  Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t.  We still would place bets on the black guy.  If we open our doors to find a turbaned guy standing there, our first reaction is fear.  Our first thought?  Terrorist.  Would we react the same if a Chinese guy was standing there?  Probably not.

So my point is, as much as we work hard and profess to work hard at tearing down barriers, we keep putting up new ones.  And while we tear down the obvious ones, our own mental barriers remain intact and impenetrable.   In my opinion, as long as we are humans, these barriers will exist.  Can we end racism?  Heck no!  As long as there are different races, there will be racism.  Tell them I said so.  Our minds are racist.  It’s how they are wired.  Don’t bother with the “Oh I don’t see color, I see the man” crap.  Unless you are blind, you do see color.  When you do, your brain unconsciously feeds you data on the particular stereotype.  Nothing is wrong with that.  Now what you do with that information is what makes  defines who you are.  You could override this automatic stereotyping by letting the person influence what you think of him or you could allow your mind to dictate how you react to him because of his racial profile.  That would be ignorant.  Racism is a product of ignorance.

If you accept and embrace the differences in the people you share this earth with then you could say without any ill intention that ‘it is a black thing’.  And it’s quite ok if you don’t understand.

Hey, it’s just my humble opinion.  Don’t hate.

You Call That Racism? Gimme The Fried Chicken!

After exchanging not-so-nice words, most likely via twitter and everywhere else but to each other’s faces, golfers Sergio Garcia when asked if he would have Tiger Woods over to break bread, responded by saying, “We will have him round every night.  We will serve fried chicken.”  The golfing world got their knickers in a tangle with some calling for severe punishment.

thAs a black man, I do not find this at all insulting.  Someone alluding that I love fried chicken? That is racist?  It’s the truth!  I am black and love fried chicken very much!  I hate steak and fish.  As a white person, would you be offended if I told you that I would prepare turkey if you came over for dinner? Would you think I am being racist?  I hope not.  Look at it this way, if it’s racist to associate a particular food with a race, how about the term, Chinese Food?  Aha!

So maybe we should all calm down about all this racial stuff.  When we bring each comment under the microscope, looking for hints of racism, we are only helping to keep racism in our society.  It’s an overkill!

And you there bro, if you are black and too upset to eat the fried chicken, pass it over to me.  You may as well get me a slice of water melon also because I love it.  Maybe it’s a black thing or maybe it’s not.

Just my take.

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