You’re racist… and so am I

Story by: Dakota Fisher, Sports Editor

For some, racism is a very difficult concept to grasp, and I am not entirely sure why.

Even as a privileged, middle-class, white woman, I see racism everywhere, even though I do not personally experience it. In no way is it possible for me, a privileged, middle-class, white woman to experience racism. Let me say it one more time, it is not possible for me, a privileged, middle-class, white woman to experience racism; however, that is not what this article is about.

Racism is everywhere. Literally everyone is racist to an extent because racism has become such a pivotal part of today’s society that it often goes unnoticed. Granted, just about everything is racist so it is hard not to be racist because we have gotten so used to accepting the racist things that happen every day. We simply disregard them as stereotypes and “it’s only a stereotype because it’s true” has become simply a camouflage for racist tendencies. It is important to recognize that prejudice is inherent in society  and try to avoid it as much as possible.

Racism is about more than just not liking black people. Racism is the fact that it took 223 years to have a person of color in the White House.  Racism is unlawful killing of people of color that receive little to no media attention, much like the death of Sandra Band in July of 2015. Racism is the fact that, according to the ACLU, black Americans are 20% more likely to experience police brutality. Racism is the fact that women of color make up to 63 cents to the dollar less than white men and 13 cents on the dollar less than white women.

Just because a white person has black friends, does not mean it is okay to say the n-word. Just because bindis are cool, does not mean they can be worn as a fashion accessory by someone of a different faith.

Everyone does racist things because we live in America, a country founded and deeply rooted in racism; for example, in 1964, some states required black voters to take literacy tests in order to vote. However, just because we grew up with this institutionalized racism does not mean that we need to conform to the set standards and expectations of racist America.

A case of foul play

Story by: Jenna Jones, Opinions Editor
Note: This is the full story, partially printed in the August 2015 edition

July marked yet another tragic event regarding police abusing their power. The current controversy is centered around 28 year old Sandra Bland, who was arrested by Trooper Brian Encinia for allegedly assaulting an officer and resisting arrest after failing to signal a lane change. Bland was supposedly found dead in her jail cell three days later.

There is much to be said about Sandra Bland’s case, from the questionable motive behind her arrest to the mystery and deception regarding her death. It should be made clear that I believe serious foul play was involved throughout her experience.

Although it is legal to make an arrest for minor traffic violations such as failing to signal, the punishment does not go beyond paying a fine. It stands in question whether or not Encinia was justified in arresting Bland, especially considering the video evidence shows no signs of Bland assaulting the officer nor resisting his arrest.

Encinia was out of line from the beginning. In the video, he tells Bland to put out her cigarette before telling her she needs to exit the vehicle, failing to explain why he gave that order. He then proceeded to threaten to “light you up” with his taser before forcing her out of her car.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. Bland was found dead in her jail cell three days after the arrest. Her death was ruled a suicide by the Waller County Police Department.

The details of Bland’s supposed “self-inflicted asphyxiation” are sketchy to say the least. None of the information presented adds up, and it is painfully obvious that something is not right. It is hard to say exactly what was done, but it is something that needs to be figured out.

To say I am simply upset about the entire situation would be a heinous understatement. I feel appalled, livid, disgusted, and every synonym for those words. Sandra Bland may have died of asphyxiation, but it was not self-inflicted.

As a nation, we should not allow our so-called protectors so much power. They may be in a position of authority, but that does not grant them the right to apprehend someone for no reason, nor does it excuse their behavior in such situations.

Something must be done about the rampant murder of colored citizens who have committed minor crimes.

The case is being investigated, and I personally believe an autopsy should be performed by an independent organization. At this point, the evidence presented by the Waller County Police has been so unreliable and inconsistent that any further information can not be trusted.

Bland’s family has filed a lawsuit against the department, and hopefully the court system will uncover whatever truth needs to be revealed.

Media white out (continued from the printed paper)

Story by Jenna Jones, Reviews and Opinions Editor

Music videos, commercials, TV shows, and almost any other media outlet one can imagine are what shape people in today’s society in a process psychologists call modeling. Young children and teenagers are especially susceptible to being influenced by what they see in the media.

Although media can be a great source of information, it can also be damaging to impressionable minds.

Lack of representation in the media is an issue that has been receiving more attention recently, but it is still one that many people do not understand. Much of western media has been, and continues to be, dominated by a culture of white, straight people.

Unfortunately for people who are not straight or white, this can be damaging. Seeing one type of person idolized on TV and in other media can make a person think that is the only right type of person, which is not true. As someone who grew up without seeing much of myself in the media, I know from experience that representation is important to the way people feel about themselves.

Without representation, people come to believe that something is wrong with them. What they see on television is what they should be, but it is not what or who they are.

Alexus Hunt, 11, stated, “I think that when the media erases certain types of people it makes it look like there is only one way to be in America. The media is the main thing that most people look at for what beauty, intelligence, kindness, or even courage look like. I think the media manipulates race, and anyone who is not white may be considered less important and less valued.”

It is hard for many people to understand what a lack of representation feels like if they have never experienced it, and that needs to change. Representation in our media excludes all kinds of people, from various races to deviating sexualities and genders.

With races, it often occurs in television and movies with something known as whitewashing, or using a white person to play a character who is not white, like in the movie “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” which takes place in Egypt, but has several main actors who are white.

The director of the movie, Ridley Scott, even stated, “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such.”

When it comes to people who are not straight, representation is even more limited. It is rare to see a character who is not heterosexual in media, and even rarer to see someone who is not straight play a character who is not straight.

Along with this limited representation comes extremely negative and harmful stereotypes that portray various races and sexualities as criminals, morally astray, or simply unnatural. The way the media controls what we see as right and wrong, good and bad, or any other combination of this over this, is something that people need to be aware of.