The Racial Board Game

Congratulations! For playing the race card you won 1,000,000 dollars!

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I hear the phrase “playing the race card” a lot when it comes to a minority talking about race relations. So what exactly does that mean? Is that just a statement people say, or do they think about the repercussions of that statement before throwing it around.

So as you may know by know I got my degree from UCA in Sociology. I am not going to stop talking about race or other issues that might rub people the wrong way. We have a long way to go in this country with regards to human relationships and those issues need to be highlighted. You can’t stop me from pulling the so-called “race card” and really just talking about race as it relates to me (which is what I assume most people are saying when they talk about pulling the race card since they usually aren’t that specific so I fill in the blanks a little.)

What it will do though is slowly start to make some people who don’t have as strong of a voice quieter. They will talk less and less about their issues and everything will seem fine and dandy. A lot of people don’t talk about race, but that’s not because it isn’t an issue. They may not talk about race because it’s the polite thing to do, they think their friends are lost causes, or they just don’t want the backlash for standing up against racism. Don’t bring the fine and dandy way of thinking about things into light. A lot of people in the south leading up to and during the Civil Rights Movement thought that everything was fine and dandy (but only because no one was talking to them about these issues.)

There are systematic things we have to stop in this world. To name a few

-Police Brutality

-Powder Cocaine to Crack Cocaine Sentencing Discrepancies

-Voter Registration and I.D. Laws

-Education reform so more people are served by the educational system.

-Media framing of things like protests versus riots, emergency situations and looting, and picture picking in news stories.

-The fact that most people believe that you can erase 400 years+ worth of inequality with a few decades worth of work that really hasn’t truly been worked on at all in the past decade or so.

I think the biggest thing I want to say about this blog is always consider systematic things. I use a lot of examples in this blog. Things that happen to me personally because it is the best way to describe these things. It’s not easy to always talk about structual inequality and it’s not always easy to grasp. The small things that you do are a part of a greater system than just the people and places around you. It is so important to realize that as you go throughout your life.

If I am playing the race card, I guess I will be playing it until we reach the actual goals our society has set for itself. Think about the big picture, and don’t get so caught up on the small details.

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I’m Just Going To Leave Now

Good Afternoon,

I am always a little wary about posting about incidents like this. To some people things like this don’t seem very racially charged and sometimes I feel like I am over-reacting to things myself. But things like this can make people extremely uncomfortable, so beware of how you run your stores please.

So I walked into the technology store on my campus. I was interested in possibly getting a iPad mini for school because it seemed like a smart investment. Since there was a certified Apple campus store I thought I would pop in to possibly buy one and support StAte while I was at it.

So I walked in and immediately I was asked that crazy question: “Do you need any help?” by one of the employees. I could barely get my foot in the door before this was asked. There was a bit going on so I took them up on the offer and decided to ask them where their iPad mini’s were because I was looking into buying one.

So the girl points me to the iPad Minis and lets me know about a sale they have going on then ask me if I need anything else just to ask and I told her that I didn’t need anything else. I browsed the iPad Mini’s for a while then I went on to look at the cases they had–because if I was going to splurge on the iPad Mini I obviously needed a case because I am a clutz. I was in the store maybe 3-4 minutes at this point.

Before I could really even look at the wall the other employee came up behind me and asked AGAIN if I needed any help. I told her I was just looking for the iPad Mini cases and as soon as I said that I spotted them and basically said, “found them” she then went on to tell me that the iPad Mini cases were in that area. Cool story bro.

Then she stood there for a few seconds and went on to help another gentleman right beside me who happened to be black. All the while there were other patrons in the store who were white, fumbling around with the products, knocking stuff around, etc. Not once did she ask if they needed help. They were being far more destructive than I, yet in the span of 3-4 minutes in the store I was asked TWICE if I needed help.

Did I mention that this store is basically the size of a studio apartment? There wasn’t much to be helped with honestly. I probably could have found things faster on my own than explaining to them what I needed and having them show me.

It was just a frustrating experience, but an experience I have been familiar with so many times before.

I am not a menancing person, I have never stolen a thing in my life, I once accidently took a soda from a store and I went back to pay for it. I guess sometimes I just need a sign with all of that on my chest so people will stop bugging me when I walk into stores.

Maybe I looked like I genuinely needed help and that’s why they asked. I do sometimes go throughout life with a confused look on my face. I am not say that this was a clearcut most racist thing to do ever. It is definitely important though to really take a look at who you are asking this help question to.

After that though I could no longer just stay in the store. I had to leave. I’d rather take my business elsewhere and shop at a place that doesn’t use the “do you need help” logic to combat theft in the store. Especially when that is targeted especially at minorities.

Diversity

Good Afternoon,

Today I watched a great movie on Hulu called Dear White People. I had heard about it my senior year during a class called Intro to African and African American Studies at my alma mater the University of Central Arkansas. I wasn’t able to see it then because it wasn’t really that easy to see here in Arkansas, but luckily I came across it on Hulu today and it really spoke to me.

After watching the movie I took to YouTube to do what I do most often–look up videos of the cast talking about the film they created. A lot can be said about doing that and you can really see what the movie/tv show/book/etc. means to the people involved by looking at interviews so I often do that.

So let’s talk about me. My name is Amanda Cross, and I am just one voice in a sea of African American voices. I know there are people who think like me or who have faced the same fears as me. I am not a radical person, but I do enjoy my sociological imagination and my conflict theory.

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I enjoy wearing Lilly Pulitzer bows, monogrammed items, and I see cute southern items but I am not always sure about wearing them because of their sometimes unintentional hateful undertones. I am torn between a lot of hats and I always have been. I am a Democrat-ish, a socialist, and I believe that no one should be homeless or make a poverty wage if they work hard each week.

I refuse to believe that just because it could be worse or that it has gotten 100x times better that we should stop fighting for various forms of equality. I don’t believe that we have reached the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had.  I believe that we have to look out for each other instead of worrying about only ourselves. I believe that we can all be successful.

I believe that we should all do our part to support small businesses, makers, and doers. I believe that we should all have a voice, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with your voice (or that you have to agree with mine.) I believe in debate, and actually having arguments, and loving each other enough to let that happen.

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I don’t believe that America is perfect. I think we can learn a lot from other countries. I believe that we have to clearly own up to our past and present before we can even think about the future.

As I stated earlier I am just one voice. My voice is not the voice of the color of my skin, but my voice. That’s what diversity is all about. My opinions don’t mean that everyone thinks like me and I think that’s what this movie does the best. There are many different voices (and in each of those voices there are various voices too.) This blog is a way for me to tell just a few of my different voices.

There is a chance (slim slim slim chance) that in a few years I will look back at this and ask myself “Why exactly did you write about these issues?” Well in the off chance that I become a super conservative weirdo in the future I shouldn’t be ashamed. My voice has changed so much in the past few years, let alone what it will be in the future. I don’t think I have to worry about that though…or will I?

Nah, I won’t.

6 Issues I’d Rather Hear Candidates Talk About

Good Evening,

Fighting For Something is back for a quick rant about some issues I’d rather hear our candidates talk about. I have been hearing a ton from Republican candidates (which on one hand I’d never vote Republican so I don’t care, but on the other hand who knows how many people will vote Republican so I kinda care.)

Immigration is a hot button issue for a lot of people so when a Republican states all these things that they’d do to stop it everyone’s all:

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When they shouldn’t really be. Immigration isn’t the most important issue of our day, honestly! It’s not. Immigrants from various countries aren’t coming in and stealing your jobs and all this crazy stuff. They are taking jobs, but these are jobs most people these days don’t want to do anyway or they aren’t getting the training to do (yes, let’s talk about the science jobs and the awesome technology jobs immigrants are excelling at too!).

Because I am tired of hearing about how awful it is for people to immigrate (legally or illegally), without ever talking about the fact that we are all illegal immigrants, let’s talk about 6 things I do want our candidates to talk about a little more.

1. Minimum Wage: Now, I am not sure if I want to talk about a huge increase or a small one, but let’s discuss it. It sucks. No one should work 40+ hours a week and still be below the poverty line. Let’s be real, most people who work minimum wage jobs are still WAY under the poverty line, so let’s fix that. I would love to see a great debate on how to fix our minimum wage system so that more people can participate in our economy and live decent lives.

2. Childhood Poverty. You can do a lot of blaming people for their situation, but one age group that shouldn’t be blamed are children. Did you know that 22% of all children in the United States live with families whose incomes are below the poverty line. Poverty affects a whole lot of adults, but also a whole lot of children. When we deny access to aid to adults we also deny access to aid to children. How can you deny faces like this:

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Access to proper care, food, etc? That I will never know. So let’s talk about ALL the people we are affecting when we want to cut down the amount of aid we give to those who are less fortunate.

3. The Prison System. Let’s be honest, it sucks. Did you know that a person arrested for crack cocaine gets an 18x higher sentence than someone caught with powder cocaine? Now, you do. Did you also know that this discrepancy used to be 100x? You probably didn’t. I didn’t either, until I took courses in Sociology. It was magical. I could go on and on about how horrid our criminal system is, but I am not going to. I would love to hear some information from our candidates about reforms to the criminal justice system so it is less of a money maker and more of an actual system used to reform prisoners.

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Watch this video from Vlogbrothers called Mass Incarceration in the US for more information on the prison system! (Must click on the title link because I can’t embed videos on WordPress!)

4. Race Relations. In America, race relations are just poor. We don’t truly appreciate the diversity we have here and we really just spend our time in our own little groups without trying to get out there. This truly goes for all races. We are less like a melting pot and more like a layered cake where all the sides don’t touch sometimes. We have to learn to love our cultural diversity and those who are different from us and really go above and beyond to do that. I’d love to hear a candidate talk about how we can come together and do much more than we’d ever do a part.

5. College Affordability: College is expensive. In order to afford college I had a few grants, a few scholarships, and a whole lot of loans. I am in debt up to my eyeballs before I even get into the working world. While I am still much better off than a lot of people, I am definitely not in the only grants and scholarships category. I am not going to have a clean slate once I get into the workforce and that’s going to be a burden on me for a very long time. Having a well educated populace will only make the United States better. We will be able to solve more problems, invent more things, advance further than we have to this day. I’d love to hear a candidate talk about how they plan to make college more affordable instead of the candidates who want to slash money for college in half.

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6. Better Schools: The public school system for younger kids is also a bit of a fail. There aren’t enough teachers, the teachers aren’t qualified enough, they don’t teach you as many real world lessons that you will need if you don’t go to college, they don’t teach you about your college options, and this list could go on. The public school system definitely needs a reboot and I’d love to hear how a candidate plans on making that happen.

There are just 6 issues I’d rather hear candidates talk about. I have a lot more though honestly. Let me know in the comments some issues you’d rather hear about this election season.

The Power Of Pictures

Good Morning,

I wanted to log on to this page and make a quick statement. I don’t really want to talk about this for five-ever. Just a quick talk about the power of pictures the news media uses.

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I really like this picture a friend of mine on Facebook shared and it really got me thinking about all the stories I see on my timeline, but don’t thoroughly investigate. I hate to let you in on a secret, but I don’t read every single thing that comes on my Facebook feed. Some stories just seem boring to me, or not like something I want to read–so I bypass it. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t at least skimmed the picture attached to it though. I make snap judgements every single day on whether I want to click on that video, read that article from the latest Conservative/Liberal website my friends linked, or just ignore them all together.

Think about all the rash decisions you make about articles and videos that pop up on your timeline, in the newspaper, in a magazine. I promise that you would lose years of your life if you tried to give every single thing you saw a fair shot and read/watched it.

That’s why as a news media outlet you have to be very careful of which images you choose to portray. This can also be taken as, the news media is very careful of what images they portray. For every single article chosen to go live their are choices that need to be made. How you will present the story, how long the story will be, what pictures you will use, etc. Of all the pictures out there of these two men, these images were chosen for a reason.

Be aware of the power of pictures and the thoughts that they make you feel. It’s easy to make snap judgements when dealing with pictures and not fully investigating articles and arguments. I know I will still continue to not read every article that comes up on my Facebook feed. I mean, I try to live a life not on Facebook sometimes. On the other hand it’s also very important that you take to understanding why you have these snap judgements about people in articles, and what you can do to think outside the article a little bit.

Getting Real Tired Of Your Stuff Facebook!

Okay, like most people in the world I have this thing called Facebook. Facebook is great for keeping up with friends and acquaintances from all over. Lately though with all the high profile pieces about race and the crazy scale that is gender I have really wanted to get rid of Facebook for a while (only reason I haven’t is because I want to be able to access my Facebook page for The Happy Arkansan.)

Okay so let’s talk about the latest craze of rudeness and unfriending I have had to endure. The latest contreversy is the taking down of the confederate flag and the general changing of some really racialized names and such across America after the tragedy in Charleston. I get it, some people like the confederate flag. That is all your opinion. If you want to believe it really has nothing to do with race. You do you. In your own yard, on your own vehicles, whatever.

This is America though and it deals with a lot more people than just you. If government organizations that serve the people of the United States of America want to take down a flag, so be it. It’s not your property, we aren’t rounding up all the confederate flags and burning them. Calm down.

On another note, please stop googling “black person with a confederate flag” to make some long speech on Facebook about the history behind the confederate flag. One random black guy I don’t even know won’t convince me that the confederate flag that you hold so dear should be spared. Also by posting pictures like this you assume black people are the only ones wanting the confederate flag taken down. Well, I have news for you, black people make up about 15% of this nation so if we were the only ones complaining nothing would be done about it.

I know this comes off as harsh, but I feel my opinions must be stated. Again, I really don’t mind you flying your ever so loved flag. At the same time though, don’t try to convince me of it’s worthiness and don’t get upset when it’s taken down from an area that is supposed to serve ALL people. Just because that one random black person you don’t even know is okay with the flag, doesn’t mean that I have to be.

*Drops my own mic*

Militarization

A few weeks back I had a very intriguing conversation with a classmate about our opposition to the militarization of police forces. it was nice to bounce back and forth in conversation with a like-minded individual as we discussed cases like Ferguson and the at the time new news story in Baltimore.

A few days ago I was watching he news with my dad and news about the starting of the de-militarization was happening thanks to new initiatives by the White House. You see before this local police officers were able to get military grade defense weapons like tank-like armored vehicles, certain types of camouflage uniforms, bayonets, firearms and ammunition over .50 caliber, grenade launchers, and weaponized air craft all from the military at a good rate. These new restrictions would make it more difficult (although not impossible) to get these weapons. This is a step in the right direction, but not at all the end in sight.

If your job is to protect and serve, why would you ever need these types of equipment? As a police officer you should not only be protecting the so-called good, but also the so-called bad in making sure that everyone gets equal protection under the law. Let’s be honest, the good and the bad are highly subjective. Who are the bad, bad to? Once you could be bad for simply refusing to move to the back of the bus even though you paid for your ride like everyone else. You were also bad if you stood up for equal treatment of everyone under the law. You could be thrown in jail, beaten bloody by officers of the law and onlookers, because at the time what you did was bad.

On this particular news story one person who was for the militarization said you had to fight fire with fire, but how much fire did those in Ferguson and Baltimore actually have? On the surface, maybe you could say a lot, but only if you refuse to look deeper.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “A riot is the language of the unheard,” and I believe that is still true today. People get angry, people get upset, and as a nation we don’t have a lot of avenues of expression. Sure we have freedom of speech but if we practice it too wildly our names are placed on a list, we are arrested for disorderly conduct (or some other crazy unnecessary law pulled from the depths of hundreds of codes we have written), we are stifled, we are also cut down back into the order of conforming. Whenever someone rises to lead a movement or act on a thought it quickly becomes hard, tore down in the media, mocked, and forgotten as yesterdays news.

So what fire are you fighting with grenade launchers and tank-like vehicles, attack dogs and tear gas? Are you helping your constituents air their grievances in a public forum by turning on them and hurting people who are only armed with their words and some signs? How much of the looting comes before the militarization vs. after? Why do a few looters characterize a movement of peaceful protestors?

Before you bring out the national guard and your helicopters try reasoning, listening, helping. Try doing the protecting and serving you promised with an emphasis on the serving–the helping.

I am not here to discount the importance or hard work of being a police officer. I am also not here to discount the tons of amazing police officers all across the country who tae pride in their work and pride in helping the communities they serve deal with their problems in positive ways. The news isn’t going to focus on that though. In a way those on the police and the civilians are in the same boat. A few bad police are taking all the spotlight in news media about police. A few civilians taking these opportunities as a chance to loot or set things on fire are taking all the spotlight in news media about civilians. What should we do?

It’s all about how you spin things.

Amanda Cross