Raising Awareness

In the past week, one of the/if not the most talked about controversies has been the death of Freddie Gray and the riots that have in ensued in Baltimore as the result of this injustice. Freddie Gray’s unfortunate death came as the result of injuries he obtained while being taken into custody by the Baltimore City Police. The circumstances by which he was arrested under are relatively unknown, however, one thing that has become apparent is that the police brutality toward African Americans is not going unnoticed.

Early this week peaceful protesters seeking justice for Gray and his family filled the streets of Baltimore. These protesters pleaded for change with regards to political and structural violence against the African American and sought justice from the courts, however, they were met with hostility. What once had been a peaceful protest quickly became riots and looting all throughout Baltimore. Baltimore natives were torn by what their neighbors were taking part in and acknowledged that fight and looting would solve nothing but recognized that the media it was receiving was drawing attention to civil rights all over the country. In Radical Faggots’ article, In Support of Baltimore: or ; Smashing Police Cars is Logical Political Strategy, it’s well said that “As a nation, we fail to comprehend Black political strategy in much the same way we fail to recognize the value of black life.” I interpret that as, due to structural and political violence that has oppressed that black community, they must shed light on their situation by a different strategical means. This does not condone the violence and stealing occurred but it means that for the country as a whole it was what they had to do to create awareness and prompt change.

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How to Grieve with Mashed Potatoes

In Eating with My Fingers’, How to grieve with Challah Bread, she discusses the significance to Challah bread to her life and how helps her to overcome the grief she feels due to her grandfathers death. This concept interests me and makes me think about in our lab discussions we discussed the significance food had to our lives that were specific to out upbringing.

In reflection, my relationship to the thanksgiving classic, mashed potatoes and stuffing (or filling), is very comparable to that of Challah bread to the author. Growing up in a traditionally Pennsylvania Dutch home, mashed potatoes and stuffing wasn’t necessarily limited to holidays but rather was a comfort food that was served frequently for dinner. As a child this was one of my favorite meals and it was something that i had in common with my paternal great grandfather who, many a night, I fought with for the last portion. In January of 2007, my paternal great grandfather passed away and since then, mashed potatoes and stuffing have reminded me of him. In a lot of ways, my relationship to this meal is similar to our conversations of place and space within anthropology because of the significance the meal has to my life.

Backyard Warfare

At the state level, the United States’ reaction to ISIS calling upon their “Brothers residing in America” (NYPost) through the Hitlist was executed on several of different levels. First and foremost, the 100 current and former U.S. Armed Forces personnel who were targeted on the Hitlist received increased security to ensure their safety and that of their families. While it is an expensive and labor-intensive measure, additional security is a necessary action because the servicemen and women identified on the Hitlist inhabit 23 states and 54 different cities across America. If ISIS followers and sympathizers mobilized and took action, it could produce devastation and casualties for the United States on the scale of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the towers of the World Trade Centers, but it would also call into question the United States government’s intelligence and ability to protect it’s own people. This becomes especially scary when considering the soldiers that ISIS is calling upon are U.S. citizens. In The counter Jihad Report’s, Senior female ISIS agent unmasked and traced to Seattle, it’s clearly stated senior members of this terrorist group can be found in our backyard.  When considering national security, ISIS cannot be underestimated as they have proven their ability to create chaos within the United States through acts of blood shed such as the beheading of American journalists and Christians. Although those acts occurred outside of the United States, the impact of a potential attack on United States soil would effect the national psyche and heighten security, comparably to a post-September 11th America especially if we are forced to fight combat them within the country because they’re U.S. citizens.

Beyond the Beats and Rhymes followup

In Beyond the Beats and Rhymes (2006), Byron Hurt presents rap and hip hop culture of the 1990’s and early 2000’s through the eyes of the rappers, producers, and fans alike. In one particularly profound segment of the documentary, Hurt met with aspiring rappers outside of a record label and had them “freestyle” for him. After three or four male artists preformed for Hurt, he noted that they all rapped about “getting money, getting bitches, and killing niggas.” Hurt inquired about why they did this? The consensus among the would-be rappers was effectively, ‘That’s what they [record labels and producers] want to hear. They want to hear that hood shit!’ One of the aspiring rappers, “spit” a verse or two (following his inquiry) about growing up and being afraid of the police because he’s black and said, “nobody wants to hear about that…”

In the United States, rather ironically the white corporate-owned America record labels create the African American rap culture played on the radio that older white Americans frown upon. In reality, this is an example of black oppression at the hands of White America. The record labels produce and promote the “thug life” of murder and physical violence, money and objectifying women with a catchy beat from a dominant male rapper, which further projects negative stereotypes about African American culture, particularly Black males. In a lot of ways this is a throwback to the days when slave owners used their slaves as entertainment, almost indistinguishably, from that of an animal in the zoo. By abusing their power, record labels establish a self-sustaining community of ignorance and objectification.

Unfortunately, this is still true today in the rap/hip hop industries. However, over the course of time, some rap/hip hop artists and groups (male and female alike) have fought for their right to express themselves and real problems through their art. Rappers, such as Kendrick Lamar, have taken great strides to end this “sideshow” and have provided the music industry with hope. With the release of To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar has created an album that demonstrates the hardship and oppression that a young African American face on an daily basis. Lamar has established himself as an model and voice for change within the Black community.

“If you’re silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it”- Zora Neal Hurst

Social media has provided its members with access to upload videos to social media platforms that can be viewed worldwide. Because of this greater visibility, recent videos of police brutality toward minorities are popping up nearly everyday. Such controversial images, inevitably, split to right and left wing social media pundits and bloggers who express their frustration with what they believe to be an invasion of human rights.

The liberal perspective points out the underlying system of racism and oppression of African Americans, and reference such crimes as the slaughters of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Freddie Gray and Robert LIese. Liberals note a pattern of behavior that is pervasive among authority-figures, but that has not as visible outside of the Black community until social media rose in popularity. These behaviors are not limited to death at the hands of law enforcement, but include being profiled, stopped and/or detained for no reason or nuisance crimes, and unfair sentencing for Blacks and Whites committing the same crimes.

Whereas, the conservative view takes a much more immediate, individual level of accountability to behaviors for this brutality. They often argue that the responsibility falls on shoulders of the individuals who have been hurt or killed (“victim-blaming”), and claim that law enforcement official’s ability to respond effectively in life-or-death situations where snap judgments are made, is impacted. In fact, conservatives commonly claim that the police are becoming victims to riotous bystanders with cameras. Some law enforcement argue that you don’t want police to necessarily hesitate in that life-or-death moment because worrying about whether they may be prosecuted at a later time for their actions may result catastrophically.

The safety of law enforcement is a valid concern, however, there are non-violent means to subdue criminals when necessary, and that every effort should be made to use those measures before resorting to using those measures first. What videos are sometimes demonstrating is that they are not only NOT being used, but in some instances, videos are revealing inconsistencies in officers reports about what happened and why deadly force has been necessary.

Boy Drinks

Who would’ve thought that the beverages we drink could be influenced by sexist undertones?Sexism in Beer – Seriously, Stop Being Stupid, by Literature and Liberation, describes how misogyny is incorporated into branding and the sale of alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverage companies market beers and liquor for men with images of attractive, young and sometimes scandalous women hanging all over the men that consume that beverage. This tactic is designed to empowered the male buyers and give them the impression that with this beer or liquor they will be the irresistible stud on the label or in the commercial who is surrounded by desirable women. Tactics like these reinforce this idea of misogyny and gender roles in that they imply women are simpleminded and exist to serve men.

“The alcohol is an industry where hedonism to the point of embarrassment is built-in to the business model. But that doesn’t mean we get to shrug accountability because it’s an “industry thing.” In fact, because the product we support contains inhibition-loosing adjuncts, we have more responsibility than other industries to remain professional and poised. It should be our goal to act like good human beings at all times, social posturing and levels of consumption be damned. It’s 2015 and we’re part of a modern, inclusive groundswell. Act like it. Be progressive, not regressive” (Literature and Liberation).

A valid point can be derived from this article: for something with such important social influence such as alcohol, when will we take this seriously? People will purchase alcohol because its more or less a worldwide pastime, when can we advertise it to everyone equally? The danger of associating alcohol with willing women, and its relationship with rape-culture, further objectifies women and casts them in a role that is both seductress, submissive, and representative of success in our culture.