Jon Stewart Schools Racist Sympathizers & Deniers

A video surfaced this week showing an Oklahoma fraternity orchestrating a racist chant on their bus.  The dishonorable bros of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat boasted their white supremacy with this chant:

“There will never be a n***** in SAE.
There will never be a n***** in SAE.
You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me
There will never be a n***** in SAE.”

As if frat bros haven’t been getting a bad enough rap already; first rapists, now racists.

Thankfully, the two chant leaders were quickly expelled by the university and the frat has been shut down after a powerful scolding by the University President.  If these guys weren’t kicked out they might have been beaten to a pulp by an Oklahoma linebacker who had a furious video response to the racist chant.  The sad part, as Stewart points out, is the linebacker actually apologized for his response to the racist chant before anyone at SAE had apologized for the racist chant itself.

The two expelled SAE bros did eventually issue an apology and claimed to have learned a valuable lesson.  Within one guy’s statement, his mother added that “while it may be difficult for those who only know Levi from the video to understand, we know his heart, and he is not a racist.”  Well if this is true then I sure would hate to hear what a “real” racist would say.

But even if we did give Levi’s mother the benefit of the doubt, this would be a perfect example of how racism can still exist without racists.  If the bros leading & participating in this shameful racist chant were somehow not racists themselves, that would only prove how deeply ingrained racism still is in our country.  For more on this reality, check out my post “The Evolution of Racism.”

On last night’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart calls out racist sympathizers in the media who have blamed this chant on everything except for racism, including rap music (or as Stewart jokes, “the irresistible hippity-hoppity”).  From reactions to Donald Sterling to the Ferguson PD’s racist emails and policing, Stewart mocks the constant denial of racism from talking heads in the media.  For these deniers who claim that we live in a post racial society, every instance of racism is presented as “an unending series of isolated events.”  Watch the video in the link below.

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Chants & To Catch a Prejudice

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Posted in Politics, Videos

The Oscars: Liberal Propaganda Exposed by Watch Dog Conservatives

The 2015 Academy Awards provided a big stage for radical liberal ideas like reforming immigration and challenging so called “racism” in America.  During her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette even went as far as suggesting that women should be paid the same as men for the same work.  These radical ideas were met with fierce criticism by conservative pundits.

Fox News’ Stacy Dash was “appalled” by Arquette’s extreme demand for equality, reminding Arquette that the Equal Pay Act of 1973 is still in effect.  Dash also added “I didn’t get the memo that I didn’t have any rights.”  No word yet on whether she has realized the word “any” is not a synonym for the word “equal.”

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh thought that allowing Niel Patrick Harris to host the Oscars was a blatant attempt to force the “gay agenda” onto innocent Americans.  Limbaugh asked & answered the question “why else would they ask a gay man who just got gay married to host the Oscars? Hollywood & the liberal media is trying to shove this liberal idea of ‘tolerance’ down our throats!”

As a guest on CNN, Ann Coulter offered her own theory on why American Sniper was snubbed of Best Picture honors, proclaiming that the movie would have won if it had been about a gay Muslim.  It is unclear whether she found out that “Birdman” was able to win Best Picture without a gay or Muslim lead.  Fox News host Sean Hannity echoed her sentiment, concluding that American Sniper was the best movie since it made the most money.  “Everyone knows that the most popular is always the best,” Hannity said “just like our news station; we’re the best because we’re the most popular, not the most accurate.”

Bill O’Reilly was one of many Fox hosts to denounce Common & John Legend for floating the unthinkable idea that racism still exists in America, and that we should do something about it.  Sadly, his comments have been largely ignored due to his unsubstantiated claims about narrowly surviving a terrorist attack in 1982 while covering the Oscars.  Several former colleagues have come out to dispute his claims about the attack, revealing that “he never even attended the Oscars.”

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Posted in Seriously Bro?

Double Standards: Freedom of Speech & Religion (for some)

In the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks in France, people from all over the world have come together in defense of free speech and against the threat of terrorism.  Almost immediately after the office building of the magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked by Islamic terrorists, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie emerged as a global movement in solidarity with the victims.  Unfortunately, (as well as predictably) some have used this celebration of free speech to churn out hate speech against certain religious groups.  While it is of utmost importance for us to maintain our core values like freedom of speech and expression in the face of terror, it is also important to recognize when we are being hypocritical.

France has shown that even after being at the forefront of this free speech movement, there are some kinds of expression they do not consider free.  Just three days after millions of people attended anti-terrorism and freedom of expression rallies in Paris, 54 people were detained “as France cracks down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorifying terrorism.”  One of the people arrested was a popular French comedian named Dieudonne, “who popularized an arm gesture that resembles a Nazi salute” and has also “been convicted repeatedly of racism and anti-Semitism.”  These arrests beg the question: does freedom of speech and expression exist for everyone, or are certain groups and topics off limits?

Anti-Semitic speech and Holocaust denial are serious crimes in Europe.  But ridiculing Muslims is not only legal in Europe, it has been celebrated as almost a symbol of free speech in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.  This glaring hypocrisy in Europe has served to censor criticism of one religion, and promote criticism and ridicule of another.  In America, the First Amendment protects our freedom of speech and the right to criticize any religion.  But just because our laws may not be as hypocritical as Europe’s doesn’t mean we don’t share double standards for Muslims that are just as hypocritical.

In the post-9/11 era, whenever Islamic extremists commit a terrorist attack the knee-jerk response has become tiredly predictable: Islam must be evil.  First and foremost, this simplistic diagnosis is a way for non-Muslims to feel like their religion is superior.  This arrogant and misguided attitude is on full display in a YouTube video featuring a hateful, ignorant woman standing in front of a giant American flag while burning the Qur’an.  She calls the Qur’an “evil garbage” and tells it to “go back to hell where you came from” while also encouraging other Christians to make their own video burning the Qur’an.  She had bookmarks made out of bacon to mark the “evil” verses and recited them out loud before tearing out the pages and lighting them on fire.  This woman must have never read her own holy book, since there are plenty of “evil” passages in the Bible that she could have lit on fire if she wanted to be fair.  Instead, she inadvertently illustrated a common double standard where ancient religious scriptures are deemed evil and unavoidable for Muslims, but easily overlooked for Christians.

Disclaimer for basic bros: I do not condone the violent scriptures of any religion, including Islam.  I am merely pointing out the fact that all religions, including Islam, Judaism and Christianity, have barbaric scriptures which advocate the killing of non-believers.  There are far too many Americans who are oblivious to this basic fact about their own religion.  And this Qur’an burning Christian woman puts on display how ignorance breeds violence, as she dares “any Muslim’s who wants a piece of me” to come and get it.  Clearly this woman is beyond help and will probably never realize that she is throwing stones from a glass house, but I write this piece because most people of faith are not this hateful and impervious to facts.  It is time for tolerant Christians to recognize that Islam is no more inherently violent or barbaric than Christianity.

Unfortunately, we do live in a time when the majority of terrorist activity we see around the world stems from Islamic extremism, and this makes it easy to reinforce broad stereotypes about the religion.  What most people don’t know is that this trend of militant Islamic terrorism is a relatively recent phenomenon which has mainly come in response to ongoing occupations in the middle east.  The vehicle used in these terrorist groups is religion, but their goals are political.  Islam has been merely used as a tool by middle eastern terrorists to recruit disgruntled youth and acquire power.  It is important to understand the history of Islamic terrorism and it’s scope before painting an entire religion of 1.7 billion people as “evil.”  This history is far too long and complex to articulate in this piece but you can read an overview of the evolution of Islamic terrorism here.

To put it in basic bro terms: using ISIS or Al-Queda as a representation of Muslims is like using the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church as a representation of Christians.  As Americans, we are able to see the differences between the various branches of Christianity and thus do not lump moderate Christians in with these extremists.  But the fact that Muslims are such a tiny minority in America leads us to view them as a monolith since we are not familiar with the nuances that exist in the Muslim world.  Many Christians expect Muslims to denounce and apologize for every act of terror committed by a Muslim extremist, but don’t feel the need to apologize for the acts of Christian extremists.  A double standard exists where Muslims are held responsible for the acts of their most extreme elements, while Christians are immune of responsibility for their most extreme elements.  I often hear Christians say that members of the Westboro Baptist Church “aren’t real Christians,” but somehow believe that ISIS and Al-Queda are not only real Muslims, but the face of Islam.  Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

You can’t gawk at the violent passages in the Qur’an without also confronting the violent passages in the Bible.  You can’t cherry pick the peaceful passages in the Bible and overlook the peaceful passages in the Qur’an.  You can’t expect billions of people to take responsibility for the most extreme elements of their religion if you aren’t willing to take responsibility for the most extreme elements of yours.  What you can do, is acknowledge that all religions have had their fair share of bloodshed and extremists who are not representative of the entire group.  The sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we can have a real conversation about the real reasons why the Middle East is such a mess, and acknowledge our role in that mess.

We must always fight to preserve our right to speak freely and challenge ideas, even in the face of terrorist threats and intimidation.  Nothing is above criticism and we should question everything, especially religion.  And that goes for all religions, not just Islam, bro.

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Posted in Religion, Videos

9 Ways to Explain Your Nonprofit Job to Your Family this Holiday Season

Excellent Holiday guide for organizers provided by Lucas Zucker.

It Bends Toward Justice

son-i-am-disapprove

It’s that wonderful time of the year when young adults prepare to have public judgment of their life and career decisions become a major topic of conversation among a large group of people they barely know (i.e. their extended family).

So, if you’re a budding medical doctor, congratulations!  You have a commonly known, widely socially accepted and financially lucrative career path and can stop reading now.

On the other hand, if you make less money than some of your friends in food service, working at an organization no one has ever heard of, for a cause that’s too political to be seen as polite dinner conversation in the first place, here’s a helpful guide to help you navigate the awkward conversation.

1. “This will look great on my grad school application!”

Many of the olds are under the impression that getting a graduate degree is a smart economic choice.  Whether…

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Posted in Reblogs

The Evolution of Racism: A Basic Breakdown

As protests continue in Ferguson, New York, and many other places across the country over the recent controversial police killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner, it is clear that we have a problem.  In addition to the issue of excessive police force, these stories have sparked widespread debates on a multitude of race issues.  There has been strong push back from a lot of defensive bros (and anyone who watches Fox News) who view the protests as an overreaction to an issue that was resolved decades ago: racism. We have reached a point where most people understand and accept that racism is bad.  The problem is, we still haven’t reached the point where most people understand the nuances of what racism actually is.  And in order to reach that point, we must first be able to break down the defense mechanisms that prevent so many of us from recognizing the presence of racism in our daily lives.

Growing up white in America, I never had to worry about things like being racially profiled by police or dealing with racism in general.  As a young kid I mainly thought of racism as a shameful part of American history that had essentially been eradicated by the civil rights movement.  In school we were taught about how Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and Rosa Parks’ single act of civil disobedience paved the way for the civil rights act and the desegregation of black and white America.  It all seemed very clean cut and uncontroversial, which allowed us to put these struggles for justice in our rear view mirror and say “mission accomplished.”

This was a very comforting thought to have: to think that we now lived in an America that no longer had the burden of dealing with centuries of systematic oppression based on race.  It was easy to feel great about how much we had evolved since those assholes in the not so distant past who refused to let black people go to the same schools, have the same jobs, or live in the same neighborhoods as the rest of us.  This all served to validate the rosy American narrative that we had successfully purged ourselves of racism.

Needless to say, this naive image of a modern day, post-racial society quickly began to break down as I got older.  As much as I wanted this to be true, it didn’t take me long to realize that we were still a long way from achieving racial equity.  Sure, slavery was over and Jim Crow Laws were no longer legally permitted, but the residual effects from centuries of slavery and segregation were not going away over night.  I mean how could they?  When our country was founded less than two and a half centuries ago, black people were considered property, not human beings.  They were not entitled to any of the unalienable rights described in our constitution, and the phrase “all men are created equal” just added insult to injury.  To be specific, they were counted as three-fifths of a person.  And even after this ridiculous legal discrepancy was changed, they were still treated as sub human in most parts of the country, especially the south.  Many (but thankfully not all) white folks have pushed back against every step of black progress by rallying against “big government” forcing them to free their slaves, integrate their schools, and get rid of Jim Crow Laws.  But even though we have gotten to the point where it is no longer socially acceptable to be overtly racist, many of the same racial prejudices remain deeply ingrained.  Racism did not go extinct, it evolved.

We have replaced the blatantly obvious prejudiced policies with more sophisticated, less obvious methods of discrimination.  Instead of using poll taxes and literacy tests to prevent black people from voting, some states have enacted restrictive voter ID laws that serve the same purpose.  In the 1980s we created the “War On Drugs,” which led to strikingly disproportionate incarceration rates for people of color, even though they are no more likely to use or sell drugs than white people.  One reason is because the sentencing for crack possession is 18 times more severe than the sentencing for powder cocaine, which is more commonly used by wealthy white folks.  And prior to recent federal reform laws, the sentencing for crack was 100 times that of powder cocaine.  This means that you could be caught with 100 grams of powder cocaine and earn the same criminal sentence as the getting caught with 1 gram of crack cocaine, even though it’s made from the same drug.  It would be like making the criminal sentence for smoke able marijuana 100 times as severe as edible marijuana.  And speaking of marijuana, even though blacks and whites use it at virtually the same rate, blacks are arrested at three to four times the rate as whites for the same crime.  To be perfectly clear, this is not a comprehensive list of racial discrepancies, just the tip of the iceberg.

A basic bro might respond defensively to these discrepancies by saying something like “no one is forcing black people to do drugs; if they don’t want to go to jail they should stop doing them.”  Good one bro, you have completely missed the point.  I bet most of you have least tried at least one of these drugs and never had to worry about the possibility of going to jail for it.  That’s called privilege.  The privilege of being able to do something illegal while having a significantly lower chance of being caught and punished for it than another group of people doing the same thing.  Until you recognize this basic privilege, you cannot possibly understand the legitimate grievances of the black community that have built up to the recent explosions of protests across the country.

But okay bro, if you are still unable to empathize with the ongoing struggle for justice & equality in black America, hopefully you can at least understand this sports analogy:  Imagine running a marathon where you are forced to wear a 50 pound weight vest and 10 pound ankle weights.  After several miles you are allowed to remove the weight vest, but are still hindered by the ankle weights.  After a few more miles you are finally allowed to remove the ankle weights as well.  At this point you are told that you no longer have an excuse for how far you have fallen behind; you need to forget about the fact that you started out at such a huge disadvantage.  And if you fail to catch up to the front runner, it’s not because of all the extra weight they forced you to carry from the start line, it’s because you’re lazy and don’t believe in yourself.  After all, those weights were taken off two miles ago, why can’t you just get over it?

To be perfectly clear bro, the runner represents the entire black community overall, not one individual black person.  It is entirely possible for an individual black person who grew up poor and disadvantaged to become rich, successful, and shit, maybe even the President of the United States.  But it is harderIt is harder to get a good education and go to college when you go to an underfunded school in a poor black neighborhood.  It is harder to get a job, let alone a good job, when employers are 50% less likely to call you back if you have a black sounding name rather than a white sounding name, even if you have a better resume.

Whether these prejudices are intentional or completely subconscious, the only way we will ever be able to address them is by acknowledging that they exist.  Because seriously bro, time alone is not going to fix something this deeply rooted and fucked up.

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Posted in Politics

Bro Meets World

I started this blog to elaborate on important issues that are either unknown or completely misunderstood by basic bros.  So I thought I’d kick this thing off with a brief intro about my journey from basic bro to progressive political organizer & activist.  I also want to assure people that persuading bros to think about something other than sports, booze & chicks is not pointless; some bros are deeper than a wading pool.

I did not realize people saw me as a bro until after graduating from college when it was pointed out to me by some coworkers.  The reason I never identified as a bro was because I had always been surrounded by bros, and thus saw myself and my friends as just regular dudes.

Once I graduated from college and my baseball career was over, I was a fish out of water.  I had a hosting job at a high end restaurant, but I needed to use my sociology degree for something more than handing out menus to rich people.  So I started working as a political organizer and entered an environment filled with people who shared my political values, but not my social background.  It was at this point when I started to realize that my background as a student athlete, surrounded by other athletes and cleat chasers, was anything but average. Although I wasn’t rich, I had a privileged life and perspective that I was never fully aware of until working with people who had a very different idea of “average.”

Upon realizing that people outside of my friend circles perceived me as a bro, I began asking my friends if they thought I was.  The answer was a resounding no.  This of course was not surprising since they, like me, were unaware of how they were perceived by those outside of our social circles.  They assumed the “bro” label was reserved for surfer dudes and frat guys, not athletes.  But for those outside of our social circles, it made perfect sense why we were also perceived as bros.  And this “duh” moment of self awareness made me realize why my progressive worldview was so rare within my own social circles who were generally apathetic.

Throughout this blog I will discuss news, politics and pop culture through the hazy eyes of a bro and begin to break down some of the privilege and lack of awareness that inhibits so many of us from seeing the big picture through our Oakley shades.  Stay tuned bro.

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Posted in Bro Meets World
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