Racism Review (Dec. 31, 2012)
Racism in 2012: Year End Review
As 2012 draws to a close, I pulled together some of the biggest news in racism for the year.
Election Politics – Of course, much of the year we were focused on the racism in election politics.
- New scholarship on the Obama years, the 2012 election and systemic racism appeared in the Journal Qualitative Sociology by our very own Joe Feagin and Adia Harvey Wingfield.
- As a voters, Latinos had a big impact in this election, as Maria Chavez noted here.
- Even though white privilege was not enough to secure a victory for Mitt Romney, he still did well among white voters who overwhelmingly supported him at the polls.
- Even so, The New York Times was unable to marshal a sophisticated critique of the racism in the GOP.
- In January, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire on a crowd at an Arizona political rally, killing 6 and injuring 14.
- In August, white supremacist Wade M. Page walked into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, where he shot and killed 7 people.
- In December, Adam Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 children at an elementary school in Connecticut. With this most recent shooting, some in the mainstream press began to identifywhite men as a group that “should be profiled,” a point that Joe Feagin has been making for many years.
- The senseless killing of teenager Trayvon Martin seemed to be case of racial profiling taken to a violent extreme when volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman perceived the unarmed Martin as a “threat” and shot him.
- Racial Profiling is not only an issue in the U.S., it is also characteristic of policing in France as well.
- In the city where I live, racial profiling combines with racial disparities in marijuana arrestsand results in over 400,000 Black and Latino young men needlessly caught up in the criminal justice system each year.
Law & Economy – Institutions, such as the law and the economy, are fundamental to the perpetuation of racism.
- The Supreme Court heard a case about affirmative action brought against the University of Texas by a white woman who was refused admission.
- Even with the election of Obama, deportations of Black and Latino men based on immigration status continued at an alarming rate, as Tanya wrote about here.
- And, the election of Obama has done little to stem the tide of the racial gaps in wealth and income.
Athletics – There were some new stars in athletics who faced racism.
- Gabrielle Douglas won a gold medal in gymnastics at the Olympics, yet faced a huge wave of criticism about her hairstyle, which many saw rooted in racism.
- Jeremy Lin played in the NBA after a less-than-stellar college basketball career, and sparked “Linsanity” from enthusiastic fans; others made racist jokes at his expense.
- There remain significant racial barriers to becoming a coach in the NFL, as Michael R notes here.
Passages – We lost some people who played a role in racial politics.
- Rodney King, focus of a shocking video of police brutality, and when officers were acquitted in that beating, he famously tried to quell rioting by asking “Can’t we all just get along?” – died. He was 47.
- Russell Means, a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), and an Ogala Sioux Indian, died. He was 72.
Hate & Violence – Overt racist hate and violence continued in 2012.
- The SPLC reported that there has been a resurrgence in hate groups in the years since Obama’s election.
- There was a spate of anti-Asian American racism in the news, perhaps none more tragic than the murder of Danny Chen.
Technology – Despite claims that Internet technology would usher in a new era in which “there is no race,” racism continues to be built into our technologies.
- This year, Microsoft unvieiled – then quietly removed – their “Avoid Ghetto” App meant to help guide presumably white drivers away from “dangerous ghettos” with predominantly Black or Latino residents.
- As the election news spread, so did the racist tweets about Obama. Some clever folks made a map of those racist tweets, and I wrote a critique of it.
- I also created a short video explaining how racism operates in the digital era.
Culture – Sometimes, when I consider the progress that’s been achieved around racism, I think some of the most important progress is achieved in culture, both popular culture and more rarefied high culture.
- The gift that just keeps on giving is the change in lineup that happened this year at MSNBC when they (finally!) removed Pat Buchanan and then Melissa Harris-Perry got her own show.
- A major museum in the nation’s capitol featured a show of all African American artists, simply called “30 Americans.”
- And, when an artist made a cake that many viewed as racist, it seemed the whole worldspoke out against it.
Viral Videos – The year 2012 was a good one for viral videos about racism.
- Stuff White Girls Say took off and made a point about the racism of white women.
- Similarly, Randy Newman skewered white people in his spoof of his old song “Short People.”
- Somewhat unintentionally, the highly crafted marketing video “Kony 2012″ ended up being about racism as well in its facile portrayal of ‘evil’ in Africa in need of ‘white saviors.’
Documentaries – I continue to believe that documentaries can be a crucial tool in the effort to bring about racial justice.
- Central Park Five – an important, devastating critique of racism.
- Deconstructing Racism – a funder makes a call for documentary filmmakers to address racism.
May 2013 bring more racial justice!