Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: American racism at its most pathetic

I don’t blame Black folk for thinking we’ve lost our minds. The recent noisy—and racist—outrage over the casting of a young African American actress as Ariel in the new live-action version of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” movie is proof positive

At times like this, all we can say is Jesus, take the wheel. And let’s make sure he’s the white Jesus we remember from the portraits hung in every children’s Sunday School room I recall while growing up white in the South. I remember his flowing light brown locks and rosy cheeks looking down on us as we colored pictures of a fair-haired David launching his slingshot at the deeply tanned Goliath. Yeah. That stuff starts early.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but Ariel is white,” wrote one anonymous whiner, taking Disney to task in an online forum.

“Now I’m super upset!” was another’s brief comment.

“I was really looking forward to this movie and now I’m bummed.”

You get the gist of it. Super upset and bummed white America can’t even right now.

Fortunately, there were a few jewels amid the goat poo, including this: “I’m so pissed they didn’t cast someone who has a natural mermaid tail.”

Right? If you’re going to lose your mind and scatter bigoted bon mots all over the Twitterverse, let’s imagine how the mermaids must feel. Except they’re mythical. So, to put this in perspective: A mythical creature (there’s no such thing as mermaids in real life; I know, I’m soooo bummed) will be played by someone with black hair instead of red hair like the CARTOON version.

Let’s focus on that word for a sec. Cartoon. Dumb white people ( I can say that because I have often been one) surely understand this is all make-believe, right?

This just in: You almost never see a tuxedo clad mouse leading an orchestra in real life. Ditto a desert creature who has clearly overdosed on Adderall and (meep meep) spends his days trying to outrun a ravenous rabbit that thinks it’s a coyote.

My daughter was besotted with Ariel when she was little, which was fine with Duh Hubby and me although, over a glass of wine enjoyed while she watched the movie for the eleventybillionth time, we’d joke the movie’s premise was a bit shaky: A very young woman runs away from home and throws herself at a handsome prince, swapping her beautiful singing voice for the ability to walk with legs so the prince wouldn’t think she was weird and maybe they could bike together and stuff.

Yeah, there’s a lot to unpack there. Ariel wasn’t what you’d call a strong role model for young women but it’s fantasy. I have almost never encountered an overprotective crab/manny with a faux British accent. The “B-b-b-b-ut Ariel’s white” foolishness is racist, plain and simple. Hard to argue “purity” of storyline when your “heroine” is a man-crazy runaway teen with wretched judgment. Ariel’s skin color should be the least of y’alls’ worries.

Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.

Commentary

New report offers damning assessment of Trump judicial picks

Brett Kavanaugh

Thomas Farr

A new report from the national NAACP offers a damning assessment of numerous Donald Trump federal court nominees and the president’s strategy to alter the judiciary. Among the nominations featured is the ultimately failed one of North Carolina’s Thomas Farr — the controversial conservative lawyer who has spent this week defending the state’s gerrymandered legislative maps in the ongoing Common Cause v. Lewis trial. Interestingly, Farr is the only one of the nominees highlighted whose nomination was defeated.

As the group noted in a release accompanying the report:

In 2 ½ years, President Donald Trump has appointed an alarming number of nominees with appalling records of enabling or defending voter suppression,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO.” This is no accident, and the pattern is devastating. Undermining voting rights is now a qualification for nomination to the federal bench. This administration is weaponizing the federal judiciary to restrict the vote.

Our courts are essential to ensuring full political participation for everyone under the Constitution and civil rights laws. The American people deserve judges who are impartial, fair, and committed to equal justice under law. It is time to stand up to this extraordinary perversion of the judicial appointment process to undermine our democracy. Our rights to fully participate in the political process lie in the balance.”

This is from the introduction to “Trump’s Judicial Playbook: Weaponizing the Bench to suppress the vote”:

The NAACP seeks to shine a light on the Trump administration’s strategy to weaponize the judiciary to restrict the vote. Enabled by the Senate’s short-circuited confirmation process that minimizes scrutiny of nominees, Trump has appointed 126 individuals to the federal bench. Judges with demonstrated hostility to voting rights are now populating courts at every level, from Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, to the appellate courts which decide most of our law, to the district courts where voting rights cases are first filed. Several nominees were appointed to Southern jurisdictions, which serve large communities of color and hear an outsized share of voting rights cases. Many of the nominees are very young and will serve for decades.

This is no accident. Read more

Commentary

Lawmaker unwittingly sums up the insanity of NC marijuana/hemp laws in a single quote

Rep. Jimmy Dixon

In case you missed it this morning, be sure to check out the WRAL news story about yesterday’s state House committee action on the issue of smokable hemp. As you’ve probably heard, the issue of hemp cultivation and sale has sparked controversy because the plant is essentially indistinguishable from marijuana, which unlike hemp, contains THC — the chemical that produces the marijuana “high.”

On Wednesday, a state House committee voted to continue to allow the cultivation and development of hemp products, except for smokable hemp. As WRAL reported in its Wednesday roundup:

Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin, is adamant that smokable hemp, which looks and smells like marijuana but lacks the THC potency to get anyone high, needs to be banned in North Carolina, or else marijuana prosecutions will be next to impossible to pursue. So, he has inserted the ban into the annual Farm Act, and he also rewrote a Senate bill on controlled substances to define smokable hemp as marijuana. Both bills cleared committees Wednesday.

Here’s the truly amazing part of the first story though:

Law enforcement isn’t just worried about it being harder to enforce marijuana laws but about losing probable cause for searches based on the smell of marijuana smoke, or when a drug dog keys in on a vehicle.

“If this bill passes without the ban, we will put 800 of our law enforcement dogs and their handlers out of business,” Dixon said.

Did you get that? The reason Dixon and company want to keep smokable hemp and marijuana illegal is to protect law enforcement jobs and to continue to provide an excuse for police searches!

To which, all a body can say in response is: Hello! Those are not legitimate reasons for something to be illegal and for government to be imprisoning people. Marijuana is already effectively legal for the majority of Americans — a reality supported by nearly two-thirds of the population.

The bottom line: It’s absurd that North Carolina continues to criminalize this substance, doubly absurd that we would extend the prohibition to smokable hemp and triply absurd that the rationale behind the policy would be based on something as irrelevant as its impact on law enforcement or the ability of law enforcement officers to investigate other offenses. As one observer noted yesterday, if they’re really so concerned about law enforcement jobs, Dixon and his allies would do well to redirect their time and energy toward retraining the dogs and their trainers to sniff out white collar crime.

Commentary, News, Trump Administration

Donald Trump, a New York racist, communes with Southern racists

Donald Trump’s “fine people,” in their element, August 2017 in Charlottesville, Va. (Wikimedia Commons)

The question has not been — for some time — is Donald Trump a racist?

Donald Trump answered that question before he even announced his candidacy, in his putrescent championing of the “birther” movement, the nakedly prejudiced conspiracy theory concerning former President Obama.

As The Atlantic‘s David A. Graham noted this week, “bigotry has been a part of Trump’s public persona since he’s had a public persona.”

The better question is: How racist is the United States, and how racist is the political party that allows him to roam unchecked?

As you’ve likely noticed by now, the president brought his road show to Greenville Wednesday — “Have bigotry, will travel” — and made headlines, as he often does, for his supporters as much as his rambling message.

“Send her back,” the crowd chanted when the president remarked upon Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat who’s spurred Trump’s ire this week. Omar’s election marked a whole host of firsts, but being the first naturalized citizen from Africa to win a seat in Congress seems to be the one that Trump supporters are latching onto.

It’s racist. It doesn’t get any more racist. And there’s a closing of the loop, if you will, to see this New York-born racist courting Southern racists, demolishing at least those geographical barriers.

But, in one of the finest commentaries I’ve seen on the subject this morning, The Charlotte Observer‘s editorial board says we should all pause before making the statement that what we saw in Greenville last night “is not North Carolina.” There’s more to it than that.

Read the editorial below:

It happened in the first half of Wednesday’s speech. Donald Trump, our president, began to talk about Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democratic from Minnesota who was among the four women of color he had attacked Sunday in a racist tweet. Everyone knew Trump would speak about the women at some point to the Greenville, North Carolina crowd. Did we know what would come next?

“Send her back.”

The chant rose quickly from a handful of voices to a chorus of bigotry. It was a chilling moment. It was “lock her up” in a white hood. It was despicable.

“Send her back.”

It could have happened at any Donald Trump rally. It might have happened in any state, north or south. But it happened in Greenville, in our state, and it was one of North Carolina’s darkest moments.

“Send her back.”

Or perhaps not. Maybe the chant will be absorbed in the vortex that is Donald Trump. In a presidency of so many shameful moments, of so many new lows, the singularly awful ones tend to lose their significance. It’s possible that North Carolina might be forgotten when the chant inevitably spreads to the next rally. But North Carolina shouldn’t forget.

For a state that likes to boast membership in the new South, we have difficulties shedding the old stench of discrimination. We were the last U.S. state to ban gay marriage just seven years ago. We were the first state to pass a transgender bathroom bill with HB2 four years after that.

And yes, we had a bit of a progressive wave here last year. We sent more people to Raleigh who think bills like HB2 are a blight on our state. But we still struggle with segregation in our cities. We still are burdened by economic disparity. We also still have overt moments like Wednesday, and we can’t blame it all on Donald Trump.

“Send her back.”

There will be a temptation for some today to point to Wednesday’s rally and say that’s not who we are in this state. We hear that kind of thing a lot these days when our president, but not only our president, acts contrary to the values we think this country shares.

But there was some backlash this week when people pointed to the president’s Sunday tweet and declared that it wasn’t who we are. Because it is, of course, part of who we always have been in America. And in North Carolina. It’s who we were in Wilmington in 1898. It’s who we were when Dorothy Counts made that first walk to Harding High. It’s who we were when we redlined blacks out of white neighborhoods decades ago. It’s who we were on a July night in Greenville, and it could be what’s coming to Charlotte next summer.

“Send her back,” Donald Trump’s supporters chanted, without seeing the irony that it was they who were moving backward. “Send her back,” they cried, and it was both a reminder and a warning that here in North Carolina, in America, going back is not that far of a journey.

Commentary, Trump Administration

As Trump arrives in Greenville, analysts highlight administration’s “broken promises” in NC

As the controversy surrounding his recent racist statements continues to roil around him, President Trump will be speaking in Greenville this evening. In anticipation of Trump’s arrival, analysts at the Center for American Progress have produced a new and powerful North Carolina-specific update to the group’s “Trump’s Broken Promises” website.

Among the findings:

PROFITS AND WAGES

Promise: “I will [be] the greatest jobs President that God ever created … our poorer citizens will get new jobs and higher pay and new hope for their life.” – Donald Trump, October 5, 2016

Reality: 

  • This week, the president threatened to veto the House’s effort to increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in 10 years.
    • Currently, a student working full time at a minimum wage job would have to devote their entire salary for two years to pay for a four-year degree at East Carolina University; in-state tuition for four years costs more than $28,000, not counting books and room and board.
  • Experts predict that close to 13,000 North Carolina jobs will be lost as a result of President Trump’s erratic steel and aluminum trade policies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


HEALTH CARE

Promise: “I’m asking for your vote so we can repeal and replace Obamacare, and save health care for every family in North Carolina.” – Donald Trump in Raleigh, North Carolina, November 7, 2016

Reality: Trump is trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the courts with no replacement:

  • 3.9 million North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions will lose protections under ACA repeal.
  • 503,000 North Carolinians will lose their health coverage under ACA repeal.
  • $4,550: Annual premium increase for the average North Carolina family.
  • Trump launched an all-out attack on our health care by trying to repeal and sabotage the Affordable Care Act. https://trumpsbrokenpromises.org/north-carolina/#healthcare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


TAXES

Promise: “[W]e will massively cut taxes for the middle class.” – Donald Trump in Wilmington, North Carolina, November 5, 2016

Reality: 83 percent of the benefits from President Trump’s $2 trillion tax cut go to corporations and the top 1 percent. Many North Carolina families are getting stuck with the bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see the full report.