The Social Construction of Innoncence

Heroin Hypocrisy

heroin-use-white-parents-drug-warRecent local news reports in the Washington, DC metropolitan area have focused on the current heroin epidemic within the suburban and rural areas. Notably, the stretch of highway leading from West Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland is where the greatest focus is directed. In fact, many have dubbed this stretch of highway the “Heroin Highway.” Law enforcement, public health, and other government officials have selected this label, as they allege that it is along this highway that many people often travel to Baltimore to purchase heroin and then return to their homes in the suburban and rural areas of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

It should be noted that the current focus on heroin usage in suburban and rural Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia is not exclusive to those areas. An editorial printed in the New York Times not too long ago also discussed the current increase in heroin usage. The editorial, however, particularly examined the change in the tone of the narrative surrounding heroin usage. Specifically, in the past, when heroin was perceived as a drug of the inner city, heroin dealers and users were often referred to and/or discussed in much harsher tones. (more…)

Post-9/11 Profit

Photo Credit: CBS

Photo Credit: CBS

Stereotypes in the media are about as new as the invention of the wheel. The news media’s framing of social events and issues has also become par for the course. Like news media, entertainment media often reflects or incorporates current events into its production. As I have noted before, the cultural production of entertainment media is often a subjectively creative replication or manifestation of hegemonic norms. For instance, in the 1990s, many box office films and television shows incorporated story lines displaying the crack epidemic of the time. In doing so, many African Americans, and African American males particularly, were frequently portrayed as ruthless drug dealers or users. In the same manner, Hispanic or Latino males are often cast as homicidal gang bangers with little to no empathy for human life. Of course, the perpetuation of media stereotypes has not excluded women of color, as women of color are often portrayed in a negative light as well (e.g., prostitute, crack abusing mother, etc.). (more…)

Childhood Should Not Be A Privilege: The Projection of Adult Stereotypes on to Black Girls

Intersectionality theory asserts that individuals experience varying degrees of oppression and marginalization due to social factors or constructs such as race, gender, class, etc. that work in a reciprocating and cumulative manner. Accordingly, the simultaneous effects of racism and sexism are part of the lived experiences of women of color on a regular basis. This, of course, is nothing new as scholars including Kimberle Crenshaw, Patricia Hill-Collins, Angela Y. Davis, bell hooks, and Melissa Harris-Perry have all eloquently examined the relationship(s) between and among social constructs used to label and subjugate women, people of color, and/or low income persons. In deed, in her highly insightful and influential work, Black Feminist Thought, Professor Patiricia Hill-Collins elucidates what she termed the Matrix of Domination – an invisible yet unavoidable socially manufactured system of power that disproportionately impacts women of color. In Black Feminist Thought, Professor Hill-Collins explains that “controlling images” of black women perpetuate stereotypes that negatively impact the manner in which they are perceived thereby influencing how they are treated on a day-to-day basis. Common “controlling images” or stereotypes of black women include but are not limited to the jezebel, mammy, sapphire, welfare mother, etc.

Although such is the reality for black women, unfortunately, it seems that such is the case for black girls as well. During the 2013 awards season, Quvenzhane Wallis, then 9-years old, received much deserved attention upon her Oscar nomination (more…)

My Wish List for 2015 (Or Until We Get It Right…)

Yes, it’s that time again – the beginning of a new year. As we are all aware, this is the time of year when we each decide to make changes, or resolutions, in our individual lives for the better. They may include, but often are not limited to, lose weight, maintain an overall healthier lifestyle, pursue a change in career, find that special someone, build and sustain positive relationships, etc. Some of us actually keep our resolutions. Others don’t.

Still, we persist in identifying needed changes, or resolutions, out of an unwavering sense of hope that a new year brings. With that said, I am listing my desired changes, or wishes. Instead of listing my desired changes for myself as an individual, I am listing my wishes, or needed changes, for the betterment of the collective. (more…)

Through the Eye’s of a Child

Eric Garner ImageMe: Watching news coverage of the grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who placed Eric Garner in a choke hold, a method banned by NYPD.

My 5-year Old Son: “Mommy, why did they do that to him?  That’s not nice. They didn’t have to kill him. Why did they do that?”

Me: After staring at his young, handsome face wearing a simultaneous look of bewilderment and innocence (yes, I used the word innocence to describe a child of color), I simply responded with…  silence…

How do I explain to a 5-year old child that his presence will one day be considered deviant?  Thoughts?

I’m Scared…

Not long after Michael Brown was killed, another young male of color was killed amidst the turmoil in St. Louis, Missouri.

Image from rollingout.com

Image from rollingout.com

Apparently, an encounter with the police resulted in his untimely death. As usually is the case, the precise details surrounding his death are being questioned by various persons involved. While some say he was unarmed and simply carrying a sandwich, others have contended that he was in fact armed and engaged in an active gun battle. (more…)