We don’t want to be overly pessimistic here at #TeamBeautiful but with the onslaught of racism and civil rights violations we’ve been seeing all year, it seriously feels like we’ve traveled 50 years back in time. New protests erupt constantly while a different innocent, unarmed person is killed by the police (in what virtually feels like) once a week. Equally frustrating is watching people like Stacey Dash, Raven-Symoné, Don Lemon and Rudy Giuliani spew bullshit social commentary and blame the horrors of racial oppression on Black people.
In the above photo, two Black mothers weep publicly for the loss of their sons. In the left, in 1955, Mamie Bradley weeps for her murdered son, Emmett Till. On the right, Lesley McSpadden also weeps, this time for her son Mike Brown, who was gunned down in the streets of Ferguson in 2014.
Still don’t believe us? Peep the 25 different national news stories we’ve collected from 2015 alone highlighting incidents of racial injustice. Skimming the old headlines alone will give you an epic reality check.
1) This Time Magazine Cover Looks Like A Sick Joke
Need we say more?
2) Black Children Are Still Receiving Inferior Education To Whites
Research from the Urban Institute and the National Center for Education Statistics says that high-minority schools are getting less funding and less-qualified teachers while Black students are graduating at lower rates than Whites. Black students don’t have enough people of color to serve as their role models in schools either; in a study from 2011, 84 percent of teachers identified as White while only 7 percent identified as Black.
3) A Black Man Was Shot In The Neck For Talking To A White Woman
— Hello Beautiful (@HelloBeautiful) May 16, 2015
Monroe Bird, III is now a quadriplegic and relies on a ventilator to breathe after being shot in the neck by Security Guard Ricky Stone. The twenty-one year old was unarmed and sitting his own car in Tulsa, OK when Stone stopped him. Why the Stone approach the car? He thought that Bird was having sex with the White female passenger that was in the vehicle at the time and felt pressed to intervene.
Sounds like Emmett Till, doesn’t it?
4) A Civil Rights Activist Was Aggressively Harassed, Arrested On Live TV
After breaking Baltimore’s 10 pm curfew during protests in light of Freddie Gray’s death, Community Organizer Joseph Kent was seized by authorities in front of CNN cameras during their live coverage. Kent was discovered the next day, still in police custody, by Baltimore Attorney Stephen Beatty. Kent was released two days later and continued marching; Kent was notable for helping protests remain calm and organized in Ferguson, MO after Michael Brown’s death.
5) A Georgia School Official Spewed Racist Comments At A Commencement Ceremony
Racists just never know when to keep their mouths shut. At this year’s graduation ceremony for Georgia’s TNT Academy, Founder and School Principal Nancy Gordeuk shocked attendees by addressing the crowd as “you people” and by singling out Black parents and students in the audience, lashing out at them for being disruptive and for leaving the ceremony early. As you probably guessed, Gordeuk no longer works at the TNT Academy.
6) An Oklahoma Cop Was Charged For Raping Over A Dozen Black Women
Former Football Player and Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw is now awaiting trial after allegedly raping and sexually assaulting 13 black women in Oklahoma City. According to reports, Holtzclaw targeted African-American women from their 30s to 50s in presumably lower class neighborhoods to threaten them with arrests unless they offered him sexual favors. Holtzclaw’s trial is set for Oct. 26.
7) A Schizophrenic Woman Died At The Hands Of Police After Being Restrained For Medical Treatment
— The Root (@TheRoot) May 5, 2015
Natasha Mckenna is now one of dozens of innocent Black women that have died at the hands of police. McKenna’s story is especially tragic, as she was in custody after suffering from a manic episode in public and struggling with police in Fairfax, VA. As police constrained her to a wheelchair to transport her to a nearby jail and give her treatment for her mental illness, a sheriff’s deputy fatally put her into a cardiac arrest with a stun gun. Her death was ultimately ruled “an accident” and was attributed to the effect her mental illness had on her body after being tased.
8) Cops Would Rather Abandon Their Posts Than Work With A Black Woman
Business as usual. Newly elected mayor will wait to address the loss of police personnel in the city of Parma pic.twitter.com/OU9OmKWQzX
— Allison Twaits KFVS (@atwaitskfvs) April 14, 2015
Tyrus Byrd made history this year by becoming the first Black female mayor of Parma, MO but she hardly had a chance to celebrate. As soon as she entered office, five out of the six police officers serving the town—as well as the city’s attorney, clerk and water treatment supervisor promptly stepped down as well.
9) A Black Man Was Told ‘F*ck Your Breath After Accidentally Being Shot To Death By The Police
Eric Harris died a cruel death after being chased down by Reserve Deputy Robert Bates. Bates shot Harris after the suspect was tackled and held down to the ground; Bates had mistaken his gun for his taser. As Harris exclaimed in pain and shock that he’d been shot, another officer yelled “f*ck your breath” in response. Bates was charged with second-degree manslaughter, but miraculously was excused for a month-long getaway to the Bahamas before appearing in court.
10) A Man Was Able To Casually Dress Up In Blackface And Then Boast About It
— Vijay Chokal-Ingam (@VijayIngam) April 13, 2015
Whether it’s literally painting your skin brown or simply pretending to be Black, people love playing in blackface. Vijay Chokal-Ingam thought he was unleashing the social experiment of the century when he publicly admitted to posing as a Black man while applying to medical school in 2000 to boost his chances of acceptance with affirmative action policies. He claims it worked and is writing a book entitled Almost Black on the experience, as he eventually was accepted into St. Louis University Medical School. The only problem is that he didn’t submit the same application as an Indian American, so there’s no proof that posing as a Black person actually put him at an advantage during the application process…
11) A Student Hung A Noose On The Duke University Campus
On April 1, the Duke University People of Color Caucus published an image of a noose hanging Duke’s Center for Multicultural Affairs. This incident came only two weeks after a Black female student was harassed with racist chants by her classmates.
12) Black Celebrities Refused To Identify Themselves As Being Black
Raven-Symoné was sounding all kinds of foolish during her infamous interview with E’s Alicia Quarles when she denied being African-American—yet claimed that she was from “all the continents” in both Africa and Europe.
However, Actor Isaiah Washington added an interesting nugget to the conversation on Twitter in response to one of Symoné’s critics, Activist Deray McKesson. McKesson argued:
“No amount of fame, fortune, travel, or skill will make a black person ‘not black.’ To attempt to ‘escape blackness’ is to lose in advance.”
Washington jumped in saying he was “no Black” and that he opted to self-identify with his family’s ethnic groups in Sierra Leone and Angola in defiance to White supremacy.
It’s a fascinating debate with valid points on both sides. But will changing self-identification for people of color be enough to undo institutional racism/White supremacist violence?
13) White Fraternities Reveled In Chanting Racist Songs
It was bad enough after members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon were caught singing the words “there will never be a n*gger in SAE” when a video of them on their way to a party was seen all over the Internet. But it was an insult to our intelligence when the leader of the chant, former University of Oklahoma SAE member Levi Pettit delivered an apology on live television with a crowd of Black people standing behind him. Anyone with an ounce of common sense and media savvy could see that that was a cheap ploy to sugarcoat his racist actions and to insinuate that Black people everywhere accepted his apology. Sooooo not impressed.
14) A Student Was Threatened With Lynching In Her Own Apartment
— johnny heath corpus (@johnnyheathcorp) March 24, 2015
A Black student at Texas A&M Corpus Christi University was horrified to find a drawing of a stick figure being lynched inside her apartment after coming home from spring break. Some of the words scrawled on her walls included: “White Power. [We’re] coming for you” and “Die n–ger. Where is your protector? White Power.”
15) The Colorado Springs NAACP Office Was Bombed
— djvjgrrl (@djvjgrrl) January 7, 2015
The major networks may not have been paying much attention to this story but we had our eyes wide open! The 44 year-old Denver man who admitted to the bombing claimed that he intended to attack his accountant located nearby but we’re not buying his excuse. As Henry Allen, the president of the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP eloquently said: “I don’t care what your purpose was, you hated somebody.”
16) A Black Man Was Found Hanging From Tree In Mississippi
Otis James Byrd was found hanging from a tree by a bed sheet in a small Mississippi town on March 19. Authorities haven’t confirmed if Byrd’s death was a suicide or homicide, but given Mississippi’s history of racial tension, it’s highly possible that it was the latter.
17) White Supremacists Killed An Innocent Black Man During A Night Of Hate Crimes
I’ll be in Judge Wingate’s court for the sentencing last 2 defendants in the James Craig Anderson hate crime trial. http://t.co/EpMMWoLST3
— Therese Apel (@TRex21) April 30, 2015
Eight people were indicted this year for a hate crime in which they killed 48-year-old James Craig Anderson. A group of White teens had driven out to Jackson, MS specifically to verbally and physically assault African-Americans in the neighborhood. Anderson died after one of the teens, Deryl Dedmon, hit him with his truck and drove off. A witnesses said that they overheard the assailants say “White Power!” before killing Anderson.
18) Ferguson Jails Detained Poor Blacks In Droves & Doled Out Unconstitutional Fines
Residents of Ferguson and Jennings, MO filed federal class-action suits against their towns for their uninhabitable local jails and for forcing citizens to pay exorbitant fines. A plaintiff in the case, Tonya DeBerry, noted the jails’ cells were overflowing with lower class Black residents whom were stuck in jail because they couldn’t afford to pay off their fines.
19) A Former KKK Leader Considered Running For Congress
David Duke did not hold his tongue when calling out his one of his rivals and former colleagues, Representative Steve Scalise. When critiquing Scalise as a sell-out and demanding that he resign from his position in Congress, Duke suggested he run against him in the next election. I’m not enthusiastic about either of them being in the role however, as both have deep roots of being involved with White supremacist groups.
20) Benedict Cumberbatch Referred To Black Actors As ‘Colored’ People
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch had the best of intentions when talking about the plight of Black actors in securing roles on in an interview with Tavis Smiley. Still, we gave him some serious side-eye at his poor choice of words. Cumberbatch commented saying:
“I think as far as colored actors go, it gets really different in the U.K., and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in the U.S.] than in the U.K., and that’s something that needs to change.”
Cumberbatch’s statement probably wouldn’t have been so cringeworthy if he hadn’t been a cast member in the popular 2013 slavery film, 12 Years A Slave.
21) Housing Developers Challenged Blacks’ Fair Housing Rights In The U.S. Supreme Court
The Texas Department of Housing landed in the Supreme Court after it got away with lumping marginalized families of color into ghettos far away from high-income work and high-performing schools. The TDH caught heat after the Inclusive Communities Project blasted them for placing marginalized groups into subsidized housing. If the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of the TDH, the decision could essentially reverse the mandate of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, a law preventing Americans from being denied housing based on race, religion, national origin or gender.
22) An Officer Was Acquitted After Fatally Shooting An Unarmed Black Couple In Their Car
Cleveland Officer Michael Brelo was found not guilty for manslaughter and felonious assault after fatally shooting Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams through the windshield of their car. The shooting came after a dramatic chase through the streets of Cleveland; up to 62 police cars started following Russell and Williams after they mistook the banging noise of their tailpipe for gunshots. Brelo was acquitted because the judge found he and his fellow officers had reason to believe that Russell and Williams were a threat to the public and because evidence couldn’t prove that Brelo’s gun unleashed the bullets that ultimately killed the couple. Neither Russell nor Williams possessed a gun at the time of the shooting.
23) The Miami Police Department Used Black Subjects As Shooting Targets
We could not make this up. The local city council was called to intervene by the Miami-Dade community when it was revealed that their police department had been using real mugshots for officers’ target practice sessions. Of course, all of the mugshots were of Black detainees. In response to the controversy, Police Chief J. Scott Dennis gave a half-assed apology justifying the department’s actions by saying that using real mugshots helped officers differentiate the physical characteristics of future suspects.
24) Revlon’s CEO Claimed He Could “Smell Black People A Mile Away”
Lorenzo Delpani seemingly has an endless stream of ignorant, racist comments about people of color. After a trip to South Africa, one of his previous employees complained that Delpani made disparaging comments about Black people’s hygiene and presentation, claiming he could smell them from a distance. Instead of simply apologizing for the gaffe, Revlon discredited the man who made the complaint as a disgruntled employee and supported Delpani. We wonder what Halle Berry had to say about all of this…
25) Black Feminists Slayed The Fight Against Police Brutality In #SayHerName Protests
For years, Black women have been lobbying for the female victims of police brutality within the #blacklivesmatter movement only to be swept under the rug by stories of men like Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and Eric Garner. But groups of brave women finally found a way to get female victims the nationwide media attention they deserved through topless protests and vigils using the hashtag #SayHerName. Orchestrated by the Black Youth Project, Black Lives Matter, Black Out Collective and Ferguson Action, the topless protests arose in over 20 cities including New York, New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco.
The #SayHerName Movement has proven invaluable to today’s efforts against police brutality. It brings up the necessary conversation about Black women’s invisibility in discourse about excessive force against Black bodies and it reintroduces tried and true protest strategies from women of African descent in movements of yesteryear.