112 comments
DavidReid
DavidReid

Kay this is amazing! Thank you for writing it!

TiMTPost
TiMTPost

Kay, this is brilliant. So many coded stereotypes that never seem to be understood by some even POC call it out. Thank you. Hopefully, this will help the awareness level to them deniers. Excellent work.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

Thank you again Kay for beginning this crucial conversation..It is excellent tool for analysis and

These criminalizing archetypes are old and deep and for many, operate at subconscious level -- exposing them is the first step to challenging hteir power

i would like to specifically recommend the background provided by the New Jim Crow Museum, cited above

http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/menu.htm

Devastating

Domino14
Domino14

This whole deal is just mind boggling to me... even though I am Canadian I do think that Barack Obama is one of/or the best president/s the U.S. has ever had... am I wrong??

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

Thank you to all who are reading tonight and all those who have also been part of the discussion. I'll return tomorrow morning and catch up on further dialogue.

I have to sign off now, so I will bid you all sweet dreams and wishes for a good day tomorrow.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

The criminalizing of poor people generally is a theme that runs through public and private institutions. I am not familiar with the conference you mention on regulating SNAP, but I am very aware of the hurtful, demeaning, and criminal stigmatization of people receiving food assistance. And it is wrong.

One of the points we continually try to make here at Criminal Injustice is that these criminalizing themes have become proxies for anything remotely resembling authentic social and economic justice in this country. Undoing this tangle of criminalizing narratives that now saturate society is a huge task. But we will do it.

No single politician or small group of politicians can do this by themselves. We need a cultural shift, and that is what we're working toward. Right now, the criminalizing stories and "get tough" mentality serve as a general political organizing principle. That must change.

Were you at this conference? It sounds all too typical - letting others speak not only for but about the people most impacted by SNAP (former food stamp program).

Panyia
Panyia

Sorry I might be a little off topic but please do tell me if this analogy of SNAP participants is parallel to that of criminalizing President Obama... As I read about how President Obama is portrayed as the welfare president, it reminds me of how hurtful it was to be at the conference for State of the Plate about regulating SNAP. It hurts because majority of the people (White, male, middle class, heterosexual) agreed that SNAP needed to be regulated by watching every SNAP participant's food purchasing and I recall how hard it is for many of SNAP participants that I knew to buy healthy food with that amount of money, especially if it comes to choosing between healthy food (less quantity) and unhealthy food (more abundant). In some sense almost everyone agreed that SNAP participants were criminals for taking their tax money on unhealthy food. It seems to me that such conference for improving the health of the society is actually not helping the society at all because the SNAP participants were not represented and they (the dominant group) did not seem to recognize that their "helping" is rather criminalizing SNAP participants.

pmlarsonmiller
pmlarsonmiller

I could not help but think that - first, President Obama's skin color was used as "proof" that we are now living in a post-racial society. Now his skin color is being used to vilify him at the onset of what is to be an intense political season.

It is true that criminalizing narratives are created and perpetuated by the white, male, heterosexual, dominant group: and the use of these narratives against our President is proof that we are absolutely not living in a post-racial America.

It is also true that proof of illegal action is not necessary to drive a criminalizing narrative: The President of this country is the target - and I have no doubt that these images and racist ideologies being associated with Obama will resonate in the minds of many Americans. Not only will the effects be felt during election time, but within popular racial ideology in general; if people will soak up the criminal framing of President Obama, what does that say for the average African American man and how he will be thought of in the public imagination.

These racialized tactics are deplorable and really show the state of the nation. In many respects, we, as a nation, are still stuck within the white supremacist bullshit that we have been all throughout history. It has to stop, and slowly but surely it shall.

McKenzieDaul
McKenzieDaul

So basically, a criminal is not defined as someone who commits wrongful acts and is in prison rather, criminals are chosen based on race, class, gender, orientation, etc. Criminalizing president Obama means there is a set image or idea of a criminal, based on appearance society chooses who to target in the criminal justice system. In this context society creates criminals rather than preventing them. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. How do we prevent or stop this specific image? Each person is unique there is no way there is one set image for everyone in a certain "category". Are there any answers to try to change this image?

Great article!

McKenzie Daul

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@DavidReid David, so wonderful to see you, and thank you so much for your kind remark.

Seeta
Seeta moderator

@TiMTPost Good to see you (((((((((((((((((TiMT!))))))))))))))))))!!!

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@TiMTPost Hello, dearest TiMT! It does my heart and spirit good to see you. I so appreciate your work.

Thank you.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@nancy a heitzeg Thanks, Nancy. I'm very glad you've just emphasized the Jim Crow Museum - Ferris University has done an outstanding job of putting the museum online.

I think we need to be bold and go deep with this analysis, which draws on the work and experiences of so many people and communities, because I do think these narratives touch many people - for the worse - at levels they do not realize. This is not to excuse racism; it is to say we need to deeply address the archetypal resonance, usually unconscious, of criminalizing narratives which, in this country, are intrinsically framed by racism.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@Domino14 Domino, I understand what you're saying, and I think President Obama has done a remarkable job, given the myriad messes (and layers of same) he inherited. I certainly am working for his re-election, and donating, as well.

I hope you will understand my saying that I never assess any president as best or worst. I think there is always a constellation of person, time, zeitgeist, economy, culture, all kinds of intersecting factors that influence what a president does and how she/he does.

I believe President Obama is a fine president. I do not, however, agree with all of his actions or positions. But I recognize that whether he ultimately succeeds with a more liberal/progressive agenda depends so much on us here in the U.S. What are we doing at a grassroots community level to help create the kind of deep and broad-based community voice and support any office-holder needs to challenge the status quo and help create lasting change that cannot be overdone by a resurgence of the Right. To prevent that, we have to be chipping away at the support the Right receives – and strengthening our ability to mount powerful, compelling counternarratives that have real ethical integrity.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

@Domino14 He is but...............

Once you understand the the long deep historical foundations of Racism USA, then it all is, quite tragically, highly predictable

Panyia
Panyia

Yes, I agree we do need a cultural shift. The only problem I see is that our society and it's system is so large. At the same time, it makes sense to work step by step and little by little.

Yes, I was at this conference just this past January and I learned a lot. The intention of the conference was toward the good but in the end it still comes back to harm SNAP participants, the poor and many minorities. One thing that did make me happy during the conference was when someone stood up to defend because it literally shook the atmosphere.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@Panyia Pania, please forgive - my reply is posted above. I don't know what happened, as I'd hit "reply" to your comment. Gremlins in the system!

Seeta
Seeta moderator

@Panyia Welcome Panyia! Yes, this analogy of excessive scrutiny of the poor's food habits is comparable. It is the akin to criminalizing food stamp recipients. It's insulting and demeaning to folks who receive food stamps. I don't know anything about the "State of the Plate" conference you mention, but it doesn't surprise that food stamp recipients were not present at this meeting. Very patronizing, indeed. I'm so glad you mention this -- it's an important and controversial topic. Thank you for being so forthright and honest.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

@pmlarsonmiller this is right on time

"I could not help but think that - first, President Obama's skin color was used as "proof" that we are now living in a post-racial society. Now his skin color is being used to vilify him at the onset of what is to be an intense political season."

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@pmlarsonmiller And so right about how this all affects ordinary African American men and how they are represented in the public imagination.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@pmlarsonmiller Thanks for this, pmlarsonmiller. You are right: slow, but surely, this white supremacist BS will stop. I know I will never stop working toward that end.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

@McKenzieDaul there are so many ???

one of the aspects that of this article that i love is the call to keep considering this --

"What would our more compelling narratives, be, if they weren’t rooted simply in reactivity, and our own politics of contempt and denunciation? What kinds of more life-giving Story can be advanced in ways that touch people’s hearts as well as their minds; that can touch the subconscious part of self that values compassion and justice and generosity –but without resorting to simple emotional manipulation? What kinds of narratives would invite people into the task of building communities that are safe, just, caring, and compassionate in practical as well as visionary ways? What archetypal images and narratives call forth the best rather than the worst in us?"

Seeta
Seeta moderator

@McKenzieDaul "society creates criminals" -- exactly. who and what is "criminal" is a construct designed by the dominant culture.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@McKenzieDaul Thank you. And yes, criminalizing narratives presume a set image of a criminal based on who a dominant society doesn't like and doesn't trust - all based, as you say, on race, class, gender, sexuality, immigrant status, disability, and more.

CI will be talking about counternarratives in the months to come. Please stay tuned!

TiMTPost
TiMTPost

@Seeta the great. A big ol bear hug to you my friend. It has been a long time.

TiMTPost
TiMTPost

@KayWhitlock I know we crossed path on my space but wanted to leave you a big hug here as well. (((((((Kay)))))))

Domino14
Domino14

@KayWhitlock

To me he would seem to be the best but that is just my opinion...

other than that I am in agreement with you Kay.. that is why I am here... and even though I have learned a lot I am fully aware that my knowledge of US politics is lacking..

I fully support this

" To prevent that, we have to be chipping away at the support the Right receives – and strengthening our ability to mount powerful, compelling counternarratives that have real ethical integrity. "

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@Panyia It does seem so large, I agree. It sounds like the conference, meaning well, nonetheless perpetuated criminalizing messages that will - as you say - hit people of color and poor people so hard.

I'm very glad to hear someone stood up - what did he or she say, if you'd have a minute to share that with us.

So glad you're here tonight. Thank you for coming.

pmlarsonmiller
pmlarsonmiller

@KayWhitlock And neither will I. Thank you for this article, I will definitely be encouraging others to read it.

Seeta
Seeta moderator

@TiMTPost I hear ya! Excellent post day and especially the one on the Virginia state rape law. Btw, just left a comment over there in response to one of the trolls who evidently didn't take a civics course in grade school. Hugs!

TiMTPost
TiMTPost

@Seeta thank you sista seeta. I appreciate the support. It is a full time job after another full time job at work and at home. You know, lol. Anyway, thank you. I have a new post about incarceration and has redirected traffic to read CMP. You have a lot of good stuff that ought to reach many readers. Happy Friday!

Seeta
Seeta moderator

@TiMTPost hey you!! folks really need to check out your blog: http://timtpost.com. I am a daily reader. Love the way you break it down, my dear friend!

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@Seeta@Panyia Agree, Seeta - much gratitude to you, Panyia. Your presence here tonight has benefited us all very much. I particularly am grateful to you for raising an issue that was not off-topic at all, but goes right to the heart of everything the commentary tonight is all about.

Seeta
Seeta moderator

@Panyia @KayWhitlock Thanks so much again Panyia for raising this issue -- it is a topic that needs to be sorely addressed.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@Panyia Wow. The speakers and much of the audience need a dose of reality. How absolutely infuriating.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

@Seeta@Panyia amen. I also am appalled that there's so little examination not only of cost, but also of the politics of Big Agriculture and distribution. To put the blame on poor people and insist they "shape up" and "eat better" is a real travesty.

I grew up on food that is considered terrible today, and yet I felt so glad to have food that was sufficient and that usually tasted good to me. To be shamed for that would have caused me to go nuclear.

Seeta
Seeta moderator

@Panyia @KayWhitlock Kudos to that person for speaking up. Shame on all those who would sit there and judge. I'm willing to bet not a single on of those folks have been ever been of food stamps or public assistance of any kind. Quantity is important, but so is some enjoyment. Sometimes at the end of the day, a nice tasty meal is the best and only thing a family can look forward to -- sometimes that nice tasty meal isn't always lettuce. These folks have no idea what it's like to be poor -- and what the meaning/significance is of having a decent, enjoyable dinner with your family, especially those with small children.

Panyia
Panyia

@KayWhitlock After the speaker spoke about regulating SNAP and almost everyone clapped, a lady stood up and said that we need to remember that regulating SNAP and watching every purchase they make will probably help us but will harms our poorest citizens. She gave the example of a mother from a family of 10 with SNAP having to make the decision between purchasing unhealthy food (pizza) and healthy foods (veggy, meat, milk & etc.) for dinner. Mostly like, pizza would win over other healthy food because in such a large family and limited financial resources, quantity of foods matter more than quality. After she made her statement, the majority did not clap but there were a few who clapped. I was really shocked at the applauds that we got for this statement because it seems that the dominant group are unwilling to believe that there is such dilemma going on in poor communities.