Language of Racism: Hoodies the Reason for Trayvon Martin’s Death

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

That’s right, ladies and gentleman, Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera thinks that what Trayvon Martin was wearing is as much of a factor in his death as the person who pulled the trigger (Zimmerman), proving that while language changes, racism remains the same.

Rivera:

I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.

In other words, it’s understandable to Rivera that Zimmerman would think that the Skittles-carrying youngster was a danger because anyone wearing a hoodie is a danger. Today’s hoodie is most commonly associated with the urban/African-American culture–one that apparently frightens people like Geraldo. In fact, Rivera was quick to point out that he didn’t think that a Caucasian person wearing a hoodie would be perceived in the same light–he didn’t necessarily advise that the group stop wearing hoodies.

Until we start to hold people responsible for their actions rather than putting blame on stereotypes and racism, nothing but the words used to express racism will change.

Maybe dangerous people tend to eat more Skittles. Maybe we shouldn’t buy that kind of candy in the future if we don’t want to be shot, or at least we should have the understanding that we’re asking for it if we do.

For more, see this DailyKos article.

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Proper Way To Apologize

We all make mistakes, but apologizing is always difficult. That difficulty (and because many people apologize when they’re not truly sorry for their actions) is why there are so many conditional apologies issued.

That’s something I’ve talked about before here (I’m Sorry If I Offended Anyone) and in my book (Literally, the Best Language Book Ever).

To review, when you put a condition on the apology, you’re attempting to shift the responsibility from you (the person who did the offensive thing) to the person who was hurt by your actions because it’s now up to them to decide whether they were hurt. Don’t apologize that way.

Apologize the way actress Lisa Chan did after appearing in a political ad that was extremely disrespectful to her own culture:

I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities. As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions.

She might not be proud of the ad she participated in (for Republican Pete Hoekstra), but she can be very proud of how she took responsibility for her action.

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Hollywood Continuity Mistakes

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

hollywood image

(Image from 123rf.com)

There’s not that much of a difference between editing text and ensuring that continuity is maintained in a Hollywood production, so I thought we could take a look at some of the Worst Movie Mistakes: Date Night Edition in honor of Valentine’s Day.

I’m sure that’s how St. Valentine, the saint of love, young people, and happy marriages would’ve wanted to be remembered.

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Don’t Fall For It: Super Bowl Commercials are Just Commercials

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I know I’m in the minority here, but think about it: Are commercials during the Super Bowl really less annoying than commercials during the rest of the year?

No, of course not. Sure, we’re seeing them for the first time–of many–and advertisers have somehow duped us into thinking that they’re must-see tv, but they’re commercials–plain and simple.

Do what you do normally during commercials–grab a snack, phone a friend, flip a channel, or go to the bathroom. But, please, I’m begging you, don’t make them seem like the show itself.

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Don’t Fall For It: Super Bowl Commercials are Just Commercials

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I know I’m in the minority here, but think about it: Are commercials during the Super Bowl really less annoying than commercials during the rest of the year?

No, of course not. Sure, we’re seeing them for the first time–of many–and advertisers have somehow duped us into thinking that they’re must-see tv, but they’re commercials–plain and simple.

Do what you do normally during commercials–grab a snack, phone a friend, flip a channel, or go to the bathroom. But, please, I’m begging you, don’t make them seem like the show itself.

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The Microagressions Project

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

stereotypes image

(Image from TheViitals)

What we say matters.

What we say might not be considered outwardly racist–maybe we think we’re making a joke. Maybe we’re making a statement that seems like a reasonable assessment of the world around us, not a hurtful stereotype. Maybe we think what we’re saying is a fact. Maybe we have no idea what someone experienced in childhood or is experiencing in his/her life right now.

Regardless, what we say matters, and we’re responsible for the hurt we cause in others.

The Microaggressions Project blog is a collection of short stories of people being hurt, made to feel less than, or being ridiculed/laughed at. The individual statements or actions might not seem like much (some do), but when you see them all together, it’s easy to see how easy it is to cause pain in others.

There’s some information on their Facebook page about the purpose of the blog, and I’ll include a passage here:

The project is NOT about showing how ignorant people can be & simply dismissing their ignorance. Instead, it is about showing how these comments create and enforce uncomfortable, violent, and unsafe realities onto people’s workplace, home, school, childhood/adolescence/adulthood, public transportation/space environments.

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Weather Talk on Science Friday

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

Just a quick (off-topic) note to let you know that I’ll be on NPR’s popular Science Friday show tomorrow to join host Ira Flatow and fellow guests Andrew Fraknoi and David Mizejewski. The segment will be called Winter Wonderland? Wonder No Longer.

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