Saturday, November 22, 2008

Special Mentions

I have two special mentions for you today, as usual please follow the link to see the whole story.

One comes to us from Feministe:
Joe Arpaio bills himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” Many prisoners have died on his watch; now he can add a baby to the list.

Arpaio is the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, and he has instituted a series of changes in Maricopa jails to make sure that inmates are treated as harshly as legally possible. Food costs have been cut to 30 cents a meal, and inmates are fed only twice a day (and they’re often fed rotting food). Arpaio reinstituted chain gangs, wherein inmates are chained together while they perform hard labor — a practice that has faded into obscurity everywhere in the U.S., except in Arpaio’s prisons. He dyed inmate underwear pink as a way to humiliate prisoners, and eventually introduced pink handcuffs, socks, towels and other items. He held webcasts of pre-trial detainees — people who had been arrested but not yet convicted of a crime — in an effort to “deter” future crime (at the cost of humiliating and violating the privacy of people who hadn’t yet been convicted of any crime; the practice was eventually found unconstitutional).

He’s also hugely anti-immigrant. Using an anti-human-smuggling law as cover, he has instructed his deputy sheriffs and his civilian “posse” (no I’m not making that up) to arrest illegal immigrants. He told the Washington Times, “My message is clear: If you come here and I catch you, you’re going straight to jail. [...] I’m not going to turn these people over to federal authorities so they can have a free ride back to Mexico. I’ll give them a free ride to my jail.”

The other comes to us from Womanist Musings:
Socially there is an imbalance in knowledge. For the sake of survival POC have had to learn about whiteness and how to negotiate it; whereas no such knowledge has been necessary for those that are white. They can freely go about their days seeing whiteness reflected everywhere as good and positive. Open a history book and you will be immediately astounded by the achievements of whiteness. Our knowledge of you is unavoidable, whereas yours is conveniently reduced to the month of February and the obligatory shout out to MLK.

Even in our so-called conversations about race we usually discuss how it impacts bodies of colour and ignore the degree to which whiteness is an active participant in maintaining racial hierarchy. Oh sweet don't get white people riled up with the idea that they continually benefit from racism. Make sure to walk on egg shells because it will be assumed that no matter what you say, you are calling all white people racist, or suggesting that there is no hope for change. Hell why even talk about this negativity in the larger social sense at all...feelings might get hurt.


  1. Oddly enough, most people think Arpaio's a southerner; he was born in Springfield, Mass and has only been in Maricopa County since the 90's. He's everything that modern law enforcement tries not to be, but unfortunately, he's wildly popular in Arizona. The only way to get him out would be a court order or an indictment at this point.

  2. And that might be the thing I find so disturbing. I understand that people need to face punishment for crimes but they're still people for fuck's sakes. I don't understand how people forget that so thoroughly. But if they think this guy is awesome, well, clearly they do.


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