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November 12, 2013 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-11-12

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4 - Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Michigan Daily -- michigandaily.com 0 1

4 Tuesday, November12, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom *

L71 4Aa tc44btoan 4latly

Why race still matters

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Listening to the homeless
Long- and short-term solutions needed for persistent problem
n election day, a group of protestors who call themselves "Camp
Misfit" rallied against current local homelessness policies, citing
an incident this past summer in which Ann Arbor police ordered
about 20 of Washtenaw County's 3,000-4,000 homeless people to pack up
their belongings from behind a Kroger and find a new location. That incident
wasn't isolated: In June 2012, "Camp Take Notice" - a known community
of homeless people - was also shut down after Ann Arbor Police cited the
camp for trespassing violations. Under current protocol, local authorities
gave them 48 hours to completely evacuate the area. The evicted group are
calling for an expanision of the current policy, asking for a five-day notice in
lieu of the two-day notice, as well as eviction documentation from property
owners and immediate contact with social service agencies. The city, along
with the rest of Washtenaw County, should renew efforts to provide better
assistance to homeless people in the future.

Consider the African, circa
1550 A.D. or so. He's cap-
tured by a rival tribe, sold
to European
traders, chained
and put on a ship
bound for the
Americas. If he
stays alive, he'll
likely be soldy
off to -a planta-
tion in the Deep
South to work JAMES
the land. The BRENNAN
rest of his days
are spent till-
ing fields, picking crops and doing
whatever else his masters and han-
dlers require of him. He may find a
wife, marry and have children. His,
children, however, are not his own
- neither is his wife. They belong
to his master, and are treated as a
commodity. His wife will possibly
be raped, and there's nothing he can
do to stop it.
Since before the dawn of the
republic, this system was the norm
for the vast majority of Blacks living
in America. I don't call them "Black
Americans" for a reason - they
were not Americans. They were
Africans brought and forced to live
in America, but with none of the
rights and privileges of their white
counterparts. As Malcolm X once
said, "We didn't land on Plymouth
Rock, the rock was landed on us."
At the end of the Civil War, legal
slavery was brought to an end, more
than 300 years after the first slave
was brought to the United States.
While slavery may have ended
with Reconstruction, the nightmare
was justbeginning. With the remov-
al of Union troops from the South, a
new racial caste system was created
in the form of segregation. For the
better part of a century, the United
States remained a nation of gov-
ernment-endorsed inequality. Even
after the Slaughter-House cases,
even after Brown v. Board of Edu-
cation and even after violent race-
riots in New York, Detroit, Watts,

Calif. and dozens
segregation remain
Civil Rights Act an
Act ended many oft
Jim Crow, but racia
far from over.
Interracial marri
ruled unconstitutio
and racial profiling
ity and race-based h
well past the civil r
the passage of the C
the federal governs
ward to implemen
tunity requirement
and schools, while,
mative action in job
Today, Black Ame
to underachieve it
major statistical c
unemployment is
double that of white
is around quadruple
Moreover, Blacks o
7 percent of the na
es, and Black-owi
account for only hal
of all U.S. earnings.
So why are Bl
excluding a handfu
ers, so far behind
whole? There are
two main rea-
sons. The first
is -lingering rac-
ism and racially
biased systems
that claim to be
colorblind. Hous-
ing and schools
remain largely
segregated, while

of other cities, causes of Black inequality. Think
ed intact. The of history like a race, where Black
d Voting Rights Americans were not even allowed
the remnants of to start running until after 1964.
J inequality was Even once they left the starting line,
they faced hurdles and challenges
age laws weren't. that their white counterparts did
nal until 1967, not: discrimination, racial profil-
, police brutal- ing, poor schooling, de facto seg-
tiring continued regation, and a lack of connections
-ights era. With and money. Ending discrimination
ivil Rights Act, allowed Black Americans to start
nent moved for- running with policies like affirma-
t equal oppor- tive action meant to give them the
s for employers boost they need to catch up with
endorsing affir- whites.
s and education. The greatest crime in human his-
ricans continue tory was .committed against Black
n almost every Americans, and lasted more than
ategory: Black 300 years. For nearly a century after
typically about the end of slavery, Blacks were still
s,.while poverty relegatedtothebottomrungofsoci-
the white rate. ety. That adage about it being much
wn only around easier to destroy something than
tion's business- build it? Let's just say that expect-
ned businesses ing 50 years of progress to over-
f of one percent come 400 plus years of slavery and
discrimination is far too optimistic.
ack Americans, To say that racism has no serious
1 of overachiev- presence in American life is laugh-
the pack as a able. To claim that the best way to
end racism is
to stop talk-
To claim the best ing about race
is just as ludi-
way to end racism is crous - race is
exactly what
to stop talking about has . always
driven inequal- *
race is ludicrous. ity. Slavery was
based on skin
color, and so

As it stands, the 48-hour period before
homeless men and women are'forced to relo-
cate isn't enough. According to protester Sheri
Wander, "It's dangerous if you don't have time
to take your stuff with you... If you only have a
few hours or one day's notice, that leaves you
vulnerable to the elements and crime." The
local police argue that this is simply standing
protocol; however, that protocol isn't in tune
with the difficulties associated with relocat-
ing. Ellen Schulmeister, executive director of
the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County,
told MLive that the shelter is full. Even when
more beds are introduced under the, winter
program, Schulmeister said those beds will be
taken quickly. The requested five-day notice
will give them more time to evaluate their
options with the limited available options.
Camp Misfit is also asking for a social
services agency to be told when an eviction
occurs, as well as a written request from the
owners of the property that the homeless
people were occupying. Increasing commu-
nication between police and these agencies
can help ensure that social services can offer
the appropriate services as soon as possible
and connect the homeless with resources to

help them find jobs and a permanent home.
It also allows these agencies to compile data
of current homeless populations with the
hopes of generating long-term action to aid
the homeless. While these options may seem
like quick fixes, the proposed changes not
only give the affected population what they
want, but they also offer long-term impacts to
a persisting problem.
While the changes do address very specific
needs for the county's homeless residents,
more work needs to be done to ensure that
there are permanent solutions instead of tem-
porary camps. While there are shelters in the
county, they are more than 10 miles away from
Ann Arbor - inaccessible for those without
adequate transportation. If the city want to
ensure that homeless people throughout the
county have a place to live, then the scope of
housing options needs tobe expanded.
While the Shelter Association provides
employment assistance, it's clear that more
action is required to reduce homelessness
across Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.
Access to opportunities for jobs, job interviews
and application coaching are necessary to pre-
pare the homeless for alife after homelessness.

subconscious racial bias plays a
powerful role in the everyday judg-
ments individuals make about each
other, from job interviews to the
court room.
The second cause of Black under-
achievement is a failure to compre-
hend the immensity of the problem
at hand and directly address it.
While busing and affirmative action
programs have been a noble attempt
at righting the wrongs of the past,
they have failed to attack the root

was Jim Crow. In addressing the
outcomes of these institutions, race
must be the driving force. To tell a
group of people who were literally
shackled for hundreds of years that
"the laws says now you're equal,
work harder and stop complain-
ing about the past" does not make a
person racially colorblind - it just
makes them blind.
- James Brennan can be reached
at jmbthree@umich.edu.

Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan,
Eric Ferguson, Jordyn Kay, Jesse Klein, Melanie Kruvelis,
Maura Levine, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria Noble,
Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe

Centuries of oppression

It sjust hair ... right?

Saturday night, I s
Years a Slave." Like
movie left me spee
chronicles the journey of
Solomon Northup, a free .
man living in New York
who is kidnapped and sold
in the South as a slave.
Throughout the movie, we
watch Northup go from
master to master as he's
subjected to the horrors of
an institution that consid-
ers him nothing more than
a piece of property.
The movie brings to ligi
oppressionand dailytraumastl
- broken-up families, brutal I
petual illiteracy. Needless to s
challenges the emotionally feeb
it forces us, as Americans, to c
ties of a bitter period in our his
nowadays is often brushed over
A Telegraph article describ
ing that while it forces the
confront bitter truths of its his
most telling that it took .
over 150 years and one Brit-
ish director to do so.
We like to think we live
in a post-racial America.
The slave trade, systematic
oppression, racism - these
are all things of our coun-
try's past. We fought a Civil
War to abolish slavery, we
created a constitutional
amendment to guarantee
equal protection,we had the C
ment to combat discrimination
In this "post-racial Americ
like: "Slavery happened so i
been abolished. Why keep
past?" or "My generation was
slavery was happening. We we
system, so why should we apo
We continue to argue that tc
try, every individual regardles
right to vote, racial slurs are fr
we have laws that prohibit se
crimination on the basis of r
elected our first African Am
By this point, of course we're
should just take "race"out of th
And that's how we deceivec
It's always difficult to con
tices, and even more so when1
in our own communities ant

aw the movie "12 necessary to understand that while laws may
many others, the change, people's mindsets often persist.
chless. The filrm While slavery is abolished and there are legal
protections for minorities in place, the con-
sequences of institutionalized oppression are
far from over.
Disadvantages continue to persist for certain
groups of people. Social indicators show that
specific minority populations, such as African
Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics, are
disproportionately affected by disparities in edu-
HARSHA cational achievement, income levels and health.
NAHATA In some areas of the South, income inequality
continues to mirror the social hierarchy of slav-
ery, with most of the wealth remaining in the
ht the struggles, handsofthelandowners.Andpsychologicaldivi-
hatslavesendured sionsabetweenraces continue to persist.
lashings and per- We aren't done dealing with the ramifications
ay, it's a film that of our historical past. For when a group of people
le, and in doing so is subjected to a system of oppression for as long
onfront the reali- as slavery persisted, the process of reconciliation
tory, a period that extends far beyond the law.
r. Reconciliation has to happen at the commu-
tes the film, stat- nity level, the local level and the personal level.
United States to Dehumanization and oppression of a population
story, it's perhaps doesn't just inflict physical torture, it leaves long
term scarring psychologi-
cal impacts. It disenfran-
chises people, meaning'
W e aren't done that even after they may
dealing with the be "free," they struggle
to find their voice within
ramifications of our a society. Reconciliation
means providing a pro-
historical past. cess to understand the
truths of people's experi-
ence, while showing them
respect and humility. It's
ivil Rights Move- . been 150 years, and yet we still have to have
n. some of those difficult conversations.
a" we say things I've heard a lot of my friends complain to
ong ago, and it's me about history classes. They. argue that
focusing on the there's no point in dwelling on events that have
n't around when already happened and people that have already
ren't a part of the passed away. But, as this movie reminds me,
logize for it?" studying history isn't just about memorizing
oday, in our coun- the facts of the past. It is about knowing what
s of race has the has happened before so we can better under-
rowned upon and stand where we are now.
gregation or dis- Slavery is just one example, and the one
race. We've even I focus on because of the movie. But many
erican president. present-day social or political problems are
all equal. And we rooted in past policies or trends. If we want
e equation.Right? to solve them, we have to understand the his-
ourselves. torical baggage that may come with them.
front huge injus-
they've occurred - Harsha Nahata can be reached
d nation. But it's at hnahata@umich.edu.

y mom always says, "It's
just hair," but Culture-
with-a-capital-C seems

to suggest oth-
erwise. In the
Bible's Book of
Judges, Sam-
son loses his
strength when
his hair is cut.
Chris Rock dedi-
cated a whole
documentary to
hair. And I nod-
ded in agree-
ment when my


friend observed that the most popu-
lar kids at our all-girls high school
had "pretty hair." I'm sure that at
this very moment a sociology major
is typing out a thesis on the intersec-
tion of hair, identity and sexuality.
On Halloween, I decided to dye
my own hair. Sitting nervously
in the middle of my bathroom, I
watched as my friend Caitlin coated
the tips of my dark brown hair in
thick red goo that the box assured
would dry to a deep reddish-purple.
I can't dissect and analyze all the
reasons behind this relatively out-
of-character decision, but I have a
vague idea. I dyed my hair because I
was bored of my style, which hasn't
changed noticeably since seventh
grade. I dyed my hair because as a
college senior - feeling more than
a little confined by 17 years of aca-
demic work and the job search - I
was trying to recapture something
that was youthful and carefree. I
did it because at age 8, I loved it
when my counselor Dylan dyed the
bottom of her black hair magenta
and because I still loved it, at age
21, when both my younger sister
and eldest cousin did. I wanted in
on that lineage. And I'd be lying if
I said I didn't include Lake Bell's

character from "In A World" in my order, quoting psychologist Renee
decision-making process. Cohen: "When someone has disso-
Though at first I felt a bit like a ciative identity disorder each iden-
walking Kerrytown cliche, I admit- tity is split off from the other."
tedly enjoyed life post hair-dye. I And when Miley cut her hair
heard the word "cool" a lot more short, the Twittersphere blew up.
than usual. But even better than @judgementalbitch wrote "Is Miley
the obligatory compliments was Cyrus pulling a Britney Spears
when I was meeting new people - to get attention with her awful
each time, it felt like a mini-social haircut?" and @rockingmytiara
experiment. With this look, these tweeted "Miley practically pulled a
just-met acquaintances could and Britney. #ThisIsNotOkay. Goodbye
did make assumptions of how sup- Princess Hair"
posedly "quirky" and "eccentric" Even Jennifer Lawrence, Pame-
I was. But their first impressions la Anderson and Emma Watson
were followed quickly by their couldn't escape the crazy, petty and
surprise upon realizing just how "aretheylesbians?"talk.AndasMary
square I really am. Elizabeth Williams wrote in Salon,
Soon the novelty (and the semi- "Longhair represents femininity and
permanent vegan Manic Panic vulnerability and sex. It's princesses
"Vampire Red" hair dye) began to and mermaids and porn stars. Short
wear off, and in its place grew the hair, on the other hand, says, 'If you
realization that I was part of a larg- think I'm gorgeous, great, but this
er narrative about women and hair, isn't about you, pal."' Even more,
women and identity, and women women doing something for them-
and sexuality. My younger sister, the selves rather than others was consid-
same one who had ered a violation
dyed her hair just of accepted
six months before, Women doing norms.
told me it meant I To some
was going through something for degree, I get
a "life-crisis." "I themselves is a it. We all rely
am sorry, but it's on visual cues
true," she insisted. violation -of accepted and heuristics
My friend Danny to craft seem-
agreed - "It's not norms. ingly logical
like you are going narratives.
through a break- These stories
up. I like it, but what is this - some help us make sense of our experi-
quarter-life crisis?" ences and the people we encounter.
All these reactions felt eerily But women flouting beauty stan-
similar. I had inadvertently placed dards doesn't mean their looks,
myself in a larger narrative - one sanity or sexuality should be ques-
with the Britneys and Mileys of the tioned. Because you know what? As
world. When Britney shaved her my mom says, at the end of the day,
head in 2007, everyone - myself it's just hair.
included - called her crazy. People
Magazine even ran an article sug- - Zoe StahI can be reached
gesting she had a personality dis- at zoestahl@umich.edu.


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