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January 24, 2014 5

Richard Sherman and Enduring Racial Stereotypes

We recently had a reminder of the endur­ing power of stereo­types in Amer­i­can when an inter­view by Seat­tle Sea­hawks cor­ner­back Richard Sher­man prompted a slew of racist remarks on Twit­ter and a main­stream media com­men­ta­tor referred to him as a “thug” and an “ape.”

Richard Sherman

Richard Sher­man

While per­haps unin­ten­tional on the part of media com­men­ta­tors, the lan­guage sur­round­ing Sherman’s inter­view evoked painful stereo­types of African Amer­i­cans.  Racist imagery that por­trays African Amer­i­cans as beasts, espe­cially mon­keys, emerged dur­ing the Jim Crow era as a means to legit­imize unequal treat­ment of African Amer­i­cans.  Unfor­tu­nately, these stereo­types endure today.  And to many African Amer­i­cans — indeed all peo­ple of good will — these stereo­types remain as inap­pro­pri­ate and offen­sive now as they were in the 20th century.

Stereo­types of African Amer­i­cans harken back to a time when bla­tant racism was com­mon­place in our nation.

The his­tor­i­cal mean­ing of this imagery is often not on most people’s radar, but it should be. It is likely that many Amer­i­cans do not even real­ize they are actu­ally per­pet­u­at­ing age-old racism when they refer to African Amer­i­cans in these terms.

Part of the work of untan­gling the legacy of racism involves edu­cat­ing our­selves and our youth not to engage in it. Words carry our his­tory with them. We can­not pre­tend that refer­ring to a black man as an “ape” is not rooted in racism, and that it is not hurt­ful.  The same goes for stereo­typ­i­cal remarks about other minor­ity groups such as Jews.  Whether such hurt­ful lan­guage is man­i­fested in pro­fes­sional sports, in polit­i­cal dis­course or in school hall­ways, we must counter racist imagery and ter­mi­nol­ogy with con­dem­na­tion and expec­ta­tions that we can be better.

On the pos­i­tive side, the lan­guage we use has the power to change the future and to advance much-needed inter­cul­tural group dynam­ics in our country.

Teach­ers who work with mid­dle and high school youth can uti­lize cur­rent events and social dis­course to start con­ver­sa­tions about how our his­tory of racism con­tin­ues to impact us today.

Moments like these hurt and are rep­re­hen­si­ble, but they can also be oppor­tu­ni­ties to edu­cate and inspire a gen­er­a­tion to end racism.

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April 23, 2013 2

Hate App Targets Towson University

Update 8/2/13: A new White Stu­dent Union has formed at Geor­gia State Uni­ver­sity by fresh­man Patrick Sharp.

The increas­ing exploita­tion of easy-to-use soft­ware to cre­ate smart­phone apps by hate groups sig­nals a move into a new realm of dig­i­tal propaganda.

Some hate groups, like the neo-confederate League of the South, have pro­duced apps intended for a gen­eral audi­ence. Oth­ers, how­ever, are devel­op­ing apps with spe­cific pro­pa­ganda tar­gets in mind. For exam­ple, the Tow­son White Stu­dent Union, founded by white suprema­cist Matthew Heim­bach, a stu­dent at Tow­son Uni­ver­sity in Mary­land, has cre­ated an app specif­i­cally tar­get­ing stu­dents at the school.

Like the League of the South’s app, the Tow­son White Stu­dent Union (Tow­son WSU) app is visu­ally crude and tech­ni­cally rudi­men­tary, pri­mar­ily offer­ing a col­lec­tion of links. In the case of the Tow­son WSU app, the links lead to blogs, a group Face­book page, a Twit­ter account for the group’s orga­nizer, a Google search results page, and a YouTube chan­nel for the group.

These Android apps are not avail­able through the autho­rized Google Play web­site. How­ever, as Android apps do not need to be cer­ti­fied for instal­la­tion (unlike iPad/iPod/iPhone apps), they are read­ily avail­able through unof­fi­cial apps dis­tri­b­u­tion websites.

Years ago, tech­no­log­i­cal advances made it easy for hate groups to cre­ate web­sites with­out actu­ally hav­ing sophis­ti­cated com­puter knowl­edge or skills. As the preva­lence of wire­less devices increases and easy-to-use app cre­ation soft­ware pro­lif­er­ates, the pres­ence of this sort of smart­phone and tablet app will undoubt­edly increase.

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March 21, 2013 1

Imagine If They Had Lived

Imag­ine a world where the hate crimes against Mar­tin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank and Matthew Shep­ard did not hap­pen. Now, dur­ing ADL’s Cen­ten­nial Year, fight big­otry and extrem­ism by shar­ing this video and pledg­ing to cre­ate a world with­out hate.

In honor of our Cen­ten­nial in 2013, ADL has launched the “Imag­ine a World With­out Hate™” video and action cam­paign, and we invite you to join in.

Take just 80 sec­onds of your time to watch this pow­er­ful video, which imag­ines a world with­out racism, homo­pho­bia or anti-Semitism — a world in which the hate vio­lence that took the lives of Mar­tin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, Daniel Pearl, Matthew Shep­ard and oth­ers did not hap­pen. Imag­ine what these indi­vid­u­als could have con­tin­ued to con­tribute to soci­ety if big­otry, hate and extrem­ism had not cut their lives trag­i­cally short.

After 100 years of fight­ing big­otry and fos­ter­ing respect, we are cel­e­brat­ing our suc­cesses, while at the same time rec­og­niz­ing that we still have a long way to go to achieve the real­ity of a world with­out hate. Explore the Imag­ine Web Page at www.adl.org/imagine to take action as an indi­vid­ual, com­mu­nity, school or cor­po­ra­tion. Tell us what you will do to cre­ate a world with­out hate.

ADL is most grate­ful to the fam­i­lies of those fea­tured in the video, whose com­mit­ment and par­tic­i­pa­tion made this cam­paign pos­si­ble, and to the Estate of John Lennon for grant­ing us the rights to use his beau­ti­ful and iconic song.

www.adl.org/imagine

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