- Created on 17 July 2013
The First Baptist Church of University Park didn't mince words when it came to expressing its outrage over the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Earlier this week, the electronic sign for the Chicago-area church featured the following message: "It is safe to kill black people in Amerikkka."
The use of “kkk”, was done to call attention to the fact that, just as in the “glory days” of the KKK, it appears far too often that the murder of African Americans is permitted, and the mistreatment of African Americans historically and currently is far too cavalierly considered. Issues such as the Prison industrial complex, heath disparities, underfunded and under-resourced educational systems, and voter protection are just a few of the concerns faced daily by African Americans. Add to this the fact that an unarmed teenager in Sanford, FL can be murdered in cold blood for simply walking home, and you will know the deep sense of concern that African Americans live with daily.
- Created on 16 July 2013
Whenever issues of young Black masculinity become part of the national discourse, I often make reference to my little brother. As I am not yet a mother, he is my benchmark for how the world treats young Black male bodies. At 25 years-old he is 6’2, slender, fair-skinned with a small bit of facial hair and walks through the streets of Chicago and New-York most often in a singular uniform: black jeans, a black or white t-shirt, and a grey hoodie.
- Created on 15 July 2013
President Barack Obama has proven — again — that systemic and structural racism is not high on his priority list by mimicking the stereotypical, condescending and prejudiced ‘call for calm’ in the wake of the disgraceful ‘not guilty’ verdict reached by 6 jurors in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman.
- Created on 02 July 2013
Because Rachel Jeantel, 19, was the last person to speak to 17-year-old Trayvon Martin before he was killed by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012, Zimmerman’s defense team has relied heavily on her testimony in an attempt to paint Martin as the aggressor motivated by race — instead of the other way around.
Sharing the details of that last phone call with pompous and condescending defense attorney, Don West, Jeantel claimed that Martin said a “creepy a** cracker” was following him. When it became apparent that Zimmerman was not stopping in his pursuit of the unarmed teen, Jeantel alleges that Martin then said, “The ni**a still following me.”
Of course, the defense paid little attention to alleged casual use of the word “ni**a,” but “cracker” has turned into the word heard around the conservative, racist troll world –also known as Fox News (and friends).
Clearly, if Martin referred to Zimmerman as a “creepy ass cracker,” then it was the slain teen who was profiling Zimmerman, right?
And that false equivalency has led to conversations on the etymology of “cracker,” and why it could never carry the baggage of the word “ni**er.”
Building on work by historian Jelani Cobb, Gene Demby of NPR’s Code Switch, delves into the murky history of the word “cracker,” and why it could never be viewed in the same context as “ni**er.”
“Cracker,” the old standby of Anglo insults was first noted in the mid 18th century, making it older than the United States itself. It was used to refer to poor whites, particularly those inhabiting the frontier regions of Maryland, Virginia and Georgia. It is suspected that it was a shortened version of “whip-cracker,” since the manual labor they did involved driving livestock with a whip (not to mention the other brutal arenas where those skills were employed.) Over the course of time it came to represent a person of lower caste or criminal disposition, (in some instances, was used in reference to bandits and other lawless folk.)
“In official documents, the governor of Florida said, ‘We don’t know what to do with these crackers — we tell them to settle this area and they don’t; we tell them not to settle this area and they do,” Ste. Claire said. “They lived off the land. They were rogues.”
By the early 1800s, those immigrants to the South started to refer to themselves that way as a badge of honor and a term of endearment. (I’m pretty sure this process of reappropriating a disparaging term sounds familiar to a lot of y’all.)
The crackers had their distinctive time-intensive cuisine — swamp cabbage, hoppin’ john, corn pone — and favored . There were baseball teams called the Crackers. According to Ste. Claire, we’ve even had a cracker president.
“Jimmy Carter is a cracker,” Ste. Claire said. “He’s an Oglethorpe, from Celtic-English cracker stock. I don’t know if he knows, but I think Jimmy Carter would proudly call himself one.
Read more at NPR.org.