More Portland Police Bureau Bullshit

In a SHOCKING (lol) article this week, the Portland Mercury stated that the latest data from the Portland Police Bureau on all traffic stops in 2010 shows that officers pulled over and searched Blacks and Latinos TWICE as much as they did to White Portlanders.

Now the 2010 census reported that Portland is 72.2% White and only 7.8 and 9.4% Black and Latino respectively. Theoretically more White people would be pulled over because of numbers, right?

Even more outrageous numbers in the Mercury article indicate that despite this trend, White Portlanders had a higher percentage (32%) of having contraband than  Latinos (23%) or Blacks (26%).

So what does that say about the PPB that we didn't already know? Despite the bureau's surprising admission that racism is playing a factor, it doesn't sound like they're doing much to curb it.

(Ed. note: You can read the full article here.)


Israeli Hypocrisy and the Immigrant Experience

So, there was a story about an immigration crackdown in a mostly African immigrant neighbourhood in Tel Aviv this past week. I’ve sat on this news for a while mostly because I was too chickenshit to say anything about it and also because it depresses me. Last night my friend (who is also half Moroccan Jew like me) told me a story about how his mother, growing up in Israel, would eat apple cores out of trashcans because she was hungry and her family too poor to afford proper meals. I was incensed and felt the call to write something

In the United States, we Americanized Jews are fed this idea of Israel as this egalitarian safe space where all are welcome and we are with our “people”. The irony is this is wholly untrue, especially for those who are not European Jews or residents of Israel who are from Africa such as refugees, migrant workers and other similar groups.  I remember a story especially, back in 2010 where Ashkenazim (European Jews) didn’t want their children studying with Sephardim (North-African, Middle Eastern, Arab, Persian Jews etc) and were taking their kids out of schools. Segregation is illegal in Israel.

Recently, the anti-African hatred in Israel has grown to disgusting proportions and really highlights a gigantic disconnect between rich European Jews and their poor African neighbours while mirroring the Sephardic/Mizrahi experience in Israel for generations (though perhaps not to the extreme of current oppression): There have been numerous race riots where Africans are targeted, the police have been racially profiling migrant workers, Israel is building a detention centre for African migrants, sex-trafficking victims from Sudan and Ethiopia were put in a jail because shelter space was limited, but perhaps most chilling was the cheering of police as they hunted down Sudanese on the streets of Eliat.

I am the child of generations of Iberian-Sephardic Jews who made their home in Morocco after the racist Catholic monarchy expelled them in 1492 (same year they started conquering the “New” World, by the way). I am the child of Moroccans that survived the Holocaust because the King of Morocco refused to bow to the colonial Vichy regime’s Nazi policies. I was not born to sit here and be quiet while injustice is meted out by a powerful few.  A writer for Haaretz, Sarah Kreimer put it well: “What would my grandfather say about migrant workers? We owe it to ourselves – as a society that understands what it means to be refugees – to treat them with basic human decency and respect.”

What is happening in Israel right now is wrong, very wrong. It is contrary to the teachings of our people. Palestinians are being pushed out of their homes and murdered in the streets, African refugees are being treated like criminals, land is being occupied, bombs are blowing up Jewish children in the name of G-d, drones and missiles are ripping apart communities. It must stop. I am only one voice, but I am raising it up.

I dedicate this article to my grandmother.


Sharon Needles and (Racist) White Gay Hegemony

So, it came to my attention in this week's Willamette Weekly that Sharon Needles (a.k.a. Aaron Coady) of RuPaul's Drag Race is going to be in Portland.

Fun Facts About Sharon Needles:  
Sharon Needles has worn a swastika t-shirt.

Sharon Needles has worn a Confederate flag one-piece swimsuit.

Sharon Needles has used the N-WORD onstage. (Courtesy of Queerty)

Oh and did I mention the bitch be Aryan as hell?

Not only that but WW's interview spot called the Hotseat in the "Culture" section interviewed Sharon. What I found rather hilarious is that despite this column's name, Aaron Spencer (the interviewer) did not ask any difficult questions of Sharon. In fact he didn't touch any of the controversy surrounding Needles, who has been accused of being not only racist but also transphobic and classist. I noticed also during RuPaul's Drag Race (shut up!) that Needles wore many controversial tee-shirts, two supporting Republican politicians and one even being a confederate flag, which the producers apparently made her cover up later in the episode. In a video after the series finished, Needles is quoted as saying: 

The other night me and a couple of my friends went out to have a good time, and there's this young thing. I call her a "thing" because, you know, I don't know how to tip-toe around gender rules or queer politics. I'm 30 years old, rich, and famous; I don't have to deal with that shit anymore, you know what I mean? So we'll just call them "him"/"her"/"thing," whatever. And you know she really finds my shows offensive. ... So anyway she got upset that I paint myself brown, that I would use language that she found offensive. ... She made me an unnecessary poster child for post-racial change."

SIDE EYE FOREVER! As if we're post-racial...ha!

Also Needles posted this on her Facebook:

i fucked a black last week…call me a cheater, not a racists..i don’t say n-word..i say n****r..thats the word..i’m not afraid of language..and i’m not afraid to say red lipstick is not your color..and i’m not afraid to say that i hate when people post pictures of them self eating..beans for that matter!! but the baby picture is super cute!!" (Full story here)

Yeah, so there was that.
To me, Sharon Needles reflects a huge disconnect of the gay White (male) mainstream and queer people of color, poor queer people, lesbians, disabled queers, fat people and transfolk. We are constantly barraged with images of skinny White "twink" men and Needles does a huge disservice to the community as a whole when she uses her privilege for evil. Sorry guys, racism and transphobia is evil. No other word for it. I don't want this bitch coming to my city, but I gotta remember she's playing to the White Gay Hegemony and that's just the way it is. Then again, I also remember reading somewhere that Lady Gaga is a fan. So fuck you, Sharon Needles.

No love.