Guffaw inducing posts
"The Last Airbender"
"I Love Lucy"
You should by now have heard about the famine developing in the Sahel region of West Africa. Poor harvests and high food prices threaten the lives of some 18 million people. The global price of food is likely to rise still further, as a result of low crop yields in the United States, caused by the worst drought in 50 years. World cereal prices, in response to this disaster, climbed 17% last month.
We have been cautious about attributing such events to climate change: perhaps too cautious. A new paper by James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, shows that there has been a sharp increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers. Between 1951 and 1980 these events affected between 0.1 and 0.2% of the world’s land surface each year. Now, on average, they affect 10%. Hansen explains that “the odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small”. Both the droughts in the Sahel and the US crop failures are likely to be the result of climate change.
But this is not the only sense in which the rich world’s use of fuel is causing the poor to starve. In the United Kingdom, in the rest of the European Union and in the United States, governments have chosen to deploy a cure as bad as the disease. Despite overwhelming evidence of the harm their policy is causing, none of them will change course.
Biofuels are the means by which governments in the rich world avoid hard choices. Rather than raise fuel economy standards as far as technology allows, rather than promoting a shift from driving to public transport, walking and cycling, rather than insisting on better town planning to reduce the need to travel, they have chosen to exchange our wild overconsumption of petroleum for the wild overconsumption of fuel made from crops. No one has to drive less or make a better car: everything remains the same except the source of fuel. The result is a competition between the world’s richest and poorest consumers, a contest between overconsumption and survival. There was never any doubt about which side would win.
I’ve been banging on about this since 2004, and everything I warned of then has happened. The US and the European Union have both set targets and created generous financial incentives for the use of biofuels. The results have been a disaster for people and the planet.
Already, 40% of US corn (maize) production is used to feed cars. The proportion will rise this year as a result of the smaller harvest. Though the market for biodiesel is largely confined to the European Union, it has already captured seven per cent of the world’s output of vegetable oil. The European Commission admits that its target (10% of transport fuels by 2020) will raise world cereal prices by between 3 and 6%. Oxfam estimates that with every 1% increase in the price of food, another 16 million people go hungry.
By 2021, the OECD says, 14% of the world’s maize and other coarse grains, 16% of its vegetable oil and 34% of its sugarcane will be used to make people in the gas guzzling nations feel better about themselves. The demand for biofuel will be met, it reports, partly through an increase in production; partly through a “reduction in human consumption.” The poor will starve so that the rich can drive.
The rich world’s demand for biofuels is already causing a global land grab. ActionAid estimates that European companies have now seized five million hectares of farmland – an area the size of Denmark – in developing countries for industrial biofuel production. Small farmers, growing food for themselves and local markets, have been thrown off their land and destituted. Tropical forests, savannahs and grasslands have been cleared to plant what the industry still calls “green fuels”.
When the impacts of land clearance and the use of nitrogen fertilisers are taken into account, biofuels produce more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels do. The UK, which claims that half the biofuel sold here meets its sustainability criteria, solves this problem by excluding the greenhouse gas emissions caused by changes in land use. Its sustainability criteria are, as a result, worthless.
Even second generation biofuels, made from crop wastes or wood, are an environmental disaster, either extending the cultivated area or removing the straw and stovers which protect the soil from erosion and keep carbon and nutrients in the ground. The combination of first and second generation biofuels – encouraging farmers to plough up grasslands and to leave the soil bare – and hot summers could create the perfect conditions for a new dust bowl.
Our government knows all this. One of its own studies shows that if the European Union stopped producing biofuels, the amount of vegetable oils it exported to world markets would rise by 20% and the amount of wheat by 33%, reducing world prices.
Preparing for the prime minister’s hunger summit on Sunday, the international development department argued that, with a rising population, “the food production system will need to be radically overhauled, not just to produce more food but to produce it sustainably and fairly to ensure that the poorest people have the access to food that they need.” But another government department – transport – boasts on its website that, thanks to its policies, drivers in this country have now used 4.4 billion litres of biofuel. Of this 30% was produced from recycled cooking oil. The rest consists of 3 billion litres of refined energy snatched from the mouths of the people that David Cameron claims to be helping.
Some of those to whom the government is now extending its “nutrition interventions” may have been starved by its own policies. In this and other ways, David Cameron, with the unwitting support of various sporting heroes, is offering charity, not justice. And that is no basis for liberating the poor.
I spend a lot of time on the internet. I write in various places on the internet, I interact in lively and active commenting communities at different websites, and I partake in a multitude of online forums that have an ongoing and pretty continuous stream of communication between the contributors. Ya know what I’ve noticed? Any time a PoC starts to talk about their experiences with racism, a white person chimes in to derail the conversation and talk about their own experiences with ‘reverse racism.’ And yes, I’m going to say ‘any time’ and not ‘sometimes’ because I have never once been in an internet dialogue amongst commenters and observed a PoC bring up their experience with real, actual, systemic or overt racism and not encountered a white person trying to make it all about their experiences with perceived racism. Not once. It happens every time. Ya know what else? That shit is tired, played out, and incorrect. So let’s talk about why reverse racism isn’t real and why white people need to let that one go.
Racism exists when prejudice+power combine to form social constructs, legislation and widespread media bias that contribute to the oppression of the rights and liberties of a group of people. Racism is systemic, institutional, and far reaching. It is the prevalence of racism within social structures and institutional norms, along with implicit and explicit enforcement by members of a group, that allows racism to run rampant and unchecked. America is a country seeped in white privilege, and our social structure is built on colonization and forced slave labor that then turned into further systemic and ongoing oppression of PoC. We have a culture that presents whiteness as the norm and all else as ‘other’ or different. White is presented as the beauty ideal, the main face in the media (unless we’re talking about criminals, then PoC get unfairly misrepresented), the standard, the regular. It’s a structural problem that affects the perceptions of jurors in criminal cases, admissions to colleges, funding for public schools, welfare and food stamp programs, the redrawing of district lines that affect where we vote, who we see represented on T.V. and how, what schools people have access to, what neighborhoods people live in, an individual’s shopping experience, access to goods and services; it’s extensive and a part of the fabric that let’s whiteness remain dominant in American culture.
When I’m online talking to people and a PoC is sharing their experience with racism, I’m listening and I am learning. This is an experience I will probably never have in my lifetime, simply because of the skin I was born into. I need to know what I can do to be a better ally and to make the world a more equal place one interaction at a time. So I observe, I listen, I join the conversation, and I try to understand. Inevitably, here comes a white person either claiming that they have a similar experience because they grew up in an all black neighborhood and got chased on the way home from school a few times, or because their black friend tried to touch their straight hair one time without permission and OMG THAT IS SO RACIST and it is the exact same thing, or some other such bullshittery, and they expect that ignorance to be suffered in silence and with respect. If you are that kid who got chased after school, that’s horrible, and I feel bad for you. And if you are that person who had another person try to touch you without your permission, that was wrong of them, and I’m sorry that happened to you. But dudes, that shit is not racism.
The situations in which you, fellow white person, were involved were unfortunate and inappropriate, this is true. But to claim that these experiences were ‘reverse racism’ both diminishes and minimalizes the real and actual experiences of PoC who really do encounter racism. There is no system of oppression that actively works to oppress and subjugate white people. Sorry to break it to you, but your individual suffering is just that, individual. The individuals acting against you do not have the institutionalized power to actively oppress you in every facet of your life, nor would their racism be upheld and supported by government, media, and legislation if they did. Because you’re white.
Reverse racism isn’t real because we live in a culture that supports and enforces whiteness as the norm and PoC as other. If you experience discrimination, prejudice, or bigotry, it’s valid to be upset about it and want to talk about it. It is not valid to claim that it is reverse racism, and certainly not valid to claim that it is racism on par with anything like the institutionalized racism that PoC will come into contact with. When a white person starts talking about reverse racism, what they’re really doing is derailing a conversation to make it about them. Their white privilege leads them to believe that what they say both matters and needs to be heard and is important and the conversation should stop to focus on their perceived ills. You know what? When somebody is talking about racism they have experienced, that conversation is not all about you, nor should you expect it to be, so stop with the derailing and just listen and learn.
When white people complain about experiencing reverse racism, what they’re really complaining about is losing out on or being denied their already existing privileges. And while it may feel bad to realize your privilege is crumbling and the things you’ve taken for granted can be taken away from you, it is unfair, untrue, and disingenuous to call that experience reverse racism.
What do you think? Do you ever get tired of people trying to make ‘reverse racism’ an active part of dialogue? Do you feel like people are derailing when a PoC is discussing racism and another person tries to claim they have experienced ‘reverse racism’? Do you think ‘reverse racism’ is real and this whole piece is off point? Meet me in the comments and let’s talk about it.
i literally hate when people always try to dismiss race and act like it “isn’t a problem anymore”
i’m mixed. my dad is a 6’3 black male, my mom is white w/ blonde hair and blue eyes.
you and your family have never been randomly pulled over by cops on several occasions just so they could ask your mom if she’s “okay”
there’s still a fucking problem
talking to white people about reverse racism
what the hell ever. Every race group has racism towards every other race. I have been denied service at a convenience store because I’m white. I know it was because I was white because I had my black friend go back to that store an hour later and they sold to him but didn’t sell to me. But I am fully aware that racism exist in EVERYONE, I don’t care if you’re MLK reincarnate.
Played 1817777 times.
Slow down Katniss by 25% and what do you get? Will Ferrell.
OH MY GOD WHAT
Houston Police have refused to explain why they took a 13-year-old white girl from her two black guardians over the weekend and placed her in the custody of Child Protective Services.
Landry Thompson’s mother had signed notarized papers giving dance instructor Emmanuel Hurd full guardianship over her during a trip from Oklahoma to Houston for training,according to KHOU.
Thompson, Hurd and another dance instructor had stopped at a gas station in Houston on Saturday night when they were surrounded by police cars.
Thompson is a 13-year-old blonde white girl and both dance instructors are young African-American men.
“We were on the GPS trying to figure out where the hotel was,” Hurd recalled. “They just pulled us out of the car and put our hands behind our backs like we were criminals.”
“The officer asked me ‘who’s the girl?’ and I said ‘she’s my student,’” Hurd continued. “I told him I had a notarized letter from her parents stating that we have full guardianship over her while we’re here.”
All three told the police the same story, but the officers apparently weren’t buying it.
“They still put handcuffs on me and it really scared me,” the 13-year-old said. “And they put me in the back of a cop car and I was terrified.”
Thompson’s mother, Destiny, was shocked when she found out that her daughter had been placed in the care of Child Protective Services.
“She was with the people I wanted her to be with,” the mother remarked. “She was with people I trusted. And now she was taken away from those people and in a shelter with people I didn’t know.”
At first officials reportedly demanded that the mother fly to Houston to get her daughter, but 11 hours later, the girl was released back into the custody of Hurd.
Destiny Thompson insisted that the police owed her and her daughter an apology. However, the department refused to comment for KHOU’s report.
Someone should probably tell them Rosa Parks ended racism.