Former Westboro hate mouthpiece on leaving the church


Be sure to read Adrian Chen's gripping profile of former Westboro Baptist Church twitterer Megan Phelps-Roper, who left the church after coming to realize the futility of its hate gospel.

Megan Phelps-Roper, picketing with Westboro when she was still an active member of the family hate cult.

On December 20, 2009, Phelps-Roper was in the basement of her house, for a church function, when she checked Twitter on her phone and saw that Brittany Murphy, the thirty-two-year-old actress, had died. When she read the tweet aloud, other church members reacted with glee, celebrating another righteous judgment from God… But Phelps-Roper had loved Murphy in “Clueless,” and she felt an unexpected pang—not quite sadness, but something close—over her death. As she continued scrolling through Twitter, she saw that it was full of people mourning Murphy. The contrast between the grief on Twitter and the buoyant mood in the basement unsettled her. She couldn’t bring herself to post a tweet thanking God for Murphy’s death.

If you're been wondering why Westboro's been kind of boring lately, it turns out that there was a coup of sorts within the church: day-to-day troll in chief Shirley Phelps-Roper (Megan's mother) was denounced, and a bunch of stodgy old men took over. Since then, women have been marginalized within the church and it has lost much of its media savvy.

Read Adrian's piece to the last sentence: there is an absolutely amazing ending to the life and mind of the church's founder, Fred Phelps.

[Image, top: Megan Phelps-Roper. Read the rest

Virginia mayor says Japanese-American concentration camps were a good idea. George Takei's response is perfect.


David Bowers, the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, recently praised the concentration camps that the US built during World War II to imprison Japanese American adults and children. And, according to Bowers' logic, that's why we can't allow Syrian refugees to be resettled in his town.

George Takei has something to say about it. From his Facebook post:

Earlier today, the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, Mr. David A. Bowers, in the attached letter, joined several state governors in ordering that Syrian refugees not receive any government assistance, or be relocated to their jurisdiction. Apart from the lack of legal authority to do so (under the Refugee Act of 1980, only the President has authority to accept or deny refugees), his resort to fear-based tactics, and his galling lack of compassion for people fleeing these same terrorists, Mayor Bowers made the following startling statement:

“I’m reminded that Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”

Mayor Bowers, there are a few key points of history you seem to have missed:

1) The internment (not a "sequester") was not of Japanese "foreign nationals," but of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. I was one of them, and my family and I spent 4 years in prison camps because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor.

Read the rest

How America bought and sold racism, and why it still matters


We've all encountered what people today call Black Memorabilia — a Mammy cookie jar, a racist postcard — but have you ever wondered where these depictions came from, and why they are so common? In her latest article for Collectors Weekly, Lisa Hix interviewed Dr. David Pilgrim, author of Understanding Jim Crow, to get some answers to these and other questions. Hix learned that Black Memorabilia was popularized by post-Reconstruction whites to dehumanize African Americans, and that while slavery may have ended in 1865, Jim Crow has persisted in various forms and guises to this day, which helps explain why the presence of an African American family in the White House has not been enough to put America's racial history behind us.

Stock caricatures such as Mammy, Uncle Tom, Sambo, pickaninny children, coon, Jezebel, Sapphire, and the black brute were employed to spread these messages to millions of people. Companies mass-produced these images in every form — including postcards, cleaning products, toys and games, ceramic figurines, ashtrays, cast-iron banks, children’s books, dinnerware, songbooks, tea towels, cookie jars, matchbooks, magazines, movies, gag gifts, salt-and-pepper shakers, planters, fishing lures, trade cards, ads, records, and tobacco tins. If you lived during the Jim Crow era, you’d encounter such caricatures everywhere, in your newspaper, on restaurant walls, on the shelves at stores, and at the cinema or live theater.

“If you believed that black men were Sambos, childlike buffoons, for example, then why would they be allowed to vote?” Pilgrim says. “Why would they be allowed to hold office, serve on a jury, or attend public schools with whites?

Read the rest

Students force University of Missouri president to resign over lack of action on racism on campus

The University of Missouri's president Tim Wolfe resigns after protests.

At the University of Missouri, a graduate student went on a hunger strike, students and teachers marched and staged sit-ins, and 32 black football players refused to play until the university president, Tim Wolfe, resigned. Today, he did.

Read the rest

Adidas offers to help schools convert from racist team names and mascots to non-racist ones


The cost of changing from a racist high school team name and mascot to one that isn't can be high.

Read the rest

California bans use of "Redskins" as a team name at public schools

Sponsored by Assemblymember Luis Alejo, today California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB30, a bill barring schools from naming teams or mascots "redskins."

NBC News shares:

The state Assembly overwhelmingly approved the California Racial Mascots Act in May, about a month before the Obama administration went on record telling the Washington Redskins that they would have to change their name before they would be allowed to move to a stadium in Washington, D.C., from their current home in suburban Maryland.

In a joint statement with the nonprofit group Change the Mascot, the National Congress of American Indians praised California for "standing on the right side of history by bringing an end to the use of the demeaning and damaging R-word slur in the state's schools."

Read the rest

Playmobil pirate ship includes dark-skinned doll wearing "slave collar"


Ida Lockett of Sacramento, CA was helping her 5-year-old son put together a Playmobil pirate ship kit he'd been given for his birthday when she saw that the instructions told her to put a shackle around the neck of a dark-skinned figurine in torn clothing. Read the rest

Apple inventor Steve Wozniak was busted in high school for fake bomb

From Woz's Facebook:

Read the rest

President Obama invites the boy who was arrested for making a clock to the White House


Here's an update to the story about a schoolchild arrested in Irving, TX for bringing his homemade clock to school: This morning, President Obama tweeted: "Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science." Read the rest

Arab-looking man of Syrian descent found in garage building what looks like a bomb


Omar Ghabra won Twitter with these photos, and this quip: “An Arab-looking man of Syrian descent in a garage w/his accomplice building what appears to be a bomb. Arrest them.” Read the rest

What it's like to be black and work in tech

Why aren’t there more Black people roaming the campuses of technology companies? Mark S. Luckie has some ideas.

Here's the video NYPD released of a plainclothes cop brutally attacking tennis star James Blake


James Blake made a terrible mistake. He was outside in public while black. Here is video proof, released today by the New York Police Department.

Read the rest

Racist who threatened Lakota children at a hockey game found not guilty


Trace O'Connell, the racist asshole who ruined an award hockey game for some school kids, is not guilty of disorderly conduct.

Read the rest

Interview with man picked by Kennedy administration to be the first black man in space


President Kennedy wanted a white man, a black man, and an Asian man to be the first men on the moon. Obviously, it didn't happen.

In this episode of The Memory Palace podcast, Nate DiMeo interviews Captain Edward Dwight, the first African American to be trained as an astronaut. Dwight was a United States Air Force test pilot in the 1950s, and in 1962 the Kennedy administration selected Dwight to join the astronaut program. He faced horrible discrimination from other white astronauts, but stayed in the program. When Kennedy was assassinated, racist government officials zoomed in and bullied Dwight until he retired in 1966. He never went into space. Read the rest

The "transactional love economy"

"Do you ever see a super-old guy…with a super-young girl…and wonder, how the hell did that happen?" Here's what we're calling it now. Read the rest

Citing Trump as their role model, 2 white guys in Boston beat homeless Latino man nearly to death

Scott Leader (left) and Steve Leader (right).
“The homeless man was lying on the ground, shaking, when police arrived early Wednesday. His face was soaked, apparently with urine, his nose broken, his chest and arms battered.”

Former Florida cop fired for KKK ties got a new job working in a Florida elementary school

David Borst is now out of a job.
The FBI found no criminal wrongdoing, or evidence that any other officers were involved with the KKK.

More posts