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This Week in Racism

Racial Prejudice Might Make Black Men Age Faster

No wonder I have so many grey hairs.

by Dave Schilling
13 January 2014, 7:00am

(Photo via Flickr user Bordecia34)

Welcome to another edition of This Week in Racism. I’ll be ranking news stories on a scale of 1 to RACIST, with “1” being the least racist and “RACIST” being the most racist.

- For those of you gentle folk who hate my guts and want me to die for daring to write a weekly compendium of racist news stories, you may get your wish sooner than you think. According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine done by researchers at the University of Maryland, the exposure to racism and abuse can and does prematurely age black men. The study examined the life expectancy of 92 black males between the ages of 30 and 50, and found that the stress from discrimination and prejudice can lead to a shorter life span. Dr David H Chae of Maryland's School of Public Health said, "Stop-and-frisk policies and other forms of criminal profiling, such as ‘driving or shopping while black’, are inherently stressful and have a real impact on the health of African Americans." At least now I have a scientific basis for my complaint that writing this column is giving me grey hair, bags under my eyes and something I like to call "Droopy Ball Syndrome".

If you've never been the victim of racism or prejudice, then I'm sure it's hard to empathise, but any form of stress can lead to physical deterioration. A link between emotional trauma and physical deterioration was first found in 2004, so these revelations are not all that surprising, but it's still important to remember the totality of racism's impact. Black males are already expected to live shorter lives than their counterparts in other ethnic groups, thanks to increased rates of heart disease, cancer, strokes and other maladies; black men are also the demographic most likely to be murdered. Obviously, environment and diet play a large part in those discrepancies, but with this new information it will be harder to ignore the connection between black mortality and prejudice. I'm giving this story a 7, which is the number of times I've been called the N-word in the last year.

- Chinese government officials are demanding an apology from a Spanish TV station for a racist depiction of a Chinese restaurant worker that aired during a New Year's telecast. Huang Yazhong, a Chinese diplomat stationed in Spain, wrote a caustic letter to the channel Telecinco:

“In the show titled Mesa para Dos [Table for Two], a clown wearing strange ‘Chinese clothes’ jumped up and down, making all sorts of exaggerated gestures. What’s more, the other actors openly insulted Chinese people using words so vulgar it would make any educated person blush.”

Spain's Chinese population is miniscule, but, according to Huang, that's no excuse to be hateful:

“Perhaps Telecinco is a commercial TV station and only cares about ratings, so 180,000 Chinese people is a small enough audience to ignore, but I would like to draw your attention that behind these 180,000 Chinese people stand another 1.3 billion Chinese people from the world’s most populous country and second largest economy! Even if you don’t care [about] damaging your country’s reputation in China, at least please observe basic civility and social image of a broadcaster.”

Does that sound like a threat to you? Kinda sounds like a threat. I miss the old days when a cultural misunderstanding could lead to a long, bloody, senseless global conflict. I give this story an 8, but I give the People's Republic of China a 10 for its brazenly arrogant statements. I can still feel the breeze on my face from the country swinging its dick around so much.

Photo via Wikipedia Creative Commons

- In a speech pretty much no one asked for but had to listen to anyway, Meryl Streep condemned the very dead Walt Disney for being both racist and sexist. Streep was presenting an award to Emma Thompson for her portrayal of Mary Poppins author PL Travers in Saving Mr Banks, which is about the Disney film adaptation of her book. The movie has been criticised for sugarcoating Travers's displeasure with the way her work was changed for the cinema, but there's been less outcry over the way Walt Disney, a real human being with real flaws, was sanitised into a cuddly mascot of the variety that wanders the amusement parks that bear his name. The veracity of these rumours of Disney's racism is up for some debate, and Vulture did a handy fact-check around the release of Mr Banks that attempted to shed some light on the real Walt Disney, and the evidence is fairly damning.

It's heartening to hear someone fight back against the whitewashing being done to Walt Disney's reputation, but a snoozefest awards ceremony is not the best place to take a stand. Giving this story a 4, because saying controversial things about race is what Twitter's for...

The Most Racist Tweets of the Week:

Walt Disney
Meryl Streep
Emma Thompson