Media Race Race & Justice

Race, Crime and Violence in LA


Tonight I’ll be participating in a panel called “Race, Crime and Violence
sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists. As the title suggests, we’ll be talking about the way the media deals with race when reporting on crime and violence.

The panel organizers have gathered an interesting line-up that includes: Otto Santa Ana from UCLA, columnist Sandy Banks from the LA Times, and the wonderful poet/author Ishmael Reed.

(I’m the…um…white chick outa the bunch.)

Filmmaker/author M.K. Asante, Jr.. is moderating.

The panel starts at 7:30 p.m., with music and refreshments starting at 6:30.

It’s being held at Eso Won Books, in Leimert Park, 4331 Degnan Blvd.

Come on down and talk….jeer…applaud….throw fruit, whatever you like.


And while we’re on the subject of race in relationship to the coverage of crime…….blogger (and sometimes WLA commenter) Browne Molyneux has some interesting things to say over at LA Eastside about why she wasn’t one bit sorry to see the demise of the LA Times Homicide Report.

As you know, I’m an ardent supporter of the Homicide Report, and was furious when the Times suspended it. But Browne’s points are thought-provoking and very much worth a read.

Here are a couple of clips from Browne’s list regarding why she she doesn’t miss the blog in question:

2. [It] Gave the Times a whole section to point to when asked if they were covering the African-American and Latino communities, “We have the Homicide Blog, so we cover them everyday, actually we over cover them. We are quite diverse in our coverage.” Why could not murders in our neighborhoods make the real paper?

3. Though I believed Jill Leovy’s heart was in the right place, that blog was like a nuclear bomb. The road to hell is paved with good intentions (and quite a few book deals, yeah that would also include you Steve Lopez.) I understand that the point was to showcase and put a face on the violence. I think in general it just made people even more desensitized to Latinos and African-Americans dying in violent ways.

Race, Crime and Violence. How we report about that weave of issues ain’t a simple matter.


  • Sounds like a good idea, Celeste, to have Woody as your joke writer on that forum, especially being in Leimert Park and all. Not that one can expect anything um, balanced, coming from that cast of characters, with you as the nominal “white chick” being to the far left even of most westside liberals, but still, it does sound like an evening worth attending. I always find that mingling with people who attend these things (and usually attend because they have a strong point of view already) is worth more than any amount of reading you can do when it comes to understanding what goes down in other communities.

  • Jesus and the Democrat

    A Republican in a wheelchair entered a restaurant one afternoon and asked the waitress for a cup of coffee. The Republican looked across the restaurant and asked, ‘Is that Jesus sitting over there?’ The waitress nodded ‘yes,’ so the Republican requested that she give Jesus a cup of coffee, on him.

    The next patron to come in was a Libertarian with a hunched back. He shuffled over to a booth, painfully sat down, and asked the waitress for a cup of hot tea. He also glanced across the restaurant and asked, ‘Is that Jesus over there?’ The waitress nodded, so the Libertarian asked her to give Jesus a cup of hot tea, ‘My treat.’

    The third patron to come into the restaurant was a Democrat on crutches. He hobbled over to a booth, sat down and hollered, ‘Hey there, honey! How ‘s about gettin’ me a cold glass of Miller Light?’ He, too, looked across the restaurant and asked, ‘Is that God’s boy over there?’ The waitress once more nodded, so the Democrat directed her to give Jesus a cold glass of beer. ‘On my bill,’ he said.

    As Jesus got up to leave, he passed by the Republican, touched him and said, ‘For your kindness, you are healed.’ The Republican felt the strength come back into his legs, got up, and danced a jig out the door.

    Jesus also passed by the Libertarian, touched him and said, ‘For your kindness, you are healed.’ The Libertarian felt his back straightening up, and he raised his hands, praised the Lord and did a series of back flips out the door.

    Then Jesus walked towards the Democrat. The Democrat jumped up and yelled, ‘Don’t touch me… I’m collecting disability.’

  • Celeste,

    Sometimes a blog can be a scary place. I am going to tip toe very quietly and leave by the back door.

  • Kris Kringle. I just got back from the panel and took the time to actually read your “jokes.” Then deleted them. Woody’s jokes are vaguely racist and in bad taste. Yours are more hateful than I’m willing to leave up. Sorry. House rules. We live in a world where there’s more than enough pain. I refuse to willfully add to it.

    Woody, it went fine. Lots of….very lively opinion and cross currents.

    I may or may not blog about it later. (And, by the way, I’m not calling you a racist, just your jokes.)

  • “Woody’s jokes are vaguely racist and in bad taste. Yours are more hateful than I’m willing to leave up.”

    Well, then you obviously didn’t read very closely: two of the four “jokes” in my last post were actually re-posts of Woody’s. Nice try at the rationalization, though. I was posting the jokes to make a point, and it’s clear it was lost on you. The irony is that you were on a panel on race, and you’re so mired in wishy-washy thinking (“hmm, do I need to show my ACLU free-speechiness, or do I need to reflect my white-lady PC liberal guilt?”) that you can’t even be consistent on your own blog with respect to the treatment of racist comments. Disappointing, but not surprising.

    Let me know when your “House Rules” empower you to get around to deleting these vile racist jokes of Woody’s from a previous thread:

    “…My name’s Liberty Smith. I’m seven feet tall, I weigh three hundred pounds, and I’m the meanest, baddest player on the Dallas Cowboys–and I’m married to a white woman. What do you say to that?” And he said, “I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t marry a n****r either.”

    A black woman was filling out forms at the welfare office. Under “Number of children,” she wrote “10,” and where it said “List names of children,” she wrote “Leroy.” When she handed in the form, the woman behind the desk pointed out: “Now here where it says “List names of children,” you’re supposed to write the names of each one of your children.” “Dey all named Leroy,” said the black woman. “That’s very unusual. When you call them, how do they know which one you want?” asked the welfare worker. “Oh, den I uses the last names.”

    Q. What do you call a Mexican in a three piece suit???
    A. The defendant.

    Hey, come on, as Woody said, “no offense intended. Lighten up. Enjoy life for once.” Maybe you should read those jokes at your next panel on race.

  • (Re-post with correction.)

    KK: two of the four “jokes” in my last post were actually re-posts of Woody’s.

    Let’s be accurate. My jokes were not crude, and all that weren’t mine were. Also, I explained mine and their intent rather than trying to be purely offensive. Your “unstated point” was clearly lost on everyone, or made up after the fact. And, at least my jokes contained elements of humor.

    Oh, and the joke about Liberty Smith was only in response to reg’s joke about my wife, whom he called a whore simply to offend. I hope he liked my reply joke, which was only provided because of his action. Jokes are often exaggerations of stereotypes. My jokes were closer to reality than that of reg, who never met my wife. Also, if you look closely, that one joke wasn’t about blacks but about a white perception.

    Celeste, I really don’t use the so-called “racist” jokes with others, but I am not going to be restrained by political correctness, which is censorhip of anything that the left doesn’t like. This is one way to begin to break down that barrier.

    BTW, and this is true, I went to get a haircut yesterday and my barber (not stylist) had his flags at half-mast. Guess why.

  • Oh, in a reverse of the Leroy joke, you wouldn’t believe how many kids around here have the last name Holyfield. You should see the traffic back-up on Father’s Day at his house.

  • “I am not going to be restrained by political correctness, which is censorhip of anything that the left doesn’t like.”

    Ah yes, of course! Here are some more jokes just like yours–remember, jokes are often exaggerations of stereotypes. Like it or not, these jokes are “closer to reality” and based in truth: a greater proportion of black men do indeed commit crimes and are without jobs than white men. Also, if you preface these jokes with “no offense intended”, then they are definitely not offensive. Lighten up. Enjoy life for once.

    Why do black people have white hands?
    They were up against the wall when God spray painted them!

    What do you call two blacks on one bike?
    Organized crime!

    What happened to the black person who had an abortion?
    Crime Stoppers sent her a check for $500!

    What do you call a black person on a bike?

    Why do blacks and Mexicans always have nice clothes, jewelry and cars but still live in crummy houses?
    They haven’t figured out how to steal houses yet!

    What’s a black man’s fortune cookie?
    A piece of cornbread with a food stamp in the middle!

    What do you say to a black man in court?
    Will the defendant please rise!

    What do you call a black man in high school?

    Why are all black men fast runners?
    All the slow ones are in jail.

    What’s the difference between a large pizza and a black man?
    A pizza can feed a family of four.

  • You’re a whining wimp Woody – and you’ve been a pimp for every crackpot idea floated by the wingnut right. To this issue, your racism is evident in crap like Obama shining Palin’s shoes. And the steady stream of cracks about blacks and “Mexicans.” Go fuck yourself.

    Despicable,creepy, self-absorbed, chidlsh but more to the point utterly ignorant.

  • I have respected and admired Celeste and her work for over 10 years. I personally believe that she OWNS this site and we are all visitors here. I believe a little decorum is called for in terms of our posting behavior. We are not on a street corner but are in her virtual living room. I personally find disgusting racial jokes very offensive and have not even read most of the responses by Woody & Kris Kringle. When I see their names, I advance to the next.

    I know this is cyberland “where anything goes”, but why not behave as you would if we were all sitting in Celeste’s livingroom? Is that too much to ask??

  • “I believe a little decorum is called for in terms of our posting behavior.”

    Precisely my point, which appears you’ve also missed. Only reg appears to get it. Look, it’s very simple: I don’t tolerate racist comments and jokes. This isn’t rocket science–would you allow them to be spoken on a panel addressing racism? Would you share them with your black and Latino colleagues, telling them to stop being so “pc”? The irony that such trash is being allowed on a website purporting to challenge racism disturbs me greatly. Why this racist troll behavior is tolerated by Celeste is dumbfounding, and I will no longer visit this blog if it continues.

    Is that clear enough for you? Do the right thing, or stop the lip service.

  • “Barber had his flags at half-mast. Guess why.”

    So that all of the Dead Men Walking around Woody’s turf could flock to his shop and share their racist drivel until time mercifully puts an end to their madness.

  • KK: I will no longer visit this blog if it continues.

    Don’t encourage me.

    You guys show why there can be no honest dialogue on crime and race, because you are offended or feign offense at anything that strikes home. The panel on which Celeste contributed could be nothing more than an attempt to evade real solutions because real problems are too difficult for people like you to face. If you can’t take a joke, then you really can’t deal with the reality.

    You’re not contributing to any honest and helpful discussion. You’re holding it back. So, keep on feeling good about phony root problems (usually racism) so that nothing of substance, such as the responsibilities of fathers, gets covered. Obama and Bill Cosby must be racists, too, according to your guidelines.

    My barber shop is better forum for solutions than anything you guys can write.

  • Alright, I went back and read the earlier thread, which I had not read carefully before, and I have now deleted the worst of Woody’s decidedly vile and racist jokes.

    KK a simple note to me would have alerted me to what was going on back at the earlier thread about Erin’s article. Instead, you chose to up the ante and then threaten. Yes, it DID finally get my attention. But there were easier and more direct ways to do so.

    Often I read every comment on each thread. But other times, when I’m extremely busy, as I have been for the last two weeks (and when I have been trying, still unsuccessfully, to get more than five hours of sleep in a row), I may not read them all. Or I may wait until some later date when I can catch-up.

    At the latter times, I may miss something I shouldn’t. At those junctures I appreciate it when readers bring issues to my attention.

    I don’t, however, appreciate it when it is done with quite so much hostility.

  • BTW, my barber shop’s customers are predominantly military, including a significant number of generals, whose pictures line the walls. They don’t mind an occasional rough joke, but they are open-minded and smarter than most of you. No nonsense there.

  • Celeste, you gave in to political correctness. I’m disappointed. You stuffed a pacifier into the mouths of the babies to make them be quiet. One day, they’re going to have to grow up and realize that there is a world outside of their cocoons. (Is it okay to use that word?)

  • Woody, racist jokes do damage. This has nothing to do with political correctness.

    We can all poke fun at each other. Humor helps us remain sane. (Those of us who work in criminal justice fields have a far darker sense of humor than you would ever imagine. It is the only way one gets through certain circumstances)

    But when one in nine African American men between the ages of 18 to 34 are behind bars, even as I type, that’s a national tragedy, not a good source of one-liners.

  • Celeste,

    Such a pleasure meeting you face to face at last nights forum, enjoyed what you had to share, and wish you were allowed more time in the limelight.

    I’ll see you again sometime soon.

  • Okay, Celeste. Racist jokes may do damage, but some people are just a little bit too sensitive–or, claim to be to stop discussion and feel victorious. I have Jewish friends who have great Jew jokes. I’ve never seen one of them traumatized.

    Do you think avoiding talking about black dads abandoning their kids is taboo, too. It was when Bill Cosby brought it up.

  • You’re not fit to shine Bill Cosby’s shoes. Since both Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton agreed with Cosby’s concerns and he , I’m trying to figure out what fucking planet you live on where rightwing nutcases invent their alternate reality. Aside from some folks taking issue with the forum and some of his language, Cosby’s perspective is hardly “taboo” – more like commonplace among most black people. The problem is when racists such as yourself take those comments and use them to ratioanlize extremist rightwing and racist garbage. You’re a degenerate scumbag. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Dead Man Walking…

  • “I have Jewish friends who have great Jew jokes. I’ve never seen one of them traumatized”

    oh, so you think. I consider myself very enlightened and was rather precocious as a child. Yet, some rather mild “Jewish” jokes stuck like a poker through my heart and have remained painful for decades. Yet, if you would have seen me at the time, you would have said “at least Jeff isn’t traumatized by it”.

    Go back and re-read what Celeste said. “racist jokes do damage”. As real as a real knife right through the heart.

  • reg says: You’re not fit to shine Bill Cosby’s shoes. …I’m trying to figure out what fucking planet you live on where rightwing nutcases invent their alternate reality. …racists such as yourself take those comments and use them to ratioanlize extremist rightwing and racist garbage. You’re a degenerate scumbag.

    Celeste, either this is a offense free zone for everyone or no one.

    Shouldn’t reg’s vile personal attacks against me be deleted and he advised to cease from doing that again? At least my offenses are not against him or anyone personally.

  • reg: Cosby’s perspective is hardly “taboo”

    Oh, sure. Cosby was crucified by the left in the press and the black community for speaking his views. They started digging up dirt on him like they did Joe the Plumber. They raised unrelated sexual misconduct issues and accusations. The message was, “Don’t cross that politically correct line, or we’ll get you.”

    reg, you don’t know what you’re talking about or you’re lying. As usual, you’re just making false excuses.

    If Cos can’t break the politically correct barrier to help his race, then the race must not want to hear the news.

    What’s worse, as I mentioned, is that blacks suffer the most from stifled debate that Celeste wants, and then she falls into that trap, too. CBS’s Dick Meyer wrote the following to support that idea:

    There is too much political correctness and the perpetrators rarely admit it. And nowhere is that more destructive than in talking about the emotional subject of race, a subject too often avoided for fear of offending.

    In researching the Cosby non-flap, for example, I didn’t find a column by a white writer. I’m sure there were some that I missed. But I’m also sure that plenty of white writers or editors simply avoid wading into this altogether because it is perceived to be too risky, too easy to be accused of prejudice, or meddling. (I’ll get plenty of nasty mail. I’ll be called a pawn of liberal bias, a capitalist tool, and a blinkered white man with no business butting in. So what.)

    The exaggerated, scaredy-cat fear of the PC Police on the left and the Conservative Cops on the right is one of the dynamics that helps remove race — and problems of blacks in America — from the front burner of public debate: candidates don’t like to talk about it, newspapers don’t like to investigate it, columnists don’t like to write about it, network newscasts don’t like to cover it, think tanks don’t like to issue reports about it and celebrities don’t like to speak out on it. So the issues become even more buried. Pimp rap goes uncriticized. Schools stay bad.

    Your politically correct wall does more harm to blacks than black jokes. You’re no friend to black needs.

  • “Since both Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton agreed with Cosby’s concerns and he”

    THe response to Cosby’s initial outburst was hardly uniform as Michael Eric Dyson’s quite brilliant book on the subject points out. I personally saw Cosby initial, mean spirited comments as an atrtack attack against black poor peoplem, as the comedic derided of working class black linguistic strategies, suggested that DNA cards should be issued to single black mothers to identify children born outside of wedlock, and pledged full support for self-help politics.

    There’s an interesting irony about Cosby’s remarks regarding the black poor. Cosby’s career as one of America’s most successful entertainers, with the exception of his role as the Tanto-esque straight man on I Spy, was built on his use of “Black English” in comedy routines and in his other television shows. Such vernacular forms have grown out of a real struggle on behalf f African Americans to carve a speech of their own from the remnants of African languages and piercing those remnants together in the New World with extant patterns of English for the purpose of communication and survival. And yet, Cosby’s belittling of Black English in his diatribe against poor blacks seems to belie his own comic genius used even in his speech to the NAACP last summer which was, as Dyson indicated, “loaded with Ebonics.”

    I’m sorry that Jackson and Rev Al miised all of this

  • “Your politically correct wall does more harm to blacks than black jokes.”

    I think that the term politically incorrect is in some ways useful, as we all tend to know what it means when we come across it. But in Woody’s mouth it’s simply a useless idea as being “politically incorrect” gives him license to perpetuate a bunch of crude steroetypes rooted in ignnorance, attack those he sees as threast to white male priveledge all the same time refusing to broaden his narrow headed way of thinking, whilke wrapping himself in the mantle of victimhood all at the same time. Woodster, quick question, if politically correct simply means an unquestioned support of prevailing political and mainstream orthodoxy, how come we never call the dude with a “support our troops” bumper sticker on the back of his van during the time of of war politically correct? Curious.

  • Woody – you don’t know shit and just make up stuff that suits your Large White Lies. You live in your own little world. And it’s getting smaller and smaller.

    Dead Man Walking…

  • Regarding Cosby, read TaNahisi Coates’ piece in The Atlantic on Cosby. It’s balanced and doesn’t reflect kneejerk left nonsense. Cosby’s initial language was impolitic, but he was reflecting a very common concern. Even Cornel West defended Cosby’s broader points. Dyson tends to be foolish – as when he compared Tupac to Martin Luther King.

  • I thought that Cornel West was particularly vacuous, as he can be at times, when inteviewed about Cosby’s initial tirade. Even if it’s not true that he compared Tupac to King, Michael Eric Dyson still annoys the hell at times. That said the man wrote a very smart and original critique of Cosby, I’ll give him props. I’ll check out TaNahisi Coates piece over at the Atlatic, the dudes blog is now now a daily visit for me

  • The earlier poster is dead on regarding Woody’s participation here and on other blogs. HE simply ignores the subject of the thread, disrepecting Celeste efforts in the process, then attempts to stupidily hijack the thread posting all sorts of bullshit links in the processs. The post on erin’s article exemplified this behaviour. A fun, enjoyable and contenscious debate on gender, representations of race and power never really got off the ground because Woody, who clearly needs some attention, posted a series of racist jokes, went on about the pc police and most importantly, as always, made no attempt to address the subject matter.

  • reg, I won. You haven’t discounted anything that I wrote.

    Plus, I take offense at your phrase of “Large White Lies,” because that impugns on my race, which is what you meant. But, it doesn’t matter if that’s what you meant, anyway. What matters is what I claimed that you meant, as long as it’s related to race. Isn’t that what you do?

    Celeste, I’M OFFENDED that reg has attacked me on my race. Either take up for everyone or take up for none. Of course, in doing the former, you’ll sterilize your comment section–but, fair’s fair.

    – – –

    Ahmed, you can’t solve issues related to race and crime if you stop honest efforts to address them, which is what I pointed out, such as with the CBS article, and is related to the topic. You, however, chose in your last comment to make me your topic. So, who is off base here?

    On Erin’s post, the “fun and enjoyable debate” began on an earlier post when the article was broached, but reg immediately jerked his jaw and began screaming “racist!”. How can anything be fun and enjoyable if reg plays the race and victim card each time?

  • Coates on Cosby – this is the best piece I’ve read on the (minor) flap. It reflects what I percieve, since I don’t hang with black elites but am embedded in a large black family where I (constantly!) hear the entire gamut of bullshit and inspiration, as the correlation of Cosby’s perspective to the views of typical working-class black folk. The reaction of Coates’ ex-Black Panther, independent black publisher father, in particular, is telling:

  • reg, you still are avoiding the vicious investigations and attacks against Cosby by the left when he tried to help. Sure you can find people who agreed with him, but I know and you know that enough people didn’t and were happy to hurt him. He went through hell.

    But, a point of mine is that there’s no telling how many people didn’t speak out because they didn’t want to get involved in a race discussion that needed more exposure.

    And, silence helps black families exactly how?

    – – –

    Now, I am doubly offended by you, reg. It’s hard enough being a white, male, taxpaying, Protestant, Southerner who gets blamed for everything and has no special government programs for us–without you adding to my burdens. Celeste, stop him!!!!

  • Straight! I left off straight! So, I’m a straight, white, male, taxpaying, Protestant, Southerner who gets blamed for everything. Wait, I’m a small business owner, too. I’m a straight, white, male, taxpaying, Protestant, Southern, business owner, who gets blamed for everything and gets so special government programs for us. I’m conservative, too. As straight, white, male, conservative, …..

  • Woody, why in the world would I stop the ongoing foodfight that you and reg have had going for years? You both are having too much fun with it. I figure you’re both into it for its aerobic qualities.

  • Woody, you literally don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Stick to baseball and things stupid white people are capable of understanding.

  • Here’s the future President’s view on a stupid white man’s game: Reporters were assigned seats in one of two sections, one to Obama’s left, designated the “Cubs” section, and the other to his right, designated ” White Sox.” I guess Obama figured that the White House press corp is so stupid that they needed a baseball seating chart. I’d put Helen Thomas in the bullpen.

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