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Roger Farinha

Founder, New American Spring

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What is the scope of subtle racism in America today?

I just came back from seeing the film "Lincoln" in the movie theater today. In the movie previews before the feature, I saw a trailer on the hunt for and killing of Osama Bin Laden-- for the movie "Zero Dark Thirty." I noticed how there was no feature of President Obama whatsoever in the film trailer, much less a prominent feature, as he is entitled to have, given his pivotal role in the feat. I intuitively realize this is a form of subtle racism, as some "military people" don't like the idea of an African American commander in chief.

Is my intuition right? What are the forms of subtle racism in America today?

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  • Nov 22 2012: Would you say that any movie that was published during the presidency of Obama that does not include any reference to him is a sign for racism?

    And the presidents role (whoever that would habe been, Obama or anyone else) in the hunt for bin Laden was a very small one, if not the smallest. So small, that he is not part of the movie. What should they have shown? Obama reading papers, signing papers? Starring at screens that show the killing of a terrorist?
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      Nov 22 2012: No. Obamma making a decision so profoundly significant to his very presidency, that he must have been in a grinder. Racist people keep wanting to ignore that Obama fought a hard and uphill battle to become president, so that he can make a difference in our world. And all of it was put on the line for this one call. If he was mistaken, he would have surely been defeated in the 2012 election.
      • Nov 22 2012: What exactly do you mean by that?

        By the way, racists have absolutley no problem with minorities killing each other, it entertains them, because it has an ironic element seen from the perspective self-announced non-racist give the minorities, to be only pure and good.

        What i mean is, Obama is not in the movie because he simply is not part of the stories core. His campaign or life or whatever has nothing do deal with the hunt for bin Laden, that all began before his time.

        It is like making a movie about the states lottery and complaining that not every jackpot winner has his five seconds of fame in this movie. Simply because they are not really part of the story that is told. If Person X won, or Person Y does not matter, if you want so, anyhow anyone knows that lottery winners are elementary needed for a lottery system. Like a President is elementary needed for the united states state system. But who that is? Nah, unimportant to tell, if you make a movie about lottery or organized army killings.

        Obamas role would have been important if he had made a diffrence, if he did anything else than what he did. At all, he did what every president before did (and maybe after does),he killed some states enemy. Of course he could not re-invent the wheel, and the jobs has duties. But really, if Bush still sat in his chair, or now Obama, i see no diffrence. So i think that is why he is no part of the movie, because they wanted to tell a story of the hunt, that simple.
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          Nov 22 2012: If a white president made the call, he would have a prominent and dramatic scene in the movie, and especially the trailer, that simple. No manner of arguments can keep down this basic intuition. The movie shows that it caters to the white supremacist military blind patriotic sentiment in America, one of the species of subtle racism...

          But I'll defend to the death your right to disagree, lol...
  • Nov 21 2012: There are racists in our country. Some admit to it, some do not. Some celebrate it, some are ashamed by it.

    I doubt you can find a country in the world where racism does not exist. Similarly I doubt you can find a country in the world that has done as much to try and eradicate racism as the US. However, race is one of many factors that create differences in people that are influential in how others see them. Others include age, gender, weight, religion, dress, income, beauty, language, health, education, etc. All of these factors are involved in human interactions where perceptions, body language and intuition are applied. Perception and intuition are based on experience, beliefs, values and many other things. There will always be a set of personal criteria used to make judgements and decisions about other people. It is part of life.

    If we send a message that inequality in any form is not to be tolerated by government, laws, or structured human interactions, we are sending a clear message that this sort of behavior is wrong. Eventually, this message should evolve more thoroughly in individuals. It will take a lot of time to remove biases learned in the home at an early age. Hopefully, time will dissipate these biases.

    There is a back-lash to this effort however. There are people that put this issue above all others and create an environment of fear relative to dealing with inequalities. For example, if you know you can say or do something wrong that others might perceive as being unfair to some sub-group, or choose to not be associated or involved with this sub-group, the least risky position is non-involvement. This position is particularly apparent when the political climate chooses to amplify the stakes. For example, there are employers that might choose to sacrifice an employee making an innocent remark or action. There are also those that use this organizational fear of inequality to their advantage.

    Subtle inequality or inequality fear mongering?
  • Nov 21 2012: Roger,
    For political purposes, it is very possible Mr. Obama himself did not want his name associated with something he might never be able to take back because some of his own constituency might use it against him as well as Republicans.
    Because it is a movie, a financial decision may have played a major role here as well.

    That being said, I think the leadership of America sort of had to go "subtle" to survive but still are devout racists to the core.
    Racism has been fought and defeated in some ways but what remains is the subtle racism that is so subtle at times, that people would swear to you, me and to themselves that they aren't racist, but they are. OR that it doesn't exist, but it does. And it is in practically everyone as a concept. In Latinos, Blacks, Whites, Asians and so on.
    It is still the white race who has the power to use their race to keep others down.
    If other races do that, and it does happen in different kinds of situations, then it is racism against whites in a way.
    The rest of it has to be mere survival against a giant of a racist engine that is racing out of control.

    They continue to kill people of color, people of poverty, using poor people to do the killing of other poor people and unbelievably, THAT sort of thing seems to be subtly hidden from the conscious minds of those Americans (of all colors), who are doing pretty well compared to the rest, who are struggling mightily.

    So yeah, it does exist and it is weird, that what isn't subtle is somehow, subtly missed.
    And what is subtle, when pointed out, is widely hissed at.
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    Nov 29 2012: I expect the movie will feature prominently the commander in chief. In the two-minute trailer they're trying to show the most exciting part, which isn't going to be a guy behind a desk in a shirt and tie. I'll bet you the director, Kathryn Bigelow, is a liberal and voted for Obama (not that it's a bet we're likely to resolve).
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    Nov 24 2012: What subtle racism? The administration is openly asking for it. It has declared class warfare, and brough racial issues back to the front line as a effort to further divide America. Like a magician if I direct your attention elsewhere I can continue to amaze you.

    If you think that racism is the biggest issue facing America today then you have drank way to much koolade. By redirecting our attention the economy was never a real issue in the debates. The very fact that the Constitution and federal laws clearly outline the action that needs support was totally ignored in order to garner votes is sickening. If you do not consider pandering for votes unethical then what is?

    The military, like all federal agencies, are concerned about one thing .... budget. If you read anything else into that trailer then you are being mislead, in my opinion. I doubt that history will now refer to president as white Washington and black Obama. I would hope that history would say president Washington and president Obama.

    Don't concern yourself with giving credit to Obama .... he made it a political battle cry that HE killed Osama.

    Bob.
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    Nov 24 2012: I'd like to think your intuition is wrong, Roger, although I admit I'm not sure. Hollywood moviemakers are pretty liberal, so they might be quite inclined to praise the African-American president. Therefore, if he doesn't appear, there might be some other reason. Possibly they might be trying to "tease" you, for example, if you were really interested in Obama's role in catching Bin Laden, and you didn't see any mention of it in the trailer, you might be drawn to see the whole movie, and plunk down your ten or fifteen bucks. Or maybe they wanted to make an exciting trailer, and they think scenes of the military operatives are more interesting, "exciting," dynamic, than scenes of a man in a shirt and tie in an office.

    I slightly doubt that too many military people have strong negative feelings about Obama being black. Many black people serve in the military, don't they? It's more conceivable to me that military people might not like Obama's politics, but I don't know whether that's true. In any case, the filmmakers ultimately control the trailer's content, not the military. I would guess Obama has a substantial role in the actual film.

    Perhaps there is a celebration here of the military. After all, Obama may have taken some political risks in ordering this mission, but the military operatives actually risk their lives, risk being shot and killed.
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      Nov 24 2012: What celebration of the military wouldn't prominently feature their commander in chief? They did prominently feature that "Jen" woman who made the intelligence call about Bin Laden though...
  • Nov 22 2012: Roger,

    I have just read your two questions and the comments, I specially paid attention on your comments.. Well it let me to go through your profile...

    What you wrote in your profile and what you say in comments they all together don't match with your profile picture.
    This is more non-verbal communications' approach. I just wonder what was going on in your mind when you decided to represent yourself in this way. I am over ten years into business world and I haven't come across any organisational founder representing him/her self in this way.

    you want us to talk with you about improving world, would you be kind to remind me when was last time that world was improved with guns in people's hand?

    If you truly believe in improvement, what exactly stops you from singing a positive song, the moon is bright, man.

    you stick me more as a MS13 member than any Good Idea Tank! I bet, you won't be next Martin Luther King, nor Gandhi, not to mention Ernesto Che Guevara.

    cheers
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      Nov 22 2012: Did you consider that maybe because I am what I write, authentically, that I have the boldness to put such a picture on my profile-- to teach my fellow human beings that we ought to listen to one another, not judge one another by our looks?

      For in our culturally relativistic world, I may attempt to look the most respectable, but some person of some persuasion would see me not so positively.

      Fight therefore the tendency to pre-judge, rather than try to find an impossible, neutral image...
      • Nov 22 2012: Gentleman,

        I thank you for your explanation. we all have all the rights to do what we think it is right to us. however you chose that picture it was your absolute choice.

        " I am what I write," - that's what everybody says

        "to teach my fellow human beings " - the only human being you can teach is your own self, but no one else, You can't teach a soul a thing if they do not want to learn. ( I give you a free teaching tip: Find out what the other fellow wants to learn and then do you best to teach if you know the subject)

        "For in our culturally relativistic world," - in our multicultural world we are judged by our appearance: and we judge others by their appearance, we want it or not, it is already in our blood, it is tattooed on our blood cells, we can't get rid of it. sorry to disappoint you: Welcome to 21st century

        " I may attempt to look the most respectable, " - Maybe, in your own world but not to me, there is nothing respectable I can see while I am looking at this picture.

        "but some person of some persuasion would see me not so positively." - I am from different ethnicity and different persuasion , how can I see you more positively ?

        Happy Thanksgiving!
      • Nov 22 2012: Roger,

        you might not be judged for your looks, but for your pose. And posing with a gun in your hand leads to negative connotations all over the world, as a gun means danger to anyone who is not holding it.

        Also a gun indicates that one is not able to protect himself by his own hands, what makes you appear weak and suscpicious to most mature and adult people.

        There might be a reason for this picture, a noble context, whatever. People will not know, they see just the picture and the pose.
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          Nov 22 2012: I was just showing off my Henry .22 Golden Boy rifle, lol. I'm an intellectual but I've recently developed a liking for guns just like a toy. Also, I suppose it makes me interesting enough at first glance for people to pay closer attention to my conversations. I'll change it back to my serene look now...
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    Nov 22 2012: You look like a racist: white man, buzz cut, holding gun. Subtle or not so?
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      Nov 22 2012: Look at my history of conversations and say again. I'm actually the first Hispanic Redneck in North Florida, lol...
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    Nov 21 2012: There are racists in the US (just as there are cultural chauvanists in other parts of the world), but the fact that an African-American has been elected for two terms shows that America is not neccessarily a racist nation. People, irrespective of their race, are still respected for their competence, patriotism and contributions to national development.
    Evil has a way of looming seemingly larger than it really is. when a plane crashes, it usually seem as if flying is like going to a warzone; and a few murderers in a city of millions would make it seem as if there is one in every building.

    As for trailers: it's all about the direction of the film campaign, and certain specifics of the marketing process. Clips that are going to encourage the target audience to see the film are chosen with the aim of telling the audience quite a bit in a matter of seconds. It usually begins with clips that identify the main characters and conflicts, followed by shorter clips that identify some of the more dramatic moments of primary action(of course without giving anything away).
    Trailers have a typical pace and flow that you dont find in narrative editing; it is a material from the film, presented with immediacy and urgency.
    So, it's about the product and the audience and what works.
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      Nov 22 2012: So, it's about the product and the audience and what works.

      Your sentence here might even make my point. The audience which is targeted must surely be what I call the "mindless patriotic," those who yell "America, America will kick your ass!" without necessarily believing in the true greatness of America-- that all men are created equal.

      This audience is precisely the one that resents a black man leading the "Kick Yar Ass" machine...
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    Nov 21 2012: Truth is, racism is a species of spiritual pride in human beings. This pride can be defined as the desire to be better or superior to one's fellow human beings, either in oneself or as a special group, in order to command more of the privileges and resources of our world; understanding that all human beings are equal competitors (or equally entitled to our world's good things). This also entails a desire to be more god-like.

    I speak much about the creative and communal (noble) and joyous aspect of human nature. Racism and classism and all such discrimination are a perversion of our noble aspect-- that which accepts that the good of our world belongs to all in equal dignity.

    Each of our aspects can be perverted, where the essential perverting influence is the turning inward, or away from our human family. But when we turn outward toward our fellow human beings, all our natural aspects turn to human virtues.
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    Nov 21 2012: Hopefully Feyisayo, who is a film-maker, will review the film trailer and be able to give excellent insight into how the decision is typically made as to what to capture there.

    In terms of prejudice on the basis of race, religion/belief, nationality, age, occupation, sexual orientation... people the world over retain subtle and not-so-subtle prejudices.
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    Nov 21 2012: Racism is still very much alive in the South. I moved south last year, and am stunned by the rabid hate that is always cloaked by code words. In politics, these words are "urban", "welfare", "takers", "moochers", "birth certificate" and the like, even though the evidence shows that their opinions are incorrect.

    My neighbor vehemently denies being racist, (she ardently tells me that when she lived in Ohio, she even played golf in a league with a black woman), but when probed about her venomous hatred of Obama, it turns out that he doesn't "look" presidential, and that she can't stand looking at his "blue lips". She is ashamed for America whenever she sees him. She hates Mrs. Obama as much as the president. I was stunned to find that this was not an uncommon view. When I suggest that this is just racism, I am rebutted with the same ferocity that my neighbor feels when she sees those blue lips.

    Apparently, in the USA, it's OK to be racist as long as you don't admit that you are one.
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    Nov 21 2012: There's certainly no shortage of racism in America (e.g. Clinton didn't have to publicly release his birth certificate in order to satisfy "The Trump"), but I'd be more inclined to think that this instance had more to do with selling tickets. I'd venture that some viewers might see it as [movie praising current administration] if it mentioned Obama's involvement in the trailer to the movie, and the producer decided that to be an unnecessary risk to sales. Of course, if there was no mention of him in the actual movie, I'd be much more convinced.