Why Journalist Mike Elk can’t compare Emmett Till to Woody Allen, duh, and why he needs to apologize.

Yesterday, February 27, Mike Elk initiated a Twitter conversation about what he termed as the public trial of Woody Allen, accused of molesting his step-daughter Dylan Farrow. He was troubled by the public nature of discourse and what he perceived as unfairness towards Allen. Whatever – this is not where the trouble arises. At some point in his Twitter conversation, someone said that maybe Woody Allen doesn’t deserve the benefit of a doubt. He replied with this Tweet.


The Tweet was subsequently deleted, but let’s parse this out. Mike Elk is equating the systemic, white violence against Blacks in the South to (wait for it) DYLAN Farrow. A girl, now a woman, who said her step-father molested her. Wait. What? That can’t be true can it? Ok, so he says that by not giving Woody Allen’s the benefit of a doubt is like giving the accusers of Till(White, racist, lynch mob, police, the whole damn Jim Crow South)  a benefit of a doubt. Woah. (besides offensive it just doesn’t make sense.)

So if Dylan Farrow is like the Jim Crow South then who the hell is Woody Allen?? Emmett Till. Yep, this so called “journalist” just compared Woody Allen to Emmett Till. Remember when Emmett won his lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes? Yeah, me neither. Remember when Woody Allen was found dead, his eye gouged out, and thrown in a river as a 14 year old boy? Yeah, me fucking neither.

Ok, so Mike Elk was dead wrong while Tweeting. It can happen – maybe not so spectacularly as this – but well, anyway he saw the errors of his ways and apologized, right? Right?? NO, he tweets this, as some sort of correction:

Mike Elk (@MikeElk)
@williamcander just did the research and I confused him with other black men lynched on false rape charges, it was just flirting.

So Mike Elk thinks the problem is that he got the details of Emmett Till’s murder wrong, the details of the accusations wrong?? Oops, Till was accused of looking at a white girl the wrong way not rape. So if Mike Elk believes that if had used the name of a Black man who was lynched and accused of rape then it would have been ok. Details details. He is missing the fact that he is comparing the terrorism of White systemic violence against 1000’s of Black men, women, and children to an open letter from Dylan Farrow. It is ludicrous. It is reprehensible that a JOURNALIST can be walking around with his head so far up his ass that he can’t see his mistake. I have no other way to describe his white, male privileged attitude.

 So Mike Elk continues to defend his position by Bullying people of color. In these tweets: here.

Mike Elk (@MikeElk)
@aurabogado you’re a jerk & unethical – oh yeah attack a white guy who tries to be anti racist for statements out of context

 Which brings me to my decision to write this post. Mike Elk made a-historical and offensive tweet. He joins the countless white men that have equated lynching and murder of Black bodies to verbal attacks on white men. It’s not new but It’s offensive, Mike Elk, because it is minimizing the deaths and torture of Black bodies by saying it is the same as some hurt feelings or lost reputation of a white person. But it is one tweet, that actually doesn’t make much sense. No need to lose your entire career over it. But then you go and make it worse. You refuse to understand what you did, you refuse to apologize, you call other journalists who are people of color names and harass people of color on Twitter who tried to call you out on your bull-shit. You walk around wrapped so tight in your white, male, privilege mantle, that you can’t do the right thing. Do the right thing – Mike Elk: apologize, get some antiracism education, give more writing time to people of color journalists, write a piece about white privilege in progressive journalism.

And lastly, a Tweet from another person of color who you ignored, just show people that you were given a chance, people tried to tell you Mike Elk!

    1. @MikeElk To mischaracterize a dead Black child that sparked a nationwide movement in the name of Woody Allen is completely disgusting.


      ** A caveat: I am technologically challenged and couldn’t figure out how to take screenshots of these tweets, this is the best I could do.





Sheltering in Place school drills, DARE dogs, Fallout Shelters and the Monsters under our Beds

My children are learning how to “shelter in place” in school. In Kid’s words, “If someone with a gun comes into the school, they will say a code word on the intercom and we all go into a corner of the classroom, after my teacher locks the door.” At first, I had this moment of mourning for their loss of childhood, etc, but then I stepped back and remembered that kids throughout US history have been practicing drills for different monsters under our collective beds.

In my childhood, it was the War on Drugs and DARE (Drug Abuse and Resistance Education). I still remember the movies – kids on PCP who thought they could fly, kids high on weed who let their baby brother drown, all the while laughing hysterically.  And who can forget the commercial – “This is your brain on drugs” – a sizzling fried egg!~ One of my earliest memories of school is of the DARE bear, or was it a dog? I looked it up, turns out it was a lion?? A policeman and his DARE bear met with us every few months to tell us the dangers of drugs and urge us to turn in our parents if we caught THEM doing drugs. “Just Say No kids!” My kids have heard very little about the dangers of drugs and certainly have never seen a DARE bear. They HAVE learned about the dangers of obesity and Kid #2 always asks, “Am I burning calories? or Is this calories? as she takes a bite of food.” (This DOES NOT come from us, we don’t believe in the body shaming/dieting fad of our culture).

During WWII kids in schools practiced diving under tables in case the Axis powers conducted an air raid. In the 60’s – 80’s the cold war with Russia had us all looking for fallout shelters or building them in our back yard.

I guess my point is that in the moment our fears and anxieties seem very real and terrifying. After Sandy Hook, our schools appear to be nightmares of possible gunmen and murder. According to media, our children all more obese than ever so we should teach our kids about calories. Gunmen in schools, childhood obesity  – these are our children’s monsters under the bed. But in other generations, their monsters also seemed very real and terrifying – drugs, nuclear warfare, German airraids. Today, the monsters of the past look small, even quaint. Or they, themselves, were the actual things we should have feared. The WAR on drugs has arguably done more damage than drugs – the mass incarceration of a whole generation have destroyed families and communities. It also distracted us from what we really should have been fighting – the growing inequality, the failure of trickle down economics, for instance.

My question is  – if this is true, the monsters of the past were just distractions or worse- then maybe our monsters of today aren’t the ACTUAL monsters. Yes, a lone gunman did enter a elementary school and committed a terrifying act and thereby entered all parents’ nightmares. But he was also a child himself, who had long suffered from mental illness and his parents’ hadn’t been able to find him help. Maybe the real monster is the failure of our mental health system. Maybe it is an society that glamorizes violence, guns, and a mean-spiritness that makes it ok for politicians to attack teachers, firefighters, and other public workers as the drains on society.  Yes, obesity and diabetes is on the rise among children. But Maybe the REAL monster is that parents are both working full time (which are 50-60hours a week), jobs don’t give us any time to take care of family, including cooking of healthy meals, parents increasingly rely on empty calories of McD’s dollar menus. Maybe it is the privatizing of our schools and the resulting pressure to produce high testing children and so they don’t have time for physical exercise, art, music, or other creative work.

As a parent, it feels like an exceptionally scary time to be raising children, there is a myth that times were simpler and the monsters tamer in the past. But in truth, children in our society have always been in danger, in capitalism, it’s the most vulnerable that are the least likely to survive. From Black children throughout the US history, to child workers in the factories, and even now children working in our fields, children dying at our borders, it is only the death of certain children that become a national tragedy. Our children are at risk differently, based on race, class, and gender, gender identity, sexual orientation – the fact that we help some children thrive while letting others die – that is the real monster under our collective beds. As poet Audre Lorde said:
“So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive”

But those are not the monsters that our children are being prepared for when they learn to shelter in place. 

Discovery of new Balangay “mother ship”

Givebalangay2n the name of my blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t post about this exciting discovery. As I mention in my “about” section, the Filipino word Barangay means the smallest administrative unit of government in the Philippines, like a neighborhood or barrio. It is believed that our Filipino ancestors built the ships that could take 100 or so people, and these 100 or so people became a barangay. This past August, a new, much larger balangay was found in Butuan in the Philippines. This ship pre-dates Magellan and indicates and ability to travel and trade with much of Asia – further than originally thought. Here is a link to the story http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/321334/scitech/science/massive-balangay-mother-boat-unearthed-in-butuan.

There is a lot of lost Filipino history that we, as Filipinos don’t know. As my cousin says, who grew-up in the Philippines, “we know more about American history, than our own.” Of course, this was deliberate. When the US took the Philippines as a colony, after committing genocide, killing up to 200,000 people on the island of Samar, they then began a system of killing our history and sense of ourselves as a people. They brought in American textbooks, taught English, ran the government in English. This is very similar to what the US government did here, in North America, killing the First Nations here and then banning their language and their religion and kidnapping their children to place with white families.

Just a thought as we go into the weekend, I leave you with an excerpt from Saul Williams’ poem – Amethyst Rocks

I dance for no reason, for reason you can’t dance,
call me an activist of intellectualized circumstance,
you can’t learn my steps until you unlearn your thoughts,
spirit, soul, can be store-bought, fuck thought,
leads to naught, simply leads to you trying to figure me out,
your intellect’s disfiguring your soul,
your being’s not whole, check your flagpole,
stars and stripes, your astrology’s
imprisoned by your concept of white, of self,
what’s your plan for spiritual health? Calling reality unreal,
your line of thought is tangled, the star
spangled got your soul mangled, your being’s angled,
forbidding you to be real and feel, you can’t find truth
with an axe or a drill in a white house on a hill or
in factories or plants made of steel. Selling us was the
smartest thing you ever did, too bad you don’t teach the
truth to your kids. My influence on user reflection you
see when you look in your minstrel mirror and talk about
your culture, your existence is that of a schizophrenic
vulture who thinks he has enough life in him to prey on the dead,
not knowing that the dead ain’t dead, that he ain’t got enough
spirituality to know how to pray. Yeah, there’s no repentance,
you’re bound to live in infinite consecutive executive life sentence.