They dug up a Malcolm X speech that predicted so much of what's going on today. Creepy.

For all that's changed, somehow this hasn't.

It was 50 years ago.

Whenever Americans talk about race, people can get uncomfortable. We don't want to feel like we're part of the problem, and we try in our lives not to be. But talking about it can be painful because it reminds us that there are experiences we can't fully understand because they haven't happened to us.

In this half-century-old speech, you can hear the anger and disgust in Malcolm X's voice. And it's amazing that he could've been saying this last week.


What he's talking about rings so true to us in 2015. In a democratic country "of the people," we expect police to be on our side, working with us. But recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere can shake a person's belief in the system. Malcolm X's faith in it was certainly shaken.

So let's make this stop already.

When Malcolm X gave this speech, he was speaking about an awful experience that his audiences had seen in their own lives. They'd seen it over and over and for years — it's not like this just started 50 years ago.

Maybe things are more fixable than they seem.

Really, it's hard to know how often someone is assaulted by a cop because it often occurs away from the cameras. On the other hand, there have to be thousands of cops that have great relationships with their communities. How much progress have we made, if any? We can't know. We just know that it should not happen ever, anymore, not once.

But, heartbreakingly, what Malcolm X described does still happen.

It's a turning upside-down of fairness, with the victim being the only one to suffer if investigations by law enforcement conclude that the attacker's actions don't merit prosecution. When no charges were filed against Ferguson's Darren Wilson or against NYC's Daniel Pantaleo, who took Eric Garner's life, we were stunned all over again. How can this be fair?

We can only wonder why so little has changed. Maybe it's because, while things have gotten better in broad strokes, power on a local level — being less visible — can more successfully resist change. It can get away with holding onto old abusive cultures while the rest of the country moves forward.

Our news media are no help, more interested in drama than a solution.

On one hand, it's important that these stories get told, and more news coverage is a big help.

But the way media frames it all by oversimplifying people's positions is so dangerous. Reducing the problem to the police-versus-the-world may make great TV, but it's doing real damage to our country and getting us nowhere.

There are two different cultures that see two different things.

Given what an intense job they have, it's no surprise that police don't want to be put in the position of not standing by each other, even when they don't agree with what a fellow officer has done.

But because of the unique demands of their jobs, and shared experience, police inhabit their own culture that can prevent them from seeing what everyone sees as so obvious. And at the same time, they're baffled by what we can't see that's so clear from their perspective. Cops who would never be involved in situations like these feel insulted and underappreciated.

We're stuck.

Being a cop must be really hard. You wonder why someone would go into that line of work. Some for power, sure, but probably far more to do something good.

We know we need police. We just need to be clearer as we speak out against police brutality that we can see the difference between the officers who see themselves as part of their communities and the cops who see themselves as above the people they're charged with serving.

And we need to partner with the many cops who surely want to see this brutality stop, beginning with the understanding that life looks different from different sides of a badge.

We need to stop arguing and start figuring this out.

50 years ago.

Here's Malcolm X's prescient speech.

More

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

Culture

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wikipedia

Women in country music are fighting to be heard. Literally. A study found that between 2000 and 2018, the amount of country songs on the radio by women had fallen by 66%. In 2018, just 11.3% of country songs on the radio were by women. The statistics don't exist in a vacuum. There are misogynistic attitudes behind them. Anyone remember the time radio consultant Keith Hill compared country radio stations to a salad, saying male artists are the lettuce and women are "the tomatoes of our salad"...? Air play of female country artists fell from 19% of songs on the radio to 10.4% of songs on the radio in the three years after he said that.

Not everyone thinks that women are tomatoes. This year's CMA Awards celebrated women, and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles saw the opportunity to bring awareness to this issue and "inspire conversation about country music's need to play more women artists on radio and play listings," as Nettles put it on her Instagram. She did it in a uniquely feminine way – by making a fashion statement that also made a statement-statement.

Keep Reading Show less
popular