Sunday, September 11, 2011


This was the sign held up by Kirtland High School students and their parents (according to all media reports) to taunt the losing Harvey High School team at the end of their recent football game in Ohio.

In the week since, the Ohio NAACP condemned the sign as "racial and ethnic intimidation."

Now we see the media equivalent of "You Mad Bro?" as media and bloggers engage in a campaign to discredit the Ohio NAACP as "race baiters" while excusing the race-baiting actions of those Kirtland students and parents as "bad sportsmanship".

However, in their rush to whitewash this incident as one of bad sportsmanship devoid of any racialization, they have failed to report the environmental / social context in which this "You Mad Bro?" drive-by assault occurred.

Not usually included in the reporting about this incident is the fact that Kirtland High School has a 98% white student population and is located within a white (99.1%) enclave.

Nor does the media usually include the fact that Harvey High School's student population is 53% students of color.

Nor does anyone really bother to mention that Painesville OH, where Harvey High School is located, has a higher representation of Afrikan Descendant and Latino residents than other areas of the state.

Nor do those reporting feel it important to mention the stark economic contrasts between the privileged Kirtland High students and the challenged Harvey High students. Media reports do not mention that in Painesville OH, people of color are experiencing a high level of poverty, with 31% of Afrikan Descendant and 50% of Latino residents classified as "living in poverty" by the state nor that 83% of the student population at Harvey High School are eligible for free lunches. (All data from,, and

Only the most determined, pugnacious, willfully blind will deny what this means in terms of the vulnerability of Harvey High students to being stereotyped racially, economically, educationally, in the media, and by their white Kirtland High peers. And the "You Mad Bro?" sign clearly shows how well that message has been learned by these young Kirtland students.

If this were only a case of bad sportsmanship, they could have used any of a number of slogans that did not hint of racial/cultural appropriation and micro-aggression. Instead, they went straight to the heart of it, as their racial inheritance and racial history dictated, and as their familial and societal institutions supported.

And now their actions are being shielded and co-signed as officials, media, and bloggers coddle and protect them, hide them behind a "youth are post-racial" banner, and excoriate NAACP officials for "making this a racial issue" -- right, as if THAT were the egregious offense! -- when what the NAACP is doing is calling a racial micro-aggression exactly what it is.

"You Mad, Bro?"

About this? Yes, I am. And you ought to be, too.

Moving Forward,



  1. Adar, excellent points as usual. In reading some of the general media descriptions of the incident it occurred to me how oblivious we (whites) are to our mass appropriation of Black language, music, style, etc. There is a general sense in the articles that the word "bro" belongs to "all of us." Also they seem to be missing the fact that this phrase itself originated in a racial context (see below).
    Cam’ron To Bill O’Reilly: You Mad

    April 19, 2009 @ 12:52 am › Sandy Gholston

    I love this older appearance of Grammy nominee Cam’ron and producer Damon Dash on The O’Reilly Factor. Bill O’Reilly is anti-rap music and rarely misses an opportunity to take a shot at it. Other kinds of music as well as movies have offensive lyrics and images, but O’Reilly says little about that unless they show they are liberal and then he attacks them (for being a liberal). This show is funny because Cam’ron and Dash clearly are smarter than O’Reilly anticipated and acquitted themselves well on the set in this debate about rap music. O’Reilly several times (as well as the other guest, an elementary school educator) become frustrated by their inability to portray rap more negatively and to have Dash and Cam’ron come across more negatively as role models.

  2. Sorry, but the students who made the sign frequent such sites as,,,, and etc. Racism is an issue, but not in this case. Most "racism" isn't even racism except when the black people, yes I say black because they are the ones who cry loudest, decide to declare it as such. They, as a statistic, have been shown to be more racist than whites.

    People who find everything racist just live no life and try to find misery in just about everything. I don't care about what race you are. I bash people and their utter ignorance over stupid things such as this. If that school wanted to be "racist", they would have donned white hoods and held up nooses.

    Also, past uses of words change very frequently in today's society. You can change the meaning of a word or picture very easily by having the public see it as something than what it was, e.g. the Swastika.

    To sum this up, I like fried chicken, watermelon, and grape drank.

    U mad bro?

  3. No, not at all (smile), but I do urge you to pick up a book or two (or three. . .) and really educate yourself regarding structural and institutional racism in America. That way we can have a real conversation about it.

    Moving Forward,