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Racism

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The actor/artist’s janky Jamaican accent and “White Boy Summer” highlight the importance of Black people telling their own stories

Photo: Axelle/Getty Images

Chet Hanks, son of Tom Hanks, has become one of the most polarizing culture vultures across the World Wide Web. And honestly, it was kind of funny at first. You might’ve been able to laugh through dude’s cringe — dubbing himself Chet Haze and White Chocolate, roaring his best renditions of Jamaican patois. But things became much less amusing a couple weeks ago, when he declared the months following the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the United States as “White Boy Summer,” followed by the release of a music video for a song of the same name.

“I’m not talking about…


Daunte Wright’s death is yet another infuriating case of police brutality — and Biden’s response feels like politics as usual

Photo: Kerem Yucel/Getty Images

On Monday, mere minutes into my second pandemic birthday, we were all painfully reminded that turning a year older in America is a luxury that no Black man is guaranteed.

As former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial moved through its third week, another Black man’s life was stolen by law enforcement just 10 miles north of the city. His name was Daunte Wright. He was shot on Sunday night by Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter — a reported 26-year veteran of the department — during a traffic stop. He was only 20 years old.

In a news conference…


Some will say America is better than this — it’s not

Photo of an adult’s hand holding a baby’s hand.
Photo of an adult’s hand holding a baby’s hand.
Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

For the longest time, whenever my mother dreamed of a baby, she’d call me to talk about my future children. She’d describe in vivid detail the child’s mix of features, curly hair, and fat cheeks. If she saw a blonde baby, she’d ask if I was dating una rubia, or someone possessing whatever other characteristics she knew didn’t exist in me. The answer was always a resounding no. No, I wasn’t dating una rubia. No, I wasn’t even thinking about kids.

My mother still dreams of grandchildren, but their features have changed. Dirty blonde hair has become the darkest shade…


To kill a word, you first have to kill an idea

Photo: Julian Myles via Unsplash

The last time somebody called me a n****r, I was on holiday.

I’d just arrived in Skopje, North Macedonia, innocently searching for something to get the taste of airline food out of my mouth, when I heard a shout from across the street:

“Hey! You! Uh… you are n****r.”

I looked over and saw a boy, no more than 18 years old, sitting on his bike. He waited for my reaction, his foot poised on the pedal in case I decided to chase him. I hadn’t provoked him. He was half my size, his English was barely up to the…


Thirty years ago, I rolled my eyes at the trope — now I don’t

“As a Black man of a certain age, I look at Tyler differently now. I see him not as the humorous trope but as an oracle, delivering a warning of…


Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From solidarity with the AAPI community to the week in racism, from pop-culture picks to a must-read LEVEL story, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re loving what you’re reading, tell a friend to tell a friend.

As incidents of violence against the AAPI community have flared over the past year, calls to raise awareness have shifted into demands for solidarity in this heightened moment. With the recent racist attack carried out by a White man in…


When racist thugs confront me, I always stand my ground

Fist punching a red wall.
Fist punching a red wall.
Photo: Pexels

I’ve been lucky. For most of my life, I’ve taken a stand, called out cheats, and maintained a strong sense of justice. I can’t stand back and watch people get mistreated when some bigot decides to have a go.

So far, it’s yet to lead to any serious trouble.

That doesn’t mean I’m a brave person. I don’t go out of my way looking for injustice; I’m just stubborn enough not to back away.

I’ve had my fair share of shoving matches. You know the ones—a couple of stags bucking with each other while the group holds the angrier one…


Two years ago, I debated the ex-‘Good Morning Britain host — and he was exactly who you’d think

Still from a Good Morning Britain broadcast. Jeremy Heller, a Black man with a shaved head, above a chyron that says: “Developing story. Jeremy Helligar: Writer and journalist,” and in front of a blurred photo of a worried-looking Liam Neeson holding a cellphone to his ear.
Still from a Good Morning Britain broadcast. Jeremy Heller, a Black man with a shaved head, above a chyron that says: “Developing story. Jeremy Helligar: Writer and journalist,” and in front of a blurred photo of a worried-looking Liam Neeson holding a cellphone to his ear.
Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid interviewed me on ‘Good Morning Britain’ in February 2019. Photo from my personal collection.

This month, Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan clashed on air with three Black people — his colleague, Alex Beresford, and two GMB guests — over his dismissal of Meghan Markle’s charges of racism in the royal family. Royalist Morgan was determined not to let a pesky inconvenience like white supremacy spoil his whitewashed view of England’s first family. In the space of two days, he was roundly rebuked on his show by all three, ultimately quitting GMB.

Watching the trio of YouTube clips sparked an uncomfortable flashback for me. Two years ago, I had my own on-air encounter with…


A White man’s bad day is never victimless. A White man’s bad day is terror.

Captain Jay Baker, of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, speaks at a press conference on March 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Captain Jay Baker, of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, speaks at a press conference on March 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo: Megan Varner/Stringer/Getty Images

Last Wednesday, Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s department in Cherokee County, Georgia, stood in front of reporters to explain why Robert Aaron Long had killed eight people — six of them Asian women. “He was pretty much fed up,” Baker said, “and kind of at [the] end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.”

Really. Bad. Day.

Given the fact that Baker himself once released racist anti-Asian merch, his implicit sympathizing with a mass murderer wasn’t even off-brand. Still, you don’t have to be that blatant of…


When do we finally look beyond colour?

Photo: Dmitry Ageev/Getty Images

According to writer Gyles Brandreth, the average person speaks around 860,341,500 words during their lifetime. If you start talking at one and live to be 80, that’s about 30,000 words a day.

Most will be forgotten by everybody, including you, as soon as they’re out of your mouth. Others will stick around for a few weeks before drifting into obscurity. But now and then, someone says something we’ll remember for years or even generations afterward. Their words express just the right idea, in just the right way, at just the right time.

If you ask me, there’s no better example…

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