Was Sergio Romo’s ‘I Just Look Illegal’ T-shirt Self Mockery or Strong Pushback on Racial Profiling

Sergio Romo

Yesterday millions of people all over the world saw SF Giants pitcher Sergio Romo sporting a t-shirt that some thought was making a satirical in your face statement about racial profiling and being deemed ‘illegal‘. The shirt which read ‘I Just look Illegal‘, definitely raised eyebrows and got folks talking.

Some say Romo’s provocative t-shirt was a way of reminding people that in a day and time when many who are of Mexican descent are demonized, stereotyped and in the political and social cross hairs of those holding xenophobic outlooks, that they are in fact more often than not fellow citizens. Not only are they fellow citizens, but many have roots and family ties that run deeper to this land called America, then those doing the profiling. On various social media sites, there was many who gave props to Romo.

But many more found the shirt to be profoundly offensive and a big step backwards especially for those who have fought tirelessly to get folks to stop using the term ‘illegal’ when describing people who are undocumented..Whether it was intended or not many felt what Romo did was self mockery where he gave folks outside of immigrant communities that are frequently targeted, a license to further embrace a nasty stereotype..The concern is many who are now buying these t-shirts which are now selling off the shelves after yesterday’s widely watched parade are not getting the political context or the intended satire.

A recent article in the popular blog Think Mexican breaks down the concern many are feeling. One excerpt reads as follows;

…..Unfortunately, it was a very poor choice that sends the wrong message and validates racism and ignorance.

What does the phrase “I JUST LOOK ILLEGAL” really mean?

It’s based on the premise that there are people who are “illegal,” and thus people who “look illegal,” a term intended to dehumanize migrant workers in the United States, specifically those who make up the majority of this group, Mexicans.

By stating that one “just looks illegal,” the implicit message is that it’s okay criminalize people based on their appearance, as long as we distinguish between those who are “illegal” and those who only appear to be based on heritage and phenotype……..

The other message being sent with this shirt is that of racial self-mockery. Sergio seems to want to say: I’m Mexican, but I’m a jokester; I’m not a threat.

As we all well know, in the United States, Mexican Americans have been routinely stopped, arrested, and even deported under Barack Obama’s aggressive quota-based system of immigration enforcement. In the case of Raúl Castro, you can be a former US ambassador and governor of Arizona and still be detained by the US Border Patrol. And not just once, but several times.

Another excerpt is….

Imagine an African American wearing a shirt saying: “I JUST LOOK LIKE A MONKEY,” or a gay man wearing one that reads: “I JUST LOOK LIKE A CHILD MOLESTER.” The idea alone is absurd, as it should be. But the fact is, is that both were at one time popular slurs used to dehumanize gays and blacks, respectively.

You can read the rest of the article by clicking the link below

http://thinkmexican.org/post/34742243783/sergio-romo-i-just-look-illegal-tshirt-mockery-validates

Although not fully addressed in the article, is the two edge sword when pop culture icons and professional athletes use their celebrity to make political statements. It can be a great thing if you are in agreement with the statement. Celebrities are instrumental in shaping opinions and bringing attention to key issues.

The flipside is they can in an instance move the crowd in another direction. This is especially true if that celebrity embraces a word or phrase that folks find problematic. In the case of Romo, does he wearing this shirt overshadow the campaign to not call folks ‘illegal’? How does any of this shake out when many express  frustration and even anger when athletes and celebrities remain silent and apolitical? Was Romo being subversive?

Anyway peep the article and share your thoughts..

Mayor Ed Lee Clarifies his position on Stop & Frisk Policy In San Francisco

 

In recent days SF Mayor Ed ‘Emperor’ Lee has come under fire about his public admiration of New York City’s infamous Stop and Frisk Police..The idea that he might adapt that policy led to a series of angry denouncements, demonstrations, lots of emails and phone calls to his office. Topping all of this was this recent stinging rebuke from Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report..

MAYOR LEE’S STATEMENT CLARIFYING “STOP & FRISK POLICY”
AND SAN FRANCISCO

Mayor Ed Lee

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today issued the following statement on San Francisco and “Stop and Frisk Policy”:

“The month of June in San Francisco experienced a spike in shootings and homicides in our Southeast
neighborhoods. This is unacceptable and while I take this issue extremely seriously, I want to be clear that I
have not considered implementing a policy in San Francisco that would violate anyone’s constitutional rights or
that would result in racial profiling. I have stated that I am willing to look at what other cities are doing to
reduce gun violence, including cities like New York and Philadelphia that both have stop and frisk programs.

I have been meeting with community leaders, have attended services to meet with congregants and have met
with law enforcement about this issue. We share grave concerns about gun violence and its disproportionate
impact on communities of color and youth in San Francisco. We need to do more.

Public safety can only be achieved through collaboration and partnership between law enforcement and the
communities we all serve. Community policing and community development efforts have important roles to
play in the prevention of violence, and I will continue to meet with community leaders and faith based
organizations to advance these priorities.

I want to be very clear. As a former human rights director and civil rights attorney, I hold the individual
protections afforded to us all under the 4th Amendment as sacrosanct. As we continue our discussions to reduce
violence and get guns out of our communities, I will not support, nor will I put forward any proposal that will
violate any such protections, but I am willing to move forward with bold ideas that get to results.

I will continue to work with the community to end gun violence in San Francisco.”

7.17.12 Clarifying Stop & Frisk Policy Statement

 

Carl Dix: Connecting NYPD’s Stop and Frisk Policy w/ Trayvon Martin Case (HKR Intv)

It’s always a pleasure chopping it up w/ freedom fighter Carl Dix.. He’s dedicated to the struggle and willing to walk the walk of the things he talks. In recent months Dix along with scholar/activist Cornel West have pushed back hard on the NYPD and their infamous Stop and Frisk policy. They even put the policy on trial with plans to follow-up with similar measures in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Last year over 680k people have been stopped and searched by police. Over 85% have been Black or Brown men with less than 5% convicted of carrying any weapon or committing crime. Dix noted that currently NYPD is on pace to stop and frisk over 800k. Dix noted the root cause of this disparity is racial profiling.

Currently Dix is down in Sanford, Florida on what is part of a BAsic Bus Tour through the South. Dix reaffirmed what M1 from dead prez had told us a few weeks back, that the spirit of resistance is alive and well and very strong in Sanford which is where the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman saga is unfolding.  This is a story often overlooked by the mainstream media..

During our conversation, Dix makes the connection between the Stop and Frisk policies in NY and the current climate of vigilantism that we saw play itself out in Sanford.. You can peep that interview below..