Saturday, September 25, 2010

Guest Blogger Speaks Out Against Icing: Discriminatory Social Practice!

Racial Profiling in ArizonaImage by No Borders and Binaries via Flickr
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Icing: A Discriminatory Social Practice

Copyright 2010 by Dr. Shadrach Linscomb

One of the major reasons that women, minorities, and newcomers to Arizona have a difficult time securing a stable income and suitable housing is the discriminatory social practice referred to as “icing a person.” Many of the unjust ideologies and practices of the past, such as slavery, the notion of women being regarded as inferior to men, and the belief in white privilege, are currently alive and well in the state of Arizona.

It is truly a daily struggle for many minorities, women, and immigrants to achieve sccess and peace here. Moreover, it is also difficult for these groups to be taken seriously, and many people in them find it hard to simply enjoy life.

Here are two definitions of the discriminatory practice known as icing:

1. It is a systematic process in which an individual or a group uses personal resources, connections, money, power, and intimidation in a way to cause harm to another individual or group in an inferior status, thereby preventing that individual or group from receiving goods and services, information, career opportunities, and/or equitable treatment. The process can take place in various social settings, such as hotels, restaurants, caf├ęs, retail stores, and a host of other businesses and settings.

2. It is a social dynamic through which culture, gender, race, and even reading and speaking ability act as determinants of social treatment in society. All of these factors can negatively influence how people will be treated in various situations (i.e., in work groups, juries, classrooms, and sports teams). In other words, these factors set up people to be regarded and treated as if they were in an inferior position that is lacking in power and prestige.

Here are three examples of how the process takes place in various social settings. For instance, a minority male enters a bar after being followed around the city by a carload of white males. After that, he takes a seat near the bartender. Soon one of the white male customers, who is known in that community, gives the bartender a hint or sometimes cash to give the minority person poor service (i.e., “ice him”). But it does not stop there, as the rest of the males in that group will make sure that the person does not have any meaningful interactions with others. After the man goes to the restroom, one of those good old boys will tell the bartender that when the man returns, he should be treated as if he didn’t exist. A second example is having a person stand outside of the bar to prevent certain people from entering. The decision of who is allowed to enter is based on some type of negative prejudgment of a particular group of people. Or, a group of males might surround a woman who is alone to prevent her from interacting with others.

The second example involves a person who completes an application for housing in a building complex, and everything clears successfully. Somehow an older gentleman gets wind of this applicant and decides to pay the staff person at the complex to get rid of the applicant’s file. When it comes time for the individual to move into his or her place, that person’s file suddenly does not exist, which leaves the person in a vulnerable situation. Sometimes the problem can be cleared up but not without a lot of wasted time, and sometimes the file is replaced by that of another candidate who is deemed more suitable.

Yet another example takes place at a local bookstore which has comfortable seats for people to sit in when browsing books. All too many young female customers in this store are forced to sit near guys who fondle them or pressure them into giving some type of sexual satisfaction (i.e., watching them masturbate). Such sexual harassment is even done to the female employees of the bookstore. To make matters worse, some white men have taser guns which they use on women and minorities, in which cases the interaction involves especially extreme intimidation or even danger. In some of these cases, the staff are often aware of the harassment but they turn a blind eye because it is either hard to prove the abuse or they fear for their own job security or even safety. Thus, the abuse sometimes leads to women being raped or even enslaved. These types of situations often have dire consequences for the victims, though sometimes on the surface the abuse is not apparent.

The three main goals of icing are as follows: (1) to prevent the targeted person from socializing with someone who has cultural knowledge of the community, (2) to reduce that person’s chance of having economic success, and (3) to deny the person his or her civil liberties under law. Many residents of the state of Arizona consider the process of icing to be a form of modern-day slavery, as it forces a person to go through his or her daily life with an inferior status, dealing with all of the hardships that accompany this lower position. Unfortunately, this process is supported by some retail stores, social institutions, and discouragingly, a large number of people in the community at large. Therefore, wherever such a person goes, he or she is taken advantage of due to this discriminatory status in the community. Some people deem this lesser-status person to be likened to a slave or a “have not.”

No matter how many ways the perpetrators of icing may attempt to justify the practice, it cannot be overemphasized that icing violates the United States Constitution. Icing a person is a too-common social practice in the state of Arizona, and it is legally responsible for allowing racism and sexism to persist. For example, it is not uncommon for a young woman to accept being fondled by the man in the grocery store (in order to get some money) or for a mother to let her teenage daughter get into a car with a man who offers cash. In these situations, the women may not see themselves as victims because they are getting paid, despite the fact that it is still harassment and abuse.

Summary

The courts should make it unlawful for an individual or a group (perpetrator) to specifically target a person or a group (victim) in such a way that the actions negatively degrade a person’s character in public, prevent him or her from socializing with others, interfere with delivery of services from an establishment (restaurants, banks, theaters, bars, schools, etc.), or place that person in jeopardy of being taking advantage of. Often the person is referred to as being stuck in a social trap or game. This icing process is immoral because it prevents people from reaching their own potential; it negatively impacts a person’s chances of securing income; and it does not allow an appropriate social exchange to take place. Some individuals are blackballed from jobs, hotel ccommodations, and social settings. And some are followed by community members in a threatening and intimidating fashion. This social practice of icing is bad for business because it prevents customers from shopping, places a heavy burden on police officers, and allows for the status quo to be preserved. Although the situation sometimes appears harmless to the naked eye, it is actually problematic for many and truly heinous considering that it is occurring within a state that is supposed to abide by the United States Constitution. Furthermore, after a period of experiencing such mistreatment, some women and minority men start to imitate the abusive process and perpetuate it upon others. The cycle continues and continues, and occasionally minority men will also start to become abusive to women. And women who have been virtual slaves to men eventually start looking for their own slaves to entrap.

How Arizona can be so racist and sexist is not easily understood, especially when you consider that women make up about half of the population and that minorities and social programs that serve them also exist in large numbers. The process that is referred to as icing a person is a social game perpetrated by those in the old boys’ network, and it is what keeps racism and sexism in place. This daily interaction that takes place in Arizona is not always noticeable to outsiders, as everyone works hard to keep outsiders and the media from knowing the truth. However, as for the women, minorities, and immigrants who live in Arizona, they know that achieving equality and justice is a daily battle.

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Is This True? How much of it? All? I know this is not a new subject, but I trust Shadrach Linscomb and have known him for several years. I know him through his written work and to me, that is a very important way to get to know somebody...He has seen this and knows enough to feel a need to write about it! Have you additional information on this important issue? It seems we are going backwards in America...please provide further information or links regarding this issue! GB
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