Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Josh Eastman arrested for paying child to recite racial slurs on YouTube video

Racism has flourished on the Internet. YouTube is particularly infested with this form of oppression where videos like "sparkling wiggles" present blatant racism and viral videos like Antoine Dodson smack of cultural tourism. These videos do not only perpetuate and nurture racism in humor - they encourage others to seek fame through active oppression. One such candidate for hateful celebrity, Josh Eastman of Bridgeport, CT, went so far as to actively indoctrinate a neighboring child into racism - and he's not the only one.

Eastman recorded and posted a video called "Swearing Kid" in which an eight-year-old boy swears and hurls racial slurs while being coached from off-camera. When the boy's mother caught wind of this video, she was appropriately horrified by this apparently uncharacteristic behavior from her son, who claims that Eastman paid him $1 for his grim performance. She called the police, who picked Eastman up and held him on an $2,500 bond on charges of impairing the morals of a child. Eastman said:
"If they didn't like the video they could have just asked me nicely to take it off, and I would have taken it off. They didn't have to go call the police and have me arrested for it."
Eastman felt comfortable paying their child to spew hate and promote it to the general public without asking, but he apparently expects the consideration and courtesy of a polite phone call when the offense is against him. Nice.

Racism is evil regardless of context, but training and tutoring the next generation of racists takes especial involvement in the kyriarchy. It communicates to both the children starring and the white viewers of these awful videos that they are entitled to spread racial hatred around; it harms the people of color they will interact with in childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Eastman didn't see the problem with this; he claims that the child was known for such language, and describe the video as "fun and funny". But even if Eastman didn't teach him those slurs, even if he didn't pay him a dollar - such a small sum, representing his valuation of people of color - even if he didn't indoctrinate this child into the gleeful use of racist language, Eastman was teaching the child that racism is funny, that hatred is worth reward, attention, and praise.

Though Eastman will likely stop his practice of this particular brand of hatred, this video was not an isolated incident. While searching for this and the "sparkling wiggles" referenced above, I found a huge number of other children being encouraged to say racist things by friends, family, whomever. Many of these videos, including Eastman's, are taken down by YouTube administrators, but more simply pop up in their place.

The children in these videos are not learning the ideals of the postracist society the US sometimes brags of; instead, these young people, the douchebags like Eastman capturing their learning experience, and the people who watch, enjoy, and send on these videos are actively promoting and perpetuating white supremacy.

source: one two three four five six seven

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  1. Disgusting. Things like this make educating the next generation even tougher.

    Not only has Eastman taught this child that bigotry is funny and innocuous, but he has sent an equally toxic message to children of color. How would a young person of color feel while watching his sickening video? What does it do to someone when their oppression is played for laughs? Eastman never thought of that (or never cared).

  2. Yeah what that man did was messed up for encouraging the kid, but the mother's reaction is far more problematic to me. Instead of holding her child responsible and recognizing that he HAS A PROBLEM and NEEDS intervention before he becomes a raging racist, she is defending him and claiming that he basically had nothing to do with the words that came out of his own mouth. He was NOT a 2 year old. He was old enough to know better, and she should have taught him by now not to use this type of language. Sorry, but the mother gets a HUGE fail from me!

  3. Joanna, that's a completely unfair assumption. We have no idea how the boy's mother disciplined him, nor should we. All we know is that she was reported Eastman to the police, which is fair and reasonable and responsible.

    This boy is a CHILD, and the burden belongs on the person who incited and encouraged his behavior - not him, and especially not his mother. Mothers are constantly faulted for not doing enough or not parenting the "right" way, and there is no reason to refocus blame on her.
    Making conclusions about her "failure" as a parent is completely unwarranted based on the evidence presented.

  4. To clarify, I am NOT blaming her for his words on the video... I am blaming her for DENYING that her son bears ANY responsibility.

  5. Joanna, she said nothing of the sort. Here is what she has said, on the record:

    "“It's terrible what he did," she said. "This isn't my son. He would never say anything like that, and now it's out there for everyone to see."

    "My boyfriend's sister saw it on the computer and was totally shocked and told us about it," the boy’s mother told the Post. "Here my son is saying, for everyone to see, these things that are disgusting," the mother said. "I've been receiving calls all day from friends who saw it."

    She expresses disgust that he son would say such things, and expresses rage at the person who PAID him to do this and then posted it for the world to see. She suggest that it is unlike her son - this is not a denial of responsibility, just an expression of shock and disgust.

    None of this suggests that she did not discipline her son, did not talk to him about appropriate language. None of this suggests "fail". How is her action "far more problematic" than the actions of a GROWN MAN who pays and tapes a CHILD to spew racial slurs, and then puts it out there like it's FUNNY? How, exactly, is reporting this dude worse than what this guy actually did?

    The eight-year-old CHILD who was influenced by an older adult is not exactly the person to direct blame to in this situation. He should have shown better judgement, but you know what? He' EIGHT. Nor is his mother responsible. You know who is? The thirty-four-year-old MAN who uses his influence and responsibility as an adult to persuade an 8-year-old to say racial slurs and then put it on the Internet as a joke.

    -edited for clarity, 9 pm-

  6. I don't know if you didn't receive it or chose not to publish it, but I sent a whole previous comment to this. Saying that "this isn't my son" and that "he wouldn't say anything like that" tells me she is suffering from severe denial. Sounds like the parents of EVERY bully in every elementar school... "Oh, my kid only did it because someone else told him too"...but that doesn't make it hurt any less. And by telling the media that this IS NOT HER SON, and DENYING HIS RESPONSIBILITY, she is implicitly condoning his behavior. Don't you think that he is going to look at what his mom says to the media and realize that she is NOT holding his responsible for his actions at all. I am NOT saying that the man who encouraged him is not responsible. But, her words imply that she is totally negating the fact that her son did, indeed say the things he said. And by placing ALL of the blame of the man, and NONE on her son in the media, she is encouraging her son to deflect responsibility as well.

  7. Seems like she is more upset that people HEARD her son say what he said then she is that he said it in the first place... YES, it is awful that a grown man encouraged him, but the mother should recognize that she needs to intercede NOT tell her son it is ok, because it was not his fault. She needs to let him know his actions were NOT acceptable no matter WHO encouraged him, and by her words REEK of denial in my opinion.

  8. @ Joanna,
    I'm going to have to concur with what everyone else said. Admittedly the child could have shown better judgment, but that absolutely doesn't tell you anything about his mother. What you wrote is, frankly, appalling - I fail to see how a parent who, appropriately horrified at what she found, reported the man who abused his power over her child to commit a crime is worse than that man. Your reaction is pretty conveniently in line with what the majority of western society would say, too - of course it's the mother's fault, right?!

  9. She says that her son would not do these things on his own, but then she acknowledges he did say these things.

    I don't see her denying responsibility. It is obvious that Eastman paid this boy and coached him from off-camera. What is not obvious is that she denies all responsibility when she acknowledges he was on the video saying those words. We also do not know if he's been disciplined and I suggest that it's really not anyone's business but the family's if he has been punished.

    And I think it's kind of sidetracking to start focusing on actions you assume the mother didn't make when we already have a guy who clearly and obviously did something wrong by paying this boy to say those toxic things. I am far more concerned about cis white men who are trying to teach young children how to be toxically racist and prejudiced than I am about whether mothers are punishing their children to my satisfaction.

  10. LOL... sounds to me like you all want to (appropriately) blame the man who influenced the child WITHOUT placing ANY responsibility on OTHER factors as well... kind of convenient... precisely the reason why people grow up and say it is not their fault they are racist, someone else INFLUENCED them to be that way. I NEVER SAID THE MAN WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE. I simply said that the woman needs to ADMIT THAT HER SON IS RESPONSIBLE AS WELL.... when he is 14 and commits a hate crime under the influence of a 21 year old friend because he was never corrected will she lay all the blame on someone else as well???? And by the way, the "western tendency" to me seems to be to deflect ALL responsibility to an outside force instead of accepting that SOME OF IT lies with the child as well, as it appears this mother (and the commenters on this thread) want to do!

  11. @Joanna

    I think the point you are missing is that we are talking about an 8 year old boy. Even if you tell a child that certain words are bad they often have problems differentiating why. They need to be taught the history of racism to fully comprehend the difference between using a slur and calling someone stupid. They don't see that there is a difference in the weight of their words.

    The idea that his mother is in denial is unfair. I would like to know why you fixated on her when it takes two people to make a baby. Why is the mother always to blame for everything?

  12. I only mention the mother Renee because she is the one who was interviewed and made the statement which, to me, was denying her sons responsibility. I just wish she had said, "Yes, what my son said was awful and I told him to never say that again, no matter who tells him to say it" instead of saying "This is not my son, he would never say anything like that" when he obviously did. But, yes, I would hope both parents, in fact, ALL of the adults in his life would let him know that HE IS RESPONSIBLE as well, and should never use that language again. Maybe that HAVE told him that, but the message that is being given to the media is one of denial (imo)

  13. Joanna, you're the one who zeroed in on the mother and suggested that what she did was worse than Eastman. We have no idea whether the mother talked to her child about what he said and taught him about more appropriate language. As Lisa pointed out, her reaction to this doesn't suggest denial - it suggests horror, which is completely appropriate and to me suggests that she is going to go on to teach her child more appropriate language. I don't know why you're demanding evidence that she's punishing her child enough, but it's policing her parenting and that's not okay.

  14. Joanna,

    the woman does admit her son is responsible. But she also admits he was influenced to do this.

    An 8 year old child simply does not have the same ability to determine whether something is wrong as an adult does. This is why we do not try children as adults when they commit most crimes.

    I do not believe in deflecting responsibility for one's actions, and I do not believe that I am deflecting the mother's responsibility to deal with what her son did, nor her son's responsibility for doing it. I simply do not believe that you can really determine that she has somehow shirked that responsibility by expressing her shock and outrage to the media.

    And I agree with Renee about both the way 8 year olds view words and this: The idea that his mother is in denial is unfair. It seems like she has to take extra responsibility for what happened even though she was not directly involved and notified the police as soon as she found out. Aside from expecting to have access to the inner workings of her family, what really do you expect to be announced to the press about her son's culpability for the video?

  15. This is a family dealing with a stressful situation. Her priority was not making sure that everyone knew she knows her son shouldn't say those words - it was to express horror, defend her son, and get an awful influence out of his life. I can't fault her for that.

    And what Renee said - this child is eight. The onus of responsibility is on the adult who pressured and persuaded a child to make detestable statements for his own amusement.

  16. @joanna

    Did it not occur to you that media constantly informs and promotes misogyny? Why didn't they question his father? Where is the father in his life. These are absolutely relevant questions if we are talking about the upbringing of a child. Blaming mothers is what do because it obscures our communal failure to provide children with the resources they need. Mothers have it tough enough without complete strangers thinking that they can sit in judgment without offering any kind of positive support.

  17. You are right Renee... and no, it did not occur to me, I will admit. I tend to focus on one issue (racism) almost entirely to the exclusion of others, which I admit, is probably not the healthiest thing to do. Not that I actively go out to encourage discrimination in other areas, I am just not as aware as I should be, and I appreciate you pointing that out to me.

  18. Did my other comment not come through or was it denied? Please let me know?

  19. I can't agree with the idea that the mother somehow owes the public an explicit statement about anybody taking responsibility for anything. Publicly, I defend my child, my partner, my friends. Privately, if they've done something that warrants a discussion, I'll do that -- but it would be awful of me to then publicly castigate them for that. And the fact that I don't crow in public after I talk to my child about something in private doesn't mean I'm in denial, it means I have *boundaries*, and people calling for the mother of this child to be anything but 100% supportive of him in public are showing a serious lack thereof.

    As a culture we've made a pastime of judging other people's parenting from afar, and the mother *can't win*. As soon as you're a mother in public, you're judged. Harshly. @Joanna, that's all I see you doing here.

  20. I haven't rejected any of your comment, Joanna. Blogger's comment system can be a little less than reliable.

  21. OK, RMJ... thanks for letting me know... :) Anyway, I will try to sum up what I said again.

    First I wanted to apologize for my abrasive tone in earlier comments. I am not trying to say that this man is not responsible for influencing this child. However, in my opinion, I see WAY TOO MUCH blame deflection going on by parents. Yes, MOST OF the blame belongs with this man. But, by saying "this is not my son" and "he would NEVER say this" I feel like the mother is denying her sons responsibility. Even if she is simply defending him to the media, when it comes to racist words, that is the last thing that is needed. I would have liked to have heard her (or the father) say "Yes, this was awful that my son did this, and I WILL speak to him about this" I feel like even if she DOES have a conversation with him privately, her words of (to me) denial in the media will influence him to believe it was OK. And while it may not be our place to police the actions of other parents, racism is so abhorrent to be that I simply cannot think, "oh, well, let her handle it as she sees fit" It is a similar situation with bullying. If a kid is pulled into the principals office for bullying another child and their parent defends them to the principal, all of the conversation in the world at home is not going to convince the child that he was wrong since his parent denied his responsibility when it really counted. That is all I am saying. I was wrong to say SHE was more wrong than the man who encouraged him to say the words in the first place. But, it worries me that a child who makes racist statements on camera at age 8, and is defended (in my perception) by his parents may grow up to be 14 and commit a hate crime with the excuse that "my friends told me to do it".

  22. @Joanna

    Have you never been surprised at the actions of another? Children make mistakes, and that is a large part of how they learn. A mistake is not necessarily a reflection of the kind of parenting a child is receiving. I also feel the need to point out that the constant suggestion that parents deflect blame is erroneous. Parents are constantly taken to task, even when it is a situation that is clearly beyond their control. This is a reflection of the anomie that has become pervasive. We give lip service to caring about children or believing that they belong in a special class, but we really don't care about their well being. The very nature of the way that our society is structured allows adults to abdicate their social responsibility towards children on every level. Children are born into a discourse that informs their life path. This structure was not solely created by the people that bore this child and it is certainly not maintained by them alone. You cannot criticize a parent without taking the time to criticize society because no one and no circumstance is outside of discourse.

  23. Renee... I guess this is one of those cases where that phrase I dread most in life applies: You don't HAVE a child yet, so you don't understand! (and I have to explain, the reason it bothers me so much is because I have been trying for many years to have a child without success) I guess I can have all of these ideas of how I would handle a situation with my child, but until it actually comes up, I will not know for sure (please everyone, do not jump on me for commenting on people's parenting styles without being a parent, the fact that I am not a parent is a VERY DIFFICULT subject for me) So, I will adjust my comments to say that they are purely theoretical.

  24. @Joanna

    I am sorry for your difficulties. I just thought that I would point out that this is not about anyone's status as a parent. This is about the very idea that anyone has a right to judge while we live in a world that value individuality over communal respect.

  25. Thank you Renee... it is so funny, because I just wrote a post about individual vs. community (concerning how "progress" has caused a shift away from communal values. I have to admit, there is more behind my judgment of the child's family, which is based on my own personal biases, and I need to overcome it. (to be totally honest, my first thought was that the family probably used the same words at homethat he did on camera and only condemned it because it was caught on camera, but that is due to my own cynicism towards white people. wow... judge much??)

  26. @Joanna

    I understand where you are coming from when you mention your cynicism towards White people. I don't think that there is a POC who does not share this feeling on some level because we all bear scars from living in a White supremacist world. When one has been hurt repeatedly it is perfectly natural to shield oneself from more pain. I know that I am far from trusting after having been wounded so many times.

  27. Renee... just in the interest of full disclosure, I am actually white myself. I was about to say that it makes me suspicion odd, but now that I think about it I think it kind of doesn't because I have been privy to so much of the disconnect between white people's public and private behavior.

  28. Was this guy like a family friend or a teacher? How exactly did he just pick this kid up? Where was this kids parents or where were any of the adults nearby doing when this kid got snatched up to do this video?

    Sorry if I sound like a judgmental jerk. I think the fact that my parents keep me on a pretty darn tight leash and that I have a natural distrust of people is coming out a bit too much. This whole thing makes me anxious.

  29. Not at all, Miasma, it makes me anxious too. Eastman is a neighbor to the family, and was apparently pretty friendly with them before this happened.

  30. @Joanna And how do you know what she did or did not say to the press? It's not like they ever edit statements for brevity or to change the political message--oh, wait.

    To be honest I think it's pretty disgusting you think that a parent needs to publicly castigate her child IN THE MEDIA, especially as there will already be a permanent record of this when the child grows up. The fact that you feel you have a RIGHT to know ALL the details of a situation where a child was essentially abused is really inappropriate.

  31. Eastman felt comfortable paying their child to spew hate and promote it to the general public without asking, but he apparently expects the consideration and courtesy of a polite phone call when the offense is against him.

    Since police involvement meant people with guns coming to his house, capturing him, and locking him in a cage pending further action, I would have to say that the mother did at least escalate the situation when she made that call. Surely you'd agree if she had just done that herself. That she had the police do it does not change the level of force brought into play.

    And isn't that the same crime that Socrates was executed for? The fact that such a thing is on the books is problematic in its own right.

  32. AR, that's frankly ridiculous. The police are quite problematic, but there's no indication of abuse of their power here.

    There is, however, an indication that this guy is a creepy predator who has already taken advantage of a child for his own amusement. I don't think that mother was at all out of line to show this fucking douchebag that she would take whatever actions necessary to protect her child?

    Why, exactly, is this the thing that you comment on? Why are you defending this asshole?

    And really, Socrates? Really? You're comparing some dude who encourages and tapes a kid to use racial slurs and puts it on the Internet to an Athenian philosopher? That doesn't hold up.

  33. I'm not defending him. I'm just wondering whether this warranted police involvement. It's certainly not something she'll be able to fall back on if he starts learning this sort of thing from his peers, who are likely to be even more influential on his attitudes than this guy.

    Nor am I comparing him to Socrates. I don't see how somebody could read my comment as doing so. I was questioning the law. It seems like the sort of catch-all crime that could be used to prosecute nearly anything that is sufficiently unpopular, not just the unpopular things that you personally oppose. Socrates is just an example of how that sort of thing goes wrong, and when it comes to the law you have to assume that things will be twisted like that to the maximum extent possible.

  34. AR--Yes, it warranted police involvement. This guy exploited a child. The child's mother called the cops on him because he's a grown adult and knows better; he has, by virtue of his age, power and authority this eight-year-old boy does not have. And frankly, his peers don't have that kind of authority, either. This child's peers are not grown. This man is.

    This child is eight years old. They don't HAVE good judgment. If they did, they would not be considered children. They would not be exploitable. And yes, I'm sure there are super special snowflake children who demonstrate better judgment than your average 30-year-old, but that isn't the norm. Especially when an ADULT encourages a child to do something--an adult, who (again) by virtue of their age, has authority and power--an eight year old's judgment is not going to be the same as say, a 17-year-old's or a 25-year-old's.


  35. You don't call up a burglar on the phone and say, 'hey, bring me back my stuff.' It was an illegal act... Although I wish it were more specific - like paying or filming a minor for public promotion without guardian's permission rather than 'corrupting morals'.

    And yes, defending your child with 'this isn't him, he doesn't do that.' isn't a statement of responsibility. It's one of denial. Of course, we can't make a judgement from cherry-picked statements to a newspaper, either. So we don't know. But we can say that such a statement isn't a good way to deal with it publicly.

    I really wish the law was more appropriate, though.


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