Bus companies draw anger after installing Rosa Parks-themed commemorative seats

Originally published at: Bus companies draw anger after installing Rosa Parks-themed commemorative seats | Boing Boing


While well-intentioned, it re-inforces the myth that Parks was just another random Black bus passenger who was tired instead of a serious activist.


People who have a tenuous grasp of history LOVE that one, because it means they get to imagine themselves to be a modern-day Rosa Parks every time they make a public complaint about something they find mildly inconvenient.


My only counterpoint as a dad is public symbology matters, and visible things like these provide good starting points for conversations with your kids.

Which is also why statues matter, too. Public momuments, even shallow ones like these bus seats, can be generational.

The only reason people still drive and march around our country (and through our freaking Capitol) with Confederate flags 150 years after that flag died as a concrete symbol, is because of little shrines like this to keep its memory alive well beyond its usefulness to society.

It’s good for society to set up the right teaching moments.


I haven’t read the article (since I don’t plan to subscribe to the Houston Chronicle), so there may be better arguments against this than the one quoted, but it falls flat for me. I generally disagree with the argument that you can’t have any kind of “safe” celebration of someone’s accomplishments when there is still something to be accomplished. I think there is a place for something like this (which seemed tasteful in the picture, though maybe I’m missing something) as well as a place for continued activism and deeper education. I see something like this (or a statue) accomplishing two things primarily. For one, it publicly celebrates someone who deserves to be celebrated. It also helps to keep her a part of the popular culture, and will hopefully inspire at least some people to learn more about who she was maybe to change their own views because of it.


For those of you that don’t know, these seats are AntiFa charging stations, don’t tell, it’s a secret :zipper_mouth_face:


Here’s a non-paywalled version: https://archive.md/igp0r


Sure, but in this particular case, the problem with celebrating Rosa Parks for simply sitting down in a different seat misses so much else that she did, and the much more that she told us we should be doing. It’s like the common white preference for a smiling, friendly, benign version MLK, who held and pronounced other deeply radical, revolutionary views that we almost never hear about.

The problem, in terms of race, is that most white people flock to such “safe” celebrations. As we can see in the recent book bannings/burnings, and efforts to oversee what teachers teach about race, a much bigger crime than systemic, ongoing racism for a LOT of white people is making white people uncomfortable about racism.

What a great symbol of that these seats are, really – Here, have a seat, settle in, and imagine you’re sitting where Rosa sat!


This just seems like opportunistic, churlish criticism. Sure, the bus company could’ve used the money to subsidize people’s fares. But how many day-to-day riders would know about this? It’s a transit company that’s making a visible memento, and like the commenter below said, maybe someone will pause to think about segregation/opportunity, etc. and maybe go further than that.

White washing history ain’t it…

Uh Huh Reaction GIF by Originals


So tired of this shit.


another cool trick: whenever you hit a paywall, just put 12ft.io/ in front of the URL in the address bar.



Thank you both. So many American news outlets have reacted to GDPR by banning European visitors, so it’s always good to get a way to bypass that.


She wasn’t even the first to do this. Her infamy was as much an exercise in effective marketing by the NAACP as it was her own bravery. (And I’m not trying to discount her achievements in any way - just pointing out her fame was no accident.)


Hmm, well fancy that!

Star Trek Ball GIF


I feel the general opinion among activists is that any gesture like this will never be good enough. And they’re right, because a few commemorative seats aren’t likely to change anyone’s mind. Doesn’t mean there is any harm in it, and people like Theoharis are off-base by saying “they don’t ask anything of us in the present.”

What is a bus line really going to be able to ask of people? What can they do, other than something bus-related like a new seat design? If it came out that Houston Metro said “no” when asked to do a Rosa Parks seat, they’d be blasted as racist.

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Yep, nor was it an isolated, individualized act of bravery, as those who so greatly fear collective action would like us to believe.


I wonder if the NAACP is going to make a statement about this? If they agree with that prof and say “That’s nice but it’s not enough” the proper response would be “well you made sure that is all people associate her with.”

Again, a whitewashing of history does enormous damage, and this is what this is - a simplification and whitewashing of an important historical event which only serves to elide what actually happened… I’d thought that people would have figured that out by now, when our educational failures in both public education and in public spaces have been made abundantly clear, but clearly not.

The NAACP is not to blame for corporations and conservative government officials distorting history.


12ft just pulls the google-cached page and cleans it up a bit. Not likely it will ever stop working, as no one wants to block the google crawler. No guarantee it will stay free tho, 12ft is already pushing a “premium” browser extension.

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