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Tag: "racism"

You Thought You Loved Monsanto Before?

[ 34 ] April 19, 2015 |

Monsanto. Everyone’s favorite chemical corporation. This is the first national advertisement ever placed by Monsanto, a 1939 campaign in Fortune.

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Good times.

Demographically Symbolic

[ 51 ] April 13, 2015 |

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I was far too kind to Wayne LaPierre.

Racism: Totally Dead

[ 31 ] April 8, 2015 |

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The post-racial society once again rears its glorious head, this time in beautiful Orange, Texas:

A Confederate monument featuring 32 flags representing Civil War regiments is nearing completion in an east Texas town, alongside Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is building the $50,000 memorial on private property, has ordered flagpoles to stand alongside 13 columns representing the states that seceded from the United States and fought to preserve slavery.

Granvel Block, an Orange resident who leads the statewide Sons of Confederate Veterans group, said southern states did not fight the Civil War to defend slavery – but instead were simply defending their sovereignty after “our states were invaded by northern troops.”

He said the memorial is intended to correct the “poor skew” of historical teachings about the Civil War and the Confederacy.

Block is a plaintiff in a recent case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will decide whether Texas was wrong to reject a specialty license plate displaying the Confederate flag.

He insists the location of the memorial along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive was not chosen to “stir the pot,” but was simply the cheapest land the group could find in Orange.

Oh yeah, I’m sure that was the reason. Total coincidence. Admitting that racism is dead and that’s why white cops should be able to shoot black men without consequence, I wonder if we look at the bad old days, if there was any racism in the Orange, Texas vicinity? You know, just for random comparison.

Orange, Texas had so many lynchings in the late 19th century that it had a specifically designated hanging tree. Blacks in east Texas counties are between 4 and 34 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites while a local assistant U.S. Attorney wrote this in response to criticism of Stand Your Ground laws:

How are you fixed for Skittles and Arizona watermelon fruitcocktail (and maybe a bottle of Robitussin, too) in your neighborhood? I am fresh out of “purple drank.” So, I may come by for a visit. In a rainstorm. In the middle of the night. In a hoodie. Don’t get upset or anything if you see me looking in your window…kay?”

In 1989, cops shot and killed a suspected drug dealer after he supposedly reached for their guns, leading to NAACP-led protests about police brutality in Orange. An Army reservist in Orange dragged a black woman named Therea Ardoin to death after tying her to his pickup after beating her in the head with a hammer.

Less than 20 miles away, you have Vidor, Texas, which has one of the strongest racist legacies of any town in the United States, including a long history as a sundown town and a 1993 KKK rally after the federal government finally forced local public housing to accept black residents.

All of this is what I found looking for all of 5 minutes.

In other words, racism is dead.

….In comments, Hogan uncovers how Orange talks about the Civil War. On the city’s official website. In 2015.

The War Between the States, which lasted from 1861-1865, had disastrous effects on Orange by taking its toll on lives and property. When hostilities ceased, tragedy continued. A reign of terror marked by extreme lawlessness followed the end of the war, lasting for a decade. Additional hardships ensued in 1865, when one of the worst wind and rainstorms in Orange’s history brought about even more death and destruction

Did I mention that racism was dead?

Racial Thursdays

[ 36 ] March 24, 2015 |

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Look, the Army boys just need a little time to blow off some stress by indulging in open racism….

“The Liberal Benghazi”

[ 91 ] March 24, 2015 |

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Richard Cohen, America’s least favorite racist uncle, just can’t help himself, calling outrage over cops murdering black people in places like Ferguson, “the liberal Benghazi.” Fred Hiatt of course is fine with this.

The Home of the Brave

[ 109 ] March 20, 2015 |

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In order to honor Foreign Language Week, New York’s Pine Bush High School decided to read the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. You can guess how the good people of Pine Bush responded, if the photo above doesn’t give it away.

Debate Over

[ 68 ] March 19, 2015 |

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Above: A racist.

I guess the debate over whether Benjamin Netanyahu is a racist is over:

The prime minister also dismissed allegations that he was a racist following comments about Arab voter turnout during the election, saying simply: “I’m not.”

OK then! Netanyahu really is modeling himself after American conservatives, who reject the same (usually legitimate) charge against their own racism by simply denying it, which the media happily goes along with.

The White Supremacist Origin of Right to Work Laws

[ 14 ] March 14, 2015 |

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Vance Muse is the founding father of the right to work movement. Not surprisingly, he was also a virulent racist, saying, among other things about unions:

“From now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.”

Meanwhile, right to work gets rejected for this legislative session in West Virginia, but it probably won’t be much longer given the types of politicians West Virginians now vote into office. I feel terrible about the declining work freedoms in West Virginia, but at the same time, given how hard right and racist the state has gone, in a sense voters are going to get what they asked for, even if not in 2015.

Racism and Frat Culture

[ 124 ] March 13, 2015 |

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Many (most? all?) white fraternities are white supremacist institutions. It’s not just the frat at the University of Oklahoma. And that white supremacist history goes back to their foundation. Robert Cohen breaks this down at History News Network, specifically connecting it to fraternities during the Civil Rights Movement.

The only difference between the racist chants in 2015 and 1961 that I can discern is that the fraternities today seem more inclined to do their chanting in private. At Oklahoma this semester the chant came in what started out as a private fraternity setting (a bus apparently transporting fraternity members from some fraternity-related event). The privacy was, of course, violated by the leaking of the tape of the chant, but clearly the chant was not designed for public consumption. The Georgia chant, on the other hand, was made in public, at a segregationist rally at the campus historic archway entrance in January 1961 at the height of the university’s integration crisis. Some 150-200 Georgia students had just hung a black faced effigy of Hamilton Holmes, who along with Charlayne Hunter, had in January 1961 become the first African American student to attend the historically segregated University of Georgia. The white students first “serenaded the effigy with choruses of Dixie and then sang “There’ll never be a nigger in the ________ fraternity house,” whose various names they inserted. Clearly, UGA students in 1961, operating in a historically segregated university and a segregated college town (Athens, Georgia) did not feel the pressure their 21st century fraternity counterparts do – at racially integrated campuses – to keep their racist displays to themselves. But if the venue was different the racist sentiment and mode of expression were virtually identical.

I mentioned the whole OU incident on Twitter. Historian Kevin Kruse (whose book on housing and white flight in Atlanta is must reading for all of you) tweeted this back at me:

Who is this Devotie? That is Sigma Alpha Epilson founder Noble Leslie DeVotie. It should be noted that the frat’s homepage proudly states that of its 376 members that fought in the Civil War, 369 fought for the Confederacy. Again, the white supremacist institution goes back a long time. Anyway, DeVotie, pictured above. He actually was the first person to die in the Civil War. From his Wikipedia page:

He drowned on February 12, 1861, while on duty as chaplain of the Alabama troops. He was 23 at the time of his death. As he was about to board a steamer at Fort Morgan, Alabama, he made a misstep and fell into the water. Three days later his body was washed ashore. He was the first man to lose his life in the Civil War. Even though the Civil War did not begin until April 12, 1861, Alabama had seceded from the Union in January, hence the reason for his being the first casualty.

These are the principles and the kind of competent leader this prominent organization was founded upon.

This Weekend in Republican Minority Outreach

[ 25 ] March 9, 2015 |

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That no one in the House Republican leadership was going to go to the Selma commemoration until people called them out on it in the Washington Post and other publications says all too much about the racial politics of the conservative movement.

I wonder how Kevin McCarthy got tasked with being the representative here. Drew the short straw?

Rename the Edward Pettus Bridge

[ 65 ] March 9, 2015 |

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While I am usually in favor of keeping statues and other public monuments to horrible racists up and then interpreting them, naming major buildings or public works projects is a whole other thing. That’s certainly true of Selma’s Edward Pettus Bridge. I didn’t know who Pettus was before this weekend. Turns out that if you want something named after you in Alabama, being a powerful racist is a good way to do it.

“Everyone knows the bridge is famous for the march and Bloody Sunday, so the idea that the name of the place where all of this happened represents something so contrary to all of that really bothers us,” said Students Unite’s executive director, 25-year-old John Gainey.

The discrepancy is striking, but the life of the bridge’s namesake has never been a secret. The Washington Post reported that when the bridge was constructed 75 years ago, Pettus’ legacy was well known, and the span of the highway was named “for a man revered locally as a tenacious Southern leader.”

It’s also right there on the Federal Highway Administration’s website in its description of the structure, which was built in 1940 and carries traffic across the Alabama River: “It had been named after a Civil War General and Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan who served in the United States Senate from 1897 until his death in 1907. He was the last Confederate General to serve in the Senate.”

Obviously, this should be renamed the John Lewis Bridge. That’s not going to be easy to accomplish for many reasons, including because it will become a conservative cause not to change it.

Selma and Environmental Justice

[ 2 ] March 8, 2015 |

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Fifty years after Selma, it’s worth remembering that the continued exploitation of poor blacks by whites also includes their environmental exploitation, as (largely) white-owned companies use their neighborhoods for toxic dumping grounds and to site the most hazardous and polluting factories.

The South has long been a region where fossil fuel industries have pretty much had their way with mostly poor, black, brown, and Native American communities, mainly due to lax regulations and poor environmental and civil rights law enforcement. Just this week in Alabama, the environmental group Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution (GASP) filed a civil rights complaint against the Jefferson County Department of Health for allowing Walter Coke, Inc. to continue emitting air pollutants over predominantly black communities (Grist wrote about this last April). A University of Alabama at Birmingham study found a correlation between low birth weight and household proximity to coke plants in Birmingham. It’s the second civil rights complaint GASP has filed on this matter in as many months.

“North Birmingham has historically served as a dumping ground for polluting facilities,” said long-time environmental justice scholar and activist Robert Bullard, who’s helping lead environmental justice activities in Selma. “The neighborhood was an environmental ‘sacrifice zone’ when I did my student teaching at a high school in the area way back in 1968.”

The latest concern, and one of the largest, for environmental justice activists in the South is a gigantic “clean coal” facility under construction in Kemper County, Miss. As Grist writer Sara Bernard recently reported, the operation is already taking an economic toll on the surrounding communities and provides no guarantees that it won’t add to pollution already saturating the state’s land, air, and water.

That plant is owned and operated by Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, which owns numerous dirty coal plants around the South, and has funded the work of recently discredited climate denier Wei-Hock Soon. Just so happens that Southern Co. is also a sponsor of the Selma 50th anniversary event this weekend. (Mississippi Power is not a sponsor, but two of Southern’s other subsidiaries, Georgia Power and Alabama Power, are sponsors.)

One would hope that sponsoring civil rights commemorations wouldn’t get these companies off the hook for hurting black people in the present. Of course, the executives of these companies almost certainly also support politicians who want to roll back black voting rights.

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