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Tag: "racism"

Reverse Racism

[ 328 ] November 5, 2013 |

The comment thread on Edward Bland’s The Cry of Jazz was more contentious than I thought it would be, since several commenters basically called this early black nationalist a racist and even compared him (shockingly unfairly) to Leni Riefenstahl. When I read this Sara Luckey piece (published several months ago) on the myth of reverse racism, I immediately thought of that thread and the need for a lot of white people to learn more about the relationship between racism and power:

Racism exists when prejudice+power combine to form social constructs, legislation and widespread media bias that contribute to the oppression of the rights and liberties of a group of people. Racism is systemic, institutional, and far reaching. It is the prevalence of racism within social structures and institutional norms, along with implicit and explicit enforcement by members of a group, that allows racism to run rampant and unchecked. America is a country seeped in white privilege, and our social structure is built on colonization and forced slave labor that then turned into further systemic and ongoing oppression of PoC. We have a culture that presents whiteness as the norm and all else as ‘other’ or different. White is presented as the beauty ideal, the main face in the media (unless we’re talking about criminals, then PoC get unfairly misrepresented), the standard, the regular. It’s a structural problem that affects the perceptions of jurors in criminal cases, admissions to colleges, funding for public schools, welfare and food stamp programs, the redrawing of district lines that affect where we vote, who we see represented on T.V. and how, what schools people have access to, what neighborhoods people live in, an individual’s shopping experience, access to goods and services; it’s extensive and a part of the fabric that let’s whiteness remain dominant in American culture.

Not only was Edward Bland and other black nationalists not racist toward white people, they were responding directly to the racism they felt everyday, racism that white people in the United States simply cannot understand. It’s not racist for him say that white people suck at playing jazz, even if you completely disagree with the point, precisely because not only is Bland not saying that they shouldn’t be allowed to play jazz but because there is no power structure behind the statement. Black nationalism was a response to systemic racism. The Tea Partiers today who are claiming they experience racism because they hear Spanish at their favorite buffet restaurant/are forced to admit that black people can vote/whatever completely misunderstand what racism even is. Unfortunately, so do too many white liberals.

More from Luckey:

The situations in which you, fellow white person, were involved were unfortunate and inappropriate, this is true. But to claim that these experiences were ‘reverse racism’ both diminishes and minimalizes the real and actual experiences of PoC who really do encounter racism. There is no system of oppression in America that actively works to oppress and subjugate white people. Sorry to break it to you, but your individual suffering is just that, individual. The individuals acting against you do not have the institutionalized power to actively oppress you in every facet of your life, nor would their racism be upheld and supported by government, media, and legislation if they did. Because you’re white.

Reverse racism isn’t real because we live in a culture that supports and enforces whiteness as the norm and PoC as other. If you experience discrimination, prejudice, or bigotry, it’s valid to be upset about it and want to talk about it. It is not valid to claim that it is reverse racism, and certainly not valid to claim that it is racism on par with anything like the institutionalized racism that PoC will come into contact with. When a white person starts talking about reverse racism, what they’re really doing is derailing a conversation to make it about them. Their white privilege leads them to believe that what they say both matters and needs to be heard and is important and the conversation should stop to focus on their perceived ills. You know what? When somebody is talking about racism they have experienced, that conversation is not all about you, nor should you expect it to be, so stop with the derailing and just listen and learn.

When white people complain about experiencing reverse racism, what they’re really complaining about is losing out on or being denied their already existing privileges. And while it may feel bad to realize your privilege is crumbling and the things you’ve taken for granted can be taken away from you, it is unfair, untrue, and disingenuous to call that experience reverse racism.

People need to take the relationship between race and power seriously before taking about racism.

….Based on this comment thread, let me just say how hard it is being white when a few people of color might not like you because of the hundreds of years of systemic racism placed upon their people that you benefit from everyday. I guess we whites will just have to console ourselves knowing that we hold almost every position of power and authority in this nation’s political, economic, and judicial system, that prison sentences for whites are far less than for people of color, that whites have higher income and lower unemployment rates, etc., etc. But hey, that jazz guy in 1959 said that white people can’t understand the music and some people today demand you take history and power seriously before talking about racism, so let’s all call the whaaaambulance!

Blackface: A Primer

[ 138 ] October 30, 2013 |

Since blackface seems to be all the rage this Halloween season (post-racial society indeed!), here’s Blair L.M. Kelley with a primer on its history and why it is so awful. Not that you all didn’t already know this, but it’s a good piece.

[SL]: A handy guide for anyone considering doing blackface for a Halloween costume:

[via gmack]

Welcome to Tonight’s NFL Game between the Phoenix Wetbacks and the Atlanta Darkies

[ 367 ] October 8, 2013 |

The National Congress of American Indians recently put out this image in response to those who don’t think sports teams with Native American logos are offensive.

I understand that people are fans of who they are fans of. I am an Oregon Ducks, Portland Trail Blazers, and Seattle Seahawks fan because of where I came from. You don’t really even make these choices, in a sense. So whatever. But if you are a fan of the Washington Racist Insignia or the Cleveland Racist Logo and defend these names and logos, I’m just going to assume you would also be totally fine with the Phoenix Wetbacks and the Atlanta Darkies. Because it’s the same thing. I don’t care that the Racist Insignias have had their name for decades. I don’t think the social mores of the early 20th century are something that are an unchangeable tradition, unless you also don’t support anti-lynching laws or Native Americans voting.

It’s racist and denying that is facilitating and apologizing for racism.

All of this reminds me of the commercials based upon once existent products in C.S.A. Which if you haven’t seen it, isn’t a perfect film by any means, but is certainly a unique and challenging anti-racist film in the Civil War memory genre.

What Happens When You Elect Republicans

[ 59 ] September 23, 2013 |

In yet another example of why the enormous differences between the two parties matter, we have U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes. Appointed by Reagan, Hughes is an open racist and doesn’t care who knows it:

Jitendra Shah, an Indian-American engineer, sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in July 2012, alleging that the agency had discriminated against him on the basis of his race and religion. Shah wants U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, a 72-year-old Reagan appointee, to recuse himself from the case because of comments Hughes made during a December pre-trial hearing.

In that ex parte hearing, during which only TDCJ lawyers were present, Hughes launched into a colloquy on Adolf Hitler’s use of swastikas, the origin of Caucasians and the futility of diversity programs at universities. He quoted Eleanor Roosevelt opining that “staffs of one color always work better.” It is not the first time Hughes’ views on race during discrimination cases have attracted attention. In January, the 5th Circuit admonished Hughes for dismissing a racist slur as “political” and opining that “no black individually and no blacks collectively owns [sic] the sensitivity rights to fried chicken or anything else.”

In January, Shah asked Hughes to recuse himself from the case, arguing that the judge had demonstrated bias and couldn’t rule on the case impartially. Hughes refused to rule on the motion and Shah took the matter to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Last week, the 5th Circuit rejected Shah’s petition and Hughes remains on the case. In a filing with the court, the judge defended his remarks. “Discussion of history and race does not evince a bias against people who are Indian, Hindu, both, or anyone else,” he wrote.

Complaining that diversity directors make too much, Hughes told the TDCJ attorneys, Allan Cook and Jonathan Stone, “Why don’t they just hire people on ability and let diversity take care of itself? And what does the diversity director do? Go around and painting students different colors so that they think they were mixed?”

Hughes approving of Hitler’s use of the swastika later in the article is extra special.

Racism, Oklahoma Style

[ 59 ] September 4, 2013 |

Lovely.

Maps

[ 132 ] August 22, 2013 |

Who doesn’t like cool maps? No one.

We know everyone is very excited about the northeast Colorado effort to secede from Colorado. Theoretically it’s over Denver liberals and energy exploration, but this map suggests a whole lot of real reason:

Most people are reporting that Weld County is leading the effort. But you see that not all of Weld County is involved. Why not? Maybe it’s because of the demographics of Greeley, the largest city that happens to be in that southwestern corner not included: From Wikipedia:

As of the census of 2000, there were 76,930 people, 27,647 households, and 17,694 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,572.5 people per square mile (993.4/km²). There were 28,972 housing units at an average density of 968.8 per square mile (374.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 55.4% White, 1.87% African American, 0.83% Native American, 1.15% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 13.77% from other races, and 2.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 34.49% of the population.

33.49% Latino. In 2000. So that’s what, 45% or so now? Greeley is a huge meatpacking center (see Schlosser’s Fast Foot Nation for a good description of the horrible working conditions faced by Latino workers in those plants). This is about white resentment and racism.

Meanwhile, Dylan Matthews links to both the map above and another map about what would happen if state boundaries adjusted to represent people in 50 equal states. I’m not sure Rhode Island would be happy in “Willimantic” since everyone there identifies way more with Massachusetts than Connecticut. I also propose to rename “Shasta” as “Beer.” It’s more appropriate. And it means that California wouldn’t get any special treatment, something that would make Oregonians happy.

At the very least, the Senate would be a lot less annoying this way.

Somewhat less satisfying is this poll about what Americans thought about other states,
all mapped out for you. Mostly it just allows people to engage in their stereotypes about other states. When Rhode Island gets no play for silliest accent and everyone votes for Massachusetts instead, it just shows that no one knows anything about Rhode Island. Still, engaging in state stereotypes can be amusing, so have at it. Is Louisiana the most drunken? Is Texas your least favorite state? Does Kansas have the most boring scenery?

It Certainly Seems to Me that Referring to the Team as the “Washington Racist Insignia” is Entirely Appropriate

[ 145 ] August 8, 2013 |

Good on Slate for joining other news organizations in refusing to use the given name of the Washington football club. I do disagree with David Plotz about what he calls the subtle case that “Redskins” was always racist. Just because Native Americans were seen as irrelevant and therefore worthy of becoming mascots through most of the 20th century doesn’t mean that process and its results weren’t full-fledged racism. On the other hand, I do like Plotz’s promotion of the term “Redtails” to replace the name, given the relationship of that term to the Tuskegee Airmen.

Profile of a Racist

[ 82 ] August 7, 2013 |

Your daily American racist.

This Day in Labor History: July 17, 1944

[ 48 ] July 17, 2013 |

On July 17, 1944, a munitions explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, California killed 320 soldiers, mostly African-Americans loading munitions onto ships. This spurred them to demand improved conditions. When conditions did not improve, a group refused to load the munitions. Charged with mutiny, fifty were sentenced to long prison terms.

Is military work part of labor history? It’s not something we usually consider when we think of the subject. For one thing, soldiers don’t produce profit for capitalists, although one could broadly argue that the U.S. military serves capitalist goals and soldiers are the capitalists’ shock troops. That’s more of an ideological argument than a practical one. Soldiers aren’t traditional workers. But they do work. They labor and they get hurt and die on the job. They also have almost no way to protect themselves as workers. A union of soldiers is probably not practical and maybe not even desirable. But they surely deserve some way to express their rights, especially when they are placed in unreasonable danger, as the Port Chicago story shows.

Racial discrimination was rife in the World War II military. Like in previous wars, African-Americans were segregated and given the worst and most dangerous non-combat jobs. At Port Chicago, today the Concord Naval Weapons Station, all of the workers assigned to load munitions onto ships were African-American. Every officer was white. The sailors were not given proper training in loading ammunition, or really much useful training at all. Munitions loading was seen as low-end work. The military drew soldiers from the lower end of testing at the point of enlistment for this work.

Even the idea of loading munitions scared the sailors. Their officers told them it was safe, that the weapons were not active and could not explode. They lied. On July 17, sailors were loading the S.S. E.A. Bryan with munitions. At 10:18 p.m., an explosion took place on the pier leading to the ship. A few seconds later, the munitions on the ship exploded, creating a gigantic fireball that led to the immediate death of everyone on the ship and pier, a total of 320 people. Another 390 were wounded. African-Americans made up 202 of the dead and 233 injured, 15% of the total African-American naval casualties in World War II. Seismologists registered the explosion at 3.4 on the Richter scale. Of the 320 dead, only 51 bodies could be identified. The rest had been blown to smithereens.

Not only did African-Americans suffer high number of casualties, but the aftermath reinforced the inherent racism in the military. The Navy often gave a 30-day leave for soldiers traumatized by the deaths of their friends in combat. None of the black survivors of Port Chicago received it, even those hospitalized. All of the white officers received it. The Navy asked Congress for a $5000 payment to each victim’s family. When Mississippi Congressman John Rankin found out most of the dead were black, he insisted it be reduced to $2000, Congress compromised at $3000.

The surviving munitions loaders were rightfully scared for their lives. They began to refuse to do the work. On August 8, officers ordered 328 men to resume munitions loading. Each one refused. It was a mass strike. Over the next day, officers badgered 70 of them to change their minds. 258 continued to refuse. All were arrested. After continued pressure, including telling them soldiers fighting on Saipan were dying because of their refusal and threatening them with the death penalty if convicted of mutiny, only 44 men, led by Seaman Joe Small, refused to obey. An additional six joined them in next day. The military charged them with mutiny. They other 208 were sent to the Pacific Theater, forced to do menial duty, and received bad conduct discharges at the end of war, making them ineligible for military benefits.

The young NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall became interested in the case. He observed the trial, which ended in guilty verdicts and sentences of 15 years of hard labor (a judge soon reduced it by a few years for some of the men). Marshall began a campaign to publicize the plight of the prisoners. Marshall received permission from each of the fifty to serve as their attorney for the appeal. Before the judge, he said “I can’t understand why whenever more than one Negro disobeys an order it is mutiny.” The case began to get more attention. Eleanor Roosevelt for one asked Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal to become involved. The attention did move the judge to reconvene the court martial, but in the end the sentences were reaffirmed.

When the war ended in August 1945, there was no good reason to hold these men for such a long period of time and pressure to free them continued. Their sentences were quickly reduced to two years and then on January 6, 1946, 47 of the 50 were released to menial tasks on active duty ships in the Pacific. Two others remained in the hospital recovering from their injuries from the explosion and one was not released due to behavioral problems while a prisoner. They were given a discharge “under honorable conditions” when they left the Navy.

The Port Chicago explosion was not the only example of African-Americans soldiers resisting unsafe work conditions based upon discriminatory racial patterns during World War II. In March 1945, 1000 African-American sailors engaged in a 2-day hunger strike to protest discrimination in their work. The Navy began working toward integration in 1944 and conditions slowly improved for African-Americans.

The Navy officially integrated in 1946. Harry S. Truman desegregated the military in 1948, one of the most important early steps toward the end of legal segregation. Thurgood Marshall of course went on to argue Brown v. Board of Education and become the first African-American Supreme Court justice. People have long attempted to have the Port Chicago prisoners exonerated, but there has never been an official apology or pardon, although Bill Clinton pardoned one sailor who asked for it in 1999. Resistance developed among the still living white officers and nothing came of a 1990 attempt by a group of Congressmen to see some sort of exoneration. The site of the explosion is now a National Memorial, operated by the National Park Service.

This is the 68th post in this series. The others are archived here.

I Guess Open Racism is Now Acceptable on the Washington Post Editorial Page

[ 138 ] July 16, 2013 |

I mentioned it below, but Richard Cohen’s openly racist op-ed deserves its own post:

I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead. But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize. I don’t know whether Zimmerman is a racist. But I’m tired of politicians and others who have donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin and who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the United States, I am a racist. The hoodie blinds them as much as it did Zimmerman.

One of those who quickly donned a hoodie was Christine Quinn, the speaker of the New York City Council. Quinn was hardly a lonesome panderer. Lesser politicians joined her and, as she did, pronounced Zimmerman a criminal. “What George Zimmerman did was wrong, was a crime,” Quinn said before knowing all of the facts and before the jury uncooperatively found otherwise. She was half-right. What Zimmerman did was wrong. It was not, by verdict of his peers, a crime.

Where is the politician who will own up to the painful complexity of the problem and acknowledge the widespread fear of crime committed by young black males? This does not mean that raw racism has disappeared, and some judgments are not the product of invidious stereotyping. It does mean, though, that the public knows young black males commit a disproportionate amount of crime. In New York City, blacks make up a quarter of the population, yet they represent 78 percent of all shooting suspects — almost all of them young men. We know them from the nightly news.

Those statistics represent the justification for New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk program, which amounts to racial profiling writ large. After all, if young black males are your shooters, then it ought to be young black males whom the police stop and frisk. Still, common sense and common decency, not to mention the law, insist on other variables such as suspicious behavior. Even still, race is a factor, without a doubt. It would be senseless for the police to be stopping Danish tourists in Times Square just to make the statistics look good.

Where is the politician who will openly race bait? Where is the politician who will call for racial profiling? Where are our leaders in this time of political correctness, where blacks have everything handed to them on the plate? After all:

Crime where it intersects with race is given the silent treatment. Everything else is discussed — and if it isn’t, there’s a Dr. Phil or an Oprah saying that it should be. Crime, though, is different. It is, like sex in the Victorian era (or the 1950s), an unmentionable but unmistakable part of life. We all know about it and take appropriate precaution but keep our mouths shut.

Where is our Betty Friedan, ready to expose the new problem with no name!!

…..As Atrios points out, Cohen has a long history of racist columns.

Stand Your Ground: The New Slave Patrols?

[ 104 ] July 15, 2013 |

Does it go too far to compare stand your ground laws with slave patrols? Given the ability of George Zimmerman to slay a random nonthreatening black kid like Trayvon Martin with no consequence and the backing of the Florida legal system, it’s an argument at least worth considering.

People Get Ready

[ 47 ] July 14, 2013 |

The projected violence following the not guilty verdict in the Zimmerman Trial is coming to pass.

Lester Chambers, a seventy-three year-old musician known for his work as a member of The Chambers Brothers, was assaulted on stage at a blues festival last night after he dedicated a song to Trayvon Martin.

Chambers’ son, Dylan, posted the following on Facebook last night: “Lester was just assaulted on stage at The Russell City Hayward Blues Festival by a crazed woman after dad dedicated People Get Ready to Trayvon Martin. He is on the way to the hospital now.”

Wait, I thought only black people acted crazy? You mean violence is caused by white people?

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