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Tag: "racism"

Today in Reasonable Conservatives

[ 5 ] November 23, 2015 |


Remember when Mitch Daniels, Reasonable Conservative, was a thing when pundits were talking about Republican presidential candidates? Those were good times. Well, Daniels is now president of Purdue. There have been a lot of racist incidents during his presidency:

Last December, more than 150 Purdue students marched to Daniels’ office in a “Purdue Can’t Breathe” rally. The year before, hundreds of students chanted, “Mitch, let’s face it/It’s time to deal with racists.”

Students of colors have told stories about others on campus hurling racial epithets at them and even physically assaulting them. There were also more high-profile incidents, like when someone scrawled the N-word across a picture of Dr. Cornell Bell, a prominent African American academic and advocate for minority students, or when the words “white supremacy” were written in the Black Cultural Center. Two anonymous Twitter accounts dedicated to mocking Asian students at Purdue also elicited protests. In 2012, the FBI announced that Purdue had reported the second largest number of hate crimes on campus, including five incidents of racial bias in one year.

The 2013 protests demanded the administration take specific actions to improve the culture on campus, including doubling the number of minority faculty and students in the next years, requiring racial sensitivity workshops for faculty, and creating a zero-tolerance policy that results in expulsion for racist acts. The 2014 rally followed up with more demands, saying Daniels was too slow to act.

So his response to the protests at Yale and Missouri? Congratulations on his own great leadership.

With that kind of leadership, maybe Daniels should write a book about how his brand of leaderocity and leadertude can inspire a whole generation of leadership studies students! Because being a university president is nothing but an exercise in self-promotion and justifying your own actions to make yourself look good.


Property Taxes and Unequal Schools

[ 155 ] November 19, 2015 |
Coverage from the May 9, 2011 protest of Rhee/Walker/Corbett at the American Federation for Children policy summit  from website

Coverage from the May 9, 2011 protest of Rhee/Walker/Corbett at the American Federation for Children policy summit
from website

I should surprise no readers by noting that racial injustice is so deep in our institutions that it infects nearly every part of American life. The definition of structural racism is that inequality gets replicated without those replicating it even knowing it. Or if they do know it, they can justify it while saying “racism is bad.” This brings me to school funding. Meg O’Leary and Sarah Friedman run a public magnet school targeting Latinos who may be underachieving in Central Falls, Rhode Island. For those of you unfamiliar with the urban geography of Rhode Island, Central Falls is a postage stamp of a town that should not be its own municipality. It’s barely bigger than a neighborhood. It’s also very poor and very heavily Latino, with a quite high percentage of Colombians.

Of course the schools in Central Falls are awful. And then aren’t much better in Pawtucket or Providence. It shouldn’t have to be that way. But it is because so much of the money for the schools come from local property taxes, as O’Leary an Friedman write. That means that rich districts have good schools and poor districts don’t. Basing much of school funding on local property taxes is racist. It also helps lead to citizens who have the financial wherewithal to make choices on where they live to either move to the suburbs or send their children to private schools. These are racist acts. They don’t mean the people who commit them are racist per se. But they are acts that explicitly commit people to fostering long-term inequality. I get why they do it–it’s my child after all!–but then that again is how structural racism works. It operates to incentivize otherwise perhaps well-meaning people to make choices that perpetuate racism. I’m not trying to troll readers here by accusing them of racism. But I am putting the decisions people make for their children’s sake within the spectrum of American structural racism.

The primary way around this problem is to take local property taxes out of it. More useful would be a state-wide property tax that would go exclusively to school funding. All children should receive equal funding. Unequal funding within states should be considered a civil rights violation. A white student in the wealthy coastal town of East Greenwich is not worth more than a Colombian kid in Central Falls. Except that actually in our society they are worth more. Instead the answer is let’s privatize the education for the poor, which serves to also perpetuate structural racism by firing middle-class black teachers and replacing with untrained non-union labor that is usually white and which allows wealthy, usually white, people to profit off of educating the poor, cutting the corners that capitalists will do to make a buck.


[ 55 ] November 19, 2015 |


David Horowitz is now accusing any university with a Muslim student group of being a fostering ground for terrorists. That my alma mater the University of New Mexico is on his 10 most “terrorist-friendly” university list makes me more proud than you could imagine.

Shorter Chris Christie: “Nits Make Lice”

[ 23 ] November 17, 2015 |


Above: New Jersey governor Chris Christie

Christ, what an asshole.

Gov. Chris Christie on Monday said the United States should not admit any refugees from the Syrian civil war — not even “orphans under age 5.”

“I do not trust this administration to effectively vet the people who are supposed to be coming in in order to protect the safety and security of the American people, so I would not permit them in,” the Republican presidential candidate said on conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated radio show.

Some 12 million Syrians have been forced from their homes due to Syria’s raging civil war, with half of them children, according to the Christian relief charity, WorldVision. More than 4.2 million Syrians have fled for countries like Turkey, Germany, Jordan and Lebanon, according the U.N.

When asked about this on Monday night, Christie at first demurred, saying that “we can come up with 18 different scenarios.”

Then, he said: “The fact is that we need for appropriate vetting, and I don’t think that orphans under 5 should be admitted to the United States at this point.”

“We need to put the safety and security of the American people first,” Christie said.

This immediately reminded me of one John Chivington, who said this when ordering his troops slaughter the Cheyenne and Arapaho at the Sand Creek Massacre.

Some regular army officers protested that to attack the peaceable village would betray the army’s pledge of safety. Chivington ignored them. “Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians,” he said. “Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.” He ordered the attack.

Nits make lice. Better keep all the little towelheads out. I think that will be on the Republican platform next year.

….I see Scott beat me to the punch. Great minds and the like.

Gun Rights are White Rights

[ 61 ] November 17, 2015 |


Another reminder that gun rights are a euphemism for white rights:

A Texas state legislator wants the U.S. to stop allowing Syrian refugees into the country. His reasoning: They might be able to buy guns in his state.

Rep. Tony Dale (R) made this argument in a television interview on Monday and in letters to Texas’ U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz (R) and U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul and John Carter (R).

“While the Paris attackers used suicide vests and grenades,” Dale wrote, “it is clear that firearms also killed a large number of innocent victims. Can you imagine a scenario were [sic] a refugees [sic] is admitted to the United States, is provided with federal cash payments and other assistance, obtains a drivers license and purchases a weapon and executes an attack?” He urged the lawmakers to “do whatever you can to stop the [Syrian refugee] program.”

But Dale is one of the Texas legislature’s most fervent gun-rights advocates. Two weeks ago, he tweeted his National Rifle Association membership renewal. In accepting an “A” rating from the group and the Texas State Rifle Association’s PAC in 2012, he observed: “Perhaps no right is more fundamental than the right to keep and bear arms.” And his campaign website vows his fealty to the Second Amendment, saying it “isn’t just an archaic document,” a “guarantor of all of our other freedoms.” And he and his colleagues in the state legislature have blocked mandatory background checks for all gun purchases.

Of course conservatives like Ronald Reagan were all about Second Amendment restrictions when it was Black Panthers carrying guns into the California statehouse and following cops to stop police brutality. And the National Rife Association was a benign hunters group until it got caught up in the white backlash to civil rights in the 1970s and transformed itself into the fanatical devotee of gun rights it is today. The modern gun rights movement and white rights movement have always been intertwined. These connections need a lot more exploration than the occasional note that some Texas state legislator is freaking out about Muslims buying guns but wants all the whites in his state to be armed to the teeth.

Today in the Rhode Island Democratic Party Dumpster Fire

[ 31 ] November 16, 2015 |


Above: The Rhode Island Democratic Party

I’ve talked before about how the Rhode Island Democratic Party is an out of control dumpster fire. In a 1-party state, being a Democratic politician means nothing more than “I want power.” That’s how you have the Rhode Island Democratic Party borrowing legislation from Oklahoma banning municipalities from setting their own minimum wages. It’s also how you have an open racist as the Speaker of the House.

One of Rhode Island’s most powerful Democrats doesn’t believe that “white privilege” exists. In a recent interview with the Providence Journal, Nicholas Mattiello, the state’s speaker of the House, said that that racial disparities are simply due to African-Americans’ and other minority groups’ failure to “take advantage” of the opportunities available to them.

Mattiello was invited to discuss racial issues with a panel from The Providence Journal, which is producing an extensive series on race in Rhode Island. He told the panel that, before he was asked that question, he had never thought of the phrase “white privilege.”

Mattiello was responding to an op-ed previously published in The Providence Journal by David R. Carlin, the former Democratic Senate Majority Leader, which argued that racial disparities were the result of “appallingly dysfunctional subculture that is pervasive among the black lower classes.”

This subculture fosters attitudes that lead to astronomical rates of out-of-wedlock births, millions of fathers who give little or no support to their children, high rates of crime and violence, high levels of drug abuse, a poor work ethic and very poor academic achievement. Unless this subculture is eradicated, we may expect that great numbers of blacks will live in misery.

Mattiello said he wasn’t sure about the phrase “subculture,” but seemed to agree with the overall point — namely, that “white privilege” doesn’t exist and that there is a “breakdown” within minority communities that explains racial disparities.

“You have to find ways to get the community to access and to take advantage of [opportunity]. Some people do, but not enough do. And there’s a reason why they don’t, and that’s something that I quite frankly don’t understand, and I need help with that,” Mattiello said.

Mattiello said that education was “the great equalizer” but dismissed criticisms that Rhode Island schools were effectively segregated. “I would say that it’s not segregated, it’s just that it reflects the population that it serves… I don’t know that you start busing people and so forth.”

“I don’t see racism because that’s not how I live my life… But I’ve never seen it because it’s not the way I live. And I’ve never been the victim of it,” Mattiello added.

Well, I guess he at least admits that racism might exist. But of course he’s not racist because no one is racist in 2015 except for people who believe that white privilege might exist or people who voted for Obama and therefore support the war on whites. Meanwhile those black people are just lazy and the state’s significant segregation just happens because white people like to live next to white people and black people choose to live that way.

My disdain for third parties is well-known, but really it’s a different beast on the state level. In Rhode Island, with the Republican Party a non-entity at the local level in most districts and the Democrats who do get elected (not all, but a sizable number including Mattiello) essentially Republicans themselves in Democratic clothing, there really isn’t any reason not to at least try to primary these people. While I remain skeptical that building a state-level third party is a good use of resources because, like on the federal level, the energy that goes into the party-building could be better spent on issue-based campaigning, one can certainly make a much better case for it in Rhode Island than nationally.

Ban the Box

[ 30 ] November 16, 2015 |


I don’t think anyone mentioned this when it happened two weeks ago, so let me do so here. Obama deciding to “ban the box,” i.e., eliminate the job application question about an applicant’s criminal record for the federal government, is an important step forward for both racial and labor justice. As is common, racial justice is labor justice and labor justice is racial justice. This movement has enough momentum that at least a few Republicans, like Chris Christie, are also supporting it. Hopefully, we can eliminate this discriminatory question from job applications entirely. The question is inherently racist given the racism of the criminal injustice system and it furthers institutionalized racism and poverty for people convicted of nothing more than holding marijuana while black.


[ 37 ] November 9, 2015 |


With all the intensive fear-mongering coverage of Ebola in the weeks before the 2014 midterm elections, you’d think that the World Health Organization declaring Sierra Leone Ebola-free would be big news in the United States. Why, it’s almost like coverage of Ebola in the United States was actually race-baiting to motivate the Republican base to vote against Democrats rather than actual coverage of the news!

Image from this site of rational discussion and reasoned points.

Today in the Post-Racial Society

[ 63 ] October 14, 2015 |
Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace is shown in this Oct. 19, 1964 photo speaking in Glen Burnie, Md. at a rally supporting Republican presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater.  (AP Photo)

Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace is shown in this Oct. 19, 1964 photo speaking in Glen Burnie, Md. at a rally supporting Republican presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater. (AP Photo)

Alabama eliminating DMVs in majority-black counties to stop black people from registering to vote is not an isolated incident. Rather, it’s part of a statewide effort to deny African-Americans any semblance of a decent life.

Kimberly Spruell has to travel 45 miles to the nearest Walmart; 80 miles to the nearest mall; 42 miles to a hospital with more than four doctors; and now 45 miles to the driver’s license office.

She used to go to the state park for picnics but now that’s been shut down.

For years, residents of Wilcox County like Spruell have believed the state’s elected officials had a certain disregard for the Black Belt. And when the state legislature passed measures Sept. 30 to combat the General Fund budget deficit, Wilcox County was directly affected.

In the cuts, Wilcox County lost Roland Cooper State Park, one of the county’s only sources of tourism. The county also lost its driver’s license bureau, which operated one day a week inside a shopping center just west of downtown.

The closest driver’s license offices are now in Selma or Linden – both a 45-minute drive.

Spruell, like 16 percent of the county (the highest in the state as of August 2015), is unemployed. The 34-year-old Marine and National Guard veteran lives completely off her monthly veteran’s benefit check. She wants to work, but there are few jobs.

She can’t move because she has nowhere to go and no money to get there. With a median household income of less than $24,000 in 2013, Wilcox County is the poorest county in Alabama and the sixth poorest county in the nation.

Because of the county’s remoteness, voting can be difficult for many people. Transportation is often a major barrier to voter turnout, Wilcox County Circuit Clerk Ralph Ervin said.

In the 2014 general election, 4,258 Wilcox County residents cast votes for the gubernatorial race – 37 percent of the county’s 2013 U.S. Census estimate of 11,307 total residents. Ervin said more people would vote if they had the means to do so.

Which is of course the point of closing the DMVs.

Structural Racism and Unincorporated Communities

[ 16 ] October 11, 2015 |


Laura Bliss has been writing an excellent series on the struggles of unincorporated communities in the San Joaquin Valley. The latest is on the inability of many of these communities to access potable water. Effectively, what you see in many parts of the West and South are African-American and Latino communities pop up in relative proximity to larger and more white settlements, but they are outside urban boundaries. That means no or few services because cities neither want to incorporate these communities nor try to help them. Instead, they are seen as moochers, slackers, losers, i.e., white stereotypes of people of color. At the core of this is of course the structural racism that played a large role in the original building of many of these communities and why they remain marginalized today.

In Matheny Tract, Calif., the sour odor of sewage is especially strong in the morning — and so is the irony that residents can’t connect to the system it represents.

The poor, unincorporated community of roughly 300 homes sits adjacent to the city of Tulare, population 61,000. A single, dusty field is all that separates Matheny Tract’s mostly African-American and Latino residents from Tulare’s recently expanded wastewater treatment plant. Though Tulare’s sewer system is more robust than ever, Matheny Tract residents must use septic tanks, since they are not part of the city. For a dense settlement, this spells trouble.

“People can’t always afford to pump out their tanks, so sometimes they overflow,” says Vance McKinney, a 59-year-old truck driver and community leader. “I’ve watched children jump over ponds of sewage to get to school in the morning.”

The leaching tanks are likely responsible for the fecal bacteria that’s been found in the shallow community wells from which Matheny Tract gets its water. Nitrates, probably from fertilizer runoff from surrounding farms, have also been an issue. Right now, the biggest problem is naturally occurring arsenic, exacerbated by an ever-shrinking volume of groundwater — partly a result of excessive pumping by farmers in the midst of California’s record-breaking drought.

Though residents can shower and clean with the water, it is undrinkable. For McKinney and his wife, that translates to spending an average of $160 on bottled water every month.

The invaluable David Bacon has also written about this.

Kasich’s War on Ohio Minorities

[ 39 ] October 5, 2015 |


Much like voter ID laws have little to nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with stopping black people from voting, so is the anti-welfare movement about stopping black and brown people from receiving government monies, while preserving it for whites when possible. In 1996, John Kasich voted for a bill in Congress that limited food stamps for childless adults. But he also pushed for an amendment to it that would allow states flexibility to do with high unemployment areas. Today, as Ohio governor, Kasich is using that amendment to grant food stamps to whites while denying them to blacks.

In 2014, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) had the option to waive time limits on food stamps for the entire state. Due to a struggling economy and high unemployment, Ohio had qualified for and accepted this statewide waiver from the US Department of Agriculture every year since 2007, including during most of Kasich’s first term as governor. But this time, Kasich rejected the waiver for the next two years in most of the state’s 88 counties. His administration did accept them for 16 counties in 2014 and for 17 counties in 2015. Most of these were rural counties with small and predominantly white populations. Urban counties and cities, most of which had high minority populations, did not get waivers.

The decision would result in a drastic downsizing of food aid in the state, but the administration moved with surprising speed given the enormity of the impact. “It was really fast,” says Kate McGarvey, deputy director of the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. In August 2013, she says, the legal services community had heard that Ohio qualified for a statewide waiver, and was setting up meetings with the ODJFS to discuss how the state might proceed. “Within a week or two, we were told, ‘It’s going to be a partial waiver, it’s already been submitted, it’s done,'” McGarvey says. “No advocates that I know of were given a chance to give feedback on the wisdom of the partial waiver.”

The policy went into effect in October 2013. By January—the three-month mark where those without waivers began losing their food stamps if they couldn’t meet the work requirement—it had become clear that the policy had spawned a stark racial disparity in food aid. Across the 16 counties the state had selected for waivers, about 94 percent of food stamp recipients were white. Overall in Ohio in December 2013—immediately before the new policy’s effects began to surface—food stamp recipients were 65 percent white.

By March 2014, six months into the new system, the six counties with the highest rate of terminating food stamps for able-bodied, childless adults were all counties populated mostly by minorities.

This of course will be seen as a positive by Republican primary voters. Whether or not Kasich and his people intended this to discriminate is not known. But they do know it currently discriminates and have done nothing to alleviate that.

American Cultural Imperialism: Racist Fashion Edition

[ 62 ] September 27, 2015 |

Anti-immigrant hooligans in Finland attacked a busload of immigrants last week. They did so while wearing their version of KKK outfits. The headpiece needs some work.


Of course, one would think that nationalist cultural protest garb would have something to do with Finland and not the faraway United States. But the power of American culture is incredibly strong and pervasive. Usually this is decried as about McDonald’s destroying food traditions in France or young people on remote islands without access to television wearing Michael Jordan t-shirts instead of following their parents’ ways and traditional indigenous forms of dress (I saw this precise thing on some islands off the coast of Sumatra in 1997 and it was very jarring and extremely educational). But there’s really nothing American cultural imperialism doesn’t touch, including racist jerks.

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