Tag: racism

The Not So Secret World

One day at work a fellow supervisor wanted to show us a funny cartoon somebody emailed him. It wasn’t funny. I said it wasn’t funny. I suggested it was rather racist. They stared at me. They didn’t ask me why I thought it was racist so I proceeded to explain exactly what my perspective was. Silence.

It was a busy night at work, the day shift person left and my colleague and I did not have an opportunity to discuss it further. I was disappointed that my colleague who I rather liked did not see where I was coming from. I should know by now not to have expectations about how people will behave or react. We ate lunch together and she asked me if I was angry with her and if I thought she was racist. I responded that had no idea if she was or not. She told me I was being overly sensitive and that “black people were not going to like me more if I took their side.”

Another night I came upon the nurses station and conversation stopped quite abruptly. I suggested it was an interesting coincidence that I suddenly appeared and they all became engrossed in paper work. A nurse piped up and said,”Well, we all know what you’re like and I don’t want to get busted.” She then admitted she had made an anti-semitic remark about her dentist. I asked her if she had attended diversity class, she sighed, rolled her eyes and said she would go in order to avoid being forced to go. She went on to clarify that she “had no problem with Jews” but she did not like this dentist. I asked her the obvious question,” Why didn’t you just say you didn’t like him, and why go to a dentist you don’t like?” She told me I was “too hyper about race and that other stuff” and that I needed to relax. I decided to continue the conversation in private so that I could tell her that she was full of bullshit,and that she was trying to skirt being accountable for her own words.

You’re too sensitive. I did not mean it that way. You’re trying to stir things up. You’re trying to promote bad feelings between people. You aren’t from here. You’re taking up for “them.” You’re reading too much into it. You don’t understand. “They” use those words, why can’t I? It is the way I was raised. They. They. They. You. You. You.

One day, a friend who is also a manager went to a meeting. They discussed a leadership conference they were all going to attend and asked whether she should pay by check or cash. A white colleague at the meeting said,” Maybe we can pay in food stamps.” My friend, who is black looked at a mutual colleague who is also black and they stared at her open mouthed. The meeting was ending and nobody else seemed to notice. She met with our director who was puzzled not comprehending why my colleagues were offended. My friend called me. She was furious and wanted to take it further but was a newly hired manager and concerned about being perceived as a “trouble maker.” She asked my opinion and I thought that she should go up the chain of command and explain why she believed the comment was racist. She met with the VP of nursing and was met with defensiveness. She was told by the VP that she personally knew that individual and there was absolutely no possible way that X was a racist. My friend explained that she was not interested in making personal accusations just providing an “educational” moment about how such comments could be perceived. The VP praised my friend as young “bright and intelligent” leader who had “much to offer”. In other words: shut the fuck up and be glad we promoted you and quit insulting my friends. She received an informal apology but no hint of admission that the comment may have been racist just a “sorry I hurt your feelings” moment. I asked her if there was anything I could do to support her, she sighed and said listening was enough because I caught enough “shit on my own” when I spoke up.

The Problem: NOT shuck and jive

Language is an indicator of what people think… how they think. And some small insight into the strategies they use for living next to, working with, and sharing a country, a continent, and planet with all other creatures. Jumping all over them for exposing their thinking is, imo, the wrong thing.

Political Hate-Speach

…let me just tell you what I’m thinking. I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out — is this wrong?

Glenn Beck, May 17, 2005.

The well-springs of poison are about to open up…

Given the body count already of key Democrat politicians and American civil rights leaders and labor activists who have been assassinated in America, in the Americas and around the globe; given the levels of hostility and invective from the right this cycle already, I have a question:

Will Americans allow right-wing cranks to promulgate homicidal fantasies over the air-waves unpunished, as they have in the past?

What happens when, not if, Glenn Beck, Don Imus, Andrew Sullivan or some Fox crank ‘hypothetically’ discusses the assassination of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Hussein Obama or whoever the Dem candidate happens to be?

There was a diary titled: ‘Breaking: …. Dead’. Few laughed. We know what the wing-nuts are thinking. And it’s only January, the crap hasn’t even started yet.

Turnout for Dems has been fantastic. Americans, hungry for change, are registering and voting in record numbers. The world is paying attention. I watched HRC win on TV on a rush-hour train in downtown Tokyo.

Yet, for the frightened, the idea that a woman, a person of color, a liberal, a Democrat, might actually win the election in November is both an anathema and a blessing. While the prospect fills the wingnut with horror and self-loathing, it also offers the long-awaited opportunity to indulge in the sickest of fantasies. The one where the good guys have to shoot down the bad. For real.

Because, for the misogynist, this election isn’t about Hillary.  For the racist, 2008 isn’t about Barack or his religion. For the authoritarian, this isn’t about John. It’s about fear and hate, plain and simple. The idea that someone supposed to be lower on the totem pole might actually grasp the golden ring fills these sad, sick souls with grief, impotence and rage. It’s not like that’s a secret.

So when you listen to Sullivan and Reynolds fan the flames of Hillary hatred; or listen to Fox speculate about whether Barack is secretly a Muslim, be clear: Reynolds and the other so-called ‘responsible’ media types are tip-toeing right up to the edge of the line, pandering knowingly both to the worst instincts in us all, but also to the sickest in society, hoping/fearing something just might happen as a result.

Appealing openly to the murderous appetites of the right is a form of terrorism; and it’s a form of terrorism that works. A war was sold to America by playing on just such fears. And, lest we forget, that was no dream when Glenn Beck fantasized about murdering Michael Moore on the air two years ago.

…let me just tell you what I’m thinking. I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out…

That’s a major media figure fantasizing about murder. Next time, he might not ask if it’s wrong…

More at rattlesnakepoint…

Profiles in Literature: Richard Bruce Nugent

Greetings, literature-loving Dharmenians!  Last time we met over the wreckage of the Civil War and acid humor of one of its most famous veterans.  This week we’ll stay in the United States, but jump ahead a few generations to an almost-forgotten writer who merits a closer look.

After World War I, black soldiers returning from the front were disgusted by the treatment they received from countrymen they’d fought and died defending.  At the same time, black intellectuals like W.E.B DuBois and Alain Locke began to envision a cultural project that would elevate the African American experience in the eyes of its otherwise cultural oppressors, while political activists like Marcus Garvey brought pan-Africanism to the streets of New York.  Throw in a sudden burst of artistic imagination and some seriously talented writers, and you’ve got all the ingredients for the Harlem Renaissance.  

Today we’re going to talk about one of its most fascinating personalities.  


Discrimination is not a bad thing.

Discrimination (to distinguish or note differences, discernment) is useful. A finely tuned sense of discrimination can help you tell the difference between (for example) meaningful political discourse and a load of steaming inflammatory bullshit.

People will always make discriminations about characteristics that belong to some of the people around them and not others. Do you remember when you were a child? I remember quite well at the age of seven becoming aware that my friend’s black skin meant something more than its actual color to the adults around me.

The question is what people choose to do with the discriminations they make.

I tend to believe that racism, in the sense of appreciating the beauty of another whose beauty is unlike your own, is a discrimination that is part of being a sentient and esthetically aware human being.

Racism in the sense of exclusion and depriving of others of the best fruits of society on the basis of an arbitrary physical characteristic is a contingent result of history and economics. History cannot be changed, but economics can.

In American society, wealth (and the power that goes along with it) is the key factor to ending racism in the bad sense. The more steeply progressive the tax system, the more social and racial equality will result. GOP and libertarian low-tax schemes are inherently racist, in that they perpetuate the status quo.

The way to end racism is to eat the rich!!

You Want Civility? I’ll Show You Civility!


I just received a Ron Paul flyer in the mail. In this particular piece of merde, Dr. Paul is arguing against illegal immigration. He believes he is the one candidate running who will stop it once and for all.

Part of his strategy is to amend the 14th amendment in the Constitution and end automatic birthright citizenship in the United States.

My initial and immediate reaction was…

Fuckity fuck fuck piece of shit racist bastard. What an asshole you are for pulling this shit, especially in the South where it is too damn easy as it is to appeal to the deep-seated racism here. Fuck off.

And then I thought of the fight going on here yesterday, and I see continuing somewhat today. And I thought it worth bringing to your attention.

White Trash: A Family Story

My mother’s family were Okies although they all hate that name.  “We’re Not Okies, we’re from Kansas!” (Yeah–25 miles from the border).  My grandfather was a sharecropper, they didn’t have much, but they liked what they had.  Then the Dust Bowl hit southern Kansas.

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My grandfather took the trunk lid off of his 1932 Plymouth and built a doghouse sticking out the back.   He piled his wife and five daughters into the car.  With their belongings–what little they could could take with them–strapped to the top of the car and a trailer filled with household goods, with the bedding on top, they set off West, looking for work along the way.


Go Indians! (Vernon Bellecourt R.I.P)

A friend from Taos Pueblo invited me out for a drink the other night.  Turns out she had something on her mind.  “I hardly ever ask you to do anything.  You have to write a blog about the Cleveland Indians mascot because of the World series.” It’s a big issue in Indian Country.  And so, I am carrying out my friend’s wishes.

And, as it happens, Vernon Bellecourt, a leader of the American Indian Movement, was buried last week, so this story serves as a memorial to him, too.  The depiction of native peoples by teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, and countless college and high school teams around the country is unconscionable.

(I put this in for the music only – and a reminder that no matter who thinks sports mascot protests are too serious and “PC”, there’s always lots of laughter in Indian country):

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

Sully: Still Defending Racism

Whenever folks try to rehabilitate Andrew Sullivan, he is quick to remind us why he is so detestable.

As for the “science” of the Bell Curve, see this:

''The Bell Curve'' inflamed readers when it was published three years ago by arguing that economic and social success in America had become largely a matter of genes, not education, environment or other factors over which society might exert control. The chilling genes-are-destiny thesis, laced with racial overtones, was greeted with furious criticism. But much of the initial criticism was ill informed and driven by ideology.

It could hardly have been otherwise. The book's authors, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, did not release their statistical findings — the only important original contributions in the book — for formal review by scholars before publication. Their runaround obstructed response by other social scientists, who needed time to appraise hundreds of pages of statistical analysis. Now, three years later, scholars have caught up, shattering the book's core claims.

. . . [T]he book's evidence is riddled with mistakes. Two stand out.

The first error flows from biased statistics. The book tries to determine whether I.Q. or family background is a better predictor of success. I.Q. is easily measured. But family background is not. The authors' simplistic index incorporates parental income, education and job prestige, but leaves out numerous components of a child's upbringing.

That creates a statistical mirage, or bias, because statistical tests inevitably underestimate the impact of factors that are hard to measure. Mistakes in measuring family background obliterate the ability of statisticians to detect its impact on future success. Thus, as James Heckman of the University of Chicago has convincingly argued, the book's finding that family background is a weak precursor of success reflects its biased methods rather than the workings of American society.

Also compelling is evidence about the second notable error — that the authors' measure of intelligence is by no means immutable, as their thesis requires. Prof. Derek Neal of the University of Chicago and Prof. William Johnson of the University of Virginia have shown that scores on the measurement used by Mr. Herrnstein and Mr. Murray, the Armed Forces Qualification Test, depend on how much schooling individuals have completed. Put simply, the more students study in school, the better they do on the test. So what the authors call immutable intelligence turns out to be what others call skills — indeed, teachable skills.

This mistake turns the message of the book on its head. Instead of its sighing surrender to supposed genetic destiny for poor children, there's a corrected message: Teach them.

Andrew Sullivan remains a shameful figure in our public discourse.

James Watson: ready to up’n die.

I doan know why, but dey’s sumfn bout dem aging white scientists-one er dem chuckleheads–dey alwuz love dem to scuttle deir reputations right befo’ dey die.  It happmd to Richard Herrnstein when he published Da Bell Curve with Charles Murray.  What wuz he thinkin’?  He wrote it, den up’n died.  I reckon James Watson will up’n die soon too.  I’s a-gwyne to tell ya bout it below da fold.


To All The Racists Hiding Behind Martin Luther King

Mychal Bell is a bad boy, didja know that?  He was violent.  He was a bad boy.  And because of that, no one should protest on his behalf, because if they do, they’re misguided, yes, they are misguided because it was far worse, his beating up that white boy, than it was to put some nooses on a tree.  No one was sent to the emergency room as a result of nooses on a tree.  But Mychal Bell sent a white boy to the emergency room, and he is bad.

Yep.  He was violent.  And further more, I’m no racist!  Oh no, I would be the first to say those white boys who put a noose on a tree should have been expelled!  Yes, expelled!  And those school board folks and the DA, well they should be held to account, yes they should!  But that Mychal Bell, he’s a bad boy, and you are misguided to protest on his behalf.  After all, he was violent.  What would Martin Luther King say?  He would never have marched in Jena.

And I have to say, that Mychal Bell is a lucky fellow, he’s going to have so many opportunities because of all that media attention, all that money coming his way, he’s a lucky boy and I hope he takes advantage of all these opportunities.  I wish him no ill, I just hope he realizes how lucky he is!


All the sentiments above are from comments I have read both at Daily Kos and elsewhere over the Jena 6.  My response is below.

Potpourri on an Autumn Tuesday

Assorted thoughts, links, musings…

I recommend the excerpt from the late David Halberstam’s book, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, in this month’s Vanity Fair magazine (and online). Did anyone notice the resemblance between the delusional leader, General Douglas MacArthur, and another delusional leader who occupies the White House? Or between MacArthur’s principle intelligence chief, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, who falsified intelligence reports to justify a war campaign, and others, more contemporary, who shall remain nameless.

The Korean War is a lost war to American consciousness, if you are under 50 years of age, or even 60. But the lessons of that “police action” run deep, if anyone wishes to mine them.

I can also recommend Stephen Soldz’s series on racism in the public schools, starting with this article, “School Discipline, the New “Racist” Frontier”:

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