Tag: racism

238 Years of Racism In America

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”

~Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 1852~

Racism and white supremacy in America has existed since this country was founded, even to the extent that it was enshrined in the Constitution itself and declared every 5 slaves be counted as 3 people in terms of apportionment for the House of Representatives. With the  abolition of slavery and the Thirteenth Amendment, new ways of discrimination arose with Jim Crow laws in the Soutn and relining in the North.

In a six part series at Real News Network “Reality Assets Itself“, African American historian and author Gerald Horne discusses the history of racial discrimination and its impact on the national psyche and politics today. This is the first three parts.

The Price of NAACP Compromise Was Too High



Transcript can e read here

The Black Scare and the Democratic Party



Transcript can be read here

The Counter-Revolution of 1776 and the Construction of Whiteness



Transcript can be read here

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: “From Ferguson to Palestine” … by UnaSpenser

… Occupation Is A Crime!” – chant being heard from protesters in Ferguson and at solidarity rallies around the nation.

Author’s Note: The Anti-Capitalist Meetup group felt that this is such an important subject that we decided to have me re-post an updated/more fleshed-out version of a diary I had already posted. I was wary due to the tenacious accusations of Anti-Semitism against anyone who dares to suggest that we relate to Palestinians as people. Still, that’s a First World problem. I have agreed to take that risk, again.

In a recent diary, a commenter expressed frustration when a conversation about the racism and tyrannical force being displayed in Ferguson prompted someone to bring up the Palestinians. The complaint was along the lines of “can we please just focus?”

I responded that many of my friends who are not White are quick to make the connection between what they experience here and what is happening in Gaza. Many of us see the linkage. Focusing actually means getting everybody to see that linkage and build solidarity.

The people in Ferguson have already made the linkage:

Richard Potter ‏@RichardSP86

Did everyone else catch when protesters chanted “From St Louis to #Gaza end the occupation” because that was some powerful shit. #Ferguson

“Take the ‘F*cking Toys’ Away from the Police”

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization

My one disagreement with John, the cops shouldn’t get these “toys” back no matter how well they might behave.

Amnesty International Arrives In Ferguson

In an unprecedented move, Amnesty International has sent a group of thirteen observers to observe the situation in Ferguson, MO in the aftermath of the shooting of an unarmed, black teenager, Michael Brown by a white police officer.

Amnesty decided to send a delegation to the city last week – a day after Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director Steven Hawkins sent a letter to law enforcement officials there (pdf) expressing “deep concern” about Brown’s death and the way in which the police responded to protesters in the following days.

On Saturday, Hawkins criticized Nixon’s decision to impose a mandatory midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew on Ferguson. Nixon on Monday rescinded the curfew, following another night of violence on Sunday and his decision to deploy the Guard. [..]

Jasmine Heiss, an Washington-based campaigner for Amnesty International, was part of the delegation that traveled to Ferguson. Her previous deployment? Palestine.

“What was unprecedented and is unprecedented,” Heiss said of Ferguson, “is the scope of Amnesty’s] mission.” Amnesty’s response in Ferguson, she added, was more akin to the organization’s work during the [2013 protests in Turkey than it was to any previous action the group has taken in the United States.

Amnesty is now calling for a full investigation of police tactics in Ferguson

Amnesty International USA is calling for:

   A prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown. Brown’s family must be kept informed throughout the investigation. Under international law, police officers suspected of having committed unlawful acts must be held to account through effective investigation, and where warranted, prosecuted.

   All police departments involved in policing the ongoing protests in Ferguson in response to Michael Brown’s death must act in accordance with international human rights standards. Any human rights abuses in connection with the policing of protests must be independently and impartially investigated, and those responsible held accountable.

   A thorough review of all trainings, policies and procedures with regards to the use of force and the policing of protests should be undertaken.

“Moving forward, we must seize this moment to bring about a wide-ranging review of all trainings, policies and procedures with regard to the use of force and the policing of protests in Ferguson and around the country,” added Hawkins. “This is a moment for people around the country – and around the world – to join the Ferguson community in raising concerns about race and policing, and about the impact of militarization on our fundamental right to peacefully assemble.”

Amnesty’s Executive Director, Stephen Hawkins spoke with Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman about the protests and the police tactics



The transcript can be read here.

50 Years After Freedom Summer

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against blacks and women, including racial segregation. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (“public accommodations”). Powers given to enforce the act were initially weak, but were supplemented during later years. Congress asserted its authority to legislate under several different parts of the United States Constitution, principally its power to regulate interstate commerce under Article One (section 8), its duty to guarantee all citizens equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment and its duty to protect voting rights under the Fifteenth Amendment.

This year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of Freedom Summer, also known as the Mississippi Project, a campaign to register as many African-American voters as possible, especially in the state of Mississippi. That campaign was marked with violence by the locals directed against the outsiders. During the course of the 12 week campaign:

  • four civil rights workers were killed (one in a head-on collision)
  • at least three Mississippi blacks were murdered because of their support for the civil rights movement
  • our people were critically wounded
  • 80 Freedom Summer workers were beaten
  • 1,062 people were arrested (out-of-state volunteers and locals)
  • 37 churches were bombed or burned
  • 30 Black homes or businesses were bombed or burned

The worst of the violence was the murder of three young civil rights workers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, by members of the Klu Klux Klan.

When the men went missing, SNCC and COFO workers began phoning the FBI asking for an investigation. FBI agents refused, saying it was a local matter. Finally, after some 36 hours, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered an investigation. FBI agents began swarming around Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney had been arrested. For the next seven weeks, FBI agents and sailors from a nearby naval airbase searched for the bodies, wading into swamps, and hacking through underbrush. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover went to Mississippi on July 10 to open the first FBI branch office there.

Throughout the search, Mississippi newspapers and word of mouth perpetuated the common belief that the disappearance was “a hoax” designed to draw publicity. The search of rivers and swamps turned up the bodies of eight other black men. Herbert Oarsby, a 14-year old youth, was found wearing a CORE T-shirt. Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore had been expelled from Alcorn A&M for participating in civil rights protests. The other five men were never identified. On August 4, 1964, the bodies of Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman were found buried beneath an earthen dam.

Now five decades later, there is a concerted effort by the right wing, most white Republican, faction to end all that was achieved for equality that summer. At Esquire’s Politics Blog, Charles Pierce summarized why now more than ever we must get out the vote:

Over the weekend, I watched the PBS documentary on Freedom Summer, the effort 50 years ago to register African Americans to vote in the state of Mississippi, the effort that cost so many people so dearly, especially the families of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Mickey Schwerner, who were beaten and shot to death, and buried in a dam, because the state of Mississippi had local police forces shot through with the Ku Klux Klan.  Now, five decades later, with a Republican House far gone into nihilistic vandalism, and with the Senate hanging in the balance, and a Supreme Court one septuagenarian’s heartbeat away from a return to the golden days of the last Gilded Age, and a Democratic president in the White House on whom those responsible for the previous three phenomena have painted a bullseye, we keep hearing about how hard it is going to be for the Democratic party to turn out its voters this fall to take advantage of the opportunities for which Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner gave their lives, and did so in my lifetime, not in a distant antebellum episode in some backwater.

Racism is not dead in America. It is very much alive. In a detailed article at Huffington Post, Braden Goyette and and Alissa Scheller prove that racism is a live and well and we, as Americans, are a long way from being post racial.

In his 2007 majority opinion limiting the use race to desegregate schools, Chief Justice John Roberts said “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”  Seven years later, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent taking Roberts to the woodshed over the court’s upholding the affirmative action ban (pdf) adopted by Michigan’s voters. Calling Robers “out of touch with reality, she read her dissent aloud:

In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter.

We need to push all our representatives in local city and town councils, state legislatures and Congress to remember what so many gave their blood, sweat, tears and lives to win, Freedom for All.

The Politics of Racial Divide

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Great deal of right wing criticism of President Barack Obama is motivated by the fact that he is part African American. Many of the new voting laws being passed in Republican controlled states are racially motivated. Much of the rhetoric regarding the social safety net is openly couched with terms like “Welfare Queens,” and “lazy, dependent and entitled.” Racism in America is alive and well and flourishing.

Ian Haney López, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley and senior fellow at Demos, writes an account of the history of subtle racists language and how it is used today:

In Dog Whistle Politics, Demos’ new Senior Fellow Ian Haney López offers a sweeping account of how politicians and plutocrats deploy veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the extremely rich yet threaten their own interests. Dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations regulatory control over industry and financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives. The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform.

Mr. Haney López joined Bill Myers to discuss the Dog Whistle Politics of Race



The transcript can be read here

Haney López is an expert in how racism has evolved in America since the civil rights era. Over the past 50 years, politicians have mastered the use of dog whistles – code words that turn Americans against each other while turning the country over to plutocrats. This political tactic, says Haney López, is “the dark magic” by which middle-class voters have been seduced to vote against their own economic interests.

“It comes out of a desire to win votes. And in that sense… It’s racism as a strategy. It’s cold, it’s calculating, it’s considered,” Haney López tells Bill, “it’s the decision to achieve one’s own ends, here winning votes, by stirring racial animosity.”

AC Meetup: Differences Matter-Wage and Wealth Gap for Single Mothers Of Color by Diana Zavala

The following is a guest diary by Diana Zavala. An educator, political activist and single mother of two, this is the second guest diary that Diana has written for us. Diana presented this piece as part of the panel at Left Forum 2013 organised by Geminijen.

Three years ago I found myself closing the chapter on my marriage. I did this against the advice of my friends who tried persuading me to stay for the children, for the sake of security and until I finished my studies. I had spent 10 years in an unsatisfying marriage and the thought of one more day for the sake of something/somebody else just was not acceptable. I left the marriage and while the emotional release was satisfying; but being independent and having to be responsible for my family was a reality I don’t think I fully grasped.

I decided there had to be a way that women in my situation could qualify for public assistance. Here I was a student, with two kids, huge rent bill, no health insurance, but these circumstances were only temporary I thought, and with a little assistance I would be able to overcome them and get myself back on my feet. I thought ‘hey, I’m not the quintessential “welfare queen” so demonized by society’, I’m someone who needs help and can become independent with some assistance. I discovered it wasn’t the case, that women who were in my predicament had no safety nets available for them to bounce back. I didn’t qualify for anything because I had too much money from child support which was just enough to cover the rent. The Welfare office recommended I become homeless in order to apply for Section 8 housing and I didn’t qualify for Food Stamps, nor did I qualify for Medicaid.

Here it was, I had been a high school teacher before getting married, I left teaching to care for my son while my husband’s career progressed and so did his income and retirement. I had no money and no savings and was being advised to become homeless so I could qualify for housing assistance and food stamps, so I could provide for my children.

I had walked into the office feeling like a strong feminist who had left her marriage choosing independence from a husband and who could make it on her own. I was college educated, employable, and young enough to have energy to fight and overcome. I came out of the office understanding that my situation was no different from other women who leave, that while I had education and language, my status as a single mother did not differ much from that of my mother’s when she immigrated from Honduras after she divorced my father.

What’s African-American DNA?

When the wannabe cop, George Zimmerman, shot an unarmed teenager through the heart for having too much skin pigmentation, a racist jury of skin pigment-challenged women decided it was a good and just thing to do because they heard the large man with the gun screaming for help.

Betcha a jury of non-skin-pigment-challenged men would have heard the unarmed teenager as the one screaming for help from the heavier stalker with the gun.

There was, as usual, lots of ignorant, untruthful testimony in the trial but how could anyone top the imaginary African-American DNA the pathologist claimed was found?

It is not hard to differentiate biology from culture though both contribute to the individual. A racist cannot do so because he or she is blinded by color they claim, like sociologists, to be unable to see.

When Jesse Owens caused a stir in the 1936 Olympics by outrunning Der Fuehrer’s Supermen, learned scholars wrote in scientific journals that Jesse had the advantage of the negroid foot.

But Jesse had a caucasoid foot when someone bothered looking at Jesse’s foot rather than his face.

So then wasn’t Jesse a caucasian with the same disadvantage, if such it be, as the German supermen?

If there were a God, would He not save us from this hateful color bigotry?

The pathologist was undoubtedly relying on continental ancestry but that does not exactly fit continents nor does it comport with skin pigmentation.

Caucasian and Negroid arose from physical anthropologist’s attempt to differentiate sub-species of Homo sapiens before DNA.

Continental ancestry based on DNA groupings includes the South Asian sub-continent for “European” ancestry while the “African” ancestry in popular and also misleading popular misconception includes only sub-Saharan Africa in broad categorization.

There is no DNA for culture and bigotry that twists both to accommodate popular prejudices.  

Best,  Terry  

Racist America’s Atrocious Color Line

Was not Michelle Obama her great-great-great-grandfather’s granddaughter?

The First Family: A New Glimpse of Michelle Obama’s White Ancestors

We knew that the Sunday article about Mrs. Obama’s white ancestors would stir considerable interest so we decided to invite readers to pose questions and make comments. We never imagined that one of those readers would provide us with the first glimpse of two key figures in the first lady’s family tree: The white man who owned Mrs. Obama’s great-great-great grandmother, Melvinia Shields, and his son, who most likely fathered Melvinia’s child.

The photo came from Jarrod Shields, a science teacher at a community college in Alabama who also happens to be the great-great-great grandson of Henry Wells Shields. He was getting ready to mow the lawn when his wife, Tonya, got a call about the article and called him to come inside. Jarrod had grown up knowing that his family had once owned slaves and always wondered what happened to their descendants. His wife sent me an e-mail this week, outlining her husband’s connection to the Shields family, along with the photograph.

When I spoke to Jarrod by phone, he told me that he hoped that he might be able to meet his extended black family, he said of the descendants of the slaves his ancestors had owned. “I always really wanted to say I was sorry.

Why is Jarrod sorry?  

“I always really wanted to say I was sorry. I also wanted to let them know that we’re glad that you’re part of our family, however it came about.”

http://www.nytimes.com/interac…

The sentiment is appreciated but why should Jarrod be sorry and Michelle not sorry?  Didn’t they both have the same ancestry?

The obvious goodwill and good intentions of Jarrod Shields leave a bitter aftertaste to those who will see instead of only feel.

As long as there is “them” and “us” based only on an insane and uncertain color line, there will continue to be armies of victims like Trayvon Martin on both sides of the line.

The lines extend far beyond the separate and unequal societies to a very lethal effect on scientific medical research as one example.

Best,  Terry

The Soft Racism of Chris Hayes

If you intend to be offended by the title, then you will be and maybe we can discuss the weather or something.

I am in absolute awe of Chris Hayes but his use of the soft racism equating ethnicity to race to attack the hard racism of John Roberts is like fingernails on a blackboard to me.  It is akin to the Southern ladies using “nigra” in place of the awful word that showed they were more cultured than their menfolk.

Ethnicity is about culture.

Race has always been about biology, no matter how perverted it might have become.

So what is a reporter to do to make himself understood?

How about not mixing the two?

When Elizabeth Warren claimed American Indian ancestry, there was no reason to doubt her beyond her sketchy knowledge.  Hard racist Scott Brown declared Warren was no American Indian because anyone could tell by just looking.  In a pig’s eye.

But Elizabeth was not remotely an ethnic American Indian, whatever her ancestry. She seemed surprisingly ignorant of what that would mean – without intending any insult.

We will never sideline the ubiquitous racism in American society until we know the difference between biology and culture.

I bet, dear reader, I could explain it quite easily to Chris Hayes talking face to face but I may not be able to explain it to you.

Best,  Terry

Voting Rights Are Not A Racial Entitlement

Adapted from Rant of the Week at The Stars Hollow Gazette

Voting is no ‘racial entitlement,’ Justice Scalia

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could mean the end of a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. At the heart of the case is the question of whether states with a long history of racial discrimination must still get permission from the Justice Department before changing their voting laws.

We’ll have to wait until summer for the Court’s decision. But we can take a pretty good guess about what one of the justices thinks about the VRA right now. In comments that drew gasps from lawyers listening in at the Court, he made no secret of his feelings about the law.

Justice Archie Bunker Opines Voting Rights

Adapted from Rant of the Week at The Stars Hollow Gazette

Voting is no ‘racial entitlement,’ Justice Scalia

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could mean the end of a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. At the heart of the case is the question of whether states with a long history of racial discrimination must still get permission from the Justice Department before changing their voting laws.

We’ll have to wait until summer for the Court’s decision. But we can take a pretty good guess about what one of the justices thinks about the VRA right now. In comments that drew gasps from lawyers listening in at the Court, he made no secret of his feelings about the law.

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