Obama’s message of hope and change is all but lost amid the chaos of Ferguson

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-12-21 22:14Z by Steven

Obama’s message of hope and change is all but lost amid the chaos of Ferguson

The Guardian
2014-08-22

Patricia Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law
Columbia University, New York, New York

The president is being pressed to take sides in a personal, political and structural tragedy in a divided nation

In 2008, the year that Barack Obama became president of the United States, the New York-based artist Carrie Mae Weems created a video installation in which Obama’s face melts from one thing to another: model citizen, communist infiltrator, immigrant, foreigner, friend, black Jesus, brown Hitler, American dream, chicken, monkey, zebra, joker, minstrel. As Weems’s voiceover describes it: “A reason to hope, a reason to change, a reason to reason …”

Of course, Obama has always been somewhat shape-shifting in his symbolism – it’s probably what got him elected to begin with. The “hope and change” that became his trademark was more than mere slogan; the very idea of a first black president became a mirror for whatever people wanted to see in him.

Now we come to a situation all too familiar in America with the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Obama is being pressed to take one of two sides in a layered personal, political, and structural tragedy for which carelessly drawn lines in the sand could not be more unhelpful. The last two weeks of anguish in Ferguson cap a difficult season for Obama. Already besieged by the situations in Ukraine, Iraq, Gaza, Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan, he has had to manoeuvre his way through attacks at home from every side. From Congressional Republicans threatening to sue him for trying to implement healthcare reform to the snarkily undermining comments of Hillary Clinton – this summer has been a season of confrontation. Is Obama too aggressive in his exercise of executive power? Or too chicken to invade? Is he passive on immigration? Too intemperate with Congress? Rarely has a president been so buffeted by such a variety of inconsistently projected personality traits…

…With a nation so divided, Obama wades into the debate not so much as president or as constitutional law professor or as chief executive of the Justice Department. In many people’s minds, he is fixed as exclusively African American rather than “really” American. That symbolism puts him in something of a no-win situation: anything he says or does will be heard as siding. While the crowds of protesters in Ferguson and other cities around the country are actually quite diverse, they have become singularly monolithic in many media representations. Except for the journalists who have been assaulted and a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who was arrested, protesters have been portrayed as representing all African Americans everywhere – noisy “agitators” who make police and honest white citizens “fear for their lives” and who “reflect badly” on the greatness of our republic…

Read the entire article here.

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Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-12-21 21:57Z by Steven

Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US

The Guardian
2012-05-18

Patricia Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law
Columbia University, New York, New York

The rise in academic book bannings and firings is compounded by the US’s growing disregard for scholarship itself

Recently, I found out that my work is mentioned in a book that has been banned, in effect, from the schools in Tucson, Arizona. The anti-ethnic studies law passed by the state prohibits teachings that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” and/or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” I invite you to read the book in question, titled Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, so that you can decide for yourselves whether it qualifies.

In fact, I invite you to take on as your summer reading the astonishingly lengthy list of books that have been removed from the Tucson public school system as part of this wholesale elimination of the Mexican-American studies curriculum. The authors and editors include Isabel Allende, Junot Díaz, Jonathan Kozol, Rudolfo Anaya, bell hooks, Sandra Cisneros, James Baldwin, Howard Zinn, Rodolfo Acuña, Ronald Takaki, Jerome Skolnick and Gloria Anzaldúa. Even Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience and Shakespeare’s The Tempest received the hatchet.

Trying to explain what was offensive enough to warrant killing the entire curriculum and firing its director, Tucson school board member Michael Hicks stated rather proudly that he was not actually familiar with the curriculum. “I chose not to go to any of their classes,” he told Al Madrigal on The Daily Show. “Why even go?” In the same interview, he referred to Rosa Parks as “Rosa Clark.”

The situation in Arizona is not an isolated phenomenon. There has been an unfortunate uptick in academic book bannings and firings, made worse by a nationwide disparagement of teachers, teachers’ unions and scholarship itself. Brooke Harris, a teacher at Michigan’s Pontiac Academy for Excellence, was summarily fired after asking permission to let her students conduct a fundraiser for Trayvon Martin’s family. Working at a charter school, Harris was an at-will employee, and so the superintendent needed little justification for sacking her. According to Harris, “I was told… that I’m being paid to teach, not to be an activist.” (It is perhaps not accidental that Harris worked in the schools of Pontiac, a city in which nearly every public institution has been taken over by cost-cutting executives working under “emergency manager” contracts. There the value of education is measured in purely econometric terms, reduced to a “product,” calculated in “opportunity costs.”)…

Read the entire article here.

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The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Interviews, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-12-18 01:00Z by Steven

The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences

People Magazine
2014-12-17

Sandra Sobieraj Westfall


Barack and Michelle Obama (Gillian Laub)

The Obamas open up about raising their daughters, the impact of stereotypes, and what’s on the POTUS dance party playlist.

The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.

“I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years,” the first lady told People, laughing wryly, along with her husband, at the assumption that the first family has been largely insulated from coming face-to-face with racism.

“Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,” Mrs. Obama said in the Dec. 10 interview appearing in the new issue of People.

In a 30-minute conversation, the president and Mrs. Obama candidly added their stories to the national discussion of race and racial profiling that was sparked by the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.

“There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys,” said the president, adding that, yes, it had happened to him…

Read the entire article preview here.

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We Named Our Son Lincoln: A Testimony Against Racial Injustice

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-16 02:31Z by Steven

We Named Our Son Lincoln: A Testimony Against Racial Injustice

ChicagoNow: The Family Table
Chicago, Illinois
2014-12-08

Amy Negussie
Lincoln Park, Chicago

I have been debating writing about race & Ferguson the few weeks since the announcement was made that Darren Wilson was not indicted. Then came the further blow of the Eric Gardner case. As I read what others write, I struggle over whether there is anything that I can add. But if anyone might read this and listen really, listen to what I say I have to say write:

I married a black man. We named our son Lincoln David Negussie. Lincoln for Abraham Lincoln abolisher of slavery, David for my brother and my family meaning beloved, and Negussie for his African grandfather’s name meaning king.

Despite my own family’s multiracial aspect, I am guilty of racism, I am a part of the sinful racist system. Do I want to be? No…

…My hope and my prayer is that my multiracial son will be a part of uprooting injustice as his namesake was, and that in his day we will see an end to the epidemic of incarcerating (and even killing) black youth for petty crimes for which white youth often get slapped on the wrist…

Read the entire article here.

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Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-12-14 17:13Z by Steven

Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization

Dream House Publishing Company
346 pages
1947
ISBN-10: 1258772795; ISBN-13: 978-1258772796

Theodore G. Bilbo (1877-1947), State Senator, Lt. Governor, twice Governor, three terms United States Senator
State of Mississippi

The incontrovertible truths of this book and its sincere warnings are respectfully inscribed to every white man and woman, regardless of nationality, who is a bona fide citizen of the United States of America.

The title of this book is Take Your Choice–Separation or Mongrelization. Maybe the title should have been “You Must Take or You Have Already Taken Your Choice–Separation or Mongrelization,” but regardless of the name of this book it is really and in fact a S.O.S call to every white man and white woman within the United States of America for immediate action, and it is also a warning of equal importance to every right-thinking and straight-thinking American Negro who has any regard or respect for the integrity of his Negro blood and his Negro race.

For nine years I have read, studied and analyzed practically all the records and everything written throughout the entire world on the subject of race relations, covering a period of close on to thirty thousand years. For more than three years I have been writing the message of warning to the white men and women, regardless of nationality, of the United States that you will find recorded on the pages of this book.

This book is not a condemnation or denunciation of any race, white, black or yellow because I entertain no hatred or prejudice against any human being on account of his race or color—God made them so. I have endeavored to bring to the attention of the white, the yellow, and the black races the incontrovertible truths of history over a span of thirty thousand years, all in an honest attempt to conserve and protect and perpetuate my own white race and white civilization, and at the same time impress especially the black and yellow races with the fact that they must join in an effort to protect the integrity of their own race, blood, and civilization.

Be it said to the credit of the black or Negro race in the United States that no right-thinking and straight-thinking Negro desires that the blood of his black race shall be contaminated or destroyed by the commingling of his blood with either the white or yellow races. The desire to mix, commingle, interbreed or marry into the white race by the Negro race is advocated largely by the mulattoes or mongrels who are now to an alarming degree found within the Negro race in this country.

Surely every decent white man and woman in America should have cause to be alarmed over the mongrelization of their white race and the loss of their white civilization when Dr. Ralph S. Linton, a leading Professor of Anthropology of Columbia University, New York City, said just recently that at the present rate of intermarrying, interbreeding, and intermixing within nine generations, which is only 300 years, that there would be no white race nor black race in America—that all would be yellow. And in a recent article entitled “Who Is A Negro,” Herbert Asbury makes the alarming and sickening statement that “more than two million United States Negroes have crossed the color line, contributing, among other things an ever-widening stream of black blood to the native white stock.”

In the face of these two startling statements, the truth of which is established beyond every reasonable doubt by the contents of this book, the time has arrived—the clock has struck, when something must be done immediately by every white man and woman in this great and glorious country to stay or to escape the certain and tragic fate that awaits the future of our children’s children of generations yet to be born.

It is indeed a sorry white man and white woman who when put on notice of the inevitable result of mongrelization of their race and their civilization are yet unwilling to put forth any effort or make any sacrifice to save themselves and their off-spring from this great and certain calamity. YOU MUST TAKE YOUR CHOICE!

Personally, the writer of this book would rather see his race and his civilization blotted out with the atomic bomb than to see it slowly but surely destroyed in the maelstrom of miscegenation, interbreeding, intermarriage and mongrelization. The destruction in either case would be inevitable—one in a flash and the other by the slow but certain process of sin, degradation, and mongrelization.

It is not too late—we can yet save the integrity and civilization of both the white and the black races. Many great men of the past have suggested the only solution—the only salvation. A physical separation as advocated from the days of Thomas Jefferson to the present is the only solution. To do this may be a Herculean task, but it is not impossible.

On the pages of this book the author has tried to give you the indisputable truth, expose forces and influences that seek the amalgamation of our races and has pointed out the only proper solution to America’s greatest domestic problem. May God in His infinite wisdom and mercy direct us and lead us into the ways of our only salvation.

Theodore G. Bilbo, United States Senate
The Dream House
Poplarville, Mississippi
August 1, 1946…

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction by Earnest Sevier Cox
  • i. The Race Issue—Our Greatest Domestic Problem
  • ii. Race and Civilization
  • iii. The Negro Problem in American History
  • iv. Southern Segregation and the Color Line
  • v. The Demands of the Negro Leaders
  • vi. Inequalities of the White and Negro Races
  • vii. False Interpretations of American Democracy
  • viii. False Concepts of the Christian Religion
  • ix. The Campaign for Complete Equality
  • x. Astounding Revelations to White America
  • xi. The Springfield Plan and Such
  • xii. The Dangers of Amalgamation
  • xiii. Physical Separation—Proper Solution to the Race Problem
  • xiv. Outstanding Advocates of Separation
  • xv. The Negro Repatriation Movement
  • xvi. Standing at the Crossroads

Read the entire book here.

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“Race”: a Political Weapon

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-14 01:40Z by Steven

“Race”: a Political Weapon

Counterpunch: Tells the Facts and Names the Names
2014-12-03

Luciana Bohne, Professor
Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania

“The racial categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically.”

US Census

According to a widely circulated statistic, the police kill a young black man every twenty-eight hours in America. Without doubt, the police have a problem with race. Moreover, the justice system appears to have a problem, too, as proven by the Grand Jury’s failed indictment of Darren Wilson in the killing this summer of young Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The failed indictment does not mean that Wilson is innocent; only that he will not be brought to trial. This is a terrible perversion of the path to justice. It suggests deliberate prevention of trial on the nearly 100% certainty that Wilson would be found guilty if tried. I am disturbed, however, by the well-intentioned flagellants among the white, non-racist community virtually calling for “America’s” white male blood, metaphorically speaking. I am disturbed because this is the wrong response to the judicial outrage in Ferguson. We should be calling for ruling-class blood, not dividing ourselves into blacks and whites. Isn’t this division a benefit that our divide-and-rule oppressors hardly deserve? Let us not play with the cards in their deck.

To begin with, is “America” racist? Real, existing Americans voted for a black candidate for president, one, moreover, who ticked off only the “African American” category on race in the US Census of 2010. In choosing the less privileged racial group than white, Obama adhered to the principle of “hypo descent,” which the US has traditionally used to determine the race of a child born of a mixed-race union. We have a black political class in the Congress; a black Supreme Court justice; two blacks have been secretary of state (one a woman). We have not one institution in which blacks don’t figure more or less prominently. Mixed marriages have been legal since 1967. In 2008, about 14% of all first marriages were mixed race; 9% of whites, 16% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics, and 31% of Asians were interracially married…

Read the entire article here.

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How Racists and Partisans Exploit the Age of Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-12-12 16:04Z by Steven

How Racists and Partisans Exploit the Age of Obama

The Atlantic
2014-12-11

Norm Ornstein

Since 2008, the Democratic Party has increasingly become the home of minorities, while the Republican Party draws its support from whites.

One of my fondest memories was spending four days in February 1977 as a staffer sitting on the Senate floor, mostly wedged between Gaylord Nelson and Russell Long as the Senate debated a resolution to reform its committee system. They were good friends, lovely people, and great storytellers, and I mostly sat there taking their conversation in, occasionally earning my pay by letting them know what a particular provision of the resolution did or what an amendment would do.

At my request, Long opened up his Senate desk so I could see the signatures of all the senators who had used the same desk over many previous decades. The signature of Theodore Bilbo just jumped out at me. Bilbo was a legend—and not in a good way. In his two Senate terms representing Mississippi, from 1935 to 1947, he stood out as a mean and vicious racist, not shy about spouting ugly bile on the floor or elsewhere.

He wanted pure segregation and ultimately to send black Americans to Africa. He said, “The experiences and history of thousands of years prove that whenever and wherever the white and black man have tried to live side by side, the result has been mongrelization, which has destroyed both races and left a brown mongrel people.” When he filibustered an antilynching bill in 1938, he called its supporters “mulattoes, octoroons, and quadroons.” He use the “N” word incessantly, in and out of the Senate. Among a large collection of segregationists, he stood out for his ugly rhetoric and incitement of white Southerners to violence. As I sat on the Senate floor 37 years ago, I thought, “Well, we have at least come a long way.”

And we have. After Bilbo, and despite a set of Southern Democratic senators who were more civil than he was but still tenaciously segregationist, Congress passed civil-rights bills in 1957 and 1964, and the landmark Voting Rights Act in 1965—thanks in large part to the efforts of Republican heroes like Bill McCulloch and Everett Dirksen. We have seen a sharp decline in racist attitudes, a widespread acceptance of interracial marriage, and many other salutary changes. But we are seeing vividly now that race remains a defining gulf in our society, despite remarkable progress over the past five decades…

…Americans of all stripes were justifiably proud when the country elected its first black president in 2008, and again when he was reelected in 2012. The fact is that no other comparable democracy, in Europe or elsewhere, was then or would now be prepared to elect a leader from a minority group. But even as I watched the celebrations on election night in November 2008, I felt an undercurrent of unease. Heartening as it was, this was not a sign that we had broken the back of racism or of racially driven divisions in the country. The election of an African-American president could be seen by racists in America as a sign that they could be more blunt in expressing their views. After all, who could now say America is racist? And the same mindset could lead others to enable statements or actions that would otherwise be seen as over the line. And, of course, the inevitable harsh criticism of a president by partisans on the other side, something that comes with the territory, could easily take on a racial dimension for Barack Obama

Read the entire article here.

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Unrest Over Race Is Testing Obama’s Legacy

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-12-09 15:10Z by Steven

Unrest Over Race Is Testing Obama’s Legacy

The New York Times
2014-12-08

Julie Hirschfeld Davis, White House Reporter

Michael D. Shear, White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON — As crowds of people staged “die-ins” across the country last week to protest the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police officers, young African-American activists were in the Oval Office lodging grievances with President Obama.

He of all people — the first black president of the United States — was in a position to testify to the sense of injustice that African-Americans feel in dealing with the police every day, the activists told him. During the unrest that began with a teenager’s shooting in Ferguson, Mo., they hoped for a strong response. Why was he holding back?

Mr. Obama told the group that change is “hard and incremental,” a participant said, while reminding them that he had once been mistaken for a waiter and parking valet. When they said their voices were not being heard, Mr. Obama replied, “You are sitting in the Oval Office, talking to the president of the United States.”

For Rasheen Aldridge Jr., 20, a community organizer from St. Louis who attended the meeting, it was not enough. “It hurt that he didn’t seem to want to go out there and acknowledge that he understands our pain,” Mr. Aldridge said in an interview. “It would be a great mark on his presidential legacy if he would come out and touch an issue that everyone is scared to touch.”

But Mr. Obama has not been the kind of champion for racial justice that many African-Americans say this moment demands. In the days since grand juries in Missouri and Staten Island decided not to bring charges against white police officers who had killed unarmed black men, the president has not stood behind the protesters or linked arms with civil rights leaders. Although those closest to Mr. Obama insist that he feels a new urgency to capitalize on the attention to racial divisions, few dispute that he is personally conflicted and constrained by the position he holds…

…The son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya has struggled with questions about his own racial identity — described in his book “Dreams From My Father” — but Mr. Obama is by nature cool and cerebral and rarely shows emotion in public…

Read the entire article here.

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White Anxiety and the Futility of Black Hope

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-09 02:07Z by Steven

White Anxiety and the Futility of Black Hope

The New York Times
2014-12-05

George Yancy, Professor of Philosophy
Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Shannon Sullivan, Professor of Philosophy
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

This is the third in a series of interviews with philosophers on race that I am conducting for The Stone. This week’s conversation is with Shannon Sullivan, a professor in the department of philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She is the author of “Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism.” — George Yancy

George Yancy: What motivated you to engage “whiteness” in your work as a philosopher?

Shannon Sullivan: It was teaching feminist philosophy for the first time or two and trying to figure out how to reach the handful of men in the class — white men, now that I think of it. They tended to be skeptical at best and openly hostile at worst to the feminist ideas we were discussing. They felt attacked and put up a lot of defenses. I was trying to see things from their perspective, not to endorse it (it was often quite sexist!), but to be more effective as a teacher. And so I thought about my whiteness and how I might feel and respond in a class that critically addressed race in ways that implicated me personally. Not that race and gender are the same or can be captured through analogies, but it was a first step toward grappling with my whiteness and trying to use it.

What really strikes me now, as I think about your question, is how old I was — around 30 — before I ever engaged whiteness philosophically, or personally, for that matter. Three decades where that question never came up and yet the unjust advantages whiteness generally provides white people fully shaped my life, including my philosophical training and work…

G.Y.: For many whites the question of their whiteness never comes up or only comes up when they are much older, as it did in your case. And yet, as you say, there is the accrual of unjust white advantages. What are some reasons that white people fail to come to terms with the fact that they benefit from whiteness?

S.S.: That’s a tough one and there probably are lots of reasons, including beliefs in boot-strap individualism, meritocracy and the like. Another answer, I think, has to do with class differences among white people. A lot of poor white people haven’t benefited as much from whiteness as middle- and upper-class white people have. Poor white people’s “failure” to come to terms with the benefits of their whiteness isn’t as obvious, I guess I’d say. I’m not talking about a kind of utilitarian calculus where we can add up and compare quantities of white advantage, but there are differences…

G.Y.: And yet for so many poor people of color there is not only the fact that the wages pay less than pennies, as it were, but that black life continues to be valued as less. Is there a history of that racial differential wage between poor whites and poor blacks or people of color?

S.S.: Yes, definitely. Class and poverty are real factors here, but they don’t erase the effects of race and racism, at least not in the United States and not in a lot of other countries with histories (and presents) of white domination. The challenge philosophically and personally is to keep all the relevant factors in play in thinking about these issues. In that complex tangle, you hit the nail on the head when you said that black life continues to be valued as less. Poor white people’s lives aren’t valued for much either, but at least in their case it seems that something went wrong, that there was something of potential value that was lost.

Let’s put it even more bluntly: America is fundamentally shaped by white domination, and as such it does not care about the lives of black people, period. It never has, it doesn’t now, and it makes me wonder about whether it ever will…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial divisions still require full attention

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-05 21:35Z by Steven

Racial divisions still require full attention

The Daily News Journal
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
2014-12-01

Editorial Board

Harpers Ferry…Montgomery…Little Rock…Birmingham…Selma…Ferguson…

Despite some optimism that the United States had evolved into a “post-racial” era, particularly with the election of a black president, events in Ferguson, Missouri, continue to reinforce the reality of a racial divide in this country.

While the initial focus of demonstrations in Ferguson was a white police office’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, what is at issue now appears to be the entire scope of racial divisions in this country since its founding.

The decision of a St. Louis County grand jury not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown has shown further the racial divisions in this country.

Read the entire article here

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