Saturday, May 31, 2008

White Racism: 2 vs Truth:0 (updated)

Though the decision was made a while ago, Sen Barack Obama has decided to leave his church. White voters and their enablers-of-color were terrified that Obama might be a black separatist or anti-white racist because of the few comments they've heard from Rev. Wright and Pfleger. The truth is that both were speaking out against white supremacy and in favor of black pride in the face of anti-black racism. So, white racism won out on this issue.

The argument most white voters and their enablers-of-color make is that not all whites are racist or privileged. This, too, is a lie that supports the continuation of white racism. The USA Today has reported that the federal government is filing fewer housing discrimination charges even as consumer complaints against landlords, real estate agents and mortgage brokers have risen steadily. And if you read through the comments, you'll see that even with facts describing bias against people of color, some people defend of white racism. So, truth loses again.

In the meantime, the DNC has reached a compromise on Florida and Michigan. The new number is 2118 as full delegations from both states were given half a vote for each delegate. Obama is only 66 delegates away from that number. But, I'm not so thrilled as I would've been. Though I still find Obama far superior to Clinton and out of McCain's league, I never found him quite far enough to the political left to make any substantial changes. Robert Jensen explains that point quite well here. But, I was still willing to support Obama's candidacy for president. His recent capitulation to white racism and injustice saddens me very much.

Update: "I'm not denouncing the church and I'm not interested in people who want me to denounce the church," he said, adding that the new pastor at Trinity and "the church have been suffering from the attention my campaign has focused on them." - Obama.

I still don't find Obama to be my dream candidate, but knowing that part of his leaving had to do with how the story was Impacting the church, not just how the church was impacting his nomination chances makes me feel better about supporting him 100%.

The Clintons are Wrong

As best as I can, I will list their complaints about the primary elections. For every complaint, I will elucidate the truth.

1. The media has been bias against Clinton.

Not true.
"In fact, when it came to character, the tone of the reporting was about the same, with both candidates receiving about twice as much positive press as negative between Jan. 1 and Mar. 9.
“The trajectory of the coverage, however, began to turn against Obama, and did so well before questions surfaced about his pastor Jeremiah Wright,” the authors of the study wrote. “Shortly after Clinton criticized the media for being soft on Obama during a debate, the narrative about him began to turn more skeptical — and indeed became more negative than the coverage of Clinton herself.”"

Here's the study itself.

2. Sexism has played a large part in Clinton's failure to clinch the nomination. Racism hasn't been much of a factor, if at all.

Not true.
"In most states, Clinton received roughly half the male vote: about what you'd expect in any primary where you have two candidates whose policies are so similar, and where the ideological differences between them are so small. And in almost every state, Clinton won more than half of the white male vote, often much more."

3. Sexism is worse in society; racism has largely been eradicated.

Not true.
"In 2007, the Level Playing Field Institute conducted a rigorous study of 19,000 professionals and managers to determine who leaves corporate America and why. When the data were broken down, race, not gender, became the defining demographic. People of color are more than three times as likely to leave solely due to unfairness (9.5%) than Caucasian heterosexual men (3.0%). In comparison, Caucasian women are only one-and-a-half times more likely to leave (4.6%)."

4. Michigan and Florida are civil rights issues.

Not true.
NHPR's Laura Knoy: "So, if you value the DNC calendar, why not just pull out of Michigan? Why not just say, Hey Michigan, I'm off the ballot?"

Hillary Clinton: "Well, you know, It's clear, this election they're having is not going to count for anything"

Clinton initially supported stripping Florida and Michigan of their delegates. Even Harold Ickes said, "This committee feels very strongly that the rules ought to be enforced." Clinton's campaign sent out a memo which stated, "We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process. And we believe the DNC’s rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role. Thus, we will be signing the pledge to adhere to the DNC approved nominating calendar." And she opposed revotes until it became politically advantageous to be a "champion" of the people.

Moreover. Had Florida and Michigan conducted their primaries the way the other 48 states conducted their own primaries and caucuses -- that is, in accord with the very clear calendar laid down by the DNC well before the primaries began -- then Clinton's marchers would be utterly justified in their claims. But when the two states flouted those rules by moving their primaries outside the prescribed time frame, the DNC, which gave neither state a waiver to do so, decreed that their primaries would not count and enjoined all presidential candidates from campaigning in those states.

And, despite the high turn-out, many, many more voters didn't vote because they believed the DNC and the candidates when told the primaries wouldn't count.

And to top if off, Clinton's solution to Michigan is essentially racist and denies the votes of black Michiganders. About 25% of Michigan’s Democratic voters are Black — and about 70% of those voters chose to vote for “uncommitted.” In effect, the candidate preferred by white voters is given two bites; the candidate preferred by Black voters is given only one bite. In effect, Black votes in Michigan are worth less than white votes in Michigan.

So, much of Clinton's arguments are either specious or are right false. The notion that not seating Florida and Michigan in full will hurt is specious as well. There are tons of new Democratic voters. Most voters understand that the fight over Michigan and Florida delegates is not the civil rights movement of 2008. Moreover, a general election campaign hasn't been run yet. Once voters know the policy differences between Obama and McCain, how Michigan and Florida turn out won't be much of an issue.

Whitey, Please II

I am very disappointed in some of the reaction to Pfleger's comments.

Let me say again that he was wrong in making partisan comments in church. However, those comments were neither racist nor sexist.

But I'm mostly disappointed in the castigation of the congregation. The congregation is being accused of anti-white racism.

In the meantime, the murderers of Sean Bell go free, and Pat Buchanan and Geraldine Ferrarro are treated as serious voices.

So let me be clear for all white Americans who don't seem to understand. When black people cheer a denunciation of white supremacy, white entitlement, white privilege, we are not cheering and ridiculing white people. As long as white Americans equate the rejection of anti-racial minority racism with anti-white racism, we will get nowhere with racial reconciliation. As long as speaking the truth is divisive, we will get nowhere with racial reconciliation. And let's be clear, the reason truth has become so divisive is that white Americans refuse to accept the truth. And here's how "division" benefits them and why they keep calling foul: as long as there is "division," nothing will change; and, white Americans can continue in their happy lives, which aren't negatively impact by racism, without giving up any of their white-skin privilege.

And here's what everyone needs to understand. The fact that the party which benefits from racism gets to determine the bounds of racial discussion is an indication of white supremacy itself.

What I, as an anti-racist activist, demand is not some "kumbaya" hand-holding with the races making nice while whiteness is still held as the standard. I don't want the "equal opportunity" to be white. I demand justice. Justice demands truth. And if whites are so resistant to hear the truth that truth-telling is divisive, so be it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Whitey, Please Get Over Yourself

It's not hate to speak the truth.

"This is mine. I'm Bill's wife. I'm white. And this is mine."

These are the words of Chicago Catholic pastor Michael Pfleger (and hopefully the right video).

Now, me, I find the whole episode hilarious! But, I do wanna make some things clear.

Pfleger was wrong for what he said because it appears to be partisan, and churches can't engage in partisan politics. I say "appears to be" because, while I haven't seen, heard, or read the entire sermon, I can imagine he was making a larger point about racism in America.

Part of what makes the clip funny is that that's exactly how Hillary Clinton has been acting this entire campaign.

Let me translate things for you.

"This is mine," is what Clinton meant when she told Katie Couric when asked if she would be dissapointed if she weren't the Democratic nominee, “Well, it will be me,” she said.

"I'm Bill's wife," is what Clinton says everytime she embraces to the 90s.

"I'm white," is what Clinton is pointing out when she talks about winning "hard working Americans, white Americans."

The Obama said he was "disappointed" by the comments. Pfleger, for his part, apologized. The Clinton campaign is whining . . . again.

Pfleger also said, "Unless you are willing to give up the benefits then you must be responsible for what was done in your generation, because you are the beneficiaries of this insurance policy."

But besides the partisan politics in church, nothing was wrong with what Pfleger said. Nothing. I know some people find his words devisive. The truth can be that way for people who refuse to see. So long as white Americans refuse to acknowledge the benefits they receive simply because they're white, there will be no racial reconciliation.

So long as the overwhelming majority of white Americans play "symmetry" games, there will be no reconciliation. I will not accept superficial symmetry for true equality. What gets white people in trouble for saying things like this is that they're often spreading lies and parroting false stereotypes about the Black community. Here Pfleger is neither lying nor spreading a false stereotype.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Problem with Big Mouth and Big Mouthed Lies

Let me explain the problem with her statements and lack of apology to the Obama family.

First, she said the word "assassination." That's the problem. She said the word "assassination." Regardless of what she meant or what she may really be thinking, you can't say "assassination" during a campaign with the first viable black candidate.

Now, her whole timeline argument is bogus. Bill knew in March after one month of primaries that he pretty much had it locked. It just took till the California primary in June for him to get the technical requisite number. Robert F Kennedy, Sr only campaigned a month before he was . . . killed. So, the whole argument is dishonest. Either she's lying, or she's just plain dumb.

I don't buy this whole argument that it's the Obama campaign's fault that her were so insidious. The Clintons are whining that the Obama campaign sent out memos highlighting what she said and adding their spin. And they're whining about it like she didn't make the most of Rev. Wright and Obama's "bitter" comments. Like Howard Wolfson wasn't on 2 or 3 conference calls a day going bananas.

Here's why she should apologize to the Obamas. Her words sound as though she's waiting for him to be assassinated so she can win the nomination. Is she too dumb to see that, or too arrogant to acknowledge it? What's more, her lack of apology is going to cost her even more with the black community, especially in NYC. It would have been easy and admirable for her to say that she understands her words could be misconstrued, but she "honestly, honestly didn't mean it the way it sounded" and she apologizes for the misunderstanding. That would've ended the discussion. Instead, her campaign goes into hyper-indignation mode and keeps the story going fairly well themselves without any help from the Obama campaign.

And no one's been pushing Clinton out of the campaign. She hasn't been "disrespected." Michael Dukakis was out polling GHW Bush in 1988. We see how well that worked out for the Democrats. With the exception of Johnathan Alter and Keith Olbermann, most the media is thrilled with the prospects of a divided convention. People did tell Ted Kennedy to drop out in 1980. He didn't. He split the party. Carter lost. No one had to tell Gary Hart or Jerry Brown to drop out in 1992 because it was quite clear that Clinton was going to be the nominee and neither of them had a chance. So let me be clear. The Clintons are lying to you.

And sexism has not been the downfall of her campaign. She lost 11 primaries and caucuses in a row because she didn't have a post Super Tuesday (the one of February the 5th) plan, not because of sexism. Her fight for Michigan and Florida are exaggerated and embarrassing. Especially seeing as how she agreed they "wouldn't count." This isn't to say that sexism doesn't exist and didn't come up the campaign, it's only to say that it's not why she has lost it, both the campaign and her bearings. Moreover, despite her supporters offering Obama one of her 3 testicles (like that's not sexist to both Obama and Clinton), Obama never played gender against her despite her playing race against him. I know lots of white Americans and their enablers-of-color swear her campaign hasn't race baited, but as I laid out in my May 18 post on race relations, white people can't be depended up to accurately detect, much less admit, racism.

And let me put a finer point on this. Many Democratic women and men, like Geraldine Ferrarro, are threatening to vote for McCain, or not at all, in retaliation proportedly for the DNC's failure to speak out against sexism coming from the media. Not that any sexism came from the Obama campaign on the DNC itself. But, in retaliation their going to vote for McCain. McCain who, by the way, failed to correct a woman who, during a small group campaign stop, asked him, "How're we going to stop the bitch?" McCain who has historically stood against women's reproductive rights, recently against equal pay, and promised to add more Scalias and Alitos to the court. Yeah, they're going to support him because Obama and the DNC were sufficiently anti-sexist.

Now, maybe Jesse Jackson Jr shouldn't have made the Katrina comments after Clinton misty moment in New Hampshire, where, by the way, she said, "Some of us are ready. And some of us are not." Even in her most human moment, she can take a nasty swipe at Obama. JJ, Jr's point was essentially that he didn't buy her tears. I didn't either. But other than that, there's no way that the Obama campaign played the race card against her.

Now, if you look through my earlier posts, you'll see I was originally okay with the prospects of Obama and Clinton being in the White House together, whoever was president and vice president. I know longer feel that way. I don't even want Clinton on the ticket.

Let me qualify this by saying the Obama campaign didn't have me right this post and probably won't read this post. But I sure feel better getting all that off my chest!

(- I will link other assertions at a later date.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Racism and the Way to Reconciliation

Let me first apologize to nonAfrican American minorities. I’m much more learned and versed to race relations as it pertains to white Americans and black Americans. The process to reconciliation is pretty much the same, though, if that helps.

As we begin this conversation, let’s first address some issues we know are fact. For example, fact: anti-black/African racism is pervasive in America.

Here are some other facts. Due to this racism, African Americans are at a disadvantage in all the following areas: school discipline; academic tracking; health care and medical treatment; criminal justice; employment; income; wealth accumulation; and, other areas.

Fact: affirmative action does minorities good while not displacing white Americans.

Fact: white Americans often hold greater anti-black bias than they are willing to admit ("Mapping White College Students' Racial Ideology" by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Tyrome Forman).

Fact: when white supremacy is challenged, white supremacy being pro-white bias, white Americans often deny its existence and demonstrate even greater anti-black bias ("Racial Attitudes in Response to Thoughts of White Privilege" by Nyla R. Branscombe and Michael T Schmitt).

Fact: white Americans are poor detectors of racism unless it’s blatant. This and the two previous facts prevent the overwhelming majority of white Americans from having anything beneficial to contribute to a conversation on racial reconciliation. And as black Americans are the ones who suffer from anti-black bias held by society at large, I feel it’s only fair that we (and other minorities) determine the terms of conversation. And I know telling others to shut-up is just not done; and, my prohibition on most white American contribution is harsh. But how else do we solve a problem that most white Americans deny either in quality and quantity, personal responsibility, or just outright deny?

And I only prohibit most, not all. Those white Americans who see themselves not as white or even American and/or those who are willing to endure the brunt of years of pent up anger may have something usable to contribute. I dare not refuse them the opportunity to speak. You would do well to do more listening than talking if your contribution sounds something like this: everyone is racist; what about reverse-racism?; why do we always have to focus on white people’s racism?; I wasn’t there, therefore it’s not my fault; how dare you suggest I have nothing to contribute! That’s racism; you’re making me feel uncomfortable, therefore I will disengage; etc and et al. In other words, if your response is a defensive one, please, keep it to yourself. Or, better yet, forget it altogether.

Now, this is not to say that white Americans should place the burden of finding a way to racial harmony on black Americans. This isn't to say that white Americans have absolutely nothing to contribute. This is to say, however, that your reflexive defensive responses aren't getting us anywhere. And that's a fact.

Fact: African Americans don’t ally with each other on the basis of skin color or even on similar culture; we find solidarity amongst each other on the basis of a common struggle against anti-black bias. It’s not our heritage, not our history that binds us. We are bound together by our common cause of true justice and racial equality.

Fact: there is no problem within the Black Community that an end to white supremacy won’t solve (taken from a quote by Tim Wise, a white anti-racist activist). Therefore, we will not discuss problems within the Black Community as though they don’t exist elsewhere and under other conditions.

I will, however, discuss a path towards racial harmony. It is simple. Perhaps easier said than done, but simple.

White Americans must stop identifying their whiteness in terms of its superior position to others. That is to say, be white and proud. Be proud of your families and neighborhoods. But you cannot continue taking pride in the success you have that others do not, or cannot, attain. The fact is your success sometimes comes at a price that others pay or is success others don't have the opportunity to attain. Hard words to hear, I’m sure. But true.

This brings me to my next point. White Americans must stop defining truth and reality. Rev. Jeremiah Wright spoke the truth. He lives in reality. If there is going to be racial reconciliation, white Americans have to quit calling the truth a lie and reality a fantasy.

Now, let’s address American history. First and perhaps most importantly, it would be nice if the truth was taught in our schools and colleges. Our “Founding Fathers” enjoyed great success and the leisure to achieve their accomplishments due to the wealth that African slavery and the African slave trade generated. And just as white Americans point to Europe as the beginning of the American tale, so too is there a tale to be told from Africa. She should speak as well.

Before you start on your guilt trip, no one is blaming you for what happened in the past. It’s true that none of us were there. What’s also true is that there is yet a debt that has not been paid. There remain stolen goods, if you will, that have not been returned. Yes, it’s true that all the slaves and even their sons and daughters have died. What’s also true, however, is that money doesn’t die; it gains compound interest.

And presently, white Americans everyday enjoy undue advantages based on the color of their skin.

So what’s the answer? How do we go from racial tension to racial harmony?

Well, integration is only part of the solution. That solution being true equality. Address everyone’s history and literature and contributions to mathematics and science. Fund all schools the same amount of money, regardless of the property-value of the neighborhood. Promote students based on their actual standardized test scores, not on what you imagine their ability to be. Diagnose and treat each patient’s ailment, not their race. Only pull over a driver who has actually broken a traffic law. Punish the crime, not the person. And so on and so forth.

And why isn’t integration the sole answer? Just because white students sit next to black students doesn’t mean an end to racism. This is especially so since whiteness is taught as superior. White American dialect is the standard; white American dialect is “proper.” European and white American literature and music are classics. If, instead, literature and music from across the globe were taught as equals, we would see white supremacy begin to fall. If African American vernacular English were treated as an equal dialect, even if not the academic or business dialect, white supremacy would begin to crumble.

These are just my own initial suggestions and ideas. These are neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. If you really seek the end of white supremacy, you would do well to seek out other anti-racist activists.
Posted by no1kstate at 6:06 PM
Labels: Anti-Racism, Equality and Justice

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