Posts tagged ‘Race’

August 30, 2011

Undoing Institutional Racism with Personal Stories

by Vince
May 31, 2011

A Prison Nation

by Vince

KT provides some interesting points for those willing to discuss America’s prison system:

In the twenty-seven nations of the European Union, whose combined population exceeds ours by nearly two hundred million, the total prison population for all crimes combined is around six hundred thousand.  In the US, we’ve got almost that number of people – five hundred thousand to be precise — in prison for drug related crimes alone.  And many of these crimes involve no violence whatsoever.

Even the racial aspects of incarceration are striking:

African Americans make up roughly twelve percent of our total population, but they make up over forty percent of the prison population.  Latinos make up thirteen percent of the population, but twenty percent of prison inmates.  The prison system is one of the epicenters of racial inequality in America.   If current trends continue, one-third of all black males and one-sixth of all Latino males will go to prison during their lives, as opposed to one in seventeen white males.

As easy as it is to say “fix the broken system!” it is harder than many can fathom. Just spending one day in an in-school suspension room at a middle school will give you a taste of what reformers are up against. We cannot talk to these detained students, yet (healthy) attention is most likely just what they need. We cannot really help them with their work and are to encourage them to figure it out on their own (because they ruined their chance in class to be taught), yet patient help is what they do need.

This may take me off of the original topic, but it has me questioning aspects of the public school system (which I have been for a few months). The system is very much assembly-line-esque with almost a one size fits all approach. The outlier pupils – most notably those who cannot sit still due to ADHD, anxiety, etc. – are disciplined. From my first hand experience, the students I had who exhibited ADHD or anxiety symptoms had issues stemming from their parents (or lack of parental presence). Some of these students became hyper-active due to these home issues and others reticent to the point that I unfortunately might not even notice them on a day to day basis.

I hope this all can emphasize a few things. One, family (supportive, loving, present, active) really does matter. Two, support systems (teachers, tutors, clubs, teams, religious institutions, et al) are strong supplemental systems that in some cases are even the primary support for our younger generation. Third and finally, having the first and second aforementioned points as positive presences in a students life are just what they (and we all) need to move along through the ups and downs in life (whether through discipline issues at school, a lost job, or a string of incarcerations).

May 18, 2011

Anti-Discrimination Quote of the Day

by Vince

“First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say, ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.

Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin’ idiot. I would even say the same thing in college. Every college player, every pro player in any sport has probably played with a gay person. … They always try to make it like jocks discriminate against gay people. I’ve been a big proponent of gay marriage for a long time, because as a black person, I can’t be in for any form of discrimination at all,” – Sir Charles Barkley.

Barkley is all over the place but his final point is spot on.

May 17, 2011

Dialing R-A-C-I-A-L Numbers

by Vince

Newt Gingrich plays the old Rush Limbaugh game of dialing up racist anecdotes and then easily flops back into a defensive crybaby mode when called on them.

May 14, 2011

White Privilege, Donald Trump, and Unpaid Taxes

by Vince

Tim Wise helps us Caucasians out by using Donald Trump as an example (this is so worth a full read):

Now, with the birth certificate thing settled among remotely sane people, Trump has switched gears, casting doubt on Barack Obama’s academic performance and suggesting he didn’t deserve to get into the Ivy League schools he attended; namely, Columbia and Harvard Law. Although this plays directly into the long-running narrative so common on the white right for the past forty years, to the effect that black folks are getting things they don’t deserve because of racial favoritism, Trump insists it has nothing to do with race. Of course not. Neither could it possibly be about race that Trump would question Obama in this way, despite never having raised the issue of academic merit with any white president or politician, like, for instance, George W. Bush, who was a mediocre student (at best) in prep school and Yale, and actually bragged about his piss-poor performance to Yale students when he gave the commencement address there after becoming president.

One other noteworthy quote:

Never mind that General Electric paid less in taxes last year than undocumented immigrants, despite record profits.

May 12, 2011

Racial Progress

by Vince

Adam Serwer shares an interesting study that found (after polling 200+ blacks and 200+ whites) anti-black resentment in the eyes of blacks has gone down since the 1950s and anti-white resentment in the eyes of whites has gone up since the 2000s:

White Americans, in short, thought that anti-white bias was a greater societal problem by the ’00s than anti-black bias.

Another way to look at this is that for all the right wing complaints about a “culture of grievance,” among minorities, black people have a fairly realistic assessment of racial progress in the U.S. while many whites have an unwarranted sense that they’re being persecuted. This goes a long way toward explaining the current state of American identity politics.

Tim Wise wouldn’t be surprised.

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April 28, 2011

Washed Up White Males

by Vince

It is only a clip, but well worth your watch (his books are great, too).

It’s not that white men are the hardest hit in this recession–they aren’t by a long shot–but because of privilege and entitlement, they have had the hardest time coping with the exigencies of an imploding economy…sadly, instead of using the experience to foment solidarity with folks of color, many are missing the larger lessons…

January 17, 2011

In His Entirety: Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

by Vince

Tim Wise bemoans the sanitized honoring of MLKjr that ushers in a charity-esque response to American problems instead of a truly transformative response:

Operating on a charity model, rather than one of solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed, these service projects, while perhaps worthwhile in and of themselves, serve to reinforce the illusion that the society is basically a just one, requiring no substantial transformation, but rather, just a little more “helping out,” in order to attain perfection.

I am heading downtown today to help out with some cleaning and moving at a community center, so I guess I fall under the category of “charity actions” on this holiday. Standing up to housing, job, and food discrimination the way MLKjr did took entire towns marching many miles, taking many beatings, and sacrificing entire self for at the time little to any tangible results. The continual slow speed of results is what turned much of the civil rights movement from the non-violent approach to the “by any means necessary” with guns approach. Even at MLKjr’s funeral, a radical member of this new civil rights wave said King would have used a gun to get what he wanted.

Just as Barack Obama has been criticized by Wise for avoiding race in fear of being demonized, the CIA under J. Edgar Hoover adamantly and clandestinely worked to connect the civil rights movement to the smear of the time: communism.

It must sure take a special group of people to rise up against the status quo.

December 5, 2010

Simpsons Cartoon of the Day

by Vince


December 5, 2010

Sunday Reads

by Vince
October 19, 2010

Racism as a Public Health Crisis

by Vince

Tim Wise explains.

September 14, 2010

Itching for Division Ctd.

by Vince

“If Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist for supporting financial regulation, than Scott Brown is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. If Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist for supporting the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero, then Michael Bloomberg is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. If Obama is a Kenyan anti-Colonialist for supporting health care insurance reform, then Ben Nelson is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. The Center for American Progress is a Kenyan anti-colonialist think tank, MoveOn is a Kenyan anti-colonialist advocacy organization, and Peter Orszag is a Kenyan anti-colonialist intellectual,” – Adam Serwer.

For that matter, if Obama wants to return to Clinton-era tax rates, does that make Clinton a Kenyan anti-colonialist? If Obama wants access to private health-care insurance, while Richard Nixon backed a far more expansive program, does that make Nixon a Ugandan Marxist? Once you unpack all this, especially when you consider the multiple crises that Obama had to handle when he came to office – and the extraordinary moderation he has shown throughout (infuriating those to his left) – you realize just how base this kind of “critique” is. – Andrew Sullivan

August 28, 2010

The Commonplaceness of Prejudice and Hyperbole

by Vince

For the important part of Newt Gingrich’s interview, tune to the 3:00 mark.

Newt makes a few comments that have been replayed and analyzed countless times. Newt calls the group that wants to build this mosque radical Islamists (no proof to back that up), they have no interest in reaching out to the community (no proof to back that up, and the essence of the mosque being a community center contradicts Newt outright), they are trying to make a case about supremacy over America (no proof to back that up), and he finishes up with the unintelligent hyperbole comparing how we would never let the Nazi’s put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum, therefore these “radicals” shouldn’t build their mosque. MJ doesn’t know half of the nitty gritty details about this and when I told her that comparison, she knew right away that Newt was talking about two different things.

I gave this a lot of thought while I was on vacation. Beyond Newt’s unfounded demagogic assertions, I see at the core of this the utilization of hyperbole and prejudice. In Newt’s comparison, the victims are the Jews and Americans while the persecutors were radical Islamists and the Nazis. The problem with this comparison is that Newt twists the facts and blurs the lines between radicals and moderates.

I am not very knowledgeable on contemporary Nazism but I would guess there are not many moderates within that party. Within Islam, there seem to be many moderates and the mosque push is headed up by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who was utilized under the George W. Bush presidency. Rauf is seen as a radical because he sees America as partly to blame for 9/11. Do you become a radical terrorist sympathizer when you point out a blatant flaw in America?

I wrap this up with the inner workings of prejudice. In one way or another, many citizens of America have been hurt by 9/11. Some who have been hurt by what radical Islamists committed on 9/11 still hold that hurt today. That isn’t what I am addressing. I see that when we are hurt by a certain person, we respond by placing them within a larger homogeneous grouping. Take Muslims for example. They are only a few thousand around the globe that will turn their religion into jihad. There are 1.57 billion Muslims in the world (23% of the total global population). Look at the damage a few bad apples have done. As we place this certain person into its homogeneous group, we not only lie to ourselves about who they are but insert hate into the equation. I feel we react this way only out of self-protection. We are afraid of this person/group because they hurt us and in a way to take away our feeling of vulnerability, we make ourselves think that they are simpler than they are. This gives us the one up on them and ends any conversation and ultimately any chance of redemption. An dated version of this that I am currently reading is the view of African Americans in Atlanta during the beginning of the 20th century.

This all is right up Joe’s alley when he said how powerful our minds truly are.

July 1, 2010

Reflecting on Harvard’s Racial Blip

by Vince

Contreras and Pratt report on the panel findings of last years issue between Henry Louie Gates Jr, the Harvard professor, and the Cambridge, Massachusetts police:

The independent review said “misunderstandings and failed communications” and a “certain degree of fear” each man had for the other led to the six-minute dispute. The renowned black scholar was placed in handcuffs by the veteran white Cambridge police sergeant.

Sgt. James Crowley arrested Henry Louis Gates Jr. for disorderly conduct at the professor’s Cambridge home July 16 while investigating a possible burglary. Gates alleged he was a victim of racial profiling. Charges were later dropped.

“The committee believes if Sgt. Crowley and Professor Gates had been able to make their positions understood, and had made greater efforts to de-escalate the tensions of the encounter, the incident could have been resolved quickly and peacefully,” said Charles Wexler, chairman of a 12-member panel that studied the case.

The panel, assembled in September, was made up of law enforcement personnel, academics, and experts on race relations and conflict resolution, none with direct ties to the Cambridge police.

The report says Crowley could have more clearly explained what he was doing, especially after Gates showed him his license and university ID, and Gates could have used a respectful tone to address the officer.

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