September 16, 2014

Cantwell challenges NFL over "Redskins"

Lawmaker to introduce bill to end NFL’s tax-exempt status because of Redskins name

By Ian ShapiraSen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) announced Tuesday that she will introduce legislation to eliminate the NFL’s tax-exempt status because of its refusal to address the name of the Washington Redskins.

Flanked by several tribal chiefs, Cantwell, who is the former chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, condemned the team’s name as a slur against Native Americans.

“The NFL needs to join the rest of Americans in the 21st century,” she said. “It is about right and wrong.”

Cantwell made her remarks at a press conference called by a coalition of Native American and social justice groups leading the campaign against the Redskins’ name.

The group, Change the Mascot, which includes the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation, is calling on the owners of the 31 other NFL teams to force fellow owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s moniker.
Cantwell ties NFL tax status to Redskins name

By Joseph WhiteOverall, the message from the "Change the Mascot" leaders was that they don't plan to go away, despite Redskins owner Dan Snyder's vow not to change the name. They presented a letter that will be sent to every NFL owner except Snyder, asking each to use his "position of authority" to end the league's "promotion of a dictionary-defined racial slur."

Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter said he hoped an owner will take a bold position against the name. He cited Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, who integrated major league baseball by signing Jackie Robinson, and longtime Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who changed his NBA's team from Bullets because of the violence associated with the term.

"We're looking for the Branch Rickey, looking for Abe Pollin," Halbritter said. "They're out there. We know the owners don't share in this, but they share in the profits."

Halbritter had harsh words for the league as a whole, referencing the NFL's handling of health problems suffered by former players, as well as the recent Ray Rice domestic violence saga and the child abuse charge levied against Adrian Peterson.

"The NFL is currently facing an integrity crisis. ... While these are different issues, they are joined by a common thread of showing commercial and moral arrogance and a blatant lack of respect for those being negatively impacted," Halbritter said.

September 15, 2014

Headdress protesters file claim over brutality

Native Americans Ejected from SF Giants' "Native American Heritage Night" File Police Brutality Claims, Demand Giants Take Stand on Cultural AppropriationApril Negrette and Kimball Bighorse are filing tort claims today against the City and County of San Francisco. The claims are the first step in suing the City and County for police brutality that occurred when the Giants called in SFPD to eject Negrette and Bighorse from its June 23, 2014, “Native American Heritage Night” event and game. SFPD officers threw Ms. Negrette to the ground by her hair, violently twisted her arms and kept her in an excruciating pain compliance hold for an extended period of time. When Mr. Bighorse video-recorded this with his smart phone, SFPD officers also subjected him to excessive force and an invasive search, accused both of being drunk (neither had had any alcohol), and detained them until the end of the game.

Ms. Negrette and Mr. Bighorse, who did not know each other before that night, had peacefully confronted a group of inebriated men who were inappropriately and disrespectfully wearing a plastic counterfeit Native American-themed headdress, explaining that what they were doing was offensive and wrong. The group gave the offending headdress to Ms. Negrette. The Giants then ordered the San Francisco Police to eject Negrette, who is Shoshone and Paiute, and Bighorse, who is Cayuga, Navajo, and Seneca–but not the drunken men, most of whom were white–from the stadium. The police then returned the headdress to the group, who returned to wearing the imitation headdress and enjoying the rest of the game undisturbed. The Giants’ and SFPD’s actions violated Negrette and Bighorse’s constitutional rights and the UN General Assembly’s "Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" (DRIP) adopted overwhelmingly on September 13, 2007 (see

“I am tired of being walked all over,” April Negrette explained. “Nobody would call me a sq*aw to my face, but they will make fun of our culture–the cultures that were outlawed, forcibly removed from us, beaten out of us in boarding schools, that people were murdered for simply because we were different–and play dress up in it now because all of a sudden it’s cool to be a Native? No way. We live, breathe and die this everyday. We walk around with the influences of those things ingrained in us to this day.”

In addition to filing a claim against San Francisco, Negrette, Bighorse and the National Lawyers Guild have demanded an apology from the Giants and that the Giants expressly prohibit headdresses and other appropriations of Native American spirituality and culture at their games, provide cultural sensitivity training to their security staff, not display racist team names and imagery (such as the Cleveland Indians or Atlanta Braves), and issue a public call to all Bay Area professional and college sports teams and all Major League Baseball teams to adopt similar policies.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see SF Giants to Ban Headresses?

September 14, 2014

Killing blacks = "perfect crime"

In defense of black rage: Michael Brown, police and the American dream

I don't support the looting in Ferguson, Missouri. But I'm also tired of "turning the other cheek" and forgiving

By Brittney Cooper
I believe that racism exists in the inexplicable sense of fear, unsafety and gnawing anxiety that white people, be they officers with guns or just general folks moving about their lives, have when they encounter black people. I believe racism exists in that sense of mistrust, the extra precautions white people take when they encounter black people. I believe all these emotions have emerged from a lifetime of media consumption subtly communicating that black people are criminal, a lifetime of seeing most people in power look just like you, a lifetime of being the majority population. And I believe this subconscious sense of having lost control (of the universe) exists for white people, at a heightened level since the election of Barack Obama and the continued explosion of the non-white population.

The irony is that black people understand this heightened anxiety. We feel it, too. We study white people. We are taught this as a tool of survival. We know when there is unrest in the souls of white folks. We know that unrest, if not assuaged quickly, will lead to black death. Our suspicions, unlike those of white people, are proven right time and time again.

I speak to this deep psychology of race, not because I am trying to engage in pop psychology but because we live in a country that is so deeply emotionally dishonest about both race and racism. When will we be honest enough to acknowledge that the police have more power than the ordinary citizen? They are supposed to. And with more power comes more responsibility.

Why are police calling the people of Ferguson animals and yelling at them to “bring it”? Because those officers in their riot gear, with their tear gas and dogs, want a justification for slaughter. But inexplicably in that moment we turn our attention to the rioters, the people with less power, but justifiable anger, and say, “You are the problem.” No. A cop killing an unarmed teenager who had his hands in the air is the problem. Anger is a perfectly reasonable response. So is rage.
Ferguson Just the Latest in Long Line Of Racist Fueled Tragedies

We are moving backwards because of the persistence of racism and a relaxation of the fight against it.

By Bob Herbert
Poverty in America, said Bush, “has roots in a history of racial discrimination which cut off generations from the opportunity of America.” He added, “We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action.”

Anyone who took Bush’s pledge seriously would have ended up disappointed because nothing of the sort happened. The poor black people of New Orleans faded back into the invisibility from which they had come.

It was ever thus: Some tragic development occurs; the media spotlight homes in on black people who had previously been invisible; instant experts weigh in with their pompous, uninformed analyses; and commitments as empty as deflated balloons are made. This time it’s Ferguson, Missouri, in the spotlight. And you can bet the mortgage that this time will be no different.

The precipitating events that cause these periodic national spasms can vary widely—the flooding of New Orleans, the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the beating of Rodney King. But these tragedies all emerge from the same fetid source—the racism embedded in the very foundation of America.

And it’s that racism—stark, in-your-face, never-ending, frequently murderous—that has so many African-Americans so angry and frustrated, so furious, so enraged. Black people all across America, not just in Ferguson, are angry about the killing of Michael Brown. And they remain angry over the killing of Trayvon Martin. And many are seething over the fatal chokehold clamped on the throat of Eric Garner by a cop on Staten Island in New York—a cop who refused to relent even as Garner gasped, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”

They are angry about all those things, but they are also angry and frustrated about so much more.
The 'Perfect Crime' in America Is Killing an Unarmed Black Man and Claiming Self-Defense

By H. A. GoodmanTens of thousands of police officers throughout the nation interact with people on a daily basis and everyone survives these interactions without a ruling of homicide, as in the case of Eric Garner.

That being said, there have been at least five unarmed black men killed in the past month according to The Huffington Post, and when you combine these deaths with the manner in which they've elicited a public divide in perception, one can only come to this conclusion: Killing unarmed black men and claiming self-defense is the perfect crime in today's America.


The crime of killing someone is now turned into a battle of narratives where the only other person who could challenge the narrative is dead, and millions of people simply believe that the unarmed black man deserved his fate.

The reason for this sad and un-American reality is that once an unarmed black teenager like Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin is no longer breathing, the shooter can simply claim self-defense or get close to a million dollars in support like Darren Wilson. After all, the fact that being unarmed and walking toward a destination doesn't matter in the minds of many people. If he's a "thug" or a black male who allegedly robbed a convenience store (which the Ferguson officer had no way of knowing at the time), then their fate lies in the fact that they possibly used profanity, presented some sort of threat, or gave their shooters a reason to shoot and kill. Even the testimony of witnesses like Rachel Jeantel or Dorian Johnson, refuting self-defense narratives, are meaningless in the minds of many people.
Afrophobia, and Proper Negro Stress

By Johnny SilvercloudIt is immensely frustrating living in a false reality that claims everyone is considered equal.

The reason why this is a frustrating existence, is because we have a sizable majority who actually believe that as a reality, and in turn will not listen to your concerns. It’s the allegory if Plato’s Cave. The problem lies in the fact that the majority of the 77.9% are chained in the cave living an illusion while only the majority of the 13.1% are free to understand reality as it exists. In life, the 13.1% suffer a level of undue stress that the 77.9% does not. The majority does not listen to the minority. And the majority who are chained in the cave are the ones who makes all the rules.

I learned to read at an absurdly young age. I also learned how to speak more so from television than my own environment. In turn, I spoke proper beyond those of who made my surroundings. I always been the “smart guy.” I’m not sure how old I was, but I do remember I was in elementary school as a fourth grader when I was fully cognizant of the stereotype of the dangerous black male. Of course, what I did from there was simple; from then on I put forth a consistent effort to NOT fit the bill. I was the bookworm, the smart guy, the brains, the analytical, the inventor, the cerebral, the engineer, the maker, the black and nerdy. Kinda.

What I realized as an adult reflecting on the path I took explicitly, is that at a young age I was fully cognizant of white fear of my skin tone. It’s not a matter of knowing right from wrong, it’s a matter what white America thought of me. From then I knew what Afrophobia was. I was around nine or ten as a fourth grader, and that’s a young age to be thinking of socio-psychological matters if you ask me. In being socially aware since ten years of age, I now realize that I put forth conscious effort to be the “proper negro.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see A Hunger to Deny Racism and White Privilege = "Willful Blindness.

September 13, 2014

A hunger to deny racism

It’s racism, not “principled conservatism”: The South, civil rights, GOP myths — and the roots of Ferguson

True GOP believers insist their small government beliefs have nothing to do with race. They're deluding themselves

By Paul Rosenberg
This lack of longer historical memory is part of what helps to support a popular brand of revisionism that claims the South turned Republican because the people there embraced “principled” “small-government” conservatism. There are numerous problems with this explanation. First, if that’s why the South changed, then why didn’t the shift happen earlier? Second, if the change is explained by gradual economic development (as some such as Real Clear Politics senior analysis Sean Trende have argued), then why did Herbert Hoover do almost as well in 1928 as Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952? And why did the Democratic share of the Southern vote drop precipitously by 20 percent in 1948, as noted above, the year the Democrats put a civil rights plank in their platform, and the Dixiecrats walked out?

Third, what exactly is meant by “small-government conservatism”? And how does that square with the fact that Southern states almost universally get far more money from the federal government than they send in by way of taxes? And finally, how to explain the findings in a 2005 paper by Nicholas Valentino and David Sears, which found that “whites residing in the old Confederacy continue to display more racial antagonism and ideological conservatism than non-Southern whites,” and that “Racial conservatism has become linked more closely to presidential voting and party identification over time in the white South”?

But there’s also another problem with the “it’s-not-race-it’s-principled-small-government-conservatism” explanation — namely that race and small government conservatism are inextricably linked. This is not to say that all small government conservatives are racists. But it is to say that racial attitudes and attitudes toward robust government activism are strongly linked, statistically; the more positive (or negative) your attitudes toward activist government are, the more positive (or negative) your attitudes toward blacks are likely to be, and vice versa as well. Negative racial attitudes manifest both in terms of opposition to black political power, and in blaming blacks for their subordinate status. If this sounds like a damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t sort of situation, you’re right. That’s exactly what it is.

As I explained in a recent article, the earliest statistical evidence of this relationship came from one of the classic studies of American public opinion:

The year after the March on Washington, pioneer pollsters Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril conducted surveys that were the basis for their 1967 book, The Political Beliefs of Americans; a Study of Public Opinion. They found that those opposed to five forms of federal spending were three times as likely as those who supported the spending to think that blacks should have “less influence” in politics. Since blacks only had five representatives of Congress at the time—just over 1%, compared to 11% of the population—the notion that they had too much influence was ludicrous on its face—and clearly racist. Yet, that’s precisely what 60% of those ‘small government conservatives’—people like Rand Paul and the Tea Partiers—believed.

“There’s a hunger to deny that race matters”: The new segregation and white America/black America divide

Ferguson shows whites don't want to see race. Blacks don't have a choice. Here's a new way of bridging the gap

By Paul Rosenberg
“This Article argues that outsiders and insiders tend to perceive allegations of discrimination through fundamentally different psychological frameworks,” the article’s abstract explained. It continued:

These previously unrecognized differences have profound legal consequences. A workplace may be spatially integrated and yet employees who work side by side may perceive an allegation of discrimination through very different lenses because of their disparate racial and gender identities…. Studies show that blacks and whites are likely to differ substantially in how they conceive of and define discrimination. White people tend to believe that widespread expressions of a commitment to racial equality and the reduction in overt expressions of racist attitudes reflect reductions in racism, whereas black people tend to believe that racist attitudes and behaviors have simply become more difficult to detect. While many whites expect evidence of discrimination to be explicit, and assume that people are colorblind when such evidence is lacking, many blacks perceive bias to be prevalent and primarily implicit.

It’s important to note that Robinson’s account describes everyone involved as generally meeting the legal standard of acting like a reasonable person, given their personal histories and experience: “[B]oth the outsider [blacks and women] and insider [whites and men] may be reasonable and yet differ substantially as to the likelihood that discrimination occurred; neither can be wholly blamed for the disparity because of irrational perceptions.”

Robinson’s article focused specifically on workplace discrimination, drawing on several large-scale studies, including a Rutgers University workplace study of about 3,000 employees. It’s clear that racial discrimination persists as a much common problem than most whites realize. Regarding the Rutgers study, Robinson noted, “Half of the African-American respondents said that ‘African-Americans are treated unfairly in the workplace,’ while just 10% of white respondents agreed with that statement.”

What’s more, reporting discrimination is no guarantee that it will be redressed, Robinson also reported, “the employee making the charge of discrimination was more likely to be transferred or fired as a result of the complaint (5% of the time) than the alleged perpetrator (2%).” Hence, blacks “reasonably” choose to under-report the discrimination they experience, and whites “reasonably” conclude that discrimination is much rarer than it actually is.

When Whites Just Don’t Get It

After Ferguson, Race Deserves More Attention, Not Less

By Nicholas Kristof
Indeed, a 2011 study by scholars at Harvard and Tufts found that whites, on average, believed that anti-white racism was a bigger problem than anti-black racism.

Yes, you read that right!

So let me push back at what I see as smug white delusion. Here are a few reasons race relations deserve more attention, not less:

• The net worth of the average black household in the United States is $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household, according to 2011 census data. The gap has worsened in the last decade, and the United States now has a greater wealth gap by race than South Africa did during apartheid. (Whites in America on average own almost 18 times as much as blacks; in South Africa in 1970, the ratio was about 15 times.)

• The black-white income gap is roughly 40 percent greater today than it was in 1967.

• A black boy born today in the United States has a life expectancy five years shorter than that of a white boy.

• Black students are significantly less likely to attend schools offering advanced math and science courses than white students. They are three times as likely to be suspended and expelled, setting them up for educational failure.

• Because of the catastrophic experiment in mass incarceration, black men in their 20s without a high school diploma are more likely to be incarcerated today than employed, according to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Nearly 70 percent of middle-aged black men who never graduated from high school have been imprisoned.

All these constitute not a black problem or a white problem, but an American problem. When so much talent is underemployed and overincarcerated, the entire country suffers.
When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 2

By Nicholas KristofNancy protested on my Facebook page: “We can’t fix their problems. It’s up to every black individual to stop the cycle of fatherless homes, stop the cycle of generations on welfare.”

There was a deluge of such comments, some toxic, but let me try to address three principal arguments that I think prop up white delusion.

First, if blacks are poor or in prison, it’s all their fault. “Blacks don’t get it,” Bruce tweeted. “Choosing to be cool vs. getting good grades is a bad choice. We all start from 0.”

Huh? Does anybody really think that we all take off from the same starting line?

Slavery and post-slavery oppression left a legacy of broken families, poverty, racism, hopelessness and internalized self-doubt. Some responded to discrimination and lack of opportunity by behaving in self-destructive ways.

One study found that African-American children on welfare heard only 29 percent as many words in their first few years as children of professional parents. Those kids never catch up, partly because they’re more likely to attend broken schools. Sure, some make bad choices, but they’ve often been on a trajectory toward failure from the time they were babies.

These are whirlpools that are difficult to escape, especially when society is suspicious and unsympathetic. Japan has a stigmatized minority group, the burakumin, whose members once held jobs considered unclean. But although this is an occupational minority rather than a racial one, it spawned an underclass that was tormented by crime, educational failure, and substance abuse similar to that of the American underclass.

So instead of pointing fingers, let’s adopt some of the programs that I’ve cited with robust evidence showing that they bridge the chasm.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see White Privilege = "Willful Blindness and Fox News's White Privilege Problem.

September 11, 2014

Frankie & Sue's "cute" racism

Hashtag: CuteRacismFrankie & Sue, a brand of kids' clothing, has released its fall 2014 collection, and the imagery being used in the catalog photos and on the company's website is likely to cause concern with some Natives.

The kids didn't do anything wrong here. They are too young to know any better. And that's the problem.

The collection includes some clothing that is mildly Native-inspired, but nothing as offensive as the looks that caused such trouble for Urban Outfitters and Paul Frank Industries. It's the styling in the shoot—the feather headdresses, face paint and dream catcher—that is tasteless.

We've seen this before, and dissected the hipster headdress thing in many ways. But here's an argument that is tailored to this particular situation: No Native designer would put seven-year-old girls in feather headdresses for a photo shoot. The act itself says you're using a culture not your own, without understanding it. And commerce takes two: the seller who misuses another culture's symbols won't get far without a buyer who doesn't see anything wrong.

If neither side cares about what the headdress means, why is it there at all? We fear the answer is simply because it's cute.

September 10, 2014

What Tribe by Douglas Miles

Gathering of the Tribes: Artists Celebrate Indigenous Origins

By Rob SchmidtDouglas Miles, San Carlos Apache, the mastermind behind the company-turned-art-collective known as Apache Skateboards, has another culture-challenging project in the mix: What Tribe. This traveling exhibit features a collection of minority artists who address racism and stereotyping with their work.

The show kicked off at Denver University in Colorado, then appeared in Phoenix, and finally in East Los Angeles, where it was well received. The show at Self Help Graphics in the Boyle Heights neighborhood included a mural on the outside wall of the gallery created by several artists. Miles explains its origin:

“What Tribe kind of came about as an answer to the constant media misrepresentation that I saw.” This came to a head with two egregious examples: the No Doubt video with Gwen Stefani as an Indian temptress, and the Lone Ranger film with Johnny Depp as Tonto.

This cultural misappropriation points to one thing, says Miles: “Institutional racism. Which is a form of racism in America that runs so deep and so constant that people, Native people and non-Native people, almost don’t even know or accept that it exists.

“Institutional racism is very insidious, and it has many forms,” he adds. He sees it in galleries, films, books, museums and the media.
Comment:  The article's original title was:‘What Tribe’ Addresses America’s Institutional RacismAn editor changed it for some reason, perhaps because it was too "challenging." Douglas Miles and I agree the original title was much better.

For more on the subject, see A Decade of Douglas Miles.

September 09, 2014

White privilege = "willful blindness"

White privilege: An insidious virus that’s eating America from within

Ferguson offers white people a chance to understand the price of our privilege

By Andrew O'Hehir
[T]he most insidious power of white privilege, the albatross effect that makes it so oppressive to white people themselves, is the way it renders itself invisible and clouds the collective mind. It’s like a virus that adapts in order to ensure its own survival and perpetuation, in this case by convincing its host it isn’t there. So we see polls suggesting that large percentages of white Americans believe that racism is not a significant factor in Ferguson or law enforcement in general, that cops are just doing their jobs, and that whatever bad things may have happened once upon a time in our beloved country, they’ve been locked away in the dusty cabinet of history and don’t matter anymore. We passed the Voting Rights Act and exiled the Ku Klux Klan to the margins of society (or at least to websites with really bad graphics). Ergo, white privilege obviously doesn’t exist anymore.

Among the “childish things” we need to put aside, white people, is the idea that America’s tormented racial legacy belongs to the past. You know exactly the attitude I mean: We have twice elected a biracial president and LeBron James and Jay Z are zillionaires, so no more talk of racism, please. In the more paranoid formulation prevalent in the Fox News demographic (but not limited to it), this becomes the idea that the federal government has spent the last 50 years giving away money, housing, education and other “free stuff” to black people who don’t work or pay taxes, while vigorously grinding down the white man. So either the vision of healing and reconciliation conjured up so eloquently by Martin Luther King, Jr. more than 50 years ago has now been fulfilled (and black people need to stop complaining), or America is being not so slowly turned into a gay-Muslim-socialist totalitarian state where every day is Kwanzaa. Both scenarios come up against the nettlesome fact that African-Americans stubbornly persist in being poor, living in disadvantaged circumstances, getting shot by the police for no particular reason and going to prison in large numbers.

This kind of white privilege is a willful blindness, along with a passionate embrace of exactly the kind of aggrievement and victimhood that white people often claim to resent in others. It’s found in Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity, of course, but also among people like hipster ├╝ber-troll Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of Vice, who wrote a piece not long ago explaining that racism, sexism and homophobia do not actually exist. But I’m not principally talking about Republican ideologues and their hardcore supporters, who have built their power and influence on thinly veiled racism over the past 40 years and barely even bother denying it. There is a much larger population of white Americans, I believe, who feel troubled by what they saw in Ferguson but are unable or unwilling to face the fact that it reflects a recurring historical pattern that has obviously not been exorcised, a pattern of power, privilege and domination in which they are complicit.

Any white person who is being honest can understand this reluctance, and probably any other kind of person too. It’s a lot more comfortable to believe that equal opportunity has been pretty much afforded to all, allowing for some bumps in the road–or to believe that you yourself belong to the unfairly downtrodden and stigmatized group–than to consider the alternatives. It is not comfortable at all for any white American to read the case assembled by Ta-Nehisi Coates in his magisterial reported essay “The Case for Reparations” that American society has not done nearly enough to erase the cultural and historical debt left behind by 250 years of slavery followed by another century-plus of economic discrimination, political suppression, institutionalized theft and straight-up terrorism. “It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear,” Coates writes. “The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.”
Why acknowledging white privilege is not surrendering to “white guilt”

Recognizing the historic burden of whiteness is not self-abasement or lame apology. It's the pathway to freedom

By Andrew O'Hehir
[I]t’s difficult to summarize the range of counterattacks my article and numerous others provoked over the past couple of weeks. One popular response is to say that white privilege is just a fancy term for conforming to social norms, obeying the law and working hard, and that black people should try it sometime. There is certainly a conservative quadrant of the African-American community that agrees with this, but the whole idea rests on the argument that we live in a fundamentally race-neutral and equal-opportunity society in which everyone makes his own fate. But African-Americans have conspicuously failed to take advantage of this post-racial paradise, a fact that poses an interpretive challenge. This slides, with uncomfortable ease, to the proposition that something must be wrong with “black culture,” or that there’s something innate about people of African ancestry that tends to make them less successful than others in society and vastly more likely to go to prison.

If you believe that no one utters those kinds of overtly racist statements in public anymore, I can show you some things in my inbox and my Twitter feed that will convince you otherwise. But for those who want to resist the white privilege conversation but also want to avoid coming off like Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens, who pronounced that “subordination to the superior race” was the “natural and normal condition” of black people, there is another path. Dysfunction in the black community is understood as the inevitable result of five decades of failed liberal social engineering, and white privilege as an ass-covering term of art cooked up for political advantage by race-baiters and libtard journalists. (Like me, I suppose, although I strenuously object to the “lib” part.)

That commenter I mentioned at the outset agreed that the Michael Brown shooting appeared to reflect a historical pattern of police violence against African-Americans, but rejected the term “white privilege” as unhelpful. If the problem is that cops treat whites fairly and blacks unfairly, shouldn’t we be talking about “black disprivilege” and how to amend it, instead of implying that white people should be subjected to police brutality too? Discussions of white privilege, this person went on, never pointed toward practical solutions and only served “to make white people feel weird.”

You get an A for effort, my friend, but I have some news for you: White people already feel weird. There could be no better word for the bitter, angry and divisive internal politics of America’s white majority. Isn’t it weird for a group that has long been the wealthiest sector of society and its dominant cultural force to embrace the status of victimhood it claims to find so offensive in others? Isn’t it weird for white people, despite all their economic, social, cultural and educational advantages, to increasingly see themselves as persecuted and oppressed? The intense and exaggerated response from many whites to my article and others like it was weird too, and perhaps revealing; it went way beyond disagreement into what therapists call abreaction, a release of repressed emotion. Discussions of white privilege have touched an exceptionally sensitive nerve.
It’s Not Just the South and Fox News: Liberals Have a White Privilege Problem, Too

By Joseph Heathcott[W]hat dumbfounded me was the outpouring of white anger and resentment. As police, pundits, politicians and their supporters sought control over the narrative of events in Ferguson, they drew from the deep well of moral panic and race hatred that in many ways define our contemporary political landscape. I am not talking about the moronic counter-protests by the Klan, or the impending race war hallucinated by capital-R Racists. I am talking about the insidious language of white privilege—the civil, polite, unconscious adoption by white people of racially normative viewpoints that give us comfort and help explain the world on our terms.

For those of us born with white skin, white privilege is the air we breathe; we don’t even have to think about it. It is a glorious gift we have given to ourselves through the social order we have constructed, from top to bottom and bottom to top. It is the pillage of continents, the enslavement of people, the hatred of dark-skinned “others,” all somehow magically laundered by our commitments to democracy, self-reliance, individualism and the “post-racial, colorblind society.” It is our abject unwillingness to confront our history, to correct the deficits of our memory, to lean against the amnesia of a white story told.

Meanwhile, white privilege is a grand protection racket. It has always paid substantial dividends, both in the short term and over generations, by restricting access to a valuable commodity: white skin. The wage we extract from racial difference keeps us committed to its perpetuation, even if we don’t know (or refuse to believe) that we are so committed. White privilege is a legacy, an inheritance, an account on which we can draw over and over and over again for any advantage, however small. It is the accumulation of racially protected, white-defended land, property, education, goods, institutions, mobility, rights and freedom. It is the ultimate headstart. Rarely do we even know we are drawing on these protected accounts, so ubiquitous and profound is the fund. Wave after wave of immigrants has had to learn this lesson, adopting white privilege and anti-black racism to fit properly into their new country.

But take away the air, and we gasp—we don’t know how to breathe in any other medium. In a paroxysm of fear and pain, we hyperventilate, clutching for a lifeline. Put millions of white people into the same scenario, and you get a great moral panic. In earlier times, the moral panic over race flowed from the raiments of a slave-based republic: the Democratic Party, the Confederacy, the Klan, sundown towns, lynchings and chain gangs. Today this moral panic is exemplified by the Tea Party, the GOP, right-wing media, gun toters at Walmart and “patriots” like Cliven Bundy. And chain gangs. Race itself may have no basis in science, no purchase in differentiating humans genetically, but it is nevertheless a powerful cultural force. Race is the house of many rooms, built by white people for “the world and all those who dwell therein” (Psalms 24:1).

White privilege requires constant vigilance at the borders of identity, constant policing of difference. The frantic call among right-wing pundits to “secure the borders” by erecting walls has its psychic corollary in the maintenance of white supremacy. How could we possibly have a black president? Who are these strange people crossing our borders? How could anyone profess any other belief besides Christianity? Why do my tax dollars go to support those people (meaning dark-skinned residents of inner cities, not corporations and lobbyists and the military)? Meanwhile, we cling to the myth of the post-racial society, where suddenly, somehow we will be judged solely on the content of our character rather than the color of our skin. In this way, “not seeing race” becomes the peculiar privilege of white people who, perhaps unknown to them, see race everywhere always.

September 08, 2014

Fox News's white privilege problem

Privileged White Guys On Fox News Agree: There's No Such Thing As White Privilege

By Nick WingBill O'Reilly

In his segment, O'Reilly "white-splained" how it was that "African-Americans have a much harder time succeeding in our society than whites do," even when, according to him, engrained racial privilege doesn't exist. It's the fault of black America and its leaders, O'Reilly said.

“Instead of preaching a cultural revolution, the leadership provides excuses for failure. The race hustlers blame white privilege, an unfair society, a terrible country," he said. "So the message is, it’s not your fault if you abandon your children, if you become a substance abuser, if you are a criminal. No, it’s not your fault; it’s society’s fault. That is the big lie that is keeping some African-Americans from reaching their full potential. Until personal responsibility and a cultural change takes place, millions of African-Americans will struggle.”

New York Times columnist Charles Blow responded to this and O'Reilly's other claims in an article on Thursday, charging that the Fox News host's "underlying logic is that blacks are possessed of some form of racial pathology or self-destructive racial impulses, that personal responsibility and systemic inequity are separate issues and not intersecting ones."

Tucker Carlson

In May, Carlson brought on a guest to back up his contention that it's "racist" to claim that white people experience a distinct privilege. His guest was Kurt Schlichter, who at the time had recently written a column boiling down the concept of white privilege to “me being better than you.”

“All of us have worked, all of us have achieved something,” Schlichter claimed, arguing that he had become a partner at a law firm due to his hard work, not his skin color. “That is how we measure character, that’s how we measure what the value of a person is, not some arbitrary category imposed by some ponytailed grad students who have taken too many gender study seminars.”

In their interview, Carlson and Schlichter both appear to misunderstand the concept of white privilege. White people are not expected to feel guilty about their privilege or apologize for it, nor are they expected to credit it as the sole or even most important factor in one's personal successes. But it's outrageous to pretend that race (or class, gender, sexual orientation, etc., for that matter) doesn't play a factor in every person's experience, and that society doesn't offer particular privilege to those who more closely resemble the nation's mostly white power-brokers. Apparently, these Fox News anchors have no problem playing make believe.
Bill O’Reilly and White Privilege

By Charles M. BlowNo, Mr. O’Reilly, it is statements like this one that make you the race hustler. The underlying logic is that blacks are possessed of some form of racial pathology or self-destructive racial impulses, that personal responsibility and systemic inequity are separate issues and not intersecting ones.

This is the false dichotomy that chokes to death any real accountability and honesty. Systemic anti-black bias doesn’t dictate personal behavior, but it can certainly influence and inform it. And personal behavior can reinforce people’s belief that their biases are justified. So goes the cycle.

But at the root of it, we can’t expect equality of outcome while acknowledging inequality of environments.

Only a man bathing in privilege would be blind to that.
Conservatives demonize minorities

The demonization of Michael Brown is the latest in a long line of attacks against black victims of violence. The most famous case in recent times is, of course, that of Trayvon Martin.

In other words, the responses of O'Reilly et al. to Ferguson are the tip of the iceberg. They're part of the ideological drive to maintain white power and privilege.

Here's a deeper look at what conservatives are "thinking":

Fox News is tearing us apart: Race baiting and divisiveness hits disgusting new low

Night after night, Fox News doubles down on hate. Whether George Zimmerman, Bundy or Ferguson, it just gets worse

By Paul Rosenberg
Their only recourse is to insist that it’s not really racism, because folks like Al Sharpton and Barack Obama are the “real racists”—you know, folks who notice race and say something about it.

This was a point made by Kevin Drum the next day (“The Conservative Agenda in the Trayvon Martin Case”). Drum first noted that “A week ago, the worst I could say about right-wing reaction to the Martin case was that conservatives were studiously ignoring it,” but that things had suddenly changed. It wasn’t surprising that conservatives had been silent, he noted, as there was no obvious conservative principle at stake in the shooting of Trayvon Martin:

There’s no special conservative principle at stake that says neighborhood watch captains should be able to shoot anyone who looks suspicious. There’s no special conservative principle at stake that says local police forces should barely even pretend to investigate the circumstances of a shooting. There’s no special conservative principle at stake that says young black men shouldn’t wear hoodies.

And yet, he noted “as Dave Weigel points out today, the conservative media is now defending the shooter, George Zimmerman, with an almost messianic zeal,” most notably working itself up into a frenzy over a faked—even debunked—photograph of Trayvon as gangsta. So, clearly there must be some principle at stake, but what is it? Drum then quotes from an L.A. Times Op-Ed by Jonah Goldberg, explaining that we shouldn’t care about Martin’s death because it was “a statistical outlier”—more blacks are killed by blacks than by any other race. And this brings Drum an epiphany:

Quite so. And that, it turns out, is the conservative principle that’s actually at stake here: convincing us all that traditional racism no longer really exists (just in “pockets,” says Goldberg) and that it’s whites who are the real racial victims in today’s America.

September 07, 2014

Racist superhero comics in Cracked

The title of this piece isn't quite accurate. It should be something like "Dozens of Shockingly Racist Scenes in 5 Famous Superhero Series."

Many of the scenes are from the World War II era, when Americans were fighting the Germans and Japanese, so the racism is somewhat understandable. A few are from the ignorant but well-meaning 1960s and 1970s. In a couple of cases I don't agree with the author--such as the X-Men's use of racial slurs to argue against racism.

Racist and stereotypical depictions of Indians make more than their fair share of appearances. Let's take a look:

5 Shockingly Racist Scenes in Famous Superhero Comics

By Seanbaby#5. The Justice League

It's unusual for an elite group of whites to be racist, but the Justice League had some problems with it. For starters, even their space aliens were Aryan. When Hanna Barbera adapted them into a cartoon in the '70s, animators had to invent four ethnic members just so they wouldn't burn through their supply of "flesh" paint in the first season. If you're not familiar, the racial heroes added to the Super Friends were:

1. A Native American named Apache Chief who wasn't either of those things.
Bruce Wayne became a bat to strike fear into the hearts of Gotham criminals, but in China, bats are often considered good luck. So Batman may have decided to murder a few hundred of their people to clear up any confusion. And speaking of confusion, here's the kind of interaction Batman has with Native Americans:There were people on the Justice League with racism that didn't even make sense. Green Lantern is a space policeman. Most of his coworkers and friends are jellyfish or cosmic squirrels, and yet he had no idea what to do when he met a real-life Earth Eskimo.Yes, Hal Jordan had an Eskimo sidekick he called "PIEFACE." And that nickname fucking stuck. Thomas Kalmaku walked around for decades answering to PIEFACE. It was such a bizarrely offensive character that when Filmation created a Green Lantern cartoon in the '60s, they replaced him with a blue (probably) alien boy named Kai Ro. Hal wasn't as aggressively racist towards him, but their relationship was far from appropriate.

Superman handled most racial situations perfectly. He made it through WWII and Korea without calling anyone names and he didn't even ask to touch Black Lois' hair. If he had one cultural kryptonite, it was that he wasn't great with Indians.
In a story called "Superman, Indian Chief!", Superman was called in to settle a property dispute in Metropolis. An evil mogul discovered, through distant Native American ancestry, that he owned all the city's land. He instantly began extorting the citizens of Metropolis and proudly bragged about it right to Superman's face. It was almost suicidally evil, and here's how Superman handled it:Superman had any number of option--everything from diplomacy to super hypnosis to super ventriloquism to punching the evil dick into the sun. He went with: running back in time to screw the Indians out of their land 300 years ago. He didn't even have to think about it. He was already jogging through the 1800s before the guy was done with his threat. Say what you want about Aquaman and Wonder Woman shrieking "Jap!" for the better part of a decade; Superman wove his racism into the very fabric of his universe's chronosphere.

#4. The X-Men

Like the Justice League, most of the X-Men's cultural diversity came in one explosion of poorly thought out ethnic characters. For example, James Proudstar. He's a Native American with the power of being pretty tough and tracking. Almost as if a racist thought, "What super powers would be handy if you had to, like, be an Indian all day?" And sure enough, when we meet him, he's having a wrestling match with a buffalo. A wrestling match with a buffalo.

Actually, the original Thunderbird was John Proudstar. His brother James became Thunderbird after John died.

And yes, a buffalo on the Apache reservation is fairly ridiculous. It's theoretically possible but extremely unlikely.#1. The Marvel Family

Comment:  Seanbaby criticizes other portrayals in the Marvel Family comics, but not the Native portrayals. The Native examples are sidelights, and they're self-explanatory.

Unfortunately, it's still not uncommon to see Native characters wearing headdresses and buckskins, or half-naked, or both. Yes, even in the 2010s. For instance, Grant Morrison re-introduced Chief Man-of-Bats, the Native Batman, a few years ago. (Man-of-Bats may have debuted in the Batman story pictured above.)