Category Archives: Race and Racism

Andrew Gillum Greg Laden's Blog

Gillum for Governor, and Racism Everywhere

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum just won his party’s endorsement to run in the general election for Florida’s Governor. He is a strong candidate, a progressive, and we all hope he wins.

He also happens to be African American, which would be a great thing for Florida.

I have two observations, though, that I want to point out.

1) If you google around for the names of candidates that are referred to by name as “Sanders-backed [name of candidate]” you will find pretty much none. Except for Gillum. He is the “Sanders-backed gillum.” His name, today in the news, appears most of the time with Sanders’ name attached to him. Its like he is owned by Sanders. He can’t be his own candidate. He has to be the northern white guy’s candidate.

2) Ron DeSantis, the Russo-Republican Trumpian candidate running against Mayor Gillum, made a horrid racist comment. In case you didn’t know, when an African American speaks in an articulate and intelligent matter, the racist thing to do is to call him articulate. (In the old days, add in “He’s a credit to his race,” but we don’t do that so much any more.) DeSantis did that. You probably know that referring to an African American as an ape, gorilla, or monkey, or making a vaguely indirect reference to such, is also racist. DeSantis did that too. From NBC News:

“You know, he is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views and he’s a charismatic candidate,” DeSantis said. “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That is not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.”

We are not surprised. But I thought you should know.

Send the guy ten bucks.

Donald Trump and the Bell Curve

The infamous policy book, The Bell Curve, relied on the false claim that people of African ancestry are of low IQ (and some other things). That was based directly on the work of J. Philippe Rushton and it is false.

The Bell Curve became, in the 1980s, the intellectualized version of pseud-scientifically based racism. The Bradley Foundation, which paid for the book’s publication and printing, made sure there was a copy of it on every politically relevant person’s shelf, from elected officials to potential candidates to staffers to faculty involved even marginally in politics or society.

When those of us who study pseudo-scientific racism and works such as the Bell Curve hear the phrase “Low IQ person” we know exactly what it means. It means a white supremacist is referring to a black person.

Here is Eugene Scott commenting on this phenomenon:

What is a Republican?

This guy. The one in the blue jacket. Watch every minute of this. Especially the last phase, where we see Representative Jason Spencer attacking a terrorist with his ass.

Trigger warning: Racism, hate, and Trumpisn. In other words, watching this video is like turning on CNN or FOX. Not work safe, not for children, keep the sound down.

From now on, after seeing this, you can never, ever, see the yahoos changing “USA USA USA” again without thinking of State Representative Jason’s Spencer’s ugly ass.

And of course it does not end there. Here are some Republicans advocating the arming of pre-schoolers.

According to recent polls, one of the men advocating for arming tiny children, Dana Rohrabacher, has a real chance of being defeated in this year’s election.

“basically anyone who’s black and politically active”

That’s who the FBI seems to want to consider as a domestic terrorist, and thus, investigate and repress.

We’ve seen this before. Happens every time there is a fascist in the White House. I’m sure there are plenty of wonderful, thoughtful, politically neutral FBI agents, the do a great service to the country, yada yada yada. (Everybody feeling good about the cops now? How nice.) But the fact is that whenever you get a fascist in charge, at the state or national level, the cops, pretty much all the cops, shift at least a little, and some shift a lot. They get repression boners. They go to town.

From a piece by Kate Irby in today’s Star Tribune,

The FBI counterterrorism division’s identification of a movement it calls “black identity extremists” is the latest addition to the list of protesters and dissidents the agency puts under the “domestic terrorism” umbrella.

But many national security experts say the designation doesn’t describe a movement at all, let alone a terrorism threat. It’s simply a label that allows the FBI to conduct additional surveillance on “basically anyone who’s black and politically active,” said Michael German, who left the FBI in 2004 and did undercover domestic terrorism work.

While the practice of labeling certain protest groups as domestic terrorists is not unique to President Donald Trump’s administration, Hina Shamsi, national security project director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said there’s concern that “abusive and unjustified investigations” by the FBI are rising.

“We are worried that protesters are increasingly being labeled as terrorism threats,” Shamsi said.

As observed, predicted, and expected. See this.

Flying While Black #BLM

This just came across my desk. This is bad at any time, but with Jeff Sessons as Attorney General, it is worse; People are sort of on their own at the national level. This is about white supremacy, and American Airline’s policy, or lack of policy, or culture, or lack of training, supporting it.

NAACP ISSUES NATIONAL TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR AMERICAN AIRLINES

(October 24, 2017) – The NAACP, the nation’s original and largest social justice advocacy organization, has released the following statement today announcing a travel advisory warning African Americans about their safety and well being when patronizing American Airlines or traveling on American Airlines flights: Continue reading Flying While Black #BLM

Falsehood: “Voters are kept from political involvement by the rules”

Voting is not party involvement.

We hear a lot of talk these days about “voters” being repressed in their attempt to be involved in the Democratic primary process. There may be something to that, and it might be nice to make it easier for people to wake up on some (usually) Tuesday morning and go and vote in a Democratic or Republican primary or visit a caucus. But there is a difference between a desire for a reform and the meaningful understanding of that reform — why we want it, how to do it, and what it will get us — that makes it important to do what we Anthropologists sometimes call “problemetizing the concept.”

We can start with the statement that in the primary system, “Voters should not be kept from involvement by rules that make it impossible for them to engage in the democratic (small “d”) process.” That sentence seems reasonable, even important, and is essentially a call for open, instead of closed, primaries, or in some cases, for replacing a caucus with a primary. Continue reading Falsehood: “Voters are kept from political involvement by the rules”

Is my penis too small, too big, or just right?

And by “my” penis I mean “your” penis, of course.

This is a perennial question. For some reason, which I do not understand, the feminist perspective (note: I’m a feminist) is often to belittle the question, but really, that isn’t fair. It is not that difficult to imagine how anyone would come to a question about whether or not a particular organ of the body, the head, the breasts, the butt, the thumb, is somehow out of proportion. The penis is just one of many body parts that people may obsess over, and the larger scale issue of the intersection between physical and mental health should not be put aside for the penis, even if it is the Organ of Continue reading Is my penis too small, too big, or just right?

Is this racist? (New Dove ad)

The image above is the tweet that alerted many people to the new Dove ad in which, apparenly, black people can clean themselves up and become white people!

When I first saw this ad, I was flabbergasted and assumed I had it wrong. I assumed that I simply misunderstood the ad, or it was a parody, or something. This, I thought, could not be happening. Then, I finally settled into the fact that Dove managed to produce a deeply disturbing, racist ad.

But then, I learned Continue reading Is this racist? (New Dove ad)

Why Donald Trump Is Being So Bad To Puerto Rico

Visiting Arkansas, hanging around briefly with some people in the Real Estate business, I found a lot of hatred of Mexicans, whom they unimaginatively referred to as “spics” but making it clear they were talking about Mexicans, not some other spics. Sitting with a group of people talking about racism in an urban neighborhood in near Minneapolis, I found zero mention of dislike between whites per se and blacks per se. But Poles and Tibetans, they were very much disliked by people who were mostly but not all white. Years ago I remember being shocked by a fellow anthropologist who expressed a hatred of Cubans. This hatred stemmed from the death of a friend, gunned down by a Cuban criminal, who was in the US because of Mariel, in the Milwaukee area, a significant ultimate destination for Cuban refugees at that time. Where I grew up, all the white people sorted out and looked down upon each other by closely defined European ethnicity, and all the white people feared and distrusted all the black people, and there was one Japanese guy. But, we knew about, were told about, Puerto Ricans. That was in upstate New York, and New York City had a lot of Puerto Ricans, to the extent that as a child I thought Puerto Rico was an island just a few miles off New York City (because I was told that, don’t know why). White New Yorkers historically disdain Puerto Ricans because people from Puerto Rico represent one of the largest Hispanic groups in that area, or at least, did for many decades, while certain people were growing up and doing business.

It is not true that racism is random, arbitrary, or non deterministic. It is not build in, it is not always the same. Racism emerges with a strong historical context and different racisms look different for discernible reasons. American racism is special in its own way, with its own history, not the same as other racism, and there is an interesting characteristic to it. Most everybody who is white dislikes, distrusts, or disdains, the people of color, mainly African Americans. Recent immigrants of any ethnicity or geographic origins are generally disdained. That is all expected. But, since The Americas are a complex web of mostly Hispanic cultures with diverse and sometimes very complicated histories (Who knew history was so complicated? Nobody knew!) that part of American racism tends to have very specific parameters. Arkansas landowners rent to Mexican migrants. Minnesota city dwellers have a long menu of immigrants from diverse places across Eurasia and Africa, and multiple New World countries. It is a good thing Minnesota has a good educational system, because racists here have to know a LOT just to know whom to disdain. My Anthro colleague was from the Milwaukee area, where anti-Cuban sentiment had festered. If you were not from a Mariel recipient area, or near the mysterious Puerto Rican Islands of New York Harbor, or a Landlord to the Mexicans, you might not know much, or care much, about those specific groups. In short, white anti-other feelings are not uniform or consistent, and vary with the place the particular white person grew up and the particular way history has shaped their hatred.

All this is a long way of saying that Donald Trump hates Puerto Ricans because he is a white dude from Queens of a certain age, who was involved in real estaate, and also most would say, a white supremacist. I’m not sure if the rest of the country, outside of New York, is quite seeing this or understanding it. A hurricane during a Trump administration could happen anywhere other than Puerto Rico, and Trump would respond less disdainfully and stupidly. A hurricane hitting Puerto Rico during the Trump administration is not so much of a disaster in Donald Trump’s eyes. It isn’t just that Trump likes other people better, or is getting Puerto Rico wrong. No. Trump is a pretty right wing privileged real-estate connected white guy from Queens. Dollars to donuts says he likes that a hurricane hit Puerto Rico. Keep that in mind while listening to what he says and watching his body language. It will all make sense, in a sick and demented sort of way, if you do.

Trump has turned the corner

It wasn’t much of a corner, he was already pretty much there, but yesterday, Donald J. Trump, pretender to the Presidency of the United States, threw in his lot with the “good people” of the fascist, white-supremacist, KKK-loving movement.

There is a lot of commentary out there about this. None of it surprises me, I and others have been pointing at this train wreck all along. But there is one new thing I’ll mention now. Listen to Trump’s tirade about the protestors. When he speaks of the past notables, including Jefferson and Washington, and the statues, he is plain and articulate, non-hesitant, and clear. He sounds like someone with an IQ. He even sounds thoughtful. That is Trump speaking articulately about that which he has often on his mind.

Donald Trump is not a clown who has served as a stooge for Steve Bannon. He is Steve Bannon’s mentor. Trump is not the accidental friend of the Klan and the Nazis. He is, following in his father’s footsteps, the Klan and the Nazis.

Of all the great segments ever done by Rachel Maddow, the following is one of the best; Watch every second of it, and you learn things and you will be afraid:

May I also recommend this also historical piece from a day earlier:

You can tell when Rachel Maddow is about to land a roundhouse punch, when she’s about to put the ball a few blocks down the street from the park, when she starts a segment with something like “Back in 1924.” She appreciates, almost exclusively among commenters and anchors, the importance of the historic context on one hand and the granularity and nuance on the other. Almost wants to make me pay for cable, that’s how good she is.

How FOX treats Christians vs. Muslims

Not the same.

Muslims must take the blame for all things done by anyone linked to an extreme Islamic group or ideology. Christians have nothing to do with anything, they were just standing there minding their own beeswax.

The video below was fixed by Media Matters for America thusly:

In a notably hypocritical segment on Fox & Friends, the hosts and their guest, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, attacked media outlets that called on Christian leaders to denounce white supremacy and the recent violence in Charlottesville, VA. Fox & Friends highlighted articles that noted that many white evangelical leaders have been silent since white supremacists in Charlottesville attacked counter-protesters on August 12 and that historically many Christians and Christian organizations have enabled systemic racism, from slavery to Jim Crow and into the current era. Co-host Pete Hegseth asked why the articles were “trying to make that link” and “rush[ing] to say” that “pastors or churches … are to blame.” Fellow co-host Abby Huntsman said that “people are pointing fingers” and “you have some journalists that are blaming white Christians.” And Brody claimed that “the fix is in, if you will, against evangelical Christians, white evangelical Christians in this country.”

Statue of Liberty, White Supremacy, and the Immigrant Question

The truth about the Statue of Liberty and that poem and everything.

The Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of American openness to immigration since it was built. However, modern White Supremacists want us to believe it was something else. I found one example of that on the Internet, writtne by Hunter Wallace with the tags “Identity” and “The Jewish Question,” and titled “David Brooks: The Great War for National Identity”:

…millions of Jews came to the United States during the Great Wave. Much of the early 20th century is the story of how these Jews rose from working class occupations into the American middle class before ascending into the highest levels of the American elite.

By the mid–20th century, America’s traditional Anglo-Protestant elite was being replaced by a more cosmopolitan New York-based Jewish elite. This new elite wasn’t and never has been exclusively Jewish (it included, for example, Catholics like the Kennedys), but was predominantly so, enough for Jewish intellectuals to have a major impact on American culture.

Around the mid–20th century, Jewish intellectuals began to change American culture and rewrite American national identity. They introduced new concepts like “racism” and new taboos like “anti-Semitism.” They concocted the myth that America was “a nation of immigrants.” Previously, Americans had no clue that there was even such a thing as “racism,” or that “anti-Semitism” was immoral, or that “we are all >…immigrants.” As Jews became more concentrated in culturally sensitive institutions (i.e., the elite news media, top universities, the entertainment media), they introduced an entirely new moral code.

The Statue of Liberty is one of my favorite examples:

“The Statue of Liberty myth provides a good case study of the shift to a post-WASP, consensus-liberal version of America. In current parlance, the Statue of Liberty is viewed as a symbol of the openness of America to immigration, and the plaque at its base by Emma Lazarus, which urges other nations to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” is believed to be organically connected to the statue and its liberal-universalist narrative. Unfortunately, reality is not so simple. Lazarus’s poem was not present when the statue was inaugurated in October 1886. Nor did President Grover Cleveland make any mention of the statue’s significance for immigrants in his acceptance speech.

Some Americans, especially Protestant clergymen, greeted the gift of the statue cautiously. In addition, the statue was often viewed less as a beacon for immigrants than as a guardian of American purity. As for Emma Lazarus’s oft-quoted poem, it was first erected on the interior wall of the immense statue in 1903 owing to the financial contribution of one Georgina Schuyler. Schuyler had donated the bronze plaque in memory of Lazarus, an obscure poet of Jewish ancestry whose work she admired. Not until the 1930s did the contemporary myth of a statute to immigrants arise – exactly the period in which the cosmopolitan ideas of America’s organic intellectuals were starting to win wider elite acceptance. In turn, this attitude change prompted officials to relocate Lazarus’s obscure poem to its current position at the base of the statue. …”

You can read all about this and much more in Eric P. Kaufmann’s … The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America. I highly recommend it.

Kauffman is a fairly obscure figure, but he seems to have promulgated the myth that America, as a country, was made up at the time of the American Revolution of almost entirely white British Protestants. That is a myth that ignores the non-Protestants or at least non-mainstream Protestants such as Quakers, Shakers, and various other sundry groups, Catholics, non-religious, etc. white people from Britain, all the non-British that came from Europe, all the Africans who were here non-voluntarily (about 20% of the population in the 1770s), and the Native Americans (about 100,000 within the colonial boundaries, but a strong majority in the western areas being settled at the time). White British Protestants were probably a minority in the land between the coast and the farthest extent of settlement (up to the French territories) at the time of the revolution, and that proportion of society certainly shrank further in the decades immediacy following the Revolution when additional lands occupied mainly by Native Americans, but also French and Spanish and others, were added to the US. And, it shrunk father when immigration from across Europe including many Germans, and across the rest of the world, including, obviously, more Africans, and many from the Middle East and Asia, occurred as well.

Roughly speaking, by 1790, English members of the US population was about just over half of the total, with non British Europeans being about 10%. British-Protestants may have been just barely a majority, but just. We were not a pure land of wasps at the time, or any time since.

The Statue of Liberty was at the time it was built, and is recognized today as having been built as, a monument to American Liberty, as in the American War of Independence. It dates to the centenary celebration of the Declaration of Independence, more or less. From Wikipedia:

The torch-bearing arm was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and in Madison Square Park in Manhattan from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened by lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer, of the New York World, started a drive for donations to finish the project and attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar.

As part of the fundraising effort, Emma Lazarus, who was at the time heavily involved in helping refugees who had left eastern Europe under pogroms there against Jews, was asked to write an original poem. Clearly, the idea of freedom and liberty and the promise of America were tied together in the minds of all the people involved in erecting this statue, which is why the poem linked to both the statue and the fund raising was about the openness of America to receive the tired, poor, huddles masses.

The original manuscript for the poem, “The New Colossus,” is curated by the American Jewish Historical Society, which is always happy, I’m sure, to do its part in the Great American Jewish Conspiracy to annoy 21st century white supremacists.

Here is the poem:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Stephen Miller, representing the White House and Donald Trump, gave the White House Press corps a pretty straight forward White Supremacist line. Me? I’d rather have the coarse and belligerant Scramucci than this guy. Well, neither, actually.