Category Archives: Race and Racism

Is White Supremacy and Lynching People Racist?

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith got all titillated the other day when she thought about sitting in the front row of a public hanging. In the context of her race to be Senator of Mississippi. Which is the state in which the most recent well known lynchings took place, and that probably had more lynchings per capita than any other state. Her opponent, Mike Epsy, is a black man.

Hyde-Smith has a 100% Trumpian voting record, and she is in fact the only Republican Senator with a perfect record. She is a strong NRA supporter, and the ACLU gives her a zero rating.

Here is the public hanging remark:

Answer to the question: Yes.

Difference and Disease: Excellent new book on medicine and race in the 18th century British empire

Suman Seth is associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, at Cornell. He is an historian of science, and studies medicine, race, and colonialism (and dabbles as well in quantum theory). In his new book, Difference and Disease: Medicine, Race, and the Eighteenth-Century British Empire, Seth takes on a fascinating subject that all of us who have worked in tropical regions but with a western (or northern) perspective have thought about, one way or another.

As Europeans, and Seth is concerned mainly with the British, explored and conquered, colonizing and creating the empire on which the sun could never set no matter how hard it tried, they got sick. They also observed other people getting sick. And, they encountered a wide range of physiological or biosocial phenomena that were unfamiliar and often linked (in real or in the head) to disease. A key cultural imperative of British Colonials as to racialize their explanations for things, including disease. The science available through the 18th and 19th century was inadequate to address questions that kept rising. Like, why did a Brit get sick on his first visit to a plantation in Jamaica, but on return a few years later, did not get as sick? If you have a model where people of different races have specific diseases and immunities in their very nature, how do you explain that sort of phenomenon? How might the widely held, or at least somewhat widely held, concept of polygenism, have explained things? This is an early version of the multi-regional hypothesis, but more extreme, in which god created each type of human independently where we find them, and we are all different species. (Agassiz, with his advanced but highly imperfect geological understanding, thought the earth was totally frozen over with each ice age, and repopulated with these polygenetic populations of not just humans, but all the organisms, after each thaw).

Seth weaves together considerations of slavery and abolition, colonialism, race, geography, gender, and illness. This is an academic book, but at the same time, something of a page turner. Anyone interested in disease, colonial history, and race, will want to re-excavate the British colonial world, looking at disease, illness, and racial thinking, with Suman Seth as your guide. I highly recommend this book.

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.”