Category Archives: Race relations

A New Era of Racism

Our lack of societal civilization once again rears its ugly head, this weekend we find out just how far you can go in the far Right literati while still being a blatant racist. A writer known for his contributions to The National Review, a publication that describes itself as, “America’s most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion”, has posted his educated and well written racist screed for all to review. Apparently this is the campaign season that the gloves are coming off.

Republicans don’t call it class warfare when they spurr on the fear, distrust, and distaste of those lower than them on the socio-economic scale, but that is what this is, a rally cry for class warfare. They neatly wrap up and deliver an “other” to the riled up townspeople.

Apparently those folks that love oppressing women, and those that have been biting their tongues when it comes to race have been released. They feel safe and supported enough in the mainstream media to show themselves. Thank goodness our society does have enough moral fabric integrity to push back at these social bullies, but severe damage has been done. Check out a smattering of the offensive quotes published recently from Taki Magazine, on “the Talk” that white parents should have with their kids:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

(10b)Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.

(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.

(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low.

There are several item numbers reserved for the IWSB (intelligent, well-socialized blacks), calling them a “luxury good” that one should seek out and that one could earn an “amulet” against future charges of racism. I’m guessing Derbyshire’s amulet just vanished in the fires of supremicium deliboratus. He’s talking about black people like they are commodities.

This article is presented in earnest – not jest – by a regularly contributing author in a leading conservative thought magazine. Apparently it isn’t the first time he’s writen some eyebrow raising racial remarks The author in question is John Derbyshire, sensibly, he was let go at the National Review. The saddest part is what happens after a Limbaugh or Derbyshire screed – it brings all of the misogyny and racism out in their audience. If you read through any articles containing the words Limbaugh and Fluke, you are bound to find a string of commenters that cannot wait to pile on some name calling for their new favorite target, unfortunately you can find the same thing happening in the chatter following Trayvon articles (choosing sides based on race). Now with Derbyshire, we can get a really pure strain of commenters unconcerned with the content of a story and just find those that can hop aboard this racist train.

We’ve had Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, and Rush around for a quite a while now, I was hoping that we could just trot them out when we needed some racial tirades, we are accustomed to their ways – but this season, this election season for some reason is different. Maybe it’s the belief in end times – all of these subtle racist and sexist implications take too much time -or maybe it is just a power surge of frightened white men wishing for yesteryear when their control of everything was more secure. Perhaps America is reaping what it sowed half a century ago. We never really sold the idea of integration to the American people as a whole. The South never took integration to heart and the rest of the country just let it continue to be segregated. Other communities sprung up and letting things be was the easier path than trying to force a community where there was no want for one.

America – the collective body of people – didn’t get the message that we are all connected. We never got all of the hearts and minds behind the idea that we are all one human race and can work together.  If you read the comments following Derbyshire’s article, you will find a segment of Americans that find it acceptable to treat black Americans as one entity described as a nearly different species as the rest of us. It is dehumanizing language. The author isn’t the only one that finds it convenient to use acronyms when referring to black people either.

Here is the usual tact with the reader that supports the Derbyshires of the world:  they accuse liberals of acting morally superior and dishonest (as if they secretly agree with Derbyshire).

What Derbyshire was actually pointing out had little to do with the fact that a person with dark skin being more dangerous than anyone else (he certainly invoked a life or death situation multiple times). What he pointed out  to me is how poorly Derbyshire understands what it is like to be a person of color in this country and how someone like himself is completely ignorant and wreckless when interacting and communicating people outside of his socioeconomic background. He is going so far as to encourage teaching this fear and ignorance to the next generation.  This hype around danger and class segregation is a huge problem in this country that will only get worse as our economy continues to push our two classes – rich and poor – further and further apart.

I imagine Derbyshire in Africa, where there is nothing but a sea of brown and black skin and how childish his take would seem in the middle of a crowd there.  His rules are paranoid and presume that people with brown skin are inherently more dangerous. I would charge that his type of mentality is inherently more dangerous, he is setting up a frame of conflict.

There is a reason this is coming out when it is, a segment of Americans is afraid of black people. Young black men are especially frightening to them and there is no way to dress or groom a young black man that would make him less frightening.  The only way this fear could be dispelled is for someone to befriend a young black man (and not to gain an “amulet”) and get to know him. Attitudes like Derbyshire’s make that meeting less likely to happen, passing on those fears perpetuates and exaggerates the differences between the classes and races.

The values involved – as always – involve empathy on the progressive side and authority or tradition on the conservative side. Conservatives do not like threats to the traditional authority. Young black men have barely any role in any sort of authoritative position in American history. When you look at our “Founding Fathers”, women and people of color are conspicuously absent. The screed by Derbyshire today is not different from the mentality of yesteryear in that their suppositions of who is the proper authority are firmly based in fact. Conservatives with this racist bent see this “talk” as preserving the personal security and autonomy of their family, liberals see it as an affront to humanity and spreading it as equivalent to spreading hatred.

When this sort of “educated” racism comes up, we must say something. Every trait that Derbyshire attaches as a “black characteristic” could be tied to a circumstance where our governing of ourselves has failed. The underlying hostility he projects into an entire race may very well lie in the fact that hundreds of years of slavery wrong have never been reconciled. It’s hard to forget when your family was enslaved while being repeatedly raped, beaten, and murdered for generations upon generations.  Don’t let this “talk” pass in your circles, speak out against it. If crime prevention is important to you, get involved and find out what really happening in your neighborhood and maybe even some of the reasons why it is happening. Racism (like most isms) is regressive, don’t go there.

Update: The National Review fired another contributor this week due to racism. University of Illinois professor emeritus Robert Weissberg recently spoke at a conference describing “whitopias” and how to keep them white and keep the “undesirables” out. Kudos to the National Review for purging but it is hard to believe that these guys weren’t like this all along and they only just now really stuck their feet in their mouth. Maybe it’s just that the climate of race relations is so divided right now that the writers felt like their own insular bubble of whiteness was shared with anyone who might become their audience.

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Stand Your Ground = Kill at Will

“Stand Your Ground” is brilliantly framed. The NRA pushed this bill into politics, and surely their wordsmith/marketers tested this title plenty – what’s not to like? Creating a motto or meme is a very basic technique of framing. Many times the mantra is the only bit of verbatim on a topic that is memorable, that many people can recall and discuss/ refer to. Think about the frame, “Stand Your Ground” – what imagery does it conjure up? I think of a manly man defending his property and/or family. The guy that pops into my head is clenching a cigar in his teeth and his gun is either smokin’ or dead eye leveled at some threat. I think John Wayne and someone saying, “this here street ain’t big enough for the two of us…”, in wild west fashion.

Reminiscing about westerns is a little nostalgic, but then you remember that all the violence in those movies was fake with blanks. When you take real live sherriff wannabes, and insert them into the scene with real ammo – the scene looks more like a real life nightmare, for the victim’s family, for the shooter, for the shooter’s family. Continue reading

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Empathy for Racists?

I know you are thinking, “seriously? Empathy for racists? Is she really going there?” I really am.

I abhor racism. My definition of racism is that you treat someone in a substandard way simply because of their race. This could be systematic or individualized, there are many forms. As a woman I am familiar with “women’s issues” and wonder why the topic of the gender that accounts for half of the population on this earth merits a “special interest” kind of label. I’m guessing that is how it can feel to be a person of color;that is being treated like an anomaly when, depending on the location, you might be in the majority demographic. When you deal with the hard and soft realities of prejudice on a daily basis, you are living in a different frame that those not experiencing those realities. This is part of the disconnect when you hear a (usually white) person saying, “why does it always have to be about race?”. It is always about race because a person of color never experiences life in the same frame as a white person does in this country.

It’s undisputed that white people arrived in this country, conquered or killed most of its inhabitants, prospered off of the rich land, enslaved people of color, prospered off of their labor, and as a group have held more powerful positions than any other demographic in the land. That accumulation of power and position has only been shifted slightly by the election of our first black president; you certainly can’t undo hundreds of years of slavery, oppression and domination with 4 years of anything. Continue reading

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