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I received one the dumbest comments left on my blog, which I will not post because I have a strict policy about hate-speech. But there was one part of the comment I will address because it’s something I’ve heard over and over again. Below is a small excerpt of the comment I’m talking about:
“Your lawless president hates America and you’re too dumb to see it.”
– Anonymous Moron
The elegance of the commenters ignorance is astounding but I’ll attempt to respond anyway. It’s one thing to disagree with the policies set by the president or to criticize his effectiveness as a leader. That kind of critique is totally valid and understandable because opinions are very subjective. Especially when you have two sides with very different views about what needs to be done to make our country a more perfect union. I get that, but what I don’t get is the way a lot of conservatives frame their disagreements with the president. Most of the time they are incredibly condescending calling into question the president’s understanding or intelligence, or their attacks become very conspiratorial (like the one above). It’s the crazy insane conspiracies that bother me the most. This gentleman is suggesting that the president is purposely on a mission to destroy the country because the president secretly hates America. This kind of thinking has become very common among conservatives. For example, the fake Benghazi scandal (created by Fox News). Conservatives actually believe that President Obama ordered our military not to rescue the Americans in our consulate when they were under attack. Never mind this has been debunked by all 8 investigations into Benghazi and by every official account given after the attack. How can seemingly intelligent individuals believe that Barack Obama became president to destroy America and watch Americans die as a part of some nefarious plan? They weren’t saying he just dropped the ball due to incompetence, they were saying he made a conscience decision to let the American Ambassador and his staff die. A significant portion of American conservatives believes this wholeheartedly. It’s very important to understand the distinction here because it can explain why republicans refuse to compromise or work with the president on anything. A definite “no”, merits be damned has been the raison d’être of the republican party for the past 6 years. So Before we complain about the partisanship of Washington politics, I think we have to examine the flaws within our own views and throw away the divisive insulting conspiracies. I believe anyone who makes it to the white house has already proven their commitment to the country. That position isn’t easy to come by, and it’s even harder to win two terms (especially for our first black president). So their patriotism and love for their country as president should not be a part of any serious discussion. If you do not respect the man, at least have some respect the office he holds.
Are you asking what the hell is #pointergate? Well here’s the answer. A local news channel in Minneapolis (KSTP) aired one of the most egregiously racist news stories I’ve seen from a mainstream news network in a long time. Two young African American community organizing volunteers were out registering people to vote. Both volunteers were working for a very well respected organization named “Neighborhoods Organizing For Change”. While out doing this work they run into the city’s mayor Betsy Hodges who was up for reelection. They spoke with the mayor and then asked to take a picture with her. The video below is a KSTP news report of what occurred during the community volunteers encounter with the mayor. It’s hard to believe that this is a real news story and not a parody of a news story. Warning: This should make your blood boil and stomach turn no matter what race or political affiliation you have.
*There’s a second video at the end of this blog with the volunteers talking about their work in the community and why it’s important to them.
Completely INSANE! It’s stories like this that makes me, as an African-American male, extremely cynical about where this country is heading. It seems like everything no matter how small or insignificant gets interpreted as criminal behavior when you’re an African-American man. This story reveals one of the main reasons African Americans are distrustful of law enforcement and local news. If a black man isn’t smiling in a photo, they’ll describe his expression as menacing. If a black man is pointing or giving the peace sign in a photo, they’ll say he’s throwing gang signs. If a black man wears jogging pants and a hooded sweatshirt while going for a run in his neighborhood, he’s a thug casing houses to rob. If a black man complies with an officers orders too fast or eagerly, he’s obviously reaching for a gun. If a black man questions an officer about why he’s being harassed or targeted, he’s arrested or shot for non compliance or labeled combative. A cell phone in the hands of a black man are constantly mistaken as a weapon by law enforcement. Young black males exhibiting normal teenage rebellion of authority will get himself arrested and labeled a felon for the rest of his life, while the same exact behavior by white teenage males are considered youthful indiscretions that rarely lead to an arrest or a lifelong label stripping him of his rights as a citizen and limiting his chances of becoming a successful productive member of society.
Events such as this exposes the inequality that has fractured this country into two very different Americas. There’s one America where you’re assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Where you’re given the benefit of the doubt when contradictions arise. Where you’re treated with respect by law enforcement. Where a mistake or a temporary lack of judgement does not define who you are. Where poverty isn’t seen as a character flaw. And then there’s another America where a lifetime of honesty still leads people to question your word. Where 2nd chances are rarely given. Where anyone who needs help or assistance from their government is looked at as undeserving or lazy, while others who benifit from government assistance are looked at as honest citizens who are being hurt due to a bad economy. Where unarmed men and young adults can be murdered without cause while their killer is never held accountable, and in some cases, treated as heroes in conservative media. Where pointing out or discussing racism of any kind gets you labeled racist. Where an ethnic sounding name is enough to negatively effect your job search possibilities and get your resume tossed in the trash before even considering your qualifications. Where police openly target you and overly scrutinize your behavior strictly based on your race and you’re powerless to stop it. An America where your life and self-worth isn’t valued or respected by the people who are in power. An America where a petty theft or any criminal act no matter how small can retroactively justify the taking of your life with the approval of many conservatives and conservative media alike.
After the civil rights movement America seemed to be bridging the divide between those two very different Americas. Then Ronald Reagan became president and ever since then there’s been a concerted effort to destroy the progress that our county worked so hard to achieve. President Clinton entering office slowed the decline but did little to address or acknowledge the growing divide. Then came Fox News and the rest is history. The election of Barack Obama seemed to bring out the absolute worst in conservative media. They convinced a large portion of the country that it’s ok to hold racist views and it’s ok to believe racial stereotypes. The popularity of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh
are huge indicators that this divide will continue to grow and lead the country into some very rough times ahead. I hate to end any blog without showing a glimmer of hope, or giving my readers something positive to hold on to, but sadly I don’t see any hope with this issue. If it were just a problem of awareness, writing blogs like this would make me feel like I’m doing my part to help solve things… but it’s not about awareness. Media highlighting stories like this are everywhere. Especially on social media sites. So the information and verifiable truth is out there. The real problem is people who aren’t willing to change because they benifit from the inequality. That’s a character issue that can only be solved in the hearts of each and every American citizen. Until then “pointergate”, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, John Crawford, Levar Jones, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Oscar Grant, etc will continue to occur.
*UPDATE: A Socially Urban reader sent me this suggestion. If you’re outraged about this pointergate racial news story call the station and let them know. Tell them you want reporter Jay Kolls and the producers who put this on air to issue an apology and some kind of reprimand for Jay Kolls’ blatent lack of journalistic integrity. Here’s the phone number to KSTP – 612-588-6397.
The civil rights activist, the radio/tv personality, the revered reverend, the best selling author, the voice of black America, the founder and president of The National Action Network Reverend Al Sharpton has been a lightening rod of controversy for decades now. But ever since Barack Obama became president Reverend Al’s close relationship with him has raised his national profile in ways that even he did not expect. The positives are quite obvious such as increased visibility which gives him a platform to bring attention to specific areas or incidents of injustice, an hour-long cable news program on MSNBC (Politics Nation), a lucrative book deal for The Rejected Stone which chronicles his personal evolution from a controversial street activist to a national civil rights icon, increased visibility for his nonprofit civil rights organization the National Action Network, and a seat at the table when new civil rights legislation gets crafted. His proximity to power is envied by many, but there is a downside to being as outspoken and unapologetically supportive of President Obama. That downside is Fox News and the cabal of conservative media who are dedicated to destroy the president, his legacy, and anyone who supports him.
Every liberal commentator and political activist in this country should expect harsh and sometimes unfair critiques from their conservative counterparts. It comes with the territory. I’ve heard people say a vigorous debate is a sign of a healthy democracy, which is true. But there’s a caveat that says if you’re going to enter the world of politics you better have a tough skin, a strong sense of who you are, and a clear set of guiding principles that underpins everything you say and do. If you’re lacking in any of those, it will show sooner or later and the power and influence you thought you had will all disappear. The Reverend Al Sharpton has been in the public eye fighting for civil rights for almost 5 decades and continues to prove himself effective when injustice victimize’s the voiceless. There aren’t many leaders who have a 5 decade long history that sees their power and influence grow exponentially without being the real deal. Character, integrity, and passion aren’t things you can fake sustainably. That’s why all the hate and vitriol being thrown at him constantly over the years have never stuck and that’s why many African-Americans respect and revere him as a leader. Conservatives tried to block Barack Obama’s first bid for President and failed. They tried to stop President Obama’s reelection and failed. Now they are trying to attack Sharpton and marginalize the power of his organization, and they are failing at that as well. Their most recent attack came from Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly after the murder of an unarmed African-American teen named Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson Missouri. The African-American community of that town expressed their anger and outrage through nonviolent protest. There was a very small number of people who used the protest as a cover to loot and vandalize local businesses. Bill O’Reilly and other Fox News hosts accused Reverend Sharpton of inciting violence and inflaming tension between the African-American community and the police.
Bill said Sharpton inserted himself into the protest to get media attention and no one asked Sharpton to get involved or for any help. Of course none of that was true and anyone who knows how to use google could debunk everything O’Reilly said with an internet connection and two minutes. For example, here are two video clips. The first video is Al Sharpton’s first speech given as soon as he arrived in Ferguson at the behest of Micheal Brown’s family. The second video is Bill O’Reilly lying on air saying Sharpton incited violence.
There’s not one word in Sharpton’s entire statement that anyone could misunderstand as inflammatory or a call for violence. Sharpton clearly called for peace and pleaded with the community to keep the protest nonviolent. Fox News and Bill O’Reilly never aired this clip and made a conscience decision to lie on air to their viewers. Fox does this all the time but O’Reilly lies over and over about issues that involve race. Here’s another video where O’Reilly lied saying that African-American democrat organizers of an MLK day event excluded white republicans from speaking. The day after he lied and ranted about this he had to apologize on air because the press called him out on it.
Bill O’Reilly has a very skewed racist view of black America and constantly confuses Hip Hop culture and entertainment with African-American culture. Al Sharpton invited O’Reilly to have dinner in Harlem at one of Harlem’s most popular eating establishments Sylvia’s. After the dinner O’Reilly told his radio audience about it the next day. He told them that he was surprised how clean and nice it was even though it was owned and run by African-Americans. He said no one was yelling profanity, everyone was nice and respectful, and the African-American’s eating there were well dressed and well-behaved. He was amazed by this. When talking about Bill O’Reilly I always go back to this story about Sylvia’s because it explains how he views African Americans. So when he calls our first African-American president and our first African-American attorney general thugs, and calls well-respected African-American civil rights leaders “race agitators” or “race hustlers”, we all know what kind of mind that comes from.
One of Al Sharpton’s most popular critiques from conservatives asks why doesn’t Sharpton talk about black on black crime. Why isn’t he organizing and marching in Detroit and Chicago where inner city crime is rampant? You’ll hear that one on Fox a lot too. I have to laugh every time I hear a conservative say that because it shows they have no idea what they are talking about. Al Sharpton and his nonprofit have organized rallies and marches in both of those cities. He held a widely televised town hall in Detroit and even temporarily moved into an inner city apartment in Chicago to see first hand what the impoverished residents were dealing with. Despite how easily accessible this information is, somehow it remains hidden from Fox and other conservatives.
Another popular critique from conservatives is Reverend Sharpton only wants to help black people, so that makes him racist. To debunk this first we need to understand what a civil rights activist is. A civil rights activist or a civil rights organization uses political levers to secure equal opportunity for members of a less powerful minority group. The key word there is “equal”. So if you’re working towards making things equal for every race, you are trying to give minorities the same rights and treatment as those in the majority or those who have more power. African-Americans are a minority group who have been and continue to be discriminated against because of race. So a civil rights organization or activist takes on issues where African-Americans aren’t being treated as equals (to whites). That does not mean you only want to help black people because you don’t like white people. That is just ridiculous. When we finally have racial equality then we will not have a need for civil rights activist anymore.
One more popular critique I’d like to discuss is why doesn’t Al Sharpton and his organization help out when a black person kills a white person. First we need to correct a common misperception. Al Sharpton and his organization do not get involved with every case where there’s a black victim and a white perpetrator. To get involved they look for instances where the crime that was committed has racial elements that lead to the crime or racial elements that have the potential to hinder a fair and equal outcome. I’ll use the Trayvon Martin case as an example. Al Sharpton did not get involved just because Trayvon was a black kid. He got involved because the district attorney in Sanford had no plans to charge George Zimmerman with anything. Check the facts and you’ll see that the D.A. hadn’t filed charges a full month after Trayvon’s death. Then the family called Reverend Sharpton for help. He organized protest and used his high-profile to get the media to pay attention to the incident. The pressure from media and other civil rights organizations finally forced the DA to file charges against George Zimmerman. So Sharpton and NAN weren’t asking for a conviction, all they were asking for was a fair trial. If the district attorney in Sanford would have presented the case to a grand jury (just like they are supposed to) there wouldn’t have been a need for Sharpton to get involved.
I wrote this blog because I thought Reverend Sharpton didn’t deserve all the hateful comments and coverage from conservative media. He is flawed just like any other human and has made mistakes in the past, but the people who are throwing slurs and criticizing him for being passionate about civil rights hasn’t done anything close to the kind of work he’s dedicated his life to. This man is cut from the same cloth as MLK or Kennedy. Don’t believe the racist caricature the conservative media has tried to make him out to be. Do some research about the real man and see what he’s about before passing judgement. We have so few national civil rights leaders left. We should be thankful that he is still able to fight on our behalf, even when his character gets called into question and the hate gets thrown. I’m not sure I’d be able to withstand that kind of scrutiny. So please do some research on him and his nonprofit group National Action Network and see for yourself. Don’t let people who have an agenda tell you who he is (me included).
When I started writing a blog post sharing my thoughts on the racist Donald Sterling recordings I came to the same realization as ESPN columnist Bomani Jones but he said it much better than I, so I’ve posted his video at the end of this blog.
But before you watch the video I’d like to share an observation of mine that Mr Jones didn’t cover in his commentary. It’s about the way the liberal media and right wing media uses these public episodes of racism to reaffirm what they already believe and assure their audience that they are the good guys, while collectively missing the point altogether. This happens every time an incident of outright racism shows up in the news. Last week we had the racist rancher Cliven Bundy, and this week we have the racist billionaire Donald Sterling. I noticed a pattern in the way liberal media covers issues of racism and then noticed some similarities in conservative media coverage on race. MSNBC and other liberal leaning media covered it more as a teaching moment to show how racism still exist (which is the way it should be covered). But liberal media also uses racial situations like both of these stories as “feel good” moments for their white liberal audience. They get to give themselves a big pat on the back for being outraged by racism. It’s a way for them to tap into the satisfaction of political activism without having to do anything. It’s an opportunity to reaffirm beliefs and let everyone know how great a person they are for caring about minorities. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, so I’m not bashing them for this… but I am saying there’s a need for more depth after the self congratulatory pats on the back are done, and the sensationalism of the story fades away.
Then there’s the conservative media’s take on stories of racism. Just like liberal media coverage conservative media used the collective condemnation of said racial remarks as a “feel good” reaffirmation of their beliefs, and gave their audience a pat on the back for being outraged by racism. But that’s where the similarities end. After the pats on the back, conservative media takes a big right turn. To understand what I’m about to share with you may require a suspension of disbelief. Here’s what I mean. Bundy and Sterling’s acknowledged racism for conservative media proved that racism does not exist in modern America. This denial of logic takes leaps of mental gymnastics that only makes sense to the conditioned brain of the far far right. Fox News and the rest of conservative media comes to the same conclusion every time blatant racism is in the news. First they strongly condemn the racist, which is commendable I guess, but in the very next breath they use the same incident of racism they just acknowledged and condemned, to prove that racism does not exist. It’s amazing, remarkable, astonishing and a spectacle that every liberal should see at least once before dying (#LiberalBucketList). This logic defying feat of using the existence of something to prove that the very thing you just acknowledged does not exist is mind boggling to me… but they do it every single time. Both Sean Hannity and Bill O’Riley agreed that since a majority of American’s spoke out against Bundy and Sterling’s racist remarks, then that proves that America has moved beyond the acceptance of racism. And that proves that all racism and racist will meet the same rebuke received by Bundy and Sterling. I know this does not make any sense to anyone on the outside of the right-wing bubble, but this way of thinking is logical to them. Liberals go for the easy pat on the back while ignoring the burden of institutionalized racism that occurs everyday and hinders the advancement of minorities into the middle class. While conservatives go for the all out “racism is dead” celebration fiesta. When it comes to issues of race in this country, neither side of the ideological divide deserves praise.
Bomani Jones calls into the Dan LeBatard radio show and gives the REALEST take on the Donald Sterling drama, and how we all are ignoring the real issue when it comes to racism and how we handle situations of real racism in America and American media. It starts out with a funny observation but keep listening because he shares some pretty serious incite on institutionalized racism and how imbalanced everyone’s outrage is over Donald Sterling’s privately expressed racial faux pas to Donald Sterling’s proven blaten housing discrimination. Everything Bomani says is on point and noticeably missing from mainstream media coverage.
Conservative media and the GOP crowned their newest hero over this past week, and his name is Cliven Bundy. Mr Bundy is a Nevada rancher who had a very tense armed standoff with government officials trying to collect money he rightfully owed to the US government for 20 years worth of grazing fees that he refused to pay. Fox News and every single conservative media outlet rushed to Mr Bundy’s side very quickly because they saw an opportunity to exploit the situation and feed it to their base as big bad Obama government persecuting a hard working man who’s done nothing wrong. Casting Mr Bundy as a “maker” instead of a “taker”… which is ironic because Mr Bundy is so obviously a “taker” but I’ll explain that a little later in my post. First let’s go over the facts about the situation and the man at the center of it.
1. Mr. Bundy has been grazing his cattle on government owned land for 20 years without paying the proper fees that ALL ranchers have to pay. Accumulating for the past 20 years these fees add up to approximately $1 million. When normal American’s duck taxes and refuse to pay their bills, they get liens, repossessions, court judgments, and property seized. If a bank repossess someone’s home and the occupant refuses to leave, the bank will show up with an armed Sheriff and they will drag you out and arrest you for not complying.
2. Instead of handling this tax/fee dispute in court, Mr Bundy goes on Fox News and makes a call for armed anti-government militia men to come to his ranch with their guns to help him in an armed confrontation with the Bureau of Land Management so he can continue to steal from the government with no consequences.
3. When the government officials from the Bureau of Land Management came to seise Mr Bundy’s cattle for the 20 years of nonpayment and trespassing on government owned land they were met with heavily armed militiamen who watched Fox News and listened to Sean Hannity’s and Mr Bundy’s call for assistance. They had snipers pointing sniper rifles directly at law enforcement. Everyone who came to Bundy’s ranch had guns pointing at law enforcement… and here’s the unbelievable part, NO ONE GOT ARRESTED. Not one person was put in handcuffs.
4. Mr Bundy makes easily confirmable lies in numerous interviews but all of conservative media decided to ignore these warning signs that this man is dishonest and is misrepresenting himself and his situation. One of the biggest lies was about how long his family owned the ranch. He told Fox and all the others that his family has been on that land since the 1800’s, when county records clearly state that his family only purchased the land sometime in the 1980’s.
5. Mr Bundy says in an interview that he doesn’t recognize the authority of the United States government. Then he holds a victory rally and brings a state sheriff on stage to berate him for 20 minutes while the crowd cheers him on. He tells the sheriff and every other county sheriff in the country that they need to “disarm government bureaucrats” and if they couldn’t do the job then the citizens need to take-up arms against them just like he did. This was his third public on air call to violence… armed violence against law enforcement. The sheriff on stage listened to all of this and did nothing.
After going over the 5 factual points I’ve made, please tell me how anyone could see this man as a hero. Everything he’s done is supposed to be the stuff that conservatives are against. He doesn’t pay his debts. He does not follow the law. He shows contempt for law enforcement. He lies very easily. He wants the government to provide free grazing land for his cattle. He makes anti-American statements and says he does not consider himself as part of America. All of this and somehow conservative media loved this man. Can you imagine if a black man went on television calling for armed assistance to settle a dispute with the government? If a group of black men pointed guns and sniper rifles at law enforcement? Everyone knows exactly what would happen if Bundy was black.
Then Mr Bundy does an interview with The New York Times and decides to share his views on “the Negro”. I won’t paraphrase because you need to read his entire statement:
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro. I recall driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do. And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.” – Cliven Bundy **video of him saying all of this is at the bottom of this page**
Yes, that was a direct quote. Mr Bundy’s comments are not only uninformed and blatantly racist… they are horrible, they are vile, they are disgusting, they are ignorant, moronic, vulgar, crass, imbecilic, dumb, idiotic and completely indefensible. What sane person with a working brain wonders if “the negro” was happier being a slave? Who thinks like that? And he has the nerve to talk about black people being on government assistance when he’s been receiving government subsidized grazing fees for 20 years and even with the huge government subsidies that only charges him 25% of the fair market price for grazing cattle, he can’t even pay that. I almost can’t blame him for thinking that black people are all on welfare, all living in government housing, all from single parent homes, all unemployed or in jail. He believes this because Fox News, conservative pundits, conservative media, Tea Party & GOP legislators are constantly pushing those false racist views. That’s why they have embraced people like Bundy over and over again. Remember Ted Nugent? He’s the no talent has-been “rockstar” that the Tea Party and conservative media embrased even after making racist and violent comments about the president. He called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” in an interview. After Nugent learned that Obama won the election he said “Pimps whores & welfare brats & their soulless supporters have a president to destroy America.” Nugent told a CNN reporter that either Americans can vote Obama out of office or he can suck on my machine gun. Even after making these idiotic comments and violent threats republican congressman Steve Stockman invited Ted to attend the President’s State of the Union address as his guest. Ted even campaigned for Texas GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. You are the company you keep.
Remember the Duck Dynasty guy? Phil Robertson made some really stupid racist remarks in an interview saying that black people were happy and singing picking cotton during segregation until the government came along with civil rights and gave all blacks welfare. After making those blatantly racist comments conservative media, the Tea Party, and the GOP all rallied around him and he became their hero. Again, you are the company you keep.
Remember George Zimmerman? He shoots and kills an unarmed teen after racially profiling him. Fox and conservative media rallied around Zimmerman… especially Hannity. A man that killed an unarmed teen became a hero to them. Then after the trial was over and he got acquitted Fox and conservative media was shocked and surprised when Zimmerman’s ex wife had to call 911 because he threatened her and her dad with a loaded gun. Since the Trayvon trial Mr Zimmerman has had 4 different incidents with law enforcement. Again, you are the company you keep.
I’m pointing out Ted Nugent, George Zimmerman, and Phil Robertson because it’s becoming a pattern for conservatives to hero worship these racist assholes. When it happens over and over again you can’t ignore it or say those are coincidental isolated incidents. The racism has become a very visible part of the conservative movement. Cliven Bundy is just the latest in a series that will keep repeating itself. Next month I’ll be blogging about the new conservative hero that turns out to be racist and all of conservative media will be shocked and surprised again… and again… and again. It’s sad that this keeps happening in 2014. I have friends who are republican and I know this kind of racialized politics makes them sick. I’m sure there are other republicans who are just like them but their party has been hijacked by the extremist and co opted by a huge billion dollar money making conservative media machine. Hannity, Limbaugh, and Beck are destroying the credibility and electability of real conservative legislators who do not agree with the nuts, but feel they have to go along with it to stay in office. That’s good news for democrats, but bad news for anyone trying to legislate and govern. Conservative media keeps talking about a “post-racial” America, while proving over and over again we are far far from it.
I’m an everyday person who happens to have a blog. I’m not a journalist or media critic but what I try to do with my blog is expose hypocrisy in politics, and open people’s eyes to a point of view that they may not have seen on their own. I’m an African American liberal democrat born and raised in North Carolina and everything I write about comes from personal experiences colored by the aforementioned pieces of what makes me who I am. So for those who accuse me of only writing about race, lgbt issues, or democratic politics, I say to them, of course. I’d be a fool to write about things I know nothing about. Any writer would. I can write about racism because I’ve experienced racism. I can write about being gay because I am gay. I can write about liberal democratic politics because I am a liberal democrat. It’s just that simple. What I’m about to share with you in this particular blog post is something I’ve been writing in my head for the past few months. It’s about race and racism and how it influences every aspect of American life. For those of you who strongly disagree with this assertion, I ask that read this entire piece before forming opinions on it’s validity.
Ever since the brutal slaying of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, the incident seemed to expose an unspoken truth among a lot of white Americans (both liberal and conservative). The fear of violence at the hands of African American males. I had no idea how pervasive this fear was until this case. After Trayvon’s death the district attorney in Sanford Florida refused to bring charges against Zimmerman. Trayvon’s parents pleaded with the district attorney for months to take action to no avail. Then civil rights leaders like Rev Al Sharpton and other civil rights groups got involved to put pressure on Sanford’s district attorney to charge Zimmerman and let a jury of his peers decide his fate. What a lot of conservatives fail to realize is the only reason outside help was needed was because the D.A. wouldn’t bring charges. Not because a white person killed a black person. This point was lost on Fox News as well. In response to the involvement of civil rights groups, Fox News began searching for murders that were committed by blacks with white victims. They asked their viewers why didn’t Sharpton and the NAACP get involved with those cases. The answer to that question is very simple but no one on that network had the intelligence to come up with it. In all the cases they reported with a black person killing a white person, the black defendant was arrested and charged right away. Trayvon’s parents and Al Sharpton were only asking for a day in court. The injustice was never about a white person killing a black person. The injustice was an adult stalking and murdering an unarmed teenager then claiming self defense and walking away without having to prove it was self defense in a court of law in front of a jury of his peers. So for those who say liberal media and civil rights groups ignore crimes committed by black people against white people you are trying to draw comparisons and conclusions to circumstances that are completely different to fit a racial bias that you already believed existed. It’s called intellectual dishonesty.
I watched a segment on Fox commentary Bill O’Riley’s show recently. He had a panel of all white guests discussing how the media ignores crimes and violence committed by blacks. Anyone who has watched American television or read
American news papers within the last century knows how ludicrous this assertion is, but that’s not even the most disturbing untruth that came out of Mr O’Riley’s segment. O’Riley and everyone on his panel all agreed that the “black community” has a problem with violence, unwed child birth, work ethic, and government hand outs. All of these things were accepted as fact by everyone. First of all I take issue with anyone who thinks race can be associated with a propensity to commit crime, or is somehow associated with loose morals. And I take an even bigger issue with those who use the term “the black community” to imply that every black person thinks, acts, feels, and behaves in unison. THERE IS NO BLACK COMMUNITY… especially in the context that they were using it in.
People seem to forget that Jim Crow and racial segregation only ended 50 years ago. Blacks were thought to be inferior to whites. We weren’t allowed to vote. We couldn’t look white people in the eye. We had no right to education. There were curfews in southern cities for blacks. We couldn’t attend certain colleges. The types of jobs we could apply for were extremely limited. Blacks could get lynched for almost no reason at all. The KKK committed atrocities and murders without the fear of arrest. All of this happened not too long ago. My mom and dad were alive and witnessed the horrors of the segregated south. Now that Jim Crow is gone and there are laws in place that brought an end to segregation things are a lot better for blacks. But laws can’t change the mentality that made Jim Crow possible. That mentality is still alive and well. Bill O’Riley’s segment proves how ingrained those beliefs are. Think of racism and racial stereotypes as a building. The Jim Crow laws and segregation were put in place because whites believed blacks were violent, intellectually inferior, lacking morals, shiftless, and incapable of living without strict rules and oversight by whites. So Jim Crow and segregation are the walls of our building. The foundation that supported those walls are the beliefs of inferiority and a propensity for violence. The iron beams that allow this building to stand up and add floor after floor are the political figures and groups who help spread the message. The Bull Connor’s, the George Wallace’s and the KKK for example. Out of the civil rights movement we got legislation like The Voting Rights Act, and The Civil Rights Act which killed Jim Crow and ended segregation. That was the wrecking ball that knocked the walls of this building down. Blacks were finally equal in the eyes of the law. We got the right to vote, we could attend any college we wanted, schools were desegregated, employers could no longer exclude people based on race. All of this improved the lives of many many oppressed blacks that were suffering in the south. But legislation only destroyed the walls. The foundation that supported the walls were still left because you can not legislate peoples beliefs. You can’t erase a century’s worth of propaganda that convinced white America that blacks were violent and inferior just by passing a few laws. Even the most liberal democrat can fall victim to this ingrained racial way of thinking.
Most people think stereotypes have foundations in truth. Everyone in this county is aware of racial stereotypes. Blacks are violent, uneducated, lazy, more than likely on government assistance, possesses low morality, etc. Everyone knows those stereotypes. If I’m a person who believes that most stereotypes contains a little truth, my mind becomes open and more aware of situations that either reaffirms or confirms those stereotypical qualities. If I’m watching the news and they show five reports of violence and one out of the five reports involve a black perpetrator I’m going to notice the one report with the black guy. And everything that seems to confirm this stereotype I now believe is true will strengthen my belief about blacks and violence. Normally I would say who cares what some random guy things about people who share my skin color. But here is why I should care and why you should care. We pass quick judgments about the people we meet everyday. Sometimes we get a gut feeling about a person and we’re not even sure where it comes from. Take that same guy who has witnessed a reaffirmation of the stereotype that blacks are violent. Lets say he’s the manager of a daycare. There’s a black applicant and a white applicant. Both are equally qualified for the position. The manager believes a reinforced stereotype that tells him the black applicant is more likely to cause problems so he hires the white applicant. In his mind he’s doing the right thing for his daycare. He’s protecting the children. The man in this scenario isn’t necessarily racist. He’s a victim in this situation as well. When he watches Fox News he’s expecting news. He’s expecting to be told the truth. Instead he gets garbage dressed up as news. And Fox isn’t the only media outlet that stokes the racial fears and stereotypes harbored by well meaning white America, but they are the biggest peddler of this kind of thing. Before President Obama took office it seemed like there was a steady decline in racial bias in media. But when he won his first term in office conservative media saw how easy it was to reignite the racial fears of white America for political and economic gain. How many times have you heard the term “reverse racism” before Barack Obama became president?
For the past 5 or 6 years Fox, the Tea Party, republican extremist, evangelicals, and conservative media have quietly began building on the foundation that allowed Jim Crow and segregation to exist. Fox commentators are constantly talking about crime in the black community. Every shooting in intercity Chicago gets that headline. When crime occurs in a white neighborhood there’s never any headlines that say “crime in the white community”. There’s been numerous shootings and mass murders at schools all across America. All the perpetrators have been white. Never once did anyone describe these shootings as a problem in white America. Another favorite buzz word or news headline within conservative media is “black on black crime”. They talk about it as if it’s a sui generis phenomena that exist exclusively among blacks. It’s true that most crimes committed by someone black is perpetrated against a black victim. But that’s true about ALL races. 86% of crimes committed by white people are perpetrated against a white victim. But for some reason no one has ever uttered the words “white on white crime”. All of these things effect equality. Judges give black defendants longer sentences, police stop and arrest more black’s than any other race, blacks get paid an average of 20% less than whites with identical qualifications and job duties, banks are less likely to approve loans for blacks than whites, etc etc. Brick by brick the building built upon the foundation of racism and racial stereotypes gets taller, stronger, and a lot more visible. The Supreme court striking down the voting rights act, Stop and Frisk, voter id laws, stand your ground laws, are all issues leading America toward a new variation of our dark twisted past.
A few closing points:
1. The “Black Community” does not exist in the way that Fox News and other media outlets and personalities use it. They use it to imply that all black people think alike, have the same beliefs, behave similarly, and can be dealt with as a group. Just because I share a skin color with some gang member in LA does not mean we have anything in common, and certainly does not mean that I or any other black person shares any responsibility for any crimes or gang activity that this gang member becomes involved in.
2. No matter what crime statistics say, lawmakers and police can not use them to justify increased scrutiny on a whole race of people. Anyone who believes otherwise are basically saying that they believe race can determine behavior. This belief comes straight from the foundation that Jim Crow and segregation was built on.
3. Anyone who can’t admit that a majority of conservative media likes to reinforce negative racial stereotypes is being intellectually dishonest with themselves.
4. Racial language is a very small symptom of a much larger illness. If we want every person that gets caught saying something racist to be pulled off TV and vilified in the press, we’ve only suppressed that symptom temporarily. Instead we should attack the set of circumstances that created the illness. How else can you challenge a racial stereotype if we’re never allowed to have that conversation?
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When will conservatives stop listening to conservative media (Fox News & Limbaugh) and conservative politicians? How many times do they have to be wrong before their base starts to question their credibility? I know most liberals are well aware of the many conservative media lies that show up frequently in their reporting, but for those who watch conservative media exclusively I’m not so sure they know when they are being lied to. In recent history Fox News and their pundits have been proven wrong on a number of issues, and proven wrong in a big public way. First let’s start with the 2012 presidential election. All of conservative media which includes Fox, bloggers, columnist, radio personalities, religious leaders etc told their audience over and over again that Mitt Romney was going to win in a huge landslide. Even though every single poll projected President Obama as the winner. They duped their audience into ignoring the polls by telling them that all the polls were rigged by the liberal media to favor President Obama. Then on election night Obama wins with a very comfortable lead and Fox’s viewers were in shock because they all had their trust in a news network that was supposed to be “fair and balanced” as their slogan proclaims. You’d think a gaff that big would at least warrant some kind of apology… but surprisingly none were offered. For several months leading up to the election all of conservative media trotted out a number of big company ceo’s from across the nation to warn voters of the grave consequences that awaited them if President Obama won reelection. All of the ceo’s said the stock market would take a huge dive, they would have to lay off thousands of employees, they would have to close plants, interest rates would skyrocket, etc etc etc. These guys weren’t saying these things may happen, they were saying emphatically these things will happen. Now that we’re almost one year into President Obama’s second term we saw none of those doom and gloom predictions materialize. In fact quite the opposite. The stock market is surging at an all time high. Company’s are reporting record breaking profits. Unemployment has seen a slow but steady decline, but still no apology from any of those who made the misleading comments… not even an explanation as to why they got things wrong. I’m not even going to get into the many many many lies they’ve reported about Obamacare. For that I’d need at least 3 or 4 blog entries to properly address it. Fox has a habit of reporting misinformation to manipulate their viewers and sadly they continue to do this.
Watching the way conservative media has covered the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has been an eye opening experience for me. I have never seen the murderer of a teenager get embraced by a political party, a television network, and major radio personalities before. George Zimmerman was hailed as a hero to these sick minds. The Trayvon Martin shooting brought out the absolute worst in conservative media. Normally they would dance around race and use euphemisms and code words to keep plausible deniability just in case someone tried to call them out on it. But during the Zimmerman trial they threw caution to the wind and flew their confederate flag high. Bill O’Riley, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh all warned their viewers that if Zimmerman got acquitted African American’s would riot. They all reported this over and over again for a whole week. But hearing them say that made me realize they actually believe the racist crap they report. They believe every black man is a suspect and should be treated as such. They saw the whole black community in the same way that George Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin… as a criminal. I knew there weren’t going to be any riots, and so did every other black person, but those who buy into ugly racist stereotypes talked about it like it was a forgone conclusion. Then the verdict came and surprise surprise NO RIOTS. There were plenty of civil protest but no riots. You’d think after being wrong about that they would stop warning their audience about scary black riots… right? No, of course that didn’t stop them. Truth and facts never gets in the way of reporting at Fox News. Over the weekend Reverend Al Sharpton and the parents of Trayvon organized rally’s in major cities all over the country. Sean Hannity again predicted violence and anti-white demonstrations. He even went as far as to warn his audience to expect a race riot if these Trayvon rallies continue. And again he was proven wrong. Thousands of black and white people gathered together all over the country for rallies and speeches and not one incident of violence of any kind. This is the second time Fox has promised racial violence and were 100% wrong. When are their viewers going to hold them accountable? When are conservatives going to demand the truth from the people they support. How many times do they have to be proven wrong before people start to see them as tired outdated racist clichés who are always part of the problem instead of being part of the solution?
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein
TO FIND MORE CONSERVATIVE MEDIA LIES DEBUNKED VISIT THIS SITE: http://mythopedia.mediamatters.org/