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Rev Barber Undoing Trumpism

Rev Barber Undoing Trumpism

Like many progressives the election of Donal Trump left me in a very depressed withdrawn and sometimes angry state. I have read and listened to many of our leaders try to give pep talks but all of them were woefully inadequate.  Then I read an article written by Reverend Dr William Barber and found my inspiration.  “Birth Pangs Of A Third Reconstruction” is a brilliant assessment of our current political reality post-election and a diagnosis of Trumpism’s cancer.  Rev Barber traces the roots of our current political situation to America’s first Reconstruction at the end of the 1800’s.

…every stride toward freedom in U.S. history has been met with this same backlash.  We faced it during Reconstruction, in the shadow of slavery and amid the wreckage of the Civil War. African Americans joined hands with whites in the North and in the South who were willing to see one another as allies.

Within four years after the end of the Civil War, white and black alliances controlled every state house in the South. Together, they elected new leaders. Almost all of the southern legislatures were controlled by either a predominantly black alliance or a strong interracial fusion coalition. They hammered out new constitutions from a deeply moral perspective.

These fusion coalitions 150 years ago also built the first public schools and in state constitutions gave all persons a constitutional right to public education — somethingRev Barber Undoing Trumpism

that to this day has not been done in the federal constitution. In the state constitution of North Carolina they stated that “beneficent provision for the poor, the unfortunate, and the orphan is one of the first duties of a civilized and a Christian state.” They included labor rights and the right to “enjoyment of the fruit of your own labor” in 1868, long before the Knights of Labor came south with their first southern campaign.

They knew then — black and white together — from a moral fusion perspective, that labor without living wages is just a different form of slavery. They expanded access to the ballot and wrote a new fairness into criminal justice.

His plan to overcome the current backlash in response to changing demographics and 8 years of a black president, is so simple and left me thinking why I hadn’t heard more of this during our presidential campaign.

First, we must recognize the need for indigenously led, state-based, state-government focused, deeply moral, deeply constitutional, anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice, pro-labor, and transformative movement building. There’s no shortcut around this. We must build a movement from the bottom up. We must build relationships at the state level because that’s where most of the extremism of the current-day deconstructionists are happening.

They see the possibility of a Third Reconstruction, which is why they’re working so hard this time to strangle it in its cradle — and we must know that. We have to recognize that helicopter leadership by so-called national leaders will not sustain a moral movement. What you need are local movements.

Obviously Trump and his supporters have no legitimate moral argument for any of the policies they are pushing just like the pro-slavery faction of the 1800’s, and the anti-civil rights faction in the 1960’s.Undoing Trumpism The lesson to take from that; if you appeal to the civility and inherent sense of fairness in an honest and sincere way, people will begin to open themselves and really listen to what you have to say. That’s how you build a diverse coalition of both democrats and republicans. But one thing progressives must do is make sure the leaders who take on this message have the credibility to say it with conviction. Local organizers, pastors, local social justice leaders, and advocacy group leaders are perfectly poised to take this on.

This new movement isn’t about “taking back America”. That kind of language implies that one party is more American than the other. It also implies that one group is more deserving of America’s promise than the other. That kind of thinking will never advance our ideas.  We’re all Americans. This movement is about restoring America. Restoring it back to the moral leader of the world. Restoring it back to the ideals that made us great. Reverend Barber has not only given us the blueprint, he has proven it can work. Now it’s time to upgrade the “Moral Monday” movement that ousted republican governor Pat McCrory in North Carolina, and replicate it in all 50 states.

Great article, great message, great man, great plan and most importantly, great inspiration. To read Rev Barber’s full article go to https://thinkprogress.org/rev-barber-moral-change-1ad2776df7c#.vn17l4ym7

Marriage Equality Bittersweet

Marriage Equality A bittersweet victory

After news broke that the US Supreme Court upheld marriage equality making gay marriage legal in all 50 states I posted a tweet expressing how happy I was about the court’s decision. From this short tweet I ended up having a very interesting exchange with someone who comments a lot on my blog.  We disagree on almost every political issue imaginable but I love to hear his point of view.  He said he was unhappy about the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality a nationwide thing.  Then I asked him a very simple question that he had no answer to.  I asked him how this decision to legalize gay marriage would change his life or change the way he practices his religion.  He couldn’t answer because the truth is it will have no effect whatsoever on his life or how he chooses to live it.

If you are one of those people who are disappointed or sadden about someone gaining rights that you already enjoy, please ask yourself how this changes anything about your life or wellbeing as a citizen of a free country.  If you are one of those people who oppose this for religious reasons, please ask yourself how this will change your Sunday morning church service, or the way you read your bible, or the way you pray to God.  If you’re truly being honest with yourself, you’ll see how insignificant this is in your life.  But for gay people like me, this gives us a chance to better our lives.  It says to us that we deserve to be treated like equals.  We pay the same taxes, we abide by the same laws, we work in and contribute to the same economy, so what gives you the right to tell me how to live my life?  What gives you the right to exclude me from the same opportunities you have?  No one is forcing you to agree with gay marriage, no one is saying your religious beliefs are wrong or not valid.  No one is forcing you to like lgbt people.  But in a free democracy you can’t force me to live my life by your religious beliefs or by your interpretation of your religious text.

Marriage Equality Upheld

Marriage Equality Upheld

Believing homosexuality is a sin is totally valid, and even though I disagree it’s not my place to tell you you’re wrong or to try and force you to believe what I believe.  If that’s your religious belief, in my eyes I don’t consider that homophobic.  But to actively seek out ways to make people like me live as second class citizens and to support laws that gives you more rights just because you’re heterosexual, that is homophobic and it spits in the face of a true democracy and weakens us as a country.  History has taught that lesson to us over and over again with slavery and Jim Crow.  Slave owners and those who supported the right to own slaves used scriptures from the Bible to justify the practice of owning African slaves:

you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you.  You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.  You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. Leviticus 25:44-46

Laws were created to uphold a system that treated human beings as cattle primarily for financial gain but the aide of Biblical scripture allowed it to last 200+ years while supporters struck down every moral challenge to this barbaric system with (what they thought was) written approval from god. I’m using this example not to bash Christianity or anyone’s beliefs, but to show how problematic it can be when government makes legislative decisions based on a personal religious belief.

Clementa Pickney's casket in Charleston SC

Clementa Pickney’s casket in Charleston SC

At the end of our conversation he asked me how I felt about the news. I told him it was kind of bittersweet for me. I was elated to hear how the Supreme Court’s decision upheld Marriage equality which makes gay marriage legal in all 50 states, but my heart is still heavy knowing that the funeral of Rev Clementa Pickney (the pastor who was murdered last week by a white supremacist) is happening later today as well. As an out gay African American man my double minority identity presents dueling dichotomies all the time. Carrying this burden today means not fully participating in the joy and celebration that my white lgbt brothers and sisters are experiencing. But Clementa Pickney as a South Carolina senator believed in marriage equality. He along with the other members of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus were always on the side the lgbt community. That fact alone makes the sweet a lot less bitter, but it also reminds me that the fight for true equality isn’t over. It reminds me that we have to vigilantly protect each win because the same people who lost today aren’t going to change their ways and give up on their fascist crusade tomorrow. As soon as we think we’ve won and let our guard down, it gives the losers an opening to stop the momentum of our progress and a chance to destroy the good that we’ve built. Rev Clementa Pickney and the 8 other African Americans who died at the hand of a white supremacist serves as a stark reminder of that fact.

RIP Senator Reverend Clementa Pickney.

Rev Clementa Pickney

Rev Clementa Pickney

Creators Of A Racist Killer

Creators of a racist killer

This year mainstream America have been forced to witness something that black America has known and tried to sound the alarm on for decades. RACISM EXISTS AND IT EFFECTS EVERY PART OF AMERICAN LIFE. Amazingly we have social media to thank for exposing this simple truth. Network news and print media’s failure to properly address and report the truth about systemic racism gave enterprising bloggers an opportunity to correct this using the power of social media. Mainstream media’s reporting on race issues were all one dimensional only focusing on overt racism (white people using racial slurs, KKK, refusal of service based on race etc).

After the Civil Rights movement our government put in place laws that ended segregation, ended refusal of service based on race, and protected the voting rights of African Americans. All of these changes were huge steps toward racial equality, but none of them addressed systemic and institutional racism. Those outside of the minority community assumed racism was over and turned their attention elsewhere. Mainstream media did the same. In instances where institutionalized racism appeared (such as incarceration stats, or public school funding) those who didn’t want to see it or acknowledge it would come up with 50 different explanations besides race to explain it. Those who objected were labeled “race baiters” or “race pimps” and African Americans who wanted to discuss this were accused of playing the “race card”.

Bill O'Reilly on Fox News Addressing Race

Bill O’Reilly on Fox News Addressing Race

Fox News and the network’s show hosts became pros at dismissing racism with condescending editorials full of misinformation. They explain every symptom of institutionalized racism as a moral failure of African American culture. We’ve all heard this before; having children out of wedlock and one parent homes explains why kids join gangs and end up in prison. Dependence on welfare explains why the unemployment rate is higher among African Americans. Laziness and a poor work ethic explains the large income gap between whites and African Americans, and hip hop music explains an elevated crime rate in African American inner city neighborhoods. What most people fail to realize is, the moral failure argument is the same argument that slave owners and segregationist used to justify their racist views on African Americans. In other words, if you buy into the “moral failure” argument, you’re also buying into the white supremacist African Americans are inferior argument. That’s exactly what Fox News and conservative media have relentlessly pushed for decades. The election of Barack Obama seemed to accelerate their appetite for this kind of reporting even more.

Dylann Storm Roof taken to Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015.

Dylann Storm Roof taken to Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015.

Bottom line is this: if you look at the high incarceration rates, the wealth gap, the crime rate, the drop-out rate, and the high unemployment rate of African Americans as a moral failure that you have no obligation to help or correct, then you are RACIST. I use that word with great caution when I write because it requires some personal knowledge of how a person thinks and reacts to the world around him. But I feel extremely comfortable with labeling people who adhere to the Fox News and conservative media school of thought as a racist. Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh are leaders in the conservative media entertainment complex who have made millions by supporting white supremacist ideology hidden under the cover of political debate and commentary.

The rise of police brutality against African Americans, police killing unarmed African Americans, white people who fear physical violence at the hands of African Americans, the growing divide between the races, the rise in organized hate groups, and the rise in hate crimes are the result of conservative media’s white supremacist ideology that continues to inch closer and closer towards the mainstream. The depravity of those who make a living by misinforming their audience needs to be exposed, and those who consume this misinformation needs to open their eyes to the consequences of their consumption.

Charleston-Emanuel-AME-Church-Shooting-Victims

9 shooting victims that lost their lives due to Dylann Roof

The most recent consequence is named Dylann Storm Roof. On June 11, 2015 a 21 year old named Dylann Storm Roof walked into a friendly, kind, loving Christian church who welcomed him (a stranger) with open arms. He sat with them for the hour long Bible study service they were having. He listened to them pray, he listened to them sing, he watched them engage in Christ-like fellowship. After watching all of this for an hour he stands up pulls out a gun and began shooting. He killed 9 goodhearted Christian people just because they were black. He listened as one of the church members who welcomed him like family a few minutes prior, begged him not to do it and responded saying “you rape our women, you’re destroying our country, you’re taking over our country, so I have to kill you”, then reloaded and continued putting multiple bullets into the church-goers to make sure they were dead.

This terrorist may have grown up in a household where racist thoughts and beliefs were very common. But he could have shed those beliefs while entering adulthood and gaining a more realistic look at race and the world around him. Instead, that early predisposition for racist thought found a place to feed and grow in conservative media. Dylann told his African American victims that he had to kill them because they were criminals and rapist, and he wanted to take his country back. This horrendously racist way of thinking isn’t far from the kind commentary you can find in conservative media on any given day. Political commentator Chris Hayes pointed this out on his MSNBC show “All In” (see video below).

 

Dylann Storm Roof is responsible for his actions and he should be punished accordingly, but we can’t ignore the atmosphere that created this deranged racist killer. We can’t ignore the steady diet of racist propaganda and misinformation from Fox News and conservative media that gave him the justifiable motivation needed to commit this heinous atrocity without a shred of remorse. So Fox News and the conservative media entertainment complex bares just as much blame for the 9 deaths in Charleston as Dylann Storm Roof. If our justice system really was fair, Fox News would be facing 9 murder charges while sitting in a cell right next to Dylann.

 

 

Resources and thought provoking links

Socially Urban Racism PostsVideoLinks

Police brutality statistics
http://graphs.net/police-brutality-statistics.html

Twice a week white officers shoot black suspects
http://mic.com/articles/96452/one-troubling-statistic-shows-just-how-racist-america-s-police-brutality-problem-is

Blacks suffering under stop and frisk:
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/05/where-blacks-suffer-under-stop-and-frisk-on-steroids/371869/

Race and the drug war:
http://www.drugpolicy.org/race-and-drug-war

Stats on African American’s disproportionate contact with police:
http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/jj_Disproportionate%20Minority%20Contact.pdf

Mass incarceration of minorities:
http://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie.html

Racism in the prison industrial complex:
http://www.colorlines.com/articles/masked-racism-reflections-prison-industrial-complex

Prison became the new Jim Crow:
http://www.uua.org/multiculturalism/ga/200393.shtml

Racial Bias in hiring:
http://www.chicagobooth.edu/capideas/spring03/racialbias.html

Whiter jobs, higher wages – EPI Report
http://www.epi.org/publication/whiter_jobs_higher_wages/

The Racist Housing Policy that Made Your Neighborhood:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/the-racist-housing-policy-that-made-your-neighborhood/371439/

The Case for Reparations:
http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

Take Down The Confederate Flag:
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/take-down-the-confederate-flag-now/396290/

Racial Wealth Gap:
https://www.youtube.com/redirect?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.msnbc.com%2Fmsnbc%2Fwashingtons-silence-the-racial-wealth-gap&redir_token=OfTV4A639WKnA1Qh3_hB7Ah7wF58MTQzNDg4NjA4M0AxNDM0Nzk5Njgz

Race Forward important research about racism:
http://www.raceforward.org/research/reports/moving-race-conversation-forward

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum thinks government funded social programs are the government giving lazy black people hard-working white people’s money: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdfZmcuomcE

Special thanks to Laci Green for the reference material and links. Follow her on facebook
http://www.facebook.com/officiallacigreen and twitter http://www.twitter.com/gogreen18

Tamir Rice New Video

Tamir Rice

More video of the events that took place after the murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice finally got released today (1/9/15) and it’s even worse than I expected. After watching the behavior of the officers in the video I thought to myself, this is what happens when life is devalued because of race. To people like me this video is sickening and hard to comprehend how children could be treated this way. A little boy murdered by police while playing on a playground. His older sister tackled and wrestled to the ground, forced in handcuffs then tossed in the backseat of a police car while watching her little brother bleed to death only a few feet away while police officers offer the dying kid no medical help at all. No one calls an ambulance, no one tries cpr, no one tries to stop the bleeding for a full 8 minutes. You can see them walk very casually around the bleeding dying kid with no sense of urgency. It was like Tamir’s life didn’t matter at all to them. It was more important to tackle and arrest his 14 year old sister who only wanted to help her dying brother.

If you read the account given by the officer before he knew this tragic incident was all caught on video, you’ll notice some disturbing similarities to the statements given by other officers who were also involved in shooting an unarmed African American. In the cases where there is no video, most officials and non minorities tend to believe the account given by police. But in every case where there is video of the event, the video directly contradicts the story given by police. What’s even sadder is even when there is a video that proves the officer lied or misrepresented the events that took place, the officer still does not get charged. Apparently murder, conspiracy, reckless endangerment, and giving false statements aren’t crimes when the victim is African American and the perpetrator carries a badge.

 

By watching the initial video of the shooting we’ve been able to confirm 5 lies that the Cleveland police department and Officer Timothy Loehmann have told:

1. Police said that Tamir Rice was seated at a table with other people.
TRUTH:  Tamir Rice was not seated at a table with other people.

2. Police said that as they pulled up, they saw Tamir Rice grab the gun and put it in his waistband.
TRUTH:  Tamir Rice does not appear to grab the gun and put it in his waistband.

3. Police said they got out of the car and told Tamir Rice three times to put his hands up but he refused.
TRUTH:  Police shot and killed Tamir in less than two seconds and could not have told him to put his hands up three times.

4. Police said that Tamir Rice then reached into his waistband and pulled out the gun, and was then shot and killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann.
TRUTH:  Tamir Rice absolutely does not pull the toy gun out of his waistband and brandish it in any way. This fact is crucial.

5. The officer who shot and murdered Tamir Rice (Timothy Loehmann) was described as a rookie.
TRUTH:  Timothy Loehmann was not a rookie, but had been an officer for over two years.

 

 

The Real Al Sharpton

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.
SOCIALLY URBAN PHOTO

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.

SOCIALLY URBAN MEDIA

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).




The Death of Michael Brown

Michael Brown

The murder of unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson Missouri has captured the attention of an entire nation. Officials with the Ferguson police department have released very few details as of yet, almost a full week later. The hoarding of investigation details in cases like this are unprecedented and against Missouri state “sunshine” laws. We do not have the initial police report. We do not have a statement from the shooting officer. We do not have his full history and background as an officer. We do not have the results of the autopsy which was concluded days ago. We do not know how many shots were fired. We do not know how many witnesses were interviewed. We do not know if the shooting officer was interviewed or interrogated following the shooting. In normal cases where a shooting leads to the death of the victim all of these facts are released to the public usually within 48 hours. Sometimes it takes longer for them to release the autopsy results but never 7 days after the death. When a police officer shoots an unarmed teen, and that same officer’s colleagues are tasked with investigating that shooting, there’s a clear conflict of interest. I’m not saying that it’s impossible for them to investigate fairly, but everyone is going to be skeptical of their findings. The people need to feel like they are being treated fairly. That is why any investigation should be as clear and transparent as possible to show that community that they can be trusted. But when you withhold evidence, findings, and reports without an explanation as to why, that can inflame tensions and breed further distrust. Everything the Ferguson police department has done so far clearly shows that they are not going to be fair with their investigation, and their goal is not about justice or presenting the truth. Their only goal is to protect the officer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager.

Whether or not Michael Brown’s family will see justice for the murder of their son remains to be seen. All of the evidence and details are not out yet. From everything I’ve heard so far it seems as though the officer was not in fear for his life, and he had no reason to take the life of Protester holding signMichael Brown. But that is my opinion, and not fact. It’s important to not rush to judgement in a case like this. So instead of blogging about whether the shooting was justified or not, I want to start a different conversation about perceptions vs reality and how perceptions get warped and manipulated over time and how perceptions can morph into reality both physically and even more interesting, mentally.

Right after news of this shooting started to become national, people were politicizing it. People felt like you had to take sides. We have such a juvenile simplistic way we go about looking at the world and everything in it. Everything has to be good or evil, hero’s or villains. The news media does this as well. I’m not sure if they are reflecting the public’s habit of doing this, or if they are the cause of this. I’m sure that’s a question that can’t be answered in just one blog post. But I do want to talk about our habit of doing this as individuals.Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson Immediately following the shooting most news outlets presented the facts that were apparent. 1 – Unarmed black teenager gets shot multiple times by white police officer in broad daylight. 2 – Unarmed teen had both his hands up as the officer continued to shoot him until his body fell to the ground. 3 – Black citizens of Ferguson felt unfairly and disproportionately policed by local officers. 4 – Unarmed teen Michael Brown just graduated high school and had plans to start his first day of college the day after his death. 5 – Due to a long history of abuse at the hands of police, black people have an inherent distrust of them.

Those were the set of facts being presented at that time. We are programmed to find the hero and the villain in this situation (consciously or unconsciously). A majority of Americans would say Michael is the hero/victim so the cop must be the villain. Then there are those who are sympathetic to the (sometime) dangerous job of a police officer. They have this picture of what a young black male is. They see all of us as threatening, uneducated criminals. So after they hear the initial report they cast the officer as the hero and the unarmed teenager as the villain. As more details and information slowly leak out over the days following the shooting, people have already decided who’s the hero and who’s the villain. So every news story that reinforces their belief of who’s the hero and villain they believe it.Michael Brown Every news story that contradicts their hero villain pick gets ignored or rejected. This simplistic way of casting hero’s and villains have nothing to do with education. Right after the Zimmerman trial concluded I had a friend send me a link with a small note attached. He read my blog about the trial entitled “No Justice For Trayvon”. He wanted me to click the link and read some things about Trayvon Martin that I did not know. I clicked the link and ended up at a “News Of The World” page. They are a ridiculous internet tabloid who ran stories like President Obama gay, Michelle Obama is really a transgender man, and another story about lizard people infiltrating our government (just to name a few). So I read the Trayvon Martin piece they wrote. In it they said Trayvon was arrested 6 times, Trayvon raped a classmate of his, Trayvon was a drug dealer, Trayvon had guns, etc etc. Everything that defines the “thug” stereotype was in that bullshit article. Needless to say, none of it was true, and the source has serious credibility issues. But what shocked me more was the fact that my friend/acquaintance believed it all. He’s a very intelligent doctor but he still got duped by that website. YES, A DOCTOR. He got duped because he looked at Trayvon and saw a criminal.  Trayvon fit the profile he had in his mind of someone capable of everything they claimed in that bs article. The story from that website reinforced who he already casted (in his mind) as the villain… Treyvon.

This hero villain casting started the moment you first heard about the Michael Brown shooting. Then a few days into the investigation Ferguson’s police chief decides to release a video tape that allegedly shows Michael Brown stealing some cigars from a convenience store. Some didn’t want to believe it was Michael, and others thought it verified what they already believed about young black males. If a police officer shot him, he must have done something wrong. For the people who cast him as the hero, it dulls the sense of injustice they first felt for Michael at the beginning. They won’t come out and say that outright, but you’ll notice a change in the level of their activism. They’ll stop talking about Michael’s shooting as much and pivot to a more generalized issue like police brutality, the militarization of police, or the relationship between the black community and the police. All of these are legitimate social ill’s that we need to be talking about and working to change, but what about Michael? Video still of alleged robberyHim being killed unarmed with his hands up in the air? The officer unloading his weapon shooting Michael Brown multiple times until he was dead and on the ground? The officers leaving his body in the middle of the street for four full hours as the blood drained from each bullet wound while the people of the neighborhood looked on in horror? What about all of that? How does a video tape of Michael stealing some cigars change your feelings about his life being taken needlessly?  Michael was 18. Just beginning to enter adulthood. That video doesn’t define who he was, and it doesn’t define the man he would have grown up to be.

We are all human and every human being on this planet has made stupid mistakes at some point in their life.  Especially as teenagers. I know 4 white girls who I went to school with got caught shoplifting in walmart. All 4 came from good families and did it just as a dare. They got caught but no charges were ever filed. They got to go home to their parents and I’m sure it scared them enough not to try it again. One of those girls is a dentist now. I’m sure that incident in Walmart has nothing to do with their character as adults. In that same Wal Mart two male black teenagers I knew through friends got Protest following Michael Brown Jr's Deathcaught shoplifting a few months after my classmates got caught. But this time it was a totally different story. They got arrested and lead away in handcuffs. They both spent the night in jail because their parents couldn’t get bail money.  Both guys took a deal that included no jail time but records of their arrest will show up every time someone does a background check on them. That one stupid decision to steal something at 17 years old will haunt them for the rest of their lives.  It will be harder for them to find employment, harder to lease an apartment, harder to buy a house or borrow money, and even take away their right to vote before they were old enough to vote.  Michael Brown’s alleged crime does not define who he is, does not define who he was, and does not predict what kind of person he would have grown up to be.  His youthful indiscretion and temporary lack of judgement does not make him a villain and it most certainly does not mean it’s ok for police to kill him for it.

 

*Michael Brown’s family is going through some pretty rough times right now.  If you’re not able to join the protest or attend a rally, here’s another way to show your support.  Donate some money to the Michael Brown Memorial Fund at http://www.gofundme.com/justiceformikebrown

 

20 Things To Know About Race

20 Things To Know About Race

I get a ton of angry rants and comments every time I blog about race.  Most of those comments are vile and insulting so they never pass our moderation process. I refuse to let anyone post hate-speech on my blog. Besides being vile and insulting, these comments and commenters have another thing in common. They all lack a clear and basic understanding of what racism is. This lack of understanding impairs their ability to take part in an open honest dialogue about race in an intelligent well-informed non-combative manner. In this blog post I want to help those who fit into that category learn a few things that will help them remove the wall of defense, and open them to receive a perspective they have learned to reject. Shouting past each other or only talking to those who already agree with us impedes progress which leads to racial resentment, racial tension, and increases the polarization on issues of race. So here are 20 things to keep in mind when commenting on race.

1.  Black police can racially profile and violate the civil rights of other black people just like white officers can.  Black people are just as prone to believe racial stereotypes about their own race as some white people are.  Most of these stereotypes are reinforced by the media because they’ve been floating around as fact since the first slave stepped foot on American soil.

2.  Having a black friend does not exclude you from being racist.  It does not excuse your discriminatory or racist behavior.  It does not absolve your comments from scrutiny when they contain ambiguous racial undertones.  And it most certainly does not give you a pass to perpetrate and regurgitate hate speech.  Donald Trump is a serial offender when it comes to this tired trope.  “I’m not racist.  Some of my best friends are black”.

3.  Racism and discrimination are not the same. Racial Discrimination is a process that makes arbitrary distinctions, exclusions, or restrictions that are based on things like race or ethnic origin. This process intentionally rewards one group at the expense of another.

Racism is a construct or a belief that someone’s race can determine the limits of that person’s individual achievement, which leads to the belief that one race is superior and has the right to rule the others.

4.  Someone can use racial slurs without being a racist person.  But those who use racial slurs are much more likely to be racist.  For example; in an argument you say things you don’t really mean.  You may tell someone you hope they die in the middle of an argument.  Does that mean you’re a murder?  No.

5.  Believing racial stereotypes can negatively effect your interactions with black people.  For example; if you run a business and need to hire new employees and you believe black men are more likely to be violent than white men, you’re going to be less likely to hire a black man to fill your open positions. This happens on a subconscious level and numerous studies have proven this to be true. This is also reflected in pay disparity among races, higher unemployment numbers for minorities, job promotions, interview callbacks etc.

6.  Yes, black people can be racist against white people, but a black persons racial bias has little negative effect on whites.  I say this because white people are in a position of power, and black people aren’t.  Whites have much more wealth, they are in charge of every major corporation, and they have much more political power. If they are racist, they have the power and means to turn their racist views into discrimination and racial oppression.  Slavery and Jim Crow has produced an inherent distrust when it comes to the way black people interact with whites.  However, that does not excuse any black person who has racist beliefs, but it’s important to know that black racism and white racism are not equal or the same in any way.

7.  There is no such thing as “reverse racism”.  Racism is racism no matter where it comes from.

8.  Pointing out racism and acknowledging it’s existence does not make the person pointing it out a racist.

9.  The term “playing the race card” is offensive and diminishes the existence of real racism.  It is also detrimental to any dialogue about race.  Ignoring it’s existence does not make it go away.

10.  Calling someones comments racist, and holding them accountable for their hate-speech is not fascism or a war against free speech.  You have the right to say whatever you want because it’s protected by the first amendment.  But I have the right to be offended and voice my opinion about your hate-speech as loud and often as I like.  If you have a job that puts you in a position of power, or a job in the public eye, your employer has the right to protect their interest and end your employment if your hate speech jeopardizes the success of their business.

11.  When talking about one specific person who is racist and happens to be white, it does not mean you’re talking about every white person.  Therefore the ubiquist phrase “not all white people are racist” is unnecessary.

12.  Civil rights organizations and civil rights leaders have made and continues to make this country a better more equal place for everyone.  Not just minorities.  The work they do should be respected.  The leaders who are in the public eye are human and will make mistakes just like any other man.  Their ambition, mistakes, and shortcomings does not make their work any less noble, it does not disqualify them from fighting against racism, and it certainly does not disqualify them from making us aware of injustice when it occurs.

13.  Words and phrases like “thug”, “taking back our country”, “the race card”, “pimp”, “welfare queen”, “food stamp president”, “lawless”, “race hustler”, “race baiter”, “ghetto”, “uppity”, “makers & takers”, and “the race card” are used as dogwistles to those who have racist views and beliefs.

14.  You don’t have to be black to join the NAACP, and historically black colleges welcomes students of all races, not just blacks.

15.  All black people do not share the same views on race and racism.  Our opinions are just as varied as any other group of people.  But the racism we’ve all experienced has put us in a position to recognize it much faster than others who have not experienced it.  The effects of racism and proof of it’s existence can be found in statistical data collected by the government and organizations who study institutionalized racism.  For example, the arrests and incarceration rates of black men vs white men.  Access to health care, interest rates, credit, the home market, the job market, access to education, etc all show intentional disparities.

16.  It is not racist to want to see more diversity in movies and tv shows with an all white cast.  It’s normal to want to see people who look like you in the programs you watch. Calling for more diversity does not mean we believe the creator, director, or producer is racist or intentionally excluding minorities.  Most of the time casting all whites is done unintentionally and once they become aware, it gives them a chance to rethink their casting process and opens the show to a much broader audience.

17.  The intent of racial discrimination is not needed to produce a racial or discriminatory outcome.  For example; a republican can support new voter id laws with the intent of hurting democrats in an election. His intended outcome is to win elections, but the unintended outcome is the decreased participation of black voters.  Any laws designed to negatively effect a specific minority group is wrong and racist no matter the intent.

18.  The election of Barack Obama does not mean racism is over in the United States.  It does mean some of the limitations that race put on minorities have been broken, but the pieces of the broken limitations are still very visible and can be put back together very easily.

19.  Some of the opposition and hate thrown at President Obama is driven by racism and intolerance. Some of it is subtle and subconscious, and some of it is direct and obvious.  Acknowledging this fact isn’t some left-wing conspiracy to make republicians look racist, and it isn’t something democrats invented to use as an excuse when the president gets criticized.  We’re barely 50 years away from Jim Crow and segregation.  Those who grew up in the segregated south are still alive.  Whites who championed segregation, the police who sicked dogs on and beat black people with clubs for marching and asking to be treated equal, political figures who constructed laws that made black people 2nd class citizens are still alive.  I’m sure some of those people have realized the error of their ways and have changed their racist views, but it would be ludicrous to think that the beliefs that lead to Jim Crow all vanished with the signing of the civil rights act.  So those who refuse to admit or even discuss the racial opposition to this president are either ignorant or completely detached from reality.  I feel I have to say this again and be very clear because I know someone is reading this thinking “everyone who dislikes the president isn’t racist”.  I AGREE!!!  THAT IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE!!!!  JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE THE PRESIDENT DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE A RACIST!!!!  I wrote that in all caps because defensive reactionary statements like “not all whites…” keeps us from advancing the conversation past that point.

20.  We overcome racism, stop discrimination, and end racial stereotypes by having open honest conversations about it.  Not just with people we already agree with, but people who see things from a different perspective.  I wish people would stop being so afraid to hurt someone’s feelings, or afraid to say what they really think for fear of being attacked.  If you make a statement that I believe is racist, and I tell you why I think it’s racist, that is not an attack, and shouldn’t make you defensive and nasty when you reply.  I have numerous examples of this saved in my “comments that failed moderation” folder.  If it weren’t for the hate-speech and foul language I’d post a few, but I created a comment policy and I plan to follow.

I hope all of this will help those who read my blog and feels the need to call me a racist every time I write about racism.  You’re never too old to learn something new.  If you disagree with anything I’ve written I welcome your input because you may teach me something I didn’t know.  But if you try to post comments with derogatory language or a long tirade attacking me, I will not allow your comment to get posted, and I will not respond to anything you’ve written.  So writing those long tirades will be a total waste of your time.  If you’re not sure what may get your comment booted, take a look at our comment policy.  If you include your email address when leaving a comment, I will give you a chance to modify the language and repost it if there are mod issues.





The Real Donald Sterling Outrage

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.

Racist Rancher Becomes GOP Hero

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.

Revised Jim Crow

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 Crime Myth #1
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 Crime Myth #3violence 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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