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Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.

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02 September 2009

Northern Racism: Alive and Well and Stupid

by: Anna Van Z

Hell yes. A point which seems to escape most commenters and contributors on other, so-called progressive blogs...

From The Rude Pundit:
Here's a fun little story from about ten years ago: the Rude Pundit was once sitting around with a group of professors, and the subject got around to how one defines "white trash." It's one of those charming theoretical discussions you get to have when you're overeducated and proud of it. He sat there for a moment while this circle of Northerners trotted out every trailer-living, tobacco-chewing, hick-talking stereotype (which, to be clear, exists in numbers far too large). And, of course, there was the defining element of these awful people from the South - their racism. Finally, the Rude Pundit spoke up and said, "As the only person here who has actually lived in a trailer in the South, I've gotta say that there's neighborhoods in Brooklyn or Boston where you'll find white trash racists who make the residents of Backwards Ass, Alabama, look like hippies." This was met with blinking and agreement and a change of subject.

It hardly needs to be said, but every once in a while, as all the redneck townhall protesters from the south, the midwest, and the west are paraded out on the airwaves like a barn beauty pageant, we need to be reminded that violent, stupid white people exist all over this devolving nation of ours.

Suffolk County, New York, out on Long Island, is the place where the wealthiest of the wealthy have homes (like, you know, Steven Spielberg), where the Hamptons are, as well as a bunch of towns whose name ends with "gue." Wherever there's a clusterfuck of rich people, there's gonna need to be people who serve them, who build their pools, who make their food, who wipe the sweat off their balls. And in contemporary America, that's gonna be Latinos, many of whom will be illegals, who will live as close to their jobs as they can afford, generally gathering in a few towns. And in contemporary America, whenever there's an influx of cheap labor in that particular demographic group, there will be asshole white people who will do what asshole white people have always done. See the rest.
12 May 2009

Pull Up a Stool and Sit Down

by: Konagod

Through the years I have made countless trips back to Arkansas (home of blackdog, I must add) to visit my mother and none of them have been what I'd call easy trips. While living in Los Angeles, such trips required air travel with a change of planes, usually in Dallas, followed with a car rental and a 2-hour drive from the Little Rock airport. Even then it was probably faster than it is now by car from Austin.

I have flown there from Austin and it still requires a change of planes in either Dallas or Houston and ultimately I figure it saves only about 2 hours over driving. Most importantly, I don't have to deal with airport security bullshit, repacking all my hair care products into approved containers, and hoping I don't have a hangnail en route because I don't have my nail clippers.

Regardless of the travel method, the stress doesn't end upon arrival. As with this most recent trip, I usually drive to Little Rock first because it's faster and easier, and I can spend a night with a friend from high school before heading to my mother's house the next day feeling a bit more refreshed.

The older I get, the more uncomfortable I am being away from my own bed, my own bathroom, and my own routine. I did sleep fairly well at my friend's house, despite having her clock radio alarm go off at midnight, and me hitting the snooze button twice before getting up to turn on a light so I could figure out where the off button was located. Then I was up at 5:30 to quickly shower and dress for my trip.

Along with the usual travel anxiety, I was meeting up that morning with Ellen, another friend from long before high school whom I hadn't see in over 30 years. That was also making me feel somewhat apprehensive. Fortunately, that meeting went great and was one of the highlights on my trip! After chatting for half an hour or so I went on to my mother's house.

My mother hugged me, I put my suitcase in the bedroom and returned to the kitchen and sat down. She immediately went on a tirade about Obama and the bailouts, how unfit he is to be leading this nation, etc. etc. It was bad enough when Bush was president, and although she didn't like a lot of what he was doing, she wasn't real vocal in her opposition to it, and she still thought of him as a fine Christian man, and CUTE! (Yes, I always had to suppress my gag reflex on that one!)

I have a hard time coming to terms with the rationale for such vehement opposition to Obama when he's barely been in office for 100 days. I have issues with several things he had done and said, and I have issues with things he hasn't done. But I'm not stomping up and down, frothing at the mouth while murmuring about socialism.

It is one thing to see clips of right-wing Negrophobes on television ranting about Obama; it is quite another to walk into your mother's house and hear a similar tirade coming from her lips. And it's not like I wasn't aware of her racism and her upbringing! It's still a shock to hear.

After that initial outburst from her and my retort, we eased into more congenial conversation of a non-political nature, thankfully. We had lunch and then I made an unsuccessful attempt at taking a nap.


Around 1999, txrad and I made a quick trip to Vegas to visit a friend we'd worked with in the Los Angeles days. If I recall, it may have been the last time we'd see her before she died. txrad and I hadn't smoked cigarettes in at least seven years, and we'd only recently begun having wine and the occasional margarita after seven years being alcohol-free.

Knowing that our friend we were visiting was a smoker and enjoyed a cocktail or three, and with Vegas being what it is, I had already harbored an unspoken thought of sneaking a cigarette here and there while in Vegas. Then once we were there, I was surprised that txrad brought it up by saying he was going to have a cigarette.

And we did. And we drank. And we gambled. And we held cigs in one hand and cocktails in the other. We had a blast.

It was a couple of days after returning home, and I distinctly remember the moment one evening in the living room, when I said, "I want a cigarette." I suppose the reason why I remember that moment so clearly is because I've not stopped smoking again since that night. It was a habit I should have left on the Strip along with the gambling.

Stress has since become a trigger for a nicotine craving. As I was gearing up for my Arkansas trip, I told myself I was not taking cigarettes along. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, so I was going to make the Friday before my departure as smokeless as possible. My goal was to not have a cigarette that morning until after I had returned from my 9:45 appointment to drop the car off for maintenance. That didn't work.

I awoke at 3:30 that morning having travel anxiety and even being nervous about taking the car to the shop. I went to the kitchen for some water and saw my half-smoked cigarette from the night before. Where's the logic in trying to quit smoking when I leave myself half a cigarette sitting out? So I smoked it.

When I awoke again and got up at 6:00, I had already broken a promise to myself so I had another. Besides, I was stressed. I was also starting to realize I was probably going to break another promise and take some smokes with me to Arkansas. But I was NOT going to smoke at my mom's house; I was sticking with that promise.

After my failed attempt at a nap at mom's house on Sunday afternoon I got up to find her sleeping on the porch with a newspaper in her hand. Even opening the creaky screen door didn't wake her. So I slipped back in the house and out the back door for a quick smoke.

After she arose we decided to go for a drive around town which is customary when I visit. I need to hear about who died in that house, who had a stroke in this one, and which house is now vacant and for sale because the occupant is now in the nursing home. We pass by a dozen or more buildings, virtually all of them vacant and decaying, which bring back a torrent of vivid happy memories from my childhood when the town was actually thriving. My mother then pointed to a restaurant downtown which appeared to be busy, and said, "that's a nigger restaurant."

Since almost no one reading this blog has even been to my hometown, let me put this in perspective for you. The town has very few places to eat that are decent. Most of the options are on the highway, not downtown. There's a Subway sandwich joint out there, probably a crappy little pizza place, and there was a new Mexican restaurant before it burned. There used to be a Chinese restaurant on the highway but I didn't notice if it was still there or not.

Downtown has a drug store where they serve sandwiches on the weekdays, but not on Saturday and I think they are closed on Sundays. There's just nothing downtown! The building which houses the "nigger restaurant" was for many years a locally-owned diner which was named the "Ritz." That closed down a few years ago, another restaurant may have eventually opened there but closed. The fact that somebody went in and opened a restaurant which is not only busy and convenient, but open on Sunday would seem to be a matter of civic pride, not shame and disgust because of the skin pigmentation of the owners.

It was probably at this moment when I began to question just how long my visit here would last. Instead of staying until Wednesday or Thursday, I was now thinking Tuesday at the latest.

Once back at our house from the tour of the decrepit little town, my mother began talking about how she is unable now to get out and work in her flower beds and pull weeds. She mentioned that a friend of hers has a beautiful back yard but paid someone to do it, and then came another bomb: "She had a nigger man do it, and I just don't want a nigger in my house."

Funny. It didn't seem to be an issue in the 1960s when she had a black maid come several times a week to clean her house. But I've always though that was more of a "keeping up with the Joneses" attempt at maintaining our level in our social caste since many of her friends had slaves black housekeeping help employed at ridiculously low rates of pay. (This was before the influx of Mexicans and Central American nannies who have a slightly lighter skin tone.)

All kinds of things were now clicking together in my head and I could almost hear the various pieces of the puzzle snapping in place. She knew I didn't want to hear any Obama-bashing so she was getting her racist frustrations out in other ways. She didn't like the "nigger restaurant" being just 2 blocks from her house, she didn't want a "nigger man" cleaning up her yard, and she sure as hell didn't want a nigger president that socialist in the White House.

I heard this kind of language growing up from people in the town, from friends and their families, and from my own. Between the 70s and the 90s it began to temper somewhat. Obviously it didn't disappear, it just became less public and more private. And somehow, the election of Barack Obama has caused people like my mother to crack wide open, throwing themselves back in time; not to the 1970s, but right back to 1957! They are so adamantly racist they are willing to sacrifice just about anything to stake that white power flag in the ground make their feelings known, be it their homes, their yards, their dying towns, and perhaps even more.

As my mother was preparing dinner, I amused myself by walking around the house snapping photos of various nick-nacks she has acquired over the years and displays in her house.

And as we all know, them black folks sure loves them some watermelon!

Ironically, my mother loves it too and could eat a whole one while standing at the kitchen sink.

In all the years I have made a yearly trek back to Arkansas, I have never been as troubled and perplexed as I was on this trip. It is a lot to absorb and digest. And yet, I cannot allow myself to feel towards my mother the way I feel about the Rush Limbaughs of the world.

Ellen, during our brief visit, said we cannot change them right now. This is all they know, and it is normal to them. My mother is but one of perhaps millions of people who grew up white in hundreds of small towns just like this one across the deep South and elsewhere, raised in a Christian religion which never really liked to asked the simple question, "What would Jesus do," and never had the benefit of an education or a work experience in which they developed friendships with people different from themselves.

I refuse to believe that my mother, deep down in her heart, really is this angry, or this racist. She is a kind and loving woman who does not like change, and wasn't really comfortable when black people were invited by the preacher into her church, despite the fact that the church (which was founded by my father, by the way) is located in what was called "colored town" during more civil times than these. And I can't help but juxtapose this with the "nigger restaurant" located downtown which has drawn her ire.

She carries baggage imposed on her from childhood by a father, also a decent and honest man, but one who didn't even like shaking hands with black people. This has been going on for centuries and will take centuries more to run its course, assuming it ever will.

I made the decision late on Sunday to return to Austin on Monday morning. I was feeling confused and longing to be back in my comfortable environs. Besides, it had rained all month and was continuing to rain so I could not have done the yard work she wanted even if I had stayed another day.

Around 9:15 I went to bed, hoping to arise by 5:30, have a quick breakfast and coffee, and then hit the road.

Thoughts were still being processed in my head as I tried to sleep. I was feeling hurt and disgust. And having not only met Ellen earlier that morning, but also her partner, a beautiful and witty black woman, I kept wondering how my mother would react to that double-whammy.

I had slept for perhaps an hour when I woke up. I checked the clock and it was only 11:15 PM. I tossed and turned and finally fell asleep before being awakened again just after midnight by the loudest freight train I've ever heard. After several minutes of that, just as the train sounds were growing faint as it headed away from town, I was jolted by a clap of thunder followed by more pouring rain.

During the night there was another train incident, then another. And another storm. Around 3:30 AM, I got up and had to sneak out into the backyard for a stress-relieving smoke. I managed to quietly find the key to the deadbolt on the back door (there be Negroes in the neighborhood!), and as soon as I set one foot on the back deck the exterior motion-detection lights came on. Thank God it wasn't accompanied by sirens! I lit up a cigarette and paced across the rain-soaked gravel driveway which crunched loudly beneath my feet like several inches of snow during a hard freeze. I crept quietly back into the house, locking the door and carefully placing the deadbolt key exactly as I had found it, and went back to bed. I finally awoke at 5:45 and got up for breakfast.

Another side-effect of travel for me is constipation. I think it has to due with a variety of factors: a change in routine, change in diet, sitting in a vehicle for 8 or 9 hours, stress, whatever. But I had not had a decent bowel evacuation since I left Austin two days earlier.

I visited with my mother while eating blueberry muffins and sipping two cups of coffee, then I loaded the car with my stuff and hit the road.

About 50 minutes later, just as I had crossed the Louisiana state line, I realized I needed to pee. "Like a horse" as the saying goes. I had just passed a couple of 18-wheelers about 2 miles behind me which is no easy feat on a 2-lane road in a rain storm. I didn't want them to catch up to me and pass me so I pulled over and decided to make this a fast one. As I urinated I began forcing it out faster than is natural in order to speed things up; I could already see the headlights approaching behind me. It was at that moment that I decided to let loose with a fart or two. Big mistake.

I quickly returned to the car and sped away before the 18-wheelers had reached me, and I thought to myself, "I might need to check my shorts when I get to a gas station" even though I really didn't think I had done anything serious. You know, just the likely "skid marks" as the kids used to say in school.

It was about an hour later when I reached Monroe, Louisiana where I would hook up with I-20 to take me west to Texas. I stopped at a service station and went to the restroom to relieve myself of coffee again and remembered I needed to check myself. I popped into a stall and lowered my shorts. Oh my God. Let's look on the bright side: I was no longer constipated! I reached into the black toilet paper dispenser only to realize there was nothing there but an empty roll.

I scooted out of the stall for some paper towels near the sink. Again, nothing. No paper products for hygiene were to be found here! I took off my heavily soiled underwear and used them to clean myself up as best I could and then stuffed the offensive garment into a pocket on my cargo shorts and returned to my car as if everything was completely normal. I put the underwear into a plastic bag in my trunk and proceeded on down the road until I could find an establishment which I hoped would have the proper amount of paper products in the restroom.

I grabbed by duffel bag which contained the previous day's attire and quickly headed into a restroom, avoiding eye contact with anyone lest they read my mind. I got myself cleaned up as best I could and changed into the cargo shorts I had worn while driving up the previous day. I mean, come on; did I need to put on anything clean? Cleaner than what I was wearing would clearly be a huge improvement.

Having dealt with that embarrassing situation, I was ready to hit the road again for Texas, and ultimately, Austin.

I'm not sure when I'll visit my mother again, but I hope it's not another year. I really should do this more often, not less. I need to love this woman who bore me, and enjoy what few remaining years I can with her, despite her flaws, and mine. Maybe I can't change her attitudes, but I can certainly set a positive example.

In the meantime, I can honestly say I wish President Barack Hussein Obama nothing but great success. It probably won't alter racism in any way, but it will nonetheless prove a point. In fact, I could argue it already has.

09 March 2009

Is Racism Dead In America?

by: Debra

Not if yesterday was any indication. I told my mom a story about two kids where the melanin impaired had stolen from the melanin enriched child. The melanin enriched child doesn't get a public apology for her privacy being invaded or that her money was stolen. All of the parental adults are to get one and the melanin impaired child must work off chores in her own home to repay the melanin enriched child. Mom, who is very melanin impaired, agreed with me and thought that it was poorly handled and sends the wrong signal to the girl whose money was stolen.

I pointed this out to my friend that this wasn't exactly fair and that the melanin enriched child who was the one who suffered the invasion of privacy was being shown that she didn't matter as an individual. And that's when my friend snapped my head off and said she was tired of hearing me talk about racism and that everything is racist to me. I was also told that since the melanin enriched child's other home was full of melanin enriched people that it wasn't like she was isolated or anything. Heaven forbid that it should have crossed someone's mind that when you are the only melanin enriched person in a room and that when harm is done to you that you should have to swallow it until surrounded by other melanin enriched people because it is more important that the other child learn a lesson than for you to get a public apology for being wronged. What a fucking crock of shit that was. Yes, I cussed.

If it had been the other way around, it would have been determined that the melanin enriched child would have had to make a public apology so that she would be so embarrassed that she wouldn't do it again. You know, to teach her a valuable lesson.

I have spent my life ignoring racism (and manage the first 18 years of my life without every uttering the word) but over the last few years I've noticed that people indulge in it much more often and in very subtle ways. Yes, all of the elders have psychology degrees of some type but none of them understands what it's like to be all alone in a room full of people that don't look like you and that you only see on a monthly basis. And pointing it out doesn't mean than I look for racist actions, it means that I with 52 years of experience living thourgh the same situations, know what it feels like inside and that maybe someone should have considered the victim's feelings. If a child of eight can be charged with murder then a child of nine should have to understand and publicly apologize for stealing from your friend and that you knew it was wrong and shouldn't be tolerated under any circumstances. Most kids learn not to take other people's toys by the time they hit kindergarten.

Then today I learned that the Supreme Court has determined that there has to be at least 51% of a minority in order to help elet minorities that reflect their point of view. So, all it takes is for a few brave souls to move into poor neighborhoods and all of a sudden...less minority candidates.

Thank goodness women make up 51% of the population or we would never get to vote and it certainly would make it harder for women to be elected to national office. Not that it's happened yet.


21 August 2008

And That's The Truth

by: Debra

As a black female in America, many years of observation have honed my instincts and taught me which battles are worth my time to try and win, and which are worth fighting for but will never change minds that are permanently closed under the guise of everyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  Guess which one this is.

The last few years have plainly shown that anyone who thinks that racial issues are okay in America, are obviously not one of the races that have been historically shunned in this country.  There has never been an Italian, Asian, Indian, Black or Hispanic President.  We can't even address the blatant sexism that exists and is glorified every day in this country by people who should know better.  If Muslim countries where the woman walks three feet back and to the right can elect a female Prime Minister or President, what's our excuse?  Other than the obvious?

One of the peculiar media memes of the past year has been a lot of tormented nonsense about whether the ascendance of Barack Obama means that race is somehow off the table as a defining issue in American life. Of course his prospective nomination is a historic moment, but I can't even begin to understand why this is a controversial topic. How can anybody suggest with a straight face that pervasive racism is not the reason why, in a year when every imaginable factor favors the Democrats, Obama is even or trailing in the polls behind an addled, war-hawk septuagenarian who is disliked by his own party?

To me it is Katrina that puts the lie to any fantasy of a race-neutral America. And it's Katrina, not 9/11, that displays the nation's potentially fatal 21st century weakness. While countless billions have been spent converting our society into a police state to prevent another unpreventable attack by a handful of neo-medieval wackos, the story of the ongoing destruction of a historic, majority-black American city -- before, during and after that storm -- has been briskly swept under the carpet or, more accurately, abandoned to investigative journalists, documentary filmmakers, NGO social workers, corrupt or incompetent bureaucrats and other irrelevant social debris.

As time passes on, it will be the blatant lack of response to Katrina that identifies this country.  Identifies her as the liar and hypocrite she is.  Today's Americans, having got their piece of the "pie", are determined to maintain the status quo by making sure that nobody else gets a slice.  They are no longer interested in the tired, the poor, the hungry or the hurting, it might upset the apple cart of their self induced superiority.  Unfortunately, compassion wasn't written into the Constitution and even if it was, it would have been eliminated right along with the rest of the Bill of Rights in a futile effort to protect us from a bogeyman in a cave half the world away. Because a frightening majority of the people in power, are determined to stay there.  No matter what the cost.

Our Founding Fathers must be so proud.  Not.


· ·
06 May 2008

Drug Convictions in Black and White

by: Konagod

Hey Barack and Hillary, I'm not sure which of you will capture the nomination. It honestly doesn't much matter to me at this point. But it would be refreshing to see either one, or preferably both, of you address this problem:

The Drug War (aka the War Against Black Men).

While drug usage among whites and blacks is relatively even, black men are almost 12 times more likely than white men to be convicted and sent to prison.
Two new reports, issued Monday by the Sentencing Project in Washington and by Human Rights Watch in New York, both say the racial disparities reflect, in large part, an overwhelming focus of law enforcement on drug use in low-income urban areas, with arrests and incarceration the main weapon.

But they note that the murderous crack-related urban violence of the 1980s, which spawned the war on drugs, has largely subsided, reducing the rationale for a strategy that has sowed mistrust in the justice system among many blacks.

Drug-related arrests continue to climb year after year, and according to the FBI, based on the most recent data available, marijuana arrests account for 40% of the total. This needs to be a political issue, but unfortunately both Obama and Clinton seem to be afflicted with Bushitis when it comes to a solution.
Both Democratic presidential candidates, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, have strongly condemned the racial disparities in arrests and incarceration during their campaigns, although neither has said how they would end them.

Call me. I have more than a few ideas. In the grand scheme of things, with all our problems which include Iraq, oil prices, the housing crisis, poverty, and disappearing jobs, the injustice inherent in the drug war is relatively easy to solve.
“The race question is so entangled in the way the drug war was conceived,” said Jamie Fellner, a senior counsel at Human Rights Watch and the author of its report.

“If the drug issue is still seen as primarily a problem of the black inner city, then we’ll continue to see this enormously disparate impact,” Ms. Fellner said.

Her report cites federal data from 2003, the most recent available on this aspect, indicating that blacks constituted 53.5 percent of all who entered prison for a drug conviction.

Appalling. No wonder I like to fire one up for presidential debates and primary election returns.

Crossposted from konagod

· ·
20 April 2008

Not Know, Blackdog Just Pawn...

by: blackdog

Demographics, the study of how policy can be used against you depending on who you are, or might represent. Kinda like Phrenology, which attempted to classify people based on some dimshit protuberances on their skulls.

I just love it when we really focus on our differences, we are really damned good at it. Black cow, white cow, white goat, black goat, and so many variations in between, a true rainbow coalition, but we can see through all that shit and identify the most obvious things that mark our differences.

Yet the truth is we are mostly alike in all ways, we are human beings with the same potential, dreams and hopes that all of us share. Why we waste so much time classifying each other is beyond me. But we seem to be stuck with this obsession of differentiating each other based on the smallest details, most that don't matter at all. Look at Protestant churches for an interesting parallel, they disagree to the point of war on the stupidest issues. But then most religions follow suit as well.

Maybe it will be a good thing for Caucasians to become a minority in this nation in the next few decades, they sure haven't done much good for the rest and I'm just frankly tired of them. And I be one of them. Being a mutt as we all are doesn't seem to get the attention required.

It took years for me to begin to understand what racism is, and it will take more years for me to continue to attempt to overcome it. It will be something that I will continue for the rest of my life. I don't expect to ever win, I see setbacks and foibles along the way but the path is chosen. We are people, much more similar than any difference based on any characteristic.

Same shit, different tags. Courtesy of DU.Com.

I have been warned by some who travel outside the usa alot to always wear a Canadian Maple Leaf on your lapel, means you might make it home.
18 April 2008

Racism Runs Rampant

by: Debra

No matter how many times people protest, institutionalized racism still exists in this country. Thank goodness my brothers and I were military brats and exposed to people and opportunities that today's young blacks will never have. I have a Master's degree as does one of my brothers, but it hasn't really helped us to get ahead. If you talk to any member of my family on the phone it is impossible to tell that we are black until you meet us and that still doesn't stop people from treating us as if we are mentally impaired. The best part is that those same people think we don't notice. We do. We just don't feel like fighting certain battles day in and day out because we may win the battle but we won't win the war and we get to start all over again the very next day or with the very next person. Such is life.

It's hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you are barefoot, but that doesn't stop racists from blaming people who haven't had a chance to improve their lives since the moment they were born. I expect stupid comments from people who are entrenched in their beliefs that it is always the person's fault no matter what the circumstances, what I didn't expect was to find it running rampant through the SF Bay area.

Yes, the majority of people on welfare are white but that is because there (at the moment) are more of them. Period. But it isn't a large percentage of the melanin impaired population whereas for blacks and Latinos it is. If one is crammed into a ghetto all their life it is hard to imagine or conceive of a different lifestyle. One that includes good schools with competent teachers, decent food, water, clean air, and the chance to have as good a life as a person who was born into a better neighborhood.

California is in the process of destroying its public school system with numerous cutbacks and quotas. People think that teachers are overpaid and then wonder why the quality of education is so bad. Good teachers can make money doing something else, so unless it is a calling they aren't going to go into a bad neighborhood where the schools are decrepit, the textbooks are so old that the last President mentioned is Reagan, science is nonexistent and the kids are already stressed from having no food and little to look forward to. If life tells you that you aren't as good as someone with privilege, unless you have authority issues and the knowledge to know when to use it to your advantage instead of being killed, you won't know not to believe the propaganda that blacks are still only worth three fifths of those outside the ghetto.

In a month I will be 52 and of one thing I am quite sure, racism has been increasing in this country under the guise of personal responsibility since the eighties. While Paris Hilton and Britney Spears can have problems that would put most blacks in jail for life, they have money and privilege that enables them to avoid most of the serious consequences for their actions. People may disapprove but they are still welcome in polite company. Let the average black person try some of those stunts and see what happens.

The late seventies were a time of hope and promise in this country, but those dreams have been squashed under the weight of reality. The reality that no matter how hard you try, people will still discriminate against those of lesser means and opportunity. It's easy to look down on people from the top of the mountain and say that if they would just try harder they can reach the mountain top, but it isn't so easy to climb up it if you don't have the tools.

Serena, Venus, Tiger, Kareem and Michael Jordan had talent and opportunity, a rare combination in anyone, which gave them a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families. If I lived in the ghetto I would want to play sports instead of pay attention in school because it looks like that would be my only way out of poverty. Thanks to an illegal and immoral war, joining the military is not an option since all the positions that would enable you to have job skills after you get out have been given to private contractors. There isn't much use for repairing the guidance control systems on missiles (which is what I did) or driving a tank through a neighborhood looking for IEDs.

Hope is in short supply when you don't know where your next meal is coming from and you can' play outside because you might catch a stray bullet. As the federal and state governments cut back on services to the poor, these problems will only get worse. Schools will become more segregated as more parents with privilege send their kids to private schools and the quality of education will continue to diminish. If everybody else is using a computer to learn but your school district can't afford them, the world will continue to move away from you and despair will be your constant companion. Catching up won't be an option since libraries are closing, health care is being eliminated and food costs continue to spiral upward.

It isn't the fault of the children that they were born into lesser circumstances and punishing them even more will not help the situation. There are two Americas and one of them isn't very pretty. Blaming those who haven't had a chance since they drew their first breath won't help the situation but education will. Perhaps if we invested in their education instead of killing people half a world away it might make a difference.


30 November 2007

Maybe Whites Need to Start Fucking More Often

by: Konagod

One of my biggest pet peeves with racists is their incessant claim that the white race is in danger of extinction. While that could theoretically happen in a few hundred -- or more likely a thousand -- years down the road, I'm not sure why it would concern anyone who is alive now and likely to die off in 50 years or less.

It's just not something I obsess about. It's not like any one person has control over the future of a race, just as we collectively have no control over the inevitable fact that one day our sun will go supernova on all our asses and that will be the end of every race.

Some people still can't put it in perspective and prefer to wallow in it.
State Sen. Denny Altes apologized Thursday for writing an e-mail saying Arkansas is overrun with illegal aliens and that “we are being out populated by blacks also.” Altes, the Fort Smith senator who serves as Republican leader of the Arkansas Senate, tearfully apologized in an interview with The Associated Press but said he doesn’t consider what he said to be a racist remark.

Actually, what he said is true. The fact that it matters enough to him to make an issue of it is where racism creeps in. Not to mention the fact that white leaders in this country and elsewhere in the world share some responsibility for this phenomenon, most notably, the Catholic Church and their conquest of Latin America. But I digress. This post is not meant to be a rant about religious brainwashing and attempts by churches and other theocratic fanatics to control the human body.

Many colleagues of Senator Altes were less than critical of his email, claiming it was "out of character" for him.
Among black members of the Senate, those who commented publicly gave their colleague the benefit of the doubt.

Regardless of the intent, it was a foolish thing for a politician to express. And given the numbers of people in the US who genuinely believe the black and Latino rates of reproduction threaten their survival, his comment was reprehensible.

Crossposted from konagod
02 October 2007

Out With the Old… On a Revolving Door.

by: Jurassicpork

The travesties and near-travesties of justice (meaning, also, the absence of it when it concerned whites) in Jena, Louisiana last month shouldn’t have surprised nor shocked us yet it did. Even after the GOP/Willie Horton debacle and John Rocker, Trent Lott, Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, George Allen, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, Don Imus, Bernard McGuirk and countless other incidents and slips of their forked tongues, we keep getting slapped back into an ugly, antebellum reality that we keep forgetting exists as if we’re Drew Barrymore’s character in 50 First Dates.

Indeed, one could make non-racist counterarguments that the sudden and massive descent on Jena, LA by what passes for today’s civil rights activists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton highlighted not the necessity of civil rights (hence their media exposure, relevance and livelihoods) but the ongoing failure of a civil rights movement begun by their predecessors. It’s a movement that, as with all others, lost steam after gaining some modest to more than modest ground and grew complacent. As with the Vietnam-era peace movement and its brief resurrection under Cindy Sheehan’s vigil in 2005, the women’s rights movement, civil rights in America proves time and again that no revolution, even Castro’s Cuba, can be indefinitely maintained.

26 February 2007

Interpersonal Issues

by: blackdog

Just listened to a good piece on NPR about the State of Virginia apologizing for it's role in the slave economy of it's early history. An interesting state of affairs considering the inability of this nation as it exists now to apologize about anything, whether it's needed or not.

But what really struck me was the viciousness of the responses to the piece on the phone. Just the other day Shakes' Sister made a great point about how Mitt Romney should NOT be held responsible for what his ancestors did, for whatever reason. Then we hear the screach of how Senator Al Sharpton's ancestors may have been, and I repeat may have been owned as property by Senator Strom Thruman's ancestors, you can bet they were owned by someone, as if that matters much now and how he is demanding some damned DNA test to validate this.I suggest a statute of limitations, and valium for those that are so damned surprised by what I already know. I wish not to be held responsible for what any of my ancestors did, regardless.

Well, to all I suggest get used to it, and expand your damned experience. It wasen't so damned long ago that slavery was the rule, not the exception. The NPR program was littered with people calling for more than an apology, some saying that that was enough, but the ones calling for reperations were more than just somewhat pissed.

Some of the more rational callers were trying to remind the listening audience that the ones we, or the State of Virginia were apologizing to had been dead for a long time. And some were attempting to remind the audience that all races had participated in the slave trade during the settlement of the New World by the Old. But that simply was not good enough for some.

I think that the failure is not that we don't all jump off the apologize diveboard, but that we make the laws of the land more effective, and I specifically refer to the Civil Rights Act. Then make it imperative that the implications of this historic act and the history of it's background be taught in civics classes, maybe by some of the more impassioned ones who are complaining now about what they perceive as a lack of attention on this issue today. But they should never forget, not one of them that slavery was at one time the norm, not the exception. Also, if you owned property, only a damned fool would abuse said property. There are exceptions, as there are with spousal and child abuse, but those are exceptions, as are the exceptions of individual abuse of their property to their loss.

I am not defending slavery, I believe it to be abhorrant. But today we have a much different type of a form of slavery based on socioeconomics, and until the laws as they exist, ot used to can be enforced over the entire nation we will always have this situation and therefore this argument. I challange anyone to check into their background and not find that their ancestors were NOT at some time or other held as slaves. I am a mix of German, Brit and Scot, and I promise that sometime a long time ago most of us were all in Rome, and most likely not citizens, although that may have been an option for some.

I really don't feel that I need to tell this crowd about something I feel sure knows alot more than I about this, but this piece on the radio set me off. We have failed in educating our people to the facts and truth of history, and mostly on our great attempts to repair damages through constitutional efforts, only to fail the test of time. Bigotry comes roaring right back, and for that I do apologize. But I didn't start it. I just fall victim to it.
25 February 2007

{N-word}, Please!

by: Konagod

I've always been fascinated with words and languages in general. When I was taking a German class in college I mistakenly substituted the German word for cocksucker in place of vacuum cleaner in a sentence I was using. I never would have known the difference had the instructor not enlightened me. The experience taught me one thing: there's far too much emphasis put on words being "bad" vs. words used with bad intent.

Just because I, and probably most people, would never use the word "cocksucker" in front of my mother, or at a church potluck, I would never support any attempts to ban the use of that word, or any other. Faggot included.

Now there are other words with double meanings and I really love those: pussy, cock, dick and ass immediately spring to mind.

I belong to the George Carlin school of semantics when it comes to words. They're just words: a combination of letters, and when spoken they are just sounds. Many words sound unpleasant to some people. My mother never cared for the word funk. Not that it's a "bad" word (although it's just one consonant away), she just doesn't like the way it sounds, and therefore she never uses it, despite the fact that very few other people would find it offensive. Such was never the case with the word nigger.

To be honest, my parents didn't use the word that often. I heard it far more frequently elsewhere. But I did hear it in my home on many occasions. For a good portion of my childhood, I honestly thought that was the proper term used for black people. I don't remember when I first heard someone correctly pronounce negro, but it was long after I had grown accustomed to the sloppier rendering.

What is far more interesting to me is how I absorbed the intention behind the word. It was hardly ever uttered casually in polite conversation. There was always an underlying anger embedded in the use of it. And that's what made me uncomfortable rather than the word itself.

Racism can be masked behind any words, or no words at all. Imagine a white woman saying, "I used to feel really safe in this neighborhood until that black family moved in next door."

That is offensive and blatantly racist. And still quite common. And she didn't even use the n-word. She didn't have to; the intent is what I find objectionable.

I have used the word, or variations of it, usually in a music context (like when I'm drunk on tequila and listening to N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton cd, but that's another story) and intended as a mockery of something my father said to me over 30 years ago regarding my music preferences. I'm verbally rubbing his nose in the fact that these black folks, to whom the word was so often addressed, have my utmost respect for their struggles and accomplishments. The stark contrast of a word which has been used for decades by racists who believe black people are inferior serves as a shocking reminder to me when used in the context of expressing my love for black musicians who were the inspiration for virtually all popular music today.

And I still get bitterly angry when I am reminded that some early black singers and musicians were not allowed to sleep or dine in many of the hotels or other establishments where they entertained.

This is a rather long-winded post leading up to a NY Times story today about efforts to ban the "n-word."

The New York City Council may vote on such a proposal by Wednesday; Paterson, N.J., and Westchester County recently approved bans unanimously.

The measures, which describe the forbidden word as an “ignorant and derogatory” insult toward blacks, try to sidestep First Amendment questions by calling for “symbolic” bans only, meaning they do not have the force of law. Because they are largely aimed at blacks who use the word among themselves, the proposals have revived a debate over whether minority groups can co-opt epithets and make them empowering.

Empowerment is something you feel; it's in your head. Derogatory insults are a malicious intention. Words are merely the transportation system. And what the hell does a "symbolic" ban accomplish? Why not just pass a "symbolic" ban on all derogatory insults and leave the words alone?

“There is a swelling population of black youth that use this word as if it is a term of endearment,” said Andrea C. McElroy, a black councilwoman who sponsored a ban on the racial epithet in Irvington, N.J., that was passed this month.

Umm, did she ever consider the possibility that it is a term of endearment in the manner in which it's being used by the individuals using it? She doesn't have to like it or use it. And I would certainly never criticize her decision to refrain from using it, or for despising it. There are millions of people who have been hurt by racism -- many of them physically, and many have been killed. The n-word has certainly been utilized in most of those situations. But words don't kill.

The sponsors of the bans on the epithet say that education is precisely their mission. Clinton I. Young Jr., who is black and who introduced the measure that passed in Westchester, said the legislation he drafted was meant to raise awareness about the painful history of the word.

He and other legislators said their goal was to create more programs like the one in Mr. Young’s district at Ossining High School. That program, called Project Earthquake, exposes black students to the origins of the word through lectures and documentaries, challenges them not to use it, and encourages them to dress professionally for class.

Dress "professionally" for class? In a high school? What does that mean exactly? Wearing the attire which evolved from their white oppressors? {n-word} please! Get a grip on yourself.

It's sad really that in the 21st century a word can still cause so many adverse reactions. And it's more disturbing to see all this energy directed towards banning a word when clearly there are serious race issues which still exist in America. Yes, let's educate our youth (and adults alike). Let's try and understand why white flight is still common, and why whites might be more likely to get a better deal on a loan. And where's the outrage over suppression of the black vote? What about the shameful lopsided rate of black incarceration in our fucked-up prison system?

Banning the n-word isn't going to accomplish a damn thing when it comes to solving real issues.

For those of you offended by the n-word, you might want to skip this Dave Chappelle clip. It is one of the funniest skits I've ever seen and there's no way I'd do a post this long and difficult, on this subject matter, without using it:

I'll leave you with a memorable quote from a 1969 episode of Star Trek, The Savage Curtain:

Abraham Lincoln: What a charming Negress. Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property.

Uhura: But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words.

Crossposted from konagod
23 October 2006

Racial Separation Prevalent in Masonic Groups

by: Konagod

I frequently see debates in other comment threads about racism being a factor in elections these days. I brought it up myself in a piece by Litbrit over at Shakes’ place regarding Barack Obama possibly making a White House run in 2008.

Lest there be any doubt that racial divides still exist, particularly in the deep south, digest this:
Nationwide, Masonic groups operate in a separate-but-supposedly-equal system in which whites typically join one network of Masonic groups, called Grand Lodges, and blacks typically join another, called Prince Hall.

But in the South, it goes further: White-controlled Grand Lodges in 12 Southern states do not even officially recognize black Masons as their brothers — the Masonic term is "mutual recognition" — and in some cases, black lodges have taken similar stands.


In Alabama, some dissident whites have split from the lodge system, and Republican Gov. Bob Riley's membership in an all-white lodge has drawn fire in his campaign for a second term. In North Carolina, white Masons recently voted down a bid to recognize members of the black group as fellow Masons.

"Only the states of the old Confederacy, minus Virginia and plus West Virginia, don't have mutual recognition," said Paul Bessel, a Maryland Mason who wrote a book on the topic. "There are, I'm sorry to say, some Masons who are racists. But the vast majority don't feel that way."


The whites' refusal to reciprocate "raises the ugly head of racism, segregation, all over again," said the leader of Prince Hall Masons in North Carolina, Milton G. "Toby" Fitch Jr., a state judge and former majority leader in the North Carolina House.

"The best analogy I can give is Baptist churches: You have black Baptist churches, and you have white Baptist churches. But they both recognize each other as being Baptist. We are talking about accepting the fact that `you practice Masonry and I practice Masonry.'"

I experienced this church segregation while growing up. My church was in "colored town" but never did we have a black family attend. Nor did any of the other white churches. The same could be said of the black churches.

Voting patterns in the deep south are very similar. Blacks overwhelming vote for the Democratic candidates, and whites overwhelmingly support the Republicans -- moreso in the rural areas.

While I have no evidence whatsoever to suggest whether white Masons (and non-Masons) would be willing to support a black presidential candidate, let's just say I'm quite comfortable with my unscientific hunch.
04 October 2006

Back to the eugenics drawing board in SC

by: Pam

"We pick up stray animals and spay them. These mothers need to be spayed if they can't take care of theirs. Once they have a child and it's running the street, to let them continue to have children is totally unacceptable."
-- Charleston, SC City Councilman Larry Shirley, "starting a dialogue" on how to reduce crime. He later "apologized."
South Carolina was one of many states that used to sterilize people in prisons and institutions. The state did not apologize to its citizens until 2003.

Unfortunately, Larry Shirley must have missed that bit of business when he felt the need to "joke" about crime reduction techniques. To refer to sterilization is bad enough, but to call it "spaying" implies he thinks minorities are animals. That's an outrage. (MSNBC):
"I know we can't really sterilize people, but I wanted to start the dialogue," Councilman Larry Shirley said Monday. "I could have done that over tea and crumpets, but we've been doing that. Nothing has happened. But if they don't want a dialogue, I'll shut my mouth."

"I apologize to those I upset, but I believe this crime has got to stop," Shirley said.

Black leaders have called for Shirley's resignation, and the councilman said he has received death threats.
He's ignoring calls for his resignation.

And that's the Tony Snow Lesson on Racism for today.

Graphic: The fabulous Mike Tidmus for the Blend

Read my earlier post for the Tar Heel state's history on forced sterilization. A snippet:
Over thirty states had eugenics programs like this one. You may want to do a little digging into your state's history. These procedures were ruled constitutional in Buck v. Bell, a 1924 Supreme Court decision.
the health of the patient and the welfare of society may be promoted in certain cases by the sterilization of mental defectives, under careful safeguard, &c.; that the sterilization may be effected in males by vasectomy and in females by salpingectomy, without serious pain or substantial danger to life; that the Commonwealth is supporting in various institutions many defective persons who if now discharged would become a menace but if incapable of procreating might be discharged with safety and become self-supporting with benefit to themselves and to society; and that experience has shown that heredity plays an important part in the transmission of insanity, imbecility.
24 September 2006

George Allen: the stale cracker, part 2

by: Pam

"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,' He used the N-word on a regular basis back then."
-- Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback.
The hits keep on coming for the cracker lovin' Virginia Senator, who's watching his words come back to haunt him -- again. (Salon):
Three former college football teammates of Sen. George Allen say that the Virginia Republican repeatedly used an inflammatory racial epithet and demonstrated racist attitudes toward blacks during the early 1970s.

...A second white teammate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign, separately claimed that Allen used the word "nigger" to describe blacks. "It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," the teammate said.

A third white teammate contacted separately, who also spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of being attacked by the Virginia senator, said he too remembers Allen using the word "nigger," though he said he could not recall a specific conversation in which Allen used the term. "My impression of him was that he was a racist," the third teammate said.
Salon contacted Allen's Senate office, and members of his campaign for comment (email and phone), and no one has responded. One consultant to Allen hung up on a Salon reporter.

Tossing the "N" word around is one matter, but look at this hair-raising anecdote from Shelton.
Shelton said he also remembers a disturbing deer hunting trip with Allen on land that was owned by the family of Billy Lanahan, a wide receiver on the team. After they had killed a deer, Shelton said he remembers Allen asking Lanahan where the local black residents lived. Shelton said Allen then drove the three of them to that neighborhood with the severed head of the deer. "He proceeded to take the doe's head and stuff it into a mailbox," Shelton said.
Allen, who wore a Confederate flag pin in his high school yearbook photo, had a Confederate flag in his living room, a noose in his law office and a picture of Confederate troops in his governor's office, says "he has grown since then."

Of course he said that before this bit of business came out. If it was a "youthful indiscretion" (or at this point a long list of them), then his campaign shouldn't have a problem discussing it as a matter of the past. Hanging up doesn't sound like the Allen campaign has a game plan for spinning this one.

Too damn bad.
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Oh, don't forget to catch the anecdote in the article where Allen gives Shelton the nickname "Wizard" -- after United Klans imperial wizard Robert Shelton.


* George Allen: the stale cracker


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