Monday, October 29, 2007

Noose Mania Just As Deadly Today

For African-Americans who haven’t yet received a noose, it’s only a matter of time according to Blaxplanation.

“I don't know about you but I'm patiently waiting to receive mine.

Maybe I'll get one early one morning when I open up the door to my office. Perhaps I'll see one hanging from a lamp post outside of my window.
The unimaginative bigots responsible for hanging these nooses know exactly what they're doing. They seek to disrupt the social equilibrium of their black targets. They know that some noose recipients will be shaken but most will be forced into a position in which they become distrustful of nearly all of the whites with whom they work or fraternize.”

This statement specifically points to modern day racism that is embodied by a symbol of the past, but not any less destructive.

However, this is not the message most people are getting from mainstream media reports.

The terror of slavery and violent racism that was most obvious until the 1970s is now treated as a thing of the past. Mainstream reports of the noose-frenzy taking over the nation perpetuate the notion that the racism of today is tiny, weak, and isolated compared to its stronger, violent, incarnation in the past.

Unlike the Blaxplanation report, mainstream media is making it seem as if these nooses are small racist blips of the past popping up in our present social system.

Our popular notions of racism at its worst are anchored down to specific periods of historical time such as the [1950s?] 1960s, or to specific geographical cultures such as the antebellum South (I’m not sure if “antebellum” needs to be capitalized).

What does this mean? It means that reports like this happen:

ABC News dutifully reports,
“But do the nooses reflect a resurgence of racism in America?

The noose has an infamous reputation in American as a hate symbol dating back more than a century. It was used in the past for violent lynchings against black Americans, so the revival has some concerned.”

A dumb question: what is a noose? Is it only that piece of rope tied into a loop? No, it is the manifestation of directed evil--especially for African-Americans, but to other people of color as well.

ABC's report is clear; the noose is a hate symbol that carries with it terrorism of the past. But that's the thing, it reports the noose as a symbol of the past.

The "revival" of the noose is an inappropriate statement that upholds the mistaken modern day ideas of what racism really is. It assumes that nooses do not exist in every corner of society--which they do, just not in the forms of looped ropes.

It assumes that slavery does not exist today--which it does, in the form of disproportionate rates of African-American and Latino incarceration. It assumes that Jim Crow no longer applies--which it does, in the form of substandard education for children of color, or in the overall second-class citizenship of people of color.

Can we say that the impact of the noose upon African-Americans is equivalent with the impact of a photo of Hitler on survivors of the Holocaust?

In some respects, yes, because both carry a terror that will not die because there are always people--many or few--who embrace the terrorist ideology and seek to perpetuate it. You only need to look at the Neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan for examples.

But in another respect, no. Hitler and his Nazis were the faces of the Holocaust--and the swastika represented their cause. A photo of Hitler will always represent the terror of the 1930s and ‘40s, but a noose today does not merely represent the terror of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a mistake to try to tie the noose of today down to our violent racist past because the violence and racism is not simply in the past.

Racism is just as deadly today as it was forty years ago and a hundred forty years ago.

ABC's report defines the latest noose trend as a "revival" of past racism. This creates a notion that all those nooses that are appearing across the country are the products of white people stuck in pro-slavery or pro-Jim Crow mentality.

What happens is that our media’s reports of nooses then ignore the harsh reality of racism that exists throughout society, and what happens is that the FBI will hunt down and punish the noose hangers and essentially get rid of the most visible traces of racism of modern day society.

Footnote: A caveat to my Hitler comparison (so that I am not ignorantly pulling the Hitler card)

I am not subscribing to what Jon Stewart calls "Hitler Mania"

We must not throw around the Hitler card because it is disrespectful to those who carry in their veins the passion and struggle of the generations before them who experienced the terror of Hitler.

Plus, it makes us “look crazy.”


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

San Diego Is Not All White And Rich!

I am sick and tired of San Diego county being generalized as all white and rich and favored by the government.

San Diego is being reported as having special treatment as opposed to Katrina because apparently we San Diegans are all white and rich!

...hold on...Okay I'm back, I went to go look in the mirror. Not rich and white.

...hold on...Okay I'm back, I went to go check my myspace friends. Not rich and white.

I am not going to analyze two very different tragedies. Yes, many rich whites have been affected and treated much better than blacks in Katrina. But this is another side of the story.

La Jolla, Rancho Bernardo, and a couple other places are very wealthy in general, and mostly white. However, my hometown Escondido and a lot of other San Diego towns are full of lower class people--not just of color, but white too!

And surprise surprise, we did not all come here to live in pools of money isolated by rich landscapes for the effect. Too many of us are here for the same reasons as you are there.

I have to write this, I owe it to all of my friends from high school, to my loving parents, and to everyone who does not fit the San Diego "lifestyle" according to the rest of the country.

Yes, most houses that were consumed were in rich areas--but houses aren't the only issue. The smoke is everywhere. Business has stopped all over. Too many of my people have lost their jobs for a week, too many are out of school, and too many cannot afford this temporary setback. There's more I'm probably forgetting too.

This is a shout out to everyone, white or black or Latino or Asian or Native American or Middle Eastern, and more. To those who are not rich. To those who do not deserve to be singled out by other communities of color.

As one anonymous comment stated in response to the Too Sense post:

"...the Katrina experience was a national disgrace; however, your attempt to draw this black and white paralllel is simply not in concert with the facts on the ground. You needed to do some more local research before you set this to print."

My heart out to Katrina, of course, but let's not advocate for some people of color at the expense of others.

And let's not forget that not all whites are rich and everything.

I apologize for the more informal rage of this blog--not because it is considered informal by our Eurocentric standards, but because I fail to oppose those standards in my other blogs by taming my rage and forging it into formal-sounding pieces.

I am so conflicted.


Barack Obama Trying To Save His 'Blackness'?

Barack Obama's 'blackness' has been attacked by many. Yet other candidates, such as Hillary Clinton, have not had their 'whiteness' called into question.

Take Jesse Jackson, more recently, for claiming that Obama is “acting like he’s white" --in reference to Obama's weak support of the Jena 6 case--and that his mixed race status does not make him black enough.

Yet what would have happened if Obama had taken up the Jena 6 case, putting at the forefront of his campaign? What would happen if he began to mirror Jesse Jackson?

What would happen is that Obama would be too black, and his chances for survival would dwindle in comparison to even other democrats--who, although can be branded as radical liberals, will not face being radical liberals of color. Even Hillary, whose gender is under surveillance, is a bit safer because she is white.

People of color are too often portrayed as angry, emotional, and many times unreasonable. To run for president automatically presumes that the candidates are accepting the Eurocentric system of legitimacy for presidency--so those who choose to run know that they have to follow Anglo-American rules.

That means taming one's 'blackness' in Obama's case. Unfortunately, he is being attacked for something prescribed to him as a result of being what our citizens view as a legitimate candidate.

Yet Obama's 'blackness' has been attacked relentlessly, and now it seems he is abruptly trying to save his racial affiliation by jumping on John Tanner, the Justice Department official who recently made what Obama claims to be racist statements about minority voters.

Christi Parsons of The Swamp reports:

Tanner set it off in remarks to a national Latino group earlier this month, when he said that rules requiring photo identification for people to vote don't especially disenfranchise minority voters.
They may affect older voters, Tanner said, but they wouldn't have a disproportionate impact on minorities.

"Our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do; they die first," he said.
"Numerous studies show that photo ID requirements have a discriminatory impact on African American and other minority voters," campaign manager David Plouffe wrote in today's letter. "Yet, in public statements like his October 5th remarks, Tanner continues to justify them with faulty logic. And it adds insult to injury to use tragic discrepancies in life expectancies for African Americans as justification for policies that would further disenfranchise them."

Tanner's statement in full clearly demonstrates outrageously flawed logic, and his claim about people of color not living as old as white people is a rotten egg. However, Obama has really grabbed this issue with a firm grib, and it appears he won't let it go. Is this an attempt to save his 'blackness' in front of voters of color?

Tanner's comments, although erroneous, are not equivalent to the Jena 6. So far this issue does not seem to have caught much media attention, but for Obama's sake, it had better stay that way.

It is just too random, too much of a lost cause, and too insignificant compared to the travesties people of color are suffering around the nation--from Jena 6 and racist criminal justice, to the forgotten inner-city schools failing our youth of color, and more.

Obama is stuck in a corner. While he is being debated over for his 'blackness,' Hillary Clinton is winning black female votes. Of course one shouldn't vote for a candidate because of the race/culture they identify with; they should be supported by their platforms.

But one also shouldn't target attacks on a candidate, such as Obama, on the basis of 'blackness' because such attacks will force him to put his platform to the side and try to restore his status by picking on random uninformed-racist remarks such as Tanner's.

So many of us keep saying to vote for the best candidate, not on the basis of race or gender, but on the basis of their politics, yet we punish Obama with harsh criticism for not acting the way we want or expect him to.

Too many of us are flooding Obama's campaign, even many of us who support him--and he's barely keeping his head above water.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

United States of America: The Real Weapon of Mass Destruction

Our country is fueled by anti-immigrant sentiments. Our hard-core conservatives bash other nations with other religions and other political systems, claiming that democracy is the only way, attacking other cultures for things such as Islamo-fascism.

Why are we wrong in closing the borders and citizenship rights to immigrants? Because we force immigration--we force people out of their homes, we bring more danger into their lives than they faced in the first place, and then we criminalize them and make them illegal in our own country, calling them 'economic migrants' and denying many asylum. Yes, NAFTA, CIA coups in Guatemala and Haiti and other countries, and then of course our current war in Iraq.

Here are some some highlights from a very important article posted on ZNET

Since the US and UK forces invaded Iraq in 2003, an estimated 4.2 million Iraqis have fled their homes, the majority in the last two years. Up to two million are estimated to have sought refuge outside Iraq, while the remainder has been displaced within the country. The exodus is the largest the region has witnessed since the Palestinian Nakba. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the flight of Iraqis continues at a rate of 60,000 per month.

...In Syria, authorities have turned a partial blind eye to working Iraqis. According to AI, however, some deportations have been reported.

Iraqis in Syria face a wide array of problems, many of which stem from economic hardship as the savings they brought from Iraq run out. Many of the Iraqis currently in Syria are children and are thus in need of extra protection. In Syria, all Arabs are entitled to free public services, including education and health. Nonetheless, only 30,000 Iraqi children were registered in schools last year. This year, the number is estimated to have risen to around 80,000. Given a total Iraqi population of up to 1.5 million, both figures are desperately low and in part indicate the level of economic stress parents are facing as they refrain from enrolling their children in schools.

...Displaced from their homes, not knowing when they might be allowed to return, many Iraqis in Jordan have yet to come to terms with their plight. Almost unanimously, Iraqis of all generations were keen to emphasise just how profound their desire to return home is, and that, had the invasion not happened, they would never have left.

The phase to come will be difficult too, as Iraqis increasingly begin to come to terms with the pain of the present. "Here there are no bombs," said 12-year-old Maryam as she wept, "but I am tired and sad. My parents are tired too. We try not to be, because this way we are resisting. But it is getting harder. How long do we have to be here?" At this, Youssef interjects, with strength in his voice that belies his young age: "we have to be here so long as there is war. Until the war stops, we are refugees."


Friday, October 19, 2007

James Watson And The Science Of Racism

James Watson, credited for his research on the Double Helix, has jumped onto the racist-comment media bandwagon.

Malcom Ritter Reports:

"A profile of Watson in the Sunday Times Magazine of London quoted him as saying that he's "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.

While he hopes everyone is equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true," Watson is quoted as saying. He also said people should not be discriminated against on the basis of color, because "there are many people of color who are very talented."

Well thank you Watson, on behalf of all the people of color that white people "have to deal with," we are so flattered to know that there are many of us who are talented.

What is this language? Why don't all people recognize that we can't live in a color-blind world because this world is founded on the underlying assumption that white is the norm, and people of color have to be dealt with carefully?

Why don't we ever say "people who have to deal with white folks know that there are many of them who are very talented," and why do white people applaud people of color for being talented as if it were not a part of their nature?

Even more, why do we isolate racist comments like these to the individual white person who says it (like Don Imus) and overlook the fact that this is the mentality of many--but not all--white people?

I am very critical of the media backlash that Watson has become the target of...mostly because I feel that there are many white people pitting themselves against Watson as if racism only exists in those who are blatantly racist--in which Watson has now been 'revealed' as entirely racist.

Racism exists in degrees, it is not an all-or-nothing effect.

But there is another issue here. Watson is a special case because we must understand that he has been granted great power by our society, and has commanded the utmost respect from the Western world. He is up there in the list of names with Einstein, Thomas Edison, and many more--mostly white, men, and usually scientists.

When we look at Watson's racist comments, we need to talk about the fact that this is no Don Imus. This is a man who has become one of the kings of Knowledge by tagging the double helix with his name. The danger is not in his words, but in the man who said them.

Although Watson has retracted his comments, and although there has been a strong backlash against him by many people of all races, what Watson said is not all that uncommon--it's just more easy to detect.

When most of the scientific world is monopolized by Eurocentric paradigms, it is not surprising that it pumps out racist ideas.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hazing Our "Illegal" Immigrants Into Citizenship

Let's Zoom In On Virginia today.

First, an effort to build a special prison for undocumented immigrants has been denied. The driving force behind this failed effort was to improve the number deportations of undocumented immigrants accused of crimes. It's already bad enough to be a person of color convicted of a crime who is a citizen, I can't imagine being undocumented. For more, see the link at the bottom of this post.

Even though this effort failed to pass the Virginia state panel, there is a second effort that passed with flying colors, and it involves the criminalization of all who fit the "illegal immigrant" description.

"It calls for cuts to certain county services and prohibits undocumented residents from getting business licenses. The resolution also expands police authority allowing officers to ask people about their legal status. "

How far must we go to hunt down these supposed foreign enemies of ours? We must turn our police into immigrant-sniffing dogs who raid the personal space of anyone who looks illegal. This is outrageous, this is unconstitutional.

Even more outrageous is a citizen remark reported by CBS:

"Manassas resident Robert Stephens, addressing the large crowd of Hispanic residents, reported the Post. "Who invited you? You cry for your rights? You have none."

That's right Mr. Stephens, human rights are the reward of citizenship. We have organizations like PETA that strive to secure the rights of all animals--who don't need U.S. citizenship to solicit our paternalistic humanism. But international human rights of all human peoples? Excuuuuuse me, you get those from invitation-only in the United States of America! So what do we get out of Mr. Stephens' flawless logic? Well for one thing, when it comes to people, undocumented immigrants are not only sub-human, they are sub-animal.

Hey PETA people, why don't you create a new "illegal" immigrant branch since apparently foreigners without papers don't count as humans?

This is all outrageous. None of this is new, and none of what I say matters. So here is my suggestion, more modest than the "illegal" immigrant branch PETA proposal: Due to the tension between the cool invitation-only citizens and the uncool immigrant reject-newbies, Why don't we start doing immigrant hazing? Let's really put these people to the test and subject them to cruel, abusive practices...

Wait, don't we do that already?

On The Failed Immigrant-Prison Virginia Resolution

CBS Report On The Successful Virginia Resolutions


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

California DREAM Act Is Vetoed

For the second year in a row, Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed the California DREAM Act, stating in a letter to lawmakers that that the state cannot afford to bear the costs of financing the higher education of undocumented students who would be eligible to apply for financial aid under the DREAM Act.

But highly educated students are generally assets to California, aren’t they? Societies usually benefit from having more highly educated people because they tend to become more productive members of their communities.

But since the governor is most concerned with the costs and benefits of undocumented students, there are two ways that he has lost the opportunity to invest in a valuable group that would have returned more than what would have been invested in them.

First, when denied financial assistance, many undocumented students are financially hindered from going to college. When they are unable to earn college degrees, they are unable to earn higher incomes. We therefore prevent our government from collecting higher taxes from their higher incomes—which would have been used to the benefit of society.

Second, without higher incomes, the current college-age undocumented students will not have as many resources to provide for their children. Unlike their undocumented parents, these children can’t be denied state assistance and other social services because they will be U.S. citizens. Denying aid to our current generation of undocumented students will therefore cost the state more in the near future.

The governor’s decision to veto the DREAM Act is a shortsighted decision because the amount of money it would have cost the state would have returned at least two-fold.

Yet there is something more important at stake here than the monetary costs and benefits of the state. When some of us oppose the DREAM Act as a policy that would have given amnesty to “illegal immigrants,” we are hurting our society more than we think. Many of us choose to romanticize the European immigrants from the twentieth century as having tried hard to become active members of society, insisting that immigrants today are doing the opposite.

But by vetoing this act we are forcing undocumented students to continue living in the shadows of society. We then hold this against them as proof that they refuse to assimilate. But the very fact that these students are trying to go to college demonstrates that they want to become productive members of this country.

It proves that they do wish to assimilate.