This is what black people have to tolerate... This is what we have to tolerate... pic.twitter.com/db2vv6oD3U— chamonille (@chamonille) October 1, 2015
Personally, I wouldn't be too bothered by any of this. Like so many others of his ilk, David Cameron's operating on a long-standing global narrative. That narrative requires national leaders to pay lip service to the Holocaust and the plight of the people who were forced to endure it, regardless of their actual sincerity. The global narrative says nothing about acknowledging the tremendous damage slavery has done throughout the world, especially when it concerns one of your former colonial holdings.
Right about now, Cameron's probably wondering why couldn't Jamaica be a good little colony and not trouble the Crown with their nonsense. After all, it did its part by putting an end to what some Yanks called the "peculiar institution":
Speaking to the Caribbean country’s parliament, the prime minister struck a defiant note as he spoke of his pride that Britain had played a part in abolishing the “abhorrent” trade, without highlighting its historic involvement in the transfer of slaves from west Africa and ownership of slaves in the Caribbean.
He called for the two countries to “move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future”.
“While there is indeed much to celebrate about our past, it would be wrong to do so while ignoring the most painful aspects of it – a period which should never be forgotten, and from which history has drawn the bitterest of lessons,” Cameron said.
“Slavery was and is abhorrent in all its forms. It has no place whatsoever in any civilised society, and Britain is proud to have eventually led the way in its abolition.
“That the Caribbean has emerged from the long shadow it cast is testament to the resilience and spirit of its people. I acknowledge that these wounds run very deep indeed. But I do hope that, as friends who have gone through so much together since those darkest of times, we can move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future.”
Yours truly has always taken issue with victims being told they should move on and let bygones be bygones. I'd rather let the Jamaican people decide when to let the pain and anguish of slavery and its legacy go. After all, that's something that should be done on their own terms, not when someone else tells them to.
There's a good reason why Cameron and the British government are so eager to push past slavery, whether the Jamaicans are ready to do so or not:
A No 10 spokesman said Cameron told the Jamaican prime minister that the “longstanding position of the United Kingdom is that we do not believe reparations is the right approach”.
Reparations has always been the solid brick wall that stops most attempts at righting both age-old and current wrongs cold in their tracks. While I'm not familiar with the countless losses suffered by the descendants of Jamaica's captive ancestors, I am very much familiar with those suffered by countless black Americans.
The thought of cutting countless checks for past wrongs is something that turns the blood a lot of white Americans a bit chilly. Considering America's zero-sum view of societal spoils, many whites feel that balancing out the scales of justice in the form of reparations would take a sizable sum of the spoils right out of their pockets. In other words, they believe it would personally cost them dearly and further lower their socioeconomic standing. After all, who really wants to see uppity Negros bettering themselves through the spoils that were wrenched out of the hands of hard-working white men and women?
But it's more than that. If the Powers That Be™ were forced to make a concerted effort to recompense those who have suffered most from slavery and all of its aftereffects, including the institutions it created to manage black ambition and extract black wealth, it would likely put the whole idea of America (or Great Britain) as a bastion of liberty and its very principles in question. Such an inward look, let alone an actual acknowledgement or even movement to correct past wrongs, would shake the nation to its core and likely cause a loss of identity and an existential crisis among much of its citizenry. It may even provoke a last-gasp backlash conjured from deep within the very soul of the nation, akin to a demon's final torrent of fury and rage before being finally vanquished once and for all.
For this and other reasons, it's likely that the British people and the Powers That Be™ at 10 Downing Street would rather ignore the monumental debt owed to the Jamaican people and others who've suffered deprivation at the hands of slavery and colonialism and let the gentle erosion of time itself scrub away the debt until it becomes unrecognizable to all. Hence the forgive and forget posture taken by Cameron and countless others.
However, time doesn't heal all wounds. Some wounds tend to fester until they've been properly tended to. Otherwise, the noisome sore becomes the gangrenous tissue that threatens to destroy the patient. So David Cameron and others like him can continue to ignore the issue and hope it goes away on its own, but only to their everlasting peril.
A few weeks ago, I wanted to make a compare/contrast between how authorities were handling the Oregon standoff led by Ammon Bundy and the standoff led by members of MOVE. I wound up not doing it not only because reading and researching what happened on May 13, 1985 angered me in a way very few things do, but because I knew people would point out there wasn't a direct connection. Whereas the so-called "showdown" at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge involved federal authorities (most notably the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), the MOVE bombing involved the Philadelphia Police Department (and with the blessing of Philadelphia's first black mayor, Wilson Goode).
Nevertheless, the two events provide yet another stark contrast as to how authorities throughout the nation deal with perceived threats. Whereas Philly's finest elected to use extraordinary force when dealing with MOVE, resulting in 11 dead, 65 houses destroyed and over 250 people rendered homeless, the feds chose to wait out the Oregon standoff, only using the absolute minimum amount of force when left with no other choice.
It's no secret that authorities often choose to ratchet up the force continuum faster when dealing with black individuals and black groups, but where they start out on the force continuum is often higher than where their white peers start out. In other words, LEOs have proven to not just escalate faster and with more force when dealing with black suspects, but also hold them with a higher level of suspicion to begin with.
Again, if Ammon Bundy was Ammon X., this whole ordeal would have been over weeks ago. #Oregonstandoff— Mack Lyons (@DDSSBlog) January 27, 2016
It's true that the feds were feeling (and still feel) gun-shy about how to handle standoffs in the wake of Ruby Ridge and Waco, but the leniency of which the self-described militiamen at the heart of the event were treated still rankles the nerves of every black person who knew that a black group conducting itself under the same circumstances would not get the same courtesy.
Days before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled to London and on December 7th, 1964, delivered a speech addressing the civil rights struggle in the United States and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The speech was recorded in its entirety by then-Pacifica Radio correspondant Saul Bernstein. Decades later, the recorded speech was discovered by Pacifica Radio Archives director Brian DeShazor.
The actual recording can be found at Democracy Now! Unfortunately, yours truly couldn't get the video hosted there to properly embed, so the above comes courtesy of the Youtube channel People Power Television.
The recording is an hour long and the accompanying transcript also makes for a hefty read, so only the first two portions provided by Democracy Now! will be reposted here:
I want to talk with you mainly about our struggle in the United States and, before taking my seat, talk about some of the larger struggles in the whole world and some of the more difficult struggles in places like South Africa. But there is a desperate, poignant question on the lips of people all over our country and all over the world. I get it almost everywhere I go and almost every press conference. It is a question of whether we are making any real progress in the struggle to make racial justice a reality in the United States of America. And whenever I seek to answer that question, on the one hand, I seek to avoid an undue pessimism; on the other hand, I seek to avoid a superficial optimism. And I try to incorporate or develop what I consider a realistic position, by admitting on the one hand that we have made many significant strides over the last few years in the struggle for racial justice, but by admitting that before the problem is solved we still have numerous things to do and many challenges to meet. And it is this realistic position that I would like to use as a basis for our thinking together tonight as we think about the problem in the United States. We have come a long, long way, but we have a long, long way to go before the problem is solved.
Now let us notice first that we’ve come a long, long way. And I would like to say at this point that the Negro himself has come a long, long way in re-evaluating his own intrinsic worth. Now, in order to illustrate this, a little history is necessary. It was in the year 1619 when the first Negro slaves landed on the shores of America. And they were brought there from the soils of Africa. Unlike the pilgrim fathers who landed at Plymouth a year later, they were brought there against their wills. And throughout slavery, the Negro was treated in a very inhuman fashion. He was a thing to be used, not a person to be respected. The United States Supreme Court rendered a decision in 1857 known as the Dred Scott decision, which well illustrated this whole idea and which well illustrated what existed at that time, for in this decision the Supreme Court of the United States said, in substance, that the Negro is not a citizen of the United States, he is merely property subject to the dictates of his owner. And it went on to say that the Negro has no rights that the white man is bound to respect. This was the idea that prevailed during the days of slavery.
With the growth of slavery, it became necessary to give some justification for it. You know, it seems to be a fact of life that human beings cannot continue to do wrong without eventually reaching out for some thin rationalization to clothe an obvious wrong in the beautiful garments of righteousness. And this is exactly what happened during the days of slavery. There were those who even misused the Bible and religion to give some justification for slavery and to crystallize the patterns of the status quo. And so it was argued from some pulpits that the Negro was inferior by nature because of Noah’s curse upon the children of Ham. Then, the apostle Paul’s dictum became a watchword: "Servants be obedient to your master." And one brother had probably read the logic of the great philosopher Aristotle. You know, Aristotle did a great deal to bring into being what we now know as formal logic in philosophy. And in formal logic, there is a big word known as the syllogism, which has a major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion. And so, this brother decided to put his argument for the inferiority of the Negro in the framework of an Aristotelian syllogism. He could say all men are made in the image of God—this was a major premise. Then came the minor premise: God, as everybody knows, is not a Negro, therefore the Negro is not a man. This was the kind of reasoning that prevailed.
While living with the conditions of slavery and then, later, segregation, many Negroes lost faith in themselves. Many came to feel that perhaps they were less than human. Many came to feel that they were inferior. This, it seems to me, is the greatest tragedy of slavery, the greatest tragedy of segregation, not merely what it does to the individual physically, but what it does to one psychologically. It scars the soul of the segregated as well as the segregator. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority, while leaving the segregated with a false sense of inferiority. And this is exactly what happened.
Then something happened to the Negro, and circumstances made it possible and necessary for him to travel more—the coming of the automobile, the upheavals of two world wars, the Great Depression. And so his rural plantation background gradually gave way to urban industrial life. His economic life was gradually rising through the growth of industry, the development of organized labor and expanded educational opportunities. And even his cultural life was gradually rising through the steady decline of crippling illiteracy. All of these forces conjoined to cause the Negro in America to take a new look at himself. Negro masses all over began to re-evaluate themselves.
And then something else happened, along with all of this: The Negro in the United States turned his eyes and his mind to Africa, and he noticed the magnificent drama of independence taking place on the stage of African history. And noticing the developments and noticing what was happening and noticing what was being done on the part of his black brothers and sisters in Africa gave him a new sense of dignity in the United States and a new sense of self-respect. The Negro came to feel that he was somebody. His religion revealed to him that God loves all of his children and that all men are made in his image, and that the basic thing about a man is not his specificity, but his fundamentum, not the texture of his hair or the color of his skin, but his eternal dignity and worth.
And so the Negro in America could now cry out unconsciously with the eloquent poet, "Fleecy locks, and black complexion cannot forfeit nature’s claim; Skin may differ, but affection dwells in black and white the same," and, "Were I so tall as to reach the pole, or to grasp the ocean at a span, I must be measured by my soul; the mind is the standard of the man." And with this new sense of dignity and this new sense of self-respect, a new Negro came into being with a new determination to suffer, to struggle, to sacrifice, and even to die, if necessary, in order to be free. And this reveals that we have come a long, long way since 1619.
But if we are to be true to the facts, it is necessary to say that not only has the Negro re-evaluated his own intrinsic worth, the whole nation has come a long, long way in extending the frontiers of civil rights. I would like to mention just a few things that have happened in our country which reveal this. Fifty years ago, or even 25 years ago, a year hardly passed when numerous Negroes were not brutally lynched by some vicious mob. Fortunately, lynchings have about ceased today. If one would go back to the turn of the century, you would find that in the Southern part of the United States you had very few Negroes registered to vote. By 1948, that number had leaped to about 750,000; 1960, it had leaped to 1,200,000. And when we went into the presidential election just a few weeks ago, that number had leaped to more than two million. We went into that election with more than two million Negroes registered to vote in the South, which meant that we in the civil rights movement, by working hard, have been able to add more than 800,000 new Negroes as registered voters in the last three years. This reveals that we have made strides.
Then, when we look at the question of economic justice, there’s much to do, but we can at least say that some strides have been made. The average Negro wage earner who is employed today in the United States earns 10 times more than the average Negro wage earner of 12 years ago. And the national income of the Negro is now at a little better than $28 billion a year, which is all—more than all of the exports of the United States and more than the national budget of Canada. This reveals that we have made some strides in this area.
But probably more than anything else—and you’ve read about it so much here and all over the world, I’m sure—we have noticed a gradual decline, and even demise, of the system of racial segregation. Now, the legal history of racial segregation had its beginning in 1896. Many people feel that racial segregation has been a reality in the United States a long, long time, but the fact is that this was a rather recent phenomenon in our country, just a little better than 60 years old. And it had its legal beginning with a decision known as the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which said, in substance, that separate but equal facilities could exist, and it made the doctrine of separate but equal the law of the land. We all know what happened as a result of the old Plessy doctrine: There was always the strict enforcement of the separate, without the slightest intention to abide by the equal. And the Negro ended up being plunged into the abyss of exploitation, where he experienced the bleakness of nagging injustice.
And then something marvelous happened. The Supreme Court of our nation in 1954 examined the legal body of segregation, and on May 17th of that year pronounced it constitutionally dead. It said, in substance, that the old Plessy doctrine must go, that separate facilities are inherently unequal, and that the segregated child on the basis of his race is to deny that child equal protection of the law. And so, we’ve seen many changes since that momentous decision was rendered in 1954, that came as a great beacon light of hope into millions of disinherited people all over our nation.
Then something else happened, which brought joy to all of our hearts. It happened this year. It was last year, after the struggle in Birmingham, Alabama, that the late President Kennedy came to realize that there was a basic issue that our country had to grapple with. With a sense of concern and a sense of immediacy, he made a great speech, a few days before—rather, it was really on the same day that the University of Alabama was to be integrated, and Governor Wallace stood in the door and tried to block that integration. Mr. Kennedy had to have the National Guard federalized. He stood before the nation and said in eloquent terms the problem which we face in the area of civil rights is not merely a political issue, it is not merely an economic issue, it is, at bottom, a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and as modern as the Constitution. It is a question of whether we will treat our Negro brothers as we ourselves would like to be treated.
And on the heels of that great speech, he went in, recommended to the Congress of our nation the most comprehensive civil rights bill ever recommended by any president of our great nation. Unfortunately, after many months of battle, and for a period we got a little tired of that—you know, there are some men in our country who like to talk a lot. Maybe you read about the filibuster. And you know they get bogged down in the paralysis of analysis, and they will just go on and on and on. And they wanted to talk that bill to death.
But President Lyndon Johnson got to work. He started calling congressmen and senators in and started meeting day in and day out with influential people in the country and making it clear that that bill had to pass, as a tribute to the late President Kennedy, but also as a tribute to the greatness of the country and as an expression of its dedication to the American dream. And it was that great day last summer that that bill came into being, and it was on July 2nd that Mr. Johnson signed that bill and it became the law of the land.
And so, in America now, we have a civil rights bill. And I’m happy to report to you that, by and large, that bill is being implemented in communities all across the South. We have seen some surprising levels of compliance, even in some communities in the state of Mississippi. And whenever you can find anything right in Mississippi, things are getting better.
We can never forget the fact that just this summer three civil rights workers were brutally murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi. All of this reveals to us that we have not achieved the level of brotherhood—we have not achieved the brotherhood that we need and that we must have in our nation. We still have a long, long way to go.
I mentioned voter registration and the fact that we have been able to add about 800,000 new registered voters in the last two or three years, the fact that it’s over two million now. I guess that sounded like real progress, and it does represent some progress. But let me give you the other side, and that is the fact that there are still more than 10 million Negroes living in the Southern part of the United States, and some six million of the Negroes living in the Southern part of the United States are of voting age, and yet only two million are registered. This means that four million remain unregistered, not merely because they are apathetic, not because they are complacent—this may be true of some few—but because all types of conniving methods are still being used to keep Negroes from becoming registered voters. Complex literacy tests are given, which make it almost impossible for anybody to pass the test, even if he has a Ph.D. degree in any field or a law degree from the best law schools of the world. And then actual economic reprisals are often taken out against Negroes who seek to register and vote in some of the Black Belt counties of Mississippi and Alabama and other places. Then, some are actually faced with physical violence, and sometimes physical death. This reveals that we have a great deal that must be done in this area.
I mentioned economic justice, and I am sure that that figure, $28 billion, sounded very large. That’s a lot of money. But then I must go on and give you the other side, if I am to be honest about the picture. That is a fact that 42 percent of the Negro families of the United States still earn less than $2,000 a year, while just 16 percent of the white families earn less than $2,000 a year; 21 percent of the Negro families of America earn less than $1,000 a year, while just 5 percent of the white families earn less than $1,000 a year. And then we face the fact that 88 percent of the Negro families of America earn less than $5,000 a year, while just 58 percent of the white families earn less than $5,000 a year. So we can see that there is still a great gulf between the haves, so to speak, and the have-nots. And if America is to continue to grow and progress and develop and move on toward its greatness, this problem must be solved.
Now, this economic problem is getting more serious because of many forces alive in our world and in our nation. For many years, Negroes were denied adequate educational opportunities. For many years, Negroes were even denied apprenticeship training. And so, the forces of labor and industry so often discriminated against Negroes. And this meant that the Negro ended up being limited, by and large, to unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Now, because of the forces of automation and cybernation, these are the jobs that are now passing away. And so, the Negro wakes up in a city like Detroit, Michigan, and discovers that he is 28 percent of the population and about 72 percent of the unemployed. Now, in order to grapple with that problem, our federal government will have to develop massive retraining programs, massive public works programs, so that automation can be a blessing, as it must be to our society, and not a curse.
Then the other thing when we think of this economic problem, we must think of the fact that there is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a segment in that society which feels that it has no stake in the society, and nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a number of people who see life as little more than a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign. They end up with despair because they have no jobs, because they can’t educate their children, because they can’t live in a nice home, because they can’t have adequate health facilities.
We always hear of the various reasons why and the various myths concerning integration and why integration shouldn’t come into being. Those people who argue against integration at this point often say, "Well, if you integrate the public schools, for instance, you will pull the white race back a generation." And they like to talk about the cultural lag in the Negro community. And then they go on to say, "Now, you know, the Negro is a criminal, and he has the highest crime rate in any city that you can find in the United States." And the arguments go on ad infinitum why integration shouldn’t come into being.
But I think there’s an answer to that, and that is that if there is cultural lag in the Negro community—and there certainly is—this lag is there because of segregation and discrimination. It’s there because of long years of slavery and segregation. Criminal responses are not racial, but environmental. Poverty, economic deprivation, social isolation and all of these things breed crime, whatever the racial group may be. And it is a torturous logic to use the tragic results of racial segregation as an argument for the continuation of it. It is necessary to go back. And so it is necessary to see this and to go all out to make economic justice a reality all over our nation.
I mentioned that racial segregation is about dead in the United States, but it’s still with us. We are about past the day of legal segregation. We have about ended de jure segregation, where the laws of the nation or of a particular state can uphold it, because of the civil rights bill and the Supreme Court’s decision and other things. We have passed the day when the Negro can’t eat at a lunch counter, with the exception of a few isolated situations, or where the Negro can’t check in a motel or hotel. We are fastly passing that day. But there is another form of segregation coming up. It is coming up through housing discrimination, joblessness and the de facto segregation in the public schools. And so the ghettoized conditions that exist make for many problems, and it makes for a hardcore, de facto segregation that we must grapple with on a day-to-day basis. And so, this is the problem that we face, and this is a problem that we are forced to deal with. And we are going to deal with it in a determined way. I am absolutely convinced that segregation is on its deathbed, and those who represent it, whether they be in the United States or whether they be in London, England, the system is on its deathbed.
But certainly, we all know that if democracy is to live in any nation, segregation must die. And as I’ve tried to say all over America, we’ve got to get rid of segregation not merely because it will help our image—it certainly will help our image in the world. We’ve got to get rid of segregation not merely because it will appeal to Asian and African people—and this certainly will be helpful, this is important. But in the final analysis, racial discrimination must be uprooted from American society and from every society, because it is morally wrong. So it is necessary to go all out and develop massive action programs to get rid of racial segregation.
Now I would like to mention one or two ideas that circulate in our society—and they probably circulate in your society and all over the world—that keep us from developing the kind of action programs necessary to get rid of discrimination and segregation. One is what I refer to as the myth of time. There are those individuals who argue that only time can solve the problem of racial injustice in the United States, in South Africa or anywhere else; you’ve got to wait on time. And I know they’ve said to us so often in the States and to our allies in the white community, "Just be nice and be patient and continue to pray, and in 100 or 200 years the problem will work itself out." We have heard and we have lived with the myth of time. The only answer that I can give to that myth is that time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. And I must honestly say to you that I’m convinced that the forces of ill will have often used time much more effectively than the forces of goodwill. And we may have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around saying, "Wait on time."
And somewhere along the way it is necessary to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. And so we must help time, and we must realize that the time is always ripe to do right. This is so vital, and this is so necessary.
Now, the other myth that gets around a great deal in our nation and, I’m sure, in other nations of the world is the idea that you can’t solve the problems in the realm of human relations through legislation; you can’t solve the housing problem and the job problem and all of these other problems through legislation; you’ve got to change the heart. We had a presidential candidate just recently who spoke about this a great deal. And I think Mr. Goldwater sincerely believed that you couldn’t anything through legislation, because he voted against everything in the Senate, including the civil rights bill. And he said all over the nation throughout the election that we don’t need legislation, that legislation can’t deal with this problem. But he was nice enough to say that you’ve got to change the heart.
Now I want to at least go halfway with Brother Goldwater at that point. I think he’s right. If we’re going to get this problem solved in America and all over the world, ultimately, people must change their hearts where they have prejudices. If we are going to solve the problems facing mankind, I would be the first to say that every white person must look down deep within and remove every prejudice that may be there, and come to see that the Negro, and the colored peoples, generally, must be treated right, not merely because the law says it, but because it is right and because it is natural. I agree with this 100 percent. And I’m sure that if the problem is to be solved, ultimately, men must be obedient not merely to that which can be enforced by the law, but they must rise to the majestic heights of being obedient to the unenforceable.
But after saying all of that, I must go on to the other side. This is where I must leave Mr. Goldwater and others who believe that legislation has no place. It may be true that you can’t legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law can’t change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me. And I think that’s pretty important also.
Today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on this day in 1929. In 1983, an official holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader was established as a part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. As a result, most people will celebrate his legacy on Monday, January 18.
"He Ended The Terror Of Living As A Black Person." (2012)
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (Also found here)
"I Have a Dream..." (2013)
"Judged By The Content Of One's Character." (2013)
More content will follow in the coming weeks, as time and current events permit.
If Tamir Rice was a blonde-haired, hazel-eyed 12-year-old Caucasian child, he would likely still be alive today. His parents would have been called and he would have been admonished about playing with a BB gun in the middle of a city park. There would be no guns drawn and the responding police officers would have felt a bit annoyed about being called out over some kid playing in the park with a toy gun.
But Tamir Rice had the misfortune of being a black-haired, brown-eyed 12-year-old black child in a land where being black is considered a credible threat and where such threats are commonly terminated by law enforcement with extreme prejudice, even if you're just a child.
But it's not like most white Americans see black children as actual children:
In one experiment, a group of 60 police officers from a large urban police force were asked to assess the age of white, black and Latino children based on photographs. The officers were randomly assigned to be told that the children in the photographs were accused of either a misdemeanor or felony charge. The officers overestimate the age of black felony-suspected children by close to five years, but they actually underestimated the age of white felony-suspected children by nearly a year.
Particularly relevant to the Tamir Rice case: "Black 13-year-olds were miscategorized as adults by police officers (average age error 4.59 years)."
Similar experiments involving 169 mostly white students found that "participants began to think of black children as significantly less innocent than other children at every age group, beginning at the age of 10." These experiments also showed that respondents were more likely to see the black children as "culpable" of a hypothetical felony compared with white and Latino children.
This research comports with other research done in the mid-2000s, which confronted police officers and civilians with photos of black and white armed and unarmed people, and asked them to press a "shoot" or "don't shoot" button for each image. Cops and civilians were more likely to press "shoot" for black images overall, but they were slower to press "don't shoot" for unarmed black images, and quicker to press "shoot" when an image showed an armed black man.
The APA researchers sum up their findings this way: "Our findings suggest that, although most children are allowed to be innocent until adulthood, black children may be perceived as innocent only until deemed suspicious." The Tamir Rice case illustrates that for some black children, those biases can play out with deadly consequences in just a fraction of a second.
Threats come in all shapes and sizes. Any "good guy with a gun" can tell you that. And yet:
A North Carolina woman was arrested on Christmas Eve after she was spotted with a BB gun in front of the police department and pointed it at officers and told them to shoot her.
Police received a 911 call about a woman in front of the police department with a gun around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. They found Elaine Rothenberg, 66, standing in front of a doorway at the police department with a gun raised and in a shooting stance.
Police said Rothenberg, who was from North Carolina but had been staying on Cliffside Drive in the city, yelled about hating cops and told officers “what are you doing, shoot me!” and “what are you, scared?” She raised the gun at officers and yelled “boom, boom, boom.”
After a brief standoff Rothenberg told officers the gun was fake and threw it to the ground, police said. She was taken into custody and police determined she had been holding a BB gun.
Rothenberg was charged with first-degree threatening, second-degree breach of peace, seven counts of reckless endangerment and interfering with police.
There was no split-second threat assessment needed. After all, she wasn't a 12-year-old black kid.
Like Newton Leroy Gingrich, Donald Trump (who will now be known henceforth as "the Donald") knows that the fastest way to a conservative's heart is by tickling that particular portion of the brain that loves dog whistles and coded rhetoric. By throwing those big, juicy slabs of "straight talk" at the GOP masses, the Donald has managed to become the GOP's Flavor of the Month™ for the 2016 elections. The big question now is "will he manage to nab the nomination?"
The answer is a pretty definite "no." While the GOP masses adore a guy who "finally tells it like it is" on hot-button issues like immigration, the GOP establishment prefers its candidates to have a bit more...discretion. Unfortunately, the Donald's bombastic star power and deep pockets make the rest of the GOP field look absolutely hapless in comparison.
So will the GOP establishment manage to temper the Donald's presidential ambitions before things get out of hand? That remains to be seen. A few prominent pundits and writers (including one of my favorites, Chauncey DeVega) have compared the Donald's presidential run to a wrestling match. Judd Legum sums it up thusly:
In the current campaign, Trump is behaving like a professional wrestler while Trump’s opponents are conducting the race like a boxing match. As the rest of the field measures up their next jab, Trump decks them over the head with a metal chair.
The Donald is the heel that everyone's supposed to hate, but has a massive cult following. His fans love how he throws his weight around in the ring and hate how boring and inept all of the babyfaces seem in comparison. He has the showmanship and stage presence, plus his refusal to play by the established rules is what his fans love most about him.
With a beloved heel like the Donald, the GOP establishment will have to pull its own Montreal Screwjob if it has any hope of getting the controllable candidate it wants.
Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob.
- Ida. B Wells
Throughout our nation's history, bigotry against black Americans, the dreaded Other, has always been enforced through a number of means. Whenever institutional, state-sanctioned methods of bigotry and discrimination failed to achieve the desired results, it was left to the white mobs to enforce bigotry through violence. Time and time again, seemingly decent, God-fearing American men and women would transform themselves into a hateful, virulent force bent on protecting the ideals of white supremacy by violently and publicly destroying a few black bodies, regardless of innocence or guilt and with the quiet sanction of law enforcement seemingly rendered impotent in the face of a spontaneous and unruly force.
Mob-led lynchings were the preferred means of educating the black populace on where they lay on the societal totem pole through terror and violence. After all, there's nothing scarier than seeing dozens of angry white faces drag off a single black soul in the middle of the night in preparation for a public, hands-on exhibit on the dangers of being an affront to whitekind, for whatever reason.
These days, the hands-on lynching of old has fallen along the wayside in favor of more high-tech means. Nevertheless, there are those out there who still believe that the old ways are still best.
Nathan Ener's rant against the New Black Panther Party, the Black Lives Matter movement and those he sees as "black thugs" comes in the aftermath of the unfortunate death of Texas sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth and his killer, Shannon Miles, being found incompetent to stand trial for his murder. At this point, a white mob would have gladly stepped in to deliver the sort of "justice" they thought was denied to them and the rest of whitekind, but you'd have to get them fired up about it first. And that's where the above rant comes into play.
Stirring up deep-set indignation and fear over the dreaded Other running roughshod over God-fearing white men, women and children has always been part of the recipe for inciting white mob violence. The death of a white person (or at least rumors of white deaths) serves as its explosive catalyst. Had this event happened in 1915 instead of 2015, it's very likely that Shannon Miles' corpse, shredded from head-to-toe, would be hanging from some forlorn oak somewhere as a shining symbol of mob-delivered justice - and as a warning to any black American who'd even harbor thoughts about harming the hair on a white person's head.
It's not beyond the pale to wonder if, given the right circumstances, someone like Nathan Ener would gladly lead the way.
Yours truly would have written off Ener as your typical bigot, something of which East Texas has in spades, if it weren't for a rather disturbing link to another case where a young black man by the name of Alfred Wright was found murdered. According to authorities, Wright died of a drug overdose shortly after a deal involving 28-year-old Shane Hadnot. But it was the manner in which he was found dead that brought a great deal of suspicion:
Wright's body was disfigured when he was found Nov. 25, 2013, which led his family to suspect foul play.
His sister Annilia Wright-Mosley said her brother's tongue was cut out, eyes gouged out, throat slit and ear cut off. He was also missing teeth and fingernails, which are signs of violence and torture, she said.
Wright's family believes Alfred was tortured and brutally murdered and has called Hadnot a "scapegoat" in the case.
The authorities wrote off those allegations by citing how the damages were likely caused by scavenging animals.
So what's Nathan Ener's link to all of this? Here's Ener squaring off with black rights activist and New Black Panther Party leader Quanell X.
“I know why you’re upset. You’re upset because of Ashley,” Quanell X taunted Ener as they met in the street. “’Cause your daughter likes black coffee, no sugar no cream. That’s why you’re upset. It’s eating you up, ain’t it? That she likes a black man?”
Ener called to a white man on the sidewalk.
“Ben, does any of my people—any of my family like black folks?”
“Not that I know of.”
Quanell X goaded Ener: “Ashley does! Ashley does! Now let me tell you something, peckerwood. I will whup your ass. I’m that one.” He peeled off his suit jacket, stepped up inches from Ener’s face, and the two jawed to the crowd’s amusement. A line of uniformed troopers filed out of the county building and led Ener away.
It's likely that not only was Nathan Ener's own daughter might have been romantically involved with Wright, but also that her father told her he knew what really happened to him:
The plot thickens.
Wright may have also been romantically involved with Cindy Maddox, daughter of Sheriff Tom Maddox. The same guy who complained bitterly that he was missing out on a good day's hunt by searching for Wright.
Now you'd have to wonder if this was what Alfred Wright was really murdered for. In many unspoken parts of the nation, consorting with white women is the highest unspeakable offense for a black man to commit. In some cases, it could lead directly to his death.
You also have to wonder if Nathan Ener had anything to do with Wright's death. Town gossip being what it is, it's likely that some tightly-held secrets are bound to come spilling out at some point.
A mob is a great way for an evil to be committed without any of that pesky responsibility or guilt assigned to you. But it doesn't take a mob to commit evil. Sometimes, it only takes one or two individuals to get the job done.
Recently, Abagond wrote about how the mainstream American media handles riots involving black Americans and riots involving whites. Anyone who's keeping score can see how there's a glaring double standard in the way those events are covered.
Take a close look at the 1965 Watts riots, the 1967 Detroit riots, the 1992 L.A. riots and the recent Baltimore riots and you'll find a couple of common threads:
- These riots and many others like them have been about black America's ongoing frustration over genuine injustices directed towards the black community and ignored by white society - discrimination and police brutality being the two biggest injustices.
- Every time these riots happen, mainstream American media frames them as yet another demonstration of black America's innate criminality and lust for violence - a narrative that's played well among legions of upstanding white Americans ever since the Stono Rebellion and perhaps even before.
Now take a look at the above photo, a snapshot of the riots that occurred shortly after the end of the 2013 U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA. According to the L.A. Times, this one broke out after a fight led scores of young, largely white and quite possibly intoxicated revelers to indulge in a bit of the old ultraviolence. Why? There's no injustice here, except that maybe they'll have to go home at some point.
Notice how the media didn't dismiss this as just another display of primal Caucasian rage, nor was it tamped down with the same sort of heavy-handed show of force exemplified by Baltimore and Ferguson.
That's the thing. Riots led by largely white participants over largely innocuous things (your favorite sports team lost, your favorite sports team won, your favorite event just ended, you're drunk, others are drunk so let's tear shit up) are never treated with the racial disdain that the highly uncommon riots that occur in black communities receive.
There's no condemnation of white Americans as a whole, nor are there any calls for the Caucasian community to restrain itself and seek non-violent means of expressing itself. They're not denigrated as "thugs," accused of being "out of control" or used as fodder for unreconstructed fantasies of putting them back in their rightful place. Even the language becomes different - these are "disturbances," not "riots." They're not "thugs," but "young partygoers" and "revelers" who just happen to be "over-exuberant."
No one thumbs through Wikipedia to find the perfect MLK quote to tut-tut black Americans with for having the temerity to burn buildings (in their own neighborhoods, mind you), throw rocks and generally act out of anger and frustration. Even the good Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood perfectly what happens when the concerns of a frustrated people are constantly put on ice.
Now I wanted to say something about the fact that we have lived over these last two or three summers with agony and we have seen our cities going up in flames. And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view.
I'm absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society.
These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.
It's no secret that mainstream America tends to be hard of hearing when it comes to the fears, concerns and strife black Americans have faced in this country, at least when said plight is couched in non-violent terms. It's only when those terms suddenly turn violent that mainstream America starts paying attention, only to learn the wrong lessons from what they've seen and heard and quietly hope that "those people" can leave them alone and go back to suffering in silence.
Yours truly has learned something these past few months watching and reading up on current events, especially those affecting black Americans:
- The value of a black life in the United States remains marginal, at best. At worst, that value is nonexistent.
- At any given moment, said life can be put to an end at the whim of a white American, whether under color of law or as a concerned citizen who "feared" for their safety and well-being.
- The value of a black life in the United States is determined and enshrined by mainstream America's view of the black community, and then verified and validated in its treatment at the hands of law enforcement and other institutions throughout the nation.
- Said law enforcement members have been given card blanche to respond to the black community and other ethnic and social minority groups as aggressively as possible.
- Respectability politics has long since proven to be absolutely ineffective in improving the black community's image in mainstream America's eyes or preventing further life-ending incidents at the hands of law enforcement and concerned citizens.
- When confronted with the above, many mainstream Americans will resort to blaming the black community for these problems based on a strict adherence to the Just World fallacy and their belief of black Americans as a morally bankrupt people. They'll also support law enforcement officials and concerned citizens who've put black lives to rest, at least as far as polite society will allow.
- Overt racism is still taboo and a serious faux pas in polite discussion. However, coded talk remains perfectly acceptable and preferred among many.
The entire black blogosphere has undergone an airing out of grievances and a sharing of thoughts, feelings, experiences and the pain suffered by many within the black community. There have been protests, marches, demonstrations, the works. There have been a few indictments and even a few cases where authorities have quickly acted, if only out of self-interest and self-preservation.
Still, the killings and the beatings continue.
Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Aiyana Stanley-Jones - the list goes on. And it's one that grows longer with each passing day.
Another day, another dead black American, another outrage.
These days, black Americans are being murdered like clockwork by men and women charged with protecting the public. Except protecting and serving the public takes a back seat to a whole host of corrupt behaviors, none least the brutalization and wanton murder of black individuals.
Judging by history, these things are to be expected. Bigotry against the dreaded Other has always been iron-clad policy, even in today's so-called "post-racial" environment. Institutional enforcement of said bigotry has also been de rigueur, especially when fears of being overrun by said Other has always lurked in the back of mainstream America's collective mind since colonial times.
So Freddie Gray's death at the hands of the Baltimore Police Department is, in history's grand scope, nothing out of the ordinary. The only remarkable thing about it is the reaction it elicited from the city's black residents.
And even that response doesn't seem out of the ordinary. Protests and demonstrations have been the default method of expressing outrage by a people who feel otherwise powerless to prevent these atrocities from happening, The attendant rioting and looting is another side of that response, mostly done by those whose sheer anger and fury explode into a whirlwind of fire and shattered glass, interspersed with opportunists in search of a quick profit from chaos.
Mainstream America has always looked at these displays with a bit of bemusement, especially when burned-out businesses and overturned cars come into focus. If anything, these displays are treated as proof positive of law enforcement's raison d'etre - to prevent so-called lawless elements from initiating these displays in the first place.
So it's not out of the ordinary for a white American to see a phalanx of police officers in full riot gear facing down a lone demonstrator and dismissing the entire thing as the taxpaying public getting it's money's worth. In a way, they would be absolutely correct.
It's also not out of the ordinary for the mainstream American media to write off the entire exercise as just another mass exhibition of black America's latent criminality. Acknowledging the unreconstructed public's confirmation bias happens to be a great way of raising viewership, even if it's at the expense of a people who suffer day in and day out.
It's no wonder that mainstream American media outlets are more interested in slow-panning property damage and opportunists with stolen goods in hand. It's those sort of things that make for good ratings and even better outrage porn among unreconstructed minds.
There's no arguing that Freddie Gray in no way deserved what happened to him. No human being deserves to be brutalized to the point of paralysis, coma and eventual death. There's never an excuse for it and there never will be.
Regardless, what happened to Freddie Gray is just one of a long, depressing and seemingly unending line of atrocities committed mainly by law enforcement officials throughout the U.S., with the occasional "concerned citizen" or vigilante delivering a helping hand*. The slave patrols, "heroic" klansmen and angry mobs of "respectable Christian" whites might not be taking part in these modern-day tragedies, but their spirit remains in full effect.
* As seen in the murder of Trayvon Martin
Pictured above is suspected wildlife terrorist and television personality Phil Robertson, seen at a recent event declaring "jihad" on the treacherous Marxist Usurper in Chief, Baraq Hussein Superallah Obama al-Kenya. Moments after this speech, Robertson's prized pickup truck was destroyed along with 7 other trucks and a small ice cream cart in a targeted drone strike.
- Phil, you've got some pretty unhealthy and un-Christian fantasies. Maybe you need to seek help.
- It's no surprise that a company specializing in legalized racketeering would eventually get nailed for...racketeering:
Judicial Correction Services (JCS), the for-profit probation company at the center of the recently settled Georgia "debtors' prison" suit, is now being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for violating federal racketeering laws in Clanton, Alabama.
In the federal lawsuit, SPLC accuses JCS and its Clanton manager Steven Raymond of violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, by threatening jail time for probationers who failed to pay their misdemeanor fines and probationer fees in a timely fashion. This, the group argues, is plain and simple extortion.
The suit also goes after the current contract between Clanton and JCS, alleging that their relationship violates Alabama law, which forbids city courts from charging individuals extra money for being on probation. Since 2009, Clanton has contracted with JCS to manage its pay-only probationers (individuals who are only on probation because they can't pay their court fines upfront); however, the courts pay nothing for the for-profit company's services. Rather, JCS makes money off of the additional fees it forces upon probationers. For example, JCS charges probationers a $10 "set up" fee and then an additional $40 a month for the privilege of having their money collected.
For many municipalities, it's a win-win setup: leading officials keep taxes low and maintain a "tough-on-crime" posture that wins elections, police departments and courts get to fund themselves by shaking down offenders and the ordinary Johns and Janes who have the money and class/race privilege to stay off the radar get to feel a bit safer at night.
Meanwhile, the offenders are marched through a revolving door of poverty, incarceration and wealth extraction, thus keeping them in a state of permanent underclassdom.
- Serena Williams is the first black female athlete to appear on a Vogue solo cover. What took you so long, Vogue?
- You'd figure that by now, people would learn not to be racist on the job:
Officials say four Fort Lauderdale police officers have lost their jobs following an investigation into a racist video and text messages.
CBS Miami reported 30-year-old James Wells, 31-year-old Jason Holding and 25-year-old Christopher Sousa were fired. A fourth officer, 22-year-old Alex Alvarez, resigned.
"The officers were terminated due to a sustained department misconduct," Chief Frank Adderley said during a news conference Friday. "The four officers conduct was inexcusable, and there is zero tolerance for this type of behavior within the Fort Lauderdale Police Department."
According to CBS Miami, the video was allegedly made by Alvarez. Styled as a movie trailer, it included "racially insensitive" images including attacks on minorities, a Ku Klux Klan hood and a caricature of President Barack Obama with large gold teeth.
Some of the text messages mentioned killing and injuring black people, CBS Miami reported. According to an investigative report obtained by the station, "The messages criticized their coworkers' grammar, appearance, work ethic and referred to an entire shift as lazy (expletives).... The officers also exchanged text messages that included derogatory comments towards Hispanics and homosexuals."
For these guys, I have a feeling the moral of the story won't be "being racist shitheads comes with consequences." It'll be "no paper trails and no credible witnesses equals no racism."
- For some reason, Nellie Andreeva thinks too many black faces on TV and film is actually a bad thing.
I gotta admit, I haven't been all that enthused about following the 2016 presidential electoral campaigns. As I've said before, I'm not getting paid to engage in full-time punditry. But it doesn't take a pundit to realize that Ted Cruz's presidential aspirations are a classic case of showboating and attention whoring.
Let's face it - a presidential campaign is perhaps one of the best ways of grabbing some well-needed spotlight time if you want to be somebody on the Beltway scene. Just ask Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and a bunch of others who clawed their way towards the brass ring back in 2012. There's plenty to gain from being "that guy who ran for president back in 2016" just so long as you don't slice your own campaign into the weeds.
As to why Cruz's presidential aspirations will wind up unfulfilled, it's not the citizenship issue that'll trip him up (unless he's revealed to be Stephen Harper's Manchurian Candidate). Like our esteemed current president, Rafael Edward meets all of the important qualifications: he's over 35, he's lived in the U.S. for over 14 years and his dear mum was a U.S. citizen when he was born, in spite of his dad being a commie canuck.
A long while ago, I said Ralphy was a shoe-in for the 2016 presidential candidacy. That doesn't mean he'll be a shoe-in for the actual Oval Office job.
Poor Ralphy might be the darling of the birther/Tea Party set, but the rest of the GOP world just isn't feeling him:
First, Cruz doesn’t have enough support from party bigwigs. To win the Republican or Democratic nomination, you need the backing of at least some of the party apparatus. At a minimum, your fellow party members shouldn’t hate you. Otherwise, you end up getting the Newt Gingrich 2012 treatment. That is, you get pounced on the moment you’re seen as a threat to win the nomination.
If we’re ever in a world where it looks like Cruz could win the nomination, you’ll very likely see such pouncing. You can read article after article about how Cruz has isolated himself in the Senate. It got so bad that he recently had to apologize to his Republican colleagues.
And the Cruz hatred doesn’t stop at the edges of the Senate cloakroom. Influential party actors dislike him, too. I can’t remember another Republican who united Ann Coulter, Pat Robertson, Jennifer Rubin and Thomas Sowell in opposition.
Ralphy's previous showboating has put him at odds with many of the establishment players within the GOP. Being the political equivalent of a firebrand evangelical preacher packs the pews full of far-right conservatives looking for that old time religion, but at the end of the day, the GOP establishment picks moderates who won't scare the mainstreamers with their talk of fire, brimstone and damnation, but have just enough fire to avoid being called a weak RINO by their peers. It's all a balancing act, you see.
Which is why your chances of seeing Ted Cruz being sworn into office on January 20, 2017 are about as remote as Jon Huntsman's.
But pissing off the GOP establishment isn't the only reason why he might walk away from his 2016 campaign empty-handed. The fervent pursuit of ideological purity for appearance's sake tends to create a lot of moral and ethical casualties along the way. To wit, Ralphy's begrudging move towards Obamacare:
The newly announced Republican presidential candidate told CNN's Dana Bash on Tuesday that he will sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act -- a law he has been on a crusade to kill.
"We'll be getting new health insurance and we'll presumably do it through my job with the Senate, and so we'll be on the federal exchange with millions of others on the federal exchange," Cruz said.
Asked whether he would accept the government contribution available to lawmakers and congressional staffers for their health care coverage through the ACA, Cruz said he will "follow the text of the law."
"I strongly oppose the exemption that President Obama illegally put in place for members of Congress because (Senate Minority Leader) Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats didn't want to be under the same rules as the American people," Cruz said, before repeating: "I believe we should follow the text of the law."
That's right, the same man who was captured on video calling Obamacare a "trainwreck" had no other choice but to buy a ticket and climb aboard, hoping that his supporters and the general public would have the common decency to forgive him (or at least forget).
To sum things up, you can expect Rafael Edward Cruz to run in the 2016 primary, but don't expect him to become the preferred choice of the GOP establishment and consequently, their favored front-runner for the election. Personally, my money's on Jeb Bush - established pol, plenty of name recognition and deep down, America loves its dynasties.
Take it from someone who does this punditry stuff for a living:
If Cruz were in the position of someone like Rubio or even Rick Perry, I'd be more bullish. But he's not nominee material at all.
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) March 25, 2015