Some more corrections to common right-wing “wisdom…”
Well that didn’t take long.
Shortly after I began posting #WhiteLiesMatter entries on Twitter, naturally the white nationalist trolls at American Renaissance decided to chime in, claiming that I had misrepresented one of the data points, and creating their own hashtag #WiseLiesMatter.
Very pithy. Too bad their “correction” was total bullshit.
They insisted that I was misrepresenting the data on black homicide rates. I had noted that since 1950, black male homicide was down by 37%, and had later gone in and tweeted below that (and then corrected it on Facebook), that actually for men the number was a one-third reduction, and 37% for blacks overall. Not only did AmRen miss that correction tweet, they said I was fudging by saying black homicide rates were down, because those numbers only refer to the homicide death rate for blacks, per capita (i.e., their rate of victimization), rather than their rate of offending. In other words, the white nationalists are implying that blacks are murdering more people now than ever, per capita, even if they themselves are less likely to die from murder than before. And of course, the implication they want people to draw is what? That they’re killing whitey! Run for the hills!
But actually, black homicide offending is also way down. From 1976-2005, which is the latest data I was able to find on this, the black homicide offending rate fell 43 percent. So that’s even bigger than the victimization decline. Even though that data ends ten years ago, homicide rates for all races have continued to fall since that time, so the rate today would be even lower, and thus, the decline in black homicide offending would be even bigger than the 43 percent figure.
Oh, and here’s another entry…
The first installments in #WhiteLiesMatter, a hashtag series I intend to post regularly. The series will debunk, with links embedded, various right-wing racist claims about people of color.
Though perhaps overused, there are few statements that so thoroughly burrow to the heart of the nation’s racial condition as the following, written fifty-three years ago by James Baldwin:
…this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it…but it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime
Indeed, and in the wake of the Baltimore uprising that began last week after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, they are words worth remembering.
It is bad enough that much of white America sees fit to lecture black people about the proper response to police brutality, economic devastation and perpetual marginality, having ourselves rarely been the targets of any of these. It is bad enough that we deign to instruct black people whose lives we have not lived, whose terrors we have not faced, and whose gauntlets we have not run, about violence; this, even as we enjoy the national bounty over which we currently claim possession solely as a result of violence. I beg to remind you, George Washington was not a practitioner of passive resistance. Neither the early colonists nor the nation’s founders fit within the Gandhian tradition. There were no sit-ins at King George’s palace, no horseback freedom rides to affect change. There were just guns, lots and lots of guns.
We are here because of blood, and mostly that of others; here because of our insatiable and rapacious desire to take by force the land and labor of those others. We are the last people on Earth with a right to ruminate upon the superior morality of peaceful protest. We have never believed in it and rarely practiced it. Rather, we have always taken what we desire, and when denied it we have turned to means utterly genocidal to make it so.
Which is why it always strikes me as precious the way so many white Americans insist (as if preening for a morality contest of some sorts) that “we don’t burn down our own neighborhoods when we get angry.” This, in supposed contrast to black and brown folks who engage in such presumptively self-destructive irrationality as this. On the one hand, it simply isn’t true. We do burn our own communities, we do riot, and for far less valid reasons than any for which persons of color have ever hoisted a brick, a rock, or a bottle. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s the source for this, in case anyone doubts the veracity of my claim…
Just received a fascinating e-mail.
Literal word-for-word, as follows:
“I’m very proud of being a white male, and I don’t care what you say! White people are the BEST!”
I have long wondered, amid such declarations of presumed superiority, exactly whom are these folks trying to convince? Surely they cannot expect that such a missive is going to awaken me to the “best-ness” of the Aryan tribe. I mean, I’m not likely to see such an e-mail and then think to myself, “Oh, holy shit, YES, I totally FORGOT that we were the best!” So if they’re not trying to convince me, why the need to repeat the mantra of superiority? For whom does it serve a necessary psychological purpose? Hmmm?
See, it strikes me that people who actually have done anything of substance with their lives, anything for which they were truly proud or felt a sense of accomplishment would likely do two things:
1) They would not need to ascribe that accomplishment to their racial identity (for which, after all they are due no credit, and which if anything diminishes their individual effort, sacrificing it on the altar of inevitability); and
2) They would just allow their “superior” actions to speak for themselves, without the need of cheerleaders at all (even if those cheerleaders be only themselves).
In other words, if you go around telling people how awesome you are, or how awesome others of your “racial group” are, it’s likely because you doubt it quite strongly. You are attempting in such a case to serve as your own pain reliever, blocking the self-doubt receptors in your brain, which continually are sending your body signals that you are quite a bit less impressive than you insist.
It is sad. Sad that our society pits us against each other in such a way as to make such self-delusion as this “necessary” in the minds of some; that it makes it “necessary” for one to feel superior to another. In a society based on equity and compassion such a need would not exist, and the person who wrote this e-mail could have done something better with the thirty seconds he spent composing it.
Tim Wise at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, April 20, 2015: Challenging Racism and White Supremacy in 21st Century America
A note: in my criticism herein of Teach For America (TFA) I misspoke and claimed they only provide five months of training…fact is, it’s worse than that — it’s five WEEKS, which is clearly insufficient to prepare teachers to truly educate kids from profoundly different backgrounds than the ones from which the teachers come…in other words, my criticism of TFA is far harsher than that indicated here…
How Racism Explains America’s Class Divide and Culture of Economic Cruelty (An Excerpt from Under the Affluence)
The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Jeopardizing the Future of America (San Francisco: City Lights, 2015).
That the United States has long had a less complete system of social safety nets than most other industrialized nations is by now well established. Despite a brief period of substantial government intervention on behalf of the poor and unemployed from the 1930s through the 1960s, for the past forty-five years there has been a steady retrenchment in these efforts, fueled by a persistent and increasingly hostile rhetoric aimed at such programs and those whom they serve.
While the fact of less adequate safety nets is evident, a clear understanding of why the U.S. has been so much stingier than others in our provision for those in need is less clearly appreciated. Among the most prominent explanations, especially offered up by liberals and those of the political left, is the historical weakness of the labor movement and the lack of a labor-based party in the U.S. Stronger labor movements in Europe have been able to wrest concessions from the owners of capital and political elites that have been harder to come by here: more complete unemployment compensation, and better health care and educational guarantees most prominently. It’s an argument with significant historical resonance, but it still begs the question: why? Why has it been so much harder for labor unions to gain strength in the United States? Why has there been no effective labor party to develop in America, even as they have been quite common elsewhere? Why have working class consciousness and the political movements that typically flow from that consciousness been generally weaker here than in other nations?
Although there are likely several answers to these questions, there can be no doubt that among the biggest is the role of racism in dividing working class folks along lines of racial and ethnic identity. The development of the class structure in the United States has been, from the beginning, interwoven with the development of white supremacy. Indeed, a fair reading of those dual histories suggests that white supremacy and the elevation of whites as whites above persons of color, even when both shared similar class positions, has been critical in the shoring up of class division. Race, in other words, has been a weapon with which elites have divided working people from one another and prevented white working folks from developing a strong identification with their counterparts of color. Unless we address racial inequity and racism—and especially as lynchpins to the maintenance of economic inequity and class division—it will be impossible to solve these latter issues. Sadly, most Americans appear not to comprehend this truism. So, for instance, in a recent survey, while eighty percent claimed the government should focus “a lot” or “great deal” of effort on addressing economic inequality, only twenty-six percent said the same about the issue of racism and racial inequity, suggesting that the connections between the two are not well understood.
You really can’t have it both ways.
You cannot praise the Justice Department for, in effect, exonerating officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown—and argue how that report proves that the black community’s outrage over police racism was manufactured—and yet ignore the Department’s companion report (or even worse, criticize it as the work of “black radicals and Marxists”), which found a pattern of racist abuse on the part of the Ferguson P.D. over many years.
You cannot presume that the Department was thorough in its investigation of Wilson but sloppy in its larger undertaking—at least not if intellectual honesty is a commodity for which you have any regard. If they did their job well in the first instance, it is likely the case that they did their job well in both.
Yet, for much of white America (and especially its more conservative set), we are to believe the one and not the other; we should use the one as a weapon with which to beat the #BlackLivesMatter movement over the head—”see, he didn’t have his hands up, that was all a lie!”—while ignoring the daily abuses of power meted out against black Ferguson residents, who were being regularly stopped, ticketed, fined, arrested and even attacked by police dogs for minor infractions. That black folks were paying, in effect, a racial tax means nothing apparently, even to the kinds of people who normally rail against taxes. That they were subjected to blatantly unconstitutional treatment means nothing, even to those who claim to love the constitution above all (at least when their Second Amendment rights are concerned). All that matters to some is that their presumptions about Michael Brown’s actions (which, and let’s just be honest about it, were fixed well in advance of any evidence) turned out to be sufficiently confirmed by the Justice Department.
And yes, I know the retort: By the same logic, so too must we who backed the original “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” narrative accept both reports, and as such, accept that our presumptions about what happened that August day were also concretized ahead of the facts, and in the end, largely unsustainable.
Tim Wise – Combating Racism: From Ferguson to the Voting Booth to the Border (Speech at Eastern Washington University – 2/24/15)
Tim Wise presentation, Feb 24, 2015 at Eastern Washington University.