The folks at Brave New Films have just released a powerful new short clip demonstrating the way in which media frames, quite literally, black protesters as “thugs” while de-racializing and actually minimizing violence and riots done by white folks in the wake of sporting events, etc. This is a must see, and something that you can easily send around to those folks who fail to see racism and racial bias in reporting…
In a country where being black increases your likelihood of being unemployed, poor, rejected for a bank loan, suspected of wrongdoing and profiled as a criminal, being arrested or even shot by police, the mind boggles at the decision of Rachel Dolezal some years ago to begin posing as an African American woman. Yes perhaps blackness helps when you’re looking for a job in an Africana Studies department, selling your own African American portraiture art, or hoping to head up the local NAACP branch—all of which appear to have been the case for Dolezal—but generally speaking, adopting blackness as one’s personal identity and as a substitute for one’s actual whiteness is not exactly the path of least resistance in America.
And so, cognizant of the rarity with which white folks have tried to pass as black over the years—and in all likelihood for the above-mentioned reasons, among others—many have chimed in as to the personal, familial and even psychological issues that may lie at the heart of her deceptions. Not possessing a background in psychology I am loathe to spend too much time there, but having said that, it strikes me that there is an important, largely overlooked, and quite likely explanation for Dolezal’s duplicity, and one the importance of which goes well beyond her and whatever deep-seated emotional baggage may have contributed to her actions. Indeed, it has real implications for white people seeking to work in solidarity with people of color, whether in the BlackLivesMatter movement, Moral Mondays in North Carolina, or any other component of the modern civil rights and antiracism struggle. It is one I hadn’t really thought much about until I read something yesterday, a comment from one of her brothers (one of the actual black ones, adopted by her parents), to the effect that while Dolezal had been a graduate student at Howard, she felt as though she “hadn’t been treated very well,” at least in part because she was never fully accepted—she the white girl from Montana who paints black life onto canvas, and quite well at that—at this venerable and unapologetically black institution.
And what does a nice white girl from Montana do when the black folks don’t welcome her with open arms? Well, while I (in an earlier iteration of this essay) gave her credit for at least not chalking it up to “reverse racism” (as many a white person might), it appears I spoke too soon and was far too ecumenical. Turns out, she did just that: filing suit against Howard for “reverse discrimination,” claiming that her whiteness is what prevented her from obtaining a faculty gig and caused her art not to be as prominently displayed as that of black artists on campus. While the suit was dismissed and she was forced to pay the school’s legal fees, the incident provides some insight into the motives behind her subsequent journey into blackness. At worst, it means her transition to black identity was a sick kind of payback—as in, “I’ll show them. If they won’t treat me right as a white woman, I’ll just become a black woman”—in which case it was all about her. At best, she had a change of heart and decided she wanted to work as an ally but still felt she could never be really accepted as a white woman in the battle, or at the very least didn’t want to take the time and pay the dues needed to earn it. Read the rest of this entry »
So many lies, so little time to bust them all…
#WhiteLiesMatter, Part Five (Public Housing Edition): Debunking Racist Apologetics One Fact at a Time
Another little debunking for your consideration…
…and more. This is an especially important one. I address it at length in my upcoming book as well (“Under the Affluence”), but here’s a taste…
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…