Racism Didn’t Exist Before Obama: Exercises in Blaming the Victim

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I have heard more than one person say recently that racism didn’t exist before Obama. Yes, you read that right.

At the risk of speaking in a space where there are PoC whose voices should be heard, I will listen to Awesomely Luvvie and do my part to bring equality, reconciliation, education, and justice where I can.

The way I see it is this …

This country was built in large part on the backs of slave labor.

When slaves spoke up/rose up slave owners said, things like this: “Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually. –John C. Calhoun” They denied there was a problem. They blamed the slaves for causing the problem. 

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Eventually, the abolitionists and slaves were able to win but only after 620,000 people were killed in the Civil War.

When the practice of slavery was finally abolished and slaves were given their freedom and subsequently black men were given the vote in 1872, white folks congratulated themselves on how far they had come and the sacrifices they had made. And when black folks complained about the laws and practices put in place to make it virtually impossible for them to exercise that vote — THEY were blamed for being the ones causing problems.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

After the Reconstruction, we entered the Jim Crow era. Black citizens had more freedom, more access to education and services, and more rights than ever before. But guess what? Still FAR from equal. Separate and NOT EVEN CLOSE to equal. And guess what? When people like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the young men from the Woolworth counter, and countless others had the nerve to say “It isn’t enough, we are still not equal”, THEY BLAMED THEM for being the troublemakers.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Eventually, schools were integrated, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, Affirmative Action was put in place to help correct injustices in hiring and college admission, etc. But guess what? There are still racial inequalities and racial injustice. Is it better than it was? Of course. Are we done? Not even close. And when the oppressed stand up (or sit down, or take a knee) who gets blamed for the racism? THEM.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Enter Barak Obama, our nation’s first black President. This advance of culture and equality as the many before it causes the latent racism present in our society to bubble to the surface. Because where there is racism, there is fear. Fear of the other and fear of losing privilege. As Reza Aslan said so eloquently when I heard him speak a few weeks ago, if all you know about black people is what you hear on Fox News, of course you’re scared. He also said “fear is impervious to data”, which explains why some people are so deep in their fear that they cannot see the forest for the trees. But go ahead, bring up biased policing or the school to prison pipeline, or the inequities in arrests and sentencing of minorities, or any other racial injustice and watch how quickly you are branded “troublemaker”, “part of the problem”, or “race baiter”. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

Racism didn’t exist before Obama.

Racism didn’t exist before YOU.

Lies. That is all lies. Racism has always existed and likely always will – at least in some dark corners. But what I see here is a pattern of HOPE if we don’t give up. IF we keep speaking, and sitting, and standing, and kneeling, and singing, and legislating, and educating, and marching, and LOVING — if we keep doing these things the world will continue to change for the better. More freedom will come. More equality will come. More love and acceptance and reconciliation will come. That is the legacy of all those who have gone before us. That is what we owe them. That is what we owe our children. That is THE Dream.

Racism existed BEFORE you but it doesn’t have to exist IN you.

 

 

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What are the Odds?

if-they-are-free

This was the comment I posted with an article from AwesomelyLuvvie on Facebook.  This morning in the stark light of day we find ourselves with not one, but two more dead black men who should still be alive. Rather than write my own post about it, I would like you to read Luvvie’s post.

White people. Yes, you. Even you nice ones. These things that are happening? These horrifying things that are happening to my people? They are because people who look like you, have set up a system of supremacy that flourishes. It is one that says people who look like me are violent, threats. It doesn’t matter if they’re holding books, wallets, bags of skittles. It is one that allows people to be killed by cops while sitting in their cars. It allows people to be killed while they lay on the ground with their hands showing. It allows people to be killed while walking away.

Is she mad? Does she use some strong language? You bet she does and she is. SOmetimes strong language is needed.

If you want to know what you can do, start here:
http://www.joincampaignzero.org/solutions/

If you want something else to read, start here:

White America, It’s Time to Take a Knee


Now for some talk about refugees and the odds you will be killed by one.

 

If you like Donald Trump Jr. are afraid of refugees and terrorists I would like you to consider this…

These are the odds these things will happen to you in your lifetime:

Killed by a terrorist:     1 in 20,000,000

Being shot to death:    1 in 300

Being raped:                   1 in 5 for women, 1 in 71 for men

It is funny how Republicans and specifically Trump want us to be much more scared of the terrorists (and our Muslim neighbors) than we are of the Brock Turners of this country (and the Judges who slap them on the wrist) and the NRA which are both MUCH more dangerous.


Finally to tie these two issues together and drive home the point…

In The United States of America, you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.

I am not saying this because I believe all police officers to be worse than terrorists (on the contrary, I believe most officers to be people who really just want to protect, serve, and go home to their families). I am simply saying it is much more logical for one to be scared of being shot by a police officer, a toddler, or a licensed gun owner than by a terrorist.


[A parting gift: Last week I went to a lecture by Reza Aslan where he talked about bigotry. He made an excellent point that bigotry is not actually rooted in ignorance (we all know some really intelligent bigots) but rather rooted in FEAR. Fear of the other. Fear of progress. Fear of losing privilege. Fear of _______. Then he dropped this truth bomb, “Fear is impervious to data”. All our talking and posting is good, but what really changes things is the hard work of relationship. Opening oneself up to loving people different from ourselves. To see that we are all connected. That what affects our neighbor whether black, brown, white, Asian, hispanic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, gay, straight, trans, bi or any other distiction effects us ALL. We are all in this together. We should be about the business of “walking each other home”.]

It has all just been too much.

I have not posted for awhile. Here is why.

It has all just been too much.

Brock Turner

The Pulse Nightclub Mass Shooting

Alton Sterling

Philando Castile

The 5 Police Officers gunned down in Dallas

The Killing of a US Citizen by Robot Bomb

The Nice, France Bastille Day Massacre

The hatred in my newsfeed – for blacks, for cops, for Muslims

The craziness of the Presidential Election. Seriously, we are going from President Obama to Trump Inc. or Hillary?!? What the hell?

Y’all…the developing Republican Platform.

This is by no means a comprehensive list.

It is exhausting. And heartbreaking. And even though there is no time in history when it was better to be alive – There is still…

SO. MUCH. PAIN.

There is too much hate and not enough love.

There is too much division and not enough community.

There is too much suspicion and not enough trust.

There is too much blame and not enough understanding.

Here is where I stand. 

Black Lives Matter.

I support law abiding Police Officers and thank them for their service.

Rape is wrong.

Killing unarmed people is wrong.

I am pro common sense gun control laws.

As a white ally, I must stand up and confront racism whenever and wherever I encounter it. I also must examine my own motives and assumptions every day.

As a white feminist, I must listen to my sisters of color and their experience and recognize that even as women, we are frequently not treated equally.

Truly loving our neighbors (all our neighbors – including people of color AND good cops), which means sacrificing for their wellbeing, standing up for them when they are being mistreated, and providing and protecting their children is the only remedy.

We must look for the image of God in one another. For we are all Imago Dei and none of us is better or more human than another.

I will leave you with this prayer.

IMG_2517

 

 

Since when does duct tape and bondage bring peace to anyone?

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I was thinking all day about writing a response to this photo, but then my amazing husband wrote this on Facebook:

When?

When did we decide it was ok to joke about our wives and daughters being gagged and bound?

When did we decide peace on Earth would come from silencing half of the world’s population?

When did we decide that Christmas (or for that matter anytime) was a good time to mock those we love?

When did we decide that “lighten up” or “it’s just a joke” were appropriate responses to those who were shocked by such a message of violence and forced submission?

When?

Is it possible that it was all decided long ago?

Is it possible that these types of acts are manifestations of what has been simmering just below the surface all along?

Is it possible that our world still believes that it is all Eve’s fault?

All of it?

All the pain?

All the sorrow?

All the fighting?

All the disention?

All the frustration?

Is it possible that the world has passed this on to us?

And we believe it?

Is it possible?

Do we all really believe that?

And if we don’t, why do we keep hearing and seeing – and tolerating – messages that bound and gag our wives and daughters?

Three days in Post-Racial America.

 

Robinson

Jamine Robinson points to the name of his brother, Jamar Clark, on an upside-down flag bearing names of people killed at the hands of police outside the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Minneapolis. Black Lives Matter demonstrators have set up an encampment at the precinct which is near the site of the Sunday shooting of Jamar Clark by a Minneapolis police officer. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The last three days have been more than a little crazy in post-racial America lovelies. Honestly, it is all a little overwhelming.

Let’s start here.

Mercutio Southall Jr., a black man, was assaulted at a Donald Trump rally.

“It was just a sea of white faces,” he told ThinkProgress. “A lady kicked me in the stomach. A man kicked me in the chest. They called me n*****, monkey, and they shouted ‘all lives matter’ while they were kicking and punching me. So for all the people who are still confused at this point, they proved what ‘all lives matter’ meant. It means, ‘Shut up, n*****.’”

On Sunday, the morning after the rally, Trump told the hosts of Fox & Friends that Southall deserved what he got.

“Maybe he should have been roughed up,” he said. “It was disgusting what he was doing…This was a very obnoxious guy, a troublemaker, looking to make trouble.”

[I know some of you will disagree with his assessment of what “all lives matter” means. What you need to realize is that many, many people have co-opted that phrase and are using it to justify their hatred, racism, and xenophobia. Additionally, it is always good to be aware of people hear versus what you say. For more on this read here, here, and here.]

Trump also posted bogus statistics on black crime which came from a neo-nazi hate group. Which he defended on The Bill O’Reilly Show last night.

In spite of all of this, Trump continues to rise in the polls.

Moving on.

Yesterday I was alerted to a disturbing movement in response to the recent protests against systemic racism on college campuses across the country. A white supremacist group put out the call to start bogus “White Student Union” facebook pages associated with as many colleges as possible. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

A post on the blogging website Medium, by the user Bears for Equality, traces the phenomenon back to a post on the white-supremacist blog the Daily Stormer. That post, dated on Saturday, latched onto the appearance of a “white student union” page affiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and called on readers to duplicate it. “Make more of these White Student Union pages on Facebook for various universities,” the post reads. “You don’t have to go there.”

One of my faithful subscribers alerted her alma mater, Penn State that they had been targeted by the racists hoping to stir up more problems and hatred on their campus. Penn State like most universities are fighting to have the sites removed, and as of this morning, these efforts seem to be successful. Here is the statement they released on twitter:

pennstate

Here is a link where you can find the list of Universities that have been targeted so far so you can check to make sure your alma mater has successfully removed and denounced these bogus pages. 

Moving on.

This morning I woke up to a report from the Associated Press that five #blacklivesmatter protesters in Minneapolis had been shot and wounded by a small group of white supremicists who showed up at last night’s protest.

Add all of this to the disproportionate number of black people arrested, incarcerated and killed by police officers and it is clear we have some serious work to do.

Excuse me, Post-racial America, you seem to have some blood on your hands.

Trump and the other GOP candidates will likely have no good response for these recent events. In fact, Trump specifically has already proven he has the worst possible answer. To quote Chauncy Devega in his article in Salon:

The 2016 presidential primary season has seen Republican candidates endorse internment camps for Syrian refugees, an enemies list for Muslims, making Christianity the official state religion of the United States, establishing a Gestapo-like force to eject “illegal immigrants” from the United States, and other actions that are unworthy of what is supposed to be the world’s greatest democracy.

Those men and women who seek the office of the president of the United States should be responsible, reflective, and intelligent individuals. While they are members of a political party, these individuals should also be ambassadors of the Common Good who first and foremost want to advance and protect the General Welfare of the United States and its citizens. To this point in the campaign, the Republican 2016 primary presidential candidates, as a group, have not shown that they are capable of honoring that obligation.

The presidential primary season is not over. There is still time for the Republican Party to rise to the occasion.

To that end, will the 2016 Republican primary presidential candidates denounce Donald Trump’s rhetoric and the violence of his supporters or condemn last evening’s shootings of the Black Lives Matter protesters by white supremacists?

Will this crop of potential GOP presidential nominees demand that their peers, as well as the right-wing Fox News propaganda machine, tone down their collective racist, nativist, xenophobic and violence-inducing rhetoric?

The answer is likely to be “no.” Instead, the Republican 2016 presidential candidates will ignore the violence and bigotry they have encouraged or instead play the “victim” of the “liberal media.” The Right-wing Fox News echo chamber will also likely spin fictions of “liberal infiltrators” or “agent provocateurs” that are actually committing violence at Donald Trump rallies or shooting Black Lives Matter activists in Minneapolis.

As they have repeatedly done in recent American history, movement conservatives and their media will continue to strike a match in a room full of gasoline vapor and act surprised when it explodes.

 

Whatever you do to my daughter I will do to you. Really?

whateveryoudotomydaughter

If you’re like me you’ve probably seen this picture at least 20 times in your news feed by now. If not, well, count yourself lucky. It has been picked up by news outlets, shared on social media and perhaps most disturbingly touted as an example of good parenting by virtually all of them, including Seventeen Magazine.

You pretty much already know the story just from looking at the picture, it’s the tired trope of the overprotective dad. It is literally a joke (with a healthy side of “I’m not really joking”). You can find example after example with minimal effort.  I have even written about other examples in the past.

I know what some of you are thinking, and it is exactly what many of the articles written about this meme so far – “It’s really a great way of saying, “Haha, I’m cool and totally have a sense of humor. But, also, I’m watching you, buddy.””

But is it really a great way? Is it?

I don’t think it is.

I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. First and foremost it treats the daughter as a passive participant. “Whatever you do to my daughter.” Unless it is rape, it takes two to tango sir. Your daughter is a free moral agent, what she chooses to do or not to do with a boy is not only because it is what the boy has decided. To bypass your daughter and go straight to the boy and lay all the responsibility on his shoulders teaches your daughter all the wrong lessons. For one it teaches her she is a passive victim and at the whim of a boy, his hormones or any other peer pressure situation. In addition, it tells her that she is powerless in the relationship with this boy and that you feel he is the one in the relationship with all the power. If I am not mistaken, isn’t that the opposite of the message you are trying to send, sir?

The second thing I think is just plain weird/creepy about this is, “Whatever you do to my daughter, I will do to you”. Really? WHATEVER? What if they kiss? What if they get to second base? Or third? What if they have sex? What if they have oral sex? Sorry to be so graphic, but do you see how weird/creepy this is????? Seriously, ewwwwww. Why would anyone see this as an appropriate thing (much less a model of good parenting) for a parent  to say to the young man (or young woman) about to go to Homecoming with your daughter?

Defending the Frat Boys of Old Dominion: Boys Will Be Boys, Silencing, and Donald Trump

Okay. I admit it. I have rape culture fatigue. I saw this story this week and I thought, “Ugh. Disgusting piggery.” But that was about it. I thought about reposting the story, but then I was just so tired of having to talk about it. So I didn’t. After all, I just posted this story last week…”Florida frat suspended after member caught on video saying ‘let’s rape some b*tches’“. I mean, surely people agree that these types of things are wrong, misogynistic and definitively stupid. Right? Right?!? [Please tell me I’m right.]

But then, this morning happened. I had just dropped my kids off at school and I flipped the radio over to hear the morning news as is my custom. Just as they were going to the news they teased that they would be taking calls about the Old Dominion story after the news break. I decided to stay tuned in and hear what people thought. Part of me is very, very sorry I did. By the time I got home (a 15 min drive) I had heard such analysis as:

  • Boys will be boys.
  • Clearly this was just meant to be funny. People need to lighten up.
  • If this was the 50s or 60s no one would have batted an eye.
  • Political correctness is ruining America
  • If we have to be subjected to Pride parades, I don’t see why this is a big deal.
  • I would give the kids a pass, this was just a joke. Who among us didn’t do something stupid in college?
  • If we have raised our girls well, we won’t need to worry. They will steer clear of frat houses like these.

These sentiments were expressed by both men and women. There were 2 callers I heard who disagreed and thought that this was unacceptable, caused a hostile environment and was cause for disciplinary action. One was a man and one was a woman. Additionally, although the host said in the days of Animal House this would have been seen as just kids having fun, he also noted that is not the current climate and kids should know by now that this kind of behavior will be punished.

There are many points I could make about the above statements, but I will limit myself to just a couple. The first point I would like to make has to do with political correctness and calls for the people who are calling this what it is to “lighten up”. In my experience being told to “lighten up” is a form of silencing. Silencing refers to techniques used to stop discourse when people complain about sexism or other issues. Silencing techniques include harassment, intimidation, shaming and humiliation intended to discourage people from speaking out or punishing them for having spoken out.

Secondly, “If we have raised our girls well, we won’t need to worry. They will steer clear of frat houses like these.” Really? So, if we raise our girls properly they don’t need to worry about rape? Or boys who try to take advantage of them? You mean like the girl’s at St. Paul’s Prep? Here’s a better question, why is it the girls who need to be raised properly to avoid predatory boys? Why are we not more concerned about properly raising boys who are not predators? Oh, I forgot, “boys will be boys”. SIGH.

I’m sorry. Boys will be boys is a lie from the pit of hell. The men I know are so much more than that sad, narrow definition of what it means to be male. If I was a man, I would be offended that people think I am no more than the sum total of my hormones and sexual urges. Men and boys can and should be able to control themselves and we do them a grave disservice when we disrespect them by excusing this type of behavior and chalking it up to the fact that they are incapable of anything else.

The type of behavior the callers want us to chalk up to a foolish youthful prank is the very type of thing that left unchecked leads to the story I linked to out of Florida, behaviors like those at St. Paul’s Prep and to the unfortunate statistics found in The Department of Justice report from December of 2014 titled Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013.

You know what else this type of thinking leads to? A man like Donald Trump being the GOP frontrunner.