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

obama-quote

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”.]

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.

 

Top 10 Pick-up Lines of the GOP Candidates.

debate drunk So I’ve seen this meme floating around the last couple days and it got me to thinking. What if the Republican candidates were guys at a party trying to get you drunk enough to vote for them? I wonder what their pick up lines would be?

Let’s go at this David Letterman “Top 10 List Style”.

Top 10 Pick-up Lines of the GOP candidates.

#10 – “Did you just fall from heaven? Because you look like an angel donor.” – Dr. Ben Carson

#9 – “Are you from Florida? Because you’re so hot you make my poll numbers rise.”  – Marco Rubio

#8 – “Are you religious? Because I am the answer to all your prayers.” – Mike Huckabee

#7 – “I’m a Republican. I love a good Bush.”  – Rick Perry

#6 – “Are you in the military? Because you even bring me to a full salute.” – Rand Paul

#5 – The Koch brothers bet me a million dollarsI couldn’t strike up a conversation with the most beautiful girl here. Wanna buy some votes with their money?” – Ted Cruz

#4 – “Are you from a swing state? Because I’d love for you to swing my way.” – Jeb Bush

#3 – “Are you from a polling organization? Because I’d love to show you my hard numbers.” – Scott Walker

#2 – “I may not be Bruce Springsteen, but I can still Rock your Vote! – Chris Christie

And the number one pickup line by Republican Presidential candidates trying to get you drunk enough to vote for them…

#1 -“Drunk women are disgusting. By the way, I am going to win the drunk woman vote.” – Donald Trump

This message not approved by the Republican National Committee or any of the candidates for the Republican nomination. 

Popularity Contest: Gays vs. Evangelicals

Jesus-delivering-Pizza-46018742574Every once in a while as I’m flipping through my radio dial I stumble upon the Dennis Prager show. Today was one of those days. It was the “Happiness Hour”. Today Dennis theorized that, “You control how people see you.” If that’s true. I would like to know how evangelical Christians explain the latest poll that shows that gay people are seen in a more favorable light that evangelicals. An 11 point more favorable light to be exact.

Dennis of course was using this statement to say that you will be happier if others aren’t focused on what is different about you but rather on who you are. Just be yourself and don’t identify primarily as your minority group, disability, or some specific fact about yourself; i.e. a person who lost a child, widower etc.  What I don’t understand about that is if I am being myself how can I not identify as a woman? I am a woman. How can I not identify as someone who is short, or in their 40s, or a mom, or from Ohio? How is a black person not supposed to identify as black? And why would they want to? I just don’t get it.  Even if I don’t lead with these items, they are an inexorable part of who I am. The sum total of them is my identity.

But enough of that. Let’s get back to who is more popular gays or evangelicals? According to US News and World Report and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research:

In it, 53 percent of respondents held a favorable view of gay people, while 42 percent held a favorable view of evangelical Christians. Meanwhile, 18 percent of the likely voters surveyed held an unfavorable view of gay people, while 28 percent held a negative view of evangelical Christians. Interestingly, the popularity of evangelical Christians mirrors the favorables and unfavorables of gay people in 2011, when 40 percent of those polled felt positively about gays and lesbians and 25 percent held a negative view. There was no comparison polling released on how the electorate felt about evangelicals three years before.

The poll goes on to reveal that:

…on average, about one-third of identified Republicans, Republican primary voters, conservatives and Mitt Romney voters, favor gay marriage. Younger members of the Republican base are driving that trend. When evangelicals, for instance, were asked if they favored or opposed gay marriage, only 19 percent of those older than 50 favored same-sex unions, but 45 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old set did.

In my humble opinion, if Evangelicals really do control how others experience them, if they really can choose what others focus on about them, they might want to get busy with loving their neighbors as themselves and stop worrying so much about whether they have to bake a gay wedding cake or even a gay wedding pizza.

Women’s Equality Day: Texas Voting Edition

Tswift feministThat’s right T-Swift, being a feminist isn’t about hating men at all. Being a feminist is about days like today where we stand up and say that the voice of a woman and the vote of a woman are equal. Today is a very important day. Today is Women’s Equality Day in the United States which commemorates the day that the 19th Amendment was certified as law, giving women the vote. Shockingly (or not so shockingly) women (and their male allies) fought for the right to vote in the US for 70+ years before it became a reality in 1920. 70+ years.

In light of this fight, and the ongoing fight to secure the full equality of women in the United States and around the world I call on the women of Texas and the men who support our right to full equality to vote in the upcoming election this November. Yesterday someone sent me an article about the 2014 Best And Worst States for Women’s Equality conducted by the personal finance website Wallethub. Any guesses where Texas ranks on the list? 47th. The researchers looked at the following factors in determining ranking:

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  • Workplace Environment

    • Pay (Median Weekly Earnings)
    • Number of Executives
    • Average Work Hours (for Full-Time Workers)
    • Number of Minimum-Wage Workers
    • Unemployment Rate

    Education and Health

    • Number of Residents Aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
    • Life Expectancy at Age 65

    Political Empowerment

    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. Senate
    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives
    • Number of Lawmakers in State Legislature

47th? Really people of Texas, we can do better. After reading the study and the articles about it I was left to wonder, “Why in the world would any woman would vote for Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the upcoming election?” Why would we as citizens of the great state of Texas settle for anything less than the equal treatment of all our citizens; Not just male and female but gay or straight or black or white or latino or asian or christian or muslim or jew or rich or poor or any other distinction you want to make?

For me, a vote for Abbott and Patrick is a vote for the status quo in Texas. And not only the status quo but a move even further into Ted Cruz Tea Party territory. When I looked on the Wendy Davis Campaign’s web site to learn her stance on women’s issues this is what I found:

Working for Women

  • Fighting Against Closure of Women’s Health Centers

Wendy Davis stood for nearly 13 hours to fight against Austin insiders trying to close 60 health centers across Texas that once provided hundreds of thousands of women with care they can’t get elsewhere.

  • Empowering Rape Survivors, Cracking Down on Rapists

Wendy Davis authored the second law in U.S. history to focus on eradicating the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits to ensure sexual predators are brought to justice.

  • Ending Sexual Violence

Wendy Davis has also passed laws to make certain that survivors of sexual assault can be treated and have their evidence collected at almost any hospital with an ER and be kept up to date on the status of their case.

  • Fighting for Equal Pay

Wendy Davis passed a bipartisan equal pay for equal work bill in 2013, which would have conformed Texas law with federal law and allowed victims of wage discrimination to pursue their case in state court. Governor Perry vetoed the bill. Texas is one of only four states that does not have equal pay for equal work protections.

In Texas, the median pay for a woman working full time, year-round is $33,689 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $42,044. When broken down, full-time, year-round Texas women are paid about 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $7,859 between men and women.

When I went to Greg Abbott’s website, I could find nothing on any of these issues. NOTHING.

In Texas the Lieutenant Governor is in some ways a more powerful position than Governor. This is because in the Lt. Governor is not only part of the executive branch but also part of the legislative branch as he or she:

…controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board.

Under the provisions of the Texas Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is President of the Texas Senate. By the rules of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor establishes all special and standing committees, appoints all chairpersons and members, and assigns all Senate legislation to the committee of his choice. The Lieutenant Governor decides all questions of parliamentary procedure in the Senate. He or she also has broad discretion in following Senate procedural rules.

The Lieutenant Governor is an ex officio member of several statutory bodies. These include the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Committee, the Legislative Board and Legislative Council, which have considerable sway over state programs, the budget and policy. The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of the Legislative Redistricting Board (together with the Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Land Commissioner), which is charged with adopting a redistricting plan for the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives after the decennial census if the Legislature fails to do so.

This November you have a choice between Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor. If you go to Dan Patrick’s site, again you will find NOTHING on these issues. The statement on the Van de Putte site says:

WOMEN: TRUSTING WOMEN

As a proud Latina, Leticia believes Texans trust women to make their own health care choices. She knows respecting women means passing equal pay for equal work and that trusting women means letting them make their own family decisions.

As Lieutenant Governor, Leticia will listen to women and make sure that women’s voices are heard.

Listen up Texas, we actually have a real choice to make about the direction our state will take this November. Please, on this day set aside to celebrate the day women were given a say in their own governance, let us pledge to educate ourselves on the issues, register and vote. Too many women and men sacrificed for too long to give us this privilege for us to squander it on the altar of apathy or inconvenience.

Side note: There are so many more issues on the line in this year’s gubernatorial election. I hope you will take the time to read about what the candidates and the party platforms actually say about the issues and then vote your conscience. 

More Resources:

Pathways to Equality 

Texas League of Women Voters

North Texas Tea Party Voter Guide

Vote Texas

Texas GOP Platform

Texas Democrat Platform

How Many? Updated

Yesterday I posted a shocking statistic as my Facebook status. Since the Sandy Hook shooting there have been 74 87 school shootings. 74 87. Seventy-four.  Eighty-seven. That averages out to about one a week. And those are just the school shootings. We are currently on target for gun deaths to overtake automobile accidents as the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-24 in 2015. WTF people? Seriously? How are we not outraged as a society? Why do we continue to elect people who show no signs of doing anything about it As President Obama said yesterday, “We’re the only developed country on earth where this happens. And it happens now once a week. And it—it’s a one-day story. There’s no place else like this,” and, “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on earth that would put up with this.”

SO WHY DO WE?

As I raised this question yesterday, people asked what I propose we do about all the mass shootings. Here is my list:

We are the only country in the developed world where this is tolerated or accepted. In fact the U.S. leads the developed world in gun ownership, 88 guns for every 100 people (yes you read that right) as well as 10 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. Just to compare, Switzerland was second to us with 45.7 guns per 100 people and 3.84 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. Japan was lowest with .6 guns per 100 people and .06 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. To be quite blunt, we can do better.

My question is when will we demand our legislators do something? How many people are too many? How many kids? As Bob Dylan said, “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

For those who think that perhaps the answer is the blurring of the lines between church and state as some of my friends have suggested. I humbly submit a post I wrote a while back called, The Bible Trumps the Law of The United States? I originally wrote this piece as it related to marriage equality, however I think it applies here as well.

Related articles:

Behind the Bloodshed

Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings

A Guide to Mass Shootings in America

Editorial: Australia’s sensible gun control rules were worth the fight

When We Worship The God of Fear (the idolatry of gun culture)