Tuesday, October 21, 2014

White Privilege 101: Watch As a White Man Makes a Citizen's Arrest of a Cop...and Doesn't Get Shot

What are some other activities that we can add to the "yes, for white folks" and "hell no for black and brown folks!" list?

I have some longer essays for later in the week. They are the more heavy and substantive "meat" relative to the yummy appetizers and tapas that we have been digesting on white privilege and pumpkin-related matters over the last few days.

Ferguson will likely burn, because the fix is clearly in, as the corrupt police department and prosecutor have had months to concoct their lies about the killing of Michael Brown by the cowardly thug cop Darren Wilson. Before we are forced to grapple with Ferguson Erupts 2.0, I wanted to share the following laughable--in a dark and comedic way--example of white privilege as lived practice and social habit in the United States of America.

Former Washington state congressional candidate, Gavin Seim, a white Republican and "liberty speaker" (I think this means that he publicly masturbates with the U.S. Constitution before groups of aged neo-fascists and Glenn Beck fans...to the degree they can be separated from one another) recorded himself confronting, and subsequently making a "citizen's arrest" of a police officer who was sitting in an unmarked car.

White privilege is many things. First and foremost, in the era of Stand Your Ground laws and the militarization of police, white privilege is the reasonable expectation that you can confront the cops and not be shot dead on the spot for doing so.

Black and brown folks most certainly do not have that luxury.

Gavin Seim acted with the assumed knowledge and expectation that he is a full citizen and member of the American polity with rights that are to be respected.

In theory, all Americans, across the color line, have the right to confront and monitor the police. In practice, white supremacy deems that black and brown folks do not have rights that white people en masse are obligated and bound to respect. Micro aggressions, civic disrespect, and second class tiered citizenship are all too common and day-to-day experiences for people of color in the United States.

The white privilege follies continue onward. We can add making a citizen's arrest of a police officer to the list of things that white folks can do that black and brown folks best not ever try if they want to escape with their freedom and health intact.

What are some other activities that we can add to the "yes, for white folks" and "hell no for black and brown folks!" list?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Fest White Privilege Follies Continued: This is One of the Best Statements of White Entitlement That I Have Ever Read

Sometimes you have to laugh and smile and shake your head all at the same time.

[Question. Is there a word for that type of movement?]

In a previous post, I pointed out the hypocrisy surrounding how racism and white privilege influence the ways that the media frames news events as highlighted by the "Pumpkin fest" riot in Keene, New Hampshire. 

As we all know, it is only black people who "riot"...white folks are just overly enthusiastic partiers who are easily seduced by the call to obnoxious revelry.

In CNN's story about the Keene Pumpkin fest riots, a white student was interviewed about their experience in the pumpkin white privilege mayhem. 

He shared how:
Steven French, 18, who was visiting from Haverhill, Massachusetts, described the chaotic scene to the local paper, The Keene Sentinel, as "wicked." 
"It's just like a rush. You're revolting from the cops," he told the paper Saturday night. "It's a blast to do things that you're not supposed to do."
Privilege consists of taken for granted assumptions about one's life opportunities and chances. Fish likely do not think much about water while they are in it; white folks do not likely think much about white privilege unless their unearned advantages are perceived as being threatened or challenged.

If this open letter is one of the best explanations for white entitlement and white privilege I have ever read, Stephen French's joy at defying the police because he knows that there will likely be no repercussions is one of the most honest statements of white entitlement which I have ever read.

Black men are shot dead by the police for walking down the street or daring to buy a toy pellet gun at a store. White men can walk around with guns in plain sight, attempt to provoke the police and other authorities into violence with no consequences, and brag to the news media about the fun that is "revolting from the police". 

My man Louis CK got it right. Who wouldn't want to be white and male in America? 

And as someone who was racially profiled and almost arrested for sitting in public and feeding the birds a few summers ago, I was hoping that some of my white brothers and sisters can share what the White Privilege immunity shield actually feels like to wear? Heavy? Light? Invisible comfort like an air sole shoe insert?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

White Privilege and the 'Pumpkin Fest' Riot of 2014

White supremacy structures how the news media frames and reports events in the United States (and elsewhere). There are so many examples of this reality that the difficulty is not one of finding them, rather, the challenge involves which examples of white racial framing to discuss and detail.

Saturday's riot by white college students at Keene State College's annual Pumpkinfest is a priceless example of white privilege and white racism as a type of social practice and habit.

It was high comedy. Twitter had great fun with mocking and calling out the fuckery foolishness of the white pumpkin rioters. 

It was also deadly serious. Fires were set, cars destroyed, bottles and other dangerous objects were thrown at random people, and the police were attacked by the white students at Keene's pumpkin festival.

In a stark and clear manner, white privilege and white supremacy color how the obnoxious and violent behavior of the white rioters at Pumpkinfest is described by the media

Black folks who are protesting with righteous rage and anger in response to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson have been called "thugs", "animals", and cited by the Right-wing media as examples of the "bad culture" and "cultural pathologies" supposedly common to the African-American community.

Privileged white college students who riot at a pumpkin festival are "spirited partiers", "unruly", or "rowdy".

Right-wing propaganda sites such as the Drudge Report pander black beast rapist negrophobia to their racist audience with grotesque images of "black crime" and "black criminality" as a standard theme. By contrast, the violent behavior of white college students is met with relative silence save for a description of the events in Keene, New Hampshire as "extreme partying". 

And of course, the race of the rioting students is not mentioned by Drudge and/or the mainstream news media because Whiteness has no stigma or connection to criminality and violence as seen through the White Gaze. 

The racial innocence of Whiteness is one of America's greatest lies as white folks, here demonstrated by acts such as racial genocide against First Nations peoples and racial pogroms against blacks, are the most violent and destructive group of people in the history of the United States.

White college students riot over pumpkins, but are mute and show no equivalent expenditure of upsetness or energy over the murder of Michael Brown and the many other black and brown people killed by the police and white identified vigilantes every 28 hours in the United States.

Hmm...I wonder why?

Friday, October 17, 2014

If You Could Nominate Any White Person, Living or Dead, Fictional or 'Real', to Participate in PBS's the 'Whiteness Project', Who Would It Be?

Akeem the African Dream is My Choice

My curiosity about the PBS documentary the Whiteness Project is not satisfied. While thawing my langostino, I was compelled by the Whiteness Project's unintentional Andy Kaufman-like performance to look at the comments on Slate's piece about PBS's white victimology documentary/group therapy exercise.

[Slate's piece by Jamelle Bouie exhibits a common and problematic framing where the article's title "Why It Shouldn’t Surprise Us That Whites and Blacks Have So Little Empathy for Each Other", is both incorrect and misleading: black Americans have been a model people in terms of our desire to be included as full citizens in the United States, and while doing so, exhibiting an almost titan-like level of patience towards, and empathy for, white folks. 

Moreover, experimental and social psychologists have shown that an empathy gap exists, that as shown here and here (with an interesting qualifier here), where whites feel low levels of empathy for black people (and other non-whites). The empathy gap is not mutual and equivalent across the color line; to begin with a lie leads to the distortion that racism is a moral failing of all people in America, as opposed to one exclusive to the White community.]

There are some real gems of distorted late 20th/early 21st century white supremacist statistical racism mixed with more honest old school white supremacy, white supremacy from a more simple and "elegant" age in response to Bouie's commentary.

There are many examples of white supremacist screeds and talking points at Slate, I am particularly partial to this one:
When will "they" stop chasing Whites around like rabid dogs? We're not the Blue Eyed Devils, we just want "them" to leave us alone. We don't want your women, leave ours alone. We don't want your neighborhoods, leave ours alone. We don't want your jobs, leave ours alone. Don't like our banks, groceries, sporting events, our Culture because you FEEL left out...develop your own, and leave ours alone. Get it? 
Who comes up with the notion that we should INCLUDE you in our society?
The following one is fun too:
The other day (on Slate) I read an article that basically said that all white guys are racist, whether they knew it yet or not. Now In the job I do, I work with many blacks; and my boss is black as well. I don't know that any of us even think about the feeling of racism.
But articles like that bother me. I like to think that all of us really want to do the "right" thing. But, from a simple standpoint of human dynamics, if one is going to be condemned as racist regardless of what one does is there any reason to "give a d*mn" ? Would we all not be better served by turning down the volume?
I love the "black boss" deflection--I consider it more "compelling" than my "best black friend".

In this comment, American exceptionalism is once again sacrificed by apologists for white supremacy and white privilege in the United States. How come the White Right Tea Party GOP fuck yeah! America is always awesome and great crowd can't make up their collective minds about the United States' greatness in the context of centuries of racism and other types of social evils?
I know there is racism but I don't see what you see. More racist then say...Japan? China? India? How would we even know. At least America has given it a shot. Look at the Muslim societies around the US...even after all the 9-11 turmoil. And, at least where I live, where it's pretty 50/50 white2minority, I don't see racism against minorities...yes, the jerks are there somewhere but it's certainly not open...and even that is a small comfort.
I believe we have done pretty well as a society.
Especially since the mid 60's when we began moving in the right direction. Just hoping it continues getting better and better.
In all, these comments are priceless comedy gold.

A random question for the weekend: if you could nominate any white person, living or dead, fictional or "real", to participate in the Whiteness Project, who would it be? And what would they say?

My vote is Akeem the African Dream of 1980s and early 1990s WWF fame.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What Would Andy Kaufman Say? PBS's 'The Whiteness Project' is Unintentional Racial Satire

Two questions.

If you saw an ad in the newspaper or online seeking individuals who are willing to be interviewed about "what it means to be a 'person of color' in America?" for a documentary or research project, would you participate?

If you saw an ad in the newspaper or online seeking individuals who are willing to be interviewed about their experiences as a "white" person in America for a documentary or research project, would you participate?

I can only answer the first prompt.

I would not participate in such an exercise because the feelings held by black and brown folks about our lived experiences with white supremacy are not a mystery. America's centuries-long racial project(s) are evidenced in the country's literature, music, art, history, popular culture, schools, politics, streets, geography, and almost every part of the country's fabric.

Denial of these obvious facts is itself an act of white supremacy. America is well beyond a point when white ignorance about the realities of white racism and white privilege are reasonable claims of racial innocence.

The "national conversation" on race--what is now circular and tired; it is noise signalling nothing--is a distraction from doing the necessary work of enforcing (and protecting) standing laws such as the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, fighting back against a herrenvolk and overtly racist Republican Party and its "Redemption" 2.0 Jim and Jane Crow dedicated Supreme Court, and dealing with the gross material and economic inequalities along the color line. Group therapy sessions about the realities of the color line are a state of permanent diagnosis. This is counter-productive: the problem and its causes are known.

Nevertheless, the well-intentioned purveyors of the snake oil known as "the national conversation on race" continue to sell their tired wares to an increasingly exhausted public.

PBS's new online project "The Whiteness Project" is intended by its creator Whitney Dow to explore how:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Question to Which We Already Know the Answer: Does Race Shape Americans' Passion for Guns?

I hope that you had a restful Columbus Day which is set aside to honor the deeds of a man (and those of his brother) who were murderous and genocidal towards First Nation's peoples and directly led to the murder of millions of black people through the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

CNN recently posted the editorial/exploratory news item "Does race shape Americans' passion for guns?" It is a good and very accessible piece about race and American gun culture. In some important ways Does race shape Americans' passion for guns? is atypical: it features some serious scholars with expertise about race and racial ideologies in America. The response to Does race shape Americans' passion for guns? was common and tedious: the white supremacists and ammosexuals polluted the comments section, forcing CNN to close it down.

[The irony of an essay about guns and race attracting both ammosexuals and white supremacists, as they bloviate and produce copious spittle while denying that racism and attitudes about gun ownership are related, is priceless.]

The corporate media is not interested in a rigorous process wherein the truth is revealed and power is challenged. Rather, in the United States the 4th Estate is an essential organ of the powerful, the rich, and the State. And because profit is secondary to truth-telling, the corporate media creates false narratives and frames that distort and misrepresent the facts and empirical data across a range of issues and matters of public policy.

In this model, complex issues are over-simplified, false equivalencies are legitimated, and rejected outliers of opinion are represented as reasonable and expert alternative points of view.

These narrative frames are applied across a range of public policy issues such as taxes, global warming, health care, and of course the most noxious and oft told lie that "both sides are responsible" when government dysfunction in the Age of Obama is discussed by the corporate media.

Despite its relative merits, CNN's Does race shape Americans' passion for guns? also reflects the above phenomenon by generating a question as opposed to confirming a statement of historical and contemporary fact.

The relationship between guns and race is not a matter of "does"; rather, it is a matter of "yes" and "how".

The color line is central to America's history with, and obsession for, guns.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weekend Semi-Open Thread: Class Trumps Race in Ferguson While Phyllis Schlafly Earns a 'Derby's Dose' for Her Mouth Utterance that Barack Obama is Using Ebola to 'Africanize' the United States

As is our habit and new weekend tradition, please do treat this as a semi-open thread. 

I discovered several interesting things this week both in conversation, as well as in my travels across these Internets. In talking with my mother, I learned that Ebola has been weaponized by terrorists and that they are using "illegal" immigrants to poison people on the bus. Mom also believes that the Obama family is being poisoned by white supremacists who have infiltrated the Secret Service.

I do not know if my mother actually thinks these things are true; it is more likely that she is somehow lobbying to get me to pay for her car to get a tune-up so that she will not have to brave public transportation.

On a related Ebola matter, white right wing misogynist bigot Phyllis Schlafly believes that the disease is a plot by Barack Obama to "Africanize" America.

[For her racist stupidity, Phyllis Schlafly is the inaugural recipient of WARN's first Derby's Dose award for public bloviating deserving of having someone push out a rank turd from their lower intestines into the recipient's mouth to be followed by several hours of gagging with an old dish towel or dirty t-shirt.]

In the 1980s it was killer bees; now the race mongrelization and white victimologist nativist paranoia fixation is on Ebola. What disease or "disaster"--man-made or nature--will be the new fixation of the conspiranoid Fox News set?

Friend of the site Werner Herzog's Bear has written an excellent essay on the culture of fear in America that is worth reading.

The website Mashable has been doing some good work around the on-going events in Ferguson.

Their recent piece Ferguson: Raw City highlights the class and racial tensions surrounding the murder of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in response to his cowardly murder by the thug cop Darren Wilson. These tensions exist not only across the color line, but within the black community as well.

Two passages in Raw City are especially illuminating.

Black young people are sick and tired of being sick and tired of racism and custodial citizenship in Ferguson (and the United States, more broadly):
This new group of self-organized protesters is made up of kids who have seen the worst of what it means to be black in America, and they have watched the justice system fail them many times throughout their lives. 
As one protester described, “They are the face of anger for this movement, and they are articulate as shit.” 
These protesters are organized, less trusting and even more outraged. The trouble now is that without the domestic war porn of rubber bullet wounds and tear-gas clouds, the has world stopped caring. The protesters feel that.
And they’ll do anything to be heard again.
Race is how class is lived in America. Nonetheless, class and material differences can trump a sense of black linked fate across generations and geography:
It’s not just white-owned businesses. Jeniece Andrews and her husband Eddie, both of whom are black, have an antiques shop just a few blocks from the police station. 
Andrews said a “well-dressed black man in his 30s” came into her shop a few weeks ago and said her business was on a list. The man identified himself as “the messenger.” 
She sent texts to nearly 400 customers, telling them she was still open for business. But a week later, only a few people trickled in and out of the store as Andrews and I talked on a Tuesday afternoon. 
“When you see hard times, you see the ugliness come out,” she told me as I sat across from her at a wooden table in the back of her store. I looked down at a framed charcoal drawing sitting by our feet. It was of a black man with tears streaming down his face. 
“Do you think they are boycotting you because you’re black and not protesting?” I asked. 
Andrews, who has no staff other than her husband, said she’d never thought of it that way, but it doesn’t matter because she has to survive. 
“I feel for the family and I hope that justice does prevail, but as far as protesting it’s more important that business carry on,” Andrews said. “I can’t afford to close my doors to go protest.”
One more example:
The residents of Ferguson are really proud of their Saturday farmer’s market. In August, they urged me to attend so I could “see what Ferguson is really like.” 
But that changed a few weeks ago. 
Ken Wheat, who is black and lives in a middle-class neighborhood of Ferguson, said a group of around 20 protesters showed up one Saturday, marching to drumbeats and chanting as confused market-goers hesitantly parted. Wearing his “I Love Ferguson” T-shirt — a campaign that started as one of support for the city, but has since morphed into a political statement against the protests — Wheat told the protesters to move on. 
“I said ‘this is not the place to do this.' They need to go to Clayton where [prosecutor] Bob McCullough’s office is. These are just people shopping for vegetables.” 
“You’re black. Why aren’t you marching with us?” one protester asked him. 
“I am not going to do that. I live here,” Wheat said. “We are just going to let justice run its course.” 
The protesters responded by calling Wheat a “motherfucker” and a “house nigger.” 
It was only a clash of words that Saturday, but the protesters returned one week later. 
That day with at least one injury and two pending assault charges. The farmer’s market was cancelled the next week.
What is to be done when the young lions want to change the world while the elders are invested in stability and the relative status quo? Who wins in the duel?

As always, please do share any interesting new items or information of public or private concern.

What discoveries have you made this week?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Music, Sports, and Race: A Conversation With Jerry Davis, Former Music Director for Fox Sports

We have arrived at the last episode of the 2nd season of the podcast series here on We Are Respectable Negroes. I would like to thank all of the kind folks who have listened to, shared, and commented on the podcast. I would also like to extend a heartfelt and gracious "thank you" to the great guests who have sat down at the virtual bar during these last 2 years. 

I am in the process of recording Season 3 of the podcast series. I am very excited about the great folks who have agreed to chat with us here on WARN.

In the newest episode of the podcast series here on We Are Respectable Negroes, I had the great fortune to speak with Mr. Jerry Davis. He is the former music director for Fox Sports, an expert in music and artist development, and an extremely intelligent and sharp observer of the dynamics of the music business--with a focus on the analog to digital revolution--and the particular challenges of "breaking in" to the business.

Jerry's professional accolades and accomplishments are many. 

During his tenure at FOX Sports, Davis negotiated music rights with leading production companies such as Universal and Atlantic Records, building Fox’s music library and generating $2.26M in revenues. Davis also developed the first music policy and procedure protocol to navigate the legal waters attendant with the onslaught of digital download. In addition to coordination of musical selections with sports programming such as the popular “The Best Damn Sports Show Period,” Davis leveraged personal connections within the music industry to book top entertainment for the sports shows such as Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne, Sinead O’Conner, Queen Latifah, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, P. Diddy, Ludacris, Rick Ross, with Travis Barker & DJ AM.

Jerry is very kind and generous in our conversation as he also shares the particular challenges and roadblocks he experienced navigating the upper levels of Fox Sports management as a person of color. Mr. Davis is not content to outline and detail how racism can negatively impact the careers of black and brown professionals and strivers--he is working to educate and prepare young people (and others) for success in that world.

One of the principles and rules governing the podcast series here on WARN is an emphasis on deliverables. I love chatting with interesting people; I also want to learn something that the listeners can apply in a positive way to improve their personal and professional lives. Jerry Davis delivers on that commitment in a stellar and very generous way.

00:00 Introductions
03:30 How did your career in music happen? What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about a career in the music business? 
9:25 What was it like being a young black man working in the heavy metal scene in Southern California? Using one's love of music to strategically make business contacts to further your career. The magic of sending greeting cards to potential contacts in the music business.
11:30 Transitioning from heavy metal to "urban music". What was it like to be present at the birth of 14:20 West Coast hip-hop? Code switching and having multiple skill sets in the music business.
The wild west early days of West Coast hip hop. Hanging out with Cypress Hill, meeting De La Soul, and getting a drunk Tone Loc's cassette single.
21:00 Getting noticed for your dream job in the age of the Internet. How Jerry got the Music Director position at Fox Sports by sending pizzas and gift wrapped baseball bats to his potential future boss.
26:44 On successfully using social media to break into the music business and thoughts on artist development in the age of the Internet and social media.
32:18 Reflections on authenticity and apolitical athletes and entertainers.
35:20 How should individuals develop their personal brand?
39:50 Mating sports and music. What was your role in making that cultural move happen?
43:08 The "nuts and bolts" of music licensing, synergy, and how artists get their music played at sporting events, on TV, and other venues.
45:25 What is it like to pick the music played at the Superbowl and the World Series? What does that moment of anonymous fame like?
48:00 Finding the perfect musical cue for a given sporting event or moment. 
54:30 Taking one's interest in music to the next step of becoming a music professional. Thoughts and advice on exploring the other aspects of the music business such as legal, marketing, publishing, licensing, and artist development.
56:47 The best type of mutual exploitation. Should up and coming and/or unsigned artists give their music away for free to TV networks, advertising firms, and other outlets for exposure? 
58:40 What was it like to have such success in your professional career and to hit the metaphorical "glass ceiling" as a person of color at Fox Sports?
65:47 When did you have the moment of realization that the corporate culture of your workplace was hostile to people of color at the executive and management level? What was that moment like? 
68:44 Racism is not an opinion it is a fact. Micro-aggressions and overt discrimination in the workplace is not a figment of your imagination. How does one decide to fight back and to stay mentally and emotionally healthy?
74:00 What are your plans going forward? Jerry's legal battle with Fox Sports. How can we pursue a broad and systemic remedy for bias and discrimination in the workplace?
81:00 How to contact Jerry Davis.
82:00 Chauncey DeVega's closing comments. What do we actually know about racial discrimination in hiring and promotion? What have I learned along the way about mentoring, finding allies across the color line, and being realistic about the realities of discrimination, white privilege, and the "old boys network". Exploring race and class inequality with a bit of armchair sociology. Looking forward to Season 3.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What Shall We Do With the White People? Ferguson--and America--Needs a Better Class of Racists

Privilege is the ability to deny reality by creating a bubble of willful ignorance around oneself. This is true of white privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege, and all of the other ways that the dominant and the in-group benefit materially and psychologically from a culture that is designed to bend the world in the service of their will.

The mainstream media has, for the most part, moved on from the murder of Michael Brown and the gross violations of the black community's human rights by the police in Ferguson, Missouri. The twenty-four hour news cycle has a limited attention span; the corporate news media does not serve the public interest as it is first and foremost beholden to profits over people and truth-telling.

I will continue to write about and discuss the events in Ferguson because what has and is transpiring there is emblematic of America's national problem and sickness that is white supremacy. Ferguson is a petty fiefdom of meanness, cruelty, and racism; there are many Fergusons in the United States.

Yesterday, the Washington Post and the website Mediaite featured two news items about Ferguson that together constitute a textbook and ideal typical example of white racism in the post civil rights era.

Of course, the comment sections on both stories feature white racists publicly masturbating with their own political feces as is their preferred habit.

Nonetheless, both pieces are very revealing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Of Barack Obama and Watermelons (Continued): I Wanted to Smash Them. A Journey Through a Wonderland of Racist 'Notions' and 'Collectibles'

I am fascinated by how race and racial ideologies are reproduced through popular culture.

As such, I would like to continue exploring the broader context of the watermelon caricature of Barack Obama in the Boston Herald. It is not an isolated incident: the racist caricatures and hostility towards Obama is part of a centuries-long pattern of physical and psychic violence against black and brown people by White American society.

The word "notions" is a vague euphemism which is used to describe racist figurines and other "collectible" objects. These racist objects are intended to denigrate, humiliate, dehumanize, and legitimate violence against non-whites. The most common notions draw on a white supremacist racial imagination wherein black people are caricatured as "coons", "Sambos" or "mammies".

From an early age, I understood that notions existed: a tattered and dog eared tome known as The Black Book, a gift from my mother after she finished her Introduction to Af-Am Studies course at the local community college, was my introduction to that world (and many others). I did not fully understand the power of racist objects until I encountered them in person.

During one of the many trips to bowling tournaments that occupied the weekends of my teen years and early twenties, I realized that there is likely more virulent racism in rural and suburban New England, Pennsylvania, and other parts of the Mid Atlantic region than in the South. At the time, I did not yet have the fully vocabulary necessary to successfully work through the "hows" and "whys" of this instinct; I now understand that many whites in those communities choose to live there precisely because they are racially homogeneous spaces. They are the progenitors and children of white flight and American Apartheid.