Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Group Photo Essay: What Do You See? From George Stinney in 1944 to Tamir Rice in 2014


I would like to thank all of the kind folks who donated to WARN's fundraising drive. Their generosity is very heartwarming to me. Thank you. Again.

I planned to post a new episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show today.

I will share that great conversation with Tim Wise on Monday of next week as a holiday treat of sorts.

[My conversation with Jason Colavito about fringe history and race can be found here. If you have not listened to it yet, I do think you will be pleasantly surprised. Jason does some great teaching and sharing.]

I have also been busy with what is planned as a 2 part essay for Alternet where I ask some necessary, and for some, quite uncomfortable questions about the worshipful culture that insulates American police from accountability for their murder, harassment, and brutal treatment of black and brown people.

Police fetishists and Right-wing authoritarians will not be pleased...but then again are they ever pleased by truth-telling about racism and the culture of cruelty?

Several years ago I posted some photos of former black human chattel as compiled in the WPA archives. The photos of human beings who were owned as property was so evocative, powerful, disturbing, and moving, that I observed how "their eyes are watching us".

I had that same feeling earlier today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Conversation With Jason Colavito About Ancient Aliens, White Supremacy, and Fringe History

I would like to thank the kind and generous folks who have donated to the annual fundraiser here on We Are Respectable Negroes and Chaunceydevega.com. As promised, once my goal for the year is met my NPR/PBS-like requests for material support will end.

We are still lingering at being 50 dollars away from the goal for the year. I hope that we can meet that today or tomorrow--at which point the fundraising drive will be over.


The podcast series on WARN is now in its 3rd season. It has been a great addition and has allowed me many great opportunities to chat with the smart and interesting people who have kindly shared their time with us. The podcast is a direct response to the requests of the friends, supporters, and fans of the site who wanted more and different types of content to learn from, share, and enjoy. 


Each episode is very labor intensive--usually taking several hours to produce through from the initial interview to the final product. 


If you like, enjoy and find value in the podcast known as The Chauncey DeVega Show--and are able--do please throw in some pennies, bills, gold, or silver for the fundraiser. 


A few kind donations will bring this year's winter fundraiser to a close. 


I also have a great surprise guest for the next episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show that I am sure you will enjoy.
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"Ghetto nerds" is one of my favorite topics for discussion here on We Are Respectable Negroes and Chaunceydevega.com.

It is a broad umbrella under which we have discussed everything from science fiction to hip hop and professional wrestling. As a child of the hip hop generation who grew up with Star Wars, I am a proud ghetto nerd: our shared cultural interests unite us across lines of race. In these difficult and challenging times during which white supremacy has reasserted itself without apology, the ability to talk about our shared generational and pop culture interests as we who are ghetto nerds is a welcome respite.

Many of my teen and early adult years were spent listening to Coast-to-Coast AM with Art Bell on late night talk radio.

His show was a post graduate education in ufology, cryptozoology, conspiracy theories, the paranormal, and hidden history. Art Bell's show was also prescient: no person who listened to Coast to Coast AM for an extended amount of time would be at all surprised by the "revelations" contained in the recent CIA torture report.

For this episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, I had the great opportunity to talk with Jason Colavito. Our conversation is a real treat and gem for ghetto nerds and those others who are interested in fringe history and other types of "alternative" knowledge systems.

Jason is an expert skeptic whose work appears on his eponymous website jasoncolavito.com. He is the author of numerous books. Jason has also appeared in documentaries and other media where he offers up his direct, clear, and reality based expertise on mythologies and magical thinking such as the ancient aliens hypothesis, the theory of Atlantis, and the myriad of distortions and lies about human events that have come to populate the History Channel and its auxiliary H2.

As Jason and I discuss in this most recent episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, our world is full of wonder and amazing discoveries. Thus, there is no reason to lie, obfuscate, and generate from the ether, fringe histories, ancient aliens, and other like mess. Our world and universe is amazing enough without the need to create fictions that soothe our egos as opposed to nurturing the intellect.

In this wide ranging and very educational conversation, Jason and I discuss why the ancient aliens hypothesis is so compelling, the faux rigor and "scientific" approaches used by the fringe history community, the fixation that white supremacists have with UFO's, Vikings, and giants, the Afrocentic dreams of how black Africans discovered the "New World", and the oft discussed case of Betty and Barney Hill, an interracial couple who were supposedly kidnapped by extraterrestrials in the 1960s.

My conversation with Jason was exceptional. I think you will learn at least as much as I did from Jason's sharing, insights, and patient teaching.

This episode of the podcast known as The Chauncey Devega Show can be listened to below or "watched" on the official Youtube channel for WARN and Chaunceydevega.com.


Hosted by Kiwi6 file hosting.

Download mp3

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Face of the Banality of Evil: Cleveland's Police Union Head Capo Jeffrey Follmer Defends the Killing of Tamir Rice on MSNBC

I would like to thank the kind and generous folks who have donated to the annual fundraiser here on We Are Respectable Negroes and Chaunceydevega.com. As promised, once my goal for the year is met my NPR/PBS-like requests for material support will end.

We are about 50 dollars away from the goal for the year. I hope that we can meet that today or tomorrow--at which point the fundraising drive will be over.

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A question. Do authoritarian racist thug cops self-select into the profession of "law enforcement" or does the culture of police work socialize them into racist authoritarianisn?

I am writing an essay on that very question that I will share here on WARN and elsewhere later this week. Your thoughts and input are much appreciated.

Cleveland Brown's football player Andrew Hawkins wore a t-shirt in support of the families of Tamir Rice and John Crawford--two unarmed and innocent black people killed by the Cleveland area police.

Predictably, as is their habit whenever police thuggery is called to public account, the head of Cleveland's police union attacked Andrew Hawkins during an appearance on MSNBC for not showing due "respect" for the local police.

[A semi-related thought. I support unions for public employees. Wouldn't one think that in a time when unions are under assault by the plutocrats and 1 percent that their representatives would want to hold its members to the highest levels of accountability? Or is that because the police are a conservative and racist social institution that their violence against black and brown people is a way of ostensibly insulating them from the Republicans who want to eliminate organized labor in the United States?]

Jeffrey Follmer's comments reveal that he is a mean spirited, ignorant, and cruel person; for anyone who wonders why police are viewed with suspicion, anxiety, and as being an illegitimate presence in many of America's urban, working class, and poor communities they need to look no farther than the statements of police union representatives such as Jeffrey Follmer.

I am often very critical of the relative silence by African-American athletes and other entertainers about the plague of police thuggery and violence that is killing black and brown folks at least every 28 hours in the United States.

Andrew Hawkins is an outlier. He should be applauded for his honest, direct, and sincere comments about the value of black life which he made in response to the mouth-breathing obnoxious racism and debasement of human life and freedom statements made by Jeffrey Follmer.

What will it take for more athletes and entertainers to model themselves after Andrew Hawkins?

Police brutality and thuggery against black and brown communities is a human rights issue. "Black lives matter" because all people's lives matter.

Thus, where are the white professional athletes and other entertainers on this issue? Why are they--and most other black and brown athletes and entertainers--silent on these critical matters of public concern? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

White Male Victimology Follies: Have You Read 'The War on Rape: The Logic of the Lynch Mob Returns'?

I would like to thank the kind and generous folks who have donated to the annual fundraiser here on We Are Respectable Negroes and Chaunceydevega.com. As promised, once my goal for the year is met my NPR/PBS-like requests for material support will end.

We are about 100 dollars away from the goal for the year. I hope that we can meet that today or tomorrow--at which point the fundraising drive will be over.

This week I will be posting 2 podcasts, a third surprise, and sharing a teachable moment in the form of a story. As a rule, I rarely post content from other sites unless 1) the material is particularly compelling or 2) it is so grossly problematic while also being indicative of some broader socio-political phenomenon that comment is demanded.

Brendan O'Neill's recent essay, The War on Rape: The Logic of the Lynch Mob Returns falls into the latter category.

When I was in college, I was an editor of the school newspaper. As a young person who was brighter than his peers--but not as smart as I actually thought myself to be--I used that platform to do some truth-telling about white racism, politics more broadly, gender issues, popular culture, and other matters as I saw fit. I was very loved by some (including quite a few white sisters who wanted to bed the campus "angry black man") and despised by many more of my fellow students.

[I was also the target of a sting operation, my own personal ABSCAM or honeypot trap where nefarious forces claimed that I looked at pornographic material while using a public campus computer, thus making me unfit to be one of the editors of the school newspaper. My defense? I am not the Marion Barry of online porn! Alas, that is a story for another time.]

My command of the facts and style of argument were quite good. However, I lacked wisdom and maturity. I do not regret anything I wrote almost twenty years ago for my school newspaper. However, there are one or two editorials, that if given the chance, I would most certainly massage or perhaps even retract.

In all, I was the young guy in the martial arts tournament who had amazing form but very little experience: a more mature fighter would have smiled in appreciation for my innocence and charm before knocking me out cold.

Consequently, I am very sensitive to examples of political writing where style and a broad and imprecise overview of the facts are used as substitutes for a rigorous engagement with proper context and solid truth claims.

Specific historiography in the context of rigorous theory and empiricism is the foundation for truth-seeking.

Unfortunately, there are some who are more interested in sensationalism than substance.

To that end, The War on Rape: The Logic of the Lynch Mob Returns is full of some real gems.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Whiteness of Science Fiction: Should Octavia Butler Replace HP Lovecraft in the Sci-Fi Canon? And Avery Brooks Breaks Down the White Gaze

I would like to thank the folks who have donated to our annual fundraising drive. We are at the end of the second week of the fundraiser. I would like to thank those of you who have donated so far...and especially those folks who sent some wonderful material support to We Are Respectable Negroes and Chaunceydevega.com on Friday of this week. 

If the fundraiser continues at this rate, I can pull back in the begging bowl by Monday or Tuesday. You will then be freed of my NPR fundraiser voice. 

Next week, there will be two posts here on the site. One of them is last week's planned episode on ancient aliens, UFO's, white supremacists, and Afrocentrists. I will post that on Tuesday. Thursday's episode is something special. Careful readers already know who the guest for that episode of the podcast known as The Chauncey DeVega Show will be. 

I also have a third treat to share next week.

My effort to grow and develop the podcast by making some forays into new territory is a direct result of the positive energy that the friends and fans of my online work have sent to me. My third quasi-surprise fits within that dynamic.

If you can, and are able, please do support We Are Respectable Negroes and Chaunceydevega.com by throwing some change into the virtual donation bucket.  

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

I just watched Chris Rock's new movie Top Five. I may write up some comments on the film if there is interest from the readers and friends of the site. My drive-by comments are as follows: Chris Rock has made a very smart movie that has funny--if not brilliantly genius--comedic moments.

Top Five is a very inside Hollywood movie about comedy and the world of comedians.

It is not the amazing achievement that is Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance).

But, Top Five is still a very good movie. However, if you aren't someone who is patient and has the context for why it is so damn great to see Whoopi, Jerry, and Adam show up in Rock's movie, you may not fully appreciate the awesomeness you have beheld.

The few folks who walked out of the movie during the screening I attended on Friday night most certainly are not in that cohort. The sleeping 12-year-old who was dragged to Top Five by his parents reminded me of myself, dragged by mom and dad at a younger age to see Jo Jo Dancer. At that age, I did not have the context for what I was shown--in hindsight that is probably a good thing.

In all, Top Five is public therapy for and by Chris Rock and financed from the pockets of Jay-Z and Kanye West with a soundtrack by Questlove. Chris Rock does not care if the public likes this movie. I enjoyed Top Five because of that fact, the always compelling Rosario Dawson, she who is my baby mama that I will never wifey in this world but am married to in an alternate reality, and the confidence of Chris Rock to be naked before the world. In many ways, Top Five is Chris Rock's Richard Pryor moment. 

We have talked about the the colorline and science fiction on many occasions here on WARN. 

On that theme, there was a very provocative and smart essay at the Guardian.

The successful and excellent science fiction author and all around creative type, Daniel Jose Older makes the following intervention about the overbearing Whiteness of science fiction:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Culture of Cruelty is International: From Lynchings to Eric Garner and the CIA Torture Report

I would like to thank the folks who have donated to our annual fundraising drive. We are in the second week of the fundraiser and are about 80 percent or so to the goal for the year.

As of today, we are still short of the goal I have set for the year. If you can help me to close that gap it would be very much appreciated. I do not accept paid for content on the site and have refused advertising offers. The monies raised during the fundraising drive are a way of deflecting those loses in order to maintain my independence and freedom to tell the truth as best I can and in an encumbered manner.

I strive to offer original content here on Chaunceydevega.com, and as seen in the below essay, to offer commentary and analysis that many of the "authoritative voices" in the mainstream news media are unwilling to.

If you can and are able please do support We Are Respectable Negroes and Chaunceydevega.com by throwing some change into the virtual donation bucketMy kind requests--in what is a most gentle and soothing NPR-like fundraising voice--will cease once our goal is reached.
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In its deranged madness to prevent a second 9/11 attack on "the homeland", the United States tortured and brutalized suspected "terrorists" with drownings, beatings, forcing food through their anuses, handcuffing people with broken legs to the ceiling, parading them around naked, threatening to sexually assault their mothers and families, exposing them to extreme temperatures, and sensory deprivation.

This is a sterile bullet point-like summary--the irony of that office speak MBA language is fitting and unintentionally macabre and darkly humorous--of the tortures that the CIA will publicly admit to having committed; the real horrors are likely far worse, hiding behind redacted passages and in dark corners, hushed rumors that circulate in the alcohol influenced bar and private conversations of CIA agents and private contractors, never to be publicly admitted to or spoken of.

A willfully ignorant public and a deceptive lying chattering class wrap themselves in American exceptionalism as a means of claiming surprise, shock, and horror at the faux revelations in the CIA torture report. They do this because the truth cannot be reconciled with the myths of an America that never really existed.

America tortures people. It has done this domestically to war resisters, conscience objectors, pacifists, suffragettes, slaves, civil rights workers, and inmates.

Inflicting pain on the black body is a special obsession and paraphilia for white America. In its pogroms, land theft, and riots, white Americans lynched at least 10,000 black citizens.

The CIA torture report is a damning document and a difficult read. It is child's fare compared to the tortures inflicted on black people by white folks for centuries in their ritual birthright of American Apartheid and Jim Crow.

A member of the white lynching party that destroyed Mr. Claude Neal in 1934 offers this account of White America's habit of racial torture on the black body:
“After taking the nigger to the woods about four miles from Greenwood, they cut off his penis. He was made to eat it. Then they cut off his testicles and made him eat them and say he liked it. Then they sliced his sides and stomach with knives and every now and then somebody would cut off a finger or toe. Red hot irons were used on the nigger to burn him from top to bottom.” From time to time during the torture a rope would be tied around Neal’s neck and he was pulled up over a limb and held there until he almost choked to death when he would be let down and the torture begin all over again. After several hours of this unspeakable torture, “they decided just to kill him.”
The United States has tortured people abroad in its wars, secret prisons, and other covert operations. Because the United States has historically been, and remains in the present, a white racist society, it is far easier to torture those who are marked as some type of Other.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Law is Not Colorblind: A Conversation With Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Nick Chiles About His New Book 'Justice While Black'

I would like to thank the folks who have donated to our annual fundraising drive. We are in the second week of the fundraiser and are inching closer to the goal for the year.

The podcast for chaunceydevega.com is a direct response to requests by the friends and fans of the site who wanted more content and an additional way to engage with the many topics we discuss here on We Are Respectable Negroes (WARN).

We are on the 3rd Season of the podcast now known as The Chauncey DeVega Show. With approximately 30 episodes--and now featuring much improved audio and soon to be on Itunes--the podcast series has featured a wonderful range of academics, activists, New York Times' best-selling authors, and folks from Hollywood and popular music.

The Chauncey DeVega Show requires many hours to produce. Season 3, like the two before it, will feature some great guests. For example, my conversation partner on the newest installment of the podcast recently appeared on C-SPAN 2 where he discussed his new book on race and the American justice system.

If you can and are able please do support We Are Respectable Negroes and Chaunceydevega.com by throwing some change into the virtual donation bucket. My kind requests--in what is a most gentle and soothing NPR-like fundraising voice--will cease once our goal is reached.
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The police killer of Eric Garner is free. The police killer of Michael Brown is free. The police killer of 12-year-old Tamir Rice was a documented incompetent and a member of a racist Cleveland police department: he too is still free.

Even more grotesque--American police departments do not keep accurate documents noting how many people they actually kill in a given year. America may not have the "desaparecidos" of her Southern neighbors; yet, the allusion is a chilling one that hints at the power of bureaucracies to make people disappear into nothingness because the state deem acts of violence against those individuals to be "within the law".

In all, America's police are the primary means through which state violence is rendered on black and brown communities, as well as the poor.

What should a person of color do when they encounter the police? How can you ensure that you, your loved ones, friends, and community members best survive an encounter with the criminal justice system--what is the new Jim and Jane Crow?

In this, the fourth episode of Season Three, on the podcast known as The Chauncey DeVega Show, I had the great opportunity to chat with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Mr. Nick Chiles.

He is the author of the new book Justice While Black and current editor of the Atlanta Black Star newspaper.

Written with attorney Robbin Schipp, Nick's new book Justice While Black is both an excellent (as well as accessible) history of the racist origins of America's police system, and a invaluable step by step guide for how to navigate the entrapping maze that is the American legal system and the many ways that it can (and will) ruin the lives of those people it encounters.

In our conversation, Mr. Chiles summed up the crisis and conundrum that is when the colorline encounters the American legal system as follows: just because it is within your Constitutional rights to do a thing does not mean that a given cop will respect those rights.

In this episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Nick and I discuss what to do when a police officer stops you, how answering no more than the basic questions you are legally obligated to is the smart move, how families can cause chaos and trouble if you are arrested, the dangers of the plea bargain, the foolish hysteria around common sense "black respectability politics", tales of black lives ruined by the system, and if he watches "crime porn" such as The First 48 television show.

Nick also clears up some of Chauncey DeVega's misconceptions about what he should do if the police demand to search his car.

This episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show can be listened to at the below link.

It can also be "watched" on Chauncey DeVega and We Are Respectable Negroes' Youtube channel:


Hosted by Kiwi6 file hosting.

Download mp3 - Free Music Hosting.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Washington Post Let a Tiny Bit of Truth Slip Out Into the Approved Public Discourse: "Being a Cop Showed Me Just How Racist and Violent the Police Are."

I would like to thank the folks who have donated to our annual fundraising drive. We are in the second week of the fundraiser and are about 65 percent or so to the goal for the year. If you can and are able please do support We Are Respectable Negroes and Chaunceydevega.com by throwing some change into the virtual donation bucket. My kind requests--in what is a most gentle and soothing NPR-like fundraising voice--will cease once our goal is reached.
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The protests against police thuggery against people of color continue across the United States. There have also been marches in other countries decrying the murder of Eric Garner and how black men are killed by police at least once every 28 hours in the United States. 

White on black and brown police brutality are national embarrassments. One of the little known secrets of the Civil Rights Movement was how the political context of the Cold War moved white opinion leaders to reign in Jim and Jane Crow and to evolve American Apartheid into a "colorblind" system of white racial hierarchy. I wonder, where are the Right-wing American Exceptionalism fcuk yeah! types during this moment of international shaming in the aftermath of the killing of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and so many other black people?

One would think that the elite members of the American nationalism crowd would want to reform America's police departments not out of a sense of linked fate and human dignity with black and brown citizens, but rather because of crude self-interest...but then again maybe the American plutocrats' self-interest is actually more served by a carceral society where they profit off of imprisoning up non-whites?

As we continue discussing police brutality as a matter of public policy (and it is not an aberration or deviation, the national habit that is white on black police violence is a decision by policy makers and elites), there will be moments when a tiny bit of truth sneaks out of the shadows and into the narrow confines of the approved public discourse.

Today, The Washington Post was a site for one of those instances with its story by Redditt Hudson in which he shared his experiences as a former St. Louis area police officer, and the endemic, systematic white supremacy he witnessed first hand while a constable on patrol.

Hudson shares how:
As a kid, I got used to being stopped by the police. I grew up in an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis. It was the kind of place where officers routinely roughed up my friends and family for no good reason. 
I hated the way cops treated me. 
But I knew police weren’t all bad. One of my father’s closest friends was a cop. He became a mentor to me and encouraged me to join the force. He told me that I could use the police’s power and resources to help my community. 
So in 1994, I joined the St. Louis Police Department. I quickly realized how naive I’d been. I was floored by the dysfunctional culture I encountered. 
I won’t say all, but many of my peers were deeply racist. 
One example: A couple of officers ran a Web site called St. Louis Coptalk, where officers could post about their experience and opinions. At some point during my career, it became so full of racist rants that the site administrator temporarily shut it down. Cops routinely called anyone of color a “thug,” whether they were the victim or just a bystander. 
This attitude corrodes the way policing is done.
He continues:
Unfortunately, I don’t think better training alone will reduce police brutality. My fellow officers and I took plenty of classes on racial sensitivity and on limiting the use of force.

The problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police. 
Even when officers get caught, they know they’ll be investigated by their friends, and put on paid leave. My colleagues would laughingly refer to this as a free vacation. It isn’t a punishment. And excessive force is almost always deemed acceptable in our courts and among our grand juries. Prosecutors are tight with law enforcement, and share the same values and ideas. 
We could start to change that by mandating that a special prosecutor be appointed to try excessive force cases. And we need more independent oversight, with teeth. I have little confidence in internal investigations.
The police are a closed society and social institution, one with their own norms, rites, rituals, and beliefs. America is a country organized around the maintenance, expansion, and protection of white supremacy and the material, economic, and psychological advantages and resources that come with being categorized as "white".

As a social institution, America's police reflect those norms and act upon them. Their behavior is filtered through the culture of American policing. As Hudson hints at, American police are racist because America is a racist society.

Thus, there are two challenges. America's racial unequal and discriminatory culture must be evolved forward; American police culture must be reformed if it wanton brutality against people of color is to cease.

Commentary and truth-telling are essential to our struggle against social injustice and inequality across the colorline. But, what of deliverables and policies? What concrete changes to policing and the police as a social institution would you like to see? Would they be effective?

And are there any other moments when some truth-telling about police brutality and racism (or other matters) slipped out into the approved American public discourse in recent weeks that you would like to share?

A final question: Why do you think The Washington Post ran Redditt Hudson's story given the newspaper's inside the beltway Washington D.C. establishment conservatism?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Weekend Semi-Open Thread: They Serve and Speak for Power. Parsing Obama's and de Blasio's Statements About the Killing of Eric Garner

As is our routine and habit, do consider this our semi-open weekend thread.

First, I would like to thank the kind folks who donated to our annual fundraising drive. I am still writing my "thank you" emails. I very much appreciate the generosity and positive energy that the donors to WARN have shown me.

There are two more weeks remaining in the fundraising drive. I am about 60 percent to the goal which I have set for 2014. If you can, are willing, and are able, please do throw some monies into the virtual donation bucket if you find my work here of value.

As an update, my podcast conversation with journalist Nick Chiles--who is a guest on C-SPAN 2 this weekend--about his book Justice While Black will be up on Tuesday. I did not post it last Thursday because of the Eric Garner decision.

On Thursday, two days after I share the great conversation I had with Mr. Chiles, my talk with professional skeptic, Jason Colavito, about ancient, aliens, white supremacists, and Afrocentric dreamers will be posted as well. Two great shows in one week.

Recording and editing the podcast series is very time consuming. Two shows in one week requires between 8 to 10 hours of labor. Your support during the fundraiser provides some support for that work.

Yesterday, I was taking my daily constitutional in downtown Chicago. I noticed large numbers of regular and plain clothes police officers at strategic locations around the city. They were equipped with the "long beating people upside the head" riot control sticks. I then remembered that there were marches scheduled in response to the murders by cop of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

As I walked along State Street several hours later I mingled with the protesters and participated in their march in a style akin to that of Robert Freeman's work as a civil rights era freedom rider in the Boondocks cartoon series. I felt so young and invigorated.

[Have any of you participated in the marches or sit-ins related to the Eric Garner and Michael Brown tragedies? If so, what were your experiences like? Should the protesters be leery of marching with their faces uncovered because it is a near certainty that the folks who publicly rally against police brutality will end up in local, national, and state "anti-terrorism" databases?]

When the decision was made by a Staten Island grand jury to not indict the cop who murdered Eric Garner in plain sight (and was subsequently vindicated by white racial paranoiac thinking), President Obama and New York Mayor de Blasio issued public statements about that miscarriage of justice--and the broader national "crisis" wherein the police kill at least one black person every 28 hours in the United States.

Obama's and de Blasio's usual detractors complained. Their supporters were pleased. The Right-wing sewers overflowed with political feces. On cue, the Right-wing yellow journalism "newspaper" The New York Post, threw a public fit that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio would dare to mention that his son is black in the context of a public statement about police brutality.

The racial optics of two national leaders discussing the killing of Eric Garner are important--but not in the way that the racial histrionics of The New York Post would suggest.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

White Racial Paranoia Killed Eric Garner...and It Then Exonerated the Cop Who Stole His Life

Again, I would like to thank all of you who have donated so far to the annual fundraising drive here on We Are Respectable Negroes and chaunceydevega.com

We are about half-way to our goal. I have several more thank you notes to write--and that is a nice task which I enjoy completing.

If you have not, and are able, please do throw some gold, silver, or copper into the virtual begging bowl and collection pile.

One of the reasons I started WARN was to host a virtual salon where I could engage in interesting conversations with smart folks. As fans and supporters of WARN know, I am particularly invested in the many questions surrounding the colorline, power, popular culture, and the Black Freedom Struggle in America.

While there were/are a few sites that offered rich conversations and analysis on those topics, I also realized that there was a huge opening for a site that could offer smart commentary while leveraging empirical and "expert" knowledge with a playful wink and nudge when appropriate.

In creating WARN, my goal was also to give the readers a set of practical deliverables while striving to be ahead of the mainstream media regarding the analytic and narrative frames we use to understand the colorline in post civil rights era America. As I am fond of saying, "racism is not an opinion".

Racism and white supremacy are also not "unknown unknowns". Rather, they are concepts and social practices that can be understood, interrogated, and on occasion either navigated around and/or subverted. Ultimately, when one understands the interlocking systems of oppression that operate in the United States (and the world) he or she is more likely to maintain their sanity and emotional well-being.

For example, Michael Brown's killer Darren Wilson will not face charges in Ferguson, Missouri. Yesterday, a grand jury in New York decided that the cop who choked Eric Garner to death, a wicked deed that was recorded on video, and judged by a coroner to be a "homicide", will also not face any criminal charges.


These are body blows to the psyche of Black America (and all good people across the colorline). But, these gut shots should not be surprises. If one understands American history and white supremacy in the present, they ought to be able to tighten up their stomach muscles before the blow is landed.

As I have repeatedly argued here on WARN and elsewhere, Michael Brown and Eric Garner were killed by white racial paranoiac thinking.

White racial paranoiac thinking turns the black and brown body into a weapon and monstrous Other as viewed by the White Gaze. Because the White Gaze is the lens of White Supremacy, the black or brown victim is made into the aggressor because white racial paranoiac thinking distorts reality. The White Gaze is ethically, morally, and philosophically corrupt as it warps empirical facts to support the material and psychological wages of Whiteness.

As seen by White Gaze and white racial paranoiacs, Eric Garner killed himself. "Stop I can't breathe" is translated into "I am big, black, and dangerous." He and Michael Brown were "giant negroes" that had to be killed and subdued so that White America can feel safe.

White racial paranoiacs are everywhere. Here is one of their comments from Alternet's story about Eric Garner's murder and the exoneration of the white police officer who stole his life:
We're back on that mythical "choke hold" as cause of death. Garner died because he was obese and forced into a prone position, not because of a choke hold. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... 
This problem evidently is common enough to have it's own name. 
The term "choke hold" is a misnomer. In MMA where submissions are forced with so-called "choke holds", the loser doesn't actually have his breathing cut off. Rather, he has the blood vessels to his brain blocked off, leading to a quick submission. Otherwise, the fighter might work his way out of the position. According to the video of the takedown, the officer applying the "choke" didn't have his hands in position to apply enough pressure to cut off the windpipe. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... 
I happen to think that there was excessive force used in this case, but not because of a "choke". Given this guy's size, I'd like to know how the cops were going to get this guy back on his feet when they cuffed him.
I wrote "The Black Body is Always a Threat: White Racial Paranoiac Thinking Killed Eric Garner" several months ago. All work can be improved upon; but, I stand by my (then) analysis. If you have not read The Black Body is Always a Threat, please do so. It will help you to understand the repeated pattern where despite overwhelming visual evidence, how the White Gaze and white racial paranoiac thinking can distort the thought processes and values of too many White Americans when non-whites are subjected to violence by white people.

Judith Butler, whose work on white racial paranoiac thinking and the Rodney King case is essential, also informs how we can understand the video recorded killing of Eric Garner:
It is not, then, a question of negotiating between what is "seen," on the one hand, and a "reading" which is imposed upon the visual evidence, on the other. 
In a sense, the problem is even worse: to the extent that there is a racist organization and disposition of the visible, it will work to circumscribe what qualifies as visual evidence, such that it is in some cases impossible to establish the "truth" of racist brutality through recourse to visual evidence. For when the visual is fully schematized by racism, the "visual evidence" to which one refers will always and only refute the conclusions based upon it; for it is possible within this racist episteme that no black person can seek recourse to the visible as the sure ground of evidence. 
Consider that it was possible to draw a line of inference from the black male body motionless and beaten on the street to the conclusion that this very body was in "total control," rife with "dangerous intention.'' The visual field is not neutral to the question of race; it is itself a racial formation, an episteme, hegemonic, and forceful.
The Black Body is Always a Threat is an example of the type of analysis and commentary that I strive to bring you here on WARN. Again, if you can, and are able, please throw some change into the donation bucket, so that I can keep the energy going forward as I expand our endeavors.

How would you expand on, amend, or add to The Black Body is Always a Threat in light of the grand jury's decision to not indict the New York cop who killed Eric Garner?