Friday, October 31, 2014

When 'GamerGate' and White Male Privilege Enter the Classroom

I have not written about the internet troll debacle that has come to be known as "GamerGate". I have made that choice for a number of reasons: that a small subset of video game obsessives would fulfill every stereotype about those men who share that hobby is not at all surprising; there are other folks who written very sharp and smart things about GamerGate that are worth reading, and thus there was little for me to contribute to the conversation.

I will have to modify that earlier decision as GamerGate made an appearance in one of my classes earlier this week. The "real world" (at least for my students) chose to intervene, and in its own way Gamergate produced a "teachable moment".

I have been blessed with a good group of students who are bright, curious, hard working, and well mannered. For those of you who do not spend their days in a college classroom, such traits are very agreeable and increasingly uncommon.

As I encountered the seminar room my students were engaged in a conversation about GamerGate.

One of the young women asked me for my thoughts on the matter. I said, "bad behavior knows no boundaries, many trolls are sociopathic and have other mental health issues, and it is unfortunate that a small group of video game players decided to be human caricatures as they harassed someone who they disagreed with in some type of victimology circus".

The young women in class smiled and largely agreed with my observation.

A young man chimed in from the corner. He seemed perturbed and annoyed. He often has good things to say in class. He is not a "talker" per se, but rather someone who is very measured in his words. He spends them wisely.

"This is really unfair. Just because you say something sexist or racist online doesn't mean you are a sexist or racist in the the real world. This whole thing is just exaggerated", he explained.

I paused. I had a hiccup in my thinking as I processed what seemed to me to be an utter disconnect in logic and speech. I do not expect an underclassmen to have mastered Marcus Aurelius's meditations. But, some measure of consistency in thought should be expected from a college student.

I asked, "If a person does something that is racist or sexist are they then not in turn a racist or sexist person?"

He seemed confused.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Smart People Saying Smart Things: 'Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party' and '‘Broken Windows’ and the New York Police' Should be on Your Must Read List

I hope that your week is going well. I am in the process of finishing up the interviews for the first part of Season 3 of the podcast series here on WARN...the first of which will go up soon and features a return conversation with friend of the site Bill the Lizard about Star Wars: Episode 7, the new Disney Star Wars cartoon, the Clone Wars series, Guardians of the Galaxy, and other related matters.

We have a smart group of folks who read and comment here on We Are Respectable Negroes. When they point my attention to a book, article, or essay, I tend to pay attention to it. In an earlier thread, several readers praised The Weekly's Sift's piece Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party

Its thesis is provocative. Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party attempts to tie together the neo Confederacy, contemporary movement conservatism, and the Tea Party GOP. 

In total, the question "did the South really lose the Civil War?" is disturbing because of the truth it signals to. 

As I have suggested in my conversations with Professors Glenn Feldman and Paul Breines on WARN's podcast series, the Republican Party in the post civil rights era has fully embraced white supremacy as its brand name and guiding ideology. 

The Republican Party has also successfully used the courts, interest groups, and other means to subvert democracy by working to overturn the gains of the Civil Rights Movement. Moreover, the symbolism of the Republican Party's embrace of the Confederate Flag--what I and others call the "American Swastika"--and their adoption of antebellum language such as "nullification" cannot be separated from their virulent hatred of Barack Obama as a proxy for the White Right's animus and disdain for black Americans, more generally.  

The Republican Party has won over the former states of the Confederacy. Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party's argument is so powerful because what would seem like a counter factual torn from the pages of a speculative fiction novel is now a central fact of American political life--and has been so for decades. 

In America, the ghosts of Jim and Jane Crow, the White Citizens Councils, and the John Birch Society were never fully vanquished or exorcised. They simply morphed into the Republican Party.

In the spirit of sharing and reciprocity, I have a reading suggestion for all of you.

If you have not read the New York Review of Books' essay ‘Broken Windows’ and the New York Police by Michael Greenberg, I suggest that you do so.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Movement Conservatism, White Racial Paranoia, and the Killing of Michael Brown

The civet cat lives in the jungles of Indonesia. It enjoys eating coffee berries. However, the civet cat’s stomach is incapable of digesting them. The beans are subsequently excreted in the feces of the animal. Treated and “flavored” by the civet cat’s anal glands, the beans are highly prized by coffee aficionados, selling for 600 dollars a pound.

Picking through the political feces that are the comments sections on Right-wing propaganda websites such as The Blaze is not as lucrative. But, the process is very important for what it reveals about the worldview and ideology of movement conservatism.

Research in sociology, political science, and psychology has revealed that those with “conservative” political personality types see the world in binary and simplistic terms, are intolerant of ambiguity, more afraid of social change, highly deferent to authority, and have brains that are more highly attuned to feelings of fear and threat.

Conservative authoritarians are also much more likely to be racist, prejudiced, and xenophobic.

The Right-wing media machine is typified by “epistemic closure”. The self-reinforcing (and fictitious) narratives of the Right-wing media, when combined with selective information processing and cognitive bias by conservatives, has created an alternate world—one that is immune from the standards and facts that govern empirical reality.

Faith is a belief in that which cannot be proven by ordinary means; the Right-wing media is the temple at which movement conservatives fanatically pray and worship. The media elites and politicians of the American right speak in tongues to their congregation. To outsiders, this speech is gibberish and madness. For the Right-wing faithful, such acts are divine and prophetic.

Conservatives’ political personality traits, media, and a predisposition towards both implicit and explicit bias animus towards non-whites is crystallized in their response to the killing of Michael Brown and other unarmed black people such as Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Jordan Davis.

The American Right-wing’s defense of those who kill black people ranges from a barbaric and instinctive impulse towards homicidal ideation (as seen by those who defend Darren Wilson and have donated money to him as a form of bounty or prize for the new age lynching of Michael Brown) to a more mundane and quotidian belief that black people are a race of criminals, and it is best for “public safety” that the police and other representatives of the state treat African-Americans in a prejudicial and unfair way.

This continuum of behavior is an example of white racist paranoiac thinking.

Friday, October 24, 2014

From 'Bumptious Walking' Under Jim Crow to the Shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson in the Age of Obama


The trickles and leaks of information from the grand jury investigating the killing of the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by the white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri have turned into a flood.

This "new" information suggests that Darren Wilson will not be held accountable for shooting an unarmed person multiple times in broad daylight. It was already a fait accompli that Darren Wilson would not be arrested for the killing of an unarmed black person: any other outcome would be outside of America's long tradition of extra judicially murdering black and brown people.

The news media is also complicit with framing and circulating the leaked information in such a way as to exonerate Darren Wilson.

For example, the Washington Post has presented a one sided, rumor filled, and carefully framed story about Brown's autopsy as representing definitive fact--as opposed to information leaked by Wilson's defenders and a corrupt prosecutor's office.

Ultimately, what is the needlessly complex theater surrounding the death of Michael Brown at the hands of Darren Wilson can be crystallized down to one essential truth. Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown for the "crime" of being black and walking in the street.

This is not a new crime in the United States. Under the white racial terrorist regime of Jim and Jane Crow, black people were bullied and murdered for violating similar rules.

The present day version of this "crime" in the Age of Obama is demonstrated by Wilson's harassment of Michael Brown for "obstructing traffic".

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

White Privilege 101: Watch as a White Man Makes a Citizen's Arrest of a Cop...and isn't Killed

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




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.

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.