Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Something You Should Read: Joel Olson Keeps On Winning With His Essay "Whiteness and the 99%"

Occupy Wall Street and the hundreds of occupations it has sparked nationwide are among the most inspiring events in the U.S. in the 21st century. The occupations have brought together people to talk, occupy, and organize in new and exciting ways. The convergence of so many people with so many concerns has naturally created tensions within the occupation movement. One of the most significant tensions has been over race. 
This is not unusual, given the racial history of the United States. But this tension is particularly dangerous, for unless it is confronted, we cannot build the 99%. The key obstacle to building the 99% is left colorblindness, and the key to overcoming it is to put the struggles of communities of color at the center of this movement. It is the difference between a free world and the continued dominance of the 1%.
In my research and writing on the relationship(s) between race, power, inequality, and political culture, I often reference Joel Olson's concept of "white democracy." A complement to Joe Feagin's white racial frame, white democracy is a deceptively simple construct, with much explanatory power, and offers a theoretical lens that neatly groups together many other (seemingly disparate) findings.

Olson's piece on whiteness, the OWS movement, and white privilege is meme worthy, and as such, deserves as wide an audience as possible. "Whiteness and the 99 percent" is dispassionate; this is its strength. The essay is also wonderfully transparent as it grapples with white privilege, the Left, and liberal racism, in a way that is provocative, yet accessible.

As I am fond of saying, I don't have time to hold the hands of white folks and do any teaching about how they should get their house in order. Olson, as a member of the tribe, is imminently more patient and kind.

To that end, he smartly crystallizes the problem of white privilege and the OWS movement down to several key points.

Olson suggests that liberal colorblindness does the work of white privilege, and by implication, white supremacy. White democracy is real. The racial state is not an aberration in American history, rather it is the norm. Liberal colorblindness is given life through the white racial frame. This creates a "distorted white mindset" which sees the interests of people of color as "special" and "particular," while the interests of white folks are deemed "normal":
Left colorblindness is the belief that race is a “divisive” issue among the 99%, so we should instead focus on problems that “everyone” shares. According to this argument, the movement is for everyone, and people of color should join it rather than attack it. 
Left colorblindness claims to be inclusive, but it is actually just another way to keep whites’ interests at the forefront. It tells people of color to join “our” struggle (who makes up this “our,” anyway?) but warns them not to bring their “special” concerns into it. It enables white people to decide which issues are for the 99% and which ones are “too narrow.” It’s another way for whites to expect and insist on favored treatment, even in a democratic movement. 
As long as left colorblindness dominates our movement, there will be no 99%. There will instead be a handful of whites claiming to speak for everyone. When people of color have to enter a movement on white people’s terms rather than their own, that’s not the 99%. That’s white democracy.
Olson's latter point is a neat reframing and statement of what critical race theorists and others have described as white/liberal "universalism," wherein the interests of whites (as the in-group) go uncommented upon and uninterrogated because they are a "given." Consequently, the interests of White people, and Whiteness more generally, are not framed in terms of race. The irony is rich: Whiteness and White people do of course have racialized group interests--American history is a testament to this fact--they simply do not name them as such.

Like Olson, I too have similar worries about OWS. I am happy to see organic efforts such as Occupy the Hood, and moves by local groups to make issues of identity and racialized power more central to the OWS agenda. Nevertheless, I remain concerned that white group interests, white experiences, white politics, white understandings of the good life, white history, white humanity, and white concerns, remain normalized by OWS.

To counter this tendency towards a de facto embrace of white privilege as the status quo ante, Olson concludes "Whiteness and the 99%" with a set of helpful questions which challenge the OWS movement to remove their White (and middle class) blinders. He suggests that OWS should:
Occupy everything, attack the white democracy 
While no pamphlet can capture everything a nationwide movement can or should do to undermine the white democracy and left colorblindness, below is a short list of questions people might consider asking in movement debates. These questions were developed from actual debates in occupations throughout the U.S.
  1. Do speakers urge us “get beyond” race? Are they defensive and dismissive of demands for racial justice?
  1. If speakers urge developing “close working relationships with the police,” do they consider how police terrorize Black, Latino, Native, and undocumented communities? Do they consider how police have attacked occupation encampments?
  1. If speakers urge us to hold banks accountable, do they encourage us to focus on redlining, predatory lending, and subprime mortgages, which have decimated Black and Latino neighborhoods?
  1. If speakers urge the cancellation of debts, do they mean for things like electric and heating bills as well as home mortgages and college loans?
  1. If speakers urge the halting of foreclosures, do they acknowledge that they take place primarily in segregated neighborhoods, and do they propose to start there?
  1. If speakers urge the creation of more jobs, do they acknowledge that many communities of color have already been in chronic “recessions” for decades, and do they propose to start from there?
These are challenging questions that could serve as powerful rubrics for decision-making and agenda setting. 
As is my habit, some questions in the interest of sharing:
For those on the front lines of the OWS movement, are Olson's suggestions being heeded? Would they be met with a positive response? Is OWS actively interrogating white privilege?
Or are the knee jerk, "it's about class and not race" ideologues, limiting the conversation, and enforcing their own version of political correctness which marginalizes the broader interests and concerns of black and brown people?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Wealth of Riches for Ghetto Nerds: David Brooks and Star Wars; The New England Patriots, the KC Rout, and Pro Wrestling


Just a little ghetto nerd vanity and sharing.

Esquire magazine has two fun pieces up today, they are are so cool in fact, that after reading them you utter to yourself "damn, I wish I had written that."

1. My New England Patriots opened a can of whoop ass and took the Kansas City Chiefs to Jabroni Drive on Monday Night Football (bonus points for you folks who watched the Rock do his thing, sans any ring rust, during Survivor Series on Sunday). Now, I will admit that I was nervous for a second, as the Chief's backup QB showed some heart and spark during the first quarter of play--unknown variables are always confounding to the game plan--but Brady and the Gronk-monster asserted their will to earn the never really in doubt win.

Esquire's Eric Gillin summed up the game in the following way:
If you're me, if you're from Boston, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant running wild on too many multi-vitamins. The belt is theirs for the taking. But at this point everyone else thinks they're "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, and everyone else is kinda right. The Patriots pull hair. They videotape practices. They give up 400 yards a game, and they don't even really care.
But Tyler Palko cares. 
The jobber completed five of his first six passes. Brady went one for five, including an intentional grounding. Palko drove for three, and Brady fumbled for a fourth straight game. At this point — and this was not very far in — even Ron Jaworski was enjoying it: "This Palko has been unbelievable so far!" Here was the backup, down just 10-3 in primetime, outplaying the MVP and ready to steal an injured veteran's job. Sounded enough like a former professional clipboard-holder out of Michigan to scare the wrestling out of me. 
Is Tyler Palko the second coming of Tom Brady? Of course not. But it was fun for a half hour.
In keeping with the pro-wrestling analogy, I guess Tyler Palko is the golden age of ECW's Mikey Whipwreck.


2. David Brooks is always good sport. On one hand, folks hate on him because he gets to write for the New York Times, go on TV, and they don't. Many also shake their head at Brooks' analyses because he has figured out the first rule of punditry: make big predictions, even outrageous ones, because the public never remembers when you are wrong.

Esquire's Charlies Pierce uses the mighty Star Wars saga, including some well-put allusions to the problematic Prequels, to goof on Brooks' latest essay on the Republican Party and the idea of a "political solar system":
The other day, I jokingly mentioned that David Brooks, soi-disant regent prince of the Island of Misfit Sociologists, gave every indication that he writes his columns from the moons of Neptune. Turns out, I was wrong. As is plain today, Brooks is a native of Tatooine. Not a sand person, surely, nor a vapor farmer, like the unfortunate Owen Lars. Probably not an habitue of the Mos Eisley cantina, either. ("I have the death sentence for boredom on five systems!") Just a guy writing columns for the local daily newspaper in which he explains to sand people, and the vapor farmers, and the derelicts at the bar that there simply is not enough moral consistency in them to make the place more livable, always neglecting to mention that the place is a desert largely because there is no fking water there.
Pierce goes Mandalorian on Brooks here, where he offers comments in bold on the latter's trite observations:
...used to contain serious internal debates — between moderate and conservative Republicans, between New Democrats and liberals. Neither party does now. 
(Yes, here on the planet we call... Earth, I have noticed that Barack Obama has received no criticism at all from within his own party, while the Republicans bristle with internal strife over whether Barack Obama is a socialist born in Kenya or a socialist born in Hawaii. Worse than the Clone Wars, that is.)
The Democrats talk and look like a conventional liberal party (some liberals, who represent, at most, 30 percent of the country, are disappointed because President Obama hasn't ushered in a Huffington Post paradise). 
(The Huffington Post Paradise is on Naboo, where Natalie Portman once tried to bury her career and where everything looks like an old Breck commercial. Arianna Binks provides the comic relief.)
It is worth your time to read Pierce's full piece just for the smile that comes from seeing the photoshopped graphic with David Brooks' head as one of the moons of Tatooine.

Do any of you have any fun finds worthy of ghetto nerd glee to share? Add to the pile if you so desire.

Colin Powell on the Quintessentially American Nature of the Occupy Wall Street Movement



Colin Powell is one of my favorite conservatives who happens to be black. A question: whatever happened to this type of reasonable, pragmatic, reflective, and problem-solving oriented Republican?

I like this interview because Powell hits on a point that is remarkably clear to all those observers who look at the Occupy Wall Street Movement with any type of reasonable and considerate eye. While Cain, Gingrich, and other mouth pieces of the Right-wing want to savage and caricaturize those Americans who "dare" to use free speech in order to call attention to gross disparities of financial, and political power, there is much to suggest that the OWS movement, despite some challenges, does indeed speak for the silent majority.

The OWS movement is remarkably centrist: they want to challenge the robber barons and plutocrats who have destroyed the economy for their own enrichment; they argue that we need to return to an economy that grows the middle class; they hold a belief that gross disparities of wealth and income inequality create social instability; and OWS wants to make certain the promise of a America where there will not be a permanent elite, and that the nation is to stop being one where inter-generational upward mobility is less than that of France.

In all, these are reasonable claims on citizenship, the polity, belonging, and justice.

However, because of the power of the Right-wing echo chamber to reframe reality, reinforce corporatism as being synonymous with the Common Good, and a public that is woefully ignorant of the United States' deep vein of populist resistance, these efforts are savaged as somehow outside of the American political tradition.

This Rightward shifting of the public discourse should be no surprise. It is the result of decades of maneuvering by conservatives to establish think tanks, position themselves in the media, and make neoliberalism a type of common sense gospel where market solutions, tax cuts for the rich, and now "austerity policies" which balance State and Federal budgets on the backs of the poor, are the de facto solutions for times of economic crisis.

Ironically, these policies are a reversal of causality, as they in fact created the Great Recession; consequently, thus, and in no way, can these same broken policies expedite us out from our present morass.

Thinking broadly on these questions, The Guardian UK has a great piece on the political possibilities symbolized by the Occupy Wall Street Movement that is well worth reading.

It follows here:

Anti-Capitalist? Too Simple. Occupy Can be the Catalyst for a Radical Rethink

The Occupy London movement is marking its first month this week. It is routinely described as anti-capitalist, but this label is highly misleading. As I found out when I gave a lecture at its Tent City University last weekend, many of its participants are not against capitalism. They just want it better regulated so that it benefits the greatest possible majority.

But even accepting that the label accurately describes some participants in the movement, what does being anti-capitalist actually mean?

Many Americans, for example, consider countries like France and Sweden to be socialist or anti-capitalist – yet, were their 19th-century ancestors able to time-travel to today, they would almost certainly have called today's US socialist. They would have been shocked to find that their beloved country had decided to punish industry and enterprise with a progressive income tax. To their horror, they would also see that children had been deprived of the freedom to work and adults "the liberty of working as long as [they] wished", as the US supreme court put it in1905 when ruling unconstitutional a New York state act limiting the working hours of bakers to 10 hours a day. What is capitalist, and thus anti-capitalist, it seems, depends on who you are.

Many institutions that most of us regard as the foundation stones of capitalism were not introduced until the mid-19th century, because they had been seen as undermining capitalism. Adam Smith opposed limited liability companies and Herbert Spencer objected to the central bank, both on the grounds that these institutions dulled market incentives by putting upper limits to investment risk. The same argument was made against the bankruptcy law.

Since the mid-19th century, many measures that were widely regarded as anti-capitalist when first introduced – such as the progressive income tax, the welfare state, child labour regulation and the eight-hour day – have become integral parts of capitalism today.

Capitalism has also evolved in very different ways across countries. They may all be capitalist in that they are predominantly run on the basis of private property and profit motives, but beyond that they are organised very differently.

In Japan interlocking share ownership among friendly enterprises, which once accounted for over 50% of all listed shares and still accounts for around 30%, makes hostile takeover very difficult. This has enabled Japanese companies to invest with a much longer time horizon than their British or American counterparts.

Japanese companies provide lifetime employment for their core workers (accounting for about a third of the workforce), thereby creating strong worker loyalty. They also give the workers a relatively large say in the management of the production process, thus tapping their creative powers. There are heavy regulations in the agricultural and retail sectors against large firms, which complement the weak welfare state by preserving small shops and farms.

German capitalism is as different from the American or British version as Japanese capitalism, but in other ways. Like Japan, Germany gives a relatively big input to workers in the running of a company, but in a collectivist way through the co-determination system, in which worker representation on the supervisory board allows them to have a say in key corporate matters (such as plant closure and takeovers), rather than giving a greater stake in the company to workers as individuals, as in the Japanese system.

Thus, while Japanese companies are protected from hostile takeovers by friendly companies (through interlocking shareholding), German companies are protected by their workers (through co-determination).

Even supposedly similar varieties of capitalism, for example Swedish and German, have important differences. German workers are represented through the co-determination system and through industry-level trade unions, while Swedish workers are represented by a centralised trade union (the Swedish Trade Union Confederation), which engages in centralised wage bargaining with the centralised employers' association (the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise).

Unlike in Germany, where concentrated corporate ownership has been deliberately destroyed, Sweden has arguably the most concentrated corporate ownership in the world. One family – the Wallenbergs – possesses controlling stakes (usually defined as over 20% of voting shares) in most of the key companies in the Swedish economy, including ABB, Ericsson, Electrolux, Saab, SEB and SKF. Some estimate that the Wallenberg companies produce a third of Swedish national output. Despite this, Sweden has built one of the most egalitarian societies in the world because of its large, and largely effective, welfare state.

And then there are hybrids that defy definition: China, with its large socialist legacy, is an obvious case, but Singapore is another, even more interesting, example. Singapore is usually touted as the model student of free-market capitalism, given its free-trade policy and welcoming attitude towards multinational companies. Yet in other ways it is a very socialist country. All land is owned by the government, 85% of housing is supplied by the government-owned housing corporation, and a staggering 22% of national output is produced by state-owned enterprises. (The international average is around 10%.) Would you say that Singapore is capitalist or socialist?

When it is so diverse, criticising capitalism is not very meaningful. What you have to change to improve the Swedish or the Japanese capitalist systems is very different from what you should do for the British one.

In Britain, as already physically identified by the Occupy movement, it is clear the key reforms should be made in the City of London. The fact that the Occupy movement does not have an agreed list of reforms should not be used as an excuse not to engage with it. I'm told there is an economics committee working on it and, more importantly, there are already many financial reform proposals floating around, often supported by very "establishment" figures like Adair Turner, the Financial Services Authority chairman, George Soros, the Open Society Foundations chairman, and Andy Haldane, the Bank of England's executive director for financial stability.

By labelling the Occupy movement "anti-capitalist", those who do not want reforms have been able to avoid the real debate. This has to stop. It is time we use the Occupy movement as the catalyst for a serious debate on alternative institutional arrangements that will make British (or for that matter, any other) capitalism better for the majority of people.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A History Too Personal: The Slave Master Forced Her to Drink A "Pint of Piss" as Punishment...



I have a colleague who is an astrophysicist. He is also the only African American in his laboratory, and is quite fond of joking that he is "free of all that identity and race stuff" because he studies the stars, dark matter, and black holes. Of course, race matters in his career path--the STEM fields can be none too kind to people of color and women--but he is spot on in the observation that his work isn't "personal" to him in the same way that research and teaching can be to many folks who are in fields related to gender, race, sexuality, or other matters of identity and power.

Sometimes, one's research can take them to a dark place where critical distance is upset and disqualified. For example, I have read about professionals who study genocide, and the problem of evil, who were quite literally consumed by the darkness of their work. Sadly, the great Iris Chang is one of those people. I was/am also friends with someone who could not escape the demons of his own research on the relationship between genocide and ontology--and took his own life as a result.

At present, my "fun" reading is the The Ruling Race by James Oakes, a classic text on chattel slavery in the United States. Oakes is a master historian, and this work does much to get beyond a narrow and simple depiction of white elites in the South's Slaveocracy. Oakes goes beyond if they were "good" or "bad" people (most certainly many were more of the latter than the former), by highlighting how white slaveowners rationalized that "the peculiar institution" was a cultural, economic, political, and in many cases, religious and moral imperative.

There are sections of The Ruling Race that are just too personal to me; I can certainly reconcile and contextual Oakes' work within a broader literature on Southern slave systems, but I could never do so much, making a living by looking at original source materials where folks like me, my kin and people, are routinely debased, objectified, and subject to gross cruelty.

I do not have the emotional or mental discipline. I hold those who do in the utmost of respect, and with the highest regard.

In the interest of sharing found bits of knowledge, as I often do, here is a particularly potent passage from Oakes' compelling work:

William Pitman shocked even his family when he came home in a drunken rage one night and tied up a young slave by the neck and heels, beat the boy with a vine, and then "stomped him to death." Pitman's children testified against their father, and one newspaper editor declared that the convicted murderer had "justly incurred the penalties of law."

Yet the open condemnation of extreme cruelty standsin contrast to the pervasive silence on the widespread use of harsh physical punishment. Even the best masters accepted whipping as essential to the maintenance of discipline. When William Dunbar found one of his slaves drunk, he had the bondsman "confined to the Bastile." The following day Dunbar "ordered him 500 lashes...in order to draw a Confession from him." The slave acknowledged his misdeed and was promptly chained about the ankles. After several days, Dunbar had the irons "taken off, his leg being swelled, as I intend carrying him up to Point Coupee, where I shall see him if I find an opportunity." Dunbar skillfully employed public punishment in an effort to terrorize all of his slaves. At one point he "ordered the Wench Bessy out of Irons, & to receive 25 lashes with a Cow Skin as a punishment & Example to the rest."

It did not take much provocation for William Byrd to raise the lash. He whipped slaves for not reporting their illnesses, for "laziness," for wetting the bed, for "doing nothing." Byrd branded one slave with a hot iron and put a bit in her mouth. He forced another to take "a pint of piss to drink." That Byrd does to appear to have been a particularly cruel master reinforces the conclusion that physical abuse was not an aberration, but rather a hallmark of slavery. As such, it contributed to the dehumanization of the slaves in the masters' eyes.

Such cruelty followed logically from the nearly universal goal of the slaveholders--material advancement.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Peanut Gallery Speaks: A Video of a 29 Year Old Barack Obama Surfaces; Conspiranoid Conservatives Go Crazy



I love the Right-wing echo chamber and their peanut gallery. Of course, extreme partisanship and gross ideology leaves all involved less intelligent and prone to drooling, half-formed mouth utterances; but what counts as "discourse" by populist Conservatives, and their supplicants, rises above mere mediocrity and to the level of performance art.

A new video of a "young" 29 year old Barack Obama has recently surfaced. In this "Black History Minute," he offers a comment on Charles Hamilton Houston, the mentor of the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. This video is a novelty in the best sense of the word: the soon to be first black president of the United States reflecting on the first African American member of the Supremes; we get a glimpse of a boyish, accomplished, and not yet fully polished man, who would soon become the most powerful person on planet Earth.

In all, some good stuff.

But, if you wear the blinders of the Tea Party GOP and are addicted to the Right-wing talking point crack rock, you see something nefarious, racist, a sign of all the evil that is to come, and evidence of a conspiracy by the "mainstream media" to suppress the release of this decades old video because it would have derailed Barack Obama's campaign for President.

I do love the twisted, labyrinth-like, minds of those who reside in the Right-wing echo chamber--as we must study our enemies in the interest of protecting the Common Good.

As I occasionally do, dredging the sewer and septic tank of the Conservative blogosphere for your enjoyment, here is a selection of comments from the Daily Caller:

joe grandberg

Those who espouse "fixing the deficits" by stripmining more revenue from the productive class have no comprehension of the trillions owed and the continuing indebtedness thanks to this president. It is mathematically impossible to pay off at any rate of "growth" so the US will PRINT or DEFAULT. Are you prepared? You'll remember dismissing these comments as "hyperbole" and regret not listening.

Joseph Hores

The conservative Republicans are the only ones who I see actually supporting the constitution. The (so-called conservatives, as you call them) faulse conservatives, are the 'so-called' neo-cons, and rinos. Real conservatives are not bad for the republic. If not for the conservatives, the Progressive Left would have this country much farther down the toilet of Socialism.

The Left uses the accusation of racisim because they 'feel' that they can get some taction, due to the fact that they still think that everyone is afraid of the charge. Liberalism is not about being honest, it is about wining with any propaganda and mud slinging that is usable. Grow up, the Libs care not one little bit about honest debate exept to avoid it.

You are not doing much good at dissuading pepole of the notion of that Ron Paul folks have a high percentage of NUTS.

John Breckenridge

Amazing,

his English in this video is without any Southern or Black sounding accents.
Wow, he later on must have put a lot of effort in order to sound like a black
person who was born and raised in the United States of America!

woodpecker1

Twenty years ago was about the time the "Rev" Wright, David Axelrod and other American hating Socialist started grooming BHO to be the Socialist Dictator of the United States.

chisco1

Then you are aware of the racism that is behind the attacks on Herman Cain -- Mr. Cain, in all likelihood, has GOT to be obama's "worst nightmare", and I truly believe that with Herman Cain's business success, REAL intellectual prowess, and even his FAR more personable demeanor, a Herman Cain presidency would sppotlight the FLAWS in the "obama adventure" we've all be subjected to. If Cain is the nominee, I WOULD ABSOLUTELY vote for him!!!!

Armedpatriot

Vet their leaders??? No, destroy the Republicans. B.O. has admitted to using pot and cocaine. He has been accused of homosexual sex, (heard that on the drive by media?) his administration has been involved with funding (money laundering) his top donors and unions, ie UAW, SEIU, AFL-CIO, and teachers unions through the stimulus bill, Solyndra, Beacon Power, etc. His administration has 1/2 as much of the debt as ALL THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS SINCE GEORGE WASHINGTON, all spent on failed policies.

The B.O. Administration has been involved in Operation Fast and Furious, which would have brought down any president if the media were honest and dug into this. They have raped the treasury and thrown this country into a depression, refused to make NECESSARY cuts in spending to entitlements and unrealistic programs (NEA, PBS, NPR) that can only lead to further collapse and calamity, and embraced the lawless anarchy and riots that are going on at this very moment (just wait till next spring/summer).

No, The press isnt interested in vetting. They are interested in destroying any competitor to B.O. as they are not only complacent, but complicate. They are the propaganda wing of the White House.

elainepacheco

The Marxist, Islamist, anti American and his training wheels. No one can watch this and think were he not Black, he never would have been the editor of the Harvard Law Review. Were he White, he would have been seen as mediocre. It reminds me of the saying,' It's easy to stand out when the level of competence is so low." Everyone should be judged on their ability, this affirmative action crap at all levels of society has resulted in an "adjusted scale" for competence, and frankly, this sub standard POTUS is costing the US dearly home and abroad. We can't afford to select or promote someone because they are a color we want to feel good about ourselves!

Lonecoolman

OHMGOD! FTA: "As the 2012 election cycle heats up, the Obama campaign should expect more early videos to be unearthed as Americans take a closer look at the early beliefs of their President."

Don't you think the MEDIA and those Americans should have done their homework the first time!!!!

This man is a fraud those of us screaming it in 2008, were poo poo'd as fanatics, NOW America's CHICKENS are coming home to roost!

Elilla Shadowheart

Boy oh boy. The media sure could have done a bang up job nearly 4 years ago digging this up. But nah, what the hell am I talking about. This guy is their pet favorite.

chisco1

I'd believe that this is barack obama except for one thing -- he's ACTUALLY LOOKING INTO the camera! The barack obama we all know now almost NEVER does that -- HIS head is on a swivel from one TOTUS to the other -- and looking straight into the camera is NOT what liars do!!!!

None None

You should have used a qualifier, "Allegedly graduated from Harvard Law School". No one has ever seen a transcript or diploma to prove it and no one remembers having classes with him.

Ramrod

DEmocratic policies responsible for Economic collapse you can go back to Jimmy Carter who passed the community reinvestment act when the Govt started forcing Banks to make risky loans to the poor then the DOPE from HOPE Bill Clinton doubled down on Community reinvestment act and made it easier for the poor to buy houses which gave us the Sub prime no income verification process were people were allowed to borrow upwards of 500,000 thousand clams without even haven to prove they had a JOB. Left Wing Social engineering at its worst. Hey loonie Leftist havent you herd? Central planning does not Work it failed in Russia,North Korea,Cuba etc.Best thing to do is cut size of Federal Govt by 90% the Founders understood the limitations of Govt seems like the american people have lost their way if they think Govt can fix things.Govt would screw up a cup of coffee.

msperfect

There's a video on you-tube where a young woman on welfare desribes her benefits: free housing, food stamps even for McDonald's and other fast food places, free daycare. She ends by saying "Why would I want to work:".. That's the Obama notion for all of America.

Eagle8108

So did his white half do a "white history minute?" You know, the half that didn't abandon him... the half that raised him... the "typical white person" half. It's all about race with this douchebag... then and now. I guess when you've got no other qualifications or executive acumen, you have to trade on the ancestry of your deadbeat dad and a teleprompter.

Razor

There is no need rationalizing with the liberal left. They have their opinion and the middle and right has their own. There is no compromise nor agreement to be had. The embrace of the ows crowd by this administration and the lib democraps in wa is understanding enough. They are the enemy as bad or worse than any abroad in the eyes of the right. They loath us on the right and we loath them right back.

Biff

Yes, the voice is discernibly deeper, but the tone is much less condescending or arrogant. Perhaps he should just let Michelle keep his balls a while longer.

LeeBoice

You don't know what the f*ck your even talking about . We broke from England to be free of a strong central all powerful government . Obma 'would be king if he could and you know it .
Leftist swine like you want the same kind of all powerful government that owns and runs and dictates EVERYTHING and takes care of you , cradle to the grave. Thats the exact opposite of why the country was formed. Now that I have sufficiently smacked the crap out of your stupid statements I think you need to get off line and let educated folks talk on here. Marixist a hole

Mr-spike007

Thats Not the Same Person who Goes by the Alias of Obama look at his Buck Teeth and
Cheek Bones, No We Know Why the Stooge Secret Service Collaborators when Searching
for a Water Glass that went missing at a Recent Fund Raiser So No One Could Lift the
Finger Prints the Person in this Video has Long Been Liquidated.

fribble

"I'm Arrogant Phony, Barack Obama. "formed a cadre" and "masterminded" "Mr. Justice ....Thurgood Marshall." "I've never done and never will, accomplish anything. I'm Barack Obama and I'm an angry half-black who is glomming onto a cause to make a false life out of my false life." "It's all I've got and my life is a lie and I am a lie." "Thank you for noticing who really awesome I am. I have a gift.........for BS."

AlphaOneAlpha

"Additional vintage videos of the president may yet emerge for the benefit of a public more eager than ever to vet their future leaders."

Yeah, in 2007 and 2008 our corrupt media gave a big pass to Obama. They did not look into ANYTHING about his background. Nor did they whine when Obama produced noting in terms of his history...school grades, who paid for his education, etc, etc.
What we did get were two books written by Obama (or BIll Ayers, his American born America hater)

Joanie

I find it hard to believe anyone would vote for obama. He has destroyed our country and four more years with him will be total destruction. Forget his color, his liberalism, his false promises and education yourself about what is going on. It's not hard, just look around you and compare the last four years and the four years before obama. Hint: gas was about $1.75 a gallon before obama's time in the WH. It wouldn't hurt to study history either, try Argentina, it was a thriving country before its downfall. With obama America is following the same pattern.

Perhaps IQ tests should be given before anyone can vote.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Disposable History: Tweeting World War Two; Tweeting The Middle Passage and Slavery; Losing Ourselves



I am a bit ambivalent about "tweeting" World War 2...

There is a great deal of pressure to make the study of history and politics "relevant" to "the general public" and "young learners." The arguments are familiar: history must be made to come "alive" if it is to remain relevant; technology is an aid, an enhancement to how we share information and communicate with one another. Thus, it must be embraced, lest our culture stagnate.

I am not a Luddite. However, I do not think that newer is necessarily better. In the case of "tweeting" World War 2, I am unsure if there is any value gained from the exercise. Moreover, there is a wealth of film, radio, and other footage about World War 2--much of it still not seen or heard by the general public--so why reinvent the wheel?

Alwyn Collison is ambitious and should be commended for his efforts. Nevertheless, the question remains: what does an instantaneous, blow-by-blow accounting of World War 2 "as it happened" on Twitter expose, accomplish, or make more clear?

My worry about these types of projects is not that Google (and the Internet, more generally) is making us more stupid (which remains an open question). Rather, that some experiences are cheapened, and basic misunderstandings of the complexity of social/historical and political events furthered, by a limitation of form. Can a person really capture the spirit of World War Two in bits of text that are no longer than 140 characters?

Reality is mediated. We learn about the world in part through the mass media, and are also bounded by the limits of our own sensory perceptions. These limitations are important: they form the experience of a moment, and color how we locate a specific historical event in the proper framework and context.

For example, World War 2 was a war of radio and film. These mediums were central to how publics understood these world-changing events. The Civil War was a war of the telegraph and photographs. The Great War straddled these two moments. For outcomes, both ill and good, The Gulf Wars and the Afghan campaign are conflicts typified by immediate and near-instantaneous communication.

The lag between events, and how people removed from those direct happenings experienced them afterward, is part of the spirit of that age; in turn, distance and removal impacted how policy makers, the public, and elites responded to them. The closing of the distance between the front lines, war fighters, and commanders has changed how wars are fought. Ironically, the American public now gets its information "instantaneously" too--but, only after it has been sterilized and processed into an approved package by the propagandists, spin doctors, and dream merchants at the Pentagon and White House.

But, what of events that are made too comprehensible by Twitter, and thus in their immediacy gain "a matter of factness" which robs them of their import and historical weight?

For example:

How would one "tweet" the uprisings in the Warsaw Ghetto?

"The fighting is intense. We are out of ammo. Being killed and surrounded."

How would one "tweet" their being set upon by the SS as they are herded into cattle cars to the death camps?

"So scared. What is happening. They are taking our luggage, robbing people, beating them."

How would one "tweet" the bombings of Nagasaki or Hiroshima?

"I heard a noise, There was a bright light. I can barely see. I am burned all over. What happened?"

Reaching to another moment, how does one "tweet" The Middle Passage and the Transatlantic Slave Trade?

"Went to the other village. There was a raid. We are being locked up in this castle. Losing reception. So hot, scared, people dying."

How flattening and banal.

Some events ought to be incomprehensible. These same events also benefit from the distance of the photograph, the radio, the page, or perhaps even film and TV. But Twitter? I will have to pass.

Tweeting World War 2 is a well-intentioned effort, but one which is a sign that our culture, and its legacy and meaning, are becoming (if they are already not in fact) utterly disposable and transitory.

We are left with a meta-level, ontological question: How do we communicate meaning in a substantive way, when technology is making so much of our shared experiences utterly ephemeral? Is there even "history" anymore? And should we dare to care?

Friday Fun: Pastor Manning Channels God and Curses Herman Cain and His Daughters



Hat tip to Cnu of Subrealism for sending this link to me.

I was going to post something troubling, depressing, provocative and a testimony of man's inhumanity to man, but I would rather laugh at Brother Manning.

What is the angle here? Pastor Manning hates Obama, and one would think that he would be down for Herman Cain. But, Manning has a habit of allying with the Tea Party White populist of the day (Glenn Beck, Palin, and others) and then turning on them. Is it that Pastor Manning has to be the negro of the moment, he who gets all of the shine, and thus cannot share Massa's stoop?

Regardless of his motives, Manning sons Herman Cain, calls out his sexual perversions, predicts that Providence will visit suffering on Cain's daughters, and paints a picture of the Koch brothers as whore masters for their Tea Party mouth-breathers--and that Herman Cain is their human puppet.

Cursing Cain's daughters aside, and with all that god hoodoo mumbo jumbo discounted, I am gonna have to cosign Pastor Manning's warning to Herb Cornbread Bojangles Cain. He must repent and have hands laid on him so that the purifying waters of righteousness can flow down and over him.

Fate is a trickster. Perhaps, he/she/it could arrange for an old school church tent revival in Harlem, in which Herman Cain publicly confesses his sins, lays prostrate before Pastor Manning, and is naked before the Lord.

We can only dream...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pew Survey Reveals that the Public's Belief in American Exceptionalism is on the Wane: It is All Barack Obama's Fault!



The public has lost faith in the idea of American Exceptionalism. You know this is all Barack Obama's fault. Don't you?

He travels around the world on "apology tours." He refuses to wear an American flag pin on his lapel. Obama was born outside of the American cultural and political tradition and has a deep dislike for this country. In fact, we have long suspected that he isn't even a U.S. citizen. Michelle Obama, the First Lady, did not have pride in America for most of her adult life (as is her selfish way, she only became proud of this great country when her husband was elected president, the nerve of that woman!). Obama even believes that Americans are "lazy." Horatio Alger and the Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves.

And now, the President's lack of faith in American exceptionalism has infected the country's young people. It isn't surprising that those befouled liberals who have been brainwashed in college classrooms by Communist Socialist Fascist Maoist professors believe that America is not a special and exceptional nation. But, the very idea that "real Americans" would believe such a thing, is truly revelatory of the cultural rot which is holding this great nation back at the most inopportune of times, just as the Red Chinese conquer the world.

Seriously folks, what I offer in mocking jest will be the Right-wing talking points of the week when the findings from the Pew survey on American and Western European values trickles down and out to the mouth-breathing, Fox News, talk radio, chattering classes, and then is disseminated to their unwashed masses and Tea Party GOP supplicants.

American exceptionalism is a true lie. It does a good amount of political work in creating a sense of nationalism, legitimating government rule, and providing the fuel for those moments when "we the people" must rally around the flag in defense of the Common Good. A belief in American Exceptionalism, and its auxiliary premise that the United States is a "shining city on the hill" is a great story to play with, to inspire, and to use as a goal and barometer for achieving the best of what we can, and should be, as a nation.

However, as Dick Gregory sharply alluded to in regards to Bill Clinton, he who was our first "black president," it's okay to pretend that a cardboard box is your house, just don't try to use it as your address.

In all, American exceptionalism illuminates as much as it blinds.

For example, a certain generation is unwilling to admit that their understanding of America's role in the world, and the uniqueness of our singular destiny, is a function of a very particular arrangement of circumstances, power, and resources. Those are conditions which do not necessarily hold in the present. One of the key elements in the cultural crisis which is the United States at the nadir of Empire, is that the trope of American exceptionalism has become a cudgel to beat down cosmopolitanism, pragmatism, and creative solutions to challenging public policy dilemmas.

Here, the cultish personality of the Republican Party, and populist conservatism at large, clings to a dead corpse, a type of American exceptionalism that ceases to be valid or real in the present: it is a fetish, a magical totem that has lost its Ju-Ju. Instead of using the ideal of American exceptionalism to inspire ourselves to improve (for example, this country now ranks behind France in terms of inter-generational class mobility), it is now a tool for political chauvinists and bullies.


Feelings trump facts. Sentimentality fuels nostalgia. Nostalgia, a hopeful and inaccurate yearning for, and dreaming of the past, drives contemporary Conservatism. This willful misremembering and misperception of the past fuels the American partisan divide in the year 2012.

Conflicting views on American exceptionalism are central to this story.

The full report, The American-Western European Values Gap, can be found here. A particularly relevant section follows:

Cultural Superiority


About half of Americans (49%) and Germans (47%) agree with the statement, “Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others;” 44% in Spain share this view. In Britain and France, only about a third or fewer (32% and 27%, respectively) think their culture is better than others.

While opinions about cultural superiority have remained relatively stable over the years in the four Western European countries surveyed, Americans are now far less likely to say that their culture is better than others; six-in-ten Americans held this belief in 2002 and 55% did so in 2007. Belief in cultural superiority has declined
among Americans across age, gender and education groups.

As in past surveys, older Americans remain far more inclined than younger ones to believe that their culture is better than others. Six-in-ten Americans ages 50 or older share this view, while 34% disagree; those younger than 30 hold the opposite view, with just 37% saying American culture is superior and 61% saying it is not. Opinions are more divided among those ages 30 to 49; 44% in this group see American culture as superior and 50% do not.

Similar age gaps are not as common in the Western European countries surveyed, with the exception of Spain, where majorities of older respondents, but not among younger ones, also think their culture is better than others; 55% of those ages 50 or older say this is the case, compared with 34% of those ages 30 to 49 and 39% of those younger than 30.

As is the case on other measures, opinions about cultural superiority vary considerably by educational attainment. In the four Western European countries and in the U.S., those who did not graduate from college are more likely than those who did to agree that their culture is superior, even if their people are not perfect.

For example, Germans with less education are twice as likely as those with a college degree to believe their culture is superior (50% vs. 25%); double-digit differences are also present in France (20 percentage points), Spain (18 points) and Britain (11 points), while a less pronounced gap is evident in the U.S. (9 points).

Finally, among Americans and Germans, political conservative are especially likely to believe their culture is superior to others. In the U.S., 63% of conservatives take this view, compared with 45% of moderates and just 34% of liberals. Similarly, a majority (55%) of right-wing Germans see their culture as superior, while 47% of moderates and 34% of those on the political left agree.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Malleability of Truth? Capturing the Friedmans and Jerry Sandusky's Adventures in Pedophilia


I enjoy watching masters at work. There is something about effortless and natural competence which I cannot get enough of: Michael Stones' interviews with serial killers; Shawn Michaels' last two matches with the Undertaker; and now Bob Costas' interview with Jerry Sandusky.

The saga of Penn State University has provided an object lesson in bad behavior. The coaches and staff who suspected that children were being molested. The students who riot over their beloved coach being held accountable for his behavior--but who sadly are more compelled to act like fools over football than to be active and responsibly engaged citizens in their communities and nation. The police and other authorities who looked the other way.

When the families of these children come forth--and do not be mistaken, these "underprivileged" kids are indeed black--the victims will have a face, and the drama will enter another act. Will this be the denouement? Rising action? The climax?

I am unsure. Whatever moment in the drama ensues, it will be both epic and tragic.

Listening to Jerry Sandusky's interview with Bob Costas, I was reminded of the award winning documentary Capturing the Friedmans. One of the best films in recent memory, it exposes how a family quite literally imploded when its patriarch, Arnold Friedman, and his son Jessie, were accused of molesting dozens of children in the community of Great Neck, New York during the 1980s.

The film resonates because it highlights how the very nature of the truth is malleable, and largely dependent on context and perspective. The film is also a damning indictment of our society's culture of victimhood and a legal system that has to confront monsters, while doing its best to adhere to some minimum norm of procedural justice.

There are some eerie similarities between Jerry Sandusky's honesty about "innocent" naked play with young boys, and Arnold Friedman's confession of his own pedophilia. To my ear at least, the resonance of their words is interchangeable.

Frightening. Sad. In all, not surprising in the least bit.

This one is yours folks. I am at a loss for words.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is This Guy Just Another Dumb Black Man or What? Herman Cain's Refined Embrace of Ignorance



Gots all this stuff twirlin' about in my head.

Herman Cain needs to hurry up and book his guest spot on Tyler Perry's new age race minstrel show The House of Payne.

Anyone can have a system crash moment where their mainframe goes down and needs to reboot.

But, this newest epic fail by Herbie Cornbread Cain is part of a pattern of failure regarding basic knowledge about matters of public policy. He clearly is not prepared to be President of the United States. This fact is clear.

As I was with Sarah Palin, another triumph of Tea Party GOP anti-intellectual mediocrity, I do not understand the hubris and arrogance which leads a person to believe that they can be President, or hold a senior leadership position in government, when they have little if any interest in matters of foreign or domestic politics.

There is no set formula for what makes a successful Chief Executive. Certainly, intelligence helps. But instinct, charisma, and the ability to select competent people to help you in a collegiate, consensus-based model of decision-making, can work around this gap. A President can be fully degreed, with paper from the country's best institutions, but they can be a dullard who is manipulated by their advisers and handlers. There are educated fools; there are fools who are educated.

However, a successful leader cannot be intellectually "incurious." As Palin's handlers learned in trying to brief her for the 2008 Republican campaign, you cannot cram a lifetime of information into a few months of studying and preparation. While I will never be President, and most certainly do not have the competency for such a role, I remember watching the news in elementary school and reading newspapers and magazines. I liked talking about politics, history, philosophy, and other such matters, with friends and family.

Like you, I picked up a narrative about politics that I take for granted. This is the matrix, an invisible superstucture upon which other, more particular and intentionally learned and acquired information, is built upon.

Herman Cain is a technician who knows how to do math about the movement of objects.



Herman Cain is a technician who can follow a profit maximization rubric that helps him decide if he should shut down pizza franchises.

Herman Cain is no Renaissance man.

Moreover, he, like the anti-intellectual set on the New Right, does not have a basic understanding of current events that is empirically grounded, with breadth, and that goes beyond a talking point, fact-free nation, of Right-wing bloviating and epistemic closure that is coloured for the professionals by the propagandists at the Heritage Foundation, and fingered painted in the dots for the rank and file upright walking knuckledraggers by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

Herman Cain said that God told him to run for office, for he is Moses. Apparently, God is a trickster who also told the other Republican candidates to run for office too. Funny, I don't recall Cain, Perry, Bacchmann or the other Tea Party GOP candidates sharing if God told them that they would win (or not).

Fate is a trickster, maybe he/she/it wanted Herman Cain and company to run because America needs a good laugh, and the Republican field, which months ago became a national joke, is providing a gut-buster of laughs for the reality based community.

But please again, help me understand. How can someone as incurious as Herman Cain sincerely believe that they are qualified to be President?

Political Hermeneutics: A Letter From People of Color (the 99th Percentile) to the OWS Movement

The fault lines of race, class, and gender are central to any analysis of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. Not surprisingly, some folks would like to overlook these issues as being peripheral to a political moment that should be "about class" and "not race."

My rebuttal is predictable and direct: race and racial ideologies are no sideshow in American politics; how can they possibly be peripheral to OWS?

This is especially true as OWS works to define its movement culture, and to make sure that parallel efforts such as Occupy the 'Hood are included within their broader agenda.

Some have accused the Occupy Wall Street Movement of being the product of grumpy angst by generally entitled and privileged white folks who are upset that they are now getting a bum deal. In all, from this perspective, OWS is a version of the white privilege temper tantrum performed on a national scale.

In turn, this assertion leads to the following question: where were the OWS folks when black and brown people were catching hell for decades, as globalization and deindustrialization ravaged our communities, and punched upward mobility and wealth accrual in the gut?

These are fair questions that need to be addressed...and answered by OWS and its advocates. The following is an effort to further that discussion.

On occasion, I work through the hermeneutics of political "texts" that I find online or in print. The following open letter, which is now circulating around the black blogosphere, is quite provocative as it raises many questions that are more than worthy of no small amount of critical engagement.

As is my habit, comments follow in brackets and in bold.

An Open Letter (and Invitation) to the so-called 99% From People of Color (AKA the 99th Percentile)

Dear so-called 99%

[The branding of the OWS movement has been very effective. Who could reasonably agree with such a stark divide where the 1 percent (them) is doing amazingly well, and the 99% (the rest of us) are doing so poorly during the Great Recession.

However, this slogan hides more than it reveals.

For example, the biggest divides in wealth inequality, the ownership of financial instruments, and those who benefited the most from the Bush era tax cuts begins at the top 10 percent of earners. Moreover, if you want to see where the real action is in terms of America's kleptocracy, one should focus their attention on the top 1/10 of 1 percent of earners who are recording unbelievable gains while the American workforce in mass has seen its wages stagnate for the last 40 years.

The top ten percent have done well too: they now control 50 percent of the income and 70 percent of the aggregate wealth. The top 2o percent of the U.S. population controls approximately 84 percent of wealth. What to do about these measures of inequality?

When we use the language of the 1 percent, how do differences of race play into this narrative. The top 1 percent of black and brown folks are doing less well than their equivalents in White America. Does this complement the narrative? Or does it complicate it, because while the black and brown elite may be doing much less well than their white peers, both are still invested in the status quo...or are they?]

You suckers thought that you were so special, ennit? You thought that your heineys were just that much better and softer and more supple than all those poor people of color, huh? There was never any discussion of the “99%” for the past 400 years while Native lands were stolen, Native people were exterminated, black folks were enslaved, Latinos were gerrymandered, Japanese people were placed in internment camps or Arabs were sexually groped, fondled and heavily-petted at airports. No problem, right?

[Yes and no. Wealth accrual and inter-generational transfers of resources in this country have for centuries been racialized. As professionals in sociology, political science, and economics have repeatedly observed, race in America is also a story of wealth--who had it, had access to it, and could pass it down--and then reproduce its benefits for themselves and their descendants.

Scholars such as Joe Feagin, Manning Marable, Ira Katznelson, Eric Williams, Omi and Winant, Oliver and Shapiro, and others have done a wonderful job of tracing out these contours. White folks, both native born and immigrants knew this game. To not participate in it would have been morally and ethically sound (perhaps), but ill-advised in terms of crude self-interest. Who the hell is going to run away from free money?

Whiteness involves being an active signer to what Charles Mills smartly describes as the Racial Contract (or for whites in mass, at the very least being tacit beneficiaries of it). Once you make the bargain those "inconveniences" of history become just that, facts and incongruities to be avoided lest too much uncertainty (and responsibility spawned by introspection) occur.]

There was never any discussion of the fundamental imbalance of power on this continent and inherent unfairness of the trickle-up economics for the past few centuries as the aforementioned groups were only seen as a source of labor for powerful white male interests. Not a word.

Because you thought you were special. You were immune to that. That little issue didn’t involve you.

[Always be careful whenever you insert "never." There were many folks, across the color line, who understood the damnable imbalances of power in this country, especially as they overlap with gender, race, class, and other types of identities. Taken in total these disparities reveal the naked lie that is the American creed of upward mobility and the Horatio Alger myth.

Folks often want to deploy the "they were products of their time defense." Avoid it. Run away from it. The premise is absurd and weak.

Whiteness does involve being special. Historically, it was the cultivation of white mediocrity and the prize for European "ethnics" assimilating into "Americanness." Part of that bargain was to distance oneself from black people, and to look askance at, as well as socially distance oneself from, most people of color. European immigrants deeply--and others as well to this day--understood that to be "White" pays a material, financial, emotional, and psychic wage.

Whiteness is special: it got you low interest loans; it got you the G.I. Bill; it got you a job in a factory with a living wage; it got your kids into college and good high schools; it got you membership in a privileged class.

White folks knew exactly what they were buying into. Do not remove or take away their agency.

There is a reason that white Americans have on average 2 dollars for every 10 cents that blacks and Latinos possess: the State was invested in subsidizing their enrichment and advancement. The wages come with a natural defense as well, where the beneficiaries of White privilege can proudly announce that "their family never owned slaves" or "my grandparents were immigrants."

Guilt free. Hands clean.]

Now, you see that these powerful white males do not care about you either. Now you see that they will—just like they did to “us,” all people of color in this country—extrapolate every single ounce of energy, money and value out of you, your kids, your wife, your mistress.

[We need to ask hard questions here. Historically, elites have not treated their social lessors well. More specifically, Europeans were barbaric to each other across lines of class--in the work houses, in the factories, with indentured servitude--long before they got to the New World and discovered the "blessings" of African labor, chattel slavery, and genocide of indigenous peoples.

We need to define terms. Who are the "powerful?" Who is "white?" How does gender play into this--do not let white women, as beneficiaries of Whiteness and white supremacy too, off the hook so easily.

Here is another challenge. The global power elite numbers only a few thousand. Do they even care about race? They are transnational. Their concern is Capital and finance. Most certainly, race and these other issues of identity and in-group superiority may matter for the middle managers and other lowly administrators in this game. But, do you think that those who are really moving the pieces on the chessboard are at all concerned with such parochial and local interests as race, gender, and sexuality?]

After they do that, they will throw you away, fire you, lay you off, send your job to Mexico or India or someplace else where they can do exactly the same thing to those poor schmucks. Only they’ll do it for much less money. Now, you’re beginning to see that and so you started to call yourself the so-called “99%,” because you realize that you’re not so special at all.

[This is old school for black and brown folks. Hell, listen to classic rap song The Message. We were on to this con game decades ago.

When White America gets a cold, black and brown Americans get the flu. But, what of poor rural whites? What of those folks in the rust belt? On the 'res? How can we work together with them, to find common class interests across the lines of white identity and the wages of Whiteness? Where historically most members of the white poor and working classes have chosen racial affinity over class alliances with people of color?]

Stupid white people.

[The masses are asses. Are white folks any more or less stupid than any other group because of their "skin color?" No.

But, Whiteness does encourage a type of willful historical ignorance, myopia, blind denial, and short shortsightedness. Whiteness has paid white people as a group--for the most part--a type of psychic wage from group belonging. This has come at a moral and ethical cost. Most folks, not because they are White, but because they are lazy, dim witted, and painfully human (and comfortable on the sidelines of history) will not be self-reflective enough to work through the ledger sheet of race and their soul's debit; what is the blood on their hands from the benefits of "benign," "colorblind," white supremacy in the Age of Obama.

In fact, there are still white folks who believe silly fantasies such as this School House Rock video about Ellis Island, the melting pot, and European immigration. There are others who are race traitors, and as such, know the score. The latter have always been with us and on the right side of history. They are down like John Brown. Real warriors.

The question becomes how to move the lazy and settled middle.]

The punch line though? You were always part of the 99%.

[Yes and no again. In absolute terms they were not elites. But, they could feel superior and special by signing restrictive housing covenants; joining the KKK; becoming cops so they could beat a colored, a Mexican, a Chinaman, or an Injun; lynching negroes; and rioting against efforts at school integration in and around Boston.

The system needs to maintain the appearance, and historically for whites, of upward mobility. The system also needs the appearance of inclusion in order to make those who have bought into it psychically invested in the merits of their own hard work, because of course those other people can't succeed because they are "lazy," "un-American," or have "bad culture."

Remember: Success is easy in America. But, only if you work hard enough for it.]

Those powerful white interests love you as much as they love me. Which is to say that they love you about as much a man loves a pregnancy scare from a one-night stand. None. Zero. Idiots.

[Is this the money shot? Sorry, I couldn't resist...]

The bad news: You’re not special and unfortunately you’re just now beginning to realize that. The good news: well hell, at least you’re beginning to realize it now. But those are the two reasons that people of color have not joined this movement en masse: #1 We cannot believe that you were so stupid to not know that you weren’t special and that these powerful white male interests were just using you, and #2 we want to make sure that you gullible sheep will not, as soon as those powerful white male interests try to buy you off with giving your job back with the little benefits and 401k, forget about all of us poor people of color who have been suffering for years.

[Those white folks who are race traitors, critical thinkers, and visionaries who see globally and were long onto the neoliberal con game will get you. But again, most people are profoundly mediocre. Do not forget your audience: Whiteness is profoundly ahistorical; it is literally without history. To ask most White Americans to think about structures, institutions, and power, is a challenge, because to be white, is to be the quintessential individual.

In all, to get the privileged "I" to think structurally is quite difficult, if not impossible, in the long run. Some of them are coming around. I would not hold my breath waiting for the others as it may take an even bigger system shock than the Great Recession to wake them up. But by then, it may be too late.]

We are the faces at the bottom of the well, the very bottom of the 99%.

We are the 99th percentile. The bottom.

[Who is "we?" Who is "the bottom?" Please clarify your terms. Do these cohorts include people of color who are part of the elite? Be mindful of assuming a sense of linked fate or group affinity. These assumptions can lead one to misunderstand how class interests can overcome race, gender, or other assumed intra-group markers of affinity.]

We’re attracted to the movement, but we need assurance that you’re not gonna just up and leave and get tricked again, like you did before.

Now the invitation: we will join you. We are attracted to this movement. We want to join you. The truth is that we need this movement at least as much as you do. The truth is that we want to make something very serious and very permanent happen for the betterment of all poor and middle-class Americans—Native, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Arab, everybody! The truth is that you have always been our brothers and sisters—you just didn’t know it. But we need to know that you’re serious. And what we mean by “serious” is that you aren’t going to back to thinking that you’re part of the 1% again and forget about us. You are not. We are in this together, whether you, my white brothers and sisters, choose to acknowledge it or not. We’re waiting.

So what’s it gonna be?

[I will let these paragraphs stand on their own. To reiterate the author's claims, please tell me, what is it going to be?]