Under the diversity banner and strategy, what you get is a lot of white organizations “reaching out” to communities of color, to get communities of color to carry out the agenda of these white organizations with all their white leadership have developed. — Rinku Sen, Facing Race Plenary Session
Dear readers, those of you who have been with us for a few years know about the long standing issues I have with the American political machine. Politics is intricately tied to movements for social justice, so it cannot be ignored completely – but it definitely feels like a shell game.
There is a post I need to write about Maria Teresa Kumar’s comments at Facing Race, particularly the part where she explains why people of color need to engage in political organization and action. (Kumar runs Voto Latino with Rosario Dawson.) There is a post I need to write about a panel at Blogging While Brown where Gina talked about how conservatives invest in their bloggers as part of their community, which is a benefit liberal bloggers do not receive.
We are long overdue for some discussions on the intersections between politics and social justice. However, I find myself declining to participate in a lot of political discourse. Part of that is just me – I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, right outside of Washington, DC and the gaps between Washington (where those with power and influence work and play) and DC (where normal folks try to live in the shadow of this power) are in my face all day, every day.
But the other reason why I generally avoid politics is best summed up with Danielle Belton’s post on Representative James Clyburn’s black blogger press junket:
In a fiery presser on Capitol Hill Thursday where he at times seemed visibly frustrated, South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn blasted members of the Democratic base who were withdrawing support, money during the Midterm elections. He said those Liberal and progressive critics who get stuck on things like the health care bill not being exactly what they wanted lose sight of the long battle.
Kill the phony mean before it kills you. That the truth is probably somewhere in the middle… that if both sides think you are biased against them it probably means you’re playing it straight… that the extremes on both sides are equally extreme, deluded and irresponsible— these practices have rotted out, and the sooner they are done away with, the better footing political journalism will be on. Just as it should be routine for reporters to ask themselves, “am I showing undue favoritism here, am I slanting my account?” it should be routine to ask, “am I creating a false symmetry here, am I positing a phony mean?”
The NAACP straight up condemned Sherrod (who was speaking at one of their events!) before all the facts were on the table, leading to a semi-apology from the organization. Which means that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was first at bat for white folks unjustly smited by years of black oppression.
Well, this is a fine way for me to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
I survived a young Black man raping me when I was five years old, and I’ve been subjected to decades of the stereotype of the Black male rapist and the racism behind it. So, this cartoon triply triggered my reaction.
I rubbed my hands. I walked away. I wanted to cry but couldn’t because I was at work when I clicked on the link. I shook inside, back to that frightened little girl who couldn’t possibly tell my mom the truth about what happened. (I eventually did, about a decade later.) I didn’t want to reflect on my experience—not like this.
But there it all was, splayed on my screen, demanding some sort of order, some sort of reason for it all. To deal with it. Again.
I’d love to say this cartoon was aimed at me, a Black woman who survived a rape, but I may be a side audience for this. This cartoon’s intended audience is for people intent on holding onto their unchallenged notion of all Black men—as both capable and very willing to rape, even symbolically. And their victims are always stereotyped as that embodiment of all that is ideally and virtuously feminine in the US, white women. Even symbolically, such as the paragon of US freedom and rights, the Statue of Liberty. So, this cartoon is the wet dream—and dog whistle—to those folks who need to believe that a single Black man being president is using that power to rape “their” beloved country and the rights and entitlements this country (ostensibly) offers. Read the Post How The Left Enables the Right’s Racism: The Obama Rape Comic
Editor’s Note – Please read the piece carefully – and thoroughly – before commenting. – LDP
After reading an article recently claiming that Tea Party demonstrators, angered over the healthcare bill, were shouting out “nigger” at members of the Black Congressional Caucus, as a Black American, I felt compelled to weigh in. For the past two years, politicians, journalists, bloggers, and political pundits have debated the merits of whether demonstrations against Barack Obama are racially motivated. The fodder was fueled on at least two occasions when former President Jimmy Carter stated that an overwhelming portion of the bitter outcry is racially inclined. With all due respect, Jimmy Carter needs to go back to selling peanuts. Speaking out against a person of color does not make one a racist. Just as speaking out against a woman doesn’t make you sexist, nor does raging against Islam’s radical ideas make you xenophobic.
It’s time for us Black people to stop crying racism every time someone says something mildly critical. We cannot continue to blame “the white man” for our own mishaps and misfortunes, no matter how seemingly institutionalized it appears. Shame on you. What evidence do you have to suggest that well-meaning, hard working, God fearing white Americans revolting against every priority, policy, and decision of this administration are projecting racial animosity? Of course there are a couple of isolated incidents out there, but those incidents aren’t proof in and of themselves, unless there is a significant enough body of examples to suggest a trend or pattern of abuse exists.
Look, I remember all the “misunderstandings” that happened before the election just like everyone else. I remember when McCain ousted a campaign official in Virginia for writing that “if Obama were elected he’d hire rapper Ludacris to paint the White House black and change the national anthem to the “Negro National Anthem…” But, it’s Virginia, folks. What does one expect?
Yes, I do remember when the president of a Republican women’s club in San Bernardino County, CA resigned after sending out that newsletter with Obama’s face on a fake food-stamp coupon surrounded by ribs, watermelon, and fried chicken. What’s so racist about that? Everybody knows that we love watermelon. Read the Post Everything Is Not (Not) About Race
by Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual
Get ready for reason #573 why The Wire was the best television show of the aughts. In the wake of Scott Brown’s upset in the Massachusetts special election for the U.S. Senate, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cycle of politics. I’ve been a pretty steady proponent of the politics of idealism and, borrowing from Tony Kushner, the ethical responsibility to hope, but the aftermath of Martha Coakley’s defeat may test my resolve. Where can I find the blueprint for my incipient cynicism? The Wire, of course!
The Wire’s central thesis was simple: short-term politics and the quest for power kills long-term progress and social justice. From gangs to government, the media to schools, the same rule applies. Everyone, sadly, violates the rule. They think about themselves and the system never gets fixed. This is the fundamental cynicism of The Wire: it perfectly diagnoses how groups and institutions kill hope. Read the Post Did “The Wire” Presage Politics Post-2008?