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A statue of Nelson Mandela stands outside the gates of Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison), near Paarl in Western Cape province. (Photo: Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

A statue of Nelson Mandela stands outside the gates of Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison), near Paarl in Western Cape province. (Photo: Finbarr O’Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

Note: This is another in my continuing series on Possible Racial Futures for the US. This one is based on the last chapter of “The White Racial Frame” (2010) by Joe R. Feagin, a White American sociologist.

The US is capable of becoming less racist and more democratic, as shown by Reconstruction in the 1800s, which freed slaves and made them citizens, and Civil Rights reforms in the 1900s, which overthrew Jim Crow.

But both Reconstruction and Civil Rights were later seriously weakened because they left two things in place:

  1. Ideological: The white racial frame (white racism).
  2. Economic: Huge racial inequalities in wealth, income and education.

Therefore you need:

  1. Ideological: The liberty-and-justice frame of the Founding Fathers along with an understanding of stereotyping and institutional racism.
  2. Economic: Reparations, especially for Black and Native Americans.

Reparations: Crimes against humanity, like slavery, genocide and Jim Crow, have no statute of limitation. Without reparations it will take hundreds of years for the wealth gap between Whites and Blacks, for example, to close. Whites need to be educated to understand the huge historical damages of racial oppression and the need for major government compensation to pay for said damages.

The damage has not just been material but psychological, so something like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is needed as well.

The liberty-and-justice frame: Whites say they believe in it, but their enforcement of civil rights laws shows that deep down they do not, at least not when it goes against:

The white racial frame. It cuts off Whites culturally from much of the US and the world. It leads to bad foreign policy abroad and a huge waste of human capital at home. It limits freedom and democracy. It limits White thought, feeling and action, making Whites severely lacking in empathy for others. It makes them into hypocrites, saying one thing (the liberty-and-justice frame) while doing another (the white racial frame).

Some ways to weaken the white racial frame:

  • Education:
    • Teach Racism 101 and Stereotyping 101 at all levels of education.
    • Teach about famous people of colour, especially the racism they faced.
    • Read first-person accounts of Americans facing racism.
    • Teach the true history of racism and anti-racism in the US.
    • Teach how civil rights organizations apply the liberty-and-justice frame, seriously and carefully considering their point of view.
    • Consciousness raising: Have students keep diaries of racial discussions and events and then discuss them.
    • Train teachers to understand stereotype threat, etc.
    • Teach critical thinking.
  • Media:
    • Show people of colour in less stereotyped ways.
  • Calling out racism, best done by:
    • appealing to a sense of fairness.
    • appealing, where possible, to common religious moral ideas.
    • making the racial “they” into the American “we”.
    • having support groups for outers.

The US needs strong enforcement of civil rights laws, which requires:

  • Leadership that looks like America at top institutions, particularly the Supreme Court, leadership that supports racial change, reparations and restoration. That in turn requires:
  • An anti-racist movement supported by people of all races, one like the abolitionist movement of the 1800s or the civil rights movement of the 1900s.

Over the next 40 years or so Whites will have to come to terms with becoming a minority. That presents a golden opportunity to change the US for the better.

See also:

Rula Jebreal

jebreal

Rula Jebreal (1973- ), Palestinian author and journalist, was a television news anchor in Italy and Egypt in the 2000s and currently, in July 2014, appears on American television as a talking head on MSNBC. She is a self-described Arab moderate. She wrote a novel, “Miral” (2003), which became a film starring Freida Pinto.

On July 21st 2014 she said the American press is “disgustingly biased” about the current war on Gaza by Israel. For example:

  • CNN, between June 30th and July 10th, had 17 Israeli public officials and only one Palestinian. (There were in fact five Palestinians, but that still leaves them outnumbered three to one.)
  • NBC pulled reporter Ayman Moyheldin out of Gaza for being pro-Palestinian. He was put back only after pushback from the Internet.

This is partly why the US blindly supports Israel despite its crimes.

She sees both Hamas in Gaza and the Netanyahu government in Israel as violent extremists who are crippled mentally and culturally. Stuck in between are millions of Arabs and Jews who want a middle way of peace, who just want to be able to send their children to school without fear. Voices in the middle go largely unheard in the American press.

She favours a one-state solution: Arabs and Jews living together in one nation in peace, equality and democracy. It is what Mandela would have wanted. Jewish settlements since 1993 have made a two-state solution unworkable. No wall will save the Jews – only respect for the humanity of Palestinians will.

miral-filmShe grew up in an East Jerusalem orphanage at the foot of the Mount of Olives. She was an Arab Muslim girl yet also an Israeli citizen. She came of age during the Palestinian uprising of the First Intifada (1987-1993), which she took part in. She was tortured by the Israelis.

Israel had shut down Palestinian schools in the West Bank, so she and others went there to teach. Jewish settlers spat on them, threw stones at them. Jews lived on top of the hills in nice houses while down below Palestinians lived in poverty, ignorance and daily humiliation at the hands of Israeli soldiers. Israel was creating an ugly world where violent, ignorant fanaticism seems reasonable.

Books helped her to understand her world and rise above it. She loved:

  • Ghassan Kanafani: “Going Back to Haifa”, “Men in the Sun”
  • Edward Said
  • Benny Morris: “1948”
  • Primo Levi: “If This is a Man”, known in the US as “Survival in Auschwitz”

Kanafani and Said are Palestinian, Morris and Levi are Jewish.

Italy: In 1993 she got a scholarship to study at the University of Bologna. She went on to become an award-winning journalist and the first foreign anchorwoman on Italian television (where she was called the N-word).

Miral: She wrote “Miral” in Italian. It has been translated into 15 languages, selling millions of copies worldwide. It follows the lives of four Palestinian women, covering the period from 1948 to 1993. Although she wrote it as a work of fiction, she says it is all true. She is Miral.

See also:

Eric Garner

Eric-Garner

Eric Garner (1971?-2014), an American street vendor, beloved husband and 43-year-old father of six, became yet another unarmed Black man killed by the New York City police (NYPD) on July 17th 2014. His crime: selling untaxed cigarettes.

Like Oscar Grant, it was caught on video, but instead of shooting him in the back the police put him in a chokehold.

NYPD chokehold history: In 1983 the NYPD killed Michael Stewart with a chokehold, immortalized in film as Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” (1989). In 1993 New York outlawed police chokeholds. From 2009 to 2013 the toothless Civilian Complaint Review Board received an average of three chokehold complaints a week. The city has done next to nothing about it.

The NYPD is badly trained and has little regard for Black life – as the two Garner videos make clear.

The police report says nothing about a chokehold. In the second video Garner appears to be dead – his body moves like a dead fish. Or, as the police report puts it, Garner “did not appear to be in great distress.”

In the first video Garner had just broken up a fight. The police accuse him of – selling cigarettes. He denies it, asks them to produce a witness. He had been arrested twice this year for selling untaxed cigarettes. Apparently he buys cigarettes out of state and then sells them at half a dollar apiece on the street.

Garner is big – 6 foot 3 (1.91m) and 350 pounds (160kg) – but by all accounts he is not violent.

Garner asks the police to leave him alone, says he was minding his own business. He argues with them. They are patient but once backup arrives they move in: one in front, three from the side and one behind. Garner holds out his hands to keep them away but does not put up a fight.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo puts Garner in a chokehold. The police take him down and pin him to the ground. Garner:

I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.

Had they let him sit up at this point, he probably would have lived. Instead they keep him firmly down and put on three handcuffs.

In the second video his body is lifeless. The police act as if he is alive but give him no medical help. When the ambulance workers arrive four minutes later they do not help him either. He arrives at the hospital dead – they say he had a heart attack on the way.

The police have taken officers Pantaleo and Justin Damico off the street. They took Pantaleo’s badge and gun. No charges, no arrests.

The hospital takes it a bit more seriously: the four ambulance workers are suspended without pay.

Mayor de Blasio finds the Garner case “very troubling” and promises a “thorough investigation”.

The coroner has yet to report the official cause of death.

There have been at least two protests so far.

Today is his funeral.

See also:

The Wire, Season 5

Editor Gus Haynes with reporters Mike Fletcher, Alma Gutierrez and Scott Templeton in the newsroom of Season 5 of "The Wire"

Editor Gus Haynes with reporters Mike Fletcher, Alma Gutierrez and Scott Templeton in the newsroom of Season 5 of “The Wire”

“The Wire”, Season 5 (2008), the last season, is the one that looks at the media in Baltimore. It features the Baltimore Sun newspaper, where David Simon, the show’s creator, worked from 1982 to 1995. The police, drug gangs and city government from past seasons are carried into this one, but schools and labour unions are not.

Institutional dysfunction continues as a theme, but the critique is not as sharp. You are led to believe that, for the most part, there is nothing wrong that money and good leadership cannot fix.

It makes clear, though, that newsrooms constantly make choices about what to print, that class and race shape news decisions. Even when it is murder.

Unlike Season 4, there are no White Saviours and we get a Black point-of-view character of an institution other than a drug gang: Gus Haynes, city editor at the Sun. He even brings up issues of race on occasion.

There are plenty of Black characters, just as in past seasons. That is rare for television drama in the US, but most fall within a few stereotypes:

  1. Black leaders: corrupt
  2. Black middle-class: noble but boring
  3. Black poor and working-class: sunk in social pathologies

Take each in turn:

The_Wire_Nerese_Campbell

Nerese Campbell, city council president

1. Black leaders seek power as an end in itself, not to help the city, not even to help Blacks. If they are noble and do what is right, they do not get far under Black rule. Bad leaders stay in power by playing the race card: appealing to the supposedly blind race loyalty of Black voters and jurors. White jurors are seen as more fair-minded. The White mayor considers the public good in his decision-making in most cases, Black leaders in most cases do not. Season 4 was more balanced.

The_Wire_Haynes

Gus Haynes, newspaper editor

2. Black middle-class characters are mostly noble but boring:

  1. They have little to no moral complexity – they almost always do the right thing, like Bunk Moreland or Gus Haynes.
  2. We barely see their home life. We see Gus’s wife, for example, for like ten seconds, half-asleep, in a darkened room. We do not even know if he has children or where he lives. He magically appears on the human plane of existence at work and maybe at a bar or restaurant. That is White gaze all the way: it matches the racially segregated experience of Whites, not Blacks.

Kima Greggs and Lester Freamon almost break free of this:

  • Kima has her home life shown at length, but morally she is a straight-arrow.
  • Lester is morally complex in Season 5, but we barely see his home life, even though he is with Shardene Innes, the stripper from Season 1!
marlo

Marlo Stanfield, drug lord

Black poor and working-class people who are main characters are mostly sunk in social pathology – drugs, crime, disorganized families, etc – or recovering therefrom. None are just ordinary people. Even when they have a chance to escape, most do not – like when Marlo Stanfield in his suit returns to the corner. An idea as old as Jim Crow. Just ask Zora Neale Hurston.

See also:

Remarks:

This went to #1 in the US in 1971 on both the pop and R&B charts. Still great after all these years.

Lyrics:

Ooo
Each day through my window I watch her as she passes by.
I say to myself, you’re such a lucky guy.
To have a girl like her is truly a dream come true.
Out of all the fellas in the world, she belongs to me.

But it was just my ‘magination, running away with me.
It was just my ‘magination, running away with me.

(Soon) Soon we’ll be married and raise a family. (Oh, yeah)
A cozy little home out in the country with two children, maybe three.
I tell you, I can visualize it all. This couldn’t be a dream, for too real it all seems.

But it was just my ‘magination, once again.
Running away with me.
Tell you it was just my ‘magination,
Running away with me.

[Paul:] Every night on my knees I pray.

Dear Lord, hear my plea.
Don’t ever let another take her love from me.
Or I will surely die. Hmm

(Her love is) heavenly.
When her arms enfold me.
I hear a tender rhapsody.
But in reality, she doesn’t even know me.

Just my ‘magination, once again.
Running away with me.
Oh, tell you it was just my ‘magination,
Running away with me.

I never met her but I can’t forget her.
Just my ‘magination,
Ooo yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Running away with me.

Ooo, just my ‘magination running away with me.
She’s in my mind and hard to find.
Just my ‘magination…

APTOPIX College Community Shooting

Bullet holes left by killer Elliot Rodger, 2014

Posts on this blog in which two or more people are reported dead, listed from least bad to worst. Some posts were written during an event, so those numbers may be incomplete. Those without links were added for comparison.

Source: Wikipedia

See also:

Elliot Rodger

elliot-rodger

Elliot Rodger (1991-2014), an American mass murderer, killed 7 and injured 13 in Isla Vista, California, a seaside college town near the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB).

On the night of Friday May 23rd 2014, Rodger stabbed to death his two roommates and their friend.

He drove his black BMW to Alpha Phi, a sorority that he said was “full of hot, beautiful blonde girls.” He was going to kill them all, maybe burn down their house. He knocked. No answer. Three women were crossing the street just then. He gunned them down. Two died, one was blonde.

He drove through Isla Vista shooting people, shooting up I.V. Deli Mart, 7-Eleven and a pizza place – glass breaking, people running for cover, people falling and bleeding. He ran down seven people with his car.

The police gave chase, shooting at him. He crashed and shot himself in the head.

He was 22. The last eight years of his life, he said, had been a living hell of virginity, loneliness, jealousy and envy. The last three years were made bearable by getting ready for the day he would get even – with the female gender for not sleeping with him, with young lovers for being happy when he was not.

He was quiet, shy, would barely talk to you or look you in the eye. He kept to himself, seemed to have no friends, male or female.

Like many mass murderers he:

  • was narcissistic,
  • blamed others,
  • could not handle failure,
  • was bullied as a child and
  • planned the shooting.

His parents had no idea he was plotting mass murder, but they knew something was not right. A doctor had tried to get him to take Risperidone, which is given to people who are schizophrenic, schizoaffective, bipolar or autistic. Rodger refused to take it.

Under American law he had no trouble buying three guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Add to all that internalized racism. From his 137-page life story:

I came across this Asian guy who was talking to a white girl. The sight of that filled me with rage. I always felt as if white girls thought less of me because I was half-Asian, but then I see this white girl at the party talking to a full-blooded Asian. I never had that kind of attention from a white girl. And white girls are the only girls I’m attracted to, especially the blondes. How could an ugly Asian attract the attention of a white girl, while a beautiful Eurasian like myself never had any attention from them? I thought with rage. I glared at them for a bit, and then decided I had been insulted enough. I angrily walked toward them and bumped the Asian guy aside, trying to act cocky and arrogant to both the boy and the girl.

Seeing White women with “filthy” Black men and “low-class” Latinos also filled him with rage.

He killed two White women and five men of colour. The three he stabbed to death – stabbed! – were Asian men.

See also:

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