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sam-cecil

What if Sam Dubose had been a beloved lion? What if the world reacted to Sam Dubose being killed by police officer Ray Tensing the way it reacted to Cecil the Lion being killed by Walter Palmer?

One way to tell is to change up the Wikipedia article for Cecil:

wikipediaReactions

Dubose’s death created an outrage among civil rights activists, prompted responses from politicians and many other people. A number of celebrities publicly condemned Dubose’s killing. Tensing received a flood of hate messages.

The death of Dubose sparked a discussion among civil rights organisations about a proposal for bills on police brutality as well as discussions about use of lethal force by police. Global media and social media reaction has resulted in close to 900,000 people signing online petition “Justice for Dubose”, which calls on the U.S. government to stop police brutality.

The National Rifle Association responded by suspending Ray Tensing’s membership, stating that “those who intentionally take human life illegally should be prosecuted and punished to the maximum extent allowed by law.” Late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel helped raise $150,000 in donations in less than 24 hours to Black United Front, which has been fighting police brutality in Cincinnati. People for the Ethical Treatment of African Americans issued a statement that Tensing should, preferably, be hanged.

Government officials

Some high-level government officials publicly condemned the killing of Dubose. David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom told reporters that the United Kingdom plays “a leading role in preventing police brutality,” when he was asked about Dubose’s death. His Americas Minister, Grant Shapps, described the incident as “barbaric”.

U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum, co-chair of the United States Congressional Civil Rights Caucus, called for an investigation of Tensing and the killing.

On 30 July 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution to strengthen the efforts to address police brutality. Germany and Costa Rica were the sponsors of the resolution. Harald Braun, Germany’s U.N. Ambassador, linked the resolution to the killing and said: “Like most people in the world we are outraged at what happened to this poor man.” Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister Emmanuel Gondet said of Dubose’s killing as “a matter of deep concern for all countries in the Americas”.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Ray Tensing had no trouble raising the $100,000 bail he needed to get out of jail.

As far as I know, no one blamed Cecil for his death. No one talked about lion-on-lion killings. No true animal lover tried to downplay the whole thing with #AllAnimalLivesMatter.

Why the difference?

  1. Human life, unlike that of lions, is assumed to be well protected by law. Yet Black lives in the US clearly are not.
  2. Black people are dehumanized, arguably below the level of whales, dogs – and lions – to the level of monkeys.
  3. Few White Americans feel complicit in the killing of Cecil. They can openly condemn it without fearing that a light will be cast on the ugly mountain of injustice that their own lives are built on.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

535

MTV: White People

white-people-mtv

“White People” (2015) is an MTV documentary about young White Americans. Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning, Filipino American journalist, travels the country, talking to White Millennials about – being White.

Cue awkward silence.

But then Vargas knew that: MTV’s own numbers showed that among White Americans, ages 14 to 24, four out of five admitted to feeling uncomfortable talking about racial issues.

By the numbers:

  • Over 90% of their social world is White.
  • About 75% think society would be better if people were colour-blind.
  • About 50% believe that reverse racism is at least as bad as unreverse racism.
  • Fewer than 33% have talked about race with their family.

Nearly all the ones he met said they were were colour-blind:

“I could care less what race someone is.”

vargas-focus-group

Vargas, at right, talks to White people.

Vargas talks to what appear to be focus groups of mostly young White people in different parts of the country. He sounds them out, mostly talking about White privilege. He tiptoes around their White feelings. They hold back.

The documentary features the stories of five White Americans:

dakota

Dakota, 22, North Carolina. He grew up in a lily-White town but now goes to a historically Black university. He invites two of his Black university friends home to dinner. One of them, Brittanee, is brought to tears when Miranda, a White friend of his, talks about acting “ghetto”, snapping her fingers above her head. Miranda seems unmoved by Brittanee’s tears. Brittanee is the one who has to explain herself.

samantha

Samantha, 23, South Dakota. She teaches at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, having grown up in a mostly White world. Vargas reminds us that the school stands not far from Wounded Knee. We find out about the stereotypes students have about White people: Whites take, take, take. They cannot control their children. They are disrespectful. They are mean to Natives.

katy

Katy, 18, Arizona. She believes in reverse racism: there are tons of university scholarships for race but none for her. In fact, though, Whites are 40% more likely to get a scholarship than non-Whites. A mixed-race friend informs her that he did not get a scholarship either.

lucas

Lucas, 21, Washington state. He runs a White privilege workshop – yet is too afraid to talk about race with his Fox News-watching stepfather. His stepfather had googled “White privilege”: he said the websites were slanted against Whites and, in so many words, were calling him a jerk.

john

John, 22, New York City. He lives in Bensonhurst, a neighbourhood that was once heavily Italian American, but now is less than half White. Many are coming from Asia to make a new home there – just as John’s grandfather once came there from Europe. Vargas, careful to point out Wounded Knee of 1890, says nothing about Yusuf Hawkins of 1989.

Vargas pushes talking about racial issues, not colour-blindness, as the way forward for White Millennials – who, by middle age, will find themselves a racial minority in the US. He sees this documentary as only a starting point.

Yet, as gentle as this show was, some on the Internet accused MTV of “race baiting” and “whiteshaming”, of being “divisive”.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

566

Sam Dubose

sam-dubose

Sam Dubose (1971-2015) was an unarmed Black American man who was shot dead by police in Cincinnati, Ohio after a Routine Traffic Stop.

ray-tensingAt 6.30pm on July 19th 2015 at Rice and Valencia streets near the University of Cincinnati (UC), Dubose was stopped by Ray Tensing, a White, UC police officer.

According to the police report:

“Officer Tensing stated that he almost was run over by the driver of the Honda Accord and was forced to shoot the driver.”

Officer Phillip Kidd said he saw the car drag Tensing and saw Tensing fire his gun.

Officer Eric Weibel said it appeared to him that:

“the back of [Tensing’s] pants and shirt looked as if it had been dragged over a rough surface.”

Dubose was stopped for a missing number plate on the front of his car. There was one on the back.

audrey-dubose

Audrey Dubose, his mother, said of his past encounters with police

“He got stopped a lot, but he never tried to fight.”

She prayed to God for the truth to come out – and hired Mark O’Mara, George Zimmerman’s old lawyer.

The Associated Press went to court under Ohio’s open records law to try to get Tensing’s body-camera video.

There were street protests.

But the city feared riots if it made the video public – like the ones in 2001 after city police killed Timothy Thomas, also Black, also unarmed.

Within just ten days, Joe Deters, the county prosecutor, got a grand jury to charge Tensing with murder and had him arrested. Only then did he make the video public, on July 29th:

sam-dubose-video-still

The video shows Tensing repeatedly asking Dubose for his driver’s licence. Dubose is sitting in his car looking for it.

Then Tensing, telling Dubose to take off his safety belt, tries to open the car door! Dubose tries to keep the car door closed and starts his engine.

Tensing reaches into the car and tells him, “Stop!” – and then shoots him in the face (fuzzed out in the video).

Tensing is not being dragged or run over. Nothing like that. Instead, he falls backwards as the car speeds away and crashes down the street.

joe-deters

In talking about the murder charge, Deters used words and phrases like:

“a pretty chicken-crap stop”,

“senseless, asinine”,

“He should have never been a police officer.”

“This doesn’t happen in the United States, okay?”

“I’m treating him like a murderer.”

and even:

“Could you imagine the outrage you would have if this was your kid, if this was your brother, over a stop like this?”

Amazing stuff, coming from a White district attorney.

Nor is Tensing enjoying paid leave, the customary reward for killing unarmed Black people: UC fired him!

But what if there had been no bodycam video? Or what if Tensing had been a city cop, not some wannabe UC cop playing Rambo off campus?

In the US in 2015 so far, police have killed over 550 people.

This is only the fourth time anyone has been charged with a crime.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

561

waller-county-map

Waller County in pink, shown in relation to Houston and its suburbs. (From Google Maps, 2015.)

wallerdemogs

Waller County demographics (Photo: Will Opines).

Waller County, Texas, which lies along the Brazos River, about an hour north-west of Houston, is a place of small towns, cotton fields and a Black university, Prairie View A&M University, its economic anchor (pictured below). In 2010, the county was 24% Black (mostly university students), 29% Hispanic and 45% White.

Praire-View-AM-U

Prairie View A&M University.

crb-27-democratie-map

Tocqueville’s map of North America, 1835. The US is in blue, Mexico in white.

In 1829, slavery was outlawed in Texas, then part of Mexico. Blacks fled there from the US.

In 1836, Whites took Texas from Mexico. By 1845, some 200 Whites in Waller owned over 1,000 Black slaves.

In 1865, after the Civil War, the US Army arrived in Texas on Juneteenth to free the slaves. In 1868, there was a race riot in Hempstead, the county seat.

In 1876, what would become Prairie View A&M was founded to educate Blacks, built on an old cotton plantation. In 1880, the county was mostly Black – and could vote!

In 1877, the US Army pulled out.

From 1877 to 1950, there were 15 lynchingsthe third worst county in Texas. The (largely Black) Republican vote dropped by half from 1896 to 1900.

In 1903, “white primaries” in effect shut out Blacks from politics.

In the 1960s, students boycotted Hempstead businesses to force them to integrate. After Selma, Blacks could vote again.

In 1971, the voting age in the US dropped to 18. Because of the university, that greatly increased the Black vote. The county blocked students from voting unless they or their families owned property in the county. The courts overturned that in 1979.

oliver-kitzman

In 2004, the county tried again: Oliver Kitzman, the district attorney, threatened to prosecute any out-of-county student who tried to vote, Supreme Court rulings be damned. Students forced him out, but the county still found ways to keep them from voting – until 2008, when a federal judge put the county under Department of Justice (DOJ) oversight.

923676_1_0722-WWALLER_standard

In 2007, Glenn Smith, the police chief of Hempstead, was suspended without pay for two weeks and put on probation for six months for his “humiliation and mistreatment of young African American males.” In 2008, after searching a young Black man’s underwear in public, he was fired. He ran for higher office, county sheriff, and won. By a landslide.

elton-mathis

In 2014, Elton Mathis, the district attorney, was accused of texting, “My hounds ain’t even started yet dumb ass,” to Rev. Walter Pendleton. Pendleton had asked for information on prosecution rates by ethnicity in the county, saying that Mathis practised “selective prosecution”. Mathis: “You are too stupid to know what that word means.”

Also in 2014, Waller County became one of 28 counties nationwide whose elections were monitored by the DOJ.

In 2015, Herschel Smith, a Black police officer and elected constable, was held by police for 45 minutes – while in uniform.

sandra-bland

On July 10th, state trooper Brian Encinia, patrolling the road in front of the university, tailed Sandra Bland (pictured) and then pulled her over for failing to signal a lane change. He arrested her, roughed her up and sent her to the county jail – run by Glenn Smith.

sandra-bland-mug-shot

On July 13th, Sandra Bland was found dead in jail.

Glenn Smith is leading the investigation. Elton Mathis will take it to a grand jury.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

608

An open letter to Uriel

Stamp_US_1941_10c_airDear Uriel:

Some of the stuff you say on this blog is so off-the-wall I am wondering if it is some kind of deep troll game, some form of mockery or satire. But, taking what you say at face value:

On the thread for “My advice to White people” you said:

“Abagond, you have any advice for our obviously lesser [White American] culture and society? We are lesser now, but why must it always be that way? Can’t you forgive us in some good capacity? Why must we be the pathetic ones FOREVER. Aren’t we equal to you all?”

On the Open Thread you said:

“When will poc see me as more than a cancer cell (A, Origin, pumpkin), a joke (Herneith, sharinalr, taotesan), or a lemon (i.e. something to squeeze until the juice runs out)?.”

“What i am responsible for and how should i be accountable to it?”

“Where do i belong?, because conventional anti-racism dictates my peers as either whitewashed poc or whites who are assholes.”

You frame much of this under the ideas of cultural appropriation and White privilege.

I suppose you could, as much as possible, eat, dress, talk, think, dance and live like the people of England in the 1400s. That would be pretty much “pure” in your sense, the last English-speaking culture that was not screwed up too much by racism or cultural appropriation. It might give you some interesting insights on White American culture in the 2000s, in regard to racism and other things. But apart from that, who would it help?

Much better in terms of anti-racism is to learn as much about racism as possible. The most important part of that is listening to what a broad range of people of colour say, putting yourself in their shoes, taking what they say seriously, not making it about you and your feelings. If you make it about your feelings, it is going to get in the way of your understanding, you are going to get stuck, like you seem to be now.

Making it about your guilty feelings will likely make matters worse: it was guilt over genocide and slavery that led to racism in the first place. Not that you should push those feelings completely out of your mind. You need to come to terms with them at some level. But that does not mean they should take centre stage.

You say you do not have money for books, that your friends are heavily brainwashed by White racism, but there are libraries and the Internet. In the US, they have tons of stuff written by people of colour. (Note that American public education, film, television, magazines and newspapers are heavily filtered by Whites.)

Armed with that knowledge, you should talk to other White people about racism. They will listen to you way, way more than to, say, me. It is a part of their racism, the Five Rules of Racial Standing (see below for the link).

Regards,
Abagond, July 27th 2015.

See also:

546

bobbi-christina-brown-02

Bobbi Kristina Brown (1993-2015) dies at age 22, the daughter of singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. She was found unconscious in her bathtub on January 31st, nearly three years to day after her mother died. Despite the best efforts of doctors, she never fully regained consciousness. She passed on July 26th. Sad beyond words. R.I.P.

See also:

Peter Gabriel: Biko

Remarks:

Peter Gabriel’s song about Steve Biko. Although it only went to #38 on the British pop charts in 1980, it is probably one of his best. He certainly seems to think so: he ended many of his concerts with it.

Gabriel read three biographies of Steve Biko before he wrote the song. He said:

“It’s a white, middle-class, ex-public schoolboy, domesticated, English person observing his own reactions from afar. It seemed impossible to me that the South Africans had let him be killed when there had been so much international publicity about his imprisonment. He was very intelligent, well reasoned and not full of hate. His writings seemed very solid in a way that polarized politics often doesn’t.”

It begins with South African funeral music. “Yihla Moja” is Xhosa for “Come spirit.”

The song was used in the film “Cry Freedom” (1987), bits of which appear in the video above. That is Denzel Washington playing Steve Biko.

Lyrics:

September ’77
Port Elizabeth weather fine
It was business as usual
In police room 619
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
The man is dead
The man is dead

When I try to sleep at night
I can only dream in red
The outside world is black and white
With only one colour dead
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
The man is dead
The man is dead

You can blow out a candle
But you can’t blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
The man is dead
The man is dead

And the eyes of the world are watching now, watching now

Sources: Mainly Song Facts

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