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Archive for the ‘2010s’ Category

The following is based mainly on Robert Jensen’s article “What White People Fear” (2010). Jensen, a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of the most notable white anti-racists alive  in America.

Despite the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, which overturned racist laws in America and brought an end to its apartheid, whites and blacks are still clearly unequal on things as simple as home ownership, education and even infant mortality. Change has been slow over the past 40 years, so slow that at present rates it will take tens if not hundreds of years for whites and blacks to become equal.

Why is change so slow? After writing and speaking about racism for more than ten years Jensen concludes that it is fear: whites on both the right and the left are afraid of living in a world without racism.

On the right whites are afraid of losing white privilege, what some call “our way of life”. It would mean giving up wealth and power. Even poor whites, who see very little of said wealth and power, agree. Yes, they are that brainwashed by the rich, who have long used race to divide the poor against each other.

On the left it is a bit different. They talk the talk – equality blah blah diversity blah blah multiculturalism blah blah – but do not walk the walk. They say the right things but have done precious little to change anything.

In the end whites on both the left and the right believe the same thing: “I’m white and I’m special.”

At the heart of their fears is a “fragile sense of white self-importance”. Their history runs with blood: they did not get to where they are through fair play but through naked violence. Whites do not want to face up to it but at some level they all know it is true.

Whites have opened up some of their institutions to people of colour in the name of diversity, but only to the degree that whites feel comfortable and only on their terms. So it is no accident that power and control still lies largely in white hands. Diversity becomes window dressing, not a change in the power relationship between whites and others.

Jensen himself knows first-hand that it is hard for whites to give up control to those who are not white, to those who do not share a white-centric worldview.

Hard but worth it:

I have a choice: I can be white — that is, I can refuse to challenge white supremacy or centrality — or I can be a human being. I can rest comfortably in the privileges that come with being white, or I can struggle to be fully human. But I can’t do both. Though the work is difficult, the choice for those of us who are white should be easy.

See also:

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Remarks:

Ms Badu walks through Dallas where President Kennedy was shot.

Lyrics:

so, presently I’m standing
here right now
you’re so demanding
tell me what you want from me
concluding
concentrating on my music, lover and my babies
makes me wanna ask the lady for a ticket outta town…

so can I get a window seat
don’t want nobody next to me
I just want a ticket outta town
a look around
and a safe touch down
can I get a window seat
don’t want nobody next to me
I just want a chance to fly
a chance to cry
and a long bye bye..

but I need you to want me
I need you to miss me
I need your attention, yes
I need you next me
I need someone to clap for me
I need your direction
somebody say come back
come back baby come back
I want you to need me
come back come back baby come back
come back come back baby come back
come back come back baby come back

so, in my mind I’m tusslin’
back and forth ‘tween here and hustlin’
I don’t wanna time travel no mo
I wanna be here
I’m thinking
on this porch I’m rockin’
back and forth light lightning hopkins
if anybody speak to scotty
tell him beam me up..

so can I get a window seat
don’t want nobody next to me
I just want a ticket outta town
a look around
and a safe touch down
can I get a window seat
don’t want nobody next to me
I just want a chance to fly
a chance to cry
and a long bye bye..

but I need you to miss me
I need somebody come get me
I need your attention
I need your energy
I need someone to clap me
I need your direction

somebody say come back
come back baby come back
come back come back baby come back
come back come back baby come back
come back come back baby come back

but can I get a window seat
don’t want nobody next to me
I just want a ticket outta town
a look around
and a safe touch down…

I just wanna chance to fly
a chance to cry
and a long bye bye…

They play it safe, are quick to assassinate what they do not understand. They move in packs ingesting more and more fear with every act of hate on one another. They feel most comfortable in groups, less guilt to swallow. They are us. This is what we have become. Afraid to respect the individual. A single person within a circumstance can move one to change. To love ourself. To evolve.

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Some white people tell me I see racism in everything. I used to think it was just a way to dismiss what I was saying. But even whites who are otherwise serious about the subject of racism say it, so it is not merely just a way to get me to shut up.

First of all, I do not see racism in everything. While I do think that racism in America, both white racism and internalized racism, is far from dead, I doubt it accounts for everything. For example, I think fatherlessness and having children out of wedlock have little to do with racism – both were far lower among blacks in the 1950s when racism was worse. And both have knock-on effects on the rates of crime and poverty on top of the effects of racism.

But I do not talk much here about supposed black pathologies because they get more than enough attention elsewhere. And because I know full well whites use them to get themselves off the hook: See, blacks create their own mess – it has nothing to do with us!

Yet compared to most white people I do seem to see racism in everything. Because they see racism in almost nothing. Because they have narrowed the meaning of the word to just a kind of personal hatred. Because it does not affect them in a bad way. Because they do not want to face up to the racism their lives have been built on.

In reading about this on other blogs, it seems that what persuades them that they are right and I am wrong is that most people agree with them, not me. But “most people”, in this case, are white people!

Why in the world would white people be a better judge of racism in American society than black people? That would be like saying men are a better judge of sexism or straight people are a better judge of homophobia. It would be like asking monks about sex or the rich about poverty.

Does that mean that blacks are right about everything they say about racism? Hardly. But it does mean they have a far better understanding of racism than most whites do. They have to – they are affected by it way more.

I am certainly not right about everything I say. I accept that maybe I see racism in too many things – or too few things (some say I am too soft on whites). I have gone back and forth on this issue myself.

But if you do not believe me the worst thing you could do would be to turn to white people or television. What on earth do they they know? But there are tons and tons of books and blogs written by living, breathing black people and other people of colour. Read those, the more the better, putting yourself into their shoes, and see for yourself how much of this stuff I am making up.

See also:

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Remarks:

I have never been a big Janelle Monae fan, but I like this song.

Lyrics:

Whoaaa
Another day
I take your pain away

Some people talk about ya
Like they know all about ya
When you get down they doubt ya
And when you dip it on the scene
Yeah they talkin’ bout it
Cause they can’t dip on the scene
Whatcha talk about it
T-t-t-talkin’ bout it
When you get elevated,
They love it or they hate it
You dance up on them haters
Keep getting funky on the scene
Why they jumpin’ round ya
They trying to take all your dreams
But you can’t allow it

Cause baby whether you’re high or low
Whether you’re high or low
You gotta tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
T-t-t-tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)

Baby, baby, baby

Whether you’re high or low
(High or low)
Baby whether you’re high or low
(High or low)
You got to tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
Now let me see you do the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
And I’m still tippin’ on it

See I’m not walkin’ on it
Or tryin to run around it
This ain’t no acrobatics
You either follow or you lead, yeah

I’m talkin’ bout you,
I’ll keep on blaming the machine, yeah
I’m talkin’ bout it,
T-t-t-talkin’ bout it
I can’t complain about it
I gotta keep my balance

And just keep dancin on it
We gettin funky on the scene

Yeah you know about it,
Like a star on the screen
Watch me tip all on it

Then baby whether I’m high or low
(High or low)
Baby whether you’re high or low
(High or low)
You gotta tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
Yeah, tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)

Baby, baby, baby

Whether you’re high or low
(High or low)
Baby whether you’re high or low
(High or low)
Tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
Baby let me see you tight rope
(Tip, tip on it)
And I’m still tippin’ on it

Big Boi
You gotta keep your balance
Or you fall into the gap
It’s a challenge but I manage
Cause I’m cautious with the strap
No damage to your cameras damn I thought that
Can I passy
Why you don’t want no friction
Like the back of a matchbook
That I pass as I will forward you
And your MacBook
Clothes shows will shut you down
Before we go-go backwards
Act up, and whether we high or low
We gonna get back-up
Like the dow jones and nasdaq
Sorta like a thong in an ass crack,
Come on

I tip on alligators and little rattle snakers
But I’m another flavor
Something like a terminator
Ain’t no equivocating
I fight for what I believe
Why you talkin’ bout it
S-s-she’s talkin’ bout it
Some callin me a sinner
Some callin me a winner
I’m callin you to dinner
And you know exactly what I mean,

Yeah I’m talkin bout you
You can rock or you can leave
Watch me tip without you

N-N-Now whether I’m high or low
(High or low)
Whether I’m high or low
(High or low)
I’m gonna tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
MMMMMM
(Tip, tip on it)

Baby, baby, baby
Whether I’m high or low
Goblogtainment
(High or low)
High or low
(High or low)
I got to tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
Now baby tip on the tightrope

You can’t get too high
(You can’t get too high)
I said you can’t get too low
(We can’t get too low)
Cause you get too high
(You can’t get too high)
No you’ll surely be low
(No, you’ll surely be low)
1, 2, 3, Ho!

Yeah, yeah
Now shut up, yeah
Yeah, Now put some voodoo on it
Ladies and Gentlemen the funky is on section in the tribalist
Yeah, OH
We call that classy brass

Ohhhhhhh
OH!

Do you mind?
If I play the ukulele
Just like a little lady
Do you mind?
If I play the ukulele
Just like a little lady
As I play the ukulele
If I play my ukulele
Just like a little lady

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Black and White Americans read this blog very differently

How to read this blog like many White Americans seem to:

  1. “Whites”: Imagine the word “all” before each use of the word “whites”. This is a special rule of White American English that does not appear in any grammar book.
  2. “Evil”: If “whites” and “evil” appear in the same sentence, imagine the word “uniquely” before the word “evil”. Or even “pure”. Or both.
  3. “Racist”: If the words “whites” and “racist” are in the same sentence, then do not even trouble yourself with reading the rest of the post – just jump down to the comments and start acting offended. Try it! Remember, only white  nationalists and those who use the n-word can possibly be racist. All other whites are Well Meaning, Basically Good and Would Know If They Were Racist. Blacks would have no idea because they cannot read minds.
  4. General statements about whites: these are racist and therefore false. Because whites are individuals, because to see colour in the first place is racist, because to make general statements about a race is stereotyping, a part of racism.
  5. White is right: so Abagond must be wrong. Even if you cannot say why.
  6. Abagond hates whites: This follows from #5 because what other reason could there be for him to say bad stuff about whites?
  7. This is a Bash Whitey blog: which follows from #6. Abagond hates whites so much that he wants to make them to look bad or feel bad. Clearly that is his whole reason for blogging.
  8. Stereotype his position.Here are some of the choices:
    • Playing the race card
    • Whining
    • Advanced Whining
    • Whites are pure evil (white devils)
    • Living in the past

    If he sounds kind of like he saying one of these then he is.  After all, Black America is capable of maybe six different opinions at once. If that.

  9. He is an Ungrateful Darkie: He does not seem to know that Progress Has Been Made and that blacks in America have it so much better than in Africa. Point this out to him!
  10. When he tells about a personal experience:
    1. If you or any white person you know has had the same experience then say, “It happens to whites too!” Even if you have to stretch it.
    2. Otherwise he must be making it up just to make whites look bad. What else could it be?
  11. If he says something bad about whites, get upset. Take it personally. Clearly he does not know how to talk to white people, so there is no reason to take him seriously.
  12. Your feelings are more important than anything in the post, even the stuff he talks about that affects 40 million Americans – if not the whole country. Or much of the English-speaking world. But what is that compared to your feelings?
  13. The most important rule of all: Never ever try to understand what he is saying from his point of view. Why would you? What is the point? White is right, remember?

See also:

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The following is taken from a wonderful post by Ankhesen Mie about the tea baggers, edited down to 500 words by me:

Protesters go spitting and hurling racial slurs and surprise, surprise, we’re told not to pay attention. It’s an “isolated incident”. It doesn’t “mean” anything.

Yeah… and we’ve never heard that one before. As blogger Field Negro writes:

Poor James Clayburn, I saw my man on CNN this evening and he still looked scared. He told Wolf Blitzer that he was having flashbacks to those civil rights days. He said that he looked in the eyes of the tea baggers and saw the same hatred he saw back then. Yeah, that kind of hate just doesn’t happen overnight with the passing of a bill, Jim. No sir, that hate has been there all along. It’s just been hiding under the surface and waiting to come out.

In the meantime, I’m having flashbacks of my own.  Flashbacks to teary, screamy temper tantrums in 2008 – you all remember 2008, don’t you? Remember all the “isolated incidents and comments” back then? All that racist bullshit that wasn’t “really racist” and so we weren’t supposed to really talk about it or even show it on TV in-depth? You recall that “tiny, insignificant minority” of white folks we were supposed to simply laugh at and pretend didn’t really exist? Did you really think those people just vanished off the face of the earth?

And white people, I’m just… you know… I’m… *shakes head*… I’m actually quite proud of some of you.

If I go to Google right now and type in “tea party racist”, I will see a lot of white folks calling the Tea Party out. And they’re not talking that “politically incorrect” or “highly inappropriate” shit – they’re calling it racist and not trying to excuse or defend it in any way. And kids, that’s how you deal with racism. You call it out; you name it accurately and you expose it. You denounce it unequivocally and then you fight back.

These are not children, folks; ignoring their bad behavior won’t make it go away.

So from hereon out, white folks, I don’t want to hear any more, “Well, yeah… but you have to understand…” nonsense. Those are not fighting words. Those are roll-over-and-surrender words. So are “isolated incidents”. And “we’re not all like that” – we’re not talking about all of you. We’re talking about your racists, and we’re talking about all of them. So if you’re thinking strictly KKK, Stormfront, and neo-Nazis, you need to quit bullshittin’ and start accepting the unpleasant reality of things.

The Tea Party has revealed one of the ugliest faces of Average White America for all the world to see.

It has confirmed the often derailed testaments of POC about racism in America. It has confirmed every acrimonious observation from other nations about the so-called “Ugly American”. It has aired Average White America’s dirty laundry, flung wide its closet doors and unleashed all its skeletons.

Read the whole post here.

See also:

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White Americans seem to apply special rules when reading about history or the news. Since I was not invited to the Secret Course on Whiteness, I have to piece together the rules and ideas based on observation of White Americans. This is very much a work in progress.

Rules & Important Concepts:

  1. Black people do bad things because they are black. When white people do bad things it is because they made a mistake, got passed over at work, had a bad childhood, need help or whatever. Apart from a few bad apples, it never has to do with race. Because whites are not affected by their race. But blacks are: they have dark, savage hearts that drives some of them to rape and murder and other cruel and senseless things for no particular reason. Because that is how black people are.
  2. Savage Black Rule: Africa is screwed up because blacks are incapable of self-rule. Look at Zimbabwe!
  3. Black pathologies: black ghettos are screwed up because black people are screwed up.
  4. The Teflon Theory of White History: Anything that took place over 30 years ago is Ancient History. It has Absolutely No Effect on the present. Unless it was something good like the light bulb or the Declaration of Independence. Otherwise white people are only affected by history through their families, nothing else, and for not more than a generation. So even Jim Crow is now Ancient History, just like the Battle of Thermopylae.
  5. Living in the Past: anyone who disagrees with Teflon Theory.
  6. Dead Indian Land: a place that it is bad manners to talk about and dangerous to think about.
  7. Basically Good – what white people are despite their ugly past. Because of Teflon Theory they are not only protected from the ugly side effects of genocide, Jim Crow and slavery (what black people call “racism”), but even from the Fall of Adam (what Christians call “original sin”). So when whites do something bad it is not evil – just a well-meaning mistake.
  8. “It was the times” – yes, white people did do some terrible things in the past, but since whites are Basically Good it must have been the times. Unless:
  9. “Arab traders did it too!” – It is a rule with White Americans that if Arab traders did something, then it is morally all right – or at least Not All That Bad.
  10. Just World Doctrine: America is basically just because it is run by white people who are Basically Good. That means they exercise power, both home and abroad, fairly and for the good of all.
  11. Love to Complain – what black people do despite the Basic Goodness of society (see Just World Doctrine) and despite the fact that it is Not As Bad As It Used To Be (over 30 years ago).
  12. White people understand racism better than blacks – because blacks Love to Complain.
  13. Read mainly White American writers. They are more fair-minded than black or foreign writers.

– Abagond, 2010.

See also:

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equality

IQ and income map of the world (click to somewhat enlarge!)

Equality means that all people are born equal and should have equal rights.

Jefferson said it best:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Understanding “men” in the sense of “human”, not “male”.

Not everyone believes in equality. For example, some think that whites are better than blacks. Those who blog about it, like Steve Sailer or Guy White, try to prove this by showing that whites have more intelligence or wealth than blacks.

First, their arguments have huge holes in them. For example:

  • The intelligence argument is based on whites having higher IQs or a longer list of inventions:
    • But IQ tests cannot be trusted – unless you believe that Muhammad Ali (IQ 78) and Andy Warhol (IQ 86) lacked intelligence to a noticeable degree.
    • The inventor argument, if applied fairly to all history and not just choice bits of it, like the one we live in, favours the Chinese (Asian) and Egyptians (40% black), not whites.
  • The wealth argument assumes that achievement is based on merit, that luck and power and naked violence have nothing to do with it, that wealth and poverty do not each have a snowball effect. If there were no North America, one of the biggest pieces of luck in history, most white Americans would be living in the slums of Europe. Everyone knows that. Thus their “merit”.

In short, if whites were truly that much better than everyone else, they would have been on top all throughout history, not just parts of it.

Second, even if you grant these arguments about wealth and intelligence they fail at a much more profound level: equal rights are based on human worth and human worth cannot be measured. No human being can be baked down to a number – their IQ, their bank account, their whatever. To do so is profoundly dehumanizing, turning humans into little more than talking animals or bank machines. Anyone who has ever lost a child – or dated a gold digger – knows that. In fact, most people know it.

That is why racists do not drive their arguments to their logical conclusions:

  1. If IQ is so important and so trustworthy, then why not aristocracy? Why not give all the top positions to those with the highest IQ? Why have elections? Why have job interviews or resumes? Why not have birth licences or sterilization based on IQ?
  2. Likewise, if wealth is such a wonderful measure of who is better or worse, then why not plutocracy? Why not give public offices to the highest bidder? Why bother to hold elections? Why not have a huge maternity tax so that the poor do not have “too many” children?

Etc.

See also:

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“You are the one keeping racism alive” means that talking about race helps to keep racism alive. That it would die a natural death if people just stopped talking about it. That I should stop talking about race and go back to writing about half-naked women or the Middle East or whatever it was I was writing about before race became a big subject on my blog. That I am causing more harm than good.

It is something white commenters often say on this blog. Yes, white. I cannot remember a black commenter or any person of colour ever saying that, not even the right-wing ones. That alone should make you wonder about where this thought is coming from.

And it goes beyond this blog:

  • Rush Limbaugh seems to think racism is kept alive by the “race industry”, by people like Al Sharpton.
  • Three-fourths of white parents do not talk to their children about race.

Some white beliefs that support this:

  1. Race is unimportant: race does not affect whites directly in a bad way. Unlike people of colour, they do not have to think about race unless they want to.
  2. Racism is dead: because it does not affect them, many whites think it has died away. It is just something in the history books: slavery, Jim Crow and all that.
  3. Noticing race is racist: many whites do not see the difference between being race conscious (knowing how race affects your life) and racism (looking down on people because of their race).
  4. If we do not talk about racism it will go away: an odd idea that no one thinks to apply to things like sexism, cancer, crime, dishonest government or any of the other ills of human life. What makes racism so different?

Blacks are one-eighth of America. They could not keep racism alive all by themselves even if they wanted to. They do not control the courts, the police, the newspapers, the schools and all the rest. But whites do.

Whites in America have five times more votes and 50 times more wealth. Like it or not, racism rises or falls with them. Racism goes on because they continue to be racist. It is that simple. There is no huge mystery about it. It does not fall out of the sky or come up through the cracks in the sidewalk. It comes from whites acting in racist ways – not from black people talking about whites acting in racist ways.

Some whites might say “you are keeping racism alive” because they hold to one or more the beliefs listed above, but the heart of the matter is that talking about race makes white people uncomfortable. Because deep down, whether they want to admit it or not, they know that they have an unfair position in society because of the colour of their skin. Instead of living right they would rather live a lie – like they have been doing to different degrees ever since slave days.

– Abagond, 2010.

See also:

520

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Remarks:

Deep down I wanted to post “Silly” by Deniece Williams – but I did that twice already! So instead here is Monica’s take-off on the song (not a cover, though). It is currently #9 on the American R&B charts.

Lyrics:

Boy if you ever left my
My Side
It be like taking the
Sun from the sky
I’d probably die without
You in my life cause I need you to shine shine your light

Your Everything to me ehh
The air that I breath ohh
You shine so I see whhoo
Your everything to me

I cant repay you
For all that you’ve done
Always come first and second
To none the love
You give me is equal to ten
My peace my joy
Are my my strength ohhha

You’re everything to me
The air that I breathe ohh
I shine so I see
You’re everything to me

Ohh
Ohh
Ohh
Ohhhhhhhhoh

See hea
I need you uh
I need you uh
I need you
Woha ahh
Ahyyyyyyyyyyy
Ohhoh

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“Alice in Wonderful” (2010) is the second Disney film of that name, this one directed by Tim Burton, who did “Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993). Johnny Depp plays the Mad Hatter. Unlike the first Alice film by Disney in 1951, which used straight animation, this one uses live actors with computers drawing in the background and even parts of the characters. It also features an older Alice, 19 (played by Mia Wasikowska) who is faced with a Wonderland that has become dark and evil.

I loved the Alice books and I loved “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, so I was looking forward to this film. I thought it could be a masterpiece. Sadly, it is not. While the acting, the sets, the special effects and the costumes were all great the plot was not.

The plot was tired. It is the very same plot you see in Star Wars, the Hobbit and the Wizard of Oz: our hero is an ordinary person who finds himself fighting against some great, terrible evil power. On his way to face said evil power he gathers an odd set of companions and a bit of magic power.

So in place of Chewbacca or the Scarecrow you have the Mad Hatter. In place of the Force or ruby slippers or a ring you have a vorpal sword. In place of Darth Vader and the Death Star you have the Queen of Hearts and the Jabberwocky. Blah blah blah.

A plot like that has plenty of built-in suspense, but I was never in suspense. I blame the writers for that.

So the plot seemed weak and tired and not-again. I felt like I was watching cable television on a large screen. It would make great late-night television. Sorry to say, but it should have gone straight to DVD.

I saw it in 3-D: they give you special glasses for that. That was a waste too – the film did not gain much by being in 3-D. I am glad I did not pay even more to see it at an IMAX theatre.

It is a shame because Tim Burton certainly has the imagination and the right spirit to make a great Alice film. It being Tim Burton I expected a dark Alice but I also expected to be surprised and wowed, like I was with “Nightmare Before Christmas”.

Johnny Depp was good. I particularly liked Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. She was always holding up her hands and had this wide-eyed stare and kept telling us she took a vow not to use violence – even as she let her subjects do their worst to the forces of the Red Queen.

The closing scene was a nice touch – reminding you that the earth itself is a wonderland.

You also get to see a bandersnatch. I do not remember Tenniel ever drawing one for the Alice books. Tweedledee and Tweedledum were played by the same actor, by the way, not by twins.

See also:

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The black crime statistics argument points out that blacks commit crime at a way higher rate than whites and therefore blacks are more given to crime than whites – you know, because blacks are more violent, dangerous and immoral. It has been used to excuse white flight, bad policing and society the way it is – therefore helping to keep crime at much higher rates than in other rich Western countries.

For the argument to work one must assume the just world doctrine, the idea that America is more or less just and equal. Once you assume that, then you are pretty much forced to conclude there is something wrong with black people.

But for any meaningful comparison between black and white crime rates you need to take into account things like income, unemployment, the rate at which crimes are reported, etc. Further you need to assume that the police and the courts are not racist, which is rarely the case.

A good example is murder. In New York blacks are way more likely to murder someone than whites are. But does that mean blacks are more violent and savage than whites? Hardly.

I used to live in one of those parts of New York where blacks and Latinos were killing each other right and left. I never saw someone killed but I certainly heard the gunshots and knew two people who were shot dead, both black-on-black murders.

It had little to do with the supposedly violent or savage nature of black people and everything to do with the drug trade. In the process of getting drugs from South America to the good white people of North America blacks, as always, get stuck with the most dangerous and dirty work. Of course they are already breaking the law by selling drugs in the first place but blacks also have the highest rate of unemployment and so are more likely than others to turn to it. Not that that makes it right, of course, but we are talking about comparisons here.

But there is more: not only were most of the murders drug-related, the police did little about it: they seemed much more interested in protecting the lives of whites and Asians than those of blacks and Latinos. As with other city services, black ghettos are badly served by the police compared to other parts of the city.

So to just present the bare numbers,while it may seem clear-eyed, hard-headed and fair, is extremely misleading. Especially when presented to people who already have certain stereotypes about blacks. To assume from such numbers that there must be something wrong with blacks – as opposed to something profoundly wrong with how American society functions – is racist and, for white people, self-serving. It also has the effect of making crime a black thing, which means little is done about it other than to hire more police and build more prisons.

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My favourite pictures from Le Coil. Five of these pictures have already appeared elsewhere on my blogs.

Nina Keita, Ivorian model

India Arie, American singer

Angela Davis, American professor

Jessika M’Bengue, French model

Pharah Y, Swedish clothes designer

Solange, American singer

“Frame” by Dawn Okoro, American artist

Res, an American singer, with Talib Kweli

Valerie June, American singer

Cassandra Wilson, American singer

Tara (model) and Nydia (graduate student) in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Vintage hairstyles

Naimah, writer from the Lower East Side in New York

Alexandria, make-up artist from Soho, New York

Pictures by Brianna McCarthy, who blogs at Passion Fruit

Photo by Adam Tilman-Young

Photo by Laurent PIRAM

Karine, model from Guadeloupe

Sharri in Soho, New York, who blogs at The Brisk Convergence

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Racism 101

Romona Moore, less important to the New York police than a white woman's dog.

Racism is the belief that one race is naturally better than another.  Not merely different but better. And not just better through some accident of history or the current balance of power, but better naturally, better because they are just born that way.

That is the dictionary meaning, the one I use here. In America there are two other common meanings:

The first I call Jim Crow racism; the second, institutional racism. The racism that most White Americans practise is neither of those but colour-blind racism. That is the kind where white people say they do not see colour – until you want to marry their daughter. They do not hate blacks so much as look down on them. They see them through stereotypes, most of which go back to slave times. Like how it is all right to overwork black women, not respect them and think they are oversexed. All that comes straight from when they were slaves.

Some important points to keep in mind about the racism of White Americans against blacks (and, more generally, whites against people of colour anywhere in the English-speaking world):

  1. Race is social. It is a fiction of society that made keeping slaves seem right and good, one that is still used to excuse white privilege – the unfair advantages that whites enjoy, like better schools and safer neighbourhoods.
  2. Racism is not natural but learned. Some societies divide the world by race, but most do not. Religion, language and nation are far more common.
  3. Racism is the air that American culture breathes. America was built on racism, having robbed the natives of their land and blacks of their labour. It has become built into its culture – into its schoolbooks and television shows and jokes. It is hard to escape or unlearn.
  4. Whites are still racist and it still matters. Their racism, while not as bad as it once was, still has measurable effects on unemployment, income, health, education, etc.
  5. Whites are largely blind to racism. Because it does not affect them directly; because they do not want to admit they are racist since they are taught it is a bad thing.
  6. Blacks are racist too. But their racism is mainly directed against themselves – internalized racism.
  7. White racism affects American society way more than black racism. Because whites hold most of the positions of power.
  8. Blacks in America cannot afford to be colour-blind. Because they live in a white racist society.
  9. Shutting up about racism will not make it go away. It will only allow it to live on in people’s hearts and minds unexamined.
  10. White people use certain stock arguments about race. Most of them shift blame and attention away from their sins. Or they make it about their feelings, as if their feelings are more important than the truth.
  11. Saying bad things about white people is not the same thing as hating them. Their errors need to be pointed out.

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In Haiti the 2010s opened with utter tragedy: last week on Tuesday January 12th 2010 at 21:53 GMT the strongest Caribbean earthquake in over 60 years struck Haiti. In the first six days 70,000 bodies were found and, unnamed, have been put into mass graves.

Up to 200,000 are feared dead.  That would make it the deadliest natural disaster the world has seen since the tsunami in 2004, which killed 230,000.

The earthquake, measuring 7.0, struck not far from the capital, Port-au-Prince. That is a bad quake, but in a richer, better built city only a few dozen would have died. Even so, the quake killed few outright: instead people have been dying of their injuries because the damage has kept help from reaching them in time.

It destroyed 80% of the buildings in the capital, among them the president’s palace, government buildings, the cathedral, the United Nations mission, the main prison, most of the hospitals, even the main one. The archbishop was killed, so was the head of the UN mission, but not the president and his wife. Surprisingly, those living in shanty towns were less affected: a tin roof falling on you is not as deadly as concrete.

It knocked out the seaport and blocked all the roads, though main roads in the capital are now clear.

The airport is still open but, with only one runway and a damaged air traffic control tower, it is slow going.

People are living in tents and cars: the buildings are no longer safe.

To give you an idea of the scale, at 70,000 dead it is already 15 times worse than 9/11 and Katrina put together.

It is so bad that it is beyond the power of even television to overstate. The smell of dead bodies is everywhere.

America is sending 10,000 troops and air dropping food and water. Many other countries are sending help too, but the damage means getting that help to people will be slow.

The Americans will probably find themselves keeping law and order as well: the government is not in control of the country and it is too much for the police. People are desperate for food and water. On top of all that, 3,000 have escaped from prison, among them infamous gang leaders.

Both France and America will stop sending Haitians back to Haiti for a time. Senegal has offered free land for Haitians who move there!

Haiti has had few earthquakes over the past 40 years. Too few: the fault line that it lies on was locked, the strain on it building to dangerous levels. It was ovedue for a big one of just this size.

Pat Robertson, an American television preacher, saw it differently:

Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and the people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. And they (Haitians) got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you get us free from the French.” True story. And so the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal!”

Postscript: The earthquake killed 159,000, making it the second deadliest natural disaster of the past 30 years and the worst earthquake on record in the Americas.

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