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ADOS

Household wealth in Boston. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 2015.

ADOS (by 2005) is short for “American Descendants of Slaves”, also known as American DOS, DOS or USDOS, etc. It means US Blacks who come from US slaves. About 90% of Black people in the US are ADOS. The term goes back to at least “America’s Little Black Book” (2005) by Norris Shelton. The term is being pushed on the Internet by Antonio Moore and Yvette Carnell.

Not ADOS:

  • Nigerian Americans because few if any came from slaves.
  • West Indian Americans because they came from non-US slaves.
  • Non-Black people of colour, also not from US slaves. Note that many Native Americans were made into slaves, but their descendants no longer form a separate class in US society.
  • White Americans, many of whom have the blood of Black slaves in them – just ask James Watson – but have since crossed over and now enjoy White privilege.

Examples of non-ADOS: Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Marcus Garvey, Louis Farrakhan, Harry Belafonte, Stokely Carmichael, Colin Powell, Issa Rae, and:

Joy Reid of MSNBC is also non-ADOS. She would have you believe that the #ADOS pushback against Kamala Harris on Twitter was largely carried out by Russian bots.

Reparations: All of this matters because of reparations. For hundreds of years in the US, Black people have worked for free or almost free (slavery, peonage, prison labour). The wealth they created went to White people. So did almost all the wealth created by the Homestead Act, G.I. Bill, and FHA loans, thanks in part to White Southern senators, racist bankers, etc. These and other US government policies helped to create a wealth gap between Blacks and Whites of at least ten to one.

Affirmative action was supposed to right some of these wrongs, but many of the Black people who have benefited came from an African and Caribbean brain drain. The fear is that reparations will wind up the same way.

Counter-frames: Many ADOS, Native Americans, Chicanos, and some Asian Americans seem to share roughly the same view of the US, one based on a history of dispossession under US rule. Most immigrants, on the other hand, whatever their colour, lack that history and seem far more likely to kiss up to White people and look down on ADOS.

Kamala Harris: Some of the Black pushback against Kamala Harris comes from those who see her as non-ADOS. That is not a Russian plot or even mere nativism: like Obama, her record shows little regard for Black people beyond symbolism and pandering. She might like Cardi B, for example, but as attorney general her office defended mass incarceration on the grounds that California needed the prison labour. Like Obama, she has not come out in favour of reparations.

Black nativism: Unfortunately, all this plays to Black nativism, which is real. “Get back on your banana boat!” At some Black churches West Indians sit on one side and ADOS on the other – and that was long before there were Russian bots on Twitter.

– Abagond, 2019.

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Was Hitler racist in his heart? How come no one ever asks this question? According to Google, those words in that order do not even appear on the Internet – until just now with this post. Why is that?

Because it is a brainless question.

Yet people keep asking or answering this question about President Trump, on both the left and the right.

Chuck Todd, just last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, stopped Democrat Sherrod Brown when he said President Trump was racist:

“Let me pause you there. You believe, in his heart, he’s a racist?”

Huh?

Gaslighting: The best description of what this is comes from Amanda Marcotte on Salon:

“The focus on racism in the ‘heart’ is gaslighting in its purest form. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the victim is told they cannot trust the evidence of their own senses. In a romantic relationship, for instance, gaslighting might take the form of a man telling his wife that only a ‘crazy’ or ‘paranoid’ person would see the lipstick on the collar, the hotel bills on the credit card and the mysterious late-night phone calls from a woman who hangs up immediately as evidence of a likely affair.”

Exactly. We are being asked not to believe our own eyes and ears for the last 3.6 odd years. It moves the question of racism from words and actions, which are knowable and affect other people, to his heart, which is unknowable and affects people only to the degree that it affects said words and actions!

A rare confession: According to Google, “I am racist in my heart” appears only once on the Internet (well, now twice) and even that was as part of a denial. On October 20th 2003, user Mekugi on e-budo.com said:

“That does not mean, however, that I am racist in my heart of hearts, it just means I have to watch what I communicate to people in order to protect their feelings; which from what I understand is what speech in Japanese is supposed to be all about, right?”

Disparate impact vs intent: This goes way beyond Trump’s heart. In US law “disparate impact” (that Blacks, etc, were harmed more) is often not enough to prove racial discrimination. Sometimes you have to prove racist intent, which is way harder. That is why no one has been able to prove in court that the New York Police Department (NYPD) is racist. Or that the courts themselves are racist.

Institutional racism: The idea that racism is found in the heart, or maybe bones (“not a racist bone in his body”), makes it personal, when much of racism is institutional, systemic, structural, automatic, programmed, as American as cherry pie, as American as the word American. It has been baked into US society since the late 1600s. Even if your heart was washed clean and all your racist bones removed, you would still, for example, have your head filled with Eurocentric and racist ideas from school and television.

– Abagond, 2019.

Sources: Salon, e-budo.com.

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Jackie

“Jackie” (2016) is a Kubrickesque film with Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy in the moments and days just after her husband, US President John (or Jack) Kennedy, was shot dead. Set in Dallas and DC, it was filmed in Paris. About a North American woman, it was directed by a South American man (Pablo Larraín of Chile, in his first English-language film).

As told to Life magazine: Those terrible days are shown through flashbacks a week later as she tells the story – well, a story – to Theodore H. White (Billy Crudup), a reporter from Life magazine. We see what she went through, from the moment her husband was shot to the moment she was made to leave the White House not long after the funeral. The most graphic flashbacks are left for the end.

As told to her priest: We also see her talking to Father Richard McSorley (John Hurt) on long walks where her account is more honest and complete, where she is trying to make sense of it all.

Brave front: She tells Bobby Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard) that they must be with Jack on his last march and march behind his coffin and the riderless horse (modelled on Lincoln’s funeral march). Bobby says there are too many roofs and too many windows for shooters to hide behind between St Matthew’s and Arlington Cemetery. She puts on a brave front for the nation – but tells her priest that she wanted to die.

Cruel fate: Her son Patrick, she tells her priest, was on this earth for only 39 hours – just long enough for her to fall in love with him – and then God took him away. Over and over, God makes her dreams come true and then smashes them to bits right in front of her. Why?

Jackie in Camelot before it was Camelot.

Myth: While talking to Life magazine we see her right before our eyes christen the Kennedy White House “Camelot”, after Jack’s favourite musical. The film shows her behind the scenes carefully creating the Kennedy image. But the image was not mere vanity: both she and the nation needed a fairy tale to believe in. The naked truth itself was too hard to bear.

Jackie and Father McSorley (John Hurt).

God: She talks to John Hurt on those long walks hoping he would give her the answers at the end of the book. He tells her there are no answers. God gives us just enough every day to keep us going. As he says that she remembers playing with her two living children at the edge of the sea.

Truth: The film takes pains to get the knowable facts right. Portman’s accent sounds overdone, but that is just how Jacqueline Kennedy talked, at least on television. We have the YouTube clips. Father McSorley was made up, but he is based in part on letters she wrote to priests. In the end, though, she made sense of it all not through her Catholic faith, as the film would have it, but through Greek tragedy.

– Abagond, 2019.

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Remarks:

Of all the non-Western music on the Golden Record, this one by far seems the most musical to me. That, I think, is a measure of how much the African Diaspora has affected Western music. Well, at least my idea of Western music.

Charles Duvelle travelled through West Africa in the early 1960s recording music. He was a French pianist and ethnomusicologist interested in current, non-Western music.

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Ralph Northam

Governor Ralph Northam and his wife Pam at his strange press conference on February 2nd 2019. (Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot)

Ralph Northam (1959- ), the Democratic governor of the southern US state of Virginia since 2018, is in hot water. On Wednesday it was for seeming to support infanticide, on Friday it was for a racist picture:

Northam in 1984 (click to enlarge).

The picture comes from his 1984 yearbook when he was studying to be a doctor at Eastern Virginia Medical School. On his page of the yearbook it shows someone in blackface standing next to someone in a full Klan uniform, white hood and all. The caption that goes with the picture is about Northam. He does not remember which one he was!

Oh, and at Virginia Military Institute he was called “Coonman”.

On Friday February 1st 2019 Governor Northam said:

“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive.

“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now. …

“I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”

That did not silence the calls for his resignation by both Republicans and Democrats, both Black and White.

The next day he called a news conference:

“I am not the person in that photo. … I recognize that many people will find this difficult to believe. … In the hours since I made my statement yesterday, I reflected with my family and classmates from the time and affirmed my conclusion that I am not the person in that photo.”

He now “vividly” believes it was not him in that picture – and expects to be governor of Virginia till 2022.

But Northam did admit to performing in blackface in 1984! He won a talent show as Michael Jackson for his moonwalk. He complained how hard it was to take shoe polish off his face.

No one is coming to his defence.

In 2017, Northam said at his victory speech:

“It was said that the eyes of the nation are now on the commonwealth. Today, Virginians have answered and spoken. Virginians have told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart.”

He had framed Ed Gillespie, his Republican opponent, as a bigot.

Virginia is where the Charlottesville riot took place in 2017 over a statue of Robert E. Lee. It is also where the state senate in 2019, just last month, paid birthday tributes to Lee and Stonewall Jackson, Confederate generals who fought against the US to defend Black slavery in the Civil War.

Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer:

“And if the Democratic Party can’t stand against someone in blackface or dressed like the Klan, what does it stand for?”

– Abagond, 2019.

Update (February 9th): One week later, Governor Northam still refuses to step down. As it turns out, other high officials in Virginia also have a history of blackface. Justin Fairfax, the Black lieutenant governor, who would take over and does not have a history of blackface, is now sunk in a scandal of his own, with two women accusing him of sexual assault. 

Sources: mainly Vox, Politico, Google Images.

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Kamala Harris

Harris, 2019.

Kamala Harris (1964- ) is a centre-right Democratic senator from California who is running for US president in 2020. The Clinton wing of the party seems to be moving behind her.

In the 1960s her parents met as grad students at Berkeley. Her father was born in Jamaica, her mother in India. Harris was born in Oakland, California and grew up in a mostly-Black neighbourhood of Berkeley.

In the 1970s, after her parents split up, she lived in Montreal, Canada with her mother and younger sister Maya. She travelled to Jamaica and India to visit family. Her grandfather in India was a diplomat and a Brahman, the highest caste.

In the 1980s Harris went to Howard University (’86), joining Alpha Kappa Alpha, and then got a law degree at UC Hastings (’89).

In 1995 she dated a married man 30 years older than her, Willie Brown, a womanizer and machine politician who was mayor of San Francisco from 1996 to 2004.

Harris circa 2010.

In the 2000s and 2010s she won election after election, becoming:

  • 2004-11: District Attorney of San Francisco,
  • 2011-17: Attorney General of California,
  • 2017- : US Senator.

In 2014 she married Douglas Emhoff, who is White. She has no children of her own.

In 2019 she is now running for US president.

Some of her record:

  • In 2004 she stood up to the police in the case of Isaac Espinoza, refusing to seek the death penalty.
  • In 2005 she started Back on Track, which helped first-time drug offenders turn their lives around instead of locking them up in prison and destroying their lives further.
  • Got bias training for police officers as district attorney.
  • In 2009 wrote a book, “Smart on Crime”, where the word “racism” appears only once.
  • In 2010 blamed the school-to-prison pipeline on parents. The numbers prove it!
  • In 2011 she ??? the Occupy movement.
  • Opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana (till 2018).
  • Championed the death penalty as attorney general even though she was “personally” against it.
  • Refused to defend as attorney general Proposition 8, the expressed will of the people of California to outlaw same-sex marriage.
  • Her office argued in favour of overcrowded prisons because California needed the cheap prison labour.
  • Refused to quickly investigate certain police shootings.
  • In 2015 would not support a law that would require her as the California attorney general to investigate killer cops.
  • Went after predatory lenders as attorney general.
  • Locked up parents whose children repeatedly skipped school. A policy she pushed – and laughed about. It is right there on YouTube!
  • Let Steve Mnuchin and his bank (One West) get away with breaking foreclosure laws at least a thousand times, kicking people out of their homes. Mnuchin is now the head of the US Treasury. No tough love for him.

Top cop: At first she stood up to the police, but over time became another dirty cog in the machine of White supremacy. Willingly so, given her support of marijuana laws and the death penalty. She even started calling herself the “top cop”.

Harris listening to Brett Kavanaugh, 2018.

As senator she champions cash bail reform and outlawing lynching. She is wonderful during Senate hearings when questioning President Trump’s top people.

– Abagond, 2019.

Sources: mainly Google Images, Vox, The Young Turks.

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Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett on “Empire”. (Via Fox)

On Tuesday (January 29th 2019), according to early reports, actor Jussie Smollett was coming out of a restaurant in Chicago at two in the morning when two men in MAGA hats beat him up. They poured a chemical on him, believed to be bleach, and wrapped a rope around his neck. They called him “faggot” and “nigger” and shouted “MAGA country”.

Smollett was hospitalized for broken ribs. He is now in good condition.

Jussie Smollett plays a gay character on the television show “Empire” (2015- ) – pictured above – and is openly gay himself. He is Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s brother.

If this can happen to him, someone as rich and famous and kind as he is, then it can happen to anyone Black or queer. Or Muslim or Mexican. Or anyone not straight, White, and Christian all at the same time. What Jesus would do, apparently. And President Trump is driving it. That was made clear by the MAGA cry and MAGA hats – the red hats that say “Make America Great Again”, the ones Trump supporters wear and chant things like “Build the wall!”, meaning his wall between the US and Mexico.

The NAACP:

“The rise in hate crimes is directly linked to President Donald J. Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric. It is dangerous for any society to allow a tone of divisiveness and hatred to dominate the political discourse. As this rhetoric continues to bleed into our everyday lives, dangerous behavior will continue to place many law abiding individuals at risk.”

President Trump is, like it or not, the moral leader of the nation. There is not even someone like Martin Luther King Jr to offset him.

The Chicago police: Despite the rope, the N-word, the MAGA hats and MAGA cry, the police called it a “possible racially-charged assault and battery”. Not “racist”, but “racially-charged”. What in the world would it take for them to call it racist? They are, though, treating it as a hate crime.

The rope: In the early 1900s thousands of Black people in the US were lynched. A rope around the neck and being hanged from a tree was the common way of doing it. Thus Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit” (1939). In 2019 lynching has yet to be outlawed nationwide, and not for want of trying. Lynching is not as common as it once was, but killer cops have pretty much picked up where White mobs left off.

MAGA hats: Just like last week, in the wake of the video showing boys from Covington Catholic High School wearing MAGA hats and mocking a Native American elder, those in authority want to downplay the racism of the MAGA hat.

Last week when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted this:

“The red MAGA hat is the new white hood.”

Rich Lowry, editor of the right-wing National Review, replied:

“Which would be close to an apt analogy if people donned MAGA hats to carry out hideously violent crimes against African-Americans and other people uncongenial to them.”

Well, they do.

– Abagond, 2019.

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