Racism Round-Up 6.10.17

(political cartoon skewering the SCOTUS decision to gut the Voting Rights Act based on the false assumption that racism was not as much a problem today as it was in 50 years ago. The black and white image is an ocean liner at sea labeled ‘Supreme Court’, which overlooks ocean which is meant to represent racism. From the ocean liner, the few examples of racism are incidents of police brutality or the takeover of the Oregon Wildlife Refuge. These examples appear as icebergs in the water, but as with icebergs in the real world, most of their substance is below the surface)

For many People of Color, incidents of racism appear to have increased since the orange-skinned poltroon took office. Emboldened by an administration that is composed of several open white supremacists, members of virulently racist far-right organizations and so-called “lone wolves” are more willing than ever to publicly espouse their hateful rhetoric, and feel much more confident with public displays of racism. The rising public profile of these hate-filled individuals and organizations, as well as the infusion of far-right authoritarianism into the highest office in the land, have led to a shift in our culture–one that is more hostile to People of Color (and other marginalized groups) as the days go by. If it seems like you can’t go 24 hours without hearing of stories  of yet another white person who went on a racist rant, or a  murderous white supremacist who threatened teenaged girls on a train, or teachers handing out “most likely to be a terrorist awards“, then you’re probably right.

Below the jump are a series of excerpts from various articles detailing incidents of racism that I’ve read about recently as well as the occasional thinkpiece offering a perspective on racism or related issues, such as terrorism (be it domestic or foreign). Some may be a few months old. Some may be from yesterday. All are examples of the reality People of Color contend with on a daily  basis.  This harsh and often deadly reality is a direct result of a poison that, having run unchecked for centuries, has permeated all aspects of this country. A poison this country has never honestly grappled with, let alone attempted to overcome. This poison has destroyed lives, impaired our ability to live out our lives free from oppression, and prevented this country from living up to its admirable ideals. This poison, which provided the foundation for the treasonous acts of secession by the Confederate States, is perhaps best summed up by the Vice-President of those States:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

The above quote, by Alexander H. Stephens, laid bare the justification for the actions of the secessionist states. It is that justification–the Doctrine of White Supremacy–which continues to poison this country.

Dehumanization Is the Key to State-Sanctioned Violence

In the wake of the Portland stabbings came this presidential tweet: “The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/them.” But the president also wants to push through a $110 billion weapons deal with ISIS-linked Saudi Arabia, which has been pummeling its impoverished neighbor Yemen for the last two years — and which has been receiving US assistance throughout the process, which Trump wants to amplify.

Last fall, the New York Times reported that the Saudi war “has sunk into a grinding stalemate, systematically obliterating Yemen’s already bare-bones economy. . . . It has hit hospitals and schools. It has destroyed bridges, power stations, poultry farms, a key seaport and factories that produce yogurt, tea, tissues, ceramics, Coca-Cola and potato chips. It has bombed weddings and a funeral.

“The bombing campaign has exacerbated a humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s poorest country, where cholera is spreading, millions of people are struggling to get enough food, and malnourished babies are overwhelming hospitals. . . . ”

And, oh yeah: US weapons sales to the Saudis, US training of Saudi pilots, have left “American fingerprints” all over the wreckage, according to the Times. In Sana’a, the capital city, walls are covered with graffiti exclaiming: “America is killing the Yemeni people.”

The essence of war is “social substitutability”: granting oneself permission to dehumanize people who symbolize a problem, whether because of their uniform, their race, their nationality, their religion, their place of employment — or virtually any other distinguishing factor. A dehumanized enemy can then be taken out: murdered.


Why Schools Still Can’t Put Segregation Behind Them

In some respects, Gardendale is no different from many other communities.

Thirty-seven percent of our public schools are basically one-race schools– nearly all white or all minority. In New York, two out of three black students attend a school that is 90 to 100 percent minority.

In many areas, this racial isolation has occurred gradually over time, and is often written off as the result of demographic shifts and private preferences that are beyond a school district’s control.

The Gardendale parents argued their motivations were not about race at all, but just ensuring their kids had access to good schools. The evidence pointed in the other direction: In language rarely offered by modern courts, the judge found, at the heart of the secession, “a desire to control the racial demographics of [its] public schools” by “eliminat[ing]… black students [from] Gardendale schools.”

Still, these findings were not enough to stop the secession. As in many other cases over the past two decades, the judge conceded to resegregation, speculating that if she stopped the move, innocent parties would suffer: Black students who stayed in Gardendale would be made to feel unwelcome and those legitimately seeking educational improvements would be stymied.

Simply put, the judge could not find an upside to blocking secessionists whom she herself characterized as racially motivated.

As such, the court held that Gardendale’s secession could move forward. Two of its elementary schools can secede now, while the remaining elementary and upper-level schools must do so gradually.


Portland middle-schooler harassed by men using racial slurs: officials

A Southeast Portland middle schooler was harassed at a bus stop Thursday by men who shouted racial slurs at him, including the N-word, officials say.

In a note to parents, Hosford Middle School Principal Kristyn Westphal said the boy, who is a person of color, was “accosted” at a bus stop near Southeast Division Street and 28th Place.

Other students witnessed the incident, Westphal wrote, and a police report was filed soon after.

Westphal also said Hosford officials will “maintain a school presence” at the stop until the end of the school year.

“We are asking staff to be especially vigilant in both physical space outside the building and in knowing that some of our students are carrying the burden of having had to recently deal with racist speech in addition to the stress of the racist posters in the neighborhood,” Westphal wrote.



Fire Chief Wears ‘Police Lives Matter’ Pin But Says Firefighter Cannot Wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ Pin

KRCR reports that Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills saw McFarland wearing the pin on his uniform and felt it was against the Humboldt Bay Fire uniform code, so he reported it to the deputy fire chief. Fire Chief Bill Gillespie agreed with Mills and told McFarland to remove the pin, saying it violated HBF uniform codes that state any pins worn on a uniform cannot be political and must be in good taste.

“We work to stay neutral,” Chief Gillespie said. “We don’t take a side or a stance on any kind of a movement because while it may support some members of the community, it may offend or put off other members of the community.”

There is a disparity, however. Chief Gillespie has been under scrutiny because he wears a ‘Police Lives Matter’ bracelet with his uniform while on duty.



Police Shot Brendan Hester Because That’s What Police Do

A 23-year old black man in Ashtabula, Ohio, was shot by police officers last week after officers responding to a 911 call found two men scuffling in a home, one holding a weapon. The police ordered the man to drop the gun, but when he refused, the officers shot him. After searching the home, police found drug paraphernalia, scales, illegal narcotics and a substantial sum of money.

This story shows how dangerous policing can be, and how some officers are left with no choice but to respond with deadly force when criminal drug dealers endanger the lives of law-enforcement officers and the public at large.

Except the man who police shot is still alive—albeit in critical condition—and witnesses at the scene say that none of this account is true.

It all began early on the morning of June 2, when 23-year-old Brendan Hester called 911 after he found an intruder in the home he shares with his brother.

But unlike the police version of the incident, which completely failed to mention that the victim of the police shooting was the occupant of the home, witnesses tell a story that diverges from the standard narrative that police gave initially. The Root spoke with Jacqueline Greene, the Hester family’s attorney, who described a much different account of the incident.


Police Officers Who Beat Man, Then Lied About It, Face Federal Civil Rights Indictment

Two current and two former Boynton Beach, Fla., police officers are facing federal civil rights indictments related to a 2014 incident during which they beat a 26-year-old black man and lied about it in their official reports.

The confrontation, which occurred after a police chase, was captured on video shot from a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, according to the Palm Beach Post.

On Friday, Officer Mike Brown, Sgt. Philip Antico, and former Officers Ron Ryan and Justin Harris all pleaded not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman. The four of them are charged with falsification of records, while Brown, Harris and Ryan face the additional charge of deprivation of rights under color of law. Antico, who was the supervising officer that night, is also charged with obstruction of justice.

Harris, Ryan and Brown all face 30 years in prison, while Antico faces 40 years.

“It’s a very sad day for law enforcement if these allegations are true,” Matthewman said to the court.

At a news conference, Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz said that the overwhelming majority of the time, police officers “get it right.”

That last line is in dire need of a citation.



The altercation started on Sunday evening when two white women approached the victim, who was standing in line, and tried to get him to buy them drinks. When he refused, one of the women told him to “Go back to Asia and eat a dog,” among other not-so-nice remarks. Because, yes, racist taunts are the totally reasonable response to someone refusing to buy you drinks.

She reportedly got up in the victim’s face and when he pushed her away for some space, another man charged and punched him in the face. Security responded and escorted the couple out of the OC Night Market.

But later that evening, as the victim and his girlfriend were walking back to his car after the event, he was confronted and attacked by the duo we will from this point on refer to as the Violently Racist Couple. They had apparently been waiting for him to leave, followed him back to his car, and jumped him.

“The moment I got to my car, a black sedan pulled up,” the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells the OC Weekly. “The guy immediately went after me and everything else was a blur.”

The victim suffered bruises and lacerations to his face requiring stitches, and several chipped teeth. The victim’s girlfriend was also punched in the face when she tried to intervene. According to witnesses, the Violently Racist Couple drove off in a black sedan, but not before the guy yelled some more anti-Asian slurs while hanging out of the passenger side window. Well, that’s classy as shit.




Racism Round-Up 6.10.17