Tag Archives | African Americans

When Whites Just Don’t Get It

Kids and piesSome shocking facts support Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed at the New York Times, such as “the net worth of the average black household in the United States is $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household”:

Many white Americans say they are fed up with the coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. A plurality of whites in a recent Pew survey said that the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News reflected that weariness, saying: “All you hear is grievance, grievance, grievance, money, money, money.”

Indeed, a 2011 study by scholars at Harvard and Tufts found that whites, on average, believed that anti-white racism was a bigger problem than anti-black racism.

Yes, you read that right!

So let me push back at what I see as smug white delusion. Here are a few reasons race relations deserve more attention, not less:

• The net worth of the average black household in the United States is $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household, according to 2011 census data.

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The United States of America Is Not For Black People

Kid Handcuffed in the Back of a Police Car, Oakland RiotsDo you agree with Greg Howard that “the United States of America is not for black people,” which he writes at Deadspin’s The Concourse?

The United States of America is not for black people. We know this, and then we put it out of our minds, and then something happens to remind us. Saturday, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., something like that happened: An unarmed 18-year-old black man was executed by police in broad daylight.

By now, what’s happening in Ferguson is about so many second-order issues—systemic racism, the militarization of police work, and how citizens can redress grievances, among other things—that it’s worth remembering what actually happened here.

Michael Brown was walking down the middle of the street in Ferguson’s Canfield Green apartment complex around noon on Saturday with his friend Dorin Johnson when the two were approached by a police officer in a police truck.

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Questlove: How Hip-Hop Failed Black America

Questlove2enhancedUber-hip man about town Questlove writes the first of “six essays looking at hip-hop’s recent past, thinking about its distant past, and wondering about the possibility of a future,” for Vulture:

There are three famous quotes that haunt me and guide me though my days. The first is from John Bradford, the 16th-century English reformer. In prison for inciting a mob, Bradford saw a parade of prisoners on their way to being executed and said, “There but for the grace of God go I.” (Actually, he said “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford,” but the switch to the pronoun makes it work for the rest of us.) The second comes from Albert Einstein, who disparagingly referred to quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance.” And for the third, I go to Ice Cube, the chief lyricist of N.W.A., who delivered this manifesto in “Gangsta Gangsta” back in 1988: “Life ain’t nothing but bitches and money.”

Those three ideas may seem distant from one another, but if you set them up and draw lines between them, that’s triangulation.

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Half Of All Americans Believe In At Least One Medical Conspiracy Theory

OuchFlintGoodrichShot1941If you believe that the CIA deliberately infected African Americans with the HIV virus or another medical conspiracy theory, you have plenty of company: about half of all Americans, reports Reuters:

About half of American adults believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory, according to new survey results.

Some conspiracy theories have much more traction than others, however.

For example, three times as many people believe U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures as believe that a U.S. spy agency infected a large number of African Americans with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

J. Eric Oliver, the study’s lead author from University of Chicago, said people may believe in conspiracy theories because they’re easier to understand than complex medical information.

“Science in general – medicine in particular – is complicated and cognitively challenging because you have to carry around a lot of uncertainty,” Oliver said.

“To talk about epidemiology and probability theories is difficult to understand as opposed to ‘if you put this substance in your body, it’s going to be bad,'” he said.

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Angela Davis on Activism (Video)

Photo: GeorgeLouis (CC)

Photo: GeorgeLouis (CC)

Angela Davis was one of the most famous voices (and faces) of African American political activism in the 1960s and ’70s.

She’s still speaking out, and in this talk at the Brooklyn Academy of Music she talks about committing oneself to struggle for a better world and the vast history of activism for the right to freedom:

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Exonerated While Black: America’s Guilty Secret about Convicting Innocents

Picture: State of Louisiana (PD)

Picture: State of Louisiana (PD)

Sadhbh Walshe writes at the Guardian:

It’s hard to imagine a worse fate than being sent to prison or even being sentenced to death for a crime you did not commit. There’s no way of knowing for sure how many of the over 2 million Americans who are currently incarcerated were wrongfully convicted, but studies estimate that somewhere between 2 and 5% of them, which would amount to up to 100,000 people, may be innocent of their crimes.

What we do know, however, is that since 1989, more than 1,000 people, some of whom have spent decades in prison, have been exonerated (pdf). We also know that of that number. more than half were black and male; and their treatment by the criminal justice system, post release, is not a whole lot better than it was prior to their incarceration.

In 1989, the 16-year-old Shareef Cousins was convicted on eyewitness testimony of a murder he didn’t commit, and was sentenced to death.

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The House I Live In Takes a Hard Look at The War on Drugs

America’s longest war? The war on drugs. And many contend that it’s the most unsuccessful war as well. For the past 40 years, the war on drugs has resulted in more than 45 million arrests, $1 trillion in government spending, and America’s role as the world’s largest jailer. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available than ever. From director Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) comes an unflinching look at how the War on Drugs has disproportionately disenfranchised, incarcerated, and impoverished African Americans. Trailer below – the film debuts on PBS on April 8th. For some more clips, visit the Independent Lens site.
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Rewriting the Books of Mormon to Allow Black People

Modern Mormons are only slightly embarrassed about their founder Joseph Smith’s belief in polygamy, but they are definitely freaked out by the very public ban on Black people in their “church.” What do to? Rewrite their “scriptures” of course! NPR reports:

…The two biggest additions to the new edition of Mormon scripture can be found in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, says Givens, a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond, and they deal specifically with the church’s original ban on black priesthood ordination and polygamy.

Givens says Joseph Smith himself ordained black members of the church to the priesthood. But after Smith’s death, beginning in the late 1840s, Brigham Young apparently charted a new direction in terms, and began what became known as “the ban,” under which people of African-American ancestry were not permitted to hold the priesthood or to participate in temple ordinances.

“That was a policy that remained in place until 1978.

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Minimum Reparation Due To Slave Descendants: $1.5 Million – Each!

Cicatrices de flagellation sur un esclaveThe Activist Teacher blog does the arithmetic and comes up with a number ($59.2 Trillion!) that will do nothing to help balance the United States’ budget, but perhaps should be paid nonetheless?

It is not difficult to calculate a MINIMUM amount of monetary reparation due to every single Black slave descendant living today in the USA.

If we leave out the reparations for physical violence, genocidal stress, inadmissibility to superior social classes, etc., and only take into account the stolen labor, at the today’s equivalent minimum wage, then the calculation for the minimum amount due to the descendants of slaves is a simple one, as follows.

This calculation includes only the money due to ancestors and their descendants, in terms of the stolen actual labor counted in person-hours, based on a minimal economic value of that labour, adjusted ata lowest reasonable rate of interest.

Every step in the following calculation will use the lowest possible evaluators, such as to produce a MINIMUM amount due.

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Why America Needs A White History Month

James Baldwin. Source: MDCarchives (CC)

Mychal Denzel Smith writes for the Guardian:

We need a White History Month.

For anyone who speaks on issues of race publicly, the idea has long been a joke – a retort thrown at you from frustrated white folks who believe they are being discriminated against because there doesn’t exist a special month set aside to celebrate their racial identity. They cry foul at the notion of Black History Month, Black Entertainment Television, Black Enterprise and everything else with “black” in the title – even, sometimes, going so far as to say these things are racist in nature because their names and missions are “discriminatory”. It’s preposterous, but they counter that they need a White History Month to provide balance and equality.

After laughing this off for years, I’m now on the same page.

I don’t mean White History in the same way we (attempt) to celebrate Black History during February, or Women’s History in March.

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