Baltimore Rioters & Looters Have Done Something Right. Let’s Learn From Them.

An image from the 1968 Baltimore riots.

An image from the 1968 Baltimore riots.

The Baltimore looters and rioters have something figured out. If everyone struggling against racist police brutality was a peaceful marcher, we wouldn’t even be discussing Baltimore right now.

In the recent years of activism against racist police brutality, we have seen many peaceful marches, protests, vigils, and rallies. There have been hundreds of thousands of participants across the country and across the world. These are fabulous actions. These are people standing up, being seen and making their voices heard in public. A mass movement against white supremacy is vital.


Do these peaceful protests dominate the mainstream news cycles? How much time have important politicians given to peaceful protesters and their prominent leaders or their sponsoring non-profits? How much change has occurred on the ground?

But as soon as a Black person loots or riots, the MSM are ALL OVER IT. We saw this with Ferguson. Complaining about this fact doesn’t change it. Peaceful protests do not make headlines and do not dominate news cycles. Nonviolent protest is the safest tactic for most people, it allows for mass participation, and by demonstrating that large numbers of people care about this issue, it is an important part of the struggle to end white supremacy. But it does not do all things. Relying on a single tactic for such a massive undertaking is setting us up to fail.

Other tactics exist. We should use all tactics if we are serious about our goal. This is called diversity of tactics, and it has a very interesting history.

Looking purely at effectiveness: what brought the Baltimore Black community’s oppression to mainstream national attention? We have the rioters to thank. Flagrant injustices committed against them have gone unnoticed by the MSM for years. It was the rioters and looters, people who actually broke the laws that have unjustly targeted them, who took real risks to their livelihood and safety, who disobeyed the rules of capitalism, who brought this struggle to the mainstream national news. Peaceful protesting is not a tactic that succeeded in this way. It is safe, sanitized, controlled by “leaders” with agendas, and easily ignored.

Rioting is rational for the people under these circumstances. I think oppressed people, when the police, the government, the justice system, the media, and the wider society have failed them, have every right to rise up against their oppression using whatever means they deem necessary.

As one writer put it:

We’re observing bravery; racists and reactionaries will call it thuggery, and traitors will demand resistance be a little more polite–no rocks, no fire please. Respect the law that desecrates you, uphold the property relations that oppress you, and don’t forget decorum.

Liberals, entrenched community leaders and white allies do not like this tactic. They can be found blaming rioting and looting on “a few thugs” the “criminal element taking advantage of the situation” or my favorite, “outside agitators.” They still believe in respectability politics: that if Blacks can just prove to whites that they are Just Like Us, by living unimpeachable, perfect, Cosby Show lives, whites will suddenly dismantle institutionalized racism. This tactic was thoroughly debunked in the sixties, but clearly continues to hold allure for those who are afraid of what it would mean to take more drastic measures. It also reinforces that there are indeed certain contemptible Black people who must be separated out from the “good” Black people.

It hurts my ears to hear liberals mouth the phrase “outside agitators” to disown the most militant anti-racist-oppression agitators. That phrase has a history. It has a long association with Black uprisings against white supremacy and capitalism. To use that phrase is to tap into America’s disgusting history of justifying Black oppression and privation. Outside agitators were blamed for slave revolts because it was believed Blacks were too stupid to rebel against their enslavement. Outside agitators were blamed for various riots throughout the 20th century, including the Watts riots. George Wallace, the infamous Jim Crow-supporting Alabama governor, blamed Black organizing and rebellion on outside agitators. Often these agitators were painted as in some way socialist because property was destroyed. Communist agitators fomenting Black rebellion was discussed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the sixties.

Of course, as it turns out, the Baltimore looters and rioters were locals. Well-meaning liberals and allies need to cut it out with this “outside agitators” crap right now. What we have on our hands are local heroes, and it is wrong to rob them of their bravery by saying they couldn’t have done it. It must have been the communists!

Looters and rioters are the bravest participants of the protest against police brutality in Baltimore. They also have a very effective tactic when it comes to attracting media attention. As we move forward, we need to learn and adapt so that our battles against white supremacy can be more efficacious. This is more than theory: lives are at stake.

Further reading: here is a big information dump of background on the history of Black people in Baltimore and their encounters with racism.

Feminist Theory from margin to center

Feminist Theory from margin to center by bell hooksI finally read this 1984 classic by bell hooks. A fundamental text on intersectional feminism, stating clearly why race and gender cannot be divided into separate spheres of concern.

I was struck by some particular passages:

“White women and black men have it both ways. They can act as oppressor or be oppressed. Black men may be victimized by racism, but sexism allows them to act as exploiters and oppressors of women. White women may be victimized by sexism, but racism enables them to act as exploiters and oppressors of black people. Both groups have led liberation movements that favor their interests and support the continued oppression of other groups. Black male sexism has undermined struggles to eradicate racism just as white female racism undermines feminist struggle. As long as these two groups or any group defines liberation as gaining social equality with ruling class white men, they have a vested interest in the continued exploitation and oppression of others.” pg.15

“Women must begin the work of feminist reorganization with the understanding that we have all (irrespective of our race, sex, or class) acted in complicity with the existing oppressive system. We all need to make a conscious break with the system. The compassion we extend to ourselves, the recognition that our change in consciousness and action has been a process, must characterize our approach to those individuals who are politically unconscious.” pgs.161-162

“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” is the title of a book by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. In it she discusses the development of racial identity, focusing predominantly on childhood. I’ve noticed some discussion on the internet of this topic lately, particularly this article by Brittney Cooper, in which she discusses how growing racial identity caused social separation between herself and her black peers vis à vis her white peers.

Here are my favorite quotes from the book:

“The task of resisting our own oppression does not relieve us of the responsibility of acknowledging our complicity in the oppression of others.” pg.27

“We need to understand that in racially mixed social settings, racial grouping is a developmental process in response to an environmental stressor, racism. Joining with one’s peers for support in the face of stress is a positive coping strategy.” pg.62

“The social pressure from friends and acquaintances to collude, to not notice racism, can be quite powerful.” pg.101

ICE Agents Team with Nativists to Deport More Brown People!

I guess some ICE employees are itching to kick more brown people out of their United States. I’m supposing they got involved with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the hope of making life worse for people of darker hue, and then stuff like budgets and politics and human rights got in the way.


The natural answer is to sue. Certain enterprising government employees at ICE established a natural link to the nativist organization, NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA, with extensive ties to racists of all types, is a big supporter of all the toughest anti-immigrant legislation, and has agreed to fund this lawsuit.


“Conservatism Is a White People’s Movement”

John Derbyshire, recently fired from the National Review, a popular conservative magazine, for being too racist (yeah, I guess it is possible), is now finally free to say what he really thinks.

And this loudly-self-proclaimed Conservative has a thing or two to say. On a white supremacist blog he now writes for.

Conservatism. . .is a white people’s movement, a scattering of outliers notwithstanding.

Always has been, always will be. I have attended at least a hundred conservative gatherings, conferences, cruises, and jamborees: let me tell you, there ain’t too many raisins in that bun. I was in and out of the National Review offices for twelve years, and the only black person I saw there, other than when Herman Cain came calling, was Alex, the guy who runs the mail room.

Nail on the head. But why is this?

[C]onservative ideals like self-sufficiency and minimal dependence on government have no appeal to underperforming minorities—groups who, in the statistical generality, are short of the attributes that make for group success in a modern commercial nation.

Oh, I see.

He deliberates what name to give to himself and other “true” non-establishment conservatives.

I actually think “White Supremacist” is not bad semantically. White supremacy, in the sense of a society in which key decisions are made by white Europeans, is one of the better arrangements History has come up with. There have of course been some blots on the record, but I don’t see how it can be denied that net-net, white Europeans have made a better job of running fair and stable societies than has any other group.

Haha, history just “came up with” colonization, imperialism, and genocide! How about that! And whites just happened to benefit from it. What a beneficial coincidence for John Derbyshire.

Normally, I wouldn’t want to participate in making such people’s voices louder than they already are. I choose to highlight occasional instances, like this one, to remind complacent people that overt RACISM STILL EXISTS. And in very prominent places.

Not to mention all the less in-your-face kinds. But that’s what I usually talk about on this blog anyway.

The Racism Trayvon Martin’s Murder Has Cracked Open

Those following the Trayvon Martin murder case, in which an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a neighborhood vigilante who has not been charged with any crime, have probably observed that the case seems to draw white racism out into the open.

For example, someone in Michigan altered a lighted traffic sign to say “Trayvon a n—–“.

Martin’s dead body was subjected to drug tests, whereas the murderer, George Zimmerman, was not subjected to similar tests.

Neo-Nazis, paradoxically worried about the safety of whites in Sanford, Florida, have organized armed white supremacists to patrol the streets in search of, appartently, blacks angry over this injustice. Fox News originally reported that they are a “civil rights group”.

On Fox News, Geraldo Rivera suggested that Martin is partially to blame for his own death for being black and wearing a hoodie in public.

On a wider scale, a poll found that people who identify as Republican and/or white are more likely to think this injustice is receiving too much publicity.

As the parents of young black men are forced to have “the talk” about the realities of racial prejudice in America, one white Republican, a very angry one at that, is seeking to get out a different message to young men, one just for whites and Asians: stay away from black people, except rich ones, whom you will need to prove you aren’t racist.

No, I am not exaggerating John Derbyshire’s stance. In fact, his published words are so racist that even the conservative publication National Review fired him over this article.

His article includes such pieces of wisdom as “Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally,” “Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians,” and “The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites.”

He also informs racists on tactics to superficially paste over their racism: “You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSBs [intelligent and well-socialized blacks]. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.”

I hear constantly from whites about how racism isn’t a big deal, isn’t really a factor any more, is just an excuse used by people of color not to achieve, etc. RACISM IS A BIG DEAL. In Martin’s case, RACISM KILLS.

Active Voter Suppression in America

Did you know the NAACP is going to petition the UN about the USA restricting the right to vote for voters of color? Year check: 2011.

The NAACP claims:

Fourteen states have passed a total of 25 measures that will unfairly restrict the right to vote, among black and Hispanic voters in particular.

In addition, the lawmakers of Texas would like to demonstrate their priorities, once again, to the world at large:

In Texas, a law has been passed that prevents students from voting on the basis of their college ID cards, while allowing anyone to cast their ballot if they can show a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

The Problem With Affirmative Action

Lewis R. Gordon speaks the TRUTH! Read his amazing article about Affirmative Action in Truthout and revel in his genius.

Some of the wisdom contained therein:

The rewards lavished on many whites in the modern world have not been based on merit. What many people of color discovered upon entering those previously closed corridors was not white superiority but, for the most part, white mediocrity.

Uh oh!

Gordon also writes about a black man, James Weldon Johnson, who passed the bar exam in 1897 with no college background. Whites at the American Bar Association took action:

First, there was the bachelor’s of law. Since many blacks couldn’t afford to go to college, that reduced the pool by a significant number. But since there was a growing black middle class, even with American apartheid, more began to meet that criterion. So, the American Bar Association then required post-graduate study. To sit for the exam, a candidate must now have completed law school, which is, for the most part, three years of study after completing an undergraduate degree. In effect, seven or more years of investment in higher education became the criterion to sit before the bar. The stratagem was effective: the number of blacks qualified to take the bar examination plummeted.

AAAAAAAA! The Truth… hurts. And therefore should be covered up with myths of reverse racism. Ah, isn’t that better?

Racist St. Bernard Parish Leaders Will Stop at Nothing

Back in October and November of last year, I did a lot of talking about some business in St. Bernard Parish, a Parish near New Orleans. You can find my previous update and links to all my writing on this topic here.

In a nutshell, St. Bernard is 81.6% white, and the housing is mostly single-family homes. Some developers are trying to build apartments that will be more affordable to low-income individuals, a group in that area in which blacks are overrepresented. Well, white city leaders have a PROBLEM!!! with this, and have gone to great lengths to prevent the building of this affordable housing, including lengths of dubious legality, which can be found at my link above.

So construction on the apartments finally started, but then:

A roiling battle over four mixed-income apartment buildings in St. Bernard Parish reached a boil Friday, with Parish President Craig Taffaro ordering a halt to construction after the developer’s attorneys forced the case out of a state judge’s hands and back into federal court.

Within hours, however, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan called foul, ordering parish officials to “purge themselves of contempt” by today at 5 p.m. or begin paying $25,000 per day in fines, then $50,000 per day after Tuesday.

For some reason, Taffaro had ordered this halt “three days after the Parish Council repealed two ordinances that restrict mult-family and rental properties.”

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development fair housing enforcement officials have said they would block federal money coming into the parish — and possibly to Louisiana as a whole — if the parish did not rescind the ordinances. HUD officials said the laws discriminate against African-Americans who are disproportionately in need of such housing in the New Orleans area.”

People, what the hell is going on here?

Whites Are Tots Oppressed, Not Privileged

Compare what you see in this video (stupid WordPress won’t let me embed), to this CNN article, which fawns all over unapologetic white nationalists:

James Edwards, host of the “Political Cesspool” radio show, …says white Americans have become the “dispossessed majority” and that coming demographic changes may turn the United States into a “Third-World flop-house.”

…”Whatever mistakes might have been made in our pasts, they have not only been corrected, but they’ve been overcompensated for,” he says.

Now whites are victims of pervasive racism, Edwards says.

“They’re the victims of it every day. Anything a white conservative does that a liberal doesn’t like is called racism.”


Spooky but TRUE Tales from the News…

So many scary stories, so little time to blog! Here’s the most frightening things I’ve read in the news lately:

Harvard’s “Conquistabros and Navajos” Frat Party

First Annual Salon Baity Awards for Excellence in the Field of Race-Baiting

The Most Racist Campaign in Decades, and What It Demands of Us

School Board Vice President Who Wants All Gay Youth to Die Resigns

Prison Economics Help Drive Arizona Immigration Law

Documents Released by WikiLeaks Confirm Massive US Human Rights Violations

Dick Armey Defends Tea Party From Charges of Racism, Citing Group’s Obvious Diversity

Oh yes he did. Though he did add: “depend[ing] on your definition of diversity.”

He’s not the racist. PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE THE RACISTS. Against… themselves. That’s his argument. To wit:

“And I would say if you would spend any time talking to any person from what the establishment calls the ‘minority identification,’ the difficulties, the harassment, the intolerance, the abuse that they suffer comes from within their own community — if for example you’re a black person coming to our rally — your own relatives, your own family.”

…””The first thing you ought to do is marvel that anybody of color dares to have the courage to show up in the company of this grassroots movement.”

Truer words have never been spoken, Dick.


Perhaps you are familiar with the visceral fear and hatred that the mere mention of Ebonics evokes among certain, more light-colored segments of the population.

Perhaps a little linguistics-speak will dampen their fear and fancy academic-y jargon will dull their hatred. Well, probably not, because learnin is communist, but I can dream.

The Radical Notion of Eating Together

You won’t regret reading this awesome piece by Greg Bloom.

Included is this brilliant idea:

A proposal for dismantling racism: Let’s eat together

We affirmed the radical notion of sitting down and eating together as a starting point for building relationships, gaining historical perspective, sharing culture, learning from each other, offering practical tips for healthy cooking/eating, supplying food for those is need, discussing future action, recognizing who is missing from the table, and action to bring them into the circle next time. Many of the key ingredients to dismantling racism.

Building on the example of the People’s Kitchen Collective in Oakland we see endless potential in this model. Here are some ideas:

* Work to raise $$ so the meal can be free to all or on a sliding scale
* This example was a meal for 200 people
* Invite 20 people to come help prepare the meal
* Invite 4 people to teach one dish each
* Set up 4 stations and have each cook discuss the role this dish plays in their culture, where the ingredients come from (work to include the growers whenever possible), and how food can be used for organizing in their community
* Have the 20 cooks report back what they learned to the larger group
* Collectively say grace/thanks for the food!
* Offer discussion questions for each table
* Send each guest home with the recipes and whatever ingredients you can provide (especially cultural spices or things harder to find)
* Discuss who is missing from the table and what collectively can be done to include them next time
* Set a date for next meal!

Why I Am Uncomfortable Labeling Myself ‘Feminist’

Certain second-wavers would have it that I don’t use the word “feminist” too much because I am weak, or afraid to use it, or have given in to some sort of societal pressure not to stand up for women’s issues.

Wouldn’t you know that my fraught relationship with that word is the result of self-education, listening to the voices of marginalized women, and a large amount of introspection? You see, I was able to use my own brain power to autonomously decide “feminist” is problematic, just like any normal human being!

Here is why.

To wit, “feminism” has become so closely allied with, and claimed by, women of privilege that to claim it would be a vote of support for privileged (mostly Western, white, middle-upper class, heterosexual) women and against the repeatedly expressed concerns of the rest of us: trans women, queer women, poor and low-income women, women of color, non-Western women, differently-abled women.

I haven’t just seen this on the blogosphere, in the various wars where WOC critique white feminists’ passive racism, and a bunch of white self-described feminists leap into the breach to try and silence the WOC voices and validate the white ones. I have seen this in real non-computer-mediated life. I have literally observed white feminists deliberately push women of color back to the margins just as the WOC are trying to push to the center. I have seen queer women’s specific needs regarding sexuality, relationship formation, and child-care sidelined as less important. And etcetera.

I have seen white feminists get angry at the suggestion that power within this supposedly all-inclusive women’s movement be shared. Race is a separate issue, a distraction from the sisterhood, they say. So is disability. So is recognizing the very different life experiences of women from different social classes.

It is almost too painful to even discuss what cisgendered feminists say about trans women. Let’s just say that the majority of cisgendered feminists aren’t at all convinced that trans women’s issues are worth a modicum of their time.

I can’t use the word feminism anymore without thinking about all of this. The liberation of privileged white women has little to do with my liberation. Until feminists realize that “[their] liberation is bound up with mine” I don’t have much motivation to join their exclusive movement.

Please read this article at the Guardian to get the perspective of a woman of color on this matter.