Black Man in Diabetic Shock Attacked By Gang of White Cops

Ohio man John Harmon was experiencing low blood sugar levels while driving home from work one day in 2009. He grew woozy and started to swerve. Sheriff’s deputies observed the unsafe driving and pulled him over.

John Harmon

John Harmon is PISSED.


Deputies broke the window of Harmon’s SUV, shocked him seven times with a Taser, cut him out of his seatbelt and wrestled him to the ground, severely dislocating his elbow, and causing trauma to his shoulder and thumb.

…”I thought for sure I was going to die,” Harmon said. “I remember praying to God, ‘Help me through this.'”

After learning that he was experiencing a medical emergency, they charged him with “resisting arrest and failing to comply with a police officer’s order.” Harmon’s resulting surgeries and medical expenses total nearly $100,000.

Fortunately, Ohio State Trooper Chris Sanger arrived on the scene, caught some of it on video, and pulled the deputies off Harmon.

Harmon is suing four of the deputies involved in the assault: Ryan Wolf, Matthew Wissel, John Haynes and Shawn Cox, and their supervisor, Barbara Stuckey, who okayed the post-beating charges.

Interesting to note, though I am sure completely irrelevant to the incident, John Harmon is black while the attackers are white.

Notes from Post-Racial America

Arizona Elementary School (Almost) Whitened The Faces Of Its Own Students On A Mural Because Some Racists Yelled At It
From the Huffington Post:

An Arizona elementary school mural featuring the faces of kids who attend the school has been the subject of constant daytime drive-by racist screaming…

From AZ Central:

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity. But the school’s principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.

From Mother Jones:

While creating the mural, “We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” said artist R.E. Wall of the Prescott Downtown Mural Project. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”

I assume you can fill in those blanks.

Prescott Councilmember Steve Blair said on the radio:

“I am not a racist individual, but I will tell you that depicting a black guy in the middle of that mural, based upon who’s President of the United States today, and based upon the history of this community when I grew up, we had four black families, who I have been very good friends with for years, to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, ‘Why?'” (Blair was mistakenly identifying the Hispanic boy on the mural as black.)

Back at Mother Jones:

The school district head and the principal, confronted with a crowd of protesters, made a dramatic about-face and announced by bullhorn that the mural would remain as is. “Miller Valley made made a mistake,” said principal Jeff Lane. “When we asked R. [the artist] to lighten the mural, we made a mistake.”

*My note: “hispanic” is not a race. A person can be hispanic and white, hispanic and brown, hispanic and black. Just saying.

h/t Shenanigans.
Prescott Arizona Mural
My Daughter, Her Hair, and the Seattle School District
Sez Charles Mudede at the Slog:

…just last week, my daughter—who is 8 and happens to be the only brown person in her Accelerated Progress Program class at Thurgood Marshall Elementary—was ordered out of the classroom because her teacher did not like the smell of her hair. The teacher complained that my racially different daughter’s hair (or something—a product—in the hair) was making her sick, and then the teacher made her leave the classroom. My daughter was aware of the racial nature of this expulsion not only because she was made to sit in a classroom that had more black students in it (the implication being that this is where she really belongs, in the lower class with the other black students), but because her teacher, she informed me, owns a dog. Meaning, a dog’s hair gives the teacher less problems than my daughter’s human but curly hair. Most white people do not have to deal with shit like this. Shit that if not checked and confronted will have permanent consequences for the child.

The lawyer hired by the Seattle school district, if he knows anything, knows that THERE’S NO RACISM HERE!

Any allegations of racial insensitivity or negligence are “wholly untrue,” [Kevin] O’Neill says, “because, well, because the district would not tolerate employment of a teacher that has racial animosity towards a student.”

…However, O’Neill also says he doesn’t know what exactly happened or “the reasons that this child was asked to leave.” Until the investigation is complete, he says, it’s unclear what was offensive about the hair product that reportedly made the teacher sick, why the district hadn’t done anything for three days, whether an incident like this had ever occurred before, whether anyone had spoken to the teacher about the incident, whether school district rules prohibit any cosmetics, or what current or future steps are required for the investigation.

Mudede concludes with:

Feeling the seriousness of this situation, we decided not to send our daughter to school until the teacher had medical proof that our daughter’s hair or something in her hair was to blame for the nausea. (The last thing you want to happen to your daughter is for a teacher to faint or vomit at the mere sight of her.)

Days passed and the school took no action. This unresponsiveness left us with no other choice than to turn to a lawyer.

h/t Scorn


The Exciting Times v.5

So much news, so little time!

Grassroots Oil Clean-up Efforts
Seeing a complete lack of action on the part of the US government or BP, some Louisiana residents take control as oil washes ashore. Some even commandeered idle BP-hired boats!

Men, Masculinities, and Peacebuilding
Gender Across Borders discusses an awesome new manual for men against violence and sexism. International case studies included!

Drug bust or racist revenge for Louisiana Jena 6 victory?
Uh oh.

At 4 a.m. on July 9, 2009, more than 150 officers from 10 different agencies gathered in a large barn just outside Jena, Louisiana. The day was the culmination of an investigation that Sheriff Scott Franklin said had been going on for nearly two years. Local media was invited, and a video of the Sheriff speaking to the rowdy gathering would later appear online.

The Sheriff called the mobilization “Operation Third Option,” and he said it was about fighting drugs. However, community members say that Sheriff Franklin’s actions are part of an orchestrated revenge for the local civil rights protests that won freedom for six Black high school students – known internationally as the Jena Six – who had been charged with attempted murder for a school fight.

One thing is clear: The Sheriff spent massive resources. Yet officers seized no contraband. Together with District Attorney Reed Walters, Sheriff Franklin has said he is seeking maximum penalties for people charged with small-time offenses. Further, in a parish that is 85 percent white, his actions have almost exclusively targeted African Americans.

Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies

I’m too upset to write my own post, so I’ll let the AP do it for me! (FYI as of the posting of this piece, Governor Jan Brewer has neither signed nor vetoed this bill.)

[HB 2281] targets an ethnic studies program from a Tucson school district. It would prohibit classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group.

The Tucson Unified School District program allows students to take history and literature courses that include information about the influence of a particular ethnic group.

Arizona Superintendent Tom Horne…Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Republican Tom Horne — who’s running for attorney general — has been trying for years to pass a bill limiting the program after learning that Hispanic civil rights activist Dolores Huerta told Tucson high school students in 2006 that “Republicans hate Latinos.”

Horne said he believes the district’s Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people. Public schools should not be encouraging students to resent a particular race, he said.

“A fundamental American value is that we’re all individuals, and what race we were born into is not relevant,” Horne said.

What I like about this scenario is that Mr. Horne, a white Republican, is pissed off that a particular school district is teaching classes that challenge his racial superiority, and even once had a speaker who criticized Republicans! Being obviously disinterested, Mr. Horne, a white Republican, lobbies aggressively for a bill that will ban ethnic studies for the whole state, just to shut down a particular program that he doesn’t like because it challenges his prejudices. But his not liking it had nothing to do with this sensible, racially-neutral law, I’m sure. You know what else I’m sure of? That this has nothing to do with Mr. Horne’s search for more personal power as he runs for AZ attorney general. He is definitely not pandering to the obviously large segment of the white population who is racist.

What’s weird(ish) here is that the language of HB2281 isn’t, on the surface, too controversial. The bill bans classes that:

• Promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.

• Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.

• Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.

• Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating pupils as individuals

But apparently Arizonans in the know are well aware of Mr. Horne’s true intentions. Something to do with comments about ethnic studies promoting “ethnic chauvinism” or that Mexican-American studies at Tuscon Unified School District promote “racial warfare“. Also, it seems Mr. Horne has made it rather clear that he is punishing TUSD for “a defiant finger gesture“, i.e. continuing to have Mexican-American studies inspite of the fact that Mr. Horne has a personal problem with such classes. You know what I see here? Good governance.

So what we’ve learned here is:
A) Arizona is particularly good at re-proving that race is “not relevant”. To anything.
A.1) …and therefore Arizona wins the post-racial prize.
B) White makes right.
B.1) History focusing on the accomplishments of whites is nonracial and truly American.
B.2) History focusing on the accomplishments of latin@s promotes racial resentment and anti-Americanism.


Global Comment puts it this way:

Observing Arizona right now is like looking into America’s future after the next terrorist attack, should reactionary parties prevail and the police state completely take over. The state possesses a radically right-wing agenda that is openly hostile to gays, women, and ethnic minorities. A rogue sheriff has set up a camp tent city for prisoners, leaving them to bake in 110 °F weather. Police are permitted to harass citizens on the suspicion they might be illegal immigrants, even though the governor herself admitted she has no idea what an illegal immigrant looks like.

Take a gander at the Tuscon Civil Rights Coalition call to action.

Oh, and here’s two more post-racial actions going on in Arizona government. SB 1097 would establish mechanisms for denying school funding for non-citizen students. Also, “The Arizona Department of Education recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English.” Guess who’s in charge of the DOE!

Tim Wise: Protest, Insurgency and the Workings of White Privilege

You preach it, Tim! Look what I found on rad blog Siditty: Imagine: Protest, Insurgency and the Workings of White Privilege

A quote:

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters–the black protesters–spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government. Would these protesters–these black protesters with guns–be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Study: Median Wealth for Single Black Women at $5 in USA

I am speechless. All I can do are give you a few quotes from this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story:

In a groundbreaking report released Monday by a leading economic research group, social scientists turned a spotlight on the grave financial challenges facing an often overlooked group of women, many of whom could not take an unpaid sick day or repair a major appliance without going into debt.

…Among the most startling revelations in the wealth data is that while single white women in the prime of their working years (ages 36 to 49) have a median wealth of $42,600 (still only 61 percent of their single white male counterparts), the median wealth for single black women is only $5.

…Married or cohabitating white women have a median wealth of $167,500. Married or cohabitating black women have a median net worth of $31,500.

…”If wealth was based on hard work, African-Americans would be the wealthiest people in our nation,” [Meizhu Lui, director of the Closing the Gap Initiative] said. “It’s not about behavior. It’s about government policies. Who does the government help and who is it not helping?”

Idaho Baptists Claim Jesus Told Them to Steal Children

A group of Idaho Baptists who are now in Haitian custody are claiming that Jesus told them it would be alright to grab a bunch of Haitian children and traffic them into the United States. Official authorization? Checking to see if the children were really orphans? Working to alleviate Haiti’s poverty instead of just stealing children to give them a “good” American life? Such questions are irrelevant when Jesus has given you direct orders.

Fox News has a creepily sympathetic article about this group, which repeatedly mentions how parents “want” to give up their kids to white Americans, so really, these Baptists who rounded up these non-orphan kids and put them on a bus with little explanation weren’t doing anything so wrong.

From the article:

The church group’s own mission statement said it planned to spend only hours in the devastated capital, quickly identifying children without immediate families and busing them to a rented hotel in the Dominican Republic without bothering to get permission from the Haitian government.

The idiocy, it burns…

“In this chaos the government is in right now, we were just trying to do the right thing,” the group’s spokeswoman, Laura Silsby, told the AP at Haiti’s judicial police headquarters, where she and others were taken after their arrest Friday night trying to cross the border into the Dominican Republic in a bus.

Silsby, 40, admitted she had not obtained the proper Haitian documents for the children, whose names were written on pink tape on their shirts.

Yes, she only had the children’s best interests in mind…

The children, ages 2 months to 12 years old, were taken to an orphanage run by Austrian-based SOS Children’s Villages, where spokesman George Willeit said they arrived “very hungry, very thirsty.”

A 2- to 3-month old baby was dehydrated and had to be hospitalized, he said. An orphanage worker held and caressed another, older baby, who was feverish and looked disoriented.

“One (8-year-old) girl was crying, and saying, ‘I am not an orphan. I still have my parents.’ And she thought she was going on a summer camp or a boarding school or something like that,” Willeit said.

Nice work, Central Valley Baptist Church and East Side Baptist Church members. Their pastor, Rev. Clint Henry, who remained in Idaho, has some interesting things to say about this kerfuffle. He asked his congregation to pray to God to “help them as they seek to resist the accusations of Satan and the lies that he would want them to believe and the fears that he would want to plant into their heart.” He also said that the plan to steal children in the wake of a disaster was hatched “because we believe that Christ has asked us to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world, and that includes children.”

Who do these people think they are? Because they are white, Christian, and American citizens they can flaunt any law, any consideration of decency, any basic sense of morality? The arrogant assumption that their desire to acquire poor brown babies trumps the human rights of the children and families involved is sickening. Their shock that they would be prevented from perpetrating this egregious and cruel crime is vomit-worthy.

Laura Silsby, the ringleader, had the tone-deaf, entitled hubris to say that child trafficking “is exactly what we are trying to combat.” No, child trafficking is what you are doing. Laura Silsby is a would-be child-trafficker who simply got caught. How does she think she is doing anything different than other child traffickers? It doesn’t make me feel any better about the situation that she has set up a special little organization in Idaho: New Life Children’s Refuge. THIS IS WHY TRANSNATIONAL ADOPTION AGENCIES HAVE SUCH A BAD NAME.

So now the United Nations, Red Cross and Haitian government have to run around looking for the families of these children and bring them back to health instead of doing whatever totally inconsequential things that they were previously occupied with. Nice work Baptists.

Dear Fox News and Idaho Baptists,

It is not okay to take children from their families, cultures, and homes and bring them to America because the children happen to be poor and of color. A childhood in America is NOT categorically better than a childhood elsewhere. White middle-class American parents are NOT categorically superior to brown or black poor non-American parents. Ideas to the contrary are based on colonial and racist bias. Period. Stealing children because they are poor and non-white has been perpetrated by whites since the moment they arrived in the Americas. It doesn’t matter what the excuse is. IT IS ALWAYS WRONG. Anyone who actually wants to “help” poor children of color would support poor families of color. This would take the form of: boycotting all companies that exploit cheap labor in poor countries, resisting the IMF and World Bank, stop creating unequal and exploitative “free” trade agreements, stop exporting consumerism, stop meddling with their governments, give aid without strings attached, support efforts to improve health clinic and reproduction options, stop supporting the exportation of American-style patriarchy, fight against the pollution American companies create that devastates the environment and the health of people in other countries, and etc. There are dozens of concrete and meaningful ways to support Haiti and Haitian families. Child trafficking in the name of Jesus is not one of them.

The Czech

PS. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-adoption. There are many people who are transnational adoptees in my life, and they have helped to educate me on these issues. Transnational adoption is fraught with pitfalls whenever there are power inequalities between the countries in question, but I believe there is a right way to do it. The Idaho Baptist method is not the right way.

Perhaps the Central Valley and East Side Baptist Churches share some membership with Concerned Women for America. Penny Young Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, wrote a stunning article in the Washington Times recently. Here are just a few of her words:

Conservatives believe that government is a very limited solution to poverty. So what is our answer?

…It might mean a personal long-term commitment to a child or one of the estimated 377 orphanages in Haiti.

…The first and obvious goal should be to remove red tape both in the U.S. and in Haiti. Of course, the proper investigation to assure that the child or children are matched to a safe home is a must.

But here’s my fave quote:

In Haiti, the U.S. government should use some of its new leverage to ask Haitian officials to cut red tape in that country and follow the same example with immigration authorities here.

By “new leverage” could Nance possibly be referring to the recent US military occupation of Haiti? 100 points to Nance for most hilarious use of a euphemism for neo-colonialism!

But Nance’s response to disaster in Haiti doesn’t just include the siphoning of their children to middle-class Americans. Oh no. She is also adamant that “helping Haiti” include “federal tax incentives of up to $10,000” to the adoptive parents. I only wish I were joking. But if I understand her correctly, she wants the federal government to spend tens of thousands of dollars on middle-class Americans as a response to a disaster in Haiti?

Genius or idiocy, you decide. I do get the impression that Penny Young Nance and Laura Silsby are probably BFFs. Or at least, if they weren’t before, they are now.

Quotes of the Day

“The rich, giving part of their enormous earnings [to create universities], became known as philanthropists. These educational institutions did not encourage dissent; they trained the middlemen in the American system—the teachers, doctors, lawyers, administrators, engineers, technicians, politicians—those who would be paid to keep the system going, to be loyal buffers against trouble.”

-Howard Zinn
A People’s History of the United States

“Just a reminder that the year is 2009, and white people talking to black people is still a controversial issue in the Republican party.”


Whites Favorite Race of the Human Rights Campaign

Totally not news: the Human Rights Campaign continues to center the experiences of white middle-to-upper class gays while claiming to exist for the good of all LGBT people. Their tagline is: Working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights. But if that were the case, why are they so focused on the agenda of a certain class, race, and gender subset of the community?

New York LGBT activist and blogger Kenyon Farrow has an opinion about this.

One quote:

[A recent] study showed that black gay and lesbian couples had higher poverty rates than their black straight counterparts, and three times higher than white gay couples. White gay male couples with jobs and no children had higher incomes than all compared groups – even heterosexual couples.

My Crime Is Biking While Female (and living in a classist, racist nation)

Last night, I rode my bike home from an event a couple miles from my house.

It was nearly 2 am and I had some concerns about drunk drivers. I turned down a driveway passage that leads between some public housing complexes near my house to avoid the cars racing up and down the major roads.

As I was riding through the central courtyard, I noticed a group of rather large men, dressed all in black, standing together at one end.

As I passed them, they took note of my presence and started shouting at me. They yelled out “HEY!” several times and demanded that I stop and talk with them.

It took me zero seconds to decide that would be a piss poor idea and to peddle all the faster. Usually ignoring such attention from men and leaving the area quickly is enough.

Not this time. I realized one of the men was literally chasing me. I was overwhelmed with fear. I didn’t even want to imagine what a cluster of five men hanging out in a dark corner at 2 am and shouting at women would want with me. My whole body went cold and I peddled as fast as I could, aiming for the bright lights of the nearest busy street.

I heard one of the men shout “Police!” and thought maybe a police officer was coming to the rescue.

Oh how wrong I was.

Because these men were the police.

That realization did not make me feel any better. I quickly assessed my options and decided to stop before any guns were drawn. Though I experience white skin privilege, the police in my neighborhood are so accustomed to abusing the marginalized communities here that I believed white privilege wouldn’t overcome their “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality.

The five police officers approached and surrounded me. Up close I could see that their dark clothing was black or navy uniforms with policey-decorations on them. They were all white, which I thought was odd for this majority-POC neighborhood. They demanded to know what I was doing in “the projects”. I responded that I was riding my bike home, and that the complexes were between my starting point and destination. They told me that this is a “high crime area” and that I “shouldn’t be around here”. I informed them that that was unreasonable because I live “around here”. That sounding deeply implausible, the leader demanded my ID and accused me of fleeing the police. He and three officers went a few paces away and huddled, speaking in low tones, for the next 15 minutes. One officer was left to monitor me.

I was thoroughly frightened and confused. I had only planned on a quick 10-minute bikeride from hanging out with friends to my home. Being shouted at, chased, and surrounded by a group of five big-bodied men… it hadn’t really occurred to me as a possibility. I expressed my confusion at this turn of the events and questioned my detention. They told me to wait.

Eventually, the leader of the group stalked up to me and in a raised, aggressive voice informed me that I was charged with disorderly conduct and riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. He informed me that I had known all along they were police, that I had shouted insults at them, and that I had deliberately tried to flee them.

This was, of course, news to me. I explained that when I pass noisy groups of men who shout at me in dark passages in the wee hours, it is simply a matter of survival that I get out of the situation, and that any woman in my place would do the same. He repeated that I had known they were police and had intentionally committed this crime.

He handed me the tickets and I got out of there fast. I have never felt so unsafe in my own neighborhood. I have never been harassed in this manner in my neighborhood before. I feel thankful that I came out of the situation with my life. That may be my white privilege. Around here, as around the country, police have a reputation for murdering black people. They murdered one man earlier this summer for the crime of being on his porch and telling a disguised under-cover cop to stop loitering on his property. He was killed in his own front doorway.

Some other reflections:

1. All this shouting and chasing and harassing was in the courtyard of a large housing complex full of families. I am talking hundreds of people. How safe can they feel when police officers are loitering outside of their homes screaming at the top of their lungs at every passer-by? Especially when this community, being low income and of color and partly immigrant, is already subject to excessive amounts of police harassment?

2. My own white privilege was revealed to me as I came to realize that this is what my neighbors experience every day, and that I usually escape it. It’s possible that the same darkness that prevented me from seeing the police uniforms prevented them from seeing my skin tone. They may have planned on harassing a public housing resident of color, and I just blundered into the situation by assuming that I can go wherever I want without police harassment. The fact that I never realized how police interactions interlace the daily lives of my neighbors is a wake up call for me.

3. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THOSE OFFICERS? How dare they harass a woman who is traveling alone at night in an isolated location away from any busy roads (where there would be witnesses and the potential to call for help)? Are they out of their minds? How can they be so blind to their male privilege and the legitimacy privilege of possessing state power? Could they really not see why the situation they chose to create was a terrifying nightmare-scenario for their victim? How in the world is public safety achieved by men shouting at and chasing women in the night? I have never felt so unsafe in my neighborhood as I do now. My neighbors haven’t ever done anything to make me feel unsafe, and so until now I had no fears. The behavior of these men was so egregious that I believe it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find similar instances perpetrated by the supposedly dangerous inhabitants of the public housing buildings.

4. Essentially, my crime here is that I was biking while female. I acted as any rational women would react in this situation. For my natural behaviors of simply trying to survive on the street, I actually have to be a defendant in court.

5. I want to state clearly that this is an intersection of institutional and state classism and racism, and that I will not be accepting comments to the effect of “Oh you’re so naive to live near public housing and/or to think good on your neighbors.” Those comments would be classist and racist and that’s not what this post is here to talk about. Why would I be the “naive white girl” to live near these apartments, but the residents are “hardened black criminals” simply for residing inside the same apartments I live next to? The location of your home does not define you as a criminal or not, nor does your skin color nor your poverty. I guess I should say “should not” instead of “does not”. We all know that people of color, public housing residents, immigrants, and poor people are criminalized simply for existing as such.


Share your stories of police harassment if you like. NO RACISM & NO POOR-BASHING.

What Anti-Racism in St. Bernard Parish Could Look Like

I was thinking about the St. Bernard Parish Housing Discrimination Saga while at work today. Or should I say, while I was bathing in cash from the huge payments I’ve been getting from Provident to write this. ;) And I was mulling over how several commenters at the above thread expressed anger at St. Bernard Parish being labeled racist, or at the label of racist being applied to themselves individually.

To wit, Amy wrote: “I am not NOT talking about race or what not. I am talking about Low-Income housing that people are on welfare and expect to get everything for free.”

Amusingly, lsder said: “In My Honest Opinion, The only racist people are the people screaming it.”

Yet in a later comment wrote: “answer two questions for me, who sold the black people into slavery(not who purchased slaves) who freed the slaves? ”

And then we have the immediately-banned Kay:

I am so sick of the race card always being played. What is funny it is the blacks who are always using it. The Blacks are their worse enemy. Look at the stats, who does the killings….blacks, who screams about race……blacks. Turn on the TV an the first thing you hear is about the murder or murders of someone……who is the suspect……..a black person.

While still arguing for an outcome in this housing battle that would have racially disparate effects and undeniable racial implications, these particular commenters claim that they are not racist and have some other motive in mind that is 100% divorced from race. Which in a situation where a white majority is making it nearly impossible for a black minority to live amongst them, is a hard argument to make.

Por ejemplo Jude (the guy who figured out I make the BIG BUCKS being a social justice blogger) escribe:

if you had any common decency you would be demanding that this developer place these apartments in a place where there is a hospital, services, and a tax base that could provide needed services. This blog isn’t about what’s best, or the right thing to do, it’s about jumping into a fight that you know little to nothing about and sadly people are going to pay for it with their lives. It’s too bad you don’t get it, but then you are probably being paid not to

Yet while his concern that low income blacks have the best possible housing built for them is one that I share, somehow I can’t bring myself to believe that the resistance to public housing in SBP is due to the fact that whites are concerned it won’t be good enough for blacks.

Perhaps my skepticism (besides it being a natural Czech trait) is due in part to comments like George Crossman’s: “Wow, all these wasted words and time on this, the bottom line is when the blacks moved to village square [demolished public housing] it ruined st bernard parish there is statistical proof of it.”

So I sez to myself, what kind of statement could a white St. Bernard Parish resident make that would make me not doubt their sincerity when they say they are not racist, or even, as some commenters have said, only have the best interest of blacks at heart?

Here’s what that would look like to me:

1. I assembled a community group who met with concerned blacks about what kind of housing would best suit the poor black community’s needs.

2. I arranged a meeting between the Parish Council and black leaders in St. Bernard.

3. I lobbied the Parish Council to ask Provident to build several smaller public housing units scattered throughout the Parish instead of simply one giant building.

4. I met with local housing advocates and asked for their opinions on affordable housing and preventing housing discrimination in St. Bernard.

5. I read up on the Fair Housing Act and the history of racial discrimination in housing in the US.

6. I organized some people to survey low income residents in St. Bernard and established a task force to implement their suggestions.

7. I took an anti-oppression class.

8. I located the former residents of the Village Square and wrote to the newspaper about their current situation and solutions to improve it.

9. I looked at recent cases where cities, parishes or counties experienced similar housing problems and learned x, y and z from their examples.

10. I learned to question common stereotypes about poor people, recipients of government aid, and blacks.

11. I volunteered my time to work in low-income communities on neighborhood beautification projects.

12. I talk with my neighbors about the harm racial discrimination brings to St. Bernard Parish.

13. I accepted that St. Bernard Parish has a terrible history of racial discrimination and decided to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, starting with myself.

14. I learned what terms are considered offensive by minorities in my community and have stopped using them.

But I have not heard anything like this. Instead, I have heard decades-old arguments that whites use when forcing shitty situations onto blacks and trying to wash their hands of the racist label.

So if anyone is wondering what it would take for me to believe white St. Bernard residents sincerely have the best interests of the black residents and former residents of SBP at heart, something like the above would convince me.

Anyone have any other positive anti-racist suggestions for steps forward in SBP?

This thread will be strongly moderated for racist language, personal insults, and threats. Sadly, after my previous St. Bernard post, this has now become a problem.

“Every society is judged by how it treats the least fortunate amongst them.”

-Thomas Douglas

UPDATE: Anti-racism =/= racism against whites. Do we really have to play that game? Try reading Color Blinded by Whiteness.

If You Are So Proud of Your Racism, Why Do You Get Mad When People Call You A Racist?

My brain made a thought recently.

After Glenn Beck’s accusation that Obama hates white culture, coupled with his refusal to explain what he means by “white culture”,

after Rush Limbaugh’s “Obama’s America” comments and his demands that Obama make a personal apology for every act of violence perpetrated by a black person,

after Pat Buchanan’s umpteenth racist screed,

after certain rhetoric at Tea Parties,

and closer to home, after racist whites in St. Bernard Parish freaked out when I wrote about housing discrimination in their community,

it is clear that there are plenty of Americans who are proud of their racism. They are happy to display it in public places, from prominent news sources, and to be completely unequivocal in their hatred of blacks and black equality.

Just don’t you dare call it racism.Racism

My question is: why? Why are the proudly racist among us so unwilling to claim their racism? If they are so proud of their opinion that blacks are inferior, why don’t they proudly name themselves racist?

Racists, do you think you’re tricking us? ‘Cause we can tell.

I ask because I think it would be great if racists could just reclaim the racist label. If they would just call themselves racist right from the get-go, it would save the rest of us a lot of time. I would much prefer to know someone is racist up front than to find it out much later after they’ve done something shitty. It would also make it a lot easier to socialize and choose friends. Or to choose one’s work environment.

Do any non-racists have an opinion on this matter? What is so alluring about claiming to be non-racist, but yet being really really racist? Again, if you are so proud of your high opinion of whites and your low opinion of blacks, why are you not proud to declare it openly?

Are you ashamed?

If that’s a case, here’s a suggestion: stop being racist! The shame just melts away.

Please contribute your thoughts. Racist comments will not be tolerated. Big surprise. Please visit the Race section of my 101 post if you honestly want to discuss in good faith but are worried you might not have the background or language to do so.

Nonviolence and Social Change

“The dispossessed of this nation—the poor, both white and Negro-live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against the injustice, not against the lives of the persons who are their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which the society is refusing to take means which have been called for, and which are at hand, to lift the load of poverty.

…There are millions of poor people in this country who have very little, or even nothing, to lose. If they can be helped to take action together, they will do so with a freedom and a power that will be a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.
“Nonviolence and Social Change”
Trumpet of Conscience (1967)

Housing Discrimination in Westchester County

Looks like St. Bernard Parish isn’t alone in the blatantly racist housing practices department.

Westchester Adds Housing to Desegregation Pact

Huh, Westchester is one of the wealthiest suburbs in America. Interesting.

Hmmm, I love the crisp smell of racism in the morning.

Best comment at the NYT: “Why should a community have to import poverty, of whatever color? If people, with or without color, have the money to buy a home there, fine, but to say that a group of affluent people should be “punished” for being Affluent While White by having poor and probably culturally incompatible people dumped on them is absurd.”

Oh, the burdens one must bear, when one must live in proximity to the poor! Oh, it is so terrible to be forced to look at the distasteful dwellings and personages of the dusky-complexioned! Quelle peine!

Keeping Blacks Out of St. Bernard

I have to say something about this craziness. I will tell the story of racist housing policy in St. Bernard Parish, LA below, and hope to follow up down the line, as the story develops. What follows would be hilarious if it weren’t so… nefarious.

St. Bernard Parish is located to the south of New Orleans. Whereas New Orleans is 67% black, St. Bernard Parish just a few miles away is only 7.6% black.

Hurricane Katrina severely damaged both St. Bernard Parish and Orleans Parish (whose boundaries are identical with New Orleans city). In St. Bernard, nearly all of the housing where black and low-income renters lived was destroyed, eliminating much of the already tiny black population.

Now, the white residents of St. Bernard are fighting an all-out battle to prevent blacks from returning or migrating over from New Orleans, where there is also an affordable-housing shortage. The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, which has been fighting against racist housing policies, has a detailed timeline of the battle.

Craig TaffaroIt officially started when Craig Taffaro Jr. (pictured), president of the St. Bernard Parish Council, introduced the infamous blood-relative ordinance, which states that property owners can only rent to their blood relatives. The ordinance passed in 2006. Before the storm, whites owned 93% of the housing stock. (reference) We can see pretty easily the effects of such an ordinance.

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) sued the Parish for racially discriminatory housing practices and won. The Parish settled, and then enacted an ordinance banning multi-family housing, i.e. most rental housing, affordable housing and most forms of public housing.

The same judge, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan, who is apparently awesome, found St. Bernard to be in contempt of court and ordered that the ban be repealed, as it also violated the Fair Housing Act. She also ordered St. Bernard to pay fees, costs and damages to GNOFHAC.   So the Parish went ahead and repealed the ban, simply switching it for a year-long moratorium on multi-family building.

Provident Realty Advisors then applied to the Parish to build affordable housing projects. After a public hearing rife with racist statements both implied and open, their application was denied. After GNOFHAC took the Parish to court again, Judge Berrigan found them in contempt of the court order and hit them with more fines. She also had this to say:

Based on the factual record and judged under a clear preponderance of the evidence, the Court finds that defendants’ conduct since March 25, 2009, by subverting the re-subdivision process, has a discriminatory effect on African-Americans and therefore violates the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604(a), and the terms of the February 2008 Consent Order.

Does St. Bernard Parish get it yet?

DUH, of course not. As a matter of fact, the Parish Council is seeking a ballot referendum that would force any developer seeking to build a development with more than 12 units to have their plans approved by a public referendum, which the developer would also have to pay for. How soon will this be voted on?  “In order to get the measure on a Nov. 14 ballot, the parish would have to pass the ordinance and get approval from the state Bond Commission and the secretary of state’s office before Sept. 29.”

Ginger BerriganMeanwhile, Judge Berrigan is fed up with St. Bernard’s delays in approving Provident’s development application and has granted a THIRD motion of contempt against them just last Friday, saying:

Defendants are hereby enjoined from interfering or withholding approval of Provident’s re-subdivision applications. Provident’s re-subdivision applications are deemed approved.

…If the defendants fail to meet any of the various deadlines without advance notice and good cause shown for their failure, a daily sanction beginning at $5,000 for the first day, and increasing to $10,000 each day thereafter per each individual missed deadline will be imposed.

New Orleans, Louisiana, this 11th day of September, 2009.

Booyah St. Bernard Parish Council and racist inhabitants.

This story is developing. So is my analysis. More to come.

Learn more:

From GNOFHAC: Timeline of the Lawsuit

The Root: Keeping St. Bernard Parish White

Facing South: Fight heats up over discriminatory housing laws in New Orleans area

Read the coverage at the Times-Picayune, starting here: St. Bernard Parish Council housing plan drawing fire

Scathing Times-Picayune Op-ed: Housing bias in St. Bernard Parish is proving costly in the long run

Scathing Times-Picayune Editorial: Legally and Morally Wrong

You can donate to the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center here.

And you can respectfully and without making inappropriate threats contact the St. Bernard Parish Government here to let them know how you feel about this situation.

Cross-posted at Womanist Musings.

Why the Health Care Debate Is Also a Race Debate

This is like a Part 2 to Fear of Blacks used by Conservatives to Play Working Class Whites in Health Care Debates.

The post “Race Hostility a Factor in Health Care Debate” on this black sista’s page is right on. Go read it.

Her post enlightened me to this video of Tim Wise on CNN:

…and this brilliant post on Daily Kos also by Tim Wise:

This … writer sought to explain herself further however, just so as not to be misunderstood. When people like her claim they want to return to “what our forefathers started,” she continued, they simply mean the part about being dependent on God, rather than government.

Okay, I suppose. Of course, last time I checked God wasn’t offering to pick up the tab for chemo treatments, organ transplants, or any other medical procedure for that matter. Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but the founders actually did foster quite a lot of government dependence: enshrining slavery was about government protecting white people from the competition of free black labor, and white folks becoming quite dependent on that protection. Stealing native land and then redistributing it to white people was about dependence on government-imposed violence. And later, yet still in the supposedly “good old days,” government dependence was at the heart of segregation–which artificially subsidized white people in the job, school and housing markets–and was at the heart of the FHA and VA loans that white families used (and from which black families were all but completely blocked) in the 40s and 50s, which literally built the white middle class.

But I’m guessing that when she uses a phrase like “dependence on government” she isn’t thinking about the white folks who were given 270 million acres of essentially free land under the Homestead Act. Or the 15 million or so white families who got those racially preferential home loans, with government underwriting and guarantees, thanks to programs implemented by liberals and thanks to pressure from the left. I’m thinking she isn’t talking about the white soldiers (but typically not the black ones) who were able to return from World War II and make use of the GI Bill to go to college, or get job training. And the fact that she likely doesn’t think of those kinds of things and those kinds of people as being dependent on government is, of course, precisely the problem, and the point I was trying to make.

And more…. Continue reading

Fear of Blacks Used by Conservatives to Play Working Class Whites in Health Care Debates

Thank you soulbrother v.2 for this insightful piece. He explains the connection between whiteness being used to convince poor white farmers to stop protesting against rich landowners alongside poor black farmers in the 1800s, and whiteness being used to play working class white people to protest against health care for the poor. (Almost twice as many white people than black people are impoverished in the USA.)

White SlaveryLooking at the debates through a race lens, things like a town hall participant attacking a poster of Rosa Parks and people comparing health care for the poor to white slavery start to make some sense. Very weird sense, but the trail of bigotry begins to come clear.

And yes, the poster-holder specified white slavery. What do you think that’s supposed to mean?

Monica at TransGriot sez the good white folks at the town halls are protesting…

…at the behest of conservative K Street lobbying firms, Faux News, right wing hate radio, HMO’s who want to stay between you and your doctor and continue to make obscene profits off the current broken system and the GOP who gets paid mad loot to thwart any meaningful legislative reform as they’ve done for decades.

Once again you information challenged people are being played, manipulated, hoodwinked and bamboozled again to vote against your own economic interests because you’re ‘scurred’ of the current occupant of the White House.

And Did You Know, “57% of Republicans either believes or is uncertain about the veracity of the “death panel” claim”?

Now, where ever would they get such an idea? Could it in any way be related to the fact that 65% of Republicans believe Fox News is reliable or that:

Even more interesting, perhaps, is how many Republicans only get their info from Fox, as compared to the other cable networks. A surprising 74% of GOPers “never” watch CNN, and an even higher amount, 89%, never watch MSNBC.


“Terrorist fist-jab”, “secret lesbian high school gangs”, birther-movement fueling Fox News. Is. Considered. Reliable by these people.

Sooooo…. is this health care “debate” becoming the 21st century elite’s attempt to divide and conquer the disempowered by race like innumerable incidents in the past? If so, they are showing remarkable success. Of course, there always seems to be enough white people who are eager to find a new excuse to be publicly racist, and politicians seem quite willing to dog whistle them to the fore at the slightest indication they may be useful.

Frat Prez Gets No Time for Cocaine Ring

What, NO TIME!? Yes, it is true. It all went down at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

From the NYT:

Prosecutors said [Christopher] Duncan, head of the Lambda Iota fraternity during the 2006-2007 school year, allowed drugs, drug paraphernalia and money to be stored in a safe in his fraternity house bedroom, helped broker drug deals and drove to Connecticut to buy cocaine later sold by Duncan and co-defendant Bent Cardan.

…U.S. District Judge William Sessions III said a prison term wasn’t appropriate…

The judge called him “stupid”, “naive and a bit player”.


From the University of Vermont student newspaper

Duncan told police that he “estimated the total he sold for Cardan between February and April 2007 was 8 to 10 ounces,” according to the affidavit. That is equal to approximately $16,000.00 at the price he was selling at.

Bit player indeed. How much time do you think he would do if he were poor and black or Latino?

The blog World Class Stupid frames it nicely:

One day our court system will realize that rich white college students are just as smart as poor black high-school dropouts.

Do you think Duncan’s status as a fraternity president, as the son of an attorney, as a suburban white kid, had any effect on the incredible leniency shown to him after months of using his frat house as the center of a coke ring?

There are no pics of Duncan online, but here is a photo of Lambda Iota.
Lambda Iota

Greeting Cards Insult My Intelligence

Baby DaughterBleh. I went to a greeting card store today to buy a “Congratulations on Your New Baby!” card. I knew I would get worked up, and I did.

The baby in question is an interracial girl born to a progressive couple.

I’m sure you can guess the troubles I had at the store.

First, as one would expect, all the cards are separated by gender. Predictably, the girl cards were all bright pink, many with sparkles and flowers, and making references to princesses, cuteness, and prettiness.

The boy cards were all blue and decorated with animals or trucks or sports.

So what if I didn’t want to start this baby off with an arbitrarily over-gendered card? No options except for general blank cards.

However, blank cards that depicted images of children depicted only white babies. Again, I didn’t feel that was quite appropriate for a baby that will probably be read as a POC later in life.

I was stymied. Greeting cards make life dumber.