The White Racial Frame and the Old Patriarchal Frame: Are they Interrelated?

The white racial frame and the old patriarchal frame are interrelated and do overlap in the way they operate. The white racial frame operates from a white-dominated society that sees everything from a white point of view that “does not,” “cannot,” and/or “will not” take into consideration the experiences of racial groups of color. It is about what is good for whites only. Everything was designed by whites for white prosperity. If whites do not experience a situation and do not interpret this situation as good or bad for society or an institution, then that experience will not be legitimated by whites. If whites have experienced a situation, then that situation is legitimated by whites because it is not good for society or the institutions in which they operate. The white racial frame is limited. The only worldview it sees is the white world and all the economic trappings that go with it to keep whites safe from the contamination that exists outside that frame, the existence of minority racial groups and the unnecessary problems they suffer created by a racist society because of the color of their skin. Professor Joe Feagin explains that

this white racial frame encompasses not only the stereotyping, bigotry, and racist ideology accented in other theories of ‘race’, but also the visual images, array of emotions, sounds of language, interlinking interpretations, and inclinations to discriminate that are still central to the frame’s everyday operation. Deeply embedded in American minds and institutions, this white racial frame has for centuries functioned as a broad worldview, one essential to the routine of legitimation. (The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Framing and Counter-framing, New York: Routledge, 2010), Kindle Electronic Edition

For this reason, whites cannot have genuine emotional relationships with minority racial groups because they operate out of a frame that sees the negative attributes of these groups, especially African Americans. Consequently, the white racial frame has enslaved most whites and treats “whiteness as property,” which means that if whites do not go along with overt or convert racist behavioral practices in their communities, they will find themselves exiled to social ostracism and probably stripped of any material inheritance, if applicable. Some whites do not approve of the ill-treatment of African Americans, but they will go along in order to get along for fear of social ostracism and loss of their jobs if they spoke against racial discrimination.

In fact, many whites do not want to hear about racial problems because these problems continue to be exacerbated by systemic racism and whites benefit from systemic racism. They cannot understand what it means to experience racism and its negative effects on minority groups’ economic, educational, social, and political experiences because whites are the carriers of this disease called “racism,” whether they are consciously or unconsciously aware of this disease.

The old patriarchal frame accents the white racial frame, but operates from a male-dominated view. This frame operates out of ideological hegemony. It tells women and minorities what is good for them, what is bad for them, what they can have, and how much they can have. The patriarchal frame reluctantly acknowledges race, class, and gender issues. These issues do not seem to be of importance to white males because they are not affected by them. In fact, this frame views these issues as ideological abstractions. Since we live in a white male-dominated, white male-identified, and white male-centered society, white women are the only oppressed group that is closely identified with white males because they are “white.” They are the only group that truly has benefited from Affirmative Action. It would make sense that they would prosper from Affirmative Action because white men typically work more closely with white women, mostly marry white women and what better way for white men to improve their household economics and hypocritically use white women as a springboard to political success.

With reference to my post, I want to make reference to my earlier post. I posed the question do women desire to take the master’s place? White women have been economically empowered in their own right. Before the Civil Rights and Women’s movements, white women were stay-at-home mothers and took care of their husbands and children. Now that white women are just as educated or more educated than many white males, are as financially secure as white males, and have the highest hiring numbers in male-dominated positions (law, politics, etc.), they still have to fight discrimination because there still exists an invisible glass ceiling. By operating in male-dominated politics, few of them want more and will do anything to get it, such as Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are used as examples because they are the two political females who dominate the airwaves, and they feed on it and President Obama. They are not only encouraged to provide a false reality about President Obama, but they receive the full support from conservative right-wingers. The make absolutely no sense, and do not come across as knowledgeable gurus. It is also clear they want to please their Republican masters in order to rise to higher political positions or to make a lot of money for doing the dirty work for their masters. While the Republican Party is currently going after women’s rights, Palin and Bachmann have remained silent. However, the Republican Party treats them as if they are still little girls needing daddy to hold their hands and protect them from whatever republican-party-women-need-handholding It is clear they operate out of a white racial and old patriarchal frame with a touch of gangster mentality. It is quite obvious they are the Republican appointed designees to level attacks against the President. It is non-stop with these masculine-behaving women. In order for women like Palin and Bachmann to thrive in the white-male dominated political arena, they have to operate out of a vicious, cut-throat, greedy nature, a nature that is usually associated with cut-throat men in corporate America.
This is how I believe these two frames interrelate today that now cuts across race, class, and gender.

The MLK Day Cover-Up: Terrorism is Defined by the Race of the Victim

On March 9, American newspapers such as the Seattle Times began to report once again on the terrorist attack on an MLK day parade that was thwarted less than two months ago in Spokane, Washington. The bomb has been consistently described as “‘chilling’ in its sophistication,” and according to an official speaking anonymously, it “contained anti-coagulant chemical agents intended to make anyone wounded by the blast ‘bleed out.’” Additionally, the expertly-placed bomb had a remote-control detonator and was packed with shrapnel. According to CNN’s website, “officials called the situation an instance ‘of domestic terrorism’ that could have caused ‘mass casualties.’”

While FOX and other major news sources will make a national story out of police probes into possible letter bombs (which later turn out to be nothing), only a miniscule ripple was caused by this attempted terrorist attack which would have caused national upheaval had it been planted by a Muslim. We have heard countless conservatives argue about the ways in which international and public policy should be constructed around the prevention of terrorist threats, yet hardly anyone—Republican or Democrat—said a word about this attack that was meant to kill and intimidate people of color.

White supremacists do not fit the racial stereotype of the Muslim terrorist.

Yet, this doesn’t adequately explain the belligerency of this cover-up. Behind this incident lurks what A.J. Williams-Myers calls “the secret of American race relations: white violence.” That this secret is still so easy to keep demonstrates the persistence of white supremacy in America. While most complacent white Americans would rebuff any accusations of having something in common with the white supremacist(s) reportedly responsible for this attempted mass murder, the systematic disregard for these kinds of incidents demonstrates whites’ still-prevalent attitude that Black life has little value.

No Dogs or Illegals Allowed: Racial Exclusion in a Colorblind Era

Until the 1960s, it was common to see signs in Texas that read: “No Dogs, Negros or Mexicans.” Civil rights legislation put an end to such signs. In the current post-civil rights era, it is no longer legally or morally permissible to express overt discrimination towards Mexicans or any other racial or ethnic group.

(Image Source: Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia)

In today’s political context, however, it is acceptable to insist that undocumented migrants – and even their U.S. born children – should not be allowed in this country.   In July 2010, Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) proposed a bill that would end the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship for everyone born in the United States. As of today, 130 Senators have indicated they support this bill.

Since the inception of the United States, jus soli – the idea that citizenship is determined by birthplace – has prevailed as the law of the land. The only exceptions to birthright citizenship have been racial. The first piece of U.S. legislation regarding who could be a citizen was passed in 1790, granting citizenship to all whites born in the United States. It was not until the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868 that blacks were granted citizenship. The 14th Amendment reads:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, and of the state wherein they reside.”

The 14th Amendment granted birthright citizenship to blacks and whites born in the United States. However, the Supreme Court had to clarify in United States v. Wong Kim Ark in 1898 that all native-born children of aliens – including the Chinese – were indeed citizens of the United States.

Today’s demands to repeal birthright citizenship do not have the clear racial bias like those of the 19th century, when it was acceptable to make outright claims to exclude Native Americans, blacks, and the Chinese from citizenship. Instead, today’s demands are under the guise of “Let’s not give citizenship to illegals.” Or, “Let’s protect our nation by preventing anchor babies.” The language has changed so that it’s no longer explicitly racial. However, the sentiment is the same.

In 1790, when our founders imagined who would be citizens of the United States, they had propertied white men in mind. Those proponents of ending birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented migrants share this ideal as to who belongs to the nation.

This vitriol can be seen in the comments of Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican state representative from Pennsylvania, who argued:

“We want to bring an end to the illegal alien invasion that is having such a negative impact on our states.”

When Metcalfe and other pundits call for an end to a so-called “illegal alien invasion,” they have a very specific group in mind: Mexicans and other Latin American immigrants. In fact, 95 percent of people who are deported from this country for immigration-related violations are Latinos or Caribbean immigrants.

It is no longer permissible to hang signs that say “No Dogs, Negros, Mexicans.”  Birthright citizenship and naturalization are available to all people in the United States, regardless of race. However, the idea that the United States is fundamentally a white nation has not gone away, and seeps into discourses about who is American and who belongs and who doesn’t. Instead of excluding Mexican and Chinese citizens from citizenship, we now hear claims to exclude “illegals” and their children.

The idea of race itself is based on the notion that moral and cultural characteristics are passed on from one generation to the next. Thus, the idea that we should exclude not only undocumented migrants, but also their children, is clearly a racialized argument. It is true that undocumented migrants do not have permission from the government to be here. But, their undocumented status does not define them. Current laws allow many undocumented migrants to eventually become citizens of this country. Calls to eliminate birthright citizenship work to essentialize illegality by making it a permanent feature of undocumented migrants, and something they pass along to their children. In effect, these calls racialize illegality.

Demonizing undocumented migrants for their transgression of immigration laws allows anti-immigrant activists to make racialized claims about who belongs and who does not belong to the nation. It is incumbent upon anti-racist activists to point out this racism and to promote the idea of a multi-ethnic nation – the sort of nation we actually always have been, despite white supremacist claims to the contrary.

Peter King Hearings “Despicable”

Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, calls the hearings in Congress by New York Republican Peter King “despicable.” A number of critics have referred to the hearings as a modern-day form of McCarthyism designed to stoke fear against American Muslims. King has refused calls to broaden the hearing to examine right-wing militias or any non-Muslim groups. In this video clip (16:38) from Democracy Now, Potok points out that the real threat of “radicalization” in the U.S. comes from domestic, far-right, white supremacists:

The hearings are already hugely successful in terms of promoting King’s public profile and in stoking the low moral ground of Islamophobia. Despicable indeed.

Racism, Whiteness and the Health Disparities Industry

There’s a growing body of evidence that implicates racism in a variety of negative health consequences.  Yet, the research on ‘health disparities and race’ neither focuses on whiteness nor on the ways that racism plays a role in health.

( Creative Commons License photo credit: rwdownes )

The Health Disparities Industry. Much of public health is driven by a concern with, and research on, ‘health disparities.’   If you’re not familiar with this field (or, subfield), it works like this:

“The literature on racial disparities in health by definition involves comparisons across groups defined by some racial classification system.  Perhaps the most common of these comparisons take the form of the following general proposition: [Black/Hispanic/Native American] [children or adults] have higher rates of [the condition, disease, or ‘disability’ under investigation] than whites, primarily because of [explanatory variable]” (Daniels and Schultz, 2006, p.97).

There is a vast amount of scientific literature, and a number of federal agencies, built on this formulation.  The equation is always the same: measure some health outcome (rates of heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS) in “minority” populations and compare it to the rates in the white population.   Don’t misunderstand me.  I think it’s a good thing, indeed an important thing, to focus on the health of folks who are black and brown because they carry a disproportionate burden when it comes to health.  And, black and brown folks endure less than equal care when they encounter the health care system.  Both these – health and health care – deserve attention from scholars, activists and those in public policy.

In a recent article critical of the health disparities industry, Shaw-Ridley and Ridley chart the scope of this industry and question the ethics of it.  The problem is that there’s a lot that remains unexamined in the ‘health disparities’ framework.

Whiteness & The White Racial Frame in Health Disparities. Defining whiteness has been a central project of the construction of what it means to be American.   What it means to be “white” is built into the U.S. Census. This history is the subject of a recent book by Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People.  She observes that:

“Until the 1960′s, there were two racial dialogues going on the United States. One was more or less Southern, and that was black-white. The other had to do with various kinds of white people.”

The fact that white people have dominated the U.S. since its founding has also meant that they (we) have shaped the very way that we view reality (e.g., everything from laws, relationships, media, discourse,) in the U.S.  This shaping of how we ‘frame’ things is referred to by Joe Feagin as ‘the white racial frame.’ The basic idea of the white racial frame is as follows:

The North American system of racial oppression grew out of extensive European exploitation of indigenous peoples and African Americans. It has long encompassed these dimensions: (1) a white racial framing of society with its racist ideology, stereotypes, and emotions; (2) whites’ discriminatory actions and an enduring racial hierarchy; and (3) pervasively racist institutions maintained by discriminatory whites over centuries. White-generated oppression is far more than individual bigotry, for it has from the beginning been a material, social, and ideological reality. For four centuries North American racism has been systemic–that is, it has been manifested in all major societal institutions.

Even though as Painter and Feagin note that whiteness and the white racial frame are central to the the American social and political context, these are little remarked upon within the literature on racial disparities in health outcomes.   Indeed, the white racial frame permeates the research on race and health, and in particular, the research on ‘health disparities.’

The usual construction of ‘health disparities’ research constructs whiteness in two ways:

“First, it establishes a comparison between whites as a referent group and some ‘other’ group whose health is evaluated in comparison to that of whites.  In an Ideal world, such comparisons may demonstrate arenas in which health outcomes do not differ by race, challenging ideas of racial group difference.  If, however, funders are less likely to support research in which susbstantial racial differences are not apparent, or if publishers are less likely to publish articles that find no statistically significant differences….the literature will reinforce racial health differences while minimizing similarities…  (Daniels and Schultz, 2006, p.97).

The comparison group in this research is always whites, which puts those who are not white in a “one down” position.  The question as it’s framed in this research is always “What’s wrong with this [non-white] group? What’s happening that their health outcomes are ‘disparate from’ [not as good as] the health outcomes of whites?”   The second way that that health disparities research constructs whiteness is through:

“….the use of racial categories and comparisons with no consistent foundation fo rthe theorizing, understanding, or interpreting observed racial differences (or their absence) in health outcomes provides space for a wide range of potential explanations.  Each of these ‘explanations’ implicity or explicitly constructs both race and whiteness.  ”  (Daniels and Schultz, 2006, pp.97-8)

The overwhelming majority of research on ‘health disparities’ never examines whiteness nor implicates the actions of white people in this equation.   This may be changing, however.  Very recent research by Blodorn and O’Brien (of Tulane University, “Perceptions of Racism in Hurricane Katrina-Related Events: Implications for Collective Guilt and Mental Health Among White Americans) examines the implications of health disparities on whites.   This is a rare focus in this research.

Racism. Contrary to the passive voice construction of most ‘health disparities’ literature, there are indications in the literature that there are actors responsible for at least some of the racial inequality contributing to the racial inequality in health outcomes.   As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there’s an increasing amount of evidence in the scientific literature that supports the claim that racism is a contributing factor to ill health.  The pernicious sleight-of-hand in the ‘health disparities’ literature is that most of this research focuses on “perceptions” of racism among black and brown folks, but none of this research (at least none that I’ve found) acknowledges the reality of racism nor does it address those who are the perpetrators of racism in contemporary American society.

What Needs to Change. Clearly, there are unequal health outcomes that need to be addressed (see for example, Glady Budrys, Unequal Health: How Inequality Contributes to Health or Illness).  On almost every measure, those in our society who are Black, Latino or Native American will die sooner than those who are white.   For almost every disease, such as cancer and diabetes, those who are Black, Latino or Native American are more likely to contract the disease than whites, and once the disease is contracted, more likely to die from it.

This is one of the many costs of racism in our society and it must change.

However, looking only at those who must pay these costs as the source for changing these mechanisms of inequality is misguided.   We need to begin to critically examine those who hold the most power and resources in society, that is at white people, for the ways that they contribute to and benefit from the inequality in health outcomes.

Race, Racism and Online News & Sports: What the Research Tells Us

Reading newspapers is, as Benedict Anderson (1991) observed, one of the primary ways that people imagine themselves part of a community, whether that’s a nation, small town or a high school.  This has not changed as the news has moved to increasingly online forms of distribution (Riley, et al., 1998, “Community or Colony: The Case of Online Newspapers and the Web,”  JCMC 4(1), page 0).   There were certainly racialized (and racist) messages in the discourse of news in traditional print (and broadcast) media.  For evidence of this, see Teun Van Dijk’s classic, Racism and the Press, Routledge 1991, and Peter Teo’s more recent “Racism in the News,” Discourse & Society January 2000 11(1): 7-49).  Alongside these old forms, the Internet has helped foster some new manifestations of race and racism in online news and sports. front page election coverage
(Creative Commons License photo credit: Scorpions and Centaurs)

Post Your [expletive] Comment Here. As online news has opened up the range of sources available, there’s a growing body of research that looks at online news consumption.   See, for example, this review article by Mitchelstein and Boczkowski (New Media & Society, November 2010 12(7):1085-1102).    This has had unintended consequences in terms of racism.  Around 2004, the online arms of many U.S. newspapers opened their websites for comments.  Today, some seven years into this experiment, many news sites have abandoned the practice of allowing comments because of the proliferation of offensive comments, many of them racist.  In an interview in September, 2010, Dennis Ryerson, editor of The Indianapolis Star responded to questions about racist comments online this way:

“We’ve seen comments that people would not make in the public square or any type of civic discussion, maybe even within their own families. There is no question in my mind that the process, because it’s largely anonymous, enables people who would never speak up on Main Street to communicate their thoughts.”

The online arm of The Indianapolis Star employs moderators, people whose job it is to read all the comments posted online and then delete individual racist comments.  On some stories that editors expect will generate racist comments, the entire comments section is disabled beforehand, a practice shared by a growing number of newspapers.

The Tragedy of the Commons. The presence, indeed the preponderance, of racist comments in the public sphere highlight a problem that Howard Rheingold has referred to as a “classic tragedy of the commons dilemma.” The tragedy of the commons dilemma (first described by Garrett Hardin in 1968) is a situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen.  The problem with comments online is, as Rheingold describes it, one in which “flamers, bullies, bigots, charlatans, know-nothings and nuts in online discourse take advantage of open access to other people’s attention” (Rheingold, Smart Mobs, 2002, p.121).   In other words, those who are posting the offensive, expletive-filled comments are spoiling the comments section for everyone else.

Documenting Backstage Racism Online: The “Fighting Sioux” Study. So far, few researchers have taken on the task of analyzing racist comments.   One study that has systematically looked at the way comments in online forums of news sites foster and reproduce racism (Steinfeldt, J., et al. (2010) ‘Racism in the Electronic Age: Role of Online Forums in Expressing Racial Attitudes about American Indians’, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 16(3):362-371).  In their study of over 1,000 posts related to University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname and logo used for their athletic team, Steinfeldt and colleagues found that a critical mass of online forum comments represented disdain toward American Indians by providing misinformation, perpetuating stereotypes, and expressing overtly racist attitudes toward Native Americans.

The researchers explained their findings through the framework of two-faced racism (Picca & Feagin, 2007).   Drawing on Goffman’s dramaturgical theory of the presentation of “front stage” and “back stage” performances of the self, Picca and Feagin developed the concept of two-faced racism to explain the hundreds of thousands of diary entries from white college students in which they document the ways that whites perform tolerance in public, mixed-race settings and explicit racism in private, white-only spaces.

The concept of two-faced racism seems especially useful for explaining the tragedy of the commons dilemma created by racist comments online.  Those who post these comments may be used to thinking of the “back stage” as a fairly welcoming space for such remarks.  The apparent anonymity of online commenting tends to blur the public and private, giving those who post comments the allure of “back stage” comfort and familiarity when, in fact, they are presenting their self in the “front stage” by posting online.

Online Reputation: Tainted by Racism? One of the hot button topics among people writing and thinking about the Internet is “online reputation.”   Online reputation systems, like those used on eBay where users rate each other on basic trustworthiness within the terms of the site, are a central feature of how online business is able to operate efficiently.   It’s a way of countering the corrosive effects of online anonymity.   In reality, we know that online anonymity is an illusion in many ways, as increasingly sophisticated software keeps track of our identity and our preferences as we move between websites.

There’s a fairly new site that offers a clever twist on online reputation.  The site is called “PWSNT” which is an acronym for “People Who Said [the N-word] Today,” with the tag line, “every morning, the hottest, freshest screenshots of white people using the n-word.”    Just as the name of the site promises, it posts the photo and full name of people who have used the n-word in their social networking site profile.

The site is problematic in various ways (e.g. it routinely uses language like “retard” and engages in fat-shaming) but it’s an interesting strategy for interrupting the unchecked flow of “back stage” racism flowing onto the “front stage” of public profiles.    It’s still too early for any sort of systematic research on what sort of effect this might have on one’s reputation online, but I suspect that research is just around the next corner.

International Women’s Day

Today is the celebration of the 100th International Women’s Day.   While it’s meant to be an event that celebrates the diversity of women’s accomplishments, often times the focus of such celebrations is overly young, white, straight and normatively gendered.  To counter this trend, I thought I would highlight three women leaders who don’t fit this model.

Estela Maris Álvarez is a member of the Enxet people, an indigenous group in Paraguay´s Chaco region, an area of semi-arid grasslands and thorny forests. She lives in La Herencia, a community in the western part of the country, located 340 km from Asunción.

Álvarez, who is 40 and raising two kids on her own, practices natural medicine as a nursing assistant and treats people in her community. From her traditional position as mother and healer, Álvarez has become a more non-traditional leader, taking on sexism and discrimination within her community and from outside it, such as in the governmental National Institute of Indigenous Affairs (INDI) which only recognises men as leaders. “If a group of indigenous women turns to INDI to protest about a specific problem that affects us or to demand respect for our rights, they tell us that we’re not tribal chiefs, and just ignore us,” she said.  Dismissing women’s voices exists within the Enxet community as well.   According to Álvarez, the  reality in the indigenous communities is that they’re governed by tribal chiefs with authoritarian and even violent attitudes. “They think that just because they’re chiefs they have the right to decide over the life of the community,” she said.  Violence against women is a chronic problem in the patriarchal culture that prevails in indigenous communities, where it is considered acceptable.  As a community leader, her position is clear. “The rights of indigenous women must be defended even over the interests of the communities,” because, moreover, it’s not true that you have to choose one or the other, she said.

“I am becoming more radical with age.  I have noticed that writers, when they are old, become milder. But for me it is the opposite. Age makes me more angry.”   This is the observation of Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian advocate for women’s rights.

El Saadawi trained as a doctor, then worked as a psychiatrist and university lecturer, and has published almost 50 novels, plays and collections of short stories. Her work, which tackles the problems women face in Egypt and across the world, provokes outrage in many ways because she takes on religion, but she doesn’t back down.   She continues to address controversial issues such as female circumcision, domestic violence and religious fundamentalism in her writing and speaking.  Here is a short video clip of her talking about some of these issues (warning: strong content, annoying ad at the beginning).

Sojourner Truth famously asked, “Ain’t I a Woman?” in her speech at the 1851 Women’s Convention.  Her speech was meant to challenge the race and class privilege of the white women who organized that convention and did not imagine Sojourner’s struggles in their conceptualization of “women’s rights.”   More than a 100 years later, women who are outside of privilege have continued to challenge what is meant by “women’s rights,” and who gets included and excluded from the category “woman.”   Someone who is widely regarded as a pioneer in this struggle is Sylvia Rivera.

Rivera, a veteran of the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, continued throughout her life to fight for the rights of the disenfranchised, particularly homeless LGBT kids and trans people everywhere, as she pointed out the often privileged myopia of the white, middle-class LGBT movement.  Part of Sylvia Rivera’s legacy is a more inclusive definition of who is considered a woman and understanding that fighing for “women’s rights” includes transgendered women’s rights.

Education as a Community Resource for People of Color

American schools are failing so many students, especially people of color as shown in the documentary Waiting for Superman Latinos comprise 14 percent of the U.S. populations,asts put Latinos at 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. America is an increasingly multicultural society. How well America welcomes people who are from distinct racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds will in large part determine just how democratic America remains.

And Some I Wish I'd Never Seen At All, Plate 2
Creative Commons License photo credit: Thomas Hawk

If Americans fail to accept the largest ethnic and racial group in the country then not only is it critical to ask how well America is living up to its ideals, but most importantly, the issue becomes, as political scientist García Bedolla states: “whether our democracy is creating a more just society.” This is an important point because democracy does not necessarily equal justice, so we may have a democratic society that is far from just for many, particularly for minorities.

Latinos are greatly underrepresented in professional occupations, comprising only three to four percent of engineers, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, and elementary and high school teachers. According to Richard Zweigenhaft and G. William Domhoff, as of August 2010, there are only fifteen Latino CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, and most of these fifteen come from elite immigrant families. According to a Pew Hispanic Center report

Some 41% of Hispanic adults age 20 and older in the United States do not have a regular high school diploma, compared with 23% of black adults and 14% of white adults.

Improving educational levels for Latinos are important for three main reasons: (1) the strength of our democracy depends on a well-educated and committed citizenry. Because Latinos are an increasing part of society, it is important to our country that Latinos be full and equal members of it. (2) The ability to be able to live and achieve the most you can in your life begins with being able to pursue the training and education needed to do so. Personal fulfillment and economic security are critically connected to educational access. (3) The benefits of increasing educational levels among Latinos are not only important for you but for future generations as well. Education is key in improving the quality of life in Latino communities and for society.

As Cesar Chávez said in 1984:

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.

Education is key to improving the quality of life in Latino communities for generations. Educational opportunities for successive generations only works because others have paved the way. For example, in Passing the Torch, Attewell and Lavin study the impact of higher education on the next generation of “non-traditional” students, (mostly poor and minority) who attended the eighteen-campus City University of New York, which guaranteed enrollment to New York City high school graduates beginning in the 1970s. Attewell and Lavin convincingly document that the “democratization of public higher education….is the first step up the ladder of social mobility, and…generates an upward mobility” for the children of college educated mothers.

Education is a vital community resource for people of color.

White Women, Women’s Rights and the Republican Party

More white women are joining the ranks of the Republican Party and are rolling back the gains women achieved during the Women’s and Civil Rights movements. The Women’s Rights movement was really about White women’s rights. Had women of color tried to gain their rights before white women, white women would have stood side by side with racist White men to stop this endeavor. There would have been many arrests and perhaps killings; women of color would have been fired from their demeaning jobs; and the Constitution of the United States would have been used to justify these arrests. U.S. society has shown that persons of color can rise up in protest and fight for their rights but not until whites have achieved their rights. Since White women always have been part of the “race, class, and gender” divide, they usually achieve their rights before Americans of color can achieve theirs, hypothetically. However, Black men got the right to vote in 1870 (15th Amendment) 50 years before white women (and black women) won the right (in 1920, 19th Amendment):

Many states, North and South, required payment of poll taxes, property ownership, or literacy as a condition of voting. The 15th Amendment did not address any of those stipulations. Feminists, especially, fought against the amendment because women were not included in the guarantee of suffrage. (source)

Today, no matter the qualifications of women of color, white women had to be the first individuals to break the glass ceiling. They were first to have access to education, first to hold professorships, first to become presidents of universities, first to hold political offices, first to become vice-presidential candidates, and first to run for the office of the presidency. Even if women of color had stellar qualifications and were more qualified than white women for professional jobs, for example, systemic racism would prevent them from being hired in a job perceived for “whites only.”

Michele Bachmann / Sarah Palin Button 2010
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mpls55408
Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin (former Alaska governor) and Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) have rolled back the gains women have achieved during the Women’s Rights movement. Women fought for their rights and this was no easy feat. Palin, a contributor of Fox News is an appointed designee to carry out the radical agenda of Fox News, to keep alive the barrage of criticisms and attacks on President Obama and the first lady. She’s forever discrediting the president’s policies, initiatives, and performance, when she could not complete her term as governor. When former first lady Barbara Bush criticized Palin during an interview with Larry King, Palin retorted and called the Bushes “blue-bloods.” When Senator McCain’s daughter criticized Bachmann stating that she is “not a leader, and she’s not the leader of the Republican Party” and called her a “poor man’s Sarah Palin,” there was no sound bite from Palin or Bachmann. Had Michelle Obama suggested that Palin remained in Alaska, Palin would have maligned and called her a “racist” because she is the wife of her perceived nemesis. No matter what President Obama does, there’s Palin criticizing his performance and telling her base she could a better job. But what’s missing in her ability to do it better than Obama is the unveiling of her plan to show us how she would do it better. Bachmann, a Tea Party darling, appointed herself to critique President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 25, 2011, and she was highly criticized for it, even by Senator McCain’s daughter (see this link for more details).

Both Palin and Bachmann were/are considering a run for president in 2012. But the problem with these two women is that they have no fundamental understanding of American history. Palin makes up words like “refudiate,” when she should have said “repudiate,” in her criticisms of the building of the Muslim Mosque near ground zero Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.. Palin cannot tell commenters what books she has read on “America’s greatest leaders.” When she was criticized for making up words, she defended her ignorance, likened herself to Shakespeare, and played the “victim.” In fact, when Palin speaks on issues to which she tries to discredit President Obama, she makes absolutely no sense. In similar manner, Bachmann has shown a real misunderstanding of American history. Bachmann claims that the founding fathers worked “tirelessly” to end slavery, when many of them owned slaves.

Clearly, Palin, a highly paid court jester for Fox News and Bachmann, a sycophant for the Republican Party, are not qualified to be president of the United States. Both Palin and Bachmann lack knowledge about the history of this country. Presidents cannot afford to make up words or engage in constant criticism of their enemies, which is undignified behavior. If presidents spend time defending every criticism lodged against them, they would never get anything done. If presidents do not have a good understanding of American history, they would be considered un-American. Perhaps Palin and Bachmann were whisked through college without learning a thing. Many political pundits and politicians have called President Obama un-American when they themselves do not know American history that well. If you ask the average American citizen about the slavery or the Civil Rights movement, they would not be able to demonstrate that knowledge. However, it is a sad day in our history when elected officials are unaware of these important U.S. events.

Since Palin and Bachmann are engaging in political behavior practices that go against the continued “race, class, and gender” struggle for women’s rights, history shows us that

White women wanted equal rights and slavery abolished, but, they didn’t want to be equal to Blacks, even after the Civil War.

We must ask ourselves, are White Republican women like Palin and Bachmann in complicity with their own oppression? Do they desire to take the master’s place? Consequently, are these women operating out of the typical patriarchal frame from which they were nationally emancipated in order to please their former oppressors by reversing the gains women made during the women’s rights movement?

Is the Republican Party Racist?

Has the Republican Party become a party of hegemonic practices, one that threatens if they do not get what they want? Have members of the Republican Party become sycophants and puns of their own Party that majority of them have lost their freedom of speech for fear of being punished and ostracized by their own party should they speak the truth.
When President Obama was first elected president of the United States, there was a wave of enthusiasm that swept across the world. Through the lens of the media, the people said Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!

Now the president is being attacked every day not only by the media such as the extreme right-wing Fox News that calls him the anti-Christ, a Muslim, and a socialist, but also he is attacked by the Republican Party that’s wasting the taxpayers’ questioning the legitimacy of his presidency and the legitimacy of his citizenship, putting doubt in the minds of their gullible base. So now we hear Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him! It would appear to the average uninformed American citizen that this is good ole fashion politics, but is it really good ole fashion Jim Crowism and racism at its best performance. Well, if we want to stick our heads in the sand and say the election of Barack Obama has transformed us into a post-racial society, we are deluding ourselves. White racism is very much alive. One does not have to call Americans of color “niggers,” “jiggaboos,” “house niggers” (educated African Americans), “Hymie” (Jews), “Spic” (Hispanics), “swamp nigger” (Native Americans), or “wetback” (Mexicans), because it is politically incorrect to do so, especially if one is a politician. But the use of political cartoons illustrating watermelons on the front lawn of the White House, manipulating a photograph to make the first lady look like an ape, calling her a typical street whore are more racist than calling the first family a nigger.

The Republican Party seems to embrace the racist tendencies from their predecessors. More recently, Republican Governor Haley Barbour wanted to revive the ways of the old South by honoring a confederate general who slaughtered a black regiment during the Civil War that tried to surrender.

Some might say that the Republican Party has African Americans and other Americans of color as members. This is true, but they do not speak against the barrage of hate speech against President Obama and are afraid to speak against the biases and unjust behavior against African Americans and other Americans of color. Other Americans of color like Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have spoken harshly against President Obama, but he fails to consider his own native country, India, that was under the colonial rule of the British–and many of them respond to the English like black slaves responded to their masters. Those of oppressed groups would call African-American and other-Americans-of-color Republicans the servants of the Party, the most loyal servants to their master.

The question before us is “why would any person of color associate themselves with a party that engages in practices that border the practices similar to the days of slavery and the Jim Crow era”?