Archive for October, 2011
The New York Times has a recent article by Adam Liptak suggesting that the right-wing, white-oriented majority on the U.S. Supreme Court may be poised to knock down all targeted college and university efforts to diversify campuses in terms of racial characteristics.
The key case now comes from a white student who asserts that she was not admitted to the University of Texas (Austin) because she was white. She brought her lawsuit to the federal district court in Austin, Texas, where the judge ruled against her and accepted the previous (2003) Supreme Court Grutter decision involving the University of Michigan, which permitted limited use of racial characteristics in admissions to improve the “diversity” of historically white institutions. Since that decision was decided 5-4, the Times reporter suggests the now more reactionary high court (with Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas on it) may well decide against even these limited attempts at affirmative action in higher education.
Liptak describes the impact succinctly:
Should the Supreme Court disavow it, the student body at the University of Texas and many other public colleges and universities would almost instantly become whiter and more Asian, and less black and Hispanic. A judicial retreat from diversity would be deeply symbolic. . . . If the diversity rationale falls apart in university admissions, it could start to test the societal commitment to it in other arenas, notably private hiring and promotion.
An aggressively white-framing Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. has already written in a 2007 case that
Racial balancing is not transformed from ‘patently unconstitutional’ to a compelling state interest simply by relabeling it ‘racial diversity.’”
In such settings Roberts, like a great many other whites, operates mostly out of a conservative version of the old white racial frame and often refuses to acknowledge the present reality of racial oppression in the U.S., including rampant white-racist thinking and actions documented for many of our historically white colleges and universities. The former affirmative action programs and the few remaining such programs at best only provide modest little steps toward redressing institutional and systemic racism in our massive educational system.
The Texas system is particularly interesting, as it admits automatically the top ten percent of students from all Texas high schools to some part of the public university system in Texas, yet
Ms. Fisher just missed that cutoff at her high school in Sugar Land. She sued in 2008, challenging the way the state allocated the remaining spots using a complicated system in which race played a role.
The impact of cutting out even these modest affirmative action admissions programs already has been significant. In California, thus, “there are fewer blacks and Hispanics on campus in the state.” One estimate puts that loss at about one third of the black students who otherwise would have entered to the California system.
Clearly, the white elite’s moderate/conservative wings have decided that even modestly increased desegregation of many historically white institutions no longer is important to the present or future character of society. Retrogression and resegregation are the result when the mostly white political-economic elite no longer sees a convergence of interest (Derrick Bell’s apt term) between their elite interests and interests of Americans of color for greater justice and equality in society. Racial inequality thereby increases in a society that already has extreme and now increasing racial inequalities. To cite Bell again, a “racial realism” perspective recognizes that whites will never on their own allow systemic racism to be substantially dismantled. Bell died a few days ago and his words never have been truer than today.
It is also interesting that the highly undemocratic political institution, the U.S. Supreme Court with its unelected judges, gets to decide what is constitutional and unconstitutional lawmaking in this society. Yet the undemocratic character of so many of our political institutions, such as this reactionary and undemocratic court never has gotten the attention in our public discussions and debates that even these rather modest affirmative action programs have gotten. Why is that?
The fix is in, as they say. The announcement has been made. The ideological royal guard of racial stratification is standing at attention. There is a change of the guard in terms of the covenant title, (insert the sound of trumpets please), “Model Minority.” Previously I was swayed by the weight of a 2008 Journal of African American Studies article, “Race, Gender and Progress: Are Black American Women the New Model Minority?” by Amadu Jacky Kaba. This scholar asserts that Black females, despite the effects of slavery, gender discrimination, and racial oppression were slowly becoming the new model minority. Black females were described as replacing Eastern and Southern Asians upon the white pedestal for other minority groups to be in awe of.
Many do not know the term “model minority” was coined by sociologist William Peterson in a 1966 New York Times magazine essay entitled, “Success Story: Japanese American Style.” The piece made the argument that despite their experiences with historical marginalization, Asian Americans have attained “success” (whatever that means in this country), due to strong families, respect for education, and work ethic. In later years the media provided an array of articles and coverage that exhibited this point. In essence they were all nationally and internationally stressing the strength of the poignant question—“Why can’t Blacks get their act together?” The term by many is viewed as both racist and divisive. It was created by the White elite to serve as a way to downplay the effects of racism on Blacks while publicly blaming Blacks, the victim, for their own political, economic, and social status.
In my research, I have seen the trends of Black female graduation (high school, bachelors, and advanced degrees) increase while Black males have dropped. I have noticed the increase of Black females attaining corporate, medical, and legal jobs. I have also noticed the declining number of Black males entering the educational programs needed to attain these positions. I have seen the young Black male faces entering into a prison system that is plastered wall to wall with their image. The health and suicide rates fare no better. When taking this into account, I was not so sure the predicted change of guard would occur.
This was not until I became aware of the emerging research by Dudley Poston at Texas A&M, that points to China, which replaces Mexico (Mexican immigrants) as the new U.S. source for low wage workers coming to the US. He goes on to assert that the sentiment, legal maneuvers, and overall disdain targeting Mexican workers we have witnessed in the past few years will possibly be refocused on the replacing low-wage Asian worker. Due to this I feel that the outlook on Asians as the supposed “model” will cease to exist. They too will be blamed for the same issues Mexican workers are blamed for today. This will give way to a new champ to be elected in order to continue the divide between people of color, and at the same time sustaining the existing racist oppressive conditions that keep Blacks and Latinos down.
Unlike the application of the frame of Asian Americans, I feel that the ramifications of promoting Black females as the new model minority will not only negatively impact race relations, but the social relationship between Black males and females. What can we do? We know the social and psychological damage the previous model has done to world. Therefore there is no excuse. I challenge you as a scholar and/or citizen of social justice to push back. We have to point out what this divisive tactic is to the world—destructive.
What happens when a profession that doesn’t come close to representing the demographics of diversity in America has a conversation about race? I just found out.
Because of the recent publication of my book, Everyday Injustice based on extensive interview-based research (the first in the history of US social science) about the experiences of many Latino attorneys, the editor of the American Bar Association requested an article drawing from my book for the ABA’s monthly publication. I was (and remain) honored to be invited to contribute to the journal–especially because I had the privilege of interviewing the very first Latino president of the ABA in its history!
However, I did not expect the comment stream that followed. It began with someone saying, “Waahhhhh! Waaaaahhh!” and ended with a couple of individuals spouting off typical resentful racist rants with one commentator finally stating: “Overall, I think the legal profession focuses way too much on gender and minority issues.” I hurled some comments back, so I am not blameless in the whole discussion, and most of the responses where quite supportive. Nonetheless, the two or three individuals who attacked not only my research methods and findings, but also the very importance of the discussion on the experiences of Latinos itself is very revealing.
What kinds of skews develop in perspectives and in practice when some people do not have to see other people as connected to the whole of humanity? What happens when a profession that is 90 percent white (thereby not reflective of the reality of American society) tries to have a discussion on race?
The white-generated racist realities of American society as demonstrated in Joe Feagin’s The White Racial Frame become evidently clear. Emotions surrounding the old white racist framing of Latinos and all people of color demonstrate we have a long way to go before we can see the connections between and among each other more than we focus on the differences which will lead to racial equality, at least in this is what I learned about the legal profession after contributing to the journal.
The great Professor Derrick Bell died yesterday, arguably the founder of critical race studies in the US, and no one would dispute he was one of the two or three original founders. He was the first tenured black faculty member at Harvard Law School and a leading constitutional scholar, as well as an activist fighting for racial change — including the desegregation of Harvard Law School along racial and gender lines.
Derrick Bell brilliantly pioneered in critical race thinking when few were doing that in legal studies, and he generated brilliant new ways and methods of talking about racism in the law and society, such as by creating fictional and allegorical narratives to make critical conceptual and empirical points. His method has revolutionized some legal presentations and theories, and his work on innovative methods in the law journals was (and still is) in my view way ahead of the mainstream presentation methods that are standard in social science journals’ work on racism issues. He also pioneered in critical and provocative and influential concepts such as interest convergence and racial realism.
One biographical account from answers.com summarizes some of his views and impacts this way:
The allegorical “chronicles” in 1987′s And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice and his 1992 publication, Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism attempt to expose the transparency of nominal, virtually meaningless civil rights advances. “Racism is not a passing phase but a permanent feature of American life,” the New York Times summarized. “Despite all the change over the years, [Bell maintains that] blacks are worse off and more subjugated than at any time since slavery.” In a conclusion that is particularly grim for a crusading civil rights lawyer, Bell claims that legal victories are hollow if society’s mind-set remains unchanged. He often refers to the Brown v. Board of Education case as an example, claiming that the 1954 school desegregation decision by the Supreme Court was neutered when whites began to abandon public schools and flee the cities. In general, Bell judges that civil rights laws and decisions are worthless because America’s white-dominated society continues to undermine black advancement while allowing racism to prevail.
And the bio makes this later point:
In a speech to Harvard students quoted in the Boston Globe, Bell urged the future scholars and activists to continue the moral fights that he had championed, saying: “Your faith in what you believe must be a living, working faith that draws you away from comfort and security, and toward risk through confrontation.”
This link suggests that the legal profession has not yet come to grips with the racial realism of a true genius and great US intellectual leader (note the word “renegade” for him) and the evidence for his racial realism view that we regularly demonstrate on this blog. May he rest in peace, finally.
Who do I have a grudge with this week? Of course, it is with the U.S. government. In particular, my emotions are directed at the United States Board on Geographic Names. In 1967, they were charged with changing the word “nigger” at 143 locations to “Negro.” How dare they have the chutzpah to forget about “Niggerhead” in Paint Creek, Texas? This is the same property owned by the family of poor debating tongue-tied Ricky Perry, Republican presidential nominee and current governor of Texas.
It seems the government run geographical board did not forget about “Negro Bill Canyon” (formerly known as Nigger Bill Canyon, Utah), or “Negrohead Mountain,” which is a peak above Santa Monica, California (renamed in February 2010 to Ballard Mountain). Poorly handled media demonization forced Perry to respond by saying,
When my Dad joined the lease in 1983, he took the first opportunity he had to paint over the offensive word on the rock during the 4th of July holiday…It is my understanding that the rock was eventually turned over to further obscure what was originally written on it.
See, he had to do the job of the federal government on his own. Well, yes it took him three years after the property was bought to paint over it. But still he rolled up his Texas sleeves and did the job. And yes I am aware of the fact that some have reported to the media that they have been guests of the family while hunting on the property and seen the rock that depicts the name at the entrance to the property displaying the naughty name. But come on, who can blame the guy. He has been very busy. When defending his morality, he stated,
I judge folks by their character and ethics. As Governor, I represent a big, fast-growing and diverse state. My appointments and actions represent the whole state, including our growing diversity, such as appointment of the first African-American Supreme Court Justice — whom I later appointed to Chief Justice — and the first Latina Secretary of State.
One cannot forget the hard work he has displayed while helping his home state to increase the number of Blacks executed on death row either. That is one for the record books of equality, huh? Again, how can we solely blame Rick? He is a slave to the chains of the white racial frame. Perry’s allowances for the rock to exist in the first place are driven by the rationale that drove the operation of U.S. slavery. Moreover, Leslie Picca and Joe Feagin in Two Faced Racism (2007) discuss how Whites have the ability to publicly object or not participate in expressions of racism or bigotry, but in private amongst other whites they have the ability to be overtly racists.
Well those are the pains of the white racial frame. Perry is simply a victim of the “oppression.” So shouldn’t we give him a break? But then again, one has to question the good sense of anyone attempting to run for president while shooting (no pun intended) to gain favor from a select group of special people who cheer during a republican debate regarding the execution of hundreds of inmates, allowing the uninsured to die, and turning back to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy. Oppression of the marginalized is indeed an immortal ideological symbiote that has latched upon the psyche of world consciousness. So do me a favor and leave Perry alone!:)
In my last post titled “Herman Cain: African American Voters Too “Brainwashed,” I stated that presidential candidate Herman Cain claims that African Americans are not open to Republican ideals and believes his message is marginalized by the liberal media. I went on to state reasons why some African Americans join the Republican Party. This post extends the Cain post and offers some historical explanations as to why African Americans in general do not vote Republican.
During the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century, it must be noted that both the Republican and Democratic parties viewed African Americans as racially inferior to whites. But the Democratic Party, the most powerful of the two parties, was the party of southern planters that opposed black participation in politics and were determined that slavery had not ended. On the other hand, the Republican Party was the first of the two parties that welcomed African American participation and contributed to the establishment of the Freedman’s Bureau. As a result, the majority of the African American community voted for the Republican Party until the Great Depression.
In 1866, the 39th Republican Congress passed the 14th Amendment, a major civil rights bill, granting former slaves U.S. citizenship. When this legislation was passed, former slave states opposed the idea of living among and associating with former slaves and white Democratic planters, the ruling elite, did everything possible to stifle black progress. In 1867, Thaddeus Stevens (R-PA), a powerful leader in the Republican Party, presented the Reconstruction Act that would grant black males the right to vote. Southern planters moved swiftly to prevent this voting right, but the Act was passed.
In 1870, under the Reconstruction Act, African Americans began participating in the Republican Party, and were concerned about the government’s division of land and the restoration of the property taken from them when the Confederate soldiers returned. Their concerns were not considered, and state amendments were passed in favor of the planters. Here lies part of the black economic problem. When blacks were freed from slavery and the government gave them property, the land was taken from them and returned to the southern rebels when their states rejoined the union. The taking of the land or what blacks call their “forty acres and a mule” destroyed blacks’ ability to self-determine their future and to provide for their posterity. There was no public effort to educate them and laws were passed to keep them as close to a slave status as possible.
The Reconstruction Era (1863-1877) lasted about 14 years and turned African Americans into a potent political force. During this period, African Americans enjoyed political, economic, and cultural progress, even though the black codes—whites treating free blacks as slaves—instituted by the legislature stalled the progress they made. Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), an orator and author, received substantial financial support from the white power elite because he insisted that blacks should prepare themselves for citizenship through self-help programs and industrial education. Washington, like other black conservatives of his day and modern day black conservatives, was an accommodationist. He believed African Americans were creating hostility among whites for demanding their rights, ignoring America’s major role in subjecting blacks to slavery and putting legal barriers in their way after emancipation.
Herman Cain is a modern-day Washington. Cain does not seem to understand that as long as black accommodationists, such as himself, pander to the white racial frame, absolve white racism, and believe that self-help programs will open the door to economic prosperity for the masses of African Americans, he is living an illusion. Cain has extrapolated his own personal success to all African Americans, leaving room for ongoing racist practices against African Americans and other Americans of color.
In 1876, Republican president-elect Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881), who initially supported black rights, struck a deal over a disputed close election between himself and his Democratic opponent, Samuel Tilden, in support of the interests of the South, thus ending the Reconstruction Era. Consequently, the Republicans formed a coalition of radical segregationists to resist all Reconstruction reforms. With the help of a conservative U.S. Supreme Court, the political safeguards African Americans enjoyed were removed after Hayes took office. This opened the door for political oppression through segregationist Jim Crow laws that lasted for almost a century. Since African Americans who traditionally voted for the Republican Party from 1867 to 1932 saw a rolling back of their civil rights and no economic progress, they abandoned the Republican Party, switched their loyalty to the Democratic Party, and voted for Franklin Roosevelt. Although Roosevelt showed little sympathy for the plight of African Americans, he invited notable African Americans to participate in his administration and challenged state-imposed limitations on their civil rights during his third term in office.
There is a connection between the losses African Americans experienced during the post-Reconstruction period and the current conservative backlash. During the late 19th century, the southern states rolled back equalitarian laws for African Americans. Today’s congressional conservatives are rolling back the gains of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and accommodationist black conservatives are turning a blind eye to this historical fact.
On CNN, Herman Cain offered strong words against the African American community. Cain, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate and former CEO of Godfather Pizza, says African Americans are “simply brainwashed,” “not open-minded,” and “opposed to GOP ideals.” He asserts he is experiencing vitriolic attacks against his messages because he is a black Republican and has been liberated from the Democratic plantation.
Cain, obsessed with “getting off the Democratic plantation,” has turned a blind eye to modern day Republicans’ quest to destroy what America stands for: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as birthrights of all U.S. citizens. Today’s Republican Party is not the “Party of Lincoln” that opposed aristocracy and corruption, but the Party has been pulled to the extreme right by the adamantine Tea Party, an extreme anti-government group with an ax to grind.
Given Cains’ disposition toward the Democratic Party, there are explanations why African Americans become Republicans. First, black conservatives, like Cain, see capitalism as the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” for black economic liberation and urge them to forge close business ties with white business leaders (See Manning Marable, How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America, 1983, p. 182).
Second, black conservatives challenge race-based social programs that encourage black dependency on welfare and believe their views that encourage self-help programs by and of African Americans are given scant attention by the dominate liberal media.
Third, black conservatives insist that African Americans can succeed in American society on their own and argue that the racial caste system will no longer divide the races. Fourth, black conservatives blame big government solutions and liberal initiatives for economically weakening the black community. Last, black conservatives embrace limited government in the lives of the American people, but have acted contrary to this philosophy.
When the GOP was given a sweeping victory in the 2010 elections, the Party was given control of the U. S. House of Representatives and the majority of governorships. The Party did not use its power to create jobs and pass legislation that would help revive the economy. Instead, the Party gave the American people culture-war legislation that interfered with women’s rights, union stripping, Sharia Law; and voter suppression laws that disenfranchise vulnerable minority groups, students, and the elderly, limiting their access to the ballot box. In support of the GOP agenda, corporate conservatives have been corrupting the American democracy with the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, an organization that Koch Industries and other notable large corporations financially support to diminish the civil rights of average American citizens.
Herman Cain sees the Republican Party as a one-way ticket off the 21st century Democratic plantation and uses the media to make a case for disassociating himself from an oppressive black history he cannot elude.