Interesting piece over at the Huffington Post about a white supremacist , Ryan J. Murdough, who is running for a seat in the New Hampshire State House on a platform of hate.
Several things come to mind. First of all, the organization “American Third Position” is but one more burgeoning white supremacist organization advocating a racialized version of grassroots populism. This group states that it is “represent[ing] the political interests of White Americans, because no one else will.” I do not need to explain how this logic is faulty, as Joe Feagin has already outlined this on this blog and in his most recent book The White Racial Frame. As Feagin states, there is already a party that represents the political interests of white people and it is called the current Republican Party.
More disturbing, however, is the twisting of civil rights language for the furtherance of white racism. For instance, Murdough’s equating of diversity initiatives as “anti-white” legislation. This is a reactionary technique that whites have long used to fight against the hard-won gains of people of color. And as Feagin also outlines in his book, the ascension of “post-racial” rhetoric only exacerbates these sentiments.
Murdough, and the A3P he represents, are similar to the Tea Party Movement and the emerging Glenn Beck-ers, all of whom seem to think the language of civil rights applies to perceived white racial disenfranchisement. The appearance of privileging people of color is enough to set the white racial frame in motion, rationalizing the undeserved privileges that white people have always enjoyed in this country and denying equal opportunities to non-white groups (who are seen as less deserving and inherently not allowed to reap the same rewards).
Finally, as mentioned in this blog many times before, this sort of white anger is particularly virulent when it comes to the Tea Party movement. This group seeks to re-establish/protect/maintain white racial hegemony in politics, ideology, and culture. That is the political subtext to the “Take back our nation” speeches and placards they carry. Even Glenn Beck, with all his “liberty and justice rhetoric” is but a white racial zealot fighting to maintain his privilege. Much like the above mentioned white supremacist, Beck plans to use the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement for his personal (and collective white racial) gain. His “Take America Tour,” which will commence with a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, 2010 (the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech) is in my opinion, blasphemy to the extreme.
Unfortunately, the sentiments of Murdough, Beck, and Tea Partiers will continue so long as the white racial frame remains supplanted in the political consciousness and as long as neoliberal doctrine continues to avoid discussing the reality of racial inequality in America.
Interesting article over at RaceWire (racewire.org) about the unbeknown and unrequited contributions of Henrietta Lacks to the field of science. In 1951, exactly 58 years ago yesterday, Mrs. Lacks died of cervical cancer. Just 3 years later, cells from her body were cultured at Johns Hopkins into the “HeLa cells” now used as the standard vaccination for the polio virus. The kicker? The cells from Lacks’ body were used without her consent, without her knowledge, and without any reparations to the Lacks family. As stated,
While the cells were commercialized early on, and have recently been used to create a whole new lucrative industry of gene mapping the family of Mrs Lacks has (of course) never been offered any part of the wealth. They have only been asked to contribute yet more cell and blood samples, ‘for the good of science.
And it was not until 2001 that Johns Hopkins scheduled an event to honor Lacks’ contribution and to thank her family. Unfortunately, the event never happened.
This reminds me of the countless Black men exploited by white scientists in the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study of 1932 . This study, arguably the most despicable and atrocious example of state racism, eventually led to the 1979 Belmont Report, which is now standard operating procedure for scientific research with human subjects. However, the fact that the study continued under various supervisors until it was leaked to the press in 1970 bears testament to the enduring (white) logic of science and racism. In both Lacks’ case and the Tuskegee study, Black bodies were seen as expendable commodities by white researchers, who took advantage of their subjects and in the case of the Tuskegee study, ultimately killed them, their families and spouses.
As we have often argued on this blog before, American wealth and privilege has been born out of the sacrifices and injustices of people of color, particularly those of African Americans. It is striking how many Black Americans suffer from health inequality today despite their contributions to the very medical procedures and vaccines we now take for granted.
Why does the field of science proclaim objectivity in the face of such incontrovertible racism? Can we really tease out our sociocultural biases and prejudices when conducting scientific research?