White Nationalism in the NFL

[Note: This post is coauthored by Anthony Weems and Thaddeus Atzmon

In a recent press release via their web page, the National Football League (NFL) issued a policy statement that was clearly designed to stop future players from participating in on-field anti-Racist protests that draw attention to the systemic and foundational racism of the U.S. This embedded white racism is evident in The Star Spangled Banner–particularly at the end of the third verse, which celebrates slavery in the U.S. In creating this new policy, the NFL has, in effect, chosen to actively engage in the promotion and sanctification of white nationalist displays while simultaneously banning any form of protest against them.

What do we mean by this? We mean that not allowing players who are on the field to show their protest for the US anthem, which celebrates the enslavement of people of color by whites and was composed by a major white slaveholder, is a means of protecting an openly white nationalist display that takes place before every NFL game. This coerced censorship is accomplished through the rules laid out in sections one, four, five and six of the NFL policy statement which require “personnel” on the field to “show respect for the flag and the Anthem” and outline possible ways to discipline those who do not. Coerced censorship is also accomplished by hiding players who choose to protest the anthem off the field where they can not be seen during the televised white nationalist display of the anthem. This is accomplished through sections two and three of the new NFL policy, which remove a previous requirement for all players to be on the field and state that players who choose not to stand for the anthem in protest “may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.” Herein, we delve into the way that coercive patriotism is used in the NFL, how the dominant white racial frame and white nationalism are reproduced through NFL games, and how past white nationalists have also used coercive patriotic displays of white nationalism in US sport activities. We end by noting the ways that athletes are pushing back against this form of coercive nationalism through discussions about denying their labor to the NFL.

Coercive Patriotism

Interestingly enough, NFL players even being on-field for the national anthem is a relatively new phenomenon. For example, sports analyst Stephen A. Smith has noted the following on how and why NFL players came to be on the field for the playing of the anthem:

Until 2009, no NFL player stood for the national anthem because players actually stayed in the locker room as the anthem played. The players were moved to the field during the national anthem because it was seen as a marketing strategy to make the athletes look more patriotic. The United States Department of Defense paid the National Football League $5.4 million between 2011 and 2014, and the National Guard $6.7 million between 2013 and 2015 to stage onfield patriotic ceremonies as part of military-recruitment budget line items.

The NFL’s new policy that requires players to “stand and show respect” to the US flag and during the national anthem builds upon and goes well beyond this “marketing strategy” to a much more coercive form of patriotism. According to Tricia Jenkins (2013), coercive patriotism in the sport context is problematic for athletes and fans alike, as nationalist politics are packaged and sold “through the pageantry of sport, rather than through more thoughtful explorations of a conflict” (p. 247). In other words, coercive patriotism serves as a sort of nationalist sedative that further advances the politics of white nationalism through the emotion-laden arena of sport. Critical outcomes of this coercive form of patriotism by the NFL are both the reproduction and the dissemination of the white racial frame and its central role in mainstreaming white nationalism.

Reproducing the White Racial Frame

Sport provides a cultural skeleton for communicating the politics of nationalism to the American public. In the context of a globalized sport/media complex, protests led by predominantly African American players against policing and other racism have effectively challenged many Americans to take seriously the claims of liberty and justice for all. In reality, this challenging of espoused American ideals extends back well beyond Colin Kaepernick’s first protest in 2016. As the great scholar W.E.B. Du Bois opined nearly a century ago, African Americans’ challenging of the legitimacy of (white) “American values” since the foundation of this country has significantly pushed the nation in a more just direction. Today, the taking serious of these values remains a central element in many counter-frames developed by various communities of color resisting systemic racism.

However, in the aftermath of the NFL’s new policy the spectacle of coercive patriotism and the production of resistance-less nationalism serves not only to silence anti-Racist player-activists but also to reproduce the dominant white racial frame and stimulate a nationalist base. Through coercive tactics and mediated agenda-setting therein, the NFL is able to frame what is and is not “patriotic” for millions of NFL viewers across the nation. What this has accomplished so far is it has emboldened white nationalist groups and “patriotic” Americans in general to support nationalistic practices and to act in accordance with the nationalist elements of the white racial frame. Indeed, when the President of the US frames protesting athletes as being disrespectful “sons of bitches” while legitimizing neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” and the NFL adopts a policy that seeks to hide and/or punish players for protesting, a reflection on the gravity of this new policy is warranted.

For example,while there are clear differences between the German Nazi system of oppression during the second world war and systemic white racism in the U.S. today, we also see disturbing parallels in the ways elite white men protect white nationalist displays and promote dominant white racial framing through coercive patriotism in public sporting events within these two contexts. Take this newspaper article dated January 7th 1934, which details the Nazi punishment of German soccer players for refusing to give the Nazi salute during a game. In this instance, the Nazi white nationalist salute is help up as sacred and those who dare not respect and honor it were subject to serious punishment. Today, the white nationalist display of the US anthem is held up as sacred and the anti-Racist athletes who choose to openly protest the history of white racism it represents are subject to punishment or forced off-field by the elite white men who own NFL teams and set the league’s policy in an attempt to silence them.

White Nationalism and Resistance

According to one important history of white nationalism,

African Americans in particular had changed American life at every one of its critical junctures since the advent of New World slavery. Ideological thinkers on the white-ist side of politics remain completely blind to this aspect of the twenty-first century. And from this failure, vanguardist and Aryan killers will continue to pop up, at odds with the direction of American life. (Zeskind, p. 542).

Recent information that has come to light as a result of Kaepernick’s collusion legal case against the NFL owners points to the central political role of President Donald Trump in the development of the NFL’s new nationalistic policy. As if the President’s publicly white-nationalist comments in response to protesting athletes weren’t enough, NFL team owner Jerry Jones’ sworn disposition claimed that Trump told him the following:

This is a very winning, strong issue for me… Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.

In light of the NFL taking on a major role in white nationalist politics, its new policy aims to censor the voices of those actively fighting against racist sport systems. However, athletes and activists alike will not be quelled so easily, as many look to continue resisting systemic forms of oppression hidden behind the veil of white patriotism. Several NFL players have already discussed the possibility of sitting out this upcoming NFL season until both Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid are signed to NFL rosters. In addition, several players have told journalist Shaun King that they intend to stop paying their NFL Players Association dues following the Association’s failure to adequately represent the players and their interests. If anything, it seems as though the new coercive NFL policy has provided more justification for athletes protesting or withholding their labor altogether. At this critical juncture in time it is imperative that we, as social science scholars and social justice activists, seek to contextualize and understand the NFL’s sanctifying of white nationalist politics, the active resistances to the NFL’s new policy from players, and how we might be able to work with and support social justice athlete-activists moving forward.

Royal Wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry: Black Counter-Framing

Royal Wedding

[Part 2 of 2]
Afua Hirsch—quoted in Part 1—contends that Meghan “Markle used her wedding to introduce her new peers to blackness.” I think more was at work than simply presenting blackness to the British elite. Counter-framing was at the heart of the Royal Wedding. Indeed, Hirsch’s fantastic article gives example after example of counter-framing by Markle, though she does not name it as such.

As sociologist and social theorist Joe Feagin explains:

Counter-frames are grounded in counter-system thinking and have been very important for Black Americans in surviving and resisting oppression over many generations. In these anti-racism counter-frames whites are defined as highly problematical, and strategies on how to deal with whites and white institutions are expressed and foregrounded.

As observed by anti-racist leaders and media pundits in the immediate aftermath of the Royal Wedding, thanks to Markle, counter-framing was distinctly conspicuous during the ceremony. “A beautiful service and a beautiful couple. Making my beautiful mixed heritage family’s shoulders stand a little taller,” tweeted the British Labour Party politician, David Lammy. But equally important was Lammy’s caveat about giving too much importance to the ceremony’s counter-framing. He said to a British newspaper:

Clearly one wedding isn’t going to fundamentally alter the lives of Britain’s ethnic minorities, many of whom are still subject to different forms of discrimination. … These are paradoxical times, with a post-Brexit environment with rising hate crime, with the Windrush story [which exposed an immigration system developed by the British government elite that basically harassed tens of thousands of legal Caribbean residents] that brings us international shame. The multi-cultural future of Britain is contested. The ceremony was hopeful. It spoke both of our Commonwealth past, our history, but also of a future. But we shouldn’t read too much into it.

What symbols did Meghan Markle draw on in her counter-framing? What was her approach to the expression and foregrounding of whites and white institutions?

In the direct aftermath of the wedding, Lindsay Peoples—fashion editor for New York Magazine’s The Cut—put it memorably, referring to the wedding as incredibly unapologetic with its “black moments,” and adding that Markle “did not come to play—the melanin came all the way through.” Here is a summary of what Peoples dubbed the “Best Black Joy Moments”:

1. Doria Ragland: “Single black mother … showing up in her locs in a twist out and her nose ring.”
2. Bishop Michael Curry’s wedding address, with two references to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
3. Rose Hudson-Wilkin: The first black female chaplain to a British monarch.
4. The All-Black Choir: “I had already lost my cool at this point,” writes Peoples, “Every single person’s hair in this choir was laid. I got hair inspiration for days from these three minutes. And the song “Stand By Me” was the perfect choice, just enough soul to rock side-to-side to.”
5. Sheku Kanneh-Mason: At only 19, he is the first black cellist to win the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year award.
6. The wedding dress and flowers on Markle’s veil, which represented the 53 nations of the British Commonwealth. As Peoples put it, “The duchess literally had black nations on her back, using one of the biggest days for the royal family to subtly note to their history of colonization and showing the world that all British people of color should be represented.”
7. The Gospel songs: “As if the choir wasn’t enough,” writes Peoples, “on [Meghan’s and Harry’s] way out of the chapel [the gospel choir] sang “This Little Light of Mine” and “Amen,” gospel songs that are sung in practically every black church because of their significance in the Civil Rights Movement.”
We might add to this list, the presence of Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Idris Elba, and other (albeit influential and affluent) people of color, such as actress Priyanka Chopra and Lebanese-British barrister Amal Clooney.

Another anti-establishment symbol on the wedding day came compliments of Queen Elizabeth II herself, who bestowed the titles Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Harry and Meghan. In so doing, the newest member of the Royal Family became the first legal Duchess of Sussex. That she is the first is not even what is most significant. Like Markle, the earlier Duke of Sussex, sixth son of King George III, defied white Anglo-Saxon royal tradition. He refused to obey the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 and married who he wanted (hence, there was no legal Duchess of Sussex before Markle). He advocated for the emancipation of Roman Catholics. He fought for the elimination of civil restrictions on Jews and dissenters. He supported parliamentary reform. And he was an anti-slavery advocate. It remains uncertain whether the Queen considered his anti-slavery advocacy when selecting the title for the newlyweds. Regardless, it is a fitting designation because not only has Markle long been an advocate for democratic causes; like the first Duke of Sussex, she is a counter-framer of white Anglo-Saxon tradition. We can only hope she will continue to buck (white) royal traditions and the centuries old and still dominant white racial frame in the process.

As we reflect on “Black Joy Moments,” we would be wise to remember the astuteness of Black Britons like David Lammy. Or Herman Ouseley, a former executive chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, who like Lammy noted that the ceremony will not, of course, rid Britain of racial and class oppression.

There is also Stafford Scott, a consultant on racial equality and community engagement, who did not watch the wedding. Even less enthusiastic about the significance of the wedding than Lammy and Ouseley, Scott remarked:

I heard there was a black choir and some people felt that was very symbolic. I just think it was that we have got some really good black choirs. … I have nothing negative to say about what took place yesterday, though online some people did. … I don’t think people should be getting carried away because of somebody’s personal choices. [Harry choosing a “mixed-race” bride was “personal choice” rather than statement, Scott said.] I do hope that it does, somehow, become something going forward. But, in terms of the black community’s standing in this country, the difficulties we face are structural. White and black people have been mixing for generations and it hasn’t, necessarily, led to any improvements, or deepening of understanding.

The history of white racism in Britain is extensive and deep-seated; an understanding of this fact is largely lost on most whites (and some others). Reni Eddo-Lodge, author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, examines systemic racism in Britain and her efforts to persuade white folks that racism is their problem too, and adds, for example, that Black British history—especially white slavery—is mostly framed as a North American issue. Yet over the course of 200 years, white British traders forced three million Africans onto ships and into slavery in the British colonies.

Systemic racism, as Feagin explains, is a highly developed, well-institutionalized, structurally embedded, historically deep, white-defined racial oppression that significantly shapes virtually every facet of society. It will take far more than a Royal Wedding or a biracial Duchess to change a systematically racist society like Britain. It will take, among other things, the following:

1. Eradicating exploitative and discriminatory practices that target Britons of color.
2. Eliminating the dominant British white racial hierarchy and its defence of white privilege and white power.
3. Eliminating the British white racial frame (WRF) that rationalizes and implements racial oppression, including racial prejudices, stereotypes, images, ideologies, emotions, interpretations, and narratives.
4. Ending racial inequalities long-ago established in Britain by social reproduction apparatuses.

Like in the U.S., dedication to ending white racism in Britain will require a focus on systemic racism as opposed to individual racism. Perhaps then, but certainly not because of a Royal Wedding, we will be able to genuinely rejoice in progress on race relations in Britain.

Straight Out of the White Racial Frame: Racialized Emotions and the Royal Wedding

[Part 1 of 2]
During and in the direct aftermath of the May 19, 2018 wedding ceremony of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, the media generally framed the giggles, smirks, eye-rolls, and jaw-drops by some members of the British Royal Family during Bishop Michael Curry’s wedding address, as apolitical, descriptive, and/or as inoffensive, and even understandable due to the “quintessentially American address.” White British journalist and CNN international anchor, Richard Quest, defended the royals:

Look, there’s nothing wrong [with the negative reactions]. He went on for 30 minutes. [Note: Bishop Curry spoke for 14 minutes, not 30 minutes.] He could have taken a minute or two out and not done any damage to it. . . . This is a high church of England service in St. George’s Chapel. . . . You did not necessarily, normally expect to have an American-style preacher. … And I assure you, nobody was thinking oh, this is dreadful, this is awful. … don’t forget, multi-cultural Britain, there are large populations, Asian, Indian, African populations right across the country. So they will have welcomed. And the Prince of Wales, by the way, interesting, the Prince of Wales . . . has said he does not want to be defender of the faith. . . . He has said he wants to be defender of faiths. So multicultural Britain is really where it’s at in the future.

Live on the air, white British CNN contributor and author of Harry, Conversations with the Prince, Angela Levin, said that the Bishop and the gospel choir made her “uncomfortable.” Later in the day, she told CNN’s Don Lemon she changed her mind and liked both.

In the immediate aftermath of the wedding, an uncommon article by Afua Hirsch, who like Meghan Markle has white European and African heritage, counter-framed the wedding ceremony as “a rousing celebration of blackness.” Hirsch wrote about the wedding this way:

. . . talented black people were more than adornment. The sermon, delivered by the Episcopalian church leader the Rev Michael Curry, began with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr before enlightening the congregation on the wisdom of spirituals . . . and casting Jesus as a revolutionary. … Zara Phillips [grandchild of Queen] was visibly in a state of shock. … The teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason . . . revealed the depth of talent that made him the first black person to win BBC Young Musician . . .. The Kingdom gospel choir sang soul classic Stand By Me: a love song, yes, but one that first rose to fame in the midst of the civil rights movement ….”

But even Hirsch, who has a significant book on racism and the British, did not take them to task.

As Bishop Curry—a US champion of civil rights—spoke, Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughters, including Zara Phillips, with mouth wide open, and Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who donned matching smirks, were excruciatingly visible. As the Bishop addressed the mostly white congregation, the future Queen consort and sister-in-law to Prince Harry, Kate Middleton, side-rolled her eyes to another future consort and Prince Harry’s step-mother (Camilla Parker-Bowles). Clearly the eye roll was not meant to convey appreciation for the Bishop’s address. Future King William V also had a fit of giggles.

I argue that the white racial frame (WRF) is the core reason white adult royals, with assumedly every opportunity to learn proper manners and who should be exposed to the multi-racial nation in which they live (not to mention the world), would think it appropriate to giggle, smirk, open mouths wide in disbelief, and/or eye-roll during the Bishop’s address. The WRF also helps explain why so many whites (and others) are inclined to swiftly dismiss as harmless, or find amusing, or not even notice, such behavior. In the facial expressions of these white royals, the pro-white subframe, firmly reinforcing white superiority, civilization, virtue, and moral goodness, was on full display.

In his ground-breaking books Systemic Racism and The White Racial Frame, sociologist and social theorist Joe Feagin proposed the analytical concept of the WRF. According to Feagin, since at least the seventeenth century, this frame has provided the broad white-generated perspective from which whites (and others) in western countries commonly view society. Like a typical frame, with its customary edging meant to enhance, display, and protect a photograph or painting, the WRF includes five elements which heightens and preserves white superiority, civilization, virtue, and moral goodness. The elements are: the verbal-cognitive aspect (racial stereotypes and prejudices); the integrating cognitive aspects (racial narratives and interpretations); visual imagery and auditory aspects; racialized emotions; and tendencies towards discriminatory action. Within the wider WRF is the pro-white subframe and the anti-others subframe. “Others” are regularly framed as lesser than whites and all things deemed white are framed as superior in the minds of most whites (and some others).

Imagine if African American wedding guests Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, or Gina Torres had giggled, smirked, or dropped their jaws when the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke. Imagine Williams’ eye-rolling to Torres as the white male Archbishop spoke. Would their conduct be framed as a harmless response to a “quintessentially British address”? Would it go unnoticed or be deemed endearing? I doubt that even Queen Oprah could get away with such bad behavior because the difference is this. Bishop Curry’s “quintessentially American address” is code for “quintessentially African American address.” As Afua Hirsch put it, “For people used to being part of the majority, these may be symbols they don’t easily see.” I will put it less gently. Mocking the Bishop is in keeping with the WRF; whereas, mocking the Archbishop of Canterbury, a white male Briton with a history of whiteness behind him and who in many ways signifies white Britain, is in direct opposition to the WRF and its pro-white subframe. Mocking one is acceptable, if not tolerable; mocking the other is not. Incidentally, the Archbishop of Canterbury “gushed” very positively over Bishop Curry’s address.

This is not the first time that bemused royals captured the media’s attention for their (white racist) giggling and were excused for it. In 2017 Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, visiting the Canadian Arctic, laughed so hard when Inuits were throat-singing, that one reporter remarked, “The royal couple did everything but stuff handkerchiefs in their mouths.” Nevertheless, the same journalist admitted to finding “royals who get the giggles quite endearing.”

In contrast, in his address,* Bishop Curry honored Markle’s African American heritage. This was no laughing matter. The address may not have been relatable to the mostly elite white guests at the wedding. However, to the majority of people who occupy the Commonwealth, not to mention planet earth, Bishop Curry surely was more relevant than the elite (mostly white and male) British establishment. That’s too bad as he clearly has much to teach the giggling, smirking, jaw-dropping, eye-rolling royals. Dr. King’s daughter certainly approved. She understood what some of the royals could not. According to CNN’s Don Lemon, “Bernice King tweeted out after the MLK quote at the royal wedding, ‘Your life, teachings, and words still matter so much, daddy. Congrats Harry and Meghan.’ ”

*The full text of Bishop Michael Curry’s wedding address is here.

White Terrorism: The Ordeal of Black Philosopher George Yancy

On Christmas eve in 2015 the leading Black philosopher and New York Times opinion writer, George Yancy, penned a poignant “Dear White America” article in the Times. Yancy bravely sought to encourage each white reader to, as he summarizes in his disturbing new book Backlash

risk yourself, to undergo a process of moral and existential perplexity” and to assess very deeply what being white in America means. He also sought action from white readers, calling for “a refusal to lie, a refusal to live another day within a white supremacist system where Black people and people of color continue to be oppressed. . . . I wanted you to tell the truth to yourselves and tell it to others.

Yancy is writing from what I have termed in the The White Racial Frame book as strong resistance counter-framing. Counter-frames are grounded in counter-system thinking and have been very important for Black Americans in surviving and resisting oppression over many generations. In these anti-racism counter-frames whites are defined as highly problematical, and strategies on how to deal with whites and white institutions are expressed and foregrounded. As Backlash illustrates, a well-developed Black counter-frame includes deep understandings of how white racial hostility and discrimination operate and how to deal in everyday practice with white discrimination, including teachings about safety for Black youth and passive and active strategies of anti-racism resistance.

Resistance counter-framing like that demonstrated by Yancy is necessary in this highly racist society. The “Dear White America” letter was not long out before white America roared back angrily in reply. Hundreds of whites replied to Yancy’s honest pleas and counter-framing with vicious replies developing most of the major racist themes long common in this country’s omnipresent white racial frame (defined below). These came as online comments, emails, phone messages, and letters, and have continued to the present. Many missives were filled with intense emotions and extensive and venomous “nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger” language (no exaggeration). This is indeed, as Yancy puts it, “21st century white terror.

The impact on Yancy and others around him has been severe. He has feared for himself and family and colleagues, to the present day. Campus police have monitored his Emory University office, patrolling his office floor; his department has had to quit providing his office hours to callers; his department chair, higher administrators, and other colleagues have been attacked as well, some called “nigger lovers.” At other universities, his talks have required the presence of police officers to protect him from possible white violence. His colleagues across the country have circulated large-scale supportive petitions on his behalf.

Yet Yancy did not submit to this extreme, often violence-oriented white onslaught quietly. A major countering effort can be seen in his Backlash book, in which he critically recounts and counter-frames many white-racist responses. This book clearly took great personal strength to write and has much that Americans, whites in particular, must read and heed if this country is to survive even remotely as just and democratic. Here he emphasizes the personal impact of everyday racism most African Americans face–some more than others, but virtually all too often, and ranging from subtle, to covert, to blatant discrimination. Yancy’s book makes clear what it means today to be Black, to live in an often threatened Black body, and to be a recurring target of chronic racist framing. As he insists, this is a “window into the life of a Black philosopher who believes that the practice of philosophy, the love of wisdom, must speak to those who formally reside outside of” academic settings.

What is this horrifying white racial frame to which Yancy has had to respond? It is far more than just prejudice (bigotry, animus, etc.) Some years back, in the books Systemic Racism and The White Racial Frame I suggested the analytical concept of the white racial frame. Since its development in the 17th century, this white racial frame has been dominant, a framing that provides a generic meaning system for a highly racialized U.S. society. For centuries this powerful racial frame has provided the broad white-generated worldview from which whites (and many others) regularly view society. It includes (1) racial stereotypes/prejudices (the verbal-cognitive aspect); (2) racial narratives & interpretations (the integrating cognitive aspects); (3) racial images (the visual aspects) and preferred language accents (the auditory aspect); (4) racialized emotions; (5) and inclinations to discriminatory action. This broad framing has a very positive orientation to whites as generally virtuous (pro-white subframe) and a negative orientation to racial “others” frequently viewed as unvirtuous (anti-others subframes). The pro-white subframe aggressively accentuates white superiority, civilization, virtue, and moral goodness.

There are numerous major themes from this old white racial frame’s anti-black subframe in the messages Yancy received. As he underscores in his book, these commentaries are far more than signs of “white fragility,” for they signal old white racial “world-making” that is usually imbedded in white character structure. Some of these white racist messengers, often angry white men, use racialized sexual references (e.g., speaking of the supposed threat of Black men to white women) or references to Blacks being excrement (“shit,” this and that). There is a recurring animalizing of Yancy and other Black Americans, including President Barack Obama, something whites have been doing at least since the founding era. White messages regularly describe African Americans as apes or ape-like. White images of Africans and African Americans as ape-like or ape-linked date back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and are another way of portraying Black Americans as racially inferior. For example, our third president Thomas Jefferson, a theorist of supposed “liberty and equality,” wrote in his book, Notes on the State of Virginia, that Black Americans are racially inferior to whites in many ways, including reasoning, imagination, intelligence, and beauty. He further asserted that even black Americans prefer white Americans’ beauty, “as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan [Orangutan] for the black women over those of his own species.” That is, as a prominent white-racist thinker, Jefferson believed the imperialist myth that in Africa nonhuman primates actually had intercourse with oversexed African women.

Sadly, such ape imagery remains commonplace not just in the attack messages Yancy has received but also all over the Internet. One recent online study of 447 self-proclaimed white nationalists found that, using a scale from zero (as ape-like) to 100 (as human), they rated blacks and other people of color as much more apelike and much less human than whites. Numerous other studies (see here) of ordinary whites, the latter mostly not openly connected with white nationalist organizations, reveal this regular linking in white minds of apelike imagery to Black people, such as in the commonplace form of everyday “nigger” joking.

Perhaps most disturbing in these white commentaries to Professor Yancy is the constant threatening of violence against him and other Blacks. Most of these violent verbal attacks appear to come from white men of various ages and classes. There is much anger in their messaging, like this one: “Somebody needs to . . . knock your fucking head off your shoulders.” As Yancy underscores,

there was very little love shown toward me. There were white threats of physical violence, talk of putting a meat hook in parts of my body, threats of knocking my “fucking head off” (their words), of beating me and leaving me dead, and vile demands that I kill myself immediately.

This viciousness came in response to Yancy’s honest pleas seeking to move whites to understand who they are racially and the scale of the racial oppression they have created.

Striking too in these hundreds of attack messages is the high level of white emotion. Many whites, especially white men, pride themselves on not being emotional; they reserve emotionality for those who are not white or male. Yet white men are probably the most emotional Americans when it comes to racial issues, especially when their racial status, enrichments, and privileges seem endangered, Coming through the many white verbal attacks on Yancy is stunning white emotionality, including anger, fear, outrage, bitterness, and, almost always, arrogance. Hundreds of the comments have a tone like this: “Dear nigger . . . fuck you. I am a racist. I’m ok with that now thanks to your nigger community and their actions over the last few years.” These hundreds of comments clearly demonstrate how most elements in the dominant white racial frame are very emotionally loaded.

Yancy’s belligerent responders also demonstrate great ignorance about many racial matters. For example, their white comments often reflect a serious illiteracy in regard to what the word “racism” means, especially in its origin. They periodically call Yancy a “racist” for calling out the white-racist ideas and discriminatory patterns of whites. The term “racism” is widely used by whites and many others for an individual’s ideas and actions, yet the modern term “racism” was originally constructed to refer to collective ideological and systemic racism. The first modern use of term “racism” was by German researcher Magnus Hirschfeld (in his 1933 book) for what German Nazis were systematically doing to European Jews, Roma, and Africans —that is, extreme ideological and institutional racism. This was far more than a matter of Nazi prejudices. Today, white racism also involves the deep structures and surface structures of racial oppression. It includes a complex array of white anti-other (e.g., anti-black) discriminatory practices, the unjustly gained economic/political power of whites, the continuing economic and other resource inequalities along racial lines (unjust enrichment/unjust impoverishment), and the white racial framing created by whites to rationalize white privilege and power. This racism is a material, social, racially framed reality—that is, manifested in all societal sectors, institutionally enabled, and socially reproduced for about 20 generations. White attempts to apply the term racism to yet other groups demonstrates not only ignorance of its history and reality but also, and quite remarkably, that most of these whites actually do understand at some level that racism is undesirable and immoral.

The many racially hostile messages recorded in Backlash further suggest that our contemporary era of overt and politicized white racism has liberated many whites from the necessity of suppressing their extensive white racist framing of society in public settings. For example, there is recurring positive reference in these attack missives sent to Yancy, and in similar hostile communiqués on white nationalist websites, to the white nationalism of our current president, Donald Trump, including recurring phrasing similar to Trump’s main slogan (e.g., “make America white again”). Such racially framed sentiments are not just limited to more extreme white supremacist missives and websites, for much recent social science research shows that central to the thinking of many of Trump’s many white voters has been great worry about their losing their “superior” racial status in US society.

Perhaps the most poignant and deeply insightful aspect of Backlash is Yancy’s reflections on being Black and the matter of death resulting from white terrorism’s many forms. Yancy describes an incident when he was growing up in an impoverished urban area. Having gotten a telescope as a present, a white officer saw him with it, and framing him as a poor Black youngster, almost shot him because he thought it was a weapon. Reflecting in the book on this incident, Yancy concludes that he cannot be a complete pessimist because he is alive today, yet “being alive feels like borrowed time.” Being Black, that is, means the constant and well-institutionalized possibility of racially marked death at any time of life. This is the critical difference between blackness and whiteness, for no institutionally grounded practices have marked “whiteness as a target for death” at any time. So, given the entrenched reality of persisting white racism, Yancy also concludes he cannot be truly optimistic in regard to the possibility of substantial racial change in this society.

White Men Reeling: #BlackStormtrooper and the White Racial Frame

The latest Star Wars film titled, The Last Jedi, is scheduled for release on December 15, 2017. As Richard Lawson wrote in Vanity Fair prior to the theatrical debut of 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens:

Star Wars has never been a bastion of diversity. Lando and Leia were the only non-white and non-male main characters (among the humans, anyway) in the original franchise; George Lucas’s dreadful prequels at least made some attempts at racial diversity, with Samuel L. Jackson and Jimmy Smits playing large roles, though it mostly forgot about women. (And some critics took issue with ethnically charged alien characters, but that’s a different story.) So [The Force Awakens] was [J. J.] Abrams’s chance to issue something of a corrective, to open up this universe to more people.

In white fans’ reactions to the casting of a black man in a lead role in The Force Awakens, key elements of systemic racism were distinctly present, including white power and entitlement rooted in the U.S. racial hierarchy, the dominant white racial frame that rationalizes and defends unfairly gained white privilege and power, and the pro-white and anti-others sub-frames. Tweets posted by white fans to twitter hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII (see below) typify the white racial frame and its sub-frames. For example, the director, producer, and writer of The Force Awakens, Abrams (a white Jewish American male) was targeted for allegedly endorsing “white genocide” given his racially diverse cast, including Nigerian descended British actor John Boyega in the secondary lead role.

A white racist framing was plainly evident in the whitelash against this casting of Boyega. #BlackStormtrooper is a hashtag related to virtual whitelash besieging John Boyega’s appearance as a Stormtrooper in the teaser trailer for the 2015 Star Wars. In November 2014, the trailer was released on the Movieclips Trailers YouTube channel. It opened with a shot of a Stormtrooper, played by Boyega, abruptly appearing on what appeared to be a desert planet. Twitter (most of whom appeared to be white male) users instantaneously started to comment on Boyega’s “race” with the hashtag #BlackStormtrooper, questioning the legitimacy of a black Stormtrooper. Shortly after, Boyega posted a message on Instagram thanking supporters of the new film. To those posting to #BlackStormtrooper, he simply said: “Get used to it.”

“#BoycottStarWarsVII because I am sick of muds being casted in white parts,” wrote #StopAppropriatingWhiteCulture. For this particular Twitter user—who identified “as a neoreactionary … with the Pro-Trump white supremacist ‘alternative right,’” and who earlier had tweeted that he hoped Trump would turn out to be a fascist —- Star Wars “belongs” entirely to whites. In response, a pop culture critic sort of agreed, writing:

[W]hen George Lucas made Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977, 99 percent of his cast was either Caucasian, or extraterrestrial aliens covered in prosthetics. “George, is everybody in outer space white?” John Landis says he asked Lucas after watching the first Star Wars. An emphasis on diversity increased as the sequels went on—Billy Dee Williams showed up in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, earning instant legend status.

The whitelash against Boyega’s casting also included important elements that Joe Feagin outlines in his white racial frame, including: racial stereotypes and prejudices; racial narratives and interpretations; racial images and preferred language accents; racialized emotions; and inclinations to discriminatory action. The broad framing also included an especially positive placement of whites as superior and virtuous (Feagin’s pro-white subframe) and an especially negative placement of racialized people as inferior and unvirtuous (Feagin’s anti-others subframes). Tweets included the following:

“Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White. #BoycottStarWarsVII #WhiteGenocide.”

“#BoycottStarWarsVII because it will be ghetto garbage.”

“#BoycottStarWarsVII – I know the trailer is short, but it’s pretty unrealistic that we don’t see the black guy committing murder or rape.”

““Diverse” casting is both a symptom of #WhiteGenocide, and a conditioning tool to help facilitate it. #BoycottStarWarsVII.”

To reiterate, the #BoycottStarWarsVII hashtag was purportedly created to incite a boycott of the 2015 film The Force Awakens. While Internet news media sources extensively reported that the hashtag was genuine, other commentators have surmised it was a ruse contrived to produce controversy. In October 2015 twitter user @DarklyEnlighten posted a tweet encouraging readers to boycott The Force Awakens because of the alleged absence of white lead characters and because of the casting of Boyega in the secondary lead role. @DarklyEnlighten tweeted for followers to create the hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII.

To some observers, #BoycottStarWarsVII was far more troublesome than a few white trolls; it was an exemplification of the poor state of U.S. race relations in the 21st century. African American activist and social commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson, author of numerous books on the black experience in the U.S., called the #blackstormtrooper remarks “alarming.” He viewed the virulent racist discourse on #BoycottStarWarsVII as yet another fervent example of how badly U.S. racial relations have deteriorated, starting with Trayvon Martin—the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed in 2012. The #blackstromtrooper comments “are indicative of just how polarized the discussion has become,” remarked Hutchinson.

Kimberley Ducey is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Winnipeg

Debating Racial “Microaggressions”

What constitutes a racial micro-aggression and when does it become a macro-aggression? Is the concept of micro-aggression misleading? Are they really macro-aggressions?

Following the Civil Rights era, second generation forms of discrimination replaced more overt, egregious acts of discrimination with subtle, repeated, cumulative exclusionary actions and behaviors. The term “racial micro-aggressions” was first introduced by Chester Pierce to describe the subtle insults experienced on a daily basis by black Americans. In his seminal work, Micro-aggressions in Everyday Life, psychologist Derald Wing Sue describes micro-aggressions as

brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership (p. xvi).

Sue introduces a taxonomy of racial micro-aggressions that include three categories: micro-assaults; micro-insults; and micro-invalidations. This taxonomy, while valuable in identifying the dynamics of everyday discrimination, does not yet provide clear distinctions by which to evaluate or differentiate the different types of aggressions.

Are micro-aggressions conscious or unconscious? Sue indicates that perpetrators of micro-aggressions are “usually unaware that they have engaged in an exchange that demeans the recipient….” (p. 5). Similarly, in his view, racial micro-aggressions occur “below the level of awareness of well-intentioned people” (p. 9). Yet when he differentiates the three types of micro-aggressions, he indicates that micro-assaults are “likely to be conscious and deliberate” and expressed as “explicit racial derogations” (pp. 28-29) whereas micro-invalidations and micro-insults are often unconscious.

The distinctions among the three types of racial micro-aggressions are also unclear. Sue gives examples of verbal micro-assaults as phrases like calling Chinese Americans “chinks” and gays as “fags.” He gives an example of a micro-invalidation as telling a Latino/a individual, “If you don’t like it here go back to your own country.” In another work, Microaggressions and Marginality, Sue provides an example of a micro-insult as when an African American student who has done outstanding work in his economics class is told by the professor, “You are a credit to your race.” He finds this to be a micro-insult rather than a micro-assault because it allows the perpetrator to adhere to his belief in racial inferiority, even if unconsciously and “denigrates in a guilt-free manner” (pp. 9-20). This example, however, seems to be at the very least a micro-assault.

Challenging Sue’s theoretical perspective, psychologist Scott Lilienfeld assails the micro-aggression concept as vague, subject to misinterpretation, and often referring to innocuous statements or what he terms inadvertent or unintentional cultural slights. He cautions against an overemphasis on micro-aggressions in diversity training, suggesting that such training can produce the opposite effect by increasing defensiveness by majority group members. Lililenfeld worries that the term “aggression” denotes negative intent and could cause pushback that would defeat the purposes of diversity training and cause the opposite effects. Further, from an empirical standpoint, Lilienfeld indicates that few studies have controlled for the experiences of the perceiving person, including that individual’s sensitivity, depressions, and other personality traits and attitudes. In addition, he notes that correlational evidence does not yet sufficiently support the causal link between micro-aggressions and negative mental health outcomes.

A new study brings greater clarity to these questions and probes the source and causes of micro-aggressions. The study focuses on whether or not slights or subtle derogatory messages delivered by majority group members to racial minority group members are symptomatic of more deep-seated racial animus and attitudes. Jonathan Kanter and colleagues surveyed a sample of 118 white, non-Hispanic students and 33 black students at a large public university and found a positive correlation between delivering micro-aggressive messages and the presence of racist attitudes. For example, when white students selected the item “a lot of minorities are too sensitive,” this selection was found to be the greatest predictor of negative feelings toward black students.

In seeking to understand this evolving body of evidence, Joe Feagin’s conceptualization of the underlying “white racial frame” offers a broad perspective and explanation for the manifestation of micro-aggressions. Feagin indicates that the white racial frame represents the composite of elements that come into play in everyday practice by those white individuals who seek to impose, emphasize, or retain racial identity. No one, in his view, uses the frame in exactly the same way. Each individual invokes a different internal hierarchy of selected racialized images, emotions, and ideas. Individuals can accept certain elements of that white racial frame while consciously or unconsciously rejecting others.

The “micro-” terminology itself seems inadequate in describing verbal and nonverbal acts of discrimination and hostility which often have long lasting and painful effects. In our survey study of diverse administrators in higher education, Alvin Evans and I found that the outcomes of acts of everyday discrimination can have lasting career impact. One of the most prominent examples is when Claudia, an African American administrator, was singled out by her white male supervisor while he was speaking during a staff meeting about African Americans in general. The supervisor uttered what Sue might term a micro-insult, “Oh, I don’t mean you. You’re different. You’re an Oreo.” He would often ask her, “How do black people feel about… “ (any number of subjects). Soon the supervisor would not take her phone calls or provide her with direction or feedback. He repeatedly tried to push her to the edge and force her to resign, sometimes calling her at 11:00 p.m. and giving her assignments due at 8:00 a.m. the next morning. Not long afterward, when Claudia would not comply with an unethical directive, he fired her and had security walk her off campus.

This example and others cited in our study suggest that research attention needs to focus on the material, social, career-related, and economic impact of micro-aggressions as well as the underlying causes of what Joe Feagin describes as the socially inherited white framework of numerous racialized images, emotions, stereotypes, and interpretations that give rise to day-to-day acts of exclusion.

The accumulation of micro-invalidations, micro-assaults, and micro-insults suggests patterns that require much further analysis as to whether they are conscious or unconscious–and whether their impacts on people of color are really “micro-” or almost always “macro-” We also need to study ways of coping and resistance that are effective in situations that involve power differentials between majority and minority group members in order to offer psychological support to those who experience everyday forms of exclusion.

Fanning the Flames of Intolerance and White Nationalism

During last night’s rally in Phoenix, Arizona, President Donald Trump further fanned the flames of intolerance and divisiveness—-flames that he has stoked and encouraged throughout his candidacy and presidency. Accompanied by individuals such as Ben Carson, the only black member of his Cabinet, and Alveda King, Martin Luther King’s niece, he appeared to try to offer an image of multi-racialism. It didn’t last long. Contradicting his own efforts at visual diversity, he deliberately mischaracterized his responses to white supremacist, Neo-Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia by omitting his repeated reference to “many sides” as responsible for the violence. Trump failed once again to even mention the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer, who was run down by a car in an act of domestic terrorism. Heyer believed in standing up for those who were not heard.

Calling those who would allow Confederate statues to be removed, “weak, weak people,” Trump asserted, “They’re trying to take away our culture, they’re trying to take away our history.” Perhaps most troubling of all was the response of what appeared to be an audience of mostly white supporters, who cheered vociferously in support of ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the implied commitment Trump made in the rally to pardon him. Arpaio was convicted of federal crimes and criminal contempt in defying a court order to end racial profiling tactics against Latinos.

The resurgence of white identity politics and white nationalism in America has brought to the surface what Leslie Picca and Joe Feagin term the “backstage” of two-faced racism. As demonstrated by their research sample drawn from the diaries and journals of over 600 white students from across the nation. On the frontstage white protagonists may present themselves as color blind in front of diverse audiences. But in backstage settings of all white audiences, individuals made blatantly racist comments, actions, and emotions. Such comments were “tolerated, if not encouraged—and sometimes even expected” (p. 91). Trump’s rants, provocative comments, and equivocation regarding white supremacy and the KKK, have energized his base, normalized racist speech, and made it socially acceptable to bring comments and actions from the white backstage to the more diverse frontstage.

Take, for example, the findings of a survey of 600 white, non-Hispanic American adults conducted in 2016 by Ashley Jardina, an assistant professor at Duke University. The participants rated on a scale of 0 to 100 to describe how warm they felt about the Ku Klux Klan and Trump. Surprisingly, 11 percent rated the Klan at 50 degrees are higher and nearly one quarter rated the Klan between 10 and 50. On the same survey, the researcher found that 40 percent described being white as extremely or very important to their identity and 54 percent indicated that whites have a lot to be proud of. In addition, white identifiers were more likely to believe that the increase of racial or ethnic groups is having a negative impact on American culture. They also tended to believe that America owes white people more opportunities than they currently have. These results are consonant with Trump’s lament about the loss of (white) “American culture” in the rally.

Feelings of fear and lack of safety among racial/ethnic minorities, immigrants, LGBT individuals, and members of Muslim and Jewish religious groups have increased under Trump’s administration. Incident after incident reinforces this feeling of alienation and a lack of safety among diverse individuals. A case in point is Trump’s sudden, unscripted twitter announcement that transgender individuals will not be allowed in the military.

Perhaps no more symbolic incident could represent the alienation of the Trump administration from cherished American values than Latino CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s recent interchange in a press conference with Trump’s white adviser Stephen Miller, in which Acosta quoted the Statue of Liberty’s inscription,

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Acosta was responding to the administration’s proposed skill-based immigration plan that would cut legal immigration in half and require that prospective green-card holders learn English before arriving in America. Acosta asked Miller,

Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you’re telling them, you have to speak English? Can’t they speak English when they get here?

When Miller drew on a standard white nationalist argument about the origins of the poem on the Statue of Liberty, saying the verse had been added later, Acosta replied,

You’re saying that does not represent what the country has always thought of as generations coming into this country. Stephen, I’m sorry, that sounds like some national park revisionism. The Statue of Liberty has been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country.

It is a time to be fearful for our democracy. It is a time to speak out for what we believe to be the values of this society. A friend recently reminded us of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s eloquent Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech:

It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed. [Wiesel continued]. . . how naive we were. . . the world did know and remain silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. . . . Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.

Liberal White Supremacy: Charlottesville and a Conversation with Justice

This past weekend, I was riding bikes with my ten-year old daughter, Justice, when she asked me what a white supremacist is. She had heard from her friend’s mom, a self-identified liberal, that white supremacists are people who think “whites” are better than anyone else. This prompted a long discussion between us about different types of white supremacists. When most liberals use the term “white supremacist,” they usually have a stereotypical image in mind of an uneducated, “white” southerner, who is an outspoken racist. They use offensive words regularly and are just not very good at hiding their racism. These white supremacists are psychologically useful to many liberal “white” people who want to divorce themselves of guilt and prove that they are good, non-racist people. These liberals subscribe to what Joe Feagin and Hernan Vera call “sincere fictions of the white self.” The ultimate goal of such individuals is to show that they are generally good people. They can easily do so by separating themselves from overt racists like the ones in Charlottesville. If they openly show their disgust of racist symbols, such as the confederate flag and the statue of Robert E. Lee, they can secure their place as non-racists. While it is important to challenge overt racism and racist symbols, it is equally important to denounce other more insidious and covert forms of racism in which liberal minded folks engage.

Liberal white supremacy is not outspoken. It manifests quietly in the kinds of acts liberals are quick to condemn and those they let slide. I see white supremacy in many of my liberal friends, who condemn the statue of Robert E. Lee and the confederate flag, but would never call their child’s principal or teacher a racist for promoting uncritical school celebrations of Columbus Day or Thanksgiving. To do so would make them feel uncomfortable and might put their children in an unfavorable position with school authorities.

So, every year, I find myself alone in challenging the school curriculum. The kind of homework Justice brought home in Kindergarten, which she immediately began to protest, included an endearing puppet of Christopher Columbus and a poem about how brave he was and how we should strive to be like him. Five years later, I went to Justice’s sixth grade orientation only to find a history textbook that portrayed Columbus sympathetically, noting a quote from his ship logs, where he describes indigenous people as: “Well-built people of handsome structure…and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts.” The book leaves out the part where Columbus stated, “With fifty men, we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” Not a peep from liberal parents. At most, they can muster an uncomfortable stare or a thoroughly disgusted “Tsk!” Still, few are willing to call the school officials, who condone this curriculum, racists. In our liberal town, there is a statue honoring Columbus with an inscription that reads:

CHRISTOPHER
COLUMBUS
DISCOVERER OF AMERICA
IN 1492
FORESIGHT-FAITH-COURAGE
DEDICATED TO THE VALLEY RESIDENTS
OF THE TOWNSHIP OF WEST ORANGE
NEW JERSEY OCTOBER 10, 1992

So, this was dedicated on the five-hundredth year anniversary of 1492. At the same time in Genoa, Italy 20,000 people took to the streets in protest of the quincentenary. Where’s the outrage among liberals in the Northern U.S. against this statue and others like it?

The same problem is present at school celebrations of Thanksgiving. One year, I witnessed kids playing and saying that they were Indians. My liberal “white” friend, who I know is someone that cares about social justice and vehemently denounces white supremacists in Charlottesville, corrected her daughter by telling her she should use the phrase, “Native Americans.” She kind of missed the point. A correction in words is not enough to challenge the racist ideology that encourages “white” children to see indigenous people as caricatures to play. This also connects to a school curriculum and media images that treat Native Americans as objects of the past.

Instead of protesting these issues and calling them what they are, racist, most liberals just go along with them. They don’t want to start trouble, when it is in their own backyards, so they remain silent and complicit in their everyday liberal white supremacy. However, in the case of Charlottesville, a place that seems far removed from liberal bubbles in the North, it is easy for these same parents, who refuse to speak up other days of the year, to condemn white supremacy. These liberals also have a special hatred for Donald Trump and a special love for Barack Obama. These political opposites serve the same psychological function for a lot of liberal “white” folks. Enthusiastically embracing Barack Obama allowed “white” liberals to prove they didn’t have a racist bone in their bodies in the same way that hating Donald Trump did.

Since the election of Donald Trump, it seems that identifying as a liberal has become, to some, a radical act. I want to caution my liberal comrades against this. Consider what Malcolm X had to say about “white” liberals and conservatives:

The white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative. Both want power, but the white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro’s friend and benefactor; and by winning the friendship, allegiance, and support of the Negro, the white liberal is able to use the Negro as a pawn or tool in this political “football game” that is constantly raging between the white liberals and white conservatives.

Politically the American Negro is nothing but a football and the white liberals control this mentally dead ball through tricks of tokenism: false promises of integration and civil rights. In this profitable game of deceiving and exploiting the political politician of the American Negro, those white liberals have the willing cooperation of the Negro civil rights leaders. These “leaders” sell out our people for just a few crumbs of token recognition and token gains. These “leaders” are satisfied with token victories and token progress because they themselves are nothing but token leaders.

The white conservatives aren’t friends of the Negro either, but they at least don’t try to hide it. They are like wolves; they show their teeth in a snarl that keeps the Negro always aware of where he stands with them. But the white liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro but pretend that they are smiling. The white liberals are more dangerous than the conservatives; they lure the Negro, and as the Negro runs from the growling wolf, he flees into the open jaws of the “smiling” fox.

The job of the Negro civil rights leader is to make the Negro forget that the wolf and the fox both belong to the (same) family. Both are canines; and no matter which one of them the Negro places his trust in, he never ends up in the White House, but always in the dog house.

Both types of white supremacy do not challenge the dominant white racial frame. In fact, they support it. Liberal white supremacists are concerned with finding evil racists that allow them to look good. They do not challenge the racial or economic status quo unless it is safe to do so and then only if it does not upset their social and economic positions. They would deny that they are white supremacists, because they do not say racist things, but they are just as culpable in maintaining the larger system of white supremacy.

Angie Beeman is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Baruch College. She is currently writing a book manuscript entitled, “The Limits of Liberal Ideology: Silencing Racism and Privileging Class in Progressive Movements.”

More White Assaults on Affirmative Action in Admissions

Led by President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the federal government has launched a frontal assault against the last vestiges of limited, race-sensitive affirmative action programs in college admissions. According to an internal announcement leaked last week to the New York Times, the Justice Department is looking for internal Civil Rights Division lawyers to work on

intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.

The announcement stated the project would be handled by the Division’s front office and essentially staffed by Trump’s political appointees, rather than by the Educational Opportunities Section of career civil-rights lawyers who normally address cases related to education. Upon further press inquiry, Justice Department spokesperson, Sarah Isgur Flores, said the purpose of the project was to “investigate one admissions complaint” filed on behalf of Asian-Americans, but the announcement was met with skepticism by career civil rights attorneys. Furthermore, the announcement stated that multiple lawyers were needed to work on “investigations” and requested that they submit resumes by August 9.

Trump and Sessions are playing on some of the public misunderstanding and confusion about affirmative action admissions programs in higher education. These programs are voluntary and represent the efforts of colleges and universities to create more diverse and inclusive campuses as well as to expand access and opportunity for historically underrepresented groups. These programs have been thoroughly vetted and tested by a conservative Supreme Court that has established a number of significant hurdles for colleges and universities in a series of cases culminating in Fisher v. University of Texas last year.

The new initiative by Trump and Sessions is deeply troubling for the following reasons:

1. This initiative seeks to eliminate holistic admissions review processes that would enhance campus diversity and yield the educational benefits for all students that the Supreme Court already has upheld as a “compelling state interest.”
2. It splinters minority groups by using Asian Americans as a proxy and pretext to overturn limited race-sensitive admissions programs. As Nancy Leong points out, “By framing opposition to affirmative action as concern for Asian Americans, opponents of affirmative action can protect the existing racial hierarchy — with white people at the top — while disguising their efforts as race-neutral rather than racially motivated.”
3. It unites the federal government’s legal strategy with the private legal efforts of wealthy, white elites who repeatedly have challenged race-conscious college admissions programs.
4. It does not address preference programs that favor alumni children and wealthy donors, groups that tend to be heavily and disproportionately white. Donald Trump himself is described as having benefited from the connections of his wealthy father in his transfer from Fordham University to the Wharton School as an undergraduate economics major.

Recall that just last summer the Supreme Court upheld the narrowly-tailored holistic admissions plan of the University of Texas at Austin by a vote of 4-3 in the appeal of Abigail Fisher in the Fisher v University of Texas at Austin case. Edward Blum, a wealthy white conservative entrepreneur and head of the one-person organization, the “Project on Fair Representation” founded in 2005, personally recruited Abigail Fisher, the daughter of an old friend, for this landmark lawsuit.

As Stephanie Mencimer points out, Blum is the brains behind the “effort to get the Supreme Court to rethink civil rights.” Blum has engineered at least a dozen lawsuits, four of which have made it to the Supreme Court, challenging what he perceives to be race- and ethnicity-based laws in voting, education, and contracting Blum guided the 2009 lawsuit, Shelby County v. Holder, that successfully challenged provisions of the Voting Rights Act and opened the door to voting I.D. requirements in Southern states. He has attempted to recruit Asian American plaintiffs in his suit against Harvard University, alleging that Harvard has held Asian American applicants to higher standards than other applicant. He has also filed suit against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for its own statements relating to black enrollment. Not content with the outcome in Fisher, Blum has also now filed a new lawsuit alleging that the holistic review process at UT-Austin subverts state law and will be pursuing this suit with the conservative Texas Supreme Court.

In Affirmative Action at a Crossroads: Fisher and Forward, Alvin Evans and I chart the progressive change in the interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by the Supreme Court from protecting minority rights to protecting majority interests in college admissions programs. The appointment of conservative judge Neil Gorsuch will only further solidify this direction. As Kristin Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law noted, Jeff Sessions

has a clear record of hostility to racial diversity. [She added] We will not stand by idly as the administration continue to hijack and obstruct this Division’s core civil rights mission.

In the view of leading scholar Carol Anderson, these new mostly white (male) assaults on affirmative action in college admissions build on white racial resentment and seek to punish minority achievement and aspiration. The attack on limited and legally compliant affirmative action programs designed to enhance racial diversity on college campuses is but another salvo in the (extraordinarily white) Trump administration’s clever strategy of pitting minority groups against each other in the effort to perpetuate division and thwart the inclusive goals of our pluralistic democracy.

Messy Truths about White Trump Voters

Van Jones, I would like to personally recognize you for your undertaking with concern to your exploration within the minds and souls of white Trump voters within your recent televised CNN series entitled, “The Messy Truth.” I get the intellectual journey you are on and appreciate your determination. I truly do. Unfortunately, in regard to the often glossed over purview of recent advanced racialized assessments related to the past electoral democratic debauchery, like many brash hired gun commentators on both the left and right who are propagated by the media to perform political illusion for the ill-informed passive thinkers—you are simply wrong. Your attempted psychological stretch to “make nice” and create an alternative narrative for Trump supporters ignores a hard reality that renowned influential intellectuals such Derrick Bell, Joe Feagin, and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva have discussed, researched, and proven time and time again—the dynamics of race are almost always present. The intellectual and scholarly fortitude of these men compels me to keenly point to those you wish to defend as guilty of participating in collaborative racism. Decisions to vote based on issues such as the economy, on the surface seem to have validity. But when looking not only closer with a critical eyes, but also to the results of the 2016 election, Mr. Jones and others have overlooked the dark shading of racism. In a Rolling Stone interview he argues that:

…progressives think that that all 60 million people who voted for him have signed on to an Alt-Right, white nationalist agenda…a lot of people held their nose and voted for Donald Trump – despite his bigotry, not because of it.

Thusly, he and his media kinspersons consequently advocate for the construction of “bridges” between progressives and Trump devotees.

I contend: Before building any bridges, the ground must first be examined for sinkholes before the golden keepsake shovel is pulled out for pictures. Before we as a nation move forward, we must first be brutally honest and face the ideological perspective, that even though many Trump supporters do not have a smoldering, smelling KKK hood placed in the backseat of their truck after the latest cross burning, their electoral actions, as argued by previously mentioned scholars, are more likely than not internally effected by a dark white-racist ideology that dates back to the first Dutch-flagged slave ship in 1619 Virginia. Their ability to essentially turn a blind eye to the documented psychological effects of media-covered incidents filled with hateful rhetoric–and at times physical violence toward historically marginalized people such as Muslims, Latinos, and Blacks–proves it so.

I am sure many of you are saying to yourselves, how does this apply to evidence provided by an NBC exit poll that explains “29 percent” of Latinos respectively voted for Trump? The answer is simple. It does not apply. Looking beyond the hyperbole and political spin, political scientists have vehemently argued and provided much evidence which proves the quoted Latino turnout for Trump was were wildly exaggerated. This entry is focused on arguments pertaining to phrases such as “sincere ignorance,” “self-hate,” and “conscientious stupidity” within a much longer argument.

But I digress. In terms of whites in America, many are under the false assumption that you are either racist or not. A little secret—-Racism is not binary. Any race scholar worth his/her salt knows that racism moves across an internal sliding scale. Some are blatant proud bigots who spew out epithets with no remorse, adopted an ideology inferiority toward those on the darker side, and practice national terrorism. Others are your uncles who have Black and Brown co-workers they like (he calls, “the good ones”), but also believe in the slogan “White Lives Matters.” In the end, when confronted with policies and groups that threaten their racial interests, all those whites along the middle to extreme fringe lines of the spectrum safeguard it with white-generated colorblind rhetoric and actions that speak to acts of racial criticism and/or ignore the plight and pains of those Americans of color that they see as potentially threatening their interests. But whites in general have come to the aid of people of color, right? Derrick Bell’s forwarded theory, “convergence interests,” argues that in general whites will support issues pertaining to racial justice for marginalized people of color only when that support “converges” with their interests. This has been proven from Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) to the current bipartisan push to change certain drug laws.

In the end, as Texas A&M Distinguished Professor Feagin argues, we live in a country that is infused with our forefathers-generated system of racism (systemic racial oppression) that was created to maintain modern capitalism and white access to power. In order to maintain power over non-Whites, a white rationale was created to drive and rationalize oppressive acts such as slavery. This rationale is wrapped in conscious and unconscious repeated organized and racialized stereotypes and racialized emotions that consequently foster discriminatory acts or racial justice “in-actions.”

The in-action to empathize with the fear and anger of those on the receiving end of the racial hate rhetoric of Trump and his supporters are examples of Feagin’s white racial frame. The absence of care toward the recipients of physical and psychological warfare created by the Hitler-saluting KKK and other white nationalists members make Trump voters guilty of consciously or unconsciously acting in accord to a transgenerational set of white-racist ideas whose ultimate goal is to maintain the historic U.S. racial hierarchy, while ignoring the pains of those historically seen as un-American, as alien.

If we are truly trying to come to an understanding regarding this racialized country or the racial ramifications related to the previous election, we as a country must be honest—Race Matters. Sorry, by ignoring it Mr. Jones, you have become not a facilitator, but another barrier to our country attaining true democracy for all.

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