McCain & Stephanopoulos Spread White Supremacist Talking Points about Obama

After parroting in his debate questions last Wednesday several issues raised long ago on white supremacist websites–about Senator Obama’s outspoken former pastor and about a tenuous relationship some time back with William Ayers–George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” today asked Senator McCain (image from here) about Obama’s “patriotism.” This setup allowed McCain too to parrot the supremacist websites’ continuing theme about Ayers–and thus to move the white supremacist websites’ theme into the Republican mainstream. The interview discussion on Ayers is remarkably long and telling. Here is only a short part of it:

MCCAIN: I’m sure he’s very patriotic. But his relationship with
Mr. Ayers is open to question. And that….[Why?]

MCCAIN: Because if you’re going to associate and have as a friend and serve on a board and have a guy kick off your campaign that says he’s unrepentant, that he wished bombed more. . . . But how can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings which could have or did kill innocent people…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama says he was eight years old when that was happening.

MCCAIN: But he became friends with him and spent time with him while the guy was unrepentant over his activities as a member of a terrorist organization, the Weathermen. I don’t — and then to compare him with Dr. Tom Coburn, who spends so much of his life bringing babies into this world — that, in my view is really — borders out outrage.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He also pointed out that he and Mr. Ayers have a very loose relationship. They live in the same neighborhood. There was an organizing meeting many, many years ago, in his house. And he says, frankly, I don’t agree with these comments that Mr. Ayers made.

MCCAIN: Doesn’t agree with them? Does he condemn them? Would he condemn someone who says that they’re unrepentant and wished that they had bombed more — and compare him to a doctor, one of the great humanitarian — in my view, one of the greatest spokespersons for the rights of the unborn in America?

Actually Senator Obama has condemned Ayers’ views and actions, which happened nearly 40 years ago when he was young, yet the white attack machine still is intent on fronting the white racial frame and thus, again and again, making Senator Obama the “dangerous black man.” This Ayers issue is old and irrelevant since (now respected education Professor) Ayers has not endorsed or worked for Obama as a presidential candidate, and is only a onetime acquaintance, and it has indeed been on white supremacist websites for a great many months. Fox News seems to have been the first to pick it up, then ABC News last Wednesday, and now the Republican candidate for president.

So this is how much of the extreme framing of a Black candidate appears to work in this still-racist society: White Supremacist assertions => Fox News assertions => ABC News assertions => a Republican Senator running for president parrots the assertions without questioning. I wonder why there is no serious mainstream media questioning of the likely source of the original assertions or their political validity.

Data on Students of Color And the Politics of Affirmative Action

           Diverse Issues in Higher Education has a major story on the numbers of Black, Asian, Latino, and Native American students graduating from our higher education institutions. You can find their data for the top 100 colleges and universities here. The article on these graduation numbers begins with some interesting historical data:

Who were Alexander Lucius Twilight and Mary Jane Patterson? If you know, you are an excellent candidate for the “Jeopardy” category, “African-American firsts.” Knowing the topic of this edition of Diverse, you can probably guess the answer: “They were the first African-American male and female to be awarded bachelor’s degrees by a U.S. college or university.” Can you guess the years and colleges? For Twilight, it was in 1823, from Middlebury College. Patterson graduated in 1862 from Oberlin College.

Then they raise a very serious issue that has been debated in recent years, especially among educators and in African American communities:

But despite the 39-year head start, males now represent a minority of bachelor’s degree recipients among African-Americans as well as within other racial/ethnic groups.

This reality and its link to other issues of the systemic racism faced by African Americans in education has, so far as I can tell, not been seriously addressed in the current Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns. Indeed, last Wednesday, at the Obama-Clinton debate we got this commentary on affirmative action:

SENATOR OBAMA: So I still believe in affirmative action as a means of overcoming both historic and potentially current discrimination, but I think that it can’t be a quota system and it can’t be something that is simply applied without looking at the whole person, whether that person is black or white or Hispanic, male or female. What we want to do is make sure that people who have been locked out of opportunity are going to be able to walk through those doors of opportunity in the future.
SENATOR CLINTON: Well, here’s the way I’d prefer to think about it.
I think we’ve got to have affirmative action generally to try to give more opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds — whoever they are. That’s why I’m a strong supporter of early childhood education and universal pre-kindergarten. . . . So that’s how I prefer to think about it. You know, let’s affirmatively invest in our young people and make it possible for them to have a good middle-class life in today’s much more competitive economy.

Even as many African American students (and many other students of color) still face huge obstacles to getting a good education, including from direct racial discrimination and hostile racial climates in historically white colleges, as well as from the indirect effects of nearly four centuries of systemic racism (such as underfunded urban schools and community colleges), the two Democratic party candidates for president seem to be backing off on aggressive affirmative action directed especially at those who are major targets of racial discrimination, including African Americans. They seem to want to accent “class” over “race,” even though the data coming in on class-oriented approaches show they are not as effective as direct attempts to remedy the effects of racial discrimination. Is this yet one more signal of the white-washed character of this election as the candidates tiptoe around systemic racism issues (except for one very good speech by Senator Obama)?

The Racist Memoir that Fooled the NYTimes

John Gorenfeld has a thorough and rather delightfully arch vivisection of the racist memoir (via Alternet) that most recently fooled the New York Times (and a bunch of other people) called Love and Consequences (book cover picture here, image from here).  Gorenfeld writes that once the memoir was revealed as a fake, the publisher pretty effectively pulled all the copies, but he managed to get his hands on a copy somehow.   He provides a chapter-by-chapter account of some of the more egregiously racist tropes in the manuscript.  Allegedly written by Margaret B. Jones, it was actually the work Margaret Seltzer, raised in a middle-class white home in suburban Los Angeles.   From Gorenfeld’s analysis of chapter three, ‘Start from Scratch’:

“1982. Margaret ticks off L.A. highways as she’s driven to her new home in the vicinity of Slauson and Central avenues, but the journey sounds more Mapquest than memory. Then, with the arrival of Margaret’s new caretaker, Big Mom, the narrative detours from N.W.A.’s Greatest Hits territory into the world of Aunt Jemima fantasies. It doesn’t take an African-American Studies major to get bad vibes from the stereotypical treatment of the saintly mammy. Big Mom has no interests of her own; she wears an austere white dress on the book cover, calls everyone “child,” and asks the Lord: “I know you don’t give me more than I can handle, but please, sweet Jesus, help me with these youngstas.”

Everyone else speaks in what Times critic Michiko Kakutani called “colorful, streetwise argot”: nigga this, you’ze a punk-ass that. Kakutani also called the book “humane and deeply affecting.”

By now, even on the book’s own terms, it’s barely working as a memoir, in which someone thinks about their life. Instead it’s like a doll’s house of African-Americans, displayed for us in supposedly authentic glory.”

After going through several more chapters like this, then Gorenfeld writes, “Sad to say, it just gets worse.”  Finally, he offers this cogent analysis drawing on the world of participatory fan fiction:

“In the world of Internet fan fiction — in which amateur fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other shows imagine new adventures, they have a derisive term, the “Mary Sue Story,” for wish-fulfillment that crosses the line. That’s when a certain kind of fan breaks the rules and makes herself the hero, fascinating everyone, saving the world.

This story, about a white girl who makes black people happy by escaping from their ghetto, is a Mary Sue story about race. And people ought to be upset that it passed for realism.” [emphasis added]

There are lots of things one could say about what this latest episode of a supposedly true memoir that turned out to be fiction says about our culture, but I want to focus on where Gorenfeld ends: with this notion of a “Mary Sue story about race.”    First of all, the notion of a “Mary Sue story” is one that seems predicated on a particular construction of white femininity, less the usual trope about helplessness, instead, it is one that is more like Florence Nightingale or Joan of Arc or Scarlett O’Hara, the white woman who “makes herself the hero, fascinating everyone, saving the world.”   Second, the way that the crudest sort of racist stereotypes in this putative memoir got read as authentic by critics at the New York Times speaks to the power of the white racial frame as the predominant lens through which elite whites (such as those at the Times) try to make sense of ‘race.’ And, third, while Gorenfeld doesn’t pick up on this, there are powerful connections in the text he quotes between race and gender.  Not only is the text steeped in racist stereotypes, it also trades on a particular form of gendered racism in which white women are heroic figures, Black men are configured as ‘dangerous gangstas’ and Black women as long-suffering maternal figures.   That Seltzer, aka Jones, wrote such a story should surprise no one; that she was able to sell it to an agent, a publisher and the New York Times speaks to the depths of whites’ racial illiteracy.

White Supremacy Online in Global Perspective: Castells Revisited

Renowned sociologist Anthony Giddens has compared Manuel Castells’ trilogy, The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture, to Max Weber’s classic Economy and Society. One of the problems with writing a 1,500 page, three volume tome is that people are often daunted by the task of actually reading the work. Originally published beginning in 1996, Castell’s volumes were prescient in their anticipation of the enormous impact of the Internet and globalization on everyday life. However, as I was re-reading Volume II: The Power of Identity book coverrecently for reference in my own work, I was struck by what Castells misses in his analysis of what he refers to as ‘the Patriot movement’ in the network society. He starts out this volume with the premise that:

“Our world, and our lives, are being shaped by the conflicting trends of globalization and identity” (p.1).

And, in this, his point is similar to Benjamin Barber’s Jihad vs. McWorld. In these two possible political futures— “both bleak, neither democratic” — Barber sees “McWorld” as a commercialized, homogenized, depoliticized, and bureaucratized future while “Jihad” is parochial, tribal, and fractitious. In both Castells and Barber, globalization is allied with tolerance while identity is implicated in racism. In his Power of Identity, Castells explicitly takes up the issue of white supremacists, globalization and the Internet in a section called, “Up in Arms against the New World Order: the American Militia and the Patriot Movement in the 1990s” (pp. 84-97, Indexed ref’s to “white supremacists” p.86, p.92). The primary source for this section according to footnote #18 (p.84) is the 1996 Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Klanwatch/Militia Task Force,” cited extensively throughout the chapter as KMTF, now published online (and in print) as The Intelligence Report. There are a number of other sources that Castells draws on for this section, most notably Ken Stern’s A Force Upon the Plain (1996). Castells uses these sources to make four points about the ‘Patriot movement,’ including: 1) it is an extreme libertarian movement and the federal government is their primary enemy; 2) more than the federal government, the ‘new world order’ (i.e., globalization) is seen as an ominous threat; 3) the movement features a backlash against feminism, gays, and racial/ethnic minorities; and 4) it promotes an ‘intolerant affirmation of the superiority of Christian values’ (pp.92-94). Castells’ larger point here is that this movement (along with the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo, the religious cult responsible for the sarin gas attack on the Toyko subway in 1995) is a reactive movement, reacting against globalization. In this way, he casts ‘the Patriot movement’ as resistant to the more cosmopolitan strains of globalization; similar, again, to the Jihad side of Barber’s equation, set against McWorld.

There are several problems with Castells analysis for understanding white supremacy online in global perspective. Continue reading…

Mayor Daley on Senator Obama and Prof. Ayers

Mike Dorning and Rick Pearson, of the Chicago Tribune’s Washington Bureau, today quoted Chicago’s mayor on the “dangerous” friend of Senator Obama’s, Illinois Professor William Ayers — the man that ABC and Fox moderators, and many white supremacist websites, have gotten very excited about. They begin thus:

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, whose father was famously not so sympathetic to anti-war protesters, is coming to the defense of Barack Obama for his friendship with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers.

And then they quote Chicago’s moderate Mayor Daley (pictured here, image source):

There are a lot of reasons that Americans are angry about Washington politics. And one more example is the way Senator Obama’s opponents are playing guilt-by-association, tarring him because he happens to know Bill Ayers. I also know Bill Ayers. He worked with me in shaping our now nationally-renowned school reform program. He is a nationally-recognized distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois/Chicago and a valued member of the Chicago community. I don’t condone what he did 40 years ago but I remember that period well. It was a difficult time, but those days are long over. I believe we have too many challenges in Chicago and our country to keep re-fighting 40 year old battles.

Indeed, people do change and grow. White supremacist websites, and their followers now in the mainstream media, have yet to learn that lesson.

They also seem locked into arguments about guilt by association, but only for a Black candidate. Once again, they seem to accent the “dangerous black man” imge of the hoary white racial frame. Indeed, where are the similar 40-year-old stories on “wild” acquaintances of Senator McCain?

ABC Debate Moderators Parrot White Supremacist Websites on Senator Obama

As I predicted they would do in January, the traditional news media tonight have made yet more racist attacks on Senator Obama, attacks that have been on white supremacist websites now for months. First they intentionally distorted and misrepresented the rather old sermons of his former pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright. It appears that the hidden purpose of these media attacks is to do the dirty work of the conservative political attack machine and its aggressively white-racist agenda—to suggest in nonblack minds the old white racial frame’s image of the “dangerous black man.” Tonight at the ABC (“news”) sponsored-debate the ABC moderators, such as George Stephanapolous pictured above(image source), pressed Senator Obama about his onetime modest acquaintance with former radical activist and now University of Illinois professor William Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground (which bombed federal buildings to protest U.S. overseas actions in the 1960s era).Here is a report on the debate as covered at :

Obama is getting understandably exercised: “He lives in my neighborhood, he’s a man I know, he’s not someone I’ve received an official endorsement from or exchange ideas with. The idea that just because I know a guy who did something 40 years ago, that somehow that reflects on me and my values doesn’t make much sense, George.”

Clinton: “I believe that Senator Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers, and continued to do so after 9/11 and after his purported comments [that he wishes the Weather Underground had done more], which many New Yorkers found offensive…I think it is, again, an issue that people will be asking about…This is an issue that certainly the Republicans will be raising.”

Obama: “Let’s not forget that Senator Clinton’s husband pardoned two members of the Weather Underground.”

Yet again, Obama makes the obvious point that this relationship was modest and is old and of no political importance today. He does not agree with anything these radicals did, and never has.

Notice Clinton piling on here with conservative talking points. The ABC moderators also brought up Dr. Wright, and Senator Clinton mentioned Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, both apparently attempts at stigmatizing Senator Obama yet more firmly as a “dangerous black man” and playing into the nearly four centuries old white racial framing of Black men (see here for research on these issues).

We can see again just how openly viciously racist this campaign already is, and will yet be. And how hard it will be for Senator Obama to be elected president in this officially “colorblind” but still extremely racist country. Again, in my view, only aggressive anti-racist action across the nation can stop these highly racist media and other organizational attacks.

Sources: Diverse Issues In Higher Education

Diverse: Issues In Higher Education (formerly Black Issues In Higher Education) is a useful resource for those seeking information about racial and ethnic issues in higher education. Here is part of their formal statement:

The key to the achievement of this goal is knowledge and information about higher education. And when it comes to providing the information that underpins this, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education has been at the forefront for the past twenty years. . . . . Since its founding in 1984, Black Issues In Higher Education (which is now Diverse) has been America’s premier news source for information concerning these vitally important issues. That the magazine received the 2002 Folio award as the best education publication in America only attests to how well we have carried out our mission of being the most reliable source for those who understand the importance of these issues.

In a recent article they discuss racial and ethnic research centers, including one at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that grew out of an idea that I (full disclosure!) suggested to the provost there:

During this historic presidential election campaign, remarks with racial overtones have made headlines, offending some voters and garnering sympathy from others. The candidates have been required to interpret, explain, apologize for, denounce or distance themselves from these statements and those who made them. The missteps in the discussions about race at the highest levels of leadership in this country show the enormity and the complexity of the task faced by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society. As a component of UIUC’s diversity initiative, the university established the center five years ago with the mission of producing “vigorous scholarly and public debate on the multiple racial contexts of democracy” and analysis of the “national dynamics of racial divisions and of democratic possibilities.”

They add that this increase in racial and ethnic studies centers is not limited to Illinois:

Brought forth by other universities and researchers along the same lines, race and democracy research centers have been established at other universities, including Stanford University, Texas A&M University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Part of the job of these centers is to begin telling the truth about American history and our racial and ethnic history,” [Joe] Feagin says. “As a country, we have not faced our history.”

More Illiteracy about Our Racial History has a nice summary of the flap over an Absolut Vodka ad (image from here), one made by a major European company. The ad:

shows a historical map of the Mexico before Texas’ Independence and the Mexico-US War of 1846-48 had occurred. The offending map showed when the American Southwest – Texas, California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and part of Wyoming – as we know it, belonged to Mexico. It was not until the signing of “Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo” that not only ended the war, but also defined our present-day borders. The ad was created by TBWA’s Mexican advertising firm Teran/TBWA. A year ago, Absolut vodka’s embarked in a new campaign strategy, breaking away from the old bottle series. The new Absolut World campaign invites the consumers to imagine their idea of a perfect world; a world that possibly wouldn’t take place but only “in an Absolut World.” The ad was solely geared toward the Mexican market.

This ad has stirred up a hornet’s nest on the anti-immigration sites and among nativist groups, as xicanopwr continues:

This all began when conservative columnist Michelle Malkin decided to use the ad to whip up anti-Mexican sentiment by dubbing the ad “Absolut Reconquista.” Soon after, the US media outlets noticed the ad. The outrage by the nativist over this ad has caused inspired an anti-immigrantion, FIRE Coalition, to start anti-Absolut website called The group also created a new web ad depicting an “Absolut World” as today’s borders with a giant fence between the US and Mexico. The nativist group is also asking people to boycott Absolut Vodka and is demanded that person who approved an ad be fired.

There is considerable anti-immigrant nativism here, as well as an ignorance about US history and how our imperialistic map got that way. The fact that most (especially white) Americans do not know, or prefer to forget, their brutal and imperialistic history in regard to Mexico makes it easier to rationalize these nativist attacks on an ad with an accurate map of what was once northern Mexico.

In April 1846 President James Polk, seeking to gain “all Mexico” (as he and other U.S. imperialists said), sent U.S. troops into an area (“Texas”) recently taken by force from Mexico, and then on into an area of the borderlands he knew Mexicans had long treated as sovereign territory. Polk intentionally provoked a border clash between U.S. and Mexican troops, an incident that enabled him to claim, falsely, that Mexico had started a war. Later historians have linked this trumped-up war to the imperialist and racist notion that the U.S. had a right to move into Mexican territory as part of its “manifest destiny” to rule over “lesser” peoples.

This imperialist notion rationalized the desire of many European American invaders for unjust enrichment in the form of land. Indeed, the border area where the first skirmish took place soon became the home for very large Anglo cattle ranches. In 1845 jingoistic journalist John O’Sullivan coined the “manifest destiny” phrase, when he wrote in the United States Magazine and Democratic Review that:

“Our manifest destiny is to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”

Together with many other European Americans, O’Sullivan argued that the U.S. government had a mandate to take the U.S. way of life to “backward” peoples such as Mexicans and Native Americans.

However, ironically, during and after the Mexican-American war some white southerners were concerned that too many of these mixed-race people might be brought into the United States. During congressional debates over annexing Mexican territory, prominent Senator John C. Calhoun argued that the U.S. had never:

“incorporated into the Union any but the Caucasian race. . . . Ours is a government of the white man. . . . in the whole history of man . . . there is no instance whatever of any civilized colored race, of any shade, being found equal to the establishment and maintenance of free government.”

In his view, as well as well as that of other whites, the “colored and mixed-breed” Mexicans were unacceptable in the “free” United States. Thus, the first Mexican residents of the United States did not immigrate, but were brought into the new nation by violent conquest during the Mexican-American War of the 1840s. With the end of the Mexican-American war came the incorporation of more than a hundred thousand Mexicans. They were forcibly absorbed into the expanding U.S. empire, which now encompassed a large portion of what was northern Mexico. White politicians and economic entrepreneurs sought to dominate the entire continent. In this they were very successful. Indeed, it is the European Americans who today are “aliens”–the descendants of invading “aliens” who took over northern Mexico by force. (For references on much of this history, see, among numerous places, here.)

Homeless Youth in NYC: Disproportionately Black, LGBT

The Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services has just released a new report most comprehensive study of youth homelessness in New York City in decades was released recently, providing what some say is the first realistic account of one of the city’s most vulnerable and misunderstood populations. This is a subject near to my heart since I do a lot of volunteer work (and, in true sociological fashion, a research project) with these folks. The reason I mention this report here is that it’s both fascinating from a sociological standpoint, and deeply disturbing from a racial justice perspective. From a sociological research perspective, it’s a huge methodological challenge to even count homeless youth because they aren’t easily identifiable (on purpose) and they don’t conform to the prevailing cultural image of what a homeless person looks like. Here’s a relevant excerpt pulled from City Limits:

“One of the things young people are very good at is fitting in. It’s much harder to identify youth homeless on the street,” said Hirsch. She recalled one young homeless person who used to get dressed up to sleep on the subway, so as not to let on that he was homeless.

And, from a racial justice perspective, it’s telling that homeless kids are from “marginalized populations,” again from City Limits:

“One of the report’s most striking findings, say youth service professionals, is the significant overrepresentation of certain marginalized populations among the ranks of homeless youth in the city—particularly those who identify themselves either as black, or as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), or those who have experience in the foster care and criminal justice systems. Almost half of respondents identified as black and close to a third identified as homosexual or bisexual. More than a quarter reported time spent in foster care, jail or prison. ….Additionally, half of the young people interviewed for the report did not have a high school diploma or GED.”

There are a number of things to note here. Perhaps the first and most obvious is the total, systemic failure here of multiple institutions (economic, religious, familial, political, educational, criminal justice). To continue stating the obvious, these institutional failures have the strongest impact on those in society who are the weakest and most vulnerable – young people. In addition, there are lots of ways overlapping systems of oppression are at work here, including racism and homophobia. Unfortunately, the way this report is written it makes it sound like “black” and “LGBT” are separate categories – as if these kids are either black or LGBT – and as I and Adia have written about here before – this kind of “either/or” thinking doesn’t help clarify but rather clouds our understanding of the way oppression works. For my experience working with homeless kids who identify as LGBT here in New York City, they are overwhelming Black and Latino. Often times what this means is that these are kids who are not only pushed to the margins of society because of race and poverty, but they’ve also quite literally been pushed out of their families’ homes and onto the streets because of gender/sexuality, that is, because they identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual or they are gender-non-conforming in one way or another.

In my view, religious institutions have a special burden to bear in perpetuating these overlapping and interlocking systems of oppression. It’s frequently the case that parents who have pushed their children out of the home and onto the streets refer to religious edicts or “God’s will” when doing so, citing highly-regarded religious leaders (even those formerly in the Hitler youth).  Government institutions add to this burden as they refuse to fund places that house homeless LGBT-identified youth, citing the “lack of gender segregated facilities” as a reason. In a facility that houses Black and Latino youth, pushed out of their homes, pushed out of the traditional shelter system (where they often encounter violence based on gender-identity and/or homophobia), and frequently pushed out of foster care for not conforming to gender norms, it’s hard to know what meaningful purpose is served by offering a ‘gender segregated’ facility. (And, indeed, it would be hard to know how to enforce such segregation for people who embody a more complex gender identity than a simply binary of “either/or,” male/female.) So, it’s organizations like MCCNY, part of the world’s largest queer-organization (yes, a religious organization) and one of the rare racially-integrated social institutions in the U.S., that take up the slack here by opening their basement to allow a few kids each night to get off the streets and sleep inside, have a hot shower, and a meal. (Pictured here: an illustration of the disparity between the number of homeless LGBT kids each night in NYC and the number of available beds, photo credit: Jessie Daniels).

The further irony is that the racism, class-based elitism and well-founded anti-religious sentiment among most affluent and white gays and lesbians, makes private fund-raising for homeless LGBT kids that’s housed in a church a decidedly uphill struggle. Thus, kids of color who identify as LGBT face multiple vulnerabilities that are rooted in interlocking systems of oppression. The combination of racism and homophobia pushes many of these kids into further vulnerability for health risks and violent attacks, as this article explains:

“A nationwide study of homophobia in schools found that the majority of GLBTQ youth of color had experienced victimization in school because of either race or sexual identity in the last year, while half reported being victimized because of both race and sexual identity. More than a third of GLBTQ youth of color had experienced physical violence because of their orientation.”

The fact is that racism, poverty and homophobia are damaging. And, these damaging consequences are all the more telling in the lives of homeless youth in New York City.

O’Reilly Lectures Blacks: Racial Illiteracy Again?

         On his “Talking Points Memo,” a few days ago, Bill O’Reilly decided he has the knowledge and experience to lecture African Americans as a group for generating “race baiters” and for “accusations of racism.” He begins with this commentary:

As we’ve been reporting, millions of Americans of all colors are fed up with race baiters and accusations of racism. This vile stuff has been going on far too long. And now with the Wright controversy, critical mass has been reached. Here is a partial list of people that Jesse Jackson’s organizations have labeled racist: President Bush, President Bush the elder, President Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Don Imus, Trent Lott, Gary Hart and Jeb Bush.

He continues in this vein listing folks he thinks are “race baiters” and then comes up with this naive generalization:

Secondly, African-Americans should realize that this stuff drives good people away from constructive dialogue that might advance racial harmony in America. The race baiters and the profiteers actually hurt minorities by inhibiting sincere discussion.

So, let me understand what he is saying. We have African Americans on the one hand, and then we have good people on the other. It appears that only whites can be good people here. And blacks are most of the “race baiters.”

It is interesting that nowhere in the commentary does he lecture the majority of whites–including some he mentions as being accused (fairly in some cases) of racist commentary or discriminatory actions—the whites with whom he clearly has had much more experience, for continuing to create and perpetuate a U.S. society with high levels of subtle, covert, and overt racism. The evidence that the white majority still think and act in racist terms—and are the real problem in “inhibiting sincere discussion” and in preventing “racial harmony”–is rather clear. The evidence of continuing white racial hostility and discrimination in housing, employment, policing, education, media, and politics is easy to find, but somehow uninformed media commentators like O’Reilly seem uninterested in finding it and, indeed, in ending the substantial racial hostility and discrimination — the “realities of racism”–that are still pervasive in this country.