Stop, Frisk, Collect Data: NYCLU Files Suit Against Racially Biased NYPD Practice

Since 2004, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has stopped and interrogated people nearly 3 million times, more than 80 percent were black or Latino. The names and addresses of those stopped have been entered into the department’s database, regardless of whether the person had done anything wrong. Last year, NYPD officers stopped and questioned or frisked more than 575,000 people, the most ever. Nearly nine out of 10 of those stopped and questioned by police last year were neither arrested nor issued a summons.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court for New York County on behalf of what may be more than 100,000 New Yorkers whose personal information is being kept in the NYPD database even though state laws require that all police records of their stop-and-frisk encounters be sealed and not be available to any public or private agency. The lead plaintiffs are two New York City residents who have been stopped and frisked by police officers, issued summonses, and subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.

The lawsuit asks, among other things, for an injunction requiring the NYPD to seal all records, including personal information in the stop-and-frisk database, of people who were stopped and frisked, were arrested or issued a summons, and whose cases ended either in dismissal or only the payment of a fine for a noncriminal violation. NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the City of New York and several unnamed police officers are listed as defendants. Here’s a short video clip (2:43), produced by the NYCLU, that gives some more background:

In the second chapter of her book, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander offers a detailed analysis of how “stop-and-frisk” practices, like the one in place in New York City, have taken precedent over the constitutionally protected right against unlawful search and seizure (Fourth Amendment). Alexander writes that these sorts of practices are part of the apparatus creating a new caste system, a caste system of black and brown people trapped in permanent, second-class status.

While the NYCLU’s lawsuit, even if successful, will not entirely dismantle ‘the new Jim Crow,’ it is a step in the right direction.

Immigrating the “Right Way”: The Saga of “Illegal” Tyson Nash

On the May 21 issue of the Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini narrates the travails of Tyson Nash, the current hockey analyst for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Nash is a Canadian citizen who has lived in the U.S. for 15 years but does not have a green card. In other words, Nash is an illegal.

Nash has been trying to immigrate, as Montini calls it, “The Right Way,” but has been frustrated by the official bureaucracy and his status of immigrant remains.

Montini laments Nash’s difficulties. After all, Nash has been a good father to his American-born children, a good (if “not quite legal”–Montini’s words!]) citizen, a steady worker and a good tax payer.

Curiously, this characterization contrasts with the widely-held portrayal of the Latin American illegal as one who abuses public assistance and is an inconsistent worker who pays no taxes.

Montini left out several important points from his encomium. Nash is an illegal who has received princely treatment. Unlike most “not quite legal” (“illegal”) immigrants from Latin America, Nash need not worry that immigration officials will show up at his workplace to arrest him despite his open admission of being an illegal.

He has no reason to fear that a police officer will profile him and stop him for a putative traffic violation in order to check his immigrant status. Nash is immune from local Sheriff Arpaio’s antics. Nash’s offspring will never be dubbed “anchor children.”

Why? Nash is white and such are the advantages of being white.

Illiterate Rand Paul’s Racist America: A Recollection of Real Jim Crow

Here is a personal testimony and historical accounting about the world the openly segregationist Rand Paul and his (literally) “Confederates” wish to see in the US, one where whites (especially white men ) trample the rights of Americans of color and others to dignity and equality guaranteed by all serious bills of human rights. This is by an African American blogger at DailyKos, Meteor Blades, and right on target.

If Paul and his confederates want to overcome their extreme and apparently intentional historical illiteracy and racist philosophy, they might start by reading some of this serious history of Jim Crow, here and here.

Rand Paul Exposes Dangers of Colorblind Thinking

Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul has drawn a great deal of recent attention for his comments that had he been in the Senate in 1964, he would have argued against key portions of the Civil Rights legislation under discussion. In his own words:

“I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race.

But I think what’s important in this debate is not getting into any specific ‘gotcha’ on this, but asking the question ‘What about freedom of speech?’ Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don’t want to be associated with those people, but I also don’t want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that’s one of the things that freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn’t mean we approve of it.

Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says ‘Well no, we don’t want to have guns in here’ the bar says ‘We don’t want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.’ Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion…”

As his statements, made first to a local newspaper, repeated on NPR, and quoted here from an interview on MSNBC, make clear, Paul’s argument is not that he is opposed to the entire Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nor does he contend that he, as an individual, personally would engage in discriminatory actions or behaviors. In fact, in his interviews (and follow up ones designed to minimize the political fallout from his statements) he has explicitly stated that he does not consider himself a racist and abhors racist behaviors (although there’s some evidence suggesting otherwise). He does, however, believe that the federal government overreaches when it attempts to place any curtails on private businesses, and has articulated this belief on several occasions and in various contexts. Thus, in keeping with libertarianism, he is ideologically opposed to any federal government legislation that purports to interfere with private enterprise, even if that private enterprise engages in racial, gender, or any type of discrimination that would be illegal in the public sector.

Rand Paul’s statements illustrate more clearly than any academic exercise ever could the dangers associated with what sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva describes as colorblind ideology. In recent work, Bonillla-Silva argues that racialized social systems are comprised of economic, social, political, legal, and ideological structures that maintain racial hierarchies (and inequalities). He argues that in modern society, the mechanisms that maintain racial hierarchies are much less visible and overt than in previous generations. Thus, segregation is no longer codified and legally protected, but it still exists in educational and residential settings due to more covert processes like white flight and gentrification. Correspondingly, the dominant racial ideology in many public settings is a colorblind one, where whites (and some people of color) purport not to notice, observe, or think about race or racial issues. Conveniently, this reluctance to acknowledge race means there is no need to address whites’ racial privilege and/or the ensuing racial inequality that results. As Bonilla-Silva argues, those who use the colorblind ideology are able to employ a discourse where they take no notice of the processes that maintain various forms of racial inequality, and can thus comfortably state their opposition to any efforts to rectify them.

When Rand Paul takes libertarian ideology to its logical conclusions, he reveals the ways in which colorblindness works to maintain a racially unjust status quo. If the central tenet of libertarianism is no federal government oversight of the private market, then the logical conclusion of that idea is that the federal government should not involve itself in legislating constraints on private businesses, even if this leads to practices like racial discrimination.  The consequence of this ideological argument, however, is that it maintains a larger system where racial discrimination goes on unchecked.

If private enterprises are legally permitted to discriminate, history shows us quite clearly that they will. In fact, a cursory review of social science literature and recent news stories reveals that even with discrimination illegal in the present day, some private businesses still manage to practice it.  It was only a short while ago that black children were sent home from a private pool in Pennsylvania because they were “changing the complexion.”

So, when Rand Paul endorses a libertarian ideology that champions minimal or nonexistent federal oversight of the free market, he either ignores or doesn’t care about the fact that in the U.S., that “free market” he longs to protect has never been all that “free” for people of color. As Joe Feagin argues with his expansion of the legal concept of “unjust enrichment,” many white-owned businesses engaged in protected “free market” practices have built their wealth off of the appropriated, often forced labor of people of color. Strongly enforced anti-discrimination laws would have been beneficial to black Americans excluded from jobs, Chinese immigrant workers who were routinely paid less than their white counterparts, Japanese American citizens snatched from their homes and livelihoods and interned in concentration camps, Native Americans whose residential and economic isolation helps to make them disproportionately represented among the nation’s poorest, as well as a host of other groups.

But a colorblind libertarian perspective ignores the embedded racialized inequities of the private market and pretends that it is simply neutral, objective, and beneficial to all. Case in point: the libertarian counterargument—that those denied services in discriminatory private markets are free to take their business elsewhere or establish their own—also ignores the deep structural racial inequities that shape U.S. society. In other words, black patrons who are, en masse, discriminated against at white-owned businesses do not live in a society where they have equal access to banks, capital, and other resources that allow them to build competing structures. This has never been the case. By design, the United States has never been a place where black businesses have flourished by relying on both the forced labor of whites and black-dominated federal, state, and local governments that legitimize such racially unbalanced labor practices. Instead, when discrimination is legal in the U.S., blacks simply become an economically disadvantaged, socially subordinate, politically marginalized minority group in society. This isn’t academic speculation; it is a recounting of the facts of U.S. history during the era where public and private discrimination was legal.  These facts still have an impact racial disparities in health, education, income, and wealth to this day.

Finally, when Rand Paul says that “these are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion,” he shows how colorblind ideology ignores the real ramifications racism has for various groups, particularly those who are targeted by racist practices. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he meant that the conversation he was having with Rachel Maddow was “not very practical” because, as he went on to say the next day, the Civil Rights Act is settled law and (hopefully) not likely to be repealed.

However, even if Paul was simply engaging in theoretical exercise and discussing the logical ends of libertarian philosophy, he still reveals a profound ignorance of the realities and impact of racial discrimination on real human beings and his fellow citizens.  There are plenty of people still alive today who have first-hand experience of  legally enforced segregation and discrimination.   For those citizens who lived through segregation and struggled against it to see the triumph of the passage of the Civil Rights Acts, to now hear a candidate for U.S. Senate blithely suggest that on ideological grounds, he opposes the legislation that protects their legal right to be served in restaurants, hotels, gas stations, educational facilities, and any other privately owned entity must feel as though they’ve stepped back in time.

At best, Rand’s theoretical opposition is callously insensitive to the lived experiences and collective memory of his fellow Americans. It also underscores the perils of pretending that colorblindness in a racially stratified society is an ideologically equitable position.

Rand Paul: Resetting the Civil Rights Clock Back 120 Years

In case you missed it, Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate from Kentucky, son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, has been getting a lot of press in the last day or so for his views on civil rights. The junior Paul, like his father, is a committed libertarian in his views of the government, and his comments recently on the Rachel Maddow show illustrate just how problematic such a stance is for civil rights. In this clip, Rand Paul effectively resets the clock on discussion about civil rights back about 120 years (video is on the long side, 19:35, but worth watching):

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As you might imagine, Rand Paul’s comments have ignited discussion in the blogosphere and Twitterverse. One of the most cogent observers is Prof. Blair L.M. Kelley (@profblmkelley), a scholar who has studied the Civil Rights Movement. Prof. Kelley offers a thorough analysis of Rand Paul’s nonsense in this piece at Salon.

Coming soon, Prof. Adia Harvey-Wingfield, professor of sociology at Georgia State University, will offer her own analysis here at Racism Review of Rand Pauls’ recent comments. Check back soon.

Dan Fanelli, Racial Profiling, and Whitewashing Terrorism: How Racial Fictions Become Racial Realities

It was only a matter of time.

Shortly after Faisal Shahzad was indicted on charges for the foiled Times Square car bombing, Florida GOP primary congressional candidate, Dan Fanelli, publicly endorsed racial profiling to combat terrorism. Fanelli released two campaign messages at his website entitled “Simple Facts” and “Simple Facts II.” (These advertisements are also available at “Simple Facts” and “Simple Facts II”).

While Fanelli’s concern for safety from terrorism may be a legitimate one, his solution is nothing short of racial tyranny, or what Tim Wise labels “The Tyranny of Common Sense” ( “The Tyranny of Common Sense: The Faulty Logic of ‘Terrorist’ Profiling.” Pp. 128-132 In Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflection from an Angry White Male, Tim Wise, (Ed.), Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press, [2005] 2008. “The Tyranny of Common Sense: The Faulty Logic of ‘Terrorist’ Profiling.” Pp. 128-132 In Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflection from an Angry White Male, edited by Tim Wise. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press.. Fanelli suggests that terrorists have a profile, and it is only common sense that this profile be targeted. In these recent ads, the line between “Arab-looking” men and terrorists is blurred, and Fanelli leads his constituency to believe these two are one in the same. All the while, Fanelli symbolizes white heroism and righteousness as he vows to protect “America” from Arab-looking men flying planes into buildings. His solution: Stop political correctness, end the invasion of privacy (e.g. supposedly unfair screening processes), and racially profile those who look like terrorists.

This, however, begs a fundamental question: What does a terrorist look like? According to these ads, they are dark-skinned, Turban-wearing, Arab-looking men who look similar to Shahzad or the 19 al-Qaeda members that committed the atrocities of 9/11. For Fanelli, these acts of a few individuals are justifiable grounds to profile a group that comprises millions of people. According to Fanelli, it’s just common sense. However, his common sense is nothing short of a gross overgeneralization that unjustly targets innocent people.

Racial profiling not only targets innocent people, but it fails as an effective counterterrorism tactic. Despite the fact that terrorists come in many different shades, Fanelli casts a picture that relies upon one-dimensional anti-Arab stereotypes. Even the al-Qaeda network, which Fanelli alludes to with a Twin Towers reference, is a global network comprised of decentralized terrorist cells (Howard, Russell and Reid Sawyer. Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Understanding the New Security Environment, Readings and Interpretations (2nd Edition). Dubuque, Iowa: McGraw-Hill, 2006.). Its vast presence transcends boundaries of racial identifiers such as skin tone and physical appearance and ethnic identifiers such as language or “Arab-sounding” names. In short, racial profiling is based on ill logic, and it is not a reliable tactic.

Though Fanelli suggests that it will enhance safety, racial profiling could have the reverse effect as intended.  With attention diverted to “Arab-looking” men, “closet terrorists” who don’t fit the profile might be overlooked. For example, consider the most recent successful terrorist act on American soil. This atrocity was committed by Joseph Andrew Stack, a software engineer enraged over U.S. tax policies and the federal government in general. His rage drove him to crash a plane into Austin’s IRS building this past February.

Ironically, in one ad Fanelli jokingly says that if “good-looking, ripped guy[s] without much hair” were hijacking planes and flying them into buildings, then he’d have no problem being profiled. Did I mention that Stack was an older white man without much hair, and as Jon Stewart satirically points out, looks striking similar to Fanelli? However, Fanelli does not seriously suggest that white men ought to be racially profiled. And virtually no other public figures make this suggestion either.

But why? It certainly is not because there’s been a shortage of isolated terrorist acts committed by white men. Other atrocities in recent history include terrorist acts committed by Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, Eric Rudolph, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine, and most other school shootings. And unfortunately, this list goes on. Despite these examples, Fanelli incessantly suggests racially profiling “Arab-looking” men is the answer to preventing terrorism.

In the short run Fanelli’s scapegoating tactics may get him elected, but in the long run they have much larger implications. These ads operate as a narrative that reinforces what Joe Feagin labels the dominant white racial frame (The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Framing and Counter-Framing, New York: Routledge, 2010). This frame contrasts a positive orientation of whites with a negative orientation with racial “Others,” and it helps whites (and others) process their everyday racial world. Through narrative, Fanelli’s ads legitimize a particular type of information that perpetuates racial oppression.

Fanelli discourages his constituency to critically think about terrorism and the limits of racial profiling. He does this by including the atrocities of 9/11 that were committed by “Arab-looking” men and excluding examples that counter his narrative. Through the evocation of anti-Arab resentment and fear of terrorism, Fanelli’s ads encourage audiences to ignore inconvenient facts of recent racial history and selectively remember others. This, in turn, legitimizes negative Arab stereotypes and problematizes an entire group of people.

All the while, these ads reinforce “sincere fictions of the white self” by legitimizing romanticized stereotypes of white heroism and innocence (Feagin, Joe, Hernán Vera, and Pinar Batur, White Racism: The Basics (2nd), New York: Routledge, 2001). These stereotypes are reinforced when Fanelli self-proclaims his heroism by vowing to protect “America” from terrorists and when the other unnamed white man is casted as an innocent bystander, subjected to intrusive safety screening processes. Consequently, these ads not only scapegoat one group, but they exonerate and glorify another, particularly whites.

For those who care about living in a racially just world, Fanelli’s ads pose a serious problem. Their effectiveness depends upon many whites, and others, to adopt the dominant white racial frame. In doing this, Fanelli’s message persuades many to live in what Charles Mills calls a “racial fantasyland” (The Racial Contract, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1997). And if people believe in such a racial fantasyland as though it were real, recognition of past and present racial realities remain out of reach.

    ~Kasey Henricks, Master’s Student, Sociology Department, Loyola University Chicago

    Pew Poll: Americans Support Police-State-Like Tactics on Immigration

    The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press has recently released a national opinion poll (done on on May 6-9, 2010) on the general public’s reactions to the Arizona immigration law (SB 1070), which makes being an undocumented immigrant traveling in or through Arizona a major crime under state law. Here is their summary and here is the full report.

    The key and actual questions are these:

    Q.10 The state of Arizona recently passed a law dealing with illegal immigration. As I describe some parts of the
    law, tell me if you approve or disapprove of each. [The three percentages are for these responses, reading from left to right: approve, disapprove, don’t know/other]:

    a. Allowing police to question anyone who
    they think may be in the country illegally: 62% 35 3

    b. Requiring people to produce documents verifying
    their legal status if police ask for them: 73% 23 4

    c. Allowing police to detain anyone who cannot
    verify their legal status: 67% 29 4

    On the face of it, these survey data are pretty chilling, with a very substantial majority of the general population supporting key aspects of laws like that in Arizona. On another question, 59 percent of those polled say they approve of the new Arizona law.

    More than two thirds buy into the conservative argument that police have a right to act on their own subjective hunches that a person is in the country illegally. In the Southwest this means routine racial profiling, as white residents will almost never be “thought to be in the country illegally.” Indeed, as legal analyst and scholar Michelle Alexander shows in her great new book, The New Jim Crow, the not so secret “secret” of everyday practice in all major aspects of our criminal justice system is that this system routinely and demonstrably (from tons of research) operates in an well-institutionalized racist fashion, with whites with power (especially police officers, prosecutors, and judges) able to pretty much discriminate against working class Americans of color with impunity — and with the backing of numerous recent court decisions by our arch-conservative Supreme Court (perhaps our most undemocratic political institution). People of color are easily targeted when the Supreme Court and the congress back up routine discrimination in the streets. The subjective “thinking” of police and other criminal justice officials is now the criterion of “justice” when it comes to many crime policing and prosecution decisions.

    The second question’s and third question’s huge positive responses might, however, have been different if the supportive respondents (especially the majority of white respondents–Pew does not give a racial breakdown) had routine experience with being mistreated or harassed by the police seeking such information–like many Americans of color. Also, I wonder how they would feel if they were taken to jail if they did not have their key documents (birth certificate?) with them, as this law requires. Apparently a driver’s license is not enough. (Have you ever gone out on the streets without key documents?)

    The increasing public support of essentially police-state tactics over the last decade (notice that the large, mostly white employers are not principally targeted–the easier way to stop immigration?) is one of the chilling things about this supposedly “post-racial” America. (Related issues in some of the likely police stops out of this law seem to be the fourth amendment’s protections against government searches without specific evidence and without warrants, and the fifth amendment’s protection against self-incrimination, and its a person shall not “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Have these also been nullified by the routine operation of the justice system, including recent Supreme Court decisions?) Actually, we have now quickly gone to the post-post-racial America.

    Revisiting the Kenneth Clark Study: White Racist Children, a Surprise?

    CNN has had a University of Chicago professor, Margaret Beale Spencer, to test 133 black and white children (in two groups, one 4-5 and one 9-10 years old) in eight schools in New York City and Georgia, to see their preferences for white and black skin, a sort of contemporary testing of issues that psychologist Ken Clark raised many years ago – and that were used in the famous footnote to the Brown decision. The CNN website gives this summary:

    Spencer’s researchers asked the younger children a series of questions and had them answer by pointing to one of five cartoon pictures that varied in skin color from light to dark. The older children were asked the same questions using the same cartoon pictures, and were then asked a series of questions about a color bar chart that showed light to dark skin tones. The tests showed that white children, as a whole, responded with a high rate of what researchers call “white bias,” identifying the color of their own skin with positive attributes and darker skin with negative attributes. Spencer said even black children, as a whole, have some bias toward whiteness, but far less than white children.

    Spencer adds this point:

    “What’s really significant here is that white children are learning or maintaining those stereotypes much more strongly than the African-American children. Therefore, the white youngsters are even more stereotypic in their responses concerning attitudes, beliefs and attitudes and preferences than the African-American children.” … Spencer says this may be happening because “parents of color in particular had the extra burden of helping to function as an interpretative wedge for their children. Parents have to reframe what children experience … and the fact that white children and families don’t have to engage in that level of parenting, I think, does suggest a level of entitlement. You can spend more time on spelling, math and reading, because you don’t have that extra task of basically reframing messages that children get from society.”

    Well, whites invented and maintained the system of racial oppression, and its rationalizing white racial frame, with many anti-black and anti-other stereotypes–and lots of pro-white stereotypes as well. So, the white children get a much better “education” in racist stereotyping 101. And the Black children are having to fight back against this white racist framing of both virtuous whiteness and negative stuff about their own group. And of course black parents and children have to reframe this racist stuff. There is a strong, 380-year-old black counter frame against the white racial frame, in much of black America. Apparently, psychologists do not think much in historical and structural terms, or read research on systemic racism and the old white racial frame.
    Then there is this comment in the CNN article:

    Spencer was also surprised that children’s ideas about race, for the most part, don’t evolve as they get older. The study showed that children’s ideas about race change little from age 5 to age 10.

    Again, there is some good sociological literature over the last decade that shows just how early white children learn the white racial frame of African Americans and other Americans of color – which CNN and these psychologists might well have consulted too.

    The Missing Latinos: Racial Bias in Political Science Textbooks

    The 2000 decennial census counted just over 35 million Latinos, persons whose national origins (or whose ancestors’ national origins) are in the countries of Latin America—that is, much of the Caribbean, Central, and South America. This figure is estimated to have grown by 2010 to about 47 million. These Americans are increasingly voting in large numbers, and are having ever more significant effects on US politics, as in the 2008 election. Over more than five decades now, they have already had important impacts on US civil rights and political issues. Yet much of social science seems to have missed this message–this proverbial Elephant (actually, more like Democratic-Donkey) in the room.

    A report at summarizes recent research by Jessica Lavariega Monforti and Adam McGlynn, professors at the University of Texas (Pan American) that found little discussion of Latinos, Latino civil rights movements, Latino civic organizations, and Latino politics in 20 textbooks used in basic political science classes in the U.S. Here is the summary of one key finding:

    In 20 of the textbooks, the pages focused on any Latino political issues was less than 1 percent. (Latinos currently account for about 15 percent of the U.S. population, a share projected to double by 2050, the authors note.)

    On specific issues such as labor and civil rights movements, and key politicians, there is little substantial discussion:

    Many of the texts discuss César Chávez, but for most that’s about it for sustained discussion of Latino civil rights leaders or movements. The Latino civil rights movement is portrayed as “a few random events, not as part of an overall movement,” the article says. Key figures like Dolóres Huerta rarely appear. Only three of the textbooks studied explained terms such as “Chicano” or “Brown power.”

    Clearly, these are the main books (often only books) the “best educated” Americans read in college years about how U.S. political institutions and politics have developed over time.

    I have been writing about these issues in my racial and ethnic relations textbook for decades now, so I know from personal research that such material on Latino civic and political issues is not hard to find.

    This ignorance and downplaying of not-white histories and realities seems to be a matter of mostly white political scientists looking at U.S. society from the old white racial frame. A key feature of that frame is not just its negative, distorted, and ignorant views of people of color, but also its central focus on the supposedly great virtues of white values, views, and institutions.

    In this case, I suspect that these political science textbooks, like many in other social sciences, accent the “greatness” of white-created institutions, such as the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate, etc – all of which were given to us by the elite white male, often slaveholding and slave-supporting, “founders” who dominated our constitutional convention.

    We have been faking democracy ever since that very undemocratic 1787 convention.

    Americans of color have had to struggle politically and in civil rights movements against these often undemocratic US institutions. In that process they have often made this country a bit more civil-rights-oriented and a bit more democratic. Their great democratic struggles most certainly should be central in major social science textbooks dealing with US political and civic organization issues.