Exposing the Real Guilty Party: School Funding and Racial Disparities

Progressive and mainstream media websites in the last few weeks have been abuzz with news of an African American mother in Ohio who was arrested, charged, sentenced to jail time and subject to a $30,500 fine for falsifying records to send her child to a high quality white school outside of her district, rather than the Black one to which her child was assigned. This story represents the pinnacle of racism in a society where, for minorities, sending your child to a school to which he or she might be able to gain access to a quality education is a crime.

We must look at the reason why this brave mother risked jail time to send her child to a white (read: better) school? How is it in America, parents who only want the best for their children have to lie about their address so that their children have a shot at the American dream? And why is no one talking about the fundamental reasons for educational inequality – the school funding structure that overtly privileges white children from wealthy families. This insidious racism masks inequality behind white picket fences, immaculately trimmed hedges and pristine landscaping. This façade allows us to ignore the fact that schools are funded based on the values of the homes surrounding them. No other nation in the world does this, and to such deleterious effect.

What this story has finally done is highlight the central cause of racial disparities in test scores and graduation rates – school funding, the one factor that seems to go ignored in much of the debate regarding “what’s wrong with our nation’s schools.” For the last six months, since the release of the Davis Guggenheim’s documentary, Waiting for Superman, TV, radio, and print news have interrogated the reasons for low minority performance. But only very rarely, have the ways in which we fund our nation’s schools mentioned. Instead, blame is usually placed on the usual suspects, those with the least power within the system – teachers , parents, and the children themselves. The racist school system, the one that has consigned minority students to inferior education since the moment African slaves arrived on America’s shores, is ignored. Many either believe that educational inequality was wiped with the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, or have forgotten that schools were shuttered in many states so that white children could attend “private” (though often covertly state-funded) schools and that Northern schools were not legally desegregated until the late 1960s and early 1970s. And although few white adults have children with friends of different races, we somehow fail to address the fact that our schools are now more segregated than before Brown and during apartheid South Africa.

The reason for this is a confluence of historical and contemporary factors, all of which are intricately woven into a tapestry of place-based racism that has left minority children isolated in urban areas with schools receiving a fraction of the money their peers receive in white areas. The racist policies of redlining and urban renewal trapped many African American in urban areas while restrictive covenants and sundown towns kept them out of suburbs, except of course to work for whites. Displaced into crowded ghettos and housing projects, Blacks lived in areas condemned simply for the color of the residents, rather than the quality of the homes (though this too was often inferior, and cost more than similar apartments in white areas). Those who did own their homes did so in these areas were homes were valued lower because of the “character” (read: color) of the neighborhood. Unable to buy homes in white neighborhoods, these towns have remained white, with high property values, resulting in much more funds available for the schools. In urban areas, where most people rent, values of homes are lower, and businesses receive tax cuts, the revenue simply does not exist to provide children with the same amount of money as their suburban counterparts. As a result, minority children in urban districts often receive a fraction of what white students in suburbs wear.

And these funding differences have real effects on students’ education and educational attainment, Minority students have more inexperienced teachers, older schools, less technology, more crowded classrooms, less playground space, and fewer basic resources such as paper, pencils, and books than white children. It was these resources that Ms. Kelley Williams-Bolar sought when she enrolled her child in a white school. Though recently released because her case was dismissed, she must spend three years on probation. More importantly, this episode raises the simple question of why, in the United States of America, minority parents must risk jail time and fines by falsifying student addresses to allow their children access to the same high quality education white children receive automatically. And why, when we discuss schools, do we blame everyone and everything but the inequalities that force minority parents to do this if they want their children to be well educated?

Celebrating Famous Klan “Wizard” on Miss. License Plates?

NPR has a story about reliving our history, that recalls the old saying from George Santayana that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it:

A fight is brewing in Mississippi over a proposal to issue specialty license plates honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. The Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans wants to sponsor a series of state-issued license plates to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which it calls the “War Between the States.” … “Seriously?” state NAACP president Derrick Johnson said when he was told about the Forrest plate. “Wow.”

Wow, indeed, for General Forrest was the officer in charge of the infamous 1864 Civil War massacre of black troops at Fort Pillow, Tennessee. He also was the first Ku Klux Klan “grand wizard,” when that white terrorist group was formed in Tennessee soon after the Civil War. And they want to celebrate a leader of terrorists trying to end Reconstruction and restore the old slaveholding elite’s control of the South?

All too many southern whites live in a collective world of historical fictions like this one, of Forrest as a “great military leader.” Instead, he was the leader of racist murderers trying to preserve one of the most brutal and racialized systems of oppression ever invented by men. After that war, he was for a time (he later resigned) the leader of white terrorists trying to restore the Old South’s totalitarian system.

And the “war between the states” is another romantic fictionalizing of the southern whites’ war against the federal union. This was a war of treason led by slaveholding white elites who, rather inaccurately, thought they could win the war against the federal union.

Apparently, some in every new generation of whites in the South and also generally in the white supremacist universe out on the Internet there have to parrot such discredited historical fiction. Why is that?

Canadian Institutions as Meritocracies, Canada has No History of Colonialism? And Other Myths

When Maclean’s magazine’s annual University Ranking was released in November 2010, reporters Stephanie Findlay and Nicholas Köhler interviewed students, professors and administrators concerning campus racial balance and its implications. The resulting story was titled: “Too Asian?”

Among those interviewed were Alexandra and Rachel, graduates of Toronto’s Havergal College, an all-girls private school. When deciding which university to attend they

didn’t even bother considering the University of Toronto because, according to the students the “only people from our school who went [there] were Asian. All the white kids … go to Queen’s, Western and McGill.”

A worldwind followed. Comments posted on the Internet and in other media suggested that by publishing the article, Maclean’s viewed Canadian universities as “Too Asian,” and/or that the editorial staff and writers held negative views of Asian students.

The editorial staff at Maclean’s promptly spoke out in response: “Nothing could be further from the truth,” they said, explaining that the title, ‘Too Asian?’ was a direct quote from the name of a 2006 panel discussion at the meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling “where experts examined the growing tendency among U.S. university admission officers to view Asian applicants as a homogenous group.”

The editorial staff went on to explain that

the evidence suggests some of the most prestigious schools in the U.S. have abandoned merit as the basis for admission for more racially significant—and racist—criteria.

They go on to state that “the trend toward race-based admission policies in some American schools [is] deplorable.” They then claim that Canadian universities select students regardless of race or creed.

In fact, this stance was distinctly stated in the original article:

Canadian institutions operate as pure meritocracies when it comes to admissions, and admirably so,

Findlay and Köhler wrote.

This Canadian cannot help but be reminded of the prevalence of such myths, which feature both nonsequitur and grotesque denials of historical (and current) injustices. Despite claims of race-neutrality as a preferred ideal, Canada is actually a racialized society – “race” remains a key variable in influencing people’s identities, experiences, and outcomes.

In addition to Canadian institutions purportedly operating as pure meritocracies when it comes to admissions, it seems that we have no history of colonialism either (insert sarcastic tone here). “We also have no history of colonialism,” says Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In 2009 the Canadian Prime Minister made the above declaration. And let us remember that this is the same Prime Minister who in 2008 made an official government apology for the residential school system that aimed explicitly to obliterate Indigenous culture and identity.

Such outrageous claims are evidence of profound ignorance and pervasive racism-fuelled historical amnesia and denial, which continue to plague Canadian society.

Kyla E. Doll and Crystal S. Van Den Bussche are undergraduates at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. Kimberley A. Ducey is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology, University of Winnipeg.

Latinos Account for Half of US Population Growth 2000-2010

The Pew Hispanic Center has a new (pdf) report that makes use of US census sources to estimate the huge role that Latino population growth played in the overall US population growth over the last decade, growth that the final Census figures will show and that will be used for congressional seat reapportionment:

Using 2009 population estimates from the American Community Survey, Hispanics accounted for 51% of the nation’s population growth since the 2000 Census, which counted 281 million U.S. residents. From 2000 to 2010, the nation’s population grew 9.7%. From 2000 to 2009 (the last year available), the Hispanic population grew 37%.

Since southwestern states with fast growing and ever larger Latino populations will get numerous new congressional seats from this census, it is likely that some of them will be substantially composed of Latino voters. Given that Republicans have regularly alienated Latinos with their anti-immigrant and nativistic rhetoric, these will eventually be very blue political areas — even red areas like Texas right now.

The official US population count for 2010 is 308.7 million people.

A Heritage of Freedom–For Canadian Whites Only

When we recently learned that 30 percent of immigrants are failing the Canadian citizenship test, we wondered how many Canadian-born citizens know enough about this country to qualify for citizenship.

All five of us were born in Canada. How would we rate as potential citizens?

We effortlessly figured out that “the right to ski anywhere in Canada” is not covered by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We were absolutely confident that “mow your lawn” is not one of the six principal responsibilities of citizenship. For the record, the six principal responsibilities of Canadian citizenship are: Obeying the law; taking responsibility for oneself and one’s family; serving on a jury; voting in elections; helping others in the community; and protecting our heritage and environment. The bit concerning the protection of Canadian heritage especially caught our attention, not to mention “helping others in the community.”

In the spirit of “protecting” Canada’s heritage and “helping others,” here are a few snippets from our country’s legacy we think all citizens should know:

The first federal anti-Chinese bill was passed in 1885. It took the form of a Head tax of $50 imposed, with few exceptions, upon every person of Chinese origin entering the country. No other group was targeted in this way.

In 1928, a government official envisaged Canada would end its “Indian problem” within two generations. Church-run, government-funded residential schools for Native children were supposed to prepare them for life in white society. The aims of assimilation actually meant destruction and desolation for those who were subjected to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Decades later, Aboriginal people began to share their stories and demand acknowledgement of — and compensation for — their stolen childhoods.

Twelve weeks after 7 December 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and later Hong Kong, the federal government, at the instigation of racist British Columbia politicians, used the War Measures Actto order the removal of all Japanese Canadians residing within 160 kilometres of the Pacific coast. The Canadian government claimed that Japanese Canadians were being removed for reasons of “national security,” despite the fact that the removal order was opposed by Canada’s senior military and despite the fact that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officially stated that Japanese Canadians posed no threat to Canada’s security.

Canada likes to think of itself as a sanctuary for the oppressed. However, the Canadian government did everything in its power to bar the door to European Jews trying to flee Nazi persecution.

In 1996, the last federally-operated residential school in Canada closed (Akaitcho Hall in Yellowknife). It is estimated that more than 100,000 Native children aged six and up attended the national network of residential schools from 1930 until 1990.

In Canada, we have “starlight tours,” an euphemism for the “non-sanctioned” police practice of taking Aboriginals to the edge of a town and abandoning them in freezing weather. In 2001, Amnesty International included freezing deaths resulting from these notorious tours in their report of international human rights abuses, marking the first time Canada joined the list. In fact, this list could probably go on forever. If we let it.

Welcome to Canada, the “great” white North (and we don’t mean “white” as in snow).

Tessa M. Blaikie, Kyla E. Doll, Crystal S. Van Den Bussche, and Natalia T. Ilyniak are undergraduates at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. Kimberley A. Ducey is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology, University of Winnipeg.

Britain’s Prime Minister Attacks Multiculturalism

According to MSNBC

Prime Minister David Cameron, in a speech attended by world leaders, on Saturday criticized his country’s longstanding policy of multiculturalism, saying it was an outright failure and partly to blame for fostering Islamist extremism.

Britian’s new parliamentary leader goes on to make this all about “Islamic extremism,” a biased and stereotyped framing of contemporary Islam seldom questioned in the mainstream media. Apparently operating out of a one-sided and highly stereotyped white Eurocentric framing of Muslims, he does not mention the increase in whites’ neo-Nazi and racist extremism in Britain or Europe, or indeed the recurring verbal and actual attacks by apparent Christians on ordinary Muslims in Britain.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also been making the same white-framed noises about the dangers of multiculturalism in Germany, not exactly the poster country for anti-racism and tolerance.

Cameron recently said that

Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.

Here is some old white-centric framing, with the “we” obviously not including the Muslim British folks, who are othered as a “they.” Presumably this means the “we” are the virtuous ones so central to the traditional white Eurocentric framing and the stereotyped “they” must confrom to this conception of (white European) virtue?

Is it only coincidental that Prime Minister Cameron made these inflamatory comments on the very day the far-right (“extremist” and probably Christian) English Defence League (EDL) had a racialized demonstration in racially diverse Luton? Notice too that Cameron did not call out or condemn this nativistic, anti-immigrant group for its intolerance and inflamatory actions.

One report also noted that

Stephen Lennon, the EDL leader, reportedly said of Mr Cameron: “He’s now saying what we’re saying. He knows his base.”

And, ironcially, when he was strongly criticized by human rights and Islamic groups, Cameron made this claim:

We don’t tolerate racism in our society carried out by white people; we shouldn’t tolerate extremism carried out by other people.

But I see no criticisms of white racism or the English Defence League in his statements recently. He does seem to have his conservative white base mainly and firmly in mind.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Absence of Revolution in 21st-Century USA?

Where is my revolution? Where is our lucid, incensed, uncompromising voice of change? Why are the streets absent of straight-faced people marching with signs bearing rhymes of discontent for injustice, inequality, and oppression? Around the globe, people see Egypt stands in the midst of revolt. Egypt was inspired by the Tunisian Revolution in December 2010, where demonstrators allied together to protest their government’s level of corruption, the present stranglehold on freedom of speech, state of unemployment, food inflation, and disastrous living conditions. Egypt citizens then committed themselves to at times peaceful rallies, marches, and civil disobedience. Revolution is alive in the streets of Cairo, Suez, and northern Sinai area of Sheik Zuweid.

Social networking sites such as Facebook have helped to organize thousands as they protect against a ruling government viewed as corrupt and ignoring the plights of the poor. Like dominos, other countries in the Middle East have risen up to demand change. The U.S. allied autocratic President Hosni Mubarak is currently feeling the pressure of demonstrators who are demanding that he step down from the presidency. In the reported repressive country of Sudan, requests over Facebook, by a group called Youth for Change, in the past two weeks have asked thousands of young Sudanese to come together in order to peacefully protest against the overall “political repression” and rising prices of sugar and fuel.

This increasing demand for governmental upheaval is nothing new to the world. For God’s sake, this country’s budge to become free of the British Empire during the American Revolution sparked the French Revolution of 1848. Within the U.S., history has witnessed numerous accounts of revolt. Social and economic based battles over the directions of government, their rules of law, and treatment toward their citizens have been fought in 1775 in Lexington and Concord, 1831 with Nat Turner, 1863 in Gettysburg, 1965 in Selma, 1970 at Kent State, in 1967 within the streets of Detroit, and on the democratic battlefields of Chicago in 1968.

That was then, what about now? Is everything so good in this country? Has Sir Thomas More’s fictional land Utopia become a reality? If I did not know any better, and under the influence of heavy narcotics, I would assume that 36.5% of children are not living below the poverty line. Maybe racism does not exist within the ever-increasing prison industrial complex that exercises modern day slavery for companies like Nordstrom, IBM, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Boeing, and Revlon in order to turn a profit. Maybe nothing is wrong with the increasing profit international gas companies are taking from people like you, your friends, and loved ones who losing jobs.

I must be wrong to think that something is amiss when it is cheaper to eat food that kills you than natural food free of toxins, hormones, and preservatives. I shutter to even broach the topic of increased state taxes from corrupt state governments (thank you Illinois) who are not even able to pay teachers, universities, and hospitals. But on the other dirty hand, they are able to look out for the business interests of the rich. Am I wrong to see these and other issues of concern that pull at my heart as worthy of discontent? Are they worthy of your anger? Are they enough for you to get out there and demonstrate for days at a time that require you to miss a few hours from texting? Please do not take my call to arms as a call to violence, looting, destruction of property, or beating up poor Anderson Cooper in the streets as done in Egypt.

I am calling for “Us” to step away from the new episodes of American Idol and the latest booty-shaking videos to tune in. I am calling for the so-called highbrow academics to not only write about injustice, but to organize. Volunteer with a group attempting to make a blow for social justice. Tune into the issues that plague our society and take a stance for I feel cheated. My parents had the 60s and 70s. What do I have? The Jersey Shores?

Universal Racial Justice: Priority #1

In response to a recent New York Times article entitled “Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above”, which suggests mixed race teens are “beginning to reject the “one-drop rule” and embrace their multiple racial heritages,” Tuesday, John McWhorter, conservative author of Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, wrote an article in The Root entitled “Let’s Stop Being Angry at Biracial People.” In typical McWhorter fashion, the author was very critical of Blacks arguing they are “adopting the racial-classification strategies of Strom Thurmond” and other white supremacist by encouraging biracials to identify as Black. McWhorter’s argument could not be further from the truth. Black animosity toward multiracials does not stem from internalizing white racist classification schemes. Blacks’ hostility toward multiracialism stems from biracials privileging their personal identities over the universal struggle of people of color against white supremacy. Supporting this claim, Natalie, a respondent in my current project looking at the multiracial movement, suggests:

They [the multiracial movement] need to become more aware of the politics of race in the United States rooted in equality concerns not cultural identity concerns. Cultural identity is fluid and highly personal, but racial justice is a need for the collective to embrace with an understanding of how nonwhites are viewed.

Natalie, as well as sociologists Rainier Spencerand Jared Sexton, suggests, the problems between biracials and Blacks are rooted in biracials placing a higher priority on personal identity recognition than on universal racial justice. McWhorter’s argument is based on a false assumption and only serves to frame Blacks as racist and pathological–as much of his work does. Arguing Blacks are the party championing racism, it is McWhorter who has embraced the colorblind lie and denial of the systemic nature of race in America.

In McWhorter’s argument, Black anger toward the multiracial project stems not just from accepting the white racist classification system, but also from deep feelings of self-hate. According to McWhorter:

That anger comes from insult — specifically, a sense that Troy must think he’s better than they are. After all, why couldn’t they just allow that Troy has had a different life from theirs? Or, more simply, open up to the obvious fact that some people are genetically (and culturally) more black than others? Those would be perfectly natural responses. Thinking that Troy looks down on you is just one alternative. And that alternative can feel natural only to someone who deep down does feel that being black is somehow lowly. [Emphasis added]

This excerpt reveals McWhorter’s assumptions about Blacks. In this statement it is clear McWhorter believes Blacks feel themselves to be a “lowly” and inferior race and thus perceive expressions of multiraciality to be offensive. However, as evidenced in their rich counter-frames, Blacks have historically maintained a positive self-image despite whites’ assault on their personhood.

It is whites who view blackness as a lowly status, not Blacks. The historical record shows McWhorter’s assumption of Black self-loathing to be clearly incorrect. After this assumption is shown to be false, McWhorter’s argument collapses. Once it is shown Blacks love themselves, McWhorter doesn’t have an argument because Black self-hate is the core of why he believes Blacks oppose multiracialism.. Therefore, biracials being encouraged to identify as Black is not an act of anger for “looking down on Blackness” or “letting racism win.” The frustration Blacks feel toward the multiracial project is a result of Blacks commitment to racial justice, not self-hate or internalizing racist classification schemes as McWhorter suggests.

Dis-Commemorating the Greensboro Sit-Ins: Whites’ Continued Rejection of the Movement

Greensboro, North Carolina, is considered the birthplace of the student lunch counter sit-ins of the early-1960s. This Tuesday marked the 51st anniversary of the proactive step planned and enacted by four African American male freshmen students at historically black North Carolina A&T State University on February 1, 1960, to sit resolutely in protest at the whites-only lunch counter at Woolworth’s, one of the city’s prominent five-and-dime stores. The “Greensboro Four” were Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, Jr. (later, Jibreel Khazan), and David Richmond, and a statue of them walking resolutely, shoulder-to-shoulder, has for 10 years now been displayed on NC A&T’s campus.

woolworth sit-ins

(Creative Commons License photo credit: charlie_combine)

Greensboro was not the first site of African American’s sit-in protests against whites-only public facilities; accounts of similar actions reach back decades prior. Nevertheless, the action by McNeil, McCain, Blair, Richmond, and the hundreds of other students who joined them in subsequent days, inspired a rapid implementation of sit-in protests throughout the segregated South within a matter of weeks. After nearly five months of strong resistance to let go of “local custom,” the white management of the Greensboro Woolworth’s finally caved and served its first seated black lunch counter customers (ironically, its own employees) on July 25, 1960.

February 1, 1960 was a historic moment in the American – and global – human rights story. And it is the sit-ins alone that make Greensboro a memorable city in the American consciousness. Many Greensboro citizens, especially African Americans, have embraced this identity of their city as the birthplace of the sit-ins, and this recognition led to the renovation of the original downtown Woolworth’s store into the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, which opened in 2010 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebration.

But what I have found in my interviews with older white residents of Greensboro, on the racial past including their memories of segregation and the civil rights era, is that the identity as an important site of civil rights struggles has been largely ignored or rejected by white Greensboro. It clashes with white Greensboro’s long-held notion of itself as epitomizing progressiveness, especially regarding race. In his excellent book on the civil rights era in the city, Civilities and Civil Rights, historian Bill Chafe calls white Greensboro’s delusion about its racial enlightenment the “progressive mystique.”

For my dissertation, I wanted to investigate how ordinary white people recall the racial past, so I came to a city known for its racial history. I’ve been living in Greensboro for a few years and have conducted in-depth interviews with dozens of lifetime white residents of the city, people old enough to have lived through Jim Crow segregation and the civil rights era.

When people described the actions of sit-in protestors, their portrayals were cursory and often dismissive. One woman in her 70s said:

They didn’t make any fuss or anything. They just got together and they just ambled in to Woolworth’s and asked to be served.

Saying that protestors “just got together” and “just ambled in” portrays their organizing as spontaneous, the implementation lackadaisical, and the backlash as insignificant. Virtually no one indicated that many white business owners fought hard, for months in many cases, to maintain segregation policies.

A few people credited the sit-in demonstrators for bravery, but there was very little willingness to promote the organizers to heroes, or people worth celebrating. A woman in her 80s said she would have been a superior protestor:

Had I been born black, I would’ve protested before they did. I would have. I have never understood how they had the patience as long as they did.

While acknowledging the inherent unfairness of segregation practices, this woman belittled those who she thinks waited much longer to act than her fictitious black self would have.

In these ways and more, the older white lifetime residents of Greensboro I interviewed demonstrated that they had not accepted their city as an important site of Civil Rights Movement activism. To fully embrace that identity, they would have to redefine themselves and loose their grasp on this belief that (white) Greensboro had for centuries been “good to the blacks,” a diamond in the rough city that the rest of the region and nation could hold up as a model of racial progressiveness.

This exchange with a married couple illustrates well just how adamantly some white Greensboro residents reject the notion that their city should be known for the sit-ins:

Wife: That museum should be on the campus of A&T, where the students came from, not in downtown Greensboro. . . . And I’m not against the museum . . . but it should be down on the campus where the A&T students were, and have it as a commemoration to them.

Husband: Isn’t that statue of the four down on campus? Me: Mm-hm. Wife: You see, put the museum down there with that.

Me: Do you have any pride that the sit-ins happened here. Wife: No. Me: and that they started sit-ins all over the South?

Wife: I thought it really started out in Omaha, Nebraska, is what I heard and that they did not get the publicity Greensboro got. That’s what I’ve heard. Now I don’t know how true that is. I’ve tried to look it up on the computer, and I hadn’t been able to trace . . . No, I’m not proud of that, no. No, we have other things to be proud of. O’Henry was born here, Dolley Madison was born here. Okay? Yes, Edward R. Murrow was born here. We are very proud of those citizens, absolutely. I admire these four young men that took the initiative for the sit-in. I admire their courage for it.

Husband: Took a lot of guts.

Wife: but these other people are to be admired more for what they did and the legacy that they have left for us.

Me: Why is that?

Wife: Well, Dolley Madison was the wife of our fourth President! And she was born out here near Guilford College. So Dolley was quite a lady. O’Henry is known for his short stories. They’ve been translated into many, many, many foreign languages, and he was born here outside of Greensboro. Edward R. Murrow, who was the leading commentator and correspondent during the Second World War, he was born here in Greensboro. These are the people that really accomplished an awful lot. We had other people that accomplished things. We had another black man who did an awful lot for the city of Greensboro, Charles Henry Moore, who is not very well known, but he was a teacher and professor at the colleges here. He was instrumental in getting Bennett College established in Greensboro. He was instrumental in raising money for the black hospital, L. Richardson Hospital. He opened the door for a lot of the blacks and unfortunately he is not remembered like these other people, but he contributed a lot to improve their way of life.

This woman argued that Greensboro’s sit-ins should not be commemorated because she “heard” they began elsewhere first, and, if commemorations are designed, they should be sequestered on the campus of NC A&T. She refused to view civil rights actions as a movement that significantly improved African Americans’ “way of life” or left a “legacy” for the city and beyond.

In my research I have found that a great many whites today are unable or unwilling to extend genuine respect and admiration for African Americans, especially activists from civil rights and post-civil rights eras. They refuse to acknowledge that black Americans have contributed, perhaps more than anyone else, to the expansion of our most dearly-held American values of “liberty and justice” and that these gains have benefited all citizens, including whites. In rejecting the reality that the Jim Crow society whites had formed was inherently unjust, they can continue to deem whites as virtuous and African Americans as second-class citizens.

It continues to be a radical act to challenge white racism openly in the U.S.A. And, unfortunately, it is also a radical act to commemorate those moments in our history that exposed and weakened the contradictions between our American pride and our American racism. Let us continue, in the spirit of February One, to be radical by remembering well and taking collective action.

Extreme Racist Stereotyping on BBC Show: Mocking Mexicans

The hosts (h/t Carson) on the very popular and often rowdy BBC show “The Gear” let loose with one of the more racist-stereotyped contemporary tirades against Mexicans that I have ever seen. See here from youtube.
(Source: Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VH5omPNwlc&feature=player_embedded)

Notice that these whites cover many of the standard racist images constructed in the old white racial frame over the long history of the oppression and domination of Mexicans by whites in North America. Mexicans are stereotyped and mocked as lazy, feckless, liking certain “odd” foods like refried stuff (and the British should talk about odd foods?), somehow favoring blankets and sleeping, being linked somehow to cactuses, being incompetent in regard to making good products. Somehow waking up Mexican is also thought to be bad, and funny. Presumably their defense, the standard one these days among whites, is that they were “just joking.” Joking or not, repeating these racist frames, with emotions and host and audience laughter (Loud laughter, notice), only reinforces it in the brains of all those in earshot.

Notice too here the other side of the white racist framing, the great virtue of whites and whiteness, and white made (German, Italian) stuff. Once again, whites are the norm, but remain unstated and the unreflective standard.

I guess they have not gotten the message that all people are due respect and that the old extremist racism is not only “bad form,” but bad for a little island of whites in economic trouble now set in a rising political-economic world that is overwhelmingly not white–and not fond of whites’ historical and contemporary racial oppression in any of its nefarious forms.

There is an effort to protest The Gear’s racism using these addresses:

By email/telephone
tgweb@bbc.co.uk or call 020 8433 3598

Or mail:
TopGear.com, Second Floor A, Energy Centre, Media Centre, 201 Wood Lane, W12 7TQ