Sunday, August 13, 2017

Disavow Now!

I am angry, but then again, I’ve been angry for quite a while now. America voted a racist into the White House, the place he calls a dump, which was built by slaves. He led the charge against the Central Park Five, even after they were proven innocent, he wouldn’t rent to blacks when he worked for his father, he tried his damndest to delegitimize Barack Obama as president and as a citizen, and he openly courted white supremacists while he campaigned and pushed for a violent response against his protesters. He hasn’t spoken one word of unity for Americans or one word of disavowal against white supremacist terrorism. Yesterday’s statement was worse than disappointing. It was a quiet pat on the back to white supremacy.
Did you vote for him? What didn’t you hear right when you listened to him speak? Or did you silently agree? Or loudly agree like the Trump supporter who raised her hand Nazi-style? What kind of country were you hoping for?
Domestic white supremacist terrorists consider Trump their ally. His dog whistles called them and emboldened them. He hired them on his staff and appointed them to his cabinet. Do you understand this yet? Are you outraged yet?
Yesterday white supremacists wore riot gear and carried bats and rifles to protest the removal of a confederate monument. They intended violence. And it happened. One dead (three if you count the helicopter crash) and 35 injured. 
Where were the parents of the man who plowed his car through counter protesters? Did they know he was becoming radicalized? Did they think it was just a phase or did they agree with him? His mother said that he has a black friend -- the excuse used by many a racist these days. Dylan Roof had a black friend, too.
Or is this what the other officers of my homeowners association averred when I pointed out that our lawyer was a white supremacist, a leader in his racist organization? That it was "just a hobby," and would not prevent the lawyer from serving all our neighbors equitably. They supported keeping him and accepted my resignation. Does his mother believe it was just a hobby?
Do you understand what those monuments represent? They are not monuments to heroes. They are not monuments to Southern heritage. They are monuments of intimidation. They were erected in the early 1900s during Jim Crow law to impress upon black Americans that they were not equal and never would be. White domestic terrorists have been a part of America since the beginning of this country when settlers turned on the native people and set up an economic system based on the free labor of black people. Their belief in a supreme race allowed them to treat human beings as less than animals, to abuse and torture them, kill them, and rape them. Certain eras gave them permission to spread their hatred and beliefs in supremacy, and this is one of them. People have died violently because of their rhetoric and continue to die. 
The system of supremacy and privilege is still in operation.
It won’t change as long as you won’t acknowledge that it exists. You are afraid of losing something, of losing what you believe to be your status as a white American, endowed with supreme abilities and intelligence. Maybe you won’t say it out loud, but you believe it, every time you applaud the police for shooting an unarmed black man or child or choose to be silent, every time you applaud Trump for his hateful rhetoric or tell us to give him a chance, every time you don’t disavow the hatred and violence of white supremacy.
And, liberals, you are a part of this, too. Every time you shut down a friend or family member for telling you how it is to be a person of color and every time you tell them they are reading into a situation as racist because you don't see it that way. Every time you don't check your privilege. Every time you say it isn't as bad as we say it is. Every time you think of us as whiners and worry about how we ruin your comfort and your good time because we make you think about how different and dangerous our experience is from yours.
I don’t feel sorry for you if you can't see this for what it is or it makes you uncomfortable to talk about. Your thin white skin exhausts me. Either you are or you aren’t. Either you stand with us or stand with haters. Will you really listen this time or blow it off because it doesn't affect you? Will you be part of a united America or part of white supremacy and engage in subjugation, deportation and murder of those who you consider unequal? It really is black and white.

Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress, via Associated Press

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Reversing Discrimination

I owe you an apology, dear readers. I’ve left you hanging since January.  Maybe you think the Trump high jinks left me wordless. I can’t say they haven’t had an impact, but rendering me wordless was not the result. Rather, I’ve been writing and writing, and I am nearly done. I will publish a book soon, and I hope you will read it, not just to humor me, but because it is a small contribution to the conversation about race in America and is in honor of and dedicated to the women who have lost sons and daughters at the hands of biased police, vigilantes and white supremacist terrorists. 
Now a little bit about these last seven months:
There has hardly been a day when I haven’t had the news on for most of it. That isn’t the healthiest response to all that is going on, but, at the same time, there is so much going on. The difference in headlines in as little as an hour can be mind warping and tough to keep up with. Trump voters got what they wished for when they kept searching for ways to delegitimize former President Obama and candidate for president Hillary Clinton – lots of scandal and incompetence and chaos and election interference and maybe, no, probably, collusion and criminal activity. It’s like watching a really bad reality TV show. I’m expecting fisticuffs in the daily White House briefing any day now.
Trump supporters also wished for isolationism, and Trump has diminished our world presence and his status as the leader of the free world one stupid misstep, bullying word, and ignorant comment at a time. Trump had one success, the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch can barely hide his extreme right agenda.
Trump supporters denied climate change, and Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord. Trump supporters were afraid of immigrants and wished to turn America white again, and AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, even beleaguered, in Trump’s opinion, showed his support of a bill presented by Senator Tom Cotton under the guise of immigration reform that, if passed, will assure America remains a white, (fundamental) Christian, and English speaking only majority. The beleaguered AG also penalized sanctuary cities, put a halt to consent decrees negotiated and agreed upon by cities and police departments to hold the police accountable in use of profiling and excessive force, and announced a crackdown on journalists and their sources in the federal government who leak information. Finally, and one wonders how someone so beleaguered can accomplish so much of his white nationalist agenda, the AG announced a call for attorneys to assist in an investigation and possible charges against universities who use affirmative action plans in their admissions  processes.
Watch what you wish for, Trump supporters. Fields of vegetables and orchards of fruit are going unpicked and are rotting due to a shortage of workers, while Trump successfully brought into the country 15,000 immigrants for his low-paying seasonal hospitality jobs. Obamacare hasn’t been repealed or replaced, and some of you are secretly relieved. The wall wasn’t built. The swamp wasn’t drained, rather, it is spilling over. Taxes for the wealthy weren’t cut – how was that going to help you again? The Legislative branch of government is even more dysfunctional and paralyzed than ever. And your lives haven’t changed one iota except that the air you breathe and the water you drink, cook with, and bathe in is about to get dirtier.
Affirmative Action, which has been around since the 1940s, has gone before the Supreme Court many times in the past forty years. Each time, it is ruled legal. Perhaps Trump believes the Supreme Court now has the votes to shoot it down. Or maybe this is an exercise in appeasing the Trump supporters who continue to show up at rallies to boost his ego.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Office of the General Counsel, defined affirmative action this way: Any measure, beyond simple termination of a discriminatory practice, that permits the consideration of race, national origin, sex, or disability, along with other criteria, and which is adopted to provide opportunities to a class of qualified individuals who have either historically or actually been denied those opportunities and/or to prevent the recurrence of discrimination in the future.
There are a couple of important things to remember: 1) there is no quota system, which many detractors claim is the reason the laws are unjust, and it specifically states “qualified individuals, ” which detractors seldom mention because it goes against their narrative of unfairness; 2) these laws protect these classes of individuals from future discrimination. Companies, municipalities, and universities create affirmative action plans based on criteria such as demographics, historical patterns and practices of recruitment, hiring, admissions, and retention, and current information about applicants. These plans are in place to level the playing field, and until the playing field is completely level and there is no threat of regression, they will continue to exist.
The concept of reverse discrimination is a tell on white privilege. It proves that if you are white, your expectations are shaped by that fact. You expect to be hired, accepted into college, approved for a mortgage, approved for a lease, to live where you want, to be hired in the field you are interested in pursuing, to have the best schools, to go wherever your heart desires, and to seldom hear the word “no.”
It also proves something else, and that is if you believe there is reverse discrimination, you know that discrimination exists and you approve of it. You know not everyone can hope for the things you take for granted, and you don’t care as long as you get yours even at the expense of others. People with this mindset accept privilege and worry that equality will diminish their status rather than lift the status of others to equal status.
The Declaration of Independence opens with this: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The use of “men” does not exclude women and gender non-conforming individuals, nor does it only refer to white Christians. Man, or mankind, is inclusive, not exclusive.
The preamble of the Constitution states: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Trump administration is erasing the best hopes and ideals of this country and is flouting its founding principles.
The response is to resist, persist, contribute to the national conversation on defining who we are as a country, be an active civic and critically thinking citizen, disavow discrimination of any kind, let Trump supporters know our vision of America is inclusive and we welcome them to the conversation, support the individuals who are willing to run for elected office and who are willing to go to the mat to fight for our best selves and ideals for America, stop in-fighting about who is and isn’t progressive enough, remember your own privilege and check it, and vote in every single election. We got this.

Trump supporter
Chicago Tribune