Some Truths That Perhaps Have Not Sunk In Yet

Black people in California =/= All Black People

10% of population =/= 100% of the problem

~30% of Black Californians Who Voted NO on Prop 8 =/= People you can spit on, blame, rage at, and dismiss, then turn around and expect to support you. Not that they would support a ban on gay marriage and other gay rights issues (because, if you’ve forgotten, many of that 30% are LGBTQ), but I wouldn’t count on their money, or their time, or the effort it takes to knock on doors, talk to people, and other grassroots activism. No matter how much I believed in a cause, even if it affects me personally, I would have a hard time being active for a group that actively despises me, devalues me, and blames me for their own problems.

The Black Community =/= Monolithic Groupmind

Black People =/= The Reason Prop 8 Passed

Are we clear now?

(thanks to Jenn for the inspiration)

It’s Morning In America

Last night America elected its first black president.  We made history, as everyone still enjoys saying.  And I think we’ve earned the right to bask in the glow for a little bit.

But listen, there’s still a lot to be done.

First and foremost, it should be stated that, although come January we will have a Black president, that does not mean that racism is “over”.  That having a black president does not end the dialogue we have on this blog, on other blogs, and in meatspace about race, prejudice, and the challenges people of color face in this country and the world.  Obama’s win only proves that he specifically had what it took to win this election.  It wasn’t that any black person could have won, just as not any random woman could have won.  McCain made the mistake of thinking that; of looking at people like labels.

So there’s still a lot of anti-racist work to be done.  Racism still needs to be eliminated.  And while I’m hopeful that having a black president is one major step in that direction, it can also cause a setback as people throw “But we have a black president!” in our faces every time we bring up the deep-seated problems in this country.  We can’t let that happen.

Another important thing to remember is that Obama is not perfect and he’s not supernatural.  While we can rejoice in his presidency, we can’t cut him any slack.  And I think we must be willing, as activists and as non-activists, to work hard for change.  He said as much in his speech last night, so let’s hold him to his word.  More than ever we need to hold a president to his word this time around.

Am I wrong to feel, to hope, that doing so will be easier?  That in 4 years I’m going to feel better about my country than I do today?  Obama has never shared all of my values, but I am overwhelmed right now with a good feeling.

The Attempted Lynching of Barack Obama, pt. 1

I started hearing about this a few days ago: a series of incidents in which Obama supporters — usually black — violently attacked McCain supporters — usually white. The most prominent of them was an incident in which a woman claimed that a 6’4″ black man mugged her and stole $60, then took an extra step because he was enraged by the McCain sticker on her car; he then carved the letter “B” on her face to “teach her a lesson” about not being pro-Obama.

I was skeptical about this from the get-go. Continue reading

Of Patriotism, Joe Six-Pack, and Real Americans

There’s been a lot of rhetoric lately about this idea that “real” Americans are middle class Christian white people living in small towns. Because somehow the POC in those towns? Not really American. People living in major cities? Not really American. People who are not Christian? Not American. Part and parcel of the implications of the “real” American stance is this idea that “real” Americans are patriots who are willing to sacrifice their lives (or watch their children make that sacrifice) in service to their country. Now, as some of you already know I’m a veteran. And I have to say this idea that the only specific religions and races are really American? Disgusts me. Because I know who I served with, I know how many families that have made the ultimate sacrifice do not bear any resemblance to the Joe Six-Pack image that is being espoused as the true face of America. The true face of America? Looks like this:

Photobucket

In what reality is it remotely acceptable to imply that this soldier was not a “real” American because of his last name or his faith? He was 20 years old, and he put it all on the line for his country. How dare anyone disrespect that sacrifice by implying that he wasn’t good enough to be a “real” American? Are there real Americans in small towns in the Midwest? Absolutely. There are also real Americans living in Brooklyn, Chicago, and Los Angeles. They are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Pagans, Agnostics, Atheists, and host of other belief systems. They are every race, every income level, and every educational background. Because that’s the true America. Not the one that spews hate and calls it patriotism.

The subtext of McCain’s anger

The talk today in the blogosphere is all about last night’s debate — who won, who lost, who discreetly scratched his ass, whatever. There’s a good bit of discussion going about already on the issue of McCain’s factual gaffes and his infuriating appropriation of the Jewish Holocaust. I didn’t notice anything pounce-worthy in Obama’s comments, though he did make some headscratchy connections and rambled in some of his answers. But hey, I’m sure FOX will find something to nitpick about him.

What I did keep noticing was McCain’s body language. He wouldn’t look at Obama. He wouldn’t address Obama directly, even when the debate moderator explicitly urged him to do so. He didn’t even turn in Obama’s direction, as far as I saw. He seemed doggedly determined to act as if his opponent didn’t exist, and the debate was strictly a one-on-one conversation between him and Jim Lehrer.

Others have noted this body language, and chalked it up to McCain’s general frustration with his opponent. I saw something else.

Not so long ago in this country — within McCain’s adult lifetime, though not Obama’s — white men did not look at black men, except to order them around or warn them off white women. They did not address black men directly if they could help it — and if they had to, it was never done in a way that might suggest respect. Black men did not look at white men either, because that was the shortest path to death; a black man who dared to look a white man in the eye was “uppity”. Didn’t know his place. Needed to have a lesson taught him, usually with a bullet or a length of rope. Even today there’s a certain kind of white man — usually older ones from the South or from wealthy backgrounds — who still won’t accord a man of color the simple courtesy of looking him in the eye. They’ll look everywhere else, address “the air” rather than the person, and get progressively more irritated if that person doesn’t back off and go away.

This irritation is what I saw in McCain’s body language: affront that a black man dared to challenge him or speak to him as an equal.

I don’t think I would’ve seen that if McCain hadn’t shown this kind of contempt in other contexts: his behavior towards his wives, for example. That certain kind of white man isn’t all that fond of uppity women either. And yeah, some of it might simply be McCain’s infamous temper; he’s had equal-opportunity hissyfits, pretty much at anyone who disagrees with him. The man simply needs anger-management training. But at least the white men who piss him off merit his direct address and his vocalized contempt. This “I-dismiss-you-from-my-attention” treatment? That’s something else.

Now, McCain isn’t stupid, and I don’t think his campaign managers are either. I don’t think McCain’s body language was accidental or unplanned. They knew full well how this would look, and I think they’re counting on it. The silent language of McCain’s posture and eye contact is practically a shout-out to white Middle America, sending a very clear message: “Can you believe this boy? Can you believe he’s actually talking to me?” And in the unspoken fury telegraphed by McCain’s surgically-constructed cheeks, and the constant flexing of his jaw muscles as he ground his teeth tried to smile graciously, I heard, “Y’know, back in the day, we would’ve known just what to do with a fella like you.”

McCain’s post-GOP-convention surge has faltered. Sarah Palin, who initially seemed to be energizing the evangelicals, is starting to look more and more like a mistake. Poor and middle-class Americans, which includes a whole lot of Republicans who are suddenly beginning to realize that the current economic crisis is their own damn fault for voting in a bunch of rich thieves, are up in arms. McCain’s only hope at this stage is a blatant appeal to something that will unite Republicans regardless of class, faith, and issues. Well, the Southern Strategy hasn’t failed yet.

Hmm… given that, I’m not sure I should call this subtext. Is it still subtext when it’s right there in your face?

Louisiana State Senator Worries That There Will Soon Be Too Many Black People, Film At 11

I don’t even know if I have the stomach to do full commentary on this shit.  So here are the highlights.

Worried that welfare costs are rising as the number of taxpayers declines, state Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said Tuesday he is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied.

“We’re on a train headed to the future and there’s a bridge out, ” LaBruzzo said of what he suspects are dangerous demographic trends. “And nobody wants to talk about it.”

LaBruzzo said he worries that people receiving government aid such as food stamps and publicly subsidized housing are reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more tax revenue to the government. He said he is gathering statistics now.

Right.  He’s totally worried about there being enough tax dollars.  That’s all.  Really.

“What I’m really studying is any and all possibilities that we can reduce the number of people that are going from generational welfare to generational welfare, ” he said.

He said his program would be voluntary. It could involve tubal ligation, encouraging other forms of birth control or, to avoid charges of gender discrimination, vasectomies for men.

Oh I am so glad that we’re being very feminist about this!

LaBruzzo described the tube-tying incentive as a brainstorming exercise that has yet to take form as a bill for the Legislature to consider. He said it already has drawn critics who argue the idea is racist, sexist, unethical and immoral. He said more white people are on welfare than black people, so his proposal is not targeting race.

And anti-racist!  He just hates poor people, that’s all.

LaBruzzo said other, mainstream strategies for attacking poverty, such as education reforms and programs informing people about family planning issues, have repeatedly failed to solve the problem. He said he is simply looking for new ways to address it.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, he’s a racist, ‘ ” LaBruzzo said. “The hard part is to sit down and think of some solutions.”

LaBruzzo said he opposes abortion and paying people to have abortions. He described a sterilization program as providing poor people with better opportunities to avoid welfare, because they would have fewer children to feed and clothe.

He acknowledged his idea might be a difficult sell politically.

NO SHIT.

Also: children are the cause of welfare, not poor economic situations, lack of opportunities, lack of funding for education (that never works, anyway!), or a culture that is constantly at war against those who don’t live like the assholes on Friends.  No, none of that is to blame!

On Racism, Media, and the Presidential Race

So I was going to comment on the racism that’s flying fast and furious at the Obama’s this week. But then John Scalzi went off for me. So since I don’t have anything to say that can top this beautiful beatiful rant I’m just going to share the joy with you. Try not to read it anyplace where you cannot lay in the floor and laugh like a hyena.

Karnythia is a writer, a historian, and occasionally a loud mouth. In between raising hell and raising kids she usually manages to find time to contemplate the meaning of life as a black woman in America. Her posts on any topic can be found at her Livejournal.

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