Political Monday Debate – Barack vs. Hillary

Barak and Hilary Debate

I know it’s Tuesday, but I was away yesterday and I would really like to have this Political Monday/Monday Debate this week, so we’ll pretend it’s Monday here on the ABW. After all, according to recent commenters we are all retards, anyway.

[sidenote - yes, I banned him, and I went back and disemvoweled most of what he posted.]

For months now, there have been two clear frontrunners on the Democratic party side: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It’s interesting that, in many ways, these two people are vying for much the same slice of the populace, yet they are very different and don’t seem to like each other much.

I don’t think it’s a forgone conclusion that one of them will get the nomination. But I do have a strong feeling that, if one of them gets it, there’s been too much bad blood and snarking for the other to slip into the VP slot. So I guess all of us will have to make a choice — no double minority action for us!

Thus this debate. Which of these two candidates do you prefer and why? And if you don’t like either of them, this is your chance to tell us why. Gut feelings and surface impressions are okay, but specific reasons and links or quotes are even better. If you’re for a candidate, persuade us on-the-fencers with your strong conviction. If you’re against, do the same.

The Rules for this debate/discussion are the same as in general. Be passionate but not rude, attempt to refrain from ad hominem attacks, remember that the other commenters are real people, assume high intelligence until others prove you wrong.

Why Afrocentrism is not like White Supremacy

During the legendary Barack/Black Church/Tucker post there was some discussion of Afrocentrism (in relation to the church) and how it was either the same as or different from White Supremacy. I noted at the time that perhaps this blog needed a post that talks about the difference between Afrocentrism and White Supremacy; this is the post. I’m putting it in the Monday Debate category because I would love to have a dialogue about this. But, for me, I pretty much feel that these two terms, philosophies, and world views are completely different and not at all two sides of the same coin.

Let’s start with some definitions.

White Supremacy is:

a racist belief that white people are superior to other races. The term is sometimes specifically used to describe a philosophical belief that whites are not only superior to others, but should rule over them. (according to Wikipedia… today)

the prejudice that members of the white race are superior to members of other races. (according to theFreeDictionary)

the belief, theory, or doctrine that the white race is superior to all other races, esp. the black race, and should therefore retain control in all relationships. (according to Dictionary.com)

Afrocentrism (or Afrocentric) is:

an academic, philosophical, and historical approach to the study of world history. Afrocentrism holds that Eurocentrism has led to the neglect or denial of the contributions of African people and focused instead on a generally European-centered model of world civilization and history. Therefore, Afrocentrism aims to shift the focus from a perceived European-centered history to an African-centered history. More broadly, Afrocentrism is concerned with distinguishing the influence of European and Oriental peoples from African achievements. (according to Wikipedia… today)

centered on Africa or on African-derived cultures, as those of Brazil, Cuba, and Haiti. (according to Dictionary.com)

centered or focused on Africa or African peoples, especially in relation to historical or cultural influence. (according to the FreeDictionary)

In the context of this conversation, I’m not going to touch on the ‘study of world history’ part of the Afrocentrism definition. Though that is very important, I’m talking more about Afrocentrism in the social/culture sphere. Afrocentrism as it applies to the present time and our present lives.

The definitions alone should show that Afrocentrism and White Supremacy are two different animals. One seeks to focus on the positive aspects of a particular culture and one seeks to diminish and dominate all other cultures. So why is it that some folks (mostly white folks) feel they can toss around accusations that being Afrocentric is just like being a White (or Black) Supremacist?

Maybe because the language we use isn’t always that cut-and-dried. For instance, in the Barack post, Tucker takes exception to the phrase “Soldiers for Black Freedom” and the church’s calls to uplift the black race. If you switch out black for white in that sentence, you get people working for White Freedom and uplifting the White Race. To some people, switching black and white does not fundamentally change those sentences at all. But in my eyes, there is all the difference in the world. Why? Because in one version, an oppressed group is working to gain equal footing with the dominant group, in the other the dominant group is working to ensure their continued dominance. See the difference?

White people in America (and, I would argue, in most of the world, especially when the definition of ‘white’ encompasses most folks of European descent) do not need uplifting. They aren’t in danger of being un-free. This is, of course, in general. Yes, there are poor, lower class white folks in the world. Somewhere there are young blond women who are forced into sexual slavery. But when we’re speaking in broad strokes, white people are the dominant group. So any talk about strengthening the White Race is bound to make any non-white person more than a little nervous. It sounds like White Supremacy, frankly, and I’m going to declare that a Universal Bad.

While I do feel that black people are awesome (because I am one), I don’t feel that black people should dominate other races, either. When I choose to focus on black issues, black heritage, and the contributions of black people in the past and present, I am not doing so at the expense of other races.

If, by focusing on ‘black stuff’ I take some of the thunder away from the all-important ‘white stuff’, it’s only because the white stuff is overly dominant. But, surprise, white people often do not feel this way. Any time you take a piece of candy from a small child, even if you’re doing it because the small child already has too much candy and because some of that candy should have gone to the child’s brothers and sisters, anyway, the child will still cry. (Trust me on this… I lived with a small child.)

My Conclusion:
Afrocentrism is not the same as Black Supremacy. It is a natural outgrowth of an oppressed group wanting to find the positive aspects of their culture (and ultimately themselves as individuals) that the dominant culture tries to suppress, erase, or vilify. Therefore, it is not the same as White Supremacy. Not even in the ballpark.

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Monday Debate : Affirmative Action, Still Necessary or Outdated?

Voters in Michigan passed an anti-Affirmative Action law (Proposal 2) last November. According to the bill’s proponents, the purpose was to “prohibit the state from granting preferential treatment based on skin color or gender.” The language that voters saw in the ballot box:

The proposed constitutional amendment would: Ban public institutions from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes. Public institutions affected by the proposal include state government, local governments, public colleges and universities, community colleges and school districts.

And the official amendment says:

The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and any other public college or university, community college, or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

The result is that the University of Michigan, whole president is a staunch supporter of Affirmative Action and diversity, has to find other ways to ensure a diverse campus besides the factors of race and gender. NPR covered the story several times (the link will take you to a list of archived audio clips).

It looks as if the person spearheading Prop 2 is a white woman named Jennifer Gratz who was rejected by U of M back in 1995 (supposedly because some black person stole her spot!). The Yes on 2 website is sneakily named michigancivilrights.org and a lot of the language on it emphasizes the idea that removing Affirmative Action is more in line with the Civil Rights Act and Movement than implementing and continuing it. There’s even some dubious use of the phrase “By any means necessary”. Voting Yes on 2 meant voting Yes on Civil Rights.

I cannot remember a time in my adult life where someone somewhere wasn’t talking about ending Affirmative Action. The reasons I’ve heard usually boil down to “We/You don’t need it any more” or “It’s reverse racism/unfair to white people.” Certainly many white people say the latter. Some black folks say the former. No one has ever shown me compelling evidence that either statement is true.

Since the last Monday Debate was such a success, I thought I’d kickstart the blog again by having another one. Here we go.

The Topic:

Is Affirmative Action still necessary? Do people of color and/or women need it, still? Or do we now exist in a fair and equal society in which we do not need any help leveling the field?

On the flip side, is Affirmative Action unfair to white people? (I won’t call it reverse racism because of, well, the last debate.)

The Rules:

I’m looking an actual debate, not just groups of people screaming at each other. This probably won’t be a problem considering the excellent regulars here, but I’m putting that out there for new folks who drop by. I am interested in exploring this issue with an open mind. I’m asking that anyone who comments do the same. Humor is, as always, welcome.

When you make statements, make it clear if you are spouting an opinion or a fact. If a fact, back it up as well as you can. Unsupported ‘facts’ are opinions. If your ‘fact’ is supported by personal experience, that doesn’t invalidate it, but it does make the ‘fact’ one based on limited data, thus it does not carry as much weight.

Anonymous commenters, please provide us with some kind of handle to call you by. And don’t come and post under lots of different handles to make it seem like lots of people agree with you. I’ll know. And I’ll smite you.


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Monday Debate : What is Racism?

My new idea for getting other people to say interesting things on my blog: Monday Debate. This is where I invite folks to come in, sit a spell, and have a discussion on a contentious topic. The main reason for doing so is to try and solve some unsolvable problems and answer some unanswerable questions. Lofty, right?This week’s Monday Debate is about Racism. Many months ago, I posted:

Racism = Prejudice + Power

Whenever I get into it with someone who calls me a racist, I point to that post and tell them that I cannot be racist because I have no power. Prejudiced? Oh yes. But not racist. In America, I say, black people cannot be racist.

However, it has come to my attention recently that there are people who feel that this definition of racism is incomplete, perhaps even completely wrong. They deny that Racism and Institutional Racism are the same thing. They deny that minorities are exempt from it. They often wield the dictionary as their rhetorical weapon of choice.

Here is the dictionary definition:

  1. : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
  2. : racial prejudice or discrimination

[Source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary]

And another:

  1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
  2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
  3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

[Source: Dictionary.com]

The point of contention here mainly comes from the last definitions: racial prejudice or discrimination / hatred or intolerance of another race or other races. These make no reference to society, culture, or systems. Just discrimination based on race.

Other definitions of Racism found on the web:

A form of discrimination based on race, especially the belief that one race is superior to another. Racism may be expressed individually and consciously, through explicit thoughts, feelings, or acts, or socially and unconsciously, through institutions that promote inequality between races.

[Source: Kids.Net.Au]

The inherent belief in the superiority of one race over all others and thereby the right to dominance.

[Source: Audre Lorde via University of Idaho Lexicon of Appropriate Terms]

The belief that one ‘racial group’ is inferior to another and the practices of the dominant group to maintain the inferior position of the dominated group. Often defined as a combination of power, prejudice and discrimination.

[Source]

Some of the points I want this debate to address:

  • Which definition of Racism should be used in discussions about race?
  • Is the dictionary definition sufficient? What argument can be made as to why the dictionary definition is irrelevant/outdated/etc?
  • Is “Institutional Racism” the only real Racism?

Feel free to bring up/make your own points.

Also, the related topic of Sexism as Prejudice + Power may also be discussed because it’s another -ism that some feel requires institutional power for perpetration. However, let’s keep the main focus on Racism.

Rules:

I’m hoping this will be an actual debate and not just groups of people screaming at each other. I don’t expect that this will be a problem considering the excellent regulars here, but I’m putting that out there for new folks who drop by. While I am normally all snark all the time, I’m turning off the snark for now. I am interested in exploring this issue with an open mind. I’m asking that anyone who comments do the same. Though humor is, as always, welcome.

When you make statements, make it clear if you are spouting an opinion or a fact. If a fact, back it up as well as you can. Unsupported ‘facts’ are opinions. If your ‘fact’ is supported by personal experience, that doesn’t invalidate it, but it does make the ‘fact’ one based on limited data, thus it does not carry as much weight.

Anonymous commenters, please provide us with some kind of handle to call you by. And don’t come and post under lots of different handles to make it seem like lots of people agree with you. I’ll know. And I’ll smite you.

***

I’ll say this: I am being extremely optimistic that a debate on this blog can settle anything. But we have to start somewhere, right? If this question is to be settled somewhere at some time, then the discussion has to happen somewhere at some time. Part of it will happen here and now.

P.S. The discussion of racism on Karnythia’s LJ is very eye-opening and a good primer for this debate.

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