It’s a First: Black Voting Rate in 2012 Higher Than White Rate

By Hope Yen, Associated Press

Chicago voters waiting in line on Nov. 6, 2012 (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Chicago voters waiting in line on Nov. 6, 2012 (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.

Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite [Editor’s Note: or perhaps because of…?] concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president….

voter-id

In the 2012 presidential election, many conservative political groups attempted to impose voter identification laws designed to make it difficult or impossible to vote for minorities, the elderly, students, and the poor.

Overall, the findings represent a tipping point for blacks, who for much of America’s history were disenfranchised and then effectively barred from voting until passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

But the numbers also offer a cautionary note to both Democrats and Republicans after Obama won in November with a historically low percentage of white supporters….

The 2012 data suggest Romney was a particularly weak GOP candidate, unable to motivate white voters let alone attract significant black or Latino support. Obama’s personal appeal and the slowly improving economy helped overcome doubts and spur record levels of minority voters in a way that may not be easily replicated for Democrats soon.

Romney would have erased Obama’s nearly 5 million-vote victory margin and narrowly won the popular vote if voters had turned out as they did in 2004, according to Frey’s analysis. Then, white turnout was slightly higher and black voting lower.

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Jason Collins Says ‘I’m Gay’ in the NBA: Why This Is Huge

By Michelangelo Signorile, Huffingtonpost.com

Jason-CollinsThe magnitude of NBA player Jason Collins’ coming out today cannot be overestimated. He breaks a barrier that we’ve been waiting for someone to plunge through: a major league sports player saying “I’m gay” while still playing and at the height of his career. We’ve seen former major league football players and others come out after retirement, but until now, no one has dared say it while still playing major league sports…

The locker room, we’ve been told, couldn’t handle it. Straight players wouldn’t be able to accept knowing of a gay player in their midst. Just this past January, NFL player Chris Culliver drove that ugly message home when he said in a radio interview that gay players shouldn’t even think about coming out. Asked whether there are any gay players on the 49ers, Culliver said, “Nah. We don’t got no gay people on the team. You know, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. … Can’t be… can’t… uh… be in the locker room.” Asked if gay players should stay closeted while playing professionally, Culliver responded, “Yeah, you gotta, you gotta come out 10 years later after that.”

But now, here comes Jason Collins, telling Sports Illustrated, “I’m a 34-year-old center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” More than that, Collins says he’s delighted to rise to the occasion, seeing the enormous importance of doing so. “I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport,” he explained. “But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

That took a lot courage, and it will no doubt inspire many others, making it easier not only for the next player but for so many young people across America.

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Birmingham Church Bombing Victims One Step Closer To Congressional Gold Medal As House OKs Honor

By Henry C Jackson, Huffingtonpost.com

Birmingham Female VictimsFour young victims of a deadly Alabama church bombing that marked one of the darkest moments of the civil rights movement are one step closer to receiving Congress’ highest civilian honor.

By a 420-0 vote, the House on Wednesday passed a measure that posthumously would award the Congressional Gold Medal to Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair.

The girls were killed when a bomb planted by white supremacists exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., in September 1963. The measure will now be considered by the Senate.

The House effort was led by Alabama Reps. Terri Sewell, a Democrat, and Spencer Bachus, a Republican. The two represent Birmingham and presented Wednesday’s vote as a way to honor the legacy of the victims.

“It was there blood which was shed for the bounty that so many of us now enjoy,” Sewell said.

Bachus said the tragedy pushed the civil rights movement forward and honoring its victims was the correct way to commemorate their legacy.

While Congress has shown broad support for awarding the medal, the idea has split relatives of the four victims. Some are supportive but others are seeking financial compensation.

The sisters of two of the victims, Denise McNair and Carol Robertson, sat in the House gallery to watch the vote, with Sewell noting their presence after the vote and asking members to applaud them.

Relatives of Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley, also known as Cynthia Morris, have both said they do not want the congressional honor…

September will mark the 50th anniversary of the church bombing. Three KKK members were convicted years after the attack. Two are dead, with one is still in prison.

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Yes, They’re White and Muslim

The Boston-bombing suspects show that it’s time the media and the public redefined their view of Islam.

By Edward Wyckoff Williams, theRoot.com

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (handout/Getty Images News); Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Glenn DePriest/Getty Images)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (handout/Getty Images News); Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Glenn DePriest/Getty Images)

The American story has too long been told through a racial lens and always vis-à-vis “whiteness.” This is a dangerous premise — fortifying the principles of white supremacy, entirely incongruent with the nation’s democratic values. In no area is this problem more apparent than the American media — and news reporting in particular. The Constitution’s First Amendment protection of “freedom of the press” has morphed inexplicably into a safe haven in which stereotypes, falsehoods and outdated racial codes are protected under the law — allowing poisonous lies to masquerade as fact.

Last week the media coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings led to numerous instances of misinformation being reported. In the wake of confusion following the events, there was a rush to judgment as many desperately searched for answers.

But a blatant display of Islamophobic rhetoric and racial profiling became a benchmark of many reports, proving what some had already suspected — that xenophobia and racially tinged, anti-Muslim sentiment have become tacitly accepted byproducts of post-Sept. 11 American society. Most disturbing was that these attitudes were readily articulated by standard-bearers of credible news outlets, whose profession it is to disseminate “facts” without bias.

The most widely (and embarrassingly) covered misstep occurred at CNN. Senior correspondent John King erroneously reported that the FBI had made an arrest and that the suspect was “a dark-skinned male.” This led MSNBC’s Chris Hayes to ask, “What news value exists in the adjective ‘dark-skinned’?”

The response from the paper's editor: "We stand by our story. The image was emailed to law enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men, as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects."

The response from the paper’s editor: “We stand by our story. The image was emailed to law enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men, as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects.”

King was widely criticized for a lack of due diligence and catering to latent racial animus. His words relieved those looking for an easy target to blame — namely Arabs from the Middle East or North Africa — and cast a shadow of doubt and suspicion upon every black and brown male in Boston’s metropolitan area.

Unsurprisingly, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly — an occasional “accidental” racist himself — came to King’s defense, claiming that it was an “honest mistake.” Meanwhile, the New York Post (a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.) ran a cover story with a photo of what appeared to be two nonwhite males, under the headline “Bag Men: Feds Seek These Two Pictured at Boston Marathon.”

The truth? Both were innocent — never implicated in the bombings. Salah Barhoun, whose face the Post distributed both in print and online, turned out to be a 17-year-old high school track star interested in running the marathon. Murdoch and the Post issued statements but no apology.

And the misconceptions weren’t limited to conservatives or the right wing….

Read the full article here.

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Leaning In While Black

By Tamara Winfrey Harris, In These Times

Can Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s manifesto speak to women of color?

The film "Think Like A Man" instructs black women to curb their success to get a man. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures)

The film “Think Like A Man” instructs black women to curb their success to get a man. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures)

James Brown may have left this mortal coil, but one of his most famous pronouncements is as true today as in 1966: “This is a man’s world.” Only 17 of the world’s 193 countries are led by women; in the United States, women hold just 14 percent of executive officer positions and 18 percent of congressional seats.

Numerous researchers have looked into why this glass ceiling persists. In a 2003 study on gender, success and likeability, professors from Columbia Business School and New York University found that a successful “Howard” is viewed as more appealing than a “Heidi” with identical accomplishments and personality traits. Women’s careers are also hampered by a culture that insists that men should be primary providers and women primary nurturers and housekeepers, forcing women to make hard decisions between work and family. And that is just a fraction of the story of inequity. It is no wonder many women back away from their ambition.

According to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of the self-described feminist manifestoLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, this disparity in power and achievement can be attributed to systemic gender inequality and cultural biases, but also to something else: the way women are acculturated to respond, often subconsciously, to these factors. Sandberg calls on women to “lean in”: to act with boldness and confidence; to “sit at the table” where decisions are made; to choose life partners who support their careers; and to not put those careers on hold for marriage and babies before those things are a reality.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of the self-described feminist manifesto Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of the self-described feminist manifesto Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Whether Sandberg, from her perch at the pinnacle of a tech behemoth, is the right person to lead a revolution for less-privileged women has been the topic of much debate. But bits of the author’s wisdom may “click” for particular readers in unexpected ways. Sandberg’s message about choosing supportive partners made me blink, because it stands in stark contrast to advice directed toward a particular segment of professional women. Thanks to concerns about low marriage rates among African Americans, professional black women are bombarded with warnings about careerism and success. A burgeoning genre of advice books instructs straight black women to, in effect, “lean back” in order to attract men….

Black women, especially highly successful ones, are expected to sacrifice achievement for the alleged greater good of traditional marriage. And they are encouraged to think more about being chosen than choosing—making themselves attractive to men by conforming to an outdated template of femininity rather than, as Sandberg suggests, selecting a supportive mate interested in a 50/50 partnership.

Sandberg counsels that choosing a mate is one of the most important decisions a working woman will make. If that is true, lack of support, in addition to systemic sexism and racism, may explain why black women fare worse than their white counterparts in the halls of power….

Read the full article here.

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CNN’s Lack of Diversity Shows in the “Dark-Skinned Males” Comment

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

John King of CNN News. Courtesy of Reuters.

John King of CNN News. Courtesy of Reuters.

When you use a loosely-defined term such as “dark-skinned male” to describe the suspect of one of the most notorious crimes in American history, you should fully expect that people are going to become angry with you.   So, when CNN’s John King went there, all Hades broke loose in the blink of an eye.  A series of prominent figures and organizations went on full alert, from Rev. Al Sharpton to the National Association of Black Journalists.   King was not only called out for using the term, he was also called out for using faulty information.

This kind of irresponsible use of language and imagery is nothing new in the Boston area.  Back in 1990, a man by the name of Charles Stuart shot and killed his pregnant wife, then falsely claimed that a black man did it.  This led to a massive manhunt throughout the city, where black men were being stopped, searched, abused and apprehended for no good reason.  This reign of police terror remains as a scar on Boston’s ugly racial history, and this situation certainly didn’t help….

We can’t entirely blame King for using skin color as part of the description, since it does reduce the potential pool of suspects.  But what we can blame him for is the use of poorly-researched information and not being more specific.  If the suspect had indeed been a dark-skinned male, it might have made more sense for King to wait until an image was released, instead of seeking to be the first man on television to give any kind of information to the public.   I suspect that King hardly understands the kind of danger every “dark-skinned male” in the state of Massachusetts would be dealing with as a result of his seemingly innocent little sentence.

As a case-in-point,…

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Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness

by Tim Wise at timwise.org

Tim Wise is a renown anti-racism essayist, author, and educator. This essay was posted on his site on April 16, 2013, the day after the bombing of the Boston Marathon. At that time there was not yet any information about who might have perpetrated the attack.

Carlos Arredondo was waiting at the Boston Marathon finish line for runners who were racing on behalf of fallen soldiers -- one of those fallen soldiers being Arredondo's son -- and handing out American flags when the blast went off across the street. He ran to help injured spectators, including Jeff Bauman, whose legs were blown off. Arredondo can be seen, wearing a cowboy hat, in an iconic photo, apparently holding the Bauman's severed artery, NBC News reports.

Carlos Arredondo was waiting at the Boston Marathon finish line for runners who were racing on behalf of fallen soldiers — one of those fallen soldiers being Arredondo’s son — and handing out American flags when the blast went off across the street.
He ran to help injured spectators, including Jeff Bauman, whose legs were blown off. Arredondo can be seen, wearing a cowboy hat, in an iconic photo, apparently holding the Bauman’s severed artery, NBC News reports.

As the nation weeps for the victims of the horrific bombing in Boston yesterday, one searches for lessons amid the carnage, and finds few. That violence is unacceptable stands out as one, sure. That hatred — for humanity, for life, or whatever else might have animated the bomber or bombers — is never the source of constructive human action seems like a reasonably close second.

But I dare say there is more; a much less obvious and far more uncomfortable lesson, which many are loathe to learn, but which an event such as this makes readily apparent, and which we must acknowledge, no matter how painful.

It is a lesson about race, about whiteness, and specifically, about white privilege.

I know you don’t want to hear it. But I don’t much care. So here goes.

White privilege is knowing that even if the Boston Marathon bomber turns out to be white, his or her identity will not result in white folks generally being singled out for suspicion by law enforcement, or the TSA, or the FBI.

White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for whites to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening, or threatened with deportation.

White privilege is knowing that if the bomber turns out to be white, he or she will be viewed as an exception to an otherwise non-white rule, an aberration, an anomaly, and that he or she will be able to join the ranks of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph and Joe Stack and George Metesky and Byron De La Beckwith and Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton and Herman Frank Cash and Robert Chambliss and James von Brunn and Robert Mathews and David Lane and Michael F. Griffin and Paul Hill and John Salvi and James Kopp and Luke Helder and James David Adkisson and Scott Roeder and Shelley Shannon and Dennis Mahon and Wade Michael Page and Byron Williams and Kevin Harpham and William Krar and Judith Bruey and Edward Feltus and Raymond Kirk Dillard and Adam Lynn Cunningham and Bonnell Hughes and Randall Garrett Cole and James Ray McElroy and Michael Gorbey and Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman and Frederick Thomas and Paul Ross Evans and Matt Goldsby and Jimmy Simmons and Kathy Simmons and Kaye Wiggins and Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe and David McMenemy and Bobby Joe Rogers and Francis Grady and Demetrius Van Crocker and Floyd Raymond Looker and Derek Mathew Shrout, among the pantheon of white people who engage in (or have plotted) politically motivated violence meant to terrorize and kill, but whose actions result in the assumption of absolutely nothing about white people generally, or white Christians in particular.

And white privilege is being able to know nothing about the crimes committed by most of the terrorists listed above — indeed, never to have so much as heard most of their names — let alone to make assumptions about the role that their racial or ethnic identity may have played in their crimes.

White privilege is knowing that if the Boston bomber turns out to be white, we  will not be asked to denounce him or her, so as to prove our own loyalties to the common national good. It is knowing that the next time a cop sees one of us standing on the sidewalk cheering on runners in a marathon, that cop will say exactly nothing to us as a result.

White privilege is knowing that if you are a white student from Nebraska — as opposed to, say, a student from Saudi Arabia — that no one, and I mean no one would think it important to detain and question you in the wake of a bombing such as the one at the Boston Marathon.

The brothers, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, (L) and his brother Tamerlan, 26. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police today. His brother remains at large.

The brothers, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, (L) and his brother Tamerlan, 26. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police today. His brother remains at large.

And white privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won’t bomb Belfast. And if he’s an Italian American Catholic we won’t bomb the Vatican. [Editor’s Note: As of this posting, there are two suspects, brothers, U.S. residents who are said to be refugees from Chechnya, a part of the Russian Federation. The brothers, who are white Europeans – literally Caucasians from the Caucasses – are rumored to be Muslim. White Muslims – that complicates things! I suspect that, in terms of fear and prejudice in the U.S., being Muslim – and from Russia – will trump being white in this case.]

In short, white privilege is the thing that allows you (if you’re white) — and me — to view tragic events like this as merely horrific, and from the perspective of pure and innocent victims, rather than having to wonder, and to look over one’s shoulder, and to ask even if only in hushed tones, whether those we pass on the street might think that somehow we were involved.

It is the source of our unearned innocence and the cause of others’ unjustified oppression.

That is all. And it matters.

Read more Breaking News here.

Read more of Tim Wise’s writings here.

Rand Paul: GOP faces ‘daunting task’ with black voters

By Ken Thomas, Associated Press

Rand Paul

Rand Paul Official Portrait, 2011

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that Republicans face long odds in connecting with black voters and are often cast as unsympathetic to the needs of blacks and minorities — something he says the party needs to change.

Paul, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said in a speech at Howard University that the Republican party was rooted in the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and efforts to rid the South of oppressive Jim Crow laws…

“Republicans face a daunting task. Several generations of black voters have never voted Republican and are not very open to considering the option,” Paul said. [Editor’s Note: To find out why that is, click on the link below this article.] By speaking at Howard, Paul said he hoped students would “hear me out — that you will see me for who I am, not the caricature sometimes presented by political opponents.”

Paul’s speech to black students and faculty members at the historically black university was emblematic of Republicans’ efforts to attract a broader swath of voters following President Barack Obama’s re-election…

He argued that many Democrats had opposed civil rights in the South during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt but many black voters became impatient with Republicans in the years that followed over economic policies. He said Democrats offer “unlimited federal assistance” and policies that put “food on the table but too often, I think, don’t lead to jobs and meaningful success.”

Paul said using taxes to “punish the rich” hurts everyone in the economy, along with more regulations and higher debt. “Big government is not a friend of African-Americans,” he said.

Many students said they didn’t agree with Paul on many issues but gave him credit for speaking to them. “It could be very intimidating. You’re sitting in a room with people who don’t support you for the most part so I do give him credit for coming,” said Tasia Hawkins, an 18-year-old freshman from New York.

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To learn why the majority of black voters abandoned the party of Lincoln, visit our exhibit  Politics in Black and White.

 

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Won’t Respond To Group’s Call To End Segregated Prom

By Hunter Stuard, Huffingtonpost.com

Nathan-DealGeorgia Gov. Nathan Deal won’t be endorsing one high school’s effort to have its first integrated prom — at least for the time being, his spokesman said.

“This is a leftist front group for the state Democratic Party and we’re not going to lend a hand to their silly publicity stunt,” Robinson wrote, according to WMAZ-TV.

Yet three Republican state representatives have joined four Democrats in endorsing the integrated prom, according to Better Georgia, the group that called for Deal to also support the idea.

Wilcox County High School, located in Rochelle, Ga., is planning to have its first integrated prom this year, thanks to the efforts of a small group of students who organized and fundraised for the event. The Georgia NAACP helped the students’ effort by lobbying the Wilcox County School Board to end the practice of segregated proms.

Georgie State FlagIn the past, students have attended racially segregated proms. The dances were funded by the county’s families, not by the school.

“I put up posters for the integrated prom and we’ve had people ripping them down at the school,” Keela Bloodworth, one of the students who led the effort to host the integrated event, told WSAV.

The school’s principal, Chad Davis, said that school officials will consider having an official prom in 2014, according to a statement on the school’s website.

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James Earl Ray Video: New Footage Of Martin Luther King Jr. Assassin Released

By Peter Finocchiaro, HuffingtonPost.com

MLK JrAlmost exactly 45 years to the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, new video footage has surfaced of his killer, James Earl Ray.

The Shelby County, Tenn., Register’s office released the newly restored footage this week, posting several videos to its website chronicling certain aspects of the assassin’s arrest and trial. The most dramatic of the videos shows Ray receiving his Miranda rights on an airplane shortly after his arrest in London in June, 1968….

Ray shot King in the head on April 4, 1968, while the civil rights leader was standing on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. Ray then fled north from Memphis, across the Canadian border to Toronto, where he assumed a false identity and evaded detection for several weeks. He was ultimately arrested across the Atlantic, in London’s Heathrow Airport, two months after the assassination. It was on the flight back to the United States, following his extradition, that the footage of Ray hearing his rights was recorded.

Shelby County has uploaded a number of additional videos from the Ray trial to its website, totaling several hours of previously unseen court procedure. The footage was the first of its kind for the county…

According to a statement released by Shelby County:

James Earl RayIn 1968, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office purchased a Sony Videocorder and Video Camera for the purposes of documenting the extradition, incarceration, and proceedings as related to James Earl Ray for the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is believed that the personnel using the equipment were learning how to operate this technology as they recorded. As a result, the footage is not always as clear as we are accustomed to seeing today. Additional lighting is not used on most of the recordings. Audio portions are not always clear. There are inconsistencies in the video and audio tracks throughout the converted footage.

 

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