Ibram X. Kendi; the cover of his book, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
There are some books that just demand space on your bookshelf—not just because they’re interesting but also because these books break new ground in a way that will enrich your intellectual life. A new book on racism, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, written by Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D., a University of Florida professor of Africana studies, is such a book.
The winner of the 2016 National Book Award for nonfiction, Kendi has done something that’s damn near impossible: write a book about racism that breaks new ground, while being written in a way that’s accessible to the nonacademic. If you’ve ever been interested in how racist ideas spread throughout the United States, this is the book to read. The Root talked to Kendi about what inspired the book, why white people have a hard time dealing with their own racism and whether racism can ever be eliminated.
…Four people, including a newborn baby, have died at the Milwaukee County Jail since April. One man, a 38-year-old with mental health issues, died of “profound dehydration.” For a facility with a population cap of 960 that previously averaged a couple of deaths per year, the string of deaths is concerning.
[A court-appointed medical monitor, Dr. Ronald Shanksy, has interviewed staffers at the jail that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke runs.] During his visit, Shanksy said he was alarmed by the “extremely large number of vacancies” at the facility, particularly for medical positions.
“Questions certainly can be raised about the occurrence of these four recent deaths and the relationship to officer shortages … as well as the health care staffing vacancies and the adequacy of oversight of staff,” Shanksy wrote.
Now Clarke may be overseeing a much larger operation. Clarke was in New York City once again this week to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. He’s reportedly in the running to take over the Department of Homeland Security, and said he would accept a Trump cabinet position if asked.
Clarke’s national profile rose a few years ago when he began making regular appearances on Fox News in late 2014 to talk about policing after the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of Michael Brown. Since then, he’s made a name for himself by providing a voice for those who want to believe there’s nothing wrong with our criminal justice system and to ignore America’s historic racial inequalities.
Clarke, who grew up in a white neighborhood and attended a mostly white private high school, has said African Americans sell drugs “because they’re uneducated, they’re lazy, and they’re morally bankrupt.” He calls Black Lives Matter “Black Lies Matter” and compared them to the KKK. He once claimed that “police brutality ended in the 1960s.” Clarke made an appearance in July at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where RNC delegates gave him a standing ovation as he proclaimed “Blue Lives Matter” and celebrated the acquittal of a Baltimore officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray….
A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial said Clarke’s office had been “shamefully silent” about the deaths and hasn’t provided records regarding outside investigations that the county is legally required to have.
“Maybe Clarke thinks the peasants of Milwaukee County don’t need to know what’s happening at the jail. Maybe he’s hoping for a call from President-elect Donald Trump (for whom he campaigned so eagerly while people were dying in his jail) so that he can walk away from doing his job,” the editorial said. “Whatever his faulty reasoning, he’s wrong. Clarke owes the public answers about the deaths and about the state of inmate care at the jail. And the public deserves a sheriff who will do his job.”
From the time she officially announced her candidacy, I had been adamant that I would not vote for Hillary Clinton. Whatever common experiences we shared because of our womanhood were not enough to make me overlook my legitimate concerns over her political positions and history. I’m a black woman. There was no amount of resentment for Clinton that would have made me vote for Donald Trump. No, I was not with her, but I wasn’t even on the same planet as him.
That Donald Trump, with no prior political experience, was elected to the highest office of the most powerful country on earth was shocking. What exit poll data revealed was utterly astounding. More than half of the white women who voted — 53 percent — had voted for Donald Trump.
White women had everything to gain, or at least maintain, by electing Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Beyond the historical significance of electing the first woman — a white woman — president of the United States, Clinton’s policies would have no doubt been more female-friendly than Trump’s, who has said he would appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices in a signal of support for overturning Roe v. Wade, and has even argued that women should suffer punishment for having abortions. Trump has an unabashedly misogynist constituency to appease. That appeasement will most likely come at the cost of women’s rights.
But still, white women, across borders of income and education, supported him…Racist white women held firm to the fact that they may be women — oppressed, marginalized and preyed upon — but at least they’re still white. Trump, in coded language, promised to preserve that whiteness. He promised them that even fighting for the right to make choices for their own bodies and paid less, they’d still have the power of their whiteness.
A proposal to create apartments and a new home for America’s Black Holocaust Museum on Milwaukee’s north side provides an opportunity for people to better understand this country’s racial divisions, the development’s supporters said Monday.
ABHM will be re-established on its old footprint on 4th & North Avenue in Milwaukee WI. The apartment building above it in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood will be called The Griot, in honor of ABHM founder and lynching survivor, Dr. James Cameron.
It’s important to have places where people can “explore how one we are, and how there is no ‘other,'” Brad Pruitt, a museum spokesman, said at Monday’s meeting of the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee.
The committee voted 5-0 to recommend approval of the $16.6 million development, which will include $1.4 million in city funds. Those funds will be repaid through new property taxes from the apartments.
Maures Development Group LLC and J. Jeffers & Co. plan to renovate the former Garfield Avenue Elementary School, 2215 N. 4th St., and build a new apartment building with street-level commercial space, including the museum, just north of the former school.
The three-story former school will be converted into 30 affordable apartments.
The former America’s Black Holocaust Museum, 2235 N. 4th St., and a vacant building, 411 W. North Ave., will be demolished to make way for a new four-story building, known as The Griot, with the museum, a possible cafe and 41 affordable and market-rate apartments.
By Sharon Leslie Morgan and Thomas Norman DeWolf, Beacon Broadside
[Editor’s note: Normally we excerpt articles, posting only a portion and including a link back to the original article. This time, however, because many visitors to ABHM are struggling to make sense of the election and what to do now, we have decided to post this article in its entirety for the perspectives and wisdom its authors offer. Sharon Morgan and Thomas DeWolf keynoted ABHM’s Founder’s Day Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation in 2014.]
Whitelash: from Thomas Norman DeWolf
A week has passed since a man who repeatedly espoused intolerance, racism, sexism, and white/male supremacy, and incited violence against those who opposed him, was elected President of the United States. I still can’t wrap my head around it.
The president-elect has now appointed the former head of Breitbart News as his chief strategist and senior counselor; a man and an organization seen as the flagship of the so-called alt-right; people who espouse extreme anti-Semitic and white supremacist beliefs. This appointment is consistent with his entire campaign: a confirmation that intolerance, bigotry, and misogyny will be key policy components of the new administration. I’ve felt for several years that we have been making progress in the United States regarding issues of race, gender and religious tolerance and acceptance; equality, justice, respect and peace for all people. I want to believe we still are.
When I woke up Wednesday morning, my first thoughts were of our two granddaughters who would soon wake up and prepare to go to school. How do I explain to them that the man who incessantly spouts vulgar words they aren’t allowed to use, who is a horrible role model for children and adults, will now
Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, has been appointed chief advisor and strategist by the president-elect. “Darkness is good,” Bannon told The Hollywood Reporter today. “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.”
become President of the United States and leader of the free world? I shared on my blog what we talked about: intolerance and kindness; fear and love; as well as the responsibilities we have to support our values, our nation, and each other.
As a white man, I believe it is critically important that I, and all white people, listen to those who have been marginalized, people the president-elect and many of his supporters have targeted. Listen to what Van Jones said about Surviving the Whitelash. Watch Dave Chappelle’s monologue on Saturday Night Live. Listen to teachers who have students from other countries who are terrified they will be deported. Read about horrible, abusive acts committed since the election—perpetrated by people emboldened by the president-elect. The level of fear about what may happen soon, and for many years after, is understandably quite high.
Speaking specifically to white people, it is important for us first to listen to those who feel most vulnerable now. Then ask what we can do to support them. How can I be an effective ally? What can I do to help prevent the implementation of policies and actions that create more harm; that not only don’t “make America great again,” but, in fact, are contrary to the ideals upon which this nation was founded and has never truly lived up to. Based on what we’ve witnessed over the past year, and in the past week, we must remain vigilant and committed to truth, justice, equality, and peace.
Blacklash: from Sharon Leslie Morgan
I could not believe my eyes as I watched the election returns on television. I stayed awake until the sun came up trying process the realization that the unthinkable happened; that the forward strides generations of people struggled and died for went swirling down a drain of ignorance and bigotry. I spent the day in a stupor, barely able to get out of bed. A week later, the media and sycophants that helped propel Trump to victory are mobilizing to normalize his image. I am in shock as the travesty continues to unfold with the selection of a rogue’s cabinet of morally reprehensible hypocrites and race-baiters.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, has a long record of opposing civil rights and animus against African Americans and immigrants.
Like Tom, I was with my grandchildren during the days after the election. We had a similar conversation about human values, but mine was more focused on safety. The wave of terror that has been legitimized by Trump and is being exploited by his followers is a clear and present danger to the ones I love. My heart is heavy. I am sad, angry and afraid.
I get it that people are mad…mad at the system. I agree that the ENTIRE system is flawed and dysfunctional. But, Trump is NOT the solution. Rather, he is the embodiment of everything that is wrong. Anyone who thinks otherwise is guilty of cognitive dissonance that is apocalyptic. It is devastating to witness the fall of America into the hands of a megalomaniac on a mission to “make America great again” by undermining absolutely every principle of decency and fairness. Under Trump, things will get worse…much worse. The one-tenth of one percent will keep getting richer…phenomenally so. The rest of us will become even more impoverished through the loss of our social safety nets. The people who voted for him will be dismayed as he reveals his true nature as a man who cares nothing for anyone but himself.
Black Lives Matter protest against St. Paul police brutality. Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue
I hope all right-thinking people will unite to resist and protest in every possible way. I am glad protesters are marching in the streets in cities across the land. I long to see a million women turn up in D.C. on inauguration day. I implore people to close their wallets and refuse to patronize Trump-owned businesses. I applaud sanctuary cities and pray they stand firm in their resolve to give refuge to undocumented immigrants. I need the ACLU and the SPLC to remain vigilant. I caution the Democratic Party to do some deep soul searching and find a strong voice of resistance in Congress. I pray Republicans will disavow the hateful rhetoric that put them in control. I beg that world leaders not give in to threats and intimidation. I urge EVERYONE to speak up and speak out.
Donald Trump is NOT my president. I cringe at the thought of the Trump family defiling the White House with their presence. I cannot imagine Melania Trump as the first lady of the United States. I feel as though we have experienced a coup d’état, and the only thing that will reverse it is a revolution.
Black Lives Matter protest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the day after the election. Photo by Barbara Miner.
Deep, authentic relationships with people we’ve been raised to see as “other” are key to understanding and reversing the impacts of racism and other forms of intolerance and inequity, and the misuse of power and privilege. For the two of us, there is solace in knowing that someone shares our beliefs and commitment to social justice. We have built a friendship over the years that helps sustain us. We can talk with and lean on each other in times of madness and sadness, as we did on election night and surely in days to come.
It is crucial that we take whatever action we can to support Black Lives Matter, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), and the many other organizations that champion the rights of women, members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, disabled people, and immigrants. The time is right for initiatives such as the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation effort that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will launch in 2017 in partnership with more than one hundred public, private, and non-profit organizations throughout the United States. We also urge you to get involved with organizations like Coming to the Table that “provides leadership, resources and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery.” CTTT’s focus on establishing affiliate groups that create safe spaces for people to gather together to hear each other’s stories, to learn about each other, and to build relationships and understanding, is a critically important resource in the days and years ahead.
Our training in Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) teaches that humans, when confronted with danger, have an immediate impulse to either flee or fight. We can’t flee because this is our country. We live here. We have no choice but to endure whatever comes. But that does not mean we should go silently. Use your voice. Do what you can. We must not abrogate our responsibility to our children, grandchildren, and future generations. Through it all, we must realize how much we need each other. Now, more than ever, we must stand strong TOGETHER and not let the powers of darkness obliterate the light.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch is urging Americans to report any hate crimes they witness to both their local law enforcement and the Justice Department.
In a video statement she released on Friday, Lynch acknowledged the recent report released by the FBI that announced a national surge of 67 percent in anti-Muslim attacks in 2015 and an overall uptick of hate crimes by 6.7 percent last year in comparison to 2014. She also addressed the spike in alleged hate crimes that have been reported in the days since President-elect Donald Trump’s victory and encouraged Americans to continue to report these incidents while the FBI investigates whether or not they “constitute violations of federal law.”
“We need you to continue to report these incidents to local law enforcement, as well as the Justice Department, so that our career investigators and prosecutors can take action to defend your rights,” Lynch said in the video.
In 2016, researchers stumbled on a radical tactic for reducing another person’s bigotry: a frank, brief conversation.
The study, authored by David Broockman at Stanford University and Joshua Kalla at the University of California Berkeley, looked at how simple conversations can help combat anti-transgender attitudes. In the research, people canvassed the homes of more than 500 voters in South Florida. The canvassers, who could be trans or not, asked the voters to simply put themselves in the shoes of trans people — to understand their problems — through a 10-minute, non-confrontational conversation. The hope was that the brief discussion could lead people to reevaluate their biases.
It worked. The trial found not only that voters’ anti-trans attitudes declined but that they remained lower three months later, showing an enduring result. And those voters’ support for laws that protect trans people from discrimination increased, even when they were presented with counterarguments for such laws.
…It is possible to reduce people’s racial anxiety and prejudices. And the canvassing idea was regarded as very promising. But, researchers cautioned, the process of reducing people’s racism will take time and, crucially, empathy… This will require conversations. Maybe it will be through canvassing by activists, much like the transgender study. Maybe churches and schools can take on public education campaigns. Maybe these and other civic institutions can facilitate public forums in which people can openly discuss these problems.
The key to these conversations, though, is empathy. And it will take a lot of empathy — not just for one conversation but many, many conversations in several settings over possibly many years. It won’t be easy, but if we want to address some people’s deeply entrenched racial attitudes, it may be the only way.
By Andrea Waxman- Milwaukee neighborhood News Service
Vaun Mayes (left) talks to several teens riding bikes in the neighborhood about joining the Sherman Park Youth Stipend Program. Volunteer mentor Derrick Madlock (second from left) looks on. (Photo by Andrea Waxman)
On a recent Saturday morning, about 30 teens assembled at the edge of the playground at the Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club in Sherman Park. Under a sparkling blue sky and vibrantly colored trees, the hoodie-clad youth picked up gloves, rakes and garbage bags and headed east to 41st Street.
The young men and women from Program the Parks, a grassroots Sherman Park youth initiative started early last summer, together with adult and teen volunteers from Running Rebels, raked leaves from the lawns of the tidy bungalows lined up across from the park and piled them in the street.
Niekale Steward, 16, comes to Program the Parks activities more than once a week to help out. He said his friends come and he has made new friends through the program.
Steward said that Vaun Mayes, founder of Program the Parks, is like a big brother to him. “He’s a strong leader. (He always wants) me to do something with my life, not just be like everybody else; not be out here stealing cars and stuff like the other teens,” Steward said.
Mayes started working with young people congregating in Sherman Park when he heard about fights taking place there early last summer. Since then he has attracted a group of volunteers and donors and has developed a schedule of activities for youth that includes free meals, games, social gatherings and skill-building sessions. People who want to donate can do so through their PayPal account.
Please join America’s Black Holocaust Museum in celebrating our annual
Founder’s Day Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Centennial Hall in downtown Milwaukee
Let’s Face It: How Communities Are Remembering and Repairing Racial Trauma
Memorial in Duluth MIN for 3 men lynched there in 1920.
A program exploring the questions:
How should America commemorate some of the most disturbing chapters of our racial history?
How might that commemoration help or hurt victims, perpetrators and bystanders.
What role should our museums and institutions play in the work of memory and racial healing?
These issues have become extremely relevant in light of current events.
A scene from the film showing the annual lynching re-enactment at Moore’s Ford Bridge in Georgia.
Morning-Only (Open to public): Premiere screening of a new documentary film, Always in Season. The film shows how lynching still impacts Americans and follows the efforts of descendants of victims and perpetrators in four communities who work to acknowledge the victims, repair the damage, and reconcile. Film to be followed by an audience talkback with the filmmaker and cast. Tickets will go on sale in December 2016. Please return to this page then for links to ticket sales.
Doria D. Johnson will deliver the luncheon keynote on the ethics and impact of memory work on victims, perpetrators, and witnesses. She is the descendant of wealthy farmer and lynching victim, Anthony Crawford; a public historian; and a 2016 Nelson Mandela Fellow.
All-Day (Open to personnel from Sponsoring Organizations): During a luncheon keynote and small breakout dialogue groups, 10 presenters from across the country will share their communities’ emerging strategies for remembering and repairing racial trauma. To become an Organizational Sponsor, please contact Fran Kaplan at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin.
With just a week until Election Day, the Ku Klux Klan appears to be ramping up its effort to get GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump into the White House.
KKK fliers left in Madison Alabama, neighborhood solicit votes for Trump. Photo by Christina Ailsworth in her tweet.
Residents in Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Louisiana have all reported finding fliers from the KKK outside their homes in recent days. The materials contain calls for people to vote and join the organization as it tackles hot-button social issues with exactly the level of contemplation you might expect from a racist hate group.
“Please join and help us take our country back,” reads a flier recently distributed in Madison, Alabama. “Black Lives Matter Black Panthers are telling followers to kill white people and police officers in the name of justice for the killing of Negro’s (sic) by policemen in the line of duty. These Negro’s (sic) were not innocent. They were thugs breaking the law, and standing up against police.” …
[A] KKK newspaper officially endorsed Trump last month, with a column borrowing the Republican’s campaign slogan….Louisiana Senate candidate David Duke, a former KKK leader who has repeatedly embraced Trump’s mantle, released an ad last week calling for supporters to vote for Trump on Election Day….
These are just the latest examples of white supremacists seizing on the Trump movement in hopes of getting more visibility for their own causes, said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups.
“They feel that their message is more palatable now that, in their view, a major political candidate is virtually saying the same things,” Potok said.
But while these groups may be getting more attention, they’re still fringe compared to Trump, who has the support of more than 40 percent of Americans, according to recent polling.
“The Klan and other groups have probably grown thanks to Trump,” Potok said. “But the claims that they’ve recruited thousands and thousands and thousands of people as a result of Trump’s candidacy and the whole politics of the last year are clearly false.”
Trump’s campaign pushed back on the KKK newspaper’s endorsement, saying in a statement late Tuesday that “their views do not represent the tens of millions of Americans who are united behind our campaign.