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When the past is present…

 

Hate Groups: Preparing for an Obama Win? Interviews with a White Supremacist and a Hate-Group Expert

By Keli Goff of theRoot.com

When retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson denounced the Republican Party as “full of racists” in a recent interview, he ignited a firestorm.

Though the comments were not the first time the Republican Party had been accused of being the chosen party for those harboring racist tendencies, it did mark one of the first times a high-profile Republican made such a stinging accusation.

Wilkerson made the remarks while defending his former boss and fellow Republican, former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell’s endorsement of Democratic President Barack Obama led some Republicans, among them Romney campaign surrogate John Sununu, to speculate that Powell’s presidential choice was motivated by race. While these developments led to fresh allegations that the Republican Party is the party of racists, there has been little coverage of the activity of actual, self-identified racists this election cycle, specifically those within the white supremacist movement.

In an interview with The Root, Mark Potok, one of the country’s leading experts on hate groups, said that the day after President Obama was elected there were so many new people expressing interest in white supremacist groups that websites for some of those groups actually crashed….

KKK Tupelo Miss 9:12 (ABC News)

The Ku Klux Klan burns a cross during a ritual near Tupelo, Mississippi, in September 2012. (ABC News)

In a recent TV segment for Nightline, Steven Howard, a grand wizard for the Ku Klux Klan, attempted to rev up his fellow Klansmen by chanting, “Barack Obama does not care about us, he does not care about America.” He later said, matter-of-factly, that if President Obama is re-elected there will be a race war, and white Americans will be in danger of being placed in concentration camps….

According to Howard, the only way to avoid such conflict is to divide up the United States of America by race. For anyone unwilling to cooperate, particularly Jews and blacks unwilling to relocate from the South, Howard says, “If they will not peacefully then the only way is through violence.”

Read the complete article here.

 

What a Surprise! AP poll: A slight majority of Americans are now expressing negative view of blacks

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not. Those views could cost President Barack Obama votes as he tries for re-election, the survey found, though the effects are mitigated by some people’s more favorable views of blacks.

OBAMA 2211351188672Obama supporters at a rope line reach out for the President.

A Washington Post – ABC News poll looks at who likely voters say they would vote for if the election were held today. Also, how those opinions vary among voter groups, and who voters trust more for different aspects of the job.

Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly….

In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey.

Obama niggardlyHomemade sign during election 2012 is, unfortunately, not rare.

When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.

Most Americans expressed anti-Hispanic sentiments, too….

The AP surveys were conducted with researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan and NORC at the University of Chicago.

“Part of it is growing polarization within American society,” said Fredrick Harris, director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University. “The last Democrat in the White House said we had to have a national discussion about race. There’s been total silence around issues of race with this president. But, as you see, whether there is silence, or an elevation of the discussion of race, you still have polarization. It will take more generations, I suspect, before we eliminate these deep feelings.”

Read more here.

Curator’s Note: The headline about the “majority of Americans” seems to imply that either the Americans tested all were white or that lots of people of color have come to hate blacks. If the first case is true, why didn’t the AP use “white Americans” in the title? If it’s the second, why did the AP not comment on this unusual finding? I suspect that the AP editors unconsciously assume that the real “Americans” in this country are white.

 

The White Romney Vote: Based on Race?

Blacks are accused of backing Obama out of racial loyalty, but white GOP voters get a pass.

By Les Payne for theRoot.com

…What exactly is the makeup of the GOP?

Alas, in this year of our Lord 2012, the Republican Party structurally is 97.9 percent non-African American, fielding only 47 blacks among the 4,411 delegates at its Tampa convention!

Mitt at RNC

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney rallies his supporters.

With blacks constituting some 13 percent of the electorate, the GOP, win or lose, is likely to register a popular vote that is 99.5 percent non-African American. And this near lily-white party operates in a diverse republic — with a black president, who attracted 43 percent of the white vote in ’08.

The pattern is no accident, for the GOP has been heading this way since President Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act, reconfirming blacks’ right to vote as granted by the 15th Amendment 95 years earlier. Repeatedly, blacks are called upon to explain why, other than because of his race, they would vote for Obama (after 128 years of voting for white presidents, including many avowed racists).

Indeed, blacks support President Obama for similar reasons to those stated in the New Yorker magazine’s endorsement: “[He] has achieved a run of ambitious legislative, social and foreign-policy successes that relieved a large measure of the human suffering and national shame inflicted by the Bush Administration. Obama has renewed the honor of the office he holds.”

That he happens to be African American, of course, is an added value of pride for African Americans.

Seldom, if ever, are whites queried about voting for the candidate of a predominantly white party, who is so shameless a panderer that even ranking party officials are knocked into a quandary over what exactly he believes. So the question arises:

Are whites voting against Obama chiefly because he’s black?

Read more here.

 

Mali’s Storytellers: Why Griots’ Indispensable Conflict-Resolution Skills Are At Risk Now

By Hannah Armstrong in the New York Times

BAMAKO, Mali — I had been waiting close to an hour for my coffee date when I ran into the colonel. Like many of Bamako’s power brokers, the 50-something officer, who is a friend, often conducts business on the broad terrace of the Lebanese café where we met. He always wears spotless gowns of the richest fabric and expensive European cologne.

Qaeda-linked Islamists are imposing a violent form of Shariah in northern Mali. Griots have helped to resolve earlier conflicts in the north. (Associated Press)

I mentioned that I was waiting to meet a griot, a traditional storyteller. His boyish, bulging eyes were suddenly defiant.

‘‘We don’t have griots anymore. Not us. We left that behind,’’ the colonel said, smirking.

[The griot] emerged from a taxi, spotted me, and advanced toward our table, squinting at the colonel. To my surprise, they embraced as old friends. He blushed as she sat down and took sudden control of the table, speaking loudly, blessing him, reminding him of shared history.

Her griot family, it turned out, has presided over his family’s weddings, baptisms and funerals for hundreds of years, praising, representing, serenading and chastising the colonel’s noble  relatives.

From birth, Malian griots are taught how to flatter the wealthy and mend social ruptures. From domestic disputes to wars between clans, the griot calms tempers, tames egos, and enjoys immunity. Several years back, when a fight between farmers and nomads in Mali and Guinea erupted into armed conflict, griots from both countries held a summit meeting that produced a resolution.

Perhaps the current crisis in Mali — more than six months ago the northern two-thirds of the country were seized by Qaeda-linked Islamists who are imposing a violent form of Shariah — might benefit from the soft touch of the griot?

Read more about Mali’s griots and why their role is threatened, here.

Read about the role of griots at our museum, here.

 

Who Was the First African American?

By Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in theRoot.com

Like many of you, I was always told that the first Africans to arrive in what is now the United States were the “20 and odd” Africans who arrived as slaves in Jamestown, Va., from what is now the country of Angola, in 1619.

Juan Garrido (left) (Diego Duran, Historia de las Indias de Nueve Espana
e Islas de la Tierra Firme, 1581)

But this turns out not to be true. As a matter of fact, Africans arrived in North America more than acentury before both the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock and before these Angolans arrived in Virginia. What’s more, we even know the identity of the first documented African to arrive,…and more astonishing, he wasn’t even a slave. Next year will be the 500th anniversary of his arrival in Florida, and the state plans to commemorate this remarkable event.

Read more about the extraordinary Juan Garrido here.

 

Chair hangings imply hanging-in-effigy of president

By Stephanie Harp in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News

In recent weeks, homeowners in  VirginiaTexasColorado and Washington state have hung empty chairs from trees.

chairlynchingWA

This display in Washington state is one of several that have appeared around the country recently.

This comes in the wake of actor Clint Eastwood’s empty chair speech at the Republican National Convention. Never mind agreeing or disagreeing with the presidential candidates. Eastwood clearly intended the viewer to imagine President Barack Obama in that empty chair. And those who displayed chairs in their yards, beginning less than three weeks later, clearly intended them to represent hanging Obama.

Some claimed they tied chairs in trees to prevent theft. That doesn’t pass the laugh test when other chairs remain on the homeowners’ porches. Neither do claims that the displays aren’t references to lynching. The implied hanging-in-effigy of our first African American president is about more than politics. If the chair hangers didn’t understand the shameful history they were invoking, they should have. Lynching is not a joke….

Most commonly committed by rope, though in myriad other ways as well, a lynching was designed to scare African Americans into submission. Lynchers often left their victims hanging on the edges of black neighborhoods, so every resident would understand the unmistakable message of white supremacy. Like the burning crosses of the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings were warnings to African Americans who, in local white opinion, didn’t know or keep “their place.”

HangInThereObama sign

Thomas Savka swears he’s a fan of President Obama, and says his controversial sign off Highway 21 in Redgranite, Wis. is only meant to grab your attention. But from far away, you can only read the larger red letters that say “HANG OBAMA.”

…Lynchings and racist threats didn’t end in some distant past: Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. both were killed in 1998. We can’t ignore this history, or joke about it.

Disagreements about policy and politics is one thing. Threats of racially motivated, violent hate crimes are quite another and have no place in a democracy that claims to celebrate diversity and equal rights.

Read more here.

 

The Difference Between Equity and Binders Full of Anybody

By Rinku Sen of Colorlines.com

Maybe I have no sense of humor, but when Gov. Mitt Romney said the words “binders full of women” during this week’s debate, it didn’t occur to me to make an Internet joke, complete with visuals of feminine legs sticking out of binders. He seemed to have left out a word—maybe resumés?—but I sure didn’t predict multiple Tumblrs being built around it.

diversity_101812-thumb-640xauto-6951

This is DIVERSITY – but is it EQUITY? Do we want affirmative action for diversity only, or for equal pay for equal work and equal say at the table as well?

I was more struck by the fact that he answered a question about pay equity with a story about diversity hiring. If we had the language as a society to describe this difference, the jokes might have been more pointed. Diversity is about variety, getting bodies with different genders and colors into the room. Equity is about how those bodies get in the door and what they are able to do in their posts. A diversity approach has gotten us to the point where Romney could get a binder full of women’s resumés. (Though, notably, the real credit goes to the group MassGAP, which pushed the governor’s office to hire more women in high-level posts.) An equity approach is what would have forced him to address the pay gap, which I bet all the women in those binders have experienced.

Why does this distinction matter? After nearly 50 years of applying anti-discrimination laws, American workplaces are still dominated by white men. Men of color and all women have more access to some jobs than they used to, but the ranks of decisionmakers come nowhere close to reflecting our numbers in the nation as a whole. This is the root of the “tokenism” complaint that I hear constantly as I travel the country. Tokenism means that you can come to the meeting, but no one will pay any attention to what you say. It means that the workplace will open the door to you, as long as you look (to the extent possible) and act just like the white men who are already there. It means that you’ll get invited to the party, but you won’t be allowed to make any requests of the DJ or help set the playlist.

Read more here.

 

Making America America

By Marion Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund, for the Huffington Post

Dr. Vincent Harding, an acclaimed historian, religious scholar and activist known for his work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., believes America is a wounded nation.

Dr. Vincent Hardy, civil rights

Dr. Vincent Gordon Harding (born July 25, 1931) is a historian and a scholar of religion and society. An activist as well, he is best known for his work with and writings about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even after so many years of struggle, he is convinced that America can and must get better.

Today Dr. Harding is the Chair of the Veterans of Hope Project at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, whose mission is to encourage a healing, intergenerational approach to social justice activism that recognizes the interconnectedness of spirit, creativity and citizenship. On his 81st birthday, he spoke at the National and Racial Healing Town Hall at the Children’s Defense Fund’s recent conference urging all of his listeners to commit themselves to heal America and make our country what it should be.

He shared a line he heard a West African poet recite: “He made this fantastic statement that I want to pass on to you as a birthday gift. He said, ‘I am a citizen of a country that does not yet exist.'”

The poet was speaking about his homeland, which was going through political turmoil on the road to independence. But Dr. Harding said it applies to our current national spiritual and moral crisis: “We are citizens of a country that we still have to create — a just country, a compassionate country, a forgiving country, a multiracial, multi-religious country, a joyful country that cares about its children and about its elders, that cares about itself and about the world, that cares about what the earth needs as well as what individual people need.

Read the full article here.

 

Blackface: In 2012, blackface is still popular around the world from Japan to the Netherlands

By Lori L. Tharps for theGrio.com

It’s 2012. Why are we still talking about blackface?

blackface-new-orleans

People dressed in blackface ride a float during the Zulu parade, a primarily African-American parade, during Mardi Gras festivities February 8, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mardi Gras is the last carnival celebration before the start of the Catholic holiday Lent, which begins February 9 on Ash Wednesday. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

It’s true there has never been an official ban on blackface put forth by our national government, but as Americans we’ve pretty much agreed that when white people smear their face with black make-up and paint their lips a cherry red in imitation of black people, it’s offensive.

In fact, since the 1960s, blackface has officially been placed on the list of taboo topics most people know to avoid like the plague. Of course, not everyone read the memo. Like Ted Danson in that infamous Friars Club fiasco back in 1993 or the boys in upstate New York last week — yes last week — who thought donning blackface would make for a funny skit at their high school while a re-enacting the Chris Brown-Rihanna domestic violence incident.

And then of course, there’s the rest of the world. Outside of the United States, blackface and sambo imagery is still all the rage.

national-racist-food-watermelon-soda.jpgFrom Mexico to South Africa, in Sweden and in Germany, it is not uncommon to find what we in the United States would consider racist images of black people being used on product labels and in advertising for everything from popsicles to chocolate candies. And then there are the countries where donning blackface is actually a regular part of the cultural experience.

Read more here.

racist-food-black-man-toothpaste.jpg

 

 

Students in blackface re-enact Chris Brown beating Rihanna

By Moni Basu and Daphne Sashin at CNN

It was a homecoming rally to cheer on the Waverly Wolverines football team. They were undefeated this year. Everyone was proud.

waverly-high-skit-story-top

A photo of a skit performed at a Waverly High School pep rally has gone viral, sparking controversy.

Then, in the midst of the cheers and a sea of red and white pom poms came a 30-second skit that, for some, turned an afternoon of school pride into one of shame.

Three white male students involved in the skit made light of domestic violence, and they did it in racist manner, say some.

Two were in blackface as they re-enacted a 2009 domestic abuse incident in which singer Chris Brown assaulted then-girlfriend Rihanna. The student who played Brown was vying for the school’s “Mr. Waverly” title — a school tradition in which skits are performed and the one that garners the most applause wins the title.

On Monday, Waverly alum Matthew Dishler posted a photograph of the skit on CNN’s iReport. He says someone shared the image on Facebook.

The photo went viral.

By Tuesday afternoon, the CNN iReport had more than 46,000 views and showed up on Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Gawker and in local newspapers.

Suddenly, Waverly High School became synonymous with racism and sexism.

Read the full article here and find out if the initiator of the skit won the coveted “Mr. Waverly” title.