Archive for April, 2014

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, Race Relations In America

Sunday, April 20th, 2014


afrocityblog.wordpress.com

Ongoing Harms and Gambling Metaphor
Roy Brooks in his book Atonement and Forgiveness, uses the metaphor of the poker game to describe how the deck has been stacked against blacks in the game of life in the US. This poker game in which white people have used their great advantage of wealth due to an accumulation that is partially based on the history of slavery, Jim Crow laws and modern racism (Brooks 37); as Brooks says, the chips are all in the hands of the whites who have decided that from now on they will no longer cheat (36). The original sin of racism, to paraphrase Richard Cammareri in Moyers Journal piece on the 40th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report has been a strain and stain on relations between the races (Moyers). The analogy to the poker game perhaps is useful, although I would contend that the white over class who Brooks claims in this example to desire to play fair from some unspecified current time, are still holding cards up their sleeves.


scotterb.files.wordpress.com

The Bill Moyers Journal episode of March 28, 2008, on the 40th anniversary of the report officially titled REPORT OF THE NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMISSION ON CIVIL DISORDERS, known as the Kerner Commission Report or just the Kerner Report, provided damning evidence of how the consequence of racism, or in this case an apartheid like separation of American society into as the report describes it “Our Nation Is Moving Toward Two Societies, One Black, One White—Separate and Unequal” (Moyers ). This report written as a consequence of riots in cities across the US in the summer of 1967, was originally done at the bequest of President Johnson who as Moyers states, thought there was a conspiracy in the country led by groups like the then recently formed Black Panther Party. The Commission disabused the nation of any conspiracy putting the blame on the apartheid like separation, lack of jobs, poor schools, inadequate health care and dilapidated housing in the inner cities which had by that time become predominantly black ghettos.


media.npr.org
The small town of Cambridge, Md., went up in flames July 1967.

The 2008 revisiting of the conditions described by the report indicates that these conditions to a great extent have not changed. Quoting Dr. Herbert Smitherman “In 1970, the infant mortality rate…was about 65 percent higher in the black community than in the white community. Currently, it is about 205 percent higher in the black community than the white” (Moyers). More examples are given in testimony before members of the current Eisenhower Foundation which carries on the work started by the Kerner Commission to continue to do research on and investigate means to mitigate the results of racism in America (Moyers). Not only has there been white flight but as Josephine Huygue said speaking of her city Detroit, “with the continuation of white flight that started in the ‘50s has been compounded by the exodus of the middle and upper class blacks” (Moyers). Komozi Woodard calls it an “urban catastrophe” citing Katrina as a modern example (Moyers). And so it goes, there has been perhaps the creation of an enlarged black middle class, but poverty, income disparity, health disparities and the emergence of a prison industrial complex as Roy Levy Williams states, gives rise to the conclusion that the game is still stacked against blacks for reasons other than simply the disparity of accumulated wealth. There are institutional barriers related to current economic conditions, discrimination based in a lack of educational opportunities, and the history of racism that goes back to slavery as Brooks indicates (Brooks 37).


jamieutt.files.wordpress.com

Poker is certainly being played but the White power establishment is the house, and the blacks, other minorities and poor people generally are the gamblers getting fleeced. This is not just a case of one side keeping all the accumulated wealth in their pockets from the past; this is a situation in which the nature of the game has not changed. Only the window dressing has been given a black face. Not to belittle Obama’s efforts, but the institutions have not changed at heart and progress made in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s was lost in the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s. Now there is some chipping away around the edges with an inadequate health care reform, slight modification of prison sentencing policies and the expansion of a pressure cooker release valve, in which ambitious blacks are allowed some escape into the establishment rather than providing radical leadership as Ms. Hugyue alluded to. This is not solving the basic inequity of the modern capitalist system in America. As one who has witnessed and participated in this process over the years, I am disheartened by the lack of progress, although a class such as the current one is a step in the direction of awareness, sort of like teach in with credit. What is needed is a little more heated action to remind the elites that there are people tired of empty promises and token changes.


www.libraries.wright.edu

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was an active participant in protests in Dayton, Ohio.

Brooks seems to be making an argument for reparations, at least based on the title of his book, based on the concept of leveling the playing field. Responding to arguments by conservatives like the Thernstroms and D’Souza who argue for personal responsibility on the part of blacks or the lack thereof as being primary, what they call a “dysfunctional black culture” (Brooks 38, 43), Brooks goes through intellectual hoops to prove them wrong. Fred Harris says that the Regan administration did more damage by claiming that government programs did not work (Moyers) and defunding many of them to make sure that they didn’t. Thus the US might have been in a much more equitable position had reforms of the 1960’s and 1970’s been allowed to succeed. Instead what has happened has been liberal defensiveness, President Clinton colluding in destroying the safety net, and so on into the train wreck of social inequity that we have today in the US. Arguing for a level playing field by asking for some reparations as an act of atonement, is a little like rattling the tin can asking for hand-outs in my view. Organizing and taking action to demand social justice is more along the lines of what is needed. The ballot, the courts, backed by action in the streets is the ticket, even Obama recognizes that paraphrasing Roosevelt. But ultimately in this writers view, race is one aspect of a larger wealth distribution problem. Race relations and racism happens to be the most egregious form of this system of increasing wealth concentration and inequity. All boats may rise with the tide, but leaky boats will spend more time baling than benefiting. All of us deserve better boat maintenance to use another metaphor.


troianienglish1.weebly.com

Brooks, Roy L. Atonement and Forgiveness A New Model for Black Reparations. Berkeley: U of California P. 2006. Beachboard PDF. Web. 11 April 2014.
Moyers, Bill. “The Kerner Commission - 40 Years Later,” Bill Moyers Journal. Public Affairs Television 2008. Transcript pbs.org. Web. 13 April 2014.

Unknown Knowns & The Obfuscation King

Sunday, April 13th, 2014


37.media.tumblr.com

Donald Rumsfeld & Saddam Hussein in happier times…

Just went to see the Errol Morris documentary The Unknown Known, an interview with Donald Rumsfeld. Before the movie, my girlfriend and I wandered onto the Santa Monica mall and saw the novel sight of a Ukrainian cultural booth. First time I have ever seen such a thing. I wonder of the State Department is behind some kind of government campaign to use that little bit of smoke and mirrors to push what seems to be a fairly transparent power grab to use the new gas and oil surplus to steal markets away from the Russians in Europe, long range granted, but a national security scare could help give cover to the President signing the Pipeline bill as a national security measure. Why else would such an intense war drumbeat be induced on such a distant and murky affair?


www.cjournal.info

“The Western World Screams for War… Who’s Standing for Peace? » Barbara-Marie Drezhlo” some pro-Russian Propaganda.

But on the the Donald, cocky bastard that Rumsfeld, someone my girlfriend, who was in high school during the Iraq war, thought to be charming. Charming obfuscation perhaps, Rumsfeld came off as an ambitious schemer and dreamer, so misunderstood, he welled up with tears a the thought that a dieing soldier returning from Iraq, a war he Rumsfeld had bungled badly, came back from the dead, a Lazarus who, by association Rummy himself seemed to be hinting was also his historical fate, to be raised up from the depths of his own failure, as the Secretary of Defense responsible for declaring enemy combatants to not be POW’s, for the mishandling of the Iraq insurgency and the eventual end of his tenure as Secretary at the insistence of military professionals tired of Rumsfeld’s experimentation, and incessant questioning of the meaning of the nature of reality, constantly riding on his egocentric desire to know the unknown, to imagine the unimagined and to seek the dictionary definition of all in an ongoing quest for his ultimate conquest of fate. History is in Rumsfeld’s world to be mastered, by imagineering, to borrow a Disney phrase that seems quite in line with the Rumsfeld imagined world.


upload.wikimedia.org

Ford appointed Rumsfeld White House Chief of Staff, where he served from 1974 to 1975.

Consummate political operator, he managed to evade the fallout from Nixon’s failed regime, sidestep the defeat of Ford, put a good face on Reagan passing him over for Vice President when his nemesis, George Bush senior took the position and managed to parlay the coattail effect to become President. Rumsfeld managed to become special envoy to the Middle East after the Lebanon bombing in 1983 of the US Marine base, part of a peacekeeping force after the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon. Rumsfeld gave some good advice then, he advised that the US stay out of Middle Eastern affairs until called upon, no more volunteering for peace keeping forces and such. He ignored his own advice when he and Vice President Dick Cheney, advised President Bush to go after Saddam Hussein despite his knowing that Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11,


witnessiraq.com

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, President Bush the second and Vice President Dick Cheney

Rumsfeld came off as a full of himself and someone who was attempting to use Morris’s documentary as his soapbox, but alas for Rumsfeld, Morris, simply let him go on and we end up with an example of another man who would be king.


graphics8.nytimes.com

Cheshire Rumsfeld Through The Morris Looking Glass.


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