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Everything posted by KENNETH

  1. Richard if I keep getting feedback like yours' I might stick with this blog. I think parties and labels have their place in a democratic polity. At the same time notions of liberal or conservative must be reinterpreted in terms of race and the black experience. White people right, left, and center must be challenged when it comes to the struggle for black freedom. As far as the political right it's not just white people. Black conservatives who deny systemic racism pose a challenge too.
  2. Thanks so much Richard for your response. You make a good point that goes to the heart of the contradiction in American history. The genocide of indigenous people and enslavement of blacks were conscious collectively racist acts by people who built a legal and constitutional framework around individualism. In a sense racism is systemic even collective yet it enables white people to view themselves and function as individuals. They then deny the systemic problem and black experience.
  3. Maybe it's not fair or accurate to say conservatism and its adherents are racist. Racism certainly cuts across political boundaries and includes white liberals too. However conservatism is problematic because it denies systemic racism, it benefits from backlash politics, and it envisions an orderly and decent society that tolerates racism. While there is nothing racist in philosophical conservatism, it's easy to understand why conservatives are called racist because of what they do. Conservatives deny systemic racism thinking it ended with the Civil Rights Movement. That was only a start. Overt racism and legal segregation are no longer a problem, but subtle racism is real. It's how systemic racism works. This racism that still holds black people back economically, socially, and politically. Things like stop and frisk are not isolated incidents. It's official policy for how black neighborhoods are policed. Black people with the same credit and income as whites still pay higher interest rates on a home mortgage. These things happen all the time because it's how society works. Conservatives blame blacks for racial inequality. They cite culture and behaviors like crime, violence, fatherlessness, the decline of marriage, lack of academic engagement, and government programs that discourage work. There was a time when these things were less problematic among blacks, and we were not fully free or equal then either. Racism and an unfair economy put black people in abnormal conditions. It's wrong to expect them to live healthy, normal, decent lives under those circumstances. Conservatives know better to suggest otherwise, but their politics depends on not blaming society. Conservatives benefit from backlash politics appealing to white resentments and fears of racial equality. For some whites any progress by blacks is a threat. Conservatives knew this in the sixties, so they appealed to racism for political gain. They spread racist stereotypes about lazy black welfare recipients living off hard working whites' tax dollars and black criminals who threatened white lives and property. They did this despite the fact more whites get welfare than blacks, and blacks are more likely to commit crimes against other blacks than whites. Over the years this racial politics has become increasingly populist. The narrative goes like this - wealthy liberal elites in the media, entertainment, academia, technology, and government wrongly vilify working class whites as racists. The elite advances blacks at the expense of whites struggling to maintain their way of life and economic wellbeing. In this telling - busing destroyed white neighborhoods and schools in the name of forced integration. Affirmative Action took jobs and college admissions away from qualified whites in favor of unqualified blacks. Today these liberals preside over a global economy driven by technology, finance, free trade, and immigration that is destroying white jobs, communities, and culture. Meanwhile whites can't say or do anything without being labeled racist. At the same time blacks want reparations and to defund the police which liberals will gladly do. To these whites Donald Trump was a hero who fought back. He was their president. Trump was the man fighting the oppressive deep state and globalism that undermined ordinary decent white working Americans. It doesn't matter that Trump and other rich people along with corporate interests rigged the economy to lower their taxes, pay workers less, destroy unions. They play the stock market taking risks they can't afford and get government bailouts when markets collapse. These same people give money to politicians in both parties who cut safety nets and regulations that benefit the people. Conservatives appeal to racism and white victimology while doing things that undermine whites economically and socially. Meanwhile blacks bear the burdens of racial discrimination and economic inequality. Conservatives opposed civil rights laws in the 1960s believing they were government overreach that threatened personal liberty and property rights. All the while they claimed to be against racism and believe all individuals should be equal before the law. What this did in effect was to prioritize the liberty and wellbeing of whites over blacks. It didn't matter to conservatives that legal segregation in the south and de facto racism in other parts of the country harmed blacks or deprived them of the equal right to liberty. This situation would not work itself out. Conservatives is clear about what should be preserved, but it's never sure about what needs to change. They have too much invested in the past and too much to lose in the present by changing their views. The stable, orderly, moral, society conservatives believe is essential to human wellbeing is problematic. It allows injustice against blacks and depends on the goodwill of whites to voluntarily treat blacks better as individuals. But the government shouldn't do anything because that would be unfair to whites. At the same time conservatives urge blacks to fix themselves morally and culturally. They say stop blaming white society or relying on liberal government to solve their problems. In this way conservatives let themselves and America off the hook. Conservatism is too important politically to go unchallenged when it comes to race.
  4. Individual freedom is what America is all about. You can do what you want and make the most of your own life. Success or failure is up to you. That's what we are told and most of us think that is how we live. I think there is a lot of truth to all this. It's also a myth that has nothing to do with black people. But we believe in the ideal and strive to make it a reality. How we talk about individualism in relation to race is problematic, because it is an evasion that doesn't speak to blacks' experiences with systemic racism. Talking about individualism often hinders political discourse around race. However, none of this means individualism is irrelevant. A narrow focus on individualism asserts that people are free possessing natural or God given rights to do what they want until they harm or impose upon others. In this case the only legitimate exercise of state authority is to prevent harm and keep individuals from imposing on each other. This kind of individualism leaves out some important things that make it difficult to discuss American racism. Consider this - until 1865 black people were slaves and considered property by law. They were not viewed equal to whites. Their lives and labor were used for the benefit of slaveowners who believed that freedom with its guarantee of property rights entitled them to own black people. Furthermore, any interference with slavery was viewed as an attack on slaveowners individual liberty. We now find this ludicrous and view it as a great contradiction in American history. Despite emancipation the ideas of freedom and individualism didn't always apply to blacks. Today more than fifty years after the legal victories of the Civil Rights Movement blacks are not fully free as individuals. Despite guarantees of legal equality systemic racism still makes a mockery of individualism when it comes to black people. Think about policing that involves racial profiling with stop and frisk. In this case no black person is an individual with rights to be respected. Blacks are criminals. They are a threat. The worst examples of racist policing are the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police. At the same time people will argue that police killings and acts of discrimination are rare instances racism. They are individual rather than social problems. Certain people are racist. Racist individuals commit microaggressions, join hate groups, and explicitly believe in White Supremacy. Such individuals are regarded as unreasonable and less educated. They are associated with the working class and those living in rural areas. This is the conventional wisdom in American. However, racism is a systemic problem. It is subtle yet pervasive. Covert discrimination and disparate impact of otherwise neutral policies keep black people behind whites in almost every social and economic indicator. A narrow focus on individualism means we don't talk about systemic racism because most whites don't identify with the system or society. They identify as individuals who haven't done anything to blacks. Focusing on individualism can hinder our political discourse about race. People talk about color blindness and not seeing race. They argue racism everyone is or should be treated the same. There's a lot of emphasis on merit, competition, hard work, competence, and making good choices. Doing what's right and having certain personal qualities enables you to succeed. Most people would say these things are individual not racial. Some people make it while others do not. Whites and others who think this way don't want government involvement in the marketplace or social programs to achieve racial equality. These people tend to be politically conservative and sometimes moderate. However liberal minded whites are not always interested in addressing race either. Individualism and color blindness are important to them too in different ways from conservatives. For them racism is a difficult and divisive political issue. White liberals want to win elections and advance their policy agenda. They don't want to lose white votes while addressing race or blacks' concerns. The renewed activist push against systemic racism by groups like Black Lives Matter troubles them. Black people demanding action as blacks not Americans is seen as identity politics by these liberals. They claim it denies individuals in favor of the group. They argue further: Calling white people and America racist is wrong and won't work anyway. Making race an issue puts whites on the defensive. They become racially conscious in opposition to blacks and anything that might help them. Liberals emphasize the importance of individualism and being American. They argue for good paying jobs, universal healthcare, and stopping climate change that benefit and unify all Americans are more important than systemic racism. Liberal and Conservative whites are often united in the belief that legal equality guaranteed by Civil Rights Laws and the decline in racist attitudes among whites means that inequalities are not due to discrimination or bias. Conservatives think blacks lack the cultural and behavioral characteristics to succeed as individuals in a competitive, market driven, society. They cite the decline of marriage and two parent black families. They also point to gun violence, drugs, and academic underachievement among blacks. Liberals look at the same problems claiming past racism has damaged individuals and created a kind of urban underclass. They point to the rise of a black middle class and successful individuals as signs of hope and progress. Individualism is the common denominator in both views of flawed blacks rather than systemic racism as the problem. Does any of this mean that individualism has no place in discussions of race? Is the notion of individualism racist? I think the answer is no to both questions. However, it is important to realize that racism in law, public policy, the marketplace, and other social institutions interferes with individuals. It denies them the choices associated with freedom. Black people in America past and present have never been free or equal to whites as individuals because society has worked against us. Too often we talk about individualism in ways that deny this fact. When it comes to race whites want to talk about individualism outside any social or systemic context that gives it meaning or substance. This keeps us from doing anything about racism. However, whites benefit collectively while using the rhetoric of individualism, but blacks as a group are denied and dismissed. White individuals come together all kinds of common political pursuits related to taxation, and gun ownership. When it came to Slavery, legal segregation, opposition to forced busing, or affirmative action they come together consciously as whites not merely individuals. It is disingenuous and hypocritical to criticize blacks for fighting against racism while we collectively affirm our blackness. Groups coming together politically to fight for individual freedom made America. Confronting and solving the problem of racism goes beyond any sense of high-minded moral purpose. The freedom and wellbeing of every American is compromised by systemic racism. Mass incarceration and poverty mean ever increasing taxes for jails and safety nets. Wherever people can't trust the police because brutality and murder have broken that trust; crime and unrest cannot be contained forever. Disparities in healthcare during a time of deadly pandemics put us all in mortal danger. We cannot talk about individuals as if society and systems that impact them do not matter. The same thing is true about groups. Individualism is central to American identity as it should be. But it is only meaningful if understood in the proper context. This especially true when talking about racism.
  5. We must cooperate with police and stop calling it " snitching. " We need to realize that people who kill and rob along with drug kingpins need to be locked up. More importantly some of us deserve to be put to death for murder. That's not racist or class oppression. It's just a fact. This doesn't mean systemic racism or predator capitalism are not problems that we must address. However there has to be a balance between holding both individuals and society accountable. When it comes to racist cops especially those who unjustly kill blacks. The more of them who are prosecuted, convicted, and given long prison sentences will make things better. This might be more important than improved training or defunding. Prison time for bad cops sends a clear message of accountability, and no police officer wants to be put in jail.
  6. Thanks so much, I see where you're headed with this, and more self-reliance can be a good thing. However. we can't be totally separated from white people and live in the US. It's not possible and most blacks don't want that. We want to preserve our culture, institutions, and neighborhoods. Yet we want opportunities in the mainstream like jobs, business opportunities, and a voice in democratic government. I'm interested in what you mean by policing ourselves ? How would it be legal and not subject to corruption. I don't want to replace racism with tyranny in " blackface" either.
  7. Nobody I have ever met is saying that police are racists for killing armed thugs or drug dealers in a shoot out. But these high profile police killings of blacks don't involve violent criminals threatening officers or anyone else. More importantly policies like stop and frisk along with routine verbal abuse and brutality are a constant problem with blacks and police. We just want police to do their jobs and not be racist. The same thing is true about prosecutors and courts. It's not too much to expect. The political right, mass media, and a lot of black people want us to make the false choice between policing and racial justice. They want us take whatever racist cops dish out in the name of public safety, but if we complain about abuse police disengage allowing violent criminals to menace the neighborhood. This is blackmail plain and simple. And when certain black people break the law, they realize the situation. Black people shouldn't be in a Catch 22 situation. I know people don't like me saying this because I'm like a broken record playing a song nobody really liked anyway - SELF HELP AND SELF CRITICISM ARE FINE EVEN NECESSARY BUT THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR STRUGGLE
  8. We must keep up the pressure and not give up. Whatever it takes to correct the situation. Let's talk about economic inequality in addition to crime prevention. We don't have to wait for the Federal Government or states. In many cities we have the political power to act. We must push so called " leaders " to act and deliver or replace them. There are too many politicians and activists who don't get anything good done especially for the poorest working -class blacks in urban areas. They're good for their cronies, big corporate interests, and developers. But they don't serve the masses.
  9. Nothing new or unexpected in the Rittenhouse verdict. White people have always dealt violently with black people especially when they merely perceive a challenge to white power. And any white person who stands with black people is fair game too. The simple fact is white people are tired and angry at peaceful black protest not just rioting or looting. For many of them a violent extralegal backlash is appropriate. History just keeps repeating itself.
  10. This is a good point that is being lost on many leftists protesting against racism and right wingers talking about law and order. Black people don't want to defund the police because they think police won't be available when needed. Any discussion of social spending needs to be separate from police reform.
  11. I think you're absolutely right about talking in terms of ethnicity and culture rather than race. This would help us challenge ideas and values that underlie systemic racism. But none of this is easy. People don't want to learn or think on a deep level. They want to hold onto familiar and longstanding beliefs about themselves and others that are wrong. People want goods and benefits for their own group not others. Capitalism while not all bad does fuel conflict among peoples which gets worse when race becomes an issue.
  12. Joy Reid was wrong. And yes more attention should be paid to missing black and Latina women too. None of this has to be mutually exclusive. There's a right way and a wrong way to raise legitimate issues. More pressure needs to be applied to mainstream media outlets regarding this issue. At the same time we need a stronger independent black media for news and talk. Furthermore there needs to be more advocacy on behalf of black women. Sometimes our focus on racial and economic injustice is focused on black males. This is our fault as much as white people's.
  13. I have not seen the online version yet. Is it still black owned ? If so what do we know about the publisher ?
  14. I think your comments are very insightful and correct up to a certain point in history. However I wouldn't overstate the liberal or progressive nature of the current Democratic Party when it comes to social equality or economic fairness. While there is a vocal left in the party concerned about these things the Democrats are dominated by moderate centrists who are " Republican lite " on economic issues. When it comes to social issues they often pay lip service to race, gender, and LGBTQ rights. Much of the progress on social issues like LGBTQ issues has been made at the local levels with the exception of same sex marriage and the Supreme Court. When it comes to gender Democrats have done little to counter the assault on Reproductive Freedom. The same is true about race especially voting rights.
  15. Thanks Pioneer for your response.... I don't think black people or anyone else can afford to divide ourselves into good versus bad people. Don't get me wrong there are plenty of us hurting ourselves and others. There are consequences for that one way or another that people have to pay. However we can't write everybody off. Think about it - someone as great as Malcolm X who was a criminal and served time in prison. But his life was changed by the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and working in The Nation of Islam. To me our problems and struggles are not a zero sum gain. We have do lots of things to better ourselves and this country.
  16. Thanks for posting this. It made me sad and angry for those black children to see face that abuse. But the whites who did it were just misguided children emulating their racist parents. We need to think differently about racism and history. Too often we only focus on the South. Slavery, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights protests. This creates a false image that distorts the narrative. The events in this film took place in New York City a decade after the Civil Rights Era.
  17. It's not easy to challenge racism or work for positive social change. Most of us are just trying to live and work regular lives. Being an activist or running for elected office is an impossible task for most people. Maybe black people are no different from anyone else in this regard. At the same time when you look at the black community blaming all the problems solely on racism or economic injustice doesn't make sense. Black people mess up like anyone else. We succeed or fail based on individualism as much as fighting against racism. There are things we must do as people beyond struggle. These things are moral and spiritual. Other issues can be addressed by black community groups and businesses. However this country has been and remains systemically racist. Furthermore working people live and labor in an unjust economy that mainly benefits wealthy elites and corporations. These things undermine black people regardless of other problems. Self help is no substitute for protest or politics. Drugs, gun violence, fatherlessness, academic underachievement, and the decline of marriage undermine black life and community. All of these things are tied together, and they make it harder for us to access opportunity when it is available. Black people have always been deprived of rights and material benefits relative to whites in this society, but we didn't live like this. Crime despite racial stereotypes racist law enforcement didn't plague our neighborhoods. Two parent and strong extended family relationships provided love, discipline, and shelter amid poverty and crippling discrimination. We had each other if we had nothing else. Doing well in school and advancing to college was something everyone took pride in. Our schools were inadequate, but we made the most of things. The irony is not lost on black people that when so many things seemed to get better because of the Civil Rights Movement and a decline in blatant racism black community life declined. We lost the family. We started killing each other over drugs and turf. Oftentimes the violence doesn't have a reason. Too many of us don't succeed in school and it's not the education system - it's us. Contrary to widespread belief among whites blacks spend a lot of time talking about these problems rather than racism. There's nothing wrong with self criticism. Furthermore, we need to all be better people as parents, husbands, wives, lovers, students, and neighbors. Everything is not about racism or capitalist oppression. At the same time community self help and entrepreneurship are important too. Black people have always done things to help themselves and start businesses. We have banded together despite have meager resources to solve problems and meet needs. While our efforts in this regard may not be covered by the mainstream press, black groups and civil society are doing everything possible to tackle problems faced by urban communities. The same thing is happening with black business. There are more black owned companies than ever. Black athletes and entertainers are not just playing sports, singing, or rapping. They are starting all kinds of companies and engaging in lots of business ventures. While most black businesses are small and have few full time employees others are large million and even billion dollar enterprises. We need to keep doing more self help and entrepreneurship on a bigger and more sophisticated level. No matter how bad things are they would be worse if black people themselves had not assumed individual and collective responsibility. Black people past or present have never waited on the government to help us. We need call out white people and certain blacks who say otherwise. Self help and economic development are no substitute for protest or political engagement. We need to be in the streets and on social media fighting racism and economic injustice. We must demand changes that advance freedom and equality. From the nineteenth century abolitionist movement, to Civil Rights protests, the Black Power Revolution, and now the Black Lives Matter struggle against racist policing nothing has never changed for our good or this country's unless black people fought. Racism and discrimination never went away. They became more subtle and are persistent. Black people are not impoverished, underemployed, less wealthy, and underpaid compared to similar whites because of choices we make. Systemic racism is the problem. This impacts black politics. We must hold elected officials including blacks accountable for getting results. Also Black policy wonks and experts who research solutions to problems are more important than ever. Black activists and elected officials need to make sure these people are included at the highest levels of policy making. We need to stop listening to right leaning white people and blacks who say we have no right to demand anything from society or the democratic process. These blacks say "begging the white man" is undignified and useless. For them the solutions are self made. They emphasize cultural pride and awareness especially Black Nationalists focused on the African past. Others talk about restoring the two parent patriarchal family and starting businesses. Black conservatives claim government programs and protest politics have ruined black families, community life, and moral fiber. The call for moral rehabilitation and making our way in society built on less government. Whether it's Black Nationalist or Conservative both approaches discourage activist struggle and political engagement. If we follow their lead we will lose the gains we've made. Our progress and wellbeing depend on self help along with protest and political engagement. We're not perfect people and neither is this country. When it comes to solving problems the choice is not either or. It is both. Right now there are people who want blacks to stop pushing. They are determined to hold on to what they have. Some are racist others are driven by greed and a lust for power. Black people have experienced so many political defeats and policy failures. For many self help works. It is something black people can control without whites. For other blacks making the best of things means being a better person and playing by existing rules. To them changing society is not possible or desirable. However history has shown no matter how good or accommodating black people are racism and economic inequality will deprive us of life, liberty, and happiness until we take a stand. No matter what happens blacks are better off because of politics and activist struggle rather than doing nothing at all.
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