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Race & Ethnicity

From Obama's election to 'Black Lives Matter' — how?

  • The same poverty. The same criminal-justice system. What can honestly be said to have changed in the lives of young African-Americans? 
  • Related: The movement will not be criminalized

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune  

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http://stmedia.startribune.com/images/610*425/rap072313a.jpg Photo: Kristin Pelisek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT

August 1, 2016 | Eight years ago, at the dawn of the Obama era, pundits seriously debated whether the election of the nation’s first black president would mark an end to the country’s long history of racial inequality. Weeks after Obama was elected, Forbes Magazine jubilantly published an editorial headlined “Racism in America Is Over.” While few others went quite so far, 7 out of 10 Americans did believe that “race relations” would improve as a result of the Obama presidency.

What happened? How did we get from the optimism of Barack Obama’s presidential run to the eruption of a protest movement calling itself Black Lives Matter? Perhaps the optimism itself is to blame, or rather the contrast between Obama’s promise and the reality of his tenure.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is the author of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” and professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University. Taylor wrote this article for the Los Angeles Times.

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The movement will not be criminalized, Janae Bonsu, People's World

http://www.peoplesworld.org/assets/Uploads/polieshootings530x310.jpgPhoto: Riot police arrest a nurse protesting peacefully in Baton Rouge.  |  Max Becherer/AP

  • Alton Sterling - just like with Tanisha Anderson and countless others - lost their lives after police were called. We have no other choice than to be more vigilant than ever - not only in our resistance, but in our commitment to building an abolitionist future in our everyday lives. We have to be unyielding in our right to resist, and brave, imaginative, and bold enough to interrogate all the ways in which we don't have to rely on police; we have to increasingly rely on, love, support, and protect each other. Our lives depend on it.
  • Related: From the Archives | The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer

 

Why We Fail When We Try to Talk About Race in America

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  • Let’s acknowledge the self-deception at the heart of our racial theater.
  • Related: 11 Common Ways White Folks Avoid Taking Responsibility for Racism in the US

Eddie Glaude, Moyers & Company

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http://dy00k1db5oznd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/GettyImages-545482036-1024x682.jpgAbout 2,000 New Yorkers marched in Manhattan, bringing traffic to a halt for hours in a demonstration demanding police accountability and remembering Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the three men recently shot dead by police. (Photo by Erik Mcgregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Editor%20Comment%20graphic_0.jpg Moyers & Company Editor's Note: We asked a number of contributors to share their reactions to a post by activist and author Michelle Alexander that we published earlier this month in the aftermath of the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Here is a response from Eddie Glaude, author of Democracy in Black. You can view all other responses by clicking on the building a new America” tag.

July 19, 2016 | Conversations about race in the United States fall short of their stated aims. We declare, usually after some horrific event, that Americans need to have a hard talk about racism. Politicians and pundits convene town hall meetings. Television and radio invite people like me to offer an account of the crisis. And we find ourselves, all of us — once again — as if we were in this eternally recurring tragedy, participating in the traditional theater of American racial politics. Liberals bleed sentimentality. Conservatives demand personal responsibility. Rarely, if ever, does something significant come of it all. We always return to business as usual.

We often refuse to tell each other the truth when we talk about racism in this country. Calls for unity protect a kind of contrived innocence.

These conversations fail, in part, because of the bad faith of those who participate in them. We often refuse to tell each other the truth when we talk about racism in this country. Calls for unity protect a kind of contrived innocence. And, for some, that’s more important than facts and truth.

Eddie Glaude, Jr. was raised in the Deep South, in Moss Point, Mississippi, and still remembers the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross at the fairground. He’s now a professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton University, where he also chairs the Center for African-American Studies. His third book is Democracy in Black.

Full story … 

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11 Common Ways White Folks Avoid Taking Responsibility for Racism in the US, Robin DiAngelo, AlterNet / Everyday Feminism

  • A structural understanding recognizes racism as a default system that institutionalizes an unequal distribution of resources and power between white people and people of color. This system is historic, taken for granted, deeply embedded, and it works to the benefit of whites.
  • Related: From the Archives | The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer

The movement will not be criminalized.

http://cdn.billmoyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/takingaboutrace_606x154b.jpg

  • Alton Sterling - just like with Tanisha Anderson and countless others - lost their lives after police were called. We have no other choice than to be more vigilant than ever - not only in our resistance, but in our commitment to building an abolitionist future in our everyday lives. We have to be unyielding in our right to resist, and brave, imaginative, and bold enough to interrogate all the ways in which we don't have to rely on police; we have to increasingly rely on, love, support, and protect each other. Our lives depend on it.
  • Related: From the Archives | The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer

Janae Bonsu, People's World

http://www.peoplesworld.org/assets/Uploads/polieshootings530x310.jpg

Photo: Riot police arrest a nurse protesting peacefully in Baton Rouge.  |  Max Becherer/AP

July 18, 2016 | There is a particular impact on the psyche that the consistent exposure to the extrajudicial executions of Black bodies has, which is that it leaves me either traumatized or numb. Neither is okay. I've been trying to make sense of the implications of the past week's chain of events for the movement, particularly when it comes to criminalizing resistance.

One thing that the murders of the past week have reaffirmed is everyday community members' right to capture and share executions by police through their own mobile devices without questionable interference or tampering from police departments. In addition to Black women's survival instincts, Diamond Reynold's quick thinking to livestream the interaction in Minnesota on Facebook points to this ability. It demonstrates an understanding that if we aren't our own reporters and crusaders, no one else will be.

Janae Bonsu is an activist, organizer, and scholar, serving as the National Public Policy Chair of BYP100 and Next Leader at the Institute of Policy Studies. 

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From the Archives | The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer, Odysseus Ward, Angry Humanist

So here I ask that each of us pull our heads out of those fluffy and, mostly white, clouds of privilege and see the world our choices have created. Stop supporting the status quo with silence and quick indictments of the disenfranchised. Stop changing the subject. Stop complaining about our hurt feelings. Stop listening to everyone except the people who are suffering. We either challenge the system and our long held perceptions of the people it harms or do nothing, and thus, contribute to the collapse.

A Post-Dallas Challenge for Religious Progressives: Staying On Message About Structural Racism

We progressive clergy types and theology professors say that we “get” all this. Well and good. But now, more than ever before, our teaching ministry is urgently needed in the public square. It must be an uncompromising and courageous ministry. No false equivalence between centuries of anti-Black police abuse and the actions of a single madman in Dallas. No mincing of words about the ongoing need to shake the very foundations of white supremacy.

Peter Laarman, Religion Dispatches

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"It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake."

July 10, 2016 | The easily-predicted meme of the moment coming from law enforcement officials and their many political allies is a threefold rebuke to the entire criminal justice reform movement—not just #BlackLivesMatter but all of us who consider fighting the mass criminalization of people of color (and the engineered economic immiseration of people of color—most specifically Black people) to be the nation’s most urgent unfinished business.

The three main “beats” of the post-Dallas pushback are these:

  • The police put their lives on the line every day for public safety and deserve appreciation and deep respect for that;
  • They have been horribly smeared by a handful of opportunistic Black radicals, but the silent majority rejects the smear;
  • They are decent and honorable people who should not be smeared on account of handful of rogue individuals who wear the badge.

Peter Laarman is a United Church of Christ minister and activist who recently retired as executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting in Los Angeles. He remains involved in numerous justice struggles, in particular a campaign known as Justice Not Jails that calls upon faith communities to critique and combat the system of racialized mass incarceration often referred to as The New Jim Crow.

Full story … 

11 Common Ways White Folks Avoid Taking Responsibility for Racism in the US

http://cdn.billmoyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/takingaboutrace_606x154b.jpg

  • A structural understanding recognizes racism as a default system that institutionalizes an unequal distribution of resources and power between white people and people of color. This system is historic, taken for granted, deeply embedded, and it works to the benefit of whites.
  • Related: From the Archives | The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer

Robin DiAngelo, AlterNet / Everyday Feminism

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http://everydayfeminism.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/iStock_000006868735_Medium-300x199.jpg August 31, 2015 | I am white.

I write and teach about what it means to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless, yet remains deeply divided by race.

A fundamental, but very challenging part of my work is moving white people from an individual understanding of racism — i.e. only some people are racist and those people are bad — to a structural understanding.

Robin DiAngelo builds a foundation of understanding from the bottom up and really helps the reader to build a framework for racial literacy.

Full story … 

Related:

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Arend%20Van%20Dam%20%7C%20Racism%20in%20America.jpg  From the Archives | The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer, Odysseus Ward, Angry Humanist

So here I ask that each of us pull our heads out of those fluffy and, mostly white, clouds of privilege and see the world our choices have created. Stop supporting the status quo with silence and quick indictments of the disenfranchised. Stop changing the subject. Stop complaining about our hurt feelings. Stop listening to everyone except the people who are suffering. We either challenge the system and our long held perceptions of the people it harms or do nothing, and thus, contribute to the collapse.

From the Archives | The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer

http://cdn.billmoyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/takingaboutrace_606x154b.jpg

So here I ask that each of us pull our heads out of those fluffy and, mostly white, clouds of privilege and see the world our choices have created. Stop supporting the status quo with silence and quick indictments of the disenfranchised. Stop changing the subject. Stop complaining about our hurt feelings. Stop listening to everyone except the people who are suffering. We either challenge the system and our long held perceptions of the people it harms or do nothing, and thus, contribute to the collapse.

Odysseus Ward, Angry Humanist

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3rd December 2014 | This is an exercise in dismantling whiteness, white supremacy racism, race and the ideologies that create the socioeconomic disparities we see between people of color and their European counterparts. For this to work, you must read a lot, not just my whimsical ramblings but the many articles and studies I’ve linked throughout this document. Many of my perspectives come from the content of those works, but there is also a fair of amount of insight to be gained simply by existing within a nation that never really feels like home.

I have put great effort into coupling my opinions with historical references and other sound affirming data, but I am human; so there may be some mistakes here and there. I simply ask that you not dismiss the entirety of what is said for having read something perceived as wrong on your part or said in error on mine. I will, at times use sarcasm, humor, and dialogue to clarify a point, but I do these things not because this topic is in any way something to take lightly. They are tools to soften the blow for you, the reader, and me the bareknuckle writer. I am neither trying to draw blood or break my hand in the process of dropping some rather heavy accusations, facts, and opinions on some sleeping heads.

Full story … 

White Privilege: The Elephant in Minnesota's Living Room

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  • The reality is that those same marginalized communities that we are taught to demonize and pathologize over and over again do not have adequate access to political capital, social capital, or economic resources to reshape the systems that impact their lives.
  • Related: Yes They DO Hate Him Because He Is Black

Nekima Levy-Pounds, Minneapolis (MN) StarTrinune 

http://stmedia.startribune.com/images/610*425/rap072313a.jpgPhoto: Kristin Pelisek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT

May 20, 2014 | Let me warn you up front. Many of the folks reading this blog post may not like what I have to say. But that's neither here nor there. I have to get this off my chest. I am tired of attending meetings and events in which folks are having conversations about equity and are delicately skirting around the issue of race. Hardly ever are notions of racial bias and discrimination and just "plain ole racism" part of the conversation. All too often, such issues remain at a surface level, which leads to very safe, comfortable dialogue that does not push us to address the real challenges that are hindering our progress as a state and reinforcing intolerable racial disparities. 

Society is still separate; still unequal.

Beyond that, many of these conversations about "equity" consist of white Minnesotans in the upper echelon talking to each other about issues that impact communities of color and yet there are often just one or two "representatives" in the room from those communities. Half the time, I'm one of those two representatives. And when I look around those rooms and observe a sea of predominately white faces, it occurs to me that the lack of diversity around those tables and the relative comfort levels of those in attendance reveals more than any fifty page study ever could about the true state of race relations in Minnesota. Sadly, it appears that 60 years after the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, our society is still separate and unequal and unwilling to change anytime soon. (If you don't believe me, please take time to travel to various neighborhoods throughout the Metro area and outstate Minnesota to see the levels of segregation and income inequality firsthand.)

Nekima Valdez Levy-Pounds is an American lawyer, professor, activist, writer, and preacher. She was elected in 2015 to be the president of the Minneapolis (MN) chapter of the NAACP.

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Yes They DO Hate Him Because He Is Black, Scandalous One, Daily Kos

Any fair observation of what has transpired over Obama’s two terms would reveal an undeniable racial component in the way Republicans have approached his presidency. 

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