Systemic racism, anti-racism, black experience : the books

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Systemic racism, anti-racism, black experience : the books

juny 19, 2020, 11:09pm

Looking over older threads on the theme of "Black in America" reminded me of the benefits of discussing what we are reading. At one point I was posting a lot about Robert Jensen's The heart of whiteness : confronting race, racism, and white privilege. Jensen is white and wrote this book for a white audience. In the last few years there have been numerous articles by black authors about their fed-upness with being cast in the role of mentors to white people on the topic of race. This is entirely understandable and justified. Black people have been trying to communicate their pain to whites forever. Whites have by and large ignored them.

The onus for educating themselves on racism is on white people because racism is our problem.

There is another reason to start with books written by white authors for a white audience: the hope that the reader will be more receptive and less knee-jerk defensive. This is a rather depressing reason to my mind, but as someone who hadn't been raised within the American racial system, I don't feel I can comment on what habits, conscious and unconscious, someone who HAD been raised within that system may have.

Another valuable book by a white author written for a white audience I read recently, Robin DiAngelo's White fragility : why it's so hard to talk to white people about racism. My copy was an ARC with a slightly different title and, unfortunately, without Michael Eric Dyson's foreword. Jensen's book focusses more on concepts; DiAngelo's on practice, most importantly in workplace settings. I think there is a special synergistic effect when they are read together, but either should prove eye-opening on its own.

The most interesting and educational book I've read recently is the OUP compilation On race : 34 conversations in a time of crisis edited by George Yancy. His interlocutors are mostly black or PoC, men and women, philosophers and social scientists. I was very happy to see finally in print, as a matter of academic concern, questions about what sort of ethics, or theory of justice etc. we talk about when we fail to take in account the totality of humanity, and how philosophy needs to be rethought, re-understood, rebuilt.

I plan to read this again and comment here.

Editat: juny 20, 2020, 2:09am

If I had to pick one author for people trying to understand racism in America and what to do about it, I would have to name Ibram X. Kendi. Fortunately, I don't have to choose, but Stamped From the Beginning and How to be an Antiracist are still touchstone works for people trying to come to grips with racism in America.

EDIT: Is it too obvious to point out that anyone not reading fiction, drama, and poetry by Black authors should probably start? I mean, I'm sure you can understand this all by reading books on anti-racism, but reading The Third Life of Grange Copeland or seeing a good production of Fences seems like it's bound to give you a leg up.

Editat: juny 20, 2020, 2:49am

A book which made an impression on me was The Black Man's Burden - Africa and the curse of the nation-state by Basil Davidson.

More recently, Dark Continent My Black Arse by Sihle Khumalo, a black South African's rejoinder to the genre of rather patronising travel books about Africa written by Europeans and north Americans. Mind you, even here, it shows the gap between an urban black South African and the rural people of much of the rest of Africa.

Reading fiction which depicts Africans as the norm, the default, the people with agency in charge of their own destiny, is a refreshing antidote to racism. Most of the well known African authors are worth reading, and the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by a non-African, Alexander McCall Smith, also gives a very respectful, humorous and accurate flavour.

Editat: juny 20, 2020, 9:37am

"The onus for educating themselves on racism is on white people because racism is our problem."


Really? "Racism is our (i.e. White people's) problem" ?

The search is now on for
"the roots of our problems."

We're not going to find any such thing as "the root of our problems." We have far too many problems and their "roots" are far too varied and complexly related and that is because people and society are inherently this way.

The search for "the root of the problem" is always something which is done in a front-loaded programatic fashion by people who've already settled on their own ideas of what "the problem" is well before or about the same time as they settle on "where 'the roots of the problem' are to be found."

(The Spectator (U.S. ediition)) Defund colleges, not cops |
Police are not the root of our problems. Academia is | by Peter Wood

" ‘Defund the police!’ That’s the spray-painted, placarded, pixeled demand of the moment. The American left, from Black Lives Matterers to their knee-taking social-justice allies in their hydrangea-colored masks, has decided now is the moment to drain public resources from the custodians of public order.

"I have an alternative. Now is the moment to defund the colleges. We should defund them because they are the root of the virulent anti-Americanism that feeds the riots, the looting and the learned helplessness that afflict the country. And they have been feeding the protest culture for generations. The chief lesson taught by our nation’s colleges and universities is soft disdain for our country and its forms of self-government. And the soft disdain ripens to outright antipathy for about a quarter of the graduates.

"Defunding the police is a supposed cure for endemic racism and white supremacy. But America is not a racist country. To denounce America as racist is to accept a falsification of history and a wild distortion of the everyday reality experienced by Americans of every race. That some Americans of every race are racists doesn’t mean the country is racist. Racism is a feeble and fugitive feature of American life.

"Why are so many Americans at the moment willing to endorse such a manifestly false claim? Because so many Americans have been to colleges that marinate them in the brine of Howard Zinn-style Marxist polemics against America, feminist screeds against patriarchy, black victimization narratives and the whole gamut of identitarian, teeth-gnashing nonsense. The graduates then walk these messages across the street to jobs in media, entertainment and technology where the visceral hatred of American values has become the elevator key to the executive suite. America has a real problem not with racism but with miseducation. We can start fixing that problem by defunding the colleges." ...


* Emphasis added


Deseret News (Opinion)
Harmony won’t come until we recognize racism as the problem
By J. Spencer Fluhman, Contributor | Jun 1, 2020, 5:00pm MDT

"It can be tempting for white Americans, in times of protest and social unrest, to assume a defensive posture. In the face of anger and anguish in the streets, it can be easy to fixate on the unrest itself. What might it mean for me or for my place of work? How far could potential unrest or violence spread? In such times, order can feel more pressing than justice.

"Social order and social harmony, however, both ultimately depend on a recognition of the root causes that lie beneath the confrontations playing out in news reports and on social media. To consider the unrest but not its sources is to mistake symptom for disease. As horrifying footage has again unmistakably revealed yet another black or brown life snuffed out by someone sworn to protect and serve, the disease is similarly exposed. The problem is racism." ...


*executive director of Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.


(Financial Times) The School That Tried to End Racism, Channel 4 — can bias be reprogrammed? | The story of a ‘segregation experiment’ is a tough watch at times, but the children exude enthusiasm and kindness | by Suzi Feay | 19 June, 2020

"Long seen as the acme of racial acceptance, the 'colour-blind' approach ('I just don’t see colour') is now held to be unhelpful, making honest conversations about race more difficult. Put even more strongly, it’s a form of racism itself. Dr Nicola Rollock of Goldsmiths College wants to see if racial bias can be spotted and eradicated among a class of 11-year-olds in their first year at a south London state school. At that age, children easily make friends across racial lines. But studies show that as adolescent concerns about identity grow, friendships become cemented around similarity, not difference, and 'self-segregation' sets in.

"At Glenthorne High School, just under 50 per cent of the student population is black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame). Farrah, with a white mother and Sri Lankan father, describes her skin-tone as 'olive-coloured, I guess', while carrot-topped Henry opines, 'I don’t think that much about race.'

"Handing out iPads, Rollock and her team use a cunning psychological test involving words and pictures to detect unconscious racial bias. As one black boy puts it, it’s 'the most fun racist game I’ve ever played!' However, the results wipe the smiles away.

"Educator Mariama Richards arrives from the US to oversee the programme aimed at combating bias. The idea behind the counterintuitive 'segregation experiment' is that staying within your 'affiliate group' — white or non-white — facilitates free discussion. It’s separation with the understanding that they’ll all come together again with new understanding, Richards counsels. Having mostly socialised with white people, Farrah has no idea which room to go to." ...

Then, are we to suppose that Black people, naturally and inherently, just don't experience, know or feel --let alone express or display-- racial animus towards others who aren't Black? Is that about it? Now, if you aren't asking or haven't already asked yourself, "How racist is that, for an assumption ?" then my question is "Why not?"

Racism, being Whites' problem, suggests that racial bias and discrimination is a one-way street: White people are the sources of it and Black people, of course, are the victims of it and only the victims of it.

And "everybody knows" this? Everyone in addition to Walser, that is?

Editat: juny 20, 2020, 11:22am

Trump is the reincarnation of George Wallace.

Many whites in America are white-identity cult members ~ a hair
strand away from being white racists.

Editat: juny 20, 2020, 11:32am

>2 kiparsky:, >3 John5918:

It would be helpful if you said more about the books you are recommending and why you are recommending them. We can all google and throw out lists, all the easier as there are quite a few of them floating around at the moment.

>2 kiparsky:

Is it too obvious to point out that anyone not reading fiction, drama, and poetry by Black authors should probably start? I mean, I'm sure you can understand this all by reading books on anti-racism

Whereas I'm not sure anything can be understood merely by reading books--but I do hope they help.

On non-fiction vs. fiction on this theme, consider the title of the thread and what I wrote about the white responsibility to address whites.

There's a reason I began the thread title with "systemic racism", and that's that there has been and still exists a vast refusal among white people, and specifically in this group, to admit that systemic racism exists. That racism isn't (only or even predominantly) a matter of personal prejudice exhibited by "a few bad apples", but that of structural injustice, institutionalised, society-wide forms. I won't be recapitulating years of tedious and horrific discussion for anyone's benefit here; I've just linked elsewhere to some old threads (not to mention there are new threads airing racist garbage).

Of course we should read fiction by black authors, but reading fiction alone not only isn't enough, on this specific question it's not even adequate. The fact is that people may empathise easily with a few individuals they are reading about, and yet fail to grasp both the scale of the injustice (which is such that this injustice is actually something qualitatively unprecedented) and the role they play in it as the beneficiaries of this unjust system.

Involvement in fiction is more likely to make us feel good about ourselves and my goal is not to have anyone, myself included, feel good about themselves. Look around on this site and you'll find plenty of right-wingers of every shade down to the deepest black who are nevertheless as likely to shed a tear over Uncle Tom, Tiny Tim and Bambi as anyone on the left. (And maybe read George Steiner on the dubious value of literature and art in preventing unethical behaviour.)

So I'd say, by all means, read fiction by black authors, but along with books that factually and systematically expose the systems of white supremacy and every white person's role in it, books that grapple with concepts directly, concepts fiction obfuscates and may leave out entirely.

Let's not read fiction by black authors as an alibi, let's not read it complacently.

>3 John5918:

I wouldn't recommend fiction by white authors at all here. White people have already been reading that and don't seem to be getting any less racist.* Or To kill a mockingbird would have solved racism by now. McCall Smith's stuff seems to me exactly the sort to generate self-congratulation while doing nothing to challenge us.

I read one book and it irritated me. It's as cute as Little Black Sambo. And I don't need to explain why white people prefer black people to be cute. Coming from a white author it's particularly manipulative.

*There is an interesting discussion to be had here: does "righteous" fiction by white authors do as much harm as good--and, specifically, was this particularly the case in the past? I would recall the frustration black leaders of the civil rights movement felt in regard to their liberal "allies", to the point that they frequently found them more a hindrance than help.

Why was that? Think on it. We should all think on it. THAT's the part of white privilege, white complicity--even if unconscious--that's hard to wrap our heads around. Still.

juny 20, 2020, 11:47am

A few articles, some of which have been linked before, that may help to frame the discussion:

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race (The Guardian, May 2017)

For years, racism has been defined by the violence of far-right extremists, but a more insidious kind of prejudice can be found where many least expect it – at the heart of respectable society

"I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race. Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the existence of structural racism and its symptoms. I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates their experience. You can see their eyes shut down and harden. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals. It’s like they can no longer hear us.

“This emotional disconnect is the conclusion of living a life oblivious to the fact that their skin colour is the norm and all others deviate from it.

“At best, white people have been taught not to mention that people of colour are “different” in case it offends us. They truly believe that the experiences of their life as a result of their skin colour can and should be universal. I just can’t engage with the bewilderment and the defensiveness as they try to grapple with the fact that not everyone experiences the world in the way that they do.

“They’ve never had to think about what it means, in power terms, to be white, so any time they’re vaguely reminded of this fact, they interpret it as an affront. Their eyes glaze over in boredom or widen in indignation. Their mouths start twitching as they get defensive. Their throats open up as they try to interrupt, itching to talk over you but not to really listen, because they need to let you know that you’ve got it wrong.

The journey towards understanding structural racism still requires people of colour to prioritise white feelings. Even if they can hear you, they’re not really listening. (...)

A Sociologist Examines the “White Fragility” That Prevents White Americans from Confronting Racism (The New Yorker, July 2018)

... DiAngelo, who is white, emphasizes that the stances that make up white fragility are not merely irrational. (Or even comical, though some of her anecdotes—participants in a voluntary anti-racism workshop dissolving with umbrage at any talk of racism—simmer with perverse humor. “I have found that the only way to give feedback without triggering white fragility is not to give it at all,” she remarks wryly.) These splutterings “work,” DiAngelo explains, “to reinstate white equilibrium as they repel the challenge, return our racial comfort, and maintain our dominance within the racial hierarchy.” She finds that the social costs for a black person in awakening the sleeping dragon of white fragility often prove so high that many black people don’t risk pointing out discrimination when they see it. And the expectation of “white solidarity”—white people will forbear from correcting each other’s racial missteps, to preserve the peace—makes genuine allyship elusive. White fragility holds racism in place. ...

Much of “White Fragility” is dedicated to pulling back the veil on these so-called pillars of whiteness: assumptions that prop up racist beliefs without our realizing it. Such ideologies include individualism, or the distinctly white-American dream that one writes one’s own destiny, and objectivity, the confidence that one can free oneself entirely from bias. As a sociologist trained in mapping group patterns, DiAngelo can’t help but regard both precepts as naïve (at best) and arrogant (at worst). To be perceived as an individual, to not be associated with anything negative because of your skin color, she notes, is a privilege largely afforded to white people; although most school shooters, domestic terrorists, and rapists in the United States are white, it is rare to see a white man on the street reduced to a stereotype. ...

“The most effective adaptation of racism over time,” DiAngelo claims, “is the idea that racism is conscious bias held by mean people.” This “good/bad binary,” positing a world of evil racists and compassionate non-racists, is itself a racist construct, eliding systemic injustice and imbuing racism with such shattering moral meaning that white people, especially progressives, cannot bear to face their collusion in it. (Pause on that, white reader. You may have subconsciously developed your strong negative feelings about racism in order to escape having to help dismantle it.) As an ethical thinker, DiAngelo belongs to the utilitarian school, which places less importance on attitudes than on the ways in which attitudes cause harm. Unpacking the fantasy of black men as dangerous and violent, she does not simply fact-check it; she shows the myth’s usefulness to white people—to obscure the historical brutality against African-Americans, and to justify continued abuse. ...

Editat: juny 20, 2020, 1:58pm

... "my goal is not to have anyone, myself included, feel good about themselves."

In that case, "Job done."

"Let's not read fiction by black authors as an alibi, let's not read it complacently."

I know!, right?

Surely, by this time in White human social-progress, no White person would be so free of White Guilt that he'd even dream of taking up reading "Black fiction"--that is to say, a work of fiction written by a "Black writer", which is a person who's both a writer and Black and writes fiction intended to be read by other Black people--without first ascertaining that he, the White reader, feels duly ashamed of himself for his being White. And so, that being the case, there's really no serious danger of any White reader--or, that is, a "reader-of-no-color" "read(ing) fiction by black authors as an alibi" or "read(ing) it complacently."

Let's not overlook the progress we Whiteys have made as we look at the areas where progress remains lacking.

Adhesive bandages should be dark-- Afro-American colored, not the peach-y White skin-tone color. (In this case I am really not joking in remarking that it may well seem strange to many dark-skinned Blacks that most adhesive bandages come in a supposedly "White" skin-tone. That this was ever done with any intention of humiliating non-"Whites" I just don't regard as respectable. That it was done entirely without taking the point of view of non-Whites into account, that, I can certainly credit as almost certain. Still, long before there were ever such store-bought ready-made adhesive bandages in "White" skin-tone, virtually all hospital dressings/bandages were typically of white cotton cloth. There was almost certainly nothing behind that development which was either ulterior or which had anything to do with dark-skinned people at all.)

And, not so seriously, White chess-pieces? (/s) Please! No more White chess pieces and, while we're at it, the Black pieces should always move first at the start of any match.

Editat: juny 20, 2020, 11:28pm

>7 LolaWalser: I just finished How We Get Free, which is about a statement published by the Combahee River Collective in 1977. Which was before I came out and came into the feminist movement, but the results of that statement set the tone and the issues of the feminist movement I did find in Boston about ten years later. I was pleased to discover that I still recognized the same things I admired in it when I first read it as a young woman. That the ring of truth I heard in those discussions (and arguments) was still there and still loud.

The editor goes back and talks to the Collective members on the 40th anniversary of the statement's publication: Barbara & Beverly Smith, Demita Frazier, about how they came to feminism and Black feminism in particular, and how the Combahee Collective was formed, and what its impact was for Black feminism and white feminism. (Among other things, it brought together the women who would go on to create Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, and it is difficult to overstate how important, and life-changing, that was for so, so many women). Alicia Garza is also interviewed, and she talks about how important it was for her, and helped clarify her political understanding, something she put to beautifully good use when she went on to become one of the founders of Black Lives Matter.

Combahee was also -- I didn't know this -- one of the early if not the earliest -- mentions of "identity politics" -- a phrase that has been flattened and coopted in modern discourse:

...Above all else, our politics initially sprang from the shared belief that Black women are inherently valuable, that our liberation is a necessity not as an adjunct to somebody else's but because of our need as human persons for autonomy. This may seem so obvious as to sound simplistic, but it is apparent that no other ostensibly progressive movement has ever considered our specific oppression as a priority or worked seriously for the ending of that oppression. Merely naming the pejorative stereotypes attributed to Black women (e.g., mammy, matriarch, Sapphire, white, bulldagger), let along cataloging the cruel, often murderous, treatment we receive, indicates how little value has been placed upon our lives during four centuries of bondage in the Western Hemisphere. We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation are us. Our politics evolved from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters, and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work.

This focusing upon our own oppression is embodied in the concept of identity politics. We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else's oppression. IN the case of Black women this is a particularly repugnant, dangerous, threatening, and therefore revolutionary concept because it is obvious from looking at all the political movements that have preceded us that anyone is more worthy of liberation than ourselves. We reject pedestals, queenhood, and walking ten paces behind. To be recognized as human, levelly human, is enough.

Incidentally, Combahee defined themselves as Black feminist socialist. The statement itself is a socialist statement: "We realize that the liberation of all oppressed peoples necessitated the destruction of the political-economic systems of capitalism and imperialism as well as patriarchy. We are not convinced, however, that a socialist revolution that is not also a feminist and antiracist revolution will guarantee our liberation."

juny 21, 2020, 2:30am

>6 LolaWalser: It would be helpful if you said more about the books you are recommending and why you are recommending them.

Fair enough. I mention Kendi's work in particular because he provides a coherent framework for anti-racism that's based on actions rather than essentialism: rather than dividing the world into "racists" and "others", he focuses on actions which tend to further the systems of racially-based oppression governing our world, and those which tend to counter them. Using this basic framework, he gives anyone who is interested a set of tools for evaluating behaviors (their own or others'), and to think more coherently about race in their lives.

the white responsibility to address whites.

I agree that it is necessary for white people to talk to white people about racism. However, I don't think that implies that white people should not actively seek out and listen to what Black people have said on the matter.

Let's not read fiction by black authors as an alibi, let's not read it complacently.
I'm not sure how you got the idea that I was suggesting that we use Black fiction as a sort of defense mechanism, or as a balm to soothe our abraded consciences, but I don't think that's the only way to read Black literature. I would assume that people interested in understanding racism and anti-racism would be capable of seeking out literature that would help them in that effort, and also that they would not read it "complacently", any more than they would read Robin DiAngelo "complacently" or use her as "an alibi".

All that being said, if you would like this thread to focus strictly on academic treatments of the matter, that's fine with me. I'm pretty sure that LT denizens, of all people, can probably figure out what fiction they want to read and what use they want to make of it. It was an offhand suggestion, certainly not intended to derail your effort.

Editat: juny 21, 2020, 11:35pm

>6 LolaWalser:

It's many years since I read The Black Man's Burden - Africa and the curse of the nation-state by Basil Davidson. From memory, it explores how colonialism not only conquered African peoples physically, but sought to destroy and demean their cultures, societies and civilisations and replace them with a western "civilisation". I don't know whether the term "white supremacy" was used in those days, but it was certainly a driving force in colonial expansion (along with economic exploitation), with a firm belief that the white person was better and more "civilised", and this "civilisation" had to be imposed on others at the expense of their own traditions. Davidson, while recognising that comparing different situations is tricky, points to Japan as a traditonal society which was able to benefit from western technology and move into the "modern" world in its own terms without having its traditions and civilisation destroyed by incoming white people.

I like Alexander McCall Smith's series for the reason I stated: it "depicts Africans as the norm, the default, the people with agency in charge of their own destiny". I also find it evokes much of the positive side of African life as I have been lucky enough to experience it over the last forty odd years, although of course culture and society are changing rapidly so some of it is perhaps a bit nostalgic. I'm sorry if it doesn't strike a chord with you, but I wouldn't describe it as "cute" and I do find it difficult to equate with "Little Black Sambo". Africa and Africans are usually portrayed so negatively, and indeed there has been and stlll is plenty of suffering which gets its fair share of exposure, but many people on this continent are keen to see portrayals of the positive side of life, whether written by black or white people. Of course I'm not suggesting that books by white authors should trump or replace those of African authors ("Most of the well known African authors are worth reading"), but I wouldn't dismiss them.

I would broadly endorse what >10 kiparsky: says.

juny 21, 2020, 12:00pm

>10 kiparsky:

However, I don't think that implies that white people should not actively seek out and listen to what Black people have said on the matter.

Absolutely, it does not imply that.

All that being said, if you would like this thread to focus strictly on academic treatments of the matter, that's fine with me.

Not at all--and neither Jensen's nor DiAngelo's are any more academic than Kendi's books. Both Jensen and DiAngelo are practitioners, lecturers and workshops-holders for groups of all sorts, students, workers etc. whose need is to address racism in daily practice.

rather than dividing the world into "racists" and "others", he focuses on actions which tend to further the systems of racially-based oppression governing our world, and those which tend to counter them.

Yes, this. This is not new (and has been discussed plenty of times even in this group and its predecessor) but unfortunately it seems we have to keep getting things repeated to us--not because the insight changes, but because whether or not it will be taken on board depends on things extraneous to its value. Maybe the context in general, maybe the time to wear away at defences or to grow to the "aha!" moment, maybe the nature of the messenger, and so on.

>9 southernbooklady:

I too learned about Combahee only recently, in February--and noted in particular its role in the genesis of "identity politics" (links to Democracy Now interview and Barbara Smith's article in The Guardian in this post):

Basically, we are seeing the ideas formulated long ago within various progressive movements (in some cases from at least the 19th century onward) to the civil rights and feminist movements, entering the mainstream... finally.

We are not convinced, however, that a socialist revolution that is not also a feminist and antiracist revolution will guarantee our liberation."

As ever. Unless every single example of "us" is equally valued, none of "us" can be free.

juny 21, 2020, 12:21pm

>11 John5918:

I have a set of Davidson's books on Africa, still unread as I'm hesitating to start on older books (I think these were fist published in the 1960s through 80s) when I can't keep up with current offers, even just my own hauls. But I do plan to get to them.

juny 21, 2020, 12:39pm

>13 LolaWalser: But I do plan to get to them.

I know the feeling. I think I can, I think I can...

juny 21, 2020, 1:14pm

Ha! I'm certain I'll check out before disposing of my TBR, but it's a little happiness to have so much choice. :)

juny 21, 2020, 1:19pm

I don't think I'd want to live in a world where there was a danger of having read everything.

juny 21, 2020, 3:48pm

>12 LolaWalser: Another book I found worth reading was Mikki Kendall's Hood Feminism, which is an extended indictment of the white mainstream feminist movement for not treating issues that imperil Black women, or anything that doesn't directly endanger themselves, as feminist issues. In effect saying that white women who throw all their efforts into achieving "equality" with white men aren't being feminists, they are grabbing their share of white supremacy. That the goal of feminism should be to change society, not buy into it like equal-opportunity exploiters. The book is pragmatic but revolutionary in its approach and focuses on specific issues, like gun violence, police brutality, economic policies that are crafted to keep poor people poor, etc. Her takedown on why having police in schools in a crap idea was glorious.

In the end she says what Combahee said, what Kendi says, what you said above and what has been said many many times -- unless all of us are free, none of us are free.

I also really liked Kendi's point in his How to be an Antiracist. "What if we judged the success of an action in how it results in changed policy, or the failure of one in how nothing changes after it. In that lens, the Occupy movement wasn't much of a success. But Black Lives Matter may be.

Editat: juny 22, 2020, 4:10am

The library of works on this subject is a fount of idiotic bullshit.

Simplistic, delusional, wacko and immensely harmful are these crap notions of racism.

That supposedly intelligent people can write, teach and get others to believe this bullshit testifies to how and why the world is so amazingly fucked up.

A sampler of titles about this variety of idiocy

Racism without Racists | Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism | Paula S. Rothenberg

(from the book's cover text)

..."White Privilege leads students through the ubiquity and corresponding invisibility of whiteness; the historical development of whiteness and its role in race relations over time;"...

"the historical development of 'whiteness' " ? Can these people even hear themselves?

White Awareness: Handbook for Anti-Racism Training | Judith H. Katz

White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era | Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

Breaking the Code of Good Intentions: Everyday Forms of Whiteness | Melanie E. L. Bush


>7 LolaWalser:

I read Eddo-Lodge's Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race from cover to cover.

The truly shoddy reasoning of this woefully poorly-written book often made me cringe with embarrassment for the author herself; it's the product of the juvenile naïveté of a young woman who apparently understands little about people and life generally and yet presumes to inform us about them.

Books on "race" and "race-relations" belong in a section all their own in a bookshop. That area should be next to the dreary "Self-help" and "Feminist" or "Women's Studies" sections and should be labelled "Self-Harm."

juny 21, 2020, 7:28pm

>18 proximity1: An interesting reading list, and actually I'm not familiar with any of these. As >6 LolaWalser: has pointed out, it would be helpful if you would say something about the books and why you recommend them to the interested readers' attention.

juny 21, 2020, 11:43pm

Earlier this year, in the late olden times, I read Dying of whiteness : how the politics of racial resentment is killing America's heartland. In the three states Metzl examines, I found a new insight into some of the roots of systemic racism in the US.

From the publisher's description:
Physician and sociologist Jonathan M. Metzl travels across America's heartland seeking to better understand the politics of racial resentment and its impact on public health. Interviewing a range of Americans, he uncovers how racial anxieties led to the repeal of gun control laws in Missouri, stymied the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee, and fueled massive cuts to schools and social services in Kansas. Although such measures promised to restore greatness to white America, Metzl's systematic analysis of health data dramatically reveals they did just the opposite: these policies made life sicker, harder, and shorter in the very populations they purported to aid. Thus, white life expectancies fell, gun suicides soared, and school dropout rates rose. Powerful, searing, and sobering, Dying of Whiteness ultimately demonstrates just how much white America would benefit by emphasizing cooperation, rather than chasing false promises of supremacy.
I was struck most by Metzl's conversation with a man in Tennessee dying of a cancer that could have been treated a few miles away in Kentucky, where the Affordable Care Act would have provided him coverage. Rather than see his tax dollars also provide health care to non-whites and immigrants, this Tennessee man was willing to die.

Choice Reviews rates it as "essential".

juny 23, 2020, 12:24am

I'd say the roots of systemic racism in the US are in genocide and slavery, in the past of the country as an enterprise of expansionist white supremacists and slavers, both ideologically and practically. Personal resentment of whites against non-whites follows on this, not the other way around.

I'm by no means well read on this topic, I can only list what I have read so far (i.e. whatever I mention is not meant to be exclusionary of anything else).

Nell Irvin Painter's The history of white people. I wrote this about it in 2015:


The history of white people by Nell Irvin Painter drives home the point that "race" is a social construct, by examining the changing attitudes, in the American context, towards various groups of "white people".

The largest part of the book is a history of racialist ideas that held sway in the United States for several centuries and which are still present in some form today. Most of us have encountered the dominant paradigm--the very whitest blondest--"best"--people on top, the very darkest--"worst"--on the bottom, with a continuum of shades in-between.

Painter gives many examples of how complicated this model could get, and what circles professional racists ran in order to keep their cockamamie theories afloat. These are fascinating, in a way, but the sheer craziness and wilful stupidity get wearisome rather quickly. What should keep the attention going is the devastating fact that no matter how idiotic and wrong, how evidently self-serving and supremely malicious these myths, they were used to govern policy and order society.

Unfortunately (in my view), Painter's book isn't a criticism so much as a history, although, obviously, a lot of criticism is implied.

What emerges, to me, is that racism was invented to oppress politically those we want to use. Black people and poor white people were needed as beasts of burden, therefore they were claimed to be no better and no other than beasts of burden, vaguely humanoid cattle.

The American context makes this especially clear. America (United States in Painter's focus), was a developing country, such as, say France or Germany, were not. The genocide of Native Americans literally and figuratively opened up room for settlement and large-scale industries. There is nothing in capitalist ideology to restrain the abuse of labour--capitalism in fact strives toward its total enslavement. With collusion from the church (slaves will get their reward in heaven) and support from the academia (or "academia" as the case may be), this economic system could exist with the semblance of moral and scientific justification. (


There's a book by Ibrahim Kendi, that kiparsky mentioned above, which seems to cover the same ground: Stamped from the beginning.

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen and Barbara Fields is invaluable, I think. It was actually recommended to me in one of the old "American racism/Black in America" threads here, and I next discussed it in at least two other groups so won't be linking to that scattered record. One quote from my impressions:

There's one central idea, insight, conclusion I wish to note above all: that racism produces "race", and not vice versa. This is something that most people would probably first react to as totally counterintuitive and "obviously" wrong; but that is the crux of the problem. By the time we see "race" we have been taught to see it.


Jill Lepore's These truths is a recent one-tome history of the US, which, really, is the sort of history one needs to read to grasp the history of systemic racism. As I said, the story of one is the story of the other. Not that this is a new idea--for example, Howard Zinn's A people's history of the United States is probably the most famous critical, anti-white-supremacist-mythmaking history of the US.

I prefer Zinn's stance but the stories Lepore tells and the comparatively greater detail of her book make it also a valuable read.

Again, the last two titles may be seen as a somewhat long and roundabout way of learning about systemic racism, but when it comes to the question of its "roots", it's history or nothing.

On which topic... I have two more books in queue relating systemic racism to history, Michelle Alexander's The new Jim Crow and Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s Stony the road : Reconstruction, white supremacy, and the rise of Jim Crow.

juny 23, 2020, 4:30am

As Lola said, I'm not sure how much you can really understand people of other backgrounds (such as race) by just reading books. But there are some truly gifted African American novelists. Among my favourite novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zola Neale Hurston, although Ralph Ellison and other contemporary African American authors denounced it as not political enough. The Autobiography of an Ex colored Man is another fascinating read, about a light-skinned man who decides to 'pass' as white at the turn of the century (around 1900) only to regret that he has cut himself off from his own people.

But you know, maybe it would be better to ask someone who is African American which authors he or she thinks best represents the black experience in America.

Editat: juny 25, 2020, 7:56am

>21 LolaWalser:

Your syntax here is botched,

..."Personal resentment of whites against non-whites" ....

I gather that you probably intend to say

"Personal resentment by whites of non-whites" ... (emphasis added)

or, clearer and simpler still,

"Whites' personal resentment of non-Whites" ...


>22 madpoet:

..."maybe it would be better to ask someone who is African American which authors he or she thinks best represents the black experience in America." ...

Which African American are you going to ask? How are you going to select this person?--other than by starting with his or her skin-color.

"the black experience in America"?


Miami Cuban bartender (an only-child daughter of one of the Cuban (Mariel) Boat-Lift refugees)?

Portland, Oregon lawyer specializing in real-estate law (born in Boston to a U.S.-born Harvard University administrator and a Haitian-born medical doctor)?

Cincinnati auto-mechanic? (his father a second-generation life-employee assembly-line worker for General Motors and mother a high-school math teacher)?

The married-with-four-kids owner of a Nissan auto-dealership in Atlanta who lives in an upper-class suburban gated community?

A Colorado ranch-hand and horse-trainer (whose father was a restaurant cook in St. Louis, MO. and whose mother was raised in Dakar, Senegal and immigrated as a child to the U.S. in the 1970s where she became a waitress and then a restaurant manager)?

A U.S. Marine Staff-sergeant from Louisville, KY (whose parents were a sales rep for an industrial HVAC manufacturer and a university's campus-wide food-service manager)?

A New York city bike-messenger rider?

A dental assistant in Chicago's west suburbs?

Because any Black individual's opinion on which writings "best represent the black experience in America" just must be better, more worthy, more useful and interesting, and thus, more "valid" than any other person's who happens not to be Black--am I right?

Wouldn't you say, by the same reasoning, that any Chinese person chosen at random from any of China's provinces is also a better spokesman for "the Chinese experience in China" than any non-Chinese person, no matter his background, experience, reading and education?

What if the random draw offers us an illiterate rural rice-farmer who has never set foot outside his native village?

This is the stuff of what I shall describe as a reductive "identitarianism".* That may be a clumsy, ugly, neologism but it may also be apt for an ugly, clumsy way of approaching subtle matters because, rather than approaching them with the ease and confidence which comes from knowing that one isn't trying to cross a mine-field, one is approaching them in trepidation since the field being crossed is regarded as a mine-field.


* Oh! My! I see that "Identitarianism" is no neologism but, rather, a known and long-standing "thing". And notice those with whom it is associated in the course of that history.

Let's all shake in fear, "take a knee," constantly walk on racially-contrived "egg-shells," pull down every statue of a "White" man from pre-21st-century history, read and consider everything through the exclusive prism of "race" and the history of racially-motivated oppression, and, not least, hate Donald Trump because the Black Lives Matter" movement and the ironically inappropriately named so-called "Anti-Fa" movement insist that we do.

We're supposed to hate Trump of course because he resolutely refuses to "take a knee," walk on those egg-shells so carefully that they aren't broken or salute such stuff as that.

juny 23, 2020, 9:55am

>22 madpoet:

maybe it would be better to ask someone who is African American which authors he or she thinks best represents the black experience in America.

Yes, do that.

juny 26, 2020, 9:55am

>23 proximity1: "Which African American are you going to ask?"

Well, I would start with Oprah... ;-)

I get your point, that everyone is an individual with different experiences. You're right. Race is only one part of a person's identity and life experience, but it is that shared, common experience we are talking about when we talk about the African American experience. It's like when someone discusses the Italian-American experience: they aren't suggesting that all Italian Americans are the same, but there are some things they share as Italian Americans such as their heritage, cuisine, language, association with the mafia (kidding), and so on. What African Americans share is great music, soul food and a heritage of slavery, Jim Crow, and police brutality.

juny 26, 2020, 10:08am

>25 madpoet:

I think Oprah would be a bad choice. Her life has had quite a ride and the viewpoints she could express are so varied and likely to lean to a philosophical path. She could prove to you how working hard and standing up for yourself, while coming from even the most horrific conditions, one can become an outstanding person with immense freedoms. Of course, she could sympathize with those in deep poverty and sufferers of abuse of the worst kind, but her success is a model that would not fit the current narrative.

Editat: juny 26, 2020, 10:38am

>26 Cubby.R.S.: her success is a model that would not fit the current narrative

Which narrative would that be? Some individuals can rise above and break free of discrimination, deep poverty, suffering and abuse, but that doesn't mean that discrimination, deep poverty, suffering and abuse are a good thing. Once again, though, it is not just about individuals but about systemic and societal dynamics. And it must be pretty tedious even for those who have broken through to be surrounded by the same old shit day after day. And why should they have to?

juny 26, 2020, 10:38am

>27 John5918:

I think you should stick to the grindstone a little longer on that one. Oprah is black and she worked hard and got out of poverty, she didn't stick a sign in her hand and blame everyone for where she was about to go. Oprah has lived an impressive life by any standard and should be held up as a model of ethic and persistence. So what message do you want to send, that America allows that to happen? Because it seems to me, you're trying to embrace a systemic impossibility of another Oprah or a prior Oprah, perhaps you're denying Oprah's existence?

Editat: juny 26, 2020, 10:40am

>28 Cubby.R.S.:

There's so much wrong with your last post that I don't know where to start, so I won't. It's off topic for this thread, anyway.

juny 26, 2020, 10:44am

>29 John5918:

I meant to come here and post this, anyway, so I'll drop it.

Editat: juny 26, 2020, 11:08am

I'll admit that in the case of language--Italian, for example, not something known to and shared to any great extent by most Americans--we have something which sets apart in some respect those who have one in common from those who do not.

But that apart, there's nothing else on your list which I consider a reliable source of either a real common-bond of or a divider and separator of people.

I really do not understand why any of these are less my heritage than the heritage of Black Americans--honestly:

great music,--by which of course you mean "Black American composers and musicians

soul food --by which you mean the products of Black American culture

of the above, I really don't see how either are any less "my heritage" than that of Black Americans.

Seriously, are we to suppose that, on account of "race" more White people like and identify with
the music of Beethoven or Mozart than do Black people and that, on that factually-dubious account, this music is more a White person's heritage than a Black person's? Similarly, do more Blacks like and identify with either the music of Black musicians and composers or with these individuals themselves than do White people?

and a heritage of slavery, Jim Crow -- these are the heritage of any and all living Americans, aren't they?

Of course I didn't live under or have any direct experience of either U.S. slavery or of the Jim Crow period. But, so what? Neither have any living American Blacks today--outside a relative handful of Black Americans in their 90s as concerns "Jim Crow" laws.

and police brutality -- attributable to real class-differences but not to racial ones. Taking two people of effectively the same social-standing and gender, that is, both male or both female, and one of them Black, one White, neither has any more statistically-significant likelihood of becoming a victim of police brutality than the other.

In any case, isn't a society in which the color of one's skin is neither more interesting a fact nor more indicative of anything interesting about one than is the color of one's hair--isn't that the kind of society we should be trying to move further toward and hope for?

In that case, Shakespeare's work (the heritage of it) "belongs to" a young Black woman's heritage as much as to a white person's, doesn't it? Why is Jazz music, Soul music, Soul food, Italian food, Jim Crow or police brutality essentially different in this respect? Because so-called "communities" of racially-defined groups are supposed to experience suxh things more than others and in more similar ways, we're to attribute this to, we're to say it's because they share some identity based on a common skin-color's resemblance?

This strikes me as a doubtful idea.

juny 26, 2020, 12:53pm

I read recently No easy walk to freedom, a collection of some of Nelson Mandela's articles, speeches, and the statements he made at his trials in 1962 and 1963. I would recommend it as another book that illustrates systemic racism, the way it envelops and affects everyone in the designated oppressed underclass, and every aspect of their lives: location, education, industry, work, political engagement (while deprived of equal rights to representation), and of course even family life.

It struck me that South Africa and the United States are the two countries with institutionalised racism on the vastest scale and for the longest time in the modern age (20th century), with many features in common: segregation and various "Jim Crow" laws, restrictions on movement, access to education, jobs etc.

And the fallout of historic racism, its consequences affecting black people to this day is also similar--higher poverty, income gaps, healthcare gaps, ghettoization, criminalization etc.

juny 27, 2020, 11:21pm

>31 proximity1: "and a heritage of slavery, Jim Crow -- these are the heritage of any and all living Americans, aren't they?"

You cannot, with a straight face, suggest black and white Americans experienced slavery and Jim Crow in the same way? That's like suggesting a rapist and his victim "both experienced rape."

juny 28, 2020, 1:08am

>31 proximity1: Of course I didn't live under or have any direct experience of either U.S. slavery or of the Jim Crow period. But, so what? Neither have any living American Blacks today--outside a relative handful of Black Americans in their 90s as concerns "Jim Crow" laws.

I'm reminded of Utah Phillips' line: "the past didn't go anywhere." Or if you prefer, Faulkner's one also applies - "the past isn't dead, it isn't even past". The Jim Crow period is still with us. We all live the results of it every day.

Editat: juny 28, 2020, 7:46am

>34 madpoet:

True enough. And so I don't.

But I'm not referring to how either Black or White Americans of that time experienced Jim Crow society.

Rather, I'm arguing that their experiences, those of both Blacks and Whites have become and are, like it or not, today "the heritage" of "all of us," regardless of skin-color.

I deeply resent the implied view--which, fortunately, few seem to have the courage to state openly--that the causes, the events, of the past somehow become the specially-owned province and property of particular subsets of succeeding generations and that everyone else must be content with the purchase of a ticket for a curious-observer's upper-balcony seat.

Concerning our own current controversy surrounding the statues of U.S. Civil War generals of the Confederacy erected after the the war's formal end, I have this to offer for consideration--

One's being opposed to the removal of statues of U.S. Civil War Confederate generals one's being racist

we really ought to examine the assumptions which seem to have motivated this initiative to deface and tear down public monuments because they were erected to honor the memory of men who fought--and lost--in a struggle which was about the preservation of a now-discredited practice, legal property rights in the purchase and sale of people for slave-labor.

Are we to suffer the open existence of these monuments to men who championed that idea?

To me, the answer ought to be, "Of course. That war was won by those who opposed slavery, just as the cause these memorialized men fought for was lost."

And neither the monuments nor any remaining sentiments of affection for the men they honor are going to change that fact. Nor does the continued existence of the statues present any effective refutation of the cause which was vindicated with the outcome of the war.

Unless one seriously doubts and fears for the enduring robust validity of the cause which sought and won the end of slavery on U.S.soil, neither these statues nor any remaining respect for the men they represent pose any danger to us today or tomorrow.

Clearly the background assumption on the part of those taking an active part in the initiative to remove the statues is that slavery's defeat and end isn't safely won in the U.S. I submit that this fear is both absurd and evidence of seriously and dangerously delusional beliefs which, though false, present genuine dangers to other things related to real freedom of thought and action which have little or nothing to do with slavery.

Before these protests, extremely few Americans ever thought about or could even cite the name of a single Confederate general--whether a statue to his memory existed or not.

The continued existence of monuments to men who championed foolish, discredited, ideas and even ones now seen as abhorrent, pose no threat at all to any society which is not already, upon other unrelated grounds, so morally-debased that, statues or no statues, it is in existential peril. That is no less true in Germany, where, if statues to the memory of Adolf Hitler were put up, this would and could not, of itself, make or even contribute to the difference between a future in which Germans fail to avoid the particular failures of moral understanding which had so important a role in Hitler's rise to power.

In other words, these protests are demonstrations of a total or near-total lack of faith in the moral precepts and the foundations and institutions which won the U.S. civil war and ended slavery.

These are timid and foolish people who not only themselves failed their duty to know and understand history, they betray and injure the rest of those who who haven't failed that duty.

The statues ought to remain as reminders of human venality and stupidity because, as the protesters' own beliefs and acts so well attest, venality and stupidity are as present with us as ever.

Slavery, on the other hand, is not and is never again going to be--and certainly, at least, not for any reasons which have or could have something to do with these statues.

But think about it:

This particular hysteria was foretold; it's cousin to the same hysteria which, seeing Donald Trump elected president, saw large numbers of supposedly intelligent and serious adult Americans fear for the society's capacity to simply even survive Trump's tenure in office.

Now, a public that stupid, that intimidated, that full of doubt about its own moral-moorings, yes, probably should be expected to get around, sooner rather than later, to the work of tearing down such things as these statues.

juny 29, 2020, 11:08pm

>36 proximity1: I don't know how you got on to the topic of Confederate statues-- that's another issue.

Back to our topic. You say: "I deeply resent the implied view--which, fortunately, few seem to have the courage to state openly--that the causes, the events, of the past somehow become the specially-owned province and property of particular subsets of succeeding generations"

The way black Americans and white Americans remember the ante-bellum South has long been in stark contrast: black Americans with anger and disgust at the way they were forced to live as slaves; white Americans with a kind of nostalgia, best captured in novels and movies like Gone with the Wind. Similarly, Native Americans do not remember the European 'exploration' and capture of their ancestral lands with same pride and satisfaction so many white Americans do. A common heritage? Not exactly.

Editat: juny 30, 2020, 8:04am

>34 madpoet: >35 kiparsky:

In my own Canadian context, it is clear that trauma lives for generations. The residential school system on the one hand, clerical child abuse on another, continue to be lived experience partly through multi-generational social dysfunction as well as through epigenetics.

I'm not someone who turns to the Bible for answers. It looks, however, as though the long-ago author of Exodus had insight into this when writing of " visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation" (ESV Ex. 20:5). Shit doesn't disappear when the last person dies.

Corrected 'Genesis' to 'Exodus'

Editat: juny 29, 2020, 11:56pm

>37 madpoet: Native Americans do not remember the European 'exploration' and capture of their ancestral lands with same pride and satisfaction so many white Americans do

Well said. In 1992 I was doing my MA in Spokane WA, and the faculty of religion had very good links with the local Native American nations, so we were invited to attend their memorial of the 500th anniversary of the events of 1492. It was not a celebration, but a dignified expression of great sadness at what for them was a tragedy. I was also struck by the lack of bitterness and the respectful call for reconciliation.

Editat: juny 30, 2020, 6:04am

>38 librorumamans:

"it is clear that trauma lives for generations."

"It" does or it may, if people needlessly revive it and insist upon its return as a living injury--though no longer actually experienced --yes, that way, "it lives" on for generations.

But for those who don't revive them, the evils of the past, no longer practiced, may be left in the past as far as for practical purposes of what are real rather than imaginary harms.

Why, otherwise ought "trauma" of the past, experienced by people centuries ago and those people, therefore, now long-dead, "traumatize" today's living who've never known or experienced it?

To whom does it look "as though the long-ago author of (the Bible's book of ) Genesis had insight into this when writing of "visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation" ?

To you?

You're now subscribing to the Biblical version of what was otherwise known in law and legal theory as " Attainder"?


On attainder and corruption of blood:

Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60 (1917)

Corrigan v. Buckley, 271 U.S. 323 (1926)

Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948)


"The United States Constitution prohibits corruption of blood as a punishment for treason,(9) and when Congress passed the first federal crime bill in 1790, it prohibited corruption of blood as a punishment for any federal crime. In England and Wales, corruption of blood was abolished by the Corruption of Blood Act 1814."

Our Steps backward, to a new Dark Age:

Smashing of statues and monuments (check)

Ideological purity-tests (check)

Public shaming for deviant thoughts (a.k.a. Orwellian Thought-crime) (check)

Remind me-- you self-identify as politically-"liberal", right?

On this topic, tell us:

By the logic of "Black Lives Matter," why shouldn't Vietnamese children today--and on down to their great-great-grand-children-- be taught their country's history so as to encourage them to hate all U.S. Americans and everything about U.S. culture? Well, why not? After all, the injuries done to the Vietnamese people in the war with the U.S. military between about 1964/5 to 1973/4 --those are still part of the life-experience of living Vietnamese. Indeed, there are survivors who are still carrying their war wounds, still suffering the loss of their limbs, to the end of their days. Or do you insist, rather, that these Vietnamese children be told that they mustn't hate Black Americans (White Americans, of course: those they must hate since theirs was the "dominant culture") because, you see, unlike the White volunteers or draftees, Black G.I.s sent to fight in Vietnam were actually the Vietnamese people's own fellow-victims of the Scourge of White Culture and its oppression? That, I suppose, is the gloss which "BLM" should insist be put on the acts of Black soldiers, sailors and airmen in Vietnam during that war.

On reflection, that's not quite got it right.

Since so many of the people in the crowds who are pulling down the shameful statues put up by White ancestors to the memory of White racists are the White guilt-ridden descendants of these racists who have about as much to do personally with these statues or the people they honor as do, say, Canada's Eskimos, suddenly rising up today and acting in cross-racial solidarity with Black Americans, it isn't the Vietnamese children, great-grand-children & etc. who should be hating and protesting White U.S culture but, rather, Eskimos, for example, and various and sundry others, who are the properly analogous people in this example.

The idea here is for young people today who have no particular relation to the distant ancestors of others, those people's long-dead ancestors, or their long-dead friends or neighbors who, having been or thought to have been once the victims of some great outrage from the more-or-less long-distant past, --they are these unrelated third-party actors who today should--and, must, really-- suddenly rise up in indignant rage (programmed and orchestrated by behind-the-scenes corporate politically-motivated interest groups and their donors) and deface and pull down statuary in memory of the defeated defenders of a now lost cause, slavery, which ain't a gonna ever return, no matter how many statues are or aren't smeared with paint and pulled down. And, besides, it's not as though there are any other much more pressing and current matters with which we ought to be dealing instead.

There now. That's a more accurate picture of this farcical set of circumstances.

Wasn't it our own progressive liberals who denounced and ridiculed those whose cars and pick-up trucks bore plates and bumper-stickers which read, " 'Forget'? Hell!" and this phrase was accompanied by a Confederate battle-flag?

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

—Abraham Lincoln
(emphasis added)

What do you know!? Lincoln was right!.

Who's racist now?
Who's ridiculous now?

juny 30, 2020, 4:07am

>40 proximity1:

Trauma is real and trauma can be multi-generational. However it is absolutely worthless trying to discuss trauma as political axe-grinding in the way that you are doing.

jul. 1, 2020, 5:30am

>40 proximity1:

I don't believe in collective guilt, especially not passed on to future generations. I certainly don't blame Germans today, born long after 1945, for the Holocaust. Nor white Americans alive today for slavery or even the racial discrimination and lynchings of the early 20th Century. Unless, of course, those young Germans are neo-Nazis, or those Americans are waving a Confederate flag and advocating white supremacy.

What I object to in your statements, Proximity, is the idea that this 'shared' history means the same thing to the descendants of both the victims and the victimizers. Put yourself in the shoes of a black American touring a southern plantation, for instance. While you, as a white American, might gaze in awe at the grand rooms of the manor house, and think how wonderful it must have been in the glorious times of the Old Confederacy, surely the black American is thinking of the experience of his ancestors-- wondering which one of the rows of shacks his great-great-grandfather might have lived in. Or which one of these posts were slaved tied to and whipped mercilessly.

If you believe the statues of Confederate 'heroes' should be preserved, ask yourself why there are no statues of Lincoln or Grant in front of those southern city squares. And why are there no monuments to the men and women those Confederate 'heroes' fought to keep as slaves?

Editat: jul. 1, 2020, 8:48am

First, and about this shared history--and it is just that-- I don't think it does or ought need to "mean the same thing(s)" to the descendants of both the "victims" and the "victimizers"

But why ought this shared history "mean" to any of us that, 154 years since the war and generations since the installation of the monuments to Confederates soldiers as well as numerous Union-favoring Abolitionists, each one of us couldn't feel just as entitled and able to take from and make of that shared history what he or she will without having to feel compelled to countenance or join in a mob's wanton destruction of the monuments erected since?

If one, a Scandinavian or an American of Scandinavian descent, wanted or expected to see a statue in honor of (U.S. Army) Col. Hans Christian Heg, of the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment, one should, until recently, have had to look for it in a place such as the Capitol square of Madison, Wisconsin, rather than at Chickamauga, Tennessse where Heg died in September of 1863 at the age of 33 from wounds suffered in battle there.

There is, it happens, as I've learned, some sort of memorial to Heg at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park but exactly what kind of monument it is isn't clear to me from the sources I've seen.

The Madison statue of Heg, unless retrieved, now lies somewhere off-shore at the bottom of waters of Madison's Lake Monona since "(d)uring protests in June 2020, the statue was pulled down, decapitated, and thrown into Lake Monona" (Wikipedia).

I do not see why our reflecting on one's supposed choice between

"gaze(ing) in awe at the grand rooms (of some southern plantation's) manor house, ... think(ing) how wonderful it must have been in the glorious times of the Old Confederacy,"


"wondering which one of the rows of shacks" a laboring slave of that same plantation--- and, since then, become the "great-great-grandfather" of some present-day descendant of his---"might have lived in"

either does or ought to have any bearing on or lend any respectability to what the angry mob in Madison (and any others like it) did or why, for that matter, these two very different reflections on life at that antebellum plantation are or must be mutually exclusive mental acts.

I could easily do both and I consider it unjustified to jump to the conclusion that
a Black descendant of a slave of that plantation--even he or she--couldn't or shouldn't also manage to do both nor why, after more than 150 years and the progress toward social and economic parity so many Black people have known, he or she this ought to be supposed some remarkable feat of the imagination, mine or theirs.

I see and appreciate just where and on what we agree. What I don't see is what is left in this discussion for respectable disagreement on points of moral and social justice which does or could in some way excuse or justify these current protests. I'd find these protesters disgraceful for the misappropriation and distortion of historical facts even if it were not being done for motives which were vain and foolishly self-indulgent.

jul. 1, 2020, 8:14am

Many, probably millions of blacks converse freely among their friends, including their white friends. Such quotes as I've heard, "the protesters are either jobless *^Y^%^ who don't want to work and the whites are little boys and girls who just don't want everyone to think they're racist." The people that are most afraid of being considered racist, should reflect on what truly lies in their heart. What a silly nation we have become.

jul. 1, 2020, 10:02am

>43 proximity1:

Let me ask you frankly: When you saw the videos of George Floyd being choked to death by that police officer, what did you feel? Didn't you feel at all angry? I'm white, and not an American, and I was so furious I wanted to throw a brick through a police station window.

Yet most protesters are peacefully demonstrating. Of course, there will always be a few who use violence, but they are a small minority. As for those few dumbasses who destroyed the statue in Madison, do you really think they represent the majority of protesters?

Editat: jul. 1, 2020, 10:16am

>45 madpoet:

Let me ask you frankly: Do you think the few police that do these horrific actions represent the police in whole? I mean, the protesters get these considerations, but let's chuck a brick through their window to prove we're the non-hateful type?

As long as it supports our cause, it's good, oh so good.

Editat: jul. 1, 2020, 10:53am

>45 madpoet:

"As for those few dumb-asses who destroyed the statue in Madison, do you really think they represent the majority of protesters?"

A majority of the protesters, the people in the streets marching?, carrying signs?, shouting and chanting angrily before the cameras?, yes, I do think that the statue-breakers, these iconoclasts, do represent the sentiments, expressed or not, of the majority of the crowds seen in protests, even peaceful ones.

"what did you feel" "When you saw the videos of George Floyd being choked to death by that police?"

I haven't seen it. Not, at any rate, more than a few seconds of it. I have no need to see the videotape in order to know and accept that, in this case, the officers involved used lethal force and did so unnecessarily.

That said, I've read a great deal about others' reactions to and reports about this videotape.

Included is this, from Sam Harris. I fully subscribe to his interpretation of the events and that saves me the trouble of having to type them all out for you:

"The George Floyd video, while even more disturbing to watch, is harder to interpret. I don’t know anything about Derek Chauvin, the cop who knelt on his neck. It’s quite possible that he’s a terrible person who should have never been a cop. He seems to have a significant number of complaints against him—though, as far as I know, the details of those complaints haven’t been released. And he might be a racist on top of being a bad cop. Or he might be a guy who was totally in over his head and thought you could restrain someone indefinitely by keeping a knee on their neck indefinitely. I don’t know. I’m sure more facts will come out. But whoever he is, I find it very unlikely that he was intending to kill George Floyd. Think about it. He was surrounded by irate witnesses and being filmed. Unless he was aspiring to become the most notorious murderer in human history, it seems very unlikely that he was intending to commit murder in that moment. It’s possible, of course. But it doesn’t seem the likeliest explanation for his behavior.

"What I believe we saw on that video was the result of a tragic level of negligence and poor training on the part of those cops.
Or terrible recruitment—it’s possible that none of these guys should have ever been cops. I think for one of them, it was only his fourth day on the job. Just imagine that. Just imagine all things you don’t know as a new cop. It could also be a function of bad luck in terms of Floyd’s underlying health. It’s been reported that he was complaining of being unable to breath before Chauvin pinned him with his knee. The knee on his neck might not have been the only thing that caused his death. It could have also been the weight of the other officer pinning him down.

"This is almost certainly what happened in the cast of Eric Garner. Half the people on earth believe they witnessed a cop choke Eric Garner to death in that video. That does not appear to be what happened. When Eric Garner is saying 'I can’t breathe' he’s not being choked. He’s being held down on the pavement by several officers. Being forced down on your stomach under the weight of several people can kill a person, especially someone with lung or heart disease. In the case of Eric Garner, it is absolutely clear that the cop who briefly attempted to choke him was no longer choking him. If you doubt that, watch the video again.

"And if you are recoiling now from my interpretation of these videos, you really should watch the killing of Tony Timpa. It’s also terribly disturbing, but it removes the variable of race and it removes any implication of intent to harm on the part of the cops about as clearly as you could ask. It really is worth watching as a corrective to our natural interpretation of these other videos.

"Tony Timpa was a white man in Dallas, who was suffering some mental health emergency and cocaine intoxication. And he actually called 911 himself. What we see is the body-cam footage from the police, which shows that he was already in handcuffs when they arrived—a security guard had cuffed him. And then the cops take over, and they restrain Timpa on the ground, by rolling him onto a stomach and putting their weight on him, very much like in the case of Eric Garner. And they keep their weight on him—one cop has a knee on his upper back, which is definitely much less aggressive than a knee on the neck—but they crush the life out of him all the same, over the course of 13 minutes. He’s not being choked. The cops are not being rough. There’s no animus between them and Timpa. It was not a hostile arrest. They clearly believe that they’re responding to a mental health emergency. But they keep him down on his belly, under their weight, and they’re cracking jokes as he loses consciousness. Now, your knowledge that he’s going to be dead by the end of this video, make their jokes seem pretty callous. But this was about as benign an imposition of force by cops as you’re going to see. The crucial insight you will have watching this video, is that the officers not only had no intent to kill Tony Timpa, they don’t take his pleading seriously because they have no doubt that what they’re doing is perfectly safe—perfectly within protocol. They’ve probably done this hundreds of times before.

"If you watch that video—and, again, fair warning, it is disturbing—but imagine how disturbing it would have been to our society if Tony Timpa had been black. If the only thing you changed about the video was the color of Timpa’s skin, then that video would have detonated like a nuclear bomb in our society, exactly as the George Floyd video did. In fact, in one way it is worse, or would have been perceived to be worse. I mean, just imagine white cops telling jokes as they crushed the life out of a black Tony Timpa… Given the nature of our conversation about violence, given the way we perceive videos of this kind, there is no way that people would have seen that as anything other than a lynching. And yet, it would not have been a lynching.

"Now, I obviously have no idea what was in the minds of cops in Minneapolis. And perhaps we’ll learn at trial. Perhaps a tape of Chauvin using the N-word in another context will surface, bringing in a credible allegation of racism. It seems to me that Chauvin is going to have a very hard time making sense of his actions. But most people who saw that video believe they have seen, with their own eyes, beyond any possibility of doubt, a racist cop intentionally murder an innocent man. That’s not what the video necessarily shows.

"As I said, these videos can be hard to interpret, even while seeming very easy to interpret. And these cases, whether we have associated video or not, are very different. Michael Brown is reported to have punched a cop in the face and attempted to get his gun. As far as I know, there’s no video of that encounter. But, if true, that is an entirely different situation. If you’re attacking a cop, trying to get his gun, that is a life and death struggle that almost by definition for the cop, and it most cases justifies the use of lethal force. And honestly, it seems that no one within a thousand miles of Black Lives Matter is willing to make these distinctions. An attitude of anti-racist moral outrage is not the best lens through which to interpret evidence of police misconduct."

Editat: jul. 1, 2020, 11:05am

>46 Cubby.R.S.:

Yes. Exactly. An excellent question.

When I read, in >45 madpoet:,

... " I was so furious I wanted to throw a brick through a police station window."

the first thing that came to mind was to ask in reply,

"Any police-station window?"

For, as I think is the case, if one were to ask this same question of the people who are out protesting in the streets, the answer should come come back without hesitation or equivocation,

"Yes, any police-station window."

That's where we "are" today and while that's certainly not the "whole problem," that's no small part of the problem.

jul. 1, 2020, 11:16am

>46 Cubby.R.S.:

At one time, I also thought there were a very few abusive police officers, just as there are a very few people in any profession who ought not to be there. Over the past decade or more, as horror story has piled onto horror story — and knowing there are many other incidents we do not hear of — my opinion has changed.

Law enforcement has become, and perhaps always was, a closed culture that attracts, encourages, and protects men (and latterly women) who are too often immature, insecure, sexist, racist, homophobic, and who have aggression issues.

I have no ready solution to offer. But the extent of misbehaviour that we see across police forces lifts whatever gossamer veil there was and makes it clear that society needs to fundamentally rethink what law enforcement should encompass and how it should be implemented.

jul. 1, 2020, 11:56am

I think this thread has gotten very far from its purpose, which was to discuss books useful for understanding systemic racism and how to understand and confront it. I suspect that this may have been an intentional diversion on the part of certain members of the community who would prefer to rehearse their biases rather than talk about ways to unlearn them.

I wonder what's behind that preference, but unfortunately I don't expect a serious answer.

jul. 1, 2020, 12:00pm

>50 kiparsky:

Fair point.

jul. 1, 2020, 12:01pm

>49 librorumamans:

This should tell you as a whole, our society is becoming increasingly violent. It is, as is with our politicians, a reflection on the nation as a whole. The statistics show that police show greater restraint than they're given credit for.

"In 2012 in the city of Rialto, California, population approximately 100,000, cops were randomly assigned body cameras based on their shifts. Over the next year, use-of-force incidents on the shifts that had cameras were half the rate of those without cameras. But something rather extraordinary also happened. Complaints against all Rialto police officers with were down almost 90 percent from the prior year.

It turns out when civilians knew they were being recorded, they — not the cops — behaved better and stop making false accusations. The use of force by cops also declined, but, again, not because the police changed their conduct. No, the cops continued performing as they’d been trained. Civilians, aware that they were being taped, were less confrontational and were more likely to cooperate and follow instructions. As a result, cops needed to use force less frequently."

More likely the problem, is the same justification given to terrorists, they are economically hurting. See also:

jul. 1, 2020, 12:08pm

>52 Cubby.R.S.: "It turns out when civilians knew they were being recorded, they — not the cops — behaved better and stop making false accusations. ...not because the police changed their conduct. No, the cops continued performing as they’d been trained."

Convenient assumption. I suppose we're supposed to take it for granted that the fact that the cops knew they were being recorded did not affect their behavior, while also taking it for granted that that fact that civilians knew they were being recorded did change their behavior?

Even though the cops, who have to put on the cameras when they start their shift and switch them on for each interaction, would have been far more aware of the cameras than the civilians?

jul. 1, 2020, 12:42pm

>52 Cubby.R.S.: our society is becoming increasingly violent

Yours is, perhaps, but mine is not. Police, however, continue to assault, maim or kill members of the public all too often.

jul. 1, 2020, 1:33pm

>53 kiparsky:

It is a statistical assumption, to be certain regarding the cops. However, the other side of the equation is far more telling. Also, I believe the police must make the person aware that they are being recorded.

>54 librorumamans:

Fair enough. It also seems to me that thought is increasingly selfish and brutal. I don't see a discussion here though, defund them if you really think it will help, but this is what we've been working toward.

jul. 1, 2020, 1:43pm

>55 Cubby.R.S.: Other side of the equation? I'm not following you. It seems to me that if there is a drop in complaints against the police after body cameras come into use, we have several hypotheses that could explain this, and those include Elder's proposal (people were making false reports, and stopped because the interaction was being recorded) and mine (police were behaving badly, and stopped because the interaction was being filmed). These are not mutually exclusive, and they do not exhaust the set of possible explanations. Trying to draw a conclusion from this (as Elder does) without further investigation is unwarranted - just as I would be wrong to claim, without further explanation, to know that my hypothesis is correct.

All we learn from this, it seems to me, is not to rely on Larry Elder's interpretation of data.

jul. 1, 2020, 2:04pm

>56 kiparsky:

I see. Although you make a fair point, the data suggests that the rate of force and complaints aren't synchronized. I would agree, the bad apples likely do simmer down and as LolaWalser points out in another thread, there are recorded incidents of blatant racist police officers (that begin to melt and show inner colors under pressure, which is obviously unacceptable). That does not appear the standard though.

Editat: jul. 1, 2020, 3:01pm

>50 kiparsky:


" suspect that this may have been an intentional diversion on the part of certain members of the community who would prefer to rehearse their biases rather than talk about ways to unlearn them." ...

is amusing coming from you especially since I gather that I'm included in those you have in mind by the descriptor "certain members of the community."

You don't show a lot of anything I've seen as evidence of your having read even the texts you cite in posts, let alone ones you actually list in your library collections.

Your sloppy, shoddy reasoning suggests you've either not read much of the 58 books our libraries have in common or didn't understand much of what you read of them; and the scope of your reading interests looks comparatively narrow, in my view.

It does not appear that you read much outside what all evidence here suggests is what could be described as your "comfort zone."

You ask questions, apparently expecting answers, but you conveniently ignore those put to you which you cannot adequately answer without doing violence to the facts and to truthfulness.

You show the close-mindedness which is today so very typical in people about your age and younger and having your political leanings. Where biases are concerned, it's you who strike me as much more thoroughly a prisoner of the biases either of us harbors.

(ETA: Lest you mistake me as someone who assumes that age equals valid and valuable experience or that it is any reliable indicator of one's wisdom or intelligence-quotient, note that I remark on the fact that the author of White Fragility, Robin Di Angelo, is my age and that she helps demonstrate the truth of the adage, "There's no fool like an old fool." She and her academic C.V. are an embarrassment to my entire generation. At the age of 63! To have come to understand so little about people and life as to write such a book!

( As a twenty-something college kid sitting in large lecture halls listening to my fellow students, I felt acutely that the prospects of my cohort's doing well with them, once the adult responsibilities of managing important things were eventually entrusted to us, were not very good at all.)

Before we get to discussing books, I think you'd do well to read some. I've posted numerous pertinent books in the course of commenting here. I doubt you've read anything of any of them.

Physician, heal thyself.

I'd say you have more than your share of biases to "unlearn" and really no idea about just how to do that—and this thing you condemn in so many others— "racism"— figures importantly in those biases.

jul. 1, 2020, 3:13pm

>57 Cubby.R.S.: I would certainly not say that blatant racism is the standard on any police force. (I could be convinced otherwise, that there exists some police force which is endemically racist, by data, but not by anecdote)

I would say that there are a number of factors in most police forces which tend to have a number of bad effects, which combine to produce the systemically (note "systemic", as opposed to "personal") racist outcomes that we've seen.

These factory would include (I'm writing from work, so won't try to be exhaustive) failing to detect and mitigate racist expressions and behaviors of individual police officers, system-wide protection of badly-behaving police (including unions protections, closed disciplinary proceedings, closed personnel records, etc), failure to actively recruit a diverse body of officers, etc.

This is not about "all cops are bastards", it's about "we organize our police forces in order to produce bastard behavior".

As for "defund", I think this is unfortunate language but some of the ideas that people are talking about here make a lot of sense. And there's some nonsense in there as well. For an example of a good idea, a lot of people cite the "CAHOOTS" program in Oregon - diverting police funds to more appropriate responders who can better resolve situations involving homeless folks or people with mental illness or drug addiction, etc. Apparently this saves money by reducing the number of police calls and the burden on the judicial system overall, in addition to producing better outcomes for the people involved. For example, fewer police interactions means you don't pile up as much of a record, which makes it easier to get out of homelessness.

I believe that looking at the actual ideas here is more important than focusing on the slogan.

jul. 1, 2020, 3:25pm

>58 proximity1: You're so very good at making my points for me. I really do appreciate that about you.

The day you articulate and defend a point coherently, I might give a thought to your opinions of my intellectual abilities. And that day may come, but I'm not holding my breath.

Editat: jul. 1, 2020, 4:38pm

>60 kiparsky:

My criticisms were constructive. Painful to read, perhaps, but full of my fairest and most honest opinions concerning you.

At your age, I'd have not only heard and taken seriously any such commentary from one of my own age now, with, knowing it as I do, the experience which I have had—I'd have been grateful for it and for the fact that such a person would bother enough to offer it.

You write,

"You're so very good at making my points for me. I really do appreciate that about you."

But you've made no points which anything in my comments might have confirmed or validated, whether to your credit or to my discredit. If you had, you could cite, explain and defend them.

And, then, there's this,

"The day you articulate and defend a point coherently, I might give a thought to your opinions of my intellectual abilities."

More to the point, the day you're up to recognizing the cogency and coherence of the points in the opinions I've already presented, however inarticulately, that same day you'll be free to give them your due consideration and not before —and I mean, in that, not the cogency and coherence of the points in the opinions I've already presented concerning your intellectual abilities. For, as to those, it's clear that you've already given a thought for them.

I mean, rather, the cogency and coherence of the points in the opinions I've already presented on a range of other issues and topics.

As for just how much (of others' criticisms and opinions, being addressed to you,) is wasted on you, I'm not really able to say. I could only guess at it.

But my guess is that it is more than is good for you.

And that's a shame, your shame, not theirs.

The best advice I've ever read came to me from Charlton Ogburn Jr.'s literary biography of Edward de Vere (as the subject of his study's title-object*) The Mysterious William Shakespeare.

Ogburn is now gone. But here's the advice he left, he passed on, to us:

"Let nothing be wasted on you."


* (In other words, Ogburn's thesis is that Edward was the author "William Shake-speare", among others of his several pen-names.)

jul. 1, 2020, 10:27pm

>61 proximity1: Painful to read, perhaps,

You might be giving yourself a little too much credit here.

the day you're up to recognizing the cogency and coherence of the points in the opinions I've already presented

That might happen in time. Alzheimer's does run in my family on my mother's side, so I wouldn't be completely surprised if at some point I'm at your level. Thankfully, I expect I won't really mind all that much when it happens - at least my grandmother seemed quite cheery in the home.

But apparently you're quite old, or so I hear, so presumably you won't be around to argue the points then, so I suppose for now we'll have to get on as we are as best we can.

Go on, say something cogent and coherent.

jul. 1, 2020, 11:27pm

(Dear kiparsky: vita brevis, arses very very longues. :))

Everyone can of course do as they please; for my part, I'm way past discussing the basics of this topic with people who 1) have paraded their particular odious take on this and related themes enough that I blocked them years ago 2) are trolls/trollish/trolleresque etc.

On to a book, Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow, 2019, Penguin Press

I didn't know this was based on a documentary series Gates did for PBS and don't know how it compares to it, but that's fyi, in case you might prefer television. The book too is richly illustrated.

Gates' main focus, the figure through which he analyses the period from slavery's abolition up to the WWII, is the so-called "New Negro". This is a complicated trope, understood and used in various ways, with ambivalent connotations. Its origin may be seen as hopeful, or psychologically defensive, its use be programmatic and progressive, or patronising, even contemptuous.

The ambivalence, as Gates intuited already as a young student, comes from the implicit criticism of some "Old Negro".

I knew a little about the backlash against the abolition of slavery but only now do I have some inkling of just how ENORMOUS it was.

How rabid, relentless, and all-encompassing the immediate attack on all and any rights newly won by the freed black people. This attack that persists to this very day.

I'd heard before the phrase that "the South lost the war but won the narrative", but when you survey the stats and facts of the Reconstruction (incredibly short period, not longer than 10-12 years), and the hideous "Redemption" that followed it (mass rollback of black people's rights in the South, Jim Crow laws), you have to wonder what it meant that it "lost".

During the Reconstruction black people (men) accessed public office, and schools and universities were opened to mixed student bodies--but then just a few years later got resegregated, and remained so until the latter part of the 20th century.

In Louisiana and similarly elsewhere in the South, the Reconstruction enlarged black voter population to hundreds of thousands--and just a few years later these would be suppressed to several thousand.

All this was accompanied by a vast cultural and social offensive against black people--millions of racist representations from cartoons to Uncle Remus folklore, all serving the "Lost Cause" mythology of happy slaves and African savagery.

Depressingly, many of the abolitionists were also racist, with limits to just how much "equality" with black people they could countenance.

Four million newly freed slaves, most illiterate and desperately poor, set upon by their former masters with furious hatred, were somehow (this reminds me of that incredible racist Faulkner) first of all obliged to "prove" they were "deserving".

It's an unspeakably revolting history, and everyone should know it.

I'll be looking for something more narrowly focussed on the Reconstruction period and the aftermath (Gates of course provides plenty of reference).

Editat: jul. 1, 2020, 11:53pm

>63 LolaWalser: I have not yet got to Foner's recent history of the period (The Second Founding) but based on the reviews and what I've seen of his other work it looks like it's probably worth your attention.

jul. 1, 2020, 11:57pm

>47 proximity1: You really should watch more of the video of what happened to George Floyd. Before I watched it I didn't understand why the protesters were so furious. Seeing someone being killed, slowly and deliberately, by the people who are supposed to 'serve and protect' the public will make your blood boil-- if you have any heart at all.

Did the officer mean to kill Floyd? If he didn't, then what the hell was he thinking? Other officers had checked Floyd and found him unresponsive. An ambulance had been called for him-- not once, but twice. And still, he kneeled on the man's neck. Why kneel on the neck of an unconscious man? The only possible reason I can think of is that he wanted him more than unconscious. He wanted him dead. He didn't care who was witnessing it, because he thought he would get away with it. He is a cop, after all.

I don't believe all, or even most, police officers would act like that. My brother in law is a policeman, and I'm sure he wouldn't. But there were three other officers on the scene-- all of whom did nothing to stop the murder of George Floyd. That is the bigger problem. Not that there are a few racist cops, but that police departments cover for them, defend them, and enable them. It was several days before any charges were brought against the murderer, after considerable public pressure. If there had been no one there with a smartphone to record what happened, that officer would probably not have been charged at all!

Editat: jul. 2, 2020, 12:02am

>64 kiparsky:

Oh yeah, Gates talks about Foner a lot. Will do.

Hm, this: Reconstruction: America's unfinished revolution

Editat: jul. 2, 2020, 12:22am

Deleted as on reflection I agree with Lola that this thread is about the books. There are other threads dedicated to systemic racism.

jul. 2, 2020, 12:44am

Could be the most useful 5 minutes you spend on this topic--and that bit with Toni Morrison is... well, you have to hear it to believe it.

How 'white fragility' reinforces racism – video explainer

jul. 2, 2020, 1:47am

Editat: jul. 2, 2020, 2:01am

Editat: jul. 2, 2020, 11:58am

>65 madpoet:

"If he didn't, then what the hell was he thinking?"

I think he was thinking something close to what I've already posted in the excerpt of Sam Harris's commentary.

I watched three videos, all available from First, this one:

Watch A Minute-To-Minute Breakdown Leading Up To George Floyd's Deadly Arrest | NBC News NOW (7,295,433 views) |
•May 29, 2020

then, the first 1 min. & 19 secs. of this video,
(CBS Evening News) Derek Chauvin charged with third degree murder in death of George Floyd |
(7,036,437 views) •May 30, 2020

and, finally, this video,

(ABC News "Nightline")
George Floyd’s death reopens old wounds of similar police-involved incidents | Nightline
•May 28, 2020

taken together, they suggest what seems to have probably happened during other important minutes--above all, the events just before the point so familiar to millions: Floyd's being shown pinned down on the ground with Chauvin's knee on his neck--out of clear view of any camera, as far as I can tell.

The second video--news report--

..."During the attempt to put a hand-cuffed Floyd into the police car, the defendant (Officer Chauvin) pulled Mr. Floyd out of the squad-car, held him with knee to the neck" ...


In the last of the three videos, after we hear Floyd tell officers he can't breathe, we clearly hear Officer Chauvin say to Floyd, in anger and frustration, "Get up! and get in the car right!" while pinning floyd, clearly still live and responsive.


Apparently because four officers had been struggling to get Floyd into the squad-car and seated, without his resistance, before he could be safely driven to the station.

With Floyd nearly in the car, why would Chauvin have considered it necessary to have taken these measures to so restrain Floyd?

To me, the likely reason is that, out of view of the cameras, the officers' efforts to get Floyd in the car with Floyd's own non-resisting cooperation were failing because Floyd wasn't cooperating and giving them no resistance to his being put in the car.

While none of that would appear to justify Chauvin's having continued to pin and hold Floyd down for two minutes and fifty-three more seconds after he'd been unresponsive (that is, no longer animated or struggling against Chauvin's restraining knee), we are still faced with a case of a man who, according to witnesses and video, had not simply given these arresting-officers cooperation without physical resistance.

There's more here than is readily apparent from the cameras' views available to us.

I think that the vast majority of experienced police officers, viewing these three videos, would consider the arrest to have been entirely typical in most respects (other than the death of the suspect of course) of many arrests. I think that they'd suspect, given the time taken between Floyd's being shown led across the street where he'd been waiting, hand-cuffed and seated, to the waiting squad-car seen in the screen's upper-left corner, that there was some intervening physical resistance on Floyd's part to his being put into the squad-car, resistance which isn't available to be seen from videotape of the events. If so, that would have been a key factor in everything that followed from it, with, of course, the use of more and greater force to restrain Floyd.

Does, therefore, this incident in any way justify the enormous violent response of nationwide protests, burning and looting?

To me the answer is, "Certainly not."

jul. 2, 2020, 8:25am

>68 LolaWalser: that bit with Toni Morrison No kidding.

The next book I'm tackling is The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby. "The Truth About the American Church's Complicity in Racism". It's on my "Big Picture" shelf alongside books like The Warmth of Other Suns and Stamped from the Beginning.

jul. 2, 2020, 8:58am

>63 LolaWalser:

LolaWalser, you're just plain mean-spirited and closed minded. Quite honestly, I wouldn't consider blocking anyone. But the fact that I can read some of your points and agree while diverging in the end, means that there is always something worth discussing.

jul. 2, 2020, 9:55am

I looked up White Fragility on the Toronto Public Library website and up popped

Black Lives Matter: A Booklist.

It's not easy to get books right now, so for me at least the list remains aspirational.

Editat: jul. 2, 2020, 3:55pm

>63 LolaWalser:

..."I'd heard before the phrase that 'the South lost the war but won the narrative', but when you survey the stats and facts of the Reconstruction (incredibly short period, not longer than 10-12 years), and the hideous 'Redemption' that followed it (mass rollback of black people's rights in the South, Jim Crow laws), you have to wonder what it meant that it 'lost'.

"True" only for some time after the end of the war--and, indeed, that meant generations-- and only up to a point, at that.

But, surely, by now, only the blindest and most uncharitable person could assert that, today, one could still honestly and fairly "wonder" what it means or has ever meant to say that the Confederacy lost its cause to preserve a system of formal and legal slavery.

In the most immediate and practical sense, the Confederacy's loss in the war meant that slaves became former-slaves and these, former non-citizens, became citizens, at least on a minimum de jure basis. And that meant that their continued struggles for full rights as more equal and eventually as equal citizens, that, was conducted as citizens of the United States.

There are manifold points, purposes and objectives of these organized movements which operate under the banner of "Anti-'racism'"

In the service of their ambitions, the movements' leaders and supporters would like to convince as many as possible among the doubt-filled, the worried and the wavering Americans of the United States that,

1) there is nothing either worthy in or worth preserving about what is termed, "White culture", by definition, supposedly identical to the term "White supremacy." "Among Democrats, only 38 percent believe that the United States is one of the greatest countries or the greatest country on earth.". (USA Today poll; July, 2020)

... "a recent Morning Consult-Politico poll shows only 32 percent of respondents favor the removal of Confederate statues." Pure coincidence?

2) Therefore, it follows that any and every "decent person" is morally obliged to oppose and seek the eventual end of and the "overthrow" of this culture and all its official or unofficial apparatus, supposedly still in place and in effective control of everyone everywhere, the knowing or unknowing victims of an insidious system or that system's knowing advocates and abettors.

3) Everything or nearly everything about these complicated circumstances is best (or, indeed, only) understood and interpreted through a particular lens, namely that of a racially-ground and honed lens which highlights the iniquities of Whites and their culture, now and through history, which these Whites have controlled and manipulated, distorted, to serve and protect their racist power-interests.

4) That there are any other or better ways to see and interpret White people and their words, deeds and thoughts is to be dismissed as ridiculous.

5) That others, people of other skin-colors, cultures, and lands, might, themselves, be just as susceptible to the same motives and aims as those imputed to White people and their culture is to be dismissed as ridiculous.

6) Those deemed responsible, i.e. White people first and foremost, are to be subjected to unrelenting designs to shame them individually and collectively, to instill in them the greatest possible sense of guilt, however unwarranted and to use these tactics to full effect.

7) The United States, indelibly stained by its history, is a loathsome place which is as despicable as its White culture is worthless. And it's where any & all foreigners, aliens to, strangers to, no necessary friends of, democracy, democratic principles, or the civil liberties embodied in the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights, ought to come and be welcome, encouraged, and given free, unhindered entry.

And come they do. In droves. There is no end to the number of people who want to and who'll do nearly anything to get in and stay in the U.S. How many of them, one wonders, are acquainted with the scathing abuse heaped on the U.S., that "Great Satan" by Walser-like haters of the U.S.?

8) You didn't hear this from us, but, in all candor, we love the French Revolution's Jacobinism, and, above all, our inspirational model, its Reign of Terror. The small-d democratic part, not so much. Thus, our plan involves not installing a democratic republic but, rather, reversing one, and skipping straight to the authoritarian rule which the Terror's architects put into effect. We may speak of A Thousand Currents, but we want to be damn certain that all of them belong to us and remain under our direction. We've seen what happens (Trump in the White House) when people are allowed to think and to choose as they see fit to do, without any of the all-important guidance which we provide. Basta! That!. Lots of unhindered choice tends to lead to people choosing what they'd like, or, in other words, wrong!

And any inconvenient principles be damned.

jul. 2, 2020, 12:46pm

>74 librorumamans:

You don't do e-books? (I understand the preference for real books, I don't do well with reading long texts off a screen.) My closest library branch is open to pickups and I've already received two hauls of stuff. Have you checked yours? You can also arrange for someone else to pick up your stuff if you give them your card.

>73 Cubby.R.S.:

LolaWalser, you're just plain mean-spirited and closed minded.


Cubby.R.S., I think you're funny, but also boring: an apologist of standard icky right-wingery, made only a tad more startling by your fearless mangling of English and anything resembling an idea. The only somewhat interesting question that comes to mind on seeing one of your posts is how much of that fog and smoke might be deliberate or spontaneous.

>72 southernbooklady:

Very intrigued by Tisby's book, I hope you'll say something about it when you finish. I'll see if it's available to borrow. In Europe it's not that difficult to discern the church's role in upholding inequalities, but in Louisiana it struck me immediately how different was the American religious landscape.

Typically the role of the black churches is seen as positive in the US, and so many social leaders were preachers and pastors, that their activity in general seems unassailable. I presume there have been black leftist criticisms but I have not explored that.

Morrison: can you imagine being a freaking Nobelist and still getting such pig-ignorant racism thrown your way? "When will you pay attention to WHITE PEOPLE Ms. Morrison"--ha, when did she NOT.

>69 kiparsky:

Agreed, Akala is excellent. I always wonder whether it's a sin to wish such people would go into politics--sin against them, that is.

jul. 2, 2020, 1:21pm

>76 LolaWalser:

Well, at the minimum I get to be funny, which is probably the only comment I've ever heard from you that isn't a nasty fish killing foot in the water. I think we can start with; I find you an interesting and intellectual curiosity as well: for all your brilliance, you conclude only what you've been given and never seem to be stirred to create an argument within yourself.

I would agree that my half thought out comments do leave much to contrive, but they save me a lot of time for those open to interpret them and create no less the repulse from those unwilling to converse on them. I am quite amok in my own mind.

jul. 2, 2020, 1:53pm

>76 LolaWalser:

One (not unusual, I believe) consequence of COVID is that all the screen time has fried my eyesight. I'm starting to think about doing library books again, but I've managed to get as far as the 400's in The Magic Mountain, and if I admit distractions I'll not reach 720. Although fascinating, it demands perseverance.

jul. 3, 2020, 1:54am

I hope this is relevant to this thread about "the books":

Black Writers’ Guild calls for sweeping change in UK publishing (Guardian)

More than 100 writers including Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo, Benjamin Zephaniah and Malorie Blackman have called on all major publishing houses in the UK to introduce sweeping reforms to make the overwhelmingly white industry more inclusive at all levels.

As black authors top the bestseller charts in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd, the newly formed Black Writers’ Guild (BWG), which counts among its members some of Britain’s best known authors and poets, has written an open letter airing concerns that “British publishers are raising awareness of racial inequality without significantly addressing their own”.

Several of the signatories have recently shared their experiences of racism, including editors’ requests to add white or racist characters to their books, and being offered lower advances than their white contemporaries...

jul. 6, 2020, 7:16pm

The Times (specifically, the New York one) ran a long excerpt from Isabel Wilkerson's upcoming book Caste: The Origin Of Our Discontents in Sunday's magazine section.
Based on that excerpt, it looks like an excellent piece of work, both in the analysis and the use of language. Very much looking forward to this one.

Editat: jul. 6, 2020, 7:32pm


jul. 11, 2020, 1:50pm

A compilation of articles on Lit Hub including such authors as Angela Davis, Jesmyn Ward, James Baldwin...

Readings on Racism, White Supremacy, and Police Violence in America

For example, an informative review of Gates' book mentioned above:

The Wrong Kind of Redemption: A Civil War That Never Ended

Editat: jul. 12, 2020, 5:40am

>82 LolaWalser:

James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Jesmyn Ward --- "wow" --the very picture of victims of racism's oppression.

Who knew?

There's an election coming up and what are you offering?

This: Your main offer is selling White-guilt to Americans, both Black and White; As for the Blacks, you imagine them seething with resentment and a hatred for this country which—in your view—has done nothing but oppress them and, as for Whites, you imagine them—now eager to accept others' heaping more guilt upon them—already bent, but insufficiently so, with a sense of shame for their inescapable roles in instigating and perpetuating of the never-ending oppression of their Black fellow-citizens.

With this for sale, you actually hope and intend to attract votes—which can't be compelled from voters but, rather, must be given by them voluntarily—and unseat Donald Trump, to be replaced by Joe Biden.

An electorate so stupid as to fail to see through that is very sad and really must deserve what it gets from such stupidity.

I'm betting--and actually already have literally bet--that your plans and hopes are misbegotten and headed for failure.

jul. 11, 2020, 11:59pm

>83 proximity1: a hatred for this country

Another right wing trope which labels anybody who criticises a country as "hating" that country. They don't. Often they love their country and simply want to make it a better place to live, not only for themselves but for everybody. There is such a thing as "loyal dissent", and recognising that even a good country could be better.

Editat: jul. 12, 2020, 5:06pm

Well, I did end up writing a kind of long review of The Color of Compromise:

But the upshot is that this is a book written by a person of faith, with the goal of leading the American (conservative, white, mostly Protestant) church away from a stance that is complicit and sometimes even explicit in perpetuating racism. Mostly it is a long attempt to get conservative Christians to see the reality of systemic racism although it is impossible for me to say if he is successful at this since I don't need to be convinced systemic racism exists.

He did make a couple of points I found interesting and helpful. His book, a historical survey of influential racist decisions made by society and church leaders and groups, treats all such decisions as deliberate choices, instead of with the inevitability historians use to excuse the past. So deciding that being baptized does not free a person from a state of slavery? A deliberate choice by the Virginia General Assembly. The inclusion of the three-fifths clause in the Constitution? A deliberate choice by the framers of the Constitution. In every case, according to Jemar Tisby, a different choice could have been made.

He also gives a kind of theological explanation for the conservative Christian's resistance to the concept of systemic racism. Tracing back to the rise of Evangelism in the mid-19th century, the logic seems to be something like: The first step to being saved is to accept Jesus Christ. Accepting Christ means the convert would naturally work towards justice, ergo, what the Saved person does is just and it is the role of the church to convert people, not direct the actions of those who have been converted.

Which seems like very magical thinking to me, but is, according to Tisby, at the root of the Christian conservative's conviction that "society" is simply the sum total of good and bad acts of individual people and not a "system" at all. And injustice is simply people acting badly, a problem of each individual wrongdoer, not a social issue.

He does point out that this sort of justification seems to be easily applied to civil rights protests, but never seems to be evoked when it comes to things like reproductive rights, abortion, evolution being taught in schools, or gay rights.

I do find myself wondering if any of the more conservative Christians would read, much less be convinced by the historical evidence in Tisby's book. But I found it an interesting window into the struggle that must be going on within the community of the faithful.

jul. 12, 2020, 4:59pm

>85 southernbooklady:

Thanks for the post and the review. I copied this from your review, no comment necessary:

Anyone who reads any -- and I do mean ANY -- of the more popular and well-respected histories of the founding of the United States invariably runs into the hard fact that antislavery clauses were excised from the Declaration of Independence, and the even harder brick wall that is the presence of the three-fifths clause of the Constitution. That the phrase "We believe that all men are created equal" is possibly the most hypocritical line ever written given the circumstances. They are mentioned, and usually justified as regrettably "necessary" for the survival of the nascent country, but quickly passed over in favor of continuing the story of the great white men and events that resulted in The United States of America. Historians shy away from the dreadful irony that their new land of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness actually depended on enslaving people, treating slavery as an historical artifact of the past. The average American historian talks about the pragmatism of the founding fathers, but Tisby insists -- rightly -- that it was also a deliberate, conscious, and therefore EVIL choice, the results of which we have never stopped feeling.

Editat: jul. 12, 2020, 6:28pm

>85 southernbooklady:

Anyone believing justice has anything to do with Christ is probably not Christian. Although I do not doubt the fallacies being taught by some, I can't say I find the source inspirationally represented by this report.

The founders were undeniably racist, however; many deplored slavery. My favorite founders did not own slaves with the exception of Washington. Adams, JQ, Benjamin Rush were not slave owners and as States rights determined largely during their time, they could do nothing more. But John Quincy Adams was quite staunch in his fight against slavery. I do not excuse slavery and I do not pretend they did enough. But I do contend that it was not as simple as some might suggest. It was indeed national suicide or the freedom of slaves. That is a choice 99.9 pct of humankind could not get right and FLO isn't fooling anyone. As far as the Constitution goes, it is indeed a a damnable shame that they could not free slaves. But the nation even to that point was not certainly free of Great Britain. According to studies, Liberals struggle to be charitable beyond a few dollars in a bowl for the whales, let alone die for someone else.

For my final comment on systemic racism, the founders have nothing whatsoever to do with our current problems. We should be able to look beyond their time. In fact, you would have to look to Europe and then Rome, etc. to find the origins of our slavery. The facts are, the U.S. has constantly worked to improve if in only one thing, human rights. Using the founding fathers as some sort of staging is shallow at best. Slavery was ineffective and the North was ultimately able to win against the South because they moved on from slavery and became industrialized. Of course, Liberals will like that ration pay labor and convenient inefficient worker selection death panels when their sick fossil fuel free world returns with slaves of Communism.

jul. 12, 2020, 7:21pm

>84 John5918:
There must be some interesting mental gymnastics involved when criticizing people for hating America while comfortably quaffing Fursty Ferrets at the Ship and Shovell.

Editat: jul. 12, 2020, 11:25pm

>87 Cubby.R.S.: Anyone believing justice has anything to do with Christ is probably not Christian

While not wishing to derail a thread about books, I can't let that one pass without comment. If you are claiming that much of Christianity (and particularly conservative Christianity) has failed on justice ("the fallacies being taught by some", in your words), I can agree with you. But that justice has nothing to do with Christ is a strange claim to make, especially as a throwaway one-liner with no explanation.

Editat: jul. 13, 2020, 8:26am

>89 John5918:

A merit based Salvation system? If that were the case, Donald Trump could do more good in one week than most could in a lifetime and should he not feel justified to get into heaven? If you are seeking justice then it's likely you are not humble.

jul. 13, 2020, 7:58am

>90 Cubby.R.S.:

I have no idea what you mean by "A merit based Salvation system" nor what it has to do with Christ.

jul. 13, 2020, 9:21am

Okay, gentlemen, this is way off topic. Let's cut this one off and take it somewhere else, shall we?

jul. 13, 2020, 9:27am

>91 John5918:

I suspect the underlying idea is that we should not demand justice on earth--if you're born a slave, poor, discriminated against etc. that's your lot in life and better be nice and quiet about it so that the "good" people will like you and give you charity.

John, don't worry about derailing the thread with discussions of what the reading material is about.

jul. 13, 2020, 9:29am

>92 kiparsky:

Heh, that's an unfortunate x-post. :)

I mean, it's probably best not to start lectures in a thread about books, but it's OK to respond to people, especially as the unsympathetic audience isn't going to be too fastidious about it.

jul. 13, 2020, 9:40am

>92 kiparsky:, >93 LolaWalser:

Thanks to both of you. Not to dwell on it, but my query was really why Cubby specifically said justice has nothing to do with Christ, as opposed to with Christians or Christianity. As I said, I can certainly agree with the latter, ie with how many of his followers have (mis)interpreted Christ in the way Lola mentions, but I question the former. But having made that intervention I'm now happy to let it drop rather than let it drag out into a long and unproductive debate.

Editat: jul. 13, 2020, 7:27pm

In a response to >87 Cubby.R.S.: that I deleted before posting I offered the possibility that perhaps Cubby was making a distinction between Christ and Jesus (and also suggested that any reply be moved to the Lets Talk Religion group). But I'm happy to leave this issue to John.

>87 Cubby.R.S.:
Liberals will like that ration pay labor and convenient inefficient worker selection death panels when their sick fossil fuel free world returns with slaves of Communism.
My onboard syntactical analysis subsystem identifies this as garble, due in part to the absence of a verb somewhere although my semantic subsystem points out that a verb alone will not rescue it.

jul. 14, 2020, 10:29am

>89 John5918: "Anyone believing justice has anything to do with Christ is probably not Christian"

Among his list of objections Jemar Tisby predicts will be made about his book is the one that racists don't represent "real" Christian church. That seems to apply here. But Tisby says his goal is not guilt, but reconciliation between two entrenched and intractable positions.

I found it interesting that the book is relatively free of Biblical quotes or references as arguments, except in the beginning when he is explaining why he wrote the book and what he hopes will come from it. History he lets speak for itself. But interpretation, he seems to say, comes from the lessons given by Scripture. You can imagine how odd it is for someone like me to read him quote from Revelations as a reason for a Christian to read and try to come to terms with the things in his book:

Revelation 7:9 says, "After this I looked, and before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb".....This picture of perfection has been bequeathed to believers not as a distant reality that we can merely long for. Instead, the revelation of the heavenly congregation provides a blueprint and a motivation to seek unity right now.

I live in a part of the world where many -- even most -- people do, indeed, treat Scripture as a "blueprint" for life and it is those people he's trying to reach. But I don't know how successful his book would be, assuming his intended audience is able to put aside their instinctive rejection of his premise to read it. Quoting Scripture seems unlikely to be sufficient in and of itself, since Scripture is always a matter of interpretation and (as is clear from the book) people are quite adept at interpreting things to suit their own inclinations. If Scripture can't change a person's mind, and history can't, I don't know what actually can.

jul. 14, 2020, 11:40am

If Scripture can't change a person's mind, and history can't, I don't know what actually can.

Experience. Actual, practical circumstance and doing achieve what no book, no amount of persuasion can do. The problem is ensuring this new experience.

Individuals can decide to change their action (and therefore their experience), but, as we often discussed before, it's not always (or even usually) advisable to wait for everyone individually to make up their minds. Often you need to push people. You don't sit around waiting centuries for "everyone" to make up their mind that women, black people etc. deserve to vote, or leave traffic regulations to everyone's individual choice, etc. ad infinitum.

People are not good at breaking habits, of action or mind. But for many most immediately pressing social changes what people DO is more important than what they think down to the smallest detail. Thankfully, changing what people DO is often sufficient to bring on, eventually, real changes in public opinion.

jul. 14, 2020, 12:17pm

>94 LolaWalser:

I agree, a discussion on a book mentioned doesn't seem to be off topic. If we are talking about a book, then perhaps that would inspire more to read it. If the world were entirely following Jesus, not one "slave, poor, discriminated against etc." would exist.

What we fail to recognize in this discussion, is that we all view justice differently. I do not believe justice to be a fix-all term in this case. What one may need or want as an individual is up to them, but if they are Christian in the most basic sense then they should be responding differently to the act of injustice. Furthermore, it is not justly yours because you need it. That goes without saying punishment for those that actually commit a or the harm and what is to be done to them. You cannot attribute to Christ a punishment of this world for someone or a peoples seeking justice in their own way. I would say that a community founded on the principles of Christ, should not allow members of its community to suffer in need. But to formulate an idea of justice from Christianity is only on the heels of death.

The real divide IMO rests on who is to determine justice and what establishes acts of racism vs. systemic racism. Because of my historical reading and naturally induced mistrust of government by factually documented abuse of power by all governments in existence or out of existence, I am reluctant to desire an increase of government action by further law. I also cannot trust a group founded by one party to claim a movement for justice to be trustworthy or in any way a great representation of anyone's justice, let alone a nation's. I believe the system that is in place currently gives the tools necessary to incriminate those using color as a means to hinder or harm another. So I must conclude that we are doing here is; attempting to conflate and deflate each side, where you say I am undeniably a white supremacist and I say you're trying to destroy or further give power to the U.S. system of government. It is my well founded belief that giving further power to any group that we will only see situations of oppression further exasperated.

Read for example some older books on the discussion of race, and you'll find an idea of how inferiority is implied as a "scientific fact". There are hundreds of books on the subject.

What I continue to contend is; that by attempting to embrace, embitter and acknowledge that color exists in law, we perpetuate segregation. I would by no means attempt to say racism is non-existent, but what is the end game of declaring systemic racism? If one declares that DNA is responsible, then the list of wrongs one day used to control this nation will have no ends. It is of the mind, and anyone perceiving an inability to change thought can only expect to find the most horrific and powerful government in history capable of things Nazi Germany could only dream of. If you declare that we are culturally failing to address race, that is a possibility. I know multiple hundreds of people and a very small percentage of them believe that color is a determining factor in behavior. Most, including me, have ever given color much consideration until recent years.

I could agree that ignorance about color, culture, etc. exists, and that change is necessary. But this is not solely a white problem.

>97 southernbooklady: Due to my interest now in the book, you have sold it to me, and I'm sure I will be highly disappointed.

jul. 14, 2020, 12:30pm

>99 Cubby.R.S.: What do you mean by color exists in the law? I don't believe that anyone here is arguing that any laws should explicitly state that blacks should get preferential treatment. It's more that the application of the law is often racist. But there are also some cases where a seemingly neutral law is racially biased like the disproportionate sentences between possessions of crack and powdered cocaine.

Is any of that what you're talking about?

jul. 14, 2020, 12:49pm

>99 Cubby.R.S.:

Read for example some older books on the discussion of race, and you'll find an idea of how inferiority is implied as a "scientific fact". There are hundreds of books on the subject.

There are also hundreds of books discussing history of science and putting racialist pseudoscience in its proper place, which is a much better way for a non-expert to approach that shit than actually reading "hundreds" of tomes of racist shit. (Saves time, anyway.)

For example, start with this "older" book: The Mismeasure of man, or why not actually put the thread to use and pick some of the titles mentioned that deal with the history of racist ideas--The history of white people, or Stamped from the beginning.

Yeah, we know. Lots of racist garbage once upon a time was called "scientific fact"; fortunately, we know better today. Educate yourself.

jul. 14, 2020, 1:15pm

>98 LolaWalser: Experience. Actual, practical circumstance and doing achieve what no book, no amount of persuasion can do. The problem is ensuring this new experience.

Especially when what it takes to galvanize people is the 8.5-minute long slow murder of a man by a cop in broad daylight, surrounded by crowds of people begging him to stop, filming it on their phones. Do we really have to have people murdered right in front of us to be motivated to change things? I guess we do.

Editat: jul. 14, 2020, 1:34pm

>100 jjwilson61:

So what I'm trying to say is, we do not view color the same way that our ancestors did. The system is not the issue, it is the people. Why call out the nation as systemically racist and not simply call the racists out?

For reference to a law that was passed to cure an epidemic. Just another reason not to address issues by wide sweeping laws and or give the government more power.

From USA Today:
What is systemic racism?
Johnson defined systemic racism, also called structural racism or institutional racism, as "systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantages African Americans."

This to me implies that either laws need to exist or need not to exist, to assist or stop hindering blacks. This implies that we are not all equal or that the system itself must be destroyed. Otherwise, we would simply call out those that are racist.

Please tell me why I'm wrong?

jul. 14, 2020, 1:42pm

>103 Cubby.R.S.: Why call out the nation as systemically racist and not simply call the racists out?

Because systemic racism is distinct from individual racism. The two interact, but they're not the same thing. So "simply calling the racists out" does not finish the job. Consider this article. I have no reason to believe that the judge in this case acted out of individual racism - that is, that they bear a personal bias against Black people or against any other group of people which motivated their decision. However, I would say that the young woman who went to juvenile detention was certainly disadvantaged by systemic racism.

Before diving into what the last sentence means, can we start by just checking to see whether that distinction makes sense to you?

jul. 14, 2020, 1:43pm

>101 LolaWalser:

"Yeah, we know. Lots of racist garbage once upon a time was called "scientific fact"; fortunately, we know better today..."

Yes, and so it was once as it is not now and LolaWalser, I'm glad you really feel that way. Thank you for clarifying my point. We Conservatives have to stick together on these matters.

jul. 14, 2020, 1:49pm

Why not call the racists out? Because that won't solve the problem. The other officers that stood around while Floyd was murdered may not have been racist but they were just deferring to a superior officer. Chauvin was still on the force despite earlier incidents because the union protected him, not for racist reasons but there job is to protect cops from being fired. When the whole system is racist you don't actually need anybody within it to be racist in order to get racist outcomes.

jul. 14, 2020, 1:51pm

>103 Cubby.R.S.: Why call out the nation as systemically racist and not simply call the racists out?

Just struck me that there's an important clue here: "why call out the nation?"

Would it be correct to say that you think those of us who talk about systemic racism are in some way running down the nation? What do I need to understand from your use of the phrase "call out the nation"?

jul. 14, 2020, 1:53pm

jul. 14, 2020, 1:54pm

>104 kiparsky:
>107 kiparsky:

I believe this should be moved to the other thread.

Editat: jul. 14, 2020, 2:06pm

>109 Cubby.R.S.: Not at all! I think we've landed on something very important here. It's not a new something, but it's part of why we've been talking at cross purposes all this time.

To say that the nation is systemically racist is to identify something that must urgently be changed. It does not have any bearing on whether someone loves this country, hates it, or has some feeling in between (ie, "it's a nice country and I'm glad to live here, but I reserve the notion of 'love' for human beings and dogs, so I don't 'love' this country - but it's pretty good!"). It does not mean that someone hates the country, it just means that they see an imperfection that needs to be addressed in order for the country to be better.

If you've ever loved someone who was imperfect, it's a similar situation: someone's partner might have a substance abuse problem, for example. For them to identify that problem is not to say that they do not love that person, it just means that there is something that needs to change about them. And, to continue that parallel, that change will be better for all involved.

Now, there may be people who say "The USA is systemically racist, and I hate the USA for that reason". But I think it's much more common for people to say "The USA is systemically racist, and we can fix that, and we should fix that because the USA is worth fixing".

There's a similar situation described in this article on the effort to change the Mississippi state flag.

ETA: Still interested in your response to >104 kiparsky:, btw - which is more directly germane to your questions

jul. 14, 2020, 2:45pm

>105 Cubby.R.S.:

Yes, and so it was once as it is not now and LolaWalser, I'm glad you really feel that way.

If you're hoping that some day racism will again be promoted as "science", don't hold your breath. It's not happening, ever--and you would understand why if you bothered to, as I said, educate yourself on the topic of history of science and racist ideas. These were driven by white imperialists' need to find certain types of human inferior, not by objective scientific research.

The personal bias alone in the set of practically exclusively white male scientists was spectacular by our standards. Not that we are rid of that, but we're certainly more aware of such things. Today's far more diverse scientific body (globally, compared to something like the late Victorian era of "peak" racialism) works against selling prejudice as "scientific fact".

>102 southernbooklady:

Yes, that's another sad example that we can't sit around waiting for "motivation" to visit each one of us individually.

Editat: jul. 15, 2020, 6:45pm

>86 LolaWalser:
"Historians shy away from the dreadful irony that their new land of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness actually depended on enslaving people, treating slavery as an historical artifact of the past. The average American historian talks about the pragmatism of the founding fathers, but Tisby insists -- rightly -- that it was also a deliberate, conscious, and therefore EVIL choice, the results of which we have never stopped feeling."

263 pages—a listing only!— of works from scholars, historians included, "shying away from the dreadful irony"... blah, blah, blah....

Racism : a selected bibliography
Author: Albert J Wheeler
Publisher: New York : Nova Science Publishers, ©2005.

Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Albert J Wheeler
Find more information about:
ISBN: 1594544794 9781594544798
OCLC Number: 59711757
Description: 263 pages ; 26 cm
Responsibility: Albert J. Wheeler, editor.

Racism : a selected bibliography

jul. 14, 2020, 3:02pm

>104 kiparsky:

Okay, but I better not get shit for continuing without getting a bit of support on your end.

If the judge is not declared a racist then we examine this. Should the case have been reviewed on the write up alone and the recommendation, if there was any inkling that this teenager was being audited by color? Since we're past that, we have to ask if the counselor is racist for having written up a black teenager. I assume no. She was on a very strict course by this point, perhaps too strict, but we do not know all of the case specifics or dialogue, so it is hard to know for certain.

I have a brother that works with troubled kids in the school district. He laments how the teachers like to pawn off dealing with the students and will not afford them the help they need during school hours. He is troubled by how little so many parents care. Most of those kids are written off before they reach Middle School and are forced through, never receiving the appropriate help. My brother is quite passionate about their programs and allowing them to have open conversation, and since he has some control on how teachers address their needs, he tends to be able to help push through some guidelines. None of those kids are black and actually in our community the few that are have had no issues with the law or otherwise... but the point is, the demographics are almost always consistent with all other troubled kids. Single parent, poor, diagnosed with ADHD, and largely have parents that are constantly negligent or unavailable to help.

This I'm sure is the statistic that is up for debate. "From January 2016 through June 2020, about 4,800 juvenile cases were referred to the Oakland court. Of those, 42% involved Black youth even though only about 15% of the county’s youth are Black." But, do we have evidence, that these kids are being oppressed by a racially charged system or are they growing up in tough neighborhoods with single parent homes?

Editat: jul. 14, 2020, 8:02pm

Aquest missatge ha estat marcat com abús per més d'un usuari i ja no es pot veure (mostra)
>111 LolaWalser:

I think you're borderline crazy at times. If you told me what to say, you would contradict it.

Unreal, flagged. Brown-shirt much? Cancel-culture?

jul. 14, 2020, 7:45pm

Aaand the shit-list gets updated.

jul. 14, 2020, 8:27pm

>114 Cubby.R.S.: Perhaps the problem is that your post >105 Cubby.R.S.: is indecipherable. It seems Lola thought she knew what you meant, but I have my doubts that she was right.

Editat: jul. 14, 2020, 8:40pm

>116 jjwilson61:

I used her quote and agreed. Although I allowed for garble, read it very slowly.

This is not the first time LolaWalser has intentionally called me much more horrendous things than crazy and then flagged me.

Editat: jul. 14, 2020, 9:34pm

Liberals will like that ration pay labor and convenient inefficient worker selection death panels when their sick
fossil fuel free world returns with slaves of Communism.

This was such a fascinating collection of words that it inspired a tiny found poem.


While I'm here-- anyone have a favorite Black poet who wrote about racial conflicts?

ETA: Escaping the Prism… Fade to Black: Poetry and Essays by Jalil Muntaqim currently has my eye. That might be what I was looking for, so I'll be fine if everyone else is focused on prose.

jul. 14, 2020, 9:36pm

>118 aspirit:

What a lovely poem. :)

I have so far read little poetry by Black authors but I can say Claudia Rankine's Citizen: an American lyric is a tour de force, and so is the fiery Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a return to the native land) by Aimé Césaire.

jul. 14, 2020, 10:12pm

Seconding the Rankine. It is one of the most amazing books I've ever read. It's also on audio, which is worth listening to because the tone of voice really underscores the point she's making.

I'd added Warmth of Other Suns to my essential anti-racist reading list because it is such an impressive account of a major population migration and such a good description of why the country Americans live in today looks the way it does. I think the book needs to be in every school curriculum, and "The Great Migration" taught with the same attention and detail that we teach kids about the Revolutionary War, or the Pioneer movements, or Industrialization, or immigration in the early twentieth century.

jul. 14, 2020, 11:32pm

>119 LolaWalser:

How literary/allusive/colloquial is Césaire's French? Would you say it's for fluent readers only? I can read Le Monde, but I cannot manage Marie-Claire Blais.

jul. 15, 2020, 1:27am

>113 Cubby.R.S.: I'm not at all clear what the first sentence means. That said, I am pleased to see that you're engaging with the question, and I appreciate that very much and will try to respond as best I can. If I'm to be honest, I have to say that some of the sentences look like they came here from the French via Google translate, but I will do my best. If I mistake your meaning, please assume an honest misunderstanding and try to steer me right.

If the judge is not declared a racist then we examine this. Should the case have been reviewed on the write up alone and the recommendation, if there was any inkling that this teenager was being audited by color? Since we're past that, we have to ask if the counselor is racist for having written up a black teenager. I assume no. She was on a very strict course by this point, perhaps too strict, but we do not know all of the case specifics or dialogue, so it is hard to know for certain.

I think I've already said that I see no reason to suspect that the judge in this case either has expressed or maintains a personal bias against the student on the basis of race. Some such evidence may appear, of course, but I'm going to proceed on that assumption, in the spirit of basic decency and fair play.

I have a brother that works with troubled kids in the school district. He laments how the teachers like to pawn off dealing with the students and will not afford them the help they need during school hours. He is troubled by how little so many parents care. Most of those kids are written off before they reach Middle School and are forced through, never receiving the appropriate help. My brother is quite passionate about their programs and allowing them to have open conversation, and since he has some control on how teachers address their needs, he tends to be able to help push through some guidelines. None of those kids are black and actually in our community the few that are have had no issues with the law or otherwise... but the point is, the demographics are almost always consistent with all other troubled kids. Single parent, poor, diagnosed with ADHD, and largely have parents that are constantly negligent or unavailable to help.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. Honestly, it sounds like your brother is doing good work and helping kids, and I'm happy to hear that and may his work prosper, but when I get to the sentence that starts "None of those kids are black...", the going gets tough.
I think I see where you're going here, but I'm not sure, partly because your syntax is a little difficult and partly because you trail off before you get to any very definite point.

I would like to make sure I'm engaging with what you're saying, not with what I'd like to see you saying, so can you maybe spell that out a little more for me?

This I'm sure is the statistic that is up for debate. "From January 2016 through June 2020, about 4,800 juvenile cases were referred to the Oakland court. Of those, 42% involved Black youth even though only about 15% of the county’s youth are Black." But, do we have evidence, that these kids are being oppressed by a racially charged system or are they growing up in tough neighborhoods with single parent homes?

This is more clear, and it's a reasonable question. We're dealing with complex sets of issues whose roots, I claim, are in multiple interlocking and intersecting systems. This is not a simple Newtonian two-planet system. Your question, then sounds to me like, "Is the answer A or B?" and I'm going to answer, frustratingly I'm afraid, "yes". In general I try to avoid phrases like "these kids are being oppressed" because even that passive construction implies an agent somewhere - someone must be doing the oppressing, and if we can just find them and punch them in the nose, we'll have done good work this day. And I don't believe that there is a particular person whose nose we can punch to solve this problem.

Instead, we have a complex and interlocking collection of societal factors, most of which are difficult or impossible to attribute to a single person or set of persons, which come together to produce the effects we're talking about. For example, that the average net worth of Black families in the US in 2016 is a tenth of the net worth of White families (according to this report), our prison population is overwhelmingly Black, Black people die violently at disproportionate rates in the US, Black faces are rare in places of power and influence, and so forth. (that's easily the most ghastly "and so forth" I think I've ever committed: imagine the human toll that I've elided in those three words...)

So when you ask "is this an oppressive system or is it just bad circumstances, I'm going to say, yes, it's systemic and yes it's bad circumstances and yes those bad circumstances are both the result of and reinforcements of systemic racism.

To conclude, I want to sketch out one thread of this story, to make it a little more concrete. We see Black families in "tough neighborhoods", we see the missing net worth of Black families, and we wonder why.

The individual racist would answer: "Black people are too lazy and stupid and criminally-minded to build up wealth". This, I hope, is obviously idiotic and needs no response.

The answer from individual racism would be: "Black people have been oppressed by racist individuals at every turn, whose racism was more or less a product of their own twisted nature, and preventing those racist individuals from oppressing Black people is the right way to solve this problem". This is not a position that I think is plausible, it's not a position that I would try to defend, and it's not a position that I'm going to discuss in detail in this post.

But if we can't point to intrinsic failings of Black people, and we don't buy the "America is composed mostly of racist White people" story, then we can only point to some factors in society to explain them. Hence, we ask what Black families were doing while White families were acquiring wealth. And it turns out that Black families were: enslaved, then sharecropping, then serving as the reserve labor force in industry, eventually allowed into the work force, but starting from the bottom rung, and all the while redlined and restricted to owning land in certain neighborhoods if they could acquire property at all, and gentrified out of those neighborhoods if they became attractive to the more wealthy sectors of society. This is not a complete list even of the economic factors which we can point to to explain the missing Black wealth, and it completely omits (intentionally) whole swaths of the story, and still each of the items on that list is probably its own area of specialized study. But even without that specialized study, I want to claim that any fair-minded person can agree that (a) these things happened and (b) their net effect, even if we omitted all other factors, would be to prevent the development of wealth by Black families, and (c) that each of them is a stable systemic phenomenon, by which I mean roughly that none of these phenomena were the sole responsibility of one or a few wicked people, that individuals or groups would have found it difficult to act against them, even if were relatively powerful members of the majority caste, and that members of the majority caste would have in general found that or at least felt that the phenomena tended to benefit them financially.

So there is a pocket summary of my understanding of a piece of systemic racism.
I know that I have not provided evidence to support this story. This post is very long as it is, but to provide precise arguments and convincing evidence would have required a book-length piece, and there are very well researched books by actual scholars who have done this work much better than I ever could. My goal here is to sketch out the nature of the claim, so we can try to be talking about the same thing, in the hope that this will lead to a more collegial and productive dialog.

Editat: jul. 15, 2020, 1:41am

>122 kiparsky: "Black people are too lazy and stupid and criminally-minded to build up wealth". This, I hope, is obviously idiotic and needs no response.

I would hope so too. But I've had white South African friends, who know that I have lived for years in various African countries, ask me seriously in the 21st century, "John, you've lived amongst the blacks. You speak the black language. Why are they so lazy, stupid, ignorant and dirty?" Apart from the ignorance of assuming that there is a monolithic group called "the blacks" (or actually "blecks", as it comes out with the Afrikaans accent) and that there is a single "black language" (South Sudan alone has 64 languages, and that's just one of 54 African countries; South Africa itself has 11 official languages), it is, as you say, a question which needs and indeed has no response.

jul. 15, 2020, 9:44am

>122 kiparsky: -- Regarding the statement of my brother's work; he's been in the school district for about 17 years now, and prior to receiving his final certification by hours and testing, he was passed from school to school. He is still invited to many graduations by kids he hasn't talked to in years, because he doesn't dismiss their conversation. The reason I bring him up is; kids go through many of the same troubles no matter the race, and it seems that they all have many of the same situations. Most schools do not have the appropriately trained staff members that can deal with troubled students. I’m sure that inner city schools have a difficult time finding anyone to take those jobs?

In general; inherited wealth is gone within two generations. I would lean away from any wealth building pre-1900's as an explanation of income disparity. So it seems that is the largest issue. Nobody is placing businesses where crime is the highest. I seem to feel that young black Americans feel trapped in the areas they grow up in; some want to help, some turn to crime, and some just aren't sure how to get out.

Apples to apples, and I realize this is an older study, but it was simple:

What you'll notice is, the poverty areas with the highest density still had more poor white Americans. This means to me, that people who grow up in poverty are hesitant to leave their hometown. Is that due to confidence? fear of leaving their mother alone? There are so many factors. But, if you look at poverty (link above) and crime (link below) you'll notice a similar pattern:

I feel like we're pinning statistics up on a board and only looking at the percentages. I believe there is a disproportionate amount of blacks living in cities and that is where most of the poverty is. I don't see this as a color issue resulting from systemic racism.

jul. 15, 2020, 10:48am

Editat: jul. 15, 2020, 11:25am

>124 Cubby.R.S.:

"I don't see this as a color issue resulting from systemic racism."

Indeed. Good point. And, really, you've put your finger on why our opponents don't like this fact. If the racism is "systemic", then the danger is that its roots might be located in the people and practices which are regional or local and this, logically, means that the onus is moved rather dangerously in the direction of individuals--who, perish the thought!--might be or include (gasp!) "liberals."

And that's why, again, this is an excellent observation, one of the best I've seen in this whole discussion.

It won't make a damn bit of difference to any of the people here who don't give a shit about facts, but, the fact is that, if there really was systemic racism in the country generally, then we ought to expect to find no statistically significant variation in the measurable indications of Black Americans' success in surmounting this racism. That's for the simple reason that, nationally systemic racism should mean that there aren't any places where American Blacks can do significantly better than their racial peers elsewhere in the country. It's a system, which must mean, if it makes any sense at all to describe it as that, that this is everywhere in the "system" and that system, as we're told by our opponents here, is nationwide. Thus, no statistically-significant variations--which means, for those who don't know shit about statistics, that there shouldn't be significant differences other than what can be readily explained by objective facts.

As the question goes, "What's wrong with this picture?"

Editat: jul. 15, 2020, 11:03am

>126 proximity1:

Furthermore, if we deduce systemic racism, and see in the numbers that it is not nationwide, but admit it exists in those areas outlined by the statistics; those areas are, by an extraordinary margin, run by members of the Democrat party. That is a fact. If there is systemic racism, it is being perpetuated in the areas in which Democrats have had control since Roosevelt.

Editat: jul. 15, 2020, 11:22am

>127 Cubby.R.S.:

" run by members of the Democrat party. "

Right, that's precisely the "fact" I meant to cite in mentioning, above,

"you've put your finger on why our opponents don't like this fact"

Stupid as they are, even the ideologically-driven people here can recognise, that, if the "racism" isn't "systemic," then the only or the best remaining consequence of this fact is that it's their own more local or regional factors which account for it--since they're already excluding the possibility that these victims of racism are somehow more or less responsible themselves for their material plight. And we know that they can't admit that. Goodness, no.

jul. 15, 2020, 1:27pm

>124 Cubby.R.S.: "In general; inherited wealth is gone within two generations."

You need to back that statement up. There have been some recent studies showing that red-lining has hurt the wealth accumulation of black families compared to whites.

jul. 15, 2020, 1:33pm

>127 Cubby.R.S.: Here's where you start to sound partisan. Isn't it more likely that black people have been forced to live in the undesirable areas because of red-lining and they elect Democrats to represent them because Democrats are more sympathetic to their problems than Republicans.

jul. 15, 2020, 1:56pm

Next on my anti-racist reading list is The Color of Law, a history of government-imposed segregation in American urban communities in the vein of Jane Jacobs, I think. A "big picture" book, that like Tisby and Wilkerson, focused on housing and urban planning, and how we are still feeling the effects of the policies of the 1950s, despite the Fair Housing Act.

Editat: jul. 15, 2020, 3:19pm

>130 jjwilson61:

Are they more sympathetic, or do they say they are more sympathetic so they can use them for election purposes? Because the change isn't there. Through all of the voting and constant support the black community gives to the Democrats, these issues linger. What do blacks see after a century? More finger pointing. More, "If you don't vote for a me(Joe), you ain't black."

By the way, I do regret sounding partisan, because I am not Republican. After Obama's presidency cost me three years of up and down wages, lost healthcare and multiple 10s of thousands of dollars, I began to pay a bit more attention. I obviously did not appreciate the lies I was being told.

jul. 15, 2020, 2:54pm

The kind of wealth that most people have, of whatever race (skin-color), does indeed have a much greater tendency to disappear within two generations relative to, and in contrast to really very high wealth—which has a relatively greater tendency not only to endure but to endure and become more concentrated over time. ( Piketty, Paris, Éditions du Seuil (2013))

So, then, the wealth which Robert Frederick Smith (5 bn. USD), David L. Steward (4 bn. USD), Oprah Winfrey, 2.7 bn. USD), Michael Jordan (1.9 bn. USD) Robert Louis Johnson (1.6bn. USD), Kanye West (1.3 bn. USD) and Jay-Z (1 bn. USD) have isn't going to disappear through bequests over the course of two generations, short of some rather unusual catastrophe. Tiger Woods, hardly a poor man, doesn't even make the list. Nor do these very high-earning Black movie stars: Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, Chris Rock or Will Smith. But these men are quite wealthy. Denzel Washington has given more than 2m. USD to charity and there's no reason to suppose that the others haven't given large sums to charity.

Most American Black families' wealth is in their home (mortgages) and their automobiles. In this, these families are no different from the majority of White American families.

To obtain really very high levels of wealth typically requires some success in the financial markets—bonds, equities, futures. It is there where large fortunes are made and lost. So, again, as do Whites, very wealthy Blacks typically have substantial investment portfolios. That wealth, like that of comparable wealth of Whites, is going to endure and concentrate gradually as its passed from generation down to generation, remaining in the family and also in all likelihood, joining by marriage other wealthy families.

jul. 15, 2020, 3:24pm

>133 Cubby.R.S.: I think you're overestimating what a single representative can do for their district. Whether at the state or federal level they are only one member of a large body.

jul. 15, 2020, 3:27pm

>132 Cubby.R.S.: Those articles are about wealthy families and don't address how wealth is accumulated in the middle, or not accumulated in poor families.

jul. 15, 2020, 5:09pm

>135 jjwilson61:

To be sure, there are areas of poor whites. Sometimes a way of life is accepted and one decides it is unnecessary to change. I believe poverty it is cultural, nearly as much as it is opportunity. Based on my research, and the large poverty rate in the South, I don't see how it can be argued that poverty affects everyone the same. I am simply saying, if we wan't to claim that the system is against blacks, then I think we will solve nothing. It's like saying the system is against people living in the hills of West Virginia, where business is booming?

jul. 15, 2020, 6:41pm

>136 jjwilson61:

This was intentional and in direct response to a portion of >122 kiparsky:

jul. 24, 2020, 2:11pm

A book:

Cadaver King and the Country Dentist by Radley Balko.

Excellent and appropriate to this thread.

jul. 26, 2020, 8:14pm

>121 librorumamans:

Oh, sorry, I could have sworn I had answered! I'd say Césaire is dense and literary but not opaque. Not deliberately difficult.

>139 bohemima:

Thanks for the reference.

jul. 27, 2020, 1:34pm

>140 LolaWalser:

Thanks! And since then I searched by author rather than title and discovered that TPL has a bilingual edition. Perfect! It's signed out, of course; to you, perchance?

jul. 27, 2020, 1:46pm

>141 librorumamans:

No, I have the original.

ag. 2, 2020, 12:17pm

Isabel Wilkerson is the subject of this week's New York Times literary profile, "By the Book":

Her description of the hard use her books get endeared me. But relevant to this thread, she is asked "What books would you recommend to somebody who wants to learn more about America’s caste system?"

Since I know NYT can end up being behind a paywall, here's her answer to that question, titles bolded to make them easy to see:

W. E. B. DuBois’s “Black Reconstruction” is vital to understanding the reinvigoration of caste after the end of the Civil War, as is Eric Foner’s “Reconstruction.” The late anthropologist Ashley Montagu, in his 1942 book, “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth,” was among the earliest to make the case that race was a social construct and that caste was an underlying driver of our disparities. For understanding how caste operates in specific segments of our society, I would recommend the following: “Medical Apartheid,” by Harriet A. Washington, for stunning insights into how caste has played out in the history of health care in our country. “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander, and “Just Mercy?,” by Bryan Stevenson, for overwhelming evidence of caste in our criminal justice system. “The Color of Law,” by Richard Rothstein for an analysis of how caste has undergirded our country’s housing policies. And for the effect of caste in economics, the work of William A. Darity, specifically, “Persistent Disparity” and “From Here to Equality.” Decades ago, in the seminal work “The Annihilation of Caste,” the late Bhimrao Ambedkar, the revered leader of the Dalit liberation movement, wrote of the divisive nature of caste in India, but close observers of racial dynamics in the United States will recognize parallels with our own country in his impassioned treatise. Gunnar Myrdal’s “An American Dilemma” remains perhaps the most comprehensive single work on what Myrdal himself came to see as a caste system in America. And finally, “The Negro in Chicago,” the 1922 report from the Chicago Commission on Race Relations, which convened in the aftermath of the 1919 race riots, is as chillingly prophetic and relevant to us today as it was when it was written nearly a century ago.

I just finished The Color of Law. It is probably the most important and depressing book I've ever read. I'll end up trying to write out all my reactions to it sometime over the next couple days while Isaias is blowing through my neighborhood and flooding out the roads, but the overall conclusion of his long litany of evidence for de jure segregation in contemporary American is that to heal the damage that has been done, racial integration of neighborhoods and communities must be persued as, uh, aggressively as their segregation was enforced in the past.

it's hard to see something like that happening, given our country's immediate response to electing a Black president was to turn around and elect Trump.

ag. 3, 2020, 1:02pm

>143 southernbooklady:


I found this 1972 interview with Angela Davis still amazingly relevant... if anything, even more than before, with the now total domination of our lives by giant corporations and governments that serve nothing but capitalist interests:

Black Journal Interview with Angela Davis (1972)

ag. 3, 2020, 11:45pm

'We can enact the future we want now': a black feminist history of abolition (Guardian)

From Audre Lorde to George Floyd, Lola Olufemi writes of how abolition has evolved in the US and UK, ahead of the programme Revolution is not a one-time event...

ag. 4, 2020, 12:32pm

I enjoyed this clip on Kwame Ture but Mr. Clinton not so much:

set. 23, 2020, 11:57pm

Thanks to everyone who recommended The Warmth of Other Suns. Truly excellent work, and beautifully written.

des. 30, 2020, 8:48pm

Just a short note about Stamped from the beginning. I mentioned I was interested in how it compared to Nell Irvin Painter's The history of white people. By the way, despite the title the latter is not "about" white people but the same larger topic as Kendi's book, which is a history of racist, white supremacist ideas. Painter's title is meant to jolt the complacency of those who see whiteness as being absolute and "normal"; her book demonstrates that the concept is both historical and unstable--that is, "white" people no less than other people are made, not born into their racial identity.

Ideally you'd read both books because although they overlap in some ways, they have somewhat different range (United States vs. United States and Europe) and, let's say, mode. If you want to foreground history of ideas, sociology and philosophy, then I'd suggest Painter's book. If you want to foreground American politics and current affairs, then I'd suggest Kendi's. Which is not to say that Painter's books isn't political (it most certainly is). But Kendi's is more immediately polemical in tone, although I expect the gist of his antiracist message is more developed in the later How to be antiracist.

Kendi, by the way, mentions Painter in one place but does not reference her works, which I found a little strange. However, maybe that just expresses his belief that the topics are not the same.

des. 30, 2020, 10:08pm

>148 LolaWalser: I would agree that anyone interested in the topic should read both books.

des. 30, 2020, 10:32pm

Recently while browsing on Kanopy, I came across a 28-minute short called "Skin" (2018 and directed by Guy Nattiv) that despite its brevity manages to capture the essence of the cycle of racial hatred in the US.

des. 30, 2020, 10:35pm

I haven't had much mental energy to write up real reviews over the last fall, but I did get through The Color of Law, Caste, So You Want to Talk about Race, and a couple of memoirs I think should count: The Yellow House, Memorial Drive, and The Dragons, the Giant, the Women.

The Color of Law had the biggest impact on me in terms of sort of shaking personal foundations. Probably because it is a history of urban development -- really, urban disintegration -- and it doesn't spare the cities I actually grew up in. People will call it dry and academic, especially set alongside Kendi or Wilkerson, but as a compelling case for systemic racism in American culture it is brutally effective. In fact, I would recommend reading it while Warmth of Other Suns is still fresh in your mind, because Rothstein is documenting the things that the people in Wilkerson's book have to face.

The book is essentially an argument for the existence of de jure segregation in American urban and suburban communities and it comes with a long, long, long, LONG series of examples and evidence to make the case. Both explicit government policy, and extra-legal neighborhood "covenants" that refuse access to Blacks.

The first thing I did when I finished reading it was to look up the history of my own neighborhood where I grew up, (Parkside Community in Buffalo, NY) to see if there was a history of the kind of social pacts and "covenants" in place to exclude Black people from living there. And I find I can't look at ANY community plan or historic neighborhood without wondering if it had those kinds of pernicious policies buried in its creation, somewhere.

It also brought home to me how long and hard a process it is going to be to fix all this. Communities and neighborhoods take decades to grow, decades to die, and are going to take just that long to revive.

des. 31, 2020, 7:17am

>151 southernbooklady:

..."a long, long, long, LONG series of examples and evidence to make the case."

What "case"? With the exception of the third and of the last of the books mentioned, they are all histories. And so what? No one disputes that there has been such a deplorable history. You might cite and read these a century or two from now (if you could find one of them), and if, in our amazing stupidity, we manage to survive that much longer as a society. If you did read them then, would that prove anything about that distant time's circumstances? Of course not.

We live in a time of truly dumb-shit disjointed "thinking"
where the kind of idiotic crap you attempt to use in reasoned argument isn't instantly consigned to the ash-heap of stupidity where it belongs but actually lives and circulates like some fucking Zombie which won't die.

Your books are either outdated (the practices they detail were made illegal long ago) or they're the thin-skinned whining of youngsters who've been so spoiled that they now expect that their skin-color entitles them to receive continual hugs and tearful commiseration for a life of discrimination and mistreatment which they've never known themselves--except in their overworked but still-impoverished imaginations.

"B.N." (Bullshit noted.)

gen. 3, 4:14pm

I made a better list.

Editat: gen. 4, 11:22am

Aquest missatge ha estat suprimit pel seu autor.

Editat: gen. 4, 11:28am

Aquest missatge ha estat suprimit pel seu autor.

Editat: gen. 3, 5:28pm

>154 aspirit:

Are you posting in the right thread (i.e. where you meant to post)? I haven't looked at all but White fragility is mentioned in >1 LolaWalser: and How to be an anti-racist several times in the thread, the latest just a few posts above yours in >148 LolaWalser:.

Also, literally the first sentence in the first post expresses a wish for discussion of titles, not mere listing of them. I don't mean to thread-police, I'd just like to prompt for more meaningful engagement.

gen. 3, 8:19pm

This is a racist thread full of racist books.

gen. 4, 9:49am

I realized I meant to post my reaction to Wilkerson's new book, Caste, but never did. Here's what I wrote on a different thread:

Isabel Wilkerson's Caste. The book is the author's case for categorizing the racial disparity in the United States as an un-named but very real caste system. She does so by looking at the factors that define a caste system -- most visibly in India and Germany under the Third Reich -- and identifying the same elements at work in the United States: things like justification by divine will/laws of nature, the heritability of one's status, the importance of "purity", the use of dehumanization and stigma, and terror for the enforcement of the status quo. But also debunking the idea that "caste" is a rigid yet stable system, where everyone is, if not happy, at least resigned to their place within it. Pointing out that people, if they are people, always want life to be better for themselves and their children, and this is not a desire a caste system ever snuffs out.

She largely makes her case for defining American society as an unacknowledged caste system and in the process goes some way towards explaining why white people will often vote against their own interests in order to preserve that system. It's a good way to look at what we usually call "institutional" or "structural" racism, and is one of the better critiques on why so many white people can continue to say that it doesn't exist.

So, an important book, a highly useful one. It might even be revolutionary in its approach and goals. But it lacks the impact of Warmth of Other Suns and I think that will prevent it from sweeping through our culture the way Warmth has. I think the reason is because of how the two books are structured. Warmth is basically character-driven and narrative. Wilkerson uses the lives of Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling, and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster as lenses through which we experience the forces that drove so many Black Americans to leave the South. They are the scaffolding for the picture she paints of a deeply flawed and frightening country. Their lives provide a focus to her thesis, and they become emblematic of the Great Migration itself.

Caste, on the other hand, starts with the thesis -- the American system is a caste system-- and illustrates each argument with anecdotes and personal experiences from a wide range of people, including Wilkerson herself. The result feels less structured, more disparate. Less narrative, more like a series of clippings put together in a file. There is no Ida Mae to get emotionally invested in. Instead, the reader has to decide if, for example, the young Southern white man's instinctive reluctance to touch or shake the hands of a Black man even though they are serving in the same Army unit is an example of the caste pressure to remain "pure."

In fact, I found I had to continually guard myself against an impulse to view all of Wilkerson's anecdotal illustrations of her points -- "anecdotal evidence" -- as isolated, unrelated incidents. The fact I had to work so hard at it is pretty strong evidence that her main thesis is true -- that white supremacy is the narrative we all consciously and subconsciously live by, and that we are trained to instinctively reject all challenges to that idea.

....I will say the book had me thinking much more deeply about caste systems in general, and I found myself wondering where, exactly the dividing line was between a caste system and other hierarchical social systems, like class. And of course, it was impossible to read Wilkerson's book and not apply her criteria to women in a patriarchal system.

gen. 4, 11:22am

>156 LolaWalser: I posted the complete list instead of only the titles that weren't in the thread. My intention was to return when I had more time to add a few thoughts, but anyway, the book list was more a response to a comment made in the thread than to >1 LolaWalser:.

The attempt to have a regular book discussion in Pro and Con confuses me. That isn't what this group is for, usually, and maintaining the topic here seems to me ignore the normalization of these discussions in book groups.

However, I was careless, posting here and without more explanation. As I don't have the ability to engage in the way that I think is requested, I'll delete my message.

gen. 4, 12:45pm

>159 aspirit:

I'm sorry you deleted your post with the list--I just wanted to know if you meant it for this thread and to prompt for more, not less engagement.

I posted the complete list instead of only the titles that weren't in the thread.

Right, but you said, in the post you now deleted, that you were posting a list of titles not mentioned before, which is exactly what I responded to as it wasn't correct (and in fact was incorrect regarding the very first post in the thread). No biggie--it's not a problem to overlook or forget something, just wanted to be sure your post was meant for this thread.

And, there was no demand for you to address the posts I referenced--I referenced them to show to you that several titles you said were not mentioned HAVE been mentioned--and touchstoned--and described even.

The attempt to have a regular book discussion in Pro and Con confuses me. That isn't what this group is for, usually, and maintaining the topic here seems to me ignore the normalization of these discussions in book groups.

As far as I know there is no mandate to post in one way or another in this group and no earthly reason why this group, on a book site, would be exempt from book discussions. The behaviour of other posters is not normative.

That said, the way you say "regular book discussion" confuses me in turn (maybe I'm imagining the overtone). I started this thread in response to a racist thread where certain knobs were claiming that systemic racism doesn't exist. It's meant to be (and I think it was, thanks to a number of posters) a constructive effort that would help us understand the problem of racism better. That is, rather than entering into pointless arguments with trollish individuals about whether racism exists (or the earth is flat, or water wet), we'd discuss what we have learned with other people who DO want to learn. It was a political gesture.

And, considering that the group has been overwhelmed with trollish behaviour, more dialogue and (genuine) conversation-fostering are surely better ways to counter it.

But, again, this is not a demand, just a suggestion. For my part, I'd be glad if you cared to post that list again.

>158 southernbooklady:

Thanks for posting that again (I saw your other post). In the meantime I came across a conservative review somewhere which only reinforced the impression I ought to read it.

gen. 4, 6:10pm

>160 LolaWalser: The first line of my original post was, "Some of the below are books that weren't yet listed here." I have a copy. Here it is with corrections made in the second post. I've also attempted to make touchstones for the books not previously brought up in this thread.


Some of the below are books that weren't yet listed here: "Make These 21 Books Part Of Your Anti-Racism Education" by Kayti Christian, The Good Trade. The comments include more recommendations.

1. Assata by Assata Shakur
2. Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
3. Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry
4. Heavy by Kiese Laymon
5. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
6. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
7. I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
8. Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
9. My Vanishing Country by Bakari Sellers
10. One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson
11. Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson
12. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
13. The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward
14. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
15. They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery
16. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
17. When They Call You A Terrorist by (BLM co-founder) Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
18. White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad
19. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
20. Words of Fire by Beverly Guy-Sheftall
21. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

gen. 4, 11:14pm

Not sure whether it is relevant here, but this looks interesting.

How C. L. R. James Wrote the Definitive History of the Haitian Revolution (Jacobin)

The socialist historian C. L. R. James was born 120 years ago today. His landmark text, The Black Jacobins, is a majestic account of the Haitian Revolution and is still the authoritative history of a heroic struggle for freedom and dignity.

In a 1980 interview, C. L. R. James stated that he wanted to be remembered above all for his serious contributions to Marxism. In Making the Black Jacobins: C. L. R. James and the Drama of History, Rachel Douglas explores the many facets of the Trinidadian author and offers a fresh interpretation of his unique brand of Marxism. Douglas’s book traces the development of James’s thought over more than thirty years...

Totally irrelevant, but to his credit he is also famed as a writer on cricket!

gen. 6, 2:01pm

>161 aspirit:

Thanks--and please don't be shy to talk about any of the books you've read, if you care to.

>162 John5918:

... and not only that, there's also a collection of children's stories he wrote for his son, The Nobbie stories.

gen. 6, 6:21pm

You want to see systemic racism?

Turn on your TV. Supposed 6 PM curfew being ignored by cops in DC. White people totally unafraid of cops. No tanks; no armored personnel carriers; no raised batons; no dogs; no water cannons. White Americans not afraid of cops even when attempting coup.

Only white people own the country. Only white people are helped down the stairs as they're "escorted" away from the violent protest they're engaged in.

Imagine if these all white f@ckers were black. Just recall what we've seen on the streets of America the past 75 years when the protestors aren't the white people with guns like they are as I type.

Not a bruise put on these ignominious slugs of society. Lock them up!

gen. 7, 9:35am

>164 Limelite:

Exactly. It's infuriating, it's disgusting, it's tragic--really drives home the point that black Americans are not regarded as "real" Americans, only the whites are.

gen. 7, 11:08am

A Chinese-American friend, usually unstoppable, was deeply affected by "China virus" talk earlier this year.

So, in addition to African-American perspectives, here are a couple of books geared to Asian-Americans that my (Asian) son and I read back when he was a teen.

Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White
by Frank H. Wu

American Eyes: New Asian-American Short Stories for Young Adults
by Lori Carlson

Son went on to take a college class in African-American literature (Frederick Douglass, etc.) which, I think, provided many opportunities to think about issues that began to pop up too often in adult life. Nothing too awful, but usually unexpected and cumulatively depressing to a young spirit.

gen. 7, 1:43pm

Next on my reading list:

Mediocre The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo and Sure I'll Be Your Black Friend by Ben Philippe.

They were both speakers at our book conference in September, very interesting and engaging people.