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(Canadian Prime Minster gets into Pride spirit. AFP/Getty images) June is officially LGBTQ Pride month, but you wouldn’t know it […]

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(Canadian Prime Minster gets into Pride spirit. AFP/Getty images)

June is officially LGBTQ Pride month, but you wouldn’t know it from the radio silence on the matter, two years running, from the White House. It’s been celebrated every year in June since 1970 after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York.

There has been a tremendous amount of progress in the U.S. on LGBTQ rights in my lifetime. Heck, even in the last five years, despite, of course, the retrograde attitude of the White House.  Younger people, Millennials and Gen Z’s, are less likely to identify as gay or lesbian. And not because they’re closeted, as was the case back in the day. It’s because, thanks to the rights being won for LGBTQs and the idea among this cohort that sexuality is no big deal, therefore why claim to be anything?

But I don’t think we’re in a post-gay world – remember the post-racial world we had apparently entered a decade ago? And I don’t think that Pride parades are a relic of the past. Not yet. And neither does this op ed writer for USA Today.

Never has a person lost their job for being white or straight in North America, or been denied an apartment for being white and straight, or been leered at or attacked by strangers for simply holding hands with their significant others. There is a level of social and systemic privilege not afforded to many members of the LGBTQ community in North America, and certainly in many countries around the world…

Living proudly and openly in societies where your well-being (emotional, physical, professional) is constantly at risk is nothing short of brave. The fact that we are seeing more people live openly and honestly despite these challenges is a miracle.

Almost every day, we see threats made against members of the LGBTQ community. The scaling back of hard-earned rights and protections of LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, is difficult to ignore.

Quite true. So we can scoff at Pride parades as being commodified by corporations. And there’s some truth to that. But remember when it was a big win when the first corporations co-sponsored Pride events? I do. It wasn’t all that long ago.

Rights are granted, and they can be taken away. I think it’s not a bad idea to remember that and celebrate them. And for the young or not so young LGBTQ person to find others like him/herself, proudly marching, it can be a transcendent experience.

Next time someone sneers and suggests a Straight Pride month, feel free to roll your eyes. Or, feel free to politely educate the people suggesting this. See also: Why Black Lives Matter – Why Not All Lives Matter.

 

  Robert Kennedy, building a Rainbow Coalition Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles, […]

 

RFK

Robert Kennedy, building a Rainbow Coalition

Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles, minutes after he was projected to win the California primary and was – maybe, we’ll never know – on a path to securing the Democratic nomination for President. It’s just anecdotal, but in my experience, people who were alive and aware at that time, and who were Kennedy supporters, still tear up when they speak of him. Even more so than the reaction of those who remember where they were when his brother, JFK, was killed. They believe that hope was killed on that June day in 1968.

There’s an excellent documentary on Netflix right now, “Bobby Kennedy for President,” which chronicles RFK’s awakening to racial issues of the 60s. The film makes note that he started off that decade as his brother’s Attorney General, wiretapping Martin Luther King and being highly resistant to making overtures to communities of color. Near the end of the decade, and his life, he strongly embraced Black and Latino communities. We can credit Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders for his change of heart. But whether it was political calculation or a sincere evolution – many historians come down on the latter – he was the first politician running for President to not ignore communities of color or at least pay them lip service. Historian Richard Kahlenberg superb has written an excellent paper, “The Inclusive Populism of Robert Kennedy,” making the case that RFK was building an alliance of working-class whites and minorities, a coalition that just might have won.

Fast forward to 2018. Where are working class whites now? Oh yes. They helped propel Donald “Mexicans are rapists” Trump to the White House.

Remember when Presidents of both parties, at least in words, tried to appeal to our better natures? What happened? Was a half-century of progress wiped out with one divisive campaign and one highly divisive and bigoted President. Yes, some of it, at least, we can hope, temporarily.

A recent Washington Post editorial stated that everything we’ve witnessed recently, from the ugly Roseanne tweet that ended her show, to the rise in open racists running for office, are predictable and predicted byproducts of the hate spewed from the resident of the Oval Office:

Can I prove that Trump’s hate-mongering is infecting the culture? No, I can’t, but it stands to reason — and there are signs that it is. This year, there are at least 10 white supremacists running for office — and that doesn’t count failed West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship, who excoriated “China people,” and failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams, who campaigned in a “deportation bus.” Organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, and the Southern Poverty Law Center report that the number of hate crimes and hate groups has increased since Trump became president.

I can’t prove that the rise in overt racism is a direct result of Trump’s hate-mongering. But if not that, then what has precipitated it’s ugly rise?

I think reasonable people can agree on a few things. Racism never really left the U.S. It’s just that many racists and bigots were, for a while, afraid to say what they really thought. During that shining illusory interregnum in blatant racism –how quaint the term post-racial society sounds – people with racial animus – as opposed to racial bias, which, sadly affects a much wider swath of America – became resentful about feeling like they had to moderate their views. What was happening was, they were keeping the views out of sight, but within their bubbles, they were free to not only say what they wanted, their sense of white victimization grew. Hey, bubbles reinforce beliefs, don’t they?

Speaking of bubbles, we all live in our own. Here in southern California, a melting pot, salad, whatever metaphor you want to use, of every race, bigotry is generally not cool. Because I live in this region, which is relatively free of overt racism – oh it’s likely there, but tamped down by social norms – I’m left astounded and a little depressed every time I see support for Muslim travel bans, racist rallies, and polls where whites say they’re victims of discrimination.

And now, here we are, in a time where racism, for the time being in at least in a too-large part of the population, is normalized again. We’re a much more diverse nation than 50 years ago, and on the verge of, as you’re probably aware, of becoming a nation where whites are not the majority. And yet, we have an occupant in the White House who has, time and again, shown more racial animus than any major candidate for President since George Wallace, a man who doesn’t use coded dog-whistle terms to speak to racists, but rather, a bullhorn. It should be noted that George “Segregation Forever” Wallace didn’t come close to winning any of his Presidential races. Pendulums swing back and forth. We may be seeing a certain percentage of the white population unleashed and angry that they’ve had to keep their racism under wraps for so long. But it’s pretty clear that Trump gave them the freedom to unwrap it.

Still, America is changing, and it will not become whiter. I fear that America will always have a problem with race. But with more time, and with leaders who, at the very least, accept that this is a multicultural nation, we’ll keep making progress.

While I’m on the RFK-Trump comparison, one more thing. Charles Blow, opinion columnist in the New York Times, has an excellent piece today outlining what he sees as the darkness in Trump, and concludes:

He always disguises his hatred, often as a veneration and defense of his base, the flag, law enforcement or the military. He hijacks their valor to advance his personal hatred.

So I remember that. I center that. I hear “I want to hate” every time I hear him speak. And I draw strength from the fact that I’m not fighting for or against a political party; I’m fighting hatred itself, as personified by the man who occupies the presidency. That is my spine stiffener.

Surely RFK had his detractors. But I seriously doubt anyone made the case fifty years ago that he was a “hater.” Maybe that’s why he’s still beloved by so many who were adults at the time. And I’m trying not to be mean here, but I can’ help wondering how many people get weepy at the memory of Gov. George Wallace, who, to be fair, recanted on much of his racial animosity at the end of his life. And I can’t help wondering, after all the ways Trump has taken us backward into bigotry, after he’s gone, how many people will choke up at the memory of him?

 

 

 

 

Does it seem like every day this month you’ve heard about people, white people, calling the cops or security on […]

Does it seem like every day this month you’ve heard about people, white people, calling the cops or security on people of color sitting in Starbucks (more than once), coming out of their Air BNBs, sleeping in the common area of their dormitories, trying to return a circuit cutter at Hobby Lobby? Well, that’s because there’s been a new incident almost every day. There may be a new one today.

This open bigotry and xenophobia has been going on for decades. And it happens because white people, generally, feel they have the police on their side.

But thanks to the ubiquity of cell phone cameras and social media, we’re getting an idea of just how widespread the fear of The Other is in the U.S. Mostly this fear and animosity is directed at Black Americans. Sometimes it’s at Latinos or other people of color, like the NYC lawyer who threatened to call ICE because people at a restaurant were… gasp, speaking Spanish. Can you imagine? In a video shared by Edward Suazo and first reported on by Latino Rebels, that fuming lawyer, Aaron Schlossberg, excoriated a Fresh Kitchen employee for not interfering in people’s conversations en Español.

“Your staff are speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English,” he said. “Every person I listened to, he spoke it. He spoke it. She’s speaking it. It’s America… So I will be following up, and my guess is, they’re not documented. So my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off of my money. I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here. The least they can do, the least they can do is speak English.”

For those who don’t see the U.S. as a white homeland, these incidents can provide anger and outrage. And that’s natural. These are outrageous instances. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be furious with these people. And, surely the killing and beating of People of Color for no reason is absolutely a reason to get mad.

But there is also something that the internet does well: ridicule and mock those that so deserve it.

Take the incident last weekend in Oakland, California, where a white woman called the police on a black family who had the temerity to barbeque in a public park.

Yes, she used the N word. Then she started crying when the police arrived, acting like she’s the victim of the encounter. Merry pranksters online are responding with humorous memes.

Like this one:

 

And this:

Also:

And a big party was planned in that park, supporting people who have the nerve to picnic while Black.

In light of rampant – but at least not violent, in these cases – injustice, sometimes you just have to laugh instead of crying. That is precisely what meme creators have done. As for that angry racist lawyer, Schlossberg, it looks like he will be enjoying the music of several Mariachis, right at his office, gratis. No, thank you, internet-based pranksters.

Schlossberg, by the way, appears to have a history of bizarre and offensive racial outbursts. This is beyond mere racism, in my opinion. I’m not a doctor, but this guy has some serious mental issues. He needs help. In the meantime, he deserves all the scorn and ridicule he’s getting (though I hope it doesn’t make him worse).

Outrage has its place. But there’s also something to be said for responding to racism and bigotry with style, art, humor and love. The best response to others inhumanity is to embrace your own humanity.

 

 

  Trump supporters: white and afraid of losing their majority (wikipedia commons)   For the past year and a half, […]

 

Trump voters

Trump supporters: white and afraid of losing their majority (wikipedia commons)

 

For the past year and a half, there’s been a vigorous, sometimes tortured, effort to answer the question of how the election of Trump happened. Let’s forget for a minute that Hillary Clinton actually won 3 million more votes. She’s not sitting in the oval office.

It’s been posited that it was economic anxiety among rust belt voters that led so many Ohioans, Michiganders, Wisconsinites and Pennsylvanians to vote for Trump and deliver him an electoral college victory. The theory goes, he’ll bring back jobs by… doing something. Like tariffs, which he’s done. And… doing deals (he never was very specific about how he was going to bring back jobs, was he?)

We’ve also been told that voters wanted a change in Washington, drain the swamp as it were. Try not to laugh, given what you know about the D.C. swamp, which has become a nationally protected wetland with extra alligators since January, 2017. But maybe some people did believe that Crooked Hillary line. Surely many people just hate Washington, and having some other guy in there – a businessman, sports figure, singer, whatever – would do the nation good.

What a lot of mainstream pundits have tap danced around is what many of us have suspected: many whites voted for Trump because of his pretty explicit embrace of white nationalism.

Well, now there’s a study that backs up what we’ve been thinking. A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that a segment – though not all, but hey, he only lost three key states by 80,000 votes – were motivated to protect their own dominant status in American culture and politics. Make America Great Again, for some, meant Make America White Again.

The study looked at a group of the same voters who cast ballots in 2012 and 2016, focusing on those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. Many of these voters, instead of expressing pocketbook fears, showed deep concern about America’s declining global power and – this is key – about the projected demographic changes that will put whites out of the majority by 2045.

 

The study’s author, Diana Muntz, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, found that one factor in particular increased the likelihood of voting for Trump: the belief that white people are more discriminated against than people of color. Mutz also found that the people who switched their vote from Democrat to Republican liked Trump’s aggressive stance on free trade and China’s ascendance as a global superpower. And they wanted group hierarchy, not equality, with their group on top.

So, remember that escalator speech where Trump announced his candidacy, the one where he said Mexicans coming into the country were rapists and murders? Turns out he knew his base pretty well. Or, maybe, he created this base. After all, no major nominee of any party has been so openly bigoted.

Now that naked bigotry is out in the open – and, sadly, growing – how do we as a nation deal with what has been unleashed? It’s a pretty good time for a real conversation on race. Unfortunately the one with the biggest megaphone and tiniest twitter fingers is the one setting the agenda. For now.

 

18
Apr

The Starbucks incident is the latest in a long string of bias allegations made by black patrons against businesses.

Next month Starbucks will close 8,000 of its locations for implicit bias training. This is in the wake of the incident you’ve probably heard of: the Philadelphia Starbucks store manager who called the cops that led to the arrests of two black men.

What we know about the incident: the two black men said they were waiting for a friend to show up for a meeting. The manager denied the men use of restroom because they didn’t order food or drinks. The store manager asked the men to leave, and then called police when they refused to leave. As video rolled, the friend arrived as police led the pair away in handcuffs. They were later released when Starbucks didn’t press charges. In the video, they are neatly groomed, and not causing any disturbance.

Starbucks is doing damage control in the wake of extensive criticism. The company’s executive chairman Howard Schultz appeared on CBS This Morning for a sit down interview with co-host Gayle King. Schultz told King in the interview that the store manager at the center of the controversy has “left the company.”

“I think you have to say in looking at the tape that she demonstrated her own level of unconscious bias,” Schultz went on to say. “And in looking at the tape, you ask yourself whether or not that was racial profiling.”

What we don’t yet know: whether that manager had treated people of different races in the same way in the past. Does everyone who asks to use the restroom before ordering get denied? Has the management asked people who don’t buy anything to leave? Have they called the cops in the past? If these practices are applied only to African American men, well, that’s a pretty good indicator of bias. If not, well, maybe it has a policy of no loitering.

Then again, isn’t Starbucks known as a gathering spot? Has anyone ever seen an employee asking anyone who’s not making a ruckus to leave? How many writers have bought one coffee and stayed working on a laptop for three hours? Or has this changed? I have heard about a Starbucks in Los Angeles that removed many of its electric outlets to prevent people from staying all day.

The Starbucks incident is the latest in a long string of bias allegations made by black patrons against businesses. Recently there were accusations by Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe that she was racially profiled at a Chanel store.

Starbucks is reviewing its policies.  It’s pretty clear that whatever those policies are, they should be applied fairly for all races – whether they’re dressed in suits, baggy pants, with dreadlocks, etc.

 

 

As the 2020 census approaches, there is much thought about how to greater reflect the ethnic and racial diversity among […]

As the 2020 census approaches, there is much thought about how to greater reflect the ethnic and racial diversity among people living in this country. Some advocates have already begun that process by requesting that the data collection allow opportunities for more categories for persons of black ancestry. Up until now, census forms allowed people to mark black or African-American. But according to NPR, the 2020 census will ask blacks to be more specific.

For the 2020 census, the U.S. Census Bureau is changing how it will ask black people to designate their race. Under the check box for “Black or African American,” the bureau is adding a new space on the census questionnaire for participants to write in their non-Hispanic origins, according to a recent memo from the head of the 2020 census. “African American,” “Jamaican” and “Nigerian” are listed as examples of origins on a questionnaire the bureau is testing for 2020.

The change means many black people in the U.S. may have to take a closer look at their family trees to answer what can be a thorny question: Where are you really from? While many black immigrants can cite ties to a specific country, that question is difficult, if not impossible, for many U.S.-born African-Americans to answer.

According to NPR researchers at the bureau have said they have been trying to respond to requests for “more detailed, disaggregated data for our diverse American experiences as German, Mexican, Korean, Jamaican, and myriad other identities.”

There is often an assumption that “black” is synonymous with “African-American.” Many black Americans, or, African Americans, will use the terms interchangeably. Many say it’s no big deal.  But some do think it’s important. There are blacks living in this country with direct African or Caribbean ancestry who culturally and ancestrally identify with those places. They are counted in the same category with black Americans, who may be the descendants of enslaved Africans brought to this country and have a very different cultural experience and heritage.

 

 

 

07
Sep

The First White President

POSTED BY Admin POSTED IN Uncategorized

Post-mortems on election 2016 are continuing. Hillary Clinton’s new book is one long What Went Wrong exploration. We’ve been told […]

Post-mortems on election 2016 are continuing. Hillary Clinton’s new book is one long What Went Wrong exploration.

We’ve been told that economic anxiety is what drove so many white working class voters to Trump, especially in the Rust Belt region that delivered the electoral votes of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio to him.

Sure, he said some things that they wanted to hear. NAFTA was bad. Coal and manufacturing was good. And… aside from that, not much. People hear what they want to hear, and surely some people rolled the dice with him thinking, “hey, rich guy, he must know something.”

But Trump’s ideology is all over the map. Try to pin him down on a policy. You can’t. He can change his tune in the same paragraph. But there are two constant themes: his refusal to criticize Russia, and his antipathy to immigrants. From his opening comments in 2015 when he announced his candidacy claiming Mexican immigrants were largely rapists and murderers, to this week, when he rescinded the largely popular DACA program.

It’s a reason white supremacists have claimed him as one of their own, and Trump has done little if anything to push them away. Klansman David Duke has said that white supremacists would  “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

Not every white voter who went with Trump is a white supremacist, obviously. But Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in this month’s edition of The Atlantic that gentle racism – not his words – is what propelled Trump to the White House:

THE SCOPE OF TRUMP’S commitment to whiteness is matched only by the depth of popular disbelief in the power of whiteness. We are now being told that support for Trump’s “Muslim ban,” his scapegoating of immigrants, his defenses of police brutality are somehow the natural outgrowth of the cultural and economic gap between Lena Dunham’s America and Jeff Foxworthy’s. The collective verdict holds that the Democratic Party lost its way when it abandoned everyday economic issues like job creation for the softer fare of social justice. The indictment continues: To their neoliberal economics, Democrats and liberals have married a condescending elitist affect that sneers at blue-collar culture and mocks the white man as history’s greatest monster and prime-time television’s biggest doofus. In this rendition, Donald Trump is not the product of white supremacy so much as the product of a backlash against contempt for white working-class people.

If the election were about economic anxiety, wouldn’t Hispanic working class Americans have voted for Trump overwhelmingly, as whites did? They didn’t. But whites at every economic level preferred Trump.

Remember the Charlottesville white supremacy rallies of last month? Why were these white men shouting, “you will not erase us.”?  Why are white Americans – including millions who don’t carry tiki torches in support of Confederate monuments – so threatened by social change, which includes a browning America?

Read the whole article here.

It’s summer, so you may have been away from the TV and may have seen Proctor and Gamble’s new ad. […]

It’s summer, so you may have been away from the TV and may have seen Proctor and Gamble’s new ad. It’s titled “The Talk,  part of a larger advertising campaign titled “My Black is Beautiful.” The ad, uploaded to YouTube last week, shows black mothers throughout the decades discussing racism with their children. Writing for Salon, Gabriel Bell said the “moving” ad captures “The Talk” every black parent has with their kids:

Yes, it’s a commercial — but damn this journey into the effects of racism is a good one. As they grow up in a nation where almost every system is stacked against them, most black children have had “the talk” with their parents — that moment or series of moments where their mother or father reveals the stakes for African Americans in our country in an attempt to shield them from the effects of institutional racism by explaining and preparing them for it.

But the ad has also generated a firestorm of protest on social media. Its detractors say that not only does the ad have an anti-white message, but that any mention of race, racism, or racial bias is racist.

P&G is choosing to push back against the backlash. And that’s a good thing:

“People were like, ‘Thank you for speaking my truth,’” P&G spokesman Damon Jones told Eurweb.com. “But, it has been a past interesting couple of days where we’ve seen a few people position the ad quite differently and stoke some fires.”

Those fires include a critique from the right-leaning National Review, which called the ad “identity-politics pandering.”

See the ad here.

 

15
Jul

Politico is reporting on a bill crafted by two Republican Senators that would reduce legal immigration by half: A senior […]

Politico is reporting on a bill crafted by two Republican Senators that would reduce legal immigration by half:

A senior White House official described the moves as part of a broader reorganization of the immigration system. The official said the White House particularly wanted to target welfare programs and limit citizenship and migration to those who pay taxes and earn higher wages.

“In order to be eligible for citizenship, you’ll have to demonstrate you are self-sufficient and you don’t receive welfare,” the senior administration official said.

“You’re going to reduce low-skilled immigration substantially, which will protect American workers and recent immigrants themselves,” this person said.

Of course it has full support of the White House:

Trump praised the virtues of the merit-based models of Canada and Australia in his remarks to a joint session of Congress in late February. “Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, we will have so many more benefits,” he said. “It will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class.”

If passed, it would be the biggest overhaul of the U.S. immigration system in decades. The merit based system is not unlike that of many other countries. Current law allows U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their parents, siblings and married adult children for immigrant visas. Under the Cotton-Perdue proposal, only spouses and minor children could be sponsored.

But we have to wonder: what is the real goal here? Is the American public clamoring for a crackdown on immigration?  Well, sort of.

Last year Pew Research released results of a poll on Americans’ attitudes on immigration. It found a dramatic drop in those who viewed immigrants favorably:

For more than 20 years, Pew Research Center has been asking whether immigrants in the U.S. “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents,” or whether they “are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care.”

In that time period, opinions about immigrants have shifted dramatically. In our latest national political survey, released in March, 59% of the public say immigrants strengthen the country, while 33% describe them as a burden. In 1994, opinions were nearly the reverse: 63% said immigrants were a burden and 31% said they strengthened the country.

But has there been a dramatic increase in legal immigration in the past two decades? No. There has been a growing fear of job loss and career obsolescence, mainly due to automation. But, hey, immigrants you can control. Technology not so much.

Also, there’s a big partisan split on immigration attitudes, and it’s grown dramatically wider. From Pew:

FT_16.04.14_USimmigrants_partisan

We know that Republicans have been demonizing the undocumented for years, with a big recent spike. But where are the voices of opposition? Where are the leaders who could push back against these attitudes?

Call it a coincidence if you want, or see it as confirmation of bias against black people at structural levels within society. A new study highlights this […]

Call it a coincidence if you want, or see it as confirmation of bias against black people at structural levels within society.

new study highlights this gap, particularly with respect to social services. The result of the study’s findings: states with higher populations of black people are more likely to have less generous and more restrictive welfare benefits. 

State welfare policies subject all families, regardless of their race, to the same rules.

But the majority of black people live in states with the lowest proportion of families receiving cash assistance. African Americans are at a practical disadvantage as a result of that population distribution, [Heather Hahn, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and co-author of the study said].

“The effects of these policies are not race neutral because we aren’t geographically dispersed evenly by race,” she said.

Here’s how Welfare works: states get to determine the amount of cash assistance that they provide to families in poverty. Each state has differing approaches to supporting needy families. Color blind? Maybe. But consider that attitudes about poverty and the poor are shaped by stereotypes about race.

Learn more about the study described in the Washington Post here.