No lie: when I reached the reminder that “the statue of a slave trader in Bristol, England was tossed into the sea” in Rampant‘s handy and somewhat sanity-affirming list of results forced by the current popular surge of the Black Lives Matter movement (there’s also a second part), I had to pause to laugh all over again. Which is not to say the movement is a laughing matter; more that part of justice must be joy.

Stephanie McCurry’s explication of the Confederate States of America not as some “libertarian symbol of small government and resistance to federal tyranny” but as a repressive, white supremacist, “centralized state” conscripting its population to fight a “rich man’s war” includes a description of its political reality which seems mightily and distressingly familiar.

The war brought a terrible reckoning for the Confederate States of America, subjecting it to the military test of the Union armies and the political judgment of its own people. The C.S.A. was a nation built on a slim foundation of democratic consent: Of its total population of 9 million, only about 1.5 million were white men of voting and military age; the rest—white women and the enslaved—formed the vast ranks of the politically dispossessed. Political consent, and popular support for the war effort, were accordingly shallow.

Taylor Hosking has a really terrific writeup of the Tulsa hip-hop scene seeking to resurrect the legacy of Black Wall Street as the city nears the centennial of the Greenwood massacre.

There were six studios set up inside, and artists in the hallways were clamoring to get their songs recorded. When studios were full, others explored the mansion, discussing the symbolism of recording in places like the maid’s quarters. Some said they were excited to record in the kitchen where Brady killed himself. Over five days they ended up producing more than 140 songs, with titles such as “Reparations,” “Shining,” “Brunch at the Brady,” and “City of Dreams.” Only 21 of them will actually make the core “Fire in Little Africa” album. The goal is to capture the spirit of what Black Wall Street’s ancestors might want them to say.

Kellie Carter Jackson on Juneteenth:

Now many black Americans are wrestling with how to celebrate Juneteenth amid the protests and the coronavirus pandemic. I came across a tweet that read, “Some of us fight racism by raising our black children to know joy. This matters too.” Black Americans have always held both jubilation and sorrow in their hands: Demonstrators will chant “I can’t breathe” and in the same space break out into a collective electric slide. As Imani Perry wrote for The Atlantic, “Racism is terrible. Blackness is not.”

The Inverted Red Triangle Was Used By Antifascists, Borrowing From The Nazis

What’s galling isn’t only that the Trump campaign bought Facebook advertisements using an old Nazi symbol for communists, socialists, and other antifascists but that the antifascist response to it has been historically disingenuous. It took me all of maybe five minutes on Google to find that one variant or another of Antifascist Action engaged in “reclamation of the red triangle symbol used by the Nazis to label communists” and maybe two more minutes to find that the Union of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime, an antifascist organization founded in 1947 which “emerged from victims’ associations”, had “adopted” as its symbol “the ‘red triangle’, the sign sewn on the concentration camp uniforms of political prisoners”.

(The symbol also appears on “many postwar memorials to the victims of the Nazis”.)

On such monuments, typically an inverted (point down, base up) triangle (especially if red) evokes all victims, including also the non-Jewish victims like Slavs, Poles, communists, homosexuals, Roma and Sinti (see Porajmos), the handicapped (see Action T4), Soviet POWs and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

None of this is to say that the Trump campaign isn’t full of shit here, or didn’t know exactly what nasty shit they were doing; it’s not a widely-used symbol of “antifa”, but to say that it isn’t one at all only erases these early antifascists, many of whom were actual victims and persecutees of the actual Nazi regime, which seems counterproductive and unfair. This sort of reappropriative reclamation of language or symbols by persecuted groups has a long and storied history — including, most (in)famously, the pink triangle by LGBTQ communities — and the inverted red triangle was part of that.

Blog And Blog! What Is Blog?!

Ben Thompson links himself in a past incarnation, quoting a post arguing for “Blogging’s Bright Future”, in a section about defining “blog”.

A big problem with this entire discussion is that there really isn’t a widely agreed-upon definition of what a blog is, thanks in part to the rise of sites like TechCrunch that ran on WordPress and presented posts in reverse-chronological order and so, at least in the beginning, were called “blogs”; add to that the thinly-disguised PR-channels known as “company blogs” and it’s easy to get confused.

And so, to be clear, when I speak of the “blog” I am referring to a regularly-updated site that is owned-and-operated by an individual (there is, of course, the “group blog,” but it too has a clearly-defined set of authors). And there, in that definition, is the reason why, despite the great unbundling, the blog has not and will not die: it is the only communications tool, in contrast to every other social service, that is owned by the author; to say someone follows a blog is to say someone follows a person (This applies both for amateur and professional bloggers; most of the rest of this post is concerned with the latter).

The happenstantial timing here mostly is what struck me, because I’m of course finally re-reading Rebecca Blood’s The Weblog Handbook nearly two decades after its publication; it’s first chapter being, “What Is a Weblog?”

Continue reading

Ad-hoc book club anyone? At long last, I am beginning my webhistorical flashback re-reads of what, at least for me, were some seminal texts — beginning with The Weblog Handbook by Rebecca Blood. Basic Books has the ebook on sale for $1.99 right now. I’d be curious to see what people who’ve read it before think about it now (including myself!) as well as what any new readers think of it 18 years after it was published. I’m not thinking about anything especially organized; just grab the book, read it at your own pace, and blog about it. Any takers?

This is by design and I’m not exactly sure what the White House is trying to prove here, but the white nationalism is strong with this one. With the world already smoldering from the Black Lives Matter protests against the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, holding a white power rally on the day that slavery ended in the place that “remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history,” is low, even for this administration. This has the potential to be a molotov cocktail of destruction and if this all goes to shit, and America will have itself to blame and Stephen Miller—always Stephen Miller.

From Trump’s Holding His First Rally in Months on Juneteenth in Tulsa, Okla., and All of This Stinks of Stephen Miller by Stephen A. Crockett Jr.

Holy hell. I was going to link the latest Heather Cox Richardson because of the bit on the Republican Party’s “abandonment of writing a party platform” — but then I was caught short by the part about the move of Mine Furor’s nomination acceptance speech to Florida.

Trump will give his acceptance speech in Jacksonville on August 27. The date is the sixtieth anniversary of a brutal attack on Black Jacksonville residents by white mobs brandishing baseball bats and ax handles, an event known as “Ax Handle Saturday.”

Coming as it is on the heels of his Juneteenth rally in Tulsa, the site of another historically brutal attack of black Americans by white mobs, we now appear to have the beginnings of a pattern. It’s enough to make you doubt the campaign’s claims of surprise regarding Tulsa.

Black Tulsans are pushing back against Mine Furor’s upcoming rally on June 19, and maybe the most aggravating thing is the bit the about campaign’s thinking.

The Trump campaign was aware in advance that the date for the president’s return to rallies was Juneteenth, according to two campaign officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly about internal discussions and spoke on condition of anonymity.

When the date was discussed, it was noted that Biden had held a fundraiser a year ago on Juneteenth. Though choosing June 19 was not meant to be incendiary, some blowback was expected, the officials said. But the campaign was caught off guard by the intensity, particularly when some linked the selection to the 1921 massacre.

Emphasis added.

A Sidebar On Whiteness

Two days ago I wrote the words “sometimes Oregonians […] have this weird sense of self-flagellating pride in confessing Oregon’s sins”. What most of you probably didn’t even notice, as I didn’t until later, was that this was an example of speaking in the white default because of course what I was really talking about were white Oregonians, specifically — but I didn’t actually specify, because white people tend to think of themselves in and as the default.

I don’t want to turn the blog today into a series of posts about white people discovering, explaining, and explicating their whiteness habits, because that’s not the story, but it’s important to bring to the attention of white people fellow white people who are thinking and talking about these things, as long as we do it as a kind of sidebar.

So, I’m going to bring several different things I’ve been reading today together in this one post, rather than post them individually; if I run into any others over the course of the day I’ll just add my remarks about them as addenda here. As it turns out, I think each of the things I’m going to mention here actually will work better through this sort of juxtapositional interplay.

Continue reading

Here’s a timeline for you.

June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation is read to enslaved blacks in Texas, the last Confederate state to hear the news; starting in 1866, the day becomes known and celebrated as Juneteenth.

May 31, 1921, white mobs attack black residents and businesses in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history”.

May 25, 2020, George Floyd is murdered by Minneapolis police officers; the killing sparks nationwide daily protests against the racist violence of police, and policing in general.

June 1, 2020, President Trump has peaceful Black Lives Matters demonstrators cleared from the environs of Lafayette Square using riot control measures in order to conduct a photo-op.

June 8, 2020, a Tulsa police major says, “We’re shooting African-Americans about 24% less than we probably ought to be, based on the crimes being committed.”

June 10, 2020, Donald Trump announces the resumption of campaign rallies with the first to be held…

…on June 19…

…in Tulsa.

If you ration your reading of Twitter threads, bump this Michael Harriot thread to the top of your to-read list, and learn what you don’t know — about Martin Luther King, Jr., civil disobedience, direct action, the Montgomery bus boycott, the Selma to Montgomery march, James Forman, Robert F. WIlliams, the Black Armed Guard, and Rosa Parks.

One notable moment over the weekend was when a Black Lives Matter/”defund the police” demonstrator downtown (I was watching on KPTV’s secondary channel) cautioned against letting Portland’s reputation as the whitest big city in the United States effectively erase the black people who do live here. It’s a good warning, because I think sometimes white Oregonians, or at least those in the Willamette Valley, have this weird sense of self-flagellating pride in confessing Oregon’s sins, in a sort of backwards way that’s more about showing off how they are confessing than it is about the actual sins or their reverberations into the present.

At any rate, OPB News has a conversation with Walidah Imarisha about that history that’s one of the more concise and incisive looks out of the many that have been done over the years.

“This is an ideology that is not only alive, it’s serving as the foundation for the institutions of Oregon,” said Imarisha. “Oregon is a useful case study for the rest of the nation because the only thing unique about Oregon is [it] was bold enough to write it down. The same policies, practices and ideologies that shaped Oregon, shaped the nation as a whole.”

Emphasis added. If we’re going to talk about Oregon’s sin, at least let a black Oregonian do the talking. Off her blog, I also found this Portland Monthly piece from earlier this year in which Imarisha describes her “eight years of talking about the brutal history of race in Oregon”

One thing I question about this Richard MacManus history lesson about online writing is that while the technology arc described obviously is correct, I wonder if we have any data to suggest that the people using social platforms otherwise would have been blogging.

But of course, times change. And blogging isn’t the center of the online media ecosystem any more. Nor, as it happens, is long-form writing. The proverbial – and literal in the case of Facebook – writing was on the wall when social media began to ramp up from about 2009 on. Services like Facebook and Twitter favored much shorter, attention-grabbing content. Then over the 2010s, multimedia formats began to predominate on these platforms – leading to GIF-heavy video and image apps like Instagram and TikTok.

MacManus doesn’t actually suggest this, but I feel like its the implicit undercurrent of many discussions about how things have changed in these regards since the beginning of the century.

I understand the irony in that my own blogging avocation mostly came to an end just as first social networking and then later social media sites took hold, but my gut instinct there is that the timing for me mostly was coincidental, in that post-Portland Communique in many ways I was burned out on the idea of Writing A Lot, and from there on out my sporadic blogging tended to center around specific interests, most of which had a short half-life.

Did you blog back in the day and then not so much blog anymore when Friendster and MySpace and then Facebook and Twitter came along? Did you never blog? Did you blog and keep blogging the entire time?