One more about all this before I go to bed for real: the stuff being said in the discussion on Micro.blog effectively is regurgitated Reason nonsense; I just read some, in fact. What the Reason “reasoning” actually demonstrated to me, however, was that the call-out here isn’t just of a middle-aged liberal lady thinking that “blackface Megyn Kelly” was a legitimate costume decision, but inherently of everyone else at that party who did nothing about it. This party was only two years ago; I don’t think the call-out statute of limitations somehow has expired. At issue is not just the wearer of the costume but a political and media culture which itself effectively cancels the concerns of those whom, say, fucking blackface harms. Literally the Reason post, for example, says that two women confronting the liberal lady in question was harassment, not the blackface. That’s the height of tone policing. I can see raising questions about whether or not the Post wrote this article in order to get out in front of a story that risked tarnishing their Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist, whose party, after all, was the scene of the crime. I can’t see, however, the idea that there’s no story in a party of, by, and for the Washington DC elite at which a woman wore blackface and it took a black woman to do something about it.
Somehow it took two days for this Nicolas Carter post about being institutionalized by Cards Against Humanity to come to my attention. The bill of particulars in the Polygon article were bad enough but this? Since I’ve been arguing tonight about cancel culture (more on that later), it’s time to cancel Cards Against Humanity. Tear it all the way the fuck down.
We spend our lives turning our silence into power with yoga and mindfulness, when maybe the problems we have with the world are because it’s unfair. Maybe it makes us sad or anxious to see the homeless people on the streets every day as we go to work for millionaire capitalists who don’t know our names and wouldn’t remember them if they did. Maybe knowing that I could be killed at any moment by state forces, or feeling like even when I said my opinion- even as a writer whose job it was to do that- it was inevitably stifled and suppressed, had made me mad.
Clare Malone recaps the Republican Party’s five-decade conscious and repeated choice to be racist. This is why I struggle with people who only began to question their party when it elected Trump.
Jeanelle Hope’s look at Black antifascism (via Walidah Imarisha) pairs nicely with the recent Smithsonian Magazine piece on antifascism generally which discussed the links between antifascism and antiracism. My usual quibble: Hope conflates antifa and black bloc, a term she doesn’t acknowledge (and which, if you need to know, is unrelated to being a Black antifascist) even though she’s crediting the tactic itself.
James Shelley has a good starter list of things white people do not understand. It should be paired with a corollary list (or perhaps a talk) of things one does understand — or should — about being white.
“So here’s some ugly truth about the city of Los Angeles,” writes Matthew Fleischer of the racist elephant in the urban room (via Linda Poon): “Our freeway system is one of the most noxious monuments to racism and segregation in the country.”
Los Angeles was never a paradise of racial acceptance, but in 1910 some 36% of L.A.’s African Americans were homeowners (compared with 2.4% in New York City) — tops in the nation. L.A.’s comprehensive Red Car transit system, which offered easy, unsegregated access to the region’s growing economic opportunities, was fundamental to this success. Integrated, racially diverse neighborhoods like Watts and Boyle Heights emerged and thrived along these transit corridors.
But as L.A.’s population surged from 320,000 in 1910 to more than 1.2 million in 1930 — including tens of thousands of African Americans from the Deep South — white Los Angeles decided it was time to ramp up its own brand of Jim Crow segregation.
It’s not, of course, just Los Angeles, and Fleischer’s specificity in detailing the lengths to which urban planners in L.A. made sure to wipe out Black neighborhoods while preserving white ones is… depressing.
Lincoln County had exempted certain classes of people from its face-covering mandate, including people of color “who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public”. National news media spread the story as “only white people must wear masks”, prompting “racist commentary” to flood the county.
The county now has rescinded that exemption after “several calls from leadership from our communities of color asking us to revise the policy – it was not providing them protection, but instead making them possible targets for more hate”.
The expressions of racism regarding the exception has created a ripple of fear throughout our communities of color. The very policy meant to protect them, is now making them a target for further discrimination and harassment.
Let us be very clear. The Directive and policy were meant to protect. Threats and racist statements turned it into a policy that now harms.
While shocking, it did not surprise us to receive racist calls from elsewhere in the country…because that is where we tell ourselves the world’s problems are right? Well that is not completely true. We were surprised by the number of derogatory calls and emails received from our very own coastal communities. We would encourage you to think less about the possibility of your rights being violated and think instead of the heightened feelings of risk that people of color in your neighborhoods daily endure.
Emphasis added. It’s not clear to me from documents about the directive whether or not those same communities of color were consulted when the policy was put together, or whether the county made the initial decision on its own?
By now you’ve read Nikole Hannah-Jones’ call for reparations, but I wanted to highlight just a couple of things that should inform the context in which we white people discuss any of these issues.
It has been more than 150 years since the white planter class last called up the slave patrols and deputized every white citizen to stop, question and subdue any black person who came across their paths in order to control and surveil a population who refused to submit to their enslavement. It has been 150 years since white Americans could enforce slave laws that said white people acting in the interest of the planter class would not be punished for killing a black person, even for the most minor alleged offense. Those laws morphed into the black codes, passed by white Southern politicians at the end of the Civil War to criminalize behaviors like not having a job. Those black codes were struck down, then altered and over the course of decades eventually transmuted into stop-and-frisk, broken windows and, of course, qualified immunity. The names of the mechanisms of social control have changed, but the presumption that white patrollers have the legal right to kill black people deemed to have committed minor infractions or to have breached the social order has remained.
On income and wealth:
As we focus on police violence, we cannot ignore an even starker indication of our societal failures: Racial income disparities today look no different than they did the decade before King’s March on Washington. In 1950, according to a forthcoming study by the economists Moritz Schularick, Moritz Kuhn and Ulrike Steins in The Journal of Political Economy, black median household income was about half that of white Americans, and today it remains so. More critical, the racial wealth gap is about the same as it was in the 1950s as well. The typical black household today is poorer than 80 percent of white households. “No progress has been made over the past 70 years in reducing income and wealth inequalities between black and white households,” according to the study.
And yet most Americans are in an almost pathological denial about the depth of black financial struggle. That 2019 Yale University study, called “The Misperception of Racial Economic Inequality,” found that Americans believe that black households hold $90 in wealth for every $100 held by white households. The actual amount is $10.
“The cause of the gap must be found in the structural characteristics of the American economy, heavily infused at every point with both an inheritance of racism and the ongoing authority of white supremacy,” the authors of the Duke study write. “There are no actions that black Americans can take unilaterally that will have much of an effect on reducing the wealth gap. For the gap to be closed, America must undergo a vast social transformation produced by the adoption of bold national policies.”
I’m being flippant in that last post but also I’m not actually being flippant at all. Literally just hours after I’ve read the part in Nikole Hannah-Jones’ call for racial economic justice where she discusses how it’s not like any of the United States’ civil rights laws made up for the past of racist economic deprivation which held Blacks back even as Whites were given both hands-up and hand-outs, I read that thing about Jenny Slate. So, I really do want to know: is she giving any of that money back, since for four whole seasons those wages could have gone to increase the financial stability and well-being of a Black actress?
After four seasons of work, she suddenly notices the character she voices is black when she herself isn’t? I mean, better late than never, for sure, but she cashed those checks. Is she giving any of them back?
Nicole Carpenter at Polygon lays out the charges of a racist and sexist culture at Cards Against Humanity. Someday I’d like a fuller explanation of how the company’s leadership could claim, repeatedly, to have a comedic culture of “punching up”.
I’ll not offer justification for the cognitive dissonance of supporting calls to defund the police while also being a fan of Brooklyn Nine-Nine; I’ll just note it and say that I’m curious to see what the show does now, having scrapped already-written scripts for its eighth season (link via Andy Baio).
The cast has been talking about how to address the issues of systemic racism and police brutality in the upcoming season as well, Crews added: “We’ve had a lot of somber talks about it and deep conversations, and we hope through this, we’re going to make something that will be truly groundbreaking this year. We have an opportunity, and we plan to use it in the best way possible.”
What if they decide they’re going to set the new season in a New York that in fact has begun defunding the police in favor of other community and social services? What if they decide to show us what we could do?