89 posts tagged racism
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin — we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. (via SPECIAL: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in His Own Words | Democracy Now!)
James Baldwin on history and America’s denial of it’s criminal history.
This is from a speech he gave at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. His honesty and sincerity throughout this speech and the question and answer period shows just how powerful a person he always was. The date is 1986; James Baldwin passed away in 1987.
One time we had a happy donkey when there wasn’t a happy donkey, and some think they’re not enslaved. Then Isabella isn’t happy. Then something was wrong with slavery. So I had to be happy to keep the master happy, because they’re not going to cross the mistress. Out of this profound misapprehension has come a system of reality, a system of ideas even, a system of thought, which makes reality very hard to reach. When the slave was discovered and put in chains, obviously he was debased along with his women and children, but he was not the only creature who was debased at that moment. The man, the people, who put him in chains had also become less than human and debased themselves with a very great disadvantage. Whereas the slave must know the master, because the master is the slave’s best and last chance. And a master cannot fool a slave, but the slave can fool a master, and this master wants to be fooled.
My father, only he’s not interested[?], never dreamed of telling a white person the truth about anything. It’s something that never entered his mind to do so. He didn’t care what they thought. He didn’t care whether they lived or died—he loathed them. It was very exciting for me to watch. My turn came too. But I could see what happened, and the reason it’s important now is that under this endeavor, what we call the white American has created only the nigger he wants to see. The reason *that’s* important and terrifying, and corrupts the youth of the earth, is because when the same white man looks around the world, he sees only the nigger he wants to see and that is mortally dangerous for the future of this country, for our present fortunes.
The world is full of all kinds of people who live quite beyond the confines of the American imagination and who are looking at whatever we *do* with a guilt-ridden vision of the world, which controls so much of our life and our thinking, and which perhaps paralyzes very nearly our moral sense. We are living in a world in which every body and every thing is interdependent. It is not white, this world; it is not black either. The future of this world depends on everyone in this room. And that future depends on to what extent and by what means we liberate ourselves from a vocabulary, which now cannot bear the weight of reality.
Our eyes tell us that people look different. No one has trouble distinguishing a Czech from a Chinese. But what do those differences mean? Are they biological? Has race always been with us? How does race affect people today?
There’s less - and more - to race than meets the eye:
1. Race is a modern idea. Ancient societies, like the Greeks, did not divide people according to physical distinctions, but according to religion, status, class, even language. The English language didn’t even have the word ‘race’ until it turns up in 1508 in a poem by William Dunbar referring to a line of kings.
2. Race has no genetic basis. Not one characteristic, trait or even gene distinguishes all the members of one so-called race from all the members of another so-called race.
3. Human subspecies don’t exist. Unlike many animals, modern humans simply haven’t been around long enough or isolated enough to evolve into separate subspecies or races. Despite surface appearances, we are one of the most similar of all species.
4. Skin color really is only skin deep. Most traits are inherited independently from one another. The genes influencing skin color have nothing to do with the genes influencing hair form, eye shape, blood type, musical talent, athletic ability or forms of intelligence. Knowing someone’s skin color doesn’t necessarily tell you anything else about him or her.
5. Most variation is within, not between, “races.” Of the small amount of total human variation, 85% exists within any local population, be they Italians, Kurds, Koreans or Cherokees. About 94% can be found within any continent. That means two random Koreans may be as genetically different as a Korean and an Italian.
6. Slavery predates race. Throughout much of human history, societies have enslaved others, often as a result of conquest or war, even debt, but not because of physical characteristics or a belief in natural inferiority. Due to a unique set of historical circumstances, ours was the first slave system where all the slaves shared similar physical characteristics.
7. Race and freedom evolved together. The U.S. was founded on the radical new principle that “All men are created equal.” But our early economy was based largely on slavery. How could this anomaly be rationalized? The new idea of race helped explain why some people could be denied the rights and freedoms that others took for granted.
8. Race justified social inequalities as natural. As the race idea evolved, white superiority became “common sense” in America. It justified not only slavery but also the extermination of Indians, exclusion of Asian immigrants, and the taking of Mexican lands by a nation that professed a belief in democracy. Racial practices were institutionalized within American government, laws, and society.
9. Race isn’t biological, but racism is still real. Race is a powerful social idea that gives people different access to opportunities and resources. Our government and social institutions have created advantages that disproportionately channel wealth, power, and resources to white people. This affects everyone, whether we are aware of it or not.
10. Colorblindness will not end racism. Pretending race doesn’t exist is not the same as creating equality. Race is more than stereotypes and individual prejudice. To combat racism, we need to identify and remedy social policies and institutional practices that advantage some groups at the expense of others.
RACE - The Power of an Illusion was produced by California Newsreel in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Major funding provided by the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Diversity Fund.
Will keep reblogging until I see 500 notes at least. Baldwin is piercing and poetic. Watch this. Boost it. Remember it.
James Baldwin debates William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge University | The Resolution: “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?”
Baldwin goes on to eloquently state the affirmative in what has to be one of the most encompassing and moving soliloquies I have ever heard. Excerpts follow, but do not sell yourselves short, watch it in its entirety:
“The white South African or Mississippi sharecropper or Alabama sheriff has at bottom a system of reality which compels them really to believe when they face the Negro that this woman, this man, this child must be insane to attack the system to which he owes his entire identity.”
“In the case of the American Negro, from the moment you are born every stick and stone, every face, is white. Since you have not yet seen a mirror, you suppose you are, too. It comes as a great shock around the age of 5, 6, or 7 to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance, along with everybody else, has not pledged allegiance to you. It comes as a great shock to see Gary Cooper killing off the Indians, and although you are rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians are you.”
“From a very literal point of view, the harbors and the ports and the railroads of the country—the economy, especially in the South—could not conceivably be what they are if it had not been (and this is still so) for cheap labor. I am speaking very seriously, and this is not an overstatement: I picked cotton, I carried it to the market, I built the railroads under someone else’s whip for nothing. For nothing.”
The Southern oligarchy which has still today so very much power in Washington, and therefore some power in the world, was created by my labor and my sweat and the violation of my women and the murder of my children. This in the land of the free, the home of the brave.”
“Sheriff Clark in Selma, Ala., cannot be dismissed as a total monster; I am sure he loves his wife and children and likes to get drunk. One has to assume that he is a man like me. But he does not know what drives him to use the club, to menace with the gun and to use the cattle prod. Something awful must have happened to a human being to be able to put a cattle prod against a woman’s breasts. What happens to the woman is ghastly. What happens to the man who does it is in some ways much, much worse. Their moral lives have been destroyed by the plague called color.”
“It is a terrible thing for an entire people to surrender to the notion that one-ninth of its population is beneath them. Until the moment comes when we, the Americans, are able to accept the fact that my ancestors are both black and white, that on that continent we are trying to forge a new identity, that we need each other, that I am not a ward of America, I am not an object of missionary charity, I am one of the people who built the country—until this moment comes there is scarcely any hope for the American dream. If the people are denied participation in it, by their very presence they will wreck it. And if that happens it is a very grave moment for the West.”
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo ft. Big Daddy Kane - Erase Racism
Rep. John Lewis Speaks Out Against GOP Voter Suppression Efforts
"It is hard and difficult and almost unbelievable that any member, especially a member from the state of Georgia, would come and offer such amendment. There’s a long history in our country, especially in the 11 states that are—of the old confederacy from Virginia to Texas, a discrim—of discrimination based on race. On color. Maybe some of us need to study a little contemporary history dealing with the question of voting rights. Just think, before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it was almost impossible for many people in the state of Georgia, in Alabama, New York, Virginia, in Texas, to register to vote, to participate in the democratic process.
The state of Mississippi, for example, had a black voting aged population of more than 450,000 and only about 16,000 were registered to vote. One county in Alabama was more than 80% but not more than—but not a single registered African-American voter, people had to pass a literacy test. One man was asked to count the jelly beans in a jar. It’s shameful to come here tonight and say to the Department of Justice you must not use one penny, one cent, one dime, one dollar to carry out the mandate of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
We should be opening up the political process and letting all our citizens come in and participate. People died for the right to vote. Friends of mine. Colleagues of mine. Speak out against this amendment. It doesn’t have a place. I yield to the chairman. This is—I agree with the chairman. This is not the place. I will not yield. I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment.”
In the wee hours of the morning on December 4th, 1969, Fred Hampton, Sr., was assassinated by a coalition of law enforcement officers representing city, county and federal agencies in Chicago, Illinois. These lines, taken from some of his speeches, as presented in the movie, “The Murder of Fred Hampton,” are why:
"I was born in a bourgeois community and had some of the better things in life, but I found that there were more people starving than there were people eating, more people that didn’t have clothes than did have clothes, and I just happened to be one of the few. So I decided that I wouldn’t stop doing what I’m doing until all those people are free.
"We’re gonna have to do more than talk. We’re gonna have to do more than listen. We’re gonna have to do more than learn. We’re gonna have to start practicing and that’s very hard. We’re gonna have to start getting out there with the people and that’s difficult. Sometimes we think we’re better than the people so it’s gonna take a lot of hard work.
"You don’t fight fire with fire. You fight fire with water. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We’re not gonna fight capitalism with Black capitalism. We’re gonna fight capitalism with socialism. Socialism is the people. If you’re afraid of socialism, you’re afraid of yourself.
"Without education, people will accept anything. Without education, what you’ll have is neo-colonialism instead of the colonialism like you have now. Without education, people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing, you know what I mean? You might get people caught up in an emotionalist movement, might get them because they’re poor and they want something and then if they’re not educated, they’ll want more and before you know it, we’ll have Negro imperialism.
"You have to understand that people have to pay the price for peace. If you dare to struggle, you dare to win. If you dare not struggle, then you don’t deserve to win. Let me say ‘Peace’ to you, if you’re willing to fight for it.
"Nothing is more important than stopping fascism because fascism will stop us all. We don’t hate White people. We hate the oppressor, whether they be White, Black, Brown or Yellow. We will work with anybody, coalesce with anybody that has revolution on their mind. But anybody that comes into our community and sets up anything that does not meet the needs of the masses, I will grab him by the neck and beat that man to death with a Black Panther paper.
"I’m going to do my job and I believe that I was born not to die in a car wreck. I don’t believe I’m going to die slipping on a piece of ice. I don’t believe I was born to die because of a bad heart. I don’t believe I was born to die of lung cancer. I believe I’m going to be able to do what I came to do. I believe that I’m going to be able to die high off the people. I believe that I will be able to die as a revolutionary in the international revolutionary proletariat struggle. And I hope that each one of you will be able to live in it. I think that struggles are going to come. Why don’t you live for the people? Why don’t you live for the struggle? Why don’t you die for the struggle?
"If you ain’t gonna do no revolutionary act, forget about me. I don’t want myself on your mind if you’re not gonna work for the people.
"I might not be back. I might be in jail. I might be anywhere. But you can believe that the last words on my lips were ‘I am a revolutionary.’
"You can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill the revolution."