91 posts tagged racism
How The Big Greens Contain & Dissolve Resistance
By kat yang-stevens, groundworkforpraxis.com
September 7th, 2014
Above: Black frame with a white frame inside it. Inside the white frame are two teal “boxes”, one rectangular shaped on the left, a square on the right. The left rectangular box contains grayscale images of Maura Cowley (executive director at Energy Action Coalition), Michael Brune (executive director at Sierra Club), and Bill McKibben (co-founder of 350.org). In front of Cowley you can see the tops of two microphones. Written vertically on the right hand side of that box in white letters it reads, “DISMANTLE THE NGOS”. To the right in the teal square shaped “box” it reads in white letters, “QUELLING DISSENT: How The Big Greens Contain & Dissolve Resistance” under that in black letters it reads, “by kat yang-stevens”. Below that the text reads, “excerpts appeared previously in issue #113 of” with the logo for the magazine, Adbusters appearing next to that text.] // image credit: Adbusters // Why Use Image Descriptions?
Quelling Dissent: Big Greens draw attention, recognition, and visibility away from localized and community-based grassroots organizing
We are living in an age of unparalleled destruction. The prevailing colonialist capitalist order is forcing humanity to a state of near-total estrangement from the natural world. The earth can no longer sustain the parasitic extractive industry, which is fueled by the unending growth that capitalism demands. As we surpass the apex of the age of fossil fuels, the global elite is desperate to maintain power and control in the face of inevitable, rapidly-approaching economic collapse. They will continue to attempt to maintain the current conditions they have created, in which the incessant pursuit of the luxuries of modernity has reduced the earth and Indigenous peoples worldwide to being viewed as commodities that exist simply to provide “resources” for civil society. They will continue to deploy one of their biggest tools to quell dissent to these conditions: big “green” non-governmental organizations [NGOs].
Within the colonial borders of the US, more and more communities are feeling the direct effects of environmentally degrading industrial facilities and extractive industries. In a blatant act of cultural genocide, the city of Flagstaff, AZ recently committed 3.6 billion gallons of treated sewage water for snowmaking at the Snowbowl ski resort that sits on a mountain sacred to over 13 indigenous nations, including the Dine’ (Navajo), Hopi, Zuni, Haulapai, Havasupai, Yavapai-Apache, Yavapai-Prescott, Tonto Apache, White Mountain Apache, San Carlos, Apache, San Juan Southern Paiute, Fort Mcdowell Mohave Apache, Acoma and Tohono o’odham. Klee Benally, a Dine’ volunteer with Protect The Peaks, saysthe project is “incredibly offensive, unsustainable and ultimately irresponsible considering the escalating water crisis we’re facing in the Southwest.” In Chester, PA, five large waste facilities, including a Convanta incinerator – the largest in the country, processing over 3,500 tons of trash a day – have led to an asthma crisis in the majority black community. 5.6 million tons of New York City waste has already been burned in Chester, and according to the Chester Environmental Justice Facebook page, on August 13, 2014 the Chester city council approved a plan that will bring 30 years worth of trash from NYC by rail to Chester.
Frontline community organizers like Yudith Nieto with the group Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.E.J.A.S.), based in the East End of Houston, TX, have described the conditions of their mostly Latina and Xicana communities as a “living example of environmental racism.” There are hundreds of thousands of people who are living fenceline to industry and being poisoned mercilessly with little to no intervention from the Environmental Protection Agency. People there are engaged in a battle against tar sands, as their communities sit at one of the terminus points of TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline – the other terminus point is in the predominantly African-American community ofPort Arthur, TX. Just over the artificially imposed border between the US and Canada lies the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Reservation, which borders the city of Sarnia in Ontario – this area is also known as “Chemical Valley”. According to a 2011 World Health Organization study, the area is plagued with the most polluted air in settler colonial “Canada”. Communities there have been waging opposition to tar sands as the Enbridge corporation prepares to finish a project that will allow Line 9 to transport tar sands. Both communities are surrounded by smokestacks and being forced to breathe the poisonous byproducts of refineries and petrochemical plants, many of them owned by corporations heavily invested in the exploitation of tar sands and fracked gas as well as the construction of new pipelines to transport the toxic products. Both communities are engaged in grassroots community-led organizing and resistance to the presence of these industries. (For more on indigenous resistance to tar sands, see the short film “Kahsatstenhsera” produced by Amanda Lickers of Reclaim Turtle Island.)
WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM?
Vital to building a more complete framework for understanding environmental racism within the context of the United States and Canada is to not simply acknowledge but to incorporate into our basic conceptions of the world that every single bit of land, of “the environment,” that the US and Canada occupy has been stolen from indigenous peoples through ongoing processes and structures of colonization. “We’ve always been here. Nobody can argue that we weren’t here first.” said Amy Juan, an activist and poet and member of the Tohono O’odham Nation in a May 2014 interview with Al Jazeera. The Tohono O’odham are one of several nations whose territories and communities have been devastated by the imposition of colonial borders and their subsequent militarization. Their territories were literally divided by an arbitrary line created through the “Gadsden Purchase” in 1854. This forcefully annexed part of the Tohono O’odham Nation into the US side of the border in so-called Arizona, encompassing the cities of Tucson and Phoenix, and separated the other part of Tohono O’odham territories to “belong” to so-called Mexico.
So what is meant when we refer to “the environment”? The environment IS the indigenous lands we live, work, eat and play on. This is a different understanding than the mainstream environmental movement’s romanticized conception of “the environment” – which is inherently classist, elitist, and racist – that construes “the environment” as equivalent to the “nature” and “wilderness” that conservationist/preservationists are always trying to “save”. Think Sierra Club, which, incidentally, has a deep history in white nationalism. (For more on this concept see: “Asian American Environmental Activism” by Julie Sze.)
Environmental racism encompasses public and human health concerns for indigenous communities and communities of color such as border militarization, conditions for undocumented migrant farmworkers, public housing, factory conditions and immigration reform. (See “Comprehensive Immigration Reform is Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Indigenous” by Mari Garza and Franco Habre.) Therefore, I argue that the state (and public) sanctioned shootings and murders of black people – part of the legacy of chattel slavery and ongoing genocide of black people – by police and vigilantes are also a part of environmental racism. The 2012 annual report “Operation Ghetto Storm” conducted by theMalcolm X Grassroots Movement calculated that every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the US government killed a Black man, woman or child. This omnipresent threat to black communities – whether while shopping (like John Crawford), walking to their grandmother’s house (like Mike Brown), hanging out at the park (like Rekia Boyd), or even seeking help after a car accident (like Jonathan Ferrell or Renisha McBride), and surely we can’t forget the many black transgendered women (like Islan Nettles or Kandy Hall) who are murdered merely for existing – is environmental racism. Systemic anti-black racism and the devaluation of black life as well as the epidemic rates of indigenous women who are going missing and being murdered – part of ongoing genocide and colonization – must be considered in order to develop a holistic and realistic understanding of what constitutes “the environment”.
Environmental racism includes the intentional and systematic targeting of communities of color and indigenous communities & Nations with regard to the placing of industry that poses environmental/health hazards and the ongoing failure to enforce environmental regulations. For businesses that threaten public and environmental health, it is easier to operate near these communities that are often low-income and disenfranchised, with less political, social, and economic power to stop these “projects”. Environmental racism is yet another expression of systemic racism and the ongoing legacies of colonialism, genocide and slavery, and though it is less spoken about (and often conveniently ignored) by mainstream environmentalists, it is not a new phenomenon or concept. According to a report, “Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty 1987—2007”, co-authored by Dr. Robert Bullard (the so-called “father of environmental justice”), no progress was made during the 20 years the study covered. The study concluded that half of all Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Indigenous peoples and three out of every five African Americans and Latinos lived in communities with uncontrolled toxic waste sites.
We cannot build a complete analysis of environmental racism without incorporating an understanding of border imperialism. This is a concept that has been explored in detail by Harsha Walia, co-founder of the Vancouver chapter ofNo One Is Illegal, in the recently published anthology featuring voices from directly impacted communities, “Undoing Border Imperialism”. Walia asserts that capitalism and empire, coupled with the militarization of imposed borders – which are constructed by colonialist and imperialist nations and entrenched in racial and hierarchical structures – are responsible for the mass displacement of impoverished communities and the expansion of globalization. Globalization is an ambiguous term that is usually (purposely) laden with warm connotations of unification; however, this structure allows corporations to be highly mobile and travel anywhere in the world to maximize profits through the least governmental and environmental regulations, the best tax incentives and the cheapest labor. They can constantly target and/or undermine any existing legal protections in order to gain access to easily exploitable communities in which corporations have freedom to do as they please. Consequently, we see continued and heightened attacks on indigenous sovereignty, cultures, livelihoods – such as the assassinations of anti-extraction activists in Central and South America or of miners in South Africa – and the fragile and unique ecosystems upon which plant, animal, and human life alike depend.
ENTER THE BIG GREEN NGO
Many people in settler colonial societies of Canada and the United States, as well as other parts of the “developed world,” who consider themselves “well-meaning,” “left-leaning,” “liberal,” “earth-friendly,” “sustainable,” “green,” etc., recognize that there is something deeply warped and malicious embedded within our societies and get sad, upset, and restless. If not sufficiently pacified, their energies could be harnessed in such a way that they would become a major threat to the status quo.
Big Green NGOs present an exciting semblance of resistance. A vapid shell that allows people who are grasping to find something to cling onto in their disillusionment about the world, to feel that they too can make a difference! All they have to do is click here, sign there, watch a flashy video about an adventurous “direct action” that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to stage, make bi-annual trips to the White House to really give that darn president a piece of their mind! Oh, and they must not forget to pay their monthly tithes to their NGO of choice! These NGOs market themselves as catalysts of what they whimsically (and falsely) refer to as “movements.” Their every move is a careful calculation designed to placate, pacify and render ineffective their target consumers: white, college educated, liberals with a small sense of the hollowness of everyday life in capitalist America (or Canada). By proposing simple and false solutions inside a framework of what’s been cleverly branded as “Peaceful Resistance,” potential disruptors of the colonialist imperialist ablist white supremacist capitalist cis-hetero patriarchy are rendered ineffective while simultaneously believing they are engaged in meaningful resistance to “save” the planet as well as acting as great “allies” to indigenous communities and other people of color.
The most obvious indicator of this insidious function of NGOs is the fact that the mainstream environmental “movement” in the US has done almost nothing to counter the political and economic conditions that make participation in their contrived organizing spaces inaccessible to many people from the very communities bearing the brunt of degradation and state violence. At the same time, these hyper-visible Big Greens draw attention, recognition, and visibility away from localized and community-based grassroots organizing. In fact, these white-led liberal elite NGOs have time and again refused to take direction from primarily-impacted communities and have incorporated racist and colonialist elements directly into their recruitment tactics. Silencing the voices of leaders of indigenous communities and communities of color while often simultaneously using their images and appropriating bits and pieces of their cultures is a deeply entrenched mode of operation for many Big Greens. They often mash together multiple Indigenous cultures as if they were one, a method that reels in their target consumers, who often possess deeply misguided ideas of “Native Americans as the first environmentalists” and who can often be seen engaged in reformist “support work” that thinly veils their commitment to the settler colonial project. Queen Sacheen, a founder of Ancestral Pride and contributor at Last Real Indians, asserts that “there is no one size fits all way of dealing with over 1000 individual and distinct nations.” These kinds of racist and colonialist practices of cultural appropriation and tokenization play off of people’s fetishized ideals of “the other”. Ultimately, this feeds individualistic desires to place oneself at the center of everything and misdirects the energies of the mainstream public to both reinforce historical barriers and create new ones to building meaningful resistance, rather than facilitating engagement in meaningful work centering on relating environmental degradation to race and colonialism.
Tom Goldtooth, the Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, urges people to think critically and question the validity of many popular NGO’s. In a 2011 interview with Africa Report he said:
“We challenged the big organizations with environmental racism – including Greenpeace and Sierra Club, to bring our voices to the board. They resisted us. Look at 350.org – we had to challenge them to bring us to stand with them on the pipeline issue. Bill McKibben, the ivory tower, white academic, didn’t even want to take the time to bring people of color to the organizing.”
THE NON PROFIT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
It’s not just an issue of “not wanting” to bring people of color to the proverbial “table.” There are tangible reasons which make it impossible for environmental justice (or any justice) for communities of color to be achieved by organizing with Big Green NGOs. For over a decade, the funding sources of non-profits have been heavily critiqued for the amount of leverage funders are able to exert over the priorities and political work of NGOs. Activist, author, and professor Dylan Rodriguez defines the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) as “a set of symbiotic relationships that link political and financial technologies of state and owning class control with surveillance over public political ideology, including and especially emergent progressive and leftist social movements.” The NPIC is how state and corporate interests use colonial and exploitative practices (branded as social movements) to manipulate and control the ways that dissent from the public manifests and operates.
In an essay entitled “The Industry of Black Suffering: Breaking Down The Non-Profit Industrial Complex”, Adam Jackson and Dayvon Love of Leaders of A Beautiful Struggle describe how Black-led grassroots organizing in Baltimore, MD was destabilized, disempowered and co-opted. In response to how the NPIC manifested in their community, they stated: “It is essential that we be astute in our political analysis of the ways that white liberalism impairs our ability to effectively gain independence from white supremacist institutions that ultimately do not have our best interests at heart.” A common critique of the NPIC is that it exploits the suffering of already marginalized peoples while operating in ways that ensure the continued oppression of the very communities they claim to be in service to. We cannot choose to ignore the sources of these exorbitant amounts of money that makes all of this happen, nor to assume that there is no connection between those sources and the agendas being pushed through these NGOs. Big Greens are allowed to operate on the condition that their target consumers will not gain access to or develop analyses that would allow them to critically engage with the ways in which these organizations co-opt political movements in order to protect and further capitalism, white supremacy, and settler colonialism. (For more on the non-profit industrial complex see: “The Revolution Will Not Be Funded”, edited by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence.)
350.org openly admits to being heavily funded by the Rockefeller family, one of the most elite and depraved families of all time, who played an integral role in the creation of Big Oil as well as monopolizing the American Medical establishment. But 350.org is not the only Big Green guilty of partnering with Big Business. Big Greens can often be found accepting large sums of money to partner with some of the most environmentally degrading corporations in the world, producing media campaigns that market their products as “sustainable” and “green” (see “green capitalism” and “greenwashing”). Dishonest and deceitful behaviours and actions are so normalized that no one seemed to bat an eye when the Sierra Club took over US$25 million dollars in donations from the gas industry in 2012 – most of that coming from Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest fracking companies in the world. These Big Greens often have so little integrity that they will outright solicit for donations for causes that have already been lost, such as when Greenpeace continued to posture as the only thing standing between whales and whalers, making desperate pleas for donations to “help refuel their boats”,when the Whale Sanctuary in question had already been surrendered to the whalers. Even Greenpeace’s former leadership has charged them with outright fraud. Paul Watson, an early and influential member of Greenpeace, referred to it as a “public relations strategy in a global campaign to fleece money from people of good conscience”.
In a July 2013 interview with Franklin Lopez of Submedia.tv, Lionel Lepine of the Athabascan Chipeweyan First Nation, which is located downstream of the largest tar sands operation on the planet in Alberta, CA, had this to say (full interview can be seen here starting at about 6 minutes in; some of the text below has been altered at the request of Lionel Lepine): “At first, they came to Ft Chip promising to help us out…in the end they took all the credit. When the news comes on TV, it’s all NGOs. You see a bunch of white people…you don’t see US.”
Given the legacy of broken treaties between the Canadian and US governments and the indigenous peoples whose sacred and ancestral lands these two settler colonial nations are continuing to occupy through ongoing colonization and genocide, one can easily see these dynamics expressed through the behaviors and actions of these NGOs. Lionel continues:
“The elders in Fort Chipewyan — they don’t like Greenpeace or any of the other NGO’s campaigning around tar sands because they know damn well that these people aren’t from there, they’re not indigenous to that land, they’re white, they have no understanding of our culture — I don’t think they even want to know about our culture. All they want is their name in the paper so they can get money for their next campaign, for their next tar sands tour, for their next whatever. All they’re trying to do is gather money off of our death. They are profiting off of our deaths!
One of the most insidious tactics in the arsenal of the Big Greens are their constant calls (literally – some organizations/corporations like listservs and phone banks) to “actions” and marches.Flashy ad campaigns and promotional events billed as meaningful resistance are an easy way to quell would-be radicals capable of making critical connections that would render such organizations targets for destruction, or at least obsolete. These corporate-backed Big Greens put a lot of funding into fooling and exploiting impressionable students and other well-meaning people to spend vast amounts of time, energy, and resources to mobilize for these ultimately counterproductive and completely contrived events.are little more than giant
This is where NGOs would prefer to see people put their energies instead of participating in or financially supporting the growing number of direct action campaigns and “action camps” being organized and led by members of directly impacted frontline communities and indigenous Nations across US-Canadian colonial borders. Resistance camps such as theYuct Ne Senxiymetkwe Camp, where a sacred fire has been lit outside the Mount Polley Mine site operated by Imperial Metals in so-called British Columbia. The camp sits at the site of a tailings pond breach which released 2.5 billion gallons of contaminated water and 4.5 million cubic meters of metals-laden fine sand into drinking and fishing waters. Or theUnis’tot’en Camp on unceded (unsurrendered) sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory, also in so-called British Columbia, which is and has been blocking several pipeline projects – including ones that would facilitate tar sands and fracking – since July 2012. Dini Ze Toghestiy, Hereditary Chief of the Likhts’amisyu Clan, reminds us: “This isn’t just a fight about pipelines. This is a fight about indigenous sovereignty, our sovereignty.”
Environmental and “climate justice” cannot be separated from the expansive intersectional and anti-colonial work and imperatives that true justice demands. Big Green organizations are a part of the NPIC and replicate and perpetuate systems of domination and white supremacy. Therefore Big Greens betray, contain, and dilute potential for the scale of collective action needed to achieve genuine environmental justice.
We must refuse to be obedient, passive, and malleable “movement builders” armed with self-righteous egos and e-mail lists, invoking elite names in the white liberal left like Bill McKibben, Michael Brune, and “up and comers” like Maura Cowley with Energy Action Coalition, marching towards the next carefully calculated, police-approved, staged “action” in pursuit of a symbolic victory. The stakes are so high with 400,000 people, mostly indigenous peoples and people of color, dying each year from climate-related disasters. An international panel on climate change recently released what is being hailed the most comprehensive study on climate change to date that warns that “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” are already here and will increase due to rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Time is running out for countering the damage that has been done to the global environment.
We must dismantle all NGOs operating within frameworks that do not, and by nature cannot, foreground a value of supporting self determination by oppressed Indigenous, Black and other migrant/diasporic/settler communities of color.
kat yang-stevens is a cisgender queer woman and first generation Asian American of Chinese ancestry. kat grew up on and currently lives on occupied territories belonging to the Onondaga & Cayuga Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in so-called New York. Narrowly avoiding the school-to-prison pipeline & having no formal education or degrees, they understand the need to create spaces for education outside state and private structures and are instead linked into larger projects committed to community well being and liberation. A main focus of their work includes addressing intra-movement racism and the barriers that it presents to creating meaningful multiracial alliances. They are currently being politically targeted. Their work includes critques of the non-profit industrial complex and work to subvert the placating and incapacitating effects that Big Greens have over struggles against extractive industries.
kat yang-stevens // @greencircleas // groundworkforpraxis@
Palestinians Can Learn From the African-American Struggle - Ali Abunimah on RAI (2/5)
Published on May 14, 2014
On Reality Asserts Itself, Ali Abunimah, founder of Electronic Intifada, says that Palestinians need to know that even in a country with formal legal equality, the reality can mean mass incarceration, economic inequality and 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.”