Guest Blogger: Sam Fulwood III
In almost every discussion of race in this countrywhether private conversations among friends and family or public debates between political antagoniststhose engaged tend to talk past one another. Passions often displace reason; facts disappear like smoke in the wind, blown aside in the rhetoric of extreme beliefs. Who among us, having lived any appreciable time in the United States, lacks an awareness of our nations intractable racial frictions? And, after rubbing against the rough edges, who eschews the seemingly hard-wired opinions shared by peers of the racial others? Ripped from the recent headlines, an example is the gag reflex kerfuffle kicked up by The Washington Posts Richard Cohen, who included a passing line in a column that suggested that some white people want to throw up at the sight of an interracial family such as the one of New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. Judging by my personal and extensive conversations, a good number of black people consider such comments as a fool-proof indication of white racism. To them, its a short walk from the Tea Party to a Republican caucus to a guy with a pickup truck sporting Confederate flags to a conclave of the Ku Klux Klan. To them, theyre all fungible identifiers of resurgent white supremacy. I appreciate where theyre coming from, given this nations racial history. Black Americans have long, painful memories. The rise of white nationalism is nothing new to those who remember or have closely studied American history. Roughly a century ago, in the shadow of the Reconstruction Era, racist, white politicians such as Benjamin Ryan Tillman Jr., the governor of South Carolina and U.S. senator at the turn of the 20th century, appealed to the lost masculinity of white men after the Civil War and the immediate political empowerment of former black slaves to reimpose white supremacy across the South. In his 2000 book, Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy, Stephen Kantrowitz, an American history professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, describes Tillmans role in the Hamburg Riot on July 8, 1876, which resulted in the cold-blooded murder of black militiamen who paraded through Hamburg, South Carolina, to celebrate Independence Day. Kantrowitz points out how Pitchfork Benso named because he went to Washington, D.C., with the promise to stick a pitchfork in that bag of beef Grover Clevelandrose to political celebrity by supporting the lynching and mass murder of black people and appealing to rural, white men of the South to reclaim what they had lost through emancipation and the experience of Reconstruction: their sense of independent, unfettered manhood. Is history repeating itself? I dont think so. Moreover, I fear some African Americans who suspect the worst of all whites are succumbing to the same trap that befuddles those narrow-minded white Americans who tend to think of African Americans as all the same. Indeed, an increasing number of studies are revealing that, like the wide ranges of political and social thought among African Americans, all white folks arent of a single mind about race in America. Charles Blow, a perceptive op-ed writer for The New York Times, captured this dilemma perfectly: There are different perceptions of racial realities. What some see as slights, others see as innocent opposition. But there are some objective truths here. Racism is a virus that is growing clever at avoiding detection. Race consciousness is real. Racial assumptions and prejudices are real. And racism is real. But these realities can operate without articulation and beneath awareness. For those reasons, some can see racism where it is absent, and others can willfully ignore any possibility that it could ever be present. Unpacking all this is hard work, too hard for many Americans who, as Blow describes some of them, have simple understandings of complex concepts. Yet the evidence is out there for those who dig deep to find it. A case in point is Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era, a recently published book by Stony Brook University sociology professor Michael Kimmel.
Kimmel has made quite a name for himself in gender studies circles by focusing on white-male masculinity issues instead of the more common feminist theories. His new book attempts to explain why downwardly mobile white men are so angry and prone toward far-right views that lead to hate, violence, and suicide. In an extensive excerpt of the book, posted at Salon.com, Kimmel draws bright line distinctions among white Americans. He argues that they are not a racist monolith: On the extreme Right, by contrast, race is a proxy for class. Among the white supremacists, when they speak of race consciousness, defending white people, protesting for equal rights for white people, they actually dont mean all white people. They dont mean Wall Street bankers and lawyers, though they are pretty much entirely white and male. They dont mean white male doctors, or lawyers, or architects, or even engineers. They dont mean the legions of young white hipster guys, or computer geeks flocking to the Silicon Valley, or the legions of white preppies in their boat shoes and seersucker jackets interning at white-shoe law firms in major cities. Not at all. They mean middle-and working-class white people. Race consciousness is actually class consciousness without actually having to see class. Race blindness leads working-class people to turn right; if they did see class, theyd turn left and make common cause with different races in the same economic class. Where Kimmel dives deep into the psyche of angry, white men, my colleague and Center for American Progress Senior Fellow John Halpin takes an empirical plunge, beyond anecdotal, into nearby waters. Writing on ThinkProgress earlier this week, Halpin makes the convincing argument that there is really not such thing as white opinion anymore. Drawing from a poll conducted for the recent CAP/PolicyLink study, Building an All-In Nation, Halpin notes that the results should be studied more, but the conclusions are nonetheless striking. White liberals think far more like the bulk of African-Americans, Latinos and Asians than white conservatives on the countrys biggest ideological questions. Thats particularly true on diversity questions.Perhaps, our collective attention might be better served on those disaffected whites that dont buy into the extremist, far-right ideology of white supremacy. They are ripe for conversion about progressive political thought, if the serious effort is made to demonstrate common cause with the growing empowerment of racial and ethnic minority Americans. To be sure, the hardcore racists that Kimmel describes so well are, as Halpin acutely observes, a significant if declining bloc of voters, [and] the real outliers on issues of race in America. They are a dying breed, soon to be as dead as old Pitchfork Ben and his brand of racist politics. This is the significant fact to keep firmly in mind because it points us all toward the hopeful, progressive direction of our nations future.
Sam Fulwood III is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Director of the CAP Leadership Institute. His work with the Centers Progress 2050 project examines the impact of policies on the nation when there will be no clear racial or ethnic majority by the year 2050.###
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Guest Blogger: Sam Fulwood III
UPDATE: She has been found safe.
Baltimore County Police is asking for the publics help in locating a missing 11 year old: Celandia Lacruze – black/female, age 11, 5’2″, 130 lbs, brown ear length hair. Last seen wearing a green long sleeve Old Court Middle School shirt with school logo embroidered in white on upper front left chest, khaki pants and black & white tennis shoes. She was last seen at Old Court Middle School on 11/18/13 at approximately 12:00 pm.
Anyone with information should contact the Woodlawn Precinct at 410-887-1340
Novemeber 22, 1963 was a tragic day in our nation’s history. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assasinated and Friday we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of that event. We have been inundated with specials that take us through that fateful day. We have heard eyewitnesses chronicle their rememberances, and we had heard journalists share their thoughts. So many of the key people involved have passed on and Generation X and Y don’t seem to share the same level of interest as their parents and grandparents. This is probably the last gasp of the age of Camelot. The golden age of that featured a handsome president and his beautiful wife. A wife who set the fashion standard. Last night as we watched footage of the First Lady in her pink suit and pillbox hat I told my husband that my mom had a suit and hat like that back in the day, and he said everybody’s mother did and he was right. It was a time when America idolized what we later learned was a false reality. We never knew the president was physically limited or that he was a womanizer who included Marilyn Monroe among his conquests. Yes it was a magical age. An age when journalists looked the other way, and age when television cameras dared not show us a president that wore a harness so that he could stand straight. It was a true fairy tale. So often people yearn for the good ole days, but what are they truly yearning for? Camelot could not have survived our time. Information is instantly shared via blogs, tweets, and instagrams. There are no secrets, and sadly there will never be another age of Camelot. We have become wiser and more cynical. We believe our goal is to reveal the truth at any cost and in doing that we have eliminated any future Camelots from our existance.
Watch the clip, and share your thoughts.
Very interesting article from Your Black World:
Last night I watched the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Porsha Stewart was mourning the end of her marriage to former NFL football player Kordell Stewart. She seemed heartbrokened or at least reality style “heartbrokened.” One would think after the break up of a marriage there would be some soul-searching well at least until the divorce was final, but not in reality time. On to the next adventure and that adventure includes Steve Harvey. Watch the clip and share your thoughts.
Alec Baldwin has nine lives. Professional lives. Baldwin has been hounded by the paparazzi and he constantly gets into heated verbal exchanges with them. He has often been accused of using homophobic slurs. Sometimes he has denied it, but this last incident was caught on tape. He has been suspended from his MSNBC talk show. Hardly a loss since it is not viewed by many, but what I want to know is why does Baldwin keep getting a pass? He apologizes and he moves on to his next gig, but others have not been that lucky. Do you remember Isaiah Washington? Washington was a regular on Grey’s Anatomy until he called his co-star a homosexual slur. He was reprimimanded and then he did Public Service Announcements. He was apologetic and contrite, but he was still fired. Paula Deen admitted repeatedly using the n-word and her sponsors dropped her like she had the plague, and do you remember the actor that played Kramer on Seinfeld? Well after he had his n-word tirade he was all but erased from Hollywood so who made Baldwin’s teflon suit. Nothing seems to stick. What does this guy have to do? I guess he could really keep doing what he’s been doing because it seems to be working for him. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20756802,00.html
”Holiday’ Nearly Beat ‘Thor’ as Race-Themed Films Soar”-This was the USA Today Headline…is any movie featuring a predominantly black cast a “race themed” movie?
“USA Today calls movies with black people in them race-themed” Cos black people are a genre. Like superhero movies” tweeted Sindi Nikosi. “So according to USA Today any any movie showing Black people acting like humans is considered a race-themed movie,” said T. Brown via Twitter. “Why are movies that star people of color “race-themed” but movies starring whites are not USA Today?” tweeted April. “Is friendship a race theme?” I saw The Best Man Holiday over the weekend and it was a wonderful movie featuring friendship. This movie featured characters that we could identify with. It does it a disservice to relegate it to “race-themed.” When I see headlines like this I wonder who is in the room and who is writing the headline. I remember seeing the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding and enjoying every moment of it. Sure there were things in the movie that were uniquely Greek, but the themes of family resonated with the entire audience. Newsflash: black people do have friends and they enjoy movies that feature rich friendship, and bonus newsflash people of all color enjoyed The Best Man’s Holiday because friendship is a universal theme.
Watch the clip and share your thoughts.