This Week in Racism in America: Editions 6 & 7

March on washington

Your weekly sampling of studies, articles, and resources reflecting the very reason national anthem protests against racism are wholly appropriate, justified, and still necessary. #NationalAnthemProtest4Life


 Comprehensive Study of Anti-Black Racism in All 50 States (August 18, 2017)

     This detailed study of Black and white Americans in every state reflected considerable disparities in several areas.  The researchers looked at 10 factors in compiling their data: median household income, poverty rates, high school and bachelor’s educational attainment, homeownership, unemployment, incarceration rates, felony disenfranchisement rates, infant mortality, and age-adjusted mortality rates.  Some of the findings were that “the typical white household’s income is nearly double the typical black household’s income;” “Black Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed and two and a half times more likely to live in poverty compared to white Americans;” and “just 1 in 5 African American adults have a college education, compared to 1 in 3 white adults.” States which are presumed bastions of liberalism and freedom also had discrepancies, as did states more traditionally associated with racism.  The results are a potent reminder of the tangible effects of anti-Black racism in these United States.

Black Children Twice As Likely to Have Asthma (August 15, 2017)

     A Princeton study found that Black children, as a direct result of the conditions in which they live, are twice as likely to develop asthma than white children.  Black children find themselves in situations which “show the effects of ongoing segregation, [and] which trap African American children in poor neighborhoods, surrounded by pollution.” While all children with low birth rate in poor neighborhoods had a higher risk of having asthma, Black children in general were more likely to be affected because “African-American children are more likely to be low birth weight, . . . come from families with other characteristics that are associated with poorer health (such as maternal smoking and poverty), and because of where they live.” The reach of racism’s tentacles is far indeed.

     White Killings of Black Men More Likely Ruled Justified (August 14, 2017) 

      When Whites kill Black men, they are eight times more likely to be found justified in having done so. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Marshall Project and The Upshot after analyzing over 400,000 homicide cases in which civilians were the perpetrators.  The article notes that self-defense laws allow the use of force, including deadly force, if an individual reasonably believes that said force is necessary to stop a threat. However, we also know that stereotypes paint Blacks as innately criminal and dangerous, which in turn affects into assessments leading to the use of deadly force predicated on racist beliefs.  This is absolutely devastating and a foreseeable effect of this country’s centuries long psychological warfare against Black men and women.

Think about this.  White people can actually kill us and will likely be exonerated in circumstances where racism was at least a partial, if not the dominant, factor in the decision to use deadly force.  

    Racism in Artificial Intelligence Recognition of Black Cultural Linguistics    (August 17, 2017)

     Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that artificial intelligence systems do not recognize words and phrases that are commonly found in African-American Vernacular English. This omission not only affects Black users’ interactive experience with such systems, but also the AI’s output since it fails to collect data relevant to its functions. Further, as noted by the researchers, “these biases could cause problems as we grow more reliant on AI to make decisions.”  This issue speaks, quite sadly, to the remarkable adaptability of racism.

Sleep Disorders Significantly Undiagnosed in Blacks (August 7, 2017)

     Evidence in a recent study suggested that two common sleep disorders, sleep apnea and insomnia, regularly go undiagnosed in Blacks.  The lead researcher, Dayna A. Johnson, noted that this was significant because “African Americans experience a disproportionate burden of numerous health problems, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, all of which have been shown to be associated with sleep.” This follows the overall trend of less rigorous attention and care afforded Black patients.

     Ban the Box Efforts Result in Discrimination Against Black Job Applicants (August 8, 2017)

     It appears that efforts originally designed to increase the employment viability of Black men who disproportionately have criminal records cannot overcome the scourge of white racism.  A report demonstrates that employer compensate by simply assuming that Black applicants likely have criminal records.  The authors noted “[w]e believe that the best interpretation of these results is that employers are relying on exaggerated impressions of real-world racial differences in felony conviction rates.” Unbelievable.  Systemic racism strikes again. 

     Racist Beauty Standards Adversely Affect Minority Women’s Health           (August 16, 2017)

     Research has found that attempts by minority women to conform to European beauty standards results in the use of products that have higher concentrations of dangerous chemicals.  The authors from George Washington University and Occidental College stated, quite alarmingly, that “women of color have higher levels of beauty product–related environmental chemicals in their bodies, independent of socioeconomic status. Even small exposures to toxic chemicals during critical periods of development (such as pregnancy) can trigger adverse health consequences (such as impacts on fertility and pregnancy, neurodevelopment, and cancer).” The negative influence of European beauty standards is a universal phenomenon that must be addressed, but not without analyzing the sexist nature of efforts to adhere to these standards to begin with.  It should not be about broadening the number of individuals who fit into the box, but getting rid of the superficial box altogether.

Not…So Scholarly

  White Supremacist Rally in Charlottesville Brings Death and Violence            (August 14, 2017)

     A rally ostensibly to protest the decision to remove a statute of confederate general Robert E. Lee was actually a gathering of white supremacists of various stripes, including nazis, members of the Ku Klux Klan, and sundry representatives of the bowels of society.  The evening of Friday August 11 was a mass of tiki light torches likely chosen to intimidate and serve as a reminder of cross burnings.  The following day these racists,  some of whom had guns and other weapons, were met by a collection of counter-protesters that included mainly everyday people;  but there was also a coalition of so called “anti-fascist” or “antifa,” members whose signature mode of protest appears to be the use of violence and who have become more visible and active following the election of Donald Trump. The white supremacists did the lion’s share of the assaulting, including shooting at, beating, and attempting to kill protesters. They were successful when James Fields, Jr. drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing one of them.

This event spawned a number of spin-off events and reactions. First, there was the nakedly political and histrionic reaction to Donald Trump’s comments made regarding the incident over the next few days.  While 45 forcefully denounced racism, people demanded he specifically call out white supremacist groups as if it was not clear about whom he was speaking.  Then, when he mentioned that there were counter-protesters also engaged in some violence, he was excoriated as if this was not true.  While it should not have been the primary issue nor  discussed in a way that appeared to equate the two groups’ level of violent culpability—one group killed someone and tried to kill others, while the group basically started some fights—the reaction to his comments was completely over the top. The final event that brought out the pitchforks was Trump’s assertion that there were “fine” people among among the white supremacists who in fact had come to protest the removal of Lee’s statue. Even if that was true, as soon as they saw the Nazis with their swastikas, heard the racists chants, etc., they should have immediately left or joined the counter protesters.

Second, there was a renewed vigor to remove confederate statues throughout the country; which is great—except Black people have been demanding the removal of the statues and even buildings or streets named for confederates for over a century.  All of sudden, when there is political capital to be had, white democrats and “progressives” are all in for such statue removals while they were nowhere to be found when we made the same demands and registered the same objections for decades on end.

Finally there was the advent of “antifa,” which appears to be a violent anti-government group of mainly white people who have latched onto this cause as a means of legitimizing their own unrelated aims.  They appear to be cut from the same cloth as anti-G summit/World Trade Organization groups whose violence is well-documented.  What is clear is that Black people have been oppressed in the United States for centuries; Nazis, the KKK, and other white supremacists have had thousands of rallies and gatherings over the past several decades and we saw neither hide nor hair of these “antifa” individuals challenging these racists.  Just like their white counterparts in the confederate statue removal efforts, these people’s only interest in our oppression appears to be the extent to which they can use it to their political or ideological advantage.

  Nursing Textbook Includes Racist Description of Black Americans                 (August 11, 2017)

     A nursing textbook purportedly intended to discuss human development contains laughably ridiculous stereotypes about Blacks.  It states under the “African-American” heading that “[a] loud voice can be interpreted as either jest or anger. More emphasis is placed on nonverbal than verbal behavior.  Direct eye contact in this culture can be considered a form of aggression.” The intransigence of stereotypes is actually quite remarkable.  Where did the authors, Elaine U. Polan and Daphne R. Taylor, even get this information? What 19th century source did they consult that contained these nuggets of wisdom? Seriously, how many Black students have been subjected to this nonsense? Unbelievable.

     Racists Leave Threatening Note/Vandalize Black Residents’ Vehicles          (August 8, 2017)

     A Black woman who parked her car around the corner from her home because her street was crowded returned the next morning to find a note stating “N—–, do not park around here again, b—-” and was signed “K-K-K.” The women noted that her mother, who has also parked in the same area, had returned to find nails in her tires.  The anti-Black pathology that whites exhibit should be the source of detailed study.  There are a thousand things these racists could have written to convey “we don’t like you parking on our street.” But as is to be expected with a group that is distinctly vicious and terroristic, they went straight to using the N word and invoking the murderous KKK.

     Law Professors Long For 1950s America, Cite White European Superiority (August 11, 2017)

     Professors Amy Wax and Larry Alexander engage in the common white hobby of waxing nostalgic about “better times” which always coincides with eras when Blacks knew their place.  Professor Wax went on to provide us with this missive: “I don’t shrink from the word, ‘superior’. . .  . Everyone wants to come to the countries that exemplify” these values. Also, “[e]veryone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans.” These people are the epitome of delusional and clearly living in an ahistorical bubble.  After you rape and rob the entire world of its resources, colonizing and murdering entire populaces to fill your coffers, it is understandable that people want to leave their decimated lands and seek prosperity where their stolen wealth resides.

     Racists Posters Found On University Campus (August 11, 2017)

      In this weeks’ version of “young white people are just as racists as their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other older relatives” flyers at the University of Utah campus were found depicting Blacks as criminals and rapists.  Apparently the local NAACP tried to appeal to the racists’ conscience by stating that such events make people not want to move to or do business with Utah. Somehow I do not think the racists who put up these posters care about that whatsoever.  Incidents like this are designed to foster an environment of fear amongst Blacks as a way to keep us on the defensive and in line.  And while everyday whites would not generally engage in such acts of overt racism, they tacitly condone them as they too benefit from the protection they believe it provides. This unspoken agreement has lasted for the entirety of this country’s history and has no indication of abating.

     Yet Another Baltimore Police Officer Planting Evidence (August 9, 2017) 

     A video has surfaced showing another Baltimore police officer apparently planting drugs, this time in a suspect’s vehicle. It is chilling to think about how many Black people are in jail and whose lives have been ruined because of these criminal acts by police, most of which have likely gone undiscovered.  These Baltimore police officers were caught because there was video evidence of their misdeeds.  What kind of evil, inhumane person could engage in activity that actually deprives another person of her or his liberty?  Complaints of being framed by police from members of the Black community have fallen on deaf ears for decades, quite likely because the notion of Blacks as innately criminal so deeply permeates the white consciousness.  Hopefully these officers will be charged and convicted for their despicable abuses of their authority.

     This Right Here is Why I Don’t F%$k With “People of Color” (August 9, 2017)

     Vijay Chokal-Ingam, a South Asian man who posed as a Black man to get into medical school since he had a weak Grade Point Average, is apparently eager for the dismantling of affirmative action programs.  It takes immense disrespect and lack of integrity to have even perpetrated the medical school stunt to begin with; now, after he has profited from his deception, Chokal-Ingam has the nerve to support the elimination of affirmative action.  Yes, affirmative action disproportionately helps white women; but it is still a viable program that has provided opportunities to Blacks where they otherwise may not have been.  In the meantime, this kind of nonsense is precisely why I am not a passenger on the “POC” train.  Anti-Blackness is global and rampant.

Enough is Enough: Featured Article or Resource

I’m A Black Southerner; I Had to Go Abroad to See A Statue Celebrating Black Liberation 

August 17,  2017

 By: Samuel Sinyangwe 

     Great article which addresses the racist and destructive manner in which history is shaped in America.  Sinyangwe discusses the fact that there are hundreds of statues honoring confederates in the South, but a dearth of those celebrating Black liberation.  He’d seen just such a depiction on a to Brazil and was moved, as any of us would have been. A response to a tweet about his musings produced a thread full of depictions of Black liberation all over the world.  A relatively quick, but extremely informative piece.