Category Archives: Race

Rosie Perez Sets Mitt Straight about the Latino Vote

“But What Do You Do?”– Take Off the Hoods!

I just finished a biography of J.Frank Norris called ‘The Shooting Salvationist’ by David R. Stokes. Norris was America’s first megachurch media star in the 1920’s, but his reputation dimmed somewhat when he succumbed to compassion fatigue. Instead of counseling a troubled soul who came to his office he shot the man dead.

Texas in the 1920’s was Klan Kountry. Like many other politically connected men of ambition; Norris enjoyed a friendly relationship with the fraternal terrorist organization. They shared common enemies– Catholics and saloon owners, and the Klan never bothered anyone who mattered.

So, speaking of people who matter, why in the 21st Century am I ragging on Pat Robertson? He’s so old he’s almost cute, in an evil gnome kind of way.

Well, like the elderly Rupert Murdoch, he sits on top of a media empire. Pat Robertson’s 700 Club broadcasts it’s own version of the news across America and the world. If my informal survey of what’s on TV when I make nurse visits is any indicator, Christian Broadcasting Network has a large following, and they vote. That’s why politicians take Robertson seriously.

For the Left, he’s always good for an outrageous sound byte, like this explanation for the murderous attack on the Sikh Temple…

“What is it?” the TV preacher wondered. “Is it satanic? Is it some spiritual thing, people who are atheists, they hate God, they hate the expression of God? And they are angry with the world, angry with themselves, angry with society and they take it out on innocent people who are worshiping God.”

“And whether it’s a Sikh temple or a Baptist church or a Catholic church or a Muslim mosque, whatever it is, I just abhor this kind of violence, and it’s the the kind of thing that we should do something about,” he added. “But what do you do? Well, you talk about the love of God and hope it has some impact.”

Yes, we abhor this kind of thing…

Whether they burn crosses on your lawn or a pile of leaves it’s untidy and ruins the grass.

Whether they spray a swastika on a synagogue or a tagger’s initials it’s graffiti vandalism, how deplorable.

Whether it’s a terrorist symbol or a gauche fashion statement, a white hood is not something a minister should wear in church.

“But what do you do?” Robertson asks after blurring distinctions and making a false equivalence.

Any gathering, for worship, music or politics, could suffer a mass shooting, especially with guns so cheap and available. But this attack on the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin was carried out by a man who was active in hate groups and had his intentions tatooed all over his body. He was a crime waiting to happen.

It doesn’t let you off the hook if you wear you hood backwards and claim you don’t see.

Robertson is giving talking points to an audience of millions. Stuff happens. Atheists are terrible people so all crimes must be the fault of atheists. Or the devil. And what do you do anyway? Talk about the love of God. Don’t call out sin when some of your best friends might take offense. There’s nothing we can do about this poor old world. Let’s move on and unite against our real enemies, the feminists, gays, atheists.

Hey, a revolving enemies list is nothing new. J. Frank Norris got quite chummy with the Catholic Church in his later years when they found a common enemy in the Red Menace (that’s Communism, not the Republican Party.)

Are any of the megavangelists going to come out powerfully against hate, against prejudice, against the hostility to immigrants, to those who are different from the majority. Will Evangelicals confront the sad history of the Klan, enabled by too many Christian Churches? It wasn’t a question mark they burned, after all.

Fortunately, the secular law of the United States does recognize organized crime and will pursue this vicious murder of innocent people in their place of worship– will investigate the collaborators in the crime. Church members, and everyone who wants to exercise the right to peaceably assemble should be grateful that there is something we can do.

Black and White Twins

This is an interesting story of how one family in England dealt with racism and ostracism when they had a very unique set of twins — Daniel and James.  Black and white twins | Life and style | The Guardian.

Words Fail


UPDATE:  As outrage grows, Hoodies are being worn as a way to express grief and horror about the killing of Trayvon Martin.  From a petition to the Attorney General of Florida:

“George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin, an African American teenager, reveals a history of racism in Sanford, FL that has stubbornly refused to die. Weeks after the shooting, the Sanford police department is slow to release details of the shooting and, more surprisingly, has not arrested George Zimmerman, a man who has a history of violence. We urge you to sign this petition to protect private citizens from gun violence and inept law enforcement. Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi must step in and provide justice for Trayvon Martin, his family, and the community.” Click here to add your name:

Looking at pictures of that beautiful young man whose life was ended with a bullet fills me with grief. I’ll recommend you to this post on Feministe by SHARKFU…

When I heard about the murder of Trayvon Martin I felt like everything just stopped for a moment.

I’m talking about a real halt for a serious moment…a stretching out of time through which everything ached bone deep.

There is still much to learn about the murder of Trayvon Martin, but what we know now is hauntingly close to the nightmare that has been my companion for as long as I can remember.

That nightmare that makes the women in my family advise any and all young black people about to leave the house on how to act…what to do if the police harass or a security guard follows…how to respond if confronted for driving while black or walking while black or shopping while black or having fun while black or going to school while black or seeking medical treatment while black or voting while black or dating while black or for just being black.

The nightmare that is followed by the reality that those cautions don’t matter…that this isn’t about “earning it” or “deserving it” or “asking for it”.

Read the rest here. SHARKFU’S post echoes the opinions of many concerned people, and of my family, who raise sons of all colors and send them into the world with a prayer for their safety.

Why It’s Hard to Talk About Race

Shirley Sherrod on the death of Andrew Breitbart…

Shirley Sherrod deserves high praise for speaking with such fairness and empathy about Andrew Breitbart’s unexpected death on Thursday. “The news of Mr. Breitbart’s death came as a surprise to me when I was informed of it this morning,” Sherrod said in a statement. “My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope during this very difficult time. I do not intend to make any further comments.”

Andrew Breitbart released selectively edited video of Shirley Sherrod giving a frank and honest talk about how she came to recognize the role of class in American justice, and injustice. Breitbart’s mis-representation defamed Shirley Sherrod, provoked her firing, and put her into the middle of a controversy she never asked for, all for 15 minutes of headlines…

Sherrod’s account
In the full video, Sherrod related her experience in 1986 with the first white farmer to come to her for help. (On July 20 CNN received a telephone call from the farmer’s wife and learned his name was Roger Spooner.[26]) Sherrod said that his land was being sold, and “had in fact already been rented out from under him.”[27] At first, she felt that he had a superior attitude toward her, causing her to recall harsh aspects of her life in the South, including the murder of her father[27], but she went on to say that she had not let that get in the way and did not discriminate against him. They became very good friends as a result of her help. She admitted thinking at the time that white people had “all the advantages” but learned that poverty affected both races.[27]

According to Sherrod, she did her job correctly by taking the farmer to a white lawyer who she thought could help him, and she looked for another lawyer when needed. [28] Sherrod rejected claims that she was racist and said she “went all out” to help the man keep his farm. She said that the incident helped her learn to move beyond race, and she told the story to audiences to make that point.[28]
[edit] Spooner family’s account

Roger Spooner, the farmer, said on CNN that Sherrod is not a racist, that she did everything she could for his family; more than 20 years later, he and Sherrod remain friends.[29] The Spooners credit Sherrod with helping them save their farm: “If it hadn’t been for her, we would’ve never known who to see or what to do,” Roger Spooner said. “She led us right to our success.” His wife, Eloise Spooner, said that “after things kind of settled down, she brought Sherrod some tomatoes out of her garden, and they had a good visit.”[28] Eloise Spooner recalled Sherrod as “nice-mannered, thoughtful, friendly; a good person.”[28] The couple were surprised by the controversy. “I don’t know what brought up the racist mess,” Roger Spooner said. “They just want to stir up some trouble, it sounds to me in my opinion.” Eloise Spooner said that on seeing the story of Sherrod’s resignation, “I said, ‘That ain’t right. They have not treated her right.'”[28]
[edit] Full video

The extended unedited video of her speech released by the NAACP[30] showed that in her full speech, Sherrod emphasized what was only touched on in the excerpt:[31] she learned from the incident that poverty, not race, was the key factor in rural development. She said she ultimately worked hard to save the farmer’s land.[3]

One aspect of this story that stays with me is that Shirley Sherrod was collateral damage in an ideological war, or maybe just a self-promoter’s strategy for shaping the narrative with a casual attitude to the truth and the real people affected.

Breitbart used selective editing to distort the words of a woman who had never done anything but to serve our country conscientiously. A woman whose father was murdered by a white man. A woman who did not give in to hatred, but instead fought racism, and bravely spoke about the evolution of her understanding.

He never was man enough to look her in the eye and own up to the damage he did to her career and reputation…

“This was never about Shirley Sherrod,” Breitbart interrupted.

“So apologize to her,” said Boehlert. “Post a correction. Apologize to her.”

But Breitbart ignored Boehlert and stuck to his talking points. “This was not about Shirley Sherrod. This was about the smears that have gone against the Tea Party,” he said.

They’re calling Andrew Breitbart a ‘warrior’, as if warriors are admired for ambushing the innocent. Andrew Breitbart was simply an opportunist. As is so often the case, he used the politics of white racism to advantage. He didn’t find a convenient example of institutionalized black racism, so he created one.

Shirley Sherrod will decide whether to proceed with her defamation suit, given the untimely death of the defendant.

Interviews with Parents from Achievement First New York

There are two of these.  This first one is very good.  There is some unfortunate noise in the background for the first 10 minutes or so, but you can still hear the parent, and what she has to say confirms a lot of my suspicions about the way corporate-run charter schools with extreme disciplinary policies run.  As she put it at one point, children are taught that, “All of your independent thinking is not necessary.  All of your creative thinking is not necessary.”

Compare and Contrast

Kai Wright, of The Nation examines the claims of Glenn Beck and other revisionists who wrap themselves in the mantle of the civil rights movement…

There are many things about King’s dream speech that Beck won’t likely point out at this weekend’s gathering. Perhaps top among them: the 1963 March on Washington was the work of a war-resisting labor organizer, A. Philip Randolph, and an openly gay man, Bayard Rustin, who was himself a war-resisting socialist.

The event’s actual name was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. That moniker was a compromise between King, who wanted a more focused event, and Randolph, who helped broker the broad constituency that made the march the largest peacetime gathering in the nation’s history at the time. King’s iconic speech reflected the event’s dual focus on economic and political justice–and it included much, much more than a call to judge people by their character.

Why is Glenn Beck aligning himself with a man who ‘palled around’ with socialists and homosexuals and union organizers? Why is he claiming to carry on the spirit of a movement that drew federal troops to enforce de-segregation of schools? Why is he quoting a man who did, indeed, call for re-distribution of wealth from the rich to the poor as a Christian practice and a matter of basic justice?

Because Martin Luther King was on the right side of history. Because he was an American hero. And because America has a short memory and prefers saints and martyrs over real human beings with doubts and flaws. It takes effort to read through Dr.King’s speeches or read his biography. It takes effort to learn about the many brave people of all races who worked with Dr.King, among them, Prof. Bernard Lafayette who taught nonvioence at URI..

When Dr. King was assassinated he was working for economic justice. Far from being revered, he faced brutal criticism from both white conservatives and black radicals who thought he made too many compromises.

Dr. King was murdered in Tennessee where he had gone to support a sanitation worker’s strike…

In the later 1960s, the targets of King’s activism were less often the legal and political obstacles to the exercise of civil rights by blacks, and more often the underlying poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and blocked avenues of economic opportunity confronting black Americans. Despite increasing militancy in the movement for black power, King steadfastly adhered to the principles of nonviolence that had been the foundation of his career. Those principles were put to a severe test in his support of a strike by sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. This was King’s final campaign before his death.

During a heavy rainstorm in Memphis on February 1, 1968, two black sanitation workers had been crushed to death when the compactor mechanism of the trash truck was accidentally triggered. On the same day in a separate incident also related to the inclement weather, 22 black sewer workers had been sent home without pay while their white supervisors were retained for the day with pay. About two weeks later, on February 12, more than 1,100 of a possible 1,300 black sanitation workers began a strike for job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition.

Dr. King called on us to open our eyes and see the injustices inflicted every day, and work to remedy them. His vision of America was one of justice and equal opportunity. He knew that removing the color bar was a beginning, not an end.

When so many politicians and entertainers claim to be speaking for God, it’s not such a surprise that some will claim to speak for leaders who are no longer here to contradict them. Dr. King’s words are on the record. They are pure gold. Compare and contrast and don’t settle for counterfeit.

EVANGELICAL VOICE: Reverend Jim Wallis also does a compare and contrast. He recalls Dr. King’s message of social justice.

Beyond Vietnam

Today, on the 47th anniversary of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King’s famous speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, there are many who want to wrap themselves in the aura of a struggle for justice that has been blessed by history.

Since we have short memories and the truth is not always comfortable, it’s important to remember that Doctor King was not murdered for having a dream. He confronted and provoked the powerful and goaded the consciences of many who would gladly have stopped at the gradual advance of racial justice in our own country, and rested on that. Doctor King was fiercely criticized for his stand against the Vietnam War and the politics behind that war.

Before we tie another yellow ribbon, and have another picnic to honor our troops, we should read his speech, ‘Beyond Vietnam–A Time to Break Silence’. Here is Doctor King on ‘the troops’…

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Compare and contrast. How do we restore America’s honor? By seeking some standard of political and religious ‘purity’ that makes enemies of our fellow Americans and chases around the world to defeat an enemy that has no uniforms or borders? An enemy that is not a nation, but an idea?

Or do we restore honor by ending the hopeless foreign wars that entangle us? By restraining our corporations from playing robber-baron here and abroad? By working for justice so that our troops will come home to a country that values its citizens? By restoring our safety net so that there will be no more homeless veterans?

Doctor King said in a speech that he had a dream, but in his life’s work he was wide awake, too awake for comfort and hated by many. He was considered a threat to the white race, and after many attempts on his life a white man succeeded in taking him away.

Now others claim to speak for him, but his words remain. Compare and contrast.

Undermining the Caregiver

‘Aren’t there any white doctors here?’ a clinic patient asked me once. ‘No’, I said. We had three doctors from Ghana and one from Egypt.

Like many primary care clinics, this one was staffed by young doctors starting their careers, some fulfilling a committment to the US Health Service, and they tended to move on after two years. The demographic mix was always changing. If I were looking for care for myself I would have chosen the doctor I thought best for my particular complaint. That could be any one of them depending on what illness I had.

Choosing a doctor by race or ethnicity is no better than choosing a doctor by astrological sign. And yet, there is enough prejudice remaining in our society to cloud patient’s judgment when they choose a doctor. Here is one doctor’s account of his education in medicine from his surgery professor, and in racial politics from his fellow students…

“If I were sick,” I said to my fellow resident that night, “I know which surgeon I would ask for.”

“But you can understand why some patients and referring doctors don’t go to him,” she replied matter-of-factly. “Other guys wear Brooks Brothers, have recognizable last names and carry a degree from the ‘right’ medical school. But when a potential patient or referring doctor sees our guy, all they might notice is a foreigner with an accent and a strange name who graduated from a medical school in some developing country.”

The prestige of having an MD doesn’t protect doctors from various kinds of disrespect, including prejudice. How much more exposed is a hands-on health care provider who does the hardest work for low wages.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Certified nursing assistant Brenda Chaney was on duty in an Indiana nursing home one day when she discovered a patient lying on the floor, unable to stand. But Chaney couldn’t help the woman up. She had to search for a white aide because the woman had left instructions that she did not want any black caregivers. And the nursing home insisted it was legally bound to honor the request.

Excluding a couple of nursing homes in the far corners of the state, the majority of nurses aides on teams I have worked with are women of color, and/or immigrants. Most often the relationship between caregivers and patients is a benevolent one. It has to be, there’s no energy to spare for conflict. Sometimes an assignment ‘doesn’t click’ and the patient is re-assigned. This is common and no big deal. I have never worked anywhere that made discrimination a matter of policy. This is just so wrongheaded.

It’s true that patients have rights to feel comfortable, the law recognizes that…

Courts have held that patients can refuse to be treated by a caregiver of the opposite sex, citing privacy issues. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling in Chaney’s case last month, said applying that accommodation to race goes too far.
”The privacy interest that is offended when one undresses in front of a doctor or nurse of the opposite sex does not apply to race,” the ruling said.

Caregivers are workers providing a skilled service. Patients are diverse and have different needs. Caregivers have to work together as a team or the job becomes much more stressful and patient care suffers. Undermining the caregivers and dividing them by race can only hurt morale and send a message that some workers are less valued than others.

I’m so glad that the organizations I worked for never interpreted patient’s rights as erasing the non-discrimination policy required by federal law. I can’t imagine what Brenda Cheney felt each working day…

Documents in Chaney’s lawsuit, filed in 2008, say her daily assignment sheet at Plainfield Healthcare Center always included the reminder that one patient in her unit ”Prefers No Black CNAs.”

It’s a bad road to go down, accomodating prejudice. The range and variety of prejudices I have encountered in eldercare would make it impossible to function if an organization tried to indulge them all. Much better to have a clear policy of non-discrimination and focus on getting the job done. It’s a tough job, and those who do it deserve respect.

ALL AMERICAN: It’s worth noting, also, that Brenda Chaney is African-American. There should have been no cultural barriers or communication problems. Her family has been American for centuries. This instance of discrimination was based solely on skin color. It’s a painful reminder that the color line has not been completely erased.

Dr. Laura and Free Speech

In between visiting patients today I had WRNI on the radio. I love WRNI, also my radio is broke and that’s the only station it will play and I have to jiggle the on button, but that’s another story.

Anyway, Michelle Martin on ‘Tell Me More’ had several guests who couldn’t stop themselves from pointing out that Dr. L. has a PhD in physiology. That makes her an expert on the Krebs Cycle and acetylcholine.

You normally wouldn’t go to a physiologist for psychological counseling, (that’s kind of like calling the Physics Hotline for predictions) but if you air your dirty laundry on the radio because you think you’ll get it washed for free you take your chances.

Then again, access to psychological help is so out of reach for many people we should probably be grateful Dr. L. isn’t giving electric shock treatment in her garage.

Anyway, regarding free speech, you’ll find it here at Kmareka. We don’t get paid anything.

Laura Schlessinger can say whatever she wants. The Constitution doesn’t guarantee her the right to say it on her own radio program. As far as her sponsors– they want her to promote their products, that’s what she’s paid for. Let her try and say that General Motors makes lousy cars and see how long before they pull the microphone cord.

Here’s a link to one NPR review of what ‘s in the first amendment.

And anyone out there who wants to pay me to write– my rates are negotiable.

You shouldn’t need to have a PhD in poitical science to know the difference between free and paid speech. It’s something every citizen should know. Here is a civics lesson from Rashad Robinson.


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