Why It’s So Hard For Whites To Understand Ferguson

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Robert P. Jones in The Atlantic states: “One reason for the racial divide over Michael Brown’s death is that white Americans tend to talk mostly to other white people.” He goes on to say: “The shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri…has snapped the issue of race into national focus…causing many Americans to question just how far racial equality and race relations have come, even in an era of a black president and a black attorney general.” To read more, click here.

Mobility And The Black-White Gap

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Victoria Stilwell of the Bloomberg News reports that Black Americans remain less likely to climb the income ladder and more likely to drop than whites, according to research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago last month. Thomas Piketty, whose best-selling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has spurred debate over income inequality, said in an interview that “the whole structure of inequality of income and wealth in the U.S. is very much related to race.” To read more, click here.

What Does It Mean To Be White?

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In The Seattle Times, guest columnist Robin DiAngelo writes about  the roots of racial illiteracy. He points out that mainstream sources—schools, textbooks, media and anecdotal evidence—do not provide whites with the multiple perspectives needed to understand white racial identity. Such socialization renders whites racially illiterate. DiAngelo also states that people cannot understand how racism functions in the U.S. today if they ignore group power relations. To read more, click here

1960 Civil Rights Icon Meets Former Protector

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As reported by Rick Callahan of The Associated Press, Civil rights icon, Ruby Bridges, is praising a now 91-year-old former federal marshal for escorting her more than a half-century ago to and from a previously all-white elementary school as she helped end segregation in New Orleans’ public schools. In this November 1960 photo, U.S. deputy marshals, including Charles Burks, top left, escorted six-year-old Ruby Bridges from William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, La. To read more, click here.


Everybody Is Not Equal, And We’re Not All The Same Underneath Our Skin

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Jennifer Harvey in The Huffington Post tells parents of white children that statements to their children like “Everybody is equal,” and “We’re all the same underneath our skin,” have little or nothing to do with actual conversations about race, racial difference, and racism. It’s sugar, she says, when our kids need protein. To read more, click here.

“Geography Of Hate” Maps Racist and Homophobic Tweets

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ht_hate_homophobia_tweet_map_tk_130514_wg-1As reported by ABC News, a new Twitter study by assistant professor Monica Stephens and Humboldt State University measured racist and homophobic tweets in the United States. The result is the “Geography of Hate” shown above. To read more, click here.

Racism and the Myth of a “Victim Mentality”

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In a post to the Red Room blogTim Wise debunks the claim that discussing racism and discrimination creates passive victims out of people of color. He shows how the claim flies in the face of every bit of empirical evidence on the subject: knowing the truth about racism inspires perseverance and passionate resistance to victimization, not resignation to one’s status as a target. Research makes clear that racism is a problem, and there is no responsible path forward but to discuss it, to call it out, and to address it directly. To read more, click here.

Beyond Diversity Resource Center Responds to President’s Call for National Conversations on Race

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The Beyond Diversity Resource Center announced the publication of a supplement to its book on racial dialogue in America, The Anti-Racist Cookbook (ISBN: 978-0971901766). The introduction to the supplement states:

Today, people of color have less to fear from the overt actions of a Ku-Klux-Klan lynch mob than from the implicit bias of a gun-carrying member of a neighborhood watch. Yet, the result may be the same.

According to Robin Parker, the Center’s executive director, the supplement was inspired by President Obama’s call for national conversations on race following the verdict in the case of George Zimmerman (the man who fatally shot Trayvon Martin.)

The 2013 Supplement asks questions about current racial issues that include: (1) how people can address their own racial biases, (2) what organizations can do to combat implicit bias, (3) whether people feel safe in light of recent racial incidents, and (4) how we should craft solutions for racial healing. The supplement is now available to people who order The Anti-Racist Cookbook from the publisher, Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books. To read more, click here.

LeVar Burton Explains His Ritual To Prevent Police Mistreatment

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LeVar-Burton-screenshot-1He’s not exactly known for bad behavior, but even the former host of the children’s show Reading Rainbow fears he will be mistreated by police because of his skin color. Actor and director LeVar Burton explained on CNN that he follows a particular procedure every time he is stopped by police to avoid a potentially deadly confrontation.  To read more, click here.

Colorblind Racism, The Walking Dead, And White Privilege

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In the blog, We Are Respectable Negroes, Chauncey Devega points out that both colorblind racism, as well as overt racism, see people of color as somehow defective because they are not white. Racism-denying exists, even in conversations about the horror genre and a TV series, like The Walking Dead, whose narrative is focused on zombies. It is as if the reasonable concerns of people of color or others about white racism really don’t matter very much, that racism only matters and occurs according to the standards of Whiteness, and that those who talk about racism are the real racists. To read more, click here.

How To Suppress Discussions Of Racism

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In the blog “dreamwidth,” a contributor named Mely shows you, with tongue-in-cheek, a few simple techniques you can use to suppress the discussion of racism and to make sure racism is perpetuated. He says to keep in mind that your goal is not to learn or to educate, to listen or be listened to, to increase your understanding of difficult issues, or to exchange opinions and communicate with other people. Your goal is to make discussions of race so difficult and unrewarding that not only your opponent but any witnesses to your argument will never want to discuss race in public again. To read more, click here.

We Don’t See Racism?

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Seeing Racism and Teaching Tolerance with Huck Finn

An article in Teaching Tolerance: A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, reporting on high school student awareness of racism, points out that we have a responsibility to our students to have honest dialogue about race, privilege and institutional racism so that they can articulately speak out against it. We can no longer afford to create citizens who don’t see racism. Huck Finn can be a powerful tool for prompting discussion about racism in the United States, past and present. To read more, click here.

Black Adversity/White Privilege

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The Blaque Ink blog lists some of the everyday difficulties black people face because of racism as they move through their daily lives. These “adversities” are the opposite of “white privilege.” Below is a partial list of the sixty-five adversities recounted:

  • Alone, I appear threatening. If I’m in a group of others who look like me, that is a cause for some kind of suspicion or even panic.
  • In order to not cause suspicion, I must be in the company of (mostly) whites.
  • In order for whites to listen to me, I must agree with what they think about me and my people.
  • I can be sure that whites will not listen to me when it comes to race and racism, and anytime I bring up the subject, it will likely meet with denial or opposition.

To read more, click here.

Congressional Gold Medal Awarded To Four Girls Killed In 1963 Civil Rights Bombing

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President Barack Obama has signed a bill into law granting the United States’ highest civilian honor to four black girls killed in a civil rights-era church bombing that shocked the nation in 1963. To read more, click here.

Seattle Teacher Under Fire for Teaching About Racism and Discrimination

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students on bus

Is there a right or wrong way to teach students about discrimination?

A popular teacher for ten years helped students explore various significant social issues. Because a student became upset about a discussion on racism,  some parents and then the school board turned against the teacher, who was transferred to another school and asked to stop discussing upsetting issues. Another Seattle teacher expressed concern:  “Student discomfort will become the arbiter of curriculum.” To read more, click here.

ACLU: Marijuana Arrests Are Racist

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According to a recent ACLU report, African Americans are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. To read more, click here.

A Rage Cartoon, “Mrs. Chin,” from Beyond Diversity

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Book to Consider: “I Dreamt I Was in Heaven—The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang”

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On the surface, I Dreamt I was in Heaven is a fictional retelling of a true story of the American West: In the waning days of what was called “Indian Territory,” the multi-racial, teenaged Rufus Buck Gang embarked on a vicious, childish, and deadly 13-day rampage that shocked even that lawless place. Their goal was to take back Native American lands.

What makes the novel especially captivating, however, is how it distills a racial ideology that still affects life in the U.S. today. If you’ve ever wondered how evil and good can coexist in the American racial conscience, then this book, by Leonce Gaiter, is worthy of consideration.

To read opening chapters from the book at the author’s website, click here.

No!: The Rape Documentary

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This is a trailer from “No!: The Rape Documentary,” a film that investigates intersections of race, gender, and sexual assault.

To visit the film producer’s website, click here.

Unconscious Racism

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A Time Magazine article points out that although many people think they are free from racial prejudice, tests on implicit bias show that they are in fact prejudiced against African Americans and other people from marginalized groups. The article raises the important question, “What do we do about our implicit, unconscious biases?” To read more, click here.

U.S. to Pay 1 Billion to Tribes

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The Justice Department announced that it had agreed to pay 41 tribes over 1 billion dollars for the Treasury Department’s failure to adequately oversee concessions for natural resources like minerals, timber, and oil on Native American lands. The mismanagement dates back more than 100 years in some cases. To read the New York Times article, click here.

Johnny Depp as Tonto

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Johnny Depp as Tonto in the Upcoming Movie, The Lone Ranger

There are many objectionable things in the above photograph—stereotypes, cultural appropriation, misinformation—all of which pivot on the degradation of Native Americans. To read about this “first look” at Johnny Depp as Tonto in the upcoming move, The Lone Ranger, click here.

Does Racist Humor Promote Racism?

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Does telling a joke about the Ku-Klux-Klan and telling a racist joke have the same effect on fostering discrimination? According to an article in Psychology Today, the answer is “no.” The effect the the joke depends on how the group is viewed by the individual. To read the article, click here.

American Indian Boarding Schools

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Top: A group of Chiricahua Apache students on their first day at Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pa. Bottom: The same students four months later.

The U.S. government began sending Native American children to American Indian boarding schools in the 1870s.  Army officer, Richard Pratt, who founded one of the first of those schools, modeled the education program one one he had developed in an Indian prison. He described his philosophy in an 1892 speech as follows:

A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.

To read the full article from NPR, click here

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth—A Documentary Film

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According to the Village Voice:

[The Pruitt-Igoe Myth] is the painstaking illustration of how racism, classism, and government serving the interests of big business all shaped the now-myth-like horrors of St. Louis’s notorious Pruitt-Igoe housing project.

To read more, click here.

Racial Biases Can Skew Perceptions of How Much Help Victims Need

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A study of reactions to victims of Hurricane Katrina showed that people who held racist views thought that the hurricane victims received adequate help from the government.   Study participants who were less racist generally thought the victims did not receive adequate help. To read more, click here.

Racism’s Cognitive Toll: Subtle Discrimination Is More Taxing On The Brain

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Princeton psychologists Jessica Salvatore and J. Nicole Shelton have found that subtle racism, the kind most often found in our society today, is a greater drain on the cognitive powers of African Americans than more overt forms of racism. To read more, click here.

Constant Race-Based Discrimination Can Lead to ‘Racial Battle Fatigue’

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African Americans who reported that they experienced more instances of racial discrimination had significantly higher odds of suffering generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) some time during their lives, according to Jose Soto,  an assistant professor of psychology at Penn State.  Generalized anxiety disorder has both psychological and physical symptoms that are so severe that they can significantly affect everyday tasks and job performance. People with the disorder may have chronic worrying, intrusive thoughts and difficulty concentrating. Physically, the disorder may manifest such symptoms as tension headaches, extreme fatigue and ulcers. Some of these symptoms are associated with “racial battle fatigue.” To read more, click here.

Racism’s Mental Toll May Explain Some Health Disparities

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According to a study published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, racism is similar to trauma in the way it affects the mental health of black adults in the United States. An examination of 66 previous studies that included more than 18,000 black adults showed that there are common responses to both racism and trauma, including somatization (psychological distress that is expressed as physical pain), interpersonal sensitivity and anxiety. The more stressful the racism, the more likely a person was to report mental distress. To read the article in MedicineNet.com, click here.

Study: Culture to Blame for Racism, Sexism, Homophobia

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A study led by Paul Verhaeghen, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Psychology, found that facets of U.S. culture, such as literature, movies, television, radio and the internet, may contribute to the problem of racism, sexism and other “isms” by exhibiting the same stereotypes that society tries to snuff out. To read the story in Science Daily, click here.

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