Being a ‘good’ white person or a liberal white person won’t get you off the hook.
On Tuesday, February 23th, local Police discovered the body Emilsen Manyoma, a fearless leader of a network of Black and indigenous community organizations. Sister-Warrior-Queen Emilsen was ruthlessly murdered and beheaded; her body left to bleed out on the very land she dedicated her life to protect.
Afro-Colombians have long been targets of racial violence, an effect of the country’s decades-old civil war that has displaced an estimated two million Afro-Colombians. Over 200 Afro-Colombians and indigenous leaders were killed in 2016, many of them young men between the ages of 13 and 25 years old.
Charo Mina-Rojas, an Afro-Colombian political activist, stated that “Her assassination was a response to the work she was doing, defending the rights of Black people,” Mina-Rojas reports that Blacks and natives in Ms. Manyoma’s region are under pressure from coca producers and illegal mine operators and their gunmen.
To hear more about what’s going on down there listen to link below:
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By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
Here is a man of great intelligence and wit. A man with a beautiful smile and an equally intelligent and beautiful wife with two lovely children. He is studied with great gifts of oratory and persuasion that placed him in the most visible seat of power that the world has known, President of the United States of America. As the first person of color to win the presidency, he has endured a delicate dance of protecting the dominant institutions of the American empire while attempting to give continued hope that the arc of American life will bend toward justice, if we believe in them and trust that the outcomes are good even if they are not perfect.
This is a laborious job in most circumstances. The attempt to direct a country of 300 million people of various backgrounds that the narrative of American exceptionalism, unquestioned moral good, and the possibility of economic advance is open to all, but to do so when you have inherited a great recession and a bungled invasion seems to tilt the balance into the impossible. However, this was a challenge he willingly sought because of his belief that he could navigate us through with his abundant abilities.
Obama entered with a sense of post-racial hysteria fanned by both the corporate press and his own electoral team and administration. His task in the area of racial politics was to make us all believe we shared a common destiny from a history forged through different experiences but still with common values and goals. His technique was to avoid saying anything about black people. He could openly support policies for the other segments of the population, but for us he let his swag speak for him. This was policy enough; with of course the added boot-strap language the black community always gets. He seemed to believe for a time that his mere presence was a fulfilment of racial togetherness as oppose to being the right person at the right time to fill a position.
When racial issues began arising first on the campaign trail with his former pastor Rev. Wright and then after his election with the arrest of historian Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Obama began refining what has become his signature style of racial discourse. He attempted to explain the grievances that blacks and whites have with each other, including assessing the competing interest of being Black and being a police officer who controls black bodies. He used a balanced grievance approach. He attempted to guide us through our troubles by informing us what each group has been experiencing. In this way we could understand where the other side was coming from. He believed that his is extraordinary gifts of speech would serve us all in the impossible task he took on of explaining away history as opposed to examining it.
His most heroic attempts have been wistful sonnets about the American political will to address and overcome strife. He treats us all to post-modernist arguments that there is no right and there is no wrong, just perspectives. The juxtaposition Obama gives us is of two aggrieved groups who must find a middle way. The sweet sounds make us pause in our tracks, until anyone with even a cursory knowledge of American history notices that we are not two sides who are missing each other for lack of a mediator to help us understand. Mr. Obama is a wonderful painter of images, except the canvas is made of crushed bones and grinded flesh.
Mr. Obama did not create the world he inherited, as he has pointed out, but he does embrace its fabric and texture. He will not lift the veil to serve a larger purpose, but hopes only to use his charisma to keep the lid on and hopes that things begin to settle down. There is no deconstructing of the American identity, instead we must suspend truth for the continued unity of the empire.
Black people are asked to pretend that the police and the larger white male population is somehow an aggrieved group worthy of comparison to the Black experience in America. Obama attempts to sell us such feeble arguments that compares the historical loss of millions of lives, culture, language, and land to that of a slightly diminished white-male historical dominance. The enslavement, rape, lynching and mass incarceration of a people later herded into ghettoes, with no collective control over institutions that govern them is compared to lower middle class white-male economic stagnation. The current taking of Black lives with a “shoot first” mentality, that encourages purposeful and mistaken shootings by the police, will never be punished by judicial institutions because there is always a justification. He had a wallet or a candy bar that looked like a gun. She was assertive, he moved to fast, he moved to slow. Her eyes darted, he looked like he was dangerous, sometimes these things happen. The collective control of black bodies by state institutions through prison, schools, healthcare, workfare, child services and policing is somehow comparable to the angst of diminished white male demographics on the scales.
Obama who has not attended the funeral of any black person killed by the police, as that would send the wrong message to such militarized institutions will continue to make sure the agencies that have control over black bodies are given due respect, that proper remorse is paid. The structures of white supremacy and racism will always have an excuse that needs to be considered when black bodies fall, but no excuse will ever be allowed for the shooter of anyone who is wearing blue. Even though the recent shootings against the police were committed, not by activists and or community people but, by people trained by the US government. The same government that claims to deplore violence at home will take no responsibility for blow-back when it trains, teach and desensitize 18-year-olds to kill anyone they decide is an enemy to the US in foreign lands.
The oppressed understand however that Presidents and media institutions that speak of shared grief, that give us community forums seeking mutual understanding, that highlight hand-pick leaders with only staged arrest records, are no more than holders of the flame for continued outside control Black communities and people. New Sharpton’s for a new era.
The post-war, post-recession post-racial presidential warrior will not be able to deliver on ending inherited U.S. wars, on diverting resources to improve economic conditions in black (or white) communities or on improving the racial climate. That should not be taken as a failure but a mismanaged attempt to keep the status-quo functioning while selling us on lovely words of hope and change. Obama’s presidency was never supposed to be the end of war or economic inequity or racial conflict but a better managed system after the previous disaster of Bush.
The job was too big however because the lie of equal grievance was too big. The purposeful misguiding of people on the historical and current purpose of white supremacy being a malfunction of American history as oppose to the root of American history was way too big to manage. In the twilight of his presidency I am sure he can see the threads coming apart, leaving a talented man of great gifts, that could have been used in service to his community and the larger world as little more than a care-taker of a crumbling empire that a few beer summits and sentimental sweet words could not overcome.Post Views: 728
By Elliot Booker — 5 years ago
Dr. King briefly explains why he changed his philosophy a year before he was murdered in Memphis.Post Views: 1,342
By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
In 2015, I conducted a series of 19 interviews with philosophers and public intellectuals on the issue of race. My aim was to engage, in this very public space, with the often unnamed elephant in the room.
These discussions helped me, and I hope many of our readers, to better understand how race continues to function in painful ways within our country. That was one part of a gift that I wanted to give to readers of The Stone, the larger philosophical community, and the world.
The interviewees themselves — bell hooks, Cornel West, Judith Butler, Peter Singer, David H. Kim, Molefi Kete Asante among them — came from a variety of racial backgrounds, and their concerns and positions were even more diverse. But on the whole I came to see these interviews as linked by a common thread: They were messages to white America — because they often directly expressed the experience of those who live and have lived as people of color in a white-run world, and that is something no white person could ever truly know firsthand.
That is how I want to deliver my own message now.
Dear White America,
I have a weighty request. As you read this letter, I want you to listen with love, a sort of love that demands that you look at parts of yourself that might cause pain and terror, as James Baldwin would say. Did you hear that? You may have missed it. I repeat: I want you to listen with love. Well, at least try.
We don’t talk much about the urgency of love these days, especially within the public sphere. Much of our discourse these days is about revenge, name calling, hate, and divisiveness. I have yet to hear it from our presidential hopefuls, or our political pundits. I don’t mean the Hollywood type of love, but the scary kind, the kind that risks not being reciprocated, the kind that refuses to flee in the face of danger. To make it a bit easier for you, I’ve decided to model, as best as I can, what I’m asking of you. Let me demonstrate the vulnerability that I wish you to show. As a child of Socrates, James Baldwin and Audre Lorde, let me speak the truth, refuse to err on the side of caution.
This letter is a gift for you. Bear in mind, though, that some gifts can be heavy to bear. You don’t have to accept it; there is no obligation. I give it freely, believing that many of you will throw the gift back in my face, saying that I wrongly accuse you, that I am too sensitive, that I’m a race hustler, and that I blame white people (you) for everything.
I have read many of your comments. I have even received some hate mail. In this letter, I ask you to look deep, to look into your souls with silence, to quiet that voice that will speak to you of your white “innocence.” So, as you read this letter, take a deep breath. Make a space for my voice in the deepest part of your psyche. Try to listen, to practice being silent. There are times when you must quiet your own voice to hear from or about those who suffer in ways that you do not.
What if I told you that I’m sexist? Well, I am. Yes. I said it and I mean just that. I have watched my male students squirm in their seats when I’ve asked them to identify and talk about their sexism. There are few men, I suspect, who would say that they are sexists, and even fewer would admit that their sexism actually oppresses women. Certainly not publicly, as I’ve just done. No taking it back now.
To make things worse, I’m an academic, a philosopher. I’m supposed to be one of the “enlightened” ones. Surely, we are beyond being sexists. Some, who may genuinely care about my career, will say that I’m being too risky, that I am jeopardizing my academic livelihood. Some might even say that as a black male, who has already been stereotyped as a “crotch-grabbing, sexual fiend,” that I’m at risk of reinforcing that stereotype. (Let’s be real, that racist stereotype has been around for centuries; it is already part of white America’s imaginary landscape.)
Yet, I refuse to remain a prisoner of the lies that we men like to tell ourselves — that we are beyond the messiness of sexism and male patriarchy, that we don’t oppress women. Let me clarify. This doesn’t mean that I intentionally hate women or that I desire to oppress them. It means that despite my best intentions, I perpetuate sexism every day of my life. Please don’t take this as a confession for which I’m seeking forgiveness. Confessions can be easy, especially when we know that forgiveness is immediately forthcoming.
As a sexist, I have failed women. I have failed to speak out when I should have. I have failed to engage critically and extensively their pain and suffering in my writing. I have failed to transcend the rigidity of gender roles in my own life. I have failed to challenge those poisonous assumptions that women are “inferior” to men or to speak out loudly in the company of male philosophers who believe that feminist philosophy is just a nonphilosophical fad. I have been complicit with, and have allowed myself to be seduced by, a country that makes billions of dollars from sexually objectifying women, from pornography, commercials, video games, to Hollywood movies. I am not innocent.
I have been fed a poisonous diet of images that fragment women into mere body parts. I have also been complicit with a dominant male narrative that says that women enjoy being treated like sexual toys. In our collective male imagination, women are “things” to be used for our visual and physical titillation. And even as I know how poisonous and false these sexist assumptions are, I am often ambushed by my own hidden sexism. I continue to see women through the male gaze that belies my best intentions not to sexually objectify them. Our collective male erotic feelings and fantasies are complicit in the degradation of women. And we must be mindful that not all women endure sexual degradation in the same way.
Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything. To do so is to hide yet again.
I recognize how my being a sexist has a differential impact on black women and women of color who are not only victims of racism, but also sexism, my sexism. For example, black women and women of color not only suffer from sexual objectification, but the ways in which they are objectified is linked to how they are racially depicted, some as “exotic” and others as “hyper-sexual.” You see, the complicity, the responsibility, the pain that I cause runs deep. And, get this. I refuse to seek shelter; I refuse to live a lie. So, every day of my life I fight against the dominant male narrative, choosing to see women as subjects, not objects. But even as I fight, there are moments of failure. Just because I fight against sexism does not give me clean hands, as it were, at the end of the day; I continue to falter, and I continue to oppress. And even though the ways in which I oppress women is unintentional, this does not free me of being responsible.
If you are white, and you are reading this letter, I ask that you don’t run to seek shelter from your own racism. Don’t hide from your responsibility. Rather, begin, right now, to practice being vulnerable. Being neither a “good” white person nor a liberal white person will get you off the proverbial hook. I consider myself to be a decent human being. Yet, I’m sexist. Take another deep breath. I ask that you try to be “un-sutured.” If that term brings to mind a state of pain, open flesh, it is meant to do so. After all, it is painful to let go of your “white innocence,” to use this letter as a mirror, one that refuses to show you what you want to see, one that demands that you look at the lies that you tell yourself so that you don’t feel the weight of responsibility for those who live under the yoke of whiteness, your whiteness.
I can see your anger. I can see that this letter is being misunderstood. This letter is not asking you to feel bad about yourself, to wallow in guilt. That is too easy. I’m asking for you to tarry, to linger, with the ways in which you perpetuate a racist society, the ways in which you are racist. I’m now daring you to face a racist history which, paraphrasing Baldwin, has placed you where you are and that has formed your own racism. Again, in the spirit of Baldwin, I am asking you to enter into battle with your white self. I’m asking that you open yourself up; to speak to, to admit to, the racist poison that is inside of you.
Again, take a deep breath. Don’t tell me about how many black friends you have. Don’t tell me that you are married to someone of color. Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that I’m the racist. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything. To do so is to hide yet again. You may have never used the N-word in your life, you may hate the K.K.K., but that does not mean that you don’t harbor racism and benefit from racism. After all, you are part of a system that allows you to walk into stores where you are not followed, where you get to go for a bank loan and your skin does not count against you, where you don’t need to engage in “the talk” that black people and people of color must tell their children when they are confronted by white police officers.
As you reap comfort from being white, we suffer for being black and people of color. But your comfort is linked to our pain and suffering. Just as my comfort in being male is linked to the suffering of women, which makes me sexist, so, too, you are racist. That is the gift that I want you to accept, to embrace. It is a form of knowledge that is taboo. Imagine the impact that the acceptance of this gift might have on you and the world.
Take another deep breath. I know that there are those who will write to me in the comment section with boiling anger, sarcasm, disbelief, denial. There are those who will say, “Yancy is just an angry black man.” There are others who will say, “Why isn’t Yancy telling black people to be honest about the violence in their own black neighborhoods?” Or, “How can Yancy say that all white people are racists?” If you are saying these things, then you’ve already failed to listen. I come with a gift. You’re already rejecting the gift that I have to offer. This letter is about you. Don’t change the conversation. I assure you that so many black people suffering from poverty and joblessness, which is linked to high levels of crime, are painfully aware of the existential toll that they have had to face because they are black and, as Baldwin adds, “for no other reason.”
Some of your white brothers and sisters have made this leap. The legal scholar Stephanie M. Wildman, has written, “I simply believe that no matter how hard I work at not being racist, I still am. Because part of racism is systemic, I benefit from the privilege that I am struggling to see.” And the journalism professor Robert Jensen: “I like to think I have changed, even though I routinely trip over the lingering effects of that internalized racism and the institutional racism around me. Every time I walk into a store at the same time as a black man and the security guard follows him and leaves me alone to shop, I am benefiting from white privilege.”
What I’m asking is that you first accept the racism within yourself, accept all of the truth about what it means for you to be white in a society that was created for you. I’m asking for you to trace the binds that tie you to forms of domination that you would rather not see. When you walk into the world, you can walk with assurance; you have already signed a contract, so to speak, that guarantees you a certain form of social safety.
Baldwin argues for a form of love that is “a state of being, or state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.” Most of my days, I’m engaged in a personal and societal battle against sexism. So many times, I fail. And so many times, I’m complicit. But I refuse to hide behind that mirror that lies to me about my “non-sexist nobility.” Baldwin says, “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” In my heart, I’m done with the mask of sexism, though I’m tempted every day to wear it. And, there are times when it still gets the better of me.
White America, are you prepared to be at war with yourself, your white identity, your white power, your white privilege? Are you prepared to show me a white self that love has unmasked? I’m asking for love in return for a gift; in fact, I’m hoping that this gift might help you to see yourself in ways that you have not seen before. Of course, the history of white supremacy in America belies this gesture of black gift-giving, this gesture of non-sentimental love. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered even as he loved.
Perhaps the language of this letter will encourage a split — not a split between black and white, but a fissure in your understanding, a space for loving a Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Jones, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald and others. I’m suggesting a form of love that enables you to see the role that you play (even despite your anti-racist actions) in a system that continues to value black lives on the cheap.
Take one more deep breath. I have another gift.
If you have young children, before you fall off to sleep tonight, I want you to hold your child. Touch your child’s face. Smell your child’s hair. Count the fingers on your child’s hand. See the miracle that is your child. And then, with as much vision as you can muster, I want you to imagine that your child is black.
George YancyPost Views: 684