Sunday, July 26, 2009

My thoughts on white privelege continued...

Well I haven't posted in a little while but I'm glad to be back. And by the way, I just got back from Puerto Rico... Yeah that's right, I just spent a week on the beach, in the rain-forest, and roaming the streets of Old San Juan. And I can't forget to mention the amazing coffee I drank. The average cup of coffee in Puerto Rico is as good as an excellent cup of coffee here...

Anyway. Last time I checked in I shared my thoughts on white privilege and now I'm going to continue.

I would like to thank Colin for his posting about racial profiling and the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. If you've been under a rock and haven't heard about it, you can read about it here and if you want to read one of many articles condemning the arrest go here and if you want to read an interesting commentary on an arrest that I never heard of, that involved actors Josh Brolin and Jeffrey Wright, go here.

In the second article that I linked to, the writer makes the following point:
If this hadn’t been the most pre-eminent scholar of African-American Studies in the country, we never would have known about this incident I have to agree. If you are looking for evidence of the existence of white privilege, one of the most obvious places to look at is the relationship between the police and Black Americans. I feel very confident in making the following statement: On a whole the interactions between Black Americans and the police are completely different than that of White Americans and the police. Periodically a story will come across the national spotlight that highlights this divide. The most recent story is the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. This man is so famous and well respected that President Obama immediately said that the Cambridge Police acted "stupidly" in their arrest. How on earth is a middle aged Harvard Professor arrested for a break in at his own home? It seems pretty ludicrous to most of us. How many people think that this would be just as likely to happen to a white Harvard professor?

I would have to say that I agreed emphatically with President Obama's assessment of the police conduct. If the arresting officers actions were justifiable than why did the Cambridge District Attorney immediately drop the charges? Anyway I more than likely preaching to the choir for now. That said I do wonder how people feel about the "beer summit". I have a whole lot of thoughts. On the one hand I am glad Mr. Obama made a strong statement about this event and I do think it makes sense for him to facilitate a dialogue on the issue of racial profiling. I feel that the dialogue ultimately fell flat. I'm not exactly sure that it makes sense for the President to be sitting down with Joe Officer and Joe Black American that was racially profiled. Quite frankly if he is going to add beer summit's for every racial profiling victim to his job description, than I think he will be very busy. Anyway the reason I fell that this "teachable" moment fell short is because I believe people like President Obama allowed the discussion to be hijacked by law enforcement and the supporters of the large police organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police. Virtually all successful politicians ascribe to the narrative that Police are beyond question. The men in blue are essentially the bedrock of our democracy, the people that do the dirty work so that the rest of us can enjoy the pursuit of happiness. Their are obviously several problems with this concept, but the most problematic aspect is the consistent racism that pervades police departments across the USA.

We didn't have to look very far to find the racism I speak of in this particular instance. I mean I obviously found the entire event to be incredibly racist but for those of you who might believe that this was just a good working cop doing his job you have Justin Barret. If you don't know who is you can read his email in the link below. (please note it is extremely offensive and some people may not want to take the time out of their day to read it) Justin Barret's crazy email basically calls Henry Louis Gates Jr a "banana eating jungle monkey" and a few other choice remarks and emailed it to a reporter that wrote about the arrest and also forwarded it to a bunch of his buddies. Now of course the Boston Police Department has moved to have him fired. But the question I have to ask is what on earth made this man think it was OK to send that email? Do you really believe that he never made these kind of remarks at work? I believe quite strongly that he worked in an environment that nurtures this kind of language. But of course we are led to believe that it is an aberattion, like the murder of Oscar Grant (if you don't know who he is you can watch his murder on Youtube), the murder of Amadou Diallo, the rape and torture of Abner Louima, and of course the arrest of one of the most pre-eminent Black American Scholars for a breaking in to his own home.

These are not isolated incidents...


Hey y'all,

So here is my most recent poem of the week. I actually wrote it in 2006 or so... It was pretty cool because I had written it and forgot about it. In 2008 I found it and literally had no recollection writing it. In fact if it wasn't for the fact that it was in my hand writing and exactly the type of thing that I would write, I would have thought someone else wrote it. Anyway I made some adjustments to it at the time and renamed it 2008. I guess I'm just ahead of my time.


It’s been 9 years since Seattle
10 years since Jericho 98
7 years since the killer cops got free from their 41 bullets
8 years since millions screamed brick by brick wall by wall we’re
gonna free Mumia Abu Jamal.

I hope this hiccup of a movement isn’t over
Cops in riot gear, anarchist with bandana’s covering their faces,
People wreckin' shop from San Francisco to Brooklyn
Let me find out that the modern day protest era is already over,
Swallowed up by liberal former peace niks,
With a legitimate war to protest and democrats to endorse,

I remember the streets of Philadelphia during Y2K,
Food not bombs, the three-ring clown circus, and MOVE in Clark Park.
These images stand in contrast to the vote for Kerry pins
Brandished by protesters in NYC 2004
Tell me it’s not over,
Tell me I’m not condemned to here the new rallying cry of the left
“Vote for Hillary”
I don’t want to hear about Supreme Court justices,
And which candidate would send how many troops to war,

I want to hear about class war,
And the poor taking the fight to Greenwich, Connecticut,
to Fifth Avenue,
Taking it to the North Shore of Long Island.

Say it ain’t so.

Please don’t tell me that all I have to be happy about
is the mid-term elections and the hopes that the
lamest political party in history might do something
different than the most sinister one.

Please tell me there is a voice out there that says

Smash the starbucks,
Destroy wal-mart,
And remove the slumlords.
I pray that voice is still alive in the subconscious of our people.
I pray that the propaganda machine of the system has only
Strengthened our convictions.
I pray that this lull in political action is the calm before the storm.

Tell me we are not gonna wait for judges to tell us Mumia is guilty.

Tell me I’m gonna get off my ass and demand that we don’t.

Tell me that I’m not gonna be a lazy leftist waiter, republican hater, policy reforming, peace loving, conflict fearing a-hole.
I can’t take that image of myself.
Please tell me that my current trepidation is grounded by wisdom and sound strategy.
Tell me I’m still gonna fight, die if I have to.
Tell me I’m not so afraid of death that I will accept
This Fahrenheit 451,
big brother watching,
cops searching me for no reason,
Phony, civil liberty violating society.
Tell me I won’t wait for the constitution to save me from the injustices I encounter everyday.

Please don’t tell me I’m gonna miss Sandra Day O’connor.

Cause if that is all I have, than I have nothing.
I have nothing without my unquenchable thirst for liberation.
I am nothing without my unbendable will to overthrow oppression
In all its forms, by any means necessary.
My children will have nothing if they inherit a legacy of capitulation,
An estate of apathy and …
My children don’t deserve a life of wage slavery
in order to buy food, clothes, shelter, gasoline, knick-knacks at the dollar store, ipods, cell phone cameras, 401k, dental insurance, and corner store diets.

My children may have no choice.

But I do.

I can fight to free them from the chains
of the most rotten filthy empire known to humankind.

Or I can die tryin’.

Or I can accept it.
Please tell me I won’t accept it.
But don’t lie to me.

I’d rather accept the truth than believe in a lie.