Tag Archives: race

No-brainer: Bernie would be better for black Americans than would Billary

Updated below (on Friday, January 22, 2016)

Cornel West, rapper Killer Mike and Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina, before the Democratic Party presidential primary debate. (“BernieSoBlack” is shown “whitesplaining” in the video grab above, I’m sure…) MLK famously proclaimed, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” In today’s degraded environment of toxic identity politics, however, many judge Sanders not by the content of his character, but by the color of his skin. (Here’s a video of Cornel West’s endorsement of Sanders, by the way. West is an electrified speaker whom I once had the privilege of hearing speak.)

It’s deeply unfortunate that the contest between Billary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination largely is being painted as a contest between black Americans and white Americans who vote for Democrats, but that’s what it has come to.

Of course, we have Billary to thank for this in no small part; in the last Democratic Party presidential primary debate she did her best to equate any and all criticisms of her by the Sanders camp as a direct assault on Barack Obama. It’s classic Clintonian race-baiting and it’s classic Clintonian triangulation, but for the low-information voter – Billary’s base – apparently it works.

Bernie Sanders also has come under unfair attack by black slacktivists themselves. Only Black Lives Matter* slacktivists commandeered a public appearance by Bernie in Seattle in August, calling the white people gathered there “white supremacist liberals.” Nice! (Seriously — that’s the way to treat your allies and to maintain a coalition against the right wing!)

Bernie having dared to speak about his history of support of black Americans – and liberal Jewish Americans like Bernie have been instrumental in the civil rights movement (some died in the South fighting for civil rights for black Americans) – quickly was belittled as “BernieSoBlack.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaa!

The majority of black Americans’ Democratic presidential candidate of choice (at the moment, anyway) is Billary Clinton, her actual record and her husband’s actual record be damned (again: low-info voters are her base). Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie notes:

… Minority voters — and black Americans in particular — are the firewall for Clinton’s candidacy and the Democratic establishment writ large. As long as Clinton holds her lead with black Democrats, she’s tough (if not impossible) to beat in delegate-rich states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio and Texas.

Even with momentum from wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s hard to see how Sanders overcomes Clinton’s massive advantage with this part of the party’s electorate. That’s not to say he won’t excel as an insurgent candidate, but that — barring a seismic shift among black Democrats, as well as Latinos — his coalition won’t overcome her coalition.

This, in itself, raises a question. Why are black Americans loyal to Hillary Clinton? What has she, or her husband, done to earn support from black voters? After all, this is the era of Clinton critique, especially on questions of racial and economic justice.

The Crime Bill of 1994 super-charged mass incarceration; the great economic boom of the 1990s didn’t reach millions of poor and working-class black men; and welfare reform couldn’t protect poor women in the recession that followed. And the lax regulation of the Clinton years helped fill a financial bubble that tanked the global economy and destroyed black wealth. …

Indeed.

But Bernie Sanders has been singled out as the one to scapegoat as not being nearly good enough on black issues. (It’s true that Vermont, which Sanders has represented in Congress for decades, is in the top-three whitest states, but that isn’t exactly Bernie’s fault, and that doesn’t mean that Bernie isn’t an inclusive politician. I mean, how to explain the many white supremacists in the South if your argument is that one must be around a lot of black Americans in order not to be a white, anti-black racist?)

Recently Bernie was asked if he supports reparations for black Americans. (I’m pretty sure that no one has dared to ask Queen Billary this question. [If so, I haven’t seen it reported anywhere.]) Bernie responded:

No, I don’t think so. First of all, its likelihood of getting through Congress is nil. Second of all, I think it would be very divisive. The real issue is when we look at the poverty rate among the African-American community, when we look at the high unemployment rate within the African-American community, we have a lot of work to do.

So I think what we should be talking about is making massive investments in rebuilding our cities, in creating millions of decent-paying jobs, in making public colleges and universities tuition-free, basically targeting our federal resources to the areas where it is needed the most and where it is needed the most is in impoverished communities, often African-American and Latino.

Bernie is quite correct; there is no way in hell, of course, that reparations for black Americans would pass Congress any congressional session soon, and our best and probably our only politically possible avenue to try to reverse the lingering effects of slavery and its aftermath is to try to help significantly all of those who are struggling (which is what democratic socialism, to which I subscribe, is all about).

And, of course, there is no viable presidential candidate currently publicly supporting reparations. (Certainly the Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton is not!) No one wins the White House without enough of the “swing voters,” the “independents,” and one sure way to lose them is to publicly support reparations. That’s the ugly political reality for now and for some time to come, as best as I can discern it.

(Indeed, there was a time until quite recently when publicly supporting same-sex marriage, which only this past June finally was declared to be a constitutional right, at least was perceived as a sure way to lose the White House — ask Barack Obama and Billary Clinton, who didn’t publicly support same-sex marriage, at least on the national stage, until 2012 and 2013, respectively.)

For the record, I support reparations for the American descendants of slaves on principle,** even though I don’t know how slavery that went on for generations and the continued race-based oppression that for generations has followed slavery’s official end ever could be made anything even remotely approaching right.

But actual, non-theoretical reparations would have to be doled out in the real world, and I don’t see how that could be done fairly and justly. (That important consideration should have been part of Bernie’s answer to the question about his support for reparations for black Americans, and it is unfortunate that it was not, in my not-so-humble opinion.)

Yes, Japanese Americans in the late 1980s received some reparation for their internment during World War II; but World War II was much more recent than was American slavery, which ended, at least legally, a full 150 years ago. It was much easier to prove which individual, still-living Japanese Americans had been wronged by the U.S. government than it ever could be to sort out which black Americans alive today are the descendants of slaves and to calculate how much the damage of slavery set them back in their lives of today.

On that note, how, exactly, would we determine who gets reparations and who pays those reparations (and how much)?

Barack Obama, to name one prominent example, and who knows how many other black Americans are not the descendants of slaves. Would they get reparations because white privilege nonetheless affects them also?

Should I have to pay reparations (that is, anything above and beyond any reparations that would be paid for from all Americans’ tax dollars, as the Japanese-American internment camp reparations of $20,000 per individual were paid for) because I’m a white man?

I’m white, but I’ve never heard of any of my ancestors having lived in the deep South. My parents’ families moved to Arizona no later than in the 1950s from Missouri and from Texas. (Texas usually but not always is considered to be part of the South, but I consider it to be more a part of the Southwest, which is not to say that it’s not an incredibly backasswards state, because it is, and both Texas and Missouri were slave states at the time of the Civil War.)

Nor have I ever heard of any remarkably rich forebears of mine (I would think that if there had been any filthy-rich whiteys in my family’s history, I would have heard about it by now), and I certainly never have heard of any actual slave-owning forebears of mine. But even if I do have any Southern forebears, this PBS educational resource states:

The standard image of Southern slavery is that of a large plantation with hundreds of slaves. In fact, such situations were rare. Fully three-fourths of Southern whites did not even own slaves; of those who did, 88 percent owned 20 or fewer. Whites who did not own slaves were primarily yeoman farmers.

Practically speaking, the institution of slavery did not help these people. And yet most non-slaveholding white Southerners identified with and defended the institution of slavery. Though many resented the wealth and power of the large slaveholders, they aspired to own slaves themselves and to join the privileged ranks.

In addition, slavery gave the farmers a group of people to feel superior to. They may have been poor, but they were not slaves, and they were not black. They gained a sense of power simply by being white.

I wholly acknowledge this sociopoliticoeconomic phenomenon of white privilege. White privilege incontrovertibly is, as they say, a thing.

But where it comes to doling out reparations in a way that is just, equitable and fair – even assuming that Congress would pass and that the president would sign such legislation – again, how, exactly, do we determine who receives and who gives, and how much? Could it be the case that if I’m white I’m automatically “guilty” and therefore I must dole something out (above and beyond my normal tax dollars, I mean)? Could it more or less come to that? Wouldn’t that be just another form of racial profiling? Is that racial profiling actually “justice”?

I mean, I hope that I have no slave owner as a forebear, whether he or she owned “just” one slave or many slaves, but if even I don’t know whether I do or not, how could you know? No, you (the advocate for white people paying reparations) primarily or even solely would be going off of the color of my skin – something that you say is wrong.

In any event, even Barack Obama never publicly has stated that he supports reparations, so why is Bernie Sanders being burned at the stake for his truthful, honest answer on the issue?

That mostly was a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: I believe that Bernie Sanders is perceived by the Only Black Lives Matter slacktivists and their sympathizers as just another old white man (and all old white men, and all white men, in general, of course, are bad, you see – not that that’s a racist notion or anything), even though it wasn’t until relatively recently in American history that Jews like Bernie were even included in the definition of “white” (and again, even though liberal Jews have been instrumental in positive social change in the United States).

So it’s anti-white black racism (yes, just like white privilege and anti-black white racism, that is a thing, too) and it’s toxic identity politics: BernieSoWhite! (He shouldn’t be white, you see, but, if he must be white, he must feel awful and guilty about it, and he must be perpetually apologetic about the fact that he was born with pale skin, you see. [Really, get with the new race politics already! It’s not your Grandpappy’s civil rights movement anymore!])

The bottom line is that Bernie Sanders’ proposals, if manifested, would lift all boats. He is advocating for all Americans.

Political weather vane on crack Billary Clinton, on the other hand, pays lip service to certain historically oppressed groups, such as women, blacks and other racial minorities and gay men and lesbians, in a cynical (and quite successful) ploy for their campaign cash and their votes. (I feel a blog piece about the establishmentarian, calcified Planned Parenthood’s and the establishmentarian, calcified Human Rights Campaign’s stupidly, blindly recently having endorsed Billary for the White House coming on, but I won’t give birth to it today.)

Nothing in Billary’s political history (or her husband’s) indicates that in exchange for their votes (and their campaign donations), she’ll actually do very much for the downtrodden. (After all, she is quite comfortable!) She’s even more or less promising to be the third and perhaps even the fourth term of the fairly do-nothing Obama administration.

I don’t know if our nation and our planet can survive another four or eight years of much happy talk without much actual action (although, to her credit, perhaps, compared to Obama circa 2008, Billary has cut down, way down, on the happy, hopey-changey talk).

I believe that as president, Bernie Sanders would try to lift all boats (well, not any of the yachts). How much success he would have in the face of mind-blowingly-well-funded political opposition to an actually aggressively progressive political agenda I don’t know.

As president he would need, as he has said repeatedly, enough Americans, millions of Americans, rallying behind him to push through a progressive agenda in a Congress that long has been beholden to Big Money. And Americans’ favorite pastime is to sit on our asses and complain while we let someone else do all of the work.

But I believe that as president Bernie Sanders would try, and would try hard. (What I have held against Obama the most is that I don’t believe that, even with both houses of Congress in the Democrats’ control in 2009 and 2010, he even much tried to push through a progressive agenda, when he still could have; after the House of Representatives went to the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in the election of 2010, the window of opportunity slammed shut for the remainder of Obama’s time in the White House.)

So: Which is the true “white supremacist liberal” – the presidential candidate whose actual history and political ideology actually indicates that he truly would try hard for all Americans, especially downtrodden Americans, or the pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic candidate whose actual history and political ideology indicates that she promises one thing for political gain but then does another – and who lectures us at length on what can’t be done, tries to induce us to accept her unacceptable incrementalism, all the while neglecting to tell us that she won’t even try to do these things she promises because it would upset her Big Political Donors if she dared?

Kudos, though, I suppose, to Billary for her Machiavellian success in duping the majority of black Americans into believing that she would be our “third” “black” president (recall that Bill Clinton was our “first black president,” which, I suppose, would make Obama our “second,” and Billary, by marriage, our “third”).

Again, Billary similarly has duped many if not most feminists (hello, Planned Parenthood!) and gay men and lesbians (hello, Human Rights Campaign, whose initials just coinky-dinkily happen to be Billary’s, too!) into believing that she would be better for them than Bernie Sanders would be, and/or that while she can win the White House, Sanders cannot. (The polls say quite otherwise – indeed, they have Sanders doing better than Billary against Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio – and they say otherwise because while Queen Billary is largely despised by the American electorate as a whole, Bernie is not.)

Black Americans have the right to embrace Billary Clinton and by so doing to vote against their own best interests and to shoot themselves in the foot, and they have the right to hold out on Bernie Sanders if they wish. (Goddess knows that I’m holding out on Billary – I won’t give her a penny and certainly not my vote, no matter which demon emerges from the fire and brimstone as the Repugnican Tea Party’s presidential candidate.)

But black Americans who call themselves Democrats (or who tend to side with Democrats, anyway) reject Bernie Sanders primarily if not solely because he’s an older white man — not because as president Billary would do more for black Americans than would Bernie. Because, of course, she would not. (Again, she is promising a continuation of the Obama years, under which, ironically, most black Americans’ lives have not improved much at all.)

Let’s at least be honest about that much.

Update (Friday, January 22, 2016): Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie returns to this topic today. Among many other things, he notes:

… The Sanders revolution is multiracial and multicultural, but — like any political victory in present-day America — it depends on white Americans. It’s why he can’t support reparations. They’re too alienating to the white voters he needs to transform the nation’s politics. …

Yup.

To blame Bernie Sanders for this fact — to criticize him for not promising or even proposing something that no other viable presidential candidate would dare to even propose — is patently unjust and unfair bullshit. He does operate within political constraints.

(Bouie correctly adds that “it’s important to see that the forces that make reparations impossible can also, in diminished but powerful form, curtail [Bernie’s progressive] agenda too.” Absolutely. That doesn’t mean that you don’t try to push a progressive agenda [which apparently is Billary’s “strategy” — to not even try], but it does mean that you be aware of the potential roadblocks, that you remain aware of your political reality.)

That Bernie so often is singled out for special criticism while others — perhaps especially Billary Clinton — get off scot-free for the same exact “sin” — contributes to my strong sense that many if not even most of Bernie’s critics on racial (and some other) issues just don’t like him primarily because he’s not of their own race and/or gender.

Again: It’s toxic identity politics more than it’s anything else.

*Yes, the tone and the stance of many if not most of the Black Lives Matter “activists” apparently is that they care only about the welfare of their own group, the selfishness and short-sightedness of which is pretty fucking off-putting. (I, a gay man, for example, apparently am expected to be markedly gung-ho for the Black Lives Matter slacktivists when they historically haven’t been very supportive of my rights. Um, yeah, support needs to be a two-way street.)

And because most members of the Only Black Lives Matter crowd are sad imitations of those who came before them, and are burning bridges instead of building them, therefore apparently doing more damage than good on the whole, I can only think of them as slacktivists. Real activism is hard, selfless work — it’s not reckless, selfish, short-sighted hit jobs.

**Ta-Nehesi Coates, an advocate of reparations (perhaps the most well-known such advocate), proclaims most recently on his platform, The Atlantic:

… Reparations is not one possible tool against white supremacy. It is the indispensable tool against white supremacy. One cannot propose to plunder a people, incur a moral and monetary debt, propose to never pay it back, and then claim to be seriously engaging in the fight against white supremacy. …

I agree with at least some of this, but again: Reparations are one thing in theory, as an abstraction. But what about practicality? In practicality, we’d have to determine many things:

Who pays reparations and who does not? And how much do those who must pay reparations pay? Would these reparations come out of the U.S. Treasury, so that everyone who pays federal taxes pays reparations (meaning that many if not most black Americans would be funding at least part of their own reparations…), and/or would we (try to) extract reparations from those whom we deem especially guilty, perhaps certain corporations and certain wealthy individuals, especially if there is a clear link to their and/or their forebears’ having profiteered from slavery in the past?

Or is it good enough that if you’re white you “owe” reparations — because white privilege?

And who receives the reparations? Do they have to prove that an ancestor was a slave? (If so, what constitutes adequate proof?) Or is it good enough that they are black and that blacks are victims of white privilege? And how do the recipients of reparations receive their reparations? A check or a debit card from the federal government, I presume, but would it be one lump sum or would it come in installments? Would there be any limitations on how the reparations could be spent, or would they simply be payouts to be spent by the recipients as they wish?

Do I, a gay man, receive any reparations because it was not until just this past June that the U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled that it is my constitutional right to marry a member of my own sex? Do I receive reparations for that oppression and for other anti-gay treatment that I have received during my life?

Can I get reparations from the 70 percent of black Californians who voted in favor of the now-unconstitutional-we-know anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition Hate in November 2008?

How am I to be made whole after I spent 47 years as a second-class citizen whose constitutional guarantee of equality under the law routinely was shit and pissed upon by the heterosexual, heterosexist, homophobic majority?

I’m not being flippant; aren’t there a lot of groups of people out there — women (who couldn’t vote everywhere in the nation until 1920and do we issue back pay to millions and millions of women for the gender pay gap that still exists today?), Latinos (whom also have been chronically underpaid for their work, whom millions of Americans [mostly right-wing whites] don’t want to vote today [claiming that if you are Latino you’re probably an “illegal”] and who now are the nation’s largest racial minority), Native Americans (’nuff said), non-heterosexuals, non-gender-conforming individuals, atheists, Jews, Muslims, et. al., et. al. — who have a valid claim to reparations?

If we give black Americans reparations, then out of fairness don’t we also owe reparations to other historically oppressed groups of people?

These are not teeny-tiny questions. And in a democracy, especially one as messy as ours, what kind of agreement could we get on the answers to these questions?

These are my problems with the proposal of reparations for black Americans, and I suspect that they are Bernie Sanders’, too.

But it’s easier, and more politically convenient — and certainly more dramatic — to just claim that Bernie and his supporters are “white supremacist liberals”!

Especially when the main problem that the Only Black Lives Matter slacktivists (many if not most of them very apparently black supremacists themselves) have with Bernie and with his white supporters is that we were born white.

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It’s another summer of race-relations hell, but I believe it is getting better

In this undated photo provided by the Bland family, Sandra Bland poses for a photo. The family of Bland, who was found dead in her Texas jail cell, assert that she would not have taken her own life, but authorities are pointing to mounting evidence that they say shows she hanged herself. (Courtesy of Bland family)

Associated Press image

Sandra Bland (shown in a family photo above) very apparently died for having driven while black in Texas. That conclusion is fairly inescapable. That said, Dear Black People: Hulk Hogan (like Donald Sterling and Paula Deen) is not The Spokesperson for White People. Just putting that out there. (Hogan is photographed below with his daughter, whose relationship with a black man induced him to use “the ‘n-’ word” repeatedly eight years ago on, um, a sex tape…)

Brooke Hogan Defends Dad Hulk with a Poem

Maybe I have a short memory — maybe this comes up every summer, when we have hot temperatures and hot tempers — but this summer seems to be a repeat of last summer, in which race relations were at the fore.

I’m not saying that race relations shouldn’t be discussed nationally — clearly, we in the United States of America have many unresolved, ongoing issues and problems surrounding race (and many other things) that we have to solve, as they won’t simply go away by themselves, as much as we might wish that they would — but at the same time, it seems to me that so many people benefit from the continued interracial strife that they have no real interest in resolution.

White supremacists and black supremacists, for instance, derive their senses of identity, meaning and purpose from continued interracial conflict. I don’t expect them to hold hands for a rousing round of “Kumbaya” any time soon. And, of course, as I’ve noted, race relations aren’t only binary, aren’t only black and white or black vs. white or vice-versa; we see from Donald Trump’s brand of politics that attacking Latinos can pay off politically within the right wing, just as attacking Jews paid off politically in right-wing Nazi Germany.

And, of course, race-based reportage does quite well in the media, and the media corporations that profit from it know that fully well.

This is not to downplay or minimize very real injustices, such as the fate of 28-year-old Sandra Bland. I agree with Matt Taibbi’s assessment that however Sandra Bland died while captive in a Texas jail earlier this month, because she very apparently was pulled over in the first place primarily or only because of racial profiling — and therefore apparently was subjected to race-based harassment by the law-enforcement officer who pulled her over — the Texas law-enforcement and criminal/“criminal” justice/“justice” system officials were responsible for everything that happened to her afterward.

When I say “responsible” I mean morally, ethically and karmically responsible, of course; unless it can be proved conclusively that Bland did not die by self-strangulation, of course no one in Texas will be charged with murder, despite the headline of Taibbi’s piece that proclaims that “Sandra Bland Was Murdered.”

Personally, were a law-enforcement officer to stop me, whether I were on foot or in a car or on a bicycle or whatever, and/or give me any directive and/or request that was not blatantly unreasonable, I probably would comply with his or her order or request. I probably would not argue with him or her. An illegal stop or arrest usually can be sorted out later. The time and place of the stop or arrest probably is not the time and place at which the legality or illegality of it is going to be officially, legally established.

That said, Taibbi notes that “Law-and-order types like to lecture black America about how it can avoid getting killed by ‘respecting authority’ and treating arresting cops like dangerous dogs or [swarms of] bees.” 

I don’t want to come off as one of those kinds of white people, and I do view — for years now I have viewed — the primary role of law-enforcement officers and the criminal/“criminal” justice/“justice” system not as maintaining public safety, the safety of us commoners, but as maintaining the socioeconomic status quo; the taxes of we, the people, fund the cops and the court system, but they function primarily not for our benefit, but primarily to keep the rich — a disproportionate number of them right-wing white people — firmly in power.

And true, of course we shouldn’t have to regard our cops like dangerous animals that might go off on us at any moment, but when the reality, at least for the time being, is that often we do, the safest thing to do then is to regard them as such, it seems to me. You might call that cowardice or caving; I consider it to be survival. You will be less able to celebrate your victory of being right and the cop being wrong when you are in a hospital bed, and you won’t be able to celebrate your victory at all if you’re dead.

The mouthiest that I got with a law-enforcement officer that I can remember is when I was at a pro-labor-union protest at the California state Capitol in late February 2011 and the state police (officers of the California Highway Patrol, especially one of them) were enforcing supposed rules, regulations and ordinances on those of us of the pro-labor crowd while they allowed the anti-labor “tea-party” traitors who were there only to heckle and try to provoke us from across the street to do the same things that we were doing, with complete impunity. I pointed this out to Officer Friendly (and reported his actions later to the CHP).

My sense of that situation is that cops, most of them being right-wing themselves, tend to crack down much harder on left-leaning groups of people than on right-wing groups of people, since they usually agree with the latter.

However, on that day in February 2011 there were many people around, and many if not even most had their “smart”phone or other video-recording devices out, so it’s not like this cop was going to do anything to me for simply having complained to him about his and his cohorts’ unfair treatment.

What happened in the Sandra Bland case, from what I can tell, was that two stubborn people clashed, which often is a recipe for disaster. Sandra Bland probably felt that she had been racially profiled because she probably had been. I’m guessing that her mindset was that she wasn’t going to take it. The cop, conversely, wanted her complete compliance with his commands, which he did not get. Again: It was a recipe for disaster.

While the cop had the right to ask her to step out of her vehicle — the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that it is not a violation of one’s constitutional rights (in and of itself) to be told to get out of a vehicle when stopped by a law-enforcement officer — whether or not the cop who stopped Bland had the right to ask her to put out her cigarette is much grayer.

One retired law-enforcement official interviewed by the Los Angeles Times stated, “No one, including a police officer, wants to get a burning cigarette jammed into their face or eye; it’s basic procedure. The officer asked politely if she would mind putting out her cigarette. The violator then raised her voice, actively resisted multiple lawful directions to get out of the car. The officer requested a backup officer to respond. The officer raised his voice several times in what turned out to be a futile effort to overcome that resistance.” (Consider the source of that loaded quote, of course.)

Why, exactly, the cop asked Bland to put out her cigarette I’m not sure. While a still-burning cigarette could be used as a weapon, it seems to me that most likely the cop just wanted to abuse his authority and control, and perhaps to test his control over Bland.

Of course, he might be someone who is bothered significantly by cigarette smoke that is close by; I am one of those people, and I hate it when people smoke in public and I have to deal with their smoke.

But while Bland was non-compliant, the cop, who, because he had a lot more power in the interaction than did Bland (he had not only a lethal weapon but also the full force of the Texas “justice” system, which he knew always is going to give him the benefit of any doubt, behind him), had that much more responsibility than did Bland to keep the interaction from escalating.

Yet the cop threatened to “light” Bland “up” with his Taser — Tasers are supposed to be used defensively, not threatened to be used as a bargaining chip, as far as I understand — and when Bland, who at this point had been grabbed by the cop by the wrist, proclaimed that she had epilepsy, the cop replied, “Good.”

Only because there was video and audio of this did the cop’s Texan superiors Orwellianly understate that the cop had violated the department’s “courtesy policy.” Otherwise, the cop probably would have lied about the entire interaction (including how wholly professional and polite he had been), and his lies would have been taken as gospel.

As I do, another police expert who was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times correctly puts the onus on the cop:

Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor and former Florida police officer, said Enicinia [the cop’s name is Brian T. Encinia; he is Latino] missed several opportunities to deescalate tension and should have explained in calmer tones what he was doing and why.

“He certainly has the legal authority to get her to step out of the car,” Stoughton said. “But in this case, if he is exercising his authority because she defying his direction to put out the cigarette, then that is more based on his ego than public safety…. Just because it is legal to order her out of the car doesn’t make it a professional approach in modern policing.

“This is a systemic problem with policing,” Stoughton said. “There is emphasis on compliance over cooperation.”

There are no laws that require an officer to order alleged violators to extinguish a cigarette in their car during a traffic stop, he said.

“It was a request, not an order,” he said. “If a person was out of the car, then an officer could determine it poses a safety threat and order it be put out. But it is hard to argue that inside the car.”

Again, Encinia might have a hard time breathing around cigarette smoke, as I do, but again, he had significantly more responsibility than did Bland to prevent the interaction from spinning out of control, but he fairly clearly had little to no interest in doing that, and perhaps he even wanted an ego-boosting fight with her. (I don’t know, since I wasn’t there, and since even if I had been there, I’m pretty intuitive but I am not telepathic.)

In a nutshell, I suspect that being a black woman with, presumably, an Illinois license plate on her car, Bland was profiled as being a certain type of individual who is not welcome in the deep-red state of Texas and therefore was pulled over — and had that not happened, she very most likely still would be alive.

While what happened to Bland (if she indeed did take her own life) does not match the legal definition of murder, of course, it is difficult to impossible for me not to conclude that she was killed by systemic injustice. She was, in effect, killed for being black (and perhaps also for being from out of state, and from a blue state) in Texas. She was killed by the actions and the inaction of many, many people. And of course black lives matter.

And then there is Hulk Hogan, who this past week was in the news, Donald-Sterling style, for having been recorded repeatedly using the word “nigger” in a sex tape that was made eight years ago and later was leaked. (Apparently Hogan was not pleased that his daughter was in a relationship with a black man. [Donald Sterling, recall, similarly didn’t like his girl-toy associating with black men.])

“This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise,” the Hulkster has proclaimed.

That’s not very credible. It’s not absolutely impossible that Hogan truly has had a change of heart in the past eight years, but as most people develop their belief systems early in life and tend to keep them intact until death, it seems quite unlikely.

That said, Hogan is 61 years old and was born in Georgia and raised in Florida. (His fellow racist Paula Deen is 68 years old and also was born in Georgia, where she has remained.

Let’s please not presume that all (or even most) white people routinely throw around the word “nigger” in private. White racism (as is all racism) is largely a function of one’s age and one’s upbringing, including the region where he or she was raised and the region where he or she has been living for a while now (and how much racism has been prevalent and how much it has been tolerated — or even encouraged — in that region).

Donald Sterling is 81 years old; he was born in Chicago but apparently has lived in the Los Angeles area for the vast majority of his life. I chalk up his racism more as a function of his age than of his geography.

Socioeconomics, including one’s highest level of education and one’s income, also affect one’s level of racism, regardless of his or her race.

The likes of Hulk Hogan, Donald Sterling and Paula Deen are not spokespeople for the entire white race.

Thankfully, younger whites tend to be significantly less racist than older whites — as with homophobia, racism’s eradication probably depends mostly upon older people finally kicking off and taking their bigotry with them to their graves and urns — and again, with racism there are regional differences. There is no region of the U.S. that is entirely free of racism, of course, but some regions inarguably are much worse with racism than are others. (Fuck, I’m a white [albeit gay] guy and truly I would be afraid to drive through Texas. Perhaps especially with California plates.)

And where lovely white people like Donald Sterling and Hulk Hogan are concerned, I do have a problem with violations of privacy, which would include being recorded secretly or having one’s consensual recording (such as a sex tape) taken from his or her possession and then leaked to others.

All of us have a constitutional right to privacy, whether we’re racist or not. Yes, that constitutional right to privacy would include being able to say even the vilest things within the privacy of our own fucking homes, much how the constitutional right to free speech enables us to say even the vilest things. It is at our own peril that we allow the constitutional right to privacy to fall to the wayside by not defending others when their right to privacy is violated. Defending their right to privacy is not the same thing as agreeing with their words.

And I don’t believe for a nanosecond that non-whites, in private, never make any racist or negative, race-based comments about members of other races or similar comments that they wouldn’t want leaked to the public. Again, all of us have the constitutional right to privacy, and it’s quite easy for us to be hypocrites and burn the likes of Donald Sterling and Hulk Hogan at the stake when we certainly wouldn’t want certain utterances of our own to be secretly recorded and publicized (or to be recorded for our own use but then publicized against our wishes).

Finally, it can come as no surprise that, the New York Times reports, Americans right now hold a dim view of race relations. The Times reported this past week:

Seven years ago, in the gauzy afterglow of a stirring election night in Chicago, commentators dared ask whether the United States had finally begun to heal its divisions over race and atone for the original sin of slavery by electing its first black president. It has not. Not even close.

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week reveals that nearly six in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad, and that nearly four in 10 think the situation is getting worse. By comparison, two-thirds of Americans surveyed shortly after President [Barack] Obama took office said they believed that race relations were generally good.

The swings in attitude have been particularly striking among African-Americans. During Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, nearly 60 percent of blacks said race relations were generally bad, but that number was cut in half shortly after he won. It has now soared to 68 percent, the highest level of discontent among blacks during the Obama years and close to the numbers recorded in the aftermath of the riots that followed the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.

Only a fifth of those surveyed said they thought race relations were improving, while about 40 percent of both blacks and whites said they were staying essentially the same.

Respondents tended to have much sunnier views of race relations in their own communities.

For instance, while only 37 percent said they thought race relations were generally good in the United States, more than twice that share, 77 percent, thought they were good in their communities, a number that has changed little over the past 20 years. …

That 77 percent of the poll’s respondents believe that race relations are pretty good in their own communities but that only 37 percent of the respondents believe that race relations are generally good in the nation as a whole demonstrates two things, I suspect: One, that a lot of Americans probably live in neighborhoods that aren’t very diverse — Americans tend to self-segregate by race (and by other demographics, such as income and age) — and so, surrounded mostly by people like themselves, there isn’t a lot of race-based conflict in the typical American’s daily routine.

And two, having a journalism degree and valuing the First Amendment, I’m not a knee-jerk blame-the-media type, but race-based news/“news” stories, because they get viewers and readers hot and bothered and so they get the media outlets viewers and readers (and thus more money), I surmise would lead us to believe that interracial relations are significantly worse than they actually are.

I don’t at all mean to downplay what happened to Sandra Bland or to Eric Garner or to Walter Scott or to way too many others. Their deaths/murders of course needed to be reported within the news/“news” media. I mean only to point out the simple fact that when interracial relations go smoothly, very rarely is it ever considered to be “newsworthy.” When interracial relations go significantly badly, especially if death or violence or property destruction is involved, all of us hear about it.

And in today’s instantaneous media environment, we hear about it instantaneously. And no media outlet wants to be seen as being outdone by the others, so we have wolf-pack journalism/“journalism,” and so when something is in the news/“news,” we see incessant, relentless coverage of it until it’s taken over by a new outrage or tragedy or debacle.

That we hear primarily only of the bad gives us a skewed view of how horrible things actually are. Your chance of dying in an airplane crash is 1 in 11 million. Your chance of dying in a vehicular crash, however, is 1 in 5,000. But horrific plane crashes that the media cover relentlessly make flying in airplanes seem to be much more dangerous than it really is.

Not too dissimilarly, I believe, the vast majority of interactions between cops and civilians end without injury or death. Most cops actually are not out to harm or to kill anyone (most — of course, no one wants to experience, or should have to experience, the exceptions to that rule).

And Hulk Hogan and his ilk are not representative of all or even of most white people. A sweepingly generalizing sentence that begins with “(All) white people…” is as likely to be as bullshit and as racist as is a sweepingly generalizing sentence that begins with “(All) black people…” And to me it’s just as offensive and just as racist to paint all white people with the same broad brush as it is to paint all members of another racial group with the same broad brush. Respect needs to work both ways for it to work at all.

Of course electing Barack Obama as president in 2008 wasn’t the magic bullet that was going to slay racism in the United States of America once and for all. As the New York Times’ reportage indicates, however, many if not most of us apparently to some degree thought that it was, at least in the “gauzy afterglow” of his initial election.

But since Obama’s arrival in the White House didn’t magically wipe out racism — since racism is much bigger than is any one person, even the president of the United States of America — nor does Obama’s departure from the White House a year and a half from now mean that racism inevitably is going to get even worse than it is now.

It’s quite trite, but it’s quite true: racism’s eradication or its persistence is up to us, to each and to every one of us.

Had I been asked to take the New York Times’ poll, I’d have responded, truthfully, that I believe that race relations in the United States actually are getting better, not worse.

That probably strikes most as counter-intuitive, given what’s in the news/“news” these days, but I say that because although racial relations in the U.S. continue to be quite messy, we’re talking about them.

Not talking about racism perpetuates it. All of us, regardless of our race, need to continue to talk about racism and we need to continue to act to eradicate it.

It’s incredibly messy. It’s awfully ugly. But we must do it nonetheless.

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Attacking their allies isn’t a winning strategy for black-rights activists

As dozens protesters shout, Tia Oso of the National Coordinator for Black Immigration Network, center, walks up on stage interrupting Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, right, as moderator Jose Vargas watches at left, during the Netroots Nation town hall meeting, Saturday, July 18, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Associated Press photo

Black-rights activists commandeered a progressive forum in Phoenix on Saturday, even taking the microphone from the frustrated moderator, left, while Democratic presidential aspirant Martin O’Malley, right, who had been trying to speak, looks on. This was a bad political move. Those gathered at the event weren’t there to have an outside group take over the event, and those gathered at the progressive forum aren’t the enemy. It was a safe target for a hostile takeover, however, since the attendees at the progressive event didn’t really need the lesson.

So if I understand the “#BernieSoBlack” meme correctly, democratic socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is to be derided because he isn’t black.

Wow.

Of the five-thus-far announced candidates for the Democratic Party presidential nomination (all of them white), a President Sanders probably would be the best booster of black Americans – probably even better than Barack Obama has been (which isn’t saying all that much, I know [I mean, Obama is great with the rhetoric…]) – but Sanders is to be derided because he isn’t of the “right” race. (Not that that’s racist or anything…)

As I’ve noted, yes, it would be nice if the most progressive presidential candidate weren’t another older white man, as we’ve had more than our fill of older white men in the White House and in other positions of power, but the bottom line with Bernie Sanders is that he is the most progressive presidential candidate that we have today.

It’s not Sanders’ fault that no black (or Latino or Asian or…) American is running for president on the Democratic Party ticket (but hey, black Americans have Ben Carson!), and the demographics of Sanders’ home state of Vermont aren’t exactly his fault, either. (Vermont was about 94 percent white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 estimate.)

Thus far there isn’t a “#BillarySoBlack” meme because, I suppose, Billary Clinton is seen as an extension of Bill Clinton, whom black American writer Toni Morrison in 1998 billed as “the first black president,” even though his “welfare reform,” his support of NAFTA, and his other right-wing, pro-plutocratic and pro-corporate policies harmed, not helped, black Americans as well as Americans in general.

The Clintons are great at saying that they’re on your side; actually acting in your best interests, however, is much more challenging for them (as it has been for Obama).

But, I believe, I get it: Barack Obama is in office for only another year and a half. Statistically speaking, while the door has been at least cracked opened, we probably won’t see another black president any decade soon. If the Repugnicans take back the White House in November 2016, of course Attorney General Loretta Lynch will be replaced, and if the Democrats keep the White House, she may or may not be kept on (I’d like to see her kept on).

Black Americans very apparently are concerned, and rightfully so, that the work that Obama’s Justice Department has started on civil rights won’t be continued after he leaves office. If the Repugnicans regain the White House, of course that work will stop. If the Democrats keep the White House, black Americans want to ensure that they don’t drop the ball.

It’s a big ball to drop. Unarmed black Americans are more than twice as likely to be slaughtered by a cop than are unarmed white Americans, and in 2009 almost 5 percent of black Americans were incarcerated, compared to fewer than 1 percent of white Americans. Black Americans have the lowest median household income of all of the races in the U.S. (Latinos have the second-lowest, while Asian Americans have the highest and white Americans have the second-highest).

I could give many more such statistics. Black Americans, by almost every measure, indeed struggle more than the members of any other racial group, and of course institutionalized racism is the largest factor in that. And of course symbolic actions alone, like banning the Confederate flag (while that’s a necessary step), aren’t going to reverse these grim statistics.

As much as these statistics capture the real suffering of real human beings, it disturbs me that mindless, knee-jerk political correctness has driven us to the point that it widely is considered to be quite unseemly to assert these days that all lives matter. Billary Clinton and Martin O’Malley now know this after both of them made the political mistake of recently publicly asserting that “all lives matter,” which very apparently is interpreted by many if not most within the black American community and the black American community’s uber-politically correct supporters to mean that black Americans’ concerns are being minimized by the blithe pronouncement that “all lives matter.”

All lives do matter, of course, but of course it’s critically important to note that not all Americans have it the same, that the average white American and the average Asian American, for instance, have it much better than do the average black American and the average Latino American.

I know – I’m not supposed to mention Latinos and Asians, because so many of us are addicted to the binary view of race relations, the view that race relations really are only black and white (and black vs. white and vice-versa).

But that’s just not the reality of the United States of America.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s estimates for 2013 are that 62.6 percent of Americans were white only, 17.1 percent were Latino only, 13.2 percent black only, and 5.3 percent Asian only, with the rest being of another race (such as Native American) or of more than one race. The pie graph looks like this:

(The lettering of this pie graph, which I found online, is small, so, if it helps, the blue area represents whites, the reddish-pinkish area represents Latinos, the green area represents blacks, the purplish area represents Asians, the turquoise represents those of more than one race, and the orange-ish represents Native Americans.)

Seeing it graphically helps to give us some perspective, I think. We are a diverse nation, but we also are supposed to be (in my book) a fairly proportionately representative democracy, albeit one that still protects minorities’ equal human and civil rights.

To those who think it’s just awful that Bernie Sanders was born white (as a Jewish American, however, he is a minority [Wikipedia notes that Sanders’ “father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland whose family was killed in the Holocaust, while his mother was born to Jewish parents in New York”]), I’d point out that a solid majority of Americans are white. (And, of course, Jewish Americans weren’t always considered to be white in the United States. And we’ve yet to have a Jewish U.S. president.)

I state this obvious fact (that most Americans still are white) because “Black Lives Matter” so often off-puttingly, offensively comes off as “Only Black Lives Matter” – especially since you get into trouble for asserting that “all lives matter” or even that “black and all lives matter.” Again, black Americans inarguably have it worse, as a racial group, than does any other racial group in the U.S., but black Americans, at 13 percent of the U.S. population, don’t comprise even one in five of all Americans (Latinos, whose numbers in the U.S. overtook blacks’ around 2000, are reaching that point, however).

For such a relatively small piece of the American pie to be demanding political power that is much greater than its actual numbers – such as the apparent demand that Barack Obama be followed only by another black president (even though the only black American who is running for president right now is the unelectable wingnut Ben Carson) – is not only unseemly and undemocratic, but it’s a shitty political tactic.

I can think of no better way to sink your own minority cause than to act like your minority cause is the only cause, or at least, the most important cause.

As a gay man, I’ve long recognized that without the help of our heterosexual allies, we of the non-heterosexual minority never would have achieved same-sex marriage (we still have a long way to go toward full equality, of course).* I’ve never advocated that we non-heterosexuals kiss heterosexual ass or beg for crumbs from the heterosexuals’ table, but at the same time, some political tactics that alienate one’s supporters or would-be supporters – such, as, oh, say, interrupting presidential candidates who are trying to speak to the members of a progressive group, even commandeering the microphonearen’t smart.

These tactics make you feel good about yourself – you rebel, you! – but they run counter to your own stated objectives. People who already are on your side or who could (have) be(en) on your side now have less respect for you; you have shown that you have no concerns outside of your own immediate concerns for yourself and your own group, and those toxically narrow identity politics don’t work anymore (if they ever did).

And when justifiably aggrieved blacks attack a progressive like Bernie Sanders, isn’t that just because they know that he won’t respond in a vicious, violent way? I mean, are these same people going to even try to similarly crash right-wing events? I much doubt it. So why attack those who already are on your side? Just because you can?

I hope that the “Black Lives Matter” movement continues. It’s vital to keep the issue of police brutality against blacks in the national spotlight. If it’s not, the deaths – the (negligent) homicides and the murders – of black Americans at the hands of the police will continue unabated.

But if the “Black Lives Matter” movement wants to succeed in the long term, it’s going to have to stop attacking allies (because they probably won’t fight back, being allies), and it’s going to have to realize that blacks comprise a minority of Americans, and that there are other oppressed minorities of Americans – and that yes, all lives do matter.

To acknowledge that simple fact is not to dismiss the living hell that the United States of America is for so many of its denizens, a disproportionate number of them black and Latino (and otherwise non-white). To acknowledge that fact is to gain and to keep allies on your side, because as powerful as you think you are, you can’t do it alone. You do need allies in this fight, and that means taking an interest in others’ interests and concerns, too.

Echo chambers are an awful lot of fun, but they don’t bring about a lot of lasting political change.

P.S. I see that long-time Billary Clinton stooge Joan Walsh of Salon.com predictably used the Phoenix incident to try to bash Bernie Sanders and boost Billary (even though Billary, like her hubby, always has been all words and promises but little action), as though Sanders needs a lecture from the DINO-loving Walsh, but vox.com notes that “Hillary Clinton was invited [to speak to the progressive group (Netroots Nation) in Phoenix on Saturday], but declined the invitation.”

At least Bernie showed up. You can’t fuck something up if you can’t even be bothered to be there, can you? No, Queen Billary prefers much more controlled, stage-managed “events.”

And of course Walsh won’t point out that it’s pretty shitty to interrupt and commandeer someone else’s event, no matter how just your cause might be, and that it’s pretty pointless to attack those who already support you — um, how about crashing a police officers’ convention when your main grievance is police brutality? — because that doesn’t fit in with her little narrative.

Some have posited that Billary was behind the crashing of the Netroots Nation in order to try to make her challengers look bad. That doesn’t strike me as impossible.

But after Bill Clinton’s record, anyone who believes that Billary Clinton would be “the first female black president” needs his or her head examined.

Finally, I note that not to be outdone by “Black Lives Matter” in alienating allies based upon toxic identity politics, Joan Walsh gleefully indirectly but surely calls Bernie Sanders’ white-male supporters “bro-cialists” and “bro-gressives” — because to be a white male by definition is shameful and bad, you see — even though about a third of Americans are white males, a group that’s too large for progressives to be able to afford to alienate entirely.

All white males should support Walsh’s DINO candidate, Billary Clinton, you see, simply because Billary is a woman who calls herself a Democrat, or they’re — we’re — to be demeaned as “bro-cialists” and “bro-gressives.” (Har har!)

You know, some might call Joan Walsh a “femi-Nazi.” Not I, of course, but some!

*On that note, on the day that I cast my vote for Barack Obama for president in November 2008 – happy to be able to vote for the first non-white president in U.S. history – 70 percent of California’s black voters voted for Proposition H8, which banned same-sex marriage (which the U.S. Supreme Court just last month ruled is unconstitutional).

It was, to put it mildly, a slap in the face to have had the black community’s back but to be betrayed by the black community like that.

Barack Obama didn’t come on board with same-sex marriage until 2012; he had to “evolve,” he said. Bernie Sanders already had publicly “evolved” on same-sex marriage before both Obama and Billary Clinton finally did, and arguably, Sanders publicly was supporting same-sex marriage way back in the 1970s.

There are plenty of pseudo-progressives — DINOs like Billary Clinton and Barack Obama — whom one can attack as being pseudo-progressives, as not really having oppressed minorities’ interests in mind or at heart.

Bernie Sanders isn’t one of them.

If all that matters is that our next president is black, then by all means, let’s elect Ben Carson, right-wing lunatic that he is.

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Jonathan Chait got it mostly right on the toxic identity politics of today

Jonathan Chait's epic race fail: How a story about racism and Obama goes horribly wrong

Left-of-center writer Jonathan Chait has committed the sin of telling the truth about our self-appointed political-correctness police, those who use their membership within an historically victimized and oppressed group to victimize and oppress others (men, mostly, and mostly white men, but sometimes white women as well). It indeed in so many quarters is open season on all white males, who are deemed automatically to be oppressors and victimizers because of their immutable characteristics of being male and being white. (As a gay white male, my non-heterosexuality gives me only so much cover for being a member of a class of victims, as homophobes widely consider homosexuality to be mutable. [Of course, it doesn’t fucking matter whether it’s mutable or not; we all should have the freedom to express ourselves sexually as we please, as long as we do so consensually.])

New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait started a shitstorm when he wrote about toxic PC (political correctness) police. Had he been completely wrong, he probably would have been ignored, but since he spoke so much unflattering truth, I’m one of only a handful of Internet commentators who have yet to comment on his comments.

First off, it’s necessary to describe the environment in which all of us Americans operate: to such a large degree stupid white men (emphasis there on “stupid”) still rule, as evidenced by the popularity of “American Sniper.” Not only is the Clint Eastwood film still No. 1, despite Eastwood’s penchant for talking to a vacant chair (actually, for “American Sniper’s” target audience, I’m sure that was in Eastwood’s favor), but the book American Sniper is No. 1 on amazon.com, and in amazon.com’s top-100-selling book titles there are no fewer than four different versions of the same fucking book (as I type this sentence) — plus an apparent knock-off book about yet another American sniper called The Reaper.

So mindless, blind worship of stupid, murderous (or at least violent or at least aggressive) white men widely misconstrued as “heroes” continues. (This could be its own blog piece, and indeed, was going to be, but I’ll get it over with here: “American sniper” Chris Kyle, who died by the sword as he lived by the sword, was no “hero.” He was part of an illegal and immoral occupying force in Iraq. As part of that illegal and immoral occupying force, he slaughtered a bunch of people who were, at least in their own eyes, defending their nation from a foreign occupying force [duh]. As Iraq had posed zero threat to the United States, as Iraq had not killed any Americans and had had no capability of killing Americans en masse [yeah, those Iraqi “WMDs” claimed by the war criminals who comprised the illegitimate Bush regime have yet to be found], there is no valid argument that Kyle was “protecting our freedoms” or some other jingoistic, Nazi-like bullshit. Kyle very apparently just really, really liked to slaughter people, and if he were Muslim instead of “Christian” and weren’t taking the big dirt nap, he probably would be a member of ISIS right now, slaughtering people left and right with gleeful abandon.)

So that is the nasty backdrop (part of it, anyway) against which those of us who aren’t stupid white men (again, emphasis on “stupid,” not on “white” or on “men”) or one of their worshipers must live in the United States of America.

That is the kind of background and context that Jonathan Chait’s piece is largely if not wholly missing, and I fault him for that fairly glaring omission, as well as for apparently not having allowed his piece to gestate long enough before birthing it upon the nation. (I often if not usually let something gestate for at least a few days before I finally give birth to it, such as this piece.) Further, the gravity of the topic — political correctness (which falls under the umbrella of identity politics) — could merit its own book, so no magazine article or blog piece (not even this one) could do it more than partial justice.

But Chait describes fairly well the phenomenon in which so many members of historically oppressed groups identify so much with being oppressed (whether these members as individuals actually have been very oppressed as individuals themselves or not) that they are hyper-vigilant about any signs of oppression.

Seriously — it used to be that people were just oppressed. And oppression was a bad thing. You didn’t want to be oppressed.

Now, being a member of an historically oppressed group is très chic. And apparently maintaining your membership in your très-chic group of oppressed people means constantly finding fresh meat, fresh new examples of how you have been oppressed, so if there aren’t any actual examples of how you have been oppressed, you’ll wildly exaggerate or even fabricate such “examples.”

Since you haven’t been (very) oppressed yourself lately, you’ll gladly piggy-back on to others’ (real or exaggerated or fabricated) oppression. That’s always fun.

If you didn’t jump on the Michael Brown bandwagon, for instance, to many that means that you are a white supremacist who supports the gunning down of black men, especially young black men, by white fascist cops who enjoy killing black men.

Never mind that it still remains quite unsettled as to whether or not Michael Brown actually went for the cop’s gun before the cop shot him dead. The cop claims that Brown did, and not only was the cop not indicted by a grand jury (which, indeed, might have been a bogus process), but the U.S. Department of Justice also declined to bring charges against the cop for civil-rights violations (granted, proving a civil-rights violation can be a high bar to clear, I know from personal experience).

It’s disturbing that so many people jumped to conclusions and have held fast to them. If your identity politics is that of the oppressed black American, then of course Michael Brown was innocent, a “gentle giant,” and was gunned down by whitey primarily if not solely for his race, and if your identity politics is that of the right-wing white person whose worldview at least verges on white supremacy if it isn’t already fully there, then of course Brown was a thug (and the phrase “black thug” would be redundant) and of course the white police officer only did what he had to do.

Either Brown went after the cop’s gun or he did not. (If I went after a cop’s gun, I’d expect to get shot.) The cop, under our existing (deeply flawed) legal structure, used deadly force against Brown legally or he did not. But whatever actually happened on that August day in Ferguson, Missouri, has little to nothing to do with identity politics, yet for many if not most Americans, their identity politics dictates the “facts.” That’s scary.

(The Eric Garner case, as I have written, at the bare minimum was a clear-cut case of manslaughter by the thuggish white cop, and, entirely unlike the Brown case, we have video of Garner incident, so “I can’t breathe” is an apt slogan of protest, whereas I never was on board with the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” meme because there is no evidence that Brown ever put his hands up in surrender — there are only biased claims that he did.)

The case of Woody Allen, too, also wasn’t about the actual knowledge of actual facts but was about identity politics.

Women whom Rush Limbaugh might call “femi-Nazis” have asserted that of course Mia Farrow, being a woman, told the truth that Allen had molested their adopted daughter, even though the allegation came during a nasty custody battle — and that of course Allen, being a man, was guilty as charged. Never mind that none of us was there and has any actual knowledge of what did or what did not happen; we have only the claims and counter-claims of the members of a deeply broken family whose dirty laundry has been scattered all over the public square.

This is some highly toxic shit.

The case of Bill Cosby, though, and that of Arnold “Baby Daddy” Schwarzenegger when he was running for California governor in a bullshit recall election in 2003 that had amounted to a do-over election since the bumbling Repugnican candidate had lost the election in 2002: When several women have come forward publicly to state that a man has sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them, to call all of them liars (as so many did to the at-least six women who came forward about the past deeds of the future Gov. Groper) very most often is a misogynist, patriarchal thing to do.

I have little to no doubt in my mind that Bill Cosby (and Baby Daddy Schwarzenegger) serially sexually harassed and sexually assaulted women.

But actual victimization is diminished when victimization is falsely claimed or is claimed whether or not there is any evidence to support the claim of victimization — usually out of identity politics. Perversely, many if not even most members of an historically oppressed group very apparently want the latest example of possible victimization (such as the shooting death of Michael Brown) to be true victimization because, in their eyes, it strengthens their political power as claimants of oppression.

It’s perverse that oppression has morphed from something that no one wanted into something that so many cherish to the point that they’ll happily fabricate it if they deem that to do so will advance themselves somehow.

(In his piece, Chait correctly notes that “It [identity politics and its concomitant claims of perpetual and ubiquitous victimhood] also makes money. Every media company knows that stories about race and gender bias draw huge audiences, making identity politics a reliable profit center in a media industry beset by insecurity.” Indeed, both Slate.com and Salon.com, two of my favorite websites, have resident identity-politics writers, taking the feminist and the black angles, mostly, and I routinely read these writers’ pieces, and often if not usually I agree with them [Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie rocks], but sometimes, yeah, it’s apparent that they’re really milking it. [Sorry, Salon.com’s Brittney Cooper, but in his article Chait calls you out on your frequent hysteria and hyperbole fairly fairly.])

This professional “victimhood,” is, I suspect, what has eaten at Chait, but that he perhaps did not articulate well enough in his now-infamous article.

And of his article, this paragraph, I think, is the money shot:

If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.” The extensive terminology plays a crucial role, locking in shared ideological assumptions that make meaningful disagreement impossible.

The emphasis there is mine. In the most rabid “p.c. culture,” indeed, “There is no allowance … for the possibility that the accusation [of an act of oppression or victimization] may be erroneous.” Within this toxic, tightly closed-off atmosphere, facts and evidence have no place at all; the politics of group identity rules supreme. Woody Allen molested his adopted daughter. Period. If you disagree with this, then you hate women and/or you are a pedophile yourself. Michael Brown was a “gentle giant” (never mind the very inconvenient video footage of him roughing up a convenience store clerk while he stole cigarillos from him on the day of his death) who was gunned down in cold blood by a white supremacist police officer. Period. If you disagree with this, then you are a white supremacist.

And indeed, as Chait writes, “A white person or a man can achieve the status of ‘ally,’ however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue.” Yup. That means going along with all manner of blatantly bullshit groupthink in order to get along, lest you be called a misogynist or racist/white supremacist or worse.

The goal of “p.c. culture” as it stands today indeed so often seems to be to push all white men into a corner, indeed, to destroy all white men or, minimally, to make all white men feel perpetually guilty (and thus perpetually disempowered) because, of course, merely by their having been born white and male, they inherently are the evil victimizers and oppressors of others (of women and of black people, mostly, but of other groups, too, of course). It’s not their individual deeds that make white males automatically-guilty victimizers and oppressors, but their mere membership within the group of white males, you see.

This is the sorry state of affairs even though the origin of “p.c. culture” was the fact that white men were pushing too many others into a corner due to those others’ immutable differences from white men, and pushing others into a corner based upon their immutable differences from oneself is a bad thing to do.

To such a large degree, the victims (well, in so many cases, the “victims”) have become the victimizers, and today the victims don’t even have to be actual victims to call themselves victims, and their actual victimization of others isn’t victimization because they are victims, and a victim cannot also be a victimizer, you see.

Get it? These are the new rules.

These new rules have got to go.

Jonathan Chait got it (mostly) right, which is why we’ve seen the reaction to him that we’ve seen.

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Is Ferguson a symptom of black American panic?

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Notes on the mess in Ferguson

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A screen grab (above) from a video apparently showing Michael Brown roughing up a convenience store clerk on the date of Brown’s shooting death by a white police officer apparently belies the idea of Brown having been a gentle giant, at least on the day of his death, but of course the unarmed Brown didn’t deserve to die for allegedly having stolen cigarillos. And law enforcement officers need to adopt non-lethal means of subduing subjects they deem dangerous or possibly dangerous, and of course we have way too many white cops shooting unarmed black men. All of that said, though, shit like torching police cars, as was done in Ferguson, Mo., last night (see news photo below), accomplishes exactly nothing.

A man runs from a police car that is set on fire after a group of protesters vandalize the vehicle after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Associated Press photo

I’ve yet to write about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., for several reasons, including the fact that I wanted to wait for things to play out and the fact, to be honest, that I’ve been Fergusoned out, much like I’ve been Benghazi’d out. Not to compare the two (one is an event that is a symptom of our broad and deep societal ills, and the other a comparative non-event drummed up by the right wing), but because the sensationalist media have beaten both into the ground.

First: Let’s acknowledge, as taboo as it is to do so (on the left, anyway), that Michael Brown apparently was no angel. There very apparently is surveillance video, for fuck’s sake, of the 6-foot-4-inch, almost 300-pound 18-year-old (whose nickname apparently was “Big Mike”) very apparently roughing up a convenience store clerk on the day that he later was shot and killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson (that day was August 9), and Wilson has claimed that when he encountered Brown, Brown had a handful of cigarillos that he’d apparently stolen from the convenience store.

(Whether this is true or whether Wilson was lying in an attempt to retroactively “justify” his shooting of Brown by trying to link Brown to a crime that Wilson has claimed he had been aware of is quite in dispute. [It seems to me that it’s quite possible that Wilson had had no knowledge of the convenience-store robbery before he encountered Brown on that fateful day in August, and if memory serves, early news reports [such as this one] indeed were that Wilson had not known about the convenience-store robbery when he encountered Brown.])

I’m no angel myself, but the exact number of times that I’ve roughed up a convenience store clerk while stealing from him is, um, zero. As there not only is surveillance video, but as Michael Brown’s companion on that fateful day, Dorian Johnson, apparently also has testified that Brown committed the convenience-store robbery (to Johnson’s surprise), that Brown committed the crime is, methinks, fairly indisputable, and it is not “character assassination” to divulge unflattering facts about Brown’s unflattering actions on that day, as Brown’s defenders have alleged. Brown’s character, at least as it was on that particular day, it seems to me, rather speaks for itself. On that day, anyway, very apparently, Brown was no gentle giant.

But: Did Michael Brown deserve to get capped, even if he had committed a crime? Brown was unarmed, and photos of Darren Wilson’s “injuries” allegedly caused by Brown show only some red marks (maybe one light facial bruise) that appear as though they even could have been pre-existing. (Wilson, by the way, is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighs around 210 pounds and is 28 years old.)

The fact that it’s verging on the year 2015 and despite all of our technological advances we still have no widely used non-lethal way of effectively subduing those whom law enforcement officers deem need to be subdued is testament to what degree life (especially non-white life) is considered to be cheap here in the United States of America.

Sure, we have Tasers, but those are good for only a limited range, and whenever cops claim, correctly or incorrectly, truthfully or untruthfully, that they feared for their lives, they don’t use Tasers or the like, but they use live rounds. With all of our technological advances, why do we allow this beyond-sorry state of affairs to continue? Why don’t we care enough to force the cops to change their tactics?

And, of course, it’s inarguable that black men are treated as automatically guilty by many if not even most white cops, who often act as judge, jury and even executioner, and that cops disproportionately are white males, like Darren Wilson.

It’s also inarguable that Ferguson is just the tip of the iceberg. The main function of cops is to protect the socioeconomic interests of the plutocrats, the ruling elite. Cops serve and protect, all right, but whom do they serve and protect? Cops are tools of the elite, whether the cops know this or not, and whether the cops even care if they do know this.

So there is that dynamic that’s baked into the socioeconomic dynamics of the United States, as well as is the dynamic of institutionalized racism.

That said, while institutionalized racism rages on, we still must view every incident as an incident, with its unique details and factors and with its unique, individual actors, and we have to be careful not to allow individuals to become standard-bearers or stand-ins for our own views on race.

Just as Michael Brown apparently was no angel, I’m sure that Darren Wilson is no angel, either, and so to see black Americans portray Brown as what he apparently wasn’t (an innocent angel) and to see white Americans portray Wilson as what he probably isn’t (a “hero” who was just doing his job and protecting himself from a dangerous thug) has been disappointing, to put it mildly, because this is much more about sticking up for one’s own race than it is about any respect for the truth.

Indeed, the Ferguson case has been turned into a race war, in which Brown has been the proxy for black Americans and Wilson the proxy for white Americans – to the point that the grand jury’s decision, to many if not most Americans, apparently was supposed to go far, far beyond the very specific events surrounding Wilson’s shooting of Brown on August 9 in Ferguson, and was supposed to be a decision, a judgment, on whether or not American cops (most of them white) on the whole treat black American males unjustly, or even, more broadly, on whether or not the United States still has problems with racism.

That’s an understandable misunderstanding, I suppose, but it is a huge misunderstanding of the purpose of the grand jury nonetheless.

There was or there was not enough evidence to show that Wilson, in his capacity as a law enforcement officer, probably illegally shot Brown. (If the laws governing this question are fucked, that’s something else, and if the laws are fucked [and they are], then we need to change the laws.) That, however, was what the grand jury was to have decided: whether or not Wilson probably violated the letter of the law. That was the only job of the grand jury, and it was a narrow job.

And neither you nor I was there when Wilson shot Brown, which is another reason that I’ve yet to write about Ferguson until now: Most of us have an opinion on an event that we didn’t even witness, and for which we have only significantly different claims from different parties as to what did (and did not) transpire. Lacking that specific information, we fill the vacuum with our own opinions and prejudices and our biases that stem primarily from our own racial-group identity. Which is a sort of mob mentality.

Speaking of which, lobbing rocks and bricks and bottles and Molotov cocktails and smashing store-front windows and setting cars and buildings ablaze, while perhaps loads of fun for the participants, doesn’t do anything, that I can tell, to even begin to change the entrenched socioeconomic ills that plague the nation, the socioeconomic ills that are behind Michael Brown’s death.

I’m not staunchly against the use of violence as a political tactic – the plutocrats, our overlords, certainly never rule out the use of violence against us commoners, so we commoners never should rule out the use of violence against our plutocratic overlords, either – but violence, if used, should be strategic and it should get results. I don’t see that vandalizing store fronts and blocking roads and even setting businesses and other buildings and cars, including cop cars, ablaze do anything to even begin to change our corrupt system.

While the sources of the rage that induce individuals to take it to the streets are entirely understandable – those sources include institutionalized racism, ridiculous socioeconomic inequality from an economic system (capitalism) that is all about screwing others over for one’s own selfish gain, and the police state that we live under that protects and preserves this ridiculous socioeconomic inequality and institutionalized racism – again, I don’t see that the tactics that most of the enraged use on the streets actually are effective in bringing about real change.

Our fascistic, plutocratic overlords don’t exactly quake in their jackboots at the specter of small businesses having their front windows smashed out, and of course if a police car is torched, it is we, the taxpayers (which doesn’t include the tax-evading plutocrats), who will pay to replace that police car, of course. What do the plutocrats lose in these cases?

The plutocrats are perfectly willing to sacrifice a small, token amount in periodic property damage in order to perpetuate their ongoing socioeconomic rape, pillage and plunder of the masses and of the planet itself. (And it goes without saying, of course, that our plutocratic overlords are entirely untroubled by the periodic shootings of black men by white cops. After all, thus far the responses to these shootings, while they gain plenty of media coverage, haven’t threatened in any serious way the plutocrats’ iron grip on wealth and power.)

Finally, we Americans need to recognize that it wasn’t only Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown. Almost all of us killed Michael Brown. (Ditto for Trayvon Martin, as I have stated, and for many others.) Because we have continued to allow the inexcusable bullshit to continue, and as long as we continue to do so, as long as we continue to refuse to dive more deeply than the surface (such as by looking primarily or even solely at race and not nearly enough at class, and by failing to effectively hold accountable the plutocratic puppet masters who always are hiding behind the scenes and thus always get away scot-free), and as long as we continue to refuse to do the long, hard, sustained work of making – of forcing, if necessary – significant systemic changes (yes, including up to true revolution [“reform” always leaves the power structure intact, doesn’t it?]), there will be plenty of more Michael Browns and Darren Wilsons.

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Oh, no, you DIDN’T go there, Miss Thang!

University of Mississippi student Sierra Mannie, photographed above in 2013, makes many valid points in her now-famous screed against gay white men acting like black women (an epidemic of which I’ve been unaware), but apparently picks an easy target in gay white men and apparently displays disrespect for the life experiences of others while demanding respect for her own, a common mistake that too many black Americans make.

I am a gay white man. I, for one gay white man, do not feel like a black woman. Just putting that out there first thing.

I am responding, of course, to the now-(in)famous screed “Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture,” by one Sierra Mannie, which gained national attention when Time.com published it.

I agree with much of what Mannie says in her commentary, but much of what she says I find offensive — as well as (at least unconsciously) homophobic and apparently desirous of many black Americans’ apparent desire to remain The Only Oppressed Minority Group in the United States of America, Who Will Not Share Even a Sliver of the Victimhood Pie.

I agree, of course, that the vast majority of white Americans, regardless of their socioeconomic status, never can truly have any real idea of what it is like to be a typical black American, and therefore, out of respect for the life experiences of another group of people, it’s probably almost never OK for a white person to act black.

That said, for a white person to assert that it’s not OK for a black person to act white, but that that black person should “act black” (however “acting black” [or “acting white”] is defined) — that’s pretty fucking racist, right? So why does a prohibition against racism work only one way?

I disagree wholeheartedly with the widely held belief that racism is something that is only ever perpetrated by whites against blacks, and that therefore, only white people can be racist. There are plenty of racist blacks, and there are other races outside of black and white (yes, I do need to remind people of that simple fact) — here in California politics, for instance, lately it (the struggle for power, which is what politics is) seems to be the Latinos vs. the Asians — and it comes down to everyone of every race needing to respect everyone else of every other race. This isn’t only about blacks being protected from persecution at the hands of whites.

That said, again, insensitivity to the life experiences of those of other races (and of other demographics) is pretty inexcusable, and I have to agree for the most part with Mannie’s assertion to the gay white man that “you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.”

While I, for one, haven’t seen anything like even a mild epidemic of gay white men acting like black women, I will assume, for fairness’ sake, that Mannie has, and so, for those gay white men who truly act like black women — like, all the fucking time — I would also tell them, like Mannie does, to “cut it the hell out.” (That said, of course they have the right to act as they please. The right to act like an asshole is the right that most Americans probably exercise the most.)

That said, the United States is a cultural hodgepodge, where words and phrases and idioms and gestures are thrown into the mix to the point that often if not usually many if not most of those using them don’t even know their origin. You don’t get to fucking trademark (so to speak) words and phrases and idioms and gestures that end up in the American vernacular. If you think that you do, then you need to cut it the hell out.

I’m sure that many times I’ve used words, phrases and idioms (and maybe even a gesture or two) that originated within the black community. I’m an American who speaks American English and functions within the American culture, which, again, borrows from so many sources. I’m allowed to do that. Do I believe that I’m a black woman, or even that I truly can know what the typical black woman experiences in the United States of America? Of course not.

Many if not most of Mannie’s complaints about the general oppression of black Americans are valid enough, but why (at least in this one piece of hers) does she chose gay white men as the target of her anger?

Is it because we gay white men, as a group, aren’t as powerful as are straight white men, because we gay white men are a safer target, less likely to fight back? Is it because we gay white men are considered weak, effeminate, passive, submissive, so that we can be fucking punching bags for everyone?

Mannie conveniently does not mention in her screed the fact that there remains a shitload of homophobia among black Americans. To give just two of many possible examples, exit polls showed that about 70 percent of black Californians voted for the anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition H8, and many if not most black Americans didn’t start to ease up on their homophobia until Barack Obama came out (ha ha) for same-sex marriage in May 2012. It’s rather pathetic and sad that it was an external source — the pronouncement of the nation’s first black president — that inspired them to ease up on their homophobia (or to ease up on at least their public homophobic statements) instead of their own internal sense of right and wrong, their own internal sense that all oppression, and not just the oppression of blacks, is wrong, wrong, wrong.

I’ve seen this uber-hypocritical dynamic too many times: black Americans demanding fairness and respect for their own group — but only for their own group. No, fuck that and fuck you, if that’s how you operate. If you can’t respect me, then I cannot respect you. (Or, at the very least, if you refuse to respect me, you make it very difficult for me to respect you, and I want to respect you.)

Again, Mannie’s anger seems grossly misplaced to me. She writes:

… Black people can’t have anything. Any of these things include, but aren’t limited to: a general sense of physical safety, comfort with law enforcement, adequate funding and appreciation for black spaces like schools and neighborhoods, appropriate venues for our voices to be heard about criticism of issues without our race going on trial because of it, and solid voting rights …

Agreed, for the very most part, but it’s gay white men who are the main oppressors of black Americans? Really?

I am one gay white man who has no interest in pretending to be a black diva (whether there is anything wrong with that or not) and who supports fairness and justice for all black Americans (for all Americans and for all human beings). It is inarguable that, among other things, black Americans are incarcerated at an incredibly disproportionate rate (because of racism, of course), that many if not most of them are wage slaves (as are many if not most of all Americans), that black Americans routinely are mistreated (even sometimes extra-judicially executed) by racist law enforcement officers, that black Americans do not have adequate access to quality health care and to quality education, and that conservatives (most of them white) want to strip black Americans of their vote under the guise of “preventing voter fraud” and/or “preserving election integrity.”

I want to help black Americans fight these evils and right these wrongs, but black homophobia — as well as black racism — make it difficult for me to do that. I’m to assist your group while you attack and degrade mine? Really?

And, ironically, pseudo-progressive, DINO Barack Obama has done little to nothing for black Americans, whose quality of life has improved little to not at all under his watch, yet for the most part, mind-blowingly, black Americans don’t hold Obama to account for this — apparently primarily because he’s black and they don’t want to criticize one of their own. (And to many if not most of these same blacks, if you are a white person who criticizes Obama at all, even for his inexcusable lack of assistance to black Americans, you are, by definition, a “racist.”)

So Obama is let off the hook, but let’s blame the gay white man!

Mannie continues in her screed:

… And then, when you thought this pillaging couldn’t get any worse, extracurricular black activities get snatched up, too: our music, our dances, our slang, our clothing, our hairstyles. All of these things are rounded up, whitewashed and repackaged for your consumption. But here’s the shade — the non-black people who get to enjoy all of the fun things about blackness will never have to experience the ugliness of the black experience, systemic racism and the dangers of simply living while black. Though I suppose there’s some thrill in this “rolling with the homies” philosophy some adopt, white people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America.

White people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America. …

Again, the American culture is a patchwork quilt, so to read Mannie whine that “our music, our dances, our slang, our clothing, our hairstyles … are rounded up, whitewashed and repackaged for your consumption,” sounds like selfish and juvenile territorialism that is woefully unaware of American history and culture (where, just like with the Borg, so much is assimilated), and for the record, non-blacks experience plenty of pain and suffering. Blacks don’t have the monopoly on the pain and suffering thing. All human beings experience pain and suffering.

And while white people as a group are not systemically/institutionally racially oppressed in the U.S.A., you cannot have interpersonal relations with a whole fucking race of people. It’s the one-on-one interpersonal interaction where the rubber meets the road, and on the one-on-one level, yes, white people can be the victims of racism. If you are a non-white person who hates white people and treats white people out of this hatred — for no other reason than that they are white — then you are committing acts of racism. You are a racist yourself, but, by being a member of a historically oppressed racial minority group, you feel justified in your own racism, and no doubt you hypocritically define racism as only something that white people ever commit.

It all is about respect, which includes respect for others’ experiences. I agree with Mannie’s assertion that

… The truth is that America is a country that operates on systems of racism in which we all participate, whether consciously or unconsciously, to our benefit or to our detriment, and that system allows white people to succeed. This system also creates barriers so that minorities, such as black people, have a much harder time being able to do things like vote and get houses and not have to deal with racists and stuff. You know. Casual.

But while you’re gasping at the heat and the steam of the strong truth tea I just spilled,what’s even worse about all of this, if you thought things could get even crappier, is the fact that all of this is exponentially worse for black women. A culture of racism is bad enough, but pairing it with patriarchal structures that intend to undermine women’s advancement is like double-fisting bleach and acid rain. …

Actually, it gets even worse than that. Black lesbians, for instance, have to deal with racism, sexism and patriarchy and homophobia (for which, I must admit, I respect and admire them considerably), but mention of black non-heterosexuals and black non-gender-conforming individuals, who routinely are victimized by even members of their own family (and who thus have much higher levels of such problems as suicide attempts, addiction, incarceration and contraction of HIV and other STDs), is conspicuously missing entirely from Mannie’s screed, which adds to its air of rather petty self-concern and homophobia.

And the notion that virtually all white people have it so great based upon their whiteness smacks of a lack of personal knowledge of very many actual white people. Mannie writes:

… At the end of the day, if you are a white male, gay or not, you retain so much privilege. What is extremely unfairly denied you because of your sexuality could float back to you, if no one knew that you preferred the romantic and sexual company of men over women. (You know what I’m talking about. Those “anonymous” torsos on Grindr, Jack’d and Adam4Adam, show very familiar heterosexual faces to the public.) The difference is that the black women with whom you think you align so well, whose language you use and stereotypical mannerisms you adopt, cannot hide their blackness and womanhood to protect themselves the way that you can hide your homosexuality. We have no place to hide, or means to do it even if we desired them. …

Very thinly veiled behind the “argument” that non-heterosexuals aren’t victims of oppression because we non-heterosexuals, if we wish, can pass for heterosexual — which is not actually the case for many if not most of us non-heterosexuals — is the sickeningly heterosexist, homophobic belief that, for the comfort of heterosexuals, we non-heterosexuals should act heterosexually, whether to do that is at all natural for us and whether or not it violates our own fucking souls. Because pretending to be who and what you are not isn’t oppressive or anything!

I certainly hope that the vast majority of blacks don’t wish that they could camouflage themselves as whites in order to go along to get along, but instead appreciate and celebrate who and what they are, so for blacks to apparently suggest camouflage to us non-heterosexuals is incredibly degrading and offensive as well as insensitive.

I agree that such an ugly thing as white privilege exists in the United States of America and elsewhere on the planet, but again, it all comes down to our one-on-one interactions, since we can only actually interact as individuals with other individuals. Respect has to occur at this ground level of the individual. Stereotypes and generalizations and preconceived notions have no place in respectful interpersonal relations. You can never encounter a whole fucking group of people. You can only encounter an individual. I cannot state this simple but woefully overlooked fact too much. You don’t want me to make assumptions about you based upon your race or your gender or sexual orientation or other demographics. I don’t want you to make such assumptions about me, either – such as that because I’m a gay white man, I have no real problems, that I’m rich (because I’m white and/or because I have no children), that I’m a slut (because I’m gay), that of course I’m racist (because I’m white), that I will be your fucking punching bag because I’m passive and weak (because I’m a gay man), etc.

So, I would cut a deal with Mannie and those who think like she does: I will continue to try to do my part to examine and solve the problem that is racism (including, of course, the problem of white privilege). Ditto for the problem that is sexism and patriarchy. This is the duty of every American (and of every human being). And you do your part to examine and solve the problem that is heterosexism and homophobia, and the problem that is selfishly, hypocritically and narrow-mindedly demanding respect and equality for only your own group.

Because I guaranfuckingtee you that while the minority of gay white men who might, at least at times, act like black women grate on your nerves, we gay white men, for the very most part, are not your enemy, and I further guaranfuckingtee you that the true oppressors (or, at least, the worst oppressors) love it when we, the historically oppressed, are at each others’ throats instead of at theirs, where we should be.

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