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    The election of the Republican candidate Donald Trump has really screwed the American society up.   The 45th POTUS whose actions and policies that can only be described as ignorant ineptitude has brought the United States to the brink of a major societal schism between a substantial group of alienated, antediluvian, racist white nationalists and those who believe in a heterogeneous, pluralistic society.

Anyone remotely familiar with the workings of American society knows that race and racism play a major role in shaping how cultural and social decisions are made.   What has been, until recently, described as the undercurrent of systemic racism in the US now dominates the front pages of the various US media conglomerates.

Demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, along with the associated violence, are cropping up from coast to coast in the US.  The racism that had been just below the surface in US society has arisen to dominate the news cycle and has taken hold  in the American societal consciousness.   This resurgence of this overtly racist behaviour stems directly from the current republican administration’s seemingly tacit endorsement of white nationalism/white supremacist attitudes and opinions.  This support/lack of censure from the White House has emboldened the once submerged racist elements in US society to once again walk in the sunlight and publicly make their point of view known.

That people somehow believe that the colour of their skin makes them special somehow in this day and age is quite beyond me, yet the racism that informs the current white supremacist movement is the very same racism that has been woven into the fabric of our societies.  The current turmoil in the US is a testament to the lack of effective measures against the systemic racism in society.  Oh, one most certainly acknowledge that there are laws now and many a policy that are meant to address racism and, of course, are moves in the right direction.   But, marginal moves in the right direction are not enough.  Not addressing the root causes of the racism that infects US (and Canadian) society will only ensure continued conflict over the issue of race in society.

The solutions for tackling racism in society are quite beyond the scope of a short essay, but I do want to offer one insight that might help in tackling the racism problem our societies face.  What I’d like to highlight is the divide and conquer strategy that has been used by the elites in society from pretty much time immemorial till the present to keep the poor classes fighting amongst themselves.  Poor whites and poor blacks inhabit the same economic class, yet the poor whites in the US have been given structural societal benefits to ever so slightly improve their lot in life, and of course with their ‘improved’ lot they have also been given a scapegoat/bogeyman  (the poor black population) to blame for their problems and to be afraid of.

Thus, the poor fight themselves, and not the actual root of the problem – the rich elites who have crafted this inherently unequal society – so the system that feeds and encourages structural racism can continue unabated while the ‘poors’ cut their own throats for the scraps that the wealthy leave behind (and of course the boons of society continue to go to the ‘correct’ classes).

Of course we must continue to confront and fight the current racism that has raised its ugly head in society, but I think we should also be looking for the root causes of these divisions, such as the elite’s divide and conquer strategy, and address those issues as well.

Time to Revisit Mr.Wise on the problem of race in the United States.

The CBC wrote an article about the misunderstanding of people who benefit from systemic racism have when it comes to Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter.

What Black Lives Matter is:

“Frank Leon Roberts, a professor-lecturer specializing in race and social movements at New York University, says Black Lives Matter is an “anti-violence movement that is attempting to end structural racism in all forms.”

“Police brutality is one form of structural racism but there are other forms that Black Lives Matter is combating as well,” Roberts told CBC News.”

Combating the system that is murdering your people is a historic task.  The BLM movement is necessarily a long term movement, the structural change required in society is huge and most likely will require more militant action to see the problem of systemic racism resolved.  But let’s just stop here and state for the record the situation in question.

  1.  Systemic racism exists in the United States.
  2.  It is a choice to maintain systemic racism.
  3.  Society can resolve this matter in myriad of ways, but the two poles of the spectrum are peaceful revolution or violent revolution.
  4.  Peaceful revolution *should* be the preferred method of eliminating systemic racism.
  5. The path that is ultimately followed will be the result of the dominant class in society making a choice, or being forced to make a choice, as JFK well understood, see his quote below.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” -John F. Kennedy

C.  It behooves us (the dominant class), to fundamentally re-imagine society so it more closely resembles this (from the Declaration of Independence):

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

(A side note here, “men” should not be construed as the default for everyone.  Women’s struggle to be recognized as fully human goes farther back the Declaration and necessarily that struggle (sadly) continues to this day)

So maybe let’s err on the side of preserving human life and take the less violent option, just for once?  The race issue in the US is not going to go away, this isn’t another #occupy, as this is so much larger and so so much more history behind it.  Oh certainly this instance of BLM might simmer down a bit, but the on going injustice coupled with the immediacy of social networking will keep the boil going.

I think it would be wise if the representatives of he status quo decided to take the non-violent path, because soon that choice will become unavailable, and then only the more chaotic option will be all that remains (which will be bad for everybody).

Let’s take a peek at the what the other side is saying:

“But there are many who do not see eye to eye with the message Black Lives Matter is attempting to send because they believe all lives are important, and specific groups should not be singled out.

[…]

“It appears many “all lives matter” supporters feel that “Black Lives Matter” is not about equality, but rather focusing on the oppression experienced by only one group.”

Well duh?  BLM is about the fact that being Black in the US is an oppressive experience.  Would the converse statement make things any more clear?  #WhiteLivesMatterMore?  Don’t look at foreign policy if you’re about to disagree with #WLMM, the uncounted coloured dead in Iraq (Afghanistan, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Syria, Mexico, India, Philippines… et cetera)  have millions of arguments to make against you…

“Recently, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, went as far as to say that “Black Lives Matter” is “racist” during an appearance on Fox and Friends.

“It’s inherently racist because, number one, it divides us. All lives matter,” he said.”

Nothing more racist that overlooking the fact that a racial divide exists.  :/  But here we go again, with the notion that somehow the playing field is the same for everyone and everyone has the same chances and opportunities in society.  The answer according to the status quo is more ‘equality'(?).  Unfortunately, ‘more equality equals ephemeral/meaningless ‘change’ to the status quo to make things look more equal, while in fact, maintaining the superstructure that is responsible for the racial oppression in the first place (we can lump a large part of liberal feminism into this grouping as well).  So let’s dispense with the neo-liberal platitudes and realize:

  1.     The playing field is not even.
  2.     The opportunities are not the same.
  3.     Treatment within the society is not the same.
  4.    Outcomes in society are not the same.

Without addressing the root causes of institutional racism, nothing will change. (For a great example of please see the second wave of feminism, as they named the problem, and tackled some of the institutions responsible for their oppression)  Let’s slip over to Deep Green Resistance for their take on the problem –

“Justice is not won by rational argument, by personal transformation, or by spiritual epiphany. It’s won by taking power away from the powerful and then dismantling their institutions.”

Hmm… sounds like a painful process.  It all depends on how fiercely the dominant class latches onto the superstructure that benefits and supports them; maybe some enlightened self interest might take hold and change that doesn’t come from the barrel of gun will be possible.  I doubt it, but it could happen.

 

Oh, and some gems from the comment section of the CBC article, ranging from light banality to vapid boorish ignorance :

 

-I think it just comes down to poor branding. Black Lives Matter might be better served by say End Racial Violence, or Black Injustice, or less vague and self-evident to anyone with an open mind. The issue isnt that black lives don’t matter, and no one who isn’t a racist thinks they don’t so maybe the movement should have a more focused name based on their stated goals.

[Because changing the name will make all the difference.  Racists be like, “Oh snap! They are *just* trying to end Racial Violence – we’re totally on board with that!.]

-“Black Lives Matter” doesn’t do anything to prevent racists from joining their group, and their group has racist overtones in their messages, focusing only on blacks when many blacks have already openly called “Black Lives Matter” an Anti-Police hate group.

[Binky has the fun idea that oppressed people can be racist.  Sorry Binky, it doesn’t work that way.  Racism has the institutional power of society behind the racist actions in question.  Most certainly, oppressed groups can discriminate, but not be racist – especially toward their oppressors as they hold no institutional power in society.]

-Black Lives matter creates further division, especially with it’s members and supporters condemnation of saying All lives matter. Inclusive thinking rather than exclusive is required – All Lives Matter is inclusive and is something to strive for.

[Inclusion in this instance is just another way of obfuscating the fact that black people in America face more obstacles that white people do.  In every facet of their lives’ because of the colour of their skin, they are treated differently.  This has to change, and focusing on this difference is completely justified in pursuing their goals of a more equal society.]

-The problem is BLM aren’t selective in their support for black people who come to a bad end in encounters with the police. They even support the ones who have guns, a rap sheet five miles long and who had intent to kill cops. If you are going to support people who don’t deserve that support then your movement will be seen as a mockery.

[Ah, well perhaps we can use the tried and true ‘a few bad apples’ apolgia to wave this one away.  Funny how it tends not to work when you happen not to be white, rich, and male.]

 

BLM  Some peoples lives are worth more than others.

In the context of American society one of the deciding factors of how much your life is worth is determined by the colour of your skin.  Here in Canada a similar skin tone gradient applies as being First Nations in Canada gets you the special police attention you don’t deserve.  Bonus features of being in First Nations in Canada include (but are not limited to), poverty, limited access to potable water, and an hostile educational system.  Make no mistake, we have much to do in Canada to address the needs of our people.   We have a Canadian Highway of Tears that sullies our escutcheon and is indicative of the racism that still permeates our society.

The inherent racism present in Canada pales before the horrendous shitshow that is running south of the border.  Racial divisions and discrimination represent a clear and present danger to fabric of the civil society of the United States (necessarily so).  The scale of protests against the racial violence of the white establishment is increasing – fuelled by social media that circumvents mainstream media and offers a small gory window into the lives of black people who are being murdered by the security apparatus of the state.

I cannot imagine the horror of witnessing your partner being shot to death in your car, having to be polite to the individual that just inflicted moral wounds on our loved one while having your child witness the entire blood spattered episode from the backseat.

 

Violence breeds violence.

The unidirectional nature of the violence was reversed as an individual who proclaimed his hatred for white police, killed five white police officers in Dallas.  The shooter was a reservist and had seen a tour of duty in Afghanistan.  Lives are being lost because we have tied how much humanity you’re allotted to the colour of your skin.

Madness.    It is sheer madness that we have allowed our societies to be shaped by racism and that the status quo is in fact racist.  Is this series of murders in the US the tipping point?  It certainly seems like people have had enough and are willing to entertain a large spectrum means to achieve their ends.  It should be (like the constant stream of black people being murdered by police hasn’t been) a wake up call to the American congress and its legislative position on systemic racism and gun control.  Henry Giroux paints a darker picture when he says:

“In the increasingly violent landscape of anti-politics, mediation disappears, dissent is squelched, repression operates with impunity, the ethical imagination withers, and the power of representation is on the side of spectacularized state violence. Violence both at the level of the state and in the hands of everyday citizens has become a substitute for genuine forms of agency, citizenship, and mutually informed dialogue and community interaction.”

The response of the law makers will tell the tale though, because the disconnect between public opinion and public representatives is being brought into stark relief.  Congress has been mostly bought and paid for – but they have to at least look like they are serving the needs of the public on occasion, will the murder of five police officers stir the sycophants into action?  I really don’t know, because getting reelected seems to override important qualities of being a decent human being. Qualities like empathy, compassion, and morality seem strangely missing when it comes to societal issues that threaten idea of moving toward a just society.

The cynical side of me contemplates this question: Would the US have gun control if members of Congress were similarly subjected to the murder/assassination program the rest of America is being subject to?

 

Gun Control psa[Source:Counterpunch]

Racism isn’t that easy to define.  There are two competing meanings and the new, more specific one, is quite controversial once examined.

The Pedagogy of the Meaning of Racism: Reconciling a Discordant Discourse Carlos Hoyt Jr.

 

“We do our students (white and not white) a disservice by indoctrinating them into a belief system that charges white people with being de facto racists (by virtue of being the beneficiaries of historic and present institutional race-based oppression) while providing an exemption to black people from being held accountable for racist beliefs (racism) or practices (race-based oppression). One of our basic charges as social workers is to affirm that discrimination and oppression based on the accident of one’s condition (whether the condition is one’s appearance (lookism), physical ability (ableism), sex (sexism), sexual orientation (heterosexism), place of origin (xenophobia/ethnocentrism), or socioeconomic status (classism) are patently and intolerably unjust.

In defining and describing the types of social bias and injustice we confront and aim to dispel, we are obliged to observe nuance when it is relevant to a thorough understanding of a phenomenon under consideration. The minute that one human being is treated unequally by another, without legitimate basis for the unequal treatment, there is injustice, but until the motivation for that unjust treatment is determined to be a belief in the superiority or inferiority of races, the mistreatment cannot reasonably be labeled as racist.

There are, unfortunately, many factors that can derail reason and lead to irrational unjust behavior (personal enmity, fear of the unfamiliar, the perception of threat, social conditioning, any of the isms listed earlier). When the flaw is a belief in race as a legitimate reason to discriminate, it is racism. When racism is enacted to subjugate or disenfranchise others, it is oppression; when the source of the power is systemic, structural, or institutional, it is race-based institutional oppression.”

I highly recommend reading the paper in its entirety as Hoyt Jr lays out the arguments for the redefinition versus the original meaning of racism.

Oooo....

Oooo…’nuff said. 

SQ policeThe developing story about alleged Quebec police misconduct keeps getting more interesting. Neil Macdonald wrote an amazing analysis of the situation over at CBC News. There is some great analysis going into the history of SQ (Sûreté du Quebec police union) and how they consider themselves above the law but I think the closing statement is probably the best closing statement in any article I’ve ever read:

But ask yourself this: If I, a charter member of the privileged white males society, find them frightening, imagine what must go through the head of an intoxicated young aboriginal woman on a cold night, alone in a squad car?

Wow. I highly suggest reading the article in full. It will be well worth your time.

To speak to the title of my post though I wanted to address the fact that police officers were taking our aboriginal brothers and sisters for a car ride and dropping them off miles outside of town. For those of you that think this is a new or unusual practice, don’t. It has happened before. And outside of Quebec. As some of you may remember the Saskatoon Freezing Deaths. This was where the Saskatoon police force would take natives out on “starlight tours”, which would mean to drive them miles outside of the city and drop them off. In the dead of winter. We know this was happening as early 1976 because an officer was punished for this and we know it was happening as late as 2000. Is it still happening there?

I remember the reporting at the time of the story and found it troubling but I thought this must be an isolated incident, just this one police for that was doing this. To find that the SQ is doing the same is exceptionally dismaying. If the SQ is doing this, then how many other police forces are doing this as well? That the SQ *allegedly* are adding rape into the situation by demanding sexual favours for a ride back into town saddens me.

As the Intransigent One stated, these things don’t happen in a vacuum. I think this story has revealed the need for not just a federal investigation into the developing Quebec story, nor just the Highway of Tears, nor just the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, but on the conduct of all police forces in relations to our indigenous people. That there are three major issues happening at the same time, all in different parts of the country demonstrates the need for this. We need to get a handle on this issue. I mean, if Neil Macdonald can feel frightened by one of our police forces, imagine how it is for someone not in the privileged class. It’s no wonder why there are such trust issues between our aboriginal people and the rest of us.

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