Posted tagged ‘Racism’

Racism Kills…And Kills…And Kills

June 15, 2016

Anger?  Heartbreak? Disbelief? Berserker rage?  Which should come first in response to this?

For forty years, the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male passively monitored hundreds of adult black males with syphilis despite the availability of effective treatment. The study’s methods have become synonymous with exploitation and mistreatment by the medical community. We find that the historical disclosure of the study in 1972 is correlated with increases in medical mistrust and mortality and decreases in both outpatient and inpatient physician interactions for older black men. Our estimates imply life expectancy at age 45 for black men fell by up to 1.4 years in response to the disclosure, accounting for approximately 35% of the 1980 life expectancy gap between black and white men. (h/t Jesse Singal at The Science of Us)

Graveyard_in_the_Tyrol_1914-1915_JS_Sargent (1)

That’s the abstract of a paper by Stanford Medical School’s Marcella Alsan and the University of Tennessee economist Marianne Wanamaker. It’s currently in the working paper stage at the National Bureau of Economic Research (which is, despite its name, not a government research institution).

As Singal writes over at New York Magazine that means both that this is not quite the final draft of this paper (or at least, that it hasn’t yet gone through the whole journal process yet) — and that there is a host of nuance and specific contingencies that surround the Tuskeegee story.  But the central point remains:  specific acts of racial cruelty harm not just those bearing the immediate brunt, but also can — and did here — do  lasting and lethal damage to so many more.

Alsan and Wanamaker conclude:

Our findings underscore the importance of trust for economic relationships involving imperfect information. Typically the literature on trust has focused on trade settings (Greif, 1989); however, much of medical care depends on health providers and patients resolving information asymmetries. Trust, therefore, is a key component of this interaction…

Indeed.

And if we needed any more reasons to take this election seriously (we don’t) think on this:  Donald Trump’s candidacy is based on racism, on the denial of a share in American polity and society to those who look the wrong way.  There’s a breach of trust there, deep and dangerous — and in so many ways, deadly as hell.

John Singer Sergant, Graveyard in the Tyrolbetween 1914 and 1915

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They Are Who We Thought They Were

May 16, 2016

Exhibit A, from Trump’s “butler”*

Anthony Senecal told West Virginia newspaper The Martinsburg Journal on Friday—one day after a Secret Service agent called Senecal regarding online comments he made calling for Obama’s death—that he believes the President is a “traitor” who deserves to be killed.

…“I think they (Secret Service) wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to go there with a rifle,” Senecal told the newspaper. “I told them it was too far to drive…

The 84-year-old…told the newspaper that he stands by the comments he made in his Facebook posts.

*I swear that has to be code for some other function. Pharmaceutical grade toad purveyor, perhaps?

And then, there’s this guy, who is actually (attempting) to stake a claim on Washington:

“Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call President, because he’s an animal, OK — seven and a half years, has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country…

Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_-_The_Shipwreck_-_Google_Art_Project

It’s hard to pick where to start.  Should it be with the backwards-jacket level delusions concerning Obama-the-Destroyer (damn that doubling of the stock market; damn that cut in unemployment by half; how will we survive millions of our fellow Americans gaining access to health care; how wretched it is for our troops not to be on their fourth or fifth deployment and so on).

No: it is with the raw racism — enabled since 2009 (and really, since 1968) by the more “genteel” members of the Republican Party, who have made the fact of a black President such a horror to those who know in their bones that such a event cannot be permitted to happen in any well-behaved universe.

So yeah, while it’s easy to point and laugh at an aging crazy who perhaps sipped too much of whatever it was he brought The Donald, or to slap down Beruff’s vile manners, never forget the story behind the story:  these folks feel empowered to speak of the best president of a generation (or more) as if he were disqualified from the human race by those who trained ’em up.

There are lots of reasons the Republican Party must not merely be defeated this fall, but wrecked, utterly.

This is one.

Image:  J. W. M. Turner, The Shipwreck1805

And I’ll Take Racist Media for $200, Alex

October 1, 2014

Alex:  What is the question that evokes the answer:  “A cartoon with a watermelon punchline referencing the President of the United States.”

We reply in chorus: “What was the racist garbage in the Boston Herald today?”

Again, this has been picked up in the comments, but it’s been making me crazy for a couple of reasons.  For the obvious one, I’m just going to outsource to Charles Pierce, who knows the Herald very well indeed:

 Let’s move along down my personal resume to The Boston Herald, where the current editors, whom I know well, today made me ashamed ever to have set foot in the place, let alone worked there for six years. They ran an editorial cartoon by someone named Jerry Holbert. In the cartoon…the White House intruder is in the bathtub while the president is brushing his teeth. The caption reads: “White House Invader Got Farther Than Originally Thought.” This is what the cartoonist, Holbert, has the intruder saying from the tub.

“Have you tried the new watermelon-flavored toothpaste?”

Pierce notes the hollow contempt for those of us disgusted by this in the non-apology that followed our outcry, the assertion that there’s not a racist bone in Holbert’s body, that he was just referencing his own kids toothpaste, and that, wait for it….

…we didn’t mean to offend anyone.  Take it away, Charles:

Of course, it was not meant to offend anyone. That was just a bonus. What it was meant to do was to appeal to the base prejudices of the elderly white suburban demographic to which the Herald has been pitching itself for three decades. It is racist hooey pitched to fans of racist hooey. Period. And, like so many other things, it is different with this president. It is different because there are no rules.

I got the remnants of my day job to get back to, so I’m just going to touch on the most clueless bit of attempted contrarian justification for this bit of garbage, this, coming from Jonathan Chait:

I don’t think the joke hinges upon black people liking watermelon. I think the joke is about the Secret Service’s security failures. Obama himself is not even the subject of the joke — his perspective is that of, or close to, the reader’s. The point of the joke is that White House security is so lax that a random person could wander into the president’s living quarters undetected and take a bath, and regard this as so casual he could chat about a commonplace topic as toothpaste.

Glad that’s clear.

Black people liking watermelon is certainly not the main comic premise of the cartoon

Well, that’s alright then, dear, isn’t it?

and was probably not intended as a secondary premise, either.

And you know this, how? Because you’ve peered deeply into Holbart’s eyes?  You’ve seen into his soul?  You know him to be a good man?

The cartoonist, Jerry Holbert, explained that he came up with watermelon because he was thinking of his kids’ Colgate watermelon-flavor toothpaste.

My kids. Yeah. That’s it!

Possibly he made a subconscious connection between a black president and watermelon.

Because, of course that’s what anyone would do when contemplating the first African American president.

But it seems very doubtful this was his intent.

“Seems?”

“Seems!”

“Seems…”

Two things:  1 — when an experienced reporter falls back on “seems” you know they got nuthin.  They’re telling you what the wish to be true, not what they know, or necessarily even think is likely.

and 2:  Chait should know better, but has tangled himself up around race before, so may not, but racism, like sexism, or anti-Semitism or any form of bigotry and dehumanization of the other, is not about what is in someone’s heart.  It’s not a question of essence, of identity, of who someone is.  It’s all about what one does and says.  Action in the world defines both the sin and the good deed.

In this world, as opposed into that swelling in Chait’s spotless mind’s eye, Holbert used one of the oldest caricturers with which slave-holders benefiting from stolen lives and labor sought to limn African Americans as simple, lazy and unoppressed by their oppression.  It’s an explicitly racist trope, and everyone who’s reached the age of reason (Holbert is my age to the year) knows it.

Turner Slave-ship

Holbert may be certain that he has not one prejudiced bone in his body, but what he or Chait thinks about intent or the “real” import of this cartoon is utterly irrelevant.

The cartoon speaks for itself, and its creator, and its defenders…to the shame I fear they will not feel.

J. M. W. Turner “Slave-ship”  1840

Annals of Post-Racial America, Ch. (n)

August 7, 2013

via TPM, here’s the latest from The Arizona Republic:

Obama foes at one point sang, “Bye Bye Black Sheep,” a derogatory reference to the president’s skin color, while protesters like Deanne Bartram raised a sign saying, “Impeach the Half-White Muslim!”

MoorishAmbassador_to_Elizabeth_I

Many on both sides wore red, white and blue and carried small flags.

“It just kind of happened naturally,” said Michael Pomales of how the opposing sides separated. Pomales, an 18-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills resident who graduated in the spring from Desert Vista High, said he decided to join the protesters side “to spread a little love” as the crowds began shouting at each other.

Pomales said his response to people yelling for Obama to go back from where he came from is simple: “He’s a great man. He cares about what I care about, education, jobs. He’s our president. He’s an American.”

Deanna Bartram, a 17-year-old University of Arizona student from Black Canyon City, lashed out at people who call her racist for not supporting Obama. She believes Obama supporters use the “race card” against her because they disagree with her political message.

“Obama is ruining American values. He is ruining the Constitution. He needs to go back to where he came from because obviously, he is a liar,” she said. “I am not racist. I am part Indian. Obama’s half Black, half White.”

“He’s 47 percent Negro,” shouted Ron Enderle, a 77-year-old Chandler resident who said that he and his son served as Marines and his grandson is currently serving in the Marines.

But it’s all good.  John Roberts has told us we live in a post-racial America, and John Roberts is an honorable man.

Image: Anonymous painter, Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud ben Mohammed Anoun, Moorish Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth I, 1600.

Southern Cuisine?

March 22, 2012

John’s post about the resignation of a blogger who can’t see the racism in dressing up the President of the United States in drag and sitting him down with a bucket of fried chicken is enough to trip the last of my rage+sorrow circuits.  We’re back in Carthage Must Be Destroyed territory with our wingnut friends — and with the party Lincoln would no longer recognize, that G.O.P which has staked its hold on power for four decades with the nod-and-a-wink racism of the “southern stategy.”

Enough.

I’m sick past endurance with the casual viciousness of our opponents.  Yesterday I blogged about Question Bridge, a project in which Black men get to investigate and reframe what it means to be male and African American in the U.S. today.  As I wrote then, that work performs the remarkable feat of allowing everyone, Black guys and anyone else, to listen in on conversations, feelings, experiences that are not routinely available to most of us in the ordinary business of living in the world.

One of the insights to be gained in doing so comes from direct testimony about a fact we all know, but don’t necessarily nor always feel in our bones if we aren’t ourselves in the midst of it:  that being Black and male and in public is to be constantly under scrutiny.  Not necessarily or even mostly in the horrifying deadly circumstances that Trayvon Martin found himself in, but just in the sense that there’s attention being paid, and that the burden of representing, and not just being, is always there.

And here’s where that bucket of chicken comes in.  That was no joke, not merely “southern cuisine” as the blogger put it.*  And the men of Question Bridge know it:

When I go out to eat dinner, I don’t worry about what the folks at the next table think of my order.  Never occurs to me.  This clip reminds me that this is my privilege, and a measure — an oblique one maybe, but still — of the work we’ve yet to do get over race in this country.

Which, by shoots and roundabouts, is another reason that the “I’m not racist in my heart” nonsense just can’t fly.  I don’t care if you love your kids or even (sacrilege here, I know) are kind to dogs.  If you put the kind of trash John referenced out into the world, you own it; that’s who you are.

*Funny how a Black guy from Chicago eating chicken is just enjoying in southern cuisine.  The first rule of racist club is never to talk about racist club.

And Another Question to Ask Mr. Romney:

March 2, 2012

Do you, sir, agree or repudiate this statement by BYU religion professor Randy Bott:

“God has always been discriminatory.”

(From  a Washington Post piece by Jason Horowitz. via Max Perry Mueller in Slate)

Well, Mr. Romney? Is that your view? The divinity divines consequential differences amongst the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve?

Further: do you, Mr. Romney, agree or repudiate this view:

….The Mormon Church’s own longstanding priesthood ban was, according to Bott, not racist. Rather, it was a “blessing.” Prior to 1978, blacks weren’t spiritually mature enough to be ordained with such authority. Bott compared blacks to “a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father’s car,” and told Horowitz that misusing priesthood authority—like crashing dad’s Oldsmobile—could have put blacks “in the lowest rungs of hell,” reserved for serial killers, child rapists, world-class tyrants, and “people who abuse their priesthood powers.”

Take your time.

Image: Domenichino, Adam and Eve,  between 1625 and 1623.

[OT PS: am I the only one who finds those decapitated kid’s heads with wings to be supremely creepy?]

You Just Can’t Make This Racist Sh*t Up: Fox News Owes Everybody a Great Big Honking Act of Contrition

December 23, 2011

Via TPM, and courtesy (sic!) of  rightist media flack Brent Bozell and Fox News, this gem:

“How long do you think Sean Hannity’s show would last if four times in one sentence, he made a comment about, say, the President of the United States, and said that he looked like a skinny, ghetto crackhead?” Bozell wondered. “Which, by the way, you might want to say that Barack Obama does.”

You also might want to suck down a Clorox shooter, with a Sterno chaser at its back.  The choice to do so would be less stupid.

Bozell might say he was provoked by Chris Matthews’ claim that everyone’s favorite amphibian gum disease “looks like a car bomber.”  Which is, in fact, a stupid thing to say on many levels, but does at least bear some connection to the very broadly shared view of the Newtster as a bomb thrower.  (See e.g. Bush I, and, by pretty direct implication, everyone’s favorite cyborg, Mitt Romney.)

But Bozell, were he to press such a “both sides do it” bit of weak sauce, would, of course, be (deliberately?) missing the real difference here.  Calling Gingrich a man of violence assigns to him a specific crime.  He has agency, individual choice, responsibility.  Dude blows sh%t up.

Describing the President of the United States as a “ghetto crackhead”* falls into different order of rhetorical abuse.  Bozell is saying that the President of the United States is defined by qualities, more or less immutable aspects of self and personality.  “Ghetto crackheads” are (if one were to channel the disastrous Brooks) lost to the culture of their desolate place, and have abandoned agency to their drug.  Such a person is inherently lesser than the non-addict, the non-cultural-determined poor.  Morally, intellectually, there’s no way anyone matching the image in Bozell’s oddly torqued frontal lobes — all that skinny (black, black, blackity black) ghettoness with a monkey on its back — could possibly rise to the fully human capacity for thought and action that a properly brought up (white, white, whiter-than-white male) bomb thrower automatically acquires.

Which is to say that Bozell is a racist f**k not even trying to use the dog whistle anymore.  He’s just flat out calling the President of the United States a drug-fiend slimeball (and did I mention, a black — oh no…please excuse me…a “ghetto” one?). He’s the kind of person a civilized society shuns; that he has such a bold megaphone tells you a great deal, not just about him, but about those who enable (endorse) the dissemination of those views.

Which is to say, if Fox News wants this as their brand, let’s make sure we don’t let them forget it.

Oh — and Main Stream Media:  would you please, pretty please, sugar on top do me a favor?

Could you just this once ask each of the major GOP candidates whether they condemn these remarks, and the network broadcasting them?  You could even ask if they think Fox owes Obama (and America) an apology.

Kthnxbai

*I’ll give him the skinny, I guess.

Image: Canadian War Bonds poster,  “Je fabrique des bombes et j’achète des obligations – Achetez des obligations de la victoire.” (English:  I’m making bombs and I’m buying bonds. Buy Victory Bonds!” before 1945.