Time to Have a Serious Conversation About Race? What Exactly Does that Look Like & With Whom?

Davey-D-yellow-225-frameEver since President Obama gave his speech on Trayvon Martin and race, I’m been hearing pundit after pundit wax poetic about how now is the time to have ‘a serious conversation‘ on race…’

My question is..’What does that mean?’ Seriously, what does that serious conversation look like and who does it involve?

Do we have some sort of nationally televised panel discussion or is it Hearings on Capitol Hill?

Do we have a C-Span-like version of Tavis Smiley‘s now defunct State of the Black Union? and if so what do we talk about? Racial profiling? Affirmative Action? Attacks on President Obama? Who’s on the panel? Al Sharpton? Tavis? 50 Cent?

Does this serious discussion only involve Black folks, Are we including Asians, Latinos, Native Americans? Do we need to have a conversation on race with Blacks and Latinos?  Asians and Whites? Arabs and Latinos? Arabs and whites?  etc

Within our  respective communities we have a variety of political stripes, so does this serious conversation include Black conservatives?  Are we including Pan Africanists? Revolutionaries? Garveyites? Traditional Civil Rights types? Hip Hop generation folks? LGBT folks? Who are these folks breaking bread with? White radicals? Suburban housewives? Tea Party types? NRA folks? Wall Street bankers? Birthers?

Thomas Norman DeWolf & Sharon Leslie Morgan

Thomas Norman DeWolf & Sharon Leslie Morgan

As far as I’m concerned serious conversations about race have been going on for a very long time..There have long been forward thinking people who have engaged this conversation full time..For example, recently I did an interview with Thomas Norman DeWolf and Sharon Leslie Morgan who penned the book Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade. Does our serious conversation look like the work these two have been doing for the past few years where they been touring the country speaking about healing and reconciliation?

Does our serious conversation look like the unlearning Racism and white privilege workshops put on by folks like Tim Wise and author J-Love (Jennifer Calderon)?

Does it look like the work done by  Shakti Butler and the work she outlines in the film ‘Cracking the Codes ‘The System of Racial Inequity’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36XCiGr8muw

Howard PinderhughesOr does it look like the unlearning racism workshops that scholars like Dr Howard Pinderhughes was doing at UC Berkeley back in the early 1980s? Do we draw from the work covered in his book Race in the Hood: Conflict and Violence Among Urban Youth which was penned in 1997?

Do we look at the International Race Relations Roundtables that were done in New Zealand back in 2004 and build off those findings? or do we hark back to the Race Round Tables that were done in Michigan since 1942? Those serious discussions on race have been going on for decades, what has worked? What hasn’t worked? Is Michigan a model for us because after the riots in 1943 when mobs of whites came after Black folks? Those riots got everyone together to deal with the so-called Negro problem back then? 24 years later when Detroit exploded in riots in 1967 that ‘Negro Problem’ was addressed again by the Michigan roundtables with the attempts to bring about racial harmony. What can we draw from those attempts?

Do we look at the attempts made by places like Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland when they opened their doors to the Jewish community and Rabbi Michael Lerner to have a service focusing on improving race relations? It was called Solidarity Sunday.. Lerner’s remarks are HERE
End Racism

Does our serious discussions on race look like the work that was done at  World Conference on Racism. These conferences have been going on since 1978, with the first one addressing the issue of Apartheid in South Africa..In 2009, the World Conference on Racism was held in Geneva, Switzerland.. President Obama had promised folks before he was elected that he would attend.

He was well aware that President Bush’s delegation had walked out the conference in 2001 when it was held in Durban,  South Africa. At that time the US was upset that the global attendees had declared Zionism as a major form of racism and that the US legacy of slavery was something that needed to be seriously addressed. Our country felt this was unfair and bounced mid way through the conference.

Globally speaking all sorts of countries around the world were seriously upset about the US walking out, but before shyt hit the fan in a big way, our collective attention got diverted because of the 9-11 attacks which happened a day or two after the conference was over..

Obama got a game plan about this gun control stuff

Obama backed out of the 2009 World Race Conference after being pressured

President Obama noted that he was different then Bush and would have us at this conference, but after AIPAC and Israel got at dude and he decided not to attend at the 11th hour resulting in US and some of her key European allies pulling out.

I bring all this up to ask whether or not there be another World Conference on Racism and will Obama attend? We should also ask, if the World Conference which has been in existence for darn near 30 years, is the place to have that ‘serious conversation’ on race? Do we build upon the work there or start from scratch?

In the meantime, most of us may wanna start that serious conversation on race on our own and by keeping a few things in mind..

1-Learn to listen. Learning to listen and not getting caught up with what some dub ‘Oppression Olympic’ conversations where we compare atrocities and try to one up one another while invalidating the experiences of others. We should ideally be striving to listen with the understanding that racism has resulted in trauma.. It’s intergenerational. It’s personal. It’s systemic. A one time conversation won’t make things go away overnight..Healing is important and healing is defined differently by many.

Are we looking at the work people like Dr Joy DuGruy are doing around intergeneration trauma..Her book and lectures on post traumatic slave syndrome are informative. We see similar approaches toward healing in Native American communities.. This documentary called Journey to Forgiveness is one example worth peeping..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZwF9NnQbWM


2- Recognizing that there are all sorts of political, economic and social power dynamics at play when dealing with race..How the playing field gets leveled in those areas is important..Understanding how class factors in to all this is important.. In other words the conversation traditional Civil Rights leaders may have on race may be very different that the one we are having in our neighborhoods and amongst our family and friends. Some of this is related to age. Some of this is geographical.

Trayvon-Martin-brownFor example, when the when there was national discussions about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman being a vigilante, we often saw this couched by pundits as one a time occurrence vs something that was systemic.

Where I’m at in Oakland, California Zimmerman’s vigilantism was seen as part of larger climate of intolerance which also manifested itself in Brown communities with xenophobic Minutemen and ‘neighborhood border watchers’ using the name US Border Guard who were shooting and attacking Brown folks with impunity.

Investigations by both police and independent media outlets have revealed many of these vigilante border watchers are members of Neo-Nazi groups..peep that HERE . The case of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores who begged for her life before being shot along with her father by Minutemen vigilantes in Arizona who suspected they were in the country illegally is one prime example.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgcVMvl-k7A

In other circles, Trayvon’s murder was connected to the large numbers of police killings. In fact the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in the wake of Trayvon’s murder did an exhausted study which brought to life that every 28 hours a black person was killed by police, security or wannabe police.  In many circles Trayvon’s murder was rarely spoken without referencing the MXGM Report.. Watching numerous pundits not talk or write about border killings or the MXGM Report was an indication that folks have very different perspectives on addressing racially charged issues.

Race matters3-Allowing yourself to become culturally literate.. This means goings beyond memorizing a few dates, times and historical figures. It means knowing more than a few songs from genres outside your comfort zone.. It goes beyond dating outside your race and thinking that you’re an instant expert because of that..Ideally this may mean going out of our way to find ways to stay informed about other communities. Do we read publications of other ethnic groups? Do we watch documentaries dealing with other people’s issues?  Do we have list of websites to go that cover a wide breathof other communities. For example, I like to peep  websites like Colorlines and Racialicious.

4-Determining what justice looks like..Is it an apology? Is it people being punished? Is it people being compensated? We should also be clear as to what we are fighting. Are we fighting systems of oppression and institutionalized racism or are we dealing with day to day bias and prejudice?  Can and should we put both on the same plane? Yes, I have lots of white friends, but how has that ended or is working toward ending systemic racism?

Another way of looking at this is noting that I have friends who are police officers. How has that friendship ended police brutality? Does my friendship mean that we pull back or no longer address the systemic problems within police departments?

There’s the personal and there’s the systemic.. What are we really fighting?  Are we trying to bring awareness and end racism within our own circles? Its one thing to talk publicly about the need to end racism, while ignoring the bigotry and ignorance at home with family members and friends.

Along these lines are we putting into play ideas of how a society free of a system dominated by White Supremacy looks like?  Have we peeped scholars like Neely Fuller to understand what White supremacy is? As people of color are we deliberate or unwitting tools of white supremacy? Are white folks asking questions as to how they being used and enabling this system?

There’s no one size fits all model..For some it may mean exchanging books and having discussions. For others it may mean doing retreats and having purposeful discussions with a specific goal in mind. For others its simply means getting certain types of legislation passed. Still others feel having a healthy understanding of a variety of political and social philosophies that govern folks from particular backgrounds is a way to start making inroads into improving race relations.

Any that’s some food for thought..

-Davey D-

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Editorial: America’s White Male Problem.. (Fear of a Black / Brown Planet)

Fear-of-a-Black-Planet-brownJust came across an interesting article on Alternet this morning called America’s White Male Problem.  It’s written by Frank Schaeffer an author and former right-wing Evangelical who talks about one of the underlying reasons behind some of the nihilistic directions this country seems to be taking has to do with deep-seated fears and pathology and not politics.. Here’s an excerpt of what he wrote…

The American political process is being hijacked by a reckless, whining dangerous gang of psychologically damaged white men who are far-right ideologues. I used to be one of them. It’s time to tell the truth about our white male problem.

Not everyone who disagrees with the president is a racist. Not even most people who do are. But the continuous attempt by the white far-right in Congress to shut down the government rather than work with our black president has a lot to do with racism. And lurching from manufactured crisis to crisis isn’t about politics; it’s about pathology. It doesn’t make sense politically to take the blame for risking America’s future — and the Republicans know they will take the blame — so how can we conclude other than something else is going on here?

I’m not talking about the white young male mass murderers we’re afflicted with carrying assault rifles courtesy of the NRA. I’m talking about the white far-right males who hijacked the 112th Congress and are set to destroy the 113th. They have metaphorically done to our country what the killer in Newtown literally did to 20 children, and for the same apparent reason: alienation from the mainstream and retreat to a paranoid delusional fantasy land of — literal — mental impairment.

This has less to do with politics and more to do with the fear and mental illness that grips a willfully ignorant minority of white males. But the mainstream media is talking about everything but the underlying racial, cultural and mental health issues afflicting the white male minority of far-right congressmen holding us all hostage. And the extreme insanity of the right-wing rhetoric over the last four years, from “birther” to Obama-is-a-Muslim etc., conclusively points to something other than politics.

The manufactured crisis we face are not about economics. These self-inflicted wounds are about a few people’s fear of being marginalized.

It’s not considered polite to mention race anymore. But I’m going to mention it anyway. We have a white problem.

You can continue reading the article  at http://www.alternet.org/americas-white-male-problem

You can also listen to our Hard Knock Radio interview w// Frank Schaeffer by clicking the link below

Dr Francis Cress Welsing

Dr Francis Cress Welsing

As you read this article I want people to pay attention to what Schaeffer is talking about when he talks about the psychological problems that are at play with some who are pushing extreme measures… Fear of Black/ Brown Planet... This is what Dr Frances Cress Welsing talked about years ago… Here’s a couple of videos…The first video talks about the massive lies that have been laid upon People of color…Pay close attention to the second and third videos where Welsing debates William Schockley a leading scholar from Stanford University who believed that Black people were genetically inferior.

Francis Cress Welsing.. The Gigantic Lie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n9-S5NhGMQ

Francis Cress Welsing..vs William Schockley

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0AUA_J4zE4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgK6sskKmJ4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgK6sskKmJ4

29 Black People Have Been Killed by Police/Security Since Jan 2012: 16 Since Trayvon

First thing that needs to be noted is that we just had another police shooting of an unarmed man in Austin, Texas on Thursday night.. This happened after the report was compiled, so add another name to this grisly toll..

Second, folks have got to understand this is not coincident, it’s quite deliberate. Police have moved from a point of trying to de-escalate or prevention to a shoot first ask questions later policy..

The list below are just noting the deaths at hands of the police, its not highlighting the enormous amounts of brutality and outright disrespect many in the Black community have to endure on a daily basis.. The report below is to say the least disturbing and underscores a low wage war going on in our communities…

Twenty-eight Black People (27 Men and 1 Female) Killed by Police Officials, Security
Guards, and Self-Appointed “Keepers of the Peace” between January 1, 2012 and March
31, 2012

– 28 cases of state sanctioned or justified murder of Black people in the first 3
months of 2012 alone have been found (due to under reporting and discriminatory
methods of documentation, it is likely that there are more that our research has yet
to uncover)

– Of the 28 killed people, 18 were definitely unarmed. 2 probably had firearms, 8
were alleged to have non-lethal weapons.

– Of the 28 killed people,

. 11 were innocent of any illegal behavior or behavior that involved a
threat to anyone (although the shooters claimed they looked “suspicious”);

. 7 were emotionally disturbed and/or displaying strange behavior.

. The remaining 10 were either engaged in illegal or potentially illegal
activity, or there was too little info to determine circumstances of their
killing. It appears that in all but two of these cases, illegal and/or harmful
behavior could have been stopped without the use of lethal force.



[4]This list of28 names was collected between 3/28/2012 and 3/30/2012 by reviewing google

search results to the question, “who have police killed in 2012”. Only the first 65 pages out of
712,000,000 were reviewed.

[5] News One.com reported Rodriguez was African America however other reports and family

photos indicate he was Latino.

[6] Many written reports do not explicitly identify the race of the victim. Most, however, do show

photographs. In the case of Warren, no photo was displayed.

This document was researched, written and produced by Kali Akuno and Arlene Eisen working
on behalf of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Black Left Unity Network, and US Human
Rights Network.

Phillip Gardiner, Dr. P. H.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Neurosciences and Nicotine Dependence

Research Administrator

Tobacco Related Disease Research Program

University of California Office of the President

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