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Monday, July 26, 2021

Why Is There A Generalized Coverup Of Derrick Bell's Critical Race Theory?

BAR  |  Through the lens of racial fortuity, Bell rejects the liberal view of history as one of racial progress, favoring instead a cyclical view of history in which Black people experience progress through interest convergence and setbacks under racial sacrifice. For example, Bell argues that the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War Amendments to the U.S. Constitution are instances of interest convergence. In the first case, ending slavery was a means to the end of “saving the union”; in the second case, the amendments helped the Republicans maintain control of Congress. However, these instances of interest convergence were followed by two instances of racial sacrifice: the Tilden-Hayes compromise, which ended Reconstruction, and the disenfranchisement of Black voters in the South, which prevented Black voters from influencing elections in those states. 

For Bell, the most important example of interest convergence is the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that racial segregation is unconstitutional. Bell originally argued this in his 1980 paper “Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest-Convergence Dilemma ,” where he posited that the Court’s decision resulted not from a moral concern about Black well-being under Jim Crow regimes but from three international and domestic interests. Internationally, the U.S. needed to end segregation because it embarrassed the country on the world stage and undermined Cold War imperatives. Bell’s thesis was later corroborated by historian Mary Dudziak, who demonstrated  that the Supreme Court wanted to end segregation because the Soviet Union and Third World anticolonial movements were using Jim Crow to criticize Amerika. Domestically, the U.S. needed to end segregation because it needed to gain Black support for Cold War foreign policy and because segregation was viewed as a barrier to industrialization in the South. 

Thus, Bell’s materialism inspires his theory of racial fortuity, which interprets even the most celebrated events of Amerikan racial history as cynical decisions designed to advance capitalists and imperialist ends. 

“The U.S. needed to end segregation because it embarrassed the country on the world stage and undermined Cold War imperatives.”

The second theme in Bell’s CRT is realism, which provides the basis for his theory of racial realism. Bell’s realism begins with an emphasis on the empirical realities of Black people in Amerika. On this view, CRT politics beings with historical and sociological descriptions about what is rather than with idealistic hopes about what might be. But for Bell, when we examine the patterns of racial fortuity in Amerikan history, we should reach the obvious conclusion: there is no empirical reason to believe that racism and white supremacy will ever come to an end in Amerika. In other words, U.S. history suggests that racism is permanent and racial equality is impossible. To be sure, Bell does not mean that racism is an ahistorical or eternal phenomenon; rather, he says that nothing in Amerikan history would make any reasonable person believe that racism will end in the U.S. 

Bell has gotten a lot of heat from critics who claim that racial realism leads to inaction, pessimism, and fatalism. But Bell argues that the problem is not the struggle but the aim of the struggle. Too much energy and too many resources, Bell writes, have been wasted chasing the unrealistic goal of racial equality. But that just means that the struggle should aim for something else. As Bell writes in his famous 1992 essay “Racial Realism ,” “Racial Realism…requires us to acknowledge the permanence of our subordinate status. That acknowledgement enables us to avoid despair, and frees us to imagine and implement racial strategies that can bring fulfillment and even triumph.” In his follow-up book Afrolantica Legacies, Bell lays out seven “rules of racial preservation,” guidelines designed to help Black people survive and even thrive in a perpetually white supremacist empire. 

Thus, Bell’s realism inspires his theory of racial realism, which views Amerikan society as permanently racist and which advocates survival strategies as a more effective and realistic alternative to traditional civil rights calls for racial equality. 

The third theme in Bell’s CRT is anticolonialism, which provides the basis for his critique of the Black middle class. In Afrolantica Legacies, Bell draws upon Robert L. Allen’s Black Awakening in Capitalist America, which argues that the elite of the 1960s were implementing a program of “domestic neocolonialism .” According to Allen, the white Amerikan elite were happy to integrate politically convective middle class Blacks into the power structure because it would protect the status quo from accusations of racism while giving those same middle class Blacks a stake in the system. By becoming beneficiaries of the Amerikan capitalist empire, Black middle class citizens were increasingly likely to identify with and defend it.  

“Belll views Amerikan society as permanently racist and which advocates survival strategies as a more effective and realistic alternative to traditional civil rights calls for racial equality.“

Following Allen, Bell explains neocolonialism and the class role the Black bourgeoisie plays in a neocolonial regime: “The colonizing countries maintained their control by establishing class divisions within the ranks of the indigenous peoples. A few able (and safe) individuals were permitted to move up in the ranks where they served as symbols of what was possible for the subordinated masses. In this, and less enviable ways, these individuals provide a legitimacy to the colonial rule that it clearly did not deserve.” 

Bell levels a class critique against the Black bourgeoisie, whom he sees as having led Black political protest down the wrong path time and time again. He criticizes  NAACP lawyers for advancing the organization’s demand for integrated schools at the expense of their constituents' demands for better Black schools. He condemns  high-profile conservative Black politicians and judges, such as Clarence Thomas, referring to them as “overseers.”

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Native Conquest And African Enslavement Foundational To U.S. Property Law

ssrn |  This article demonstrates that the histories of conquest and slavement are foundational to U.S. property law. Over centuries, laws and legal institutions facilitated the production of the two commodities, or forms of property, upon which the colonial economy and the United States came to depend above all others: enclosures of Native nations’ land and enslaved people. By describing the role of property law in creating markets for lands and people, this article addresses the gap between the marginal place of these histories in the contemporary property law canon and the growing scholarly and popular recognition that conquest and enslavement were primary modes of property formation in American history.

First, this article describes how the field of property law has come to omit these histories from its common understanding of what is basic to its subject by examining property law casebooks published over 130 years. For most of their history, it shows, such casebooks affirmed the racial logic of conquest and slavery and contributed to these histories’ suppression in pedagogical materials. Early treatises avowed the foundational nature of conquest, but after the first property law casebook appeared, at the time of the close of the frontier, casebooks for more than half a century emphasized English inheritance, rather than acknowledging colonization’s formative impact on the property system. In the same period, the era of Jim Crow, casebooks continued to include many cases involving the illegal, obsolete form of property in enslaved people; when they ceased to do so, they replaced them with cases on racially restrictive covenants upholding segregation. After several decades, during which the histories of conquest and slavery were wholly erased, casebooks in the 1970s began to examine these histories through a critical lens for the first time. However, the project of understanding their consequences for the property system has remained only partial and highly inconsistent.

The central part of this article focuses on the acquisition of property, which, properly understood, comprises the histories of conquest, slavery, expropriation, and property creation in America. It examines the three main theories of acquisition—discovery, labor and possession-- beginning with the United States’ adoption of the Discovery Doctrine, the international law of conquest, as the legal basis of its sovereignty and property laws. In this context, it shows that the operative principle of the doctrine was not that of first-in-time, as commonly taught, but the agreement of European nations on a global racial hierarchy. Second, it turns to the labor theory, which was selectively applied according to the hierarchy of discovery, and firmly linked ideologies about non-whites and property value. It then reframes the labor theory’s central question—property creation—as a matter of legal and institutional innovation, rather than merely agricultural labor. It examines the correlation between historical production of property value in the colonies to show how the main elements of the Angloamerican land system developed through the dispossession of nonwhites-- the rectangular survey, the comprehensive title registry, headrights and the homesteading principle, laws that racialized the condition of enslavement to create property in human beings, and easy mortgage foreclosure, which facilitated the trade of human beings and land as chattel to increase colonists’ wealth. Third, it assesses how the state organized the tremendous force required to subvert others’ possession of their lands and selves, using the examples of the strategy of conquest by settlement and the freedom quests that gave rise to the fugitive slave controversy. Its analysis highlights the state’s delegation of violence and dispossession to private actors invested in the racial hierarchy of property through the use of incentives structured by law.

This article concludes by summarizing how the laws that governed conquest and slavery established property laws, practices, and institutions that laid the groundwork for transformations to interests in land after the abolition of slavery, which I will address in a future companion article. This article aims throughout to offer a framework for integrating the study of English doctrines regulating relations between neighbors-- the traditional focus of a property law course—into an exploration of the unique fruits of the colonial experiment -- the singular American land system that underpins its real estate market and its structural reliance on racial violence to produce value.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

These Super-Accents When These Mexican Chicks Say "Names" Or "Latino" Though...,

NPR |   The chairman of the hate group The Proud Boys identifies as Afro-Cuban. One of the organizers of the pro-Trump extremist group Stop the Steal is Black and Arab. Christina Beltran is a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University. And she uses the term multiracial whiteness to explain why some groups who are disdained by white supremacists embrace white power movements. And she joins us now to explain. Welcome to the program.

CRISTINA BELTRAN: Great. Thank you so much for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what do you mean by multiracial whiteness?

BELTRAN: So there's been a whole lot of people thinking and theorizing about white supremacy. And all of these scholars share a view that I share, that whiteness is not the same thing as white people and that whiteness is actually better understood as a political project that has emerged historically, and that is dynamic and that is always changing. And so whiteness as an ideology is rooted in America's history of white supremacy - right? - which has to do with the legacy of slavery or Indigenous dispossession or Jim Crow. And I think it's important to realize just how long in this country legal discrimination was not simply culturally acceptable but legally authorized. And so we've only been practicing a more consistent form of legal equality for a relatively short time since the 1960s. So Americans have often learned how to create their own sense of belonging through violence and through the exclusion of certain groups and populations.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what you're saying, essentially, is that people of other races and ethnicities want to benefit from white privilege by supporting it.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: So we should note that you wrote an op-ed recently in The Washington Post about this, and it stirred up a heated debate on social media. (laughter).


GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to read what you wrote in part. (Reading) For voters who see the very act of acknowledging one's racial identity as itself racist, the politics of multiracial whiteness reinforces their desired approach to colorblind individualism.

Can you explain what you mean?

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Savage Foreign Scum Working To ReOpen The Bronx Slave Market...,

NYTimes |   This underclass status can be traced as far back as the 1800s, historians say, and is squarely rooted in racism. Domestic work was then one of the few ways that Black women could earn money, and well into the 20th century, most of those women lived in the South. During the Jim Crow era, they were powerless and exploited. Far from the happy “mammy” found in popular culture like “Gone With the Wind,” these women were mistreated and overworked. In 1912, a publication called The Independent ran an essay by a woman identified only as a “Negro Nurse,” who described 14-hour workdays, seven days a week, for $10 a month.

“I live a treadmill life,” she wrote. “I see my own children only when they happen to see me on the streets.”

In 1935, the federal government all but codified the grim conditions of domestic work with the passage of the Social Security Act. The law was the crowning achievement of the New Deal, providing retirement benefits as well as the country’s first national unemployment compensation program — a safety net that was invaluable during the Depression. But the act excluded two categories of employment: domestic workers and agricultural laborers, jobs that were most essential to Black women and Black men, respectively.

The few Black people invited to weigh in on the bill pointed out the obvious. In February 1935, Charles Hamilton Houston, then special counsel to the N.A.A.C.P., testified before the Senate Finance Committee and said that from the viewpoint of Black people, the bill “looks like a sieve with the holes just big enough for the majority of Negroes to fall through.”

The historian Mary Poole, author of “The Segregated Origins of Social Security,” sifted through notes, diaries and transcripts created during the passage of the act and found that Black people were excluded not because white Southerners in control of Congress at the time insisted on it. The truth was more troubling, and more nuanced. Members of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration — most notably, the Treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau Jr. — persuaded congressional leaders that the law would be far simpler to administer, and therefore far more likely to succeed, if the two occupations were left out of the bill.

In the years that followed, Black domestic workers were consistently at the mercy of white employers. In cities like New York, African-American women lined up at spots along certain streets, carrying a paper bag filled with work clothes, waiting for white housewives to offer them work, often for an hour or two, sometimes for the day. A reporter, Marvel Cooke, and an activist, Ella Baker, wrote a series of articles in 1935 for The Crisis, the journal of the N.A.A.C.P., describing life in what they called New York City’s “slave markets.”

The markets’ popularity diminished in the ’40s after Mayor Fiorello La Guardia opened hiring halls, where contracts were signed laying out terms for day labor arrangements. But in early 1950, Ms. Cooke found the markets in New York City were bustling again. In a series of first-person dispatches, she joined the “paper bag brigades” and went undercover to describe life for the Black women who stood in front of the Woolworths on 170th Street.

“That is the Bronx Slave Market,” she wrote in The Daily Compass in January 1950, “where Negro women wait, in rain or shine, in bitter cold or under broiling sun, to be hired by local housewives looking for bargains in human labor.”

That same year, domestic work was finally added to the Social Security Act, and by the 1970s it had been added to federal legislation intended to protect laborers, including the Fair Labor Standards Act. African-American women had won many of those protections by organizing, though by the 1980s, they had moved into other occupations and were largely replaced by women from South and Central America as well as the Caribbean.

Monday, July 20, 2020

No Tears For John Lewis...,

BAR |  “I was beaten bloody by police officers. But I never hated them. I said, ‘Thank you for your service.’” --Congressman John Lewis

The people who fought against Jim Crow segregation in the 1960s were quite literally risking their lives. The list of martyrs is a long one. Activists of that era are rightly respected and their courage must not be forgotten or taken for granted. But as congressman John Lewis proves, their actions at that time should not provide dispensation from critique in the 21st century. Lewis is the latest target of president-elect Donald Trump’s attacks but that shouldn’t give him a pass either.

Despite his early history, Lewis now exemplifies everything that is wrong with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Democratic Party and the black misleadership class. The caucus was once known as “the conscience of the Congress.” Those men and women were always among the most left leaning members and could be counted on to reliably fight against domestic injustice and imperialism abroad. They were unafraid of their party leadership or of presidents either.

“The CBC that is a shell of its former self.”
But all that changed when they were targeted by big money contributors like the rest of their congressional colleagues. After years of unsuccessfully attempting to make inroads among black Americans the right wing realized their error. They began to promote compliant corporatist candidates for office and to target people like Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard for defeat. The result is now a CBC that is a shell of its former self.

Instead of providing inspirational leadership to their constituents CBC members are now mere lackeys for the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. They said nothing when Barack Obama made grand austerity bargains with Republicans, or used sanctions, jihadists and drone warfare to kill in Somalia and Libya, or when he refused to prosecute killer cops. Only one of them, Keith Ellison, chose to support Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton, and CBC’s lobbying arm gave her a hearty and undeserved endorsement.

Lewis stood out among all the genuflectors. Having been dubbed a “civil rights icon” his opinions are given undue weight and he uses them to uphold the corrupt establishment. Not only did the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation endorse Clinton but Lewis chose to give the hapless Sanders a very public beat down. Sanders used his own youthful movement activism as a political calling card but Lewis dismissed him. He claimed he knew nothing about Sanders but did know the Clintons who were great friends of black people. The effort to discredit Sanders was so obvious and the claims about the Clintons were so outrageous that Lewis was forced to back track and clarify his comments.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Aside From Being Kryptonite For BeeDee - What Is Boasian Anti-Racism?

policytensor |  The core idea of Boasian antiracism is the negation of the core idea of high racialism, the hegemonic ideology of the Western world, and beyond, from the turn of the century to the anti-systemic turn after 1968. In order to understand the contours of Boasian antiracism, we must therefore begin with high racialism. The core belief of high racialism was that the world was composed of discrete anthropological races that sat in a natural hierarchy of ability, and it was these biological differences between races that explained why some nations were rich and strong and others poor and weak. As I explained last year,

What made racial taxonomy so compelling was what it was mobilized to explain: the astonishing scale of global polarization. As Westerners contemplated the human condition at the turn of the century, the dominant fact that cried out for explanation was the highly uneven distribution of wealth and power on earth. It did really look like fate had thrust the responsibility of the world on Anglo-Saxon shoulders; that Europe and its offshoots were vastly more advanced, civilized and powerful that the rest of the world; that Oriental or Russian armies simply couldn’t put up a fight with a European great power; that six thousand Englishmen could rule over hundreds of millions of Indians without fear of getting their throats cut. The most compelling explanation was the most straightforward one. To the sharpest knives in the turn of the century drawer, what explained the polarization of the world was the natural hierarchy of the races.

Ashley Montagu was the first to question the existence of biological races in 1942. But since before the turn of the century, Franz Boas, a physical anthropologist at Columbia, had been questioning self-satisfied perceptions of innate biological differences between the races. In the mid-1930s, his students at Columbia Anthropology, above all, Ashley Montagu, Margret Mead and Ruth Benedict, argued forcefully against Nazi racism—this was the first time the word “racism” appeared in public; ‘race prejudice’ was used before that.

There are two important facts to note about high racialism. First, there was hardly any daylight between the German and Anglo-Saxon understanding of race. Both were, in the final analysis, anchored in the scientific discourse of physical anthropology—no one, including the Nazis, was free to reject the main claims of ‘the science of race’.

Second, high racialism did not die after Auschwitz. A lot of scholars have made claims to the contrary.

The 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race looms large in the historical study of “race” in the 20th century. Historians, sociologists, anthropologists and others point to the 1950 Statement on Race as the key moment in which science was harnessed in the political battle to combat racism and overturn the philosophical underpinnings of European colonialism and Jim Crow. These scholars recognize how the UNESCO Statement was doubly significant because the newly formed United Nations called for such an effort along with its 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and because the Statement apparently signaled the triumph of anti‐racist anthropology over the science that had defined social Darwinism, eugenics, and the Holocaust (Baker 1998; Banton 2002; Barkan 1992; Graves 2001; Kohn 1995; Patterson 2001; Shipman 2002; Tucker 1994; Zack 2002).

These scholars are mistaken. Not a single physical anthropologist contributed to the 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race, which was authored by a small coterie of Boasian antiracists led by Ashley Montagu. It is fair bet that the vast majority of physical anthropologists disagreed with it. The dominant figure in the scientific understanding of race at midcentury was Carlton Coon. Coon’s magnum opus, The Origin of Races was published in 1962. He posited H. erectus and H. sapiens as stages of hominin development. He argued that some continental races achieved sapiens status later than others, and mobilized their differential time-depth to explain global polarization. The monograph, with its obvious racist implications, was seized on by southern racists, including Coon’s cousin Putnam, to contest school desegregation. It was also immediately contested by Boasian antiracists.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Nah Jim, Black America Didn't "Opt Out" - White America Violently Rejected Integrating Black Children

I was fetching around for a way in which to try and integrate today's dismissals of both BLM and the black political mainstream, with tomorrow's refresher course on American racism and living memory history. Tomorrow is REALLY important.  That said, I suspect that even here, short attention span theater predominates - such that a simple succinct six minute turn that Irami Osei Frimpong offered - will have been lost even on my audience.

For sure what has been lost is the fundamental, core living memory experience of racism that shaped my life, largely i'm guessing, because it had little to no impact on any of your lives. What I'm referring to is public school desegregation attempted in the 70's and flatly and legally and politically rejected by white Americans of all socioeconomic and political persuasions. 

Kunstler entirely misses this in his haste to blame black folks for their exclusion and alienation from the American mainstream. See, I and a number of my peers, my immediate personal cohort, were among the lucky and durable ones who integrated public and private schools during the 70's, survived, got tough, and thrived, all the while learning everything there is to know about white America. 

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, don't get me wrong. I'm not crying about anything, I'm not playing a victim card, and I sincerely believe and exemplify the ethos "that which does not kill you". But the simple fact of the matter is, that when white Americans refused to accept integration of public schools and shifted themselves in very dramatic macro-scale fashion in response to the prospective horror of little Cindy Lou sitting next to young Tyrone in the 3rd grade, well..., that kind of set the mold for much of what has followed over the next 50 years.

kunstler |  That business was the full participation of Black citizens in American life. The main grievance now is that Black Americans are still denied full participation due to “systemic racism.” That’s a dodge. What actually happened is that Black America opted out and lost itself in a quandary of its own making with the assistance of their white dis-enablers, the well intentioned “progressives.” 

Let me take you back to the mid-20th century. America had just fought and won a war against manifest evil. The nation styled itself as Leader of the Free World. That role could not be squared with the rules of Jim Crow apartheid, so something had to change. The civil rights campaign to undo racial segregation under law naturally began in the courts in cases such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954). So-called public accommodations — hotels, theaters, restaurants, buses, bathrooms, water fountains, etc. — remained segregated. By the early 1960s, the clamor to end all that took to the streets under the emerging moral leadership of Martin Luther King and his credo of non-violent civil disobedience.

Many acts of non-violent street protest were met by police using fire-hoses, vicious dogs, and batons to terrorize the marchers. This only shamed and horrified the rest of the nation watching on TV and actually quickened the formation of a political consensus to end American apartheid. That culminated in the passage of three major federal laws: the Public Accommodations Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Meanwhile, something else was going on among Black Americans: not everybody believed in Dr. King’s non-violence, and not everybody was so sure about full participation in American life. Altogether, Black America remained ambivalent and anxious about all that. That full participation implied a challenge to compete on common ground. What if it didn’t work out? An alternate view emerged, personified first by Malcolm X, who called MLK an “Uncle Tom,” and then by the younger generation, Stokely Carmichael, the Black Panthers and others retailing various brands of Black Power, Black Nationalism, and Black Separatism. It amounted, for some, in declining that invitation to participate fully in American life. “No thanks. We’ll go our own way.” That sentiment has prevailed ever since.

So, the outcome to all that federal legislation of the 1960s turned out not to be the clear-cut victory (like World War Two) that liberals and progressives so breathlessly expected. The civil rights acts had some startling adverse consequences, too. They swept away much of the parallel service and professional economy that Blacks had constructed to get around all the old exclusions of everyday life. With that went a lot of the Black middle-class, the business owners especially. In its place, the liberal-and-progressive government provided “public assistance” — a self-reinforcing poverty generator that got ever worse, especially in big cities where de-industrialization started destroying the working-class job base beginning in the 1970s.  Fist tap Big Don.

1/23/14 REDUX: Respectable Negroe Politics NEVER Question The Existing Economic Order

libcom |  Coexisting with this egalitarian ideology was the Civil Rights movement's appeal to a functionalist conception of social rationality. To the extent that it blocked individual aspirations, segregation was seen as restricting artificially social growth and progress. Similarly, by raising artificial barriers such as the construction of blacks' consumer power through Jim Crow legislation and, indirectly, through low black wages, segregation impeded, so the argument went, the free functioning of the market. Consequently, segregation was seen not only as detrimental to the blacks who suffered under it, but also to economic progress as such. Needless to say, the two lines of argument were met with approval by corporate liberals.[31]
Outside the South, rebellion arose from different conditions. Racial segregation was not rigidly codified and the management sub-systems in the black community were correspondingly more fluidly integrated within the local administrative apparatus. Yet, structural, generational and ideological pressures, broadly similar to those in the South, existed within the black elite in the Northern, Western, and Midwestern cities that had gained large black populations in the first half of the 20th century. In non-segregated urban contexts, formal political participation and democratized consumption had long since been achieved: there the salient political issue was the extension of the administrative purview of the elite within the black community. The centrality of the administrative nexus in the "revolt of the cities" is evident from the ideological programs it generated.

Black Power came about as a call for indigenous control of economic and political institutions in the black community.[33] Because one of the early slogans of Black Power was a vague demand for "community control," the emancipatory character of the rebellion was open to considerable misinterpretation. Moreover, the diversity and "militance" of its rhetoric encouraged extravagance in assessing the movement's depth. It soon became clear, however, that "community control" called not for direction of pertinent institutions — schools, hospitals, police, retail businesses, etc. — by their black constituents, but for administration of those institutions by alleged representatives in the name of a black community. Given an existing elite structure whose legitimacy had already been certified by federal social-welfare agencies, the selection of "appropriate" representatives was predictable. Indeed, as Robert Allen has shown,[34] the empowerment of this elite was actively assisted by corporate-state elements. Thus, "black liberation" quickly turned into black "equity," "community control" became simply "black control" and the Nixon "blackonomics" strategy was readily able to "coopt" the most rebellious tendency of 1960s black activism. Ironically, Black Power's supersession of the Civil Rights program led to further consolidation of the management elite's hegemony within the black community. The black elite broadened its administrative control by uncritically assuming the legitimacy of the social context within which that elite operated. Black control was by no means equivalent to democratization.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Black Lives Matter Movement Is Mimetic Cover For A Neoliberal Program

nonsite |  Black Lives Matter sentiment is essentially a militant expression of racial liberalism. Such expressions are not a threat but rather a bulwark to the neoliberal project that has obliterated the social wage, gutted public sector employment and worker pensions, undermined collective bargaining and union power, and rolled out an expansive carceral apparatus, all developments that have adversely affected black workers and communities. Sure, some activists are calling for defunding police departments and de-carceration, but as a popular slogan, Black Lives Matter is a cry for full recognition within the established terms of liberal democratic capitalism. And the ruling class agrees.
During the so-called Black Out Tuesday social media event, corporate giants like Walmart and Amazon widely condemned the killing of George Floyd and other policing excesses. Gestural anti-racism was already evident at Amazon, which flew the red, black and green black liberation flag over its Seattle headquarters this past February. The world’s wealthiest man, Jeff Bezos even took the time to respond personally to customer upset that Amazon expressed sympathy with the George Floyd protestors. “‘Black lives matter’ doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter,” the Amazon CEO wrote, “I have a 20-year-old son, and I simply don’t worry that he might be choked to death while being detained one day. It’s not something I worry about. Black parents can’t say the same.” Bezos also pledged $10 million in support of “social justice organizations,” i.e., the ACLU Foundation, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Equal Justice Initiative, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP, the National Bar Association, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Urban League, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and Year Up. The leadership of Warner, Sony Music and Walmart each committed $100 million to similar organizations. The protests have provided a public relations windfall for Bezos and his ilk. Only weeks before George Floyd’s killing, Amazon, Instacart, GrubHub and other delivery-based firms, which became crucial for commodity circulation during the national shelter-in-place, faced mounting pressure from labor activists over their inadequate protections, low wages, lack of health benefits and other working conditions. Corporate anti-racism is the perfect egress from these labor conflicts. Black lives matter to the front office, as long as they don’t demand a living wage, personal protective equipment and quality health care.

Perhaps the most important point in Reed’s 2016 essay is his insistence that Black Lives Matter, and cognate notions like the New Jim Crow are empirically and analytically wrong and advance an equally wrong-headed set of solutions. He does not deny the fact of racial disparity in criminal justice but points us towards a deeper causation and the need for more fulsome political interventions.

Racism alone cannot fully explain the expansive carceral power in our midst, which, as Reed notes, is “the product of an approach to policing that emerges from an imperative to contain and suppress the pockets of economically marginal and sub-employed working-class populations produced by revanchist capitalism.” Most Americans have now rejected the worst instances of police abuse, but not the institution of policing, nor the consumer society it services. As we should know too well by now, white guilt and black outrage have limited political currency, and neither has ever been a sustainable basis for building the kind of popular and legislative majorities needed to actually contest entrenched power in any meaningful way.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Unconstitutional Livestock Management Is American Policing's Raison d'Etre

NPR |  Black Americans being victimized and killed by the police is an epidemic. A truth many Americans are acknowledging since the murder of George Floyd, as protests have occurred in all fifty states calling for justice on his behalf. But this tension between African American communities and the police has existed for centuries. This week, the origins of American policing and how those origins put violent control of Black Americans at the heart of the system.

If you would like to read more about the topic:

An Unflinching Review Of The History Of Policing In America |  In 1838, the city of Boston established the first American police force, followed by New York City in 1845, Albany, NY and Chicago in 1851, New Orleans and Cincinnati in 1853, Philadelphia in 1855, and Newark, NJ and Baltimore in 1857 (Harring 1983, Lundman 1980; Lynch 1984). By the 1880s all major U.S. cities had municipal police forces in place.

These "modern police" organizations shared similar characteristics: (1) they were publicly supported and bureaucratic in form; (2) police officers were full-time employees, not community volunteers or case-by-case fee retainers; (3) departments had permanent and fixed rules and procedures, and employment as a police officers was continuous; (4) police departments were accountable to a central governmental authority (Lundman 1980).

In the Southern states the development of American policing followed a different path. The genesis of the modern police organization in the South is the "Slave Patrol" (Platt 1982). The first formal slave patrol was created in the Carolina colonies in 1704 (Reichel 1992). Slave patrols had three primary functions: (1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules. Following the Civil War, these vigilante-style organizations evolved in modern Southern police departments primarily as a means of controlling freed slaves who were now laborers working in an agricultural caste system, and enforcing "Jim Crow" segregation laws, designed to deny freed slaves equal rights and access to the political system.

The key question, of course, is what was it about the United States in the 1830s that necessitated the development of local, centralized, bureaucratic police forces? One answer is that cities were growing. The United States was no longer a collection of small cities and rural hamlets. Urbanization was occurring at an ever-quickening pace and old informal watch and constable system was no longer adequate to control disorder. Anecdotal accounts suggest increasing crime and vice in urban centers. Mob violence, particularly violence directed at immigrants and African Americans by white youths, occurred with some frequency. Public disorder, mostly public drunkenness and sometimes prostitution, was more visible and less easily controlled in growing urban centers than it had been rural villages (Walker 1996). But evidence of an actual crime wave is lacking. So, if the modern American police force was not a direct response to crime, then what was it a response to?

More than crime, modern police forces in the United States emerged as a response to "disorder." What constitutes social and public order depends largely on who is defining those terms, and in the cities of 19th century America they were defined by the mercantile interests, who through taxes and political influence supported the development of bureaucratic policing institutions. These economic interests had a greater interest in social control than crime control. Private and for profit policing was too disorganized and too crime-specific in form to fulfill these needs. The emerging commercial elites needed a mechanism to insure a stable and orderly work force, a stable and orderly environment for the conduct of business, and the maintenance of what they referred to as the "collective good" (Spitzer and Scull 1977). These mercantile interests also wanted to divest themselves of the cost of protecting their own enterprises, transferring those costs from the private sector to the state.

Friday, April 24, 2020

America Is The Most Extravagant Cornucopia Of Two-Piece-and-a-Biscuit Diversity EVER!!!

tomdispatch |  Today, more than 38 million people officially live below the federal poverty line and, in truth, that figure should have shocked the nation into action before the coronavirus even arrived here. No such luck and here’s the real story anyway: the official measure of poverty, developed in 1964, doesn’t even take into account household expenses like health care, child care, housing, and transportation, not to speak of other costs that have burgeoned in recent decades. The world has undergone profound economic transformations over the last 66 years and yet this out-of-date measure, based on three times a family’s food budget, continues to shape policymaking at every level of government as well as the contours of the American political and moral imagination.

Two years ago, the Poor People’s Campaign (which I co-chair alongside Reverend William Barber II) and the Institute for Policy Studies released an audit of America. Its centerpiece was a far more realistic assessment of poverty and economic precariousness in this country. Using the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure as a baseline, which, among other things, measures family income after taxes and out-of-pocket expenses for food, clothing, housing, and utilities, there are at least 140 million people who are poor -- or just a $400 emergency from that state. (Of that, there are now untold examples in this pandemic moment.)

As poverty has grown and spread, one of the great political weapons of politicians and the ruling elite over the past decades (only emphasized in the age of Trump) has been to minimize, dismiss, and racialize it. In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” coded it into Republican national politics; in the 1980s, in the years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the fabricated image of “the welfare queen” gained symbolic prominence. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton’s welfare “reforms” enshrined such thinking in the arguments of both parties. Today, given the outright racism and xenophobia that has become the hallmark of Donald Trump’s presidency, "poor" has become a curse word.

It is, of course, true that, among the 140 million poor people in the U.S., a disproportionate number are indeed people of color. The inheritance of slavery, Jim Crow, never-ending discrimination, and the mass incarceration of black men in particular, as well as a generational disinvestment in such populations, could have resulted in nothing less. And yet the reality of poverty stretches deep into every community in this country. According to that audit of America, the poor or low-income today consist of 24 million blacks, 38 million Latinos, eight million Asian-Americans, two million Native peoples, and 66 million whites.

Those staggering numbers, already a deadweight for the nation, are likely to prove a grotestque underestimate in the coronaviral world we now inhabit and yet none of this should be a surprise. Although we couldn’t have predicted the exact circumstances of this pandemic, social theorists remind us that conditions were ripe for just this kind of economic dislocation.

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Pritzkers and Transgenderism: (Obama Was A Pritzker Sock Puppet)

unz  |  It seems like we woke up one day to find that, out of nowhere, distinguishing between male and female has become illegal. In defiance of intuition, common sense and 3rd grade biology, a number of liberal plutocracies like Canada and the United Kingdom have legislated to force-feed their subjects the doctrine of transgenderism, which contrary to the idea that it is an individual choice, is always coupled with mandates that ordinary citizens acknowledge the delusions of wealthy narcissists and perverts.

In the United States, using the incorrect pronoun or expressing suspicion that transgender people are simply mentally ill incurs a massive personal cost. Such expressions can get one put on a Southern Poverty Law Center hit list, banned from the ability to use social media and banking services, and opens one up to harassment and violence from anarchist and radical liberal militias given vast leeway to operate by the police.

An army of phony scientists, shameless academics, politicians and activist legal fronts, armed with unfathomable amounts of money, have been successful in using every dirty trick to completely circumvent and upend legislative democracy. Christopher Caldwell’s recent book, “The Age of Entitlement,” outlines how elites have been able to use Civil Rights precedents – where laws are decided in courts rather than by elected representatives and referendum – to radically transform American society by overruling the US Constitution and the will of the people.

Civil Rights, what was originally promoted as a second “Reconstruction” that would only impact issues related to Jim Crow in the South, has become a parallel vein of political power, where laws and rules that impact society as a whole are no longer tethered to public opinion or consent, but instead decided by a small group of rich Jews and capitalists, sometimes in the same family and playing diverse roles on the pitch to make their grotesque and oppressive dystopia real.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Barack Hussein Obama Worst Thing To Happen To Black Folks Since The End Of Jim Crow?

Counterpunch |  A New York Times article on May 30 entitled “How Trump’s Election Shook Obama: ‘What if We Were Wrong?’” provided an opportunity to indulge in this sordid pastime. According to one of his aides, after the election Obama speculated that the cosmopolitan internationalism of enlightened intellectuals like him had been responsible for the stunning outcome. “Maybe we pushed too far,” he said. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.” In other words, we were too noble and forward-thinking for the benighted masses, who want nothing more than to remain submerged in their comforting provincial identities. We were too ambitious and idealistic for our flawed compatriots.

“Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” Obama sighed. The country hadn’t been ready for the first black president and his lofty post-racial vision.

These quotations are all the evidence one needs to understand what goes on in the mind of someone like Barack Obama.

In fact, the last quotation is revealing enough in itself: it alone suggests the stupefying dimensions of Obama’s megalomania. It is hardly news that Obama is a megalomaniac, but what is moderately more interesting is the contemptible and deluded nature of his megalomania. (In some cases, after all, egomania might be justified. I could forgive Noam Chomsky for being an egomaniac—if he were one, which his self-effacing humility shows is far from the case.) Obama clearly sees himself as the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement—he who participated in no sit-ins, no Freedom Rides, no boycotts or harrowing marches in the Deep South, who suffered no police brutality or nights in jail, who attended Harvard Law and has enjoyed an easy and privileged adulthood near or in the corridors of power. This man who has apparently never taken a courageous and unpopular moral stand in his life decided long ago that it was his historic role to bring the struggles of SNCC and the SCLC, of Ella Baker and Bob Moses, of A. Philip Randolph and Martin Luther King, Jr. to their fruition—by sailing into the Oval Office on the wave of millions of idealistic supporters, tireless and selfless organizers. With his accession to power, and that of such moral visionaries as Lawrence Summers, Hillary Clinton, Timothy Geithner, Eric Holder, Arne Duncan, Robert Gates, and Samantha Power, MLK’s dream was at last realized.

Obama was continuing in the tradition of Abraham Lincoln and the abolitionists when his administration deported more than three million undocumented immigrants and broke up tens of thousands of immigrant families. He was being an inspiring idealist when he permittedarms shipments to Israel in July and August 2014 in the midst of the Gaza slaughter—because, as he said with characteristic eloquence and moral insight, “Israel has a right to defend itself” (against children and families consigned to desperate poverty in an open-air prison).

He was being far ahead of his time, a hero of both civil rights and enlightened globalism, when he presided over “the greatest disintegration of black wealth in recent memory” by doing nothing to halt the foreclosure crisis or hold anyone accountable for the damage it caused. Surely it was only irrational traditions of tribalism that got Trump elected, and not, say, the fact that Obama’s administration was far more friendly to the banking sector than George H. W. Bush’s was, as shown for instance by the (blatantly corrupt) hiring of financial firms’ representatives to top positions in the Justice Department.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Polite White Supremacy - Huh?

medium |  Polite White Supremacy is the notion that whites should remain the ruling class while denying that they are the ruling class, politely. Affectionately, it’s called #PWS for short. It has been referred to as the Casual American Caste System, Delicate Apartheid, Gentle Oppression, or what I like to call it after a few drinks: Chad Crow, the super chill grandson of Jim Crow.

No but seriously, Polite White Supremacy is very real. So why is it that we must specifically say ‘Polite White Supremacy’ rather than Racism? We must say Polite White Supremacy for three reasons. First, saying #PWS puts the responsibility solely on the creators of a systemic problem. Second, this phrase addresses the subtlety and casualness with which oppression is administered. Thirdly, it eradicates the all-too-common confusion between racism and prejudice. It’s important to eradicate this confusion so it can be clear that racism is tied to a power structure and access to resources.


Racism and prejudice are NOT interchangeable. Racism is the systemic oppression of one group of people who can be categorized within certain phenotypical traits over multiple generations that has been, at one point, sanctioned by a country, the majority and/or ruling class. Racism is committed only by the ruling class and agents of the ruling class because they have the power that comes with racism. Racism, in America, is absolutely the attack dog of the white ruling class. However, sometimes it’s also a slow poison in that it causes its victims to die of exhaustion or grief. Again, racism is a kind of prejudice that comes with power. Racism is the systematic and intentional oppression of group of people from the ruling class and its agents. In America, the ruling class is white people…of all classes.
America has been playing a centuries-long game of ‘stop hitting yourself’ while holding the arms of Black America.
Prejudice, though harmful, is not necessarily systemic and can be committed by anyone. It simply requires one to pre-judge. It does not require its user to have any access to the ruling class or status of whiteness. However, you have to be part of or support the ruling class to wield the power of racism. Those who are not part of the white ruling class, yet support white supremacy of any form, are called agents of white supremacy. They are not white, but benefit in some direct way from empowering and enforcing white supremacy often times on their own people. Historically black overseers and house slaves were bestowed more rights, and ultimately more power during slavery. These were employed agents of white supremacy who oppressed their fellow blacks. This employment was a status. It was a form of racist power that white slave owners gave to black overseers as a way to also instill mistrust within the black community. Prejudice alone, has no real power without the system of control and power to support it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Donald Glover's Succinct Annihilation Of Rhyming, Posing, America....,

NewYorker |  The video, which was released online as Glover performed the track on live television, turned the single into a pessimistic statement on American entertainment—both the making and consumption of it. As such, the artist inculpates himself. In the video, Glover is shirtless and his teeth gleam. He plays a kind of deleterious tramp, all instinct, skitting around an airy parking hangar. Dance is its own language; the choreographer for the video, Sherrie Silver, has taught Glover to contort his body in a manner that induces memories of the grotesque theatre of jigging and cake-walking. Sometimes the movements and how they activate his muscles make him look sexy, at other times crazed. His manic elation erupts into violence at a speed that matches something of the media consumer’s daily experience. Glover strikes a pose, and then, in time for the rhythm drop, shoots a black man in the head from behind.

A moment ago, the victim had been strumming a guitar. Glover carefully places the gun on a lush pillow held out for him by an eager school-aged black child. The awful syncopation of murder and music recalls Arthur Jafa’s seven-minute video “Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death,” from 2016, in which footage of a police officer shooting Walter Scott in the back corresponds to a climax in Kanye West’s “Ultra Light Beam.” This is what it’s like, Glover’s video seems to say, to be black in America—at any given time, vulnerable to joy or to destruction. When his character is not dancing, he is killing. The camera amiably follows Glover and a new set of companions, a troupe of uniformed schoolchildren doing the gwara gwara, and then a slew of viral dances. The reprieve ends abruptly when, in another room, Glover is passed another gun, a rifle this time, and murders the members of a black choir. The ten actors fall down in a gruesome heap, reminding us of the night we got word that a young white man had killed a gathering of black worshippers at a church in Charleston. And then Glover is dancing again—this time, with cars burning and police chaos beyond him. The song ends with an eerie melody from Young Thug, who is almost-singing, “You just a big dawg, yeah / I kennelled him in the back yard, yeah.” At the video’s end, Glover is running for his life, the police gaining on him. I’ve been watching it on a loop.

BostonGlobe |  Diving down into the pop-culture id, Glover plays games with the politics of racial personae, the ways they can be appropriated and reappropriated by a racist culture, and the traps into which a trapped people can fall. He casts himself as the swaggering bad boy here, conjuring a centuries-long history of black male image, self-image, used image. 

The body movements and facial contortions reach back to the mother country, through Jim Crow and Juba and America’s sorry legacy of minstrelsy, through Alvin Ailey and “Thriller” and modern street dance — the dance is many-sided, many-streamed, lethal; it’s beautiful and grotesque. The machine-gunning of a gospel choir and Gambino’s crotch-grabbing, his lyrics sardonically boasting “Grandma told me, Get your money, black man” all taunt rap culture’s obsession with machismo, material success, and the glorification of gun violence — memes that are then taken up, reified, and reiterated both by black audiences and by a panicked, powerful white mainstream anxious to define and diminish.

Taken as a whole, “This Is America” functions as a double-edged machete, slicing into a divided culture’s twinned illusions and acknowledging the cartoon as a further form of bondage. Jim Crow mutates into Bad Mutha, burns the culture down, dances across its ashes, and still he ends up running for his life down a dark alley, pursued by an out-of-focus white mob. For a black audience (I’m assuming) it’s a familiar story, and Glover only connects the dots in fresh, unholy ways. For white viewers, those who have the comfort of rarely, if ever, being uncomfortable in their skins in public, this is history written with a different kind of lightning.

The response to this dead-serious work of satire has been exactly what it should be, confused and conversational, struggling toward clarity. In the words of one Twitter onlooker, “Donald Glover is doing what Kanye [West] thinks he’s doing.” (Arguments ensued.) Justin Simien, the writer-director whose wonderful Netflix show “Dear White People” parses the conundrums of black college life with wry empathy, weighed in with an epic interpretive “love letter” to “This Is America.” A white reader would learn a great deal by simply going online and reading the multiplicity of black responses to this video.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Sorry Feed - Neoliberal Negroes in Choppa Suits Are Harmful Parasites

ineteconomics |  LP: How does the neoliberal turn manifest in black megachurches like those led by popular ministers like T.D. James and Creflo Dollar?
LS: Even when Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive and running the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, there were different tendencies within black churches. Some, while not necessarily supporting the Jim Crow regime, definitely kind of acquiesced to it and were not interested in having their churchgoers be involved in anti-racist politics. At the same time, you had people using the church to connect to a really radical critique of capitalism and white supremacy. 

In the 70s and into the 80s, this radical-to-left tendency is becoming less and less important in black churches. What you see instead is the growth of churches that use the Bible as a kind of self-help guide and promote the prosperity gospel, which holds that if you follow the Bible, you will become not only spiritually but materially wealthy. The flip side is that if you don’t follow the Bible, you’ll become poor. So somebody like Creflo Dollar [founder of the World Changers Church International based in College Park, Georgia] argues that you’re poor because you don’t have the right mindset. That’s naturalizing poverty. 

Related is the growth of black megachurches with as many as 10,000 or even 20,000 members. They have their own community development corporations. Some of them actually look like corporations in their design and require a significant outlay of capital in order to operate. So even if they are not proposing the whole prosperity gospel, they have to propose some aspect of it in order to exist. 

LP: It seems burdensome that in addition to paying taxes, churchgoers end up funding social services through tithing.
LS: States and local governments are now outsourcing some of their social service provisions to churches. This is problematic for several reasons. One is because of the important distinction between church and state. It’s all too likely that a church would use the resources to proselytize instead of provide services. Also, churches provide a function of spiritual guidance – they aren’t bureaucracies. People who work in churches don’t know how to deal with poverty or public housing provisions.
We wouldn’t expect a charity to fund NASA: the scale of the challenge is something that no private entity could actually fulfill. Well, it’s the same with social service provision. When people pay their tithe, the resources might really go to social services instead of lining somebody’s pocket, but those services are nowhere near what’s needed to deal with inequality. In a way, it demobilizes people when you connect this to the rhetoric that suggests that people are poor because of their own choices, it makes it more difficult for people to organize not just for more social services, but to get at structural dynamics. 

LP: What does it take to challenge the neoliberal turn? What have we learned about what’s effective and what’s not?
LS: Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about a wrong-headed approach that posits that the reason we have gains is because of leaders like him who spoke to power and as a result were able to galvanize hundreds of thousands of folks in the South and the North to overturn the Jim Crow regime.
If you really look at the history, what you find instead is really deep organizing. What that charismatic leadership cannot do is build deep, enduring institutions to build the political capacity of regular folks. These institutions tend to have at least some modicum of democratic accountability. With the charismatic leadership model, there’s the idea that everything the leader says is correct. There are very few ways to hold them accountable or even create debate about strategies or tactics. But in a robust model of organizing, people can actually create conditions to lead themselves and engage in making decisions, whether we’re talking about labor issues, racial inequality, or #MeToo and gender inequality. 

Monday, April 09, 2018

Now We Know EXACTLY How Blacks Were Left Out Of Federal Middle Class Creation...,

NYTimes |  Critics of the Fair Housing Act have glibly attempted to dismiss attempts to end segregation as “social engineering” — as if rigid racial segregation in housing were a natural phenomenon. In fact, the residential segregation that is pervasive in the United States today was partly created by explicit federal policies that date back at least to World War I. It is now widely acknowledged that the federal insistence on segregated housing introduced Jim Crow separation in areas of the country outside the South where it had previously been unknown. It stands to reason that dismantling a system created by a set of government policies will require an equally explicit set of federal policies.

The scholar Richard Rothstein exposed the roots of this shameful process in his recent book “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.” He reported that the government’s first effort to build housing for defense workers near military installations and factories during World War I was founded on the premise that African-American families would be excluded “even from projects in northern and western industrial centers where they worked in significant numbers.”

The same toxic pattern prevailed under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, when the government created the first public housing projects for nondefense workers, building separate projects for black people, segregating buildings by race or excluding African-Americans entirely. Particularly telling is the fact that racially integrated communities were razed to make way for Jim Crow housing.

The federal insistence on rigid racial separation found its most pernicious expression in the Federal Housing Administration, created in 1934 to promote homeownership by insuring mortgages. As the sociologists Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton document in “American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass,” the government typically denied mortgages to African-Americans, shutting out even affluent black people from the suburban homeownership boom that remade the residential landscape during the middle decades of the 20th century.

Government at all levels embraced racial covenants that forbade even well-to-do African-Americans from purchasing homes outside of black communities. Cut off from homeownership — the principal avenue of wealth creation — African-Americans lost the opportunity to build the intergenerational wealth that white suburban families took for granted. The vast wealth gap that exists today between whites and African-Americans has its roots in this era.

The argument for what became the Fair Housing Act emerged forcefully in the 1968 Kerner Commission report, which blamed segregation in large measure for the riots that ravaged the country in the 60s and called for national fair housing legislation. The housing law might well have died in committee had the country not erupted in fresh violence after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. It was signed into law a week later.

The housing act put the federal government on record as supporting open housing and prohibiting the pervasive discrimination that had locked most African-Americans out of decent accommodations and homeownership. But the version that passed in 1968 had been declawed — stripped of enforcement provisions that would have given HUD strong authority to root out discrimination. Nearly a quarter-century would pass before Congress strengthened the law. So during that time, African-Americans were left subject to the harsh discrimination the original act was supposed to preclude.

This progressive sounding law — which requires entities that receive federal money to “affirmatively further” fair housing goals — was consistently undermined by officials of both parties who had little appetite for confronting entrenched segregation.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Managing The Dangerous Classes - Our Aggressive Domestic War On The Poor

truthdig  |  None of the reforms, increased training, diversity programs, community outreach and gimmicks such as body cameras have blunted America’s deadly police assault, especially against poor people of color. Police forces in the United States - which, according to The Washington Post, have fatally shot 782 people this year - are unaccountable, militarized monstrosities that spread fear and terror in poor communities.

By comparison, police in England and Wales killed 62 people in the 27 years between the start of 1990 and the end of 2016.

Police officers have become rogue predators in impoverished communities. Under U.S. forfeiture laws, police indiscriminately seize money, real estate, automobiles and other assets. In many cities, traffic, parking and other fines are little more than legalized extortion that funds local government and turns jails into debtor prisons.

Because of a failed court system, millions of young men and women are railroaded into prison, many for nonviolent offenses. SWAT teams with military weapons burst into homes often under warrants for nonviolent offenses, sometimes shooting those inside. Trigger-happy cops pump multiple rounds into the backs of unarmed men and women and are rarely charged with murder. And for poor Americans, basic constitutional rights, including due process, were effectively abolished decades ago.

Jonathan Simon’s “Governing Through Crime” and Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” point out that what is defined and targeted as criminal activity by the police and the courts is largely determined by racial inequality and class, and most importantly by the potential of targeted groups to cause social and political unrest. Criminal policy, as sociologist Alex S. Vitale writes in his new book, “The End of Policing,” “is structured around the use of punishment to manage the ‘dangerous classes,’ masquerading as a system of justice.”

The criminal justice system, at the same time, refuses to hold Wall Street banks, corporations and oligarchs accountable for crimes that have caused incalculable damage to the global economy and the ecosystem. None of the bankers who committed massive acts of fraud and were responsible for the financial collapse in 2008 have gone to prison even though their crimes resulted in widespread unemployment, millions of evictions and foreclosures, homelessness, bankruptcies and the looting of the U.S. Treasury to bail out financial speculators at taxpayer expense. We live in a two-tiered legal system, one in which poor people are harassed, arrested and jailed for absurd infractions, such as selling loose cigarettes—which led to Eric Garner being choked to death by a New York City policeman in 2014—while crimes of appalling magnitude that wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth are dealt with through tepid administrative controls, symbolic fines and civil enforcement.

The grotesque distortions of the judicial system and the aggressive war on the poor by the police will get worse under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. There has been a rollback of President Barack Obama’s 2015 restrictions on the 1033 Program, a 1989 congressional action that allows the transfer of military weaponry, including grenade launchers, armored personnel carriers and .50-caliber machine guns, from the federal government to local police forces. Since 1997, the Department of Defense has turned over a staggering $5.1 billion in military hardware to police departments.

The Trump administration also is resurrecting private prisons in the federal prison system, accelerating the so-called war on drugs, stacking the courts with right-wing “law and order” judges and preaching the divisive politics of punishment and retribution. Police unions enthusiastically embrace these actions, seeing in them a return to the Wild West mentality that characterized the brutality of police departments in the 1960s and 1970s, when radicals, especially black radicals, were murdered with impunity at the hands of law enforcement. The Praetorian Guard of the elites, as in all totalitarian systems, will soon be beyond the reach of the law. As Vitale writes in his book, “Our entire criminal justice system has become a gigantic revenge factory.”

The arguments—including the racist one about “superpredators“—used to justify the expansion of police power have no credibility, as the gun violence in south Chicago, abject failure of the war on drugs and vast expansion of the prison system over the last 40 years illustrate. The problem is not ultimately in policing techniques and procedures; it is in the increasing reliance on the police as a form of social control to buttress a system of corporate capitalism that has turned the working poor into modern-day serfs and abandoned whole segments of the society. Government no longer makes any attempt to ameliorate racial and economic inequality. Instead, it criminalizes poverty. It has turned the poor into one more cash crop for the rich.