Sunday, February 26, 2017

Yes, Kansas, You Are Just Like That


Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an engineer from India, was murdered in an Olathe, Kansas bar by Adam Purinton who also shot and wounded two others.  Mr. Kuchibhotla was enjoying a post workday beer with a friend when Purinton decided that he was entitled to harass them about their immigration status and demand their papers. Infuriatated by their non-responses to his belligerently inappropriate and unlawful demands, Purinton left got his gun, came back into the bar and opened fire. Kansas own history of racism, years of income inequality and losses fostered under the governance of Sam Brownback and a contentious political season that inflamed people's fear of other nationalities, religions, races, and more gave Purinton full and open license to act as a vigilante immigration agent, judge and executioner. Only one person had the courage to stand against him and got shot for it.  Others in the bar did nothing (and I'm reckoning that some of them will claim to being shocked or afraid, but remember: One unarmed person still chose to act).  Purinton again left and, at yet another bar, bragged to the bartender about how he just "shot two Middle Easterners."  He bragged.  He took pride in what he did. He wanted other people compliment his dirty work.

Now we have several news sources reporting Kansans reacting to the shootings with many saying "We're not like this!"  But I say Kansas is just like that. The communities of Kansas, the churches of Kansas as well as the state of Kansas allowed the conditions that nourished Purinton's hatred of others not exactly like him.

Mr. Kuchibhotla was murdered by a state whose people in general openly enabled Purinton's hatred.  After all, where were the community leaders during the last president's term pushing back against the slanders against President and Mrs. Obama?  Where where the politicians taking note of Kansan's working class continuously losing ground while the state's wealthiest flourished?  Where were the church leaders who absented themselves when they needed to stand with the interfaith community during the hysteria generating attacks against Muslims whether American or immigrant or visitor? Where were those leaders when Jewish synagogues, community centers, schools and cemeteries were vandalized or when the KKK was dropping pamphlets in different neighborhoods to either recruit new members or intimidate minorities & immigrants?  Why did those step aside as their communities wrote 'quality of life' laws against the poorest? Why did they inveigh, from the pulpit, against LGBTQ people for wanting the same rights the rest of us enjoy without question?  And the citizens of Kansas?  The overwhelming majority sat silent, approving or stood tall in their bigoted glory shouting down the dissenting minority who tried to demand better.

Yes. Kansans are "just like that." Like the people from so many other states who are also "just like that."   Tolerance of intolerance makes them just like that.

Update
3.2.17
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hate-crime-killings-kansas-city_us_58b70869e4b0284854b33ab4?

Yep.  Kansas is just.like.that.  In the three years before Purington's murderous actions in Olathe, Kansas has had 5 hate crimes with multiple deaths. They've done nothing save sit smugly in their church pews, deflecting. They are, for all intents and purposes, at peace with their bigotry and xenophobia.








Saturday, January 28, 2017

Carol Bryant Donham's Bloodied Hands; Emmitt Till's Accuser Owns Her Lie



I read yesterday about Carol Bryant Donham finally admitting to Timothy Tyson, author and scholar from Duke University, that she lied about Emmitt Till. A lie that got 14 year old Till brutally lynched; beaten, piston whipped and beaten again before finally being shot, tied to an industrial fan and dumped in a river.  Donham's lie that led a broken mother to display her murdered son's mutilated body in an open casket so that the nation could witness the horror visited upon his child's body. 

"“That case went a long way toward ruining her life,” said Tyson, who said the Donham family reminded him of his own.   He said Donham's views on race had changed over the years, along with much of the country's."

Isn't that nice, kids?  I gotta wonder though - how many thousands of black Americans' lives were directly impacted and ruined as a consequence of her lies?  How many other black male children, teens and young men were falsely accused for the same things she accused Till of that led to them being imprisoned or killed over the intervening years?  But now we should have an iota of sympathy for her because as of 2007 when she was working with Tyson on her memoir, she "was glad things had changed [and she] thought the old system of white supremacy was wrong though she had more or less taken it as normal at the time."  Sheer preciousness there.  And I'm not willing to give her a pass on this. 

All these years and she kept silent instead of coming forward and admitting her lie.  All these years when she failed to step up openly, publicly, and vociferously against bigotry and against racial hatred.  All these years living in the shadows and silences while letting her lies against Till keep their legs and give racists an excuse to cite his "wolf whistle" as the insult so grievous as to justify child murder.

Frankly, her life in ruins from her lying means less to me than the lives of black Americans who were compelled, against their wills, to bear the brunt of those lies with their bodies, minds, spirits and lives.  She has his blood on her hands just as surely as the men who murdered him do.  She wrote a cruelly vicious chapter in our nation's history that spoke out against the value of black lives, particularly the lives of black men and black boys. 


Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Let The Record Show"



Ran across this today:  http://johnpavlovitz.com/2017/01/19/let-the-record-show/

I did not consent either.  I love my country.  I could never vote to endanger her.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Dylan Roof Sentenced To Death



My last blog post of 2015 was about Dylan Roof's sister complaint over her wedding having been ruined by the attention on her brother, so this is as good a place to pick up as any.

So, Dylan Roof went to trial and was convicted of his hate crime murders.  Then there was another trial for his sentencing.  In between there was a bit of back and forth about whether he was competent, him defending himself or not, etc.  But when all is said and done, he was guilty, was convicted and now he has been sentenced to death in federal court.

I caught a short blurb where he is reported to have said that he had opportunities to NOT kill the black worshippers, who he gulled into a false sense of security, but that he "had to kill them." He's a racist and he believed he had to kill them for the sake of defending the white race and whatever racist ideology backed him up.

His rationalization is bullshit.  He didn't have to kill them.  He defended nothing. He killed because he wanted to. Now, in due time, the nation will kill him.  Frankly, I don't care. I'm not for the death penalty, but my own retributive streak would bury him in a maximum security prison's SHU/CMU which would ban him from most elements of human (and humane) contact, seeing the sky, going outdoors, talking with other people, as well as limiting what he could read and write with the idea of preventing him from putting his thoughts out into the public domain. Who knows?  Maybe he'll get a lot of that before he is killed by the state for his murderous racism.

Where Did 2016 Go?



I wrote not a word in 2016.
It was a year that saw the unraveling of my world and thrust me into becoming a caregiver for one of my best friends and her now late husband, my own husband, the death of my middle sister and the deaths of a bunch of artists and musicians who were part the background of my youth, adolesence and adulthood.
Then there was the brutal political season and election. There was plenty to say about that but, frankly, I didn't have the heart.
What did I do in 2016?  Gardened, went to a local weekend market with my camera and took photos.
And with that, my blog has sat fallow and unattended.
Time to wake up.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

It's Not About You, Amber Roof

So racist killer Dylan Roof's actions had collateral damage.  He ruined his sister's wedding.  So she created a gofundme account to raise money to have a new wedding date and honeymoon.  This is bad form all the way around and is totally disrespectful to the families left behind by Roof's victims.

This is what I'd like to say to her:  "Honey, it's not about you now. Sorry your asshole brother's actions brought your day to a screeching halt, but he ended the lives of nine people. You get to do a make up day, they don't. Wise up and act like something resembling a compassionate, humane woman."

Freakout Nation wasn't so nice:   http://freakoutnation.com/2015/07/dylann-roofs-sister-uses-charleston-massacre-on-gofundme-to-pay-for-wedding-honeymoon/

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Black Lives Matter





#BlackLivesMatter 

I have long had more than enough of the racism of my fellow white Americans.  I don't accept it.  I don't approve of it and I work on myself a lot to deconstruct what America tells me about race.  I've been doing it since I was 5 or 6 hearing one of Malcolm X's speeches on the Sunday news.  I've been doing it since getting slapped by a family friend for saying Leslie Uggams and Diahann Carol were beautiful (along with a number of other black male & female entertainers) and defiantly refusing to accept the "education" of why they were not to be considered beautiful or handsome.  I know my schools and teachers were ill prepared to teach about the accomplishments of black innovators, entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists and doctors.  Somehow they all got relegated to "helper" status or, more offensively, dismissed with the "give a couple million monkeys a typewriter and eventually you'll get a novel" wave of the hand.   But my fairly liberal school still managed to convey the messages and lessons of white supremacy because of the unwillingness to admit the achievements of so many black souls.  Over 55 years later, I'm still an imperfect ally because some of the covert messages still made their way in and found a place to take root.

But.  But.  But. 

For a while, during the 70s, 80s, 90s, and even early 00s, I had hoped we were doing better along the way.  I guess superficially, that's the way it seemed.  And along that way, I've denied and defended my own white privilege - growing up semi orphaned, poor with a working widowed mother, struggling with family dysfunction there is a lot of what we call "intersectionality" now.  Being Irish-American on my mom's side - oh, no! The Irish were indentured servants and that was horrible, wasn't it?  Being Hungarian-American and first generation American on my dad's side (and whose side of the family despised my mother for her Irish roots) who came over on the boat in 1900 though Ellis Island  - oh, no!  They didn't have anything to do with slavery or owning slaves.  They were involved in the immigrant struggles and labor struggles of their era.  And both are true.  And not.  I was young and ignorant.  I had no idea of the concept of white privilege and how it smoothed the way and got you the benefit of the doubt.  Oh! and then there are class issues -- socioeconomic issues, too!    But I've seen it in so many ways throughout the decades and I've worked hard to not perpetuate it or support it or encourage it because I'm an imperfect ally and I really do believe in social justice and yes I understand that there are assholes in all races.

And in that time I've seen black Americans of all classes demeaned and demonized.  In the last 10 years, I have come to see the official system as being at war with them entirely and that it is a continuation of sentiments from the southern states who still have too many who believe that slavery was right and just and their way of life was good.  Whether it's arresting and jailing a 10 year old for violating the school dress code because their sweater is the wrong color of blue or taking down an autistic seven year old and jailing them or shooting into a car of black teens because their music is too loud, the system is at war with them.  The deaths of dozens of black men and women at the hands of the police and so-called "scared" citizens is ample proof that there is a war on people of color.  We cut ourselves a lot of slack for our shortcomings of character, the myriad petty offenses that happen in daily life.  Black American's have no slack.  They never get the benefit of the doubt.   The spew of hate has been like a volcanic lava flow hardening around us over the land.  It's intolerable.  I hate the hate.

I'd hoped for better out of us, not for a retreat to the madnesses of the pre-Civil Rights, Jim Crow era.  I'm ashamed we haven't done better.

I'm ashamed of the cops and others who murder black Americans young and old.  I'm ashamed of the store clerks who racially profile well-to-do black women while ignoring the white teenage shoplifters.  I'm ashamed of the teachers who call the cops on black kindergarteners and elementary school kids who have emotional meltdowns for whatever reason, because where it's a matter of course when the kid is black, it's as rare as hen's teeth when the kid is white.  I'm ashamed of white acquaintances who are unwilling to see what's under their noses and who try to minimize the impact of these black deaths falling back on the line that all lives matters, who cite "black on black crime" while taking hits off their pot pipes, or use the police killings of mentally ill homeless whites to try and say the problem isn't that big.  I'm ashamed of white people at pools who call the cops on black kids who're just out trying to have fun - the kind of fun their own kids get to enjoy every day.   Yes, the problem IS that big.   I'm ashamed that our elementary, middle and high schools can't be bothered to face much less teach the history of black America (and Hispanic and Asian Americans) because they're afraid it'll make white European descended Americans look bad.  Well, we did a lot of bad and fucked up things in settling this country and it's long past time we got honest about it.

I don't know what the answer is, but I am committed to keep deconstructing my own biases, to be an honest witness and to be the best ally I can be.  That's my duty.   Because I know that so many of the things that have benefited my life - my quality of life - have come about because of the foundational work done by black Americans all along the way.   Their lives matter, their work matters, their inventions matter, their arts matter and without them, we'd be much worse off.   

I've had enough of racist whites and their selfishness; they do not speak for me.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An open letter to the people who hate Obama more than they love America



Today's reading:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/01/09/1053088/-An-open-letter-to-the-people-who-hate-Obama-more-than-they-love-America?detail=emailclassic   Attributed to DailyKos member "Ministry of Truth".


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

You Don't Get To Complain When You Do Things Like This


In the news, Michelle Manhart was arrested for interfering with a protest during which a protestor walked on an American flag that was dropped on the ground.

But there is more to the story in that we have a backstory that shows Ms. Manhart is a bona fide, genuine, card-carrying Republican hypocrite:  http://reverbpress.com/news/michelle-manhart-posed-nude-with-flag/ and http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2015/04/20/air-force-vet-scuffles-with-police-over-american-flag/26065769/

She's not up on her flag protocol either and frankly, if she can pose naked with the flag draped and falling on the floor for Playboy and PETA - for commercial gain and to advance her modeling career or whatever that was - then she forever gave up the right to bitch about people exercising their First Amendment rights, even when it includes protestors walking on our dropped flag.

Manhart fails to understand that both actions are covered under the first Amendment.  Her assaulting the protestors made her a hypocrite of the first water for her double-standard.  One, that because of her misconduct, by the way, got her thrown out of the Air Force.  


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ferguson's Orwellian Horror Show Of Injustice And Criminalization


Ex-Police Chief Jackson resigned March 11, 2015. 

The horror of Ferguson continues to unwind with the news that the majority of it's population was deliberately criminalized by the leadership of the town as a money making operation by the white leadership.  In his blawg article, "Ferguson:  Where Everyone's A Criminal", Scott Greenfield discussed the case far better than I'm capable of.

My own response to this news is more emotional and not one schooled in law.  I'm angry that this happened.  I'm angry that this kind of thing, this collusion to oppress African Americans happens, not just in Ferguson, but other parts of the country as well.  Look at Greenfield's article and you see that the oppression in rooted in criminalizing every thing people do or fail to do.  Imagine being criminalized for civic or "quality of life" infractions like not suppressing weeds or mowing the grass or keeping a picture perfect yard.  Ticket, fine and jail.  Rinse and repeat.  Vehicles?  Too loud a muffler?  Driving while black in the white neighborhood?   Going 24 or 26 in a 25 zone? Ticket, fine, and jail.  Rinse and repeat.   Social activities - walking with friends down the street, having a party, visiting with friends on the porch - any of them cause for a citation or two or three.  Ticket, fine, jail.  Rinse and repeat.  On it goes.

The DOJ findings were that the white town fathers benefited from this.  Look at their salaries and bonuses among other things.  And the townspeople of Ferguson pay through the nose, deal with the build up of misdemeanor after misdemeanor on their records.  Fines, jail, fines, jail.  Rinse and repeat. The kicker is that these petty misdemeanors keep the population in place - they lose the opportunity to move into better paying work.  They have a record.  Employers don't want people with records working for them.  And so the people of Ferguson not only get trapped in a cycle of poverty, they get trapped in all the things that show a breakdown of civic life as well.  They're fined so heavily that affording the upkeep of their homes, yards and vehicles is priced out of existence for them!  They don't get to have a quality of life like the white section of Ferguson gets to enjoy as a matter of course.

But I'm emotional, not a lawyer and here I get to ask "What the fuck?"   What is going to be done to remove these misdemeanor convictions?  What about the folks who got so many misdemeanors that became felonies because of too many misdemeanors?  What is going to be done to restore these people's good name?  What is going to be done to compensate them for the financial damages done to them by those avaricious racist bastards?  What army of lawyers and judges are going to work to reverse and expunge the convictions of these hapless people? 



What of people who use the people of Ferguson's "criminal records" to justify and rationalize the structural and systemic racism and to continue demonizing African Americans?   My skin crawls at the very thought of these modern day slavers.  And I call them that because they put the people of Ferguson into economic bondage against their wills. 

Michael Brown's death uncovered a snake pit of corruption.  By now many of the white officials involved have resigned their jobs.  But it is not good enough that they've resigned.  Not by half.