Saturday, June 29, 2013

notes from observations on race in America

Infamous member of New Black Panthers arrested in New York

Dana DiFilippo and Stephanie Farr
26 June 2013

"...[B]lack people should create militias to exterminate whites, skin them alive, pour acid on them, sic pit bulls on them, bust their heads with rocks and even raid nurseries to "kill everything white in sight."

"I would love nothing more than to come home with a cracker's head in my book bag," Shabazz, a Philly street preacher and national field marshal for the New Black Panther Party, said on a black-power radio show."

[Read more...]

Hat tip: WND

[yesterday's] link to Colin Flaherty's research
link to yesterday's post
a letter to the editor  (January 2013)

I ran across the above letter to the editor at WND while I was pulling up the link for Colin Flaherty's research, and add because it addresses points that need rebutting.

Patterns, as I reminded in the first post at this blog, reveal trends. To hide those that may be inflammatory does not magically erase them; it merely allows trends to continue to corrupt unabated. If a pattern involves a particular race or ethnic characteristic or origin, that race or ethnic characteristic or origin becomes a part of the trend noted. Crimes occurring along the trajectory of that trend, in such instance, cannot be separated from their identifying marker(s): justice is not served if it pretends to be color-blind.

When a researcher (Colin Flaherty, for instance, as he is the one 'dissed' by the letter-writer) hones in on a particular trend, that is his focus. It would be ridiculous to presume that, in detailing incidents within the trend he is researching, he should end each report with, now we know that all African-Americans are not like this, and we know that only a minority of African-Americans engage in these incidents. His subject matter is the people who are like this—not the people who are not.

Mr. Flaherty is researching an escalating trend, and presenting to the public at large.

Among other items, the letter writer (whom we will allow his anonymity, for those who do not follow the link) defends the modern liberal view that poverty is the causative agent for crime in the black community.

Poverty is not driving this current destruction. Resentment certainly is, and a very real anger, and an 'inverse' of entitlement—and entitlement is a dangerous notion, both for those who have as fluidly as those who covet. And certainly, all African-Americans are not like that. Who would ever presume to think, because of the necessity to track, examine, establish and publish reports about a growing trend in the black community, that all were engaged within that trend.

Only the most sophomoric could presume such inanity (and require that it be noted as caveat).

Certainly, the matter that has created this trend is far more complex than what I describe. Trends do not develop in vacuums, however, and the building blocks of 'now' can be found in the writings and ideologies of those who have left their imprint upon the culture.

As much as in the ancient sore of slavery, which, as even the least of historians know, involved the willingness of African tribes to partake in the capture and sale of their neighbors. What white slave traders did in subjecting men and women and children to horrors most inhuman becomes the story, then, however, and it is a tale not easily forgotten.

The participation of Africans does not remove the very stench of white responsibility; it merely shares a portion of it: certainly, there is enough to go around.

It is my suspicion that the current unrest likely pays little attention to the ancient sorrow, save perhaps as a wound deliberately nursed for its ability to keep an agitation foremost in the mind. Yes, an insult handed down through the generations as stories told, and a horror that derived from being enslaved to barbarians (and no, not all Southern slaveholders were barbarians and to leave out that element of the story leaves out much), becomes a portion of the very identity and spirit of a people: I do not minimize that power. Slavery as an institution dates back to ancient times, but it did not have (to my observing) in most cultures a sense of the ownership of the very soul in quite the same way that American slavery did.

It is one thing to be owned. Another to have your very spirit in bondage to animals.

I do not at all dismiss this. However, ideas that dictate unrest (and these might be contradistinguished from those that express unrest) tend to fester, then ferment, and many of these press more heavily now. I recently spent several weeks researching Malcolm X, and while some of what he espoused had a certain resonance, even to me, other ideas were dangerous, and opposed to all that upon which our country is founded. Malcolm X is one of many revered (and almost canonized) individuals in the black culture and his ideologies might be regarded as foundational to many elements within that culture now.

Yet other elements smoulder that might suggest origins for an accelerating lawlessness.

However, I might begin with an article I read long ago in an Atlanta magazine* and never forgot, then heard the same story from a young black co-worker a couple of decades later: in Atlanta black society, your skin had to be as light or lighter than a Kroger sack (back when grocery bags were still paper) to gain entry. It seems to the memory that, in the story as my young friend told it, a paper bag was actually held up to the skin, and the result considered at length.

Why would blackness be looked down upon in the black community?

The problem is not white versus black (that is mere manifestation). It is have versus have-not. It is money versus not. It is the ancient evil of greed, pretending to have a more reputable necessity for its existence. In a white-dominant society, whiteness becomes the thing desired, and what that society possesses, the items coveted.

Covetousness never has a good end.

But yes, even more complicated. Yes, some portion of a club to which 'black' cannot enter rules here, and an anger at not being allowed an equality [read: an 'as good as' and/or a 'how dare you look down on me'] that is configured upon elements within a society or community that do not and cannot exist within 'equality.'

Because equality cannot be conditioned upon the elements that divide the communities of man. Equality solely and only can be conditioned upon the division between God and man: we are all equal in existing as the created, in relationship to the Creator.

In terms of character or possession or even earning potential (the gifts and talents and even backgrounds and opportunities)—these are scattered about in various individuals and families like the rain that falls, without any being given equally.

And while opportunity as a legal term certainly is 'equalized' for all, opportunity as a universal reality is not, as any writer knows who repeatedly submits his or her work, to continued rejection, while another might hit success the first time out.

Or, as the wise parent teaches, life is not fair. Would that the distinguishing between what is fair and what is equal were better comprehended.

I would later have the honour of meeting and coming to know some of Atlanta's high society black women from that earlier day and still cherish the memory of having known them. One in particular radiated such love, she stays in my heart in a special place: she was a descendent of a prominent black individual (not from Atlanta) who has a guaranteed place in history (I do not name names in order to preserve the nom de plume used at this blog).

Others, still here, are likewise dear.

It may be, however, that true character is revealed in adversity, rather than ease. The black community at large has not had the life of ease of high society in Atlanta. I worked at Borders for two and a half years, a couple of years before the company went under. Our general manager was black, and, while the training she gave me in security (selling books was the least of what we did as 'booksellers') always centered on recognizing particular actions, it kept me pretty unnerved that, nine times out of ten, the people I witnessed who were acting in a suspicious manner were black.

However, what stunned is the other item she told. In the black community, corner and/or empty lot 'stores' (the ones that do not have walls, but have location, established history at that location, and merchandise) stock their wares via theft from various businesses, many owned by large corporations. Men visit the legitimate stores with bags larger than Army size duffle bags and cram what they can into the bag (at the bookstore, the products were primarily from the African-American literature section and particular music sections) then exit before they can be apprehended.

It is a prevalent practice now in American society such that stores in general have rules about not pursuing (or tackling) these sorts. While security and/or police are summoned, they are rarely able to catch the thieves, which allows a certain impunity to the practice at large.

Please be sure you get that point. That such theft is rampant is well-known, but the needed application is that entire 'businesses' in America are being stocked via stolen goods. Their entire inventory depends upon theft.

Mom and pop type businesses, set into the landscape, and their entire inventory is garnered from theft.

Yes, certainly, theft is rampant, and big business feeds upon it as well—any might remind that knock-offs are a product of a larger version of this, wherein name brands are sold as name brands but are not.

But somehow the idea of the day-to-day reality of the 'smaller' thefts set into a culture in the way that these function stupefies, even now.

The GM was finally able to persuade the regional manager to allow her to move the literature section to the book section beside the cashiers, and later (it took a lot of grief on her part), to move the music over to the case nearest the upstairs Customer Service area.

Booksellers on that floor were required to pace the store, eyeing the customers at all times (unless helping a customer).

But on to other divisions between the two cultures. The degree to which black men are photographing women on public transit (women they do not know) now should astound. This week, several times, I walked to catch the bus home three stops up from the usual stop on the corner nearest where I work.

A shelter for homeless men sits on a corner near my regular stop, and varying degrees of 'regulars' (and those who drift by for the day) haunt the corner nearest the bus stop. I have had problems with men there before, to the extent of a man orchestrating a complete u-turn in his sleek car on busy Peachtree St. to come back and ask me how I was doing.

While I clearly am standing beneath a Marta sign waiting for the bus. Maybe I am naïve, but in the culture I inhabit, you are introduced to people of the opposite sex. No gentleman intrudes into the personal space of a woman without introduction. (While this man appears to have had ideas, others have had a similar idea, but at least were willing to bargain on a courtship to go with it.

But when a woman is standing beneath a bus sign reading a book, what kind of culture determines she must become prey? If a bus stop sign does not exactly delineate why she stands on a corner, what hope is there that we dwell still in a civilized society?)

Of late, however, the corner where my busstop waits has become almost a bidonville (minus the French), with an assortment sometimes of children (and even infants in strollers), bare-chested men, sleepers stretched out on blue plastic tarps, and the few who have those aluminum chairs that fold up and can be carried anywhere sitting at their ease under the shade trees while the pigeons and wee sparrows fly in and out, looking for crumbs...

This week in particular, an uneasiness hovered about the corner, with at least two men who, every time I glanced that way, seemed to be watching me with a baleful malevolence. They were not men I had seen there before, and I had the sense that even my cold dismissal of men who presume might not register, were they to edge my way. A sense of uncontrolled violence seemed to seethe about the afternoon.

An incident across the street unnerved me, and I got my pepper spray out and primed it for action, until the bus finally neared.

Consequently, the next day, I walked again to the corner three stops up. There, the homeless do not know me, and I am pestered non-stop with that wheedle to help the homeless. But it is not congregated by the festering assortment; they are merely encountered as you pass, and then, waiting the bus, as they pass, one by one.

I was wearing a new dress, and the wind wanted to do Marilyn Monroes with its skirt, which was wide. I had had to clutch either side, consequently pulling the trolley that wheels my backpack with a hand that held a portion of skirt, too. Modesty was quite in evidence, however: the wind might tease, but I had complete control of the skirt, which fell to my knees quite properly.

As I neared the stop, I saw a black man (maybe in his early thirties) standing with two middle-school aged white kids, a boy and a girl, who waited patiently as he stood, and seemed under his authority.

He had their respect. The man was holding something high in the air, and as I neared close enough to observe, I thought perhaps it was a soda, and he was squinting because he wanted to read the ingredients.

Perhaps it was a trifle for the kids, and he had reason to check what they would drink. As I got nearer, however (I do not see so well now), I realized he was holding a cell-phone and videotaping the street. I politely edged toward the side to not impede his subject...

And realized he was taping me.

The look on his face as I came close enough to speak and he pocketed his camera, rueful and abashed and expecting a confrontation, confirmed. But what could I do?

It is a couple of days later now and I am still sickened by this. That visceral feeling of having been violated. Will I stumble across my image on YouTube one day? Did he send the video to other men, or merely keep for his own pleasure. Whatever the purpose, as the post linked above details, this is the landscape of the day.

I was riding the subway, over ten years ago now, when a fight broke out in a group of teens. They tumbled from one side of the car to another, slamming into walls and seats and nigh into the riders. My son was still a teen then, and becoming a bit rough around the edges, so when the fight almost rammed into my seat, I merely ducked, then returned to my thoughts.

However, in the next moment (the details I describe happened in a mere moment or two), I noted that all the black women in the train were scrambling to the exit that led to the next train (and involved jumping, after wresting the doors open, across the gap between the two cars of the speeding train, tracks visible below).

Needless to say, I joined them. When we got to the next train, noting the 'we just got safely out of hell' looks of relief on their faces, I asked, bewildered, why did we leave the other car?

Several of the women burst out at once, surprised at my ignorance. They could have had a gun.

A friend, telling me stories, confided that her son had gone through the neighborhood of their new home, telling all the young men there, that is my mother's house. If you do anything to it, you answer to me.

She finished the story with her home being the only one in the neighborhood that had never been robbed. My friend was a middle-class woman and in fact, in middle management. She would later move from Atlanta to a new job: this story, too, goes back at least a decade.

As she finished the tale, embarrassed, she said, you know, it's just the teens.

Why do middle class black families have to ward off 'teens' who rob their neighborhoods blind as a matter of course? Should we presume that it is teens from the wrong side of the track who come in, robbing the middle class folk? Why then did her son walk through the neighborhood, telling all the young men, if you do anything to my mother's house, you answer to me?

An African-American co-worker—a debonair, sophisticated man—once admitted to being over $100,000 in debt and said he hoped and intended to die in debt, 'sticking it to the man.'

So many stories I have heard. I don't know why I hear them, and assume they are stories all are told. Perhaps it is that I seem quiet, and I listen. Maybe all stories are told to those who listen.

But for every story told by a black individual who is pulled over for questioning by a white police officer, and rages ever after in the telling, I wonder that they do not realize why black people are pulled over.

If crime is endemic to the black culture (and not because of poverty), perhaps the culture should be addressed.

Yes, I know. Atrocities there are in poverty, yes, the likes of which those who do not listen never know. And the poor, black and uneducated are indeed vilified and made to know the wrath of the system when they edge toward the chaos inherent in 'not enough' and/or 'trying to live like those who have more than they do' (as if equality means all should have the same degree of excess)...

But I have witnessed that the black folk mistreat the black in that situation as fluidly (perhaps more) than the white folk do and yes, poverty is certainly not color-blind: it rages against the white when they err into economic insufficiency as easily as it does the black.

Because educated folk get a pass through these incidents, in general, regardless. I know this, because I have seen it in practice.

I've studied the Innocence project; am well acquainted with the Southern Poverty Law Center; well know that sometimes it all goes overboard. A deserving poor remains, and even in the street folk, those who served in our wars (especially if they became drug addicts or alcoholics because of that service) and the mentally ill must be aligned with that 'deserving' group as well.

But elements there are within the culture at large that concern, and as long as they remain, the situation will continue to fester, and what Colin Flaherty is documenting in black crime and flash mobs will continue to escalate.

Yes, all my stories are, at best, anecdotes, for all that each is true, and very true. Other stories I do not tell, that, having heard, keep it easy to connect dots.

A generic tendency to a sexual impulse present in the black community at large that is not present in the white can be tracked, although I merely hint of it herein (there are stories I have been told, as much as my experiences listed above, that attest to it; it is quite visible in many of the more successful black entertainers, male and female; and its influence in and embrace by white entertainers does not separate it from its origins: when a white entertainer copies these movements, their movements are recognized as mere imitation).

A generic trait to not comprehending free enterprise (and free enterprise has its excesses, but the excesses are largely moral realities, and should never have had to become the purview of law or governmental oversight, but that is another essay) is a matter I have heard in myriad conversations and situations: how could a government as wealthy as this one, a co-worker from the islands exclaimed once in that richly cultured cadence, not do more to help people!

And a critical lack of comprehending the very landscape of law, and the moral defining inherent in law, likewise seethes in some elements within the black community, and yes, certainly poverty rules there.

Because poverty and uneducated, when combined, do go hand in hand with ignorances in the community at large. But I allude here to something present in the black community that defines the very underpinnings of society in a different way than the white culture does—and most easily can be viewed as a disparity between a socialist framing (to community: one might remember Hillary Clinton's famous, it takes a village to raise a child, to catch the distinction) and the capitalist frame: to be poor and uneducated in the white community does not look exactly the same as to be poor and uneducated in the black community.

Or, to put it another way, in a village, if you have, and your neighbor does not, your neighbor is not made shameful to ask for what you have, with expectation of receiving.

Most Christians should realize that as the basis for a great deal of Christian thought as well. I am not so certain that, for all its necessities, capitalism is not one of the several heads of the Beast. But that, again, edges along the outskirts of thought: no system set in by man will work, apart from Christ.

And Christ does not 'set in' systems: He enters into the heart, and transforms individuals.

We are no longer as a nation able to examine these matters, however, and while I suspect that the accusation of an earlier hour that black men and women who raised themselves out of the rule (if I may) of poverty and lack of education were deemed "Oreo cookies:" black on the outside but on the inside, where identity might be found, white—that designation from black constituents might indeed rest in a changing from a socialist view to a capitalist.

America is certainly a melting pot of the many, but the result was not that the many would froth and ferment as diverse communities but rather, that they become one.

That something inherent in being an American would bring a new idea to humanity that, certainly, as Christians, should be our striving, although, in the Christian frame, it is love of and a willing and heartfelt obedience to and being filled with the Spirit of Christ that effects that oneness.

It is merely the necessity to illustrate what divides the black and white communities (rather than what unites us as human folk) that compels the notes presented in this commentary, because it is a rub against the rawness of the distances between that agitates.

And it is those distances that have the capacity to, as many are tweeting now as the George Zimmerman trial smoulders through toward its fiery end, provoke: racial riots may erupt, murders may happen, rape and pillage may result if Zimmerman walks free...

But to return to my stories, it is another co-worker, who (visibly patting herself on the back) told a group of several white folk standing about her desk that, had she been alive back in the day, it would have been a different story, that perhaps I should have viewed in another light.

Before I started working at that company, she'd disappeared for two weeks...

Been in jail. I thought as I listened to her self-assured swagger of the other side of that story (pre-civil rights days), and how arrogant and foolish she sounded. For I am old enough to remember, third grade and still very young, having it confirmed that I could sit anywhere, and heading for the back of the bus, that day we had the adventure of riding the city bus home from school, back in 1963 in a small town in Georgia.

No, you can't sit there, my older brother hissed, busy with putting our fare in the machine, but noting the direction of my light footsteps.

I stopped, bewildered. Why not?

Because only black people sit there.

He probably said Negroes, but would not have used the other term, for which Paula Deen is being vilified. The well-bred did not use it. That the Paula Deen matter is likely more complicated (after all, a hostile work place, while in the eye of the beholder, is indeed a hostile work place), what is to be decided in a court will involve further details than I think have been made public.

Yet the Food Channel, and several of the companies with which Ms. Deen has had business relationships (at the present moment including Target, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and others), have seen fit to refuse to work with her merely for what sounds like a private use of a word which use is no one's business but her own.

Matt Lauer's own savaging of the woman will rank, I am sure, with the most awful of interviews ever, once everyone is past the frenzy. (Readers will remember that I have no fondness for Matt Lauer, and take that under consideration as my opinion is expressed.)

The extent to which the woman has been vilified sickens. Paula Deen is under no compulsion to confess any "sin" regarding use of 'that word' and, should use of the word become a crime (which it is not), use of it 'many years ago' would likely be outside the statute of limitations. It is, as she has pointed out, used by African-Americans to castigate their own.

Whatever is later determined in regard to a hostile work environment is not the matter of the current vilification. Using the word to subordinates would indeed be regarded a crime, if they happen to be "Negro," as the word does have power, and power is inherent in all exchanges between superiors and subordinates. Based on the information that is available, however, Paula Deen is not being pilloried for a crime and, if she were, it would be the purview of the courts to take care of the incident.

Not public opinion.

To finish my story, however. I heard what my brother said, and trailed back to the front of the bus, wishing with all of a child's heart I could have the excitement of sitting at the very back. But I would not have dared disobey, any more than I would have dared ask, but why.

I sat in the front seats cowed, but wondering what made Negroes have to sit in the back. Seems I had asked my brother, but all he could say was it was because they were Negroes.

But even for a very young third grader, quietly puzzling over her social faux pas, 'because they were Negroes' had such an ominous sound...

*Atlanta had a magazine inset into the Sunday paper for several years that was called Atlanta. It is not the same magazine as the monthly publication of the same name, and folded a long while ago. The article of which I speak had impressed me so greatly (back in the early eighties, as I recall—the era that, for me, now resonates with the sleepy, half-closed eyes of young and 'still possible') that for a very long while, I kept the magazine in my files.

I am not able now to pull up any reference to either the article or the magazine: the surviving Atlanta overshadows all, in the search engine I use.

[Note. This essay has taken several days for me to 'release.' The necessity to, as Colin Flaherty likewise might struggle, highlight problems within the divide between the black and white cultures—both because of the history which divides the two as much as defining points within—yet to be able to speak realistically about these divisions—against a growing trend that imperils all of America, black, white, Hispanic, Asian and likely native as well...

But at the same time to not offend those whom I both respect and hold dear...

Truth can offend. That has been the rule from the beginning of time, was noted by our Lord, reverberates the more distinctly as it prepares its roar to the future destruction. Ed.]