Reckoning with What is Owed — and What Can Never be Repaid — for Racial Privilege

Nietzsche’s “guilt”, whiteness, and what the real cost is to live in the land of another | Oh, and the difference between freedom and liberty

[I once feared buying a house because I didn’t want to be owned. I had saved money with no purpose in mind other than the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Now I’m bound to this house, though I’m still free to lose it if I choose. But that isn’t the version of freedom that interests me at the moment. I’m more compelled by a freedom that would allow me to deserve what I have. Call it liberation, maybe. If debt can be repaid incrementally, resulting eventually in ownership, perhaps so can guilt.

What is the condition of white life? We are moral debtors who act as material creditors. Our banks make bad loans. Our police, like Nietzsche’s creditors, act out their power on black bodies. And, as I see in my own language, we confuse whiteness with ownership.]

 

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America’s Forgotten Mass Lynching: When 237 Blacks Were Murdered In Arkansas

[The death toll of 237 reported by the Equal Justice Initiative is a new figure, based on extensive research. In 1919, sources as varied as the NAACP and the Bureau of Investigation (forerunner of the FBI) estimated the number of killed African Americans at 25 to 80. Writer Robert Whitaker, who has identified 22 separate killing sites of African Americans during the massacre, put the death toll at more than 100. NAACP official Walter White, who risked his life in October 1919 to investigate the killings, stated that the “number of Negroes killed during the riot is unknown and probably never will be known.”

Say the number of African Americans killed in Phillips County in 1919 was 25. Or 80. Or 237. The very fact that, almost one hundred years after the massacre, we are still trying to pinpoint the death toll should lead us to a larger reckoning: coming to terms with one of the most violent years in the nation’s history, bloodshed that resulted from efforts to make America safe for democracy.]

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Read the full story here | THE DAILY BEAST

KING: Why I’ll Never Stand Again for ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ | JENNINGS: Why I Stand for the National Anthem

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Monday, August 29, 2016, 1:02 PM
There is more in the national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. It goes like this:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In a dream world the bread is super soft, like the Wonder Bread of my childhood, and the sandwich will have crunchy peanut butter, strawberry jam, and a cup of cold milk to go with it.

Maybe PB&J isn’t your favorite sandwich, but I want you to imagine your favorite comfort food for a moment. Maybe it’s a hamburger, a piece of pie, or a fruit smoothie. Whatever it is, just imagine yourself enjoying the very best version of your very favorite food.

It’s perfectly delicious. Then, imagine yourself glancing up on the wall and seeing that the restaurant had a score of C minuses on their health inspection. Then you go to the restroom and it’s filthy. A man emerges from the stall having followed by the foulest odor you’ve ever smelled in your life, and you notice he’s still wearing his apron from the kitchen. Then, the unthinkable happens — the man who made your comfort food walks right past the sink and doesn’t even wash his hands.

You leave the restaurant in disgust. As you stand outside without even finishing your meal, you see the world’s largest rat dart out from under a gaping hole by the restaurant door. You are now completely undone. You are “call the health department and post an angry one-star review on Yelp” level undone. You don’t even want your money back. You just want to get the hell away from there. Your new dream come true would be to have one of those “Men in Black” wands waved over your face so that you could forget the implications of the meal you just ate.

Would you ever go back to the restaurant? Of course you wouldn’t.

To me, right now, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is that peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I used to love it, but now I regret ever going anywhere near it. The man who made it — who uses the bathroom in his apron and doesn’t wash his hands, is the author of our national anthem, Francis Scott Key, who, as it turns out, was a terrible human being.

Now that I have learned the truth about our national anthem and its author, I’ll never stand up for it again.

First off, the song, which was originally written as a poem, didn’t become our national anthem until 1931 — which was 117 years after Key wrote it. Most of us have no true idea what in the hell we’ve been hearing or singing all these years, but as it turns out, Key’s full poem actually has a third stanza which few of us have ever heard. In it, he openly celebrates the murder of slaves. Yes, really.

While it has always been known that the song was written during American slavery and that when those words about this nation being the “land of the free” didn’t apply to the millions who had been held in bondage, few of us had any idea that the song itself was rooted in the celebration of slavery and the murder of Africans in America, who were being hired by the British military to give them strength not only in the War of 1812, but in the Battle of Fort McHenry of 1814. These black men were called the Corps of Colonial Marines and they served valiantly for the British military. Key despised them. He was glad to see them experience terror and death in war — to the point that he wrote a poem about it. That poem is now our national anthem.

While I fundamentally reject the notion that anyone who owned other human beings was either good, moral, or decent, Francis Scott Key left absolutely no doubt that he was a stone cold bigot. He came from generations of plantation owning bigots. They got wealthy off of it. Key, as District Attorney of Washington, fought for slavery and against abolitionists every chance he got. Even when Africans in D.C. were injured or murdered, he stood strong against justice for them. He openly spoke racist words against Africans in America. Key said that they were “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.”

While San Francisco 49ers quarter back Colin Kaepernick has refused to stand for the national anthem because of the overflowing abundance of modern day injustice in America, he has helped bring to light the fact that this song and its author are deeply rooted in violent white supremacy.

I will never stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” another day in my damn life. I don’t care where I am or who’s watching. The statue of the racist Cecil Rhodes, which stood tall in South Africa as a painful relic from white supremacists until March of 2015, was finally removed once and for all. It should’ve never been erected. It should’ve been removed a very long time ago, student leaders made it clear that they had had enough.

Like Kaepernick, I’ve had enough of injustice in America and I’ve had enough of anthems written by bigots. Colin Kaepernick has provided a spark.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” should’ve never been made into our national anthem. That President Woodrow Wilson, widely thought to be one of the most bigoted presidents ever elected, chose it as our national anthem, is painfully telling as well. We must do away with it like South Africans did away with their monument to Cecil Rhodes. We must do away with it like South Carolina did with the Confederate Flag over their state house.

Of course, removing the culture of white supremacy does not necessarily remove its effects, but we must simultaneously and passionately address both. I’m joining Colin Kaepernick, who joined in with the spirit of Rosa Parks, by standing up for our rights by sitting down. I hope you join us.

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Saturday, August 27, 2016, 6:49 PM

On Saturday, Jennings explained to the News that he’ll continue to stand for the national anthem. Jennings, 31, grew up in Virginia, and has strongly advocated for Black Lives Matter, so he understands much of the strife between the African-American community and police, understands the struggle against racism in the United States.

But the running back described himself as an “optimist,” and while some may see a nation that’s dishonoring its flag and its anthem, Jennings prefers to draw hope from the lyrics and history of that anthem: “I would say that it’s nice to know that we live in a country where sitting down during the anthem won’t land you in jail or worse. But I personally choose to stand and honor the anthem for what I hold it to represent to me.

I understand how back during that time when slavery was LEGAL, Francis (Scott) Key wrote the poem he entitled ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ based on his personal views and experiences with the war. When America decided to make the first verse of it our National Anthem, they left the controversial third verse out.

I’m an optimist. I figure if it was the intention of our founding fathers to keep America a nation of slaves, then it wouldn’t have chosen a song where all four verses end with ‘the land of the FREE and the home of the brave’ instead of ‘land of the free, home of the SLAVE.’

“Hey! I wish they would have kept verse four in, which says that heaven rescued us, God’s power preserved us and in God is our trust. But we don’t always get what we want, do we? I’m a black man who is free to achieve my dreams because I live in America and trust in God.”

The Last of the Mard Gras “Indians” | A Story

Published February 10, 2016 

[Having grown up in a small town in Louisiana, away from New Orleans, our Mardi Gras celebrations didn’t incorporate all the nuances of typical French Quarter flair, Bourbon Street woes, or institutions like “Mardi Gras Indians,” yep, “Indians.” An umbrella classification identifying 38 organizations of black entertainers, that coin themselves as “tribes.” It turns out that the New Orleans’ tradition is rooted in the ever-present theme of slavery and indigenous removal.

Hundreds of African slaves that were freed after the Civil War, ultimately joined the “Buffalo Soldiers,” U.S. Cavalry Regiments of the United States Army comprised of African Americans (specifically 9th and 10th  Cavalry Regiment). You may have heard the term “Buffalo Soldier,” used in a song made popular in the late 20thCentury by Bob Marley. Sadly, these regiments had a significant hand in the mass killing, forced removal and relocation of the Plains tribes during the Indian Removal Act. Upon return to New Orleans, many former Buffalo Soldiers joined wild west shows. In 1885, it is recorded that about sixty Plains Tribesman marched during Mardi Gras in full regalia. Inspired by this, the black soldiers that participated in wild west shows, most notably Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, formulated their own entertainment troupes, eventually evolving into today’s “Mardi Gras Indians.”

Their exaggerated stereotypical dress, layered war paint, and beaded adornments of removal act scenes, are blatant evidence of, for lack of a better terms, misappropriation #OnFleek. A quick YouTube search and dozens of videos celebrating their “culture” are easily accessible, yet not one video calling them out for exploiting Indigenous traditions. Not one video testimonial of their unfortunate but traceable roots to the cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples.

 

As a member of a tribe that celebrates Louisiana whole-heartedly, so much so that we incorporated the state into our name, the “Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana,” it is a hard pill to swallow when Louisiana’s most revered celebration of Mardi Gras is marred by such an ignorant procession of ill-natured Native Appropriation, based on foundations of Indigenous removal executed by former slaves. I’m not writing this as an exercise to point fingers at anyone, but rather, as an effort to wave my finger in disapproval of a society that allows this ignorance to be perpetuated. I like to think that once made aware of the offense, those that perpetuate it would rather participate in a dialogue to correct it. Add this one to the list Native America, lets end it.

“Today is a good day to die…” –Crazy Horse

Mardi Gras Indians

1885 – 2016]

The Last of the Mardi Gras Indians

Santiago X (Lawrence Santiago, M.Arch) is an Indigenous Artist, Architect, Singer/Songwriter, and Indigenous Youth Development Specialist. He is an enrolled member the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana (Koasati) and Chamorro (Hachamaori) People of Guam U.S.A. and currently resides in Chicago, IL.

Images of Mississippi’s Old School Blues Musicians

[Feature Shoot | January 8, 2016]

For his series Portraits of the Blues, photographer Lou Bopp captures the last remaining Mississippi delta Blues musicians of the previous era. Since 2008, he has made portraits of over 70 now elderly men who have made important contributions to this classic American genre of music. Photographer Documents Mississippi’s Old School Blues Musicians | FEATURE SHOOT

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See all Lou Bopp’s images here | LOU BOPP PHOTOGRAPHY

This Morning at Harvard Law School We Woke Up to a Hate Crime

[The portraits of black professors, the ones that bring me and so many other black students feelings of pride and promise, were defaced. Their faces were covered with a single piece of black tape, crossing them out of Harvard Law School’s legacy of legal scholarship. Their faces were slashed through, X-ing them out, marking them as maybe unwanted or maybe unworthy or maybe simply too antithetical to the legacy of white supremacy on which Harvard Law School has been built. Harvard Law School was, after all, founded with the money from the sale of over 100 Antiguan enslaved people (because they were not slaves but people who were brutally and inhumanely enslaved) by the Royall family. To this day, the Royall family crest is the seal for Harvard Law School, and their legacy of white supremacy drips from every corner of the campus, like the blood of the 77 enslaved people murdered after a slave revolt on the Royall plantation. The defacing of the portraits of black professors this morning is a further reminder that white supremacy built this place, is the foundation of this place, and that we never have and still do not belong here.

We are not afraid.

This morning at Harvard Law School we woke up to a hate crime. And tomorrow you will wake up to a hate crime on your campus too. And they — the cowards who deface the portraits of black professors, who hang nooses in front of black dorms, who draw swatstikas with human feces — want for that to be the end of the story. But we, black students on campus, are not afraid of what you do under the covers of darkness and hatred and cowardice. We will march and scream and sit in and walk out and shout our demands and make ourselves heard and tear down these hallways of white supremacy because we belong here too. And no longer can you make us feel that we do not belong here. Because our sweat and blood and death and courage is what really built these hallways.

This morning at Harvard Law School we woke up to a hate crime. And what we do next will shake white supremacy at Harvard Law School to its core.]

Read the full story: Today at Harvard Law School We Woke Up to a Hate Crime | BLAVITY

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Herrero Genocide in Colonial Africa Finally Receives Recognition

[Back then, Europeans called Kaunatjike’s home South-West Africa—and it was European names that carried the most weight; tribal names, or even the name Namibia, had no place in the official taxonomy. Black and white people shared a country, yet they weren’t allowed to live in the same neighborhoods or patronize the same businesses. That, says Kaunatjike, was verboten.

A few decades after German immigrants staked their claim over South-West Africa in the late 19th century, the region came under the administration of the South African government, thanks to a provision of the League of Nations charter. This meant that Kaunatjike’s homeland was controlled by descendants of Dutch and British colonists—white rulers who, in 1948, made apartheid the law of the land. Its shadow stretched from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, covering an area larger than Britain, France, and Germany combined.

“Our fight was against the regime of South Africa,” says Kaunatjike, now a 68-year-old resident of Berlin. “We were labeled terrorists.”

During the 1960s, hundreds of anti-apartheid protesters were killed, and thousands more were thrown in jail. As the South African government tightened its fist, many activists decided to flee. “I left Namibia illegally in 1964,” says Kaunatjike. “I couldn’t go back.”

He was just 17 years old.]       Read the full story | SMITHSONIAN

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