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.]

 

Ian McKellen Reads William Shakespeare | In Defense of Immigrants

Analogies

Political cartoonist John Knott had little sympathy for the U.S. Congress’ indecision when it came to the Wagner-Rogers Child Refugee Bill, a piece of 1939 legislation that would have opened slots for 20,000 German refugee children to enter the United States. The bill was opposed by anti-immigrant organizations and never became a law. Tens of thousands of German Jewish children went on to die in concentration camps.

jewish

University of Texas

Snow White Rebels and Slaves

[The backlash from some black feminists was immediate, and the expected pushback to that backlash from some white feminists soon followed. They claim that those of us who found the quote—and optics—racially charged needed to look at it in the context of Pankhurst’s larger message, which speaks to the necessity of rebellion within a patriarchal system.

That could be viewed as a valid argument if the implication that black feminists had not grasped the quote’s intentions, thus rendering our criticism flawed, wasn’t the height of condescension.

Pankhurst’s full quote may be important, but within it lies both the freedom of choice and the choice to be free. The message that Streep and company are co-signing with their grinning faces and suffragette tees is that one cannot be both enslaved and a rebel; and tucked between those lines lies the erasure of a dual existence that black women have been forced to navigate in one form or another throughout history….]

Sister Suffragette: ‘Slave’ T-Shirts Highlight White Feminism’s Race Problem

rebels

“Neutrality” as Collaboration | For Journalists (and not only) Covering Trump, a Murrow Moment

[AS EDWARD R. MURROW wrapped up his now-famous special report condemning Joseph McCarthy in 1954, he looked into the camera and said words that could apply today. “He didn’t create this situation of fear—he merely exploited it, and rather successfully,” Murrow said of McCarthy. Most of Murrow’s argument relied on McCarthy’s own words, but in the end Murrow shed his journalistic detachment to offer a prescription: “This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent—or for those who approve,” he said. “We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”

We’ve reached a turning point, and the two criteria for journalists to abandon their objectivity have come to pass: Trump is widely criticized, even by his own party, giving journalists a lot of company in their criticism of him. When Trump suggested that Judge Curiel was incapable of trying a case because of his parents’ birthplace, even House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Republican, called the comments “racist.”

And Trump’s views appear increasingly deviant. No respected journalist would seek a balancing quote from someone who held such a view about a judge or who suggested, as Trump did last month after the Orlando shootings, that a sitting president was in cahoots with a mass murderer.

Murrow felt compelled to end his broadcast by warning his audienceabout the dangers of staying neutral, as journalists too often do, when the stakes are high: “Cassius was right,” said Murrow. “‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’” If a politician’s rhetoric is dangerous, Murrow implied, all of us, including journalists, are complicit if we don’t stand up and oppose it.]

Read the full article | Columbia Journalism Review

The Unfinished Oscar Speech

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(Daily Kos | February 26, 2016)

Despising “celebrity” in every Hollywood sense of the word, Marlon Brando used his fame to make statements, bring awareness, and create change. Blatantly against any form of racism, Brando marched in 1963 during the Civil Rights Movement in DC, and often carried his fight for equal rights into his movie roles. In one film, Brando insisted that his air-force pilot character in Sayonara marry the pilot’s Japanese lover at the end. This was in 1957 during a time when America was steeped in Japanese racism. In 1967, Brando was the first leading actor to play, in a sympathetic way, a closeted homosexual military officer in Reflections in a Golden Eye.

But Marlon Brando’s most renowned example of human rights activism took place in 1973 when he forfeited an Oscar for The Godfather in order to bring international awareness to the wrongs being committed against American Indians. After the winner of the category Best Actor was announced, Sacheen Littlefeather went up on stage and spoke on behalf of Marlon Brando. The actress and activist gave a short eloquent and provocative speech which was received by the live audience, and around the world with mixed reactions.

Here is the entire speech (which can also be found here (The New York Times)):

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ”Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.”

When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one’s neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we’re not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don’t concern us, and that we don’t care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.

I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It’s hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.

Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother’s keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.

I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.

Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.

This statement was written by Marlon Brando for delivery at the Academy Awards ceremony where Mr. Brando refused an Oscar. The speaker, who read only a part of it, was Shasheen Littlefeather.

Banksy and the Calais Jungle

A new artwork by Banksy criticising the use of teargas in the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais has appeared on the French embassy in London. The artwork, which depicts a young girl from the film and musical Les Misérables with tears in her eyes as CS gas billows towards her, appeared overnight on Saturday.

In a first for the elusive graffiti artist, the artwork is interactive and includes a stencilled QR code beneath. If viewers hold their phone over the code, it links them to an online video of a police raid on the camps on 5 January.

The work is the latest in a series of pieces by the graffiti artist criticising Europe’s handling of the ongoing refugee crisis. It is a direct comment on the recent attempts by French authorities to bulldoze part of the camp in Calais – which has now been deemed unsafe – and evict about 1,500 refugees. (THE GUARDIAN)

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Workmen cover up a new artwork by Banksy. The artwork opposite the French embassy includes a QR code that links to a video of a police raid on the Calais ‘jungle’ camp | Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

See also: Clearing of the “Calais Jungle” in Pictures | THE GUARDIAN