First and Last Post for 2006!

I just thought I'd make a post before the end of the year. While I work on my first big entry, check out this website for the PBS documentary RACE - The Power of an Illusion. In addition to the transcripts for the 3-part documentary, it contains a plentiful amount of information and resources that you can browse through. Thank you to Tim Ponti for forwarding this site to me!

Have a safe and Happy New Year, everyone!

Boxer Recalls Award Due To "Terrorist Connections"

I was browsing through blogs and came across "No More Spin," a conservative blog that's mission is for "the clearing of all political spin; foreign and domestic." But besides the fact that the blog's mission statement is spin, I decided to browse it. In it I found a link to a Newsweek article titled "CAIR Play?" The article states that:
In a highly unusual move, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California has rescinded an award to an Islamic activist in her home state because of the man’s connections to a major American Muslim organization that recently has been courted by leading political figures and even the FBI.
The award that Boxer recalled was for Sacramento activist Basim Elkarra who serves as the executive director for the Sacramento office of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR). What are these terrorist connections? Well, according to the courts there are none since CAIR has never been indited with a crime, but former members and those loosely associated with CAIR have.
all the cases cited by Kaufman [who wrote a blog asking Boxer to rescent her award] involve individuals who had only loose ties to the group in the past. One of the cases cited by Kaufman was Ghassan Elashi, a marketing executive in a Texas computer company and a founding director of CAIR's Texas chapter, who was convicted last year of financial dealings with Mousa Abu Marzook, a self-admitted leader of Hamas who now lives in Damascus. Another case involved Rabi Haddad, a former CAIR fund-raiser in Michigan, who was deported after being accused by Justice Department officials of providing funds to Hamas. “They were former members,” says Awad. “This is guilt by association.”
From what I've read in this article it seems that Elkarra, who is 27, seems to be a pretty upstanding person. During the time the award was recended he "recently spoke at a local synagogue as part of a CAIR-funded project to build relations with the Jewish community." Elkarra was also accused by conservatives, such as Kaufman, for defending the Muslim father and son in the infamous Lodi case. Yet taking an in depth look at this case Frontline found many inconsistencies in this case and that much of the case was essentially rooted in Islamophobia and bad interrogation tactics.

Essentially Elkarra is being singled out by Boxer because he works for the Council of American Islamic Relations. CAIR is a mainstream Muslim organization that speaks on behalf of many Muslims for this country and fights for American-Muslim respectability (as well as condemning terrorist attacks). This is a classic case of contemporary racism in America. Yes Klkarra is able to hold a job in America and he can walk freely on the streets without being slurred with racial epithets. Yet at the same time he is being singled out simply because he is Muslim. The fact that he is an American citizen who does community work for the Sacramento area and helped out (not defended) a Muslim father and son who were wrongly convicted (in my mind) of charges has no bearing whatsoever for many in the American public. Instead, he is seen as a Muslim who works for an organization that might (and that's a big might) have "ties to terrorists." Essentially these slurs on CAIR and Elkarra remind me of the slurs used against Martin Luther King, Jr. (nobody freak out I'm in no way comparing Elkarra to King) and the NAACP. Routinely King was accused of being a communist because of "alleged connections" with communist fronts, of course, during the height of the Cold War this caused a stir amongst main stream white Americans. Especially because King and the NAACP were pointing out to America some of their flaws and the actions that the NAACP and King took were risky and unpopular. Today the term communist has morphed into the word terrorist and while Blacks won't be accused anymore of being communist sympathizers (they are instead accused of too sensitive) Arab Americans and Muslim Americans are constantly being accused of having sympathies for terrorists when they decide to defend Muslim Americans and Muslims practices. And when they do defend Muslims they are always forced to add the qualifier, "I condemn all terrorist activities" or "I don't support Hamas," etc. Yet why should they need to state such things? Essentially they are only forced to state such things because they are Muslim. Many in the mainstream press and in America don't just see someone defending the religion of Islam or someone defending the civil rights of American citizens and immigrants, instead many see a Muslim defending such causes, and if a Muslim is defending such causes than some how many people associate the term "terrorist" with that person just because they are Muslim. And because they associate Muslim with terrorist they ask for qualifiers to see if they are really a "good Muslim" and a "good American" by asking them if they condemn suicide bombings and the like, even if that question has nothing to do with the topic!

Americans, instead of seeing individuals (as many conservatives claim they do, "I'm color blind," etc.), instead see someone who might be a threat since they wear a skull cap or pray facing Mecca. Yet if that person was white and was Christian immediately those qualifiers would disappear, and when was the last time an organization that had the term "Christian" in it was asked if they "support terrorists?" Basically what is surrounding this whole controversy are assumptions based on race and assumptions based on religion. Boxer is resending an award based on the fact that Elkarra works for an organization that might have loose connections with terrorists, even though such connections have never be proven and the organization has never been charged with any such connections by the government. In a country that has a law system that is supposed to be "innocent until proven guilty" Boxer and many others are showing us that in reality it's "guilty until proven innocent," which, for people of color and other minorities, has been the case since the first white pilgrims came to this land and slaughtered the first people of color (back then the majority) they saw.

Image From:
CAIR Chicago


Honky Want A Cracker?: A Look at the Myth of Reverse Racism

By Tim Wise

This was an article that Carlo Montemayor brought to my attention about a week ago when we were discussing the differences between white racism and "racism" by people of color. This essay originally appeared on
ZNet June 24, 2002.

Tim Wise is a white anti-racist activist who has spoken in 48 states and over 400 colleges and is the director for the newly-formed Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE).

Recently, when speaking to a group of high school students, I was asked why I only seemed to be concerned about white racism towards people of color. We had been discussing racial slurs, and a number of white students wondered why I didn’t get as upset about blacks using terms like “honky” or “cracker,” as I did about whites using words like “nigger.”

Although such an issue may seem trivial in the larger scheme of things—especially given the more significant discussions about racism in the educational system that I had hoped to engage in that day—the challenge posed by the students was actually an important one. In fact, it allowed a discussion about the very essence of what racism is and how it operates.

On the one hand, of course, such slurs are quite obviously inappropriate and offensive, and ought not to be used. That said, I pointed out that even the mention of the words “honky” and “cracker” had elicited laughter; and not only from the black students in attendance, but also from other whites.

The words are so silly, so juvenile, so utterly pathetic that they hardly qualify as racial slurs at all, let alone slurs on a par with those that have been historically deployed against people of color.

The lack of symmetry between a word like honky and a slur such as “nigger” was made apparent in an old Saturday Night Live skit, with Chevy Chase and guest, Richard Pryor.

In the skit, Chase and Pryor face one another and trade off racial epithets during a segment of Weekend Update. Chase calls Pryor a “porch monkey.” Pryor responds with “honky.” Chase ups the ante with “jungle bunny.” Pryor, unable to counter with a more vicious slur against whites, responds with “honky, honky.” Chase then trumps all previous slurs with “nigger,” to which Pryor responds: “dead honky.”

The line elicits laughs all around, but also makes clear, at least implicitly that when it comes to racial antilocution, people of color are limited in the repertoire of slurs they can use against whites, and even the ones of which they can avail themselves sound more comic than hateful. The impact of hearing the antiblack slurs in the skit was of a magnitude unparalleled by hearing Pryor say “honky” over and over again.

As a white person I always saw terms like honky or cracker as evidence of how much more potent white racism was than any variation on the theme practiced by the black or brown.

When a group of people has little or no power over you institutionally, they don’t get to define the terms of your existence, they can’t limit your opportunities, and you needn’t worry much about the use of a slur to describe you and yours, since, in all likelihood, the slur is as far as it’s going to go. What are they going to do next: deny you a bank loan? Yeah, right.

So whereas “nigger” was and is a term used by whites to dehumanize blacks, to imply their inferiority, to “put them in their place” if you will, the same cannot be said of honky: after all, you can’t put white people in their place when they own the place to begin with.

Power is like body armor. And while not all white folks have the same degree of power, there is a very real extent to which all of us have more than we need vis-à-vis people of color: at least when it comes to racial position, privilege and perceptions.

Consider poor whites. To be sure, they are less financially powerful than wealthy people of color. But that misses the point of how racial privilege operates within a class system.

Within a class system, people tend to compete for “stuff” against others of their same basic economic status. In other words, rich and poor are not competing for the same homes, bank loans, jobs, or even educations to a large extent. Rich competes against rich, working class against working class and poor against poor. And in those competitions racial privilege most certainly attaches.

Poor whites are rarely typified as pathological, dangerous, lazy or shiftless the way poor blacks are, for example. Nor are they demonized the way poor Latino/a immigrants tend to be.

When politicians want to scapegoat welfare recipients they don’t pick Bubba and Crystal from some Appalachian trailer park; they choose Shawonda Jefferson from the Robert Taylor Homes, with her seven children.

And according to reports from a number of states, ever since so-called welfare reform, white recipients have been treated far better by caseworkers, are less likely to be bumped off the rolls for presumed failure to comply with new regulations, and have been given far more assistance at finding new jobs than their black or brown counterparts.

Poor whites are more likely to have a job, tend to earn more than poor people of color, and are even more likely to own their own home. Indeed, whites with incomes under $13,000 annually are more likely to own their own home than blacks with incomes that are three times higher due to having inherited property.

None of this is to say that poor whites aren’t being screwed eight ways to Sunday by an economic system that relies on their immiseration: they are. But they nonetheless retain a certain “one-up” on equally poor or even somewhat better off people of color thanks to racism.

It is that one-up that renders the potency of certain prejudices less threatening than others. It is what makes cracker or honky less problematic than any of the slurs used so commonly against the black and brown.

In response to all this, skeptics might say that people of color can indeed exercise power over whites, at least by way of racially-motivated violence. Such was the case, for example, this week in New York City where a black man shot two whites and one Asian-Pacific Islander before being overpowered. Apparently he announced that he wanted to kill white people, and had hoped to set a wine bar on fire to bring such a goal to fruition.

There is no doubt his act was one of racial bigotry, and that to those he was attempting to murder his power must have seemed quite real. Yet there are problems with claiming that this “power” proves racism from people of color is just as bad as the reverse.

First, racial violence is also a power whites have, so the power that might obtain in such a situation is hardly unique to non-whites, unlike the power to deny a bank loan for racial reasons, to "steer" certain homebuyers away from living in “nicer" neighborhoods, or to racially profile in terms of policing. Those are powers that can only be exercised by the more dominant group as a practical and systemic matter.

Additionally, the "power" of violence is not really power at all, since to exercise it, one has to break the law and subject themselves to probable legal sanction.

Power is much more potent when it can be deployed without having to break the law to do it, or when doing it would only risk a small civil penalty at worst. So discrimination in lending, though illegal is not going to result in the perp going to jail; so too with employment discrimination or racial profiling.

There are plenty of ways that more powerful groups can deploy racism against less powerful groups without having to break the law: by moving away when too many of "them" move in (which one can only do if one has the option of moving without having to worry about discrimination in housing.)

Or one can discriminate in employment but not be subjected to penalty, so long as one makes the claim that the applicant of color was "less qualified," even though that determination is wholly subjective and rarely scrutinized to see if it was determined accurately, as opposed to being a mere proxy for racial bias. In short, it is institutional power that matters most.

Likewise, it’s the difference in power and position that has made recent attempts by American Indian activists in Colorado to turn the tables on white racists so utterly ineffective.

Indian students at Northern Colorado University, fed up by the unwillingness of white school district administrators in Greeley to change the name and grotesque Indian caricature of the Eaton High School “Reds,” recently set out to flip the script on the common practice of mascot-oriented racism.

Thinking they would show white folks what it’s like to “be in their shoes” and experience the objectification of being a team icon, indigenous members of an intramural basketball team renamed themselves the “Fightin’ Whiteys,” and donned t-shirts with the team mascot: a 1950’s-style caricature of a suburban, middle class white guy, next to the phrase “every thang’s gonna be all white.”

Funny though the effort was, it has not only failed to make the point intended, but indeed has been met with laughter and even outright support by white folks. Rush Limbaugh actually advertised for the team’s t-shirts on his radio program, and whites from coast to coast have been requesting team gear, thinking it funny to be turned into a mascot, as opposed to demeaning.

Of course the difference is that it’s tough to negatively objectify a group whose power and position allows them to define the meaning of another group’s attempts at humor: in this case the attempt by Indians to teach them a lesson. It’s tough to school the headmaster, in other words.

Objectification works against the disempowered because they are disempowered. The process doesn’t work in reverse, or at least, making it work is a lot tougher than one might think.

Turning Indians into mascots has been offensive precisely because it is a continuation of the dehumanization of such persons over many centuries; the perpetuation of the mentality of colonization and conquest.

It is not as if one group—whites—merely chose to turn another group—Indians—into mascots. Rather, it is that one group, whites, have consistently viewed Indians as less than fully human, as savage, as “wild,” and have been able to not merely portray such imagery on athletic banners and uniforms, but in history books and literature more crucially.

In the case of the students at Northern, they would need to be a lot more acerbic in their appraisal of whites, in order for their attempts at “reverse racism” to make the point intended. After all, “fightin” is not a negative trait in the eyes of most white folks, and the 1950’s iconography chosen for the uniforms was unlikely to be seen as that big a deal.

Perhaps if they had settled on “slave-owning whiteys,” or “murdering whiteys,” or “land-stealing whiteys,” or “smallpox-giving-on-purpose whiteys,” or “Native-people-butchering whiteys,” or “mass raping whiteys,” the point would have been made.

And instead of a smiling “company man” logo, perhaps a Klansman, or skinhead as representative of the white race: now that would have been a nice functional equivalent of the screaming Indian warrior. But see, you gotta go strong to turn the tables on the man, and ironic sarcasm just ain’t gonna get it nine times out of ten.

Without the power to define another group’s reality, Indian activists are simply incapable of turning the tables by way of well-placed humor.

Simply put, what separates white racism from any other form, and what makes anti-black, anti-brown, anti-yellow, or anti-red humor more biting and more dangerous than its anti-white equivalent is the ability of the former to become lodged in the minds of and perceptions of the citizenry.

White perceptions are what end up counting in a white-dominated society. If whites say Indians are savages (be they of the “noble” or vicious type), then by God, they’ll be seen as savages. If Indians say whites are mayonnaise-eating Amway salespeople, who the hell is going to care? If anything, whites will simply turn it into a marketing opportunity. When you have the power, you can afford to be self-deprecating, after all.

The day that someone produces a newspaper ad that reads: “Twenty honkies for sale today: good condition, best offer accepted,” or “Cracker to be lynched tonight: whistled at black woman,” then perhaps I’ll see the equivalence of these slurs with the more common type to which we’ve grown accustomed.

When white churches start getting burned down by militant blacks who spray paint “kill the honkies” on the sidewalks outside, then maybe I’ll take seriously these concerns over “reverse racism.”

Until then, I guess I’ll find myself laughing at the thought of another old Saturday Night Live skit: this time with Garrett Morris as a convict in the prison talent show who sings:

Gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys I see. Gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys I see. And once I kill all the whiteys I see Then whitey he won’t bother me Gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys I see.

Sorry, but it just isn’t the same.


The Coup: Taking On Busters, White Privilege, and Capitalism Since 1992

I was recently listening to a song by The Coup in my car and it really made me appreciate their lyrical and musical styles as well as their mature analysis of race and class in society (but without it affecting their lyrics and beat, they have great lyrics that one can listen too and that are catchy while at the same time being informative) which is what other rap groups tend to lack, such as dead prez or Immortal Technique. Now I like dead prez, they have good analysis on racial relations and are great in propagating Black power, but when they tend to say things such as “All these politicians can bite this dick,” and “Lick these Black balls,” they tend to detract from revolutionary and radical analysis and tend to be more heterosexists and misogynistic. As for Immortal Technique, I’m not a fan of him like I’m a fan of dead prez. Immortal Technique is essentially saying good stuff but at the sacrifice of his music, I remember one song in Revolutionary Vol. 1 where he basically just talks, that’s it. He’s also very infintile in his lyrics, and is extremely sexist towards women and has a weird trip about vegans for some reason. But that’s besides the point, I think dead prez is good (Immortal Technique not so much) but I think The Coup has more mature analysis and better lyrics, enough said on that.

The song I was listening too was “Busterismology” from their 1998 album, Steal This Album. The chorus goes “When we start the revolution/all they probably do is snitch.” I think what he’s essentially referring to is those of the petty bourgeoisie, which is essentially a class in capitalist society that is apart of the proletarian (or working classes) but also are able to have the means to accrue capital off the back of the working class, such as being managers in businesses or owning small businesses (when I say this though I don’t mean to belittle people who own small businesses). So while they get exploited by the bourgeoisie and the capitalist class they are able to acquire enough money in order to live a comfortable middle class life. Boots (the vocalist of The Coup) might also be referring to those in the community that are agents of the government (such as snicthes, etc.) but I’m pretty sure he means the petty bourgeois, regardless (I know, I’m digressing again). In the song he goes onto say (rap):
These teeny-boppers ain’t gon’ live to be a grown up
If we gon’ do this, we could do this, but I’m trippin off,
the factor that these bastards put me through this
The level of my life should be higher
You got a gat, I got a gat...
When we start the revolution,
all they probably do is snitch.
Boot’s is essentially showing us the situation that many people of color live in everyday and how many youth end up dying before they even get out of their teenage years. My girlfriend, Christine Joy Ferrer (who’s a journalism major), did a piece that will appear on City Voices and Youth Outlook on a young man named Terry Rollins who lives in the Sunnydale projects in Visitacion Valley in San Francisco. Rollins told her that he has known over 15 people who have died while being gunned down due to gang violence. Boots wants the level of life for people of color to be higher and in order to do that he states their needs to be revolution. Yet many people, he laments, will probably undermine the revolution, or at least undermine attempts to help make society equal.
I used to work at Mickey D’s,
And to my old buster-ass manager, licky Deez,
Had me workin on my hands and knees, scrubbin grease,
And in the summer with the oven on, it’s hundred-ten degreees,
I asked him why I couldn’t get mo’ hours,
He said it must because I lacked the mental powers,
If I was smart then I would be in his position.
This tends to be classic contemporary racist argument. Since society is supposed to be equal, than people who do not live comfortable middle or upper-class lifestyles must be stupid, which means that it’s their own damn fault for being poor. The Bell Curve is a classic example of this type of thinking, only it is more disguised so that they won’t be accused of being racist. What The Bell Curve argued was that Blacks and Latinos have naturally smaller IQs than whites and Asians, so we should stop helping them because it’s useless (it’s important to note that this book came out in 1994, and was a best seller!). So while a top manager at McDonald’s might not be rich enough to be apart of the bourgeoisie she or he is still comfortable enough in living that she or he would not want to see any major changes in the structures of society.

Boots in this song goes on to attack celebrities (I think in this context he mostly means Black rappers) and others in the petty bourgeoisie:
Now hella my folks got respect for you, killa,
Wit a raised Black fist, and a pocket full of scrilla
Punk asses like you is just here for confucsion,
Be abusin rhetoric, and it’s slightly amusin,
You be cruisin all the networks, Ebony and Jet works,
‘long witcha efforts, now what’s yo net worth?
If you ain’t talkin bout endin exploitation,
Then you just another Sambo in syndication,
Always sayin words that’s gon’ bring about elation,
Never doin shit, that’s gon’ bring us vindication,
And while we gettin strangled by the slave-wage grippers,
You wanna do the same, and say we should put you in business?
So you’ll be next to the rulin’ class, lyin in a ditch,
Cause when we start this revolution,
all you probably do is snitch!
While I can’t speak for the people Boots is rapping about, I know many white liberals who hold very liberal views on society (since I do work in Marin County, a very liberal county in the U.S.) and on issues such as the Iraq War and tax cuts. Yet while many of them “sayin words that’s gon’ bring about elation” to many liberals, and speeches that sound good, many of these same white liberals tend to hold very negative views of poor people of color. I use the term “poor” because many of these same white liberals may have friends who are Black, Latino, or Asian and yet they hold contemporary racist views. Such as that many Blacks are poor because of their “culture” which is mostly focused on that “violent rap” and “gang banging.” This is ignoring the issue at hand, not only is this a racist argument (especially the comment on culture), but it alleviates the guilt many whites have (or might have) over the plight of many people of color in the United States. They don’t actively fight the system to help out people of color (by “help out” I don’t mean it in the sense that people of color can’t help themselves and need whites to help them [that would be a very contemporary racist argument], by “help out” I mean actively participating in actions to fight against racist policies and listening to the grievances of people of color instead of writing it off as “just being excuses” or that they are “just too sensitive).

On the same album in the opening song, “The Shipment,” Boots states:
It ain’t Indonesia, China White,
Purple-Haired Thai, Big H Delight,
Take my shit we gon’ have to fight,
I’m always rollin’ dirty so be actin’ right
I accuse you of nigga-hating!
And exploitating for profit,
Don’t cop a plea,
Cause I’m B-double-O-T,
From the C-O-U the P
Aspired to be famous, puttin fire in their anus,
Made the rulin’ class hate us more than child support payments,
And I slang rocks - but Palestinian style,
Now what you make is point-oh-one percent of what the boss make,
And what the boss make is keepin’ us from livin’ great
Don’t get frustrated, discombobulated,
Don’t stand and debate it,
get a mob and take it!
Boots is stating that their needs to be change, massive change, in this society that is built upon class exploitation and white privilege. He implores people to act and not to drown their sorrows in China White and Big H Delight. Instead of getting down about certain inequalities in society he tells us to take action, analyze, mobilize, and to take what is rightfully yours. Much of the reason why so many majority Black communities live in poverty is because of past exploitation, and yet despite the fact that it was in the past white continue to live off of this privilege and people of color continue to be exploited. Racism didn’t disappear with the Civil Rights Act, all it did was evolve. Yet as people of color continue to fight for their rights and to attain a better standard of life and hope for a better future, Boots states:
Til then it’s food stamps, vouchers, mildew-smellin couches,
Overturned garbage cans wit’ no Oscar the Grouches,
Makin’ money selling plastic pouches
Of course, all of this commentary is from only two songs and from one album, The Coup have many more. I would like to end this blog with a lyric from their newest album, Party Music, that came out in 2001, from the song, Heven Tonite:
I got faith in the people and they power to fight,
We gon make the struggle blossom,
Like a flower to light,
I know that we could take power tonight,
Make 'em cower from might,
And get emergency clearance from the tower for flight,
I ain't sittin in your pews less you helpin' me resist and refuse,
Show me a list of your views,
If you really love me,
Help me tear this muthafucka up,
Consider this my tithe for the offer cup.
Image From:
Hip-Hop Vinyl


Orientals and Dog Eaters

I was at my work yesterday and during closing I was talking with an acquaintance I knew from high school, "Mitch," who was about two or three grades below me (I think two). He told me that a mutual acquaintance whom he works with, "Jim" (who was in my same class and football team), got into an argument with him during work. He said Jim was basically flaunting his girlfriend, trying to show off. They got into some argument were Jim called him fat (and possibly a "faggot") and where the other guy called him a midget. Mitch said that Jim's girlfriend was hot but that he "wasn't going to bust a nut" over her. He also stated that she was some kind of "Oriental" chick and he wasn't going to get all crazy over an "Oriental." I basically left it at that since I had to close up at my work and Mitch went to his car but his comment was obviously interesting. Also it should be noted that about a year ago or so Jim asked me about my girlfriend because I had been talking to her on the phone. I said she went to school, yada, yada, and that she was Pilipina. Jim than looked at me with an inquisitive look and said, "Pilipinos? Don't they eat dogs?!" Just another day in white Marin County.

Anti-Gang Injunction Polarizes West Sacramento

I recently read an article in the Nov. 26, 2006 paper of the San Francisco Chronicle about how police in West Sacramento are serving gang members and alleged gang members with injunctions that impose travel restrictions and curfews. Many of these, if not all, people being served with these injunctions are Latino youth from a lower class area in West Sacramento.
West Sacramento, Yolo County -- A police officer stopped Robert Sanchez one night in April as he walked near his home in this blue-collar city, though Sanchez wasn't suspected of committing a crime.

Sanchez, 18, admitted he was a member of the Norteño gang, the officer said. He also wore a gang tattoo and was with another Norteño, his sister's fiance.

"You are being served with a permanent gang injunction," the officer told him.

With that, Sanchez lost the right to move freely in his neighborhood. He's now prohibited indefinitely from hanging out with more than 125 other alleged Norteños, some of them relatives, in a wide swath of the city. He must also obey other restrictions, including a 10 p.m. curfew.

The court injunction against the Norteño "Broderick Boys," named for the neighborhood where many of them live, has stirred controversy since a judge issued it nearly two years ago, dividing residents who feel safer because of it from those who see it as racial profiling.

West Sacramento's experience may be a lesson for San Francisco, where City Attorney Dennis Herrera secured the city's first anti-gang injunction last month and is preparing to ask for more.

So while Sanchez was a member of the gang he wasn't prosecuted with a crime or even charged with a crime, just through affiliation he was presumed guilty. While these injunctions are legal the way they are used are normally contested in courts around the country. Essentially Latino youth are being targeted because of their socio-economic status and the color of their skin. While crime has presumably gone down (I won't against the effectiveness of injunctions since draconian measures tend to work in deterring crime) what is going on in West Sacramento is racial profiling. The thing one has to remember is that racial profiling isn't racism in the classical sense of the word but it's racism in a contemporary sense, which is just as powerful and harmful as the former. Frank H. Wu in his book Yellow, if I remember correctly, Wu states that racial profiling, for many, is racism that "makes sense." It's not the racism of old and the Jim Crow era, it's racism that essentially "makes sense." Think of the classical SAT example (only slightly modified for this blog): Police have caught many Latinos committing crimes in West Sacramento: Latinos are committing crime in Wes Sacramento: Therefore all Latinos in West Sacramento are committing crime. The answer to the SAT question similar to that would have been false, yet that is what Wu states is racism that "makes sense." But just because it "makes sense" to many doesn't mean it's not wrong. Wu states that socially conscious people and activists must attack racial profiling just as much as they would have attacked segregation since it is a wrong that must be corrected and is racism no matter if it is in the classical or contemporary sense. The article goes on to make a few good points:

Some residents, like Ray Martinez, are excited about the growth. "Cleaning up the neighborhood is good," said Martinez, 48, a floor designer who lives in Broderick. "If it wasn't for the real estate market, I don't think the police would be doing this."

Others think gentrification is harming longtime residents and refer to a wall that separates Broderick from a housing development called the Rivers as the "Great Wall of Divide."

"What we've learned is you follow the money," said Rebecca Sandoval, a Sacramento activist who has organized injunction opponents. "Wherever the developers go, up comes an injunction."

Reisig, the county prosecutor, said development had nothing to do with the suit he filed in December 2004. It called the Broderick Boys the city's "most powerful criminal street gang," with 350 members acting in packs to deal drugs, rob and assault.

While Jeff Reisig, a Yolo County prosecutor, denies that this is the case (and in his mind it may not have been a factor in his conscious thinking when he was filing these injunctions) most of the time the communities that are effected by such police actions and "innovative" crime deterrents are communities that have a low socio-economic status and are communities that are predominately made up of people of color.

"It's absolutely worked," said Jeff Reisig, the Yolo County prosecutor who sought the injunction before his successful run this year to become district attorney. "The fact that San Francisco has decided to pursue a gang injunction is telling. This works, and it's legal."

Taking a break from his custodial job at a West Sacramento elementary school, Danny Velez, 56, said the injunction hurt his son, even though the 15-year-old has nothing to do with the Norteños.

"Ever since this injunction, it's been pure hell to raise a son. They've been profiled and segregated," Velez said of young Latinos. "He's constantly harassed about whether he's in a gang, by teachers and by police."

Danny Velez's son is being targeted because he is Latino and because he is young. While these injunctions may "work" they are adversely effecting young people of color. All one needs to do is put one's self in another one's shoes. How would you feel if you were constantly profiled everyday by people around you and people in authority just because of the color of your skin? Also, one has to ask: Why are so many young Latinos being caught up in gangs? Why are many of the crimes in West Sacramento and other lower class areas being perpetrated by people of color? Why is there so much violence in communities that are of low socio-economic status? Etc. Also, while these injunctions may work the Chronicle writes:

Whether the injunction has made the community safer is difficult to determine. Yolo County Public Defender Barry Melton said the strategy has worked "to some degree. But if I imposed a curfew in the Tenderloin, crime would go down there, too. It's been used more than anything else for monitoring, to stop folks and control them."

Farmer said crime is down in Broderick but said he could not give statistics. Reisig said violent crime prosecutions of Broderick Norteños dropped 80 percent in the year after the injunction.

Reisig said he has prosecuted more than 75 violations of the injunction; one person served 90 days. Melton said two fathers were detained for attending the same youth baseball game, an account Farmer called inaccurate.

I view this as targeting people of color and just another way the government (city, county, state, or federal) targets people of low income and people of color. The Chronicle ends its story with this:

Police and opponents disagree on whether officers are honoring the injunction's exceptions for school and church, or traveling to legitimate business and entertainment activities at night.

Standing outside his apartment with family members on a recent afternoon, Sanchez said the injunction was not reforming Norteños. He suggested, though, that it might have some benefit for West Sacramento.

"Hell no, people are just getting smarter," he said. "They're taking it to Sacramento."

His 17-year-old brother, Angel -- who sipped from a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor -- and his sister's fiance, Jesse Contreras Jr., 20, each said they had been served with papers.

"How can I provide for my family?" asked Contreras, a warehouseman whose fiancee is seven months pregnant. "What if we run out of diapers at 11 at night and I have to go to the store?"

Each said it was hard for young men to avoid Norteño membership when, in Contreras' words, "it's all around you. It's never OK to bang, but you grow up in it."

By continuing to identify themselves as Norteños, they said, they were not admitting to being involved in crime.

"You're still where you're from," said Contreras, who wore a striped red polo shirt common among Norteños, "but you're not acting stupid anymore."

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Welcome To Our Blog

This blog was essentially born out of the many long (and I do mean looooong) conversations Carlo Montemayor and Jack Stephens had on race, white privilege, and contemporary racism. During one of these conversations Stephens (who has another blog on theology and foreign relations called The Mustard Seed) mentioned that he was, “Living behind enemy lines.” In the sense that since Stephens gets to hear a lot of candid conversations from fellow whites (Stephens is 3/4 Irish and 1/4 Guatemalan) who will say either overtly racist (in the classical sense) or more candid, but still racist (in the contemporary and classical sense), remarks. Stephens came to a greater realization that he heard more racist conversations everyday due to his whiteness since whites tend to feel more comfortable around “their own” as suppose to people of color. During a conversation with his friend Holly Bun (who is Chinese-Cambodian-American) he was describing his exasperation with a former co-worker who said that Blacks just need to “ignore racism” and they will be fine and that they are essentially at fault for their own poverty since there are “laws that make racism illegal” which in turn means that they have “no excuses to blame white people for their problems.” Bun told Stephens that if he was a person of color he probably wouldn’t have heard this coming from her mouth and that he would have never known the racist undertones in his former co-workers thoughts. Because of this Stephens thought it would be a good idea to write a blog about his everyday interactions in order to keep track of such things and to vent. Also he thought it would be a good idea to have a less formal blog from his current one (which he still does). He was originally going to call it “Behind Enemy Lines” but decided to change the title when it was realized that it would be more of a team effort between Montemayor and Stephens and calling it “Behind Enemy Lines” wouldn’t really make sense since Montemayor is a person of color and is essentially (keeping with this analogy) on the front lines facing the onslaught. As they were both going through names over AIM Montemayor suggested the title “Double Consciousness,” which stuck. This blog is essentially a personal blog where Montemayor and Stephens will post long well thought out essays that may span several parts as well as short blogs on their own personal thoughts on an array of issues that have to do with the blog’s subjects. They will also write short or long blogs on their experiences with white privilege and racism on both sides of the fence as well as having people guest blog for them and also post interesting articles and parts of articles they happen to come across and find interesting. Also, in the future, this blog may be expanded to include more contributors from multiple ethnic backgrounds.

The term Double Consciousness comes from the pen of W. E. B. Du Bois which was made popular in his book The Souls of Black Folk. For Du Bois it meant “always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity” and of having two identities, one being American and the other being a person of color. “Two warring ideals in one dark body.” The title is also a pun on the fact that the two blog contributors are of different ethnicities which obviously effects the way they perceive the world. Jack Stephens is white (three-quarters Irish and one-quarter Guatemalan) and Carlo Montemayor is Pilipino. Despite this fact they are both unified in their thought on critiquing white privilege in American society and in combating its effects on people of color.

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