Read Young Man... READ

New ways of getting young urban males to read.

Great blog

Urban Horrors


The International Committee for Black Authenticity...
and learning to self actualize

Hello. My name is Macha and I feel like asking the asking the question (and maybe ranting a little), about who decides who is and isn’t Black. Originally I thought it was meant to personal choice of self identification. Something that your family shares with you about your heritage and past. Sometimes, I’ll admit, it is based on varying shades of skin color.

I watched the movie Gandhi the other day, and Mohandas Gandhi was thrown off a train in South Africa for being Black in first class. The republican party has made an executive decision that Barack Obama doesn’t count as Black because he’s actually “hafrican". Although somehow he was Black enough for Rush Limbaugh to sing “Barack the magic Negro”. How confusing. Once at work I was told I only count as half, not a whole Black person, (they never bothered to ask what my ‘make-up was’ they just assumed because I am light) and yet I endure all the “you’re Black, you understand…” comments. A friend of mine, Joey, received an award in 8th grade, it was given to him with great intentions I’m sure, but Joey received The Gift of Blackness. It came complete on a plaque, from the hands of White school administrators. Maybe it was just in case he forgot.

As a scientist it’s hard for me to understand how being Black is quantitative, yet it is. Early in my life, like grade school, I was taught that Black was something you were born as hence skin color, and no matter the shade any pigmentation you had labeled you Black. I was ok with this, as it makes logical sense. As I grew into a teen, I learned from both Blacks and Whites, that there was such a thing as Not-Black-Enough or Too-Black. This is a bit perplexing when you’re at a self defining age. This Black Authenticity wasn’t solely based on skin color, although at first it was, the lighter you were the less Black you were, but then it morphed into a social standard. This is when I started asking myself who set this social standard and what was its purpose. In my mid teens not being Black enough meant that you were probably light, listened to music other than rap, had at least a few non-Black friends, strait hair, and in my case, God forbid, a vegetarian. Too-Black was a caricature of what White people think Blacks are; Dark skin, kinky hair, opinionated, loud, intimidating, only associate with other Blacks and you blamed everything on the man. In this world there is no middle ground. Do you see my dilemma? This definition of what was authentically Black (‘Too-Black’ or ‘Not-Black-Enough) does nothing but cause infighting and confusion. And worse, it makes us blind to the image that we hold in the world in general. We can become so absorbed in being enough or too much that we fail to realize that we still stand as a whole body. It’s the ultimate weapon against Black people as a whole. United we fight, divided we fall.

I realized one day not only was I being played, thinking maybe I wasn’t Black enough, I had let someone else define what being Black meant to me. Blasphemy! It wasn’t even Blacks who defined it. My parents did a great job, but they were competing with millions of media messages and the day to day of, well... White people. I said to myself one day, Do you see how stupid this is? Someone else has defined Blackness for you. I continued with questions like, who decides this? Is there a committee somewhere in the world that defines Blackness? How come I’m not on it? Are Black people making this decision, or are our decisions being influenced without us even realizing it since birth? Is this why from the time we’re little we’re told to straiten our hair? Is this why there are no dark haired Black women in pop music or television? Maybe that's why every light skinned girl on American Idol has to press her hair by the end of the show. How come we’re so quick to throw on a blonde weave and contacts? Why do we think rapping about bitches and drugs is ok when we can walk outside and see what that music is doing to the self esteem of our brothers and sisters? Why is R. Kelly ok and Michael Jackson is not? Why is this message SO important for me to hear and WHO is sending it to me? And it’s not just true for us, it’s everywhere.

Maybe you sitting there, you’re not Mexican enough, Chinese enough, Persian enough, hey maybe not even Irish enough. Did you let someone else define your identity? Did you even realize you let them? My parents taught me that you never have to explain yourself to anyone but yourself, and it took a lot of self actualizing to wash all the media versions of myself out of my head. We live in a world where ‘the one drop rule’ is very much in effect, to ignore it is to ignore the sun in the morning sky. How can we let a person or media question who we are at the core and not say anything? How can we not arrive at our own conclusions? We have to say something, and by saying something we are defining who we are. We are in control of the self definition we want in the world, and we all as individuals need to take these steps. Being Black to me is much more than listening to Beyonce, perming my hair and eating pork rinds. If that sounds insulting to you it should, but think about it. You define you, no one else.

Macha H.


State Moves to Close East Oakland Community High School

I read a disturbing article in the Chronicle today about the closing down of the East Oakland Community High School. The article's lede opened up with:
Failing to follow the rules in a public school system can result in expulsion, and the rules apply to everyone: students, teachers, administrators and -- in Oakland -- even the schools themselves.

The most recent expulsions in the state-run Oakland Unified School District are East Oakland Community High School and nine teachers who walked off campus with students in tow last Monday to protest a district decision to close the school. They held "Freedom School" classes at a nearby church.
I remember late in 2006 going to East Oakland Community High School to see my girlfriend's niece perform in a play that her church was involved in and the play involved kids from her church and the school since one of the pastors at my girlfriend's church was a music teacher at the middle school section of the East Oakland Community High School.

Walking into that school was a real pleasure. All over the walls in the gym and in the school's hallways were posters of Black Panthers and civil rights leaders: Cesar Chavez, Huey P., Angela Davis, etc. There were student drawn posters of people of color uniting to fight oppression, poetry on Black and Brown power, history display cases on revolutionary movements within the U.S., past and present. It was quite the invigorating experience.

I turned to my girlfriend saying. "Wow, this is definitely a school I would love to teach at in the future."

This wasn't the typical white-bred curriculum and mindless memorization of history "facts" and numbers. It was a school that seemed to actually want to jog the mind of it's students and teach them their history as well as empower them to make a difference.

So, what was the crime of this school? Well, for those of us steeped in the history (or even a casual observer of race in America) of racism and white supremacy it's not hard to see why this school was shutdown only three years after its inception.

The report went on to say:
"The district accidentally found out school administrators had submitted a master curriculum, and none of the classes they held were on the district's required list of classes," said Alice Spearman, the school board member who represents the district. "The school didn't offer physical education classes, and that's state law. They had an after-school program that was integrated into daily classes and had people teaching there who weren't employed by the district," she added. "If any school ever needed to be closed, it was this school."
Oh sweet Jesus! No physical education programs! Oh for shame East Oakland Community High School! For shame indeed! And outsiders teaching children! Oh the humanity!

Dramatics aside that list seems a pretty pathetic excuse to shut down a school, especially when other high school and middle schools in the same district have much worse problems than no PE program (and those schools haven't been shutdown).

Of course, that's not to say there weren't any problems at that school. I'm sure there were. As 17-year-old Glenda Frost can attest too:
"We weren't getting required classes, teachers didn't use textbooks, and I felt like if I took the state test, I don't think I could pass it because we weren't learning what we needed to pass that test. We'd learn about the Black Panthers, Cesar Chavez, and it seemed like we were just learning the stuff over and over again," said Glenda, now a senior at Skyline High School. "In ninth-grade humanities, we learned about the Black Panthers and in 10th grade, we learned about it again."
There's much more to a radical take on history than learning about the Black Panthers and Cesar Chavez. And to relearn about them two years in a row? That's just bad research and shows how some (maybe not all) teachers aren't critically engaging their students as they claim. But, again, this school is only three years old, hell, schools that have been around in this district for 50 years still have problems!

But Frost went on to say this:
"I had a teacher who told students to pull out a history book and find Malcolm X and Cesar Chavez, and when they didn't find them, he said the books were biased and full of lies. And that was the last time we opened the history books."
Now, in my mind that's a good thing. To have a teacher tell it like it is about state approved history books is a fresh of breath air from the norm; which is teachers just forcing their kids to open up those books and to force feed them lies and to make them memorize the "facts" in those books instead of critically engaging in them (and yes, I do know how hard it is to get teenagers to critically engage in anything, but that's why you're a teacher).

Also, the fact that this was the only student they quoted and this story didn't include any defenders of the school or quotes from students and parents who loved the school shows the bias of the story as well as the utter lack of critical reporting that I've learned to undertake in my four years of schooling on the subject (I'm a journalism major).

The article went on:
"The program was not delivering the type of instruction our kids need," said Alex Katz, a school district spokesman. "They had the largest drop in test scores in the district, and possibly the largest drop ever, and they didn't attract the numbers they needed to stay open. They had classes listed on the schedule, but we found no evidence those classes actually existed."
Test scores are low in almost any area were there are people of color because of the way the school system creates their test as well as teachers their own kids. While this high school may have been good it's very hard to erase eight years of previous education from a school system that is steeped in white supremacy. Also, does low test scores actually equal low intelligence? And low IQ? Plus, many opponents of IQ state that IQ tests are culturally biased as well as irrelevant to many people. Could it be the case that this high school refused to force it's kids to memorize mindless facts and numbers in order to be good test takers and instead taught it's kids history relevant to themselves as well as empowering them. What's more important? Study machines or critically engaged citizens? To the Oakland Unified School District and the state it's study machines. Which gives us a window of opportunity to see white supremacy in action and what they view as "smart" and "success."

This is just another example of how when well meaning teachers and parents and community leaders try to teach their children empowerment and the truth and try to make them critically engaged human beings the system shuts it down and puts it to a halt. It doesn't matter that Oakland Unified School District has a majority of people of color on it's board, all that matters is, is that the institutional racism is so embedded in the school system that whenever someone tries to actually teach the students something that is based on reality and in exposing white supremacy and racism they get halted and cries come out that they are deviating from the norm and not "teaching."

The article ends with Frost:
"I felt like I was wasting my time at that school, talking about revolutionary stuff and saving our kids, but not teaching us anything," Glenda said.
Now that's just sad.

Image From:
This East Oakland Life


Secret Asian Man

While working on a Race & Stereotypes project for one of my Asian American Studies classes, one of my group mates forwarded me some samples of the Secret Asian Man comic strip to use for our presentation. The description of the the strip from the official site reads:

Secret Asian Man is a weekly comic strip that is currently printed across the country in cities such as Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta as well as in papers in Silicon Valley, Northern California and several national ethnic media papers. The comic strip is an often brutally honest commentary on the state of race relations in America.

They're pretty damn funny. Check 'em out whenever you have the chance.


Knowing Our History

Professor Black Woman recently posted a blog stating:
Miss Profe recently suggested we post books that help us all develop a more historical sense of oppression across cultures and stand in solidarity with one another
So, here is my list of books that I think would help in our fight against racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression in our everyday lives.

For books on race please check our Book section in the right hand column on our web page. For other books and journal articles:

Economics and Class Studies

Ambedkar, B. R. Annihilation of Caste. Bhim Patrika Publications, 1936.

Black, William K. The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry. University of Texas Press, 2005.

Chalcraft, John T. The Striking Cabbies of Cairo and Other Stories: Crafts and Guilds in Egypt, 1863-1914. State University of New York Press, 2004.

Chalermsripinyorat, Rungrawee. “Politics of Representation: A Case Study of Thailand’s Assembly of the Poor.” Critical Asian Studies 36, no. 4 (2004): 541-566.

Darlington, Ralph. “There is no Alternative: Exploring the Options in the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike.” Capital & Class no. 87 (Autumn 2005):71-95.

Ghose, Sagarika. “The Dalit in India.” Social Research 70, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 83-109.

Grey, Mary. “Dalit Women and the Struggle for Justice in a World of Global Capitalism.” Feminist Theology: The Journal of Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 14, no. 1 (Sept. 2005): 127-149.

Gutman, Huck. “Capitalism as a World Economy.” Monthly Review 55, no. 4 (Sept. 2003): 1-13.

Lukács, Georg. History and Class Consciousness. MIT Press, 1972.

Meera, Nanda. “A ‘Broken People’ Defend Science: Reconstructing the Deweyan Buddha of India’s Dalits.” Social Epistemology 15, no. 4 (Oct. 2001): 335-365.

Perelman, Michael. The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy and the Secrete History of Primitive Accumulation. Duke University Press, 2000.

Reiman, Jeffery. The Rich Get Rich The Poor Get Prison, Eighth Edition. Allyn & Bacon, 2006.

Rourke, Thomas R. “Michael Novak and Yves R. Simon on the Common Good and Capitalism.”
Review of Politics 58, no. 2 (Spring 1996): 229-258.

Sharma, Arvind. “Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on the Aryan Invasion and the Emergence of the Caste
System in India.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 73, no. 3 (Sept. 2005): 843-870.

Shipler, David K. The Working Poor: Invisible in America. Knopf, 2004.

Jondhale, Surendra and Johannes Beltz, eds. Reconstructing the World: B. R. Ambedkar and Buddhism in India. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Weil, Robert. “Conditions of the Working Classes in China.” Monthly Review 58, no. 2 (June
2006): 25-48.

Woods, Ellen Meiksins. The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View. Verso, 2002.

Marxian/Marxist Thought

Foster, John B. Marx's Ecology: Materialism and Nature. Monthly Review Press, 2000.

Hinkelammert, Franz J. The Ideological Weapons of Death: A Theological Critique of Capitalism. Orbis Books, 1986.

Llorente, Renzo. “Analytical Marxism and the Division of Labor.” Science & Society 70, no. 2
(2006): 232-251.

Mandel, Ernest. An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory. Pathfinder Press, 1974.

Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy Volume I. Translated by Ben Fowkes.
London: Pelican Books, 1976. Reprint, Penguin Classics, 1990.

Tucker, Robert C. The Marx-Engels Reader. W. W. Norton & Company, 1978.

Wayne, Mike. "Fetishism and Ideology: A Reply to Dimoulis and Milious." Historical Materialism 13, no. 3 (2005: 193-218.

Wood, Elisabeth Jean. Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Politics and International Relations

Achcar, Gilbert. “U.S. Imperial Strategy in the Middle East.” Monthly Review 55, no. 9 (Feb.
2004): 23-36.

Achar, Gilbert. Eastern Cauldron: Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq in the Marxist Mirror. Monthly Review Press, 2003.

Davis, Michael. “Human Rights and the War in Iraq.” Journal of Human Rights 4, no. 1 (January- March 2005): 37-44.

Dean, John W. Worse the Watergate: The Secrete Presidency of George W. Bush. Little, Brown and Company, 2004.

Dorrien, Gary. “Consolidating the Empire: Neoconservatism and the Politics of American
Dominion.” Political Theology 6, no. 4 (Oct. 2005): 409-428.

FitzGerald, Francis. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. Back Bay Books, 2002.

Friedman, Thomas L. From Beirut to Jerusalem. Anchor, 1990.

Karp, Walter. The Politics of War: Two Wars Which Forever Altered The Political Life of the American Republic, 1890-1920. Moyer Bell, 2003.

Kinzer, Stephen. All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. Wiley, 2003.

Mann, Michael. Incoherent Empire. Verso, 2003.

Mann, Michael. The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Mayer, Jane. “The Hidden Power: The Legal Mind Behind the White House’s War on Terror.” New Yorker 82, no. 20 (July 3, 2006).

Power, Samantha. A Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide. Basic Books, 2002.

Roseman, Nils. “Privatized War and Corporate Impunity.” Peace Review 17, no. 2 & 3 (April-Sept. 2005): 273-287.

Silverstein, Ken. “The Minister of Civil War: Bayan Jabr, Paul Bremer, and the Rise of the Iraqi
Death Squads.” Harper’s Magazine 313, no. 1875 (August, 2006): 67-73.

Sluka, Jeffery A. Death Squad: The Anthropology of State Terror. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

Webb, Gary. Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion. Seven Stories Press, 1999.

Queer Studies (I need to work on reading more on this)

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. Vintage, 1990.

Valocchi, Stephen and Robert J. Corber, eds. Queer Studies: An Interdisciplinary Reader. Blackwell Publishing Limited, 2003.

Wilchins, Riki. Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer. Alyson Books, 2004.

Race (Not covered in Book section)

Aguilar Jr., Filomeno. “Tracing Origins: Ilustrado Nationalism and the Racial Science of Migration Waves.” Journal of Asian Studies 64, no. 3 (Aug. 2005): 605-637.

Blum, Edward J. “‘There Won’t Be Any Rich People In Heaven’: The Black Christ, White
Hypocrisy, and The Gospel According To W. E. B. Du Bois.” The Journal of African American
History 90, no. 4 (2005): 368-386.

Blum, Edward J. W. E. B. Du Bois: American Prophet. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

Charles, Camille Zubrinsky. “The Dynamics of Racial Residential Segregation.” Annual Review of Sociology 29, no. 1 (2003): 167-207.

Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Routledge, 2000.

Gichaara, Jonathan. “Issues in African Liberation Theology.” Black Theology: An International
Journal 3, no. 1 (Jan. 2005): 75-85.

Jalata, Asafa. “Revisiting the Black Struggles: Lessons for the 21 Century.” Journal of Black Studies 33, no. 1 (Sept. 2002): 86-116.

Kawai, Yuko. “Stereotyping Asian Americans: The Dialectic of the Model Minority and the Yellow Peril.” Howard Journal of Communications 16, no. 2 (April/June 2005): 109-130.

Li, David. “On Ascriptive and Acquisitional Americanness: The Accidental Asian and The Illogic of Assimilation.” Contemporary Literature 45, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 106-134.

Min Zhou and Yang Sao Xiong "The Multifaceted American Experiences of the Children of Asian Immigrants: Leassons for Segmented Assimilation." Ethnic and Racial Studies 28, no. 6 (Nov. 2005): 1119-1152.

Neville, Helen A., et. al. “Color-Blind Racial Ideology and Psychological False Consciousness
Among African Americans.” Journal of Black Psychology 31, no. 1 (2005): 27-45.

West, Cornel. The Cornel West Reader. Basic Civitas Books, 2000.

Wing, Bob. “Harry Chang: A Seminal Theorist of Racial Justice.” Monthly Review 58, no. 8 (Jan. 2006): 23-31.

History and Religion

Bastone, David, et. al, eds. Liberation Theology, Postmodernity and the Americas. Routledge, 1997.

Brown, Robert McAfee. Liberation Theology: An Introductory Guide. Westminster John Knox Press, 1993.

Burleigh, Michael. Earthly Powers: The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe, from the French Revolution to the Great War. Harper Collins, 2006.

Campbell Tracy. Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, An American Tradition, 1742-2004. Carroll & Graf, 2005.

Cone, James H. A Black Theology of Liberation. Orbis Books, 1990.

Van Cott, Donna Lee. From Movements to Parties in Latin America: The Evolution of Ethnic Politics. Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Feldman, Allen. Formations of Violence: The Narrative of the Body and Political Terror in Northern Ireland. University of Chicago Press, 1991.

Fiorenza, Elisabeth. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins. Herder & Herder, 1994.

Grandin, Greg. The Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation. Duke University Press, 2000.

Gutierrez, Gustavo. A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation. Orbis Books, 1988.

MacFarquhar, Roderick and Michael Schoenhals. Mao's Last Revolution. Belknap Press, 2006.

Marsden, George. Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism. Oxford University Press, 1982.

Morris, Benny. The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Nadeau, Kathleen. Liberation Theology in the Philippines: Faith in a Revolution. Praeger Publishers, 2001.

Saxton, Alexander. Religion and the Human Prospect. Monthly Review Press, 2006.

Yaqub, Salim. Containing Arab Nationalism: The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East. The University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present. Harper Perennial, 2003.


Latinos Equal Terrorists?

I was just listening to Latino USA on NPR and they were talking about the recent immigrant reform bills floating around Congress and anti-immigrant groups like the Minute Men.

It was reported that the Minute Men (What? No women?) claimed that over 40,000 Americans have been killed by "illegal" immigrants. I went to their website to check it out and sure enough I found this:
“Since 9/11 alone, about 45,000 U.S. residents have been killed in action via homicide or manslaughter at the hands of illegal aliens, and about another quarter of a million to 300,000 have been wounded,” Gilchrist told Cybercast News Service in an interview.

Gilchrist said he used the terms “killed in action” and “wounded” intentionally “because essentially, we have a war going on here that’s not a declared war, that’s not a conventional war, but it is costing us 9,000 lives a year.”
I haven't seen any real statistical data on this but to equate undocumented immigration with war and combat is pretty mind boggling.

In the report it was also stated that the Minute Men claim that our "open" boarders are paving the way for terrorists. But a interviewee on the program said that between 2002 (or 2004, memory hazy, will update soon though) and 2006 around 8,000 undocumented immigrants were detained by the U.S. and out of those 8,000 only 12-15 were suspected of having slight and remote ties with terrorism (terrorism in the broad sense I'm sure). So that's basically .18%. Hmmm...Some crazy and real threat we have there. Anyways.

When looking critically at issues such as immigration one has to look behind the rhetoric and use history as a guide to see how much of these fears are real and legit and how much stems from racism and the fear of people of color and non-English speakers. In my opinion (more on this latter) this is the true driving factor behind such insane rhetoric from anti-immigrant groups such as the Minute Men (see "Anti-Immigration Groups Cross Breeding With Hate Groups")


Listen to the Fascist Sing

Listen to the facist sing
"Take hope here
War is elsewhere
You were chosen
This is God's land
Soon we'll be free
Of blot and mixture
Seeds planted by our Forefathers hand"
A mass of promises
Begin to rupture
Like the pockets Of the new world kings
Like swollen stomachs In Appalachia
Like the priest that fucked you As he whispered holy things
A mass of tears have transform to stones now
Sharpened on suffering
And woven into the slings
Hope lies in the rubble of this rich fortress
Taking today what tomorrow never brings
-"Ashes in the Fall" by Rage Against the Machine


Latino on Black Ethnic Cleansing in L.A.? Not So

Tarso Luís Ramos writes an interesting article on the supposed "ethnic cleansing" of Blacks by Latino gang members in L.A. However, as Ramos reports, things aren't always as they seem. Especially when "the vast majority of gang crime has been and remains intra-racial—Latino on Latino and Black on Black—a fact often lost in the jumble of crime statistics, and media coverage that highlights racial conflict between communities of color."

Here are some excerpts from the article below:

“We need to go on the offensive to put an end to this idea of ethnic cleansing in L.A.,” declares Noreen McClendon, executive director of Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles. “It is not happening.”

McClendon—an African American who serves as vice president of operations for the Watts Gang Task Force—is upset about a recent deluge of news stories claiming that Latinos are “ethnically cleansing” their African American neighbors in southern California. The reports, which McClendon characterizes as dangerously misleading, have circulated widely in print, broadcast, and Web media, generating alarm in civil rights circles and unrestrained glee in those of anti-immigrant activists and white supremacists. In McClendon’s view, all this hype obscures some basic realities: “Gangs kill each other. Gangs kill innocent people.” The ethnic cleansing label, she says, “is blown so far out of proportion” with the facts on the ground.


In January that phrase, which had previously appeared on gang-watch websites, was suddenly everywhere following the Los Angeles Times’ publication of an editorial by Rutgers Law Professor Tanya K. Hernandez. Referencing the trial of Avenues 43 members, Hernandez pronounced Green’s murder “a manifestation of an increasingly common trend: Latino ethnic cleansing of African Americans from multiracial neighborhoods.” Rather than explain this bombshell of a conclusion, Hernandez used the Green murder as an opportunity to present her thesis that Latino prejudices against African Americans often have roots in immigrants’ countries of origin–a subject on which she has published scholarly articles. This argument deserves consideration, but in presenting it as context for the charge of ethnic cleansing, Hernandez provided ammunition for those who would argue that Latinos, as a generalized whole, are a threat to African Americans and that the danger posed by new (read “illegal”) immigrants can be lethal. Ironically, the people actually charged with the Green, Bowser, and Wilson murders were members of Chicano gangs whose L.A. roots go back many decades.
Originally read on New American Media.

Image From:
Hip-Hop Music Classic


A Response to a Response to a Post About an Opinion Piece

Sean Maher, the subject of a content analysis by me and a blog by Christine Ferrer posted a response on his blog and took issue with my analysis of his opinion piece and with our views.

In it Maher wrote:
Back to the diversity issue: I offered Thomas a chance to continue the public debate by dedicating a page of our special graduation issue to a dialogue between the two of us. I recognized that my column had unfortunately been run without any counterargument, and I thought we'd all look more thoughtful and mature by correcting that. He seemed happy with the suggestion, and while we didn't end up actually completing that project, I felt like the issue had been settled now that he and I were on happy terms.

Of course, I was wrong about that.
[Que dramatic music here.]

Maher took issue with many things I wrote in my content analysis and stated:
I didn't expect to run my column without controversy or debate - it's a galvanizing, inflammatory subject for a lot of people - but whatever the strengths and weaknesses of my arguments, I'm amazed by how quickly and vehemently the reaction involved personal attacks. The rampant assumption (and subsequent condemnation) regarding my personal history, in Stephens' article especially, is alarming.
Personal attacks? Looking over my article I actually saw very little personal attacks of the ad hominem type. I did open up with this however:
Diversity making a white hetero-sexual male squeamish, hmmm...Well, nothing new there really.
Funny? Maybe. Ad hominem, eh, not really. Of course, there was this:
Yet Maher doesn't see this, and justifiably so. He doesn't see this because he is white. His white skin is his shield. As the co-editor of the paper Ian Thomas told Maher in a rage on Thursday. "I don't mean to insult you buy you are a white heterosexual male!" In society's eyes that is not an insult but a "complement" and for Maher to not see it as otherwise shows us his complete obliviousness to his white privilege, his male privilege, and his heterosexual privilege.
Pointing out one's white privilege (that all white people obviously have) in my opinion is not an ad hominem attack but instead pointing out a reality in this racialized country. However Maher sees it (I'm assuming) as an attack on his charecter. This can actually be another example of white privilege since pointing out white privilege is met with cries of "character assassination," "personal attacks," and even "reverse racism," and is never seen as a critical judgement on a harsh reality on is almost never seen as (by the person in question) a call to critical self-reflection.

Let's see, what else did I write, ah yes, this one:
Maher's life has been shaped by the fact that he is white. He can say such things as "what defines us...are our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions" and that what diversity is, "is a wealth of individual beliefs" because Maher is a white male.
He's blind to the fact that the people around him are all white. He's blind to this not because of any moral superiority to someone who would see all of the white faces around him but instead is blind because he fails to look at his own privilege.
And a little sprinkle of this:
Sadly, with thinking such as his, [X]Press will only continue to contribute to the everyday acceptance of white privilege, white supremacy, and the ignoring of the racial realities of America.
Now (concerning the last quote) that's an ad hominem attack! All though, not so much of an attack as my harsh conclusion and prediction of Maher's future tenure if he continues to think the way he does and is only stated at the end of a near 4,000 word analysis.

Maher didn't say much in his response really (unless he's planning a much larger one). He went on to say:
I neither regret nor rescind my arguments, nor do I find much in the Double Consciousness critiques that truly, substantively addresses the stance I've taken - they're rife with ad hominem attacks and straw man fallacies, reflecting less that they understood my ideas than that a white man's thoughts on diversity issues may strike some audiences emotionally before they're absorbed intellectually.
Ad hominem, according to Webster's Dictionary, is:
1: Appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
2: marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.
And Wikipedia:
An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the person", "argument against the man") consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. It is most commonly used to refer specifically to the ad hominem abusive, or argumentum ad personam, which consists of criticizing or personally attacking an argument's proponent in an attempt to discredit that argument.
Straw Man fallacies you say?

Webster states:
1: a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted
2: a person set up to serve as a cover for a usually questionable transaction.
Wikipedia states:
A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "set up a straw man" or "set up a straw-man argument" is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent. A straw-man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact a misleading fallacy, because the opponent's actual argument has not been refuted.

Its name is derived from the practice of using straw men in combat training. In such training, a scarecrow is made in the image of the enemy with the single intent of attacking it. It is occasionally called a straw dog fallacy, scarecrow argument, or wooden dummy argument.
In reality, I'd argue, my content analysis actually had very little in ad hominem attacks and straw man arguments. In fact, there a few times I do actually agree Maher to a certain extent:
I agree with Maher on this point. It's an inexact science to look at photos and guess what someone's race is. This is the reality of race, race doesn't exist (see "What Is Race?"), it is not biological, it's sociological.


It's an encouraging thing that Maher knows that race and culture are two different things. But, at the same time, in America, race and culture are so intertwined it's impossible to set aside the two in most people's minds.
I even agree, to a certain extent, with his views on diversity of opinion:
Maher sees diversity as differences in beliefs, perspectives, and behaviors, and not as cultural and racial. Yet one gets different opinions, beliefs, perspectives, and behaviors when one has a culturally and racially diverse social group. Of course, I also accept his argument that if I had friends who were of every different race and gender and all thought the same (such as if I was Bill O'Reilly and my friends were Michelle Malkin, Thomas Sowell, Condaleeza Rice, Ann Coulter, and Alberto Gonzales) I wouldn't be doing a service to my personal growth.
I even criticize myself and use my self as an example in not realizing one's privileges.

I also clarify by what I mean by racism:
By racism I don't mean the classical sense of the word but the contemporary sense of the word. For more detail and discussion see "Racism and White Supremacy."

My piece is actually quite well thought out and written in a way that tries to backup my arguments with real evidence and not dominated with attacks on Maher's character. It seems to me that Maher sees my pointing out his whiteness as an attack on his character which actually points out his continued blindness to his white privilege.

Maher writes:
nowhere in my column did I make or imply the blanket argument that Race Does Not Matter Ever, though this stand is attributed to me as the point from which both writers begin their debate.

Actually I never stated that Maher said "Race does not matter ever." I've looked through it and haven't seen that implied, nor did I mean it to be implied in such a simplistic way. But the cusp of his argument is actually that argument. It's the thinking behind the words. Maher never specifically said that "race does not matter ever" but the reasons why his opinion piece came about and the actual underlying argument (whether conscious or not) in this society is that very statement. We did a content analysis on race and Maher wrote an opinion piece about diversity of opinions mattering and not diversity of race. Yet that argument lends itself to ignoring the realities of race and the realities of white privilege. Those whom are ignorant of their white privilege, such as Maher (Oh snap! An ad hominem!), tend to use that line of thinking, and that line of thinking ignores the reality of race in America and the overall Western world.

And speaking of ad hominems, Maher wrote:
reflecting less that they understood my ideas than that a white man's thoughts on diversity issues may strike some audiences emotionally before they're absorbed intellectually.

I'm being accused at not looking critically at his piece and not "absorbing it intellectually" because, you know, his argument is sooooooo over my head and is sooooo intellectual (oh woe is me). Of course, my entire content analysis was an exercising in analyzing Maher's words critically and in an intelectual way with very little in ad hominem attacks and with no straw man arguments.

My argument was a critique of a line of thinking and of whiteness and not of Maher's character (quite the nice guy in my opinion). Numerous times I give histories of whiteness and examples of white privilege and contemporary racist thought and of uncritical thinking. I even link previous blogs in my content analysis in order to further clarify my position.

Maher than quips:
The lesson as I see it from here is not to shy from saying things because people may get pissed: after all, pissed off people can be a lot of fun, and their writing can make working on the paper more engaging and exciting.

I guess people whom are critical of Maher's point of view are just invitations to have quite a jolly good time instead of looking at the accusation and argument in hand and looking critically at one's self.

There is much more I would like to say but in reality it was already said in my previous blog on Maher's opinion piece. I was talking with my friend (and fellow Double Consciousness editor) Carlo Montemayor stating that I was looking forward to Maher's response but that it would probably have little in the way of true analysis of my piece and in reality wouldn't actually address any of the issues that I brought up. Sadly my predictions came true (Boo-yah! Chalk up another ad hominem for Jack!) since the cusp of his response was:
I didn't expect to run my column without controversy or debate - it's a galvanizing, inflammatory subject for a lot of people - but whatever the strengths and weaknesses of my arguments, I'm amazed by how quickly and vehemently the reaction involved personal attacks. The rampant assumption (and subsequent condemnation) regarding my personal history, in Stephens' article especially, is alarming.

Diversity is a dense and difficult issue, and I don't claim to have everything figured out; the debate rages on, as I know it must, and I expect I've still much to learn.

But I neither regret nor rescind my arguments, nor do I find much in the Double Consciousness critiques that truly, substantively addresses the stance I've taken - they're rife with ad hominem attacks and straw man fallacies, reflecting less that they understood my ideas than that a white man's thoughts on diversity issues may strike some audiences emotionally before they're absorbed intellectually. After all, nowhere in my column did I make or imply the blanket argument that Race Does Not Matter Ever, though this stand is attributed to me as the point from which both writers begin their debate.

Again I end with:
Sadly, with thinking such as his, [X]Press will only continue to contribute to the everyday acceptance of white privilege, white supremacy, and the ignoring of the racial realities of America.