Wednesday, November 05, 2008


From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Baylor University denounces Election Day noose

WACO — Baylor University officials said they are investigating an apparent noose hanging from a tree the day Barack Obama was elected the nation's first black president.

More here.

From the same source:

Ohio troopers in Klan prank get their jobs back

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Ohio troopers have won back their jobs after being fired for pulling a KKK-type costume prank the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

An arbitrator ruled Tuesday that the firings in May violated a union contract.

More here.

And again from the same source:

Fla. board keeps Klan leader's name at high school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Florida school board voted late Monday night to keep the name of a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader at a majority black high school, despite opposition from a black board member who said the school's namesake was a "terrorist and racist."

After hearing about three hours of public comments, Duval County School Board members voted 5-2 to the retain the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School. The board's two black members cast the only votes to change the name.

Click here for the rest.

Any reflective and rational American fully understands that electing an African-American to the presidency does not signal the end of racism in America--it's a very significant milestone in that direction, to be sure, and indicates a great deal of attitudinal change among the US electorate, but it's very clearly only part of the overall story. Racism lingers, and continues to have often devastating effects on the people it oppresses. But make no mistake about it, you can bet your white ass that buttloads of Americans are going to point to Obama's election, again and again, as "evidence" that we now live in a race-neutral society. That's why it's all the more important to sound the alarm that the American scourge of racism is alive and well.

The above linked stories are obvious examples of racism's tenacious nature. The noose display at Baylor, part of a seeming national trend at universities and in public offices, comes as no surprise to me: Baylor is a Southern Baptist university. Now, I'm not going to say that Southern Baptists are racists, but their denomination, the largest of all Protestants in the United States, was born as a blatant act of racism--Southern Baptists broke off with other American Baptists during the mid 19th century when they started embracing Abolitionist principles; that is, the Southern Baptist genesis was about supporting the institution of slavery, and white supremacism is an inherent part of such a notion. Yes, the Southern Baptists officially apologized for this back in the 1990s, but cultural memory is long, and often subconscious. I know there are many Southern Baptists out there, especially in the South, who are uneasy tonight as they contemplate the concept of a black president, dismissing their unease as political difference, despite the fact that our president elect is just about as establishment as they come.

Obviously, some dumbshit Southern Baptist kids at Baylor don't understand the psychological drill, and properly attribute their Obama angst to racial fear.

Then there are the Ohio cops in KKK suits, another innocent "prank." Part of me is glad that they have good labor union representation, but I wonder how they got a contract that makes what amounts to terroristic threats okay. I mean, cops...Klan...cops...Klan...that's really fucking frightening. Just look at the historic link between the KKK and local law enforcement. I suppose I can accept that these two cops are simply extraordinarily stupid, but the message that they may or may not have sent inadvertantly is just too fucking intimidating. People still get pulled over for driving-while-black. If they think cops dressing up as terrorists is funny, then they simply have no understanding of the American racial dynamic, and have no business wearing badges and carrying guns.

And then there's KKK High down in Jacksonville. I'm almost speechless over this one. I mean, the school board voted to continue honoring a Klan founder. WTF?!? I mean, what the fuck!?!

The overall point is that countless relatively minor stories such as these play themselves out nationally all the time. No single one of these kinds of instances is particularly dangerous in and of themselves, but they do, in their totality, indicate where the overall American culture is right now, and go very far in explaining the much more damaging and dangerous institutional oppressions typically dismissed by even non-racist whites. African-Americans, as a group, still suffer greatly from poverty. African-Americans continue to be wildly disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. African-Americans continue to underachieve in schools, with much higher dropout rates than average. Yes, there is a reasonable issue of personal responsibility to be discussed here, but when you look at these numbers against the backdrop of a national culture that produces noose-hanging incidents at universities, cops "joking around" in white hoods, and KKK glorifying high schools, it is undeniable that there is much, much, much more going on here than blacks shirking their personal responsibilities.

White people who intensely believe that they are not racist will now point to President Obama to "prove" that these social disparities suffered by black Americans are their own fault, that if Obama can do it, anyone can. I'm really happy about our new president, but he did not just single handedly usher in a post racial era. We've got a long way to go, and it will be all the more difficult because we must now deal with people who deny what they see, and what they feel within themselves, and are able to craft reasonably sounding arguments to support their view.

This will be the final struggle against racism, and it may be the toughest one of them all.