Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Charleston Massacre, the Legacy of the Confederacy, and the Ongoing Hegemony of Modern White Supremacy in the United States--UPDATES AND ANALYSIS


THINK ABOUT THIS: A famous white comedian has said much more with far more eloquence, power, insight, intelligence, and compassion about the real meaning of white supremacy in the ongoing history of this savage country and the vicious racial terrorist attack in Charleston just five days ago than the President and every single so-called PHONY "national black political leader" COMBINED has said to the media since the incident happened less than a week ago. In fact the official SILENCE among these con men and women masquerading as "black leadership" following this lethal attack on the church has not only deafening but APPALLING. It's a national DISGRACE that so many of our people are so cowed, intimidated, and downright FEARFUL of our enemies that the only thing our cowardly "leaders" can think to say is "God and/or Jesus will protect us" and that "we forgive what this young man has done to us." WTF! This is far beyond pathetic. And if we don't collectively snap out of this self imposed coma of fear and mindless fatalism very soon we will surely be LOST. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US?


How is it that Jon Stewart has made the most cogent, HONEST, accurate,and sincere public statement about what has gone down in South Carolina and what it all means? How did we get to this point in our history as a people and are we ever going to WAKE UP from this FEAR that has gripped us and reduced our public voices to an endless string of empty platitudes, religious cliches, infantile pleas for mercy and abject rhetorical groveling before the entire nation. I'm absolutely ASHAMED of what I've seen and heard so far in the realm of "public discourse" from our so-called "leadership" and I can't recall in my entire life when we have so clearly lacked the kind of clarity, strength, insight, fortitude, and determination that even JON STEWART demonstrated on television last thursday night. For that I thank him profusely for his honesty, integrity, clarity, insight, compassion, and sincerity.

I only wish with all my soul that SOMEONE in the national black public sphere would have the guts, strength, and simple human decency to do the same...


An Emotional Jon Stewart Drops the Comedy to Talk Charleston: ‘We Still Won’t Do Jackshit’
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Entertainment Weekly

Jon Stewart began Thursday night’s edition of The Daily Show with an emotional, joke-free commentary about racism and gun violence in America following the shooting deaths of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday.

“I didn’t do my job today. I apologize,” Stewart said, after explaining how his primary duty is to mock the daily news. “I’ve got nothing for you in terms of jokes and sounds, because of what happened in South Carolina. Maybe if I wasn’t nearing the end of the run or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, maybe I could have pulled out of the spiral. But I didn’t. And so I honestly have nothing other than just sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence we do to each other and the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend doesn’t exist.

“I’m confident though that by acknowledging it – by staring into that and seeing it for what it is – we still won’t do jacksh-t,” Stewart continued. “Yeah. That’s us. That’s the part that blows my mind. I don’t want to get into the political argument […] what blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves.”

On Wednesday, 21-year-old Dylann Roof allegedly entered the famous South Carolina church during a weekly bible study class and killed eight people. (A ninth died later at the hospital.) According to a relative of the church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Roof apparently told his victims, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” In a statement released on Thursday, the NAACP called the murders a “mass hate crime.”

“We invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over five or six different countries, all to keep Americans safe. ‘We gotta do whatever we can – we’ll torture people. We gotta do whatever we can to keep Americans safe,’” Stewart said. “Nine people. Shot in a church. What about that? ‘Hey, what are you going to do. Crazy is crazy is, right?’ That’s the part that I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around. And you know it. You know it’s going to go down the same path.”

Stewart pointed out how the media is “already using the nuanced language of lack of effort” in an unwillingness to call the murders a “terrorist attack.”

“I heard someone on the news say, ‘Tragedy has visited this church.’ This wasn’t a tornado. This was racist,” Stewart said. “I hate to even use this pun, but this one is black and white. There’s no nuance here. But we’re going to keep pretending […] We are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it.”

Photos of Roof that circulated following the murders show the 21-year-old wearing clothes adorned with symbols associated with white supremicists. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Roof’s Facebook page included a picture of him posed in front of a car with a “Confederate States of America” license plate.

“Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them who wanted to start some kind of civil war,” Stewart said, before laying into South Carolina for still having the Confederate flag flying over its state capitol.

“The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina. And the roads are named for Confederate generals. And the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him. We’re bringing it on ourselves,” Stewart said. “Al Qaeda, all those guys – ISIS. They’re not sh-t compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.”

Charleston isn’t really about gun control. It’s about racial violence.

The debate about guns ignores the major crisis we're facing.

It’s been just a day since a gunman burst into the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., killing nine. But already, the media is abuzz with its usual response to mass shootings. On the one hand, pro-gun proponents bemoaned “pistol-free zones” like churches, where guns aren’t allowed. If the victims had been armed, they argue, this violence could have been prevented. Gun control advocates, on the other hand, lamented that easy access to guns emboldened criminals to carry out “unthinkable” crimes. Even President Obama linked the shooting to gun violence, saying “at some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” Now Wayne LaPierre has explicitly blamed the massacre on there being too few guns in the church that night.”

But turning this shooting into a referendum on the gun debate misses the point. It obscures a deeper, more uncomfortable conversation about race that can’t be resolved by passing gun laws or loosening gun restrictions. Too often, the gun debate serves as a powerful device for avoiding explicit challenges to racial violence, whether by adhering to a colorblind narrative of “good guys” and “bad guys” (at best) or playing into racial imagery (at worst). Instead of rehashing a hackneyed gun debate that has never taken us very far in national conversations on race and racism, we should be explicitly addressing the core issue at stake: racial violence.

To say it differently, this isn’t a story about guns. It’s a story about racial terrorism.

What we know so far is that suspect Dylann Roof targeted the Emanuel AME Church both a place of worship and a historical site of black empowerment. He sat quietly for an hour, then broke out into gunfire, reloading his gun five times. As his victims pleaded with him to stop, he refused.

“I have to do it,” he reportedly said. “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” He apparently wanted to spare at least one woman, so she could recount to others what happened in the church. If you substitute a noose for a gun, Roof’s actions are a shockingly unsurprising repetition of a long-standing history of Southern horrors; his desire to punish African Americans for the alleged rape of white women (“our women”), the fears of African Americans “taking over” government institutions, the insistence on using the public spectacle of white-on-black violence not just to victimize individuals but to warn and intimidate entire groups of Americans — all of these are textbook elements of the rampant racial terrorism marking the South (and, in some cases, the North) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Extralegal violence — whether in the form of rope, clubs, guns, fists, knives or other weapons — sustained this racial terrorism in Jim Crow America. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, 4,000 lynchings occurred from 1877 to 1950 in just 12 states. Race riots — such as the “Burning of Black Wall Street” in 1921 — decimated black wealth and destroyed black communities. Meanwhile, “racial cleanings,” as Elliot Jaspin explains in “Buried in Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleaning in America, compelled the forced expulsion of African Americans from towns across the South and the North. Each of these served to reinforce segregation and racial subordination.

Against this historical backdrop, the Charleston shooting is far from inexplicable, as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said.

The FBI keeps a tally on “hate crimes:” Not only do racially motivated crimes constitute roughly half of hate crimes reported to police, but African Americans are by far the largest group of victims — 65 percent in 2012 among race-motivated hate crimes. While a majority of hate crimes go unreported, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates around 200,000 to 300,000 happen every year, the vast majority of which are robberies, sexual assaults, aggravated assaults, simple assaults and murders.
But even as America continues to be haunted by a violent past, there is a key difference: In the past, the state was at best complicit and at worst actively involved.  Today, the police chief of Charleston called the massacre as he saw it: a “hate crime” that “no community should have to experience.” Naming these acts as hate crimes is a first step in coming to terms with a violent past that continues to haunt us.

Like racial disparities in violence more generally, racial terrorism is not inevitable, but it can only begin to be addressed if we are willing to first forefront a conversation about the valuation of human life in the United States and how race continues to shape it. We need to have these conversations and use them to direct initiatives that can reduce violence across racial lines. While stories about guns generate clicks and sound-bytes, not every every shooting is a referendum on gun policy. Rather, the gun debate too often hijacks conversations, serving as a stand-in for the discussions we desperately need to be having — and actions we should be taking — about race, violence and inequality. That’s not to say we shouldn’t talk about guns, but when it is the only debate we are capable of having, that is a problem. Calling this incident out as racial terrorism, embedded in a deep, unsavory but persistently relevant history, is a first step.

Surviving White Terrorism: Next Steps in the Struggle for Black Lives

Sunday, 21 June 2015  
by Dante Barry, Truthout | Op-Ed 

Arthur Hamilton, a congregation member, visits a makeshift memorial outside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where a shooting took place, in Charleston, S.C., June 19, 2015. (Photo: Travis Dove/The New York Times)Arthur Hamilton, a congregation member, visits a makeshift memorial outside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where a shooting took place, in Charleston, South Carolina, June 19, 2015. (Photo: Travis Dove/The New York Times)

This past week, we have been reminded yet again that state violence against Black people and racist vigilante attacks are a part of this country's legacy and foundation. Whether it's the murder of four school girls in a Birmingham church, cops attacking young Black children in McKinney, Texas, or the suicide of Kalief Browder after years of being jailed and tortured as a young person at Rikers Island - Black communities continue to suffer through anti-Black violence, domestic terrorism and anti-Black racism.
On Thursday, I woke up just as I normally do and caught a subway train uptown. As I sat, I watched a group of little Black girls and boys do what I also did when I was little: gossip, play around, laugh and smile. As they laughed and smiled with joy, I couldn't help thinking about how I just wanted to say sorry. I wanted to say sorry to all the young Black children who have to wake up each and every day and suffer through ongoing trauma and anti-Black violence in their communities, in their country and in their world.
I wanted to tell them sorry - for America failing all the Black little girls and boys who enter classrooms, put their hands on their chests and pledge allegiance. I wanted to tell them sorry because we have failed to protect them. Even in some of the "safest" spaces, our Black children are told that they cannot breathe, pray, eat skittles, wear a hoodie, play loud music or even exist as a Black child. I'm sorry that Black families must frame their conversations with their children around survival.
Black people have always had a complicated and violent relationship with citizenship in this country. There has been a monopoly on who has the right to feel and be safe - a monopoly that is often regulated and enforced by cops and corporations. This week's attack at Charleston's Emanuel A.M.E. Church was an undeniable act of terrorism to incite fear into Black communities where we have bravely declared that Black lives matter.
Over the past year, in response to a series of high-profile police killings, communities across the country have erupted in massive protests, sustained acts of civil disobedience, and militant and unapologetically Black direct actions. Born in Ferguson, this movement spread like wildfire to New York City and South Carolina, to Baltimore and Oakland.
Many conversations about policing, state power and anti-Black racism focus exclusively on tweaks to existing policing and incarceration practices. (For example, some cities have funded taskforces and police body cameras.) Meanwhile, the state spies on Black communities rather than using its surveillance mechanisms to prevent racist vigilante attacks.
Cops and corporations have teamed up to further criminalize Black folks. Predictive policing and "broken windows" tactics rely on the criminalization of Black bodies and the idea that more police in more places - armed with guns and body cameras, Stingray cell phone interceptors and license-plate readers - will make Black communities safer. These "community policing" strategies are ineffective, discriminatory and reliant on the criminalization of young, poor Black people. The traditional media narrative becomes one about a law enforcement or vigilante "hero" and a "criminal" Black person. Mass media images perpetuate this sense of criminalization through television shows like "Cops" and "Law and Order."
As we remember the lives of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson, Daniel Simmons and Depayne Middleton Doctor from Charleston, our mission becomes clearer yet again: We are building a radically transformed world where Black lives matter. But I can't help feeling sorry for all those Black girls and boys who cannot be children today.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Dante Barry

Dante Barry is a grassroots organizer, digital campaigner, and the executive director of Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, a national racial justice network of 50,000 members founded to protect and empower young people of color from mass criminalization and gun violence.