[Chick] Your Racism Is Not Wanted | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Chick] Your Racism Is Not Wanted

I don't know about y'all, but the Monkey and I were needing some Jesus real bad this last week, so we got ourselves to church even though I was very uncertain about the message we might receive. Chalk it up to a rural Southern Baptist upbringing, but I for one was not up for the wrath of God sermon if you know what I mean. Our family was thirsty for some hope and for a place to direct some helpless energy.

Just eight days before, I'd been walking in Memphis with the Boyfriend, prepping him for the meet-the-parents ceremony, bless his California heart. I'm afraid I torture his poor soul with Southern culture. I force him to listen to Elvis and enjoy folk art. In Memphis, I had the opportunity to introduce him to Silky O' Sullivan's "Dueling Pianos." We even talked about some upcoming St. Jude fund raisers with Silky himself and petted some goats. A stranger on the street told the Boyfriend: "You should marry that one. She's a beautiful woman." Now that's the South that makes my heart sing.

Just seven days before, the Boyfriend ate fried green tomatoes for the first time and successfully charmed the parents. We listened to Mississippi Public Broadcasting all the way to Jackson, passed many Entergy and tree-cutting-type trucks, and I learned about the New Orleans "soup bowl" situation for the first time.

We talked about taking the kids to the New Orleans Zoo very soon. We thought, "You know, maybe we should stop by the grocery store ... just in case."

Just six days before, I saw shingles flying off my roof, so Monkey, Jack the cat, and I packed up and headed to the Boyfriend's house where the kids played video games and the grown-ups watched the news. We never lost power, but we were unable to drive home because of the debris. Monkey lamented, "I can't sleep here! There's GIRL CLOTHES! AND NAKED BARBIES!"

We spent a somewhat restless night in a home that was not ours, and it hurt. I was homesick for the family we had just seen in Memphis.

Just five days before, I saw more news, and I cried for the Southern culture lost. I cried for the art and for the architecture and for the man who hung in a tree through the storm.

I went to work and spent a day taking phone calls in a building without air conditioning, and told people over and over and over again: "I don't know. Nobody knows. I wish I knew."

Monkey put fans together while I worked.

Just four days before, I used a quarter of a tank of gas trying to get gas, and I went home with an empty tank. I cried over the questions I did not know how to answer. I cried because I could not stay home and hug my kid all day. I cried because the world was uncertain, and I needed a pedicure.

After that, the days ran together. I told people, including myself, "At least you're not on a roof in New Orleans!" People seeing the national news just weren't quite getting it. I wanted to help the babies and children and the everyone, but I did not have gas.

The days began to run together, and I began to hear the insinuations of racism. I heard, "That's just a sense of entitlement those government dependent people have."

I heard: "They don't even want help. They don't want to work for anything. They are thugs." I even heard, "They named it Katrina so the black people would recognize the name." I heard much, much worse.

I admitted to myself and others that I would probably take a stereo to trade for food to feed my kid. I admitted that my very own personality might have prevented me from asking others for help during a storm; in fact, I had to swallow my own pride to ask the Boyfriend for help. I admitted, "There but for the grace of God...." I finally stuck my neck out and said, "Your comments are not welcome."

Then Sunday came. Monkey and I passed barefoot evacuees un-boarding buses as we went into a sanctuary after fresh showers and a full breakfast. We sat near an evacuee and her two children and sang, "Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering."

I witnessed the contrast of her children in house shoes to our petty tempers over gas and electricity. I heard a minister tell us, "What you did not do for these least ones, you did not do for me." I put my hand on her children and prayed for them, and she prayed for me.

I refuse to believe that this is a storm of a vengeful God, and I'm going to let people know that the hateful comments are unwelcome by this white girl.

I could continue to question the few around me who are using this time to cast judgement upon others; instead, I'm choosing to focus my energy on faith, kindness and hope. I promise it feels better that way.

Emily Braden is a mom who lives in Rankin County with her son "Monkey" and her dog Zeke.

Previous Comments

ID
70701
Comment

Beautiful. Thanks, Emily. P.S. - I so wish you were coming to Dallas this weekend :)

Author
Melissa
Date
2005-09-15T08:34:07-06:00
ID
70702
Comment

Yes, thank you, Emily, for being perfectly willing to admit what too white white folks around us cover upóthat all of us hear racist remarks on a regular basis. And it is our responsibility to call them out on it. Go, girl. And I'll always think of your comments a while back on the blog about the "I see black people" fear of so many whites. You are honest and beautiful. Thank you for writing for us.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T08:38:45-06:00
ID
70703
Comment

I even heard, ìThey named it Katrina so the black people would recognize the name.î That comment occupies a class of stupidity all its own. WTF? What does the name Katrina have to do with black people? Am I missing the point of this comment, or is it as utterly inane as I think?

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-09-15T09:01:42-06:00
ID
70704
Comment

Utterly inane. But also too common. Don't get me wrong: It's not like everyone in Mississippi still says stupid sh!t like this, but it doesn't get called out nearly enough. And it gets encouraged by stupid comments about thugs and Jackson "breeding" crime like you hear on the Ben & Larry show and read on some local blogs and even in the MIssissippi Business Chronicle. I thought Jack Criss was a decent person, despite my disagreement with his political views, until I read that. I lost all respect when I read that. The saddest part is that everyone of these people would declare that they're not "racist" and get all offended and outraged if you try to point out how backward they're being with such comments. Don't let this keep you from coming back, though, Tim. Truthfully, it's delightful to see how many people are gathering around tables and speaking up against this backward thinking here now and talking openly about which people are saying this stuff in public. It needed to happen a long time ago, but now it's happening in a public and loud way, and that's a beautiful thing. Come join the movement. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T09:11:42-06:00
ID
70705
Comment

Oh, and I'm happy to report that the movement is multi-racial with members of all parties involved (what I call "progressive"). You don't have to agree on everything to believe that racist ideasówhich, incidentally, aren't just about saying the n-word, but about believing things about entire groups of people, except the few who rise to your expectationsóare way 1964. I truly believe that this state is on its way to becoming one of the most progressive states in the country, if not the most. People think I'm crazy, but time will tell. Come join the party, so to speak.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T09:15:48-06:00
ID
70706
Comment

I should also add that I believe it is perfectly possible for someone to pass along ignorant, racist comments without meaning to be racist. They may be just passing along crap they've been taught their whole lives and never learned to question. However, that is no excuse for others not calling them out on it and trying to teach them why what they're saying is so backward. That is the role everyone of us should play. Each one, teach one. Letting it go by because it might hurt their feelings is not a healthy response if one wants to live in a strong society. And you can't be bothered about them then calling you "politically correct." That phrase has been so bastardized -- and is sadly used by the most backward among as an excuse for their backwardness. (Call me out, they sayl, and I'll call you PC, liberal, execrable. Fine, you're still backward, and are proving it.) I find that it's usually a compliment when I'm called those things -- due to who's saying it. Inevitably, they're people I wouldn't be caught dead agreeing with publicly because they're such ugly, nasty people. It's kind of a take on the Woody Allen joke of not being a member of a club (like that) that would have you for a member.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T09:25:20-06:00
ID
70707
Comment

Don't let this keep you from coming back, though, Tim. Oh, I'm coming back pretty soon -- just don't know exactly when yet [1], and don't know whether or not I'll be able to find a job there or whether I'll have to go somewhere else ultimately. But while I'm there, I'll be bringing the ability to be very, very direct that I've picked up in Sweden. :-D So maybe I can help out a little bit with this problem. I hope so! [1] I have a ticket bought for 2 October, but I can't fly until about 8 October because of my eye surgery. :-(

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-09-15T09:26:18-06:00
ID
70708
Comment

I am hearing that stuff here in Dallas, too, from all races. But...get this: I work with a black woman that actually said to me, shortly after Katrina hit, "well at least they finally used a black name". I asked her what constituted it a black name versus a white name and she couldn't answer me. Hmm, imagine that.

Author
Melissa
Date
2005-09-15T10:13:01-06:00
ID
70709
Comment

Melissa, as for the first part, it is vital for people to understand that many people of color who have "made it" can show just as much contempt for those who haven't yet as white people. That doesn't make it any less heinous, however, on anyone's part. Just mroe complicated, being that they are the first one bigots will quote. As for the "Katrina" thing, it sounds like a very different sentiment from the black woman you heard and the ones that Emily is referring to. The first is disgusting in its context; the second isn't. I must admit that I had never considered Katrina a black name. It does bring up the question, though, of when hurricanes, especially in the Gulf, will take on more ethnic names, even Hispanic. I don't think it's a pressing question at the moment, but it is interesting to note such tendencies. I'm not a weather expert: Do other continents name their storms after people?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T10:23:37-06:00
ID
70710
Comment

I must admit that I had never considered Katrina a black name. Me neither. Heck, there were white girls named Katrina in the segregationist academy in the Delta at which I spent the first portion of my school years. I'm not a weather expert: Do other continents name their storms after people? Yes, indeed. :-) Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-09-15T10:40:11-06:00
ID
70711
Comment

Thanks, Tim. I see Pablo and Olga on the list, so no need to storm the gates just, yet. ;-) This did inspire me to Google "Hurricane Donna." My family had always told me that I am named after that hurricane that struck South Florida where I was conceived (but born here after my parents returned. They had gone to Florida looking for factory work). But I had never looked to see if it was true. It is, apparently: Hurricane Donna Aug. 29-Sept. 14, 1960 Max. winds: 160 mph Min. pressure: 932 mb Category: 5 Powerful Hurricane Donna roared into the northeast Caribbean at peak intensity late on Sept. 4. It then rampaged across Puerto Rico and the Bahamas before swiping southern Florida on Sept. 10 with 135 mph sustained winds and peak gusts to 175 mph in the Florida Everglades. Donna then turned tail and, crossing the Florida Peninsula, raced northward along the East Coast, lashing every state from South Carolina to New York with hurricane-force winds before slamming into New England on Sept. 12 with winds gusts up to 130 mph at Block Island, R.I. Hurricane Donna crossed Long Island with a 100-mile-wide eye. In New Haven, Conn., a barometer measured a minimum surface pressure of 966.8 millibars, or 28.55 inches. Only three people perished in New England. Source: USA TODAY research by Chris Cappella Now I see why I moved around so much for a while. It was my dest-i-ny. ;-) No longer, though. I've done come on home.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T10:57:17-06:00
ID
70712
Comment

I never considered Katrina a black name either, so I guess we were all absent the day they assigned races to certain names. I have heard so much nonsense over the last 2 weeks that her comment just struck me as odd. I am just sick of all the racism I have heard since she hit. People wear me out with their ignorance.

Author
Melissa
Date
2005-09-15T11:46:55-06:00
ID
70713
Comment

Ladd: "It is vital for people to understand that many people of color who have "made it" can show just as much contempt for those who haven't yet as white people. That doesn't make it any less heinous, however, on anyone's part. Just mroe complicated, being that they are the first one bigots will quote." Donna, as you and I have spoke about before, that is so true and I am glad that you had the guts to say it. I hope that more people of color take the time to read this article and the comments online. The truth is: there is work to do on both sides. I am the first to admit that race, class, and those things are not easy for me to talk about---- I guess because I carry my own baggage where they are concerned... But they must be discussed. Whether its in forums like this, or in larger public meetings. Until we all take responsibility for each other, regardless of what race or class, just one side doing it is not going to work or bring the needed results.

Author
c a webb
Date
2005-09-15T11:51:32-06:00
ID
70714
Comment

People wear me out with their ignorance. Wear THEM out with your smarts instead! ;-)

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-09-15T11:52:22-06:00
ID
70715
Comment

No problem, C.A. The conversation has to happen. And it hasn't, yet. Not really. I really don't care who I make uncomfortable, and of what race, by trying to bring up difficult topics. I've had people of various races, and from both extremes, mad at me because I don't shut up and just take their side, but I don't care. The truth is, people from all parties and backgrounds and racesóespecially so-called "leaders"óare responsible for our hidden poor. And realizing that does not magically mean that no racism is involvedóthe whole class-not-race excuse. Try class and race, apologists. We can't get off so easy as picking just one and then pointing fingers at everyone else. If you haven't figured it out, yet, racism pulls poor people of all races down with it. Here's one you can quote me on: The administration may bear a huge burden of what happened and didn't happen after Katrina ... however, the Democratic Party is just as responsible, if not more so, for the plight of the poor in this country. Why? Because they haven't had the friggin' balls to speak up for what's right. They've been so busy worrying about offending somebody who might call them "liberal" or "PC" or a "commie" or whatever else the folks Jesus, and the other great spirital leaders, warned us against are calling us today. And the media, well ... it is simple disgusting what they have let go by out of fear of the Barbour-Atwater "liberal media" label being applied to them. (Incidentally, there is a great book in the Welty library about how just such incourageous media coverage allowed Hitler to happen. I forget the name of it.) Democrats can't just blame this mess on Republicans; it's not as if they've tried real damn hard to stop the Greed Revolution. And too many are just as guilty. Courage, people. Get off your a$$es and speak up about what's wrongóand what's right, meaning actual freedomóabout this damn country, no matter who is doing it. If you don't, don't you dare call yourself a patriot. This a pivotal moment in our history, and the door is open. Step through it, and don't worry about what people call you. Screw the southern strategy and the "flyover nonsense" and the attempts by people like Barbour, Lott and now Melton to belittle people who. tell. the. truth. We can be better than this; we've got to be if we want to save the American dream and to be in solidarity with the poor. Make the Katrina pledge now.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T12:08:48-06:00
ID
70716
Comment

I should also add that I believe it is important, if difficult, to seek out and feel compassion for people who have not been taught how to be compassionate themselves. Ignorance is a very tragic thing, however it is taught. I can feel compassion for the people whose images we saw on TV last week trying to swim out of terribly poor neighborhoods; with a bit more effort, I can feel compassion for people who blame the poor for being there in the first place and who don't have any sense of the advantages they themselves have benefitted from. Personally, I come from a poor white family that had its own share of bigotry and ignorance; thus, I can understand that ignorance is a disease that strikes people who could be "good" with more education and more influence from those around them. I also know that I climbed out of that upbringing; but I am not arrogant enough not to see that I had more help climbing out because I was blonde and blue-eyed. That is just fact, I know it, and I am not afraid to admit it. The truly sad part is when people waste so much time blaming and labeling the poor without trying to help give them tools to climb out of poverty. It is unconscionable when the people leading our society are actually trying to make it harder for them to climb out by reversing efforts put there to help them climb out from under decades (and centuries) of oppression. Social darwinism has no place in a free, civilized society. That just denotes an acceptance of the idea that an acceptable (to the majority culture) number of the "best" folks will make it out and the rest will be there to serve, and cheaply, those who didn't. Think, for a moment, about Haley Barbour's attacks on Adequate Education funding in Mississippi. This is as disgusting an attack on the poor in the country's poorest state as you can find. Don't forget that when he's crying in front of the cameras about the hurricane. He needs to find his conscience in this, his own compassion, or he needs to be turned out of office. A free country has no place for a man with his radical-right ideas and "starve the beast" ridicule and mentality about the poor. Now, you may ask how we find compassion for people who are pushing for unconscionable actions. That's a good one -- and rather a classic Buddhist paradox. It's important to realize that you can be compassionate for someone's ignorance and blind spotsówithout putting them in the position to hurt other people. The Buddhists have a wonderful phrase called "idiot compassion" that, as I understand it, calls for you to be compassionate for people who do wrong, but not to encourage them by rewarding them for the poor behavior toward others and the universe.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T12:23:36-06:00
ID
70717
Comment

This is not intended to be critical of the author, but she didnít say rather the disparaging remarks were made by individuals she has long standing relationships with. If so, had their racist connotations remained dormant only to be awaken by hurricane Katrina?

Author
K RHODES
Date
2005-09-15T12:26:51-06:00
ID
70718
Comment

Interesting question, and the answer would be intriguing, probably. Many times it takes a large eventóa Great Flood, of a fashionóto be people to face uncomfortable things about themselves and their loved ones. I know that I've heard many people denounce racism probably for the first time publicly after Richard Barrett announced he was bringing Edgar Ray Killen to the state fair last year. I truly think Barrett helps Killen go to jail. It's sad, of course, that it can't happen before such watershed eventsóbut it's worse when such events don't bring out the best in people. Peer pressure doesn't hurt anything, though. My challenge to all of you: Call people out every time they make such offensive, unloving comments about groups of people. Explain to them why they can't assume that you agree with such backward, antiquated ideas just because you're white, or Republican, or whatever. This is where the "solidarity" begins. I personally have known many people who only say some of these things because people, voters, listeners, readers, friends, drinking buddies, workmates expect them to (a certain local talk-show host comes to mind). This is so sad, and it doesn't have to be that way, especially if we start rewarding people for compassion and calling them out for beating up on the poor.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T12:38:17-06:00
ID
70719
Comment

I always think of Katrina as a Russian name, but... This thread reminds me of that wonderful Dave Chappelle joke about how hurricanes never get really distinctive African-American names--no Hurricane Tyreese, no Hurricane JoWanda. So I can understand the "they finally gave a hurricane a black name" comment, particularly when it actually comes from a black person. But I think the "yeah, you'll recognize THIS" sort of tone that Emily refers to is a different matter entirely, and she's right to call out this racism for what it is. God bless her for it. Agreed on the Jack Criss comment. The "subhumans" rhetoric comes straight out of the 1965 playbook, and I was stunned to see it in print in a mainstream publication. I think urban and suburban Mississippi may become progressive on race, but more remote rural areas are another story entirely. Not sure how that's going to work. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-15T12:46:58-06:00
ID
70720
Comment

God bless her for it. Ditto. Now that you mention Chappelle, I remember someone talking about that. Very funny. How 'bout: Hurricane Bonesqueesha (with a nod to our Mr. Stiggers). ;-) Yeah, the "subhuman" comment from Criss ranked up there with the award to the column saying blacks should be thankful for slavery Emmerich gave in the Northside Sun. Those are the two worst things I've seen in print in a long timeóat least that wasn't on a white supremacist Web site like http://www.cofcc.org . Still, though, even more shocking is how many people didn't seem to get how bad those comments were. Shows how much work there is yet to be done. I think urban and suburban Mississippi may become progressive on race, but more remote rural areas are another story entirely. Not sure how that's going to work. Some real, down-home populism would helpófor poor whites to realize that they're in it with poor blacks (and vice versa), rather than pitted against each other as our ideologues and southern strategies have told them for so long. I truly believe in the good in people when they have the information they need. For too long, there has been an information vacuum in this state. That, in turn, creates a compassion vacuum.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T12:58:09-06:00
ID
70721
Comment

"How 'bout: Hurricane Bonesqueesha" someone beat you that one already, ladd: http://archive.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/history/topic/125094-1.html

Author
casey
Date
2005-09-15T13:13:20-06:00
ID
70722
Comment

Funny thread, Casey. This exchange made me laugh -- this: Yeah, but Hispanics have el nino and la nina weather patterns. I want Swedish hurricane names! followed by this: Didn't we have a Hurricane Sambo? because "sambo" is actually a Swedish word that has nothing to do with black people (it's a contraction of "sammanboende" and describes people who are in a non-married live-in relationship). Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-09-15T13:24:09-06:00
ID
70723
Comment

Hahaa, I didn't know Chapelle had talked about that, that's funny. I also second (or are we at thirds?) the "God bless her for it".

Author
Melissa
Date
2005-09-15T13:24:56-06:00
ID
70724
Comment

Oh, my God. I didn't realize the CCC was that blatant. Thanks for the link, Donna. And while we're on the subject of vaguely familiar-looking scary rhetoric, this almost made me lose my lunch.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-15T14:33:37-06:00
ID
70725
Comment

No problem, Tom, and for the record, the head of the CofCC assured me in an interview repeatedly that the group is most certainly not "racist." Ahem. This is also the same group that Barbour just could not ask to take his photo off their Web site, that various and assorted Mississippi elected officials have spoken to (they didn't know it was racist, though. Ahem), and that was formed from the mailing lists of the old Citizens Council (headed nationally by Bill Simmons, still the proprietor of the Fairview Inn).

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T14:37:41-06:00
ID
70726
Comment

Wow. Two disgusting racist Web pages. That's about my limit for one day...or maybe week...or maybe year. Gross. (Of course it's good to know what you're up against, but still -- GROSS.) Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-09-15T14:49:42-06:00
ID
70727
Comment

Yep, you gotta call it out and isolate that crap so it doesn't spread. This is the kind of blindness and wink-wink racism that has held Mississippi down for too long. As if the politicians didn't know who they were talking to, my a$$.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T15:19:31-06:00
ID
70728
Comment

K Rhodes, I hope I'm answering the question for you. I do think that most of the overt racist things (like the Katrina name thing that came from a professional setting) were a result of people attempting to "cope" with the devastation. And yes, I did tell her that I think Katrina is a Russian name. :) However, like Donna said, this is not a new issue. I hear it everywhere (including but not limited to that old grandmother who is set in her ways type thing.) It's a MINORITY, but they are a very vocal/uneducated/ignorant minority. It's been my practice thus far in life to do like Maya says and now that I know better, I try to do better. For the past few years, I dispute the commentary with my beliefs best I can. For example, the conversation that brought on this column, I ended with "Just because you were born on third base does not mean you hit a triple." In this instance, I think race had become a water cooler type conversation. It happened during the Killen trial too. I get especially vocal when people call themselves Christians and hold onto antiquated judgements. And fyi...Hurricane Emily hit Mexico earlier this year and I believe messed up Cancun pretty good. At least that's what I heard from an ex-boyfriend.

Author
emilyb
Date
2005-09-15T15:51:23-06:00
ID
70729
Comment

Something major has been brought to my attention. Just so everyone knows, while in Memphis, we called Ali Greggs and got Silky to sing "Happy Birthday" to her. I also repeated some very funny conversations I had heard in the bar, and Silky was very impressed with us both...the professional journalists that we are.

Author
emilyb
Date
2005-09-15T15:56:36-06:00
ID
70730
Comment

I hear you, Emily. Nothing is more offensive than people assuming it's safe to share their racism with you because it'll stay between you and themóbecause we're all in a white fraternity or some such bullsh!t. Wink, winkóit's the aryan code of silence. We won't tell. And then we'll all pretend 'til the cows come home that no one never, ever, never talks like this anymore. That's a crock of sh!t. Fortunately, like you say, it's a minority of idiots still out there, but they're there. We have to call lingering racism out. Every. single. time. It won't ever change if we don't.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-15T16:05:17-06:00
ID
70731
Comment

It's also very frustrating to get branded "liberal" aka "immoral" because of these beliefs. Because too many people are forming all opinions based on a radio talk show or some guy's book. Or there own personal experience that one time at band camp.

Author
emilyb
Date
2005-09-15T16:20:02-06:00
ID
70732
Comment

Well, that CofCC site, what or whoever it is, must be bad...it was blocked for me (I'm @work). I am sure I am not missing anything. P.S. - I am slated to have a hurricane of my very own in 2007, I will NOT hit Mississippi!

Author
Melissa
Date
2005-09-15T16:30:40-06:00
ID
70733
Comment

Did websense filter it as "tasteless" or "hate"?

Author
emilyb
Date
2005-09-15T17:06:25-06:00
ID
70734
Comment

My blog got filtered as "tasteless"...or at least my old one did. There has never been a "Hurricane Ali" that I know of...considering this one landed on my birthday...I am pre-empting the "naming" process and have decided from here on out I will call this one "Hurricane Ali". Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee...

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-09-15T21:34:33-06:00
ID
70735
Comment

Melissa, I'm still picking my jaw up off the floor from that CofCC site. I can't believe anybody is still arguing against "race-mixing." McClellan ran for president on that platform in 1864 and lost; why do these jokers think anybody gives a damn about that today? In a few hundred years, the vast majority of Americans will have a little caramel or mocha color in their skin. That is not a wild guess; that is an inevitable statistical reality. And the sooner these jokers grow up and realize it, the better. The concept of the white "race" is an unstable social construct; its makeup is already flaking, and the time will come when people laugh at the idea that anyone ever looked at skin color in that way. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-15T23:50:50-06:00
ID
70736
Comment

In African-American dialect, the name "TRINA" is an abbreviated version of the Russian name KATRINA or KA-TRINA. I believe there is a female rapper from Florida named Trina. That's why the sista made that previous remark about Katrina being a black name.I believe in the black community Katrina is the proper way of saying Trina. I believe Africans in America developed their own way of speaking english because most slaveowners did not want its slaves to read and write. It was illegal for a black person to be literate. This way and attitude was passed on from generation to generation. And black folk "jus did da bess dey could." I was told that in most African dialects "th' is not present. So it's a black person dis instead of "this" ; "dat instead of "that" ; "dem' instead of "them" ....Because black folk could not get the proper education, they could not speak or communicate properly in a DOMINANT society... It seems to me as if folk will break your leg and call you a cripple, or poke out you eyes and tell you that you're blind---nothing but vicious cruelty.I hope one day that we press toward the mark of understanding each other in America...Trina or Katrina showed us that William Edgar Burghardt DuBois's theory has carried over into the 21st century....He said: The problem of America in the 20th century is that of the color line. And Martin Luther King was right when he said this (and I paraphrase): If America does not resolve its problem with the Negro people, the whole world will be doooooomed. Sorry about my tirade,folks....I thank ya and Bone Qweesha (a.k.a. Boqweesha) thanks you too.... Peace.love and universal understanding.

Author
Stiggers
Date
2005-09-16T02:15:04-06:00
ID
70737
Comment

:) Ken. I LOVE your tirades ;) Thank you. I had a cultural anthropology class in undergrad that just made so much sense to me and I'd wish EVERYONE had to take the class and listen with an open mind. I was fascinated with the origins of culture, and I remember that AHA moment when the professor told us that the closer ancestors were to the equator, the more melanin in the skin. Well duh. I'm so sorry to admit that before then, I only been presented with a bastardized "Biblical" origin-theory of race which if I remember correctly was the Tower of Babel. That's the kind of ignorance that is out there.

Author
emilyb
Date
2005-09-16T05:11:13-06:00
ID
70738
Comment

Wait, people are still teaching the "Tower of Babel" crap? See, I have issues because I wasn't exposed to a lot of that. I came from a big Italian family that are Sicilian. Everybody knows the Moors conquered Italy and intermingled with the population I can thank my tan having self for that. ;) Techinically we can blame this on Isabelle and Ferdinand. Just think, the culture of "Whites" that married and drove the Moors out of Spain...is the same culture that "discovered" our country.... Our little town of "Grenada" was also the name of the last "Non-White" stronghold in the 700 year rule of the Moors in Spain. It was conquered by those two...the drove the "Non-Whites" and Jews out....then, they sent Christopher Columbus on his journey. Techinically, they ushered in the Golden "White" Age in Spain...but, they also crushed religious and ethnic diversity with the start of the Inquisition. So, you wonder why we don't like people that don't look like us and worship like us...the people who funded the original expedition to this country were FAMOUS for "White Christian" rule. OF COURSE some of that bleeds into our culture. Sorry for the simplistic history lesson, but I just think its so telling that no one mentions Moors ruled most of Europe for around seven hundred years. I think it is also telling that Spain declined shortly after the Inquisitions and driving all the Moors and Jews out of the country. Some attribute this to the "change" in their population make-up. One that had been very diverse previous to this. I can't believe I wrote all that before 8am. NERD!!!

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-09-16T07:34:43-06:00
ID
70739
Comment

Stiggers, I liked the tirade. It shed new light for me on what my co-worker said.

Author
Melissa
Date
2005-09-16T08:45:20-06:00
ID
70740
Comment

First comment from me so excuse if I don't get the techie stuff right! Thanks to all who have commented here. Someone said that the events of 9/11 united this country and Hurricane Katrina has divided this country. (I think exposing the divide is more accurate) Check out Etan Thomas' comments here. http://news.yahoo.com/s/thenation/20050914/cm_thenation/20050926zirin too bad the NBA guys usually only get negative publicity...

Author
urbangypsy
Date
2005-09-16T09:34:28-06:00
ID
70741
Comment

Well, my mama used to call me Katrina-beana, and I'm about as white as you get, so it never would have occured to me that Katrina was a "black" name. People are just plain weird. And often heartbreakingly stupid.

Author
kate
Date
2005-09-16T10:06:54-06:00
ID
70742
Comment

I'd like to point out that this is a typical tactic when trying to honestly dicuss racism. Yes. Racism is racism is racism. I myownself got an unwarranted "uppity white bitch" not too very long ago. But I suppose I really don't get the point with the, "Well, oh yeah? Minorities are racist too!" I've yet to see an example where that helps honest discussion. I've yet to find an example where those radical groups like that have kept any group down as a whole. And I've yet to find an example where it makes racism by anyone okay, which is what the discussion is about in my opinion. Editor's Note: Emily's comment here refers to a thread of comments that were moved into this story into the forums because they were off-topic here, and distracting from attempts at a good discussion on race. You can read that thread at the link inserted above in this posting if you'd like.

Author
emilyb
Date
2005-09-17T06:14:17-06:00
ID
70743
Comment

"Well, oh yeah? Minorities are racist too!" As I said on another thread, this argument depends on how you define "racism." Personally, I (and a whole lot of folk wiser than I) do not define it as interchangeable with disliking another race or a person of another race due to their skin color. Frankly, I don't really who likes whom. And it's not about calling something else a bad word like "n*gger," although that is often a symptom of racism. Racism is bigger and more complicated. It's about the "-ism" part. And to do truly racist, you have to have the power to hurt another race of people, as Tom alludes to. Thus, one can be a bigot without being a racist. The first is mightily distasteful, but the second is very dangerous. This is important because of all the folks who try to excuse their own acts of "-ism" by saying they have black friends, or whatever. They don't understand what racism isóand very often they are guilty of racist acts without understanding that they are because the language used is so simplistic and misunderstood. That's why I find that it matters much less (if no less distasteful) for, say, a Jim Giles to go around openly saying ugly things about blacks than for a Haley Barbour to use "piano benches" and "welfare mothers" to get into offfice, and then try to rip out the tools that have been put into place to try to end actual racism (like adequate education, to name one) once he gets in there. There's your -ism.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-18T13:46:50-06:00
ID
70744
Comment

What is your definition of "racism," then? Also, I'd like to note that per your partial definition (sort of) contained in your comments above, it appears that ONLY white people are capable of being (or doing, per your post) racist[s]. Is that what you mean?

Author
grinder
Date
2005-09-18T14:09:00-06:00
ID
70745
Comment

No. Think a bit harder than that, professor.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-18T14:41:48-06:00
ID
70746
Comment

Rasicm sucks!! I knew a white girl named Katrina when I was younger and for people to imply that Katrina is a black name makes me want to puke!! I'm sick and tired of Mississippi folk still being described by old stereotypes, you know, the "Mississippi Burning" type. I'm a white guy who these days is just a guy, trying to help and make it in this hopeful world. Good article Em.

Author
stevieb
Date
2005-09-18T18:03:42-06:00
ID
70747
Comment

Btw, I think Katrina literally means "pure" and is of Germanic and/or Scandinavian origin. It's definalty not of African-American origin. So tell those posers to back off when they say that crap. Not that any of that really matters or anything, but to all of those who have donated and helped this most recent hurricane effort, don't lose hope, because life without hope sucks.

Author
stevieb
Date
2005-09-18T18:15:45-06:00
ID
70748
Comment

Stevieb, I agree with you. I was writing a poem about the storm and did look up the name. It does mean virginal and pure. Ironic for the name of the storm that has reeked so much havoc in people's lives.

Author
blkconservative
Date
2005-09-18T18:50:35-06:00
ID
70749
Comment

Completely off topic here...but why would it surprise you that its ironic that the name means "virginal" or "pure". Women, mythologically speaking...are always stronger when "virginal". Think the Valkyries (is that how you spell that?) ;) Anyway, back to "-ism". It originally was used to mean an idealogy...a way of thought. Its closely related to the "ology" suffix. I would have to agree that "racism" is scarier than bigotry. Bigotry signifies a single act...."ism" refers more to an entire ideological thought process...institutionalized. That is scary, because with it comes more power. It is the subtly of it that gives it more power. I hate intolerance as well (which is the traditional meaning of bigotry), but an ideological thought process...or a culture of thought...can be a lot more damaging in the long term than bigotry. Think George Bush's administration as an -ism...and Killen as a bigot (who also happens to be a racist). Who's killed more people? Did I just explain that right? :-)

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-09-18T20:40:09-06:00
ID
70750
Comment

The warrior-virgin is an interesting archetype, particularly when contrasted with the male ideal, where eunuchs are perceived as weak and sexually prolific men are seen as virile and powerful. Why is it that sex is supposed to make men powerful, and make women weak? To make men studs, but make women sluts? My money's on... Well, my money's not very interesting. I'm getting bored with my own opinions, and I think you're probably a little bit brighter than me, so I'd love to see your take on this. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-18T20:58:15-06:00
ID
70751
Comment

Re racism: It's a tricky word. I instantly regretted saying that I think there is such a thing as racism apart from institutional racism because Our Sunday Visitor brilliantly used it to convolute an already convoluted discussion. The truth is that racism is not an easy concept to work with. A scientific study a few years ago stuck 30 strangers in a room with multiple tables, putting blue armbands on 15 of them and red armbands on the other 15, and the result was a little surprising: the red-armband people tended to congregate separately from the blue-armband people. So a certain amount of passive prejudice probably just happens, independent of cogitation and independent of social forces. I used to joke that subconscious racism is the liberal's answer to original sin--every person has it, and it's impossible to get rid of. That's only half a joke for me. I don't think prejudice is something we learn; I think a lot of prejudice is pure instinct, and we have to dismantle it consciously, working out our salvation with fear and trembling. I know I've got work to do. I'm better than I used to be, but do I get exactly the same brain patterns when I'm setting next to a black stranger as I do when I sit next to a white stranger? I wish I could say yes. I can at least say that when I get to know someone, those instincts fade. I can at least say that I recognize my own human wickedness. I had a privileged upbringing in terms of getting past prejudice; I was raised in a 50/50 integrated environment, my best friend growing up was biracial, and most of the first girls I got crushes on were black. But I'm not perfect, and I'm skeptical that anyone else is, either. But then we compare that to the poor abandoned in New Orleans, the victims of genocide abandoned in the Sudan, the way mass deaths in "brown people" countries just don't seem to affect Americans as much as they should, and it becomes clear that something more malevolent is at work here than armband-identity. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-18T21:10:31-06:00
ID
70752
Comment

What's grating my nerves post-Katrina is the statements about "government dependant" and "welfare queens" and all that crap. I heard a CHILD yesterday say that her mom said that black people are coming in the bank and getting all kinds of money from Katrina that the white people aren't getting any. It's just plain ignorance. Thursday someone made the mistake of saying, "Well you see all these black people complaining about not being rescued but I didn't see any black people down there trying to help." One instance is the perception that it's either/or...it's black or white. No account into how many black people vs. white people actually applied for assistance. Totally ignoring that the hardest hit areas were low-lying where those who couldn't afford a better area lived. Totally ignoring the fact that some of us simply have the resources or the resources of family and friends to fall back on. So many things to throw in, but the bottom line is, why is this a time for this minority (who call themselves Christians which cracks me up!) to focus on the negative and make it such an us versus them time? And has anyone gotten the "urban legend" type mass-emails yet? Written by someone who works in a shelter and has all the stories of ungratefullness and laziness of evacuees. I swear they read like those criminal urban legend emails that swear upside and down that women are getting their tendons cut at a shopping center near you. (Y'all know those were debunked right? Please say people know that!) I say we spear head a mass email campaign of the BEAUTIFUL moments we have found in this ginormous mess.

Author
emilyb
Date
2005-09-18T21:41:52-06:00
ID
70753
Comment

Wow, that is incredible that you're hearing people say such things, Emily. I'm sorry: That kind of "welfare queen" sh*t is no better than the crap the White Citizens Council used to spread. And I have to say I haven't gotten those type e-mails. What's incredible are the number of wonderful stories about the young, er, thugs out there helping the sick and elderly while the White House folks meandered back from vacation. I'm sorry that you're getting hit with such racist sentiments, but remember that ultimately it's better to know what people's characters are like than to not know. And times like this really test character and integrity. And, please oh please keep talking back to these people. I've even seen someone on another blog go on and on about how those black people could have gotten out of the cityñignoring all the reports about how they weren't allowed to cross bridges to get out and were even shot at (or above their heads). Some people are just racist to their core, and they will go looking for people to make them feel better about themselves. Personally, I always believe bigotry and/or racism are ALWAYS about self-hatred. You have such low self-esteem that you always need someone to feel superior to. So much has changed, and so litttle has changed. We have to celebrate the former and condemn the latter. Every single day. You go, girl.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-18T22:44:51-06:00
ID
70754
Comment

Personally, I always believe bigotry and/or racism are ALWAYS about self-hatred. You have such low self-esteem that you always need someone to feel superior to. Posted by: ladd on Sep 18, 05 | 11:44 pm I agree with donna. Martin Luther King basically said something similar in his sermon titled "The Drum Major Instinct." Also, in 1989 I read a thought provoking self published book by a Native American woman named Asiba Tupahache from Great Neck, NY. The book is titled "Taking Another Look." Ms. Tupahache believes that racism is like a mental illness. She also relates racism to abusive behaviors of alcoholics, sexual abusers, wife beaters, etc....If anyone is interested, I have an audio cassette, produced by Ms Tupahache, titled Taking Another Look:A Beginning to an End. The audio cassette is a companion guide/ extenstion of her first self published book. Because I had the priviledge of reading Ms. Tupache's book and listening to her cassette, I'm not at all suprised that people say what they say in times like these. I'm glad to see progressive individuals taking the "racism" issue on, with the possibility of creating some form of understanding. I believe Malcom X, if he were living, would be pleased. Peace,love and universal understanding

Author
Stiggers
Date
2005-09-18T23:30:32-06:00
ID
70755
Comment

I would love to listen to that tape, Ken. I just went and read the Drum Major Instinct speech. Thank you! It's a good one. I like this part: And the other thing is that it causes one to engage ultimately in activities that are merely used to get attention. Criminologists tell us that some people are driven to crime because of this drum major instinct. They don't feel that they are getting enough attention through the normal channels of social behavior, and so they turn to anti-social behavior in order to get attention, in order to feel important. (Yeah) And so they get that gun, and before they know it they robbed a bank in a quest for recognition, in a quest for importance. And then the final great tragedy of the distorted personality is the fact that when one fails to harness this instinct, (Glory to God) he ends up trying to push others down in order to push himself up. (Amen) And whenever you do that, you engage in some of the most vicious activities. You will spread evil, vicious, lying gossip on people, because you are trying to pull them down in order to push yourself up. (Make it plain) And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct. [...] Now the other problem is, when you don't harness the drum major instinctóthis uncontrolled aspect of itóis that it leads to snobbish exclusivism. It leads to snobbish exclusivism. (Make it plain) And you know, this is the danger of social clubs and fraternitiesóI'm in a fraternity; I'm in two or threeófor sororities and all of these, I'm not talking against them. I'm saying it's the danger. The danger is that they can become forces of classism and exclusivism where somehow you get a degree of satisfaction because you are in something exclusive. And that's fulfilling something, you knowóthat I'm in this fraternity, and it's the best fraternity in the world, and everybody can't get in this fraternity. So it ends up, you know, a very exclusive kind of thing. [...] The drum major instinct can lead to exclusivism in one's thinking and can lead one to feel that because he has some training, he's a little better than that person who doesn't have it. Or because he has some economic security, that he's a little better than that person who doesn't have it. And that's the uncontrolled, perverted use of the drum major instinct. Now the other thing is, that it leads to tragicóand we've seen it happen so oftenótragic race prejudice. Many who have written about this problemóLillian Smith used to say it beautifully in some of her books. And she would say it to the point of getting men and women to see the source of the problem. Do you know that a lot of the race problem grows out of the drum major instinct? A need that some people have to feel superior. A need that some people have to feel that they are first, and to feel that their white skin ordained them to be first. (Make it plain, today, ëcause Iím against it, so help me God) And they have said over and over again in ways that we see with our own eyes. In fact, not too long ago, a man down in Mississippi said that God was a charter member of the White Citizens Council. And so God being the charter member means that everybody who's in that has a kind of divinity, a kind of superiority. And think of what has happened in history as a result of this perverted use of the drum major instinct. It has led to the most tragic prejudice, the most tragic expressions of man's inhumanity to man.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-18T23:38:01-06:00
ID
70756
Comment

Also, today has been inspirational all around for me. I woke up listening to Speaking of Faith, which today was about Seeing Poverty After Katrinaóan interview with a doctor living in inner-city D.C, who has written books about the roots of poverty and how ghettoes were created (vital to understanding how to end them). Please, please everyone go listen to this program. He said SO MUCH that inspired me that I don't know where to start talking about it. Parts that stood out were his comments about how all children, regardless of economic standing, need to KNOW the poor. Also, about how fighting for justice for the poor will ultimately do away with the need for charity. And how if we don't, our country can't survive as we know it. I. Believe. Him. Then I listened to Rev. Ross Olivier's amazing sermon today from Galloway. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. More calls for justice. And a calling out of people who call themselves Christians but who emphatically do not follow Jesus' teachings -- especially those about being in solidarity with the least among us. Then, more inspiration at the JFP/MAP benefit at Hal & Mal'sówith young person after young person performing to help people, paying their $5, bringing in armloads of groceries and clothes and toys and whatever else to give to the needy. You young-people bashers just take your "thug" rhetoric and put it where the sun don't shine. No one needs you and your evil rhetoric. Hope lives, folks.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-18T23:47:30-06:00
ID
70757
Comment

About Donna's remark as relayed by Ken Stiggers, plus Ken's remark itself (Posted by: Stiggers on Sep 19, 05 | 12:30 am) I find the remark about racism being self-hatred agreeable a lot of the time. HOWEVER, on the other hand, it could just as easily be amused contempt because they find a "difference" so absurd that it can't help but generate feelings of condescension and even loathing. I can't prove it, but I think a lot of this is part of essential human nature, as Tom said (Sep 18, 05 | 10:10 pm). Not to say that it's hopeless and we should give up because it's human nature -- that argument (if it deserves that designation) can most generously be called intellectual laziness, and that's giving the argument the benefit of the doubt. The "nature" argument is fit only for a mountain lions or timber wolves...NOT for a thinking human being. To claim "racism/bigotry etc." is to claim, in effect, that we humans have no more capacity for thought than mountain lions or timber wolves. Besides, the same "human nature" argument was applied to "women should stay at home and cook", enslavement of the weak, and conquering weaker groups of people (nations included) for the sake of resources or mere self-glorification. What does that say about the argument? Besides, some injustices have been with us for SO LONG (some of them even a few millenia, in fact) that we can easily mistake cultural ideas as human nature (the gender roles are a perfect example of this).

Author
Philip
Date
2005-09-19T07:18:07-06:00
ID
70758
Comment

Wel, Ya'll know how I feel about the N.O. situation. But, ONE OF MY FRIENDS, replied to me (after I called him out about saying K. West's statement was bullshit) that *I* didn't know anything about Bush's wonderful policies regarding minorities. And THIS is an educated guy. It blew my mind. Seriously. I think racial hatred is about fear. I think people are scared of things they don't understand. Scared of people that look "different" than them. I also believe that people sometimes believe things because it makes them feel better. I think lots of people walk around in a bubble about how the world "really" is because if they understood it...they might feel the need to do something about it. Its a way to rationalize the status quo. I know there are lots of people that just HATE, but I also believe that MORE people are scared and perpetuate the hate because they don't know any better.

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-09-19T08:17:39-06:00
ID
70759
Comment

Which wonderful policies? Tell, tell. Did he give any actual examples? Just because you're educated doesn't mean you don't believe the hype you want to be true a bit too often. Fear, yes. I'd still argue, though, that insecure people are the ones more prone to irrational fear of whole groups of people. I'm no expert, though. Re the "human nature" argument, we all must remember that our parents and grandparents and those before them (those of us who are white anyway) were brainwashed into "scientific racism"óthe whole "Bell Curve" bullsh!t that black folks are inferior. And some mighty educated and, er, "progressive" folks went along with eugenics early onóand yes that was about both class and race. The White Citizens Council, and the Council of Conservative Citizens today (with whose officers Barbour was photographed courting votes at the Black Hawk rally celebrating lingering racism and wouldn't ask the CofCC to remove his photo) still promote scientific racism. A lot of people are ignorant, and insecure enough, to believe this sh!t. Ironically, the ones who do tend to much stupider than many black folks all around them, thus debunking the myth right thereóbut, hey, they're too stupid to understand it! (Love that circle.) If you don't know a lot about the scientific racism movement, you should. There are all sorts of think tanks (like the Manhattan Institute) that pay lots of money for academics to come up with intelligent-sounding arguments to show that blacks are inferior and, thus, less money should be spent to help them achieve equal opportunity and status. They use the research to try hurt the public schools, shrink the federal government and various other nefarious goals. This is real, and very scary. It also flies way under the radar because people don't want to believe it's true. If you can get your hands on the old racist text, "Race and Reason: A Yankee View," by Carleton Putnam, you can read the arguments against race-mixing and integration in schools, etc.óbasically the textbook of Bill Simmons and the Citizens Council in the 1960s. What's very fascinating is how similar the language is to what you read posted anonymously on Alan Lange's Web sites (and seldom challenged) and spouted on the Ben & Larry show or in in the Metro Business Chronicle's arguments about the city breeding young criminals. The irony is, I doubt those guys even know that they're using the language of the pastóso they would be mightily offended if you pointed it out. But, truly, ignorance is no real excuse. But go read Putnam's book (I have it right in front of me here; I bought mine at a book sale at Eudora Welty). Or read old Citizens Council literatureóall of which was generated right here in Jackson where Bill Simmons headed the Citizens Councils of America and their newspaper. Also fascinating is a book called "The Funding of Scientific Racism" published by the University of Illinois press. You can read much of it here. Watch for the parts about Jackson and Mr. Simmons (like chapter 3). We need to understand our history, folks, in order to make our future better. Even if it hurts.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-19T10:53:54-06:00
ID
70760
Comment

BTW, I should warn y'all that if you start searching for info on "William J. Simmons," the Citizens Council head, you'll find quite a bit. That was the name usually associated with his Citizens Council work, not Bill, which is known more by today. However, you might be confused because you will also find kinda-related entries about the William J. Simmons who restarted the KKK in 1917. He was a minister in Georgia and, clearly, born sooner than Jackson's William J. Simmons. To my knowledge, there is no relation, just a rather ironic sharing of the same name.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-19T11:04:47-06:00
ID
70761
Comment

Speaking of Junk Science The Flat Earth Society . Plus, there's Chariot of the Gods (a book written trying to prove that aliens visited earth in prehistoric times -- as evidenced by a simple drawing of a "person wearing a helmet". The REAL question is "has it been peer reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences or the British Royal Society AND met their methodological approval?". DO NOT be impressed by any other authoratative sounding title like "The American Scientific Affiliation" or the "National Center for Sciecne Education" (the latter explicitly defends Creationism teaching - it says so on its front page!) For a real introduction to what science is all about, check outMethod for Finding Scientific Truth (which I do believe is legitimate science)

Author
Philip
Date
2005-09-19T11:28:26-06:00
ID
70762
Comment

Good points, Philip. This junk-science-for-hire crap has official-sounding names all over it. People will go to great lengths, and spend lots of money, trying to buy "support" for bigotry and racism (or ruining the environment, for that matter). Truth is, if people would use a bit of common sense more often, then most of these groups couldn't get any attention. Look around you: clearly whites are not superior to other races. That's just stupid.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-19T12:12:22-06:00
ID
70763
Comment

Well, yeah. But clearly humanity evolved, too, and yet 55% of the American population believes that we were created as we are now. I have learned, slowly, that there are people who are capable of believing whatever they want to believe, solely because they want to believe it. They can do so with perfect faith, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. That ability frightens me. Re nature vs. nurture on race: I don't mean to suggest that we're all natural racists. I think there is something primal about us that prejudices us against people who look different than we are, and it probably ties into our 650 million year history of eating dissimilar corpses. Couple it with 250,000 years of tribal warfare organized around family allegiance (which is rooted in genetics), and you have a recipe for natural prejudice. Couple it with what we know of racism in recorded history, and the institutional racism that still exists today, and you have a culture that heavily favors some form of racism. And that has to be fought. And I emphasize: That has to be fought. Natural is NOT moral. Natural is leaving people to die if they break their legs. Natural is stealing food from other people's babies, making them starve. Natural is violence in all areas of life. Natural is no science, no arts, no government (except pure despotism). We don't want to be natural, folks. Think of Richard Dawkins' comment in The Selfish Gene: If we were told that a man had lived a long and prosperous life in the world of Chicago gangsters, we would be entitled to make some guesses as to the sort of man he was, We might expect that he would have qualities such as toughness, a quick trigger finger, and the ability to attract loyal friends. These would not be infallible deductions, but you can make some inferences about a man's character if you know something about the conditions in which he has survived and prospered. The argument of this book is that we, and all other animals, are machines created by our genes. Like successful Chicago gangsters, our genes have survived, in some cases for millions of years, in a highly competitive world. This entitles us to expect certain qualities in our genes. I shall argue that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness. This gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behavior. However, as we shall see, there are special circumstances in which a gene can achieve its own selfish goals best by fostering a limited form of altruism at the level of individual animals. 'Special' and 'limited' are important words in the last sentence. Much as we might wish to believe otherwise, universal love and the welfare of the species as a whole are concepts that simply do not make evolutionary sense. This brings me to the first point I want to make about what this book is not. I am not advocating a morality based on evolution. I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave. I stress this, because I know I am in danger of being misunderstood by those people, all toll numerous, who cannot distinguish a statement of belief in what is the case from an advocacy of what ought to be the case. My own feeling is that a human society based simply on the gene's law of universal ruthless selfishness would be a very nasty society in which to live. But unfortunately, however much we may deplore something, it does not stop it being true. This book is mainly intended to be interesting, but if you would extract a moral from it, read it as a warning. Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-19T13:03:42-06:00
ID
70764
Comment

Good one, Tom. Thanks.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-19T13:09:25-06:00
ID
70765
Comment

Thanks, Donna. I should add that the natural prejudice I describe has no value on its own; it is a natural instinct that can be sublimated or redirected or whatnot. I don't think that we're all deep down closet racists who grudgingly accept members of other races against our biological nature; rather I think we all have instincts that, if the social forces against it are not strong enough and if we're not extremely careful, will tend to settle in the direction of prejudice against people whose skin color, or hair color, or height or weight, other characteristics are not similar to our own "tribe." This is why integration is a bare necessity if we're going to dismantle racism. Whites have to identify, so to speak, as black. They have to look at a black person and think "us." That can't be done through ratiocination alone (and this ties into some of what Krista Tippett was speaking about yesterday); direct experience is the real agent of change. This is why I have never been interested in participating in racially segregated groups. In fact, I have deliberately LEFT groups and organizations that I would have otherwise thoroughly enjoyed solely because they were all-white. Whenever I enter a new social environment, I instantly look for non-white faces. If I don't see at least a few, I don't usually bother coming back. (And for those right-wing nutjobs who will say "Oh, well, I don't even THINK about race, so I've clearly evolved past all that": The issue isn't what you think; it's what you instinctually "know." And the only way to change that is to stare it down.) Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-19T13:24:07-06:00
ID
70766
Comment

I really like that. I say that because, biologically, there are a lot of responses in the body that actually "limit" us in society today. Much like Post Traumatic Stress is a biologically normal response to an event. It is maladaptive in today's society, but a normal survival response. Its why I hate the whole approach that Republican's have of "the strong will survive". Well, when the strong have Harvard degrees, we aren't talking about Darwinism. Okay? We are talking about socialization that has led people to excuse their own less than altruistic behavior (and I'm being nice here) because they feel they have an scientific reason. Well, if we were living in a society where "the strong will survive"...THE POOR WOULD BE RULING IT. You wanna know why? Because they are the most adaptable population around...they HAVE survived...they KNOW survival. If it was Cheney and an African American mother of three who's had to juggle money to feed her kids...who are you gonna side with in a fight for survival? I'm going with the mom. I'm going with her because MY mother was a single mom who juggled pay checks to feed us. She had a strong social support system, but I'd take her in a fight for survival anyday over a man who hid in an undisclosed location for a year. Ultimately, when it comes down to TRUE survival skills...it will be those living on the fringes that make it. Wait...I think I have a column so I'm going to shut up now. ;-)

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-09-19T13:30:39-06:00
ID
70767
Comment

This is why integration is a bare necessity if we're going to dismantle racism. Whites have to identify, so to speak, as black. They have to look at a black person and think "us." That can't be done through ratiocination alone (and this ties into some of what Krista Tippett was speaking about yesterday); direct experience is the real agent of change. Amen, brother. I agree with every single word. So, so important. My friend Dana talks about how she and her husband raised their daughters "deliberately" to understand the problems of people of other racesóincluding sending them to Jackson Public Schools. (And not they're both very impressive young Ivy women.) Everyone of us has to deal with our own innate prejudices; the difference is whether we do. I certainly had to unlearn thinking of people of color as somehow more "dangerous." I was told growing up the "lazy" stereotype. When we first started the JFP, I had to tell myself to be comfortable driving through every neighborhood in the city and going into businesses where white folks seldom venture to ask if we could distribute the paper. But I did. I had to get used to being the minority, but I did. And now it comes easy without thinking about it. I "cross Gallatin," so to speak, all the time, and I don't suddenly lock my doors. I'm aware of my surroundings, but no more than I am in parking lots in Ridgeland. The point, though, is that being "deliberate" isn't always comfortable. Many people who want to live more integrated lives are afraid they'll look stupid or stand out. So what? How many times have people of color been the minority in a roomful of white faces. White folks need to experience that, too. It's about getting past unreasonable fears. My advice to people is always: Live in the whole city. Often, I go drive up and down the streets of Jackson where houses are crumbling, by myself or with other people, to remind myself that parts of my city are in real pain and need my attention and that of other compassionate people. I don't gawk, and I try to be polite, but I want to know what's going on out there. And I don't want to fear people who don't look like me. And often the way to do that is to just go where you're uncomfortable. And then, you know what, you'll get comfortable. It's kind of like the first day of school. It doesn't continue feeling the same way. But it will if you don't try to break down the barriers. "Do the thing you cannot you," said Eleanor Roosevelt. Just do it. It's amazing to think that the key to helping heal the country is to cross Gallatin, but it kind of is. Think about it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-19T13:36:10-06:00
ID
70768
Comment

You wanna know why? Because they are the most adaptable population around...they HAVE survived...they KNOW survival. A thing that touched me mightily on Speaking of Faith yesterday was when Dr. Hilfiker said that something he had learned about poor, black communities was how much they would help other people, by turning over their last dollar to help their neighbors buy diapers, for instance. This is so opposite the stereotype that white bigots have, and there are exceptionsóbut it is absolutely true about the poor that they know MORE about survival, not less, than the rest of us.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-19T13:39:06-06:00
ID
70769
Comment

Snopes has picked up on the mass emails about evacuees..... http://www.snopes.com/katrina/personal/reststop.asp

Author
emilyb
Date
2005-09-19T21:56:11-06:00
ID
70770
Comment

Thanks, Emily. Let's take these neo-bigots on straight ahead; such tripe as this is about as low as a human being can stoop. But, sadly, it sounds like the tripe I've seen on another local blogóand the keeper of that blog could have written the "wow" line himself. Hell, he probably did. I hate to think where this e-mail could easily be traced to. Snopes: Some versions contain additional comment tacked on by those whose hands it has passed through: "All I can say is wow! To think we are spending so much of our resources for these no-good ingrates." Which is indeed its message. Purported personal accounts like the one describing a trashed rest stop tend to confirm a widely-held suspicion those evacuated from the wreckage of New Orleans are the dregs of society, content to live on handouts even as they verbally abuse those doing the handing out. Such characterization tends to fit more neatly into what people need to believe if they are to feel good about scaling back on the relief efforts underway ó by convincing themselves recipients of their largesse are both unworthy and ungrateful, they will find it less painful to disassociate themselves than if the victims of Katrina remained in their minds sweet-faced little children, befuddled but lovable grandfathers, and struggling families who lost it all and now have nothing. Tell 'em, Snopes. Lord save us.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-19T22:06:17-06:00
ID
70771
Comment

In fact, let's call 'em "neo-bigs" for short. ;-D

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-19T22:07:04-06:00
ID
70772
Comment

You know, one charitable intepretation that crosses my mind: They say denial is the first stage of grief. I wonder sometimes if many of the folks who spread rumors like this just aren't emotionally ready to face the fact that people are hurting this bad, and that it's all our fault. I know that whenever I hear that a non-elderly stranger dies, I look for something she did "wrong." Because that means that I, and the people closest to me, will be protected, in a way, because we don't do that, we aren't like that. I know that if I could really pretend that the people suffering in New Orleans were just plain nasty people from birth, "subhumans" to use Jack Criss' favorite term, I would sleep a lot better at night. Of course, some of these folks are mindlessly loyal Republicans who do nothing but protect Bush. And some of the others are probably just plain nasty pieces of work. But I wonder how many of them are just trying to turn off the pain, the discomfort, the feelings of hypocrisy? That vitriolic moron Michael Savage once wrote a book called Liberalism is a Mental Disease. But you know, maybe sometimes conservatism is a mental disease--a delusional state that pretends all is as it should be, that the suffering deserve to suffer, that the thriving deserve to thrive, that we are not accountable, that we can just relax and buy our nice suburban houses and eat caviar and drink chianti and mousse our hair to the point of reanimation and wear polo shirts with the little crocodiles on them and go to church to be told how good we are compared to the suffering world around us. I wonder. It sure would make life easier. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-19T22:56:41-06:00
ID
70773
Comment

And BTW- "Crossing Gallatin" is such a great phrase that it should be the title of a book. I'll admit that there are parts of town I avoid, especially at night, and I avoid those parts of town because there is more crime there. About ten years ago, a close friend's father was shot to death by a gang of five masked robbers outside of his convenience store. None of them were ever caught. Just last week, a couple of other friends--a couple that had just come to Jackson from New Orleans, and were on the way back from checking their now-nonexistent house--had their car jacked at gunpoint. All of their material possessions were in that car, and now they don't even have that. So sometimes, at some hours, I don't really want to cross Gallatin. But there are people, law-abiding people, genuinely good people, children and grandparents and kind young women and courageous young men, and they live in those neighborhoods I won't visit after dark. So if I'm so damned scared, and they're not, who really should be feeling superior in all this? Certainly not me. I don't know. I'm still struggling all of this. I'm not scared of being the only white person in the room (there have been times when I went out of my way to do exactly that), and I don't even mind taking the risk myself, but I don't want someone to lose their car or their wallet or their purse or their life on my account. And since I'm always a passenger rather than a driver, I have to take this seriously. Some neighborhoods are rougher than others, and this is true of every city. But as anyone who knows anything about homicide statistics can tell you, homicides are not white people being gunned down for their cars because they're in the wrong neighborhoods after dark. They're usually people arguing about drugs, or business, or relationships. It's all pretty mundane stuff most of the time. Every now and then a robbery goes worse, but how often does that happen? Once or twice a year? You take bigger risks crossing the parking lot. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-19T23:13:37-06:00
ID
70774
Comment

When I think of that email, I see Rove at home. In his underwear...typing maniacally and laughing like a villian in a comic book. Is this just me? Or, do most people see him with clothes on?

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-09-20T06:19:21-06:00
ID
70775
Comment

I can definitely believe the TxDOT has no knowledge of this story...because of a certain hyperbole concering the rest area itself!!!!!! Here's a story for you....................as witnessed by my dad and mom. At the state line between TX and LA, there is a HUGE, brand new rest area. It's NICE. Brand new????????? MY A**!!!!! I driven by that rest area off and on for years, even before I moved to Dallas! It is NOT ìbrand newî. Nor have I noticed any changes of any sort that indicate any kind of remodeling - not even substantial changes in interior decorations! Granted, it IS a pretty nice one, but certainly not gleaming glamorous. The ìniceî part (meaning reasonably well kept and attractive) is the ONLY thing the e-mail has right. Huge? They donít specify the dimensions, so Iíll just throw in my own comment. Certainly itís not a tiny one, being right at a state line, but itís hardly mall-like, or even like a small town Wal-Mart Pre-SuperCenter. Itís about the size of the rest area off I-20 westbound, about ? mile after you get off the Vicksburg bridge (which, like the Waskom, TX rest area on I-20, does have tourist information - being right inside the state). BTW, Iím not trying to slander the people of the so-called ìArk-La-Texî area, but rural areas just outside Shreveport do have a bit of Klan Activity. I heard (I stress!!)Öthat Center, TX, about 40 miles SW of Síport was practically the KKK Capital of East Texas (Unconfirmed Hearsay, I stress!). So you guess who is LIKELY (again, I stress) to have sent that e-mail. On the other hand, Shreveport does have a good small liberal arts college (Centenary College of Louisiana, which like Millsaps is a Methodist school) located in a reasonably open area of the city (The Highland Area, south of downtown, between the Red River and I-49). Plus, Iíve met plenty of Shreveport people who do not share the attitudes expressed in this e-mail.

Author
Philip
Date
2005-09-20T11:14:32-06:00
ID
70776
Comment

Phillip - HAAHAAA!! I have actually been to, stopped at and all, that rest stop. Now that I think about it, I was headed to Jackson when I stopped. I have even been lucky enough to dine at the Dairy Queen in Waskom. I'm telling you, the Bumpkin Factor was off the charts! I agree, it is LIKELY to have been sent by one of Them. I can also check on the KKK thing in Center, I have family (read: EXTENDED, way extended, family) there, so maybe they know something.

Author
Melissa
Date
2005-09-20T14:35:37-06:00
ID
70777
Comment

Emily, I must say this was a wonderfully written article!

Author
vern
Date
2005-09-20T16:21:41-06:00
ID
70778
Comment

I also wanted to agree with a comment that Melissa made earlier... "people wear me out with their ignorance"....that is ever so true!!

Author
vern
Date
2005-09-20T16:24:33-06:00

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