As I read the headline it was not hard to believe that this was a potential hate-crime. A hate-crime that’s getting very little exposure and connects to a bigger topic that another author brought up in an NBC News article. Why the Notre Dame Cathedral is an integral cultural structure for the world, yet 3 Black historical churches in Louisiana are deemed as unimportant by the media. The Notre Dame Cathedral received a tremendous amount of support and donations from nations across the globe, including America. A structure that could easily be re-built without the need for donations.
Yet here in America, our internal problems are put to the side to focus on a European religious building that has no effect on the American people. At this time it has been revealed in the article that a White man was to blame for the Black church fires, and he was turned in by his father, who happens to be a police officer. Whether or not this mans father was involved or supportive we may never know, but the connection continues to prove that individuals in positions of authority harbor racist sentiments. The connection to Notre Dame is meant to enforce the point that economic institutions of racism help to uphold White empires, empires that have hurt black and Brown ancestors, as France has a long history of colonialism just like America, yet when it comes to Black religious institutions the world, and America stays silent.
For me personally I was too young and uneducated to follow what actions the former president took while in office so I’m not posting to speak about that. I wanted to use this post to explain what I believe Obama did for the black community. He gave us hope, it was the first time in my live that I realized that anything is possible. Up until that point I would’ve never thought that I would be able to look up to a President that has the same skin color as me. He broke the standard of whiteness through a whole lot of adversity and people praying on his downfall. But even hope and breaking the norm has consequences. When President Obama was elected it made everyone believe that racism was over and that the U.S. was in a “post-racial era” as described in class. This belief allowed people to relax even if they didn’t believe that the issue of race was over. This relaxation allowed for the countless acts of discrimination, hatred, harm, and misuse of the law with regard to minorities in this country. Im not saying that these actions wouldn’t have happened otherwise, I’m saying that the slightly period of relaxation allows people to fall to their “roots” and the “roots” of the United States of America is the act of racism and unequal treatment based on systems that were put in place to hinder those who aren’t white.
This article posted yesterday discusses the 1998 hate-crime killing of James Byrd Jr. It was reported that John William King, one of the two men held responsible with a life sentences in prison, was executed. The Supreme Court had declined to issue a stay in the case and King was executed an hour later.
The prosecutors said that Byrd was killed after being dragged behind a truck for three miles in a town in East Texas. The article says that the case brought back a time of lynching and racially motivated killings throughout the South. Byrd’s family said that justice was being served and that he was a danger to society, agreeing with his death. This recent action brings to question to what point do we enact the death penalty to receive justice and prove a point. In addition, these killings have been going on for centuries and are sparked out of fear. The fear has not disappeared, but there has been less news coverage of these hate crimes and society’s understanding of these crimes have changed. It does not make it ok, but simply turns a blind eye. The resurrection of this case and the execution of King brings up several new questions about how our society will deal with race and racial violence in a modern era.
Whether John William King deserved to be killed for his actions or not, it is good to remind society that these issues still remain in our world today and have not been resolved. They are being discussed in new contexts and in new ways, but they allow our society to change. We still need to fight for an end so that these crimes do not happen again.
In this class, while this course’s goal is to center African American History as central and part of the larger story of U.S. history, it also attempts to complicate and interrogate the “single story” about African Americans and the US, that is the single story of stereotypes of black criminality and laziness, etc.
That single story is primarily part of what might be called “American exceptionalism.” Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes about some of this on page 28, under the heading of “American Exceptionalism.” Part of that idea is that the US is uniquely special. More significantly, according this idea, anyone can thrive in the U.S. through hard work. In that story, African Americans have not thrived because they do not work hard and because of their negative culture.
Now, this post is also inspired by Kate Read’s blog Selvam Allotey’s comment in response to it. Kate’s blog is titled, “UBUNTU: More Than a Show About Africa.” Now, please read it, because it reflects good understanding of ideas as presented in this course and nicely applies these to UBUNTU, as event sponsored by the African Students Union.
Selvam also connects this event to discussions in class. He writes:
Similar to how the cultural aspects of the Harlem Renaissance was for Black people after WWI, culture is used as a medium of educating others about African culture through an Afrocentric lens. In many instances, the African culture and way of living is depicted from a negative Eurocentric standpoint for capital gains. African countries have always had rich and beautiful cultures, but the issue was letting others see it. The beautiful streets of Accra and Lagos in Ghana and Nigeria respectively were never shown, but hungry children always are. The genocide of Rwanda is splashed everywhere but no one knows how things are now. In the United States, some White people not only try to rewrite the histories and control the portrayal of Black people inland, but they do this to all people in the diaspora. I’m happy for your new discoveries, and Ubuntu mainly highlighted 2 out of 54 countries from the African continent, so theres so much more to see.
This morning we discussed the rise of conservativism in American politics and liberal and conservative law and order politics. Part of that discussion is connected to previous lectures on the New Deal and modern liberalism, as reflected in the New Deal coalition and the policies that helped white America during the New Deal era and much of post-War II America.
Here’s a short video that speaks to these transformation and how it related to politics and race in the present:
Dinesh D’Souza gets a history lesson on Twitter. D’Souza has made a specialty of highlighting the undeniable racism of the 1960s Democratic Party as a way to tar the current party. His arguments ignore the way the two political parties switch positions on Civil Rights in the 1960s, with the Democrats embracing Civil Rights and Republicans, under the guidance of national leaders like Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, exploiting racist backlash. On Monday, D’Souza put up a challenge to his critics:
Just over one decade ago, history was made in the United States when our first black president, Barack Obama, was inaugurated following the 2008 election. Now, there are more women and minorities vying for the Democratic party nomination for the upcoming 2020 presidential election than ever. The likelihood of any of these diverse candidates winning, though, is questionable. In fact, I highly doubt that this country will see another president that is not a white male any time soon. This is not to say, however, that minorities and women should not seek to hold political office. On the contrary, representation of minorities in politics is more important now than ever, as we face an ever-more connected global society. Still, in order for the Democratic party to have a chance to recapture the Executive branch, they need to separate themselves from identity politics. These identity politics, while intended to promote inclusion, can actually leave some voters who are not wedded to the party or are not as liberal feeling isolated or animus. It is these votes, though, that Democrats need in order to win a Presidential election.
It is important to note that we are currently in need of a presidential candidate that demonstrates a compromise between the increasingly extreme political parties. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agrees that our present federal government is stifled, unable to perform the simplest tasks. He maintains that the reasons for this, other than the obvious fact that neither party can reach an agreement with the other, are “governmental ineptitude, arrogance and corruption, and self-serving politicians more concerned with getting reelected than with the nation’s future.”
If the Democratic party wants any chance of recapturing the White House, they will need to put forward a candidate that fits the traditional “American look” in order to gain Republican votes. This is unfortunate news for more than half of the Democratic candidates.
This article was a very surprising article which made me understand some of the effects of colonialism, even in the modern era. It talks about how children born to Belgian settlers and local women were forcibly taken to Belgium and fostered by Catholic orders and other institutions. The article further shows the negative impacts of colonialism at that period and how it has even carried into the modern day. The mixed-race children were taken to Belgium against their will and in some cases never received Belgian nationality and remained stateless. This is very sad considering that they were taken from their African mothers and lost contact with them forever. Another shocking revelation is that most of the fathers refused to acknowledge the paternity of their children. This left the children in a void and without any economic future in an unknown land. The prime minister did acknowledge that it was a violation of the basic child human right, and also talked about how they were stripped of their identity, stigmatized and split among their siblings. Many of them had no access to birth records and remained unable to find their mothers or their Belgian fathers. The Un demanded that Belgium apologize for all its atrocities during the colonial period, a move which wouldn’t repair the deep wounds
The spillover effects from the colonial era can clearly be recognized in the context of Kenya and its strictness on uniformity. Hairstyles are a unique identifier for different races and this is no different from that of Africans. However, high schools in not only Kenya but other African countries see these hairstyles as forms of distractions to academic success. This notion began during post-colonial Kenya when most of the teachers were still white. As such, there is no surprise when these young children are made to aspire to Eurocentric beauty norms as they are asked to brush their hair in order for it to be straight.
Similar stories have surfaced in the United States, with black children being expelled from school for not accommodating to white inspired rules. These oppressive practices hinders cultural expression, degrades Afrocentric cosmetic norms, and implies that the natural beauty of blackness is unprofessional, unkept, and unapt. Through this, Black people gradually lose this freedom of expression and encloses them within the confined spaces of these Eurocentric views. Professionalism then becomes a space of whiteness leaving no room for blackness. The irony of this beauty mishap is that African and African American beauty practices are used to popularize major fashion industries. Black beauty forms are only accepted by society when it’s not on black bodies. In prescribing a solution for the issue, society would need to acknowledge the implicit bias of black beauty being inappropriate. Also, we must all realize that diversity is important and not everyone must conform to uniformity.
I first learned of the “Igbo Landing Legend” from my class, ‘Jazz & African American Literature’. I had found it interesting and very moving. The legend takes place in 1803, and is referred to by some as the first “freedom march” in America.
It begins in May 1803, when a ship full of captured West Africans (Igbo people from what is now Nigeria) lands in Georgia, where they are shortly sold later. After being sold in Savannah, the 75 Igbo people were chained and loaded onto a small ship on its way to plantations in St. Simons Island. During the sail to the island, the enslaved Igbo rose up, rebelled, and overtook the ship, drowning their captors.
After overtaking the ship, it had crashed into land. The Igbo aboard had not wanted to become slaves, causing all 75 of them to commit mass suicide (theorized to be a command from a high Igbo chief). The mass suicide was committed by drowning, they walked into the Dunbar Creek. Many believe that the Igbo sung a tune local to them about, their “water spirit”, saying that the water spirit will take them home. Through this, they knowingly accepted death rather than the horrors of being captured and enslaved in America.