Thursday, September 30, 2010

where would you rather live?

from Working Group on Extreme Inequality:

Wealth preferences

advice for Wiscon

Elizabeth Moon was chosen to be a guest of honor because of her work. That work has not changed. Honor it, not her bigotry. (If I was going to be there, I would wear a badge or an armband in support of Muslims, perhaps a crescent on a green field.)

Out of Sight

Out of Sight
(via the excellent Elizabeth Bear, who sent it to cheer up Emma, who is having a hard day)

Obama and the usual Shetterly concerns

On Facebook, Doug Lain has been promoting Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Things from two of her essays that I like:

from John Wayne and the New Orleans Indians:
For days I have been thinking of Sitting Bull's observation that the United States knows how to make everything, but doesn't know how to distribute it. He was being generous in attributing the lack of equitable distribution of goods to benign ignorance rather than to malign design. But he knew better. Once in Chicago while performing with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West, Sitting Bull spoke through his translator to the huge crowd of ragged white men, women, and barefoot children: "I know why your government hates me. I am their enemy. But why do they hate you?"
from Hating the Rich:'s all right to hate slavery and slaveowners, fascism and Hitler, etc. Why not hate the rich, the individual rich, not an abstract concept?
I've been thinking about hating Obama. Okay, I actually still kind of like the guy, but I saw an article about his Christianity recently, and I wondered about the Christianity of a guy with a million-dollar home who sends his children to an exclusive private school instead of the kind of school most of us get. Jimmy Carter's Christianity was also flawed, but his daughter went to public school while he was The Prez. I think Carter cared about us more than Obama does. Obama cares the way rich people do: he wants the poor to be a little better off so he can feel good about having servants.

At my Racefail blog, Let Them Eat Diversity has my favorite bits from a new Walter Benn Michaels interview.

Let Them Eat Diversity

From Let Them Eat Diversity by Walter Benn Michaels:
Major social changes have taken place in the past 40 years with remarkable rapidity, but not any in any sense inimical to capitalism. people get more wealthy they tend to become less committed to the redistribution of wealth but there are lots of ways in which they become “more liberal”—with respect to gay rights, antiracism, with respect to all the so-called “social issues,” as long as these social issues are defined in such a way that they have nothing to do with decreasing the increased inequalities brought about by capitalism, which is to say, taking away rich liberals’ money.

...people in the Tea Party movement have a problem that is realer than “White male status anxiety,” ... my point isn’t really to deny the phenomenon of status anxiety, it’s just to point out the extraordinaire eagerness of American liberals to identify racism as the problem, so that anti-racism (rather than anti-capitalism) can be the solution. has been very comforting to discover over the past five or six years that there are plenty of people who have views similar to mine and who are actually better at expressing them.

...Victimization that does not take place through discrimination is invisible and that’s why it’s worth remembering that the vast majority of poor people in the country are White. After all, the country is about 70 percent White and if you look at the bottom quintile of income it’s about 61 percent White, so it’s an absolute majority.

...Today we’re living in a deeply anti-racist society ... officially committed to anti-racism ... which you can tell when Glenn Beck thinks it’s a good idea to couch his criticism of Obama by calling Obama a “racist.” It’s the killing word to say to anyone. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t still racism, it means that there is an important sense in which anti-racism is absolutely the official ideology because no one can imagine themselves to be committed to racism. It’s become a kind of moral imperative rather than a political position, deployed by the Right as well as the Left.

...To be poor in America today, or to be anything but in the top 20 percent in America today, is to be victimized in important ways and in so far as we’re appreciating the characteristic products of victimization, we are not actually dealing with exploitation, but rather enshrining victimization, treating it as if it had value and therefore ought to be preserved. And that’s obviously reactionary.
Interviewer: Like the Richard Geres of the world viewing Tibetan poverty as a commendable stand against materialism.
WBM: Completely.

...You know you live in a world that loves neoliberalism when having some people of color who are rich is supposed to count as good news for all the people of color who are poor. The argument for Obama is he’s there, so I can be there too, but all the white male presidents we’ve had haven’t done much good for poor Whites, and in a country where there’s now declining social mobility (less than in Western Europe), it’s hard to take even the traditional solace in the fact that the empty claim that anyone can grow up to become President now includes Black people. None of this will make any difference unless we start thinking about the politically relevant question, eliminating the gap between the rich and the poor.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

David Simon update

Television Producer Mulls Giving Away MacArthur Prize

The writer and producer David Simon, the main creative force behind the acclaimed TV series The Wire and Treme, told The Baltimore Sun he might give his $500,000 MacArthur Foundation fellowship to charity.
“The entertainment industry pays quite well, so my first inclination is to pass it through and do something charitable,” said Mr. Simon, who was named Tuesday as one of 23 winners of this year’s “genius” grants.
Daniel Socolow, director of the fellows program, cautioned Mr. Simon about giving the grant away, noting that it could finance a worthy but noncommercial creative project.
The 2010 class of MacArthur fellows represents a historic low for New York-area “geniuses,” with only three living and working in the greater metropolitan area, The Wall Street Journal notes. At least five individuals who reside in the New York area have won the $500,000 grants in each of the past five years, including eight in 2006 and nine in 2008.

(Thanks, Kathleen!)

the politics of war reporting in WW2

Mystery of a 'Disgraced' War Reporter


Emma and I had a grand time at Foolscap—good talk, good food, and the chance to see too many people we haven't seen in too long and spend, alas, too little time with most of them.

Among the many especially nice meetings were finally meeting Nisi Shawl and Mary Robinette Kowal. Mary's the Veep of SFWA, and she gives me hope for the organization, which seems to veer madly from administration to administration between being a private club and a writer's service organization. I like the latter model. Frankly, I wish it was more like the WGA, but SFWA manages to do a lot of good with the Grievance Committee and the Emergency Medical Fund. It's probably time for me to join again.

But I digress. Foolscap is small and targeted at readers, and there are many good restaurants within walking distance. I would return every year if I could.

I meant to take pics like crazy and tweet them, but I was soon too busy just being at the con. Here are the pics I managed to snap with my trusty ipod:


Impressionistic pics are from the Night Kitchen, where you must try the the cheese curds if you like cheese at all and you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. One shot shows Nisi and Kat Richardson teaching The Other, which flowed beautifully into our POV workshop. Emma did not make a giant bacon strip on the plane; that's a contribution for the Red Scarf Project.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

understanding anti-racists, and my hope to take a break from this blog

The sort of thing their race-based understanding of power ignores: Census Finds Record Gap Between Rich and Poor.

How their ethics work: Kill Whitey. It’s the Right Thing to Do.

Their flawed approach to activism: Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted.

Anti-racists remind me that no one's more dangerous than a crusader. They believe their cause justifies anything they do, including death threats and lies.*

Something that cannot be said often enough: They're racists, no different in kind than the people who call themselves racialists or racial realists. If you hope to get them to acknowledge that a reasonable person might doubt their faith, cite people of color like Thandeka and Adolph Reed Jr. (Mind you, anti-racists don't mind that the most prominent figures in anti-racism are white. All faiths can bear contradictions.)

* I sometimes wonder if I'm the only person in the world who has received death threats from both racists and anti-racists.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

my foolscap schedule

Fri 7:30-8 pm, Commons: Opening Ceremonies and reception

Sat 10 - 11 am (Alder) Collaborating for Fun and Profit – In the age of the Internet, collaboration is easier than ever. Should you collaborate on a project? What tools should you use? What are some of the common pitfalls and benefits?

* Ellen Beeman
* Amber Clark
* Nathan Crowder
* Cory & Catska Ench
* Will Shetterly

Sat 11 am - noon (Alder) Class Warriors From Beyond – Class and Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror

* Kyra Freestar
* Mary Kowal
* Will Shetterly

Sat 130 - 3 pm (Elk)Guests of Honor: Emma Bull & Will Shetterly Question & Answer Session

*Sat 3 - 430 pm (Canyon Creek) All Access Authors – How do Twitter, blogging, etc, change the relationship between the audience and the author’s work? How does it work for authors and readers to interact via social media, and what's the most effective way to do it?

* Emma Bull
* Keffy Kehrli
* Mary Kowal
* Bob Kruger
* Angel McCoy
* Tamara Sellman
* Will Shetterly (check...)
* Mark Teppo

Sat 430 - 6 pm (Elk) Who Ought to be Able to Use My Idea? – intellectual property.

* Ellen Beeman
* Kirsten Edwards
* Manny Frishberg (M)
* Mary Kowal
* Will Shetterly (check...)

Sun 10 - 11 am (Elk) Cool Universes That Haven’t Seen Print – Online stories with community involvement, enhanced features, etc., like Shadow Unit by Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, and others. Now with Mark Teppo and The Mongoliad.

* Emma Bull
* Will Shetterly
* Mark Teppo

Sun 4 - 5 pm (Elk)The Heroine’s Journey – If you take a classic "hero's journey" story and put a female in the lead role, does it work, or does it necessarily change the story? Why? What is the parallel for girls and women, if any?

* Kyra Freestar
* Kat Richardson
* Beverly Marshall Saling
* Sarah Scrivano
* Will Shetterly

Sun 5 - 6 pm (Commons)
Coffee Klatch with our Guests of Honor - relax and chat with our Guests of Honor while your ConCom is breaking down parts of the convention.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

a few pics from the family photo album

At the Bob Shetterly blog, I've added two posts with a few pics in each, my Mom's trip to Mexico in 1948 and my sister and I when we were very young.

Joan in Mexico, 1948

In 1948, Mom and three friends drove a 1941 Plymouth from Roseau, Minnesota to Mexico City.

"Going to Mexico City, 1941 Plymouth"

"Mary and Guide"


Billy and Little Bit

new mottoes for Fox News

I thought I'd record these here:

"Guess why we're named for a famously deceptive critter."

"Running the philosophical gamut from Hayek to Rand."

"The world is our henhouse."

what next?

Bomba Estéreo - Feelin' (Live on KEXP) via Larry's Pretty Good LiveJournal

Emma and I are off to Foolscap. I expect to be doing a fair bit of tweeting for the next few days, but very little blogging.

Peace, y'all!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

wednesdayness: education, Ben Hecht praises terrorism, etc.

The overblown crisis in American education:
the data do not show that charter schools in general are better than district schools. There are also many school-reform efforts besides charter schools: the one with the best sustained record of producing better-educated children in difficult circumstances, in hundreds of schools over many years, is a rigorously field-tested curriculum called Success for All, but because it’s not part of the story line it goes almost completely unmentioned. Similarly, on the issue of tenure, the clear implication of most school-reform writing these days—that abolishing teacher tenure would increase students’ learning—is an unproved assumption.
What's wrong with our schools?:
Given that education is meant to be the key that unlocks the barrier to social mobility and we have spent a fortune on our schools over the last couple of decades, why is the social gap no longer narrowing?

Or, to put it in nice simple language, why do rich, thick kids do better than poor, clever children?

...Rich kids - thick or otherwise - do better than poor. The biggest predictor by far of how well a child will do in later life is the parents' income.

That may be unsurprising but it is nonetheless deeply shocking. Indeed, you might argue that it is shocking because it is unsurprising. We have always known it, but we have still allowed it to happen. We expect it.

Yet it is not as though it is somehow pre-ordained - the inevitable result of wealth divisions that exist everywhere. The comparison with other countries proves that it is not.
I was just reading about Ben Hecht, a writer I generally admire, and I came on this, which made me think about people who damn all Muslims because a few celebrated the bombing of the World Trade Tower. After the bombing of the King David Hotel, Hecht said, "Every time you blow up a British arsenal, or wreck a British jail, or send a British railroad sky high, or rob a British bank, or let go with your guns at the British betrayers and invaders of your homeland, the Jews of America make a little holiday in their hearts."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

on "fail" and "the tone argument"

I first ran into "the tone argument" at The Privilege of Politeness. Wikia's summary for feminists is as good as any: "A tone argument is an argument used in discussions, sometimes by Concern trolls and sometimes as a Derailment, in which it is suggested that feminists would be more successful if only they expressed themselves in a more pleasant tone."

The tone argument has been referenced by people of all hues and genders who think their righteous issue, racism or sexism or ableism, gives them a right to speak any way they wish.

I started thinking about it after yesterday's tweeting:

Every time I see someone use the "fail" construct in what's supposed to be a serious, adult conversation, I lose respect for them.
It only happened once, and I am thoroughly ashamed. It was failfail. Oops.
While I agree the fail clanks, "people who talk like me" ain't got a monopoly on serious or adult or respect.

(For all values of "me," mind.)
Full agreement. Though I'll add that failfans aren't big on respect. They call it the "tone argument."
From what I've seen, those two transactions typically occur in differing though yes sometimes overlapping contexts.

Being told to display respect with appropriately limited markers in order to be taken seriously is frustrating, yes.

(But what I've seen hasn't been much at all.)
Frustrating, sure, but you can't complain about not getting respect when you're not giving respect.

Malcolm X: “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”

I tried adopting "tone argument" logic to give up my "privilege of politeness." Didn't help a bit.
I will grant that matters are frequently taken far too personally in these disputes.
Me, too. Separating what matters to you from your sense of identity is tough.
I was called on my tone this morning. I thought about defending it, then realized that dwelling on it in any way would distract from the issue we were discussing. So I wrote, "sorry about the tone" and continued with the subject.

So far as I can tell, the people who bring up "the tone argument" are middle and upper-class. Which may be why they haven't noticed that there's something astonishingly classist about the idea that "some people" can't mind their tone.

Frankly, I think few working class people of any race would buy "the tone argument." Their response would more likely be, "Didn't your mama teach you any manners?"

the race of women

via Christina Bryant

Okay, this one doesn't have much of a class component. I just like the pic and the sign.

At least, it doesn't automatically have a class component, since I don't know the history of these individuals, but the women's rights movement has a strong class component: Some of the leaders wanted suffrage for upper class women, but not for working class women. After all, someone has to clean up for rich folks.

From the Encyclopedia Britannica:
Suffragist leaders, reflecting that shift in attitude, began appealing for the vote not on the principle of justice or on the common humanity of men and women but on racist and nativist grounds. As early as 1894, Carrie Chapman Catt declared that the votes of literate, American-born, middle-class women would balance the votes of foreigners: “[C]ut off the vote of the slums and give to woman…the ballot.”

This elitist inclination widened the divide between feminist organizers and the masses of American women who lived in those slums or spoke with foreign accents. As a result, working-class women—already more concerned with wages, hours, and protective legislation than with either the vote or issues such as women's property rights—threw themselves into the trade union movement rather than the feminists' ranks.

about Islam, E. Moon, and the not-a-mosque-not-at-ground-zero

The discussion at Elizabeth Moon on Islam has ended, but Brad R. Torgersen left a comment on mixed feelings about Elizabeth Moon's citizenfail (yes, I apologize for giving in and using a "fail" construction). I dunno if I have more to say about this, but I thought my reply to him was sufficiently general that I would put it on my main blog as well as there:
Brad, sorry about the tone, but you've been making enormous generalizations about Islam and Muslims. I don't think reading Reza Aslan's No God But God will necessarily change your mind, but it will help you with the complexities involved. There's a decent review of it here.

The sins you accuse Muslims of--violence, intolerance--are sins that Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus are also guilty of, if you're willing to damn the majority for what a tiny, tiny few have done.

As a lover of the First Amendment, I have trouble imagining any knowledgeable American speaking against Park51. It seems to me that such a person would be saying, "Chill, y'all. This is America, and they have no connection to 9/11. Muslims died in that attack. Some of them undoubtedly were working soon after praying in the mosque on the 17th floor."

Here's a bit from Muslim Victims of 9/11 Attack: "among the many victims of 9/11 were several dozen innocent Muslims, ranging in age from their late 60s to a couple’s unborn child. Six of these victims were Muslim women, including one who was 7 months pregnant. Many were stockbrokers or restaurant workers, earning a living to care for their families. There were converts and immigrants, hailing from over a dozen different countries and the U.S. There were heroes: a NYPD cadet and a Marriott hotel worker, who sacrificed their lives attempting to rescue others. The Muslim victims were parents to over 30 children, who were left orphaned without one or both of their parents." Read the link. There are other examples.
On his own blog, he says something that is very true: "...every major religion in America, including Catholicism, must endure the unyielding, unkind microscope of public scrutiny." But when he says "Islam has been very much set above and apart from all the other religions, in this regard, because of a very active, near pathological fear on the part of many that to examine Islam critically is to engage in racism, Islamophobia, etc." I think he is profoundly mistaken. Everyone who equates Muslims in general with Bin Laden's Wahhabi followers shows profound ignorance about Islam.

Recommended: American Muslim scholar declares: Terrorists are mass murderers, not martyrs (written a few days after 9/11) and a recent post at

I'm turning off comments on this post because I'd prefer Blogger users left them at Brad's blog or my mixed feelings about Elizabeth Moon's citizenfail. I will leave the comments on at my LiveJournal duplicate blog because LiveJournalers are just so lazy.

PS. See Jim C. Hines' excellent Open Letter to Elizabeth Moon. Jim and Brad discuss this in the comments.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Do all religions share a common thread?

Education or Exploitation? For-profit schools and working-class students

Energy Efficient light bulbs are poisoning us. This one's at Facebook. There's a youtube version, but its quality sucks. I don't know if the concern is valid, but the electro-magnetic field results are interesting.

Why We Can't Ignore Growing Income Inequality

From Too Much Weekly:
One of China’s richest men, recycler Chen Guangbiao, is now pledging to give away his entire $440 million fortune to charity. But few of his super-rich peers plan to join him this week at a meeting U.S. billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have organized to encourage China’s swells to donate at least half their net worth. Among the no-shows: Zong Qing Hou, China’s richest man, who has told reporters that China’s rich “can do more good” making money and creating jobs “than by donating to the poor.” But charitable foot-dragging by China’s rich, one news report notes, likely reflects a far-less public-spirited motivation. Many wealthy Chinese “don't want to draw attention to their riches, lest they prompt questions” about their estimated $1.4 trillion “in corruption-tainted” assets . . .

China has no inheritance tax, still another reason why so few of the Middle Kingdom’s super rich have an incentive to donate their money away.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

race reductionists versus class reductionists

The title of this post is my notion of a joke. Race versus class is a false divide. People who minimize the role of class in race relations call their opponents "class reductionists", but those of us who insist on the historical and contemporary role of class in institutional racism agree that on the individual level, sometimes a racist incident is just a racist incident.

Darryl, in the comments at Proof that Racists Often Put White Supremacy Over Money – Green is not the only color that matters…, said it better than I could: with most labels “reductionist” is just an imposition and a projection. We are both talking abut the same thing: power relationships. I am not suggesting that class is more important than race in an absolute sense, I am saying that in terms of addressing the actual, material, grievances of people (i.e. access to food, shelter, clothing, education, health care etc) the only thing that matters to the have-nots is that they have not and before you expect them to abandon their dependence on essentialist paradigms, you had better damn well be able to deliver them access to food, shelter, clothing, education, health care etc because money talks and no one ever fed themselves with “good will toward men.”
If you think in terms of institutional injustice, institutional racism is always part of institutional capitalism. If you want to argue about that, go right ahead, but please remember you're arguing with Malcolm X, not me: "You can't have capitalism without racism."

Sure, in theory, you can have the reverse, racism without capitalism. But in practice, there is no country with racism that does not have a recent history of capitalism.

If you point to lands with caste systems, caste is not race. As noted in The Caste System and the Stages of Life in Hinduism, "There is an expectation in India that higher caste people will have lighter skin -- although there are plenty of exceptions (especially in the South of India)." And from Caste vs colorism:
Caste isn't the same as color. Caste isn't the same as class. They can overlap, but they don't always. It's headache-inducing complicated. ... Dad is at the tippy top of India's caste system but he's dark enough that my American-born son (who doesn't get to see my folks all that often) once saw an older African American gentleman at the supermarket and asked what grandpa was doing back in the states. But in nearly 70 years, my father has never once had employment, residence, raises, or club memberships withheld because of how he looks.
Some basic facts:

1. Racism was born from the slave trade. The oldest skin-prejudice statements were made by Arabs and Jews who bought and sold dark-skinned Africans, but their prejudice was more tribal than racial. (The difference between tribe and race: you can join a tribe, but you can't join a race.) Solomon saw the Queen of Sheba was beautiful. Arab empires included African-Arabs like Al-Jahiz and Antarrah ibn Shaddad.

2. Up to the 17th century, no one limited slavery to any race. That changed in the Age of Enlightenment, when people realized it was wrong to sell people, so they had to sell people who were officially not people. That's when the biological concept of race was born.

3. The rich began to consciously divide the poor by race after Bacon's Rebellion in 1675. The British and Spanish created the first racist empires, and the US continued their racist work, not for racial reasons, but for capitalist ones. In North America, that resulted in tribes like the Cherokee adopting the racial divisions of their conquerors and defining their people by government records rather than culture.

4. Class has always trumped race. Black slaveowners in the US had far more privileges than poor whites. In the USA, race affects class—blacks in any class face more obstacles than whites of the same class—but the fundamental measure of privilege under capitalism is wealth.

In The politics of identity, Sharon Smith writes:
The entire element of social class is missing from the theory of identity politics. The same analysis that assumes Barack Obama shares a fundamental interest with all African Americans in ending racism also places all straight white men in the enemy camp, whatever their social class. Yet, the class divide has rarely been more obvious than in the United States today, where income and class inequality is higher than at any time since 1929, immediately before the onset of the Great Depression.10 It is plain to see that the rich obtain their enormous wealth at the expense of those who work for them to produce their profits, a process known as exploitation in Marxist parlance.

Class inequality is not a side issue, but rather the main byproduct of exploitation, the driving force of the capitalist system. Class inequality is currently worsening by the minute, as the economy edges its way toward a deep recession. Yet the theory of identity politics barely acknowledges the importance of class inequality, which is usually reduced to a label known as “classism”—a problem of snobbery, or personal attitude. This, again, should be confronted when it occurs, but such confrontations do not change the system that relies upon class exploitation.
LaClau and Mouffe describe society as made up of a whole range of autonomous, free-floating antagonisms and oppressions, none more important than any other—each is a separate sphere of “struggle.” But this concept falls apart once it is removed from the world of abstraction and applied to the real world. Separate struggles do not neatly correspond to separate forms of oppression. Forms of oppressions overlap, so that many people are both Black and female, or both lesbian and Latino. If every struggle must be fought separately, this can only lead to greater and greater fragmentation and eventually to disintegration, even within groups organized around a single form of oppression. A Black lesbian, for example, faces an obvious dilemma: If all men are enemies of women, all whites are enemies of Blacks, and all straights are enemies of gays, then allies must be precious few. In the real world, choices have to be made.
For me, there's one overwhelming argument for socialists to keep their focus on class. Liberal and conservative capitalists are working to prove Malcolm X wrong and end racism. They're working to end sexism. They're working to end homophobia and transphobia. They're working to end bigotry. That work will be futile so long as they refuse to redistribute wealth, but they're doing their best within the confines of capitalism. Their effort is good enough for many people who think of themselves as middle class.

But they're not trying to end the class system. They leave that work for socialists.

an update on the white South Carolina conservatives

I was right in the first place (yay, me!). That's a Union uniform:
McConnell, a Charleston Republican, said the uniform he’s wearing in the picture is the same uniform he wore in a movie about the Hunley, in which he had a nonspeaking role. He also points out he is not wearing a Confederate uniform, but a Union uniform that the hosts asked him to wear.

Oscar Brown, Jr. for fantasy fans

Oscar Brown, Jr. - Mr. Kicks

todays' discovery: Oscar Brown Jr.

Bid 'em in Cartoon

Def Poetry - Oscar Brown Jr. - I Apologize

ETA: If you like those, try his "This Beach."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Black Reds: Hubert Harrison

Snipped from Hubert Harrison:
He was described by activist A. Philip Randolph as “the father of Harlem radicalism” and by the historian Joel Augustus Rogers as “the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time.” Biographer Jeffrey B. Perry writes that, among the African-American leaders of his era, Harrison was “the most class conscious of the race radicals and the most race conscious of the class radicals.”
Harrison worked low-paying service jobs while attending high school at night. For the rest of his life, Harrison continued to study as an autodidact. In 1911, Harrison began full-time work with the Socialist Party of America and became America’s leading Black Socialist. He lectured widely against capitalism, campaigned for the party presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs in 1912, and founded the Colored Socialist Club (the Socialist’s first effort at reaching African Americans).
He supported the socialistic, egalitarian, and militantly radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). He was a prominent speaker along with IWW leaders Bill Haywood, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Carlo Tresca, and Patrick Quinlan at the historic 1913 Paterson Silk Strike of 1913.
His outdoor talks and free speech efforts were instrumental in developing a Harlem tradition of militant street corner oratory. He paved the way for those who followed, including A. Philip Randolph, Marcus Garvey, Richard B. Moore, and Malcolm X.
In contrast to the approaches of Booker T. Washington, who relied on white patrons and a Black political machine, and W. E. B. Du Bois, who focused on the “Talented Tenth of the Negro Race”, Harrison’s appeal was aimed directly at the masses. His class- and race-conscious radicalism, though neglected at some periods, laid out the contours of much subsequent debate and discussion of African-American social activists.

from "What Socialism Means To Us
(addressing a black audience)
...To-day, fellow-sufferers, they tell us that we are free. But are we? If you will think for a moment you will see that we are not free at all. We have simply changed one form of slavery for another. Then it was chattel-slavery, now it is wage-slavery. For that which was the essence of chattel-slavery is the essence of wage slavery. It is only a difference in form. The chattel-slave was compelled to work by physical force; the wage-slave is compelled to work by starvation. The product of the chattel-slave's labor was taken by his master; the product of the wage-slave's labor is taken by the employer.
...Under the old system the capitalist owned the man; today he own the tools with which the man must work. These tools are the factories, the mines, and the machines. The system that owns them owns you and me and all the rest of us, black, white, brown, red, and yellow. We can't live unless we have access to these tools, and our masters, the capitalists, see to it that we are separated from what we make by using these things, except so much as is necessary to keep us alive that we may be able to make more — for them. This little bit is called wages. They wouldn't give us even that if they thought that we could live without it. In the good old days the chattel-slave would be fastened with a chain if they thought that he might escape. Today no chain is necessary to bind us to the tools. We are as free as air. Of course. We are free to starve. And that chain of the-fear-of-starvation binds us to the tools owned by the capitalist as firmly as any iron chain ever did. And this system doesn't care whether the slaves who are bound in this new way are white or black. To the capitalist system all workers are equal — in so far as they have a stomach.
Now the one great fact for the Negro in America today is Race Prejudice. The great labor problem with which all working-people are faced is made harder for black working-people by the addition of a race problem. I want to show you how one grows out of the other and how, at bottom, they are both the same thing. In other words, I want you to see the economic reason for race-prejudice.

In the first place, do you know that the most rabid, Negro-hating, southern aristocrat has not the slightest objection to sleeping in the same house with a Negro — if that Negro sleeps there as his servant? He doesn't care if his food is prepared by a Negro cook and handled by a Negro waiter before it gets to him; he will eat it. But if a Negro comes into the same public restaurant to buy and eat food, then, Oh my!, he gets all het up about it. But why? What's the difference? I will tell you. The aristocrat wants the black man to feel that he is on a lower level. When he is on that level he is "in his place". When he is "in his place" he is liked. But he must not be allowed to do anything to make him forget that he is on this lower level; he must be kept "in his place", which means the place which the aristocrat wants him to keep. You see, the black man carries the memory of slavery with him. Everybody knows that the slaves were the exploited working-class of the South. That put them in a class by themselves, down at the bottom, downtrodden, despised, "inferior."

Do you begin to see now that Race Prejudice is only another name for Caste Prejudice? If our people had never been slaves; had never been exploited workers, and so, at the bottom of the ladder, there would be no prejudice against them now. In every case where there has been a downtrodden class of workers at the bottom, that class has been despised by the class that lived by their labor. Do you doubt it? Then look at the facts. If you had picked up a daily paper in New York in 1848 you would have found at the end of many an advertisement for butler, coachman, lady's maid, clerk or book-keeper these words: "No Irish need apply." There was a race-prejudice against the Irish then, because most of the manual unskilled laborers were Irish. They were at the bottom, exploited and despised. But they have changed things since. Beginning in the seventies when Jewish laborers began to come here from Russia, Austria and Germany, and lasting even to our own day, there has been race-prejudice against the Jews. And today when the Italian has taken the place which the Irish laborer vacated — at the bottom — he, too, comes in for his share of this prejudice. In every one of these cases it was the condition of the people — at the bottom as despised, exploited, wage-slaves — that was responsible for the race-prejudice. And it is just so in the black man's case, with this difference: that his color marks what he once was, and even though he should wear a dress suit every evening and own an automobile or a farm he can always be picked out and reminded.

...As long as the present system continues, the workers will be despised; as long as the workers are despised, the black men will be despised, robbed and murdered, because they are least able to defend themselves. Now ask yourself whether you haven't a very special interest in changing the present system.

Of course, you will ask: "But haven't white working people race-prejudice too?" Sure, they have. Do you know why? It pays the capitalist to keep the workers divided. So he creates and keeps alive these prejudices. He gets them to believe that their interests are different. Then he uses one half of them to club the other half with. In Russia when the workingmen demand reform the capitalists sic them on the Jews. In America they sic them on the Negroes. That makes them forget their own condition: as long as they can be made to look down upon another class. "But, then", you will say, " the average wage-slave must be a chump." Sure, he is. That's what the capitalist counts on. 

Black Reds: Lucy Parsons

Snipped from Lucy Parsons's Wikipedia entry:
Lucy (or Lucia) Eldine Gonzalez was born around 1853 in Texas, likely as a slave, to parents of Native American, Black American and Mexican ancestry.

In 1871 she married Albert Parsons, a former Confederate soldier, and both were forced to flee from Texas north to Chicago by intolerant reactions to their interracial marriage.

Described by the Chicago Police Department as "more dangerous than a thousand rioters" in the 1920s, Parsons and her husband had become highly effective anarchist organizers primarily involved in the labor movement in the late 19th century, but also participating in revolutionary activism on behalf of political prisoners, people of color, the homeless and women.

In 1886 her husband, who had been heavily involved in campaigning for the eight hour day, was arrested, tried and executed on November 11, 1887, by the state of Illinois on charges that he had conspired in the Haymarket Riot – an event which was widely regarded as a political frame-up, and which marked the beginning of May Day labor rallies in protest.

While she continued championing the anarchist cause, she came into ideological conflict with some of her contemporaries, including Emma Goldman, over her focus on class politics over gender and sexual struggles.

In 1905 she participated in the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World.

Parsons continued to give fiery speeches in Chicago's Bughouse Square into her 80s, where she inspired Studs Terkel.

In 2004, the City of Chicago named a park for her.

From Lucy Parsons :: Revolutionary Feminist:
Parsons declared that a black person in America is exploited not because she/he is black. “It is because he is poor. It is because he is dependent. Because he is poorer as a class than his white wage-slave brother of the North.”
From elsewhere:

"My conception of the strike of the future is not to strike and go out and starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production.

"The involuntary aspiration born in man to make the most of one's self, to be loved and appreciated by one's fellow-beings, to "make the world better for having lived in it," will urge him on the nobler deeds than ever the sordid and selfish incentive of material gain has done."

"Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth."

"Strike not for a few cents more an hour, because the price of living will be raised faster still, but strike for all you earn, be content with nothing less."

"Anarchists know that a long period of education must precede any great fundamental change in society, hence they do not believe in vote begging, nor political campaigns, but rather in the development of self-thinking individuals."

"Can you not see that it is the INDUSTRIAL SYSTEM and not the "boss" which must be changed?"

my replies to Elizabeth Moon's post about muslims and the "ground zero" mosque, part 2

I've added this post to mixed feelings about Elizabeth Moon's citizenfail.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The birth of Space Babe!

Disney: Animated Spoof of '50s Pulp Science Fiction (via)

twitter and me

I just tweeted, "I won't tweet links to my new blog posts anymore; I don't want my twitter account to be redundant."

Facebook and LiveJournal will continue to get copies of this blog.

If you want to follow me on twitter, I'm willshetterly. I'm not going to do contentious or depressing tweets, so don't expect much activity.

(Joking! About the second part, not the first. I dunno how much I'll tweet now, but I promise there won't be anything that would make Emma angry or sad, 'cause she needs to finish her novel, darn it!)

Thursday: funny facts about writers and antiwar songs


I like this better than Pete Seeger's version:

Richard Shindell "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" (Pete Seeger cover) at The Grey Eagle (1.27.08) (via Larry's Pretty Good LiveJournal)

And since we're doing antiwar songs:

The War Is Over - Phil Ochs (via Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the class prejudice and unexamined privilege of Tim Wise, by Rose

Rose left the following comment on the previous post, but it deserves to be its own post, so I'm copying it here. —Will

an observation by Rose

Wise says "White working class folks are just as racist as other white folks." In my experience this often isn't true. All the close relationships with POC in my family take place among my poor and working class relatives. The more well to do ones exist in a totally white sphere. My kin that SWPL types would dismiss as rednecks and probable racists are the ones having relationships and children with POC, and they don't make a big show about how enlightened they are, either.

Although Wise claims to have grown up relatively poor, things I've read by him convey a greater contempt for working class whites than other whites. He sounds like the white yuppies Barbara Ehrenreich wrote about in Fear of Falling, who project all their own racism onto working class whites.

I'm reading White Like Me right now. Though I haven't finished it yet, it reinforces some suspicions I've had about Wise. Wise claims to have grown up in a small apartment in a rundown building that happened to be in a posh, yuppie Nashville neighborhood called Green Hills. Wise says they sometimes received financial help from relatives. Tim's grandfather owned a chain of liquor stores and it isn't clear what happened to his business or money after his death. I get the feeling Wise is leaving some things out. He doesn't seem to know a thing about working class white people, or how their lives or culture differ from that of affluent whites.

As of 2006, Wise was getting at least $4000 plus expenses per speech. Considering how his star has risen since then, he probably makes more now. He lives in a large house in an affluent Nashville neighborhood. My guess is that his hostility (and that of folks like Robert Jensen and Peggy McIntosh) toward discussion of class and capitalism is in part an attempt to keep his immense class privilege off-limits. Wise likes to be the one doing the interrogating. He'd deny working class people the right to interrogate his privilege.

Also, the way Wise always lashes out at Marxists and leftists seems like a betrayal of the pioneers of Wise's movement. WEB DuBois, Angela Davis, CLR James, Theodore White and many other predecessors of modern anti-racist work were Marxists. Their discussion of race was grounded in solid Marxist class analysis. Why do many modern anti-racists have such contempt for the socialism of their proclaimed influences?

Wise's main goal seems to be a more racially proportionate version of our current economic pyramid. If only black people could make up 13% of the tiny elite who own everything, Wise could be free of white guilt and enjoy his wealth in peace. It's a ridiculous goal, because since the top 20% have 84% of the wealth, there isn't much for those of us in the bottom 80% to fight over. If the top 20% were 13% black, most black people would still be SOL.

I've read Wise say that class-based struggle is pointless until white people have dealt with their racism. How do they do this detached from class struggle? An endless series of Tim Wise workshops? Wise seems to think that working class white people have no right to discuss their class interests until they are completely free of the reptile brain stuff Wise's ilk describe as aversive racism! As the economic collapse immiserates the working class, this is galling coming from a rich man like Wise.

The backlash from some anti-racist bloggers doesn't surprise me, considering how defensive Wise is with POC in the comments on his website. I was really surprised at how snippy he was with some of them. He is hotheaded and doesn't deal well with criticism.

what a rattlesnake sounds like

Emma and I went on our usual walk near dusk. On the road, near the back of a neighbor's property, I hear a sound like a watersprinkler starting up. Having done too much patching of an old irrigation system, I wondered if the neighbor's system had sprung a leak or if they had a new plant on an irrigation system, and if so, why it was out in an area that was essentially natural desert.

So I look beyond the road, peering into the dusk, for a sign of water or new growth.

Then I realize something is writhing much closer to me.

I must've heard rattlesnakes when I was a kid. I know perfectly well they're all around; when we spot one on our property, on average once or twice a year, we call it Mr. Stick.

But we've never startled Mr. Stick before.

Mr. Stick was trying to get away from us as quickly as he could, and I thought that was a good idea.

But I do wonder how close he was when he began to rattle.

tuesday: race, equality, and a hate crimes question

• Red, Brown, and Blue

Ray Suarez, who I've admired at NPR, writes about "How our definition of whiteness has changed with each new wave of immigration—and how it needs to change again." It has interesting bits like:
Four pre-1917 decisions had ruled that Syrians were white, and three that they weren’t. Then came rulings that Koreans weren’t white; Afghanis weren’t white, followed in 1945 by a decision that they were; and that “Arabians” weren’t white, again followed by a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling (in 1941) that, because European civilization had originated in the Middle East, they were white.
I think Suarez overemphasizes what's racist and underemphasizes what's nativist, so in some cases where he says "white", I would say "citizen", but I generally like his take.

(Thanks, DairyStateDad!)

• Race and romance

I thought I'd blogged about okcupid's How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get, but I must've discussed it at another site, so I'm posting it here now. The satisfying part? White males get exactly the response they would be expected to get if race wasn't a factor. The part that makes me want to cry? "Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race—including other blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder."

To state the obvious for anyone who might miss it, black women are at the intersection of class, race, and gender prejudice. The class factor may not be immediately obvious, so here goes: Some people are not racist, but they are classist. If they know a black woman is of their class or higher, they'll date her. But if all they have to go on is that she's black, the odds increase that she's working class because blacks are disproportionately working class.

That logic even applies to classist black men.

(Thanks, Nathan Long!)

Are hate crime laws effective?

Jay Lake's post made me ask something I haven't found an answer to: Is there any evidence that hate crime laws actually make anyone safer?

tuesday: race, equality, Obama, and a hate crimes question

• Global equality

Equality is the one item nobody wants on the UN agenda next week has good news and not-so-good news:
... three quarters of the world's poorest now live in middle-income countries such as India or Nigeria. This kind of poverty is not about increasing aid, it's about politics and fair government. There's a subject they will be avoiding over the canapes next week in New York.
Slideshow: The long, steep path to equality

• Red, Brown, and Blue

Ray Suarez, who I've admired at NPR, writes about "How our definition of whiteness has changed with each new wave of immigration—and how it needs to change again." It has interesting bits like:
Four pre-1917 decisions had ruled that Syrians were white, and three that they weren’t. Then came rulings that Koreans weren’t white; Afghanis weren’t white, followed in 1945 by a decision that they were; and that “Arabians” weren’t white, again followed by a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling (in 1941) that, because European civilization had originated in the Middle East, they were white.
I think Suarez overemphasizes what's racist and underemphasizes what's nativist, so in some cases where he says "white", I would say "citizen", but I generally like his take.

(Thanks, DairyStateDad!)

• Race and romance

I thought I'd blogged about okcupid's How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get, but I must've discussed it at another site, so I'm posting it here now. The satisfying part? White males get exactly the response they would be expected to get if race wasn't a factor. The part that makes me want to cry? "Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race—including other blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder."

To state the obvious for anyone who might miss it, black women are at the intersection of class, race, and gender prejudice. The class factor may not be immediately obvious, so here goes: Some people are not racist, but they are classist. If they know a black woman is of their class or higher, they'll date her. But if all they have to go on is that she's black, the odds increase that she's working class because blacks are disproportionately working class.

That logic even applies to classist black men.

(Thanks, Nathan Long!)

Adolph Reed Jr. on Obama

In 1996 (mentioned here):
In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices: one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program—the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle class reform in favoring form over substance. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics here, as in Haiti and wherever the International Monetary Fund has sway.
In 2008 (from Obama No):
…It may be instructive to look at the outfit where he did his “community organizing,” the invocation of which makes so many lefties go weak in the knees. My understanding of the group, Developing Communities Project, at the time was that it was simply a church-based social service agency. What he pushed as his main political credential then, to an audience generally familiar with that organization, was his role in a youth-oriented voter registration drive.
The Obama campaign has even put out a misleading bio of Michelle Obama, representing her as having grown up in poverty on the South Side, when, in fact, her parents were city workers, and her father was a Daley machine precinct captain.
…Obama’s belonging to Wright’s church in the first place was quite likely part of establishing a South Side bourgeois nationalist street cred because his political base was with Hyde Park/University of Chicago liberals and the foundation world.
Adolph Reed Jr. on Race

Intelligent Action: an Interview With Adolph Reed. The first half was kind of boring, but the second half was, imho, great.

Are hate crime laws effective?

Jay Lake's post made me ask something I haven't found an answer to: Is there any evidence that hate crime laws actually make anyone safer?

David Bowie - Let's Dance

David Bowie - Let's Dance

Alas, embedding disabled to get more ad money, but it's still worth clicking if you haven't seen the video recently...or ever. Might be the sexiest incarnation of Bowie. The video is both political and science-fictional, and I love how he mocks his Aryan looks in the cameo as one of the bad guys.

ETA: And just plain goofily charming: David Bowie and Mick Jagger - Dancing In The Street. Top-rated comment at youtube: "Every guy grab a girl. And if no girl is available, an androgynous man in a trench coat will do."

David Bowie - Star

David Bowie - Star
via Saladin Ahmed

Monday, September 13, 2010

I got email from Tim Wise

Tim Wise may be the USA's hardest working white promoter of neoliberal anti-racism theory. Two nights ago, after I posted "black" names and class; the first problem with Tim Wise's latest book, I got this email from him:
If you had any intellectual integrity, you would post the dismissive comments about my book (which you refuse to read because you are too Goddamned scared to challenge your simplistic white Marxist viewpoint), on my site, so I could respond to them, and so others could (who had actually read the book), rather than on your own site, where you can limit comments to those who have the appropriate accounts that make it possible to comment. Your response to the "names" study -- which is only one of about 5 dozen examples of racism I cite, and which are not at all simply "class" rather than race, but which you wouldn't know, because you refuse to read anything that challenges your white ass perspective -- is pathetic, in part because the names in the study were not, in fact, "lower class" signified names. They were not as class dependent as your critique suggests. And of course, there were several other examples of blatant racial bias against people of color who were not working class, etc...but you wouldn't care about that, because if a black person is middle class or above, I guess you think they deserve whatever comes to them. Your white working class perspective is bullshit. White working class folks are just as racist as other white folks, and not just because of manipulation. DuBois -- ya know, a black Marxist -- discussed this at length, but you would know nothing of this of course, because why bother with such trivial challenges to your white leftist world view...Feel free to post this on your blog, read by all of, what, 35 people...I couldn't care less. And please know, I will bounce your ass from my site from here on out...I thought we had some common ground, but you just played nice on my site and then talked smack behind my back. Cool: now you can play with yourself and those who read your work, and I'll happily ignore your class reductionist nonsense...

I felt sorry for him, partly because I didn't mean for my comments to be taken personally, partly because he doesn't know Rule #1 for authors: Never respond to your critics.

I replied:
Tim, I don't "limit comments". Anyone can post on my blogs. Open ID works fine, so you don't even have to get a free Blogger ID. The only people who can't comment on my blog are those who want to post anonymously. That's Blogger's default setting.

But if you really want to post anonymously, I'll change the settings.

When I made my comments at your blog, I hadn't read the review citing information that was debunked years ago.

And, yes, white working class folks can be racist. But historically, they're less racist than the upper and middle classes because they're more likely to live and work with people of color. Have you read about Bacon's Revolution? That's when the ruling classes began working hard to divide workers in North America by race.

Out of curiosity, have you lived with white working class people? All I know about you is that you graduated from an exclusive school, and you began your career by opposing David Duke. If I'd been in Louisiana, we probably would've met at a rally against him.

I am sorry you took this personally, 'cause you seem like an extremely well-intentioned fellow. I'd meant my review as friendly joshing, but I see how it didn't come off.

Anyway, I won't address this in public for 24 hours, because if you'd rather I didn't make your note public, say so, and I won't. I've also written in haste.

Out of curiosity, does Adolph Reed Jr. also have a simplistic white Marxist viewpoint?

best wishes (honestly!)

It's been 36 hours and he hasn't responded, so let the fun begin!

Adolph Reed mentions Wise in The limits of anti-racism:
This anti-Marxism has some curious effects. Leading professional antiracist Tim Wise came to the defense of Obama’s purged green jobs czar Van Jones by dismissing Jones’s “brief stint with a pseudo-Maoist group,” and pointing instead to “his more recent break with such groups and philosophies, in favor of a commitment to eco-friendly, sustainable capitalism.” In fact, Jones was a core member of a revolutionary organization, STORM, that took itself very seriously, almost comically so. [Will's warning: the second link is to a PDF.]

And are we to applaud his break with radical politics in favor of a style of capitalism that few actual capitalists embrace? This is the substance of Wise’s defense.

This sort of thing only deepens my suspicions about antiracism’s status within the comfort zone of neoliberalism’s discourses of “reform.” More to the point, I suspect as well that this vitriol toward radicalism is rooted partly in the conviction that a left politics based on class analysis and one focused on racial injustice are Manichean alternatives.
So far as I know, Wise hasn't responded to Reed or to Why Anti-Racism Will Fail by Thandeka. His "race maximalist" theory doesn't seem to leave room for people of color who point to the primacy of class.

Wondering if Tim knew about Bacon's Rebellion, I went googling. He's actually sound on race history, but he invariably takes the antiracist turn when he gets to the last thirty years or so. For example, in Tim Wise: On White Privilege, he's solid until he gets to the post-Katrina vote by St. Bernard Parish Council to prevent owners of single-family residences from entering into rental arrangements with anyone except "blood relatives." Tim talks as if everyone in St. Bernard Parish is a white racist, but the vote was five to two. Does that mean all the whites of St. Bernard Parish are racist, or that five racists, almost certainly wealthier members of the parish, got onto its council?

Far more importantly, he doesn't mention what should matter to anyone looking for "institutional racism" in Katrina. Adolph Reed saw it in New Orleans - Undone by Neoliberalism: "St. Bernard Parish, nearly 90 percent white, working class and reliably Republican, was virtually wiped off the face of the earth. Most of the parish's housing was destroyed. No hospitals or public libraries have reopened, and only 20 percent of its schools are operating." Whiteness has not helped New Orleans' poor whites.

I'll add this: in the case of the council vote, the institutional power of the law prevented a racist decision from being enacted.

I kind of feel sorry for Tim. I don't doubt that in person he's a nice guy. Sure, he's a capitalist, but he's sincere in wanting a better world for people of color. Yet anti-racists of color have begun critiquing him:
For POC with Tim Wise Issues....

Tirade Tuesday: Tim Wise and the Problem with Allies

Dear Tim (and other White anti-racist activists) . . .
My man Malcolm would say it's a case of the chickens coming home to root. Tim preaches anti-racism theory, so people who think it's all about race have no choice but to tell the white man to shut up and sit down.

Malcolm X/El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz saw the flaw in capitalist anti-racism theory long ago: “It’s impossible for a white person to believe in capitalism and not believe in racism. You can’t have capitalism without racism. And if you find one and you happen to get that person into conversation and they have a philosophy that makes you sure they don’t have this racism in their outlook, usually they’re socialists or their political philosophy is socialism.”

I keep asking anti-racists: "If you don't redistribute wealth, the distribution of wealth will be racially disproportionate. If you do redistribute wealth, capitalism ends. It's a Catch-22 that anti-racists ignore. Do you have an answer?"

That question either shuts them up or makes me point out that there's very little class mobility in the US. Then they shut up.

Tim asks if I care about middle and upper-class people of color. The quick answer is that I do, because racism is evil, but the conservatives and neoliberals of color are doing a good job of looking out for themselves. Just as it was better to be a black slaveowning woman in the antebellum South than a poor white man, black people like Condi Rice grew up with far more advantages than most white people.

The price of middle and upper class privilege for black folks is high. Because poorer blacks feel abandoned by richer ones, 40% of black people today believe blacks can no longer be thought of as a single race.

My focus stays on the race of have-nots, the race of poor folks of all hues. After all, as Martin Luther King noted:
In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States.
That's still true. King had a solution:
...the programs of the past all have another common failing -- they are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.

I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective -- the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.
I like that, but being a socialist, I favor a more extreme solution: everyone should share equally in the world's wealth. If you're a christian, that's the literal meaning of the poor inheriting the earth.

When I look for solutions from anti-racism theorists, I only find recursive analysis of what's racist. I'm with Karl Marx: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways—the point however is to change it"

Well. I'm not afraid of debate, so I don't ban people from my blogs. Tim's very welcome to comment here.

P.S. For more smart critique of neoliberal antiracism by folks of color, see Saladin Ahmed's comment here and Darryl's comments here.

ETA: Since Du Bois came up, here's a quote from his preface to The Souls of Black Folk: "I still think today as yesterday that the color line is a great problem of this century. But today I see more clearly than yesterday that back of the problem of race and color lies a greater problem which both obscures and implements it: and that is the fact that so many civilized persons are willing to live in comfort even if the price of this is poverty, ignorance and disease of the majority of their fellowmen; that to maintain this privilege, men have waged war until today war tends to become universal and continuous, and the excuse for this war continues largely to be color and race."

ETA 2: I changed the comment setting so even anonymous folks can comment now.


The Tiny Houses of Black Rock City: Metropolis

The book isn't available until January in the US, but this review makes me want to read it: 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. The author lists 'em here.

An open letter to Osama bin Laden written by Noman Benotman, a former commander in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and a former associate of Osama bin Laden.

If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough. No need to read it unless you want to; the title is the point.

Pringle of Scotland Animation by David Shrigley - Life Behind The Scenes in "blackface" Defends 'Blackface' VMAs Costume

Sunday, September 12, 2010

today's reason I love Unitarian Universalists

Via Texas Skateboarder Stops Christian Extremist From Burning The Qur’an.

A damn fine answer to neoliberal antiracists

Someone identified as Darryl makes smart comments in response to race maximalists at Proof that Racists Often Put White Supremacy Over Money – Green is not the only color that matters…. He's also got some smart observations about Shakespeare's Othello. There's even a smackdown on Peggy McIntosh's "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack". If he had a blog, I would follow it.

P.S. Because anti-racists, esepcially white ones, discount white people who disagree with them, I'll add this: He's Creole.

a damn fine comment from Saladin Ahmed at Racialicious


Saturday, September 11, 2010

"black" names and class; the first problem with Tim Wise's latest book

Tim Wise posted, "Just got this excellent and detailed review of my latest book, Colorblind, from the Chandigarh Tribune, in the Chandigarh territory of India (in Northern India), and thought I’d share it."

I followed the link. Here's the review's second paragraph:
As Tim Wise writes in his recent book, Colorblind: "After all, 2004 was the same year that research from MIT and the University of Chicago found that job applicants with ‘white’ names were 50 per cent more likely to be called back for an interview than those with ‘black’ names, even when all their qualifications were indistinguishable."
I remembered that "black names" don't affect life outcome. A Roshanda by Any Other Name first criticizes the research Wise uses, then notes:
The California names data, however, afford a more robust opportunity. By subjecting this data to the economist's favorite magic trick—a statistical wonder known as regression analysis—it's possible to tease out the effect of any one factor (in this case, a person's first name) on her future education, income, and health.

The data show that, on average, a person with a distinctively black name—whether it is a woman named Imani or a man named DeShawn—does have a worse life outcome than a woman named Molly or a man named Jake. But it isn't the fault of his or her name. If two black boys, Jake Williams and DeShawn Williams, are born in the same neighborhood and into the same familial and economic circumstances, they would likely have similar life outcomes. But the kind of parents who name their son Jake don't tend to live in the same neighborhoods or share economic circumstances with the kind of parents who name their son DeShawn. And that's why, on average, a boy named Jake will tend to earn more money and get more education than a boy named DeShawn. DeShawn's name is an indicator—but not a cause—of his life path.
Or, in other words, it's class, not race.

Sorry, Tim. I didn't finish your review and don't plan to read your book.

Dear antiracism theorists

I know too well how tempting it is to mock or rage against those who disagree with your standard of justice, but a standard that allows for mockery or rage is inherently flawed.

Forgive me if I sound superior when I say that. I'm working very hard to learn that lesson also.

Today's a good day to think about peace, love, and forgiveness. So here's a video:



Racialicious and the Imaginary Will Shetterly

I was wondering why I hadn't remembered that Racialicious was run by one of scifi fandom's antiracism theorists—I remembered it as being an interesting site about race that I've visited a few times a year for ages—so I did a little googling and found two things:

1. Latoya Peterson took over this year. I'd remembered the previous owner's tenure.

2. My name only turns up there in one post, LINK LOVE: POC IN SF CARNIVAL – INTERNATIONAL BLOG AGAINST RACISM WEEK. It's a roundup of blogs that took part in IBARW in 2007. It includes this, which starts with a link to Vom_marlowe's LJ:

[Latoya's note - My heart clenched a little when I saw this essay because the author of the post refers to a favorite author of mine during adolescence, Will Shetterly. Shetterly argues by the numbers that race only affects a few, but poverty affects the many (white) people who are suffering. Inexplicably, I feel hurt. He never painted himself as a racial activist, but to find out someone who helped paint your formulative years holds views that make you want to vomit...*sigh* Fantasy and reality collide in painful ways...]
I chose this topic because it’s an argument I see a lot, especially on the internet. I think of it as the Will Shetterly argument, but I’ve seen it spoken often by many other people as well. The argument goes thusly: Racism doesn’t exist anymore; racism has been superceded by classism or there was never racism to begin with. Solve classism and ‘apparent racism’ will disappear.
This argument is bullshit.

Amusingly, we agree. That argument is bullshit. I've never made it.

As for "arguing by the numbers," I didn't invent them. There are twice as many white folks living in poverty in the USA as black or non-white Hispanic folks. Martin Luther King noticed that in the '60s.

Incidentally, after the 2007 discussion at vom_marlowe's site, I found Adolph Reed Jr.'s New Orleans - Undone by Neoliberalism. It's highly recommended. He notes:
A critique that focuses just on race misses how the deeper structures of neoliberal practice and ideology underlie the travesty in New Orleans, as well as in the other devastated areas of the Gulf Coast. (Adjacent to the Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard Parish, nearly 90 percent white, working class and reliably Republican, was virtually wiped off the face of the earth. Most of the parish's housing was destroyed. No hospitals or public libraries have reopened, and only 20 percent of its schools are operating.)