Trump Effects on School Bullying

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently conducted a survey of a wide array of American public schools about bullying. They have published their results in a PDF and also in a non-PDF format.

What they found from educator reports is that school bullying, always a problem, had taken a Trumpian turn. Students and even teachers were cited for attacks on minorities, immigrants, Muslims and many of these attacks invoked Trump by name. “Trump is building a wall to keep you out.” “Trump will ban all Muslims and deport you.” “Trump will send all black people back to Africa.” Some teachers teach that Trump is a good man and they do not report children for using xenophobic and racist taunts. Children feel threatened and find little support from administration. Children have had to transfer schools and get counselling.

Here are some of the findings of the SPLC, an admittedly left-leaning organization fighting racism and xenophobia for decades. I know that we often hear truths called ‘biases’ these day, but that does not matter. This organization has paid its dues and done the work and kept our attention on discrimination and unfairness and injustice, a mission that is even more important now.

“Here are the highlights: from the Southern Poverty Law Center survey:

  • More than two-thirds of the teachers reported that students—mainly immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslims—have expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election.
  • More than half have seen an increase in uncivil political discourse.
  • More than one-third have observed an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment.
  • More than 40 percent are hesitant to teach about the election.”

We also know that questions in a survey can be designed to elicit data that reflects the bias of the organization doing the questioning, but there is also anecdotal evidence published in this article and in a Washington Post article to back up the claims that Trumpian-style bullying is on the increase in our schools.

From the Southern Poverty Law article:

“Students do not understand why this has become such an angry and dishonorable campaign. They are taught better behavior by their teachers, and then they see this mess on TV and are confused.”

Omak, Washington

“Openly racist statements towards Mexican students have increased. Mexican students are worried.” Anaheim, California

“Students have become very hostile to opposing points of view, regardless of the topic. Any division now elicits anger and personal attacks.” Jefferson, Georgia

From the Washington Post article:

“… a 2016 online survey of over 10,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade educators by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that more than 2,500 “described specific incidents of bigotry and harassment that can be directly traced to election rhetoric,” although the overwhelming majority never made the news. In 476 cases, offenders used the phrase “build the wall.” In 672, they mentioned deportation.”

At first I wondered why TV media did not pick up this story and make a bigger deal of it. That would be the normal way to behave. But then I remembered that times are anything but normal. Making this a prominent story in the media might escalate the bullying and the threat level. It is also entirely possible that since the source of the story is the Southern Poverty Law Center it could be dismissed as left wing propaganda too easily. Regardless of the reason, the import of this data about school bullying is just another aspect of many ‘fascist’ influences in Trump’s America. Sadly the only remedy we have to change the national dialogue rests on the 2020 election which the media is turning into a anti-Democratic Party field day. While it is true that the Democrats seem to be in some disarray, each of the Democrats has policies that could change the script from pleasing billionaires to meeting the needs of we the working people. And a primary is a contest. I wish the media did not have to go all sensationalist to attract reader/watchers. This will be a very consequential election indeed. Our children are at stake.

On MLK Day: Racism and Memory

There are a couple of things I would like to say on this Monday in 2020 as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s day. Since MLK and I lived through the same times he loomed large in the news, and he still looms large in my memories of those days. So first I will tell you a little story and then I will tell you something I read in the newspaper today that would, if he were still alive, inspire MLK to fight on, because sadly discrimination is still all too real.

I was, as a young adult, a hippie. Weird word, hippie, I guess it was supposed to refer to how “hip” we were. I did not wear flowers in my hair, but I went to concerts in the park and danced to the music and I learned. I learned about the military-industrial complex, and about losing our guys in a war that was not our war. I learned that women were tired of being second class citizens and that from now on we wanted to have our needs and rights taken into consideration. And I learned about racism, which I knew of, but had not seen close up and ugly.

Martin Luther King was a bit older than me. By the time I was 20, he was 34, five years away from his death by assassination. America was in the midst of displaying racial ignorance all over our TVs for the whole world to see. I did not take a bus south. I had my own apartment and had to work. I did march in a demonstration or two. And no matter how much I wanted to I could not take my eyes off my TV when I was home from work.

Here are well-dressed, peaceful people just walking together in their dignity to ask for their rights as American citizens; not separate rights that were supposed to be separate but equal and weren’t equal at all, but just to be left alone to work, live, eat, and travel as freely as any other American. The difference between what America stands for and how America betrays its ideals was never as clear as when those powerful streams of water pouring from fire hoses hit those brave marchers, knocking them to the ground, ruining their best clothing, putting some in the hospital, and striking fear in my heart because something was happening in America that was incomprehensible.

In the midst of all this show of hate, one of my friends decided that we should spend a Sunday in a local storefront Pentecostal church. She was a braver girl than I was, I secretly felt we would be intruding and might not be welcome. But we were welcomed in that church. We were accepted and then petted and called out as “pretty flowers who wandered into the midst of the congregation.” We were blessed and encouraged to go forward and let the minister lay his blessed hands upon us. It was an enlightening experience, an experience that lives vividly still in my memory. And it was impossible not to contrast our warm welcome with the hate playing out daily on my TV. I mourned the sins of the white people in my nation, a nation I had always been proud of – until living in a diverse neighborhood as a hippie girl, opening up my mind to things that never impacted me growing up in my safe suburb. Perhaps we don’t all have these moments of revelation, but I did.

You would think that watching this racial hate play out would have given vent to all the negative prejudices arising out of nothing except the color of one’s skin and that we would have been left burned clean of hate and embracing our differences. That is not the case as we know. Here, at the beginning of the 21st century we see how deeply we have nourished the roots of our racism. We have watched black men killed for the thinnest of reasons and we have seen that there are Americans who must proclaim that ‘Black Lives Matter’. Why would an athlete who has achieved his dream of sports stardom, feel the need to take a knee when he hears the Star Spangled Banner? If racism were not alive and well there would be no need to face white derision by seemingly disrespecting America, when you are really just asking for what should already belong to you.

That’s the story I promised, and here is the news. In today’s New York Times is a story about what Ben Carson, as Trump’s head of Housing and Urban Development is doing these days. We have been made aware of redlining and how it was used to keep some neighborhoods white and some neighborhoods black, to keep us separate. But today my own city was mentioned in this national article as a city that has refused to reassess homes in black neighborhoods, that has left these houses with assessments that are too high and which have allowed the city to collect more tax dollars in this segregated neighborhood than they do in wealthier sections of the city where, inexplicably, assessments are lower.

Now Ben Carson plans to make it more difficult to fight these outdated assessments, to go before the city and present a case for reassessment. It is quite technical and diabolical. In order to make a case for reassessment you must present a list of every reason the city could give for turning you down and then you must refute each argument. In other words, you must now possess some kind of assessment ESP that, of course, does not exist. You must read the city’s mind, a city that can just invent new reasons for why they cannot offer you a reassessment. This directly affects the wealth that should accrue to black homeowners, and does accrue to white people every day from owning a house.

The article also discusses “balloon loans” which make an initial mortgage payment affordable and then raises it out of reach at a later date. All this creativity expended to keep black people from succeeding in America – no wonder we are becoming a decaying nation. We are putting our creative talents to use in the service of the wrong tasks. Martin Luther King, Jr., you left us way too soon, the battle not nearly done, and I’m sorry if your sadness at the evils in the world will not allow you unalloyed enjoyment of the joys of the afterlife. Click on the picture below for a link to the article.


Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search –



2020 Election: Money, Racism, Misogyny, Brutality

Today, 1.13.2020, Cory Booker dropped out of the 2020 race. America lost out on Kamala Harris. And Julian Castro. The press is pointing out the ironies of a “big tent” party, a party that would like to back so-called “minorities” like Americans of African descent and Americans of Spanish descent and women (not a minority at all but still classified as such). In fact any Democratic candidate who is trying to run a grassroots-funded campaign will continue to be in trouble in the race for office in 2020.

Democrats are strong opponents of the Citizens United decision which, in a sense, gave votes to corporations, to money (not an organic life form) and to wealthy Americans (they can buy votes with ads and deeply-strategized ground games). If you saw Rachel Maddow’s wall graph showing the campaign war chest for each Democrat in the 2020 presidential race (except Mr. Deval) then you saw the enormous funds backing the billionaires and you saw the puny amounts raised from individual voters. Our donations are small and they still impact our personal budgets. It begins to seem ridiculous to even bother sending in our ones, tens and fifties. We are each a David fighting a Goliath and it is becoming clear to us that even hundreds of thousands of us are unable to make even a dent in what the Goliaths can come up with. And, although they may feel pained by their enormous expenditures, we know they will not be poor when this is all done.

So it is interesting to note that there is not a pool of Americans of African Descent who can run as billionaire candidates even though African Americans have been in American longer than most of our ancestors. Racism and its effects on black fortunes couldn’t require any clearer evidence than this. Nor is there a pool, or big enough pool, of billionaires of Spanish descent, or billionaire women to try to buy the Presidency. This election looks difficult enough without trying to inject financial purity into it.

There is also the Trump factor infecting all of our decisions about the perfect 2020 candidate, and it is hardly inconsequential. Trump has the charisma that Jack Nicholson displayed as the Devil in the film Witches of Eastwick, which some of you probably did not see because you are too young. For a while that devil charmed us all, until he didn’t. (The analogy seems to fall apart because some of us have never been charmed by Donald Trump, but it is apt in many ways.) Time marches on and we have now seen many sides of Donald that never bothered us much as long as he wasn’t our President. One of his worst sides is his belief in white supremacy and another is his misogyny. Lying of course, and cheating are also sins that have served him well in getting elected.

Because Trump runs a very duplicitous, alpha male, white-Europeans-rule kind of race Democrats realize that he would, most likely, have greater success demonizing minority candidates than he would against white male candidates, although they have not proven better at standing up to Trump’s patter (which should not work). We worry that with all the racist undercurrents being called forth once again in America and all the anti-immigrant feelings being whipped up and with the fact that Trump empowers white men (who knew they needed to be more empowered) a “minority candidate” could be brutalized in the 2020 election and that however hard they punched, Trump’s long years of practice with counterpunching and his lessons from expert counterpunchers like Roy Cohn and his dad, would leave these opponents bloodied and would give us four more years of a ruinous Trump presidency. Perhaps we are simply being protective of the members of our party most likely to be obliterated by the meanest old man we have ever encountered who isn’t spending his senior years in a recliner.

I’m still reading David Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass (it’s a long one). Mr. Douglass’s long career as a warrior who used words to fight slavery, which he understood intimately having been a slave himself, made him feel a bit despondent at the actual unfolding of the Reconstruction which was bloody and deadly for freed slaves in the south. But he immediately recognized that many white slave owners feared reprisals. He also recognized that the South never had to feel the real sting of losing the Civil War. These slave states were welcomed almost immediately back into the Union and as soon as the war was over many southerners returned to serve in the Senate and the House. By then Douglass could see that being set free did not mean that southern hearts had been changed. They still saw black folks as inferior to whites and they certainly did not want them to vote or own land or amass fortunes. Douglass would be saddened to know that these racist elements still exist in America, and be appalled by the amount of time that has passed, as time should have changed such prejudices far more than it has. He rejoiced when the 15th amendment gave freed slaves the vote, but despaired at the horrific backlash in some southern states.

It is such a sad commentary on American progress with respect to acceptance and tolerance, that in what could be America’s  “space age” (if we aren’t too engrossed in simply trying to survive), we are still fighting the Civil War and battling for equal rights for Americans of color and for women (who achieved the right to vote last).

Don’t be too hard on the Democrats right now because we can only conjecture, run the numbers, employ a great ground game and accept what a tough road it could be to beat this bad man who is still an incumbent and who has both the Republicans and the Fundamentalist vote-getting machinery behind him.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Big Blue Tent – Travel Wisconsin

Stephen Miller’s OCD/White Nationalist World View

Stephen Miller, who I’m sorry to say made my brain scream ‘brown shirt’ when I first set eyes on him, ended up proving soon enough that I was not so far off the mark. On Sunday 8.18.2019 Miller spoke on at least one talk show. It is Stephen Miller’s stated theory that people are happier with their own kind and the world runs more smoothly when cultures don’t mix.

When Stephen Miller was a child perhaps he did not mix up the colors of his Legos, but built monochromatic structures, which if you know Legos is pretty hard to do. Perhaps he never allows his plates to mix with his cups and each room in his house uses one color palette only. Maybe he is one of those very organized people who sort their buttons by color and size and who never mix their bolts with their nuts. Maybe we should have some sympathy because he could have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But this also looks a lot like white nationalism, which looks a lot like racism.

Stephen Miller’s mania for categorizing and isolating by similarity of traits runs into huge difficulties when you try to apply it to humans and human societies. Do we separate by color? What nation or continent do Americans of African Descent claim as their home given that many of their ancestors were brought here against their will 400 years ago. (Do you suppose that Miller has talked Trump into buying Greenland so America has somewhere to offload nonwhites who have no place to go? Of course it could just be about oil because drilling in pristine wilderness areas is also something Trump loves to do.)

Will we just have separate zones (states) in America organized by skin color? Will language be a point of distinction? Perhaps people will be sorted out by religion. What if your skin is dark and you are not a Christian? Will there be a separate category? Perhaps it will require lists of traits to assign people to the appropriate corner of the planet (they could start with the fictional color classifications from Underground Airlinesby Ben H Winter). Will miscegenation be punished? Will there be spots to tuck people away in who will never fit any approved category? A gay country? A trans country?

Stephen Miller is scary enough when he looks affectless – which is most of the time. But after he explained all this on Sunday he smiled – and that was far more frightening. Life is not orderly. It gets less orderly if you look at individual traits that divide us. No one stays put. They keep moving around. This would be unacceptable in Stephen Miller world.

Would Miller wipe out all migration, make it a crime. You get assigned a culture and there you must remain because all the chaos in the world will end if people only live in close proximity to others who are like them. American is probably to blame for climate change although 45 likes to blame China. But if your climate changes, too bad. You are not going anywhere. Famine, lack of water, war – supposedly will all be ended by homogeneity. Did we ever know a time when the world worked this way?

Stephen Miller claims that he is not a racist or a white supremacist. Then what is he? Why does he have such a segregated view of the world? I suppose there was a time when Europe was peopled by white folks but people still found many reasons to war with each other. They warred about property, about money, about government, about religion, just because they took a dislike to each other. Stephen Miller’s theory is ridiculous; it is unprovable; it is not backed up by history, or science, or religion or by anything. It is a figment of Stephen Miller’s imagination which is hardly to be considered very original.

Of course Hitler put 6 million people to death because they, according to him, did not belong in Europe, or in fact anywhere on Earth. Check everyone’s DNA. I doubt if anyone is pure enough to know which group s/he belongs to. Stephen Miller’s racist logic is not logical. He should not be in America’s White House advising an American president. We will never have a sensible approach to immigration as long as he is there.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches: Washington Post, The Daily Beast

Who’s Coup-ing Who?

Who’s ‘Coup-ing’ Who?

Often we think of a government coup as a revolution, an attempt by one ideological group to wrest the reins of government from those currently in power. We see it as a quick bloody battle where the perpetrators run a risk of death or imprisonment if they don’t succeed. If those in power lose then a new leader sits in the seat of power and sets policy. Those who rise to power can execute, imprison, or exile the ousted leader and his/her followers.

Overturning a leader through a democratic election usually is not considered a coup. Donald Trump is trying to change that. He claims that the Democratic Party is attempting a coup against him. The House is attempting to take over the executive branch, he says. Of course, in this case the Democrats in the House of Representatives are exercising legal prerogatives assigned to them in the Constitution of the United States. Congress is supposed to act as a check if the executive branch looks as if it has gone rogue. All that means is that they are allowed to ask questions and collect facts to make sure that a President and others in the Executive Branch are upholding their oath “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”. The Constitution and historical practice places few limits on the investigative powers of the House or Senate Congressional Committees. Congress has oversight responsibilities over the Executive Branch. Investigation is Congress’s superpower.

Trump is a master of the craft of twisting reason until our brains feel ready to explode. He is claiming that the Democratic representatives in the House are using (or planning to use) their investigative powers to take over the Executive Branch and thereby, take over the American government. They are using the Constitution to invalidate the Constitution. (Did your brain explode yet?)

It is possible to have a bloodless coup, a coup whereby one political party pushes another political party out of power through chicanery and rigging elections. This kind of coup can take some time. Coups are things that generally happen in what we once named “third world countries”, countries where democracy is ‘iffy’, in places that are now labelled “illiberal democracies”- democracies in name only. We are supposed to be a “stable democracy”, well-established; the democracy, against which all others are measured.

But we have a President who accuses the Democratic Party of being traitors to the nation, of trying to turf him out of office and take over the government through a legal procedure called “impeachment”. Or perhaps, he asserts, they want to damage him so badly that he loses the 2020 election ( while at the same time he claims this is impossible.) Yes, he is obviously a desperate man, but he is accusing the Democrats of being traitors, guilty of treason!, just to wiggle out of having the nation hear the possible proofs of his bad behaviors.

He says that the Democrats are partisan, so they cannot be objective. Well that’s when I have to ask, “who’s coup-ing who”? The Democrats only appear to be partisan because the Republican Party has put them in that position. When Mitch McConnell said that he would obstruct everything Obama did he meant it and the GOP was behind all the disrespect towards Obama and the Dems that people insisted on blaming on both parties. It was the GOP who refused to do the compromise negotiations that have made our basically two-party system work. With obstruction, if one party absolutely refuses to compromise the other party must either capitulate completely or join in the standoff. Which party is partisan? Both I guess, but one by design, and one by default. The Republican Party has not stopped opposing the Democratic Party to this day.

We are in a pitched battle. It seems to be about the size of government and whether or not government should pay for programs that benefit the American people. It now seems to be also about whether or not America will be, going forward, a white, Christian nation. We are in this battle because industry fled and money went to safe havens and all the blood (money) went to the head (the wealthiest). Do we keep wealth inequality because these wealthy people deserve what they have (according to them)? We know what happens biologically when our lower body is deprived of blood flow. Will the same thing happen if less and less money ‘trickles down’ to those who are not at the very top of the social heap? Will the society die from within?

This picture of the future does not bother the Republicans, in fact they seek it, they are trying to hold on to this lop-sided distribution of life’s blood (which sadly, right now, is money). The Democrats would like to be the party of balance, of restoring a democracy which is fast disappearing The Democrats are not the ones who denied giving even a hearing to a legal nominee to the Supreme Court. The Democrats are not the ones who keep trying to use the “I’m Rubber, You’re Glue” strategy to pin their sins on the other party.

If anyone is staging a coup it is the Republican Party (which is now headed by Donald Trump). The GOP has been attempting to ‘own’ the entire federal government of the US and they have not been the least bit worried about doing this by the book. Tinkering with elections has been the GOP’s favorite weapon to use in their coup. They almost succeeded. In 2016, using a number of voter suppression and voter propaganda techniques (and perhaps by allowing a foreign government to interfere in an American election) they succeeded in taking over all three branches of government. They haven’t been able to hide their game plan so they just blatantly get on with it. Dems argue against these tactics and the GOP just laughs.

Although the GOP lost the House in 2018 they do not consider this will end their plans. This is a war and they only lost a battle. There is always another election and they are still tinkering, tinkering away. And if rigged elections don’t get them what they want the takeover of the states which they have been conducting will eventually succeed in turning enough states Red to trigger a Constitutional Convention and allow them to put the GOP stamp on our Constitution.

Trump is using the coup accusations flying around the internet these days to turn him into a victim (“poor president Trump”) of a ruthless political takeover by a party that is supposedly wielding the Constitution like a club. Ironically Democrats have learned that there are almost no tools available to fight a President or a political party willing to ignore the rules set down in our documents. The Democrats have never called what the Republicans are up to a coup, but I have. Now the Democrats are being accused of perpetrating a coup against Trump (and by association the Republicans). But he has simply taken the truth and twisted it to his advantage. Don’t believe him. If you use your head it’s pretty easy to tell who’s coup-ing who/m.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – The NYT, Twitter

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Trump and Racism: Guilt by Association?

I would like to think that Donald Trump is a racist and a white supremacist/white nationalist because he has been turned into a pod person á la Invasion of the Body Snatchers (movie) by watching too much Fox News, but after my researches I can see that this that is not the case. All sources seem to agree that Trump’s penchant for making derogatory remarks that arise from the ethnic identities of people (who are classified racially as anything other than white) is a trait that he has displayed quite publicly for decades.

I don’t know why we pussyfoot (do you like the way I worked in the word pussy because Donald Trump is also a misogynist) around labeling Trump as a racist and a white supremacist, but we do. We say that Donald Trump likes to surround himself with alt-right types who are avowed white nationalists which really means white supremacists. But we are loathe to assume that he is one of their company.

White nationalists claim that they do not feel superior to people of color, they simply feel that the United States was founded as a white, Christian nation and they want it to stay that way. White supremacists, of course, do contend that white folks of European descent are superior in every way to all others.

I say that the white nationalists are simply not as honest about their true feelings, but that they truly do believe that whites are superior. They may, however, in their heart of hearts (if they have them) see that white supremacists got a bad name in Nazi Germany and they want to disassociate themselves from the horror people connect with the deeds that white supremacy justified.

Donald, of course, says he does not have a racist bone in his body and I recently remember hearing one of his old acquaintances repeat this claim. It is a specious claim considering that racism is stored in the brain and there are no bones in the brain. And like many things that Mr. Trump says it is a lie, although he has possibly convinced himself through repetition that it is true.

Donald Trump is a 50’s guy who uses inappropriate terms to describe minority people, terms others have discarded because they are offensive. He is proud that he does not bow to the changing norms of what is culturally appropriate and his followers like this about him. But using racist language shows a real lack of respect for the feelings of the people these terms were intended to denigrate. Refusing to adjust his language reflects his refusal to adjust his mindset. Conjugate the verbs; he was a racist, he is a racist, he will be a racist. And he does think white folks are superior.

If my logic is not enough to convince, even though others agree with it, then look at the people he brought into the White House with him. We are not supposed to make someone guilty by association, but I do not know anyone who would be willing to consort with this band of haters. We have Steve Bannon, Steven Miller, Sebastian Gorka and their cohorts outside of the White House, Alex Jones and Richard Spencer, et al.

Steve Bannon

Steve Miller:

Sebastian Gorka

Others that are connected through and the media to Donald Trump:

Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn, Jr.

Alex Jones

Richard Spencer

Milo Yiannopoulos

Things Trump says and does:

Trump on Obama: ‘Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?’

Trump on Mexican immigrants: ‘Criminals and rapists’

… “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said in 2015. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

“And some,” he added, “I assume, are good people.”

Trump on dead Muslim soldier’s mother: ‘Allowed to speak?’

United States Army Captain Humayun Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004. His parents, Americans with Pakistani roots, spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, criticizing Trump’s candidacy and its inherent racism. The father, Khizr Khan, spoke; his wife, Ghazala, stood by him.

Trump’s interpretation of the scene: “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably – maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”

Trump on right-wing extremism: ‘Racism is evil,’ or is it?

Trump was at first quiet following last weekend’s violence between left and right-wing protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Then the president blamed “violence on both sides,” without explicitly calling out neo-Nazis and other racists. Following fierce criticism at home and abroad, Trump finally made a clear statement: “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs.”

However, at a press conference just a few days later, Trump changed course: “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” he said.

Trump’s critics charge that he has not done enough to credibly distance himself from white-supremacist and other right-wing movements. His aide, Steve Bannon, was editor-in-chief of Breitbart News, a mouthpiece of the far-right movement known as alt-right.

Many right-wing activists and groups feel emboldened by Trump’s comments. Critics say he does not do enough to distance himself from white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan or the alt-right movement.


We certainly have had racists in our government before, and even white supremacists who did not perhaps use that label but clearly expressed such views. We have never elected a blatantly racist/white nationalist/white supremacist as our President before, however.

Perhaps this is a backlash-President elected by people who were stunned by having a black man in the oval office as our President. Perhaps it is a reaction to the oft-repeated message that white people will soon make up a minority of the American population.

The roots of racism have always been deep in this nation and hard to extract. We have watched for a recovery from our Civil War which has never really happened. The murmurings sometimes become shouts as they seem to be now during the Trump administration. Perhaps this is because we see an unholy alliance between those who still fight the Civil War and those who resent seeing immigrants of color and immigrants from non-Christian nations, especially those here without proper documents, seemingly “changing the face” of our (supposed) (white) American “exceptualism.”

We need to remember that whenever Trump makes a decision or backs a policy this supremacist strain comes into play, consciously or unconsciously, and he may even have consulted some of these alt-right (racist) cronies to help him set his priorities.

We can see this in his travel ban, his deportation plans, his waffling over DACA, the importance he places on the wall, his reluctance to stick to agreements with non-European nations or contribute to programs that assist non-European nations (with the exception of Israel and, in fact, many Israelis have European roots).

We see this in his unwillingness to give credence to the violent acts, intimidations, and acts of hate that are in the DNA of groups like the KKK that join forces with the newer white supremacy groups; and in his failure to see the difference between Antifa and these alt-right groups.

There is nothing in our Constitution that prevents a racist from holding office, even the office of Presidency. In fact many will argue that since some of the authors of the Constitution and the early leaders in our government owned slaves that this President fits right in with our origins. Public cultural values have evolved since the days of our forefathers and racism is considered ignorant and wrong because our thinking has progressed.

And yet here we are with a racist President who would be happy to have all his jackbooted friends resting with their dogs and guns, feet on the fender of the fireplace, which we can easily picture taking up space in the oval office. And this President refuses to admit that this harmful aberration is a real part of his nature at all.

Do we remain constantly vigilant and resist, even while it all seems so distant and harmless, or do we let the worst be done and then try to clean it up afterwards? I know history swings around, that it is perhaps more like a spiral than a straight line, but knowing what we know now how can we not call out this racism each time it rears its ugly head. How do we accept any future that is not globalist in scope and inclusive of all living things on the planet? This is another one of the facets of Trump that causes us to worry and keeps us feeling that we must be always ready to resist.

Ta-NeHisi Coates

We Were Eight Years in Power

“It is not so much that I logically reasoned out that Obama’s election

would author a post-racist age. But it now seemed possible

that white supremacy, the scourge of American history, might be banished in my lifetime.”



Racism and Hillary Clinton

If it wasn’t
for seven years of the blatant resurgence of racism in America then we might
not need Hillary Clinton. Sadly Obama’s presence in the Oval Office allowed
racial meanness to rise to the surface in Washington, DC and outside our nation’s
capital. When we should have felt proud of America on the 50th
Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, when we should have been celebrating, we
were instead seeing the festering remains of racism being exposed in far too many
areas of American society.
The Supreme
Court struck a huge blow when it said that certain southern states were no
longer subject to clearance before they could change their voting laws. The GOP
shamelessly began passing restrictions on voting in those same southern states
where clearance had been used to guarantee racial fairness in voting. They
justified their actions as necessary to circumvent voter fraud, which turned out
to be almost nonexistent. They said they were not being anti-Black, they were just
making it harder for Democrats to vote, but they knew, all the time, how
important the Black vote was to Democrats. They got two licks in for the price
of one.
We have seen
all too many unarmed Black folks shot under suspicious circumstances by policemen.
It begins to seem as if certain individuals join the police force to
deliberately wipe out Black people, a sort of vigilante routine. I don’t know
if there is a group that has planned this or if this is just lone racists
acting on their own and I admit I may be seeing a trend where there is really
only a series of terrible accidents, but we should not have racists on our
police forces and if there is any way to root them out we should do it.
We have
allowed Black folks to languish in poverty in our inner cities – and I don’t
mean languish in a nice way – I mean it in a hopeless way. We have not found
strategies to entice all young African-Americans into the schools and that is
what we need to do. We also need to learn how to make school relevant enough
that they will stay and go “all the way” through. We need to stop concentrating
poor black, brown, and Asian people in our center cities and find ways, perhaps
through real estate options, to intersperse poor Americans in more affluent
neighborhoods where people can afford to help lift them up.
Yes, we have
finally been made aware of how over-zealously and unequally the War on Drugs
was conducted. We have been shocked by the staggering numbers of Americans of
African Descent incarcerated for minor drug offenses and the role unaffordable
cash bails have played in this. This was one of those cases where a program
that folks thought would help solve a problem, exacerbated the problem and
created new ones. I’m not sure it was intended as a “racist” policy, it was
supposed to “scare people straight” in dangerous inner city neighborhoods, but,
in retrospect, we can see that the enforcement of this program affected
Africans-Americans far more than white Americans and either the program and/or
the enforcement of the program was racist in the way it was implemented in the
lives of real people. In this case a flawed answer intended to solve a social
problem has produced terrible consequences and most of these consequences were
visited upon Black people. If may take decades to turn around the effects of
over-incarceration and inappropriately harsh sentencing.
We have also
seen how we have allowed the South to revere the defeated Confederacy and to turn
the white folks in Southern states into martyrs and heroes in a Civil War we
should never have had to fight. We see how this has become another way to keep
racial hatred alive – to remind Black folks of their “shameful” roots in our
nation and to insure they don’t get “uppity”. How any of this shame accrues to
Black folks is impossible to even imagine, unless you grew up in the South I
Americans of
African Descent have been here longer than most Americans, although not by
choice. If they did not have black or brown skin they would have blended in
long ago. Why can’t we get over this idea that the more pigment one has the
less human one is? We have to all get past this. What will happen if we are
confronted with a truly alien species?
Because the
GOP has shown itself to be especially prone to letting “racial” traits and
their own fears inform their behavior (or misinform it) we cannot elect a
President from among the Republicans. If you consider all of the candidates for
the 2016 election Hillary has shown the best understanding of what America needs
to do to address fairness, equality, and opportunity for Americans of African
Descent. I don’t think Bernie is any more racist than any of us, but I do think
he believes his policies will lift all boats and perhaps doesn’t understand the
unique obstacles Black Americans face.
I think it
might be true that we are nicer when we feel more affluent, when our economy is
humming along; but how long must these Americans, who have been here since our
beginnings, be kept from the freedoms that should be theirs as well as ours.
Clearly this particularly stubborn issue of “racism” did not disappear in more
prosperous times, but there was a more generous spirit and it looked, for a
while, like things might have turned a corner.
If the existence
of all this hate and inequality and separation had not bubbled up from the
depths it had been stuffed into, up into the light of day – that would be a bad
thing. Let’s not try to contain it away from view of white eyes once again. Let’s
try to solve this and heal America once and for all. At the risk of sounding
corny perhaps that is what Hillary means when she talks about making America “whole”.
By Nancy

More On Poverty in Our Cities

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I sent an
email to the editor of the local paper, The
, telling them about the study by The Century Foundation
entitled “Architecture of Segregation
which I had read on The Daily Beast

The study
points out, the article in The
states, that

“Syracuse has the highest rate of extreme poverty concentrated
among blacks and Hispanics out of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas,
according to a new study of poverty in America.

The study is the latest to examine a decades-long trend in
Syracuse, where the city has consistently ranked as having one of the highest
poverty rates in the nation.

The analysis of census data by a Rutgers University professor
shows that extreme poverty continues to spread unabated out of Syracuse’s core
to the city’s Near South, Near Southwest and North Side.

In 2000, Syracuse had nine “extreme poverty”
neighborhoods, defined as census tracts where more than 40 percent of residents
live in poverty.

By 2010, Syracuse had 19 such neighborhoods, according to a 2011
study by the Brookings Institution.

Now the number of high-poverty tracts in Syracuse totals 30,
according to Paul Jargowsky
the Rutgers University-Camden professor who published the study with The Century Foundation.

general trend is that there is a spreading out of poverty,” Jargowsky said
in an interview. “That is happening all over the place. But I didn’t know
Syracuse was going to stand out the way it did.” “

You can read
the entire article here:

The original
article and The Post-Standard
article both talk about the fact that when neighborhoods became diverse, white
people moved further away and suburban sprawl got further and further from the
city center. People in these increasingly distant suburbs wanted the
convenience of public infrastructure like city water and being connected to the
same sewage grid used by city dwellers (although the infrastructure was clearly
much newer). These folks had good salaries and could pay enough taxes to make
government responsive to their needs. As more and more tax dollars were spent
further from the city center and as the city center emptied out infrastructure
in the center of the city was neglected and deteriorated from age and use. When
folks left behind in the center city tried to follow white people to the
suburbs they found themselves locked out (or locked in). Partly this was
because they were poorer than those who left for the suburbs, and partly it was
due to actual exclusionary practices.

For these
and similar reasons, The Century Foundation study under the direction of Paul
Jargowsky (Rutgers) is pointing out this information so that we can find ways
to change this paralysis in our center cities. Syracuse is not alone in this
situation, although we may be No. 1, perhaps because we are not a rich city, but I
believe that we also share in all of the other ways that white people have
found to pretend that they are not racist. If you want to see what I mean
register on so you can read the comments of my fellow Syracuse
residents who appear to have been brainwashed by Fox News et al and who are
Exhibit A in what passes for extreme right wing logic which says that the
liberals and the victims are to blame and that this city poverty trap is the
result of liberal programs that support the poor and allow them to survive
without working. I apologize in advance for their ignorance and their inability
to hold an original thought.

The problems
with writing off this study as delineating a condition that is ‘someone
else’s problem’, is that there are and will be repercussions if this situation
continues. It is wrong and we need to tackle the beast and find a way to make
America better. Here’s what one of our city officials had to say:

Paul Driscoll, Syracuse’s commissioner of neighborhood and
business development, said city officials are disturbed by the study’s
findings. But he said officials cannot explain why the city seems to be lagging
the rest of the nation in reducing its poverty.

“We are all struggling to understand why Syracuse is
getting hit worse than other cities,” Driscoll said in an interview.
“We’re just looking to address what cities can do to address poverty.
We’re finding we’re pretty limited in what we can do. We deal with the
consequences at the local level, but a lot of these problems have to be dealt
with at the state and federal level.”

I hope this
will not be our only response to the information in this study. We live in a
city that is home to an important private university. We are a city full of
architects (award-winning) and engineers. Certainly a committee could be formed
to look for some creative ways to address this stubborn inequality in our
community. If it was caused mainly by housing issues and unwillingness to live
in mixed race communities then people who deal with housing issues might be
exactly the people who can find a way out of this. Once some professional
approaches have been discussed and designs produced, perhaps community people
(those stuck in poverty) could be invited into the group to go over the plans
and offer input. I hope this study does not just plop down with a big thud on
our doorsteps and then disappear.

We have all
been getting glimpses of what will happen if we do not tackle this now. I do
not think that our stranded, poor, neighbors are about to accept much more of
being overlooked and over-prosecuted and being deprived of opportunities to
succeed. This issues falls into the category of “pay now or pay later” and if
we wait until later the price will only get higher. Pretend you are so
intimidated by poor minority people that you will do almost anything to defuse
the situation. Perhaps that is the only way these folks will get their due.

The New York
also had an article about this topic. Here’s the link:

everyone, think!
By Nancy Brisson

Divide and Conquer

What was so stunning about the 2014 midterm was not
so much the result in Congress. Pundits explained why the Democrats would lose
control of the Senate but people like me did not want to accept their analysis.
It seemed that we could buck tradition and pull out an upset. But the pundits
proved to be right; after all they have studied elections for decades. They
knew who would turn out to vote and who would not.


Last week I had the TV on MSNBC while I went about
my daily activities and I heard someone predict that the Democrats might not
regain control of Congress until 2022. (Yikes!) Before the bloodbath of 2014 I
might have thought “hogwash” but now I have to give this prediction credence.
Democrats are in a bind. They have credibility as
the party of diversity, a party that includes minorities, but, because the
fears of white Americans have been activated (fears of loss of power, loss of
privilege) the Democrats may end up as a party that only represents minorities
– minorities who often do not vote, who lack financial resources to provide
monetary support to Democratic candidates at the time when, more than ever,
money “talks” in elections.
If we stop focusing on the ethnic origins that are
dividing us Democrats lose their claim to that “diverse” constituency which has
been their strength in the past. However, unless we understand that the divisions we experience as racial are actually only cultural, unless we accept that we are all formed from the same genetic materials
(did you see Toni Morrison on The Daily Show last week when she stressed this
point); unless we understand that we are all Americans, then opposing power
groups and those white males holding sway in America right now will dig in
deeper and fight with all the desperation they have exhibited so far, and
perhaps more, against changes to the status quo which benefits them.
How can the disappointingly quiet and unexciting Democratic Party
rephrase its agenda in order to be more inclusive? How can the Democrats who
seem so unemotional and who express no clear agenda hope to win back the middle
class who have been wooed away by Republican fear-mongering? Stressing and
offering strategies to fix the current gap between average Americans and the
wealthy is the real winning strategy for Democrats, I believe.
I don’t mean to argue that there are no ethnically
specific issues that need to be addressed. Sadly there are. Americans with
African origins are imprisoned too often and are too often trapped in poverty.
Because schools in poor neighborhoods have more problems and financial
challenges, educational opportunities across American ethnic groups are not
equal. Americans with Spanish origins often have all the obstacles of the
former group with, frequently, the additional rather serious “hiccup” of being
in America without documents and, perhaps, not speaking English.
But in many ways the solutions Democrats could offer
would work equally well for all of the 99% and these solutions could stress our
similarities instead of our differences. The way out of poverty for all is
through training and education. The way out of racism where it exists is to end
poverty and insure opportunity.
It is possible that the GOP statements which
threaten to re-institute the divisions of the Civil War (those suggestions like
hanging the Confederate flag in government settings or seceding from the United States) are just
reactions to imagined minority threats to the current power elite, but it is
equally possible that these remarks are part of a strategy to divide America
and conquer, keeping it under control of those Americans who are white, male,
wealthy, conservative and fundamentalist Christian. This would also help
explain why women are one of the groups being cut from the herd and excoriated.
Why would any of us want to be manipulated in these ways? We are all the middle
class; we are all the poor; what improves life for one of us should improve
life for all of us.

Whether this is strategy or whether it stems from a genuine fear
of losing a grip on the reins of power is unimportant; either way we can only
undermine it by presenting a united front as the American middle class, that
old rainbow coalition which differs only in skin tone, and not in patriotism –
that beating heart of America. (The short form of United States reads US. – how
hokey is that – a great symbolic coincidence though).
By Nancy Brisson

A View From the Cheap (White) Seats (for what it’s worth)

If you are alive and paying even modest attention to
the news in America right now then you must have started to have some kind of
dialogue (however conflicted) with yourself about the fatal interactions
between the police and black men and boys in America. A man named Eric Garner
died while being taken into police custody because he was selling loose
cigarettes (without paying taxes). Surely this offense doesn’t strike any of us
as being punishable by death. He did resist arrest. He did say “don’t touch me”.
But, considering his size, he did not make any aggressive moves as he tried to
avoid arrest. We all wish he hadn’t resisted because he would probably have
been released from jail quickly and be back with his family. Even given his
rather puny resistance it seems that he could have been subdued and cuffed with
far less force once reinforcements appeared to help the first arresting
officer. The fact that watching the video of this interaction makes us cringe
is probably a sure sign that officers used excessive force.
The situation with Trayvon Martin should have been
easy. Trayvon did nothing wrong. He did something we did often in our own teen
years. He walked to a convenient store to get sugar and probably because he was
bored. George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon, was not a policeman. This one should
have been simple, but we didn’t even get this one right. The police closed in
around George Zimmerman as if he were one of their own even though he was a
psuedocop. He was studying Criminal Justice in school. Does that count? I don’t
think so. The police told him to stand down. He didn’t even follow this very
clear order. The policemen who knew George Zimmerman should have realized that
he was not a stable individual. American justice could not even convict a
psuedocop. That’s pretty damning.
There are things that should bother us about the
Michael Brown killing too. Michael Brown may not have been a sweet kid. He was
still pretty young but he looked like a man. But Darren Wilson stopped him for
jaywalking. Really? And he shot him twelve times. This must seem a bit
excessive to even the most jaundiced observer. My first thought was that Darren
Wilson did some drug business with Michael Brown and Michael Brown was
threatening to expose him so he executed him. Of course, there are no facts to
suggest that this is in any way true, but it was my first thought because the
number of holes in Michael Brown’s body just seemed so outrageous. Listening to
Darren Wilson describe his Hulk Hogan- monster scenario convinces me that he
just never should have been allowed to put on a uniform.
A twelve-year-old boy in Cleveland with a toy rifle –
really? Doesn’t this strike everyone as just wrong? Tamir Rice was killed by a
rookie cop with a terrible record on his handgun tests. How is the police
department screening recruits these days? Screening should be tougher than ever
given that police are trusted to operate war surplus gear and armored vehicles
that can squash Americans like flies.
Police in American have long been a brotherhood. If
you watch Blue Bloods or any of the
shows about the police force, the writers explore the disadvantages of a system
that protects cops whether they are good ones or bad ones. People resent this
brotherhood in the same way that they resent tenure among teachers which can
also make it almost impossible to fire bad teachers. But here we have a
systemic problem that is affecting one portion of the American population more
than any other. And the proliferation of arms in the general population and in
the targeted population is not helping the situation. Obviously police are
nervous when they arrest citizens in general, but black men in particular, that
their suspected “perp” will have a weapon and this makes the police react as if
their life is in the balance (which it sometimes is).
I am not really clear why the police are so nervous
when arresting black men for really minor offenses like selling loose
cigarettes or jaywalking. Why bother to arrest them at all when these offenses
are unlikely to undermine American society. One would think that there must be
more to these arrests, perhaps a history of animosity, an escalation of
disrespect felt by both parties. This certainly does not explain the
twelve-year-old boy, Tamir Rice. Are there bigoted police officers on police
forces throughout America? We already believe that this is most likely true.
Can we find a way to make sure that all police officers are without prejudice?
We may not know how to solve the biases that are
apparently present among America’s policemen or how to change a system that has
to protect inept cops, or crooked cops, or cops who are frightened of
criminals, or unstable cops, but we may be closer to accepting that the system
requires some fixes and these need to come sooner rather than later. In today’s
Daily Beast Michael Tomasky wrote The Only Way to End Police Violence in
which he suggested that things need to change at the front end of the process
out in the community and in recruit screening as opposed to the back end of the
process after tragedy has already happened. He says,
is not going to change in America, at least for many, many years. Ask yourself:
What would it take, really, for your average white cop not to see your average
black male young adult as a potential threat? Because we can pass all the
ex-post facto laws we want, and we can even convict the occasional police
officer, which does happen from time to time. But that’s not where the problem
starts. The problem starts in that instant of electric mistrust when the cop
reaches for his gun, or employs a homicidal chokehold. That moment is beyond
the reach of legislation, or of any punishment that arrives after the fact.”

He speaks to nothing less than changing our
entire cultural reaction to black men, reacting in a way that values them,
creating opportunities for them that give them value as people who contribute to
American society. He speaks to a system that does not categorize people based
on something as superficial as skin color. His solutions are not quick fixes;
they involve an almost tectonic shift in American culture.
But tectonic shifts do happen, some are slow and some are fast, some are easily
accommodated, others are terribly disruptive. We need something fast but not
terribly disruptive and that probably is a difficult get. Racism seems to
be a persistent strain in American life and we have not found very successful
ways to wipe it out.

So we’ll try. At least we’ll try and
demonstrations will perhaps force us to really try hard to end the senseless
killing of unarmed black men and boys and to put aside our age-old prejudices.
These killings are pitiful and sad and embarrassing, especially for a nation
that was supposed to be a world leader in protecting civil rights.

By Nancy Brisson