Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Quick Note

Black people don't like Clarence Thomas. So when Republicans complain that Democrats got to oppose Thomas without alienating black voters, it just makes them sound out of touch and stupid.

Bonnie Sweeten Proves I'm Still a Default Criminal

This is the last thing that I wanted to write this morning.

Over the last few days, the nation has been gripped by the story of a mother and daughter abducted. The family is from Bucks County, just outside of Philadelphia, the same region I have lived in my entire life.

Today, I awoke to find out that it was all a hoax. I also found out for the first time (although there were probably others paying closer attention who already knew) that an Amber Alert had been issued, and that the mother, Bonnie Sweeten, had lead police to believe that she had been abducted by two African American men.

This was incredibly disturbing for me. Sweeten became just another in a list of white women in high-profile cases who faked crimes and described her assailant as black. In 1994 Susan Smith murdered her children, but told police that they were abducted by a black man. At the hight of the last presidential election, Ashley Todd faked being attacked by a black, male Obama supporter. One would imagine that there are other, less known instances of similar things happening.

Why do I find this so disturbing? Well, I really worries me that the default description of a violent attacker is "black man." How often do people trying to fake an attack blame a white woman, unless they're trying to frame a specific individual? Clearly, these women believed the best way to make their false reports more believable was to blame black men. Black men are seen as they typical violent criminal in the United States.

Even more disturbing is that we believe them. Having the attacker described as a black man makes society more likely to believe them. We build archetypes of what a criminal is supposed to be like. When someone fakes an attack, describing the attacker as a black man is effective because it does not disturb our preconceived notion of what a violent attacker is like.

Statistically, this is not rational. In a past "Stat of the Day" feature, I pointed out that whites are five times more likely to be attacked by a white person than by a black person. Yet, while whites are more likely to be attacked by other whites, they are more likely to believe that someone was attacked by a black male. Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez points out the other side of this when discussing the Bostion-area Criagslist serial killer: we act shocked when white people committ crimes.

As I'm writing this, in the background Sara Jane Moore is being interviewed on the Today show. Matt Laurer points out how "unlikely" a criminal she is. How is that supposed to make me feel? What am I supposed to think when I hear that and realize that I do fit into the common conception of a violent criminal? How am I supposed to feel about the fact that, in this country, I'm still a violent criminal?

We have to realize that the way the media protrays black men - whether it's the latest in a long list of peretrators of violent crimes on the local evening news, or as out of controll thugs on white-owned BET - has a real impact on people's lives. It's the media that allows the majority of Americans to believe the myth that blacks are overwhelmingly more criminal than whites. For example, many justify racial profiling, saying that police are just targeting the groups that are more likely to comitt crimes. Yet, we know that whites are more likely to be found with contraband when stopped and searched by police. The media, especially those who claim to be real journalist, are being irresponsible by creating a false image of race and crime in the United States.

What's most disturbing for me is that this happened in Philadelphia. The idea that there are people living in my community who see someone like me as the typical criminal, and the fact that she believed that others in the area were disturbed enought that such a strategy would work - it all deeply troubles me.

Frankly, I'm sick and tired of hearing about how far we've come, or how Barack Obama is an achievement of Dr. King's dream, or how black people are not treated equally. I live in a country where the default definition of rapist or carjacker or mugger or kidnapper includes me because I'm a young black man. Is this supposed to make me proud. Is this supposed to make me feel like an equal member of this society? It doesn't. And I'm not ashamed to say that I'm not proud to live in a nation where I'm the default criminal.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do the White Kids Have to do This, Too?

Consider these Backgrounds

Barack Obama:

  • Columbia University
  • Harvard Law School, first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review
  • Notably successful community organizer
  • Constitutional law professor, University of Chicago
  • Effective state legislator for seven years, popular on both sides of the aisle
  • History-making U.S. Senator
Sonia Sotomayor:
  • Princeton University
  • Yale Law School, editor of the Yale Law Journal
  • Professor and Lecturer at Yale and Columbia
  • Federal judge for the past 17 years, nominated for positions by both Democratic and Republican presidents
Colin Powell:
  • Four Star General
  • National Security Advisor
  • Only African American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • First African American Secretary of State
Bill Richardson:
  • Congressman
  • Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Governor and Chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association
  • Secretary of Education
  • Harvard Professor
  • International Diplomat

I began with this list just by looking at President Obama and Judge Sotomayor, both of whom have such similar biographies. As I was putting together their list, I also though of General Colin Powell, who provides a representative from the right. He reminded me of Governor Richardson, who also has exceptional foreign policy bona fides.

What all four of these individuals represent are successful and socially accepted minorities with exceptional resumes. Success at Ivy League universities. A diversity of experience. The ability to excel at complex task. Great respect among colleges. Looking at them, I can't help but wonder, why don't we require the same from potential white leaders?

Consider George Bush, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. By now we all know that Bush was able to go to Yale and Harvard in large part because of his father. He did not perform particularly well at these schools, and went on to be a rather unsuccessful business man. John McCain also performed poorly at the Naval Academy, although he did earn our nation's respect by showing genuine heroism as a prisoner of war. He went on to become a long-time U.S. Senator. Sarach Palin didn't do poorly at just one college - she went to five in six years to get her bachelor's degree. Of the three, McCain is the only one who can make a real claim to being a better than average elected official.

Would we accept such a resume from a non-white public figure?

What if Barack Obama was a sub-par high school student, but was admitted to Columbia and then to Harvard only because they needed to fill a quota of African Americans and didn't care who they got? What if when he got to those schools he performed poorly? What if as a community organizer he had run the organization he lead into bankruptcy and chaos? What if as a state legislator and U.S. Senator he had done very little of note? Would he still be President of the United States?

Or, what if he had attended Michigan State and Temple Law school - two quality schools with much less prestige - and still performed very well there? Would we have as much respect for him?

What if Sonia Sotomayor had struggled at multiple schools over six years to get her bachelor's degree, barely made it out of law school, barely passed the bar, and, a year and a half ago stumbled into a federal judgeship? And what if, during that brief time as a judge, she came under fire for ethics violations? Would she still be a legitimate possibility to fill a Supreme Court vacancy?

Or, again, what if she did very well at a less notable school? How would we look at her?

Now, go back to my original question - why don't we hold white people to the same standards? Why is it that non-whites must be exceptional - better than all the rest - in order to qualify? Why, when it's OK for whites to be good, do blacks have to be great? Why would a John Edwards cross the threshold of acceptability as a presidential candidate before Barack Obama? Why Joe Biden over Bill Richardson? How are Republicans questioning the qualifications of literally the most experienced SCOTUS nominee in 100 years?

And, what does this mean for me, and the thousands of non-whites like me who don't go to Ivy League schools, and who will likely work "regular-people" jobs when we graduate? For all the hoopla and national "good jobs" that surrounded President Obama's election, I still wonder "can I be president of the United States? Can I as a black man with a less than 4.0 GPA from a semi-public, North Philly university really be president?"

Why do we think it's a good thing to tell little black boys that they can be president if they work hard like Barack Obama? We don't tell them they could be president if they slack off like George Bush. The "Be Like Barack" movement is nothing more than an acceptance of inequality: "You still have to work twice as hard to get as far as white people, but you can still do it, so it's all good."

It's not all good.

Scratch that.

It ain't all good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thoughts on Likely SCOTUS-Justice-To-Be Sonia Sotomayor

President Obama has selected federal judge Sonia Sotomayor as the next new Supreme Court justice. If confirmed, she will be the first Latina and the third woman to serve on the court. Here are some relevant things that popped in my mind while watching coverage:

  • NBC analyst noted that the pick should excitete liberals because she is Latina. What? Let me just say that I'm a liberal and picking minorities for the bench alone doesn't excite me (can anyone say "Clarence Thomas").
  • Speaking of Justice Thomas (what a horrible oxymoron), I'm feeling a little left out now because there will be a Latina on the bench but not an African American.*
  • It should be intersting to see how the Republicans play this. This could turn out to be the first real racial battle of the Obama era. According to the talking heads, Republicans may choose to attack Sotomayor on her decison on a controversial reverse-discrimination case, and we all know how much the right-wing loons love to talk about how hard it is out here for white men. Also, consider that for the Republicans this means making a big show of interrogating the first Latina nominee, even though they don't have enough votes to actually stop her from being confirmed. That is, unless Al Franken still isn't seated in time and they decide to filibuster, which would be even worse for them.
Overall, I'm proud of Obama. I thought that, being a minority himeslef, he would buckle under the pressure of not wanting to appear anti-white and pick a boring, safe white guy (not that I'm opposed to white men serving on the court). Instead, it appears that he was able to check off all of the important things on his list and at the same time make the court more diverse. Good job, Mr. President.

*I'll regret saying that sometime in the future, but I couldn't resist.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Louis Ramirez - Apparently, it's OK in PA to Beat People to Death

How incredibly disgusting can the racist debate over illegal immigration get? How much further can or xenophobia plunge us into a love of lawlessness? Apparently, in my home state of Pennsylvania, it can get to the point where beating a man to death is OK. I received this e-mail yesterday:


After they had beaten Luis Ramirez to death, the white teenagers who attacked him sent an ominous message to Luis' friends:

"Tell your f**king Mexican friends to get the f**k out of Shenandoah or you'll be f**king laying next to him."1

Just over a week ago, two of Ramirez's killers were acquitted of all serious charges by an all white jury2, with the jury foreman making it clear that justice for Ramirez had no chance in the small town of Shenandoah, PA:

"I believe strongly that some of the people on the jury were racist. I believe strongly that some of the people on the jury had their minds made up maybe before the first day of trial...And I believe the four boys that were involved the most are racist. I absolutely do..."3

The Department of Justice is now looking into Ramirez' death.4 But that's only part of what's needed. Where are the leaders in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? Why has Governor Rendell had nothing to say? His silence is shameful.

Until our elected leaders speak up, we can expect more stories like Luis'--not just in Shenandoah, but across the country. Governor Rendell owes it to Pennsylvanians and Latinos everywhere to condemn and speak out on what's happened. Together we can demand that he does. Please click the link below to add your voice and ask your friends and family to do the same. It takes only a moment.

If Luis Ramirez's death were an isolated event it would be outrageous enough. Sadly, it's part of a growing trend of racially motivated violence against Latinos, particularly in rural communities. According to the FBI, hate crimes against Latinos rose 35% between 2003 and 2006.5 And as author David Niewert writes, the target of hate crimes goes beyond their immediate victims: "The purpose is to terrorize the target community, to drive them out, eliminate them."6

That kind of intimidation only works only if the people who are targeted remain silent, and officials in positions of power remain unaccountable. That's why we need to speak out and let folks across the country know we won't tolerate hate and violence towards our communities. It starts with demanding that the Governor of Pennsylvania make clear that anti-immigrant hate has no place in Pennsylvania. It's time for him to show leadership now.

Join us in calling for him to speak out:

Thank you and Adelante!

The Keystone Progress Team
The Team


1. "Town struggles with fallout from immigrant's fatal beating," CNN, 7-31-2008

2. "Jury acquits teens of murder in Mexican immigrants' beating death," Associated Press, 5-2-2009

3. "Jury Foreman Calls Other Jurors Racist," WNEP, 5-2-2009

4. "Luiz Ramirez Hate Crime Petition," MALDEF, 5-5-2009

5. "The Year in Hate," Southern Poverty Law Center, Spring 2008

6. "A jury's hate-crime verdict in rural Pennsylvania reinforces the racial divide," Crooks and Liars, 5-3-2009

Note that this letter includes references to articles detailing this information. This is not made up. This man really was beaten to death.

When I read this story, two things came to mind:

1. Do we really believe that being an illegal immigrant makes it OK for you to be beaten to death? I mean, really, we must consider that this was part of the thinking of the jury. Would these teens have been able to get away with this if this man was an average white 25 year old. I mean, just imagine a white man visiting Philadelphia from some other part of the state is waiting for a subway, when he gets into an argument with three black teens. The white man is beaten to death. We all know that those three black teens would be tried for felony crimes as adults. Connected to this, doesn't this underline the ways in which the immigration debate has created unsafe conditions for all Latinos in the United States, even those who have been U.S. citizens their entire lives? I mean, really, when you hear about these attacks, are the attackers first doing research to verify that their victims are indeed illegal immigrants?

2. I immediately flashed back to the Jena 6 incident, in which six black teens were charged with attempted murder for beating a white classmate. This, of course happened after a series of events left the African American community in Jena, LA, feeling threatened and targeted. These events included the hanging of a noose on a "whites only" tree that black students attempted to sit under, threatening words from the District Attorney seemingly directed toward black students, and an alleged incidents in which blacks students were threatened with a gun by white students, were able to take the gun, and then were charged with robbery for taking the gun. The real disgrace in the Jena 6 fiasco was not the exceedingly harsh level of the charges against the six black teens, but the fact that they came from a DA who showed a pattern of overacting to the actions of blacks, even when they were legal, but underreacting to violence against blacks. It is ironic that we here little about the Louis Ramirez incident, but we saw many Americans rush to the defense of the Jena DA.

What this really highlights is who can and cannot be a victim in this country. Black teenagers can't be victims. It just doesn't fit the archetype we've created. So when we look at their encounters with the law, we can't see the injustices perpetrated against them; we only see the wrong they've done. So, when the Jena story broke, almost all the focus was on the beating. On the rare occasion that anyone focused on the events leading up to that incident, the focused in on the hanging of the noose, something that dealt with race in the general. However, to focus on the way in which the legal system, particularly that corrupt DA, had victimized the black youth of Jena was virtually impossible.

Likewise, in the United States, an illegal immigrant (at leas a brown illegal immigrant) cannot be a victim. These white teenagers essentially had a free pass to do just about anything to Louis Ramirez, because there is almost no way that a jury would unanimously agree to seriously punish them for attacking an illegal immigrant. This incident is just the latest illustration of a truth that minorities have know for the entire history of this country: when it comes to certain people, the rule of law just does not apply.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Race, Drugs, and Michael Phelps

Last week, swimmer Michel Phelps, arguably the greatest Olympian in the modern history of the games, returned to the sport for the first time since pictures of him smoking weed surfaced. I was shocked, and, frankly, offended by the way in which the situation was discussed. Understandably, many in the media were excited for Phelps's return after the way he electrified the Beijing games. From a sports perspective, everyone should be excited.

However, there seemed to be a sentiment that what Phelps did to "get in trouble" was trivial, and that he should be let alone. He's behavior was portrayed as OK, normal, expected for a young man his age. It was argued that he should be shielded from harsh criticism. The will to forgive and forget is astonishing in this situation.

For perspective, we can compare Phelps to another world class athlete who is just now re-emerging after participating in illegal activity: Michael Vick. Look at the way this Michael has been turned into a villain. Granted, we live in a society where being mean to dogs is much more frowned upon than smoking weed. Still, as I watched the coverage of Phelps, I couldn't help but wonder, What role, if any, does Phelps's race play in the way we evaluate his behavior. Had that been Allen Iverson or Ryan Howard or LaDanian Tomlinson in that picture would there be the same near-unanimous desire to forget the whole thing?

Maybe there would, but I just can't help but think that the reaction would be substantially different. Not completely opposite, but still different.

This all made me think about what Tim Wise said in This is Your Nation on White Privilege:

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
Seriously, what if it had been then candidate Obama with the pregnant teenage daughter? He would have been laughed out of the election. In fact, he wouldn't have even run, because he would have known that he had no shot. White girl gets pregnant: "good job not giving the baby up," "everyone makes mistakes," "kids are kids." Black girl get's pregnant: "she's irresponsible and promiscuous," "another welfare queen," "what's wrong with them?" As much as we like to pretend that we're a colorblind society that wouldn't have such a double standard, we know it's the truth.

But back to marijuana. Why such a different response to blacks and drugs. They are portrayed as criminals who deserve to go to jail. The use of drugs is a major part of the false image that has been drawn of African American youth. It's used as a way to rationalize disparities in education, employment, and incarceration. Black athletes who use drugs are immoral, irresponsible, and bad role models. White athletes just made mistakes.

Michel Phelps v. Allen Iverson
Barry Bonds v. Mark McGuire
Brett Myers v. Michel Vick

There is a higher standard for black athletes. There is higher standard for blacks in general. Another comparison:

George Bush: recovering alcoholic, bad grades, failed businesses, and governor with relatively little power
Barack Obama: head of Harvard Law review, good student, successful community organizer, law professor, successful state legislator, and U.S. Senator

Yet, who is accused of succeeding because of "affirmative action"? Who was labeled as inexperienced?

So that's sports and politics, with a dash of education.

Then there's the world of celebrity. Why isn't rock music vilinized the way rap is?

Why is Brittany Spears more acceptable than Beyonce? Why are white sexually explicit movies artistic and intellectual, while similar black movies are soft-porn trash?
MTV: American
BET: Immoral

We could also look at religious commentary.

George Bush can speak at a religious school with racist policies (Bob Jones University did not allow interracial dating without a parent's permission), but Barack Obama is racist for attending Jeremiah Wright's church? And while we're on the subject of Rev. Wright, how is it that he can be labeled as racist for making statements based in truth - because American indifference to the world can inflame hatred, and the U.S. does have preventing blacks with STDs from receiving treatment, and Hillary Clinton really doesn't know what it's like to be a black man - and he's called a racist, but John McCain can make explicitly racist comments and no one flinches?

How do we decide what religious leaders get to be just religious leaders, and which ones must be turned into political figures.

But, I've gone off on a tangent again. The point I set out to make is that blacks are routinely held to a higher standard that their white counter parts. This is especially true when it comes to drug use, and particularly well illustrated in the case of Michel Phelps. Personally, I like Phelps and as a sports fan am not too concerned with his "recreational" activities. I don't think it was a good thing to do, but I'm not loosing any sleep over it. However, in context, I thing the reaction to Phelps shows just how pervasive racism is in our society. If Michel Phelps were black he'd be in a totally different situation right now. That, my friends, is just a small look into the true nature of race in America.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why Do Republicans Think They'll Ever Get Black Votes

It seems like for the past two election cycles, Republicans have been talking about how they need to expand their party to include more minorities. It's as if they think that by simply saying that they want black people to be Republicans, we'll suddenly become Republicans, never mind the issues. I find it hard to believe that the reason many blacks never or almost never vote Republican is not obvious to the GOP, and every now and then they do something to make it so much more obvious.

Take a look at this clip from the Rachel Maddow show last night:

Please allow me to go into teacher mode as I do some explaining on the nature of the United States Senate.

The Senate is not just a group of people who come together to do a yes-or-no vote on potential laws. The Senate is divided up into committees (like the Judiciary Committee, the Intelligence Committee, etc.) and each committee has a specific content area. So, when there is a bill that comes before the Senate, it first gets assigned to a committee in that content area. The people in the committee are supposed to be experts in that area, and they debate the bill, call on other experts or people impacted to testify on it, and then vote to either kill the bill or to let the entire Senate vote on it (I know, this is a very basic explanation).

In addition to legislative duties, committees handle the other responsibilities of the Senate. They may do investigations into things like torture, or the legitimacy of college football's BCS system, or things of that nature. The Judiciary Committee plays a key role in confirming court nominees.

The number of Democrats or Republicans on each committee is determined by their representation in the Senate as a whole. So, for example, if there are 60 total Democrats and 40 total Republicans, and there is a committee with 10 members, 6 will be Democrats, 4 Republicans. The highest ranking Democrat will chair the committee. Even though the Republicans in this scenario (and in real-life 2009) would be in the minority, the role of highest ranking Republican is still important. It's a real leadership position and, as mentioned in the video above, the face of the party on the committee.

This is where Senator Sessions comes in. If you watched even just the opening to the video, you'll see why there is little doubt in my mind that Senator Sessions is a racist. At the very least he was back in 1986, and I have no reason to believe that his views have changed over what amounts to little more than my brief lifetime. And let me be clear, by racist I mean a willful participant in maintaining and advancing systemic white dominance. I can't think of a more polite way of describing Sessions's actions as a U.S. Attorney.

Now, thanks to the actions of my new Democratic Senator Arlen Specter, Sessions is set to become the highest ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. This is the same Judiciary Committee that is handles the nomination of federal judges who will decided contentious civil rights cases. This is the same Judiciary Committee that will debate laws defending the rights of minorities.

This all reflects poorly on Republicans for obvious reasons: it's a potential PR mess for a party looking to appear as more that a regional movement with racist undertones. However, a closer look reveals more. In the Maddow video, Steve Benen notes that many on the right WANTED Sessions to assume this leadership position. This came as no surprise to me, because I have long believed that Republicans actually agree with the views Sessions espoused while a U.S. Attorney. To see this, we don't have to go farther than their resistance to extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965, or the 2000 election.

We have to stop looking at people like Jeff Sessions or Trent Lott as anomalies in the Republican party. They're really reflections of the dark underbelly of the party's powerful right wing. People like Gayle Quinnell ("Obama's an Arab"), or the Obama Monkey Guy, or the Obama Waffles People, or all the other crazies at McCain-Palin rallies or teabagging marches (here or here or here, for example) are not isolated incidents. They are the Republican party. It's not a coincidence when Sarah Palin quotes a white supremacist in one of her speeches. It's not surprising when the RNC comes within a hair's breath of electing a party chairman who had to quit his whites-only country club to run for the position. This is the true Republican party.

Is it any wonder, then, that most black people tend to stay as far away from the GOP as possible.

Monday, May 4, 2009

How Race Impacts Perspective

Just a quick note: I've been less active in writing lately, due to some computer problems. Hopefully, I'll reach a final resolution soon.

Now, on to the topic at hand. I stumbled on this video of Andy Campbell while spending some time on YouTube. I don't really know who Andy Campbell is, but I thought this video of him presented an interesting case study.

Now, on the surface, this seems all good, but let's dissect what this gentleman is saying.

1. First off, it's clear that his overall theme here is to prove that he's not a racist. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing - I wouldn't want anyone to think I was a racist either. However, it always makes me suspicious when someone is tries this hard.

2. He attempts to link himself to Civil Rights leaders. This is a tactic that you often see when people want to prove they're not racist. They lift these figures up, in spite of the fact that they have no real understanding of what these people stood for. This brings me to my next point:

3. He characterizes Dr. King. Campbell says "Dr. Martin Luther King talked about creating a colorblind society, not a color conscious one." Yet, didn't Dr. King spend much of his life drawing attention to racial inequality and fighting to eradicate it? How can one do such a thing without being conscious of race? I find it hard to believe that Dr. King would ascribe to the colorblind philosophy of the 21st century, because this perspective compounds racial inequality by making it invisible.

4. Throughout his mini-lecture, Campbell refers to the Civil Rights Movement and civil rights in general in a way that suggests he sees these things as issues of the past. He refers to "history's civil rights activists," as if there aren't people working for still-denied civil right today. He applauds HBCUs for helping to "right wrongs" at a time when many American colleges and universities denied access to blacks, but ignores persisting, and in some ways growing, inequalities in the area of education.

5. He asserts that segregation is the preeminent force in perpetuating racism and prejudice. In doing this, Campbell does two frightening things. First, he ignores the systemic nature of racism. In reality, racism is a societal force, kept alive by both the desire to sustain and the ability to ignore white privilege. Second, Campbell constructs racism as a person-to-person phenomenon. By doing this, racism becomes about stopping individual persons from doing or thinking mean things, rather than addressing the real societal force that is reflected by those person-to-person interactions. In short, racism can't be solved just by blacks and whites living together, because such integration doesn't match the depth to which racism has infiltrated our society.

6. Here we go with the buzzwords: self-segregate. Oh, yes, because this is all black people's fault now. He calls self-segregation "counterproductive" to the "goal of racial harmony". Well, first one must ask what this "racial harmony" looks like. Is it the apparent hope of many white talking heads, that we reach a time when we can finally stop talking about race (not necessarily because it no longer needs to be discussed)? Or does it mean actually addressing and solving problems? If you subscribe to the latter description, then you must also think that it's worthwhile to discuss the ways in which persistent racism creates the desire for blacks and other minority groups to "self-segregate" into supportive communities where they can be experience a reprieve from the constant barrage of racism. However, instead of Campbell engaging in this discussion, he blames black people for delaying his fantasy world in which discussion of race magically disappears.

7. Back to the "great Civil Rights Movement," of which Campbell seems to be so fond. He describes its goal as "making us all equal." Funny, I thought we were always all equal. I thought the point of the CRM was to demand equal right for blacks. You know, full political, economic, educational, and social access. The full rights of citizenship. All still things we haven't gotten yet, by the way.

8. And then he polishes it all of with the whole "My family was discriminated against, too," and "I have black friends," only he puts a new twist on it. Listen, religious prejudice is wrong, but it's not the same as racism, so don't try and claim that you have an upclose and personal experiene based on you're family's experience with religious prejudice. You don't. And the fact that you're family is diverse is a great thing, but what are you trying to prove by bringing that up? That you're not racist? That you're color blind? Oh, and how is it that people who talk about color blindness can be so quick to jump to "my brother in law is Japanese," or "my best firend is black"? If you're so colorblind, how is it that the race of your friends and family are so close to the forefornt of your mind?

9. He says we shouldn't define ourselves based on race. And I think "Of course you can say that because you're white. I don't have a choice." And then he acknowledges that his whiteness makes it easier to say, but asserts that he's still right. Dude, white privilege is stairing you in the face to the point that you almost admit it, but still contradict yourself by insisitng we ignore the role that racial idenity plays our society. Wow!

The above video was posted as a response to the discussion seen here. It's clear from this video that the root issue is twofold: (1) striving for the goal of colorblindness, and (2) the belief that HBCUs exists only because blacks were turned away from other schools in the past. The fact of the matter is that predominatly white colleges and universities (which would be most of them, including mine) can sometimes be a hostile place minorities and their viewpoints. I'm fortunate enough to go to the first univiersity to offer a PhD in black studies. We also require that all undergraduate students take race studies courses that dig deeply into these issues. This makes us unique among HWCUs, but still, the hostility towards these classes is clear among the student bodies. Some students choose to go to schools where they can be among other African Americans and not endure some of the baggage that comes with HWCUs. So, you see, HBCUs, along with government housing, and minority scholarships, and affirmative action, address current problems, not just past problems.

And, finally, when are we going to wake up and realize that someone like Campbell can make such a completely rediculous staement and seem normal or even admirable only because he's white. There are more holes in his argument than in a block of Swiss cheese, yet he still represents the mainstream of American thining on race. We should all be disturbed with the nature of the racial discussion in our nation.