Monday, February 18, 2019

Rainbow Coalition



That was Jesse Jackson co-opted advocacy when he ran for Presidency in 1984 and in 1988.  I remember that time and funny I just watched the story about Gary Hart's run and today that scandal seems quaint in comparison to today's.

But the concept of this Rainbow coalition comes from the Black Panthers.  Spike Lee get on this one:  (And for the record it was not a Panther hit the KKK was organizing it was a gay club they wanted to blow up.  Again truth is fluid when one is telling their truth or their version of the story)

There was a  moment in U.S. history when identity politics and class-based struggle were dynamically entwined: the moment when the original Rainbow Coalition came into being.
This factor is an important one that contradicts Eli Zaretsky’s position that the civil rights movement by 1965 was a “class” focused movement. Quite the opposite. The 1966 call for Black Power by Stokley Carmichael and Willie Ricks in Lowndes County, Alabama, was a direct response to the failure of the Civil Rights Movement to achieve significant victories against economic inequalities: working-class youth and subsequent organizations began to argue that the gains of the Civil Rights Movement had failed to include the impoverished.
The original Rainbow Coalition, which was set up by the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party in response to this oversight, offers an inspiring example of how identity politics can result in cross-class and interracial solidarity rather than fragmentation of the Left. Because many members of the Rainbow Coalition were also youth organizers and leaders of Martin Luther King’s Chicago Freedom Movement, the civil rights leader would eventually adopt a class-based ideology. It is for this reason that the Rainbow Coalition’s idealism and identity politics resonated with all the groups that merged to form the collective. The broad appeal of the Rainbow Coalition’s rhetoric and idealism went on to be exploited by numerous political candidates from the Democratic Party, blinding activists on the left into supporting a party that has failed continuously to live up to its stated ideals.
The Rainbow Coalition would eventually run candidates for political office. Its most successful candidate was Harold Washington, who was elected as Chicago’s first African American mayor in 1983 and he created what he called his “Rainbow Cabinet.”
This cabinet was made up of founders and tenets of the Rainbow Coalition—people who for generations had been marginalized by city government. It included women, African Americans, Latinos, poor white ethnics, and the disabled.
Later Jesse Jackson, who had no connection to the original Rainbow Coalition was inspired by Washington’s victory and thus appropriated and trademarked the coalition’s name and ran for president, which is why the term “Rainbow Coalition” is mostly associated with him. By trademarking the term, Jackson attempted to take ownership of a grassroots political movement that belonged to the people.
Political consultant David Axelrod would later join the Washington reelection team that worked closely with Rainbow Coalition founders and organizers. Axelrod appropriated and enhanced Rainbow Coalition methods and rhetoric and applied them to media strategy, which he used to build his very successful political consulting career.  One of his very successful candidates - Barack Obama.

Now when I think of the rainbow I often think of it associated with Gay Pride who in turn may be the one who created it as a symbol of  unity and they wear it loud and proud.

The original rainbow pride flag dates back to 1978, when it was created by San Francisco-based queer artist Gilbert Baker for a mere $1,000. A self-described “geeky kid from Kansas,” Baker relocated to San Francisco as an Army draftee in 1970. After an honorable discharge from the military, he decided to remain in the City by the Bay to pursue a design career.
In 1974, Baker’s life changed forever when he was introduced to rising queer activist Harvey Milk, who owned a camera shop in San Francisco’s Castro district. Milk, of course, would go on to win a seat as a San Francisco city supervisor in 1977, becoming the first openly gay man elected to public office in California in the process. Along with writer Cleve Jones and filmmaker Artie Bressan, Milk pressed Baker to create a recognizable emblem of empowerment for the queer community. The artist looked back to America’s bicentennial celebrations over the previous year for inspiration.

So who wore it best?

The endless debate over White Fragility came to my attention this week when I read this editorial in The New York Times:
The ‘Some of My Best Friends Are Black’ Defense

It’s a myth that proximity to blackness immunizes white people from doing racist things.

By John Eligon
Mr. Eligon is a national correspondent for The New York Times.
Feb. 16, 2019

The people in the town where Ralph Northam, Virginia’s governor, grew up want you to know that black and white people got along just fine when he was a kid there in the 1960s and ’70s.

His high school in Onancock, a fishing village on the state’s Eastern Shore, was evenly split between black and white students. They played basketball and football together, went crabbing and fishing and shared the counter at Wise’s Drugstore.

They want you to know that Mr. Northam, 59 and white, did not have “a racist bone in his body” because, well, he had black friends.

“He is the last person on earth that would be racist,” one of Mr. Northam’s white childhood friends, Harry Mears, told me when I visited Onancock recently. “We have just as many black friends together as we do white friends.”

That’s why those who knew him well say he could not have had any bigoted intentions when he darkened his face with shoe polish to dress like Michael Jackson for a dance contest in 1984. It’s highly unlikely, they say, that he would put a photo on his medical school yearbook page of a man in blackface standing next to someone wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.

Mr. Northam’s defenders are channeling a tried and true myth: the belief that proximity to blackness immunizes white people from having attitudes that are rooted in racism or doing racist things.

In other words, they’re offering, on his behalf, the “some of my best friends are black” defense, which has so often been relied on by those facing accusations of racism that it has become shorthand for weak denials of bigotry — a punch line about the absence of thoughtfulness and rigor in our conversations about racism.

A recent example: In the wake of President Trump’s comments that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the 2017 Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist rally where a participant killed a counterprotester, Mr. Trump’s attorney at the time, Michael Cohen, tweeted, “Just because I support @POTUS @realDonaldTrump doesn’t make me a racist.”

It was accompanied by a collage of photos of Mr. Cohen with black people. The subtext was clear: Some of my best friends are black. Mr. Cohen was thoroughly mocked on social media, but his response revealed a common line of reasoning: Why would anyone share a laugh, meal or kiss with black people if he thought poorly of them? How could he invite them into his home if he saw them as inferior?

This thinking, scholars say, is steeped in complicated social factors, from a reluctance to have blunt conversations about race to a failure to acknowledge racial difference altogether. That’s why, after a white person’s proclamation that he has black friends often comes an insistence that he doesn’t see color, a trait that some of Mr. Northam’s friends declared was a virtue of those in their community.

Mr. Northam has been deeply apologetic for his racist missteps and said he has a lot to learn, but he did give a nod to his black friends the day after the racist yearbook photo surfaced.

“I was in public school during desegregation,” he said during a news conference, at which his discomfort discussing race showed at times. “I have a lot of African-American friends that I went to school with, played ball with, and I suspect I’ve had as much exposure to people of color as anybody.”

So how could someone with so much exposure to black people still use blackface? How could he do something that reflected — under the most generous interpretation — such obliviousness and insensitivity to a well-known symbol of America’s racist history?

“You live in a society that’s constantly giving you messages of white as the ideal,” said Robin DiAngelo, the author of “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.” So a white person can develop a close bond with someone who is black but still come away feeling superior to African-Americans and harboring racist stereotypes, Ms. DiAngelo added.

That complicates an ideal that many hold dear: integration. Living among and interacting with people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, scholars tell us, is supposed to help us understand one another better and bridge racial divides.

But building meaningful relationships across the color line can be difficult, in large part because race remains a touchy subject. Many white people are uncomfortable talking about race or defensive against accusations of racism, according to academics. Oftentimes, they’re just not equipped to do it, said Debby Irving, a racial justice writer who is white. Instead of listening and offering support, they tend to make the conversations about themselves, said Ms. Irving, the author of “Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race.”

“If anybody’s in distress, who do you call?” she asked. “White people will very rarely be that for a person of color unless that white person has done work in understanding racism.”

Absent deep, honest conversations about race with their black friends, white people can be left with superficial relationships and without a real understanding of how race plays out in a black person’s daily life. “Having black acquaintances and having black friends is different,” said Nick Adams, a television writer who is black and the author of the book “Making Friends With Black People.”

But sometimes it’s the relationships that white people have with black friends that can lead them astray. They can be lulled into a false sense of familiarity that might have them pushing boundaries better left untouched.

“Know the line,” Michael Harriot wrote in a semisatirical article in The Root that offered seven rules for white people with black friends. “While you might come from a long line of habitual line steppers, please know that there are some thresholds you cannot cross.”

Ms. DiAngelo said she once crossed that line, in a meeting with three black women, two of whom were close friends and another who had been hired as a consultant to design their website. Ms. DiAngelo told the consultant that her friend — one of the other women sitting right with them in the meeting — had a bad experience conducting racial justice training at a mostly white company. Feeling at ease, and eager to convey her understanding of how racism played out in that professional environment, Ms. DiAngelo joked that the company probably did not want her black colleague to return because “her hair must have scared the white people.”

It was only later, when one of her co-workers told her that the remark had offended the consultant that Ms. DiAngelo said she realized that her closeness with two of the black women in the meeting had lulled her into being too comfortable.

“I just kind of took for granted a relationship that I did not have,” she said.

The black friend as a buffer dates to the days of slave owners painting a false narrative that they were beloved by the African-Americans they subjugated. The slave owners “sought to justify how their racial hierarchy harmonized relationships between a dominant (white) race against a subordinate (black) race,” Tyler Parry, an associate professor in African-American studies at California State University, Fullerton, wrote in the Black Perspectives blog.

Mr. Parry recounted how George Fitzhugh, a supporter of slavery, blamed Northern abolitionists for interfering, saying in 1854 that the white Southerner “is the Negro’s friend, his only friend.” After Emancipation, Mr. Parry wrote, a white Southern belle lamented the loss of black “friends, those we loved, and those who loved us.”

People whose careers center on examining and repairing racial inequality tend to say that being willing to see color, and talking about what it means, is one part of how white people can turn their black friendships into something that broadens their horizons on race.

“Unless one increases their conscious awareness of U.S. racist history and connects the historical dots to the continued, present-day effects of our societal order, one cannot even begin to understand, much less address, the issues of racism in America,” Kimberly Norwood, a professor of law and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote in an email.

In his efforts to atone so far, Mr. Northam has struggled to show a command of black history and the language to talk about race. He called the first Africans brought to Virginia 400 years ago “indentured servants,” and though there is debate about whether he was technically correct, it was a tone-deaf statement that drew criticism. Some people found the way he discussed moonwalking like Michael Jackson during an apology news conference to be distasteful.

But at that same news conference, he also seemed to tacitly acknowledge that his black friendships growing up may not have given him the racial understanding he thought he had.

A reporter pressed him on how it was that he could have had so much exposure to black people yet have been so unaware of the hurt that wearing blackface would cause. He thought about it for a beat.

“I have made mistakes in my life,” he said. “And I will continue to learn.”

Note that I highlighted a reference to a book, a book I have no interest in reading but then when I opened The Guardian here she was again.

So now for a moment let's talk about me.  Not about "white" people, women, women over 55, Teachers, Single women who areeterosexual and not a multitude of other monikers in which to address myself.  Lets just talk about me.  I am a Substitute Teacher, 59 years old, live alone,  live in Nashville Tennessee and work in the public schools, ride public transport (or what functions as such) and walk pretty much the rest of the time.  I belong to the YMCA and go to all kinds of places run by all kinds of people.  My two Dentists are both minorities and I have zero problem talking to anyone who presents themselves as civil.  Wow I am so fucking fragile.  I think about race I think about it all the time what more can I do.  Again note where I live in work it is impossible to not.  And there is not one fucking thing I can do about it. Not one fucking thing.

I read. I write. I donate to the Guardian.  I do subscribe to the The New York Times, Washington Post and the rag here the Tennessean.  I subscribe to numerous magazines, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic. What do you buy and read as in pay for so let's start there before you accuse me of being a shallow white person. I read books that I buy in both book stores and on Amazon and at the library.  I go to the public library all the time do you?  I go wherever I want to when I want to and then one day I stopped going out at night because the violence here began to concern me to the point I just felt unsafe and the people I meet at these places, the Ryman, the Symphony and the Theater were so unfriendly and unwelcoming that it did little to reduce my concerns and only further lent to my isolation.    I do not like the people here, regardless of color I don't like them but I still treat anyone I encounter with civility.  It is all I can control and it affects how I see myself in the bigger picture.

Now let's talk about Black people and here is where the accusations of racist come into play.  Okay I will accept that if that makes you feel good about me or not.   Here is the story that I know.  Black people, you are not the only color in the world.  There are many faces of color and many faces who share a color who don't feel welcome in the world because of their sexuality, their religion, their choice of work, their whatever the fuck reasons that people use to judge, segregate, isolate and discriminate.  Its a fucking rainbow of hate.

Let's take a minute about the indigenous people of America, you know the Indians. Remember when there was the hullabaloo over the use of Indian phrases, names and gestures over sports teams? I do but then came Kaepernick and that kneel ended that.  Now we have a new issue in which to debate over sports.  I don't follow sports so I don't care but I do care if you do and I respect your right to have a thought on the issue and do what you think is right.  And then if that works great, if it doesn't then what?  Honestly at this point there comes a point to move on to something that matters.

Native American people live in isolation on reservations and the likelihood that any of you have ever been to one is zero to one as you may have gone to a Casino or to buy fireworks and that is the extent of it.  Ever know about their segregated and inferior schools or how the FBI does not track crime or keep stats on crimes on the Reservation?  No did not think so unless it matters to you.  Isn't this about you?

Or let's talk about the Asian issues.  Well we know that it was an Asian individual who brought the case now before the Supreme Court about Harvard's admission process.  Gee I thought they were all smart and stuff and they can't get into Harvard?  Fuck Harvard but whatever.   Well do you know the. history of Asians in America?  I do.   Well the best part is there is no Asia but it is a region and it is a broad coalition of individuals from many countries that comprise that cohort.  But hey do you know the history of the Chinese in America.  I do.  I bet you have been to a Chinese restaurant right?  That is sort of kind of Chinese food but is that about it when it comes to knowing Chinese other than the kid with the hard to pronounce name that sat next to you in Chem class? Same with the Indian kid. Not the head dress kind the Namaste kind.    I love Chicken Masala, don't you?  Do people know of the complex social and political climate of India? I doubt it as few know little about their own world and frame of reference.   Oh wait was that the Black kid who may have been African as he had a "weird" name. And was he and where exactly was he from? I don't buy Diamonds right? Was he a Muslim or arent' those only Middle Easterners?  I could go with this rant but to put me in a category of ignorant and shallow white person who is fragile is absurd but the same could be said when we all categorize individuals and make sweeping generalizations. But hey I do admit that at times I apply the royal "we" as a ease of reference.  I do it here all the time regarding the people of Nashville it is a coping strategy and well they say stereotypes exist for a reason and I may have one or two reasons it applies.

I could go on an on and on and on about all the colors of this rainbow. And when I read about the Professor in Seattle at the University of Washington who has the audacity to write about White Fragility in a city that is largely white by design and because of gentrification more so I had to bust out laughing.  There was always a small population of Black individuals who lived in Seattle and I recall when we elected a Mayor who was Black, Norm Rice,  and I worked on his campaign! And the  I loved it and met great people I even recall where his campaign office was.  No not the "black" hood it was adjacent to Seattle University and I walked by it years later as the area changed from "hood" adjacent to a popular and expensive area.  But it was that campaign I learned that I did not have a sense of humor that many people do not understand.  As it was a Black person who gracefully told me that and that was the first time and I got it and was why later in life I lived in largely black neighborhoods for most of my adult life as that type of honesty and respect was something I appreciated.  And no I never saw anything.  Well once in Oakland a whole SWAT raid on the warehouse where a white kid lived and sold drugs.  So okay then.   I have dated black men and not one ended up in a happy place and I could do nothing to stop that so much for my fragility.  I have had Black women friends but they were deeply challenging I think due to race so I simply chose to be friendly. I have worked largely for Black women and men in public education and again not one of them ended professionally well.  Which I was not involved and had long bailed the schools as again maybe I just loathe conflict and when that race card is thrown I toss my hand and walk out. Again maybe I am fragile.

I take only so much ownership for the racism I have seen and in turn I realized what I should have learned decades sooner, it was not my sense of humor it was my inability to be politic to be successful.  I can't be a fake and that is what I know now at 60 that I did not at 30.   Now I just know to keep my mouth shut, smile and move on.  My "black" friend at the YMCA taught me that as a coping strategy here and it works.  No I did not teach him to eat white foods like Live Pate or he me with chicken to be friends.  We have never set foot in each others homes and I have invited him and he has not taken me up on it nor likely we will before I leave. It is what it is.  But no I did not invite him because he is Black but because I like him.    I have to really like you to invite you to my home and the few that I have since moving here have never reciprocated and after a while you realize you don't need a PH.d to figure out that people don't like me here.. they don't 'get' me.  What.ever.  That is fragility regardless of color knowing you cannot connect with anyone.

My black neighbors who moved out I spoke to twice - once when they moved in and again when they moved out.  The other black people who live in the building I have spoken to a few times and when I realized one was damaging my plants I was very casual in my mentioning my camera and how well it worked on seeing all the action in the street and it ended there right after he mentioning I get a gun.  I told him my camera was all I needed to prove a point and that plants are replaceable lives not so much.   That division is not just about color.  But here in Nashville it is a massive divide and I have no intention of changing it because I can't change others but I can change myself and I am leaving.

Here in Nashville we don't have a large Latino population but we do have a Kurdish group and they are largely underrepresented in the community and again how am I to fix that.  As for the Latino people we want to build walls to keep out I find it laughable as they are more conservative than the Evangelical population here.  They are highly religious, very family oriented and yes very segregated by choice and by necessity in most communities I live in. They are the Indentured Servants that have long marked how the United States enslaved people.

So I am not going to feel guilt, shame or be fragile that I have no black friends.  Guess what I have no friends of any color. I have people I am friendly to but it ends there.  I don't need to fuck a black man to prove I am not racist, been there done that, wrote the book, seen the movie and have the Tshirt. Same with a Muslim and guess which one tried to kill me?  I am sure murder was not his intent but lets count the acts of mass violence associated with guns and I have run out hands on white men under 30 who seem intent on doing harm or men who are Middle Eastern who have done more damage than any Black, Asian, Native American or Latino and they have had their share if we want to count victims.  So is the problem race or guns?

Get over it.  Work with people. Eat with people. Go to games with people and concerts and then ask them into your home and go to theirs.  Learn about people one at a time.  We won't we have social media to do that.  But to Robin DiAngelo who says whites are fragile I have this to say:  Bitch get out of your white castle and come to Tennessee to Alabama or to Georgia to largely black communities and teach at historically black colleges like Tennessee State or Spelman and then talk about what that is like.  Its easy to be liberal when you hide behind a wall.   He who accuses excuses.  I make no excuses and no apologies unless I hurt someone individually.

 I am first a person who is not a group but a member of many so pick one and let me know which matters to you. Don't tell me how my shoes fit unless you have walked in them first. End scene and my rant of the day in the culture of perpetual outrage is over.





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