Category Archives: Racism

Fatal Stabbing of Black Student at University of Maryland Investigated as Possible Hate Crime

The FBI is helping to evaluate whether the fatal stabbing by a white student of a black student visiting the University of Maryland will be prosecuted as a hate crime, university police said Sunday.

Richard Wilbur Collins III was with two friends on the university’s campus in College Park when he was approached by a man and stabbed in the chest with a knife Saturday morning, University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell told reporters.

Image result for richard wilbur collins
Image: twitter

The 23-year-old had been commissioned as a lieutenant in the US Army two days before his death and had been set to graduate from Bowie State University (BSU) on Tuesday in a ceremony at Maryland, Mitchell said.

The University of Maryland student suspected of Collins’s killing was a member of a Facebook group named Alt Reich, Mitchell said.

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Posted by Libergirl

Killer Cops Get Immunity, No Matter Who’s in the White House

 

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Image: africanamerican.org

Two courtroom events this week serve to remind us that, no matter which party’s president is in the White House, the right to life and liberty does not apply on the streets of Black America, where the police enjoy effective immunity from prosecution. On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would not file charges in the death of Alton Sterling, the 37 year-old Black man who was shot to death by cops while helpless on the ground in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last year. Also on Tuesday, the Justice Department and South Carolina officials accepted a former cop’s guilty plea to the charge of using excessive force when he shot 50 year-old Walter Scott five times, while he was running away after a traffic stop, in North Charleston, South Carolina. Both killings were recorded in gruesome detail on video. But, when it comes to killer cops, the best of evidence is never enough.

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Posted by Libergirl

Why Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III Is Unfit to Be Attorney General

Don’t let his languid Southern drawl or physical resemblance to the kindly Keebler elves fool you. Ever.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the nation’s 84th attorney general, is neither laid back nor kind. To the contrary, he’s the most dangerous member of the Trump Cabinet. What’s more, he’s entirely unfit for the high position he holds.

Further evidence that Sessions has no business serving as our top law enforcement official emerged last week, when he took an intemperate swipe at Hawaii-based U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Kahala Watson during an interview with ultraconservative radio talk show host Mark Levin. Sessions was livid with Watson—who is one of only two active federal judges of indigenous heritage—for issuing a nationwide injunction blocking enforcement of President Trump’s second Muslim travel ban.

“[T]his is a huge matter,” Sessions said on air. “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”

Judge Watson clearly had the authority to render his decision. After all, the principle of judicial review—the power of the courts to declare acts of Congress and the executive branch unconstitutional—has been a bedrock tenet of American constitutional law since Marbury v. Madison was decided in 1803.

I don’t fault Sessions for expressing his disappointment with the substance of Watson’s ruling. Lawyers and judges routinely disagree on matters of constitutional interpretation. All things being equal, I’d even give him a pass for apparently forgetting that Hawaii is a state, albeit one consisting of several islands.

But things are rarely, if ever, equal when it comes to Sessions, especially when race, ethnicity or issues of minority rights enter the picture. Would Sessions have been equally dismissive if Judge Watson were white, or if the judge’s order had not benefitted Muslims, who comprise a statistically small but increasingly scapegoated religious community in the U.S.?

Compare Sessions’ comments about Watson with the jubilation he expressed last June when the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 in the case of United States v. Texas regarding the Obama administration’s deferred deportation program for the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens (DAPA), and the attempt to expand the DACA program dealing with the deferred deportation of children. The Supreme Court’s tie vote served to uphold the ruling of a single federal district court judge—Andrew S. Hanen, who sits in Brownsville—that struck down both plans.

In a prepared statement released at the time, Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, said: “Today’s decision in United States v. Texas is not just a victory for Texas, Alabama, and a majority of the States in this great nation who challenged the lawless actions of the Obama Administration, but a victory for the American people and for the rule of law.”

Sessions’ racial animus and hypocrisy are nothing new. In Truthdig columns, I previously chronicled his long and sorry history. Among the lowlights of Sessions’ career that I noted were his unsuccessful prosecution of three civil rights workers in 1985 while he served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, and the Senate’s rejection of his 1986 nomination to a federal judgeship over concern about his record of racial bias and insensitivity.

Since his installation as attorney general in early February, Sessions has done nothing to allay those concerns. If anything, he’s driven them to new levels.

On immigration, in addition to defending the Muslim travel ban, he’s been a staunch advocate for Trump’s border wall, and the driving force behind the threatened federal crackdown on sanctuary cities.

As expected, he’s promised to pick up the pace and volume of deportations. On a recent visit to Arizona, he described the border area as “ground zero” in the fight against transnational gangs who “flood our country with drugs and leave death and violence in their wake,” and the “criminal aliens” who “seek to overthrow our system of lawful immigration.” He pledged to marshal all available resources to “take a stand” against “such filth.”

In the field of voting rights, Sessions similarly has left a telltale mark. In late February, he announced that the Justice Department would drop its opposition to Texas’ strict voter identification law. In 2013, the Obama administration joined litigation aimed at overturning the law, which was passed in 2011.

Notwithstanding the department’s change of position, on April 10 a federal judge held that the law unconstitutionally discriminated against black and Latino voters. Sessions is expected to back efforts by Texas to appeal the ruling.

Sessions was also instrumental in revoking the written guidance that Loretta Lynch, his immediate predecessor as attorney general, had given to public schools to refrain from discriminating against transgender students. Given the revocation, the Supreme Court was prompted to vacate a pending appeal involving a transgender Virginia high school student who had been prohibited from using the bathroom of his choice and had argued his school’s policies violated Lynch’s guidelines.

In the area of criminal justice and police reform, Sessions has been even more regressive, calling for a revival of the war on drugs (including marijuana) and a return to the mandatory minimum prison sentences that fueled the era of mass incarceration. He also has been vocally supportive of the private prison industry.

Perhaps most important of all in law enforcement matters, Sessions has pledged to help boost the morale of local police departments by reviewing and annulling consent decrees negotiated with wayward jurisdictions across the country. In a staff memo written earlier this month, Sessions admonished that “it is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage nonfederal law enforcement agencies.” …I think this is arguably the most important position he’s taken in the field, but not the most important in all fields.

Nor does Sessions believe the federal government, via the Environmental Protection Agency, should have much to do with safeguarding clean air and water standards, or with the fight against climate change. Under his supervision, the Justice Department has advised federal courts in several pending high-profile cases that the EPA’s former positions on such questions are under review and subject to change.

And then there is his dismal stance on women’s rights. Although he testified at his confirmation hearing that he respects Roe v. Wade as the “law of the land,” he admitted that he views the landmark abortion precedent as “one of the worst, colossally erroneous Supreme Court decisions of all time.”

In matters of national security, too, Sessions has alarmed civil liberties activists, vowing to put federal whistleblowers in jail for disclosing classified information, “whenever a case can be made.” Late last week, he declared that the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had become a “priority” for the U.S.

Finally, there’s the charge that Sessions lied at his confirmation hearing when he testified that he had no contact with Russian officials during the election campaign while acting in the capacity of a Trump adviser. He since has acknowledged meeting twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign but has insisted he didn’t discuss campaign issues. Nonetheless, he has recused himself from participating in all ongoing federal probes of alleged Russian meddling in the election.

But let’s not dwell on the past. The real menace Sessions poses to the body politic lies in the future. He’s only been in office for about 80 days, and he’s just getting started.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already concluded that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is unfit to serve as the attorney general of the United States, I have a simple question for you: What, in the name of basic human decency, is holding you back?

By Bill Blum/Truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

New Orleans Starts Tearing Down Confederate Monuments, Sparking Protest

New Orleans officials removed the first of four prominent Confederate monuments early Monday, the latest Southern institution to sever itself from symbols viewed by many as a representation racism and white supremacy.

The first memorial to come down was the Liberty Monument, an 1891 obelisk honoring the Crescent City White League.

Workers arrived to begin removing the statue, which commemorates whites who tried to topple a biracial post-Civil War government in New Orleans, around 1:25 a.m. in an attempt to avoid disruption from supporters who want the monuments to stay, some of whom city officials said have made death threats.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has called the Liberty Monument “the most offensive of the four” to be taken down, adding it was erected to “revere white supremacy.”

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Tumult After Judge Orders University To Host White Nationalist Richard Spencer

Protests erupted at Alabama’s Auburn University on Tuesday night, leaving one person bloodied and at least three arrested, after a federal judge’s order forced the school to host a speech by prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer, AL.com reported.

This sort of tumult was exactly what the public university hoped to avoid. While Auburn initially planned to allow the event, administrators canceled it on Friday out of concern about “threats to the safety of our students, faculty and staff.” Spencer took his case to the courts, and a federal judge ruled that the university had to allow the event to take place.

Image: Talking Points Memo

“While Mr. Spencer’s beliefs and message are controversial, Auburn presented no evidence that Mr. Spencer advocates violence,” U.S. District Court Judge W. Keith Watkins said in his ruling, according to CNN, arguing that Spencer had the right to peaceable free speech.

Spencer has previously called for non-white Americans to leave the United States in a “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” He also made headlines after the presidential election for exclaiming “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory” at a white nationalist gathering in Washington, D.C.

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Steve Bannon Is Urging Others to Read ‘The Camp of the Saints’ and It’s More Dangerous Than You May Think

During Barack Obama’s tenure as president, he and Michelle Obama recommended a number of books to reveal truth about racism. They cited iconic works like W. E. B. DuBois’ “The Souls of Black Folks” and Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” as well as contemporary gems like Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns,” which chronicles generations of Black citizens fleeing racial terrorism in the southern United States. The Obamas recognize the immense influence books have on a person’s thoughts and behavior. The prestige of the Oval Office amplified their ability to showcase literature that best represents their values and political leanings.

President Donald J. Trump’s administration and his Republican allies have a different syllabus. Chief White House strategist and Breitbart News founding board member Steve Bannon and Republican Congressman Steve King have each publicly recommended the 1973 dystopian French novel “The Camp of the Saints.” A Huffington Post review brands Jean Raspail’s fictional narrative “nothing less than a call to arms for the white Christian West, to revive the spirit of the Crusades and steel itself for bloody conflict against the poor Black and brown world.” Like Pierre Boulle’s 1963 “Planet of the Apes,” “The Camp of the Saints” was originally published in French. Raspail flawlessly imports racial stereotypes about shiftless brutal and “sexually” dangerous Black males. The book’s anti-Black, anti-immigrant sentiment mimics the 2016 campaign rhetoric that netted Trump the presidency.

Bannon served as chief executive director of Trumps campaign and repeatedly invokes Raspail’s fiction when articulating what the Los Angeles Times calls, “a dark view of refugee and immigration flows from majority-Muslim [non-white] countries.” Trump’s chief strategist is a primary architect of the immigration ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations. In January of 2016, Bannon justified the need for the draconian restrictions, declaring that non-white Muslims are not “migrating” to the United States. From Bannon’s perspective, “It’s really an invasion. I call it the ‘Camp of the Saints.’”

Congressman King mirrors Bannon’s talking points, promoting what Atlanta Black Star Political Editor Kamau Franklin classifies as “the centralization of whiteness to politics.” Earlier this month, Talk radio host Jan Mickelson asked Congressman King, the Iowa Republican about the threat posed to white civilization in the form of “whatever washes up on our shore and makes a claim on our territory.” Representative King replied by spelling Raspail’s whole name while recommending the Frenchman’s work.

University of Texas Austin English professor Martin Kevorkian rejects trivializing the suggested reading of powerful white men and white men who feel powerless and cautions against minimizing Raspail’s work as a distasteful oddity.

“That idea of a non-white threat to whites is extremely common” in United States literature, Kevorkian said. He reminds us that racist themes in “The Camp of the Saints” are identical to one of the most significant novels in United States history, Thomas Dixon’s 1905 “The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan.” The book, which became the basis for D. W. Griffith’s 1915 landmark film “The Birth of a Nation” which was screened at the White House, resurrected the Ku Klux Klan as the protectors of white society and white female virtue against Black “incompetence” and lustful desire of white women.

Literature like “The Clansmen” and “The Camp of the Saints” simultaneously inspires white angst and white violence against anyone not white. The story lines invariably depict a time when whites fail to maintain power over Black people. These “scary stories” motivate racists to remain committed to the preservation of collective white power, which often necessitates force. Dark people are relentlessly depicted as subhuman monstrosities capable of one thing: soiling white rule.

“The Turner Diaries,” published in 1978 by William Luther Pierce and described by the New York Times as “a classic among white supremacists,” is indistinguishable from the recommended reading of King and Bannon. Pierce imagines a world where white domination is in decline, evidenced by gun prohibition and the nagging pestilence of Black males attacking white women.  Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber read “The Turner Diaries” before bombing the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Okla., and killing 168 people in 1995. The novel includes a scene where a government building is bombed. The New York Times reports that one of the items recovered from his vehicle at the time of his arrest was “a clipping from the novel, which prosecutors have described as a blueprint for the bombing of the federal building.”

Tariq Nasheed, creator of the Hidden Colors documentary series, encourages Black people to review King and Bannon’s reading material.

“It’s imperative that Black people read and study these books that white supremacists keep putting out,” Nasheed said. Classifying “The Camp of the Saints” and “The Turner Diaries” as assaults on Black people, he stressed that racists “weaponize everything, including so-called ‘fictional’ novels.’” As opposed to dismissing these texts as racially insensitive but harmless, we should view these works as public transcripts of white supremacy culture and strategy.

Raspail writes, “A disturbing trend in our present moment is seeing blatantly [white] supremacist material treated in a positive light,” Kevorkian notes. When anti-Black literature is acclaimed from the loftiest corridors of white power, Black life is threatened and aggressively devalued.

By Gus T. Renegade/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Ta-Nehisi Coates Calls for Harvard to Pay Reparations; University President Says ‘No’

In an attempt to atone for its role in human bondage, Harvard University on Friday, March 3, hosted a conference addressing the institution’s historic, and oftentimes forgotten, ties to slavery, with some participants even advocating for monetary reparations.

The conference, titled “Universities and Slavery: Bound by History,” was the latest in a series of efforts taken by the Ivy League university to confront its dark history of enslavement, The Harvard Crimson reported. The day-long symposium drew hundreds of guests from all over, featuring historians and representatives from several universities and a keynote address by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic.

University President Drew G. Faust delivered the opening remarks.

“Harvard was directly complicit in slavery from the college’s earliest days in the 17th century,” said Faust, who announced plans for the conference in March 2016. “This history and its legacy have shaped our institution in ways we have yet to fully understand. Today’s conference is intended to help us explore parts of the past that have remained all but invisible.”

Coates built upon the president’s remarks in his keynote address, describing slavery and the impacts of racial discrimination that arose from it as “systems of plunder that haunt us to this day.” As an outspoken advocate for reparations, the well-known journalist pushed the idea on conference attendees Friday, asserting that racial progress requires institutions like Harvard to pay its debts to those that it enslaved.

“I think every single one of these universities needs to make reparations,” Coates said, as the audience erupted in applause. “I don’t know how you get around that, I just don’t. I don’t know how you conduct research that shows that your very existence is rooted in a great crime, and just say ‘Well,’ shrug — and maybe, at best, say ‘I’m sorry’ — and you walk away.

“I think you need to use the language of ‘reparation,‘” he continued. “I think it’s very, very important to actually say that word, to acknowledge that something was done in these institutions.”

In the past few years, the Cambridge, Mass., university has taken a number of steps to acknowledge its connection to slavery. In March of last year, the institution bent to mounting pressure to remove the family seal of notorious slave owner Isaac Royall. The controversial seal represented the law school for nearly a century and was adopted in 1937 to honor Royall’s contribution to the university, according to Atlanta Black Star.

Months later, the prestigious university recognized four enslaved persons — Titus, Venus, Jubah and Bilhah — who lived and worked on university grounds by dedicating the official residence of Harvard’s presidents in their honor.

Harvard isn’t the only university that has come clean about the role of slavery in its establishment. Earlier this year, a history professor at Columbia University published a report detailing how the transatlantic slave trade helped finance the school in its humble beginnings, while Georgetown University extended legacy admissions privileges to the descendants of 272 enslaved workers who were sold to keep the institution financially afloat in 1838.

History professor Sven Beckert, who has investigated Harvard’s ties to slavery in the past, said the process of unearthing this bitter history started in 2007 with a self-led seminar on the history of slavery at the university. Over the years, Beckert said his students discovered stories of enslaved Blacks who worked on campus under two Harvard presidents and uncovered endowment investments tied to the slave economy. One student, who presented the findings as part of her senior thesis on Friday, revealed that Harvard had used the Caribbean plantation of a former slave-holding donor as a botanical research outpost until 1961.

“When the students began to uncover a different history, they and others who listened to them were surprised,” Beckert said. “Yet, in retrospect, it seems that the only thing that should surprise us was our surprise and that it took so long for us to allow ourselves to be surprised by that history.”

Unlike Coates, Faust has stopped short of supporting reparations. In an interview with The Harvard Crimson last fall, Faust said offering repayment or preferential treatment like Georgetown University has wouldn’t be appropriate for Harvard, since it didn’t directly own slaves.

“I am not aware of any slaves that were owned by Harvard itself, and slavery was much less of a presence and an economic force in New England than it was in Washington, D.C., and the South,” she said. “Mostly, slave records were kept as economic records, business records, and the records we have of slaves at Harvard are much scarcer and less complete.”

Coates disagreed at Friday’s conference, asserting that atonement must involve some sort of monetary repayment.

The institution’s faculty committee is expected to continue studying Harvard’s ties to slavery and plans to release a set of recommendations to the University in the coming months, according to the newspaper.

By Tanasia Kenney
Posted by The NON-Conformist