Category Archives: Racism

What the Koch Brothers Want Students to Learn About Slavery The history-teaching wing of the Koch brothers empire is seeking to promote an alternate narrative to slavery

Given that the billionaire Charles Koch has poured millions of dollars into eliminating the minimum wage and paid sick leave for workers, and that in 2015 he had the gall to compare his ultra-conservative mission to the anti-slavery movement, he’s probably the last person you’d want educating young people about slavery.

Yet the history-teaching wing of the Koch brothers empire is seeking to promote an alternate narrative to slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. The political goal of these materials is to ensure students see racism and slavery as flaws in an otherwise spotless U.S. record, rather than woven into the fabric of our country from its inception.

The Bill of Rights Institute (BRI) is the education arm of the network of front groups the Koch brothers use to promote their far-right ideology. Maureen Costello, the education director from Teaching Tolerance, has pointed out the many factual inaccuracies in the “Homework Help” video the BRI has recently promoted to teach students about slavery. She concludes that the history presented is “superficial, drained of humanity, and neglects to reckon with the economic and social reality of what opponents called ‘the slave power.’”

A dive into their “Documents of Freedom” readings reveals an even more disturbing agenda. The BRI bills the “Documents of Freedom” as a “modern take on the traditional textbook” — a “completely free digital course on history, government, and economics” authored by unnamed “teachers.” It’s essentially an online textbook that aims to promote a particular version of history, government, and economics that aligns with the interests of the Kochs.

The main “Documents of Freedom” reading on slavery, titled “Slavery and the Constitution,” is essentially a defense of the founding fathers and the Constitution against “some scholars” who “portray the founding fathers as racists.” The reading cherry-picks quotes from “the Founders” to argue that they believed slavery was morally wrong. Although the authors write that “most of the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution own[ed] slaves,” they steer clear of the brutal reality of chattel slavery.

They paint Thomas Jefferson as an anti-slavery crusader who “attacked the slave trade in harsh language” and “included African Americans in the universal understanding of the promise of liberty and equality.” But the Kochs’ curriculum fails to mention that Jefferson wrote Black people were “inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.” Jefferson kept nearly 200 people in bondage, and even in his death emancipated only five. He regularly sold human beings away from their families to raise money to buy wine, art, and luxuries that only wealthy planters could afford. Nothing in the BRI reading acknowledges any contradiction between “the Founders’” awareness of “the immorality of slavery and the need for action” and their actual actions defending and protecting slavery.

Furthermore, the reading justifies the so-called three-fifths compromise — whereby an enslaved person was counted as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of congressional representation — by arguing “the Founders” had to make a “prudential compromise with slavery because they sought to achieve their highest goal of a stronger Union of republican self-government. Since some slaveholding delegations threatened to walk out. . .” Not only is this type of “compromise” immoral, but the problem with this logic is that the “slaveholding delegations” that threatened to walk out were themselves “Founders” who played an important role in crafting the Constitution.

In addition to selectively quoting the founders, the authors use quotations from Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln to bolster their argument that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document. It ignores that most politicians, including Lincoln, believed that the Constitution protected slavery where it existed. It also ignores the very large wing of the abolitionist movement, whose most prominent figure was William Lloyd Garrison, that viewed the Constitution as a “devil’s pact,” one “dripping with blood.” Douglass himself was part of that wing of the movement until he broke with Garrison in the 1850s, when he became convinced that framing the Constitution as an anti-slavery document could be a useful tool in the struggle to end slavery.

The reading also ignores how central slavery was to the economic growth of the United States, with phrases like “the number of slaves steadily grew through natural increase.” Natural? There was nothing natural about the expansion of slavery. Slavery expanded because it was profitable. The authors seek to divorce the expansion of slavery from the economic design of the capitalist cotton empire and from the horrific practice of breeding, which became a large source of revenue, especially for Virginia slaveholders.

What is most egregious is what the reading leaves out. Even today’s corporate textbooks will include a paragraph or two that attempt to provide the perspective of enslaved people. However, this reading concludes by arguing there was a steady “rise of freedom” after the Constitution because “the new nation was mostly bent on expanding liberty and equality.” The only way the Koch brothers’ Bill of Rights Institute can draw this conclusion is by completely ignoring the perspective of those whose land and labor were violently stolen by the wealthy U.S. elite.

As if that reading wasn’t bad enough, the follow-up reading, titled “Civil War and Reconstruction,” is a long, boring account that almost exclusively focuses on the battles between Radical Republicans in Congress, who the authors claim wanted to “punish the South,” and Presidents Lincoln and Johnson, who favored more “moderate” reconstruction plans. It might be the first reading I’ve ever looked at on Reconstruction that makes almost no mention of what Black people were doing during the era and barely discusses anything happening in the South.

Only in a pro-KKK film like Birth of a Nation and in the Koch brothers’ curriculum is Reconstruction reduced to a punishment for white Southerners. Let’s look at Reconstruction from the standpoint of those who were freed from more than 200 years of enslavement. It was a time when the formerly enslaved became congressmen; when the Black-majority South Carolina legislature taxed the rich to pay for public schools; when experiments in Black self-rule in the Georgia Sea Islands led to land reform, new schools, and a vital local governance. During Reconstruction Blacks and poor whites organized Union Leagues, and led strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, and educational campaigns. During this period other social movements, especially labor and feminist movements, were inspired by the actions of African Americans to secure and define their own freedom.

As the late historian Lerone Bennett Jr. wrote: “It had never happened before, and it has never happened since, in America.” During Reconstruction, “the poor, the downtrodden, and the disinherited present[ed] their bills at the bar of history.” Of course, today’s elites like the Kochs have no interest in students learning this radical history. In the Kochs’ history, the only mention of Black people’s actions comes in one sentence at the end of the reading that papers over the massive accomplishments of the era: “Although African Americans soon made up the majority of voters in some southern states and even elected some black representatives to Congress, the right to vote was curtailed by southern states through several legal devices. . .”

Tellingly, the Koch authors finish off this reading with a quote from James Madison about the “Tyranny of Majorities.” The authors claim that Jim Crow was an example of when “African Americans in the post-Civil War South discovered firsthand the dangers of majority tyranny in a republic.” That’s the main lesson the Bill of Rights Institute wants students to draw from the Civil War and Reconstruction: You can’t trust the masses, so leave politics to elites like the Koch brothers. Of course, the inconvenient truth is that when one actually focuses on the South during Reconstruction, we see an era where poor white and Black people took political power away from elites. It’s this history that the Koch brothers don’t want students to learn.

By Adam Sanchez / Zinn Education Project

Posted by The NON-Conformist


Black People Are the Most Religious People In America, But What Are They Getting Out Of It?

African-Americans are the most religious group in the United States, but what are they getting in return?

According to the Pew Research Center, 79 percent of African-Americans identify as Christian, as opposed to 70 percent of whites and 77 percent of Latinos. A majority of Black people belong to historically Black protestant churches, which trace their origins to the late 18th century. Smaller numbers of African Americans are evangelicals, Catholics, mainline Protestants and Muslims. The largest Black churches include the National Baptist Convention USA, Church of God in Christ, the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the National Baptist Convention of America and the Progressive National Baptist Association Inc.

Pew found that more African-Americans believe in God — 83 percent — than whites and Latinos — 61 percent and 59 percent, respectively. More Black people say religion is very important in their lives — 75 percent versus 49 percent of whites and 59 percent of Hispanics. However, the number of religiously unaffiliated African-Americans is on the increase, and older Black people are more likely to be a part of historically Black Protestant congregations than younger people. These data on African-Americans and religiosity reflect a religious survey Pew conducted a decade ago.

The phenomenon is not limited to Black people in America, as Black people in general tend to be the most devout Christians, and Christianity is the most popular religion among the poor, formerly colonized people in Africa. On the continent, 55 percent of people are Christian, as opposed to 9 percent in 1910.

These statistics on Black religious enthusiasm come amid reports of a Black exodus by those, especially young people, who seek traditional African spirituality, or perhaps are disenchanted with the hypocrisy and sanctimony of Christian evangelicals, and view Christianity as a ”white man’s religion” that will not speak out against institutional racism and is stalling Black liberation. While Black young people and millennials are leaving a “stale, stagnant church” that has not grown with them and has shown hostility towards their movements, as D. Danyelle Thomas, founder and content creator of Unfit Christian wrote last year, this begs the question: What of the many people in the Black community, those who face the greatest challenges in society and continue to be so religious?

Black people generally did not arrive in America as Christians, as most were followers of indigenous traditional faiths and 10 to 15 percent were believers in Islam. Christianity was the religion of the slave master and of white supremacy. And yet, Christianity was the faith of Nat Turner and John Brown, of abolition. Faith has been an important part of Black life for centuries, for people who turned to the Bible for hope and inspiration and created their own form of worship.

Dr. Eboni Marshall-Turman, assistant professor of Theology and African American Religion at Yale Divinity School, is highly critical of the Black church. However, she also readily points out the significance of the Black church and its role in the community. “If we take the premise that African-Americans are the most religious people in America, what are they getting in return presupposes certain kinds of materiality which are at stake for Black people of faith. But I think more integral to a Black Christian project is hope,” Dr. Marshall-Turman, a Christian theologian who served for ten years as assistant minister of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, told Atlanta Black Star. She added that religion historically has oriented Black people to the world, “especially to a world in the U.S. that has denigrated Black life,” and has provided a “breathing space for Black people to survive and thrive” and “think about one’s own life and future outside white hegemony.”

“There is a material aspect beyond the project of hope and possibility that is part of the tradition the church. It is often one of the first places we go and the last place we find ourselves,” Marshall-Turman offered. “We will die, and a person of faith will stand over us and say final words. Whether we see ourselves related to the Black church in terms of membership, there is the lifespan in terms of our community; the Black church bookends from the blessing of babies to the funeralizing of the dead.”

There are tangible ways in which the Black church participates in the life of the Black community, the Black theologian notes. “Black churches feed the hungry, they support the homeless. They support those who may not have the basic necessities of life. They show up at court to support members of our community who have been unjustly incarcerated and find themselves in the throes if the criminal justice system,” she said. “They advocate in terms of basic necessities, housing, jobs, equal-pay services in the communities, very foundational basic matters of one’s right to life,” Marshall-Turman added, noting Black churches and mosques that go beyond offering hope and are “showing up” and serving people outside of their congregation, and handing out food on a regular basis.

D. Danyelle Thomas has a different take on the Black church and why people remain. “I would venture to say that most remain in relationship with the church because of both fear and familiarity. Even those with only a tangential relationship to church/faith, the fear of hellfire and brimstone as an alternative is enough to keep us captive,” Thomas told Atlanta Black Star, noting that hellfire, which she removed from her own theology, is not the dominant philosophy for most Black churches. “There’s also the facet of familiarity, as Black churches are more than places of worship, they offer community within community for us. Some of us still do church because it’s what we’ve always done. Like fear, familiarity has a stronghold on Black folks’ relationship with faith because interrogating the ‘why’ behind our actions isn’t always easy,” she added.

There is no monolithic Black church, and some African-Americans congregations have a long legacy or a present-day track record of fighting for social and racial justice. Black churches have fought on the front lines in resisting racism through slavery and the civil rights movement, and the AME Church was founded in resistance to slavery. A center of community life, the Black church often has been the target of Klan violence and white domestic terror, whether the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963, or the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015. However, Black religious institutions have also pacified the Black struggle. As beloved as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X are in the Black community, not everyone was with them and what they espoused when they were alive. Some Black churches have internalized white supremacy and have been accused of exploiting their congregations, and in the case of prosperity gospel, have appropriated white notions of capitalism for Black religious spaces.

Prosperity theology is alive and well, Thomas says. “The thing is, we all know we live in a system of capitalism that uses the tools of racism, sexism, classism, and the like to further hegemony. In my experience, I’ve found that the Black church is but a microcosm of the society at large. This is historically not the case, of course, as we know that the Black church was the cornerstone of the Civil Rights Movement and that faith has sustained our ancestors and living elders,” she said. “Logically, we understand that money answers all things so I don’t think people expect churches to operate for free. But, like with music and sports, churches have proved to be a fast-track to financial success with the right sales pitch — and that has, in my observation, elevated the visibility of Prosperity Theology or, as I call it, the business of church,” Thomas added.

According to Thomas, the pitch of prosperity theology is that an endless supply of wealth will be available to those who believe strongly enough. “There’s a bible verse that we’ve gleaned the idea that ‘only what you do for Christ will last’ (II Corinthians 5:9-10), and when you couple that with verses like Luke 6:38 (“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back”), the formula of spiritual gaslighting writes itself. And many folks decide to stay because they’ve been stripped of critical analysis in Jesus’ name,” she said.

Many people, including Black people, are in a relationship of spiritual gaslighting with their churches, Thomas argues, which lays the foundation for why many remain in churches that are not empowering or growing them. “Spiritual gaslighting is feeling like you’re crazy or bad, being taught the inability to trust your own judgment, constantly apologizing, insane levels of guilt and a need to constantly justify your normal, everyday decisions to an implacable and hyper-critical external authority,” she noted, adding that this does not mean the church is inherently abusive, but rather that certain normalized aspects of church culture are at play. “Your reason, conscience, will, emotions, culture, and even your personal relationship with God are all continually under attack by demonic forces that are seeking to deceive you. Therefore, you should be automatically suspicious of anything that comes from either yourself or from a source outside of the ideological bubble,” Thomas said.

“Those of us who stay or, at least, keep a tenuous-at-best relationship with the church WHILE transforming our theology do so because we understand the importance of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We also stay because we believe in the possibility of building the new community that reflects our hopes,” Thomas said, while acknowledging that some people are fortunate to be in fellowship with ministries that focus on inclusion, mental health, social justice and other pressing concerns. “The latter, creating forward-looking fellowships, is the driver behind my work with Unfit Christian. My goal is to remove all things that restrict corporate access to God, including all the negative -isms and deafening silence on sociopolitical issues.”

“I think nothing is beyond critique. Black churches are not God. They are institutions built by human hands,” Marshall-Turnan believes. “if we want to strengthen the church and pursue the church as relevant to the Black community, we have to continually critique the church. I bet those who critique the church love the church, and believe in its transformative potential,” she said, noting the institution is historically sexist, homophobic, and transphobic, marginalizes young people and engages in economic fragmentation, which explain why young people are leaving the Black church.

“I’m not really concerned about the studies that show the increase in ‘nones,’ or that Black people are leaving the church. I feel the work of Antony Pinn is so resonant,” Marshall-Turman said of the Black atheist humanist scholar at Rice University who refutes the claim that all African-Americans are theists. “The narrative we’ve been hyper-religious people is not true, and when you think about the secular movements within the spectrum of the movement for Black freedom, it is obvious that every Black movement did not start in the church. So, it is not true that everybody has been in the church,” she noted, rejecting the alarmist argument about people leaving the Black church, and adding that with mobility and other societal factors, the concept of church itself is transforming.

“As a theological educator, I see the next generation every day. I see them coming with rigorous critiques of Black churches and also deep commitment to Black churches. … I also see young Black budding theologians who are imagining new ways of doing church, and I think the Black church as a rhetorical indicator is big enough to hold all of that. So I am not too worried about that. As an older millennial, I am not worried if the church will be here tomorrow,” she added, believing it will be in the hands of Black people such as these.

“The Black church has so much great potential to do transformational work. As it relates to everyday folks living in proximity to the church. Black churches matter,” Marshall-Turman concluded. “They just do, and they’re still held in high esteem behind this spirituality.”

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Black Homebuyers Are Still Being Denied Home Mortgages and It’s Worse Than a Decade Ago. Can Black Banks Make a Difference?

A decade ago, in the midst of a historic financial crisis, numerous critics lined up to lay the cause of the housing meltdown at the feet of the African-American, Latinx and poor communities. The oft-repeated narrative, advanced particularly by Republicans on the congressionally-created Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), contended that affordable housing policies and regulations aimed at more equitable lending—as represented by the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and implemented by government mortgagers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — were to blame.

In December 2010, following a report to this effect by the Republican commissioners on the FCIC, then-House Speaker designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) stated, “This eye-opening report details how government mortgage companies played a pivotal role in the financial meltdown by handing out high-risk loans to families who couldn’t afford them.”

Unsurprisingly, the allegations were subsequently found to be baseless, as bipartisan research concluded that government-backed affordable housing practices were “not a significant factor” in the crisis. “In the wake of the affordable housing goals of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the CRA, they get to take shots at poor people,” quipped Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), then chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, responding to Republican claims at a 2008 Boston forum on foreclosures. “And let’s be honest, the fact that some poor people are Black doesn’t hurt, either, from their standpoint.

Given the housing meltdown a decade ago was not caused by too many unqualified African-Americans “buying houses they could not afford,” one could casually assume lending practices in the Black community have resumed at a similar pre-crisis rate, or even improved.

They’d be wrong. A Pew Research Center report revealed that, in 2005, African-Americans in the US were roughly 1.7 times more likely to have their conventional mortgage applications denied than their white counterparts. A decade later, in 2015, African-Americans were more than 2.5 times more likely than white applicants to have their applications denied. The metropolitan area of Atlanta mirrors this 2015 national average, while Mobile, Alabama, weighs in at a nation-high 5.6.

“It’s a sad state of affairs,” offered James E. Clingman, economist, professor and journalist. “If we look back at Black business history, we can see that Black folks have obviously been screened out, left out and discriminated against when it comes to credit, which essentially played a major role in putting us in the economic position which we find ourselves today.”

Lenders can reject a mortgage application for a variety of reasons, including poor credit history and high debt-to-income ratios if it is judged an applicant does not make enough income given her or his level of debt. Pew reported that credit is the most commonly cited reason of denial by lenders for African-American applicants. However, this cannot be independently verified, given that, unlike income, debt-to-income ratios, the size of a loan, and racial demographics, banks have successfully blocked efforts to require them to report an applicant’s credit score to the government.

“Many of these banks have put Black people in a catch-22,” said Clingman. “You can’t get credit because you have no net worth, and you have no net worth because you can’t get credit to buy a home, which would increase your net worth.”

The banks see it differently. “No data set can satisfactorily explain all underwriting or pricing decisions,” stated the American Bankers Association in their April 2017 report. “For many years, HMDA (Home Mortgage Disclosure Act) data have been used to identify possible instances of illegal discrimination” and “regulators have long noted that HMDA data alone cannot be used conclusively. There can be legitimate, necessary, and non-discriminatory factors — unobtainable via HMDA data — involved in underwriting or pricing decisions, and such information, when reduced to individual data points, will be of limited use in understanding credit decisions.”

The feds aren’t offering any help. The Trump administration has yet to pursue any racial discrimination cases against lenders, while simultaneously relaxing CRA compliance standards. Before that, the Obama administration was almost as bank-friendly as 99 percent of financial institutions rated satisfactory or outstanding based on compliance inspections under the CRA.

Still, such entities, both public and private, regularly tout home ownership as the basis for wealth and financial stability in America. Unfortunately, African-Americans are struggling in all of these categories, as wealth and income inequality are the highest they have been since 1928, with the gap in median household incomes between whites and African-Americans increasing from $19,000 in 1967 to $27,000 in 2012. Consistently, the racial homeownership gap is currently greater than it was in the 1920s as well.

Some maintain that disproportionate mortgage denials by race and insufficient anti-discrimination regulations by the government have greatly contributed to these persistent gaps.

“The fact that housing finance was at the center of the 2008 financial crisis highlighted yet another problem in the longstanding history of private and governmental racial discrimination in access to housing finance and the resulting economic inequality by race,” recently wrote Emma Coleman Jordan, law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. “Who is responsible for ensuring that home ownership, the centerpiece of middle- and working-class wealth potential, is financed with stable, suitable financial products that lead to eventual ownership?” Coleman asked, before answering her own question. “A central role of government is to mediate the market forces that manipulate the deep longing for participation in home ownership as a fundamental marker of economic citizenship.”

Such participation has dropped dramatically since the housing crisis. Pew reported that in 2015 only 132,000 African-Americans applied for conventional loans, a sharp decrease from 1.1 million in 2005. Also, in 2005, nearly 10 percent of conventional mortgage applications came from Black households while, in 2015, less than 4 percent did.

Given these numbers, Clingman proposed it is “really incumbent upon the consumers to take some of these issues into our own hands.” Referencing the recent #BankBlack movement, where African-American consumers transferred millions to Black-owned banks nationwide as a “nice first step,” the economist promoted the need for a “reciprocal movement among the Black banks, who really got a windfall in deposits, to develop special kinds of lending programs for Black people.” Upon acknowledging these institutions are subject to the same regulations as other institutions, Clingman suggested “there are creative financing initiatives that could be executed to ensure reciprocity for those deposits” before pointing to the Collective Empowerment Group (CEG), a Maryland-based community organization that effectively halted redlining in its midst.

In the early 1990s, a sizable collective of churches in Prince Georges County, Maryland, and the nearby metropolitan Washington area organized around redlining and other inequitable banking practices affecting their members. A representative group of pastors met with 16 banks and implemented covenants that largely ensured their churches and congregation members would benefit from more equitable financial services. After partnering with numerous Black banks and over two dozen organizations for a wide range of products and services for its increasing membership, CEG subsequently evolved beyond church doors into a community economic empowerment group promoting homeownership preservation, financial literacy, education, health care, inclusive public policy and public safety. “They’ve been doing this for 20 years,” said Clingman, noting how CEG “leverages their collective numbers for reciprocity with the banks that they deal with, both Black and white.”

“We always say, ‘well, they’ve taken our community,’” Clingman said, referring to ongoing gentrification in major cities across the nation. “No, it’s not ours, we don’t own it,” he stressed, promoting the need for increased financial literacy in the Black community to understand such communal pitfalls as renting versus owning property. “We just have to be more informed and more willing to work collectively, like CEG, to leverage for reciprocity and not allow ourselves to be run over by these banks. There’s no redlining in the area where CEG is, and, since they started, they have generated about 300 million dollars in mortgage and business loans.”

“Now that,” added Clingman, “is a good model to follow.”

By D. Amari Jackson/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The “Alt-Right” Is Building a White Nationalist Mass Movement With “Operation Homeland”

The “Alt-Right” Is Building a White Nationalist Mass Movement With “Operation Homeland”

The “alt-right” didn’t really enter the spotlight of mainstream US culture until it dropped back into the gutter. For the first years of its infancy, from the founding of “” in 2010 until the popularization of the #AltRight hashtag in early 2015, members had focused on trying to rehabilitate the image of white nationalism.

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Sessions invokes ‘Anglo-American heritage’ of sheriff’s office

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday brought up sheriffs’ “Anglo-American heritage” during remarks to law enforcement officials in Washington.

“I want to thank every sheriff in America. Since our founding, the independently elected sheriff has been the people’s protector, who keeps law enforcement close to and accountable to people through the elected process,” Sessions said in remarks at the National Sheriffs Association winter meeting, adding, “The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.”
“We must never erode this historic office,” Sessions continued.
Invoking “Anglo-American heritage” seems to have been an impromptu decision by the attorney general. A written version of the remarks says that Sessions was supposed to say: “The sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage.”
Posted by The NON-Conformist


How Haiti became poor


In case you missed it, the President of the United States called Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries “shitholes,” then pretended like he didn’t say it, but basically said it all over again.

This matters not just because it’s racist (the President is racist, in fact, he is professionally racist), because it’s vulgar (“shithole,” one of the all-time great swear words, is forever sullied by this), and because it’s catastrophically bad for foreign and domestic relations. It matters in part because of the history of Haiti, and the history of racist discourse about Haiti.

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, a professor of education and scholar who’s closely studied these narratives, writes:

The reason why White nationalists like 45 always name Haiti because the Haitian nation & people are unique. Haiti defeated Napoleon, threw off the chains of slavery, and exposed the lie of White supremacy & European imperialism. So there’s no end to their hatred for Haiti.

Jonathan Katz, a journalist and former AP correspondent in Haiti who wrote The Big Truck That Went By about Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and the cholera epidemic that followed, has a longer thread spelling out how these narratives about Haiti were generated and how they work. Here’s a thick excerpt:

In order to do a victory lap around the GDP difference between, say, Norway and Haiti, you have to know nothing about the history of the world. That includes, especially, knowing nothing real about the history of the United States… You’d have to not know that the French colony that became Haiti provided the wealth that fueled the French Empire — and 2/3 of the sugar and 3/4 of the coffee that Europe consumed…

You’d have to not realize that Haiti was founded in a revolution against that system, and that European countries and the United States punished them for their temerity by refusing to recognize or trade with them for decades. You’d have to not know that Haiti got recognition by agreeing to pay 150 million gold francs to French landowners in compensation for their own freedom. You’d have to not know that Haiti paid it, and that it took them almost all of the 19th century to do so.

You’d then have to not know that Haiti was forced to borrow some money to pay back that ridiculous debt, some of it from banks in the United States. And you’d have to not know that in 1914 those banks got President Wilson to send the US Marines to empty the Haitian gold reserve… [You’d] have to not know about the rest of the 20th century either—the systematic theft and oppression, US support for dictators and coups, the US invasions of Haiti in 1994-95 and 2004…

In short, you’d have to know nothing about WHY Haiti is poor (or El Salvador in kind), and WHY the United States (and Norway) are wealthy. But far worse than that, you’d have to not even be interested in asking the question. And that’s where they really tell on themselves… Because what they are showing is that they ASSUME that Haiti is just naturally poor, that it’s an inherent state borne of the corruption of the people there, in all senses of the word.

And let’s just say out loud why that is: It’s because Haitians are black.

Racists have needed Haiti to be poor since it was founded. They pushed for its poverty. They have celebrated its poverty. They have tried to profit from its poverty. They wanted it to be a shithole. And they still do.

If Haiti is a shithole, then they can say that black freedom and sovereignty are bad. They can hold it up as proof that white countries—and what’s whiter than Norway—are better, because white people are better. They wanted that in 1804, and in 1915, and they want it now.

The history of Haiti is weird because it is absurdly well-documented, yet totally poorly known. It’s hard not to attribute that to ideology. We don’t teach the Haitian Revolution the way we teach the American, or the French, or the Mexican, because it’s a complicated story. Kids are more likely to hear variations of “Haiti formed a pact with the devil to defeat Napoleon” (this is real thing, I swear) than Toussaint Louverture’s or Jean-Jacques Dessalines’s names.

Also, while Haiti’s revolution was an early, signature event in world history-the first time a European power would be overthrown by an indigenous army (but not the last)-the causes of Haiti’s poverty are basically identical with those of almost every poor nation around the world: a history of exploitation, bad debt, bad geopolitics, and bad people profiting off of that poverty (almost all of them living elsewhere). And this is basically true about poverty in American cities as well (with all the same attendant racist myths).

Posted by Tim Carmody

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Racist Bullying? Religious School In Texas Argues Courts Can’t Intervene. A religious school is being sued after it punished alleged racist harassers with one-day suspensions.

Photo courtesy of Sounia Senemar

A photo of “KKK origami” allegedly given to a black student at a Texas school.

A teenage student and his family have sued a religious private school in Texas after the teen allegedly experienced bullying of a racist nature. The student claims the school did next to nothing to stop the bullying. But the school says its religious doctrine makes it immune from legal repercussions.

Legal experts told HuffPost the school’s argument is highly unusual in this context.

The school’s counsel filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on these grounds in August. A judge is expected to decide whether to move forward with the lawsuit later this month, per public documents obtained by HuffPost.

Maureen Beans and her son, C.R., had a horrible experience at Trinity Episcopal School in Galveston, Texas, according to the lawsuit filed in May.

C.R., who attended Trinity for sixth and seventh grade, starting in 2014, was a black student at the overwhelmingly white private school. He claims he was relentlessly bullied, sometimes in ways that appeared racially motivated.

In one incident, his three tormentors allegedly gave him pieces of origami designed to resemble hoods worn by Ku Klux Klan members.

Throughout this time, school administrators ignored the problem, even after C.R.’s family brought it to their attention, the lawsuit says. Even though the students admitted to the bullying, according to the lawsuit, they were only given one-day suspensions and required to apologize ― consequences the plaintiff deems sorely lacking.

Days after the school doled out the punishment, Beans decided to pull her son from Trinity and enroll him elsewhere.

Now, in a move that’s raised eyebrows among lawyers and legal experts, the school is trying to get the lawsuit dismissed by invoking the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine.

This legal principle, also called the church autonomy doctrine, holds that religious institutions do not need to follow the same laws as non-religious entities, like public schools, if it conflicts with their religious doctrine.

It applies in cases where a decision from a civil judge would infringe on the internal religious organization of a group, like how a religious organization can choose to have only male or female clergy members perform specific tasks.

Trinity says it disputes the assertions made in the Beans’ lawsuit. But it is also essentially arguing that because it is a religious organization, it is allowed to maintain its own discipline system, which may or may not involve consequences for racist bullying.

Experts told HuffPost they are surprised a religious institution would make this argument with regard to racist bullying. Some say this is a step too far.

Robert Tuttle, professor of law and religion at George Washington University, said if the law were applied this way, courts would not have been able to intervene, for example, in cases where sexual abuse was reported at Catholic churches.

“There is very little reason to think that religious institutions should be immune from the state to the degree that they claim,” Tuttle said.

But Trinity Episcopal School is attempting to claim that immunity.

“As a religious institution, Trinity has a constitutionally-protected freedom to make decisions regarding the discipline of its students without judicial interference,” the court document states in the school’s motion to dismiss. “The courts cannot second guess those decisions, even in the guise of purportedly ‘secular’ causes of action.”

Lawyers for C.R. and his family reject the school’s argument.

The family is suing the school and its former head for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, saying the school failed to protect C.R. The parents of the three alleged bullies are also defendants in the suit.

The bullying had a deep, scarring effect on the teen, the lawsuit says. C.R. was so traumatized by the alleged bullying that at one point he spray-painted the word “hate” on the walls of his home.

C.R.’s grades dropped precipitously. He experienced depression and anxiety, and was unable to attend the four subsequent educational institutions in which he has been enrolled.

“This is a simple negligence case ― whenever you send your kid to a school you expect a certain standard of care,” Sounia Senemar, the family’s lawyer, told HuffPost. “They allowed this kid to be bullied, and they are trying to use religion as a shield.”

When asked to comment for this story, lawyers for Trinity said in a statement that the school is “committed to upholding standards that reflect our mission in Christ.”

“The school has a policy that prohibits any form of bullying or discrimination,” the statement read. “As soon as the school was informed of an issue over a year ago, it addressed it immediately, consistent with its policy.”

Multiple experts told HuffPost that Trinity’s tactic will almost certainly not succeed.

“The defendant here certainly qualifies as a religious school,” said University of Missouri School of Law Professor Carl Esbeck. “That’s not the problem.”

School bullying, however, is “not a matter of internal ecclesiastical governance,” he added. “They argue that it is, but it’s not. And it’s not even close.”

Attorneys say they will be closely watching the outcome of this case.

“If other religious schools see that this school here was successful in avoiding liability under this legal theory, then they are going to be more likely to invoke it if they face similar lawsuits in the future,” said Alison Tanner, legal fellow for the nonprofit group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

By Rebecca Klein/HuffPost