Elizabeth May says there’s ‘no room’ for racism in Green Party after NDP defector’s comments

Let’s not kid ourselves by denying that racist attitudes don’t exist and that the comments by Richardson were more in that line than himself endorsing those views.

The question is more whether the “undertone” is more on the discomfort side or more xenophobic and racist.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May issued a statement Wednesday saying “there is no room for any kind of racism” in her party after a recent convert made comments about NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

On Tuesday, more than a dozen former New Brunswick NDP candidates threw their support behind the provincial and federal Greens. One of the defectors — Jonathan Richardson, the former federal NDP executive member for Atlantic Canada — said racism was one of the reasons for the party’s lack of success in finding candidates with an election call imminent.

He said he travelled around the province to meet NDP members and found there’s “a bit of racism undertone,” particularly in the northern part of the province.

“From when I was up in the [Acadian] peninsula, I would say that a lot of that region that most people would be a bit worried about somebody who wasn’t, you know, wasn’t Caucasian, and that’s going to take some time to show people that, you know, Canadians come in all cultures and diversities,” he said. “But for right now I think that that racism still exists.”

Singh is a practising Sikh and wears a turban.

Singh said all national party leaders should be celebrating Canadian diversity and that May needs to explain why she has let the former New Democrats into her party.

“She’s taking in candidates that have kind of openly expressed their concern around someone looking differently and that being a challenge,” Singh said in Toronto on Wednesday evening. “If she is accepting people that are suggesting things that are not accepting of people’s diversity, then the Green Party has a lot to answer for.”

“I think our political leaders should embrace the diversity of our country and should be willing to say you can look like whatever you are as long as you share the values and beliefs that are going to make peoples’ lives better.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus tweeted that “the fact that some N.B. NDP jumped ship because they wouldn’t run under a progressive leader who comes from another religion is sickening.”

Karl Belanger, a former national director of the NDP, also weighed in, tweeting that it’s “not a good look, New Greens.”

May issued a statement Wednesday saying Richardson’s comments “were taken out of context and have led to accusations of racism against the party.”

“One of the core values of Greens around the world is respect for diversity and human rights,” she said.

“There is absolutely no room for any form of discrimination in the Green Party. We have zero tolerance for sexism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia or hate speech of any kind. Canada’s strength lies in its diversity.”

New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon said he hasn’t had a chance to speak to Richardson since he made the comments, but he contends they’ve been “overblown” and “exploited” by people trying to “blunt the impact” of 14 NDP candidates joining the Greens all at once.

“What I heard him say basically was he ran into some people who had ignorant attitudes and held prejudices against people of colour or people of different religions,” he said.

“It’s not a news flash racism and prejudice exists in Canada, and it’s abhorrent and we need to work to stand up to it and stamp it out.”

Coon said he travels the province regularly and, in his experience, “most” New Brunswickers are “very accepting.”

The NDP hasn’t held a seat in the New Brunswick legislature since 2005. Its last MP in the province was Acadie-Bathurst’s Yvon Godin, who retired in 2015.

Richardson told CBC News Tuesday there are other factors behind NDP’s diminished standing in New Brunswick — including the fact that Singh hasn’t set foot in the province since winning the leadership in 2017, the election planning committee’s focus on “urban areas that are diverse,” and a lack of staffing.

Coon said he doesn’t believe racism has played a role in the NDP’s troubles in the province. He contends the NDP has been struggling in New Brunswick since Elizabeth Weir stepped down as provincial party leader in the mid-2000s.

“So it’s been a long process where they’ve found significant challenges in resonating with the people of our province. And so I think that it’s not just one issue,” he said.

New Brunswick Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers said he “couldn’t disagree more” with Richardson’s comments, which he said imply that New Brunswickers are “inherently racist.”

“The New Brunswick I know welcomes and embraces people of all backgrounds,” he said in a statement.

“These comments are wrong, embarrassing for the province and should be embarrassing for Green Party Leader David Coon.”

Coon, whose Green Party is enjoying a boom in support, securing three seats in the 2018 provincial election, said Richardson will have to take responsibility for his words. “It’s his point of view and he’s the one who’s going to have to defend that.”

Late Wednesday, Richardson posted the text of his speech on Facebook, “for those out there who are wondering and asking questions.”

Richardson said he will not be answering questions from the general public or media, but would be “happy to have a conversation” with any of his friends.

Source: Elizabeth May says there’s ‘no room’ for racism in Green Party after NDP defector’s comments

Identity politics in the West: Islam – no longer the bogeyman

Not sure that this is the case but interesting read:

When the head of the economic wing of Germanyʹs CDU party, Carsten Linnemann, publishes a book titled “Political Islam does not belong in Germany”, SPD party member Thilo Sarrazin interprets the Koran under the title “Hostile takeover”, and Germany’s new defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, chairwoman of the CDU party, explains on her first trip to the Orient how the Bundeswehr’s Tornado reconnaissance planes are stopping the caliphate of the “Islamic State” from rearing its ugly head again, we may get the feeling that we’ve hit rock bottom.

We are scraping at the last vestiges of some already quite solidified dregs. All that talk about the Islamic menace, the Islamic challenge, the Islamic threat so keenly cultivated in the West over the past thirty or forty years has now run dry.

Not long ago German policymakers were still busy planning hundreds of new positions in the police forces and intelligence services to observe and track down political Islam. But in the meantime it seems to be dawning on the more alert minds among us that Islam is not (or no longer) an appropriate spectre to be combatting.

This trend is somewhat linked to the situation on the ground. Political Islam has lost its inner credibility, across all the forms in which it appears.

The failure of political Islam

The authoritarian regime of the Islamist Erdogan is wobbling: Turkey is weaker now than it was ten or fifteen years ago, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan was “only” a democratically elected prime minister and could present Islam as a source of inspiration for modern governance. The radiance of his early days has faded.

The AKPʹs political swan song: “the authoritarian regime of the Islamist Erdogan is wobbling: Turkey is weaker now than it was ten or fifteen years ago, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan was ʹonlyʹ a democratically elected prime minister and could present Islam as a source of inspiration for modern governance. The radiance of his early days has faded,” writes Buchen

The Sunni Muslim Brotherhood was not able to rise to power anywhere, with the exception of its brief interlude with Mohammed Morsi in Egypt. The fact that the latter collapsed and died while acting as a defendant in court resonates with its own symbolic power.

The heir to the throne of the “Keeper of the Holy Places” of Islam, Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, has been exposed to the whole world as a cowardly murderer.

The caliphate of the “Islamic State” has foundered, vanished from the map. Who would have thought that possible? Talk shows aired in 2015 made mention of the name “Islamic State” a dozen times at least. Coming from the mouths of academic and non-academic experts, it had a ring of permanence, of a lasting challenge.

That talk has turned to ashes. Even criminal organisations have to abide by certain rules in their internal relations and forms of provocation against the general social norm if they are to survive for long. This is ancient knowledge, recorded for posterity by the Jewish-Arab philosopher Bahya ibn Paquda, who lived in Zaragoza in the 11th century.

Fragile existence

Al-Qaida and its competitor, the “Islamic State”, continue to exist in the supra-national underground; this cannot be denied. But they are fragmented, and the rivalry between the two groups vying for leadership in the violent spectrum of Islamism is now leading to some curious phenomena.

In Yemen, Al-Qaida got its hands on an unreleased propaganda video made by its rival and used it to expose the “Islamic State” to public ridicule. And here we are in the midst of a satire, which the British film “Four Lions” presented as early as 2010 as a suitable form for portraying the Islamic menace, long before the current CDU leadership took up the subject in all seriousness and without any black humour.

It is of course intellectually risky to name Erdogan, the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammad bin Salman and al-Qaida in one breath. But it’s a risk that those warning of the threat of political Islam are only too glad to take. It is after all part of their raison d’etre. If we want to be realistic, though, we have to look this construct or – to put it in ultramodern terms – “frame” squarely in the eye.

The French scholar Olivier Roy was perhaps the first to recognise the pitfalls of this way of looking at the world and to discern the real weaknesses of “political Islam”. His book – “L’echec de l’Islam politique” (The failure of political Islam) – was published way back in 1992.

Roy warned against trying to explain modern Islamism, particularly its most radical manifestations, based on Islam alone. Trying to derive the current phenomena mainly from the nature, history and culture of Islam runs the risk of constructing something that does not stand up to a realistic and enlightened diagnosis of the present.

Roy pointed out that contemporary Islamism is instead a by-product of the globalised world, of its unshakeable belief in progress and its forms of communication. These forms and thought patterns are so pervasive that Islamism must be understood more as a reflection of modernism (or post-modernism) than as a new edition of classical, original Islam. Simply believing everything the Islamists claim about themselves makes things too easy.

Olivier Roy met with a great deal of resistance to his insights. 11 September 2001 then seemed to furnish incontrovertible proof of the Islamic threat and its overwhelming importance.

But what has happened since then? Wars have been waged to eradicate this threat. Military interventions in Islamic countries have come one after the other. Thanks to the immense resources thrown at the project, several advances in military technology have been made in the process, the perfecting of remote-controlled drone war, for example.

But wiser minds agree today that no progress has been made in resolving any problems. While a partial problem like Osama bin Laden was “solved”, many new ones have been created. What is the situation like today in Afghanistan, in Gaza, in Yemen, in Libya, in Mali, in Syria and in Iraq? An error seems to have been made in the analysis of the underlying issue. Olivier Roy was right from the start.

Islamic states in dissolution

The dire new problems do not consist of ever-new Islamist movements that throw themselves in the paths of the invaders and their helpers and strike with steadily growing brutality in the countries of the West. They consist of the disintegration of entire societies, the dissolution of regional structures and the collapse of what were once quite sovereign states.

Successfully allied against the USA and its partners in the Middle East: it would be a mistake to attribute the regional successes of the Islamic Republic to the power of Shia fundamentalism, i.e. to a further manifestation of “political Islam”. In the chaos that prevails, Iran appears to some – despite or because of its anti-American rulers – to be a force for order whose claim to regional leadership is accepted as being the lesser evil

In the resulting chaos, those who have somehow survived to this point can appear to be strong. They include – besides Israel – the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Although the mullahs are skating on thin ice in their domestic policies, they are succeeding in their foreign and regional efforts in exploiting the weaknesses of their main opponent, the USA, and its alliances. Iran has mobilised Shia allies on a large scale. The conflict between Shias and Sunnis is indeed a major factor in the Middle East today.

But here as well it would be a mistake to attribute the regional successes of the Islamic Republic to the power of Shia fundamentalism, i.e. to a further manifestation of “political Islam”. In the chaos that prevails, Iran appears to some – despite or because of its anti-American rulers – to be a force for order whose claim to regional leadership is accepted as being the lesser evil.

Islam is breaking up on its own and no longer fits the image of a major enemy. Donald Trump has been quicker to grasp this than the leaders of the CDU and those who oppose the “Islamisation of the West”. At the beginning of his presidency, his identity policy still focussed on imposing entry restrictions on citizens of certain Islamic countries. In the meantime, however, he has begun directing his rage more at blacks who live in cities he describes as “rat and rodent infested messes” and “Hispanics” who want to cross the border from Mexico or live “illegally” in the USA and who should be deported.

Giving way to old-fashioned racism

Islamophobia is segueing into old-fashioned racism. The new enemy in Western identity politics are people of colour, those who speak a different language and those who are judged to be somehow or other inferior. Racism has the advantage of being more comprehensive. Of course, Muslims are also included.

The trend has long since washed up on Europe’s shores. Arab clan criminality, the frightening reproductive power of Africans, uninhibited by civilisation, or their genetic predisposition to pushing children in front of ICE trains: it is impossible to overlook the shift in the discourse on the question of identity.

The hairdresser Alaa S. from Chemnitz was not sentenced to nine and a half years in prison for an alleged but unproven knife attack because he is a Muslim, but because he is an asylum seeker and refugee. Without thorough indoctrination in racist dehumanisation, it would not be possible to let refugees drown in the Mediterranean, or to turn away those who are rescued from Europe’s coasts for days and weeks on end. The duplicity of events taking place at America’s and Europe’s southern borders has already been noted, and rightly so.

Demonstrators in front of Berlinʹs Brandenburg Gate, “#indivisible” against racism and right-wing populism: of course this new racism is provoking resistance. Those affected are raising their voices. Many citizens reject such identity politics, partly on the basis of the historical experiences in America and Europe. They are aware of the fact that the prosperity of our middle classes is bought on the backs of people in other parts of the world. Climate change threatens to make this truth even more evident

Of course this new racism is provoking resistance. Those affected are raising their voices. Many citizens reject such identity politics, partly on the basis of the historical experiences in America and Europe. They are aware of the fact that the prosperity of our middle classes is bought on the backs of people in other parts of the world. Climate change threatens to make this truth even more evident.

In time, one could cynically say, there will come a further intensification of the discourse. The American journalist James Kirchick tells the tale of a “race war of the left”. He sees “white men” as victims of a new racism practiced by progressive forces. Kirchick turns perpetrator into victim and victim into perpetrator. This follows exactly the same line as Donald Trump, who set out at the beginning of his term to put an end to the “carnage” his white followers were allegedly suffering from and to restore their rights.

Kirchick’s essay on “the leftʹs race war” was published on 15 August under exactly that title on the website of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. That’s not a good sign. “Race war” was a key term in Adolf Hitler’s vocabulary. He already used it early on to describe the political programme of the Nazis. What do Kirchick and the F.A.Z. insinuate as being the intentions of “the left”?

When asked, the F.A.Z. responded that the author had addressed the “political debate in the United States, which is being carried out partly with racist arguments”. The newspaper deemed the text to be “an important contribution to the debate.”

The victory of global capitalism and liberal democracy are apparently the end of the story. To some, it would appear, any means are justified to enable this culmination – something of an eternal coronation – to continue as undisturbed as possible under “white supremacy”.

Source: Identity politics in the West: Islam – no longer the bogeyman

World War II and the Ingredients of Slaughter

Some uncomfortable parallels:

World War II began 80 years ago this Sunday after Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a “nonaggression” pact that was, in fact, a mutual aggression pact. Adolf Hitler invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Russia’s invasion of Poland, no less murderous, followed two weeks later.

On Nov. 3 of that year, Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister, gave Hitler a report of his trip to Poland. “Above all, my description of the Jewish problem gets [Hitler’s] full approval,” he wrote in his diary. “The Jew is a waste product. It is a clinical issue more than a social one.”

For several years many commentators, including me, have written about the parallels between the prewar era and the present.

There’s the rise of dictatorial regimes intent on avenging past geopolitical humiliations and redrawing borders: Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia then; China, Iran and Russia now.

The crisis of anti-Black racism in schools persists across generations

One of the elements that I find most interesting is the extent of anti-Black racism in Peel, a very diverse area with many visible minorities and where about 60 percent have a mother tongue other than English. Not just a white-black issue:

Recent reports of the schooling experiences of Black students in elementary, middle and high school in Toronto tell a story of negligence and disregard. This disregard includes a lack of access to appropriate reading materials and supportive relationships with teachers and administrators.

In conversations about their school life, Black students talk about adverse treatment by their teachers and peers, including regular use of the “n-word.”

These issues contribute to alienating and problematic school days for Black students. And none of this is new: racism in Toronto and Ontario schools has been ongoing for decades.

Twenty years ago, former politician Stephen Lewis was appointed to advise the province of Ontario on race relations. The appointment came after a “stop anti-Black police violence” march turned into an uprising in Toronto. Lewis spent a month consulting with people and community groups in Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor and London and then presented a report on race relations.

He wrote:

The students [I spoke with] were fiercely articulate and often deeply moving…. They don’t understand why the schools are so slow to reflect the broader society. One bright young man in a Metro east high school said that he had reached [the end of high school] without once having a book by a Black author [assigned to him]. And when other students, in the large meeting of which he was a part, started to name books they had been given to read, the titles were Black Like Me and To Kill and Mockingbird (both, incredibly enough, by white writers!). It’s absurd in a world which has a positive cornucopia of magnificent literature by Black authors. I further recall an animated young woman from a high school in Peel, who described her school as multiracial, and then added that she and her fellow students had white teachers, white counsellors, a white principal and were taught Black history by a white teacher who didn’t like them…

More than two decades later, reports continue to show that school boards do not meet the educational needs and interests of Black students and parents.

Two years ago, I led a study to examine the schooling experiences and educational outcomes of Black students. We surveyed 324 parents, educators, school administrators and trustees. We talked to Black high school and university students in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who participated in the five community consultations we held in four school districts.

Participants echoed what students said 20 years ago in the Lewis report. Black students say they are “being treated differently than their non-Black peers in the classrooms and hallways of their schools.” They say there is still a lack of Black presence in schools. There are few Black teachers, the curriculum does not adequately address Black history and schools lack an equitable process to help students deal with anti-Black racism.

Students spoke about their teachers’ and administrators’ lack of attention to their concerns, interests and needs. They told of differential or “unfair” treatment, and they noted their teachers’ unwillingness to address complaints of racism.

Participants said they perceived a more punitive discipline of Black students. They also said they observed the “streaming of Black students into courses below their ability level.” They said Black students were discouraged from attending university.

Last year, I conducted another study with Black elementary, middle and high-school students in the Peel District School Board (PDSB), a multiracial district in Ontario. This study produced the same list of concerns.

Not belonging

Students reported being called the “n-word,” as they put it, by “people who are not Black.” This use of racial epithets adds to an already alienating educational climate for many Black students.

One middle school student said: “People are getting too comfortable with saying that n-word.”

A high school student shared his reaction to being called the n-word:

“I recall one time where I almost slapped this guy [for using the n-word]; but I was like: ‘Nah! I’m not going to let this happen or let him disturb me like that.”

Like Black students before them, their experiences contributed to their “sense of un-belonging” and a schooling environment that made learning problematic, tough and challenging.

Beyond Toronto, Black students and their parents are similarly complaining about the use of the n-word across Canadian public schools: Several news reports tell of parents in school boards in York, Ottawa, Montréal and Halifax.

One Montréal mother told CTV news that in an argument with his classmate, her son was called “the n-word” by a white student. The mother went on to say: “I’m at war with the systemic racism that occurs at the school.”

CBC Kids News published a story about two Black Grade 12 students in Nova Scotia who gave presentations to their peers across the province about being called the n-word. One of the presenters, Kelvin, said the word is commonly used to “hurt” and put him down.“ He said the word and its implications had not been taught by teachers in any of his classes.

Some parents and educators have connected this ongoing racism to a health and safety epidemic for Black students in Ontario schools.

That the “n-word” brings health and safety implications as well as deep consternation to Black students should be a concern that teachers take up. Teachers need to examine course materials for their content and impact on students’ learning.

Could a good reading list help?

Based on my research, I recommended the Peel District School Board evaluate their curriculum and assess the usefulness of old texts. Some of these texts repeatedly use the the racial epithet, “ni–er.” As an example, I said the 1960 American novel To Kill A Mockingbird could be re-examined as a core book taught in classrooms.

These are texts that Canadian students might find difficult to relate to their lives. These texts become especially problematic when it is the only time that the lives of Black people are mentioned in class.

All teaching material must be continuously re-assessed in relation to historical, political and social contexts. Materials must also be evaluated for their ability to pertain to the realities of Black students in today’s classrooms.

The experiences of all students must be centred and the knowledge, needs and aspirations they bring into the classroom considered.

This is the same recommendation Stephen Lewis made in 1992.

Responsive learning spaces

As Poleen Grewal, associate director of the Peel District School Board pointed out, it is not just about the texts taught. Teachers who use uncritical texts as a way into discussions about racism are unlikely to benefit Black students already aware of racism. Grewal said teaching must be accompanied by the ability to create “culturally responsive learning spaces.”

Educators need to be aware of how structures of inequities like racism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia and Islamophobia operate in educational institutions to obfuscate student interest in learning.

Recently, a number of school Boards have initiated programs that they claim address anti-Black racism, including anti-racism workshops for teachers. Will these measures help to change the inequitable and racist contexts of Canadian schools and the racism students experience?

Other places have been pro-active with curriculum. In Nova Scotia, To Kill A Mockingbird was removed from the curriculum in 1996, and replaced with the 1998 novel A Lesson Before Dying by African-American writer Ernest J. Gaines.

School boards need to value and draw upon the cultural and intellectual capital of Black students. To do so, they need to encourage the university aspirations of Black students, address racism experienced by students, and use educational materials that enable a relevant and responsive learning environment.

Source: The crisis of anti-Black racism in schools persists across generations

The Impact of Racism on Children’s Health

Interesting study and observations, for parents and parents to be:

This month the American Academy of Pediatrics put out its first policy statement on how racism affects the health and development of children and adolescents.

“Racism is a significant social determinant of health clearly prevalent in our society now,” said Dr. Maria Trent, a professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was one of the co-authors of the statement.

Racism has an impact on children and families who are targeted, she said, but also on those who witness it. “We call it a socially transmitted disease: It’s taught, it’s passed down, but the impacts on children and families are significant from a health perspective,” said Dr. Trent, who is the chairwoman of the A.A.P. section on adolescent health. Social transmission makes sense here, because race itself is a social construct, she said: “Genetically, we’re very much the same.”

But the impact of bias on children’s health starts even before they’re born, Dr. Trent said. Persistent racial disparities in birth weight and maternal mortality in the United States today may in part reflect the deprivations of poverty, with less availability of good prenatal care, and poorer medical care in general for minority families, sometimes shaped by unacknowledged biases on the part of medical personnel. High rates of heart disease and hypertension also persist among African-Americans.

Atlanta Will Add Context About Racism to Historic Monuments

I have always preferred this approach, providing context and using monuments as a means to increase understanding, rather than tearing them down or renaming:

Atlanta will soon add some lessons about the South’s racist history on markers placed next to four historic monuments amid the ongoing national debate over Confederate statues.

The first of the panels could be installed as early as Friday, officials said.

In Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, the 1911 Peace Monument commemorating post-Civil War reconciliation will get context noting that its inscription promotes a narrative centered on white veterans, while ignoring African Americans.

Many white Southerners viewed the American Civil War through “the lens of Lost Cause mythology” following the defeat of Confederate forces.

“That mythology claimed that despite defeat, the Confederate cause was morally just,” states the marker to be placed near the Peace Monument.

“This monument should no longer stand as a memorial to white brotherhood; rather, it should be seen as an artifact representing a shared history in which millions of Americans were denied civil and human rights,” it states.

Georgia law bars the removal of such monuments. Other states with laws protecting Confederate monuments include Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The project puts the city ahead of other communities grappling with what to do about their monuments, Atlanta History Center President and CEO Sheffield Hale says.

“It’s telling the truth, and it’s also giving people an opportunity to have a discussion around facts,” Hale said. “The goal is to start a community discussion.”

States, cities and universities across the country began debating whether to remove Confederate statues after self-avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, during the summer of 2015. Roof had posted pictures of himself with a Confederate battle flag on social media.

A violent rally involving white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 added more fuel to the nationwide examination of Confederate monuments.

A few days after the Charlottesville rally, protesters sprayed red paint on Atlanta’s Peace Monument. Statues in other cities have also been vandalized in recent years.

One hope in Atlanta is that adding context in the form of the markers “will take some of the oxygen — the accelerant — out of the room” and make it less likely that statues will be vandalized, Hale said.

Another of the new Atlanta markers will be placed near a monument erected in 1935 to commemorate the Battle of Peachtree Creek. It notes that the statue’s inscription describes the U.S. after the Civil War as “a perfected nation.”

“This ignores the segregation and disenfranchisement of African Americans and others that still existed in 1935,” the marker states.

Other Atlanta markers will be placed near two monuments in the city’s historic Oakland Cemetery: The “Lion of Atlanta” monument and the Confederate Obelisk.

The Atlanta History Center has developed a Confederate Monument Interpretation Guide to add historical perspective to such statues, Hale said. He’s hoping Atlanta’s efforts to add context can be used to guide other communities as they decide whether what to do with their own monuments.

“I think in a lot of cases once people see the power of contextualization, some people might decide they’d like to keep them there as a way to show how far we’ve come, or the journey that we’ve had, and explain what was going on at the time they were erected,” Hale said.

Source: Atlanta Will Add Context About Racism to Historic Monuments

Domise: Who gets to be a ‘teen’ and a ‘good kid’?

Worth reflecting on:

For a very long time, I’ve been of the mind that corporal punishment is detrimental for black children, and should be discouraged. Many in the Caribbean community would likely disagree; spare the rod, spoil the child is an axiom I learned from elders long before I first read its source quote in the Book of Proverbs. But it never sat well with me that black children, faced with a world that would capriciously limit their opportunities, fling them into the maw of the criminal justice system, and justify their murder at the hands of police and vigilantes, should come home—their only refuge against a world that fears and misunderstands them—only to be faced with more harsh discipline.

In her recent book Spare the Kids, journalist, anti-spanking advocate and Morgan State University professor Dr. Stacey Patton draws a solid line between corporal punishment and the violence of western colonialism, slavery, and genocide. The harsh treatment of white children endemic in Europe, Patton argues, gave way to a widespread belief in the innocence of children that stigmatized use of “cat-o’-nine-tails, shovels, canes, iron rods and sticks” in the 19th century.

In place of such punishment, which often resulted in infanticide, and wasn’t prosecuted for a long time, came the manual discipline we refer to today as spanking. “In other words,” writes Patton, “white people began to recognize the vulnerability of their own children and had to rescue them, if only partially, from this unthinkable close proximity to blackness and the brutality of childhood.”

For the African-descended and Indigenous people of the Americas, regarded as the most savage and therefore childlike members of the human race, the concept of childhood carries a much different import. All punishments allotted to them—floggings, rape, torture and murder—were not considered wanton violence, but instead the loving attempt of the white patriarch to drive savagery out of their bodies and instill the values of civilization. This belief, that black and Indigenous peoples must be refined through the disciplining of their bodies and minds, has lingered in the white psyche long after the emancipation of black people, and the recognition of Indigenous sovereignty.

It is a belief that white people, as humanity’s patriarchs, have a responsibility to discipline humanity’s children.

This belief is why the words “boy” and “girl” can become slurs when they slide off the white tongue, directed at grown adults. Meanwhile, our children are stamped from birth with the stigma of maturity; plenty of studies exist to show that our children are viewed as older and less innocent by teachers, police and other authority figures who are, by the oaths they take and the titles they wear, supposed to be children’s protectors.

This has tainted racialized communities with a social paradox that quickly ages children out of childhood in order to strip from them the aegis of innocence, yet also infantilizes our adults in order to subordinate them to white hegemony. Thus, acting in loco parentis, the brutality visited on racialized adults and children alike by authority figures—our schools, police, court systems—is not seen as cruel and unjust violence, but instead as a form of socialized corporal punishment, birthed by colonialism and nurtured institutions—our political class and mass media—which function as vestiges of white patriarchal hegemony.

The acceptance of this socialized corporal punishment, by white authority figures, is why Eric Casebolt (then a McKinney, Texas police officer) can throw a black child through the air, drag her by the hair, and slam her to the ground, and not only will he not be charged with a crime, a prominent white news anchor will comment “The girl was no saint, either.” It’s how former Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann can jump out of a police cruiser and summarily execute 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and have his actions covered by a municipality that blames Rice for failing to “exercise due care to avoid injury.” And it’s also how an all-white jury can acquit Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley of second-degree murder, even after Stanley admitted to aiming a handgun at Cree youth Colten Boushie and pulling the trigger.

Spare the rod and spoil the child. If there is no child to be found behind those savage eyes, then put down a threat.

On the other hand, white youth who commit atrocities in the name of white nationalism are not only draped in the innocence of childhood from birth, but are covered by its long tails into adulthood.

Consider the case of Kam McLeod and Bryan Schmegelsky, two young white men from Port Alberni, British Columbia, who are currently the subjects of a nationwide manhunt. Early on, when their disappearance shifted from missing teenagers to murder suspects, news media continued referring to them as “teens” and uncritically ran pull-quotes from community members who called them “boys.”

To be clear, these “boys,” 18 and 19 respectively, are not only prime suspects in the murders of three people, but Schmegelsky is alleged to have uttered violent threats to his classmates, and have a fascination with neo-Nazi imagery and organizations. Yet, their families have been offered uncritical coverage in Canadian news: McLeod’s father describing him as “kind, considerate and caring,” and Schmegelsky’s father describing his son as “a child in some very serious pain.”

Not long after McLeod and Schmegelsky’s alleged killings, 19-year-old Santino William Legan, of Gilroy, California, armed himself with a legally purchased AK-47 variant rifle, and opened fire at a local town festival. Three people were killed, two of them children, and another 12 people were injured by gunfire. Though Legan was himself killed in a shootout with police, and was found to have posted links to a white supremacist manifesto on one of his social media pages, he was—rather amazingly—described in a tweet by South Carolina-based The Greenville News as “a quiet teen who stayed out of trouble.”

The infantilizing and innocence-jacketing of white murderers and murder suspects is part and parcel of a long tradition; the childhood of New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant (aged 28) was given an extensive profile by Australia’s The Daily Telegraph, Dylann Roof (aged 21) was described as a “sweet kid” corrupted by “internet evil” in coverage after his arrest, and was even brought a Burger King meal by police while in custody. Twenty-two-year-old Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger’s “happy childhood” in England was covered by The Guardian, and it took years to debunk the myth that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the mass shooters at Columbine (aged 17 and 18 respectively), were lonely kids retaliating for a lengthy history of being bullied in school.

Rather than harsh social discipline, young white men who commit these heinous acts are faced with a society endlessly devoted to making sense of their crimes. Behind that, I believe, is a motivation to understand how white children brought up according to plan, and kept safe from exposure to socially corrupting elements—drugs, crime, pornography—could regress so drastically from civilization to savagery. Racialized children, on the other hand, are born into stigma and need no such understanding or explanation. Their already and always existing predisposition for delinquent behavior requires purging from their bodies, and if they happen to be injured or die in the process, well, they should have exercised due care.

I have no doubt that, when Schmegelsky and McLeod are finally apprehended, plenty of coverage will be devoted to figuring out where these young men went wrong. I also have no doubt that, even in the face of glaring evidence that white mass shooters are working from a well-established ideology that requires the removal—if not extermination—of non-white races for a harmonious society, plenty of coverage will be devoted to missing that point.

What I do doubt, however, is that the broader conversation on mass killings will land on the relationship between white supremacy and the power it grants white people (white men in particular) to inflict brutality on others, as well as the logics to justify it.  The social agreement to infantilize spree killers after they’ve passed into adulthood is only one factor in a broader environment of racialized patriarchy; one that warps them in to believing they are acting as soldiers in a race war, and every murder they commit, even against other white people (whom they often deem to be enablers of race-mixing and demographic replacement) is a swing of the rod for the good of society.

And this is why I believe corporal punishment inside the home to have such a damaging effect on black children. A world which grants them no childhood, no innocence, and no protection from physical harm against the people who believe they are entrusted with the responsibility to purge the world from the perceived savagery of our races, well, that’s a harsh enough world already. At the very least, they should find safe shelter from that world with their families, and inside their homes.

Source: Who gets to be a ‘teen’ and a ‘good kid’?

Alberta teachers lack resources, support to address racism in the classroom: study

Suspect any study, in any Canadian province, would show similar results. Any one know of any comparative provincial studies?

Many Alberta teachers say racism is present in their classrooms — but don’t feel they have the support to teach multiculturalism or anti-racism.

A study by the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation (CCMF) surveyed 150 teachers of kindergarten to Grade 12 students from rural and urban schools about a variety of topics, including whether they thought racism was happening in their school.

Fifty-two per cent of respondents said students engage in racism at their school, and respondents from urban schools were more likely to say racism is an issue at their school.

This can mean anything from students demonstrating preconceived notions about other cultures or ethnicities to discrimination on the playground.

Iman Bukhari, CEO of the foundation and an author on the study, said the findings confirmed what she and others already knew anecdotally.

“We’ve done so many presentations and programs within schools across Alberta, whether it’s rural or urban schools, and we had heard a lot from the teachers as well as the students,” she said. “This was really just a way to validate our concerns that we had already been hearing.”

Many respondents said they weren’t sure whether racism was happening at their school. Bukhari said this shows many teachers don’t have the time or experience to notice incidents of racism, especially if they aren’t racialized themselves.

“If you don’t experience racism yourself, it’s harder for you to recognize it,” she said, adding, “It’s so incredibly important to have teachers from diverse backgrounds, whether it’s ethnic, religious, cultural.”

The majority of respondents listed limited time and resources as barriers to teaching about multiculturalism. Twenty-two per cent said they felt they had limited knowledge to teach the subject, while 21 per cent selected their identity as a major limitation to teaching multiculturalism. Some said they felt the community they work in doesn’t value education about multiculturalism.

Many teachers identified systemic challenges, notably a Eurocentric curriculum, as well as a lack of policy or funding for teaching multiculturalism.

Bukhari said the curriculum is a “big issue,” and that teachers need not just an updated curriculum, but more training to help them tackle multiculturalism and racism in a classroom setting.

The report recommends two anti-racism campaigns, one held for teachers with opportunities for progress reporting and evaluation, and another for students, ideally led by youth. It also recommends that schools have strict no-tolerance policies when it comes to racism.

Bukhari said the CCMF is also planning to create a resource hub for teachers to equip them with the tools to talk to their students about multiculturalism and racism.

Adam Quraishi, an elementary teacher in Calgary, says he has often seen children get asked where they are from and he finds there are two reasons why they get asked this question.

“There is a curious question and then there is the, ‘Once I know that you are from somewhere else, I can treat you a certain way,’” he said. “I find that the racism that students go through is more about henpecking people.”

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Quraishi, whose mother is Irish and father East Indian, said his own daughter has gone through similar experiences in her junior high school despite the school’s reputation for its multiculturalism.

“She said that she wasn’t white enough for the white kids and she wasn’t brown enough for the brown kids,” he said.

Quraishi believes at the elementary level, schools are doing a good job teaching about racism, but in his experience, “teachers are not necessarily of the same mindset of what they teach.”

“It’s one thing to say to the kids that we embrace everybody, but it’s another thing to have those subtle little messages that are from a time long past,” he said.

Barb Silva, communications director for advocacy group Support Our Students, said the results of the study weren’t surprising to her either. In fact, she said she suspects incidences of racism in schools may be higher than reported in the study, but that many teachers aren’t aware of them.

“We fail to recognize the systemic and institutional barriers for people living on the margins,” she said, adding that in many schools, especially rural ones, teachers don’t necessarily represent their diverse student populations.

She said the outdated curriculum only serves to further alienate students who may be experiencing racism.

Silva said the fact that 21 per cent of respondents said they felt their own identity was a barrier to teaching about multiculturalism shows a lack of resources and support. While many teachers may be aware of their own lack of understanding, Silva said more resources are needed to help them feel comfortable addressing multiculturalism and racism in the classroom.

Silva said it’s important that school policies don’t shy away from calling racism what it is. She said terms like “diversity” and “inclusion” often don’t do enough to point out the reality of what some children face.

“Call it what it is. It’s racism,” she said.

Source: Alberta teachers lack resources, support to address racism in the classroom: study

Media Coverage of Anti-Semitism, Racism Rise in Trump Era

Interesting media analysis, particularly the differences and absence of differences between coverage under the Obama and Trump administrations:

President Trump generated an uproar this week with his widely condemned comments regarding four Democratic lawmakers of color, coupled with a campaign rally in which attendees chanted “Send her back!” in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar. A closer look at media coverage of the congresswoman’s own anti-Semitic comments earlier this year raises the question of whether the current uproar will pass with as little long-term impact. Answering that may hinge on whether the media finds a new Trump angle to focus on.

Looking back over the past decade, the timeline below shows the percentage of airtime by month on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News that mentioned “racism” or “racist” using data from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archiveprocessed by the GDELT Project.

From September 2010 to May 2013 there was a marked silent period in which mentions of racism largely disappeared from all three news channels. The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin in July 2013 appears to have restarted the national conversation around race. This week’s remarks by Trump appear to have sparked the most attention to the topic of the past decade.

Notably, there does not appear to be any meaningful change in mentions of racism between Obama and Trump’s presidencies.

In contrast, coverage of anti-Semitism does appear to have increased sharply during Trump’s term. The timeline below shows coverage over the past decade that mentioned the words “anti-Semitism” or “anti-Semitic” or “antisemitism” or “antisemitic.”

The topic attracted almost no attention during Obama’s presidency, but has received several bursts of coverage since Trump’s July 2016 “Star of David” Clinton tweet first prompted accusations of anti-Semitism. Interestingly, Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic tweets in March 2019 received far less attention, with Fox News covering them more than CNN and MSNBC combined.

In each case, the story faded within a week. Looking at the broader topic of discrimination, the timeline below shows coverage mentioning “discrimination” or “discriminatory” or “discriminated” or “discriminating.”

Beginning July 2015, the month after Trump declared his candidacy, coverage of discrimination largely disappeared from all three channels and has remained far below Obama-era levels through the present. It is unclear what may be driving this shift, since anti-Semitism coverage has increased, but coverage of racism remains unchanged.

One possibility is that the stations have devoted so much of their airtime to Trump over the past four years, with just over 9% of their total airtime mentioning his name thus far this month.

Looking more closely at the timeline above, the fact that Trump’s media profile has been steadily shrinking could also help explain his attack on the four Democrats. Trump has a long history of adopting controversial and media-genic stances in periods of declining media coverage as a way to boost attention.

Putting this all together, it is likely that just as Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks this past March faded from interest within a week, so too will the media move on from Trump’s remarks this week.

RealClear Media Fellow Kalev Leetaru is a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security. His past roles include fellow in residence at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government.

Source: Media Coverage of Anti-Semitism, Racism Rise in Trump Era

Opinion: Report On Racism, But Ditch The Labels

Thoughtful commentary:

Editor’s note: NPR this week has described the language in President Trump’s tweets about a group of Democratic congresswomen as “racist.”

Keith Woods, NPR’s vice president for newsroom training and diversity, argues that journalists should not be using the term “racist” to describe the president’s tweets. He explains why below.


Once again, the president of the United States has used the sniper tower of Twitter to take aim at immigration, race relations and common decency. And once again, journalists are daring their profession to boldly call bigotry what it is: bigotry. Enough of the vacuous “racially charged,” “racially loaded,” “racially insensitive” evasions, they say. It’s racist, and we should just call it that.

I understand the moral outrage behind wanting to slap this particular label on this particular president and his many incendiary utterances, but I disagree. Journalism may not have come honorably to the conclusion that dispassionate distance is a virtue. But that’s the fragile line that separates the profession from the rancid, institution-debasing cesspool that is today’s politics.

It is precisely because journalism is given to warm-spit phrases like “racially insensitive” and “racially charged” that we should not be in the business of moral labeling in the first place. Who decides where the line is that the president crossed? The headline writer working today who thinks it’s “insensitive” or the one tomorrow who thinks it’s “racist?” Were we to use my moral standards, the line for calling people and words racist in this country would have been crossed decades ago. But that’s not what journalists do. We report and interview and attribute.

I am not a journalism purist. I came into the profession 40 years ago to tear down the spurious notion of objectivity used to protects a legacy of sexism, xenophobia and white supremacy. The better ideals of truth telling, accountability, fairness, etc., are what give journalism its power, while the notion of “objectivity” has been used to obscure and excuse the insidious biases we do battle with today.

I’ve been an informed consumer of the media since my days as a paperboy. I read the Times-Picayune as I delivered it, and the distorted view it offered of black and poor New Orleans told me all I needed to know about “objectivity.” We have come miles since then as a profession. But why should I trust that we’re all on the same page with our labels now? Weren’t last week’s tweets racist? Or last year’s? Weren’t some misogynistic? Vulgar? Homophobic? Sexist? The language of my judgment is generous, and they are my opinion, and they belong in the space reserved for opinions.

What’s at stake is journalism’s embattled claim to be the source of credible news grounded in the kind of deep, fair reporting that exposes injustice and holds powerful people to account. It may be satisfying to call the president’s words, or the president himself, racist, given the attacks tweeted from his bully app and so often aimed at our profession. But at what cost?

It’s already nearly impossible to separate actual journalism from the argumentative noise on the cable networks that dominate so much of public perception. There are already too many journalists dancing day and night on the line that once separated fact and judgment. When that line is finally obliterated and we sink into the cesspool beckoning us to its depths, this historically flawed, imperfect tool for revealing and routing racism will look and sound indistinguishable from the noise and become just as irrelevant.

On Sunday, the president wrote this:

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

His words mirror those of avowed racists and xenophobes that date back to the birth of this country. Was that moral judgement, my last sentence? I would argue no. I’d call it context, and it doesn’t require my opinion, just a basic understanding of history. That’s an alternative to labels: Report. Quote people. Cite sources. Add context. Leave the moral labeling to the people affected; to the opinion writers, the editorial writers, the preachers and philosophers and to the public we serve.

We just have to do journalism.

Source: Opinion: Report On Racism, But Ditch The Labels