AG Eric Holder · Racisim


Eric Holder's parting shot: Police abuse scandals mean the nation has "failed"
Eric Holder (Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Salon ~ Joan Walsh

Holder’s frank comments, plus the president opening up about being mistaken for a valet, show a new candor on race

Attorney General Eric Holder got himself virtually muzzled early in President Obama’s first term, when he called the U.S. “a nation of cowards” for our inability to deal frankly with issues of race. On his way out the door, he’s not worried about his critics. He told MSNBC’s Joy Reid that ongoing troubles in limiting police violence mean “we, as a nation have failed. It’s as simple as that. We have failed.”

It’s a grim verdict, but it’s hard to quarrel. Holder was a deputy U.S. attorney back in 2001, when the Justice Department announced it would not prosecute the New York police officers who famously fired 41 shots at unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo, hitting him 19 times. Though Justice concluded it couldn’t make a civil rights case against the officers, Holder warned at the time:  ”We must learn from this deeply troubling incident. Mr. Diallo, an unarmed individual who committed no crime and no act of aggression, unnecessarily lost his life.”

Now, 13 years later, similar “deeply troubling” incidents still occur regularly, and they’ve touched off a new movement for reform. While Holder speaks in measured ways, throughout the interview, about the mutual distrust between police and “communities of color,” and the work the Justice Department is doing to bridge those gaps, he places himself within the national reform movement. For a while he uses “they” when talking about protesters, but then he shifts significantly to “we.”

“That’s all we’re asking for — just make the nation better,” he tells Reid. And the interview wraps.

On the same day the president opened up to People and said “There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional” who hasn’t been mistaken for a parking valet, Holder’s exit interview shows a new comfort with candor about race in Obama’s second term. It may make heads on the right explode, but so be it. Michelle Malkin is already howling about First Lady Michelle Obama’s story of being mistaken for a store clerk by a Target shopper on her incognito trip there in 2011.

In the interview with Reid — which is running in New York Magazine and airing on “The Reid Report” — Holder talks passionately about voting rights setbacks in recent years, calling out the Republican Party for its support of voter suppression measures, while praising GOP Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner for his work to restore the Voting Rights Act.

This is a gut check for the Republican Party. Where do you stand? Are you gonna be true to the values and the history of a great party? Or are you gonna do something that, in the short term, is politically expedient but that, ultimately, you will find historically shameful?

He says he trusts his chosen successor, deputy U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, to continue his pursuit of voting rights violations – though at least one Republican, Sen. David Vitter, has vowed to block Lynch because of the president’s moves on immigration.

While Holder uses his elbows when it comes to issues, he’s diplomatic on the topic of whether race has been a factor in his tough relationship with the House GOP.

Hard to say. I mean, the attorney general seems to be, lately, the person, whether you are white, black, Republican, Democrat, who catches a lot of grief. So there’s that — that’s just a part of the position.

I can’t look into the hearts and minds of people who have been, perhaps, my harshest critics. I think a large part of the criticism is political in nature. Whether there is a racial component or not, I don’t know.

But when Reid asks if he still thinks we’re a nation of cowards when it comes to race, he doesn’t back down. “Yeah, we’ve not done all that we can. I’m hopeful that, at this time, with this president, that we can make progress in ways that we have not in the past.”

I still think the Cleveland Browns’ Andrew Hawkins’s eloquent remarks about why he wore a shirt protesting the police killings of Tamir Rice and John Crawford was hands down the most affecting talk about race this week. But Holder and the Obamas are doing their part to help the nation evolve beyond cowardice.

Mike Huckabee · Racisim · Racist Rhetoric

Huckabee Finn Replaces N-word with ‘Mau-Mau’

Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, speak...
Image via Wikipedia

I can’t disagree with this article.  It’s nothing new from the fringe right wing of the GOP, just a paradigm shift in code words used by many racists on the right

The Nation

For Democrats, and reportedly for the Obama White House, Mike Huckabee has always seemed a deadly combination: A hard-right, anti-gay, anti-choice social conservative tempered, it seemed, by a humanity and humor lacking in other potential Republican presidential candidates. He’s hard to pigeonhole as a nut-job or an extremist because his personality lacks the prickly rigidity that so often defines the right—Southern Baptist minister that he is, Huckabee nevertheless plays Keith Richards bass riffs like a groupie.
During the last round of GOP presidential primaries, Huckabee was one of only a few contenders who didn’t have a “scheduling conflict” preventing him from attending a PBS debate at the historically black Morgan State University. Meanwhile, his rivals had a field day criticizing the former Arkansas governor for such mortal Republican sins as raising taxes and being mildly tolerant of immigrant children. More recently, Huckabee has dismissed the birther argument and has defended Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign against wingers who insist she’ll sic the hot-dog police on them (though the once obese Huckabee could hardly not defend FLOTUS, given that he’s been preaching the same health advice for years). 

His relative flexibility, folksy demeanor, and non-Martian “likeability” drove a media characterization that’s shaped the Huckabee coverage: A small-c, Main Street conservative, Huck may be “too nice” to get the Establishment nod, but as second-place on the ticket he could help win over the crucial religious right/Sarah Palin base. This media narrative has proven as durable as “Bush the cowboy” or “McCain the maverick”—at least it did until last week.
That’s when Huckabee, to the surprise of most everyone, started squawking that President Obama grew up in Kenya, where he was influenced by his father’s and grandfathers’ anti-colonial Mau-Mauism to despise the British Empire–and, by implication, all white power.   MORE…

Glenn Beck · Racisim

Glenn Beck, I Am Proud To Call Myself An African American

According to Think Progress :

 Today on his radio show, Glenn Beck wanted to discuss the census. “Apparently the census has come out,” he said. Beck’s co-host then chimed in, “Yeah and there’s a little confusion because there’s three boxes you can check if you’re a certain race. … I don’t know what the race is because there’s three different terms for them. Black, African-American, or Negro.” Instead of having any consideration to take issue with the term “Negro,” Beck launched into a tirade against “African-American”:

BECK: African-American is a bogus, PC, made-up term. I mean, that’s not a race. Your ancestry is from Africa and now you live in America. Ok so you were brought over — either your family was brought over through the slave trade or you were born here and your family emigrated here or whatever but that is not a race.

Technically, Beck is right.  The term African-American does not describe a race.  That was never the intention.  What I take issue with is Glenn Beck calling the term “bogus” or “politically correct”.  Mr. Beck, it goes way deeper than your shallow perception of the term:

There has been an longstanding  discussion about Blacks calling themselves, “African-American”.   I am an older “Black” citizen of this country.  My “coming of age” period was the 60’s and 70’s.  That was a time of turbulence (Viet Nam War), resistence to the status quo (we could be drafted at 18 but couldn’t vote until we were 21), cultural awareness (we could be called off to defend our country, but return to a country that still tolerated Jim Crow laws and defacto practices.)

Black SELF awareness was the catalyst that pushed for an end to the word “negro” or “colored”.  It was also the impetus for  James Brown’s I’m Black and I’m Proud to become a number one best selling record and was frequently called The Black National Anthem. “We   identified  the word “Black”  with the word “proud” because it was an era of change and we would no longer be defined by others, but by ourselves.

 This was a time when the Civil Rights movement appeared to have been too passive and too concilliatory.  Conversely, the Black Panthers and their movement was too violent and extreme for most of my peers at the time.  There was a middle road, and  we were reading people like  poet Nikki Giovanni; poet and publisher Don L. Lee, who later became known as Haki Madhubuti; poet and playwright Leroi Jones, later known as Amiri BarakaMaya Angelou; and Sonia Sanchez.  These were the voices of cultural change in my coming of age period.

Black cultural  and political awareness came in the 1970’s.  This was the time when we were curious about  OURstory, not just  HIStory.  Political awareness came to us by way of Jesse Jackson, and the formation of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971.  Black Studies programs were created on many college campuses.  Students were allowed for the first time to get a “Black perspective” of history.

The origin of the term African-American and the reasoning behind it is best described in this statement:

  The Alternative Orange: Politics, Deconstruction, Critique:

“The shift in our self-concept that results from calling ourselves
African-American” declares Ramona Edelin, “could be the beginning of a
serious cultural offensive.” The struggle over the (cultural) meaning
of “African-American” is far reaching since, according to Edelin,
“When a child in a ghetto calls himself African-American, immediately
he’s international. The change takes him from the ghetto and puts him
on the globe. It helps us realize that we are not just former slaves
living in the U.S. and makes it easier to change our children’s
dwarfed perceptions of themselves.”

Wikipedia further describes the cultural movement of the 70’s here:

Another major aspect of the African-American Arts Movement was the infusion of the African aesthetic, a return to a collective cultural sensibility and ethnic pride that was much in evidence during the Harlem Renaissance and in the celebration of Négritude among the artistic and literary circles in the U.S., Caribbean, and the African continent nearly four decades earlier: the idea that “black is beautiful.” During this time, there was a resurgence of interest in, and an embrace of, elements of African culture within African American culture that had been suppressed or devalued to conform to Eurocentric America. Natural hairstyles, such as the afro, and African clothing, such as the dashiki, gained popularity. More importantly, the African American aesthetic encouraged personal pride and political awareness among African Americans.[16]

Finally let me say this.  Yes, I am a Black woman living in America.  Let me be clear, I love this country, it’s the place of my birth.  However, my ancestors were not from America.  Just as Italians, Greeks, Armenians, and others hold on to their ethnic heritage by using the ancestral name of the country they came from as well as their current nationality, Black people in America should be allowed to do the same without question.  The only reason why we say AFRICAN-American as opposed to Liberian-American or Guinean-America is because slave records for our ancestors were ill-kept and we, as a people had no idea which African country we came from, hence the term “African American”.

Sometimes I call myself  Black.  Sometimes I call myself African-American.  Either way, it is the way I choose to describe myself. 

Deprecating the history of the slave experience in America will not make one immutable fact go away:  African-Americans are a proud people and a person like you only shines a light on the ignorance that still exists in our country regarding Blacks.   Mr. Beck, defining me or people like me is unacceptable.  You have no right to tell me WHO or WHAT I am.  I am a SELF-DEFINED PROUD Black woman.  I am An American.  I am an African-American.  Perhaps learning more about the African-American culture which you so frequently demonize, may just give you a broader perspective of who and what we are as well as what we have contributed to our country.

I believe it was Abraham Lincoln that once said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”