Category Archives: Racism

Between the World and Me: Ta-Nehisi Coates on structural racism in America

MSNBC, November 19, 2020

Craig Melvin interviews Ta-Nehisi Coates on his book and the new HBO film

[Editor: Ta-Nehisi Coates offers profound insight on race in America and the far-reaching effect of Trumpism.  The first two minutes of the interview are mostly about his important book and the new film.  Tune in after 2 minutes for his commentary on racism.  – R.S.]


THE BOOK (See also THE FILM, below)

Between the World and Me is available at Bookshop Benicia (or Amazon, of course).

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NAMED ONE OF TIME’S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • ONE OF OPRAH’S “BOOKS THAT HELP ME THROUGH”

Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race” (Rolling Stone)

Reviewed by Dani Lacey
This is a book black people need to read. This is a book white people need to read. This is a book that anyone who calls themselves “American” needs to read….This is a book that describes the history of our nation and — in a way — the history of the world. This is a book that tells one man’s story of how he achieved his social consciousness the impact that had on how he viewed himself….The book is crafted as a letter to his son, making it a more intimate and personal journey. That intimacy and humanization extends beyond Coates to the victims and survivors of racism….He is not optimistic, but he’s not a cynic, either. I was worried that this book would leave me feeling sad, angry, hurt. Instead, I feel strangely proud. He sees where we fail as a nation, but points out how black people have and will continue to survive as a people. And he calls on those who have benefited from America’s systemic racism to do better or face their own future downfall.


THE FILM – on HBO Saturday, November 21

Between The World And Me, 1 EPISODE|1 HR 20 MIN
AVAILABLE SAT, NOV 21 AT 5:00PM PT ON HBO AND HBO MAX
SEE THE TRAILER, far below…

Between The World And Me, based on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ #1 New York Times bestselling account, is coming to HBO as a special event.

First published in 2015, Between The World And Me was written as a letter to Coates’ teenage son, and recounts the author’s experiences growing up in Baltimore’s inner city and his growing fear of daily violence against the Black community. The narrative explores Coates’ bold notion that American society structurally supports white supremacy.

Based on the 2018 adaptation and staging of the book at the Apollo Theater, the HBO Special will combine elements of the Apollo’s production, including powerful readings from Coates’ book, and incorporate documentary footage from the actors’ home life, archival footage, and animation. It will include appearances by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Mahershala Ali, Angela Bassett, Angela Davis, Alicia Garza, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Jharrel Jerome, Mimi Jones, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Ledisi, Janet Mock, Jason Moran, Joe Morton, Wendell Pierce, Phylicia Rashad, Greg Alverez Reid, Mj Rodriguez, Kendrick Sampson, Yara Shahidi, Nate Smith, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Courtney B. Vance, Olivia Washington, Pauletta Washington, Susan Kelechi Watson, Michelle Wilson and Oprah Winfrey.

Between The World And Me will be directed by award-winning director and Apollo Theater Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes, who also serves as an executive producer alongside Coates and Susan Kelechi Watson. Roger Ross Williams and his production company One Story Up will produce.

“A seminal piece of literature that has pushed crucial conversations around our country and racism to the forefront of our cultural conversation.”  — ROGER ROSS WILLIAMS

Watch the Trailer

Trump’s latest racist move – Defunding Anti-Racism Trainings

Trump Orders Federal Agencies to Stop Funding Anti-Racism Trainings, Calling Them ‘Un-American’

The Root, by Ishena Robinson, September 5, 2020
[See also coverage in the Washington Post]
Photo: Marie Kanger Born (Shutterstock)

In another tacit admission that he believes American equates to whiteness, President Trump has ordered the cease and desist of any government funding for anti-racism federal training programs because they are “anti-American propaganda.”

The edict was delivered by Russel Vought, director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget in a chilling — and telling — memo on Friday, in which he expressed Trump’s outrage that sessions about critical race theory and white privilege were taking place in federal agencies.

“These types of “trainings” not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce,” Vought wrote. “We cannot accept our employees receiving training that seeks to undercut our core values as Americans and drive division within our workforce.”

It’s another clear statement of what the Trump administration’s values are at a time when racial injustice in the United States continues to fuel the summary execution of Black people by police with impunity, as well as national protests and conversations about how this country’s deep history of anti-Blackness still shows up in all kinds of institutions.

Describing attempts to change this unjust state of affairs as “divisive,” Trump has ordered all federal agencies in the executive branch to take immediate measures ensuring their white employees don’t have to consider the idea that they have privilege in America.

From the memo:

All agencies are directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil. In addition, all agencies should begin to identify all available avenues within the law to cancel any such contracts and/or to divert Federal dollars away from these un-American propaganda training sessions.

The memo started off by making reference to press reports that said the trainings push the apparently absurd idea that “white people benefit from racism,” but Trump was likely inspired to make this move by one report from Fox News’ head white supremacist, Tucker Carlson.

On Wednesday, Carlson dedicated a segment on his show to talking about the tyranny of critical race theory training in federal institutions, which his guest called on Trump to “immediately abolish.”

November can’t come soon enough.

Documenting Trump’s insane comments and racist behavior in Kenosha

Trump flies to Kenosha but lands on Planet Zog

President Trump listens to officials during a roundtable discussion on community safety at Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington Post, by Dana Milbank, September 1, 2020

President Trump took off on Air Force One on Tuesday morning on his way to Kenosha, Wis. He landed on Planet Zog.

In real life, protests (some peaceful, some violent) erupted after police shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back. A Trump-supporting militia member allegedly gunned down three of the protesters, killing two of them.

But in the imaginary Kenosha that Trump created Tuesday afternoon at an invitation-only “roundtable” — in a high school cafeteria serving as a government “command center” — things were quite different.

There was no pandemic in this Kenosha; at his suggestion, everybody in the roundtable took off their face masks. There was no right-wing violence. (I heard no mention of the killings by the Trump-backing extremist.) There was no such thing as police brutality (Trump quickly swept aside any such notion). And there were hardly any Black people (only two of the 23 in the room).

It quickly became clear that the pair, a pastor and his wife, were to be seen rather than heard. James Ward, who said he is the pastor to Blake’s mother, was asked by Trump to offer a prayer, then offered to discuss “the real pain that hurts Black Americans.” Trump wasn’t interested.

When Trump opened the roundtable to questions, a reporter asked the pastor whether he believed that there is systemic racism in law enforcement.

Before Ward could answer, Trump broke in to say there were only “some bad apples” among police, of which “I have the endorsement of so many, maybe everybody.”

The reporter tried again. “Could the pastor answer my question, please?”

Trump called on another questioner.

Then, shutting down the session, Trump turned to the muted pastor he had just used as a prop. “Fantastic job,” he said.

As the election gets closer and closer, Trump appears to be getting further and further from reality. Tuesday’s stagecraft in Kenosha was Trump’s most audacious attempt to rearrange reality since … well, since the night before. On Monday, he informed Fox News’s Laura Ingraham that Joe Biden is the victim of mind control by “people that you’ve never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows.” They are, he said, the same “people that are controlling the streets.” Trump further reported the existence of a plane, “almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms.” He said they “were on the plane to do big damage.”

Pressed for details, Trump said he could divulge no more. “I’ll tell you sometime, but it’s under investigation.” As NBC reported, Trump’s fantastical tale closely matched a two-month-old conspiracy theory making the rounds on Facebook.

By the time he arrived at Joint Base Andrews for his trip to Wisconsin, Trump had already developed more details about his new conspiracy theory. This time, “the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, the rioters.” And Trump said he has a firsthand account from a person on the plane. “Maybe they’ll speak to you and maybe they won’t,” he said. (They didn’t.)

Arriving in Kenosha, Trump toured a camera shop that had been damaged. There, he chose to speak about Portland, Ore. — about 2,000 miles away. Portland “has been terrible for a long time, for many decades, actually.” Portland is frequently ranked among the “most livable cities” in America.

Trump didn’t meet with the Blake family, instead moving on to the high school cafeteria, draped with blue curtains and decorated with flags.

“I feel so safe,” Trump remarked, after a tour in which he was protected by armored personnel carriers, military trucks and police in camouflage carrying automatic rifles.

He received thanks from a participant for “sending the National Guard.” (That was actually the work of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who, like Kenosha’s mayor, urged Trump not to visit.)

Trump reported that “there was love on the street, I can tell you, of Wisconsin when we were coming in … so many African Americans.” According to the “pool” reporters traveling in the president’s motorcade, he had been greeted by friends and foes alike, including one “large group protesting the president, their middle fingers pointed at motorcade.”

The two African Americans in the roundtable did their best to bring Trump around to reality. James Ward prayed for a restoration of “empathy and compassion.” Sharon Ward noted that “it’s important to have Black people at the table” and called it “a good opportunity for us really to solve the problem.”

But Trump would not be moved. Asked about nonviolent protests and structural racism, he answered with “anarchists,” “looters,” “rioters” and “agitators.” He said Democrats like riots and want to close prisons and end immigration enforcement. “The wall will be finished very shortly,” he added.

Maybe that’s true — on Planet Zog.

Former Trump official: Trump is enabling white supremacists

Trump’s ‘Racist’ Actions ‘Gave Permission’ To White Supremacists, An Ex-DHS Official Now Says

Forbes, by Andrew Solender, August 26, 2020
TOPLINE

Elizabeth Neumann, a former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention in the Trump administration who endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden last week, alleged Wednesday that President Trump enabled white supremacists and ignored pandemic warnings.

KEY FACTS

In a video for pro-Biden group Republican Voters Against Trump, Neumann says she is “first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ” who voted for Trump in 2016 for his anti-abortion stance.

Noting the rise in white supremacy in the Trump era, Neumann said Trump’s rhetoric made her job more difficult, calling his language and actions “racist” and alleging he “gave permission” to white supremacists.

On the topic of the pandemic, Neumann says experts told her “we need to be executing on these plans,” but that Trump told officials to stop doing their jobs because “he didn’t want the economy to tank and he didn’t want a distraction from his campaign.”

In an interview with Politico, Neumann and several other former Trump Homeland Security officials alleged inaction on white supremacy by the administration, with Neumann asserting “there’s not going to be anything substantive done on domestic terrorism” and stating that Trump “botched” his response to Charlottesville by saying “you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“I do not think that we can afford four more years of President Trump,” Neumann said, concluding, “We are less safe today because of his leadership. We will continue to be less safe as long as he is in control.”

KEY BACKGROUND

Before her time in the Trump administration, Neumann served on the Homeland Security Council in the Bush White House, a role in which she “tracked terrorist threats and developed domestic prevention and mitigation strategies and programs,” according to the DHS website. In the Trump administration, she worked as Deputy Chief of Staff of DHS and as a senior advisor to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen, and Acting Secretary Elaine Duke before serving as Assistant Secretary. She departed the administration in April, according to Politico, and endorsed Biden alongside over 70 other Republican security officials.

CHIEF CRITIC

“Our brave federal law enforcement, national security, and Intelligence officials work around the clock to monitor every range of threats facing our nation, including domestic terror,” White House spokesperson Alyssa Farah told Politico. The White House declined to comment further to Forbes.

SURPRISING FACT

Neumann is far from alone as a Republican backing Biden. Scores of Republican lawmakers and former executive branch officials have publicly endorsed him, including former Republican Senator and Defense Secretary Bill Cohen on Wednesday. Several other Trump administration officials have endorsed Biden as well, including former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and former DHS Chief of Staff Miles Taylor, who alleged Trump claimed “magical authorities” beyond the law.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Taylor predicts even more Trump officials will come forward before the election. “The president hasn’t heard the last of us,” Taylor told ABC News earlier this month, calling his allegations the “opening salvo.”