Category Archives: race

Racial Gerrymandering

It’s a given that the 2016 elections were “stolen”, but not in the way most American’s assume: Russia may or may not have had a direct, negative impact on Clinton’s election chances, but people like Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach certainly did.

Kobach has been involved, both locally and nationally, with repressive voter registration laws. While Kobach loses most of the inevitable lawsuits filed against his illegal practices 1, that does not keep him from hindering minorities in their attempts to vote.

Kobach has as well consulted in gerrymandering schemes outside of Kansas. These bald attempts at dulling the effect of the minority vote are also nearly unanimously ruled against by the courts. However, that’s after the fact: Had SCOTUS ruled on Wisconsin’s obvious racial gerrymandering before the 2016 election, there’s a distinct possibility the results would have been different.

Same with the once great state of Virginia, where SCOTUS recently remanded the Virginia redistricting case back to a lower court with instructions to apply a more rigorous standard regarding racial bias.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave Virginia Democrats a fresh chance to challenge parts of the legislative map for the state’s House of Delegates[…]

“The upshot of all of this is that not much has changed with these cases,” Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, wrote in a blog post. “The fight will be over the details and application to particular cases.”

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer for the challengers in the case, disagreed, calling the decision a “major victory” that will help Democrats[…]

In 2015, a divided three-judge panel of Federal District Court in Richmond, Va., upheld 11 of the challenged districts because, it said, race had not been the primary factor in drawing them. Since the districts could be justified under traditional redistricting criteria like compactness, contiguity, incumbency protection and political considerations, the court said, race could not have been the predominant reason for drawing them.

That was the wrong approach, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. “The racial predominance inquiry concerns the actual considerations that provided the essential basis for the lines drawn,” he wrote, “not post hoc justifications the legislature in theory could have used but in reality did not.” […]

In assessing those challenges, Justice Kennedy wrote, the trial court identified “no fewer than 11 race neutral redistricting factors.” He called that kind of analysis too malleable.

“By deploying those factors in various combinations and permutations, a state could construct a plethora of potential maps that look consistent with traditional, race-neutral principles,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “But if race for its own sake is the overriding reason for choosing one map over others, race still may predominate.”

Justice Kennedy did not say the challengers would win under his less rigid standard. “The district court,” he wrote, “is best positioned to determine in the first instance the extent to which, under the proper standard, race directed the shape of these 11 districts.”

The Supreme Court affirmed one part of the trial court’s ruling, concerning a single district, which the trial court had upheld even after finding that race played the dominant role in drawing it. The trial court said the district was justified by an attempt to comply with the Voting Rights Act, which forbade the reduction of minority voters’ ability to elect candidates of their choice.

Traditionally gerrymandering redistricting has been the nasty, saliva-dripping hairball no one wanted to touch exactly because SCOTUS has heretofore refused to step in and describe legal boundaries. Today it’s still a hairball, but it appears that Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, No. 15-680, will eventually make racial gerrymandering a moot point.

Racial Gerrymandering

Show 1 footnote

  1. Barring “sanctuary cities”, for example, is as nonsensical as declaring a “war on terror”: Neither thing exits in the strict legal sense, ergo no laws prosecuting either notion can be passed.

Starting a War

When they tell you it wasn’t bigotry and hate that changed the face of America…

Lenny Bolton, who rents a house between Mount Olive and Goldsboro, insists it was the state of the economy, not prejudice, that troubled him. Even so, bigotry appears to linger not far below the surface.

“I mean, there ain’t no jobs around here because the aliens are working for next to nothing,” he said. “Does that sound American to you? We’re giving our prosperity to them.”

When asked if he’d be willing to pick cucumbers or tobacco, Bolton got defensive. “Just because I don’t want that kind of work doesn’t mean some Mexican should get it. A part of me says we should let them stick it out on them fields, but it ain’t right.”

So who, then, should companies like Mount Olive Pickle and Butterball hire to take on jobs men like Bolton want no part of?

“Give ’em to the blacks who sit at home on the porch all day,” he said. “Make ’em earn that government check. Know what I’m sayin’?”

The issues with illegal aliens in this country goes waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back:

[The Pilgrims] were also experienced exiles. Their twelve years in Holland had given them a head start in the difficult process of acculturation. Going native—at least to a certain degree—was a necessary, if problematic, part of adapting to life in a strange and foreign land. If their European grains refused to grow in this new environment, their very survival might depend on having planted a significant amount of American corn. They decided they had no choice but to take the corn. The place where they found the buried seed is still called Corn Hill.

The decision to steal the corn was not without considerable risks. They were, after all, taking something of obvious value from a people who had done their best, so far, to avoid them. The Pilgrims might have opted to wait until they had the chance to speak with the Indians before they took the com, but the last thing they possessed was time. They assured themselves that they would compensate the corn’s owners as soon as they had the opportunity.

But of course that didn’t happen. The recompense, we mean.

Instead the Pilgrims started a war.

We’re jes’ sayin’…

Starting a War

Long Hot Summer

Two generations have passed since this much blood has run in the streets; 1967, to be exact.

If 1966 was mostly about peace, love dope and hippie beads, the September “Negro” riot in Atlanta foreshadowed the long hot summer of 1967; that riot started because a young black man, Stokely Carmichael, organized a demonstration over an Atlanta cop shooting a black, unarmed car thief.

In October Bobby Seale & Huey P. Newton formed the Black Panthers of Oakland; they also formed a “police alert patrol”, following police to make sure they obeyed the law. The country was on edge, poised for anything, it seemed.

But we got through the winter and early Spring well enough, even with the advent of MLK’s half-million strong anti-war march on the UN.

But after another unarmed black man had been gunned down by Boston police, in June of ’67 a race riot broke out in Boston’s Roxbury area. 1 A sit-in by the Mothers for Adequate Welfare (MAW) at the Grove Hall Office in Roxbury touched it off. Police officers used billy-clubs to beat the women and it went downhill from there. By the time the summer was over, nearly 160 race riots had lit up the country.

President Johnson was alarmed enough by the violence that he formed the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (even while Detroit was still in flames), which ultimately issued what became known as the Kerner Report, a tome of a book that actually became a best-seller. 2 The commission found that the riots resulted from “black frustration at lack of economic opportunity.” It also said: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”

The report was released in March of 1968. Johnson rejected the commission’s recommendations out of hand and simply ignored the report, which renewed the same tensions . A month later, April 1968, MLK was assassinated and once again rioting broke out in more than 100 cities. 3

Those of us who reached our majority by ’67 (or very nearly so) have no problem finding parallels between that long hot summer and the current one. With the possible exception that police of today appear to enjoy an unprecedented blanket immunity while shooting and killing blacks.

So, no – Dallas was not a surprise. Neither is Baton Rouge. And neither will be the next act of violence; read the Kerner Report and ask yourself what’s all that different between 1967 and 2016.

Long Hot Summer

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Think east of Troost.
  2. I was mailed a copy while still involved with teh Southeast Asia War Games – we took 2nd Place!
  3. 1969? Don’t ask; think bombs. Lots of bombs.

Dallas

I promise you that throughout the day many a talking head will utter one of the following:

“No one saw this coming.”
“There is no justification for this attack.”
“We’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of these bad actors.”

Which is just top cover: Dallas isn’t even the beginning, it’s just as yet the most glaring response to America’s continued violent enforcement of apartheid. The proof of the pudding is the following tweet by an ex-Congressman:

Après Dallas, the black community will do some brief naval gazing and conclude (the collective) they did nothing wrong, much as innumerable police departments in America have done: After all, if the police are going to shoot you for being black, they might as well shoot you for having slain several of them, n’est-ce pas?

Finally, in what any 10 year-old could tell you is not an ironic turn of events, but merely the easily foreseen (one might say inevitable) outcome of the fucking NRA’s incessant promulgation of gun ownership violence (in support of Americans’ innate right to protect itself against the tyranny of government, Amen), America’s slave class appears to be well armed in their inevitable uprising.

Dallas width=

Académie Lafayette: Marvin Lyman

The parents of Académie Lafayette students elect (by alternating year) two parents to represent them on their school board. Once such person, Marvin Lyman, also the current board Vice President, is just finishing up his two-year term. And he so impressed the permanent board members they had recently voted to retain him as a ‘permanent’ member.

At AL’s September Parent Teacher Student Organization meeting, where Lyman had been asked to talk on the duties/responsibilities of a parent-elected board member, he might well have destroyed all his previous good will.

Details differ dependent upon with whom you speak, 1 but by all accounts Mr. Lyman refrained from providing the requested information and instead offered up…

Well, let’s go directly to the letter, shall we?

Marvin Lyman

Lyman’s behavior as described by the people we spoke with, and apparently only hinted at in the above missive, was “racist, hateful and wholly unexpected”, as well as a radical departure from his previous public presentations; his LinkedIn page depicts a politically savvy individual who is still Mayor James political campaign Treasurer. In short, no matter the exact phrasing of Lyman’s speech that September evening, it was not offered up naïvely – Lyman meant what he said, had put some thought, if not caution, into his words.

Sources say that when presented with the above letter, the AL Board acknowledged the submission and responded that though they were prepared to discuss the issue, a couple of key players were not yet in attendance. The meeting continued until such time as those individuals arrived, at which point the board went into an hour long closed session.

Attendees at last night’s meeting stated both the AL board’s lawyers, as well as AL’s charter sponsors, also attended the closed meeting.

Board members Marvin Lyman and Tracy Lewis were not in attendance during the closed session; Lyman did not show at all for last night’s meeting and Lewis arrived (from another board meeting) after the closed session had taken place.

Once the board entered into open session again the meeting proceeded apace normally, with no more mention of Lyman, much less his status or what the board had spent an hour discussing. At the end board President Phillips thanked audience members and adjourned the board.

Académie Lafayette: Marvin Lyman

From Academie Lafayette’s By-Laws :

Section 11. Removals: Vacancies: Directors may be removed, with or without cause, upon the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining Directors. In the event of the removal of a non-Parent-Elected Director, or in the event of the death or resignation of such a Directory, a majority of the remaining non-Parent-Elected Directors may fill such vacancy or vacancies. A non-Parent-Elected Director elected to fill a vacancy shall serve as such until the next annual meeting of the Board of Directors at which non-Parent-Elected Director are elected. In the event of the removal of a Parent-Elected Director, or in the event of the death or the resignation of such a Director, the vacancy shall be filled by election of the legal guardians of the Corporation’s students at a special meeting in the same manner as at an annual election. Any director so elected shall serve until the expiration of the term of the directorship he or she was elected to fill.

The people with whom we’ve spoken were disappointed that the AL board took no action last night.

To be clear, Lyman could have been legally removed from the AL board last night with no effective recourse; as AL’s by-laws make plain, they don’t even need a reason to remove a Director.

More than one observer saw the AL board’s invitation to both their sponsor and their lawyers to last night’s meeting as an overabundance of caution. 2 Yet another person opined the AL board did not want to remove Lyman without first warning the Mayor’s office. 3 A more skeptical observer noted the hour long closed session, with both lawyers and sponsor, struck him as the type of meeting that occurred when a board was laying the groundwork to defend the indefensible. In other words, in this person’s opinion, the AL board seemed prepared to sweep the incident “under the rug” and continue on as though nothing untoward had occurred.

That would be unfortunate, if only because it would perpetuate the myth that people of color can not ipso facto behave in a racist manner. But more importantly it would send the message that an aging AL board (many of whom have been reelecting themselves for over the past 10 years) are out of touch with both the parents and their students, that the individual members of the board are only concerned with their own plans and internecine struggles. 4

In the end the person who set off the current firestorm has some responsibility to end it; for any public official, elected or not, even the appearance of impropriety is to be avoided at all costs.  It would therefore be the correct action for Marvin Lyman to publicly announce his immediate resignation from the AL Board of Directors.

Académie Lafayette: Marvin Lyman

Show 4 footnotes

  1. As we only learned of this a scant hour ago, we’ve managed to speak to just 4 or 5 of the (est.) 50 parents who actually witnessed the event.
  2. Or, as one wit quipped, “It was a wuss move.”
  3. Though if Lyman’s remark were as incendiary as witnesses have described, he should have contacted James himself first thing: always let your boss get out ahead of bad news.
  4. Which may well be the case, but one would hope the board would at least attempt to put a good face on it.

Nonviolence As Compliance

“When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the rioters themselves.”

So far the most intelligent, smartly nuanced and insightful commentary concerning Freddie Gray’s murder killing and Baltimore’s subsequent overnight rioting comes from Ta-Nehisi Coates. 1

Though who am I kidding? David Brooks is going to do better? 2 No, Coates’ piece will be the definitive response to the situation.

Nonviolence As Compliance

Show 2 footnotes

  1. In his mind’s eye, Coates is who Jason Whitlock believes himself to be. Never gonna happen, but it’s certainly an aspiration Whitlock should cling to.
  2. I threw up just a little in my mouth even considering the idea.

On Race

1. Race is a modern idea. Ancient societies, like the Greeks, did not divide people according to physical distinctions, but according to religion, status, class, even language. The English language didn’t even have the word ‘race’ until it turns up in 1508 in a poem by William Dunbar referring to a line of kings.

2. Race has no genetic basis. Not one characteristic, trait or even gene distinguishes all the members of one so-called race from all the members of another so-called race.

3. Human subspecies don’t exist. Unlike many animals, modern humans simply haven’t been around long enough or isolated enough to evolve into separate subspecies or races. 1 Despite surface appearances, we are one of the most similar of all species.

4. Skin color really is only skin deep. Most traits are inherited independently from one another. The genes influencing skin color have nothing to do with the genes influencing hair form, eye shape, blood type, musical talent, athletic ability or forms of intelligence. Knowing someone’s skin color doesn’t necessarily tell you anything else about him or her.

5. Most variation is within, not between, “races.” Of the small amount of total human variation, 85% exists within any local population, be they Italians, Kurds, Koreans or Cherokees. About 94% can be found within any continent. That means two random Koreans may be as genetically different as a Korean and an Italian.

6. Slavery predates race. Throughout much of human history, societies have enslaved others, often as a result of conquest or war, even debt, but not because of physical characteristics or a belief in natural inferiority. Due to a unique set of historical circumstances, ours was the first slave system where all the slaves shared similar physical characteristics.

7. Race and freedom evolved together. The U.S. was founded on the radical new principle that “All men are created equal.” But our early economy was based largely on slavery. How could this anomaly be rationalized? The new idea of race helped explain why some people could be denied the rights and freedoms that others took for granted.

8. Race justified social inequalities as natural. As the race idea evolved, white superiority became “common sense” in America. It justified not only slavery but also the extermination of Indians, exclusion of Asian immigrants, and the taking of Mexican lands by a nation that professed a belief in democracy. Racial practices were institutionalized within American government, laws, and society.

9. Race isn’t biological, but racism is still real. Race is a powerful social idea that gives people different access to opportunities and resources. Our government and social institutions have created advantages that disproportionately channel wealth, power, and resources to white people. This affects everyone, whether we are aware of it or not.

10. Colorblindness will not end racism. Pretending race doesn’t exist is not the same as creating equality. Race is more than stereotypes and individual prejudice. To combat racism, we need to identify and remedy social policies and institutional practices that advantage some groups at the expense of others.

On Race

Show 1 footnote

  1. Here we would beg to differ; it is very clear to us a subspecies –H. monastic– has separated itself and is intent on destroying the world in order to save it. Yeah, we know – go figure.

In Defense of the Word “Nigger”

Three weeks ago the Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, who is white, was reported to have addressed his fellow Dolphin as a “half-nigger.” About a week later, after being ejected from a game, the Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes, who is black, tweeted that he was “done standing up for these niggas” after being ejected for defending his teammate. This came after the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who is white, angrily called a black security guard a “nigger” in July.

What followed was a fairly regular ritual debate over who gets to say “nigger” and who does not. On his popular show “Pardon the Interruption,” Tony Kornheiser called on the commissioners of the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball to ban their players from publicly using the word. The ESPN host Skip Bayless went further, calling “nigger” “the most despicable word in the English language — verbal evil” and wishing that it could “die the death it deserves.”

Mr. Bayless and Mr. Kornheiser are white, but many African-Americans have reached the same conclusion. On Thursday, the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, a group promoting diversity in coaching and in the front offices of the N.F.L., called on players to stop using “the worst and most derogatory word ever spoken in our country” in the locker rooms. In 2007 the N.A.A.C.P. organized a “funeral” in Detroit for the word “nigger.” “Good riddance. Die, n-word,” said Kwame Kilpatrick, then the mayor. “We don’t want to see you around here no more.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates

David Marsters: Repentant Moron

“Effective immediately I am resigning from all committees and commissions,” Marsters wrote. He had served on the Ordinance Review Committee, the Budget Committee and the Charter Commission.

“I deeply regret what I posted and do apologize for my actions.”

Sabattus!
David Marsters’ apology, via email to Sabattus Town Manager Andrew Gilmore, in advance of a Board of Selectmen ’emergency’ meeting to consider dismissing Marsters from the boards on which he volunteered, as well as tar and feathering him, then riding him out of town on a rail. 1

Gilmore said he accepted Marsters’ resignation on behalf of the town, effective immediately, terminating any official standing Marsters has with Sabattus government.

“I personally want to thank Mr. Marsters for sparing the town and community further spectacle by resigning voluntarily,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore had also referred to Martsers’ original post as “deplorably hateful, dangerous and exactly opposite of all this country and the town of Sabattus stands for.”

Which begs the question – since when do cities stand for something? But let’s take Gilmore at his word – what, then, does Sabuttus stand for?

The Sabattus city seal is unhelpful in that it scoffs at the once mandatory stilted Latin adage spelling out some lie about The People SHall Be Served, With Fries, instead choosing to look like the brand of a popular butter.

A city’s seal should reflect that town’s vision, what its interests are, where its future might lie.

Like Kansas City’s seal:
The Great Seal of Kansas City

But Sabattus’ seal centers itself around the stern and (possibly) noble vidage of –one presumes — Sabattus himself; what do we know about him?

To begin with the gentleman’s name was Sabattis, a chief of the Androscoggin tribe of the Abenaki nation; the name change occured for no known reason. And apparently Sabattis’ first name was Mitchell…

Enough of that.

In any event the town of Sabattus pretty much “stands for” the same as every other American town: commerce. They don’t need David Marsters impeding that by turning the town into an economic pariah.

WNBTv - Good TV!

Show 1 footnote

  1. That least was dropped; the average age of Sabattus citizenry precluded finding enough strapping young men to do more than help arsters into the bed of a pickup and driving him home.