race manners

Since I’ve been back on the blog, I have said very little about the so-called biracial experience.  It amazes me that it’s still easier, even for me with all of my good “mixed” intentions, to talk about black and white.  I forgive myself for this because without the black and white there is no mixed.  Without the baggage of white vs. black stuff, there is no need for the mixed discussion.  So, I suppose it’s only natural.  It is little disappointing personally that the middle ground isn’t where the conversation begins for me.  It’s on the ends of the spectrum.  But I also suppose that this is natural.  I suppose this has been the disappointment of my life.  And I suppose that this is how we get to the middle ground.  By exploring the ends and inching toward the middle.

A couple of things in Jenee Harris’ article jumped out at me:

1. “My white mother has developed an acute sensitivity to the subtle ways prejudice and bigotry pop up in daily life.”- 

I wonder if my father would say he has developed the same.  I think so…I think that happened when he entered into a relationship with my (black) mother and grew deeper as he witnessed my experience… but we never talk about it…

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me with my parents:)

2. “Well-intended”- re: “adults loved to tell me that people paid “good money” for hair like mine (think 1980s-era perms on white women)” and “A friend got the biscuit analogy…: God burned black people and undercooked white people, but removed her from the heavenly oven at the perfect moment.”

Well…if the intention of the (white) person who said this is to make the biracial person feel better about the perceived plight of their kind…well…i guess one could count that as a good or harmless intention. But I think that summation signifies complacence.  I, however, have to challenge this notion.  You see, giver of said “compliment,” in your quest to make me feel better about being my invisible, displaced, misunderstood, marginalized and tragic self you put me on the receiving end of your pity, your assumptions and judgements.  I do believe this is usually unconscious.  I also must acknowledge that it is an assumption I’m making. Yet there’s a reason that I assume that this is the intention behind the compliments.  The assumption is based on experience, but even those are dangerous to make. It’s the tone with which these comments are usually, subtly uttered.  If you’ve been the biracial person in this kind of conversation, I think you know what I mean.

When I engage in this kind of innocent interaction I can be left feeling frustrated, upset, and worst of all unseen.  It is depressing.  It is literally a depression of my spirit.  Of my freedom.  A depression of my freedom to just be and simply experience this life without being saddled with the weight of the stigma of a couple hundred years of prejudice, condemnation, fear, greed, inferiority, superiority, discrimination, and antagonism.  My take on it is that some people assuage a fleeting feeling of guilt over the fact that this is the biracial’s lot in life by reminding us (and/or reminding themselves) that I should be happy because I have good hair and tan skin which, I infer from your comments, should make up for the fact that on the whole the society we live in cannot acknowledge or understand how I exist.  I thought there was more to that sentence, but I think that’s it.  Our nation’s identity continues to be wrapped up in race and all the baggage that comes with it.  For that to remain intact, biracial just can’t really be.  I don’t think that needs to remain intact.  I think things are shifting.  So slowly.  But they are shifting and I hope I stay awake enough to the shift to feel when my assumptions based on past experience are truly no longer valid.

On the other hand, I’m fairly certain that most of my response falls into the category of  “Oh, come on, stop being so sensitive.

Or am I just being truthful?  That’s the stuff that this brought up for me.

Biracial Children: Racism Advice for White Parents

Race Manners: Comments about the superior beauty of your biracial child aren’t just weird — they’re troubling.

By Jenée Desmond-Harris

Updated Monday April 8, 2013

The Root –

“I’m a Caucasian woman with a biracial child (her father is black). I live in a predominantly white community. Why is it that whenever people discover that I have a ‘mixed’ child, they always say things like, ‘Oh, he/she must be so cute/gorgeous/adorable, those kids are always the best looking. You are so lucky.’ 

I know they mean well, but it seems off to me, and maybe racist. Do they mean compared to ‘real’ black children? When a German and Italian or an Asian and Jewish person have a child, black people don’t say, ‘Mixed children like yours are always the best looking.’ (Plus, it’s not true — not all black-white biracial kids are the ‘best looking.’)

Am I being overly sensitive by feeling there’s something off about these comments? If not, what’s the best way to respond?”

I chose this question for the first installment of Race Manners, The Root‘s new advice column on racial etiquette and ethics, because it hits close to home. Like your daughter, I’m biracial. Like you, my white mother has developed an acute sensitivity to the subtle ways prejudice and bigotry pop up in daily life. I should know. She calls me to file what I’ve deemed her “racism reports.”

And let’s be clear. Americans of all races say bizarre things to and about mixed people, who can inspire some of the most revealing remarks about our black-white baggage. Just think of the public debates about how MSNBC’s Karen Finney, and even President Obama, should be allowed to identify.

But the comments in your question often come from a good place, and they’re often said with a smile. When I was a child, adults loved to tell me that people paid “good money” for hair like mine (think 1980s-era perms on white women) and for tanning beds (again, it was the ’80s and ’90s) to achieve my skin color. Thus, the grown-up argument went, I should be happy (even if these trends didn’t stop people from petting my curls as if I were an exotic poodle, nor did they give me the straight blond hair I envied, and it’s not as if I was on the receiving end of the beauty-shop payments).

A friend got the biscuit analogy. Wait for it: God burned black people and undercooked white people, but removed her from the heavenly oven at the perfect moment, she was told.

Awkward. Well-intended. Poorly thought-through. A window into our shared cultural stuff about identity. These statements are all these things at once.

That’s another reason I selected your question. When it comes to remarks that are so obviously dead-wrong to some of us, and so clearly innocuous to others, there’s often little energy for or interest in breaking down the explanation that lies between “Ugh, so ignorant!” and “Oh, come on, stop being so sensitive.”

I’ll try it out here.

You’re right to be bothered by the remarks from the Biracial Babies Fan Club. Here’s why: These people aren’t pulling an arbitrary appreciation for almond-colored skin and curls from the ether. Instead — even if they are not aware of this — they’re both reflecting and perpetuating troubling beliefs that are bigger than their individual tastes. Specifically, while “mixed kids are the cutest” is evenhanded on its face, treating both black and white (and all other ethnic groups) as inferior to your daughter, I hear it as anti-black.

As Marcia Dawkins, the author of Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity, told me, “The myth that mixed-race offspring are somehow better than nonmixed offspring is an example of ‘hybrid vigor,’ an evolutionary theory which states that the progeny of diverse varieties within a species tend to exhibit better physical and psychological characteristics than either one or both of the parents.”

mixie girl

And just take a wild guess how this idea has popped up for black people. You got it: In order to demean and oppress African Americans, thought leaders throughout history, including the likes of Thomas Jefferson, have said that black-white mixed offspring are better, more attractive, smarter, etc., than “real” blacks and not as good or attractive or smart as “real” whites, Dawkins explains.

So alleging that mixed kids are the best of anything sounds different when you consider that we’ve long put a wholesale premium on all that’s whiter and brighter.

Nowhere is that premium more stubbornly applied today than when it comes to the topic at the center of your question — beauty and attractiveness. In recent memory, we had to re-litigate the harms of colorism when Zoe Saldana was cast to play the lead in a Nina Simone biopic. Tamar Braxton and India.Arie have both been accused of bleaching skin — as if that would be a reasonable thing to do.

A writer lamented in a personal essay for xoJane that she was sick and tired of being complimented for what black men viewed as her “mixed” or “exotic” (read: nonblack) physical features. (As far as I know, “you look a little black” is not a common line of praise among other groups.) Black girls still pick the white dolls in recreated Kenneth Clark experiments. Harlem moms can’t get Barbie birthday decorations in the color of their little princesses. We treated rapper Kendrick Lamar like the department store that featured a wheelchair-bound model in an ad campaign when he cast a dark-skinned woman as a music-video love interest.

Against this backdrop of painful beliefs that people of all colors buy into, yes, “Mixed kids are the cutest” should sound “off.”

As the mom of a mixed kid, you signed up for more than just the task of venturing into the “ethnic” aisle of the drugstore and learning about leave-in conditioner. You took on the work of hearing things like this through the ears of your daughter, and you agreed to have a stake in addressing racism. The fact that these comments bothered you means you’re on the job.

So if it’s at all possible, you should explain everything I’ve said above to people who announce that your daughter is gorgeous based on racial pedigree alone. If you’re shorter on time or familiarity, you could try a reminder that there’s really no such thing as genetic purity in the first place (“Great news, if that’s true, since most of us — including you – are mixed”). As an alternative, the old cocked-head, confused look, combined with “What makes you say that?” always puts the onus back on the speaker to think about what he or she is really saying.

Finally, just a simple, “Thanks, I think she’s beautiful, but I don’t like the implication that it’s because of her ethnic makeup,” could open up an important introductory conversation about why comments about superior biracial beauty aren’t true and aren’t flattering, and why the beliefs they reflect aren’t at all “cute.”

before this hurts too much

Need race-related advice? Send your questions to racemanners@theroot.com.

The Root‘s staff writer, Jenée Desmond-Harris, covers the intersection of race with news, politics and culture. She wants to talk about the complicated ways in which ethnicity, color and identity arise in your personal life — and provide perspective on the ethics and etiquette surrounding race in a changing America.

inter-related

universe of souls

In a real sense all life is inter-related.  All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.  I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.  This is the inter-related structure of reality.“- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

responsible?

So, I’m sitting here completely stunned by this and unsure how to process it.  It’s not the “possibility” that the government was involved in the assassination that has me floored, but that I have never heard of this trial before.  I wasn’t sure I could believe that the trial even happened.  I came across this on April Fool’s Day after all.  But it seems to be no joke.  The King Center seems to be legit.  The NYTimes made some brief mention of the trial.  However this is not common knowledge.  At least, not to the best of my knowledge.  I can only say that I am truly befuddled.  Yep, befuddled.  The 45th anniversary of the assassination is days away: 6:01 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 1968.

mlk assassination suit

Assassination Conspiracy Trial

Martin King’s family: share civil trial case that US govt assassinated Martin

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Coretta Scott King: “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” – King Family Press Conference, Dec. 9, 1999.

From the King Center on the  family’s civil trial that found the US government guilty in Martin’s assassination:

After four weeks of testimony and over 70 witnesses in a civil trial in Memphis, Tennessee, twelve jurors reached a unanimous verdict on December 8, 1999 after about an hour of deliberations that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. In a press statement held the following day in Atlanta, Mrs. Coretta Scott King welcomed the verdict, saying , “There is abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. And the civil court’s unanimous verdict has validated our belief. I wholeheartedly applaud the verdict of the jury and I feel that justice has been well served in their deliberations. This verdict is not only a great victory for my family, but also a great victory for America. It is a great victory for truth itself. It is important to know that this was a SWIFT verdict, delivered after about an hour of jury deliberation. The jury was clearly convinced by the extensive evidence that was presented during the trial that, in addition to Mr. Jowers, the conspiracy of the Mafia, local, state and federal government agencies, were deeply involved in the assassination of my husband. The jury also affirmed overwhelming evidence that identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the shooter, and that Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame. I want to make it clear that my family has no interest in retribution. Instead, our sole concern has been that the full truth of the assassination has been revealed and adjudicated in a court of law… My husband once said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” To-day, almost 32 years after my husband and the father of my four children was assassinated, I feel that the jury’s verdict clearly affirms this principle. With this faith, we can begin the 21st century and the new millennium with a new spirit of hope and healing.”

mlk w:father and son 1963

1963

TRANSCRIPTS

View Full Trial Transcript>

View Transcript of King Family Press Conference on the Verdict>

KING FAMILY STATEMENT ON MEDIA REQUESTS REGARDING THE MEMPHIS VERDICT

The King family stands firmly behind the civil trial verdict reached by twelve jurors in the Memphis, Tennessee courtroom on December 8, 1999.

An excerpt from remarks made by Mr. Dexter Scott King, Chairman, President, and CEO of The King Center, during the December 9, 1999 press conference regarding the verdict that may be used in support of this family decision:

“We can say that because of the evidence and information obtained in Memphis we believe that this case is over. This is a period in the chapter. We constantly hear reports, which trouble me, that this verdict creates more questions than answers. That is totally false. Anyone who sat in on almost four weeks of testimony, with over seventy witnesses, credible witnesses I might add, from several judges to other very credible witnesses, would know that the truth is here.”

The question now is, “What will you do with that?” We as a family have done our part. We have carried this mantle for as long as we can carry it. We know what happened. It is on public record. The transcripts will be available; we will make them available on the Web at some point. Any serious researcher who wants to know what happened can find out.”

The King family feels that the jury’s verdict, the transcripts of the conspiracy trial, and the transcripts of the King family’s press conference following the trial — all of which can be found on The King Center’s website — include everything that that family members have to say about the assassination.

Therefore, the King family shares the conviction that there is nothing more to add to their comments on record and will respectfully decline all further requests for comment.

destined to repeat history

Memphis Jury Sees Conspiracy in Martin Luther King’s Killing

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By EMILY YELLIN
Published: December 09, 1999

A jury in a civil suit brought by the family of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided today that a retired Memphis cafe owner was part of a conspiracy in the 1968 killing of Dr. King.

The jury’s decision means it did not believe that James Earl Ray, who was convicted of the crime, fired the shot that killed Dr. King.

After four weeks of testimony and one hour of deliberation, the jury in the wrongful-death case found that Loyd Jowers as well as ”others, including governmental agencies” had been part of a conspiracy. The jury awarded the King family the damages they had sought: $100, which the family says it will donate to charity.

The family has long questioned Mr. Ray’s conviction and hoped the suit would change the legal and historical record of the assassination.

”This is a vindication for us,” said Dexter King, the youngest son of Dr. King.

He said he hoped history books would be rewritten to reflect this version of the assassination.

Mr. Jowers, 73 and in failing health, owned Jim’s Grill in 1968, a restaurant opposite the motel where Dr. King was shot and just below the second-floor rooming house from which, according to James Earl Ray’s confession in 1969, Mr. Ray fired the single shot that killed Dr. King. Mr. Ray, who recanted his confession, hinted at a conspiracy. He died in prison last year while serving a 99-year sentence.

Mr. Jowers, in a 1993 television interview, said that he had hired a Memphis police officer to kill Dr. King from the bushes behind his restaurant. Mr. Jowers said he had been paid to do so by a Memphis grocery store owner with Mafia connections.

In an unlikely alliance, the King family was represented in the case by William Pepper, who had been Mr. Ray’s lawyer. The King family maintains that Mr. Pepper’s version of the assassination is the one that gets at the real truth behind Dr. King’s death, not the official version with Mr. Ray as the gunman.

Mr. Pepper said federal, state and Memphis governmental agencies, as well as the news media conspired in the assassination.

Mr. Jowers’s lawyer, Lewis Garrison, had said since the trial began that he agreed with 80 percent of Mr. Pepper’s conspiracy theories and disagreed only on the extent of his client’s involvement. In his closing argument today, Mr. Garrison repeated what he had said through the trial that his client participated in the conspiracy but did not know that it was a plot to kill Dr. King.

One juror, David Morphy, said after the trial, ”We all thought it was a cut and dried case with the evidence that Mr. Pepper brought to us, that there were a lot of people involved, everyone from the C.I.A., military involvement, and Jowers was involved.”

John Campbell, an assistant district attorney in Memphis, who was not part of the civil proceedings but was part of the criminal case against Mr. Ray, said, ”I’m not surprised by the verdict. This case overlooked so much contradictory evidence that never was presented, what other option did the jury have but to accept Mr. Pepper’s version?”

And Gerald Posner, whose recent book, ”Killing the Dream” made the case that Mr. Ray was the killer, said, ”It distresses me greatly that the legal system was used in such a callous and farcical manner in Memphis. If the King family wanted a rubber stamp of their own view of the facts, they got it.”

because he was smart

Marian Anderson and Albert Einstein were friends!! Like, friends. Not acquaintances. I am related to Marian Anderson and she hung out with Einstein. Considering the purposefully reposted quote along side Einstein’s notion that the limiters of potential are limited as well, I imagine they had some profound conversations.  That’s nearly as impressive to me as her “dissing” the D.A.R. by singing on the steps outside in response to their choice to disrespect her in honor of the organization’s racial exclusion policy.

Anyway, here’s more on Einstein’s stand for equality. It was a lot more involved than delivering a speech at a University, and there are many more details here than in the article posted yesterday.  Not that the speech wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought. It was!  Not only was Mr. Einstein brave enough to speak out, he did it while he was ill.  Outside.  Ok, it was May, so maybe the weather was fine, but I’m just saying if he was looking for an excuse not to speak, sounds like he had it, but chose not to use it.  Instead, he got up there and spoke to the impressionable minds of the “first institution found anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent.”  If young African American males today are largely still in need of academic encouragement and inspiration and respect, I can only imagine how impactful and empowering Einstein’s presence alone was pre Brown vs. Board of Ed.  Just the simple fact that he spoke, and the forbidden, unspoken truth contained in his words.  I have a feeling this brilliant man knew exactly what he was doing.

Albert Einstein, I acknowledge your greatness as a champion of human and civil rights and your hand in illuminating the fact that limiting the potential of a significant portion of society limits everyone in that society

Thank you.

xo,

Tiff

einstein1d-m

Albert Einstein at Lincoln University

(photo of Marian Anderson in background?)

Albert Einstein passionately fought race prejudice, according to new and old docs

by Ronda Racha Penrice

Nearly 60 years after his death, the great scientist Albert Einstein is still making headlines. The launch of Einstein Archives Online — a more advanced repository of his work — is a long-term collaboration by Israel’s Hebrew University, which he co-founded, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he was a guest faculty member on several occasions, and Princeton University, where he was a faculty member, generated global attention on March 19. Eventually, over 80,000 documents held in Hebrew University’s Albert Einstein Archives and Caltech’s Einstein Papers Project will be available on the Internet. About 2,000 are currently available.

Despite this unprecedented access, however, one thing hasn’t changed: Einstein’s strong support of African-American civil rights and his defiant stance against racism are largely footnotes, especially for the mainstream press. While it will, no doubt, be exciting to pull up correspondence between Einstein and W.E.B. Du Bois one day, his association with Du Bois was just the tip of the iceberg.

Einstein, as documented in the 2003 book Einstein on Race and Racism by veteran science writer and journalist Fred Jerome, who also covered civil rights activity in the South in the 1960s, and New York librarian Rodger Taylor whose early writings have focused on jazz and early African-American life in New York, staunchly denounced racism and segregation in the United States, even as his health steadily failed and his own mortality drew nearer.

Jerome first delved into Einstein’s human rights advocacy in his 2002 book, The Einstein File: J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret War Against the World’s Most Famous Scientist. In that groundbreaking work, Jerome highlighted a May 3, 1946 speech Einstein gave at historic Lincoln University, the alma mater of both Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes and, as its then president Horace Mann Bond pointed out, “the first institution found anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent.” Interestingly, a young Julian Bond, Horace Mann Bond’s son, was there that day.

The speech was especially significant because, as Jerome also writes in The Einstein File, “During the last twenty years of his life, Einstein almost never spoke at universities.” He routinely turned down almost all of the honorary degree requests he received.

On top of that, Einstein’s health was not the greatest. Yet, he stood outdoors to receive his honorary degree from Lincoln University, which can actually be viewed on the Einstein Archives Online now, and, even more importantly, spoke these poignant words reported in the Baltimore Afro-American May 11, 1946: “There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.”

And he was not. Einstein, as Jerome notes in his essay The Hidden Half-Life of Albert Einstein: Anti-Racism for the Journal of the Research Group of Socialism and Democracy Online, spoke these words in a time known by some as “the Bloody Spring of 1946” because it was just after black men had returned from World War II to the harsh reality that the Double V campaign, which The Pittsburgh Courier especially championed, had succeeded in saving the world from Hitler, but had not destroyed racism at home. 

On February 25, 1946, William Fleming, a white radio repairman, assaulted Ms. Gladys Stephenson, a black woman, and her son James, a Navy veteran, defended her, resulting in both of their arrests. When some white men, including four policemen, headed towards the black side of town, known as Mink Slide, later that evening, they found that a group of veterans had organized themselves for self-defense, and shots were fired.

“African-Americans firing on white policemen was enough for the governor to rush in 500 State Troopers with submachine guns who attacked Mink Slide, destroying virtually every black-owned business in the four-square-block area, seizing whatever weapons they could find, and arresting more than one hundred black men,” writes Jerome.

Twenty-five of the black men arrested were indicted for attempted murder. Einstein immediately joined the National Committee for Justice in Columbia, Tennessee, headed by Eleanor Roosevelt and also supported by Mary McLeod Bethune, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Joe Louis, A. Phillip Randolph and Langston Hughes that March. With Thurgood Marshall serving as the chief defense attorney, 24 of the 25 men were acquitted.

The violence didn’t stop in Columbia. On July 26, the heinous murder of two black men, one a veteran, and their wives in Monroe, Georgia was even reported by the New York Times. As with the majority of these acts of domestic terrorism, justice was not served. Einstein was outraged enough to lend his prominence to actor and activist Paul Robeson’s American Crusade to End Lynching (ACEL) that September.

Despite being too ill to participate in the mass rally at the Lincoln Memorial on September 23, 1946 (the day after Lincoln proposed the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in 1862), Einstein penned a brief letter to President Truman confirming his support of the ACEL.

“May I wholeheartedly endorse the aims of this delegation, in the conviction that the overwhelming majority of the American people is demanding that every citizen be guaranteed protection from acts of violence,” he wrote. That same month, Einstein penned a much longer letter in support of the National Urban League Convention that highlighted the economic injustices, among other inequalities, experienced by black Americans.

When the Nassau Inn in Princeton refused Marian Anderson lodging during her 1937 concert there, Einstein invited her into his home as a guest and they maintained a friendship. Anderson actually stayed in the Einstein home in 1955 two months before his death. Before Einstein even came to this country permanently in 1933, he responded to a 1931 letter written to him by Du Bois, who had studied at the University of Berlin where Einstein was on the faculty, to write something small against racism to be published in The Crisis. Later, Einstein supported Du Bois even as Senator McCarthy placed him at the top of his target list.

From the Scottsboro Boys case to the numerous attempts to stop the execution of Willie McGee, a black Mississippi sharecropper accused of raping a white woman, and efforts to prevent New Jersey from extraditing Sam Buckhannon, a black Georgian who had escaped a chain gang after serving 18 years for stealing a pack of cigarettes, Einstein used his fame to condemn American racism.

In the wake of the monumental effort to digitize Einstein’s life and genius for the masses, let’s hope that more of us will follow Jerome’s lead, and acknowledge Einstein’s greatness as a champion of human and civil rights for African-Americans as one of his greatest contributions to the world.

old paris, eiffel

Excerpted from a blog post by Rodger Taylor on a presentation in Paris about Einstein and racism:

The Book in Bed presentation was by far the largest audience — it seemed a hundred or so people. Half of them appeared to be high school aged.

“Einstein was White. Why should or did he care about racism?” — was a question asked by a French high school student. The question sparked conversation and also framed our presentation the next day.

Some of the responses as to why included:

Because Einstein was smart.

Because he realized that limiting the potential of a significant portion of society limits everyone in that society.

Because he was empathetic — and if he could imagine what is was like to be a beam of light projected into space, he could imagine what it was like to be black in America.

Because he got to know black people on a personal basis — both in the town of Princeton where he lived and beyond and that made a signficiant difference in how he felt about the racism they experienced.

i do not intend to be quiet about it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While perusing Facebook the other day, I came upon a post that really excited me.  About Albert Einstein. Yeah…(nerd.)

I really admire the Einstein, thus was a bit shocked by my ignorance of his strong stance on this issue.  It’s like my strong stance.  How did I miss this?  Naturally, I dug through the interweb to see what else I could find to feed my curiosity.  I found a feast! There will be more on this topic tomorrow I believe.

I’m pleased to report that I have since forgiven myself for my ignorance, as it became clear that this hasn’t been common Einstein knowledge.  It was insignificant, irrelevant, and even egregious for the times.  Who would record such nonsense? Of course equality and human dignity were reserved for whites. No questions allowed.  But Einstein spoke anyway.  Imagine, being afraid of speaking in public, yet being courageous enough to speak publicly on a topic so taboo that he could have literally found himself in danger- political, financial, and physical. That is fierce.  That is being action in alignment with cosmic law.  That is something I truly admire.

Here’s the catalytic FB post:

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Einstein, when he arrived in America, was shocked at how Black Americans were treated. “There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States,” he said. “That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. And, I do not intend to be quiet about it.” And, he wasn’t.

Although he had a fear of speaking in public, he made all the effort he could to spread the word of equality, denouncing racism and segregation and becoming a huge proponent of civil rights even before the term became fashionable. Einstein was a member of several civil rights groups (including the Princeton chapter of the NAACP).

 

There is, however, a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the “Whites” toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.

Many a sincere person will answer: “Our attitude towards Negroes is the result of unfavorable experiences which we have had by living side by side with Negroes in this country. They are not our equals in intelligence, sense of responsibility, reliability.”

I am firmly convinced that whoever believes this suffers from a fatal misconception. Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man’s quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery.  The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the desire to maintain this unworthy condition.

 —Albert Einstein “The Negro Question”, 1946

 

einstein1c-m

Albert Einstein, Civil Rights activist

Little-known aspect of physicist’s life revealed

By Ken Gewertz

Harvard News Office

 

Here’s something you probably don’t know about Albert Einstein.

In 1946, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist traveled to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the alma mater of Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall and the first school in America to grant college degrees to blacks. At Lincoln, Einstein gave a speech in which he called racism “a disease of white people,” and added, “I do not intend to be quiet about it.” He also received an honorary degree and gave a lecture on relativity to Lincoln students.

The reason Einstein’s visit to Lincoln is not better known is that it was virtually ignored by the mainstream press, which regularly covered Einstein’s speeches and activities. (Only the black press gave extensive coverage to the event.) Nor is there mention of the Lincoln visit in any of the major Einstein biographies or archives.

In fact, many significant details are missing from the numerous studies of Einstein’s life and work, most of them having to do with Einstein’s opposition to racism and his relationships with African Americans.

That these omissions need to be recognized and corrected is the contention of Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor, authors of “Einstein on Race and Racism” (Rutgers University Press, 2006). Jerome and Taylor spoke April 3 at an event sponsored by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. The event also featured remarks by Sylvester James Gates Jr., the John S. Toll Professor of Physics, University of Maryland.

According to Jerome and Taylor, Einstein’s statements at Lincoln were by no means an isolated case. Einstein, who was Jewish, was sensitized to racism by the years of Nazi-inspired threats and harassment he suffered during his tenure at the University of Berlin. Einstein was in the United States when the Nazis came to power in 1933, and, fearful that a return to Germany would place him in mortal danger, he decided to stay, accepting a position at the recently founded Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. He became an American citizen in 1940.

But while Einstein may have been grateful to have found a safe haven, his gratitude did not prevent him from criticizing the ethical shortcomings of his new home.

“Einstein realized that African Americans in Princeton were treated like Jews in Germany,” said Taylor. “The town was strictly segregated. There was no high school that blacks could go to until the 1940s.”

Gates, an African-American physicist who has appeared on the PBS show Nova, said that Einstein had been a hero of his since he learned about the theory of relativity as a teenager, but that he was unaware of Einstein’s ideas on civil rights until fairly recently.

Einstein’s approach to problems in physics was to begin by asking very simple, almost childlike questions, such as, “What would the world look like if I could drive along a beam of light?” Gates said.

“He must have developed his ideas about race through a similar process. He was capable of asking the question, ‘What would my life be like if I were black?’”

Gates said that thinking about Einstein’s involvement with civil rights has prompted him to speculate on the value of affirmative action and the goal of diversity it seeks to bring about. There are many instances in which the presence of strength and resilience in a system can be attributed to diversity.

“In the natural world, for example, when a population is under the influence of a stressful environment, diversity ensures its survival,” Gates said.

On a cultural level, the global influence of American popular music might be attributed to the fact that it is an amalgam of musical traditions from Europe and Africa.

These examples have led him to conclude that “diversity actually matters, independent of the moral argument.” Gates said he believes “there is a science of diversity out there waiting for scholars to discover it.”

entire article

—It’s Tiff again.  I just have to comment about that last excerpt from Gates. That “under the influence of a stressful environment, diversity ensures survival” thing.  In this case the stressful environment is racially segregated America.  The mutually exclusive, dangerously juxtaposed, white vs. black America.  To ensure survival, diversity is required.  I’ll go out on a limb here and relate this to being mixed like me (after all, these are the mulatto diaries if I recall correctly.) To ensure the survival of America, we have to exist.  We are everywhere even though we’ve been largely silent and unrecognized in any genuine manner.  Yet things improve, and change happens as we wake up, and adapt, and we are different…and so is America.

The interaction between organism and environment is central in evolution. Extinction ensues when organisms fail to change and adapt to the constantly altering … stressful environmental changes as documented in the fossil record. Extreme environmental stress causes extinction but also leads to evolutionary change and the origination of new species adapted to new environments.”-Eviatar Nevo

Don’t become extinct!

john, how could you?

it’s stories like this that lead to comments (taken from various youtube videos i’ve made) like this :

-mixed people r racist and would love 2 blacks extinct and wiped of the planet!
-Bi racial  my ass,these people are black when they get through talking.Stop running from your blackness and them white folks that you are trying lick up under are calling you nigger behind your backs.More videos we see on youtube or myspace,will thousands of video blogs from these coons hating they’re blackness and fronting like they’re special because the have one parent that is white and the other black,that bull shit and these coons know it.
-Bi-racials almost ALWAYS lean toward their white side.
Look at the pics behind you> the top two are white people!
everyone esle is insignificant. I see why Blacks are attacking all you racists
for the harm you’v done!

all i can say/speculate is “sign of the times,” and “survival of the fittest,” and his karma sure did catch up to him in the end… 

i wonder if his children were mulatto by virtue of carruthers’ mulatto-ness alone, or was kitty also a mulatto.  doesn’t matter.  just curious.  i also wonder who owned him.  it doesn’t seem to be his father or the neighbors whom he apprenticed… maybe it was the father though.  i’ve read this four times and just haven’t a clue.  ah, history…

John Carruthers Stanly: From Slave to Slave Owner

by 

The story of John Carruthers Stanly, a former slave who gained his freedom, only to become the largest slaveholder in Craven County, North Carolina.

John Carruthers Stanly
1774-1846
Black Slaveholder

Stanly, born a slave in 1774, was the son of an African Ibo woman and the white prominent merchant-shipper John Wright Stanly. He was apprenticed to Alexander and Lydia Stewart, close friends and neighbors of his father.  They saw to it that John received an education and learned the trade of barbering.  At an early age, they helped him establish his own barbershop in New Bern.  Many of the town’s farmers and planters frequented his barbershop for a shave or a trim. As a result, Stanly developed a successful business.  By the time he reached the age of twenty-one, literate and economically able to provide for himself, his owners petitioned the Craven County court in 1795 for his emancipation. However, he was not completely satisfied with the ruling of the court and in 1798, through a special act, the state legislature confirmed the emancipation of John Carruthers Stanly, which entitled him to all rights and privileges of a free person.

Between 1800 and 1801, Stanly purchased his slave wife, Kitty, and two mulatto slave children. By March 1805, they were emancipated by the Craven County Superior Court. A few days later, Kitty and Stanly were legally married in New Bern and posted a legal marriage bond in Raleigh. Stanly’s wife was the daughter of Richard and Mary Green and the paternal granddaughter of Amelia Green. Two years later, in 1807, Stanly was successful in getting the court to emancipate his wife’s brother.

Some politically correct Court Historians end the story here, if they acknowledge the existence of black slaveholders at all.  What a noble thing, to purchase and emancipate one’s own family!  But there is much more to the story.

After securing his own and his family’s freedom, Stanly began to focus more on business matters. He obtained other slaves to work for him.  Two of them, Boston and Brister, were taught the barbering trade. Once they became skillful barbers, Stanly let them run the operation while he used the money they helped him earn to invest in additional town property, farmland, and more slaves.

Through his business acumen, Stanley eventually became a very wealthy plantation owner and the largest slaveholder in all of Craven County. He profited from investments in real estate, rental properties, the slave operated barbershop, and plantations from which he sold commodities such as cotton and turpentine.

Stanly’s plantations and rental properties were operated by skilled slaves along with help from some hired free blacks. To improve his rental properties in New Bern, he used skilled slaves and free blacks to build cabins and other residences and to repair and renovate these properties. During the depression of the early 1820s it was slave labor that kept Stanly economically stable.

The 1830 census reveals that Stanly owned, 163 slaves. He has been described as a harsh, profit-minded task master whose treatment of his slaves was no different than the treatment slaves received from white owners. Stanly’s goal, shared by white southern planters, was on expanding his operations and increasing his profits.

During the early 1820s, Stanly’s wife, Kitty, was taken seriously ill.  She became bedridden and, despite careful attention by two slave nurses, she died around 1824. It was at this same time that Stanly began to face a series of financial difficulties.  His fortune began to plummet when the Bank of New Bern, due to the national bank tightening controls of some state and local banks, was forced to collect all outstanding debts. Unfortunately, Stanly had countersigned a security note for John Stanly, his white half-brother, in the amount of $14,962. Stanly was forced to assume the debt. This, along with his own debts forced him to refinance his mortgages and sell large pieces of property, including slaves. When these options did not resolve his economic woes, he resorted to mortgaging his turpentine, cotton, and corn crops, as well as selling his barbershop, which had been operating continuously for forty years. Without a steady flow of income, his fortunes continued to decline.  In 1843, his last 160 acres of land were sold at public auction. Three years later, at the age of 74,  John Carruthers Stanly died.  At the time of his death he still owned seven slaves.

John Wright Stanly House, New Bern, North Carolina

sambo meets jim crow

i thought this worth sharing.  i’ve been questioning myself as to why i keep posting these old negative images… what’s my point?… how is this helping?… i’m not exactly sure, but i think it has something to do with wanting everyone to examine the framework from which our racial paradigm originated.  to see how these notions of majority vs. minority (and all of the implications held therein) came to be ingrained into our national subconscious… how they continue to be perpetuated on some level by today’s media/advertising… and how, perhaps, we just take it all for granted… “it’s just the way things are, the way we are”… but it’s all so preposterous… things can be any way we choose to make them, any way we choose to see them… choose to see ourselves and each other…

The Black Conscription.

When Black Meets Black Then Comes the End(?) of War.

Punch, Volume 45, September 26, 1863, p. 129

To modern sensibilities, this is one of the most offensive of Tenniel’s cartoons, as its theme is the notion that black men are incapable of becoming good soldiers. In a (wholly hypothetical) meeting of Union and Confederate black troops on the battlefield, martial ardor dissolves into comic stereotype. The Northern conscript is identifiable by his striped trousers. His Southern counterpart, dressed in a white cotton uniform distinguished only by a capital letter “S” on his belt and bandolier, breaks into an open-mouthed grin and begins to caper as the two clasp hands. Behind them, surrounding their respective flags, representatives of the two black conscript armies socialize with obvious amiability, forgetting all pretense of military discipline. In word balloons, the Northern soldier asks “Dat you Sambo? Yeah, yeah!” while his Southern counterpart responds “Bless my heart, how am you, Jim?”

While the ranks of Northern black regiments ultimately included many “contraband” fugitives from slave states, the earliest black troops (such as the famed 54th Massachusetts) were recruited exclusively from the free black populations of Northern states. Many of these units acquitted themselves bravely on the field of battle. Officially, there was no conscription of blacks as combat soldiers by either side: all were volunteers. While blacks were used by the Southern forces throughout the war in non-combat roles (especially as laborers for tasks such as the construction of fortifications), the raising of black troops to fight for the Confederacy, though proposed cautiously by a few within the military, was vehemently resisted by most Southerners as deleterious to the slave system until the war was almost over. There is no record that the few units of black Confederate soldiers, organized during the final weeks before the fall of Richmond (nearly eighteen months after the publication of this cartoon), ever met black Union troops in combat. The name Sambo, the “characteristic” dialogue of the two principal figures, and the capering dance of the Southern black soldier all are based on the stage caricatures of blacks presented by (mostly white) actors wearing burnt-cork makeup in the minstrel shows popular during the mid-nineteenth century, some of which had toured to London.

The cartoon’s subcaption is a play on the old English proverb “When Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war,” a way of describing a situation in which two sides are so equally matched that neither is likely to prevail. Its use is documented as far back as the seventeenth century, and it had been quoted by the popular novelist Anthony Trollope as a chapter title in Doctor Thorne, published a few years prior to the Civil War in 1858.

African Americans in the Tenniel Cartoons

Black Americans appear in twelve of the cartoons. Tenniel tends to treat them in a condescending, stereotypic manner. In his own time such images were doubtless regarded as humorous; the modern reader is more likely to see them as examples of blatant racism. Southern slaves are typically shown wearing simple white cotton work shirts and short trousers, and are usually barefoot [601201610119;650506]. Free Northern blacks are sometimes differentiated by their better-dressed appearance, including long trousers and shoes [620809630808]. Blacks (always male) are alternatively the hapless victims of oppression by the Southern slavocracy [610119], the dupes of Lincoln and his Black Republican cronies [620809630124], or gleeful observers of the white man’s cataclysmic war [610518;620913]. Tenniel and his contemporary British audience seem a bit too eager to dismiss out of hand the notion that blacks themselves had the capacity to be good soldiers, willing to fight and die for their freedom [630926641119] — perhaps because of concerns about the possible implications of such a radical idea for the future of their own Anglo-Saxon Empire’s dominion over darker-skinned people around the world.

The cartoons’ captions and text balloons often contain examples of pseudo-black dialect speech. While the intent is humorous, it also serves as a way to underscore the presumed social and intellectual gulf between the childlike, uneducated African American and Punch‘s sophisticated, urbane, upper-class readers. It is unlikely that Tenniel and his colleagues were familiar with actual black speech. As an avid patron of the theatre, Tenniel may have attended performances by American minstrel troupes, some of which had toured to London. In these shows, white actors in burnt-cork blackface makeup parodied the “characteristic” language, music, and dancing of blacks (who in many American cities were not themselves permitted to appear on stage). From the vantage of hindsight, we can see today that the minstrel shows allowed the dominant white culture to use humor to depersonalize blacks and perpetuate stereotypes of racial inferiority.

Scene From the American “Tempest.”Punch, Volume 44, January 24, 1863, p. 35

In Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, the misshapen slave Caliban is promised his freedom by a pair of drunken rogues, Stephano and Trinculo. Although they desire only to use the gullible Caliban to accomplish their own selfish ends, they gain his trust by feigning friendship and equality. In Act III, Scene 2, they gleefully plot with him to take vengeance on his master, Prospero, by destroying his property, murdering him, and ravishing his daughter.

Many in the South feared that newly emancipated slaves would violently turn upon their erstwhile masters. Apparently these fears were also shared by some in England. Here, Lincoln stands in for Stephano and Trinculo, handing a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation to a slave and giving tacit approval to the black man’s desire to take revenge upon his former oppressor.

SOURCE

speaking of the confederate flag

ok, so, i like kid rock a little bit.  for three reasons: 1. he’s from detroit (well, Michigan anyway) 2. i think his song Amen is brilliant and beautiful 3. he has a biracial son (is that, like, racist of me…or some kind of positive prejudice…or just silly?)

anywho, i do not like his use of the confederate flag.  to be fair, i don’t like anyone’s use of it.  especially if the user has a child of some significant color.  i understand that to some people the flag is simply a symbol of “southern pride.”  i really do believe that said people do not view the flag as a pro-slavery emblem… they don’t go around looking at black people wishing they were allowed to own them.  that’s too easy, too “obvious racist bad-guy.”  but, i think it is from a vantage point of either white privilege or ignorance (or both) that one can insistently be so insensitive as to say (or infer) “i know that this flag is hurtful to many, it reminds them of a time when they were considered less than human and were treated no better than cattle, it may make them feel unsafe…they may get the idea that i think back on those days as the good old days and wish we could revert back to them.”  i’m sorry, but the flag is just  not THAT cool, not worth all of that.  nothing is.  i would like to believe that it would be an easy “sacrifice” to put that flag away (as in not on your car, belt buckle, t-shirt…but whatever you want in your own home…) so as not to bring up all of that hateful, hurtful stuff to the people who are still negatively affected by the history of the flag, the implications of it.  how about a little more love, compassion, sensitivity… amen.

i mean, this is really not that much cooler than this….

not enough to warrant offending people to their core… even if it’s only 14 people, even one… especially if the one might be your kid, Kid.

Kid Rock’s NAACP Award Protested Over Use Of Confederate Flag

via HuffPost Entertainment

Some people don’t think Kid Rock is meeting their great expectations.

The rocker is set to accept the NAACP’s Detroit chapter’s Great Expectations Award at their annual Freedom Fund dinner in May, and some members of the historic black rights organization are so unhappy about it, they’re boycotting the 10,000 person affair.

It’s the singer’s use of the Confederate flag in his stage shows that has them so upset, according to the Detroit News.

“It’s a slap in the face for anyone who fought for civil rights in this country,” Adolph Mongo, head of Detroiters for Progress and a boycotting NAACP member told the paper last week. “It’s a symbol of hatred and bigotry.”

For his part, Rock defended the use of the flag in a 2008 interview with the Guardian. “Why should someone be able to own any image and say what it is?” he said. “Sure, it’s definitely got some scars, but I’ve never had an issue with it. To me it just represents pride in southern rock’n’roll music, plus it just looks cool.”

He also spoke about touring with a famed rapper and how it impacted his audience.

“I’ve got Rev Run [from Run DMC] on tour with me right now – we have fun trying to count the number of black people every night. We’re like, ‘There’s 14 tonight, yeah!’”

Though he was a staunch defender of President George W. Bush, the singer went to back for Barack Obama after his election, in the process defending America against accusations of racism.

“It’s good the U.S. has proved it’s not as racist as it’s sometimes portrayed,” he told Metro UK (via Spin Magazine).

He also spoke about his own experience growing up with black people in the interview, saying, “Black people were kind to me growing up and taught me hip-hop and the blues.”

For more on the NAACP controversy, click over to the Detroit News.