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Some thoughts on Race, Privilege, Class…and the Banks

9:37 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Pyramid of The Capitalist System - flickr

And yes they are all tied together. First off and interview with Peggy McIntosh on race and privilege.  More specifically White Privilege. From the web site Beyond Whiteness.

White Privilege:

1. a. A right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities. b. A special advantage or benefit of white persons; with reference to divine dispensations, natural advantages, gifts of fortune, genetic endowments, social relations, etc.
Peggy goes into how white people when they think about or talk about race they are either consciously or subconsciously referring to those who are not white. That there are white people – normal – and non whites – not normal.  She makes a point of saying that this is a system that is as old as the hills. Hundreds perhaps thousands of years old but not to take blame but to own it and from there do what ever has to be done to change it. She also gives some very goo examples of this privilege that we as whites take for granted but do not think about. Like how being white can give you a pass in situations that being non white would get you in trouble.
Along the same lines an essay on Huffington Post by Janell Ross about a book by Nancy DiTomaso – The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism.
Taking Gunnar Myrdal’s classic work on America’s racial divide, The American Dilemma, as her departure point, DiTomaso focuses on “the white side of the race line.” To do so, she interviewed a sample of working, middle, and upper-class whites about their life histories, political views, and general outlook on racial inequality in America. While the vast majority of whites profess strong support for civil rights and equal opportunity regardless of race, they continue to pursue their own group-based advantage, especially in the labor market where whites tend to favor other whites in securing jobs protected from market competition. This “opportunity hoarding” leads to substantially improved life outcomes for whites due to their greater access to social resources from family, schools, churches, and other institutions with which they are engaged. – The American Non-Dilemma

“Across all three states where I did my research, I heard over and over again [white] people admitting that they don’t interact very often with nonwhites, not at work, not at home or otherwise,” said DiTomaso about the 246 interviews with working-class and middle-class whites she did over the course of about a decade in Tennessee, Ohio and New Jersey. Her research included detailed job histories and information about the way her study participants obtained jobs over the course of their careers.

“That was true for just about everybody unless they were still in college,” DiTomaso continued. “Others would allude to some college friend or experience. But since then, they had not had much contact with blacks. So how would they pass opportunities and information across race lines?” - Black Unemployment Driven By White America’s Favors For Friends

All just aspects of the White Privilege that Peggy McIntosh speaks of.  Which brings me to the next story. The Weeklies from American Prospect.  A story about the homeless who live at a Ramada Inn outside the suburbs of Denver Co.   People who lost their houses because they got in over the heads as the economy tanked. Concentrating on  one family in particular.  What the author refers to as “Suburban Poverty”.  He goes into detail on the conditions under which they live and how they got to this point.  

A defining characteristic of what it means to be middle-class is now out of reach for a group of people who, less than a decade ago, would not have called themselves anything else. They’ve lost not just incomes and homes. They’ve lost who they were.

One of the aspects of this article that really hit me was was how much the decision to stay at this temporary place was influenced by this family’s sense of white class privilege. That the wife refuses to live in a lower class area – which they could afford – but instead looks to regain their former status and move back to are upper middle class area they came from. Always wanting to get back into that “L Shaped” house they use to have in Bear Valley.

They console themselves with the thought that they were ready to leave Westwood anyway. Bonnie remembers growing up in a nice, middle-class neighborhood, but now she says it’s more like a rundown border town, full of Mexican immigrants. She wants to move to Bear Valley, the neighborhood surrounding Drew’s school, where houses are a bit bigger, lawns are kept neater, and fewer ambulances are called for fights on Saturday nights. 

She and her family often drive by an empty house they like, an L-shaped brick ranch down the street from the family friends they have their mail sent to. In fact, they spend all their free time in Bear Valley; after they pick Drew up from school, they grab dinner at the prepared–food counter of the local grocery store, King Soopers. They go to the King Soopers cheese counter for free tastings on Saturdays. They drive to the neighborhood for big shopping trips at the Wal-Mart or Costco, skipping the stores closer to the hotel.

“I would have sold my house, if I got my stuff straightened out, and moved to Bear Valley,” Bonnie says. “I could’ve probably gotten my stuff straightened out had they worked with me.”

So instead they remain at the Ramada Inn hoping they can get back to their middle class life someday.   All the while blaming Countrywide and the banks for their predicament.

Yes the banks – the last part of the ramble.  Over at Washingtons Blog he gives a good rundown on the history of banking here.

To understand the core problem in America today, we have to look back to the very founding of our country.

The Founding Fathers fought for liberty and justice. But they also fought for a sound economy and freedom from the tyranny of big banks:

“[It was] the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament which has caused in the colonies hatred of the English and . . . the Revolutionary War.”
– Benjamin Franklin

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
– John Adams

“All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.”
– John Adams

“If the American people ever allow the banks to control issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers occupied”.
— Thomas Jefferson

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies…The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the Government, to whom it properly belongs.”
– Thomas Jefferson

And the truth about The Federal Reserve.

While many Americans assume that the Federal Reserve is a federal agency, the Fed itself admits that the 12 Federal Reserve banks are private. See this, this, this and this.

Indeed, the money-center banks in New York control the New York Fed, the most powerful Fed bank. Until recently, Jamie Dimon – the head of JP Morgan Chasewas a Director of the New York Fed. Everyone knows that the Fed is riddled with conflicts of interest and corruption.

The long-time Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee (Charles McFadden) said on June 10, 1932:

Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are United States Government institutions. They are private monopolies ….

And congressman Dennis Kucinich said:

The Federal Reserve is no more federal than Federal Express!

He also explains in another blog entry how the thievery in Cyprus of confiscating bank depositor’s money would be applied here and that this concept was worked out long before Cyprus was known to be a problem.

Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds.   – Guest Post by Ellen Brown

Here we are with a class structure that is still very reminiscent of feudalism.  Where the few privileged at the top call the shots for everyone else and spared the consequences of their actions. How we treat each other and those different from us – all baggage we hold onto from our distant past. Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not. Why a white person in a nice car will get a warning from a cop when a black and/or poor guy in a old Chevy will get a ticket.   Why a kid from the burbs can get a part time job and into college when a Native American one would have a hard time.

You don’ find this structure much in the non-white people here – Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos or Asians. This is an attitude brought over from Europe and whites still hold on to it, albeit passively in most cases.   In fact those on the right feel it’s patriotic to do so and good number of those on the so called left still embrace it.  The so called left wants to have a kinder, less mean and more benevolent version of feudalism.

So they elect benevolent despots. Kinder versions of the Lords of olde. The very idea of replacing this even intimidates them nearly as much as those on the right.

So as Peggy McIntosh  said in that interview, we need to change our view – our attitude – toward our selves as well as others.  That in fact we must begin to see ourselves and our place in society more clearly as what it is in order to change how we interact with others.

In Cleveland Public Transportation is for Black People

6:13 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Cleveland Trolly 1947 - flickr

Cleveland’s public transportation began like nearly all of the urban areas in this country. First with horse drawn cars and then a few cable cars and then electrified with electric trolly cars. Cleveland had electric trolleys up until the 1940s when they began to replace them with electric buses – so called trackless trolleys.  Cleveland had trackless trolleys up until the last line was converted to diesel buses in 1962. The Lorain Av. Line on the west side of town. Contrary to popular belief, the city’s decision to got the diesel bus route was because of the the new heavy rail system that was to be expanded to the airport.  The first in the country to do so. It was feared that the city could not provide enough electric power  for both the electric buses and the heavy rail.

Cleveland’s bus and rail system – including the light rail/trolly system that ran to the suburb of Shaker Heights was pretty good. There were also connecting lines to systems in Lakewood, North Olmsted, Maple Heights, Brecksville, Garfield Heights and Euclid.   In the 1960s through the early 1970s ridership was pretty heavy. Especially during rush hour where even with express buses running every 10 minutes or so, the buses were packed.

When I was living here in the early 1970s 90 some percent of the riders and all of the drivers were white.   I ride the bus system now more than in the last few months since my car is down for the count. But even a year ago I would ride the bus and rail lines simply because driving down town and trying to navigate the Interstate system here is simply crazy making.  Cities are not made for cars. They are made for people.

So why then are nearly 90 percent of the riders here blacks ? Yes I know all about the economics of the situation. But this is also the case on those lines that run in and to and from the outer suburbs which are almost all white.

Why is the white folks here now no longer ride public transportation ? Even with gas prices going through the roof and not likely to go down ?  Why is it that what was once the preferred way of getting from the east side to the west side of town only used by blacks and a few other minorities ?

My impression of the system is quite positive. The buses and trains are well maintained and though I wish some ran a bit more often, they still run pretty well. The drivers and other employees are always helpful.  You can generally bring you bicycle along on the buses and trains and except for a few stops, the light rail system accommodates wheel chair access well. And all the buses do too.

Does this also go along with the feeling I get here of two different universes – one white and one black – that interact only when necessary ?  A kind of self segregation as it were.

I spent 70 years in the south. Mainly Florida and find this to be odd. Even when I was in Atlanta on occasion there was more inter racial mingling. In Miami and Tampa and Jacksonville all kinds of people rode the buses and trains. Miami now has a pretty slick light rail now too.

I find this all rather odd and rather sad.

White Resentment in a Multiracial Society or How the Inner Libertarian Emerged.

8:41 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Suburbia

Suburbia - Flicker Creative Commons

In an interview with Mark Karlin in Truth Out, Tim Wise gives us some insight into where some of the hate, fear and resentment that particular parts of white America has been vocalizing more and more in the last decades comes from. The origins of which are actually older than this country. The interview revolves around Tim’s new book, Dear White America. It begins with how this White Tribal Identity came over with the first settlers from Europe but was put to use so the elites of the time could gloss over the deep class divisions that existed and enable the subjugation of African slaves and natives.

The term white was not, in fact, used in the European context to universalize the various European ethnic and national identities: after all, those national and ethnic groups had been slaughtering each other for generations. They hardly thought of themselves as members of a single team, let alone family. So while white supremacy has its roots in the class, religious and ethno-national systems of Europe, it took America – this place where the old divisions would need to be put aside so as to subjugate indigenous persons and maintain chattel enslavement of Africans in the name of “the white race” – to really bring racism, as we know it to fruition. Whiteness was really something of a trick, developed for the purpose of uniting otherwise disparate Europeans, first, so as to make the subordination of “non-whites” easier, but also (and importantly), to paper over the otherwise deep class cleavages that had long beset those from Europe. If the elite could make the poor Europeans believe they were members of the same “white” team as the rich Europeans, then the prospects for class-based rebellion would be dampened.

He also goes on to explain how the Myth of Self-Made-Man was used to galvanize this with the poor, unlike in feudal Europe where when the poor knew they would never rise above their station. Read the rest of this entry →

(Global) Revolution…? I don’t think so.

10:11 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

I just got through watching this CSPAN video of a presentation given by Carl Dix and Cornel West titled Race, Inequality and Student Activism.  It was quite good and both made some very good points. I agree that we must fight injustice and stand up to power. That education and making people aware of how injustice manifests itself needs to be made visible when ever possible.

Where I do not agree is with the call for revolution in any form and that we can get people to change themselves, their beliefs and/or behaviors the way Dix and West seem to think.

People simply do not change that easily. Especially when they believe they are still doing just fine in the current circumstances.  And the operative word here is believe. Because it has little to do with their actually reality. I know this from the 20 years or so I have been involved with substance abuse recovery area.  Which I would call the most obvious situation where people are engaged in destroying theirs and others lives.

And they certainly will not give up any part of their cushy life styles willingly simply because some people are doing poorly.   And West seems to think it is possible to get people who do not give a wet slap about those on the bottom to change this mindset. A mindset they have spent years cultivating  – an engrained ability to rationalize and minimize the poor and minorities like some spirits of Christmas past, present and future.  Just ask any psychologist about the futility of changing another human being.

And forced change via revolution or coup d’état nearly always results in a situation that is as oppressive as the one it replaced. Think 1776 or the Soviet Union or China under Mao Tse Tung or any number of other relovutions.

The kind of change that is necessary to get the kind of world that we want has to come from with in. And this generally does not happen until their world with out become intolerable.

So watch the video. It is interesting if not more than a bit unrealistic.

 

The racial, cultrual, economic and historical basis for our current situation.

2:17 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

The real story of racism in this country is a lot more complex and a lot more ingrained than the above comic projects. It involves not just blacks but Chinese and Jews and Italians and Native Americas and Latinos as well. Or more succinctly, any non Anglo Saxon white person.   It also involves not only the South, but the north and West and goes back many centuries.

Though we tend to want to focus on the Southern Confederate States,  it was and is a national-cultural problem that exists even to day.  And is ingrained in our economic as well as our social attitudes and also the struggle of classes as well.

The people of the northern states like to point their fingers at the south and take a very self righteous stand concerning race relations. After all they were the ones who fought the civil war to end slavery.  But their racial history is just as tainted, if not more so.

Northern slavery grew out of the paradox the new continent presented to its European masters. So much land was available, so cheaply, that no one was willing to come to America and sign on to work as a laborer. The dream that drew Europeans across the Atlantic was owning acres of land or making a fortune in a trade or a craft. It was an attainable dream. In the 1680s a landless Welsh peasant from the mountains of Montgomeryshire could bring his whole family to Pennsylvania for £10 and acquire 250 acres for another £5; placing just one son in a trade in Britain would have cost the family £7.

Yet workers were needed in the new continent to clear the land, work the soil, build the towns. Because of this acute labor shortage, all the American colonies turned to compulsory labor. In New Netherland, in the 1640s, a free European worker could be hired for 280 guilders a year, plus food and lodging. In the same time and place, experienced African slaves from the West Indies could be bought outright, for life, for 300 guilders.  

But slavery on the North did not last nearly as long as the the south.  It was not nearly as economically viable and offended the religious sensibilities – as well as the anti-crown sentiment of a vast number of northerners.

The American Revolution was the death knell of Northern slavery. The rhetoric of the rebels, based on the Enlightenment doctrine of “natural rights,” immediately ran into the hypocrisy of a slave-owning people crying out for freedom. Tory Samuel Johnson twitted the Americans in 1775: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” The rebels were sensitive to the taunt. “To contend for liberty and to deny that blessing to others,” John Jay wrote, “involves an inconsistency not to be excused.” Nathaniel Niles put it succinctly: “For shame, let us either cease to enslave our fellow-men, or else let us cease to complain of those that would enslave us.” James Otis found another thread in the argument when he wrote, “It is a clear truth that those who every day barter away other men’s liberty, will soon care little for their own.”[1]

Britain had a large financial stake in the slave trade (between 1729 and 1750, Parliament approved more than £90,000 for maintenance of slave stations on the African coast), so New England resistance to slave importation in the years leading up to the Revolution could express anti-Crown sentiment. As so often happened, morality and economic self-interest flowed the same way, so it is difficult to distinguish them. Dr. Jeremy Belknap of Boston recalled that few in the colony had spoken publicly against slavery, “ till we began to feel the weight of oppression from ‘our mother country.’ ” It was probably not a coincidence that Massachusetts, where resistance to British authority was greatest, was also the hotbed of agitation against the slave trade.

And by the early 1800s slavery had been abolished in nearly every northern and north eastern state.  But that was not the end of the race situation in the north by a long shot.  The racial attitudes of White Superiority and the religious attitudes of mixing of races for any reason were just as strong as ever. So even as slavery was abolished, so called Black Laws were quickly instituted in nearly every state in the union and most territories as well.

Slavery was abolished in Ohio by the state’s original constitution (1802). But at the same time, Ohio, with slave-state Kentucky across the river, aggressively barred black immigration. When Virginian John Randolph’s 518 slaves were emancipated and a plan was hatched to settle them in southern Ohio, the population rose up in indignation. An Ohio congressman warned that if the attempt were made, “the banks of the Ohio … would be lined with men with muskets on their shoulders to keep off the emancipated slaves.”[4] Even the abolitionists in this region pitched their appeal, in part, to the desire for a homogenous (white) states. They claimed that attempts by blacks to immigrate into the state would end when slavery ended and blacks had no more cause to flee the South for “the uncongenial North.”

According to historian Leon F. Litwack, Ohio “provided a classic example of how anti-immigration legislation could be invoked to harass Negro residents.”[5] The state had enacted Black Laws in 1804 and 1807 that compelled blacks entering the state to post bond of $500 guaranteeing good behavior and to produce a court paper as proof that they were free. “No extensive effort was made to enforce the bond requirement until 1829, when the rapid increase of the Negro population alarmed Cincinnati. The city authorities announced that the Black Laws would be enforced and ordered Negroes to comply or leave within thirty days.” Citizens of the city’s “Little Africa” — largely a ghetto of wooden shacks owned by whites — appealed for a delay, and sent a delegation to Canada to try to find a place to settle there. But if the authorities were willing to offer more time, the Ohio mob was not, and whites in packs began to roam through the black neighborhoods, burning and beating.

 

And in  Illinois and Indiana the laws were even more restrictive. Even to make immigration of Blacks to those states completely illegal for a time.   It wasn’t until the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments that these Black Codes become abolished in the Northern States, though many remained in the Southern States for quite sometime to come.

So we even went so far as to set up an African country, Liberia, to take those Freed blacks that chose to go. Though this really was not much of a choice for a lot of them since they faced increased repression and harassment here.  (This also has a lot to do with the formation of the state of Israel for the Liberated Jews and our continued support for same.)

Although the laws were removed,  the actions and attitudes were not. Cities and states began a process of segregation – building separate schools for blacks and restricting where they could live and work and even forbidding them from riding trolly cars.  Inter racial marriage, though not restricted by law in most northern states well after the civil war, was severely condemned.

With blacks no longer needed as slaves, they were certainly not wanted as neighbors or part of the population. Fears of the loss of White Supremacy and the economic impact of cheap black labor kept them subjugated for a very long time.   This same repression and harassment by the white majority was also inflected upon the Chinese and other Asians who were brought over to build the railroads. And the exclusionary practices that were (and are in more that a few areas today) imposed upon Jews and Native Americans and Latinos, restricting where they can live and in some cases work.

Despite the legislation of the last 40 years, these attitudes have not diminished much in a large part of the country. They have merely gone underground with banks either taking advantage of or refusing to lend money to various minorities. The continued “steering“  of minorities away from majority white areas.  The exclusion of minorities from certain jobs continues to this day.

Researchers have attempted to explain the racial segregation seen in neighborhoods throughout the United States. There are three leading theories. The first “asserts that the phenomenon is really self – segregation, the result of the preferences of blacks, as with other ethnics, to live in segregated neighborhoods. The second suggests that poverty, aided by the inertia of history has perpetuated segregation. The third suggests that the decline of blatant discrimination of the past has revealed pervasive institutional racism.” [13] John E. Farley, argues that although it is plausible for each of these theories to contribute to the segregation seen, his research lends the most support to the second theory, which bases itself on social class. Farley states that “class largely determines what housing people can afford to rent or buy, and since the gap between whites and African Americans is wide with respect to income (U.S. Census Bureau 2001) and even wider with respect to wealth” [14] you tend to see people with similar incomes and wealth in the same areas. Diana Pearce, another researcher, contributes the segregation seen in neighborhoods throughout the United States to institutional racism. She argues that “in [the] consumers’ eyes, real estate agents (compared to bankers or builders, for example) are frequently seen as the most expert in nearly every aspect of decision making involved in buying a house.” She continues that “as a group they are not only experts, they also control access to housing areas. They are, or can be, community gatekeepers … and a crucial aspect of the gatekeeper role is the screening of potential residents.” [15]

And though it is against the law for this type of segregation to occur,  it is still practiced. Just look at the demographics map here.  That once you get away from the large metropolitan areas,  the population is almost 100% white with few minorities.   And the attitudes of a lot of these people is to keep this status quot from changing.

As I asserted in the beginning, this is not just a superficial occurrence,  but has religious, economic and cultural basis as well. Our capitalistic economy rewards the few rather than the many, so to make sure others you deem unworthy from being part of the few is of the utmost importance.  And those who do not go along with this view are oft times considered treacherous.  This has a lot to do with our past and current political situation.  The race, class and religious aspects are all intertwined with the culture and economics of this country.  The elites are very good at taking advantage of this and turning it to there purpose, as we well know.

Radically changing our economic structure will not in and of itself change this situation.  In my opinion, a continued and persistent push towards a more equitable economic and social system on an area by area basis is what must be worked for.

Slavery in the north died because of multiple factors,  not just one.  An equitable society will require the same.

 


The National Debt. It Ain’t About The Money. It’s About Who Benefits From It.

5:58 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

But what is the debt limit really all about and why is it that the young guns AKA Tea Party conservatives have such a big problem now with the national debt ? Could it be Obama himself ? Or the that they want to shrink the government to a size that can only accommodate white folks. Like Harold Meyerson of The Washington Post seems to think.

The Republicans, that is, have embraced market libertarianism at the very moment that America’s market capitalism is functioning worse than at any time since the Great Depression. Their timing is so perverse that we have to seek explanations for their radicalism that go beyond those of economic philosophy.

Republicans, to be sure, have long waged a war on government, but only now has it become an apocalyptic and total war. At its root, I suspect, is the fear and loathing that rank-and-file right-wingers feel toward what their government, and their nation, is inexorably becoming: multiracial, multicultural, cosmopolitan and now headed by a president who personifies those qualities. That America is also downwardly mobile is a challenge for us all, but for the right, the anxiety our economy understandably evokes is augmented by the politics of racial resentment and the fury that the country is no longer only theirs. That’s not a country whose government they want to pay for — and if the apocalypse befalls us, they seem to have concluded, so much the better.

This has been the case since civil rights was enacted. The idea that their tax money is being used to help non-white folks, makes them positively livid.  And as Mark Osgood Smith says -

Todd and Bruce are getting married. Jose and Consuelo are doing more than cutting lawns and nannying kids. A brother’s in the White House. These are scary times for conservatives accustomed to enforcing an American identity through “benevolent paternalism.” It’s time to take back the country and show who’s in charge, policy be damned.

Is it not any wonder then that the most noise you hear about government spending, entitlements and the dept ceiling is from the most radical of the tea party right ? The ones most xenophobic, anti-gay and covertly and overtly racist ? I’ll be my bottom dollar that McConnell wants Obama out of the WH not because he’s a democrat but because he’s black.

People who were resolutely silent when Bush nearly bankrupted us with two wars.   NO…these people don’t give a wet slap about government spending as long as it says clearly
Whites Only