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Some Thoughts on Racism

I’m sure this may sound naive, but I mean it: after 68 years of life, I don’t understand racism. Yeah, I know it’s real; I just don’t know how someone can think they are superior to others because of their own race, or skin color. And it can be a complex phenomenon. While we usually associate racism here in America with whites feeling they are superior to blacks, it is also the reason the Europeans tried to commit cultural genocide against the over 500 Indigenous tribes they found in the “new world,” starting 500 years ago. “The deeply rooted racial prejudice of the Anglo-white Americans against the Red Indians, virtually a national psychosis, is one of the strangest and most terrifying phenomena in all history. It has no parallel throughout the Western Hemisphere.” (Frank Waters, Book Of The Hopi). I also know racism exists in other parts of the world as well, but it’s not a subject I have studied. The reason I’m writing this as the 2nd Stick Speaks is, of course, because of the recent explosion of protests and riots, following the murder of George Floyd. I watched some of the video; very difficult. The scariest part, for me, was how nonchalant the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck looked…he wasn’t breaking a sweat, and seemed rather uninterested that he was killing him. I don’t believe anybody could have predicted what would happen because of this killing, and it’s spread all over the world, surprisingly enough. Obviously, this was the straw on the proverbial camel’s back. There are many years of pent up anger and frustration being expressed through the many protests.

I always like to understand root causes of things. With racism, I’m not sure just how/where it started, but here’s a couple of ideas to consider. There is a strange concept in Christianity, referred to as “The curse of Ham.” This involves Noah, from the Old Testament. His son, Ham, apparently found him in a drunken stupor; Noah took exception to this, and cursed both Ham and the land of Canaan. “Although there is no mention of Noah’s actual spell, it was somehow decided in the Middle Ages that the curse of Ham conferred dark skin. This became a justification for enslaving those who were not white.” (Betsy Quammen, American Zion). I have heard of this for years, and plan to look a bit closer. Since the Europeans who were slaveholders were mainly identified as “Christian,” this seems to make some sort of sense, bizarre as it sounds. Of course, many European nations went around the world, taking the lands of dark skinned people, killing many, and trying to also convert them to the Christian religion. This is well documented. “We must, with unquenchable ardor, propagate our sacred religion.” Pigneau de Behaine (Stanley Karnow, Vietnam, A History). Behaine was a French priest who spend decades in Vietnam in the 18th century. “He had come to France to lobby for an ambitious scheme-the creation, under French auspices, of a Christian empire in Asia.” (Karnow). Indeed, everywhere the Europeans went, they tried to destroy Indigenous religious beliefs, and convert them to Christianity. The results, as we can see around the world today, were disastrous, and were responsible for misery and horror on an incomprehensible scale.

Perhaps there are other deeply rooted reasons for racism. My own personal spiritual beliefs lean towards the idea that racism is the perfect way for the dark forces that exist (lucifer to me) to cause the biggest ruckus they can among the human race. And it has certainly done that. Without racism, there would have been no slavery in the south, or destruction of Indigenous people. The whole world would have evolved in a much different way; we can only wish that would have happened…and it could have. I am not racist, and my daughter is not racist. Her kids will also not be racist. Because of this, we have broken the chain that keeps racism alive. When I see old footage of the many racial protests in the south in the 1950’s, the insanity on the faces of the white people is astonishing…they were really really crazy. The problem is, many of them had kids, grandkids, and on and on. Who, I am thinking, were most likely raised to be racists as well. Maybe some pulled away from it, that would not be surprising. But, racism must be taught; we are not born that way. Which brings us to an interesting crossroads, as far as the current situation with the protests. Yes, statues are being torn down; police departments are possibly going to be re-organized, although I believe that’s going to be more difficult than people are realizing. And there are many discussions going on about how we as a society can best deal with the institutional racism that defines America. There are good things coming from the protests (and some bad ones as well).

The real issue is, though…the people that are racist are most likely still going to be just as racist after the protests die down. They aren’t going to magically change because of what’s happening. I heard a video of a crowd chanting “1-2-3, fuck the police.” Ok…do people really believe that is going to help with serious change? Hey, that’s deja vu for me…folks started calling the cops pigs in the 1960’s, and yet…here we are again, with the same infantile chants. The same with the $500 million in damages to buildings. I’m sure many younger folks are thinking they’re onto something; but again, I remember the Vietnam protests, Watts, the destruction after MLK was assassinated, and many more such events. I’m watching the Ken Burns Vietnam series; if you wanna see some serious protesting, check it out. I surely understand the anger behind these actions; I just don’t believe, overall, it’s going to do much good. The Denver City Council was overrun a couple of weeks ago by protestors. They actually cancelled the next meeting out of fear it would happen again. Meaning, they capitulated to a mob of angry people. And again, there’s plenty to be angry about. Coming up with long term, meaningful change though…that’s perhaps not easily done by destroying things.

And of course, there are other profound issues besides racism. Economic equality is certainly another deeply entrenched issue that has also affected millions and millions of people over the years. While folks at Amazon struggle to pay the bills at $15/hour, the stock market is enjoying record profits, and Jeff Bezos has a $165 million mansion. He could easily pay his workers $30, but does not. Health care in America is a disgrace, and rents are soaring ever higher, making landowners a very wealthy bunch indeed. This situation too is old news; the founding fathers were mostly white, wealthy slaveholders, so the template for what America is today was set from the beginning. And be assured that many millions of Americans like things exactly the way they are. I am not so sure many of the protestors and their allies are taking this into account, either. For every statue toppled, I believe there are many folks becoming very angry about that. And I do fear a backlash may be on the way before long. A statue of Frederick Douglass was also toppled recently.

Completely by accident, a whole new door opened up for me about the protests the other day. A FB friend posted a short video of the founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Cullors, talking about her political beliefs. The thing is, although I had first heard of BLM some years back, when it first started, I had no knowledge of who started it, or what they were like. Ms. Cullors started BLM in July of 2013, along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, after the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. In this 36 second segment of the video the host, Jared Ball of Morgan State University, asked her about her political beliefs; she responded “Myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers, we are trained Marxists.” I didn’t know anything about her of course, but I thought that was a pretty strong statement. I decided to look a bit deeper into who Ms Cullors is, and found a few things. She was a Fulbright scholar, and has a degree from UCLA. She has been an activist for many years, and has formed numerous organizations and won awards for her activism. In another video (a site called Dazed; April 5 2018, Rianna Walcott interviewer), she stated “I identify as an organizer versus an activist.” She also said she was at the National School for Strategic organizing for a year studying with a man named Eric Mann. Mann has a long resume, ez to look up. He was an SDS member and also part of the Weather Underground; he did two years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder. Ms Cullors also said ” We spent the year reading, anything from Marx to Lenin to Mao.” She told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now (Jan 16, 2018) “Yes Eric Mann, that’s my mentor.”

I think all of that is very significant, for a number of reasons. First…because of her Marxist leanings, is BLM then a Marxist front for her political beliefs? I wonder how many people carrying BLM signs and wearing the shirts know of this? Would it make a difference? Should it? Well, what if Ms Cullors was to be on CNN/Fox or another national network, being interviewed, and spoke of this? I’m thinking it may well start a very large discussion…perhaps it should. I tried to read a bio of Mao, and could not finish it. He was one of the most horrid human beings I’ve ever heard of, and that was long before he took control of China, where he was responsible for the deaths of many millions of his own people, perhaps up to 70 million. Marxism didn’t work out too well for the Russian people either…also many millions of innocent deaths. None of this has been mentioned, as far as I know, in the national news outlets covering the BLM movement. In fact, I was surprised that Ms Cullors, or one of her associates, did not make an appearance over the last month to give a speech. That’s rather unusual for such a large movement. Are there individual BLM chapters, under her supervision? Who controls those? Hey, I do not know…and that’s why I’m asking these questions. Ms Cullors also self identifies as “queer,” and is a big supporter of the trans-sexual movement as well. I was starting to see those signs in the protests too.

OK…here’s a thought. Are several differing agendas now being mixed together in the BLM movement? I can see where some people would be fine with supporting racial equality, but maybe not Marxism, or the sexual orientation. If they do, that’s their perogative of course. But…if the BLM supporters are not aware of their founder’s personal ideas, then there could be big problems in the future with this movement. Personally, I’d be up for some serious discussion around the views of Ms Cullors. It’s one thing to protest for racial equality…perhaps another altogether to change the political system in America to Marxist. But…if this isn’t brought out into the public view, then how will we know where BLM really stands? I also happened to see on Democracy Now a brief and very angry speech by an activist named Tamika Mallory. Also ez to look up, she was brought up by her parents as an activist, connected to Al Sharpton. In the Democracy Now piece, she said “I don’t give a damn if they burn down; I don’t give a damn if they burn down Target.” Wowie. First…who gave her permission to call for buildings to be torched? Then, if a Target, say, is destroyed, who will suffer? It won’t be the owners, whoever they are. Their insurance will cover it; hell, they may actually wind up making more $$$ off of it. No…it will be the hundreds of neighborhood people working there, for little money, who really need the jobs. If Ms Mallory is truly concerned for her people, then why would she want to take their only source of income away? In reality, she’s a pawn in the hands of the very people she claims to be protesting against. And seems to have no idea of this. Burn it? Her casa too? When the speech was over, one of Goodman’s associates commented on the “powerful speech,” but said nothing about the morality of burning down a Target.

And yes…these are rather negative issues connected with the BLM movement. And they need to be discussed widely. In the 1950’s and 60’s black folks were being killed, bitten by dogs, beaten in the streets, and hosed with giant water cannons…so they could eat at restaurants and send their kids to school. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and others were larger than life figures to me as a young white kid. I could not believe their grace, dignity, and unwavering commitment under these awful social conditions. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing any leaders in the BLM movement, as of yet, who come anywhere close to what these legends stood for. Maybe that’s not surprising; leaders like that are rare enough at any time. Where this all goes from here, I do not know. I believe there’s a possibility that, after all the protests die down, it may be back to business as usual. Again…tearing down statues and yelling at the cops are minor compared to changing the hearts of racists. We need to find a way to achieve that for truly lasting change. Maybe the current social unrest will indeed start something of great value; I would like to see that. We’re only at the beginning.

Thnx for reading…Hstick

“Our goals are not to gain political control, monetary wealth, or military power, but rather to pray and to promote the welfare of all living beings and to preserve the world in a natural way.”

Hopi Elder and spokesman Thomas Banyacya Dec 10 1992