Post-Racial America

GOP School Board Flak's Brave Stand Against Children Of Color 'Feeling They Belong'

Because America is a zero sum game.

On September 14, a slate of rightwing candidates who stirred up fears of "critical race theory" won all five Republican primary spots in the school board elections for Guilford, Connecticut (population a bit over 22,000). For Mary Beeman, who managed the candidates' campaigns, it was quite the feather in her cap. Truly, she must know how to appeal to voters who care about excellence in education! Or maybe she just knew that not very subtle race-baiting can win Republican primaries these days, who can tell?

Unfortunately, in a big black eye for her reputation, Beeman's own racist comments in a University of Connecticut online forum on "critical race theory" were noticed by Hartford TV station WFSB, which reported on the comments yesterday. The station didn't specify when the forum took place, but it had a screenshot, and Beeman was quick to insist that heavens no, she didn't mean anything bad when she'd typed "Helping kids of color to feel they belong has a negative effect on white, Christian, or conservative kids." Of course she didn't! Here's the video, cued up to the story so you don't have to be confused by several minutes of silence at the start, yeesh, guys, you work in teevee.

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White Nonsense

Ahmaud Arbery’s Killer Would Prefer Court Not Remind Jury He’s A Gross Racist

His request should piss you off.

Georgia father-son lynching duo Gregory and Travis McMichael are on trial for the senseless murder of Ahmaud Arbery. When your fate is up to a jury of your less homicidal peers, you try to set a good impression. You show up every day in a suit. You don't giggle randomly during testimony. And if you're Travis McMichael, you don't want the jury knowing how much of an obvious racist you are.

McMichael and his attorneys have asked that the court ban from use as evidence at trial a photo of his license plate, which bears the Confederate emblem. The Confederacy lasted all of four years more than 150 years ago, but these losers can't abandon the cause.

Newsweek reports:

The vanity plate is described as showing the old flag from the state of Georgia—out of use since 2001—that incorporates the Confederate battle flag. McMichael's attorneys argued that using the photo of his plate as evidence is "not relevant and is prejudicial."

McMichael's choice in vanity plates is extremely relevant. He's 34 years old. Georgia replaced its state flag after much debate 20 years ago when he was barely in high school. He's deliberately made open defiance of racial progress a part of his identity. It's fair for us to judge him for this.

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Class War

When Texas Prison Strikers Told The Boss To Take His Failure To Communicate, Shove It

October 4 in labor history!

On October 4, 1978, nine Ellis Prison inmates in east Texas went on strike against the unpaid labor they had to do every day, refusing to pick cotton in hard labor. This small action, coordinated by an interracial group of prisoners, was a protest against both the almost unbearable hard labor they had to do every day and against the broader dehumanizing elements of the prison system.

The Thirteeneth Amendment outlawed slavery in 1865. Or did it? It reads:

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Well, that's a pretty big exception! The South immediately realized it could round up Black people for "crimes" and then send their labor out to the highest bidder. Sometimes that was a private company, especially railroads and coal mines. Sometimes it was the state. Over a century after the end of official slavery, this hadn't changed that much, including in Texas.

Prisoners at Ellis Prison, located 12 miles north of Huntsville, Texas, were expected to pick between 200 and 300 pounds of cotton a day. The fields were racially segregated, with Black, white, and Mexican-American work crews. Like the stereotype of an antebellum cotton plantation, a prison guard, called by the inmates the "cap'ain," rode a horse through the fields armed with a shotgun. The Texas prison system was modeled on slavery and had largely been since the period of slavery. The state's prison system was notorious among criminologists as the most backward in the nation going back to at least the 1940s. Guards frequently brutalized inmates. Earlier systems of prison work had led to a lot of white outrage, particularly the convict labor leasing system that undermined white wages and sometimes led to active resistance from competing wage workers. Texas attempted to reform its prison system by the late 1940s by emphasizing work, not as work competing with free laborers, but as agricultural laborers. They worked the prisoners like slaves, 10 hour days, at a rapid pace due to aggressive overseers. In 1978, most of these prisoners were from cities and had no experience picking cotton, so this was especially brutal. The racial segregation made things worse. The prisons used the potential of indoor work as incentives to work the outdoor laborers even harder. Texas was one of only seven states by the 1970s that did not pay their inmates anything for their labor.

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Media/Entertainment

Seriously, What's The Deal With ‘Manifest Destiny Jesus’?

Confronting the insidious myth of a white supremacist savior.

The mainstream image of Jesus Christ is a pasty white guy. He doesn't even have much of a tan. Yes, J.J. painted a Black Jesus in an episode of "Good Times" and Madonna might have hooked up with a Black Jesus in her "Like a Prayer" video, but Jesus is usually presented as a blonde surfer dude, who the disciples might've nicknamed “Moondoggie."

When I was a child, family members would point out the Bible verse that described Jesus as having hair like wool and “feet like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace" (i.e. a dark brown complexion like someone from the Middle East). This didn't wear down my religious skepticism, because a Jesus of any other shade is still a scam. It's like when a corporation makes its CEO a woman or a man of color without actually changing any of its awful policies.

I've been contemplating the conflicting images of blonde surfer Jesus and Soul Brother Jesus after watching the Seattle-area documentary Manifest Destiny Jesus from filmmakers Josh Aaseng, Daemond Arrindell, and T. Geronimo Johnson, who also serves as narrator. Aaseng and Arrindell met author Johnson in 2017 when they adapted his novel Welcome to Braggsville to the stage. I know Aaseng from our time at Seattle's Book-It Repertory Theatre, where he was literary manager and later associate artistic director. He adapted and directed an amazing version of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five in 2015. Aaseng's a white guy from Montana, but he nonetheless questioned the popular conception of Jesus as white.

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