Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ta-Nehisi Coates

Notes and tidbits on FB and Twitter. Part 77

J’ aurais donne beaucoup pur voir une range’ de policiers patrouille’ nos dangereuses rues le long de mon trajet vers l’ ecole. Ca n’arrivait jamais.

For Americans, industry is like a vast lottery, in which a handful of undertakers risk their fortune and lose daily, but the State constantly win. No stigmat to bankruptcy

L’ emancipation est lie’ aux facteurs exterieures (guerres) auquel ont a ete force’ de contribuer

“On veut maintenir notre communaute’ fermee’, impartiale et non discriminatoire”. Jamais un age d’ or pendant lequel les scelerats auraient fait leur besogne tout en la revendiquant haut et fort.

Many in the new generation are living in a shell of self-satisfaction, steering away from anything that the media label “politics”. Soon, politics will catch up with them and reduce them to bewildered and hapless smart-asses.

In the medium-term, for any increase in the rate of dynamic social mobility, two basic requirements are needed:

1. Equal individual rights for voting and participating in decision making wherever you decide to settle in across the State

2. Equal economic and social opportunities in the region you settle in

Jamais je ne considererai le moindre citoyen Americain comme pur.

A chaque fois que je voyais des policiers dans mes rues, je savais que quelque mals se passent

To go on the journey from a place of fear, to begin precisely because there is fear. Not to wait for the fear to go away before you begin

If you gaze long enough into the abyss, it will return your gaze.
It’s Not catastrophes. It’s the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibus
The library saved me of the attitudes of the talented people and the busy bodies
Les marques des ghettos des Noirs aux USA: l’ abondance d’ instituts de beaute, d’eglises, de Liquor Stores et de maisons delabrees.

The liberation of Western Kalamoun mountain chains from terrorist factions on the eastern Lebanese borders has started. Total coordination among Lebanon and Syrian armies and Hezbollah

“Letter to my son: Une Colere Noire” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015). You won’t stop shivering on how the White system fabricated racism to ” dispose” of the Black bodies

Racecraft: the White system design that fabricated the racism illusion to resume the disposition of black bodies and exploitation

You cannot stare that hatred down

You cannot chain the fears that stalks the watches

Even “One single drop of black blood” of your ancestors codifies you as Black in the USA. Same is true for indigenous Indians

Black Panthers: Fred Hampton and Mark Clark assassinated in 1969 in their home by Chicago police

Black Panthers: Assassination of George Jackson in 1971 resulted in Attica prison revolt that was crushed in plenty of blood

Le Passage du milieu de Marcus Garvey: Europe colonial ships bartered merchandise with slaves. Slaves were unloaded in Europe and America and ships reloaded with raw materials.

Les Blancs pensent que l’ humanite est blanche et l’ on menee au bord de l’ oubli.

To have peace, a hybrid human species must be created: No Sex inhibition like the bonobo chimps. When aggressive moods flare up, yalla, hop and everybody is relaxed 

Faire la greve, les marches et les mobilisations pour pouvoir vivre avec les memes droits que tout le monde s’appelle “faire de la politique”, 

On n’apprend jamais rien a un gars en le tuant. Israel et les blancs de USA ne veulent rien apprendre a leurs minorites.

La plupart des Noirs de USA qui pouvaient acheter un billet pour l’ etranger choisissaient Paris pour se sentir libre et ne plus regarder derriere leurs epaules.

Il y a des moments (natural calamities) ou le ciel decide d’ arracher ses plus belles racines de la terre. These moments are becoming far more frequent: we tend to forget that human species played the worst major catalyst.

If our immune system is not given a chance to learn to adapt to the full counter-offensive strategy, the enemy will prevail and the body would need even “stronger antibiotics”.

Two human species: Mothers and the kids (regardless of gender, race, age and level of education)

L’ ultra sionist Emmanuel Macron (France President) sucked Netanyahu behind by saying: « Nous ne céderons rien aux messages de haine, à l’antisionisme parce qu’il est la forme réinventée de l’antisémitisme ».

The BBC sucks: it mentioned that 3 Israeli soldiers were stabbed and failed to report that scores of Palestinians were shot with live bullets, praying outside mosques in Jerusalem and West Bank

Notes and tidbits on FB and Twitter. Part 73

Your immune system is in constant battles with man-made enemies, the medications, in addition to the ones that the environment is sending. Salt is also perceived as poison by white blood cells.

If that made-up reality (mostly an illusion) is shared by many people around you, it can be used to make predictions about what’s next,

Full counter-offensives of immune system raise the body temperature to kill more efficiently the invading enemies.

Goyims are animals. Goyim live without any purpose. Goyim are unconscious of the essence of their lives. Kill their children in times of war. (Torah)

BBC sucks: Israel injured 420 praying Palestinians last night and killed 3. BBC reported only that 3 Israeli were stabbed.
For the duration of the Hot Revolution, burning decades of taboos are priorities. Taboos are meant to be sacrificed every year, to cleanse the community and start afresh…not decades later.

“Letter to my son: Une Colere Noire” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015). You won’t stop shivering on how the White system fabricated racism to ” dispose” of the Black bodies

Racecraft: the White system design that fabricated the racism illusion to resume the disposition of black bodies and exploitation

You cannot stare that hatred down

You cannot chain the fears that stalks the watches

Even “One single drop of black blood” of your ancestors codifies you as Black in the USA. Same is true for indigenous Indians

Black Panthers: Fred Hampton and Mark Clark assassinated in 1969 in their home by Chicago police

Black Panthers: Assassination of George Jackson in 1971 resulted in Attica prison revolt that was crushed in plenty of blood

Desincarnation: le diable qui pousse les gamins a adopter des postures de dominateurs.
Le fardeau de vivre parmi les Reveurs Blancs d’Amerique, qui t’ expliquent que leurs reves sont juste et noble pour leur innocence illusoire
Le grand defit de USA est comment fonder une democracie, independante du cannibalisme perpetre’ aux Noirs et Latinos, sans attaquer le monde exterieurs avec leur pre-emptive guerres
Le Noir Eric Garner avant d’ etre abattu: Ca s’ arrete aujourd’hui

A normal person must commit all kinds of errors. At an advanced age, start inventing yourself: Start listening intently to people’s plight and desires. Listen passionately to people’s stories.

All the stories are basically the same, but each person considers his story a galactic novelty in miseries.

Short-lived preferences (joining a guerrilla movement) may be impossible to undo when preferences return to original state (impossible to get out when emotions are back to normal)

We are wracked by 2 warring passions: the desired feeling to be led and the desire to remain free. Democratic processes can resolve these tensions by subjecting ourselves to a power that we freely elected. The requirements are:

1. Elections laws are fair and transparent and

2. The voter is made to feel free to vote for his candidate

If you have Not been asked to help, no altruistic person will volunteer to come forward to aid

Great works of the human mind were produced during centuries of liberty of expression and publishing the works (Tocqueville). What a tremendous span of luck to keep liberty flourishing for even a decade in current world affairs

Israel severely wounded 42 Palestinians around Al Aqsa mosque yesterday. This Friday may witness another mayhem. The tragedy continues.

Trump figured it out 2 decades ago: I’ll run Republican. They are dumb and eat up all the lies on Fox news

Finally, Israel reached the phase of the dumbest of dumbs: Considering the Al Aqsa mosque as the ultimate stage of humiliating Palestinians. If Al Aqsa unites all the Palestinian factions to focus on their existence, a legitimate entity, then this is another intifada (civil disobedience)

I feel that Trump is Not as dumb as he is perceived. He is playing the fool in order Not to be restricted in his vision by the institutions,

Trump is acutely aware to the devastation to the economy by the military industrial infrastructure that want to dominate the world at any cost.

The female gender is the first to bear the brunt of any dictatorial system, shifting toward a religious fundamental base

Notes and tidbits on FB and Twitter. Part 70

Les coloniaux blancs ont progresses sur le pillage et la violence systematiques
Le martyr ne meurt pas pour qu’on se rappelled de lui un jour de paroisse. Il faisait son devoir, conscient de ces limitations et la grandeur de son âme.
Le dialogue de la culture de la courtoisie et de l’échange:  le racist ne peut créer et ne peut s’exprimer librement
Les travailleurs de l’industrie devient une industrie qui tournera á la bureaucratie. Il adviendra que l’Etat réglera tout
“Je me suis demandé qui remplirait le vide intellectual après la mort de James Baldwin…” Toni Morrison
“Je voudrais mon fils que tu sois un citoyen de ce monde beau et terrible. Un citoyen conscient que la destruction du corps noir (USA) est une tradition- un heritage” Ta-Nehisi Coates
Dans l’esprit de la majorité, reconnaitre l’apport des Noirs et des minorites  á la construction de la nation Francaise serait amoindrire la grandeur d’une nation qui pense se suffire á elle-même.
“Les racines du ciel” by Romain Gary. Tout a été dit et redit, il y a plus de 50 ans . Sur la conservation de la nature et la faune
L’opinion publique est un juge absolu: tous les pouvoirs lui sont subordonnés. Sauf quand l’executive décide d’aller en guerre
La déportation des Amerindiens, le Passage du milieu, la Piste des Larmes…sont pour les American Blancs de simple catastrophes naturelles qu’il falait remédier. Une entreprise criminelle de domination et d’expansion.
Every people need to enjoy the opportunity of acquiring the conscience that life is to be cherished. Most basic right, even to animals.
N’ importe quel gars qui a connu la faim, la peur, le travail force’, commence á comprendre que la protection de la nature le vise directement
La condition humaine en ce moment peut déja observer que tous les peuples sont des salots
 
Lorsequ’on dit que “tous les peuples des nations que nous n’aimons pas se sont pas tous “comme ca”, on ne trouve que des individus d’exception et si rares, des Schweitzer, Bach, Einstein…
Putin confided that the military secrets transmitted to the Soviet Union were done by the experts who believed that peace cannot be obtained but in equilibrium of forces in weapons of mass destruction
Les Européens apportent tous leurs manger (Idées préconsues) quand ils débarquent en Afrique
Les Americains croient en la réalité de la “race”. La race devient l’enfant innocent de mére Nature. Une affaire de hiérarchie
Il n’y aurait pas d’industrie de mass sans immigrants, et ceux des autres états plus pauvre et surtout des provinces pauvres d’une nation. Les gouvernements le savent et ne font pas grand chose avant que la rebellion n’éclate
Essayez d’expliquer au gouvernment á Paris que si les tribus Oulés (au Tchad) bougent en cette saison, c’est pas en quête d’indépendance, mais pour cueillir les couilles des élephants pour l’ initiation des jeunes males
La liberté et l’homme deviennent encombrant á la longue: ce n’est pas la peine de defender des gens et les animaux séparément. S’attaquer au fond du problem, la protection de la nature.
Je résistais: je savais que dés que je sortais son sex, il m’oublierait et cesserait de me toucher
Macron ne vaut rien en politique étrangére, surtout en ce qui concerne Syrie et Liban. Il est contre la capture de l’armée Libanaise des terroristes dans les camps de réfugiés au Liban et supporte les mensonge de Trump en Syrie. Ce Zionist endurcie va faire beaucoup de mal au proche orient.
La défaite morale de ce qu’Israel est devenu est primordial á une paix durable. USA et l’Europe savent qu’ils sont lies á cette morale d’apartheid et de violence qu’ils ont acquis durant des siécle de colonialism
En tout cas, Israel conclut des accords, sachant qu’ils seront rompus le moment venu
 
Ce sont des gens qui n’en ont pas assez bavé, qui ne peuvent pas comprendre
If you practice to replace the ums with total silence, until you form a plausible expression, you are on your way to nail down oratory skills
The Israeli military industrial complex is part of the world conglomerate meant to keep sustained civil wars and pre-emptive wars for lush and brisk business. They are based on fear for divisive tendencies built on blood and frustration.
I often hear that clergies know what they are doing: They are highly educated and intelligent. Sure, and hypocrisy is one of the highest forms of clever intelligence.
Une theorie métaphysique dit: “La guerre est une condition sociale. Sans la guerre, la race humaine retrograde á l’inconscience  et á l’hébetude… Il faut que beaucoup de sang coule pour apaiser les coléres et ramener les gens á leur froideur ordinaire” Ce concept prévalait en Allemagne avant WWI et le Nazism en abusa pleinement.
USA admitted that current Arab Gulf problems are essentially family matters: related to the Saudi branch of Bin Salman?
Il avait une âme d’educateur moraliste: il aimait que la futilité et l’insignifiance des pretentions humaines furent bien comprise et assimilés

America’s vitriol towards Clinton reveals a nation mired in misogyny

Note: Hillary, Not only hate people in Middle-East and North Africa, she despise them since 9/11. She read the vitriolic book of Fallacy against Islam, made Bill read it, and carried on the her fury that never abated, regardless of how she tries to be rational and logical.

Hillary confirmed at several occasions that she and Obama created ISIS. They made use of the 1,000 Islamic extremists liberated by Syria President Bashar from jail in 2011 and rallied the Iraqi soldiers from the disbanded Saddam army by the US in 2004 to form a terrorist organization.

After Iraq Maleki PM denied the US permanent military presence in 2014, this duo orchestrated the invasion and control of ISIS of Mosul. This duo are ripe to stand trial at La Hague court for crimes against humanity.

Though, among the candidates in the last decade, she probably was the most qualified. (To be qualified is Not  a sufficient factor to be elected)

There has been much talk of late from professed fans of American history about how important it is to remember the major figures from the country’s political past.

Sure, those statues are celebrating confederate generals who were willing to die for the right to enslave black people.  (Actually, the American Revolution was carried out to defend right to keep slavery system against British abolition of it)

But still – we mustn’t forget our political legends, fellow Americans! So it’s rather intriguing that there’s one part of American history that many people are desperate to forget – to silence, tear down, steamroller and push out on an ice floe: Hillary Clinton. (Yeah, what a tragedy to democracy in developing countries)

Clinton’s memoir about the 2016 election, What Happened, was published this week and, boy, some people are not happy about it. It is too soon for her to be speaking, goes one complaint (reminder: Bernie Sanders published his book a week after the election and no one complained about that).

She is riling up her base and dividing the Democrats, cry others, an idea that is almost sweet in the faith it puts in a book that the vast majority of Americans won’t read, written by a woman who couldn’t even rile up enough people on a campaign trail that all Americans endured for two years.

She is still not accepting blame and that is repulsive, tut other people – when, in fact, she accepts quite a lot of blame in the book. “I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes. There are plenty, as you’ll see, and they are mine and mine alone,” she writes.

But because she points out that other factors played a part in her loss (guess what? They did!), and hasn’t nailed herself to a cross and thrown herself over Niagara Falls, she is a responsibility-shirking “neo-libtard”.

The most overwhelming sentiment about Clinton and her book is that she just needs to go away.

One poll this week had 61% of respondents saying Clinton needs “to retire”, but given that she pretty much has done, what they really mean is she needs to shut up.

Meanwhile, Amazon is having to weed out vicious reviews from people it reckons have yet to even read the book and are engaged in a coordinated campaign to rubbish it.

Obviously some of this anger has come from the right, because there are a lot of people who see no contradiction in defending statues commemorating racism while condemning memoirs by presidential candidates. But it has also come at least as much from the left.

Last Sunday the New York Times asked “What’s to be done about Hillary Clinton, the woman who won’t go away?”. When Clinton appeared at an event back in May, one writer from New York’s liberal tabloid, the Daily News, implored, “Hey Hillary Clinton, shut the fuck up and go away.”

The following month, Vanity Fair, a decidedly anti-Republican publication, ran an article headlined, “Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into the Night?”

It surely doesn’t need spelling out that no other failed presidential candidate – including the many who have written books about their disappointed hopes – has been on the receiving end of this kind of vitriol, this determined attempt to silence.

You don’t need to like Clinton to grasp that she is an important historical figure. As well as being at the centre of the weirdest and possibly most corrupted election in American history, she is the first female candidate from a major party in a US election, and the first candidate who was also a first lady.

These factors alone mean she absolutely should write a book, and even if she spent 500 pages writing “Not my fault! Not my fault!” it would still be a fascinating document.

Again, things she warned about on the campaign trail have proven correct, not least the dangers of putting the nuclear codes into the hands of a man “who you can bait with a tweet”.

And yet her book has been bracketed alongside Ivanka Trump’s over-privileged waffling by one columnist who proudly declared she hadn’t bothered to read it, and dismissed as spiteful “score-settling” and “blame-shifting” by others who say they have.

For the past 8 months people have talked obsessively about the factors that gave Trump the election – RussiaJames Comeyvoter suppressionsexismracism. But the one person who apparently shouldn’t contribute to the discussion is the one who was in the eye of the storm.

People have been telling Clinton to shut up for as long as she’s been in the public eye, then blaming her for their bad choices.

When she said in 1992 that she chose to work instead of staying home to bake cookies, voters were incensed. “If I ever entertained the idea of voting for Bill Clinton, the smug bitchiness of his wife’s comment nipped that in the bud,” one reader wrote to Time magazine.

When Clinton was made chair, by her husband, of the task force overseeing the 1993 plan to provide universal healthcare, she was derided as a meddling little woman and multiple news organisations insisted there wasn’t an healthcare crisis in the US anyway.

When she was elected to the Senate, Trent Lott, the then Republican leader, said he hoped she’d be struck by lightning before arriving.

She has made concessions to people’s fear of a smart woman: she submitted a cookie recipe to a women’s magazine in 1992 in penance for her earlier comment. In the Senate, she poured coffee with a smile for men who had openly said they loathed her.

A long-running justification for this loathing of Clinton, one that has been trotted out often since her election loss, and now again as an excuse to bash her book, is that she is uniquely unlikable. “She was a terrible candidate!” go the cries, ignoring the fact she was the most qualified candidate in a generation, who got more votes than any candidate ever, with the exception of Barack Obama in 2008.

What these people are really saying is: “Only white voters matter.” It is an inconvenient truth (to borrow a phrase from another losing candidate who won the popular vote, and yet was never told to clear off when he spoke afterwards), but the only voters who deemed Clinton insufficient were white ones, women included.

On the other hand, 95% of black women and 70% of Hispanic women voted for her. Clinton, we have been told repeatedly by writers such as Mark Lilla, failed because she indulged in “identity politics”, which never wins elections, as if white people don’t have an “identity” and Trump didn’t win by explicitly playing to it, such as by taunting a Muslim Gold Star family and characterising Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug-dealers.

Of course people can argue with Clinton’s ideas. But to dismiss her book without even reading it, with the demand that she “shut the fuck up” is yet more evidence of the misogyny that has always, obviously, been behind the outsized vitriol she attracts.

Worse, she is now an uncomfortable reminder for white liberals that the majority of white Americans would rather vote for a man with a long history of racism than a woman.

For all the talk about how Clinton lost because she neglected the working class, 88% of African Americans, who have endured far worse and longer economic hardship than white Americans, voted for her.

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in his new book, We Were Eight Years in Power: “Certainly not every Trump voter is a white supremacist. But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.”

There is no justification for that, no matter how much others try to blame Clinton. But national self-awareness is painful. How much easier just to burn the witch, and her book.

White debt. Forgotten debt.

Confusing whiteness with ownership

Confusing the difference between compliance and complicity

Tacit Laws, tailor-made for white people

The power to punish. (Privilege: Private law)

The word for debt in German also means guilt. A friend who used to live in Munich mentioned this to me recently. I took note because I’m newly in debt, quite a lot of it, from buying a house.

So far, my debt is surprisingly comfortable, and that’s one quality of debt that I’ve been pondering lately — how easy it can be.

I had very little furniture for the first few months in my new house and no money left to buy any. But then I took out a loan against my down payment, and now I have a dining-room table, six chairs and a piano.

While I was in the bank signing the paperwork that would allow me to spend money I hadn’t yet earned, I thought of Eddie Murphy’s skit in which he goes undercover as a white person and discovers that white people at banks give away money to other white people free.

It’s true, I thought to myself in awe when I saw the ease with which I was granted another loan, though I understood — and, when my mortgage was sold to another lender, was further reminded — that the money was not being given to me free.

I was, and am, paying for it. But that detail, like my debt, is easily forgotten.

‘‘Only something that continues to hurt stays in the memory,’’ Nietzsche observes in ‘‘On the Genealogy of Morality.’’

My student-loan debt doesn’t hurt, though it hasn’t seemed to have gotten any smaller over the past decade, and I’ve managed to forget it so thoroughly that I recently told someone that I’d never been in debt until I bought a house.

Creditors of antiquity, Nietzsche writes, tried to encourage a debtor’s memory by taking as collateral his freedom, wife, life or even, as in Egypt, his afterlife.

Legal documents outlined exactly how much of the body of the debtor that the creditor could cut off for unpaid debts.

Consider the odd logic, Nietzsche suggests, of a system in which a creditor is repaid not with money or goods but with the pleasure of seeing the debtor’s body punished. ‘‘The pleasure,’’ he writes, ‘‘of having the right to exercise power over the powerless

The power to punish, Nietzsche notes, can enhance your sense of social status, increasing the pleasure of cruelty.

Reading this, I recall a white Texas trooper’s encounter with the black woman he pulled over for failure to signal a lane change. As the traffic stop became a confrontation that ended with Sandra Bland face down on the side of the road, she asked Brian Encinia, over and over, whether what he was doing made him feel good. ‘‘You feelin’ good about yourself?’’ she asked.

‘‘Don’t it make you feel good, Officer Encinia?’’ After asking the same question Nietzsche asked, the question of why justice would take this form, she came to the same conclusion.

When I was 19, the head of my college’s campus police escorted me to an interview with the Amherst Police.

The previous night, a friend and I had pasted big posters of bombs that read ‘‘Bomb the Suburbs’’ all over the town. ‘‘Bomb the Suburbs’’ is the title of a book by William Upski Wimsatt, whom we had invited to speak on campus.

The first question the Amherst Police asked was whether I was aware that graffiti and ‘‘tagging,’’ a category that included the posters, was punishable as a felony. I was not aware.

Near the end of the interrogation, my campus officer stepped in and suggested that we would clean up the posters. I was not charged with a felony, and I spent the day working side by side with my officer, using a wire brush to scrub all the bombs off Amherst.

Twenty years later, I tried to watch a video of a black man being shot in the head by a University of Cincinnati campus police officer.

I didn’t want to see it, but then I thought of Emmett Till’s mother asking the country to see her son’s body and mourn with her, so I searched for the video. But I didn’t get past the first frame, because the Chicago Tribune website ran an Acura commercial after I hit play, and the possibility that the shooting death of Samuel DuBose in his old Honda was serving as an opportunity to sell Acuras made me close the window.

With the long, slow pan across the immaculate interior of a new car on my mind, I reconsidered the justice behind my own encounter with a campus police officer.

The word ‘‘privilege,’’ composed of the Latin words for private and law, describes a legal system in which not everyone is equally bound, a system in which the law that makes graffiti a felony does not apply to a white college student.

Even as the police spread photos of my handiwork in front of me, I could tell by the way they pronounced ‘‘tagging’’ that it wasn’t a crime invented for me.

I was subject less to the law as it was written than I was to the private laws of whiteness. When the laws that bind a community apply differently to different members of the community, as Bettina Bergo and Tracey Nicholls write in their 2015 collection of essays, ‘‘I Don’t See Color,’’ then privilege ‘‘undermines the solidarity of the community.’’ And that, in turn, undermines us all.

‘‘The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning’’ is the title of an essay Claudia Rankine wrote for The New York Times Magazine after the Charleston church massacre.

Sitting with her essay in front of me, I asked myself what the condition of white life might be. I wrote ‘‘complacence’’ on a blank page. Hearing the term ‘‘white supremacist’’ in the wake of that shooting had given me another occasion to wonder whether white supremacists are any more dangerous than regular white people, who tend to enjoy supremacy without believing in it.

After staring at ‘‘complacence’’ for quite a long time, I looked it up and discovered that it didn’t mean exactly what I thought it meant. ‘‘A feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements’’ might be an apt description of the dominant white attitude, but that’s more active than what I had in mind.

I thought ‘‘complacence’’ meant sitting there in your house, neither smug nor satisfied, just lost in the illusion of ownership.

This is an illusion that depends on forgetting the redlining, block busting, racial covenants, contract buying, loan discrimination, housing projects, mass incarceration, predatory lending and deed thefts that have prevented so many black Americans from building wealth the way so many white Americans have, through homeownership.

I erased ‘‘complacence’’ and wrote ‘‘complicity.’’ I erased it. ‘‘Debt,’’ I wrote. Then, ‘‘forgotten debt.’’

I read several hundred pages of ‘‘Little House on the Prairie’’ to my 5-year-old son one day when he was home sick from school. Near the end of the book, when the Ingalls family is reckoning with the fact that they built their little house illegally on Indian Territory, and just after an alliance between tribes has been broken by a disagreement over whether or not to attack the settlers, Laura watches the Osage abandoning their annual buffalo hunt and leaving Kansas.

Her family will leave, too. At this point, my son asked me to stop reading. ‘‘Is it too sad?’’ I asked. ‘‘No,’’ he said, ‘‘I just don’t need to know any more.’’ After a few moments of silence, he added, ‘‘I wish I was French.’’

The Indians in ‘‘Little House’’ are French-speaking, so I understood that my son was saying he wanted to be an Indian.

‘‘I wish all that didn’t happen,’’ he said. And then: ‘‘But I want to stay here, I love this place. I don’t want to leave.’’ He began to cry, and I realized that when I told him ‘‘Little House’’ was about the place where we live, meaning the Midwest, he thought I meant it was about the town where we live and the house we had just bought.

Our house is not that little house, but we do live on the wrong side of what used to be an Indian boundary negotiated by a treaty that was undone after the 1830 Indian Removal Act.

We live in Evanston, Ill., named after John Evans, who founded the university where I teach and defended the Sand Creek massacre as necessary to the settling of the West.

What my son was expressing — that he wants the comfort of what he has but that he is uncomfortable with how he came to have it — is one conundrum of whiteness.

‘‘Tell me again about the liar who lied about a lie,’’ my son said recently. It took me a moment to register that he meant Rachel Dolezal. He had heard me talking about her with Noel Ignatiev, author of ‘‘How the Irish Became White.’’

I had said: ‘‘She might be a liar, but she’s a liar who lied about a lie. The original fraud was not hers.’’ Because I was talking to Noel, who sent me to James Baldwin’s essay ‘‘On Being White … and Other Lies’’ when I was in college, I didn’t have to clarify that the lie I was referring to was the idea that there is any such thing as a Caucasian race.

Dolezal’s parents had insisted to reporters that she was ‘‘Caucasian’’ by birth, though she is not from the Caucasus region, which includes contemporary Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Outside that context, the word ‘‘Caucasian’’ is a flimsy and fairly meaningless product of the 18th-century pseudoscience that helped invent a white race.

Whiteness is not a kinship or a culture.

White people are no more closely related to one another, genetically, than we are to black people.

American definitions of race allow for a white woman to give birth to black children, which should serve as a reminder that white people are not a family.

What binds us is that we share a system of social advantages that can be traced back to the advent of slavery in the colonies that became the United States. ‘‘There is, in fact, no white community,’’ as Baldwin writes. Whiteness is not who you are. Which is why it is entirely possible to despise whiteness without disliking yourself.

Even as I said this, I knew that he would be encouraged, at every juncture in his life, to believe wholeheartedly in the power of his own hard work and deservedness, to ignore inequity, to accept that his sense of security mattered more than other people’s freedom and to agree, against all evidence, that a system that afforded him better housing, better education, better work and better pay than other people was inherently fair.

My son’s first week in kindergarten was devoted entirely to learning rules.

At his school, obedience is rewarded with fake money that can be used, at the end of the week, to buy worthless toys that break immediately. Welcome to capitalism, I thought when I learned of this system, which produced, that week, a yo-yo that remained stuck at the bottom of its string.

The principal asked all the parents to submit a signed form acknowledging that they had discussed the Code of Conduct with their children, but I didn’t sign the form. Instead, my son and I discussed the civil rights movement, and I reminded him that not all rules are good rules and that unjust rules must be broken.

This was, I now see, a somewhat unhinged response to the first week of kindergarten. I know that schools need rules, and I am a teacher who makes rules, but I still want my son to know the difference between compliance and complicity.

For me, whiteness is not an identity but a moral problem.

Becoming black is not the answer to the problem of whiteness, though I sympathize with the impulse, as does Noel. ‘‘Imagine the loneliness of those who, born to a group they regard as unjust and oppressive and not wanting to be part of that group, are left on their own to figure their way out,’’ Noel wrote recently in his own narrative, ‘‘Passing,’’ the story of how he left a lower-middle-class family and a college education to work in factories for the next 23 years.

I met Noel after he left the factories for Harvard, when he was the editor, with John Garvey, of a journal called Race Traitor.

In it, I read about groups of volunteers who worked in shifts using video cameras to record police misconduct in their cities. I read about the school-board member who challenged the selection practices that had produced, in a district where only 22 percent of the students were white, a gifted program in which 81 percent of the students were white.

Race Traitor articulated for me the possibility that a person who looks white can refuse to act white, meaning refuse to collude with the injustices of the law-enforcement system and the educational system, among other things. This is what Noel called ‘‘new abolitionism.’’ John Brown was his model, and the institution he was intent on abolishing was whiteness.

Refusing to collude in injustice is, I’ve found, easier said than done.

Collusion is written onto our way of life, and nearly every interaction among white people is an invitation to collusion.

Being white is easy, in that nobody is expected to think about being white, but this is exactly what makes me uneasy about it. Without thinking, I would say that believing I am white doesn’t cost me anything, that it’s pure profit, but I suspect that isn’t true.

I suspect whiteness is costing me, as Baldwin would say, my moral life.

And whiteness is costing me my community. It is the wedge driven between me and my neighbors, between me and other mothers, between me and other workers. I know there’s more too.

I have written and erased a hundred sentences here, trying and failing to articulate something that I can sense but not yet speak. Like a bad loan, the kind in which the payments increase over time, the price of whiteness remains hidden behind its promises.

‘‘Her choice to give up whiteness was a privilege,’’ Michael Jeffries wrote of Dolezal in The Boston Globe. Noel said to me, ‘‘If giving up whiteness is a privilege, what do you call hanging on to it?’’

As Dolezal surrendered her position in the N.A.A.C.P. and lost her teaching job, I thought of the white police officers who killed unarmed black people and kept their jobs.

That the penalty for disowning whiteness appears to be more severe than the penalty for killing a black person says something about what our culture holds dear.

The moral concept of Schuld (‘‘guilt’’), Nietzsche wrote, ‘‘descends from the very material concept of Schulden (‘debts’).’’ Material debt predates moral debt. The point he is making is that guilt has its source not in some innate sense of justice, not in God, but in something as base as commerce.

Nietzsche has the kind of disdain for guilt that many people now reserve for ‘‘white guilt’’ in particular. We seem to believe that the crime is not investing in whiteness but feeling badly about it.

Even before I started reading Nietzsche, I had the uncomfortable suspicion that my good life, my house and my garden and the ‘‘good’’ public school my son attends, might not be entirely good. Even as I painted my walls and planted my tomatoes and attended parent-teacher conferences last year, I was pestered by the possibility that all this was built on a bedrock of evil and that evil was running through our groundwater.

But I didn’t think in exactly those terms because the word ‘‘evil’’ is not usually part of my vocabulary — I picked it up from Nietzsche.

‘‘Evil’’ is how slaves describe their masters. In Nietzsche’s telling, Roman nobles called their way of life ‘‘good,’’ while their Jewish slaves called the same way of life ‘‘evil.’’ The invention of the concept of evil was, according to Nietzsche, a kind of power grab.

It was an attempt by the powerless to undermine the powerful. More power to them, I think.

But Nietzsche and I disagree on this, among other things. Like many white people, he regards guilt as a means of manipulation, a killjoy. Those who resent the powerful, he writes, use guilt to undermine their power and rob them of their pleasure in life. And this, I believe, is what makes guilt potentially redemptive.

Guilt is what makes a good life built on evil no longer good.

I have a memory of the writer Sherman Alexie cautioning me against this way of thinking. I remember him saying, ‘‘White people do crazy [expletive] when they feel guilty.’’ That I can’t dispute.

Guilty white people try to save other people who don’t want or need to be saved, they make grandiose, empty gestures, they sling blame, they police the speech of other white people and they dedicate themselves to the fruitless project of their own exoneration.

But I’m not sure any of that is worse than what white people do in denial. Especially when that denial depends on a constant erasure of both the past and the present.

Once you’ve been living in a house for a while, you tend to begin to believe that it’s yours, even though you don’t own it yet. When those of us who are convinced of our own whiteness deny our debt, this may be an inevitable result of having lived for so long in a house bought on credit but never paid off.

We ourselves have never owned slaves, we insist, and we never say the n-word. ‘‘It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill,’’ Coates writes of Americans, ‘‘and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear.’’

A guilty white person is usually imagined as someone made impotent by guilt, someone rendered powerless. But why not imagine guilt as a prod, a goad, an impetus to action?

Isn’t guilt an essential cog in the machinery of the conscience? When I search back through my correspondence with Sherman Alexie, I find him insisting that we can’t afford to disempower white people because we need them to empower the rest of us. White people, he proposes, have the political power to make change exactly because they are white.

I once feared buying a house because I didn’t want to be owned. I had saved money with no purpose in mind other than the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Now I’m bound to this house, though I’m still free to lose it if I choose.

But that isn’t the version of freedom that interests me at the moment. I’m more compelled by a freedom that would allow me to deserve what I have. Call it liberation, maybe. If debt can be repaid incrementally, resulting eventually in ownership, perhaps so can guilt.

What is the condition of white life?

We are moral debtors who act as material creditors. Our banks make bad loans. Our police, like Nietzsche’s creditors, act out their power on black bodies.

And, as I see in my own language, we confuse whiteness with ownership. For most of us, the police aren’t ‘‘ours’’ any more than the banks are. When we buy into whiteness, we entertain the delusion that we’re business partners with power, not its minions. And we forget our debt to ourselves.

Correction: December 13, 2015
An article on Dec. 6 about race and the moral issues that come with being white in America misidentified the source of a quote from the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. His comments about slaves being “the down payment” on America’s independence, and freed slaves becoming “this country’s second mortgage” following the Civil War, came from his book “Between the World and Me,” not from an article he wrote for The Atlantic.

 

 

 

 

Were they religious rituals?  These lynching and torture of blacks in the Jim Crow South

The cliché is that Americans have a short memory, but since Saturday, a number of us have been arguing over medieval religious wars and whether they have any lessons for today’s violence in the Middle East.

Jamelle BouieJAMELLE BOUIE

Jamelle Bouie is a Slate staff writer covering politics, policy, and race.

The lynching and torture of blacks in the Jim Crow South weren’t just acts of racism.

They were religious rituals.

A Ku Klux Klan rally in Frederick, Maryland, 1980.
A Ku Klux Klan rally in Frederick, Maryland, in 1980.

For those still unaware, this debate comes after President Obama’s comments at the annual National Prayer Breakfast, where—after condemning Islamic radical group ISIS as a “death cult”—he offered a moderating thought.

“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ … So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.”

It’s a straightforward point—“no faith has a particular monopoly on religious arrogance”—that’s become a partisan flashpoint, as conservatives harangue the president for “equating” crusading Christians to Islamic radicals, accuse him of anti-Christian beliefs, and wonder why he would mention a centuries-old conflict, even if it has some analogies to the present day.

What we have missed in the argument over the Crusades, however, is Obama’s mention of slavery and Jim Crow.

At the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates puts his focus on religious justifications for American bondage, and it’s worth doing the same for its post-bellum successor. And since we’re thinking in terms of religious violence, our eyes should turn toward the most brutal spectacle of Jim Crow’s reign, the lynching.

For most of the century between the two Reconstructions, the bulk of the white South condoned and sanctioned terrorist violence against black Americans.

In a new report, the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative documents nearly 4,000 lynching of black people in 12 Southern states—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia—between 1877 and 1950, which the group notes is “at least 700 more lynching in these states than previously reported.”

For his victims, “Judge Lynch”—journalist Ida B. Wells’ name for the lynch mob—was capricious, merciless, and barbaric.

C.J. Miller, falsely accused of killing two teenaged white sisters in western Kentucky, was “dragged through the streets to a crude platform of old barrel staves and other kindling,” writes historian Philip Dray in At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America.

Miller’s assailants hanged him from a telephone pole, and while “the first fall broke his neck … the body was repeatedly raised and lowered while the crowd peppered it with small-arms fire.” For two hours his corpse hung above the street, during which he was photographed and mutilated by onlookers. Finally, he was cut down and burned.

More savage was the lynching of Mary Turner and her unborn child, killed for protesting her husband’s murder. “[B]efore a crowd that included women and children,” writes Dray, “Mary was stripped, hung upside down by the ankles, soaked with gasoline, and roasted to death. In the midst of this torment, a white man opened her swollen belly with a hunting knife and her infant fell to the ground, gave a cry, and was stomped to death.”

These lynching weren’t just vigilante punishments or, as the Equal Justice Initiative notes, “celebratory acts of racial control and domination.” They were rituals.

And specifically, they were rituals of Southern evangelicalism and its then-dogma of purity, literalism, and white supremacy. “Christianity was the primary lens through which most southerners conceptualized and made sense of suffering and death of any sort,” writes historian Amy Louise Wood in Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890–1940.

“It would be inconceivable that they could inflict pain and torment on the bodies of black men without imagining that violence as a religious act, laden with Christian symbolism and significance.”


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