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I am not ashamed/afraid to be white
by William McGaughey
In the aftermath of all the well-publicized shootings of black people by whites, the controversies about the Confederate flag, and the humiliating images of white people as a race, I feel compelled to make a public statement. I do not agree with the stereotypes that drive racial discussions in our community. As silence could imply consent, I will say as clearly as possible that I am not ashamed to have been born as I was. I am not ashamed to be white. Let me deal with specific issues.
I am not ashamed of myself and other whites that there was race-based slavery in the United States until 1865. I am not ashamed that a system of segregation existed in the southern states until fifty years ago in which blacks occupied an inferior position to whites. Those conditions are now ended, largely because of white people’s efforts and sacrifice. Also, the Confederate flag represents many different things in people’s minds besides the inhumane system of slavery.
It would be better for those who hate plantation slavery so much to combat the neo-slavery that exists in our own day: the economic exploitation by financial institutions, the injustices sanctioned by the courts, the horrendous working conditions that some lower-echelon workers have to endure. If you are so righteous and brave, take on the live slave masters rather than those long dead.
I am not ashamed of “racist” attitudes among whites unless my own. People are free to think as they please, based on their own personal experience. Black people, too, have hateful thoughts about whites. In their own way, they also tend to think they are superior. All people tend to generalize in ways flattering to themselves. However, I would not judge people by their thoughts but by their deeds. Thoughts are and ought to be free. Deeds that are harmful to others can be addressed through the legal process.
I do not condone the unjustified shootings of black people by police or by lone-wolf white males, but I do not assume responsibility for them as a white person. It is unfair to transfer the blame to the entire white race. The blame for the police killings should be directed more narrowly to the police who were involved, not only to the individual officers but also to the people who supervise them. We need better police policies and procedures. The blame for the lone-wolf killings falls upon the killers themselves. We have legal procedures to deal with murder. The idea of enhanced punishment for “hate crimes” is an invention that serves mainly political purposes.
I cannot ignore the fact that American politics is polarized on the basis of racial identity. Black people vote for the Democrats as a bloc; and white people tend less uniformly to vote Republican. To keep their constituencies in line, the Democrats must adhere to a type of racially slanted expression called “political correctness”. They must pass laws designed to combat white racism. They must excoriate the racial bigot. For their part, the Republicans dare not appease white voters in a similar way because the Civil Rights legacy is so strong. They also realize that in 25 years whites will be a minority population so that they as a party would not want to position themselves to be on the wrong side of history.
I am objecting to the anti-racist culture in politics and society. This culture has little to do with actual black people or actual whites going about their daily business. Rather, it is a way of intimidating America’s majority population to justify their exploitation. The anti-racist theme serves political, financial, and corporate interests. It is no accident that our political system is broken. There is no community of good will to fix it. People are too divided.
You do not know who I am. For all you know, I am someone who secretly wants to lynch black people but disguises the fact. Such is the lurid atmosphere of hate and suspicion that surrounds discussions of race that someone like me, a racial heretic, will be thoroughly demonized. And that is why I feel a need to act at this time and be open about it. In the next half century, I hope that race relations in America will be sanitized and racial discussions will be more evenhanded.
I will be walking through downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday with a sign saying that I am not ashamed to be white. I will be at the corner of Washington and Nicollet Avenue at 11:45 a.m. and, at noon, will start walking up Nicollet to 12th Avenue. Then I will go over to Marquette Avenue and walk back down again to Washington. The whole exercise should last about an hour.
I would be delighted if people would join me on this walk. I know the cause is politically difficult, if not dangerous, but some may agree with its sentiment. Even if you do not, this may be an occasion for discussions about race that are different than the usual ones.
***** *** ***** *** ***** *** ***** *** *****
Background discussion on E-democracy.org , US discussion list
The new Civil Wars
Posted on July 30, 2015 at 10:15pm
There are two raging civil wars going on in the U.S. right now!
One is a race war: the white race against everybody else. And the second is
Muslims fighting against the occupation of their home countries by U.S.
At this point, white racist lone-wolf terrorists are killing non-whites at a
rate twice that of lone-wolf Muslim terrorists killing U S soldiers. Most
recently: in Charleston, S.C., Dylann Roof killed nine people of color at
Mother Emanuel Church on June 17; Mohammod Abdulazeez killed five Marines in
Chattanooga, Tenn., on July 16; John R. Houser killed two women and injured
nine others at a movie theater in Lafayette, La., on July 23. That’s 11
fatalities from white racist terrorists versus five fatalities from Islamic
When U.S. soldiers are killed by Islamic terrorists the nation goes into deep
mourning. Flags are lowered to half-mast. Politicians express public sorrow
and the determination to punish the offenders. When innocent victims are
murdered by racist terrorists in a church or a movie theater it is said to be
the act of a deranged individual. But both acts must be seen as the acts of
soldiers fighting for a cause. Both kinds of terrorists see themselves as
patriots and martyrs for their cause. The hope of both white racist and
Islamic terrorists is that their actions will spark a prairie fire that will
consume their enemies.
We need to understand what these terrorists are thinking. What is the basis
for their frustration? What is their cause?
As our society becomes increasingly technological and complex, more and more
poor whites are being kicked to the gutter and they’re taking it out on the
people they think are climbing over them—women, blacks, immigrants. This is
not new. The Know Nothings believed the same things almost 200 years ago.
They feared losing their jobs. To protect their sense of self-worth, they
convinced themselves that white males were better than other people, so they
were anti-women, racist and anti-immigrant. This philosophy becomes most
explicit with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the Invisible Empire. In the
1920s, 50,000 poor whites in Akron, Ohio joined the Klan to protect their jobs
from blacks moving up from the South. All the elected officials in Akron were
members of the Klan, and they were explicitly sexist, racist and nativist.
That ideology has not gone away. But it has gone underground. Until Donald
Trump called Mexican immigrants criminals, drug dealers and rapists, most
Republican candidates had talked about strong immigration policies—which was
their way of saying Mexicans were inferior and trying to steal American jobs.
When the Mall of America prosecutes members of Black Lives Matter for holding a
rally in their public rotunda, that sends a dog whistle signal to racists that
they will be safe at the Mall from being forced to interact with any uppity
blacks who are trying to take their jobs or their place in line.
Most of the attacks on black people come from the local police. The FBI warned
in 2006 that white supremacists had seriously infiltrated police departments
nationwide and constituted a national threat. There was a racist backlash when
six police officers were indicted for the murder of Freddie Gray who died of
spinal injuries while in police custody. The police reacted by catching the
Blue Flu—they stopped working, stopped making arrests. Racist blogs and
websites continued to beat the drum for racial hatred and fear of black people.
One joke that made the rounds of reactionary racists went something like this:
“The coach had put together the perfect team for the Baltimore Ravens. The only
thing missing was a good quarterback. He had scouted all the colleges and even
the Canadian and European Leagues, but he couldn't find a ringer who could
ensure a Super Bowl win. Then one night while watching CNN he saw a war-zone
scene in the West Bank . In one corner of the background, he spotted a young
Israeli soldier with a truly incredible arm. He threw a hand-grenade straight
into a 15th story window 100 yards away. KABOOM! He threw another
hand-grenade 75 yards away, right into a chimney. KA-BLOOEY! Then he threw
another at a passing car going 90 mph. BULLS-EYE!"I've got to get this guy!"
Coach said to himself. "He has the perfect Arm!" So, he brings him to the
States and teaches him the great game of football. And the Ravens go on to win
the Super Bowl. The young man is hailed as the great hero of football, and when
the coach asks him what he wants, all the young man wants is to call his
Mother.’Mom,’ he says into the phone, ‘I just won the Super Bowl!’’I don't want
to talk to you,’ the old woman says. ‘You are not my son!’
“‘I don't think you understand, Mother,’ the young man pleads. ‘I've won the
greatest sporting event in the world. I'm here among thousands of my adoring
"’No! Let me tell you!’ his mother retorts. ‘At this very moment, there are
gunshots all around us. The neighborhood is a pile of rubble. Your two brothers
were beaten within an inch of their lives last week, and I have to keep your
sister in the house so she doesn't get raped!’ The old lady pauses, and then
tearfully says, ‘I will never forgive you for making us move to Baltimore!!!!’”
The joke is a two-fer for racists. Not only does it say that maintaining law
and order means keeping black people in line, but it also treats Palestinians
as less than human, and it says that blowing them up with hand grenades can be
an admirable sport.
Mohammod Abdulazeez shares a similar profile to most other young American mass
murderers. Like Dylann Roof, Jared Lee Loughner, James Eagan Holmes and Adam
Lanza, he lost his job, had mounting debts and needed the martyrdom of one
desperate act to redeem a life that was going nowhere. The difference was that
he was acting on behalf of an Islamic Jihad against the domination of U.S.
imperialism. In this case, as a Palestinian-American, Abdulazeez was probably
trying to avenge the 2,200 lives lost in Palestine last year in Israel’s war on
But it is not enough to describe the problem. We should also try to suggest
The U.S. government needs to recognize the tragic costs of failure in our
aggressive and predatory economy. When a young man fails in America, he will
often strike out at others, blaming them for his failures. The U.S. will spend
$3 trillion next year on fighting Islamic terrorism. We need to spend some of
that money on counseling young men about vocational options. No human being
should consider themself a failure. All of us have worth. We need counselors
to reaffirm the worth of young men who are lost in a sea of confusion and
violence. We need to step forward to help these young men.
And we need to step back from the wars in the Middle East. Arabs and Persians
and Jews are entitled to work things out for themselves. Our involvement in
Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc., has only made matters worse. And there is no
reason to get caught in a 3,000-year-old struggle between Iran and Israel,
between Nebuchadnezzar and the self-proclaimed King of Judah. They’re going to
have to work that out for themselves.
Posted on July 31, 2015 at 9:00 pm
I must disagree with my friend Ed Felien in his assessment of the two “civil
wars” going on in the United States: a white war against black people and an
Islamic terrorist war directed against the west.
I do not think there is anything like an organized “war” conducted against
black people. There is an Islamic war in Afghanistan and Syria. However, the
lone-wolf white males whose violence has recently been in the news were acting
on their own. Dylann Roof was obviously lashing out against black people.
Mohammod Abdulazeez seems to be an example of “Islamic” violence. Police do
not know the motivation of John R. Hauser; he seems to have been angered by a
divorce and foreclosure - my experience, too, by the way. His victims were two
Ed and I have had discussions of race before. He thinks white people feel
threatened by competition for educational slots and jobs from minorities. I
think all people are threatened by expensive, useless educations and an absence
of real productive jobs. Having sympathies for the white race myself, I do not
feel motivated by the type of concern Ed raises.
Rather my concern is directed at anti-white attitudes in society. There is
outright hatred of white people among our society’s cultural elite - in the
media, religion, politics, and education. The insulting concept of “white
privilege” is part of this. Whites are often ridiculed in the entertainment
industry. The demeaning attitude taken toward me in my racial aspect does
create a sense of alienation from society. I no longer have a community of my
There are other white people who are honest enough to admit that this problem
exists. There are groups profiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I would
be inclined to join such groups except that I think they are on the wrong path
in attacking black people as a race. It would be better to focus upon the
hatred directed against whites often in the name of tolerance and love, and
make this the target of protest.
Recently, I have had the idea that white people’s political salvation lies in
marching for their dignity. I have posted an advertisement for this at
http://www.billmcgaughey.com/march.html. So far, I have found nobody to join
me. Therefore, I may march by myself. I will march through downtown
Minneapolis under the banner of “I am not ashamed of being white”.
Ed and I agree that there is a problem with white police officers killing
blacks. I think we can agree it has to do with police attitudes. He would
call it “racism”. I would say that the police need to develop better attitudes
toward the civilian population they allegedly serve. They need better
But a call for better police discipline has gone nowhere. It is only when the
problem is racialized that it gets political attention. So we have “black
lives matter” when it ought to be “all people’s lives matter”. Racial
differences serve certain political interests.
Two years ago, the Minneapolis police shot and killed a young black man in a
basement in an incident that I think was worse than that in Ferguson, Missouri.
But the police chief successfully stonewalled the public. Nothing was ever
done to discipline the officers or change police policy.
How did the police chief do it? An outside consultant recommended that she
redirect attention to racism in the police force. She formed a citizens
committee to deal with this problem. She vowed to root out racism in the
department. And so the blame was transferred from improper policing (which
could cast doubt upon her own supervision) to racism among the low-ranking
officers. Being a native American lesbian herself, the chief was inoculated
against such criticism herself.
The political culture of America is sick and I think the anti-racism obsession
is a large part of this. The Democrats have totally bought into this theme (so
that they retain black voters as a monolithic bloc) and the Republicans are
afraid to be seen as pro-white. So America’s majority population is under an
enduring cloud of shame.
I will march in Minneapolis to say that I do not think this is right. I am not
ashamed of my race; and other white people need not be ashamed either. We are
not yet nothing.
Posted on August 1, 2015 at 7:14 pm
Mr. McGaughy is in error and Ed Felien is partially in error.
The civil war against black people is not new. It's been being fought since the
first African was forced over here. It only shifts from hot to cold to tepid.
Not a nice part of our behavior by any stretch.
Posted on August 1, 2015 at 10:00 pm
My walk through downtown Minneapolis on behalf of my dignity as a white man
will take place next Wednesday. There will be further announcements giving
Wizard Marks thinks she has the authority to pronounce that my views are
erroneous. She does not. We each answer to ourselves on questions like this.
I decide who I am and want to be.
Posted on August 2, 2015 at 8:32pm
"Rather my concern is directed at anti-white attitudes in society."
There are few anti-white attitudes in society. "Anti-white" is largely a white
invention, based on thinking minorities return the racism they're shown by some
whites, as well as some others. Many seem to think lighter-skinned is better.
" The insulting concept of “white privilege” is part of this."
When my kids are out at night, I have no fear that they'll end up in jail,
beaten. I have no fear that the police will watch their every move with
suspicion. This is white privilege. When I go for jobs, the manager usually
shares my skin tone and my "accent". Banks and car salespeople assume I have
good credit. This is white privilege.
What's insulting about white privilege, for whites? I can see how it'd be
insulting for people not bestowed it. But for whites?
" There is outright hatred of white people among our society’s cultural elite -
in the media, religion, politics, and education. Whites are often ridiculed in the entertainment industry."
Everyone is ridiculed by comedians, but white people least of all. I asked a
culture-savvy kid for his take on this, a college student who's also studying
psychology and sociology.
He said no, whites are not ridiculed. And the previous statement, "outright
hatred of white people among our society’s cultural elite" sounds paranoid.
If you can cite some quotes, both by entertainers and "cultural elite", I'm
very interested in seeing the kind of occurrence you're reacting to.
Ed's position, given by you, sounds more accurate. Poor and lower middle-class
whites feel a lot of competitive pressure and often economic hardship, yet the
press focuses on the problems of blacks and latinos.
" The demeaning attitude taken toward me in my racial aspect does create a
sense of alienation from society. I no longer have a community of my own."
When I contemplate where you could have gotten these feelings from, my best
guess is that you've made up these meanings out of your personal circumstances.
I'd be happy to talk to you about this off-line. I sent you a contact request.
In my view, the main difference between claims of anti-minority and anti-white
prejudice is that all (or almost all), minorities know about anti-minority
prejudice. But anti-white prejudice seems to be claimed by only a fraction of
whites. Perhaps it's because it only exists some places and not others, but
that wouldn't explain your comments about ridicule and hatred by entertainers
and the elite.
Another difference is that minorities are usually extremely gracious about
anti-minority prejudice. Even when they fight it, they fight prejudice, not
whites. They cite specific arrests, brutality, discrimination, even specific
comments, like Trumps remark about Mexican criminals. The only specific
complaint I've heard about anti-white prejudice is affirmative action, which to
me is not actually anti-white prejudice.
Posted on August 2, 2015 at 10:05 pm
With respect to Rand Strauss' remarks, I'm afraid this will have to be a
situation where people consult their own experiences and recollections in
deciding whether there is an anti-white culture. I do not keep a log of racial
provocations. If I did, it would be to serve a preconceived agenda which would
not be helpful here.
Am I hallucinating about this? You be the judge. If we all live in the same
community but have sharply opposed interpretations of experience, it does not
bode well for the future of that community. There must be some common,
Posted on August 3, 2015 at 12:09 am
Give us specific and concrete examples of how you have been discriminated
against as a white male.
Posted on August 3, 2015 at 12:33am
Well, I said I did not keep a list of such things. But now I am challenged to
provide specific items as if I was talking through my hat. So here goes:
When in 1993 I bought an apartment building in Minneapolis filled mostly with
black tenants, the neighborhood association supported by the city council
representative (Jackie Cherryhomes) accused me of not doing enough to deal with
crime in the building. I was ordered to evict all the tenants immediately.
Some time later, the city condemned my building through two separate sets of
inspectors, forcing me to make expensive repairs. The city was really after
the crime, but politically it could not make black people the target of public
criticism. The crime problem had to have a white face - mine. That is one
example. The blame was shifted to me for reasons of racial politics.
Now another example: In the past two years, I have twice applied for a staff
position with the Harrison Neighborhood Association. The position was
Transportation and Housing Coordinator. My credentials were much better than
those of the other candidates. I had been cost accountant at the Metropolitan
Transit Commission for 16 years and had been co-leader of a citywide landlord
organization. Even so, I was not invited to an interview in either case. The
job posting strongly encouraged women and minorities to apply. In both cases,
the successful job applicants stayed with HNA only for a short time.
I hope you will be big enough, Ed, to admit that I have given you what you
But really anti-white discrimination is not the issue. It is the pervasive
attitude of hostility toward white people that results in subtle unkind
treatment in various ways. It is also a generally demoralizing influence,
pitting us vs. them. America is in decline for this and other reasons.
Posted on August 3, 2015 at 2:10am
Let's see, police officers are killing about one black person a day on
average in the US, and Bill McGaughey is screaming about anti-white bias.
I can't speak for Bill, but I lived in the hood, Selby-Dale for 18 years,
1980 until 1998, and never once encountered anti-white bias.
But I agree with Wizard. The war against blacks is nothing new. It has
gone on for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, it appears that some racists
have traded in their sheets for blue uniforms, and have traded the rope for
a 9mm Glock.
Posted on August 3, 2015 at 10:12 am
Bill, thank you for the examples.
First, the deliberate harassment by Jackie Cherryhomes seems clearly a ploy on
her part to curry political favor with the neighborhood group. I am sure no
matter what color you were, if you were the owner of a property that had drug
dealing or other criminal activity going on, Jackie Cherryhomes would "make an
example of you" to convince the neighbors she was doing a great job. The fact
that you're white and a leader of the landlord organization would make you an
even more desirable target. But the essence of the attack was class based
prejudice against the petit-bourgeois, a cheap shot against small business
people. The irony is that your partner was a racial minority and you lived in
So, my assessment is that you were probably discriminated against because of
your status as a landlord and owner of the property, although this could have
been exaggerated by your being white.
The second example is more clearly discrimination based on race. Yes, you may
have been better qualified but passed over for a woman or minority because the
people doing the hiring were using Affirmative Action to encourage hiring
people who might not ordinarily get picked for such a position. The Baake
Decision in 1978 validated Affirmative Action, saying race and gender could be
used as part of the criteria for hiring someone or admitting them to college.
I think this was a terrible decision. People compete against each other based
on race or sex.
Both your examples (I think) are from 20 years ago. I think times have
changed. Neighborhood groups are much more interested in working with
landlords rather than bullying them and a quota system for hiring has been
discouraged as social relations between ethnic groups become more mature.
I would very enthusiastically recommend you read The Redneck Manifesto: How
Hillbillies, Hicks, and White Trash Became America's Scapegoats: "Culture
maverick Jim Goad presents a thoroughly reasoned, darkly funny, and rampagingly
angry defense of America's most maligned social group - the cultural clan
variously referred to as rednecks, hillbillies, white trash, crackers, and
trailer trash. As The Redneck Manifesto boldly points out and brilliantly
demonstrates, America's dirty little secret isn't racism but classism. While
pouncing incessantly on racial themes, most major media are silent about
America's widening class rifts, a problem that negatively affects more people
of all colors than does racism. With an unmatched ability for rubbing salt in
cultural wounds, Jim Goad deftly dismantles most popular American notions about
race and culture and takes a sledgehammer to our delicate glass-blown popular
conceptions of government, religion, media, and history."
Finally, I believe white males are a privileged group in America--in school, on
the job, by the police. There are societal prejudices against minorities and
women that benefit white males. This has been measured in police stops,
funding allocations for education, hiring practices, etc. That seems, to me,
to be the principal problem with racism in America.
Posted on August 4, 2015 at 12:09am
Maybe "The Redneck Manifesto" would be a good book for me to read when I go on
jury duty next week. Of course, I'd have to excuse myself for certain types of
Thanks for your comments, Ed. Actually my second experience happened within
the past two years.
The walk will start at the corner of Washington Ave. and Nicollet Ave. at 11:45
a.m. on Wednesday. Anyone is welcome to participate or be a spectator.
Posted on August 4, 2015 at 6:05 am
It really sounds like a lot of the things that you are finding abrasive to
your dignity are not things you've ventured to explore in any depth with
people outside of your Euro American demographic.
I certainly can relate to having a reaction to the term "White Privilege",
especially if you first heard it from middle class college kids, who
leveled it as a blaming blast, and who thought severe poverty was only
being able to afford Burger King, and maybe you grew up not even being able to afford Burger
King most of your formative years. ..
Maybe a place like that was a once a season. ..maybe. ...treat.
Maybe it hurt your brain that people could even think of calling you
privileged when punks in shiny new shoes eating daily fast food were being
called "underprivileged" and you were being called "privileged" after
earning any spending money you had by working in the fields til you were
cotton mouthed and sunblasted, with blisters breaking open under your
After a childhood of highwater hand me down pants and worn out shoes that
only gave up the ghost after years of being for chores, school, and
church, polished and cared for til they couldn't be salvaged.
Was that your deal, Bill?
I don't know.
But "privilege" in this setting isn't about that...it's really not saying
that you had a butler, and polo ponies, and grounds groomed by gardeners
that you could stroll.
It's a flawed term.
What it sounds like you don't understand, and maybe you haven't tried to
understand, is that the way Whitecentric racism is deeply blended into the
foundational substrates of the colonialism culture's institutions means
that a "white" person has the 'privilege' of driving down the street with a
strong likelihood that the same police who would statistically see a threat
or problem based on color or perceived demographics...will almost certainly
see a "person" when you drive by...Instead of a target. It really is a
"privilege", in comparison to the realities of Latino, Black, and Native
folk especially...to have an interaction with the police and not have the
urgent reality that they likely see you as someone whom they can freak out
on with impunity...looking for any opportunity to flip out and vent their
frustrations on...with every statistically backed likelihood that they
could torture, beat, and even kill you...without any prosecution
This problem affects people of color in extremely disproportionate levels,
and it helped my awareness that multiple friends of friends were unarmed
and murdered by the police, across the previous 12 years, and one personal
If you do some research on this issue with real people of color from the
street level up, I think you will find treasure, really find real
treasure....that you wouldn't find by just walking your
"Dignity Walk" with a concentration on being heard.
I'm not sure how you missed that your walk is to be on stolen land, taken
with deceit and massacres and concentration camps like Ft. Snelling, and
$200 bounties on Dakota men, women, or children's severed ears...as proof
of their slaughter....a little more than a century ago. ..
BY THE STATE OF MINNESOTA.
(Google 1863 Wilmar paper if you need to. )
Or....How you can really be blind to how much of the status quo is
absolutely still just slightly altered 19th century slavery era
I really "get" some of where you're coming from, seriously. .. and I get
attacked reaaaaalllly harshly for having any opinions that don't conform to
the emerging religions of P.C. that various subgroups proselytize...
and at the same time I don't hear anything from you that indicates that you
have attempted to really feel into, study, or comprehend the deep infusion
of Eurocentrism, slave culture, colonialism, and genocidal legacy, that has
shaped, spun, and directed so very much of your environment....and the
current events happening in this era, involving all of us.
I hope you will engage leaders from demographics outside of your comfort
zone in your Quest for dignity, as you discover how deeply your dignity is
much more at risk from your own internal choices than anything others are
All the Best,
Posted on August 4, 2015 at 2:28 pm
Since he does not know me personally, I don't know where Peter Thomas gets the
idea that I am a white person living in a white comfort zone who has little
contact with or understanding of black people.
Maybe we could compare the amount of interaction that Thomas and I have with
persons of another race. Is he himself black? Does he live with or near black
people? Has he met them in coffee shops? What exactly are his qualifications
for superior understanding?
Some blacks are immersed in racial victimhood while others are not. Our better
future lies with the second group of people.
My quarrel is more with white people who are down on their own race than with
blacks. I suspect that for some whites black people are an accessory to their
own aspirations for a better identity. They are using blacks in a way.
Posted on August 4, 2015 at 3:19pm
I think I spoke of in - depth conversation with community leaders on the
specific topic of white privilege.
Nowhere did I imply that you don't know, or regularly interact with, any
Black people or people of color.
Laura Waterman Wittstock
Posted on August 6, 2015 at 2:18 pm
Bill McGaughey wrote: “ Today, August 5th, I walked up and down Nicollet Avenue carrying a sign that read: “I am not ashamed/afraid to be white.” It was a personal statement of my view of the current state of race relations, partly growing out of discussions on the e-democracy forum.”
I think if your sign said, "I have no choice but to be white," it would have
been a clearer statement. Shame and fear come from one's learning experiences.
To profess no shame or fear is to criticize those who do feel those emotions.
We live in a very mixed world, in many ways insulated from the realities the
rest of the world has to deal with.
I met some African women at the first UN Women's Forum in Mexico City in 1975
who told me I could never speak of being oppressed when I come from such a
fabulously rich and peaceful country as the United States. As shocking as I
found this assertion, knowing what I did about how Indigenous people in the
Western Hemisphere had been killed, their lands usurped, and the heavy boot of
government put on their affairs, I had to think for a moment about what these
women might mean.
These were educated women. They were tri-lingual in most cases: French, Native
tongue, and English. They held fairly high governmental posts. I on the other
hand was a journalist and at the time ED of the American Indian Press
Association, located in Washington, D.C.
Yet they strongly felt I had privilege and they did not. I was forced to
somewhat agree. I personally had some privilege via my job, but certainly
thousands of my fellow countrymen lived in abject poverty, very similar to
African village people.
Over the days, I ate with these women, we went on walking tours together, and
got to know one another better. At the end of the 9 or 10 days we were there,
we had come to enjoy one another's company and there was a huge reduction in
The lesson there is our race issues in this country are not so much about who
is white and who is not - but intercepting a continuation of estrangement where
little or no effort is made to know our neighbors, our fellow citizens, our
countrymen. When whites move far away as they have in our community, they are
saying they don't want to know other people, they want isolation, and they want
a place uncluttered by those who are not white. That is what is crippling us as
We are all humans - who have developed a propensity to look at our skins and
see some sort of difference. I can guarantee you that on the operating table,
no signs are necessary to signify who you are. Once the skin is cut, it is
clear we are all the same.
It seems like such a hard lesson to learn: looking beyond the skin. But that is
where we have to go to learn about our own humanity.
Posted on August 6, 2015 at 6:29 pm
Growing up, my parents, both first generation, had various quirks of language
which may have been fairly universal for that time and place. However, that
kind of language was passed on to all the kids in the neighborhood. (This
neighborhood was all white, all Roman Catholic, and either of German or Irish
extract--or both.) Doubtless we all know some of those quirks--for want of a
better word. However, it sets the next generation up for carrying the racism
and class values forward. Now, in our no longer segregated city, blabbing out
one of those word groups hurts another's feelings and perpetuates the racism
yet again. Sample: 'it's a Mexican standoff.'
All that kind of language perpetuates isolation from the amazing richness of
all our neighbors.We are all obliged to censor our ingrained hatefulness rather
than perpetuating our fears of the "other." Then we can focus on the REAL
other - the sociopaths, the psychopaths, the confused who mow down people in a
church or shoot kids in their schools, or annihilate people in a theater or
Posted on August 6, 2015 at 7:20 pm
> The scenario that makes Rupert Murdoch jolt awake with night
> sweats must be one possibility, that he’ll lose control over the
> monster he wakened.It’s one thing tore-ignite the American Civil
> a political tool, riling Red America’s wrath toward all elites
> who aren’t oligarchs. Hey, it worked for plantation owners in
> 1860… for a while.
The Trump swivel-dance – Study them moves!
David Brin calls himself a "Smithian Libertarian" and often writes about
The new Civil war. Interesting read, even the comments this time.
Posted on August 6, 2015 at 10:25 pm
David Brin and others have interesting theories about the Confederacy carried
forward into our own day. My contrarian view is based on mechanisms of social,
economic, and political control.
The Civil rights model of politics - whether it applies to race, ethnicity,
gender, or sexual preference - is the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.
The Republicans, with their “silent majority”, take no explicit stand on race,
although they win support from disaffected whites by not being Democrats.
There is no overtly pro-white faction of any consequence among either the
Republicans or Democrats.
Corporate America is solidly behind anti-racist policies. Let me give a
Back in 2002, I ran for U.S. Senate in the Independence Party primary. I tried
to differentiate myself as sharply as I could from both Democrats and
Republicans. My campaign platform therefore consisted of two planks: 1. I
propose a 32-hour workweek by 2010. 2. I favor dignity for white males. These
two planks were intended to oppose the Republicans and Democrats respectively.
When I attempted to place a paid ad in the Star Tribune quoting these two
planks, I was told that the Star Tribune would not accept any ad that contained
the phrase “dignity for white males” Evidently, its “legal department” had
recommended against acceptance of the ad. The Star Tribune publisher confirmed
the policy although he did not offer any explanation.
This told me that there were serious problems with the values held in this
community if a person could not say that he supported dignity for his own race.
I suppose that a declaration of support for white people was taken to mean that
the person had secret sympathies for violently anti-black groups.
My own subjective take on the situation is that “anti-racist” policies aimed at
white people are one of the control mechanisms that the economic and political
elite uses to keep less powerful whites in line. Black people, while not
explicitly covered by such policies, also suffer indirectly.
My understand of the situation is that the power elite first discredits people
morally and then exploits them financially and politically. If white people as
a class are regarded as vile racists, then they of course deserve to be
punished. Corporate America keeps them working for low wages and long hours
while the CEOs get richer and richer. It is to the advantage of America’s
ruling class to foster a derogatory view of the nation’s majority population
so they can be treated without mercy. Race plays a key role in this process.
People have asked me if black people have harmed me in some way because I try
to uphold white dignity. No, it is the power structure, fostering anti-white
attitudes, that has harmed me. I was harmed when first the neighborhood group
and city administration tried to run me out of business as a landlord and, more
recently, when I have been hurt by legal processes in Minneapolis and Hennepin
County. I have posted complete, detailed accounts of those bad judicial
experiences at http://www.billmcgaughey.com/legalchallenges.html.
The cases involving myself on that web site have to do with domestic abuse,
divorce, and foreclosure. I have also included analyses of court cases
involving young black men who were convicted of murder and sentenced to many
years in prison. I believe that both men were innocent of those charges.
Since the guilty parties were also black, this may not represent anti-black
bias as such. It is more an example of cheapening a person’s identity so that
he can be abused without recourse. The current narrative of race relations
cheapens us all, making us eligible for abuse.
Posted on August 7, 2015 at 5:27 pm
Some perspectives on privilege:
***** *** ***** *** ***** *** ***** *** *****
Background discussion on E-democracy.org , Minneapolis discussion list
I am not ashamed to be white
Posted on August 3, 2015 at 2:43 pm
In the aftermath of all the well-publicized shootings of black people by
whites, the controversies about the Confederate flag, and the humiliating
images of white people as a race, I feel compelled to make a public statement.
I do not agree with the stereotypes that drive racial discussions in our
community. As silence could imply consent, I will say as clearly as possible
that I am not ashamed to have been born as I was. I am not ashamed to be white.
Let me deal with specific issues.
I am not ashamed of myself and other whites that there was race-based slavery
in the United States until 1865. I am not ashamed that a system of segregation
existed in the southern states until fifty years ago in which blacks occupied
an inferior position to whites. Those conditions are now ended, largely
because of white people’s efforts and sacrifice. Also, the Confederate flag
represents many different things in people’s minds besides the inhumane system
It would be better for those who hate plantation slavery so much to combat the
neo-slavery that exists in our own day: the economic exploitation by financial
institutions, the injustices sanctioned by the courts, the horrendous working
conditions that some lower-echelon workers have to endure. If you are so
righteous and brave, take on the live slave masters rather than those long
I am not ashamed of “racist” attitudes among whites unless my own. People are
free to think as they please, based on their own personal experience. Black
people, too, have hateful thoughts about whites. In their own way, they also
tend to think they are superior. All people tend to generalize in ways
flattering to themselves. However, I would not judge people by their thoughts
but by their deeds. Thoughts are and ought to be free. Deeds that are harmful
to others can be addressed through the legal process.
I do not condone the unjustified shootings of black people by police or by
lone-wolf white males, but I do not assume responsibility for them as a white
person. It is unfair to transfer the blame to the entire white race. The
blame for the police killings should be directed more narrowly to the police
who were involved, not only to the individual officers but also to the people
who supervise them. We need better police policies and procedures. The blame
for the lone-wolf killings falls upon the killers themselves. We have legal
procedures to deal with murder. The idea of enhanced punishment for “hate
crimes” is an invention that serves mainly political purposes.
I cannot ignore the fact that American politics is polarized on the basis of
racial identity. Black people vote for the Democrats as a bloc; and white
people tend less uniformly to vote Republican. To keep their constituencies in
line, the Democrats must adhere to a type of racially slanted expression called
“political correctness”. They must pass laws designed to combat white racism.
They must excoriate the racial bigot. For their part, the Republicans dare not
appease white voters in a similar way because the Civil Rights legacy is so
strong. They also realize that in 25 years whites will be a minority population
so that they as a party would not want to position themselves to be on the
wrong side of history.
I am objecting to the anti-racist culture in politics and society. This
culture has little to do with actual black people or actual whites going about
their daily business. Rather, it is a way of intimidating America’s majority
population to justify their exploitation. The anti-racist theme serves
political, financial, and corporate interests. It is no accident that our
political system is broken. There is no community of good will to fix it.
People are too divided.
You do not know who I am. For all you know, I am someone who secretly wants to
lynch black people but disguises the fact. Such is the lurid atmosphere of
hate and suspicion that surrounds discussions of race that someone like me, a
racial heretic, will be thoroughly demonized. And that is why I feel a need to
act at this time and be open about it. In the next half century, I hope that
race relations in America will be sanitized and racial discussions will be more
I will be walking through downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday with a sign saying
that I am not ashamed to be white. I will be at the corner of Washington and
Nicollet Avenue at 11:45 a.m. and, at noon, will start walking up Nicollet to
12th Avenue. Then I will go over to Marquette Avenue and walk back down again
to Washington. The whole exercise should last about an hour.
I would be delighted if people would join me on this walk. I know the cause is
politically difficult, if not dangerous, but some may agree with its sentiment.
Even if you do not, this may be an occasion for discussions about race that are
different than the usual ones.
Posted on August 3, 2015 at 4:36pm
What the I can't even.
Posted on August 3, 2015 at 3:37pm
I'm not sure what the message from Bree Dalager means.
The walk connected with this topic starts at the corner of Washington and
Nicollet Avenues shortly before noon tomorrow (Wednesday). We go up Nicollet
to 12th Avenue S., over to Marquette Avenue, and then back again to Washington.
For anyone interested, it should be a good opportunity to talk about race
relations in Minnesota and elsewhere.
Posted on August 3, 2015 at 3:56pm
Announcing this "event" in the forum is permitted since it is happening
The content of the discussion as framed by Mr. McGaughey's original post
in this thread is outside the scope of this forum as it is not specific
to Minneapolis. The discussion is better suited for the E-democracy.org
US Issues Forum. http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/us
I encourage the discussion to be taken up in the US Issues Forum by
those interested in continuing it.
I don't except to see any further discussion of this topic in this
thread unless it is within the forum's scoping rules. That is, specific
If you have concerns about this decision, please contact me directly and
*offlist* at mattp AT pobox DOT com. Discussion of forum in the forum is
prohibited by our forum rules.
Posted on August 3, 2015 at 7:10pm
There is so much to respond to in Bill McGaughey's commentary, but let me take
on just one issue: segregation in the South (and in the North, as well) was not
ended "largely because of white people’s efforts and sacrifice."
The strides that have been made toward racial equality are largely because of
the efforts and sacrifice of black people. Thurgood Marshal and Brown v. Board
of Education of Topeka; the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King; the
NAACP, SCLC, CORE, and SNCC; Rosa Parks; the list goes on and on. As does the
list of the African American men and women who led the early efforts here in
the 1950 and 60's in Minnesota: Fredrick L. McGhee, the Reverend Denzil A.
Carty, Nellie Stone Johnson, Harry Davis, Josie Johnson, Syl Jones, Gwen Davis,
Matt Little, and so many, many more.
And, most important, we should never forget the immeasurably longer list of
African-American men who stood up for their rights and were beaten and lynched;
the thousands of black soldiers who came home after risking their lives in WWII
and refused to return to second class citizenship; the African-American women
who walked to work rather than ride the bus and endured indignities day after
These are the heroes whose courage and leadership, sacrifice, suffering and
death have made our society a better place and to whom we, black and white, all
owe a debt of gratitude.
Posted on August 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm
Today, August 5th, I walked up and down Nicollet Avenue carrying a sign that read: “I am not ashamed/afraid to be white.” It was a personal statement of my view of the current state of race relations, partly growing out of discussions on the e-democracy forum.
Press releases were sent to the major media in Minneapolis but none responded. Race relations may define the major political fault line in America at this time, but it is clear that the commercial media are not interested in covering this “conversation” if it is not conducted in the right way.
With respect to the event itself, it could best be characterized: Nothing much happened. I walked up and down Nicollet Mall at a moderately brisk pace, stopping for brief conversations and photos. The overall tone of the event was positive. There were no threats of violence but also no expressions of ecstatic support.
The crowd on Nicollet Avenue was about evenly divided between whites and racial minorities. I would say that the reaction was much the same from both groups except that whites were less apt to stop for conversation. The corporate types walked by with eyes averted.
There were two kinds of reaction: (1) Some persons wanted to know why I was doing this. I generally described my walk as a protest against the negative image of white people or the poor state of race relations, adding that being pro-white did not imply being anti-black. Almost without exception, people were satisfied with that explanation. Some even said they agreed with me. (2) There were simple statements of acceptance. Blacks said things like “you have nothing to be ashamed of” or “I’m not ashamed to be black either”.
On the other hand, one black man said he had “mixed feelings” about my event after hearing my explanation. Another, rather ominously, took a video of me with the sign and said I would become “internationally famous”. White people, if they reacted at all, were more likely to honk or give thumbs up. By far the largest number of people simply ignored the event.
Lots of people took pictures without stopping for conversation. On my long walk back to the car, I ran into a man who seemed to be a professional photographer who took lots of photographs of me with the sign. He said he was doing something on the Hennepin County burner, but, other than that, I have no idea how or if the photographs will be used.
This, then, is my subjective account of how racial statements printed on signs play out during the lunch hour on Nicollet Avenue.
Posted on August 6, 2015 at 4:36 am
To be fair, the STAR TRIBUNE has devoted hundreds of column inches over the
past several years to covering many conversations and many events focused on
or relevant to race relations in Minnesota, the United States but especially
in Minneapolis. One guy walking down Nicollet Avenue downtown carrying a
sign is not an event. It is . . . well, one guy walking down Nicollet
Avenue carrying a sign. It is not news.
Posted on August 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm
It would seem you should know the unspoken rules of media in the Minneapolis
Metro, you might get more attention. Any story about a kid, an animal or
notable death trumps stories or events of substance. A kid with a dog who has
cancer and ia bout to die would even surplant Trump winning a nomination. You
hit the trifecta. Lions, hoopsters and a funeral. On the surface, a case of
Posted on August 6, 2015 at 3:27 pm
There's one more for local television, fires! Burning buildings are a
must for the visual media.
Posted on August 6, 2015 at 3:36 pm
I dunno, Fredda. If a fourth-grade art fair broke out anywhere in Minneapolis,
local TV might have a tough choice!
Posted on August 6, 2015 at 3:47 pm
CUTE KITTENS! CUTE KITTENS!!
(and ducks crossing the freeway)
Posted on August 6, 2015 at 7:49pm
Or mabey the media didn't show up because its not a story at all. There is no
bad image of white people in the media. There is a clear bad image assigned to
all other races though. You can see this in Donald Trump's recent statements
about Mexicans. You dont have any crazy black people or mexicans making
comments about all the white people raping all our women (even though it would
be a more factually acurate statement). Even kare 11 recently aired a story
about how rape kits werent by properly tested in Minnesota and during the story
they showed images of convicted sex offenders and not one of the people they
showed were white not one. Just think about the recent shootings, if its a
black muslim its terrorism, but if its a white guy shooting up a black church
we have to have a debate about weather it was even race related. Bill Im sorry
but you are wasting your time and energy for no good reason.
Posted on August 8, 2015 at 4:50 pm
Thank you, Mr. Hanson
Posted on August 10, 2015 at 9:17 am
Perhaps there was no press attention because they are experienced enough to
interpret your sign as saying, "Look at me!"
Posted on August 10, 2015 at 9:17 am
The forum moderator had asked that further comments on this subject be made on
the US forum. However, a number of persons on this forum have interpreted my
walk on Nicollet Mall last week as a narcissistic exercise in which I was
demanding that the media pay attention to me. Of course, it was not news that a
single individual carrying a sign made such a walk, they say.
I made the walk for the sake of the message on the sign: “I am not
ashamed/afraid to be white.” Race relations in our community are in a poor
state. My belief is that the systematic disparagement of white people as a
race does not help matters but instead creates submerged feelings of bitterness
among white people who are punished if they express their feelings openly.
Much intimidation is involved in the process. My exercise, whether or not
anyone agrees with it, was intended to defy the intimidation and generate open
discussion on this important topic.
There is a kind of mandatory belief on race relations that rises to the level
of a civic religion. The intensity of thinking and enforcement of belief
resembles that during the Inquisition and the witchcraft trials. I am a racial
heretic who refuses to go along with this hateful process. Herd thinking on
social and political topics is seldom beneficial.
Why should the media want to cover a solitary walk? Certainly it is not to
suggest a political trend. It may be to show that a political animal, believed
extinct, yet resides in our community. If Bigfoot showed up on Nicollet Mall,
would that not be news?
Posted on August 11, 2015 at 3:22 pm
That a Minneapolis resident walks on a Minneapolis street carrying a sign
declaring himself is not proper fodder as a United States issue. Perhaps had
his sign's message ended with the two words, "in Minneapolis," there would have
been 3 and not just 2 facts defining the post as 'Minneapolis specific.'
Posted on August 11, 2015 at 10:52 pm
Like Bill, I am definitely not afraid to be white in Minneapolis because I can
be pretty certain I won't be detained or killed for no reason by the cops. As
for ashamed? I've done the most I can to disassociate myself from racist whites
and protest police brutality. I think that beats carrying a sign that most
people would interpret ambiguously at best.
Posted on August 12, 2015 at 1:29 am
Perhaps I'm just not paying attention but I haven't seen any systematic
disparagement of white people as a race. From what I can tell we're still pretty much running things.
Posted on August 13, 2015 at 8:05 am
This will be my last posting on the subject of not being ashamed to be white.
I cannot help noting that I am the only person participating in this thread who
felt that that there was a problem with anti-white attitudes in our culture.
No one shared my point of view. Perhaps a dozen persons disagreed.
Am I living in another world? Assuming not, why is my view of race relations
as expressed in public so different than everyone else’s? Mental illness,
perhaps? I don’t think I am mentally ill nor would I pin this label on persons
holding an opposite view.
I do think, however, that there is an ideological orthodoxy, sometimes called
“political correctness”, that holds a tight grip on people and prevents a
variety of opinions from being expressed. Just as a 100% vote in an election
suggests the absence of democracy, so the uniformity of opinion regarding race
relations suggests an unhealthy situation in which deviant thoughts are
I cannot convince anyone to accept my point of view, nor do I wish to do so.
The bottom line is that each person needs to take an honest look at what he or
she has personally experienced and fearlessly determine the truth on that
Posted on August 17, 2015 at 3:52 pm
I've only lived in this country for a bit over 4 decades. In that time, I
also have never felt ashamed of being white or afraid about being white.
Nor during that time have I felt any degree of pressure to feel that shame
I have, at times, felt ashamed for being ignorant of the history of our
nation. I was able to shed that shame by becoming more educated.
I have also, at times, felt ashamed for not recognizing that the very
reasonable rights and privileges I have as a member of our society are not
extended to all of my fellow citizens. I was able to shed that shame by
becoming more educated.
Once I lost those shames, I realized I then had some shame for not doing
what I could to support more equal treatment for all people.
So, that's where I am. Like everyone else should be granted, I carry no
burden of shame for my gender, pigment, or orientation. I do, however,
sometimes feel shame when feel that I'm not doing enough to ensure that
every citizen of our country has the same privileges that I do regardless
of their color, gender, or sexual orientation.
Oh, also, while I realize it is not my fault, I also sometimes feel
somewhat embarrassed by proxy when I see other straight white men whinge
and make a big drama about how unfairly they perceive they're being treated.
Posted on August 19, 2015 at 3:02 pm
What is not always apparent is, that wherever we are on the political
spectrum, how much we have been impacted by racial politics. What is even more
troubling is: "Dog Whistle Politics-How Coded Racial Appeals Have
Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class."
I keep thinking about William and his sign about not being ashamed...
I admire his courage to talk about race.
What Ian Haney Lopez writes about, among other issues, is how strategic
racism (intentional use of race to create concentrated wealth and power) has
transformed our country to a place where it is the victimization of whites
that has become a pervasive moral evil. "In a 2011 poll, more than half of
whites thought that discrimination against their race was "as big a problem"
as the mistreatment of nonwhites"
William with his Nicollet Ave. placard about not being ashamed of being
white is newsworthy because of how invisible and pervasive political racism
has become and how deeply he feels that anti-racism is an unfair burden.
"For their part, the Republicans dare not appease white voters in a similar way because the Civil Rights legacy is so
strong. They also realize that in 25 years whites will be a minority
population so that they as a party would not want to position themselves to be on the
wrong side of history."
This is the point of dog whistle politics- Neither sentence is true. The
whistles are being blown loudly-we just don't hear them.
In fact, racial politics, disguised as get government off our backs,
family values, welfare, war on drugs, voter fraud, fear of integration and
immigration, have fueled white fears that have become so "commonsense
rhetoric" that we assume these are not race based codes that increase disparities of
poverty and racial inequity.
To bring this back to a Minneapolis discussion:
There is something Minneapolis specific in why it is so difficult for us
to talk about race and about racism.
It is because "we are not racists". It is "others"... the deep South,
Confederate Flags, bigots and John C. Calhoun that are the problem.
In Minneapolis it might be useful to look at why such a generally
progressive city is also a city with large racial disparities.
I was talking with my son about YWCA trainings about eliminating racism
and how emotional and defensive white people are when race is first discussed
and people say out loud "I am not a racist".That is usually the end of a
meaningful conversation (and understanding of the nature of racism).
The conversation has moved to be about whether you are a bad person or not.
I am not a bad person, therefore I cannot be racist, is not true.
I am not a bad person, therefore I cannot be racist is so Minneapolis, and
it is so not true. You can be a very nice person and yet be part of the
problem that creates inequity based on race.
William was so concerned about the dangers of anti-racist culture in
politics and society that he marched with a sign about unfairness. (And yet in
1979 the Supreme Court ruled that for non whites there is no discrimination
without proven hate or malice, but for whites and affirmative
action, "constitutional harm occurred the moment that government took express
notice of race". "Since the Supreme Court adopted the malice test in 1979, it has
never found discrimination against non whites under that approach, not even
William's sign should be:
I am not a bigot,
But I am here with a sign because I have been seduced by political
operatives to think that it is anti-racists that are the cause of racial
I finally realize that there is a problem that needs to be fixed and will
work to understand that we will not fix the problem by pretending we are
I need to read about dog whistle politics.
The issue isn't whether being white is shameful or not, it is about
whether there is a problem that needs to be fixed and how to work on
strategies of undoing racism.
I suggest a different path for white people, we are not in a post racial
society, we are in a city that is harmed by racial politics that exist both
nationally and locally.
First, we need to be able to talk about race and racism.
Second, we need to realize the Internet is not the best place for
discussions about racism.
And Third we have to take ownership of our individual and collective
biases and prejudices in a way that does not start with whether we are nice or
not, but allows us to see how racism continues to evolve.
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Commissioner District # 3
I highly recommend and am quoting from:
Dog Whistle Politics-How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and
Wrecked the Middle Class by Ian Haney Lopez
And I highly recommend listening to Changing the lights:
which literally sheds a light on understanding equity and features Glenn
Harris and Julie Nelson.
Posted on August 25, 2015 at 6:13 am
Minneapolis has huge racial disparities in access to education,
employment, housing, health care, etc. Illegal race based discrimination plays
a big role in that. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related legislation
included very weak provisions, or none at all to detect and prosecute covert
race discrimination. Eliminating racial discrimination too quickly via
legislative action would cause a white backlash, or so the argument went, back
in the day.
The government at the federal, state and local continue to play a role in
preserving systemic racism in the post-Civil Rights Movement era by permitting
covert discrimination in employment, housing and other fields; and by laws and
public policies that have a disparate impact on marginalized people of color.
Unequal enforcement of criminal laws is getting some media attention lately.
And there are occasional news articles and commentaries about racial
segregation and inequitable resource allocation in the K-12 public school
system. Most policies that harm poor people have a disparate effect on
marginalized people of color.
I believe that the interests of most people of all colors, including a
majority of whites who have to work for a living are served by eliminating
systemic racism, and not by perpetuating it.
I see no reason to be proud or ashamed of an accident of birth. That is
usually what determines race assignment. And I associate the slogans "white
pride" and "white power" with good old fashioned White Supremacist movements
like the Klu Klux Klan and NAZIs.
I think that being a racist is a matter of choice. It is up to you
whether to support, oppose, or passively accept the status quo. In the absence
of a movement that makes demands on the government to eliminate racism, it is
pretty hard to tell who the real racists and aren't. Nobody has to take sides.
In what passes for education about racism in university courses, racism is
presented as a trait of whites because they have power and privilege. It is not
a choice. And the ongoing role of law and public policy in perpetuating racial
discrimination and the notion of whites being a superior race is not examined.
There are memes on social media with a quote attributed to Black Panther
leader Fred Hampton, that goes something like, "you don't fight fire with fire,
you fight fire with water. You fight racism with solidarity. . ."
I stood for election to the Minneapolis School Board many times on a
platform of eliminating systemic racism in the Minneapolis Public Schools.
Marginalized people of color attending Minneapolis Public Schools are heavily
exposed to inexperienced and less qualified teachers, and more heavily assigned
to watered-down curriculum tracks. The state of Minnesota recently acknowledged
that 20% of Minneapolis Public School Teachers are in their first 3 years of
employment. On average, about 3% of newly hired teachers in Minnesota public
schools are new hires. You can bet that the lion's share of new teachers are
not going to the city's more affluent, and mostly white neighborhoods. The
district claims that it can't afford to increase retention of newer teachers,
and thereby shrink the pool of inexperienced teachers. The district can easily
and often fire teachers during their 3 year, post hire probationary period
simply by sending them a lay off notice. Most are "performance layoffs" in
recent years. This is marketed as a school improvement strategy, "keep the best
[teachers], and fire the rest." But it actually downgrades the quality of
education in schools that do the most hiring and firing of new teachers. This
only make sense as a cost-saving strategy, and it certainly has a disparate
impact on marginalized students of color. That makes it a racist policy. Why is
not the teachers union opposed to it? I would like to her an explanation from
the current president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. Where does the
social justice caucus of MFT 59 stand?
another walk (August 20, 2015)
Mr. Vreeland’s posting was encouraging. Although I was not familiar with “dog-whistle politics, it is likely that such a game is played.
I decided the repeat the walk on the following day, August 20, although without advance announcement of the event either in press releases or on the Minneapolis e-democracy forum.
This time, I parked my car in a two-hour zone on Third Avenue South near the Stevens Square neighborhood. I walked past the Minneapolis Convention Center to my starting point, 12th and Marquette. From here, I walked down to Washington Avenue , headed east for a block to Nicollet Avenue, then walked back up to 12th Avenue, and finally returned to my car. It may have been twenty-five blocks in all.
This event was quieter than the previous one. Hardly anyone engaged me in conversation where the crowds were most dense. I passed by the people waiting for the food trucks on Marquette Avenue near 7th street and the many people seated outdoors at restaurants on Nicollet Avenue between 10th and 12th streets. Sometimes people cast a glance at my sign but said nothing.
I remember a young black woman staffing one of the food trucks flashed a pleasant smile and I waved in return. Occasionally white people would give me a thumbs up. Once or twice people asked what the sign meant. My standard response was to say that I believed there was an anti-white theme in our culture and I was protesting that. There were no unpleasant incidents.
To my knowledge, no one snapped pictures of the sign until the last few blocks. Then a young Asian woman asked if she could take a picture of me and I gave permission. A young white man took a photo while riding by on a bicycle. Then, finally, a young black woman near the convention center took a photo or video while asking me to explain the sign, which I did. She, too, accepted my explanation.
In short, the walk was relatively uneventful; but I had the sign and felt it worthwhile to repeat the walk and see what would happen. Other than in this posting, there has been no public mention of my second walk with the sign,”I am not ashamed/afraid to be white”, through downtown Minneapolis during the noon hour.
Still another walk (August 28, 2015)
I thought I was done with sign demonstrations. Then my wife expressed interest in going to downtown Minneapolis to see Hillary Clinton who, along with other candidates, was making a presentation to the Democratic National Committee. I had other things to do. But then, early in the afternoon on Friday, August 28th, I decided this would be a rare opportunity to view high-level politics. Because my wife had other business, I wound up attending the event myself.
I parked in the Stevens Square neighborhood, across I-94, and then walked via the skyway from the Convention Center to the Hilton Hotel where the DNC event was being held. I checked with the desk in the main lobby to see if the public could attend any of the meetings. No, but there were candidate’s hospitality rooms on the second floor.
There are four announced candidates for President with the Democratic Party: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Lincoln Chafee. Their hospitality rooms were mostly empty. The Sanders people were selling campaign accessories such as tee shirts. Two people were talking in the otherwise empty Clinton room. The O’Malley and Chafee rooms had no one at all. There were a few tables with campaign literature and signup sheets, but that was it. Clearly the action was not on the second floor.
I headed for the escalator to the third floor but was stopped by a security person. Did I have credentials?, he wanted to know. I had to confess that I had no credentials. I would therefore not be allowed to proceed to the third floor. Since nothing was happening here that I could observe, I headed back home. On the way out of the hotel, I passed through a revolving door with Congressman Keith Ellison coming the other way. I had run against him in 2008 as a third-party candidate but he seemed not to recognize me.
Walking back to my car, the thought struck me that I should have brought my “I am not ashamed/afraid to be white” sign to the Hilton. These days, politics is all about gender and race. The Democrats are the party of women and minorities. The Republicans are the party of white males. I am a white male. Therefore, I am, by default, a Republican or, at least, not a Democrat. The Democrats do have a few white males but being ashamed of their whiteness and maleness helps being admitted to their club.
I wanted to return to this scene because twelve years earlier - in June 2003 - I had launched my presidential campaign at the last meeting of the Democratic National Committee. It was held at the Radisson Riverfront hotel in St. Paul. There I had spent a few minutes talking with Amy Klobuchar, now a U.S. Senator. I had also been discovered by Alexandra Pelosi, a documentary film producer for HBO who was also the daughter of Nancy Pelosi. She promised to cover my campaign in Iowa. Thanks to her, I also met the chairman of California’s Democratic Party. So the memory of that action-packed event made me want to return. But I had to carry a sign to generate meaningful activity.
I drove home to pick up the sign and then returned to Stevens Square and to the Hilton hotel, arriving around 3 p.m.. I walked back and forth in front of the hotel on Second Avenue, about twenty yards away from the front door. This was close enough to the door that people could read my sign if they wanted to, but not to engage them personally in conversation. For that I had to walk to either side where the walk way from the front door joined the main side walk.
When I stepped into an area where cars gathered to pick up people from the DNC meeting, a Hilton security guard reminded me that this was private property. I had to remain on the main sidewalk near the street. Later another security man, possibly a supervisor, told me that, for my own good, I should consider crossing to the other side of Second Avenue where I was more likely to be interviewed by the media. It was a suggestion that I felt I could not totally refuse. I did cross the street but, seeing no one there except for people at a bus stop, I returned to the Hilton sidewalk five minutes later.
A few DNC meeting attendees did acknowledge my presence. A burly black man gave me the thumbs up, a friendly gesture that I returned. Two white women cheerfully remarked “Me, neither”, evidentally referring to my statement about not being ashamed of my demographic identity. A white man also crossed through the car staging area to ask why I was carrying the sign. I said it was to protest racialized politics. The politicians ought to be talking about jobs. The man said that jobs were a prime topic of conversation at the DNC meetings. I expressed regret that I was not allowed to attend those meetings. Still, it was a cordial conversation. In fact, most of my brief encounters were friendly in tone except for one with a well-dressed man who I heard muttering “idiot” under his breath.
The most meaningful encounters I had that afternoon were with a group of Somali cab drivers parked on the street in front of the Hilton. One confided that he, too, was not a Democrat. He did not believe in gay marriage. He asked about my career back ground and other subjects in a friendly manner. His colleague, not quite so friendly, remarked that our political leaders were mostly white men and, then, in an understatement, he added: “They, too, are proud of being white.” But, on the whole, the Somali cab drivers were my closest and most sympathetic companions at this event.
Other than this, I was photographed several times by people in front of the Hilton. I spoke briefly with a young man who was protesting the small number of candidate debates. But mostly, the people who walked past me and the sign were uninterested in engaging me on the subject of race. Most simply averted their eyes. Around 4:20 p.m., it seemed that the crowds (never too thick) had thinned considerably. I returned home, mission accomplished to the extent that was possible. My timing had not been the best.
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