Dismantling Racism: Ending Racism in the U.S.


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The world's got #99problems. Fighting racism isn't one of them

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Tomorrow is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

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OK, I'm, serious. This will be a serious essay about a serious problem and, most importantly, a serious plan and proposal for solving that problem. It will involve work. Reading it might turn out to be work, but there will be homework and field work. This will be a participatory endeavor and some behavioral changes are more than likely going to be required of most. This essay isn't intended to be entertainment unless you find thinking and problem solving entertaining.

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We must end racism, it is a plague, it is beneath us a species, and it is harming and destroying far more than its directly impacted victims. It has a negative effect, though often invisible, on all of society, every aspect, detail and interaction, even on our thought processes, and we must stop it for the good of the victims, for the food of society and for our own good, spiritually and otherwise. Beyond that, we must get past this in order to get on with things and start living as we should and being what we should be. It is a horrible thing that benefits none except a few reprehensible exploiters.WE must solve this. Nobody else will, unless they are somebody we enlist to come along and help. No neighbor, no other generation, no company, government or political party. We have to do it ourselves as individuals and we are in it for ourselves, as individual, if only for our peace of mind, psychological wellbeing and spiritual development.

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Assuming that you are still with me, you will need to download "Dismantling Racism: A Resource Book for Social Change Groups" by Western States Center, 2003; PO Box 40305 Portland, OR 97240 503-228-8866. You can try the search engine of your choice to find it or go to any of the following sites:
Available at
http://www.resourcesharingproject.org/sites/resourcesharingproject.org/f...

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https://collectiveliberation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Anti-Racist_...

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http://intergroupresources.com/rc/RESOURCE%20CENTER/OWEN'S%20CATEGORIZATION%20OF%20RC/2%20-%20Curricular%20Materials/2a%20-%20Publicly%20available/Dismantling%20Racism-%20A%20Resource%20Book%20for%20Social%20Change%20Groups%20--%20Western%20States%20Center.pdf

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This is a 120 page pdf. Save it to at least two places and print out a dead tree version at your own discretion. It is both the inspiration and the cause of this essay. It is, as it says, a "resource book", and a classic "workbook" with all of what those words entail. For all of those who've ever been to any of those seminars, company meetings or development gatherings that meet in cafeterias, library back rooms and one grade above cheapo motels, yes, it is one of those workbooks. It can be redundant and repetitive, but you need to work your way through it. I would go so far as to say that you need to go through it more than once, and then later revisit it periodically.

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As you work your way through the workbook, you'll begin to see why government, at any level, is not the answer and why, in all honesty, governments have never tried. You'll also start to see why it is hopeless to wait for one of the political parties to come to the rescue. Like government, they aren't truly equipped to carry this out, which is why, in spite of all of the talk, none of them has ever even suggested a plan or proposed solution. You will also notice brief mentions of the fact that this can work for all of the other "isms", sexism, ageism, ableism. homophobia, etc. In fact it should work for every type and form of othering except perhaps some religious othering. The workbook is focused on its purpose and goal, as it should be, and as we as well should be. I would however, assert that we have an obligation to eliminate all forms of discrimination and othering, at all times. We are all capable of multitasking and I would suggest that as you put these processes and principles into action, once you get into the swing of it, you begin to take on all other forms of discrimination as the situations arise. After all, if you are at a gathering and somebody refers to a female POC as a N* B*, assuming you don't "pragmatically" opt for silence, you don't tell them not to use the N word, you tell them not to use either word, and explain why, preferably without calling them an asshole while doing so.

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Peruse doesn't mean skim or scan, it means to read something in a thorough or careful way or to examine something carefully or at length. We need to peruse the coursebook intently, thoughtfully, expansively, introspectively, and, in my opinion, repeatedly. No matter how much you may think that you know, understand or even grok, this, that, or the other particular section or subsection, read it all and absorb it completely, contemplatively, and analytically, seeking examples, applications, understanding and all that entails. Think on possible behavior modifications, keeping in mind that right contemplation (right mindfulness) is part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. (Wikipedia: The Eightfold Path consists of eight practices: right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi ('meditative absorption or union').)

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OK, the Resource book has 4 main sections, each with several subsections. Some will seem directed to others, but read them all carefully and contemplatively anyway. The first section is background, history and introductory material. Because you are not the Supreme court, you cannot simply dismiss it as mere prefacatory material. For all you know there could be new stuff, and all of it together, as a coherent context and framework merits contemplation, understanding, ratiocination, and, for most of us, I suspect, acknowledgement.

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Next it proceeds to consideration of individual change, such things as growth, development and empowerment, ideational changes, changes in outlook and behavior. It considers persons of color (and other oppressed groups) separately from whites, but all of us really need to read and understand the content with respect to both groups. We are all in this together. We need to understand and assist each other and that requires understanding all of our respective, challenges, processes, goals and targets and the steps to take in order to get where we have to wind up.

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From individuals it moves to organizations. Again, as with individuals, it is best read and treated as if all of it were directed at all of us. We should also consider that what is presented can and should apply to all organizations, formal and informal, large and small, political, social, ad hoc, goal directed or not. It is up to us to figure what "organizations" that we engage with to start working on converting to anti-racist organizations, either per se, or as an integrated parallel additional purpose. It is easy to see activist and political groups as taking on the challenge of being simultaneously actively anti-racist and working to end and overcome racism within and without. However, there is also no reason that a bowling team, or league, or the regular participants in the Saturday morning bicycle ride cannot also take on that challenge and added function. We have to remember that eventually all of us and all organizations have to become anti-racist and more, and as soon as possible at that. The final section is concerned with using these organizations to achieve change, to move forward and solve problems that have some basis in racism, on whatever level we can.

OK, it is an open thread, so the floor is now all yours.

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QMS's picture

A seriously contemplative exercise.

Cheers.

Oh, and happy equinox.

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Listen to your higher mind.

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS
and, if not now, when, as the saying goes. If a sufficient mass of people start making a serious effort to make fighting racism (and other isms) an automatic part of all processes and projects we should all be able to work together a lot more effectively, regardless of whether and to what extent it might be a bit distracting at the beginning. It will also mean that those societal defects cannot be used as a wedge meme to prevent us from trying to also solve critical problems like the climate emergency and the economic cluster-fuck that creates an impoverished mass and an uber-rich few. It wasn't just the Hillaryites who pulled that shit, anybody who likes any facet of the status quo can, has, does, and will use that weapon, so why not just destroy it like we should have done long ago.

Howward Zinn in his People's History of the US talks about an early movement, I think it was the grange, but can't recall for certain, where economically oppressed persons rose up and organized to solve their problems, united by their victimization. This was waaay back, and it started getting serious traction, so, naturally, the oppressor class stepped in and fomented race based division and fragmentation, destroying the unified movement, and then separately destroying the fragments' effectiveness and power. There was some transcendence or race and racism is some pieces of the early labor movement too, it is natural for us all to join together until the bourgeoisie starts mind-fucking everybody, so, let's unfuck it.

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lookout's picture

Racism is quite a tough nut to crack. So ingrained as to be denied. Here in the hillbilly corner of Alabama small yeoman farms were the norm. No big plantations in the mountains - there were along the river bottoms. Not to say there weren't slaves here. There were...even Cherokee Indians had slaves. The legacy is that our county is about 7% black, 2% first nations, and a growing 10+% Hispanic. Years ago when crossing Sand Mt., they were out in their klan outfits collecting money at a 4-way stop. Blew my mind. So racism is very much alive and well.

Heard a couple of interesting comments at Trade Day yesterday. first one: "Can you believe people electin' them Moslems? What's our country comin' to?" My thought was of the 1st amendment. Next one: "Did you hear Oprah's dyin' in the hospital? She was bad mouthin' Trump and you see where it landed her?" My thought was wow Trump is really has a cult following.

I'll check out your links, but I've got hired help coming today. Cleaning up some dead trees and dragging limbs to be burned soon.

El, you might want to include the open thread pic in the short post so it is visible on the community content page...

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

enhydra lutris's picture

@Lookout
serious challenge and battle, but if it won't go away without one, then let's get started. I have a personal tendency to side with the oppressed and I've notice some element of that in a huge segment of the population when they react reflexively in a vacuum. Empathy is pretty ingrained, so lets draw on it.

Not sure what this means:

El, you might want to include the open thread pic in the short post so it is visible on the community content page...

What is said "short post" and how do I include the pic? Is that the little preview post one gets? I'll have to see what I can figure out in a bit. Thanks.

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@Lookout

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lookout's picture

@enhydra lutris

It is all in where you install the !--break-- command.

Sorry for my lack of clarity...

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

enhydra lutris's picture

@Lookout
the connection between the short preview and the community content page because I've very seldom used the latter, using the Recent Essays and Recent Comments lists of links to maneuver. In fact I don't use the top line menu much, but will have to start using it more.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

mimi's picture

you ask us to do, but I dare to say that racism isn't something you can switch on and switch off. It's in our dna. So, there, at least that's my thesis. YMMV.

So, I will do my homework on your essay in a couple of days, because I have no time right now, but it's not going to be homework I enjoy. I enjoy nothing about racism. Dismantling doesn't make it go away.

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TTTT (too tired to talk)

enhydra lutris's picture

@mimi
history has too many examples of folks naturally coming together, only to be divided against each other by conniving persons and groups in search of an advantage. OTOH, history does have a lot of examples of humans seemingly instinctively "othering" others. The old nature v nurture issues. One thing I do know is that the behavior isn't limited to "race", language, country of origin, and such, but even to dietary preferences, education, where you live and what you do for a living. I do know that looking around through out history and the present, one sees certain persons and groups devoting a lot of time, energy and resources to fomenting these divisions and using tricks to activate and invoke our baser instincts, so I can't help that think that a behavior requiring so much effort to keep it going must not be too strongly ingrained.

Thanks for reading and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

mimi's picture

@enhydra lutris
probably one has to define racism, before making a comment. One man's racism is the other man's fair judgement with common sense. It is sad, because I have no time to dig into your essay.

Someone said racism is learned. So we are all born non-racist. At which age children show their first sign of racism? At least they can behave quite brutal already in the sandbox at kindergarden age and bully each other. Where did they learn it from?

May be you should set a date and rebublish it, so we can come back and discuss it seriously.

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TTTT (too tired to talk)

when we lived in caves and/or wandered the land, when staying alive, especially getting food that was neither poisonous nor rotted, consumed all our time and energy.

For better or worse, our clan was our clan, whatever we might to do, for or with clan members who could not "pull their own weight." But a group of ambulatory, able-bodied strangers approaching....who knows what they wanted from us and what they were willing to do to us in order to get it.

In other words, is it something born of primitive fear that our society, with its penalties for theft, violence and the like has made unnecessary, like the appendix my doc removed when I was about 10 or 11 years old? But, some of us have not yet evolved sufficiently to grok that? Or are some of us so pathetic that we grasp at anything that makes us feel superior to someone?

Just ruminating/rambling.

Of course, all forms of bigotry need to become obsolete, once and for all. To that end, the importance of seeing each person is an individual, not a member of a racial or ethnic group, cannot be overstated. Stereotyping on the basis of any characteristic with which some people are born is incredibly stupid. Yet, so much in our society fosters stereotyping, from sitcoms to governmental actions.

Thank you for the link, and for your passion, el.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@HenryAWallace
of holdover from our earliest times with fear and competition buried deep in the lizard brain, but studies seem to show that empathy is also long and deeply embedded. There are also ancient traditions of taking in strangers, and research shows that the lineage that gave us modern man actually interbred with neanderthals and other significantly dissimilar lineages. So, are we "a rational animal" or not, why can't we do this, other than all the persons and cliques who seek some advantage over others by promoting fear, competition and division between and among ourselves?

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

is a very useful tool in the toolbox of 'isms' used to keep us divided. It seems to be laughably easy to keep us fighting amongst ourselves. To try and see how it is used to manipulate us is, I think, the key.
Bookmarked for later, and thanks.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@randtntx
weaponized against us in the class struggle, as, to some extent, have all of the "isms".

Thanks for reading and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris to me the system is increasingly designed as a weapon against minorities. This piece by Lee Camp is a little off your topic but is an example of this idea.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@randtntx
which I am sure will be good. I'll get to it in a few moments. I've got a lot going on today, causing more bouncing in and out than normal.

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

claim tl;dr, but I stayed for the end.
Saved the links, will Peruse the book later when I get some down time.
Really nice OT but, where’s the Music? /s

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Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

enhydra lutris's picture

@Tall Bald and Ugly
this was gonna be work, did I not? However, a little appropriate music always helps things along, so here's one of the first tunes I more or less learned long-long ago.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

detroitmechworks's picture

we will NEVER get rid of it.

Even trying to "Fight against" it gives it power. It makes those who don't feel they are racist offended, because they feel that all of their effort has been to naught. It makes them feel that no matter HOW hard they try to be equal it will never be enough because once again the goal posts have changed. Now it's no longer about being equal, now it's about being "Fair". But of course, being fair means that certain people will get privileges.

Which means that people will get privileges based off their skin color. To fight Racism.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

enhydra lutris's picture

@detroitmechworks
but will strongly suggest that you give the referenced materials a read.

That aside, there is an arguable meaningful distinction between equal and fair, however. Because of my age, I went to school with some polio victims. To enter us in a math or chess competition could would find us not only on an equal footing, depending upon educational history, but also a fair one. To enter us in something like a marathon, which might, technically, find us on an equal footing, would've given me a distinct unfair advantage if the outcome of the race had any serious life ramifications. If the race doesn't matter, then who cares, but if it makes a difference as to whether or not we get to eat that week, then there is a serious problem in so structuring our affairs.

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

detroitmechworks's picture

@enhydra lutris Especially considering my own personal experience. I don't share the viewpoint of the author. Since the author is coming at it with "Agree or you're..." that doesn't leave me with a whole lot of options.

I'm comfortable with this becoming another in a long line of divisive subjects I choose to completely ignore.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

Raggedy Ann's picture

Racism - an ugly thing in our country. I believe racism is learned. I never learned to be racist, so I don't think I am. Not to say I don't have derogatory thoughts about people, but now whole races/classes of people - just individuals. I'm not perfect, but I try my best.

My husband used to be a racist. He learned it. He has unlearned it. I have proof. Talk to him.

On Saturday evening, we were at our local bar having a beer and bite. The bartender asked what we wanted to watch on the big screen. I said "BASKETBALL!" Duke was playing and I was interested. A fellow two stools down said, "I don't want to watch a bunch of black people running around on a court." I replied, "I love black people. I just LOVE black people." The channel stayed on the Duke game and he left after he finished his beverage. I was so stunned I couldn't think of anything else to say, but it shut him up.

I'll read your literature. To me, anything that gives me more ammunition to fight and solve racism is worth my time.

Enjoy your day, everyone. Pleasantry

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Women are human beings, not prey.
(I forgot where I read it although it might have been in The Intercept)

enhydra lutris's picture

@Raggedy Ann
I think there is "per se" useful information, and I also like the approach, of cultivating an anti-racist agenda as part and [parcel of anything and everything until it is finally gone. There is no real reason why that can't be an aspect of any other activity or organization.

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

studentofearth's picture

of evaluating people. Making judgements is a learned skill that takes practice and constant refinement to improve. Too important to be outsourced to family, friends, experts and media of any forms.

Thank you for the resource to share - printed and at the top of the must read stack. The electronic perusing was interesting.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

enhydra lutris's picture

@studentofearth
look.

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

et al...

whew, busier than I expected. great post. read some this morning, more now, more later

but left it this morning thinking about how we were subltly and not so subtly trained to be racists. it was just always there, unspoken and assumed throughout my youth. just every where.

page 37 of the book has a great diagram

HOW RACISM WORKS

Cycle of Racist Oppression

Learning Racism
• Misinformation
• Missing History
• Biased history
• Stereotypes

-> socialization

Reinforcing Racism
• Experience in racist institutions
• White supremacist culture
• Personal interactions

-> internalization

Colluding in Racism – White People
Benefitting from race inequity

Surviving Racism – People of Color
• Internalized Racism
• Horizontal Oppression

-> this cycles back to the top for
daily re-creation of racism

and keeps cycling - on and on...

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QMS's picture

@magiamma
when we walked past the church in charleston a few years back that had recently been the scene of another soul-less slaughter of innocents because of indoctrinated hatred, I felt so much of the grief and social damage done just by gazing. It's damn sad people are tweaked into thinking killing is going to somehow help their sociopathic distempers.

Make mental health services universally available.
Free head care for the masses.

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Listen to your higher mind.

Mark from Queens's picture

I’ve been grappling with said subject for years, but have become a lot more aware in recent years.

I’m winding down now after being sick the past couple of days. But wanted to say I appreciate your tackling of this and presenting material to consider. I agree with practically all your premises.

In the pile of books next to me in bed right now are a couple of James Baldwin’s. Absolutely necessary I would say in having your mind opened to this subject.

Just remembered that you worked on Dick Gregory’s campaign. Love that. When you’re up for it you have to share some stories with us.

Nite all.

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut