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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Is Obama the new 'black'? - Los Angeles Times

Is Obama the new 'black'? - Los Angeles Times:

Gregory Rodriguez:

Is Obama the new 'black'?

The possible presidential candidacy of the biracial senator has sparked an illuminating debate on race.

December 17, 2006

WE KNOW this: Barack Obama is a rising star. He's a powerful speaker and a gifted writer. He is the only African American serving in the U.S. Senate. But is he black?

That's what New York Daily News columnist Stanley Crouch asked last month, and his answer was decidedly "no." No, Crouch wasn't just employing the old "blacker than thou" canard. Nor was he concerned with the fact that Obama was raised by his white mother. Rather, he was treating blackness not just as a racial (shared biology) identity but as an ethnic (shared historical experience) one. And isn't that what the switch of terms from "black" to "African American" was all about?


Think back to the late 1980s, when the Rev. Jesse Jackson became the most prominent black to call for the adoption of the term African American. "Just as we were called colored, but were not that," he said, "and then Negro, but not that, to be called black is just as baseless…. Every ethnic group in this country has a reference to some land base, some historical cultural base. African Americans have hit that level of maturity." The problem, of course, is that most black Americans are descendants of slaves who had their African cultural heritage brutally stripped from them.

What Crouch is arguing is that what the majority of black Americans share is their ancestors' experience as human chattel, brought to these shores in the grips of chains. Slavery and segregation not only forged a rigid racial line between black and white but created a shared ethnic experience. For Crouch, the fact that Obama's father — whom Obama met only once — was a black Kenyan who came to the U.S. to study at Harvard and the University of Hawaii removes him from the traditional black American narrative.

Author and essayist Debra Dickerson agrees. She believes that much of Obama's popularity among whites stems from the fact that his family wasn't part of the slave experience and therefore elicits no feelings of historical guilt. "The swooning from white people is a paroxysm of self-congratulation," she said. But Dickerson also thinks that Obama's thoughtful embrace of his African lineage has the potential to broaden the definition of what it means to be black in the United States. Indeed, the possibility of an Obama campaign for the presidency has already sparked an unusual — and potentially illuminating — debate about race.

It's true that in our country, blackness is not a choice but rather something thrust on people who have any hint of African lineage. Traditionally, anyone with "one drop of African blood" has been considered black. But in recent decades, more children of black-white unions are choosing to buck the "one-drop rule" and call themselves biracial.

But in this respect, Obama is a traditionalist. He clearly chooses a black identity, but he does so even as he embraces his Midwestern Anglo roots. In other words, rather than straddling two identities or creating a new mixed one, he prefers to place himself within a single category and then expand it. In his lyrical yet interminable 1995 memoir, "Dreams From My Father," Obama tells of his journey toward accepting his absent father's legacy and coming to terms with his feelings of alienation from both sides of his family tree. Ultimately rejecting old-fashioned racial nationalism and narrow notions of authenticity, Obama encourages Americans to accept their messy racial inheritance. And though he admits that his personal story bears little resemblance to that of most African American families, he chose to graft his own personal story onto theirs.

The one-drop rule was developed to protect slavery and to maintain segregation. By defining all mixed children as black and compelling them to live in black communities, the rule enabled whites to believe in the fantasy of their own racial purity. By extension, blacks also came to embrace rigid notions of their relative purity from whiteness.

BUT LOOK closely at the historical record and you'll find that plenty of prominent black political figures were at least half white, including Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. In addition to his African ancestry, W.E.B. Du Bois could trace his roots back to France and the Netherlands. During Reconstruction, all but three of the 23 blacks in the House and Senate were some mixture of black and white. The list goes on.

The difference between now and then, of course, is the element of choice. Barack Obama does not remind Americans of the racial divide or of the chains that first created it. Instead, he points to an alternative history that Americans have never been able to achieve. "Symbolically, Obama's parentage is the founding couple that America never accepted," said Werner Sollors, who teaches African American literature at Harvard.

Crouch is right: Obama does not remind us of this nation's original sin. But he does remind us of an opportunity that we as a nation are continually missing.

Critic of Oprah really insulted all black people

Critic of Oprah really insulted all black people

Posted on Mon, Dec. 11, 2006

Critic of Oprah really insulted all black people

The rappers are mad at Oprah again.

Just one rapper, actually: the gentleman who calls himself 50 Cent, but whose 1994 mug shot identifies him as prisoner No. 94R6378: Jackson, Curtis. Mr. Cent -- ''Fiddy'' to the cognoscenti -- was one of a trio of rappers (Ice Cube and Ludacris were the others) who lambasted the Queen of All Media last summer for being insufficiently willing to promote hip-hop. Now, Mr. Cent renews the attack.

In an interview in Elle magazine(!), he charges Winfrey with being not black enough. Winfrey, he says, ''started out with black women's views but has been catering to middle-aged white American women for so long that she's become one herself.'' He also calls her an ''Oreo,'' which, for those not fluent in black-on-black insult, means black on the outside, white on the inside.

Mr. Cent, should it not be painfully obvious from the foregoing, is an idiot. Worse, he's an idiot with a painfully transparent need for approval from the woman he has spent so much energy denigrating. I'll leave it to the mental-health community to explain what that means. I'm here only to make one point:

It's not easy being O.

Yeah, I know: Cry me a river. And $1.5 billion (the reported size of Winfrey's fortune) buys a lot of Kleenex.


I'm not trying to engage your sympathy for the most powerful woman (sorry, Hillary, beg pardon, Condi) in America. I'm only trying to say it's a hard trick to manage, being both famous and black. Or, at least, famous to the degree that Oprah Winfrey is -- i.e., to the degree that you are recognized as readily in white homes as in black.

To reach that level of renown is to find yourself pulled between competing expectations. On the one side, they praise you for ''transcending race'' -- whatever that means -- and they get resentful if you remind them of the ways you are not like them. On the other side, they are alert to any sign that you have Forgotten Where You Came From, and they will call you out if they think you're suffering racial amnesia.

I've always thought Oprah Winfrey handled those competing pulls with a rare grace. She produces programming (The Legends Ball) that celebrates the passages of great black women, she promotes black authors (full disclosure: I was once one of them), she speaks out on racial issues, she makes a movie (Beloved) on the horror of slavery, she builds a school in South Africa -- and yet, somehow, white women don't fear her, still love her. Even when she rebukes them for racial insensitivity.

I remember when one of those women, intending a compliment, told Winfrey she didn't think of her as black. And Oprah said, Whoa. Black, she explained, gently, but emphatically, is exactly what she is. And her predominantly white audience, as I recall, cheered. That's a minor miracle.


Granted, I watch daytime television infrequently. So maybe in those dozens of Oprah shows I haven't seen, Winfrey proves herself the black man hater and white woman worshipper that black critics often depict. But you'll forgive me if I doubt. You'll forgive me if I suspect that the Oprahs I haven't seen track pretty closely to the ones I have: celebrity interviews, pop psychology and self-actualization strategies for women of a certain age and station in life.

It's hard for me to understand what's wrong with that, or inherently ''not black'' about it. 50 Cent makes the mistake a lot of white people do: assuming that there is but one monolithic black experience and that it is street, poor and hard-core.

Which doesn't insult just Oprah Winfrey. It insults all of us because it denies a simple fact: Black is many things. That's something Mr. Cent should consider next time he's holed up in his mansion in Farmington, Conn. (median income $67,000, black population 1.5 percent), writing rhymes about how hard life is for poor black folks on mean streets.

The N-word, by any spelling, is still hateful

The N-word, by any spelling, is still hateful:
Posted on Mon, Dec. 04, 2006

The N-word, by any spelling, is still hateful

The N-word has had few friends better than comedian Paul Mooney.

Put aside that the word was long a staple of his act. Put aside the promotional pamphlet he once sent out that screamed the word in big, fat type. Consider instead what he told anyone who argued that blacks should stop using the word. He replied that he said it a hundred times every morning. ``It keeps my teeth white.''

Last week, the selfsame Paul Mooney joined the Rev. Jesse Jackson and California Rep. Maxine Waters in a news conference asking black folks to stop using the N-word. In other news, there are unconfirmed reports of pigs flying above Times Square.

Mooney says he was ''cured'' of his N-word addiction by Michael Richards' infamous meltdown last month at the Laugh Factory. I tend to think he's not the only one. From strangers online to my neighbor down the street, everywhere I turn lately, I find black folk debating the stubborn insistence some of us have on using this word.

Which leaves me as much vexed as pleased. More power to them for belatedly getting religion. Still, are you telling me that nearly 20 years after hip-hop made that word unavoidable, it takes some white TV actor losing his mind to make black folks see what should have been obvious all along?


I mean, what do we learn from Richards' rant that we should not have known already from Snoop Dogg or Ice Cube? That the word is ugly? That it is hateful? That it demeans, denigrates, diminishes and denies? Anyone with the barest historical memory already knew these things. So where was black outrage when black rappers began putting that word into the minds and mouths of black children? When we -- African Americans -- began hating ourselves to a beat?

And if I hear one more Negro offer a pseudo-intellectual justification for that self-loathing, I will not be responsible for my actions afterward. Don't give me the 'it means something different because we spell it with an `a' on the end'' speech. Spare me the ''it doesn't mean black, it means a bad person of any race'' load of bull.

And for mercy sake, don't subject me to the addled argument profferred by John Ridley in December's Esquire. He says that, as whites feel no particular solidarity with their impoverished racial brethren in Appalachia, it is time for ''ascended blacks'' to bid farewell to, as he puts it, ``niggers.''

Don't tell me any of that, because it quails in the face of historical fact. We are talking about the word that was used as Gus Clarke's back was split open with a whip and salt was rubbed into the wounds. The word that was used when Mary Turner's baby was cut from her womb with a knife and stomped to death in its birth cries. The word that was used when James Byrd was tied to the back of a pickup truck and dragged until his body was torn to pieces.


To the people who did these things, it did not matter how it was spelled. They knew precisely what race they were referring to. And they saw no difference between ''ascended blacks'' and any other kind. Nor should that last surprise us. In the calculus of race, I am not my brother's keeper. I am my brother. Individuality is the first casualty of bigotry.

Black people, like other Americans, tend to flee from the burdens and demands of history. History, ours especially, hurts too much.

But what Michael Richards taught, and what blacks may be learning belatedly, is that history doesn't care. Not about your feelings, not about your rationalizations, not about your subtleties of spelling.

Because they don't realize that, some blacks, Paul Mooney prominent among them, seem surprised to learn that this word still hates us. That it always has and always will.

And if Richards is the catalyst that finally forces them to understand this, there's only one thing I can say to him:

Thank you.

Monday, December 11, 2006

52 years later, integration faces new Supreme Court test

Tue Dec 5, 6:32 AM ET

Since the historic 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education began dismantling separate schooling for black and white children, the Supreme Court has spent a half-century painstakingly working out a fair way of making America's classrooms more racially diverse.

The results can be seen nearly everywhere you look. African-Americans head major companies. The two most recent secretaries of State are black. A vibrant, educated black middle class has sprung up, and colleges actively seek black students to enrich their campuses, expanding that middle class further.

So it was ominous Monday to hear Supreme Court justices sounding hostile to voluntary - and popular - desegregation plans in Seattle and Louisville. If the justices rule them unconstitutional, the tenuous advance of equal opportunity could be undermined or even reversed.

As with anything involving race, the system of desegregation and affirmative action that has evolved under the court's watchful eye is controversial. Whites sometimes feel slighted, and it is whites who brought the Seattle and Louisville cases to court.

Both cities assigned students to schools in part to ensure that the schools are racially diverse, and parents whose children were temporarily denied admission to the schools they preferred sued, claiming racial bias.

Lower courts ruled against them, and just a year ago, the issue seemed settled. The court refused to hear a challenge to a desegregation plan in Lynn, Mass., that is similar to the Louisville plan.

But then Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired and was replaced by Justice Samuel Alito, who civil rights advocates fear is the crucial fifth vote to undo the two plans - and others in hundreds of school districts that follow similar guidelines to achieve diversity.

In 2003, O'Connor was the fifth vote in a pivotal 5-4 decision that said the University of Michigan Law School could consider race as a factor in admissions, as long as there was no explicit quota for admitting black applicants. The court noted that diversity promotes "cross-racial understanding and the breaking down of racial stereotypes" and gives students invaluable skills that "can only be developed through exposure to widely diverse people, cultures, ideas, and viewpoints."

That is the reason Louisville and Seattle tried to diversify their schools. Another reason was that students in overwhelming black or Hispanic schools consistently underperform.

The plans of both cities are complex, trying to balance family preferences against diversity and other non-racial considerations, but they are widely accepted in those communities, and they work.

But they appear far less popular at the court. Court watchers came away thinking the school diversity plans will be in trouble when the court rules early next year. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the likely swing vote now, said at one point that Seattle's plan seems to hinge in some cases "solely on skin color … it's like saying everybody can have a meal, but only (certain people) can get the dessert."

More telling was the answer to a question Kennedy asked about what has happened to Seattle schools since the school board suspended the plan after an adverse court ruling in 2001. Kennedy wondered whether the schools had integrated on their own.

The facts should sober him. In 2000, white enrollment at predominantly non-white Franklin High School was 25%; by 2005 it was down to 10%. Without the plan, Seattle's schools have gone backwards. The high court shouldn't lead a charge to ensure similar results around the nation.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Court Reviews Race as Factor in School Plans - New York Times

Court Reviews Race as Factor in School Plans - New York Times:
December 5, 2006

Court Reviews Race as Factor in School Plans

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 — By the time the Supreme Court finished hearing arguments on Monday on the student-assignment plans that two urban school systems use to maintain racial integration, the only question was how far the court would go in ruling such plans unconstitutional.

There seemed little prospect that either the Louisville, Ky., or Seattle plans would survive the hostile scrutiny of the court’s new majority. In each system, students are offered a choice of schools but can be denied admission based on their race if enrolling at a particular school would upset the racial balance.

At its most profound, the debate among the justices was over whether measures designed to maintain or achieve integration should be subjected to the same harsh scrutiny to which Brown v. Board of Education subjected the regime of official segregation. In the view of the conservative majority, the answer was yes.

While there is no reliable data on how common these plans are, they are thought to be widespread among school districts where residential patterns would otherwise produce neighborhood schools of one race or nearly so. Depending on how broadly the court rules, possibly hundreds of districts would need to modify or scrap voluntary integration plans.

The National School Boards Association as well as the Council of the Great City Schools, representing 66 urban districts, filed briefs on behalf of Seattle and Louisville, warning of impending disruption if the justices overturn the lower court rulings that upheld the two plans.

The Supreme Court had declined to review a similar voluntary integration plan in Massachusetts last year, shortly before the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the arrival of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. But in June, after weeks of internal debate, the justices accepted these two appeals.

One was filed by a white woman in Louisville whose son was denied a transfer to attend kindergarten in a school that needed black rather than white students in order to keep its black population at the district’s required minimum of 15 percent.

The other was filed by parents in Seattle who organized as a corporation to oppose the plan there, which applies only to the city’s 10 high schools. A racial “tiebreaker,” used when a high school attracts more students than there are places, intends to keep the schools within 15 percent of the district’s overall makeup, which is 60 percent nonwhite.

Before the arguments on Monday, the challenge for the school board lawyers defending the plans, along with their allies in the civil rights community, had appeared to be to persuade the justices that the appropriate analogy was not to affirmative action, a freighted subject for the court in which benefits are bestowed on one group and withheld from another, but rather to integration, in which the goal is to educate everyone as equally as possible.

But by the end of the tense two hours of argument, that effort had not so much failed as it had become irrelevant. Lawyers for the school systems found themselves struggling, under the justices’ questioning, to meet the even more basic challenge of explaining why the plans should be seen as something different from the intentional segregation that the court struck down in Brown v. Board of Education.

For example, Michael F. Madden, the Seattle district’s lawyer, tried to argue that because the Seattle high schools were “basically comparable,” and “everyone gets a seat,” the court should not view the plan as “a selective or merit-based system where we adjudge one student to be better than the other.”

It was, Mr. Madden said, “a distributive system” that was “quite wholly dissimilar to a merit or selective-based system.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. countered, “Saying that this doesn’t involve individualized determinations simply highlights the fact that the decision to distribute, as you put it, was based on skin color and not any other factor.”

He added: “I mean, everyone got a seat in Brown as well. But because they were assigned to those seats on the basis of race, it violated equal protection. How is your argument that there’s no problem here because everybody gets a seat distinguishable?”

“Because segregation is harmful,” Mr. Madden replied.

“It’s an assignment on the basis of race, correct?” the chief justice persisted.

It was, Mr. Madden replied as his 30 minutes ran out and the red light came on, an effort “to bring students together in a mix that is not too far from their community.”

As the arguments proceeded, the court’s more liberal members appeared increasingly and visibly dispirited. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tried unsuccessfully to turn the chief justice’s colloquy with Mr. Madden in a different direction. The question of whether “using racial integration is the same as segregation,” she said, was “pretty far from the kind of headlines that attended the Brown decision.”

Bringing “white and black children together on the same school bench,” Justice Ginsburg continued, “seems to be worlds apart from saying we’ll separate them.”

Justice Stephen G. Breyer let his frustration show in several exchanges with Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, who argued the Bush administration’s position as a “friend of the court” for the challengers and against the school systems in both cases.

“Think, go back to Cooper v. Aaron,” Justice Breyer told the solicitor general, referring during the argument in the Louisville case to the court’s 1958 decision enforcing a desegregation order in Little Rock, Ark. “Go back to the case where this court with paratroopers had to use tremendous means to get those children into the school. That’s because the society was divided.”

He continued: “Here we have a society, black and white, who elect school board members who together have voted to have this form of integration. Why, given that change in society, which is a good one, how can the Constitution be interpreted in a way that would require us, the judges, to go in and make them take the black children out of the school?”

“Well, I understand that, Justice Breyer,” Mr. Clement said. “But I think the answer to that is that the lesson of history in this area is that racial classifications are not ones where we should just let local school board officials do what they think is right.”

The Louisville plan, adopted in 2000 as the formerly segregated district emerged from 25 years of federal court supervision, provides that all schools should have a black student enrollment of no lower than 15 percent and no greater than 50 percent. The district as a whole, which includes suburban areas of Jefferson County as well as the city of Louisville, is about one-third black.

Mr. Clement said the 15-to-50-percent range was a “strict racial band” that was not sufficiently “narrowly tailored” to satisfy the “strict scrutiny” to which the court’s precedents subject government actions that are based on race. The administration’s position is that those choosing to adjust the racial balance in their schools should do so by “race-neutral means,” like magnet schools that attract children across racial lines.

“There’s a fundamental difference between whether or not the policy manages to avoid classifying people on the basis of their race,” the solicitor general said.

Justice David H. Souter asked Mr. Clement why this position was not just another way of saying that “the important thing is simply to hide the ball.” If improving the racial mix was the objective, Justice Souter asked, “why can’t they do that candidly?”

There were “several responses,” Mr. Clement answered. “One is that the Constitution puts a particular premium on avoiding express racial classifications.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked the lawyers a series of questions designed to test the outer reaches of their positions. Could a school district deliberately place a new school in a location designed to supply a racially mixed student body, he asked, and appeared displeased when Harry J. F. Korrell, the lawyer representing the parents challenging the Seattle plan, answered no.

While his questions suggested that he would not rule out any and all policies undertaken with a knowledge of the probable racial consequences, Justice Kennedy made clear his distaste for the policies at issue in these cases, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, No. 05-908, and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education, No. 05-915.

To Mr. Madden, the Seattle district’s lawyer, Justice Kennedy said that unlike magnet schools, special resources, or school location decisions, “you’re characterizing each student by reason of the color of his or her skin.”

He continued: “That is quite a different means. And it seems to me that that should only be, if ever allowed, allowed as a last resort.”