I’m going to do like the President and grade myself. I give myself an A-plus for how I chose to manage my emotions during this year’s anniversary of 9/11. I did not engage in any debates about President Bush’s retaliation towards the Middle East for the deaths of 3000 Americans, or rehash my memories of where I was on that day. All I did was post Immortal Techniques and Mos Def’s underground cult classic, “Bush Brought Down the Towers.”
I had both the privilege of choice and wherwithall to not engage in re-traumatization. My Sikh mentor, Hari Dev Singh Khalsa, however, was having a different kind of day. He openly displays his Sikhi, which means in Juneau, Alaska he is singled out as a potential Muslim because religious diversity isn’t something encouraged in America, yet. Tolerance is encouraged; not acceptance and inclusion.
Per American social positioning, Hari Dev was born a (so-called) white man, however, he is treated like a (so-called) brown man by his fellow Alaskans, who experience him as the fulfillment of a stereotype. He spent the day reminding people on Facebook threads that he, and other Sikhs, reported a remarkable increase in hate crimes against them following 9/11 news broadcasts.
Why? The mainstream media “stroked” passions against Muslims by the repeated showing of planes flying into the Twin Towers. The intentional repeated shows depicted Muslims in a violent role generating a misrepresentation and a dangerous stereotype in the minds of viewers. It is hard to see this as anything other than the purposed portrayal by popular media to blatantly target people outside of the dominant white culture. The goal was to make white people feel fear. The use of fear through propaganda is the definition of a terrorist attack. The implicit meaning behind the visuals and framing of the information was: defend yourself; Muslims want to kill Americans, i.e. white people. You, the average white person, are not safe.
Hari Dev wrote the following words attached to this meme: “Yeah this happens. My response was to go to the local gun store and Gun range, hang out meet some people. Some of them vandalized my car while I was there and most of them are Sweet Hearts. My response? Wear a turban that’s super easy to see. My other response was to stay away from public 4th of July, Memorial day and 911 gatherings as that’s when I get the most public hostility.”
The increase in islamaphobia lends credibility to the idea that news broadcasts are influential. Depending on how information is framed, it inspires human behavior.
Living White Black
Yesterday, Wednesday, September 12, 2018, I did not display as much resilience as I did on Tuesday. I awoke to news of a (so-called) White man named Don Crandall, a resident of Tallahassee, Florida, who prevented four (so-called) Black students from entering a student housing complex designated for Florida A&M University. He did so solely on the authority of his being a White Man in America and his reliance on his Second Amendment-based right to threaten extreme violence, if his authority is not immediately recognized.
This reinforcement of the American racial caste system happened four days earlier, on Satuday, September 8. Similar to other stories of (this kind of) racism, without cellphone video and social media, the denials that a poor white man can exercise such authority, overshadows the very evidence that he did exercise such power. As a reminder our society values popularity over justice, it took over a quarter of a million views, thanks to Twitter on-line activism, to identify the “racist” – Crandall – and the distribution power of a “name-brand” news outlet for the story to enter the national conversation. In this day, the internet is one way that black lives are validated and our existence affirmed: a useful tool when the importance and value of humans is not self evident to the masses.
Thanks to on-line activism, the general public learned, Crandall is not an employee of the Stadium Centre, where the students live. He is the general manager of the Baymont by Wyndham hotel – or, he was until this incident went viral.
Mind you, this newest racist moment is coming on the heels of the latest police shooting of an unarmed (so-called) Black man. Demonstrating how interdependent Americans are, Anchorage-based entertainer and talk show host, Darryl Akins chose the inconsistencies in Dallas police officer Amber Guyger’s story for this week’s broadcast.
He wrote, “Well now, here’s a bit of a how do you do; You’re saying you got into an apartment that wasn’t yours and shot somebody who lived there? Where they do that at? In Dallas apparently. Isn’t that Manslaughter AND breaking and entering? How you get in an apartment that isn’t yours with a key? One key fits ALL the doors in this complex? Breaking news says she was at his door begging to be let in? Gonna go out on a limb here. Did she get down with Team swirl only to be cut from the starting roster and went all Fatal Attraction on a brother? That’s the only thing I can think of that would drive someone to shoot someone else and then come up with a lame story to justify it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the enigma, the oddity, Amber Guyger! I will be speaking on the sheer poppycock that will end with this woman somehow walking. Try not to get too emotional. We need to keep it Real.”
I hope the angst – a fervent desire to grasp some sense of control over life’s circumstances and find a sense of safety – is heard through the analysis presented by Akins’ comedic appeal. (It’s called black humor.)
The elephant in the room as we discuss the existence of these two new stories in 2018 America is: if (so-called) Black America responded to either incident the way (so-called) White America responded to the 9/11 attacks, wouldn’t there be a record of a rise in hate crimes towards random (so-called) White Americans? There isn’t. The fact that they are no such records is something to note.
Several reasons exist to explain why (so-called) White Americans are not experiencing an increase in race-based violence towards them following these two highly publicized incidents. Both structural racism and personal racism are results of white supremacy– a powerful force that continues to hold together systems of dominance and allows actions, unconscious behavior and beurocracies of oppression to rules the lives of mainstream America. That conversation is the national conversation all 320 million Americans need to have.
Enter the REC Tool Kit
On Saturday, September 8, I, along with 9 other persons, sat in a community meeting room inside the Medford (Oregon) Library discussing just how to have race-based conversations with our fellow Americans.
Four years ago, the impetus for the Racial Equity Coalition’s (REC’s) formation occurred. The emotional earthquake following Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson forced Rogue Valley people of color (PoC) to seek a method of feeling safe. In fact, Ashland resident Jennifer Ware formulated the purpose of the organization as, “creating a safe, welcoming community for PoC.”
Being introduced to the idea that the average PoC in America doesn’t feel (physically/emotionally/pyschologically) safe in the presence of the average White person, or white dominated institution, seems to rock the core identity of the average (so-called) White person. Let me see if I can put words to the emotive reaction the (so-called) White person appears to articulate with their body language. “You are scared of me? You shouldn’t be scared of me. I haven’t done anything directly to you?”
I imagine the four (so-called) Black young men attending Florida A&M felt the same way in front of Crandall.
I do. Hence, I want to desperately participate in race-orientated talks at the grassroots level. I invite you to join us starting Saturday, September 22.
“The Racial Equity Coalition [. . .] understands how difficult it is to have honest conversations about race. The Race Tool Kit Project was created to offer folks an opportunity to host race conversations with neighbors and friends. The Race Tool Kit consists of the following:
- discussion videos
- activity prompts
- experiential activities
The REC will offer a training on The Race Tool Kit, version 3.0 on September 22-23rd and October 27th and 28th from 2-5pm in the Medford Public Library with a debrief session on January 13th. Participants will be required to attend all sessions. The title of this training is “Toward Creating a Safe and Welcoming Community for People of Color (POC)”
Individuals or groups with questions about the Race Tool Kit can contact the Tool Kit Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Thank you for choosing to read Part Two of this series on the REC. For part one, please follow this link: https://magnificentmindsmovement.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/racial-based-organizing-out-of-necessity-in-southern-oregon/
Words by Kokayi Nosakhere, who chooses to spend the majority of his time in search of magnificent minds. If you are one of them, please choose to reach out at royalstar907