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Tag: white supremacists

This quote from Ijeoma Oluo reads, “Even the most virulent American racist has to wrestle with the fact that the United States would not exist were it not for people of color.”

What Black History Month means to me

At the coldest, bleakest time of each year in the United States, we observe first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in late January, and then Black History Month in February.

I know there are non-racist reasons for this scheduling. Dr. King’s birthday is January 15. February was chosen by a Black historian for Black History Month (originally Black History Week) because Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass both were born in February (Feb. 12 and 14, respectively).

But I sometimes feel as if this is a way white people accepted so they could seem “enlightened,” get them over with early, and then move on. Like maybe they won’t have to think about Black people the rest of the year.

This quote from Chris Rock says, “Black History Month is in the shortest month of the year, and the coldest—just in case we want to have a parade.”
(AZ Quotes)

Thinking about Black people all year

In recent years I’ve observed Black History Month annually on Artdog Adventures. But we cannot relegate any aspect of our history and national culture to a shadowed corner for ten and a half months of the year.

It’s impossible to live an honest life in today’s world without acknowledging Black people’s pervasive contributions to all aspects of our society, and the incredible depth of their talent pool. Simply put, Black people make our country a better place to live.

This quote from Yvette Clarke says, “We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.”
(AZ Quotes)

Like other meaningful annual observations, Black History Month should be a time of renewing our understanding and deepening our knowledge. The only way to truly grow in our antiracist understanding is to go back to the well of clear-eyed understanding with open-hearted empathy.

Black History Month at a unique moment in US history

If 2020 taught us anything, it should have taught us that way too many of us white folks are clueless and insensitive at best, can often be racist jerks, and may even be violent white supremacists at worst. It should have taught us to respect the massive contributions to our lives by our communities of color.

These groups disproportionately provided the essential workers who’ve kept the rest of us alive—at great personal cost. They came out to vote in huge numbers, overcoming sometimes-daunting obstacles, and literally saved our democracy (if we can keep it). In many ways, white Americans cannot easily fathom how very much gratitude we owe them.

This quote from Ijeoma Oluo reads, “Even the most virulent American racist has to wrestle with the fact that the United States would not exist were it not for people of color.”
(Jan S. Gephardt)

Of course, a lot of us white people are really slow learners, so the inequities persist. A living wage continues to elude many who are still employed. Medical professionals who should know better continue to cherish magical thinking about Black pain tolerance or ignore what their Black patients say. Systemically racist police practices continue to oppress and overpolice and kill.

No turning back now

Some powerful (and a lot of ordinary) white people still act and talk as if we could go back to “the way it used to be” after the pandemic has passed. Now that we have a new administration, they say, we should let bygones be bygones, in the name of “unity.

News flash: time marches on, just as inexorably as the Black Lives Matter demonstrators did last summer. Change has occurred. We’ve seen too much, lost too many family members, and sacrificed too much to subside into numb complacency now.

Not if we retain the smallest scintilla of survival instinct.

This quote from Sister Peggy O’Neill, S.C. reads, “Together we imagine a circle of compassion with no one standing outside of it.”
(Ignatian Solidarity Network)

If we didn’t realize it before, we no longer have any excuses. Everyone now knows how very many things can, and have, and do go wrong. When incompetent people collude with greedy people from a position of abused power, disasters ensue.

It’s going to take all of us, with all of our pooled talent, strength, and resiliency, to pull our country out of the fire. Let’s harness the understandings we gain during Black History Month, together with the spirit of genuine antiracism. Then let’s go forward to create a better future for all of us.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to AZ Quotes: first for the Chris Rock quote, and second for the quote from US Rep. Yvette Clarke. I assembled the quote from author Ijeoma Oluo with some help from 123rf. And I appreciate the Ignatian Solidarity Network for the quote from Sister Peggy O’Neill, SC.

Superimposed over a painting of Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson working on a document are the words: "We've just created the separation of Church and State. It's so simple, a child can understand it. Right?"

Freedom of Religion

Is the First Amendment an aspiration, or reality?

Freedom of Religion: do we really have it? During our passage from Juneteenth to the Fourth of July this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights. And especially the specific freedoms it enshrines.

The “Defund or Abolish the Police” movement has driven me (along with many others) to take some long, hard looks at the institution of policing, its history, and what it could become, if remade in a better way.

But—also in light of recent events—I’ve begun to wonder: Is the First Amendment just as aspirational as the police motto “To Protect and Serve”? In this and several future posts, I’ll consider our ideals, and how they add up next to our reality.

The text of the First Amendment to the US Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Many thanks to Indivisible of Door County, WI.

Freedom of Religion

Today’s post interrogates the first sentence in the First Amendment (but not using the Reid Technique).

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” is how the First Amendment begins. Yet, for much of our history, Americans have—and still do—strenuously seek to limit, abridge, and deny the religious freedom of others.

Superimposed over a painting of Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson working on a document are the words: "We've just created the separation of Church and State. It's so simple, a child can understand it. Right?"
Many thanks to Imgflip and Marshal Tenner Winter for this image.

Black people

Since well before the birth of the United States as a country Black people were enslaved in North America. Freedom of religion was one of the many freedoms they were denied.

For centuries, the home religions of enslaved persons were suppressed by many slaveowners. Some resisted converting their slaves to Christianity because it might make them seem “too equal.” And some enslaved Muslims tried to hold onto their religion.

But most owners insisted they be converted, to make them see their enslaved state as God’s law. Some even altered the Bibles they allowed their slaves to have—they feared the Exodus story might give them too many ideas.

It didn’t ultimately work. The Black Church became a powerful force for freedom. But those slaveowners and their enablers gave religious suppression a real good shot. And they successfully stamped out a lot of African beliefs, or forced them to “go underground.”

This quote from Thomas Paine reads, ““Spiritual freedom is the root of political liberty...As the union between spiritual freedom and political liberty seems nearly inseparable, it is our duty to defend both.”
Many thanks to Ammo.Com.

Native Americans

The American authorities made far fewer bones about suppressing Native American spiritual and religious beliefs. “Freedom of religion for Indians” was never a consideration, even well into recent times.

They didn’t go about it quite like European invaders in what would become Mexican, and later western U.S. territories. Those “missionaries” enslaved and forcefully converted the Indians under their control.

But the US Government focused increasingly virulent ethnic cleansing energy on “pagan” ceremonies, starting in the 1830s. They made many practices illegal, punishable by imprisonment.

They often forcibly kidnapped children and held them in boarding schools where their home languages, customs, and spirituality were brutally suppressed. This continued well into the 20th Century.

This graphic design by Mark Forton, based on the US flag, features symbols of many major religions in the "star field" with the words "Religious Freedom Makes America Great" below.
Right on, designer Mark Forton! This image is available on several products.

Contemporary hate and intolerance

More recently, white supremacists have felt free to attack churches, synagogues, and temples. Using domestic terrorism to suppress religious diversity flies in the face of the First Amendment, but law enforcement usually has focused on the egregious violence to persons and property. I wrote about this last year on my Artdog Adventures blog.

Lawmakers have tried and sometimes succeeded to use Christianity as an excuse to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ individuals, in what future generations may view as a violation of the “establishment clause.”

The organization Human Rights Watch published a US map in 2018 that highlighted states with what it called "License to Discriminate" Laws, attacking LGBTQIA+ rights in the areas of adoption and foster care, counseling, and more. The states are: North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.
Many thanks to Human Rights Watch for this map.

Some people welcome these laws and court rulings as “freedom of religion.” But many others see them as “freedom to discriminate.”

And unfortunately the current President of the United States seems determined to violate the full spectrum of First Amendment. He got started right away on freedom of religion.

Early his first year, he tried to keep Muslims from several countries out of the U.S. And eventually he succeeded. Does he value the appearances and trappings of religion far more than the substance? Looks that way to this writer.

How far have we really come?

We like to think that, as a nation, we’ve come a long way forward into a more equitable and enlightened society. We earnestly want to believe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

But recent events have laid bare just how deeply our country is divided. We disagree more sharply than ever on liberal/conservative lines. This has even gotten to the point where we disagree over simple public safety measures.

Savage injustices tear us apart on many other fronts, too. Economic equality. Access to health care. Our dealings with the justice system. And many more. So of course the intolerance issues extend to freedom of religion.

The challenge before us is clear. If we want that arc to bend toward justice, we must work to make sure it heads that way.

IMAGE CREDITS:

Many thanks to Indivisible of Door County, WI, for the text-image of the First Amendment. I want to thank Imgflip and Marshal Tenner Winter for the “So simple a child can understand” image. Much gratitude to Ammo.Com, for the Thomas Paine quote. And many thanks to Human Rights Watch for the “License to Discriminate” map. I appreciate you all!

Interpretations of greatness

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

One of the recurring themes in white supremacist rhetoric (of which we’ve heard far too much since the start of the Trump Administration) is that white people are somehow “superior” to other races.

Presumably, that would extend to the depth of their thoughts. I wondered if it might be interesting to compare observations written by leaders of the Confederate States of America with the thoughts of people who had experience on the “receiving end” of slavery.*

I’ll leave it to you, to determine whose thoughts resonate with the greater depth.

IMAGES: The “In their own words” graphic is my own design. I found the quote in a Huffington Post article, “The Civil War was about Slavery.” Many thanks to AZ Quotes, for the quote-image from Marcus Garvey.

*Please note that Marcus Garvey, who was born in 1887 in Jamaica, did not directly experience slavery. However, he dealt with its after-effects in the Jim Crow South and throughout his life’s work–as do all too many people still today.

The effects of slavery

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

One of the recurring themes in white supremacist rhetoric (of which we’ve heard far too much since the start of the Trump Administration) is that white people are somehow “superior” to other races.

Presumably, that would extend to the depth of their thoughts. I wondered if it might be interesting to compare observations written by leaders of the Confederate States of America with the thoughts of people who had experience on the “receiving end” of slavery.

Bonus quote; I couldn’t resist.

I’ll leave it to you, to determine whose thoughts resonate with the greater depth.

IMAGES: The “In their own words” graphic is my own design. I found the quote in a Huffington Post article, “The Civil War was about Slavery.” Many thanks to AZ Quotes for the Quote-image from Frederick Douglass, and to Signature’s article (found via Pinterest), “Nat Turner Remembered: 12 Author Quotes on Slavery,” for the quote-image from Booker T. Washington.

Of morality and Dreams

The Artdog Quotes of the Week

One of the recurring themes in white supremacist rhetoric (of which we’ve heard far too much since the start of the Trump Administration) is that white people are somehow “superior” to other races.

Presumably, that would extend to the depth of their thoughts. I wondered if it might be interesting to compare observations written by leaders of the Confederate States of America with the thoughts of people who had experience on the “receiving end” of slavery.

I’ll leave it to you, to determine whose thoughts resonate with the greater depth.

IMAGES: The “In their own words” graphic is my own design. I found the quote in a Medium article, “Five Myths About Robert E. Lee.” Many thanks to AZ Quotes for the Harriet Tubman quote-image.

Subordination v. Freedom

The Artdog Quotes of the Week

One of the recurring themes in white supremacist rhetoric (of which we’ve heard far too much since the start of the Trump Administration) is that white people are somehow “superior” to other races.

Presumably, that would extend to the depth of their thoughts. I wondered if it might be interesting to compare observations written by leaders of the Confederate States of America with the thoughts of people who had experience on the “receiving end” of slavery.

I’ll leave it to you, to determine whose thoughts resonate with the greater depth.

IMAGES: The “In their own words” graphic is my own design. I found the quote in a Huffington Post article, “The Civil War was about Slavery.” Many thanks to AZ Quotes for the quote-image featuring the words of Jean-Jacques Dessalines.

Disorders

This post is late, and it will have to be short. Disorders of several sorts have beset close family members in recent days, and as a result a certain level of chaos reigns. When such things happen in our personal lives, we may feel as if we’ve been run over.

Photo by Ryan M. Kelly – The Daily Progress/AP

But actually being run over is much, much worse. We have glimpsed recent new horror (including synagogue congregants, holed up in fear while Nazis marched outside in American streets) in Charlottesville, VA, where “all sides” did not contribute to the public disorder in equal measure, no matter who desperately wishes to believe otherwise.

AP Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Anger does beget anger. Confederate monuments and statues all across the country have become targets in reaction to the white supremacists in Charlottesville.

Image source: WNCN-TV video screenshot, via The Blaze.

In such an environment it’s difficult not to wonder if the world has gone mad–or if perhaps we have. Patience is hard to find. Perspective is hard to find. Just as it’s hard to keep one’s head in a mob, so it’s hard to keep one’s eyes on core values.

But that is our current national test.

IMAGES: Many thanks to CNN, photographer Ryan M. Kelly of The Daily Progress and AP for the photo of the horrific impact of a car into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters in Charlottesville, to Los Angeles ABC Channel 7, Pablo Martinez Monsivais and AP for the photo of President Trump making a statement about Charlottesville, and to The Blaze and WNCN-TV for a pictorial article about the destruction of a confederate monument in Durham, North Carolina.

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