As my subscribers know, I have done thousands of interviews in my life. This interview with journalist, civil rights advocate, lawyer Roger Wilkins was one that I never forgot. I asked him to be straight and honest with me and to speak to his grandchildren in the future, of his experiences. That is exactly what he did, with such intensity and clarity. During this challenging time with the black lives matter movement and police unfairness and the coronavirus pandemic, I thought that I would present Roger’s comments again. I always felt that every student (at any age) should hear Roger to better understand what was experienced by so many Americans during slavery, in the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, and, to some extent, today. I want to take the time in this description to thank Roger Wilkins for the effort and energy he put into his responses to my questions.
We long for the same things as everyone else, and yet few campaigns treat us as if our experiences matter.
We predicted that there would be different responses among black people of various ages, locations and family structures, and there were. Not everyone is affected the same way by the issues we all face. The need for adequate health care, for example, takes on greater urgency among black people in Alabama where Republican lawmakers are blocking Medicaid expansion.
But what surprised us the most was how few candidates treat us as if our differences and experiences matter.
Here is what we found:
The most common response among people who were politically engaged was that no politician or pollster has ever asked them what their lives were like. Fifty-two percent of respondents said that politicians do not care about black people, and one in three said they care only a little.
Yet this doesn’t stifle our participation in politics. Nearly three in four respondents said they voted in the 2016 presidential election, and 40 percent reported helping to register voters, giving people a ride to the polls, donating money to a candidate or handing out campaign materials. Six in 10 women surveyed reported being electorally engaged. These responses debunk the myth that black communities don’t show up to vote — we do and we bring other people with us.
Black communities, particularly black women, will be instrumental in deciding the next president. Nearly 60 percent of respondents were women, and nearly half lived in the South.
We want the things that everybody deserves. Ninety percent of respondents, for example, say that it is a major problem that their wages are too low to support a family, and that figure jumps to 97 percent among those who are electorally engaged.
.. For every dollar white men earn, black women, for example, earn 65 cents, whereas white women earn 82 cents. Black families make up a large portion of those who use public housing assistance programs, which are underfunded and lacking in meaningful oversight. And then the average cost of attending a public college with in-state tuition is roughly $14,000 a year — that’s out of reach for black families whose median household income is $40,000.
.. These results may not surprise anyone who is paying attention. But what is surprising is how few candidates address the issues that affect black communities or meaningfully court them.
Consider that, of the first $200 million spent by left-leaning independent groups in the 2016 presidential campaign, none was aimed at mobilizing black voters. In California, where I live, the Democratic Party reportedly raised $30 million in the last election cycle but spent only about $50,000 on black voter engagement.
Oh, and LeBron and Kevin: You’re great players, but no one voted for you … So keep the political commentary to yourself or, as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”
The “shut up and dribble” command isn’t that different from the “shut up and sing” directive many conservatives lob at liberals in the entertainment industry who are critical of policies on the right.
And the “stay out of politics” sentiment is usually a viewpoint only reserved for their political opponents. After all, the president often praises athletes that support his view of America, such as New England Patriot Tom Brady, who once kept a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker.
.. Ingraham, who was once floated as a possible White House press secretary to replace Sean Spicer
.. The idea that the “court” of political punditry belongs to a host on the president’s preferred cable network is bound to get pushback.
What makes Ingraham an expert — a host on a cable network with primarily white hosts and conservative guests — on issues related to people of color in urban areas?
.. America is incredibly divided politically. And most Americans point to Trump, who called NFL players protesting racism “sons of bitches,” as one of the main agitators. But that probably isn’t going to change by telling people to sit down and be quiet, particularly when they are voicing concerns on issues many Americans are concerned with themselves.
By Ingraham telling Americans who don’t agree with her views to “shut up and dribble,” it further isolates certain groups and leads them to add the host — and her network — to the list of influential voices who do not understand the concerns of those who do not look like them.
Doug Jones’s defeat of Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election is yet the latest signal that the accommodators of Donald Trump, those who have normalized and bolstered him, the gutless, schismatic conservatives who abandoned principle to follow a pariah, will have hell to pay in 2018.
Yes, Roy Moore was defeated, but it can never be fully erased from history or memory that he was endorsed by this president and supported by the Republican National Committee. All of Roy Moore’s sins are their sins, and they will wear that scarlet R straight into the midterms.
.. Moore still won the Republican vote and the white vote and, yes, the “white born-again Christian” vote. These people contorted their faith to support a man accused of unthinkable transgressions.
They made a mockery of Christian faith and moral fidelity.
.. they are motivated and insistent that the past will not defeat the future.
.. black voters, particularly black women, have been summoned to save America from its worst impulses and to establish that they are the most loyal and crucial constituency of a Democratic Party that still doesn’t grant them enough respect or deference
.. The Resistance has its own Southern Strategy.
.. It proved that Trump was a fringe candidate who tapped into an American ugliness and rode it to a fluke victory with the help of a foreign adversary.
.. Republicans must brace for the reckoning. If the Resistance can maintain its intensity — and there is no sign of it weakening — the midterms may well amount to a purge.
a group called the Direct Action Alliance declared, “Fascists plan to march through the streets,” and warned, “Nazis will not march through Portland unopposed.”
.. “we will have two hundred or more people rush into the parade … and drag and push those people out.” When Portland police said they lacked the resources to provide adequate security, the organizers canceled the parade. It was a sign of things to come.
.. If you believe the president of the United States is leading a racist, fascist movement that threatens the rights, if not the lives, of vulnerable minorities, how far are you willing to go to stop it?
.. For a while, antifa has remained on the fringes of the Left, smashing up storefronts to protest globalism, and things like that. But:
.. According to NYC Antifa, the group’s Twitter following nearly quadrupled in the first three weeks of January alone. (By summer, it exceeded 15,000.)
.. An article in The Nation argued that “to call Trumpism fascist” is to realize that it is “not well combated or contained by standard liberal appeals to reason.” The radical left, it said, offers “practical and serious responses in this political moment.”
.. The legitimization by mainstream people of violent political action is a Rubicon. Mark my words, it will be followed by the same thing on the Right.
.. And, as Beinart notes, these violent attacks on people on the Right, making no distinction between true fascists like Richard Spencer and ordinary Republicans, is being cheered by some on the mainstream Left. Thus, antifa — which reserves to itself the right to determine who is allowed to speak publicly — is growing.
.. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.
.. Mines’s definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it.
Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction:
- entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution;
- increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows;
- weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary;
- a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership;
- and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.
Seems to me that the only one of these conditions not in place is the final one. Charlottesville may have changed that. People of goodwill on both sides have to hold the line against the legitimization of political violence. Empathy — the ability to put yourself in the shoes of someone unlike yourself — is a fundamental quality of liberal democracy. Losing the capacity for empathy is a precursor of political violence.
.. This, by the way, is why I am so alarmed by Texas A&M Prof. Tommy Curry’s radical racialist rhetoric, and how he is given a pass by academia.
In African American political thought, integration and the hopes of non-violent progress has become the unquestioned foundation of Black political and legal theory. This author believes that the dogmatic allegiance to non-violence is a price that African descended people in America can no longer afford to pay. Historically, the use of violence has been a serious option in the liberation of African people from the cultural tyranny of whiteness, and should again be investigated as a plausible and in some sense necessary political option.
.. Curry talks about racial violence — about blacks attacking whites — as cleansing, as “anger realized as liberation.”
.. It’s as if the media do not want to see it, or do not want to talk about it for fear of giving fuel to the fire of white racists. The coverage has generally portrayed Dr. Curry as the innocent victim of a right-wing blogger who stirred up the crazies. Never mind that I quoted at length Dr. Curry’s own words. This kind of thing is why so many people on the Right simply do not trust the media.
.. The media should talk about every instance of people on the Left and the Right, especially authority figures (pastors, politicians, academics, and so on) legitimizing violence as a way to solve political disputes. And the rest of us should fight hard to make it taboo, to establish it as a line we as a society will not cross. We have to stop with whataboutism, the habit of responding to revolting things your own side does with “but the other side does it too!” Donald Trump is an accelerant to both the radical Left and the radical Right.
.. Ross Douthat says don’t panic, that we are nowhere near as violent and fraught as we were in 1968. He’s right about that. But if we are going to keep ourselves from going there, it is time for people in authority — whatever authority they have — to speak out forcefully and repeatedly. Not just people on the Right, but people on the Left.
.. It doesn’t matter who’s worse, antifa or the neo-Nazis. Both are capable of doing severe damage to our democracy, because they both hate the political order, and they both love violence.
Jeff Pegues, the justice and Homeland Security correspondent for CBS, introduces his new book, “Black and Blue: Inside the Divide Between the Police and Black America.”
But then the grumpy drunk stumbled over, pointed at the beanie on George’s head and barked, “Why don’t you take that hat off. You look like a fucking terrorist.”
The white partygoers grew silent and waited for George to react, which he eventually did, diffusing the conversation with politeness. Though he lowered the heat a few notches, the man continued to call him a terrorist so many times that George realized something that hadn’t occurred to him, “He was concerned that I might have actually been a terrorist.” Still, nobody came to George’s defense, leaving him alone with this angry, potentially-armed man. “I didn’t feel like he was going to kill me,” George says, “but he wanted to intimidate me.”
.. So while white evangelicals captured the election, they may have lost their fellow believers
.. Their endeavors run the gamut, but the ones gaining steam include leaving evangelicalism altogether, reframing the evangelical world as a mission field as opposed to a place for spiritual nourishment, creating ethnic safe spaces or staying firmly planted in evangelical community to combat racism from within.
.. Many describe these moves as “divestment” from white evangelicalism: they’re moving money, bodies and souls elsewhere.
.. “I was working on a book that was marketed toward evangelicals and I’m no longer doing that because I think it’s a waste of time. I don’t think they’re ready. I’d rather work with folks who are ready.”
.. White male evangelical neglect of issues concerning black evangelicals and evangelical women prompted these groups to turn to their own coalitions. As a result, the progressive movement lost its minority and female constituency and faded into the shadows just as the religious right was born.
.. Bill McCartney, the white leader of Promise Keepers, made this subject a focal point at his stadium-packed events in 1996, he reported that about 40 percent of participants reacted negatively to the theme, likely leading to the drop in attendance the following year.
.. white evangelical “racial reconciliation” lacked rigor. It focused on building personal relationships between races, not addressing the systemic inequalities that devastate communities of color. This led minority evangelicals to question whether “racial reconciliation” was simply a convenient vehicle for white absolution and, given the long history of white oppression within the church (using the Bible to justify slavery, supporting Jim Crow segregation, condemning the Civil Rights Movement, to name a few), to what exactly were they “reconciling” in the first place.
.. “For those of us who have been doing this for a while – making the circuit, speaking to crowds – it almost feels like it was all for nothing,”
.. “It was a blatant ignoring of everything we’ve been trying to teach for decades now. Maybe I was being naive; I thought after the election people would have a little more remorse…this is white evangelicalism revealing itself in ways that are deeply dysfunctional.”
.. these groups never invited her to create something that actually corrected the problems she called out; they listened to her critique and they thought that was enough.
.. While Johnson believes that folks in her circles “didn’t necessarily vote for Trump,” they are part of a larger culture that made widespread white evangelical support for Trump possible. By staying in this environment, she hopes to attack one of the root causes of this problem: “An impoverished theology where people don’t understand a ‘God of the oppressed.’”
Whereas, “as black folks, we’ve always had to hold onto this God of the oppressed…a God who interacts with the systems around us.”
.. If anything, white evangelical support for Trump has prompted a “big ideological shift” in her work, from an interest in producing “do gooders” to a generation of Christians willing to work for the liberation of other people.
.. “everyone is reconsidering whether or not they want to remain under the moniker ‘evangelical,’” including minorities, white people, the young and the old, “because the word ‘evangelical’ has been truly hijacked by a movement to maintain the political, economic and social supremacy of whiteness.”
.. her desire to reclaim “a movement that was about the coming of the Kingdom of God and the flourishing of the image of God on Earth,” as well as the release of the image of God from captivity
.. For those staying, they must contend with a dominant white theology, shaped in the cauldron of privilege, which suggests that a successful life springs from an individual’s good, moral choices alone. It fails to recognize how unfair policies and societal structures harm the economic and social wellbeing of those subject to those systems.
Those who stay must also contend with a politicized evangelical movement fundamentally shaped in the late 1970s by a desire to preserve segregation. As documented by historian Randall Balmer, the religious right galvanized evangelicals into a political movement when the IRS threatened to revoke the tax exempt status of racially discriminatory Christian schools. Today, evangelicals of color staying to “combat racism from within” are working against a deeply entrenched culture.
.. But even if a demographic shift seems inevitable, the question is: will the power shift be inevitable? Do white evangelicals have the capacity to share power at scale?
.. baked into the culture of evangelicalism is a distrust of non-evangelical voices, even those who have been doing the work of social justice for decades. But the threats of this new administration might change all that.
.. George Mekhail struck an invitational tone in an attempt to “figure out this guy’s deal.” Sure, George felt “humiliated” by the man’s insistence that his hat made him look like a terrorist, but what could he say? Only a white partygoer could rebuke the man because, “as the brown guy in the room, I can’t be that voice [without coming across as] the agitator.” In a final act of submission, George yanked the beanie off his head and asked, “There, is that better?” The man took a good look at George, his youthful brown eyes, his thin trail of a beard and his short black hair unwinding from hat head.
“No,” the man replied. “You still look like a terrorist.”
.. George decided to leave evangelicalism, though he remains firmly in the Christian tradition, working to hold the faith community to a higher standard.
.. Ambiguous church policies hurt congregants, George argues. For example, most churches claim to “welcome everybody,” but quietly hold policies that exclude particular communities. For the gay person who devotes his life to a church only to discover years later that their pastor won’t baptize him or marry him, “just create[s] so much humiliation and shame
.. Demand clarity without judgment. He’s not trying to convince anyone to change their policies, even if he disagrees with them
.. His long-term vision includes a database that houses the policies of churches. “If we can do that, then we let people vote with their feet.”
.. George, who has lately been asking, “if there is anything redeemable about evangelicalism.”
“I think evangelicalism is the empire that’s about to fall,” he says. “It needs to be dismantled because it’s too powerful and it’s all about money.” Rather than centering the needs of the marginalized and justice work, George sees a toxic faith system that platforms capitalism, unsustainable growth, a prosperity narrative, flashy services and pastors who hang with celebrities. To George, “everything” is at stake.
“We’re at the part of the story where Jesus goes into the temple and flips over tables.”