No, Racism Is Not Over

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After reading about Reconstruction and Richard Nixon the past couple months, I was of a mind to drop some righteous truths about the central role of race in American politics on you guys a few weeks before the George Zimmerman verdict came down. So I am in no mood to hear conservative white dudes insisting racism is over.

Racism is not over. Criminologist David Kennedy responds to former Nixon political operative and white nationalist Pat Buchanan’s screed on the Trayvon Martin controversy:

Gun violence is heavily concentrated in poor black communities, and violent victimization is universally committed primarily against one’s own race and ethnic group, because it is primarily committed against people one has relationships with, and most people mostly have relationships within their own group.

But this line of argument misses one vital point. African Americans are the only US group which routinely finds its members killed by law enforcement and those aping law enforcement (Zimmerman) for no good reason, which killings are subjected to close judicial review, upon which they are told that those killings are OK.  And they are the only US group in which this killing, and the support of that killing by the state, is a continued playing out of a long and vile history of state-sanctioned violence and oppression.

They don’t like it.

The most profound truth I’ve found from working in and with black communities around these issues – violence, police abuse, mass incarceration, racial profiling – is that white folks look at incidents and ask, was this (stop, arrest, frisk, police shooting, instance of standing one’s ground) justified?  Black folks look at history, and ask, why do you keep doing this to us?  It is a very good question, and there is no good answer.

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3 Responses to No, Racism Is Not Over

  1. Julieann Wozniak says:

    The most vile and odious form of racism is alive and thriving just across the river in Fayette County, which has an organized klavern, just north of Point Marion. Greene County has more disjointed militia members. We aren’t lacking in garden variety bigots, either.

  2. Matt Thomas says:

    David Kennedy does not dispute Buchanan’s own stats on NYC’s 2008 Black gun assaults. Kennedy (quote) “A lot of Buchanan’s raw stats are correct.”
    Instead, he goes on to state (correctly) that white kids both use drugs and commit other crimes at somewhat higher rates than black kids.
    Yet Kennedy never returns to challenge the most stinging of Buchanan’s remarks, based on the claims of the right-wing Heather MacDonald:
    “In New York from January to June 2008, 83 percent of all gun assailants were black, according to witnesses and victims, though blacks were only 24 percent of the population…”
    It may be fair commentary for one to describe Pat Buchanan as a closet fascist.
    At the same time and in terms of this article the question remains…if these percentages on Black gun assaults quoted by Buchanan are accurate then why are we not focusing on this aspect of the violence?
    Not willing to rely on Buchanan or MacDonald I googled an article on the Trayvon Martin killing published in April of 2012 by the Tribune, a Philadelphia African-American newspaper. The article is entitled: “Mayor, Others Focused on Black Crime”
    From the same article:
    President Barack Obama: “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”
    “But absent from most of the discussions, most of the rallies, most of the righteous anger and all of the remarks from an increasing plethora of Black leaders and media figures is the other national disgrace — the abominably high murder rate among young Black males.”
    “This is an epidemic that’s been going on too long,” said Mayor Michael Nutter in a recent interview. “And unfortunately, you will find African-American males at the bottom of good categories and at the top of negative categories.”
    The entire article can be found at:,-others-focus-on-‘Black-on-Black’-crime.html
    Then moving on to another Tribune article published this year just 4 days ago on July 18 and headed: BLACK ON BLACK VIOLENCE HAS NOT BEEN IGNORED (their caps)
    “The acquittal of George Zimmerman incited a growing number of protests across the nation as legions of angry people raised their collective voice in a cry of “Justice for Trayvon.
    “But while the demonstrations are justified and have been mostly peaceful, some community leaders and social experts are concerned that the emotional response to Zimmerman’s acquittal is overshadowing a problem as deep, if not deeper than the perceived racial hatred that murdered Trayvon Martin.”
    “That problem is the never ending violence that young Black males inflict against each other virtually every day across America. From coast to coast, in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago, Black America is murdering itself over drug turf, bruised egos, minor altercations and petty insults.”
    “Over the July 4 weekend in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, 72 people were shot, 12 of them fatally. In Philadelphia from July 12 to July 15, 10 people were murdered and in almost all cases, in both cities, the victims were Black and Hispanic males, many of them between the ages of 17 and 34.”
    “It’s an ongoing urban war of senseless violence that plays itself out in every major city in America and one that, experts agree, outdistances even the racial violence the Ku Klux Klan committed against Black Americans at its height.”
    “But the answer to the question of where is the outrage over Black on Black violence may be as simple as the fact that the national media is ignoring it.”
    (Again, the entire article can be found at:
    Given this long systemic killing of young Black men by their own fellows in major cities across the nation, the better advice to a son might be to warn him not so much of possible targeting by police but rather of those dangers inherent to the joining of gangs, using or selling narcotics, initiating senseless altercations and being super-sensitive to every slight or insult whether imagined or not.
    When the president came into that press conference the other day he had an opportunity to speak out straightforward on this most sensitive issue, something that few, if any Black leaders have ever been willing to murmur a word on.
    He chose instead not to dare risk the displeasure of these same Black leaders and thus stayed the course of a politician, playing instead to such leading lights as the long discredited Jesse Jackson and the despicable Al Sharpton, as well as fawning media hacks whom described Mr. Obama’s feeble remarks as no less than “bold” ….even “courageous.”
    The senseless killings will continue unabated in our inner cities and the racists out in the nation’s hinterlands will cheer on every death of a young Black person.
    Meanwhile, well-meaning white progressives will preach on about “white racist America” in spite of the fact that no one…and especially not the racist himself, is even listening.

  3. Jon Geeting says:

    The racists are not the target audience. The aim is to enforce the taboos against racism, and enlighten people who self-identify as non-racists – the media and voters – about the modern policy toolkit used by racists. By identifying certain policies and political stances with bigots, it’s possible to make them broadly unacceptable. We’re seeing this now with marriage equality. Anybody who dares to publicly oppose marriage equality now risks appearing to be bigoted. This is a very effective way to win policy fights, and I hope that we will be successful in creating taboos around other rightwing political stances in the same way.