Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Just what is this BEAST called RACISM??

Wyatt O'Brian Evans

Editors' Note: Wyatt O'Brian Evans is a Bilerico-DC contributor. This is part of the series "The Cancer that Slowly Consumes Our Very Souls: Racism" that we're running on Bilerico Project.

First, for one to fully understand the monster, it's critical to have an exact and detailed working definition of it.

According to Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, the distinguished African-American behavioral scientist/general and child psychiatrist who's famous for her "Cress Theory of Color Confrontation" (which explores the practice of racism), those who classify themselves as white practice white supremacy in order to ensure white people's genetic survival.

Welsing's functional definition of racism is "the local and global power system structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as white, whether consciously or subconsciously determined; this system consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action and emotional response, as conducted simultaneously in all areas of people activity (economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war). The ultimate purpose of the system is to prevent white genetic annihilation on Earth--a planet in which the overwhelming majority of people are classified as non-white (black, brown, red and yellow) by white-skinned people. All of the non-white people are genetically dominant (in terms of skin coloration) compared to the genetically recessive white-skinned people...Together, the system and culture of white supremacy produce the phenomenon of racism."

She added, "In the collective white psyche, Black males have the greatest genetic potential (of all non white males) to cause white genetic annihilation. Thus, Black males must be attacked and destroyed in a power system designed to assure white genetic survival."

In August, Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press (AP) reported that according to new government forecasts, by the year 2042, Caucasians will no longer be the majority in America. And by 2050, it is projected that whites will make up 46 percent of the population, Blacks 15 percent (a relatively small increase), Hispanics 30 percent, and Asians 9 percent.

More Dire Straits
Michelle Singletary, personal finance columnist for the Washington Post, wrote in her recent column, "The Change That Hasn't Come," that although income for all U.S. households has stagnated, the stats are worse for Latinos and Blacks. Singletary further reported, "'They are likely to suffer first and to suffer more in an economy that does not produce widely shared prosperity,' wrote Amanda Logan and Tim Westrich in an updated version of 'The State of Minorities: How Are Minorities Faring in the Economy?' published by the Center for American Progress. From income to unemployment to health care to homeownership, Hispanics and African-Americans lag significantly behind whites, according to the data compiled by the center."

Singletary continued, "In 2007, nearly three times as many African Americans lived in poverty as did whites. Hispanics were only slightly better off than African Americans. The unemployment rate for African Americans was almost double that of whites. The differences in health-care coverage also are stark. The percentage of Hispanics without coverage was three times that of whites in 2007, while that of African Americans was twice as high as whites. Almost 50 percent of African Americans and Hispanics own their homes, while 75 percent of whites do."

She added, "I know there are some triflin' folks, of all races, who don't want to work hard and are happy with handouts. But that description doesn't fit the vast majority of those at the bottom. They want their own slice of the pie, earned by expanding the pie with their own hard work, not by slicing away someone else's wealth."

Late last summer, The Washington Post also reported that, "So far, the toll of AIDS in the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority population has mostly been overshadowed by the epidemic among African Americans and gay white men. Yet in major U.S. cities, as many as 1 in 4 gay Hispanic men has HIV, a rate on par with sub-Saharan Africa."

According to the Post, the attention the Latino AIDS dilemma has received from political and health officials has been negligible. "At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where only two of 17 approved HIV programs target Hispanic Americans, officials have added Spanish-language hotlines, confidential testing sites and other initiatives aimed at filling the gap. 'Hispanics are over represented in this epidemic, and we need to target our efforts to them,' CDC epidemiologist Kenneth Dominguez said in an interview."

This is part of the series "The Cancer that Slowly Consumes Our Very Souls: Racism." Originally published in Qbliss, the article has been modified slightly for online readers. For more information on Wyatt O'Brian-Evans, you can visit his website or check out his Bilerico-DC bio page.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Damn, can a brother get a 'cut?

Tolu Olorunda is a Columnist for, and a Staff Writer at

"More than any other place, however, the barbershop is the black man's way station, point of contact, and universal home. Here he always finds a welcome--a friendly audience as he tells his story and a native to give him the word on local doings."

--Trudier Harris, "The Barbershop in Black Literature," 1979.

If you're a Black male, chances are you frequent a Black-owned barbershop to get a tight haircut every other week, or, for some of our more high-maintenance Brothas, every week. The barbershop is the Black man's home away from home. For many-a-married Black men, the barbershop is also their refuge away from the burdens of domestic life.

It's the one place where they can kick off their shoes, yell as loud as they want, cuss in indecipherable tones, and argue the hot-button issues of the day.

In "Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought" (2004), Princeton professor, Melissa Harris Lacewell, describes Black barbershops as "a central gathering place for African-American men." These forums, in her words, "function as racialized public spaces with the potential to contribute to the development of black politics."

It's the only safe haven, apart from the Black church, where Black men are welcomed to articulate their rage against the discriminatory practices they encounter in our, as Tears for Fears put it, "mad world."

Unfortunately, they seem to have now become fertile ground for police officers to impede upon the free speech rights of Black males. According to a recently filed ACLU report, cops in California have been raiding Black barbershops, without warrants, and intimidating the customers. The reports account incidents where SWAT teams bum-rushed the shops, with guns and bulletproof vests, randomly searching and questioning Black clients.

Peter Bibring, an ACLU staff attorney, challenged the motives, given the context that "[t]here was no evidence of criminal activity at these locations and no reason that these once-thriving businesses were singled out other than racial profiling." Under the erroneous guise of health inspections, the suit alleges, law enforcement officers invaded these shops, running criminal warrant checks on both barbers and customers. One barber who objected, says the ACLU, was detained in a police car for 10 minutes. He was afterward released.

In a news release from the ACLU, one of the barbers described the emotional and financial toll the incident took upon him. "It was sickening," he said. "I have lost good customers and had my reputation called into question in a community where I've been working for 20 years. I wouldn't wish this on anyone."

This report demands a question we must all answer: Why are police officers barging into centers of isolated Black discourse, and disturbing the peace amongst innocent people?

The answer might be that Black barbershops represent one of the last emblems of our Black community. The fact that these shops promote a cultural intimacy that other "stations," to use Harris's words, refuse to offer, can single-handedly arouse the curious eye of the FBI and other federal agencies.

Black barbershop conversations revel in proselytizing what renowned singer Sade called the "sweetest taboo." Nothing is off limits, and no holds are barred. Black men can say what they want and how they like it be said. The dominant culture that subjects Black men--and, of course, Black women--to an inferior status, gets aired out, with convenience, in these "stations."

The sacredness of this holy ground is now being threatened--just as the prophetic tradition of the Black church was, last year.

More appalling than these reports, I think, is that a mere two years ago, President Barack Obama could so easily have fallen victim to any of those unfortunate search-and-frisk practices.

In a popular clip from October 2007, Obama is seen walking into a Marion, SC barbershop, swimming comfortably in the pool of Black dialect. He starts by riffing on a Brotha's shoes: "Check out those shoes, too... What is that? You got some alligator? If I wore those shoes, I'll win in a hot second." Obama moved through the crowd of Black faces, fitting right in. He left no one doubting his familiarity with the radical tradition of the Black barbershop.

Obama's very own barbershop, Hyde Park Hair Salon, is Black-owned. For 13 years, he claims to have bowed his head to the same barber's clippers--a Black man named, Zariff. If this is true, and it sure seems so, what would have happened if, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, police officers stormed in, asking for some identification, and running search warrants on the current president of the United States? Chances are those officers would have been terminated--at once.

And with this, a final question begs an answer: Why, then, should WE put up with it?