On White Supremacy, Sundresses, and Riot Cops

Jonathan Bachman/ RutersJonathan Bachman/ Ruters

by Dennis Trainor, Jr.| The Acronym Journal

Like all white Americans, I am the beneficiary of unearned white privilege.

While I agree with the memetic tropes claiming that White Silence = White Consent, many of us of (myself included) are clumsy when it comes to talking about issues of race with each other and in mixed-race settings, and downright failures when it comes to generating solutions. Anyone with an internet connection can see how our collective failure to dismantle systems of white supremacy are playing out.

Fortunately, also among the content available to anyone with an internet connection are words likes these, from Marc Lamont Hill:

“We need fundamental changes in society. Fundamentally, we have to, first of all, deal with the issue of white supremacy. This isn’t an issue of racism, this is issue — an issue of white supremacy. We live in a world where we simply believe that white lives are worth more and that black lives aren’t worth much. And because of that, even the most well-meaning cop looks at a black body and still may have a bias. And it’s not just white cops. It’s also black cops. There’s a study out of Stanford that says that police officers tend to look at black children as older and more guilty than they are. Which means that you see that 13-year-old boy, or 12-year-old Tamir Rice and you think he’s 21, as they did, and you shoot him like he’s 21 having a real gun instead of, instead of a play gun because that’s what happens all the time, even though white kids do it all the time with no consequence.
So, we need to redress this issue of white supremacy.”

Where to begin?

Looking at the already iconic photo of Ieshia Evans standing serene yet defiant as police officers in riot gear descend upon her Baton Rogue, Louisiana brings to mind the chant, aimed at police officers in situations like these: “Who Do You Protect? Who do you serve?”

 Jonathan Bachman/ Ruters
Jonathan Bachman/ Reuters

The photo is already being compared to iconic photographs such as the image of time a white cop had an attack dog go at a high school student attacked in Birmingham, Alabama. Then, as now, a variant of that question also worth examination is “what do you protect?What do you serve?”

Bill Hudson, AP
Bill Hudson, AP

When I meditate on the pictures above, two conversations come to mind.

The first involved a well-known activist who was scheduled to deliver prepared remarks at a moment in time when ignoring the subject of yet another black man murdered by the police would have been impossible. It was a day like so many days in recent memory when the very air we breathed reminded us of Eric Garner’s final words, echoed by activists in the streets all over the country: “I can’t breathe.”

The activist, a colleague of mine, shared a draft of their prepared remarks to me, asking for my feedback. I felt privileged to be asked and took my role as confidant seriously. We were in a car, driving over a bridge on our way to the event where the activist was to speak.

This activist (whose identity is not important in this context) and I are both white folks who aspire to be allies to the movement for black lives.

The phrase white supremacy did not appear in the draft remarks. Including that phrase in the remarks became my primary point of my feedback the discomfort my colleague had with identifying the problem as white supremacy formed a wide moat that still hangs in the air between us many months later.

Racism

I suggested to my white activist friend that they include remarks that target the enemy not only a few bad cops or a few bad police departments but also the whole system of white supremacy that cops are enlisted to protect and serve.

Also scheduled to speak at this same event was another colleague of ours, a prominent African-American woman – also a prominent activist – whom I’ll call “X”.

X is prone to using phrases like “we need revolutionary change that will dismantle the system of white supremacy in America.” I further advised my colleague to reference or even quote X on the subject of systemic white supremacy.

“X can rant and rail against white supremacy because she is black, and people give her more leeway to be outrageous and over the top,” my activist friend lectured, getting defensive. “I am not a victim of white supremacy, so how can I point to it as the problem? It is not a problem for me. I will sound crazy. I’ll lose all credibility. I have a reputation to consider.”

I was getting pissed.

I have had this debate, with this colleague, before. I found their position cowardly. To be fair, I also find cowardly my own tendency to spend free time at the beach reading a book and bobbing in the waves rather than marching in the streets for justice. After all, haven’t I earned my time at the beach?

So I was open to the possibility that perhaps I was projecting my own cowardice and impotence onto my friend, someone who sits on a higher soapbox than mine from which to deliver a message and affect change. I was told, silently, to drop the issue.

In the space that filled our silence, I felt a sensed of lost opportunity. I was determined to close it, thinking my continued silence on the issue would somehow signal my acquiescence.

My approach was Socratic, and I broke the silence with all of the subtly of sledgehammer.

“Isn’t saying that you can’t name the problem as white supremacy because you yourself are not negatively affected by it the very definition of white privilege?” I asked.

This was a hit, a very palpable hit.

One of us turned on the car radio, ushering in the dulcet tones of Kenny G to fill the silence between us; the other would write about the moment sometime in the future and drop in a Shakespearean reference imagining himself Hamlet and his colleague’s Laertes.

How very white of us both.

It turns out that my friend and colleague did include some language about white supremacy in their remarks, linking that scourge to the murders of black men by police.

A tiny victory. Or perhaps not – but a better outcome than silence.

The second conversation did not involve me; it was an (unscheduled, and unwanted) conversation Hillary Clinton was forced to have with Black Lives Matter Activists Daunasia Yancey and Julies Jones in August of 2015.

Clinton essentially punted the issue back to the activists, and in doing so forwarded the narrative that the problem the country is facing is a black people problem and well-meaning white folks just need the black community to provide the solution.

The entire exchange is worth (re) watching, and the point that was a point of learning and clarification for me was when Julius Jones revealed the lie in the narrative Clinton was advancing in saying simply “this is, and has always been, a white problem of violence. It’s not—there’s not much that we can do to stop the violence against us.”

 

Responding to the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, Michelle Alexander, the highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, legal scholar and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,notes that “what is happening now is very, very old and we need hat truly transformative change depends more on thoughtful creation of new ways of being than reflexive reactions to the old.”

“I know many people believe that our criminal justice system can be “fixed” by smart people and smart policies. President Obama seems to think this way. He suggested yesterday that police-community relations can be improved meaningfully by a task force he created last year. Yes, a task force. I used to think like that. I don’t anymore. I no longer believe that we can “fix” the police, as though the police are anything other than a mirror reflecting back to us the true nature of our democracy. We cannot “fix” the police without a revolution of values and radical change to the basic structure of our society. Of course, important policy changes can and should be made to improve police practices. But if we’re serious about having peace officers — rather than a domestic military at war with its own people — we’re going to have to get honest with ourselves about who our democracy actually serves and protects.”

Wall Street crooks who commit crimes that are so interwoven into s system that oppresses so many are deemed too big to jail while a policy of broken windows policing has literally put men in a choke hold and killed them for selling loose cigarettes.

Again, “what do you protect? What do you serve?”

Systemic racism, white supremacy, and mass incarceration: these are problems created by my people. And my people my people my white people! need to engage in creating the solutions to this crisis and not in the not the Hollywood white savior complex kind of way seen in “feel good to be white and liberal” movies like Mississippi Burning or Dances With Wolves, but in a way that listens to, learns from and contributes towards a future where we have eradicated systems of white supremacy and simultaneously builds new systems that claim for the first time in this flawed nation’s history- the promise of democracy for all.

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Best MiFi Plans, No Contract Hotspots

Are you excited about mobile hotspots and researching what are the best MiFi plans without a contract (i.e.prepaid)?  Well, there’s nothing but good news for you, as there are a ton of great options now available.  When I first started this page (many years ago!), there were only a couple of offers on the market.  Now there are so many that I recently reorganized the information to make it easier to view all of the information!
Netgear Mobile Hotspot
In fact, initially there weren’t any prepaid Mi-Fi offers that could be classified as traditional prepaid offerings.  You had to basically buy a Sprint or Verizon MiFi hotspot modem at full price with a month-to-month plan.  In other words, no prepaid broadband providers offered MiFi devices, leaving you still receiving a bill from Verizon or Sprint!  Though with the month-to-month benefit, much like other prepaid broadband offerings, you’ll pay more for the hardware/modem than you would have to if you signed a one or two year contract. – See more at: http://www.prepaid-wireless-guide.com/best-mifi-plans.html#sthash.2i2nLi9x.dpuf

‘He wasn’t lynched:’ Wife of man found hanging in Beachwood tree outraged over pictures of his body circulating online | cleveland.com

BEACHWOOD, Ohio — The wife of a man found hanging in a tree in Beachwood said she knows her husband committed suicide.

Lennin Johan Torres-Sepulveda, 38, of Atlanta took a picture of himself with a noose around his neck and sent it to his wife right before he hanged himself, the widow Patricia Lane said in an interview with cleveland.com.

Lane said she is outraged that pictures of her husband’s dead body are circulating online, and organizations and news outlets across the country are calling it a lynching.

“I just came from my husband’s funeral,” Lane said Thursday. “He looked like he was sleeping. I want to remember him that way. I want those pictures of him hanging from that tree taken down.”

A woman on Facebook said she took the picture, calling it “awareness.”

“Try riding in a car and having to explain to your kids what they just saw,” the woman wrote. “It’s truth and the harsh world we live in.”

The woman took the picture sometime before officers arrived, and she never called police, Beachwood police Chief Keith Winebrenner said.

Torres-Sepulveda was a performer with the Universoul Circus. The circus scheduled shows from May 17 though Monday at the Southgate Shopping Center in Maple Heights.

Torres-Sepulveda had worked with the circus for 12 years, circus spokesman Hank Ernest said. Circus performers were staying at a hotel across the street from the area where the body was found about 8 p.m. last Friday.

A couple driving by saw the body and called police.

“We are deeply saddened by what happened.” Ernest said. “It was the saddest day, and something that we are trying to get over.”

Torres-Sepulveda’s body was found hanging from a tree in a wooded area near Auburn Drive north of University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center. The patch of trees is surrounded by two plazas that are home to Life Time Fitness, Aloft and a restaurant, as well as Penske, and a large office building with windows facing the trees.

There was no evidence on the body to indicate any type of struggle, such as bruising, torn clothing, scrapes, scratches, or defensive wounds, Winebrenner said.

Torres-Sepulveda may have been dealing with issues, but he was kind and caring, Lane said. He was always laughing, and helped everyone in need.

via ‘He wasn’t lynched:’ Wife of man found hanging in Beachwood tree outraged over pictures of his body circulating online | cleveland.com

Weekly Digest #12: How to Make Standardized Testing Better — The Learning Scientists

Last week, we published a digest of divergent views on standardized testing. Realistically, though, you’re unlikely to be reading our blog if you’re truly dead set against any kind of standardized testing – and in fact, let’s not forget the important point that any kind of test is actually standardized.

So let’s take as a basic assumption the idea that we do need some form of standardized assessment in order to determine whether schools are doing their jobs and students are learning. Given this assumption, how can we improve the process? Luckily, in the past few weeks, a few great blog posts have sprung up to address this very issue.

Image from linked source

 

In this short post, the infamous teacher-turned-columnist David describes what he would do if he was the testing czar, in 5 simple steps. Briefly, he says he would select a small sample of students at the beginning of the year, and another small sample at the end, and only test them.

 

via Weekly Digest #12: How to Make Standardized Testing Better — The Learning Scientists

How to build a touchscreen from monitor with broken back-light. – YouTube

Published by davidcandlelight on Sep 24, 2013

One of my 20 inch monitor’s back-light broke, so I took it apart to build a touchscreen with a wiimote (wii remote) and some normal 12W LED lights. It’s like a little coffee table with a touch screen monitor as a surface.

To see where this whole video is leading to, just go all the way to the last five minutes or so.
In the video I referred to a 22 inch monitor which is wrong. Sorry about that. It’s one of the older 20 inch monitor models from Chimei and the actual size is 16 to 12 inch which makes a 20 inch in diagonal. They appear to be bigger cause of their hight.

The actual measurements for my little interactive “coffee table” are
Hight 30 inch or 75 cm
With 21.5 inch or 54cm
Length 21.5 inch or 54cm
The size of the screen demands the hight. For the wiimote to work you’ll need a certain distance.
The back-light is produced by two 12W LED 110V light-bulbs.
The inside of the box is painted all in white.
For the Ubuntu version, you can use Python-whiteboard for calibrating the wii-remote.
For windows, there are several free and commercial options.
Johnny Lee is the original inventor
http://johnnylee.net/projects/wii/
http://www.wiimoteproject.com/
Uwe Schmidt programmed a Java multi platform based version which can run on all platforms.
http://www.uweschmidt.org/wiimote-whi…

So, don’t throw away your broken monitor!

 

via How to build a touchscreen from monitor with broken back-light. – YouTube