This Is Just My Opinion...

...Valued Only By Me And Nobody Else
JUNE 24, 2009 8:27PM


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RonP01, Parts I, III, & V      Faith Paulsen, Part II
   David  LoveParts IV&VIII   Joy-Ann ReidPart VII 
           Noahvose              AND               neilpaulneilpaul, Part VI 
This is it, the grande finale, our last presentation in the Open Dialogue On Race.  We have made a real effort to provide our readers with thought provoking posts on the subject/issue of race in America. Now it's your turn to directly participate in the discourse.
This experiment in 'real-time', CHAT-ROOM STYLE 
discussion on topics selected by "The Dialogue Team" is taking place in the  "COMMENTS" section of this post.  If you are interested in observing and participating in this event you are invited to weigh in with your comments and questions during the hour by posting comments or questions on this post as the conversation proceeds.
Ground rules for participating comments in the open dialogue on race:

My Topic: From Cinque to Obama, have American ideas and attitudes about race really changed?
Here's my topic for the discussion: How concerned should we be about the rise of hate group activity, and the increase in racial scapegoating and demonization in the public discourse these days? Is domestic terrorism primarily a cyclical or temporary problem related to current economic conditions, or is it a direct response to the Obama presidency, or a reflection of deeply-rooted, systemic problems around race in American society?
Faith Paulsen
 My topic for discussion: Is it premature to talk about complete "colorblindness" (as the term is often used) in areas such as university admissions, government representation, and employment?
(Many thanks to Ron for coordinating and facilitating this experiement in real time dialogue!)
Is Barack Obama really a "post racial" president, and can he only remain so as long as he's popular?
Here is my topic: Does racism prevent us from squarely analysing the war on drugs or ending the war on drugs? Why did we end alcohol prohibition due to gangland violence but not end the war on drugs for the same reason? Is it because racism distorts our ability to see the cause of prohibition and the effect of the murder rate clearly?
Here is my topic: Which has the most influence over racial experience and identity: the minority group itself, the surrounding majority, or government policy? With that in mind, what pattern can be predicted for the groing Hispanic population in the U.S.?
(Thank you all in advance for your participation in this much needed discussion.)                                                           
Each member of the "team" has given us a topic for the discussion which promises to be lively and provocative. As a member of the panel, each will lead the discussion on his or her topic for approximately 10 minutes.
PLEASE JOIN US.............................
"Wow. You all have great ideas for discussion. I hope a lot of people tune in because this promises to be interesting!"
(Faith is a co-originator of the OS Open Dialogue On Race)
 On behalf of the Open Dialogue Team, I would like to thank those who came by last night and participated in our experiment in "Live, Real-Time" conversation/discussion on one of the hottest issues of our time...Race In America.
The event was a success and while messy at times several things became apparent:
1)  There is a very real demand/need for some kind of live "chat" format at OS. 
2)  Even while discussing a volatile issue such as Race OS people can be civil toward one another when there are clear rules of engagement.  There was not the slightest hint of rudeness, hostility, or acrimony....
3)  There are people at OS who, when given the opportunity, can give of themselves and their time for the greater good of this and the larger community, without any more incentive or compesation than knowing that they are involved in something that is truly meaningful.
I have reopened the live chat post so that those who did not participate in the live discussion can come by and see for themselves and perhaps leave a comment on the Topic(s) or the exchanges....
What follows is the PM I sent to Joan Walsh and Kerry Lauerman while the coversation was in progress your thoughts on the matter should be welcomed. They need to know what you think:
"I don't know whether you are observing or have a way to make an observation. 200 exchanges in an hour is clear evidence that OS needs a chat room. The topic, despite the lack of editorial support, has caused a burst of expression that is not likely to be matched any time soon at OS. The discussion is still ongoing despite the fact that it was due to close at 10PM eastern....I feel like the sorcerer's apprentice. This is way more than anyone might have imagined and needs to be given some thought and attention........."


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I'm here and ready
I'm here to observe and participate if I can.
Welcome every one to this our first OS experiment in live online Chat
Good evening.

I hope all is well with everyone
My Topic: From Cinque to Obama, have American ideas and attitudes about race really changed? The abolitionists were for freedom but not equality......
Have no idea if I am supposed to be here but am.

As far as colorblindness at universities -- I see very few black students in my classes at one of the nation's largest universities as far as a percentage of the class. Maybe 10%. That concerns me. When I teach classes across town at the community college the students are much more diverse. Those students at the community college tend to be more into learning because they aren't just passing time. They see earning a degree as a real way to change their lives.

Was I supposed to talk? I'm stopping now ;0)
has there been much change in american culture from that seminal position?
Don't worry Dorinda. We're glad you're here. We'll address my question shortly.
welcome Patricia and Dorinda
Does everyone understand that they will have to press the f5 key often to update the comments. I didn't know that until just now.
Now people use the term "political correctness," which seems to mean it is out of fashion to express ideas perceived as racist or prejudiced. I wonder if that's progress.
Thanks Patrica...I keep clicking my "refresh" key
Dorinda, I used to be a diversity officer at a university, and I have to say, even though everyone TALKED about diversity, very few people were willing to change their habits to diversify the student body or the faculty. Universities are FAR from color-blind, but academics pretend there's no problem.
Thanks Patricia, we're all learning as we go.
@neil do you see any parallels in history between those who supported freedom for the blacks on the Amistad and those who supported Obama today?
IMHO being politically correct is nothing more than being respectful of other's sensibilities. I detected a fair amount of resistance to the idea of censoring or editing one's speech during my recent discussions on the topic.
On some level, there has been a change, at least as far as the law is concerned. African Americans were not considered full humans, much less citizens. A black president turns the Dred Scott ruling on its head, and shows a true evolution.
@Spin Doctor, I think yours is a good point.
@Spin - I agree with you about the original intent of PC. It is just another way to ask people to put themselves in someone else's shoes.
@Dorinda you're OK @patricia thanks f5 to update comments...
@ Voicegal

Your comment reminds me of the business book, "Who moved my cheese". Many say they are OK with change, so long as nothing in their world has to change.
Don't know if I'm out of turn, but my two cents would be that the change from the anti-slavery Whig types and today is that back then, many whites were for freedom for blacks, but not societal equality. Most would prefer former slaves be deported, and they accepted the norm that blacks weren't inherently equal.
@ David - Great historical point. Furthermore, abolitionists were always the minority. The Civil War, as most of you probably know, was not fought to free slaves. At least now, Obama got the majority of votes. That is a change.
@I think there HAS been real change in attitudes. I was surprised at some of the people I know who ended up supporting Obama even after saying they "didn't think voters were ready." Not sure what they meant by "voters," like they were projecting feelings -- but they voted for Obama.

There has been less change in institutions.
The next discussion leader is David
@ Spin Doctor, I call that concept liberal racism. Some people approve of new ideas, openness, etc. in theory, but don't necessarily want to practice them.
I'm not sure - am I supposed to jump in with questions? or am I supposed to go to another page?
@ Ron, thanks, and thanks again for putting this together under difficult circumstances. My question is this:

How concerned should we be about the rise of hate group activity, and the increase in racial scapegoating and demonization in the public discourse these days? Is domestic terrorism primarily a cyclical or temporary problem related to current economic conditions, or is it a direct response to the Obama presidency, or a reflection of deeply-rooted, systemic problems around race in American society?
It will still take another generation or so. Perhaps until my parents' generation has died. Many, in an Archie Bunkerish fashion, have evolved their attitudes and behaviors but their earlier "conditioned" behavior will sometimes surface.
Ron stated that abolitionists were for freedom but not equality. However these 2, it would seem to me, always go hand in hand. If one is not equal to others then one is not free--especially when it's a de jure freedom and a de facto inequality which was the case through much of the U.S. until the 70's.
@Welcome Connie mack -- Glad you made it.
@ David

(nodding) Agreed
My own personal belief about Obama is that he is a true manifestation of Dr. King's dream. He is the elected President neither because nor in spite of his race. He is a person elected to the office. That's how far we've come!
@ David -
I'm very interested in what people think of your question. As I stated in Saturn's post today re: to the republicans - we're not in High school anymore - I do think domestic terrorism is related to economic downturn and disenfranchisement.
I'm late, and apologize and I'm here.
I'd like to elaborate on my question: the Department of Homeland Security is concerned about the rise in hate groups. Recent assassinations back up this concern. I wonder if this is just a matter of a few angry people or something more systemic?
wow, this is so cool.

on david's topic... i think it's actually very risky to pay much attention to hate groups with regards to racial equality. they're outliers, and there will always be outliers. as an example, i would point to klan activity. the kkk has the right to march and speak, and when they do, they usually marginalize themselves. they've become less popular even though they are allowed to promote their beliefs openly. the more we respond to the outliers, the more people pay attention to their messages instead of rejecting them.
The CIA detected increased levels of "chatter" among right-wing hate groupd since Obama's inaugguration. There have been the murders at the Holocaust museum and Dr. Tiller. There definitely is anger in the air among right-wing groups.
However, the pushback may well be also related thereto - i.e., when are the "we" who are appalled at the shooting of Dr. Tinker or the murder of the Holocaust museum guard - when are "we" going to get our outrage out there? Must we always back away from that which is wrong because it seems to be "crazy" and thus, like good americans, we want to get the hell away from the lunatic(s) responsible?
David, I'm actually really concerned about domestic terrorism and hatespeech. We've always had these yahoos, but they used to be relagated to "small" acts (I am not calling lynchings "small," I guess I mean limited) upon small groups. With the internet and ease of travel, anyone can amass a large group to large acts.
@ David - Just an idea, but maybe the rise of hate groups represents a good change in America. Maybe what we're seeing is their desperation or perhaps their fear of changing demographics and themselves being the minority.
@David -
I suspect Obama's election has brought out some truly scary elements in society, and combined them with frustrated, economically unstable people to form a mix we should be deeply concerned about. There are people out there who see Obama as an illegitimate foreigner, and who are arming themselves for "revolution." Unfortunately they are being further energized by "legitimate" conservative media.
David, I'm actually really concerned about domestic terrorism and hatespeech. We've always had these yahoos, but they used to be relagated to "small" acts (I am not calling lynchings "small," I guess I mean limited) upon small groups. With the internet and ease of travel, anyone can amass a large group to large acts.
I would like to remind our guests to read the front page of the post and come in to the discussion Daivid is our current topic leader Faith you are next
I just heard an FBI guy on the radio say that they can't really go after those outliers - that they're loners and give few signs of what they might actually DO vs. what they SAY.
@ Conniemack you have an interesting take on this. I rememebr reading somewhere that during the heiht of lynchings in America, there was a correlation between the state of the economy/prices and levels of violence.
@ David

I feel both circumstances (Obama & the economy) are feeding upon each other. The right wing media is fanning the flames. This could become problematic as the ranks of the disenfranchised continue to grow.
I think racial discriminations and racists comments has more to do with generation and education level. When I hear the word, "nigger" occasionally used, I I think most of my generation does. It is my experience that class and education makes a huge difference on our view of all people.
@David - good question

I tend to think that our current President being a "liberal" and "African-American" has brought out the cockroaches from underneath the rocks. Abortion is debated loudly now that a judge is going to be replaced and it's all the perfect storm of hatred in this country. I read Walter's reply and agree that this older generation of biggots from the 50's and 60's are going to start dying off and hopefully won't be perpetuated into too many more generations. For now, we have a lot of crazies. The shooter at the Holocaust Museum was in his 80's for goodness sake. I don't think there's a rise in numbers, just a rise in activity.
He also said, however, that they (being the FBI) are going to the socalled hate groups and asking the heads of them to give them a heads-up on those they've expelled. I.E., the perpetuators of these attacks have often found them selves on the outside of the organizations they are drawn to precisely because their behavior is too "out" there to be permitted.
@ voicegal, i'm concerned that talk radio and politicians seem to hitch their wagon to these hateful forces in society, all for political gain. Remember the tea parties and the McCain-Palin rallies.
I think it's offensive to regard America - the U.S. -as post racial.
Great point Spin Doctor, I forgot to blame the flame fanning right and the fact we have so many unemployed and underpaid people.
And healthcare is going to be another flame for the right to fan.
@ spindoc:

yes! re: the RW media fanning the flames. However, as one who supports the right to free speech, the freedom of the press, etc., how can we thwart them?
also on David's topic, we've seen this movie before, and it's not always racial. A similar group hysteria developed around John Kennedy... I think it has to do with fear of change, fear of economic instability, and a feeling among some people that they're losing "their" country to "invaders" (Catholics, Jews, minorities of various kinds...) and people with other agendas manipulating them. What's scary is that the Internet gives them connectivity and a sense that they are part of a larger group, and more mainstream, than they are...
@ voicegal

can you give an example of these large groups and large acts?
And Joy-Ann, we all know how that period ended...I think that's why David's question is so important.
To all, at the same time I am also hopeful that in personal relationships, particualrly with the younger generation, there is hope. There is still much segregation in society, particularly self-imposed. But I think of the diversity on my own social networks, people I grew up with, went to school with. That type of diversity was impossible years ago.
Joy Ann, that's a great point.
I also think it important to note that President Obama is not preceived as a True liberal, i.e., many liberals feel he's betraying them; and is not perceived as a True African American, though of course he's not "white", which then threatens all those old white guys running things in washington. But for what reason does he most threaten republicans? I think it's his liberal banner, his approachibility, his willingness to approach other countries. Is it his visage or his works that scare the most, the most?
@ Connie Mack

We can't

Our hope lies in getting more mainstream voices into the public ear and getting our economy turned around.
bstrangely, seriously? The skinheads/Nazis, the KKK STILL exists trust me they tried to rally HERE a couple of years ago and got ushered out. They're in the underbelly of America. Survivalists. People like McVeigh and Kazinski (sp?) that hate America and hate the Government, ESPECIALLY liberal Government.
@Faith, would you like to proceed?
I agree with David, that there is significant change. Of course it always feel too slow but really society change more quickly all the time, in comparison with history.
In the end, it's always about the money. Which is colorblind.
@ Joy-Ann - Great point. Hate is not about race. Hate is about competition. People hate the new group that is trying to get a slice of their pie. Since that changes, so do the targets of their hate. Why then is race so easily made the target? And can that change?
Today I posted a piece about "Affirmative Action Bake Sales.

Recently on several college campuses, campus political groups have been holding “affirmative-action bake sales.” At these sales, cakes and goodies are sold, but the same cake has a different price depending on the customer’s race.

In my contribution to the Open Dialogue, I referred to the person who lives near the railroad tracks and no longer hears the loud noise of the train racing by right outside their window. Ideally, education is about learning to tune our ears more clearly. We need different perspectives to clearly see the limitation of our own point of view.

All of which brings me to my discussion question:

Is it premature to talk about complete “colorblindness” (as the term is often used) in areas such as university admissions, government representation and employment?
@ faith:

Based on what I've seen, the educational system/university issue is the biggest problem.
David as a basketball coach of youth now and as a former player 30 years ago as a young teen, relationships in Tennessee between black and white kids has changed immensely. I can tell you it keeps me going. Inner-racial marriage isn't even noticed here any more. I'm married to a half-Japanese woman and it's never an issue (not comparing the two). But my best friend is African-American and married to a white woman and 30 years ago it would have been dangerous here. Today, it's commonplace and unnoticed. Or at least, barely noticed. Thank God.
@ Connie Mack

You are so right
or perhaps I should say, is the one that should be addressed first and most aggressively, and the others will fall in line. Of course, that will take decades....
I agree with ConnieMack. I feel the economy is bringing out the worse in all groups.....mainly fear. When fear is involved our thinking tends to decline because our emotions take over.
@David, and then there's peoples' self perception. One person's "patriot" is another person's terrorist.
On race-based admissions ... it's getting more complicated. For instance, affirmative action programs focused on Black student admissions are currently enrolling a disproportionate number of Caribbean-American, rather than African-American blacks, deepening a rift that already exists between the two groups. What to do about that?
I keep looking at my kids (ages 14 and 13) about these things. And granted, we live in the Bay Area, one of the most liberal in the country, but they are all like shrugging their shoulders and saying, WTF - metaphorically, of course (ha!) about things like a black president and gay people getting married, etc.
I just read "The Sunset Towns" - about towns that would not allow negroes in after sunset, and of course the border changed at will.
In the 50's and 60's - there was a "sunset" town in Oklahoma in 1973.
it reminds me that so much of the dialogue on race has been based on tolerance - and that bias is clear today.
I'm wondering what people think of the metaphor of the affirmative action bake sale. I posted my opinion of why the metaphor doesn't work -- What is your take on this?
@ Faith

I don't think we are there yet
@Faith, I feel these areas, education, Corporate America, work places in general have the farthest to go in terms of race equality.
That's pretty broad, but it's a broad battle yet to be conquered.
@ Faith - As to your question, I think the reaction to the nomination of Sotomayor summed it up quite well. We are nowhere near a colorblind or for that matter genderblind society.
@ faith, conniemack and kind of blue, I think that colorblindness in personal relationships is possible and does occur. i think that it is way too premature in employment, government and the like. There are way too many racial disparities in society to pretend that there is equality of opportunity. Come to think of it, I think the goal should not be colorblindness, but acknowledging our differences, just not holding the differences against anyone.

Well, that's why I think it will take decades. We've got to start at the bottom. In the schools that get no support, no money. Even playing field from the first grade on. By the time they get to AP classes in Jr. hi and high school, it won't be an issue. By the time the get to admissions at colleges, there won't be a need for a leveling of the playing field.
@ faith, conniemack and kind of blue, I think that colorblindness in personal relationships is possible and does occur. i think that it is way too premature in employment, government and the like. There are way too many racial disparities in society to pretend that there is equality of opportunity. Come to think of it, I think the goal should not be colorblindness, but acknowledging our differences, just not holding the differences against anyone.
Do aff act policies begin to make up for admissions policies that favor legacy kids?
@ Faith

I did not get to your post today. Can you provide a quick synopsis?
kind of blue, i think you're misunderstanding what i'm asking. i'm from the south, and i know there's still a ton of racism and that demonstrations still happen.

but who goes to them? it's usually 80 year old men and really crazy young'ns. my belief is that they're dying out because the culture is leaving those beliefs behind.

on faith's question, yes. i think we're not quite colorblind yet. i'm not even sure that's a good goal because i value diversity, and that requires letting differences be celebrated if the person wants to go that way. i think a truly colorblind society would let people decide how much their race and heritage matters when constructing their identities.
I realize I'm espousing socialism, which is dangerous in this day and age. Me and Sarkozy will have to hide under a rock when O'reilly or limbaugh come by....
I remember disagreeing with the great former Georgetown Basketball Coach John Thompson 20+ years ago that standardized testing in schools were racist and unequal. I apologize to Coach Thompson and he was spot on then and it's still spot on now.
Lack of education whether it be in the academic world or self taught is one of the roots of racism. I'm just as scared of "white trash" as I am of "black trash."
@Patricia ...Ther are way the word is used without it ever being spoken...
Spin Doctor, I cut and poasted -- Hope this is a help.

Recently on several college campuses, campus political groups have been holding “affirmative-action bake sales.” At these sales, cakes and goodies are sold, but the same cake has a different price depending on the customer’s race.

According to Wikipedia:
“An affirmative action bake sale is a campus protest event used by student groups to illustrate criticism of affirmative action policies, especially as they relate to college and graduate school admissions. According to one bake sale student leader, the goal of the technique is to "bring the issue of affirmative action down to everyday terms. The bake sales offer to sell cookies at different prices depending on the customer's race and sex, imitating the racial and sexual preference practices of affirmative action. One idea of such bake sales is to demonstrate analogies between price discrimination and affirmative action. A typical pricing structure charges $1.00 for White and Asian males, $.75 for White and Asian females, $.50 for Latino, Black, and Native American males and $.25 for Latino, Black, and Native American females. The bake sales' hosts do not support this kind of preferential treatment; rather, they argue that this preferential pricing is analogous to the preferential treatment created by affirmative action policies.”
This demonstration is initiated by University Conservative groups to demonstrate the unfairness they see in university affirmative-action policies. They feel it shows the concept of “colorblindness.” “Colorblindness” is a term often used to mean that in university admissions, employment and other areas, the applicant’s race or cultural background is not a consideration. People often quote MLK, saying people should be judged by the “content of their character.”

It sounds on the face of it like fairness, that the most qualified candidate gets the job or the college admission, no matter their color, religion or background. And many people – not just conservatives -- buy into this idea.

But college applications are not dollar bills. They are not mass-produced, they don’t all look alike, and the value of each student as a membersof a university community is not so easily quantifiable. Dollar bills don’t have a point of view.

Nor is an education like a cupcake. It is not simply a commodity. You can’t auction it off to the highest bidder. You don’t just buy it and eat it, it is a participatory process.

In a bake sale, dollar bills and cupcakes don’t interact. They don’t learn from each other.

But in a university (or a business, or a Congress, or a Supreme Court), the diversity of the community adds perspective to its culture and its decisions. Applicants come from different high schools in different cities and even internationally, rich and poor and in-between, male and female, some native English speakers, etc. Once on the campus, the hope at least is that they will interact, learn from each other, see beyond their own narrow point of view.
Unfortunately, affirmative action at the college or job level is often too late. It worked well back in the 1960s when the emerging black middle class quickly took advantage of it. Now, the problem is kids who aren't getting adequate education in 3rd grade, and by the time college comes around, all the affirmative action in the world can't help them finish school in 4 years. We need "education action" at the elementary level, and need-based grants and low interest loans so that kids of all races have a shot to go to college.
Ahhhh gotcha bstrangely. I see what you were saying now. But I think there's this vast underbelly of anti-American groups out there that were more prevalent while Clinton was President and are now coming back out against Obama. It's this dangerous usage of the word "Communism" and "Socialism" that Limbaugh and O'Reilly, Hannity use.
@ David

Excellent point...Diversity is all about seeking out common ground, while acknowledging and respecting that which makes us unique
Joy would care to try your hand at leading with your topic...Time is whizzing by.....
@ kind of blue, I've read critiques of standardized testing which say that it has its origins in the IQ tests, Social Darwinism and eugenics. Originally, these tests were designed to prove that certain groups were inferior.
GREAT point @ Joy-Ann
Ok, with apologies for my slow Comcast connection! Do most people still consider Barack Obama a "Black president" or has he already gotten past that? (And will he be Black again real quick if he messes up...)
@ Faith

Thanks.....I was unaware of this practice.

I can only share your hope that it leads to some meaningful dialogue.
@David, I believe you are right on regarding the tests. I don't know the answer but the question needs to be explored further at some other time. A post dedicated to it by you would be fantastic. Thanks
Unfortunately I have to leave here because of interruptions and other stuff going on....thanks everyone.
@bstrangely, we haven't seen it yet, but it wouldn't be difficult for a large group of people to organize over facebook to do something really debilitating.

@faith, the bake sale analogy is ridiculous. Affirmative Action is about making sure that ALL QUALIFIED applicants get a fair shake. It has nothing to do with giving some races one thing and others something else.
@ Joy-Ann, I still get kind of awed inside when I think of President Obama. I think for many he's still the black president. It's not always such a bad thing. . .
@ bstrangely: I totally value embracing diversity. That's what makes it so wonderful! I've been in ortho jew neighborhoods in Brooklyn (eating), the 'ian neighborhoods in Chicago (eating and partying), been to Polish/Catholic wedidngs with the awesome food and polka, fish frys in Mississippi, crawfish boils in NO, Chinatown to Little Italys all across the country - we Need diversity and many of us Crave learning from others. Are we really such a minority? The curious, I mean?
Joy-Ann I honest to God don't see him as a black President and I'm white/Native-American. I see him as the best man available for the job and that's why I voted for him. I KNOW many people see him as that but I would like the person he is no matter what color. His background and the fact that he's self made against a lot of obstacles only made me admire him more. So I guess in that regard I was aware more of his color and what he had to face. But I don't see him as a black President any more than I saw George W. Bush as a smart President...
Connie Mack -- yeah, diversity is all about the FOOOOOD!
Joy Ann when I taught at the community college in Miami at first I did not realize blacks from the Caribbean were sitting in a different part of the room than American blacks and could not understand their dislike of each other. I had recently moved from Arkansas and Tallahassee and had to learn a lot. Also in Miami Cuban students segregated themselves according to whether they or their family had immigrated in the 60s or 80s. And South American students of "Indian" heritage and South Americans of more Hispanic heritage had difficulties with each other. I had classes with students from all of the above. It was mind boggling to me to see how people will figure out how to designate stars on the Sneetches on the beaches.
@ kind of blue, sounds like a god idea.

@ joy, I still think Obama is the Jackie Robinson of American politics. I don't agree with all of his policies, but it seems he is subject to a high level of scrutiny. He's either trying to do too much, or he isn't doing enough.
@ Joy-Ann

I think he's done a lot to erase the stigma; but some of the hardened perceptions have been formed over generations. It will take more than a few eloquent speeches to break through those barriers.
@ Joy-Ann:

I'm of two minds on your last question. On the one hand, it was an emotional, awesome, wonderful day when he was elected; and almost more than I could handle when he was sworn in. I've had pics and quotes by Dr. King on my walls and in my workplaces for decades. It was Very important.

On the other hand, he truly Seems to me, and I think to others, as a Superman. I don't mean to imbue the man with more than mortal qualities. Bue he truly Gets what's going on. And seems willing and able to bring a measured, educated, hard look at all the problems. So he's almost race-less.
@ joy ann

ooh, what a question!

i don't think obama is a postracial president because his race is still the thing we discuss most. during the election i heard both sides wrestling with it: is he black enough? is he too black?

i wonder how that must have felt when his book, dreams of my father is all about how much he struggled with his own identity. it seems totally unfair to take that as lightly as many did, but maybe that's the beginning of the postracial discussion. now his identity forms the backdrop for the next generation to build on, and perhaps they won't struggle so much. maybe they'll be free to figure out who they are without all the baggage.

@ conniemack

i just had a vietnamese crawfish boil. i love this country sometimes!
Dorinda, you make a good point. Not all black students in the US are African-Americans.
@ Faith - and the Dancing and the Music! But they're always served with Food anyhow....
@ Joy - It really wouldn't surprise me to hear that from some extremists if he "messed up". However, to gain politically, we'll probably hear the oft repeated claim that he was the most "liberal" candidate and that's why he messed up. I'm not sure they're willing to jump too far into the racial pond. Republicans need their seats back too badly and now realize how badly they need minority support.
You're right about that David. The Jackie Robinson analogy. He won't use that as an excuse any more than Jack did, but it's true.
If I might answer my own question, I think that Obama somehow exemplifies that stereotypical "cool" as a black man, without being threatening. He's like Will Smith -- a Black guy white guys can be down with. In that sense, he IS the "Black president," but he has for most people, transcended the negatives that might come with that. I can tell you that to most Black people (American and otherwise,) he is The Black President. And most black folk I think are nervous that he is carrying a certain performance burden for all black men.
I am late but read everything and I have a question - when you speak of "race" are you referring to black and white? I live in S Florida, and work in Miami, and I see more divisions than black and white.
@ kind of blue, I do believe though that many people do see him just as the president. I am very fascinated by the reaction Obama has received overseas. it will be interesting to see how his ethnic/racial background affects international relations, in a positive sense.
@ David:

Yeah, the jackie robinson thing. And the will smith thing. And don't forget our President in so many movies: Morgan Freeman.

Those guys almost don't Have a race. My oldest has the Hugest crush on Will Smith. But then again, she shrugs at the whole Black President thing. Does not get it at all.
@Joy-Ann, you make an excellent point. you can answer your own question any time.
David all my friends in Europe, and I mean ALL OVER Europe love him. They have all said they wish they had him over the Gordon Brown's, I do believe that Asia and other parts of the world love him for being so positive and not flinching at the abuse he's taking unfairly so early. I don't give up on people I believe in so easily. Even politicians.
@ neil - your issue seems to be analyzing the war on drugs, its efficacy, its definition, its 'end game', yes?
it is awesome to see kellylark and david's comments right next to each other. our discussions of race must be fascinating to more enlightened AND more homogeneous cultures.
@neil as I just mentioned to Patricia there are ways the "N" word is used without it ever being spoken....
Kellylark, welcome. Hang in there and I think we will be addressing your point shortly.
@ Neil - I work in the federal system, and thank god, they're making inroads re: the crack cocaine sentencing guidelines being so ridiculously harsh.

It's been a bit of everthing. Some discussion points are more inclusive than others.

I've spent time in So. Florida, it's a different dynamic down there.
but please don't forget - the Sentencing Guidelines are handed down from the legislative branch.
@all -- agreement on all fronts. And love the Jackie Robinson analogy, though I think Obama is far less burdened by his race. Interestingly enough, ask any black woman. He would be a whoooole lot less popular with black people if his wife weren't black, and I suspect he wouldn't have won North Carolina, because some whites would have been uncomfortable with that, too. That's a whole 'nother conversation. And re Caribbean Blacks vs. American. Yep. As a child of Caribbean and African parents, trust me, the intra-group haterade is ice cold and ready to serve.
I just want to say before I have to get back to work and be a dad, thank you to the ones of you who put this together and I think it should definitely continue with the help of more, like myself if you like. I think the fact that we're sitting here civilly talking about this is another step in the right direction. Each of you have my respect and admiration.
Peace and Blessings
@Neilpaul, the disenfranchisement of felons belongs somewhere in this discussion . . .
@neilpaul, I agree. People like Senator Webb are trying to end the war on drugs, and his crime bill is gaining traction.
Dorinda's comment about teaching in Miami illustrated my question beautifully. Depending on where one views racial issues from, the view is completley different
@Neil -
told u my connec was slow!
The problem is, young black, unemployed men don't vote, and don't give campaign contributions. Drug and tobacco companies who don't want to compete with homegrown marijuana do.
I am going to go for Noah's topic first. My theory is that a racial identity centers on language first and foremost. I notice a lot of hispanics who are perfectly fluent in english, will nonetheless switch to spanish whenever the opportunity avails itself, even in casual encounters. Likewise it's the same way with me. I am chinese, and I will converse in cantonese whenever I come across a fellow cantonese speaker. I notice the same phenomenon with indians- even when they are speaking english with fellow indians- they will have a subtle accent change. Language is not just a communication medium- it's a worldview and an emotional center for the speakers.
@neilpaul and connie, it seems there is more talk these days about legalizing marijuana, and taxing it in some states like California. Perhaps the recession will drive people towards decriminalization and regulation of drugs. And then, no more war on drugs. After all, we're running out of money.
Sorry if am behind the 8-ball, been trying to catch up. (Had to get home from work.)

@David - regarding the Jackie Robinson analogy - I think you're right in many ways. While I do believe that many folks see beyond the President's race, he is an absolutely extraordinary man. And I think that at this point in U.S., history, only someone who is exceptional can be elected President if they are black. I think that we will know that we've reached real equality when the wealthy "average" or even Bush-Wish son of a wealthy black family can get elected.

@Connie, that of course presumes that we will never reach the more equitable economic system you speak of.
@ neilpaul

i think there are two things going on in your question. one, many cops stereotype. this isn't a secret, and it's partly to blame for the increased rates of arrest for minorities.

and two, as a culture, we don't give a shit about imprisoned people. our media discusses everyone in the justice system as if they've done something, and the fact that there are obvious inequalities when it comes to sentencing and arrests pales before the fact that we're taught to fear and punish "criminals". and "criminals" are the dudes the cops arrested. until we can break that feedback loop, i don't think we're going to make progress on that front.
Neilpaul, I agree. But it seems like an issue nobody will bring up. (except on OS).
@Joy-Ann (& Connie Mack)

Once again, money is the common denominator
Noah you have the floor, if you can find it.............
icemilcoffe, that's an interesting observation.
Welcome, Shiavaun Nestor!
I apologize if my question is early or late.

My computer is so slow, I can't keep up with the discussion. So, I'm throwing this out there to the wind.

Here's my general question: How much do minority groups control their own racial experience or even their own identity? Or is it controlled by government policy?

Also, I'd love to know predictions everyone has for the future treatment of Hispanics in this country, since they will soon be the majority and probably seen as the biggest competitors by the powers that be.

Thanks again everyone.
@ Icemilk coffee

A keen observation
@spindoctor- it matters. I couldn't wait to move back here after Texas. Diversity matters. Changing attitudes on race on any of these questions is directly dependent on exposure IMO.

@joy - I first heard of these bake sales in Texas years ago. It seemed clear to me that the origin was extremely biased, but I am extrememly biased against those people. I'd like to know where the more current racila-bias bake sales are being held. They are exactly what they claim to be - racially-biased people.
Noahvose is our anchor for he discussion we are scheduled to go 10 PM but the response ha been so overwhelming and thought ful we will continue past the scheduled time Panel members you are free to stay or leave at your discretion....
I have been reading along and just want to jump in on this question. While the group and the surrounding majority have an influence on how a minority group is viewed and treated, it is a cop out to say that you have to change minds and hearts before addressing the issue. Think Brown v. Board of Ed. On the bad side, think War on Terror and the subsequent harassment of immigrants. Government policy is what can change a situation overnight.
Thank you, Ron, brave facilitator! You need a gavel.
I think some of the outrage frankly needs to come from within the black community. When we were living under virulent segregation and the threat of lynching we weren't killing each other. We need to get to the bottom of why so many of our young men are doing so now. It goes back to rebuilding communities, emphasizing education...
@neilpaul, i think Webb's bill is only a start. he calls for a blue ribbon commission to examine the justice system, top to bottom, and make recommendations on improving or eliminating policies. it seems that ordinary people will have to make their voices heard on these issues to make sure real change comes.
@neilpaul, i think Webb's bill is only a start. he calls for a blue ribbon commission to examine the justice system, top to bottom, and make recommendations on improving or eliminating policies. it seems that ordinary people will have to make their voices heard on these issues to make sure real change comes.
Sidebar to kellylark -- There was a recent aff act bake sale at Bucknell in PA.
I've got to run; but I've enjoyed the discussion up to this point. I will review this comment thread tomorrow to catch up on the remainder of the dialogue.

Thanks for inviting me.
thank you all for doing this. I'm signing off now.
Sp9in Doctor, so glad you were able to join us!
As for Latinos, there are a plethora of local laws and enforcement groups that interact with the federal branch. As long as official policy is that immigration is a bad thing because it has a Latino face, you will see institutionalized violence against Latinos (and to a lesser extent, other immigrants) such as that perpetrated by Sheriff Arpaio of Arizona and the hellholes of ICE detention centers.
@Kelly- agreed.

@Noah - I think Latinos have done a pretty good job of developing media and controlling their image. Look at all the marketing in Eng and Spanish, from Dora the Explorer to Spy Kids, etc. (although I sometimes question the raunchy content on Univision, at least its being made by Latinos for Latinos...) My community has a much longer way to go, in terms of radio and television ownership, and the content we permit "our" media to feed us. One word: BET. Another: the decline of hip-hop into nihilistic, misogynistic drivel, most of which we don't even control distribution-wise.
vg, thanks and seeya.
@ neilpaul - you are 100% correct about the war on drugs.
Hey -- You guys are totally amazing! We OSers are an amazing group!!! We should have our own TV show!!
@ joy and neilpaul, i think that along with stressing educaiton, we have to make sure that public schools in poor, black and brown communities become more than mere pre-prison holding pens.
@ faith, i agree. this dialogue certainly is better than most of what I've heard on tv or radio!!
@ neilpaul

oh definitely. the police chief in palo alto (here on the "enlightened" coast) just had to commit ritual career suicide after some very disturbing comments she made. and she should have.

i'm pretty sure lynne johnson is not the only chief with those ideas. there's a substrate of bias underlying our system, but we're so tough on crime we won't discuss that. i don't know which part we should address first, but our prison culture is sinking the nation with all the people we incarcerate.
David -- Agreed. Education is so key, and so negelcted as an issue. We need some serious out-of-the-box thinking on this, somebody like Jeffrey Canada.
I agree about the lure of easy money, but that goes back to controlling our image. In my opinion, we've allowed our young men to take the easy money to write lyrics that degrade us and feed us empty materialism, we haven't demanded adequate education or services, and then we wonder why our kids turn to crime to get the material things Lil Wayne keeps telling them they need to have. It takes a holistic approach, but I believe it has to start at the molecular level -- within communities where people demand change themselves, and then fight for it. It can't be imposed (like democracy). That said, of course there's racism and societal bias at work. Not sure that will ever go away. And issues with police go without saying. I just think there's more too it -- something on a deeper level that my community needs to look inward at...

that said, I want to make sure I thank Ron and Faith for putting this together before everyone jumps off. Ron, you are one tenacious guy, and you've done a great job under tough circumstances. Cheers to all.
We are overtime but we shall continue..........
@ faith, it is good to note that many other advanced nations are cleaning America's clock in education.

Everyone, I am signing out for the evening. it has been a great event. Thanks to all for participating!
Signing off, too. God bless and thanks everyone!
Let me give an example of what I mean by my question. Indians, to some degree, always feel the pressure to remain “traditional”…to continue to play the part that whites want to see them play (peace pipe, ceremonies, speaking our language, living off the land, etc…). Because the fear is that if we stop doing that, they’ll take the land. We’ll have no more right to have our unique status protected.

So, without power, the government even controls our very identity.
Joy-Ann, you make such a great point about how hiphop lyrics feed materialism and self-hatred to kids.

Of course my son the teacher who has studied hiphop pedagogy (yes, he's white like me but an innner city elementary school teacher) would tell you not all hiphop lyrics are like that.
I apologize for never having read Joy-Ann, but IMO she is the most enlightened and knowledgable and believable one of us posting here tonight.
re: education -

Let the one-eyed man lead the country of the blind;
let the one-legged man lead the country of the lame.

That's in the forward of a book writ over 20 years ago, The Graves of Academe, by Richard Mitchell, whose premise is that the Powers that Be would have their constituency remain ignorant... intentionally... for what would happen with an educated populace? They might actually pay attention to what their leaders are doing, or, worse yet, run for office themselves and take Over.
@Noah At one time ther wer more Indians than whites and for a period there were more blacks in SouthCarolina than whites numbers won't determine control as much as development of economic and political power if numbers were all that mattered every institution in this country would have a different demographic look....
@ noahvose -

Oh, the Native American issue is a whole Nother one, and a large problem, and one that I fear will never be dealt with. It's a national shaming whose time has never come.
I guess this is done for tonight. It's been enlightening, rewarding, I'll do some closer reading tomorrow and pick and paw through all these gems. Thanks for having this event!

- ConnieMack
this was neat. thanks for hosting this and thank you to all the discussion leaders!!
Who is still here????
Looks like we're wrapping up. This has been amazing. Thanks to neilpaul, Joy-Ann, David, Noahvose and especially our fearless leader, RonP01.
I just want to apologize if I mess responding to someone's comment. My computer is honestly taking an hour to refresh. I might just have to go back through and PM everyone who offered their insight.

Thanks again Ron. I'm signing off.
We have established the fact that OS NEEDS a chat room the response here is way way so over the top....I feel like the sorcerer's apprentice....
I'll try to wade into Faith's discussion. A lot of liberals don't seem to realize this- but affirmative action is a HUGE red hot button issue. It antagonizes working class whites and drives them away from the democratic/left far more than any other race issues.
At the core of affirmative action is the very ugly business of political patronage. Look at affirmative action as applied to government contracting- the minorities who benefit from these programs are all politically well connected individuals, many of them merely frontmen for white businesses. Likewise affirmative action for college admissions. Let's face it- it's just pandering to certain voting demographics when it comes down to it. It's taking from Peter to pay Paul. In academic affirmative action, asians are often the 'Peters'. Why? because our voting power is miniscule and dispersed. There are many spheres of life where we asians are severely underrepresented. For example- government, entertainment, courts, sports... There is no affirmative action to help us in any of these spheres. Why? Because our voting power is miniscule and dispersed. Even if in theory, affirmative action could be justifiable; in reality, it is hopelessly entangled with and corrupted by tribal politics.
I just sent the following PM to Joan Walsh and Kerry Lauerman:

I don't know whether you are observing or have a way to make an observation. 200 exchanges in an hour is clear evidence that OS needs a chat room. The topic, despite the lack of editorial support, has caused a burst of expression that is not likely to be matched any time soon at OS. The discussion is still ongoing despite the fact that it was due to close at 10PM eastern....I feel
like the sorcerer's apprentice. This is way more than anyone might have imagined and needs to be given some thought and attention......... If you agree with the sentiment let them know...Thanks everyone for your heartfelt participation in this experimental discussion you all have been absolutely terrific I am pleased and proud of the way you all responded with your comments ....I will try to sort things out with a post in the near future Part X in the series perhaps ....Thanks for coming by...
I've been asking for a chat room since Day 1. Granted, my request is for social reasons but you have demonstrated here how much more good it can do. Competing sites are experimenting on a trial basis (don't we ALL need to ask Dear Prudence a question in real-time???)

I have always viewed the community aspect of OS as its best attribute. But if is not commercially viable, we can't ask for more. It seems clear that live chat might add to the site in many ways. It would, in fact, put it miles ahead of everyone else.