Standing Up for Racial Justice Discussion led by Chip Berlet
Breaking the Silence
These resources compiled at the request of the Spirit House Project
for a National Teach-In, Worship Service, and Candlelight Vigil
held On April 22, 2014, in Washington, DC
|Find out more about the work of Ruby Sales and Spirit House|
Resources Table of Contents
A Culture of White Fear & Rage
White Fear of Black Men
by Bonnie Berman Cushing
Center for the Study of White Culture
I have been devoted to a white anti-racist path for close to a dozen years, but I still stiffen with fear and a state of heightened awareness when I find myself alone on a darkened street with one or more Black men nearby.
As a dedicated student of anti-racist facts and principles I know intellectually that white people are five times more likely to be attacked by another white person than by a Black one and that two-thirds of the rapes committed in our country are by white men.
I am aware that the vast majority of corporate criminals are white and that most of our politicians who have declared war – bringing death and destruction to millions – also have the same skin color as I do. My own experience includes a mugging at gunpoint and a date rape – both at the hands of white men. And yet I have never found myself anxiously responding to a white male or males on an evening walk the way I do in the presence of Black men. Why, exactly, is that?
I believe there are several reasons for this disturbing phenomenon and that it certainly isn’t limited only to me, but also to most (if not all) white folks – and many people of color as well. History, psychology and media all play a significant role. The myth of the predatory Black man stands on the shoulders of centuries of stories and images shared from one generation to the next, sometimes directly and sometimes in coded messaging (such as admonishments to lock the car in certain neighborhoods or clutch your pocketbook closely on certain elevators and streets). Our collective fear of the Black man has a rich and detailed history, one that by this time has practically been encoded in our national DNA.
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by Roberto Lovato
Even though ideas about race, ethnicity, culture and civilization are fluid and murky, white fear is cohesive and entrenched. It gets funding for research using state-of-the-art statistical methods to prove age-old ideas about white intellectual superiority; it informs government policies and media coverage that – despite the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, white militias and private border battalions – never link “white” with “threat,” “terrorist” or (to use Huntington’s term) “challenge.” White fear mobilizes Republican and Democratic voters to defend their perceived racial interests under the guise of patriotism.
White fear is profitable. Bond issues for prison construction managed by major investment banks are more profitable than school construction bonds for improving the decrepit, crowded public schools like Taft High School in the Bronx. The prison construction bonds also depend heavily on a steady flow of young, brown bodies of former students of de-funded schools, as do the crowded barracks in Iraq’s deserts.
Though Latinos are well on their way to surpassing African Americans on the rolls of Rikers Island and other prisons as well as those dying in the deserts of Iraq, there is no mature and sustained Latino equivalent of the established black critique – literary, musical and political – of the politics of white fear and its nefarious effects. Huntington’s Who Are We has little to do with Latinos and everything to do with whiteness in America. We must realize that we can’t win these ideological wars by leaving the cold silos of white fear untouched.
We must meditate about and lay siege upon the workings of white fear as if we are indeed the very barbarians Huntington invokes. We must now take our place alongside African Americans and countless barbarian others at the front of the long march to move this country, this world beyond the calcified history and fossilized notions of “civilization” and “assimilation” lurking behind the gated white walls of the Bronx Historical Society and Samuel Huntington’s mind.
If you are organizing or advocating for Racial Justice
you are part of a global human rights movement.
Around the world there is a growing awareness of the importance of assuring fundamental human rights for all.
In the United States, there are millions of people already working on tasks that are part of building out the human rights framework.
This website is in the process of being expanded over the course of 2017. Each topic will have its page expanded with more resources.