RACISM: Anatomy of a Nation

Cecile Pineda
7 min readJan 27, 2020

This week I was going to focus on one of our many illnesses and on some of its headlines such as Operation Relentless Pursuit , which escalates “law enforcement” (code for racial profiling) in seven cities, Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis, and Milwaukee. Or how local politics critically shape the “criminal justice system” in a theater near you, highlighting the roles of public defenders, district attorneys, sheriffs, and other officials. And how a bill introduced in Kentucky will make it harder for formerly incarcerated people to vote. And Analysis shows unarmed black men are 13 times more likely to be victims of police shootings. And how the current “administration“ just opened a new immigrant prison in Michigan. In the present day, although the U.S. holds 4% of the world’s population, it incarcerates 22% of that population, disproportionally people of color.

Thankfully, a bunch of uppity women turned me on to the state organ, the good “grey” lady, The New York Times series titled 1619: America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One. I read “Our Democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written, Black Americans have fought to make them true” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, which pins down the moment in 1619 when Dr. Frankenstein began to create the entity we now call the United States.

“American slavery is necessarily imprinted on the DNA of American capitalism,” write the historians Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman. The Times series amplifies this idea further as it chronicles Southern Senator John C. Calhoun’s advocacy of the theory of nullification, whereby he argued the state can do as it pleases even defying Federal statutes.

But ultimately, we have blow back from the election of Barry Obama (as he was known when he lived in Hawaii) for our present state of affairs, where the current White House resident waited till last Friday to nullify the Clean Water Act. The present regime is the ultimate expression of the deeply structural racism alive and well at the heart of many of this nation‘s voters.

Focused on incarceration, I first turned to Bryan Stevenson’s Times’ series contribution headlined “Slavery gave America a fear of black people and a taste for violent punishment. Both still define our prison system.”

There Stevenson refers to his firm’s work exonerating Black folks, many of them minors when they were incarcerated for life for minor or non-existent offenses, and whom his firm works to free.

But this series’ seminal history lesson is best summarized in the words of Nikole Hannah-Jones who takes us back to the origin of the structural problem lying at the root of this nation’s (and now the world’s) woes:

“Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery….The wealth and prominence that allowed…the…founding fathers to believe they could successfully break off from one of the mightiest empires in the world came from the dizzying profits generated by chattel slavery.”

And that imperative lies at the heart of our governing Constitution which describes the Black man as 3/5 of a person, and which still sanctions slavery (in the 14th amendment) for incarcerated persons.

The Times has made an invaluable contribution towards correcting this sad nation‘s history. But there is one serious omission. Nowhere is there acknowledgement of the delight Black culture contributes to our lives (except perhaps when Wesley Morris reveals why white musicians like to steal ideas from Black music), nor to its joy, nor to its grace, nor to its bottomless ability to forgive. The Black world is one of the few surviving islands of sanity still managing to lend this American life some meaning.

In the 1897 words of W.E.B . Du Bois: “Will America be poorer if she replace her brutal, dyspeptic blundering with the light-hearted but determined Negro humility; or her coarse, cruel wit with loving, jovial good humor; or her Annie Rooney with Steal Away?”

Demand Department of Justice investigate Mississippi prison conditions at

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/msprisons2020?link_id=1&can_id=655968a96e1bce05c463b2f640bf633c&source=email-re-mississippi-prison-crisis&email_referrer=email_707121&email_subject=re-sign-the-petition-demand-the-department-of-justice-investigate-mississippi-prison-conditions,

Support clemency request for Nick Sutton threatened with execution at

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tn-gov-bill-lee-stop-the-execution-of-nicholas-sutton?link_id=2&can_id=655968a96e1bce05c463b2f640bf633c&source=email-updates-new-petitions-for-upcoming-executions&email_referrer=email_708115___body_942773&email_subject=tennessee-march4mercy-next-steps

Free wrongfully incarcerated Rosa Jimenez and drop all charges at

https://act.thejusticecollaborative.com/signup/free-rosa/?source=em20200124&t=2&akid=510%2E51672%2EKnl2Rq

Read

https://earthjustice.org/blog/2020-january/australia-is-on-fire-and-its-government-is-blowing-smoke?utm_source=crm&utm_medium=email&utm_term=newsletter&utm_campaign=200119_ForTheRecord_January2020&utm_content=australia_ReadMoreButton&curation=newsletter

Help Navajo and Apache tribal members work with new technology to deny #45 Arizona’s 11 electoral votes at

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/23/1913555/-Update-Navajos-Apaches-Working-to-Deny-Trump-Arizona-s-11-Electoral-Votes?detail=emaildkre

Stop supporting climate chaos with taxpayer money at

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/sign-and-send-the-petition-urge-your-governor-and-state-legislators-to-urge-state-pension-fund-divestment-from-fossil-fuels-we-cannot-continue-to-fund-climate-change?referrer=group-350org-joint&source=2020StatesDivest_350&utm_medium=email&utm_source=actionkit

Write your Senators: No War with Iran at

http://act.winwithoutwar.org/letter/write-your-senstore-no-war-with-iran/?source=MO20200117

Tell Congress: Defund #45’s border wall at

https://act.winwithoutwar.org/act/tell-congress-defund-trump-border-wall?source=em20200117&t=5&referring_akid=6014.294094.Totv61

Tell EPA to strengthen rules protecting farm workers against pesticide drift at

http://www.panna.org/take-action/epa-could-end-pesticide-drift-protection-p?utm_source=action&utm_medium=alert&utm_campaign=wps&link_id=0&can_id=c87beac9d89e805cb6fbba756eb8c008&email_referrer=email_702457&email_subject=urgent-epa-could-end-pesticide-drift-protection

Thunberg demands Davos swells immediately halt all fossil fuel investments. “Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. We are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else.”

In response to Oxfam inequality report, Sanders calls for global movement to counter “greed of billionaire class.”

CNN poll shows Sanders surging into first as B…n continues to drop.

World wide: 2019 protests toppled two long-serving presidents, Sudan’s Omar al Bashir, and Algeria’s Abdul Aziz Bouteflika.

“Iraq for Iraqis” as one million flood Baghdad streets to demand US military leave country.

Workers shut down the Louvre as French labor strike enters its second year.

Two hundred forty events planned in 36 countries for first-ever 5G Global Protest Day

Global precedent set as UN rules climate refugees cannot be sent back to life-threatening conditions.

After Spain declares climate emergency, activists demand concrete and immediate action.

Scottish National Investment Bank Bill passes this week, formally establishing in law a new public bank in Scotland.

Iran could win strong war-crimes case against #45 over Soleimani’s murder.

Belgium debates phase-out of US nuclear weapons on its soil.

In India, students stand against the far-right.

House votes to protect students, block DeVos.

In historic shift, US second-largest physician group endorses Medicare for All.

Thanks to Obamacare, racial and ethnic disparities in access to care have narrowed.

New Jersey governor signs bill making it first state in country to guarantee severance pay in the wake of mass layoff.

Black Alliance for Peace, Baltimore, demands end to police “surge.”

In Philadelphia MOVE 9 member freed and welcomed home.

Homeless moms win in flight for Oakland house they were thrown out of whose owner agrees to negotiate with the Oakland Community Land Trust.

Volunteers build unapproved tiny home development in Oakland median.

Southern peace activists help soldiers become conscientious objectors.

Fifty years after Congress passed ERA, amendment meets constitutional threshold.

If worker pay kept pace with productivity gains since 1968, today’s minimum wage would be $24 an hour.

Indigenous youth occupy office of Canadian Minister Of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources.

Louisiana tribes file complaint with UN over US inaction on climate change.

Vermont legislators propose bill, becoming first state to give universal free meals in public school.

Group of parents deported without their kids by #45 administration return to US following court ruling.

55% US voting-age women prefer socialism to capitalism.

Navajo and Apache tribal members work with new GPS technology to systematically deny #45 Arizona’s 11 electoral votes.

Midwestern farm network leads way to chemical-free, sustainable regenerative farming system able to feed everyone.

Bank calls police on Black man trying to deposit check from racial discrimination settlement.

Trump team alerts GOP Senators: “Vote against #45 and your head gets

displayed on a pike.”

How do you blow the whistle on a society that’s joined the mafia?

Ninth circuit dismisses youth climate suit while lamenting government policy is destroying the planet.

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