Institutionalized racism

Post from @VeryWhiteGuy

Ok my fellow very white people, let’s call a thing a thing.  Don’t beat around the bush, don’t be all politically correct.  Let’s say what is really going on, not just in Ferguson MO, but in America in general.

It’s called Institutionalized Racism

Over the last week I have been on a twitter storm 1,000+ tweets and I have been VERY upset at what is going on in Ferguson.  My own wife has commented “I’ve
never seen you so upset”.  And I couldn’t give her a really concrete
answer as to why.  In short – my eyes are open and I see America for what it is – built on and perpetuated via institutionalized racism.  

The revolution will be televised…on BlackTwitter 

I am relatively new to Twitter and #BlackTwitter in particular.  It is abundantly clear that Black Twitter (yes I capitalized that because BlackTwitter has EARNED that distinction this past week) had more/better news about what was going on in Ferguson well before any other news outlet said peep.  By the time the mainstream news media outlets were even discussing the case BlackTwitter was already in full swing.  Black people know all too well what the playbook was going to be surrounding the extrajudicial execution of Mike Brown.

We all knew KNEW back on August 8th that the playbook would be just what it always has been and will continue to be until something changes.
  1. Character assassination – Mike Brown went for the gun, was a potential suspect in a robbery, had Marijuana in his system…it will keep coming until Fox news suggests he somehow killed Ronald Reagan
  2. Propaganda and miss-information – I can’t even begin to locate or describe all the BS lies that I have seen/read.  Everything from Mike attacking the officer (because that happens all the time) to fires and looting and crime that was no where near Ferguson being cited as related.
    1. Did you notice how subtle words changed during the reporting?  Like Mike Brown went from youth to man, then from man to suspect.  And by the chief of polices own admission the officer that killed Mike Brown did not know about the theft that is purportedly being attributed to Mike Brown – so why release that video?  What purpose did it serve other than to stoke the flames and give ammo to whites to continue to castigate Mike Brown.  How many robbery video feeds have ever been released at a press conference in Ferguson – none.  Zero. Never and it should have stayed that way.  Its irrelevant, even if Mike Brown did steal some swisher sweets – did that mean he deserved to be executed and left in the street for 4 hours?
    2. Why did the media so often run pictures of Mike Brown that deliberately presented him in a way that fits the white narrative of violent black man?  Why not run his graduation photo or numerous ones with children.  For more on this read up on the absolute BEST twitter hashtag EVER #iftheygunnedmedown (side note – Mikes High School could only afford two caps/gowns for the entire class. My HS New Trier spends $15,000+ per capita on students.  Read Savage Inequalities that compares New Trier to a HS in East St Louis)
  3. Media blackout. They cannot control the story any longer so they try to squelch those reporting.  Ferguson police LITERALLY arrested Antonio French an alderman as well as a reporter from the Huffington Post and Wall Street Journal.  Since when do we arrest and tear gas media for covering news.  Don’t believe me watch this video where the police tear gas a cameraman and media crew then begin dismantling the equipment…until they realize there is another media outlet recording the whole thing.
  4. Stack the deck.  This is what’s coming.  They’re going to build a case and do everything in their power to exonerate Darren Wilson.  There will be motions to move the trial out of the county, they will excuse any juror that they can for any reason. They have already BEGUN the trial in the media simply by refusing to release any autopsy information, refusing to release the officers name for days while all along letting it be known that Mike Brown was a possible suspect in a robbery, had marijuana in his system – the choice of photo the media chose to run was their opening statement.

This playbook is all too familiar.  From Trayvon, to Eric Garner, to John Crawford to Ezell Ford…EVERY 28 HOURS

In America there is systemic ingrained institutionalized racism. Period. It fucking exists white people believe it.  You don’t see it nor on the scale with which it’s been perpetrated but it’s there.  It’s called the New Jim Crow.  It’s called redistricting and redlining and gerrymandering it’s SCOTUS killing the voting rights bill it’s called voter ID laws it’s called Mike Brown. I’m not going to get in to debates – read the literature, get informed.  Good friends tell me that voter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud, despite the fact that there have been less than 12 documented cases of voter ID fraud.  They say, what’s the big deal – just get an ID.  It’s a huge deal to someone working minimum wage that has to hire a sitter for their children and take a bus and train to go sit in the DMV for hours to get an official ID just to vote – you don’t think that unfairly punishes the poor, who just so happen to be overrepresented by demographics that tend to vote Democratic/liberal and all these new ID laws are sponsored by Republican/conservatives?

Institutionalized racism exists, it is real, it is prevalent it is the STATUS QUO.  Period.  This simply has got to stop.

I am so tired of white people claiming that there is no racism or that things are better.
While typing this I literally was tagged in this tweet

I’m not here to shame anyone so I crossed her name off – but this is ridiculous.  STOP it white people just stop.

I am a very white man, born in America – that’s the global equivalent of winning the lottery.  White men have been ruling and running everything since forever.  The entire hashtag #waronwhite (I am not going to link to or give it any more juice to that HT) is embarrassing.

Some are attempting to distract from the issue by trying to talk about black on black crime.  This is complete nonsense.  Crime is a function of proximity and guess what, America is hyper-segregated because that’s how those in power devised it via redlining and other means.  This was deliberate and perpetuates the post civil rights movement approach of using criminal language rather than overtly racial language.

I am not a scribe or writer, or even a blogger really – I’m just pissed as hell and fed up with other whites being so ignorant to the facts and history.  And when I say ignorant I don’t mean idiotic or moronic which many of us are – I mean uninformed.  If you read the literature, open your eyes and see THE BIG PICTURE – how can you not agree that there is institutionalized racism in America?  You’re either uninformed, blissfully unaware or deliberately avoiding the truth.  Either way, you’re not helping.  Even the best of intentioned whites will make statements like “what purpose does looting in their own community serve”.  This is what I described in a previous post on White Privilege Myopia.

My wife asked “would you be this upset if we weren’t married” – meaning if I wasn’t married to a black woman and have many black family members…I don’t know, honestly I don’t.  I can’t untangle the various elements at play in my own history.  But for me, my eyes are WIDE open and I am calling a thing a thing – America is racist as hell.  OK, OK – I know there are many great loving people of all colors including those in my church and faith Unitarian Universalism whom believe like me that every human has dignity and worth.  I do not think any of them are racist – but we’re in the minority.  Even if those folks are not overtly racist, they are (just like me) coming at this from a place of white privilege which often prevents one from seeing the big picture of institutionalized racism.

I highly suggest reading The New Jim Crow.  Below is an excerpt that illustrates the level of institutionalized racism I’m describing.  In short, post civil rights movement, white power structure knew that overtly racist language was no longer acceptable so they pivoted to using criminal language and criminalizing blacks AT OUTRAGEOUS RATES.

There are more black men in prison than were enslaved.

Think about that for a moment.

Excerpt from The New Jim Crow

What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow has less to do with the basic structure of our society than with the language we use to justify it. In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. So we don’t. Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color “criminals” and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind. Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.

Study after study have shown that black men/women do not commit more crime, nor do they get “caught” more.  They use drugs in the same percentage as white folks do.  But guess what – WHITE PRIVILEGE and INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM at every stage of the justice system stack the deck against black people.


That tweet summed it up perfectly – nothing has changed in 50 years.  Police don’t arrest whites at the same rate, they don’t stop and frisk at the same rate.  Ask any black person about driving while black.  The statistics show it in NYC stop and frisk.

In 2003, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 160,851 times.

140,442 were totally innocent (87 percent).

77,704 were black (54 percent).

44,581 were Latino (31 percent).

17,623 were white (12 percent).

And the statistics about Ferguson police activity show it as well.  Blacks in Ferguson are arrested at 4 times their white counterparts.

Police officers have their discretion on whom to pull over and arrest, then the prosecutor and DA have discretion on which cases to try, how hard to try etc.  Worse still there is an enormous discrepancy in mandatory sentencing laws pertaining to drugs typically used by whites versus those in the black community.  In 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA), which reduced the sentencing disparity between offenses for crack and powder cocaine from 100:1 to 18:1.  IT IS STILL 18 to 1. A Professor at Penn Law writes “We find evidence of significant inter-judge disparity in the racial gap in incarceration rates, providing support for the model where at least some judges treat defendants differently based on their race…The magnitude of this effect is substantial. The gap in incarceration rates between White and African-American defendants increases by 18 percentage points.”  For more on his study read

Racism exists individually as well.  I have seen it with my own eyes in every city we have ever lived in.  Again, I won’t link to it, but search the hashtag TCOT (top conservative on twitter) + Ferguson – its vile.  It’s disgusting.  It’s racist as hell and it’s a view that is shared by 1,000,000’s.

My wife @Lesliemac was the local organizer of the Philly National Moment of Silence (NMOS14) started by Feminista Jones My wife was interviewed by NBC, CBS, the Inquirer and more media outlets.  The audience at the NMOS2014 Philly event was probably 95% people of color.  I made a call to action at 7:15 to get our group started saying the names of those killed extrajudicialy.  And guess what – every newscast showed me and this clip.  Every one.

Ok, I get it, I spoon fed the news editors a decent sound bite – but really, you couldn’t have captured any of the other people of color for the segment?

Racism exists.  It is real, it is institutionalized, it is ingrained and ubiquitous.  We need to call a thing a thing.  It hurts to admit, but we have to or we will never heal and be able to build that shining city upon a hill.

As a very white person, all I can do is admit that yes, I am privileged and yes, I have benefited from that privilege in innumerable and countless ways and admit to the flip side of that statement that there is institutionalized racism and individual racism in America.

Let’s call a thing a thing.  Let’s not talk about what Mike Brown was doing, wearing, said or smoked, let’s not perpetuate the myths by denying that race played a role in Ferguson…because in my opinion race plays a role in virtually everything by design.


Very White Guy Drew

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