…walked off with the aggressor

“For the vast majority of white Americans, the past decade*—the first phase—had been a struggle to treat the Negro with a degree of decency, not equality. White America was ready to demand that the Negro should be spared the lash of brutality and coarse degradation, but it had never been truly committed to helping him out of poverty, exploitation or all forms of discrimination. The outraged white citizen had been sincere when he snatched the whips from the Southern sheriffs…[But] White Americans left the Negro on the ground and in devastating numbers walked off with the aggressor. It appeared that the white segregationist and the ordinary white citizen had more in common with one another than either had with the Negro.”

*i.e. 1950s-early60s
– MLK, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community (NY: Harper and Row, 1967)

Notes for #WhiteNESSHistoryMonth 4.5

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Racism: Sickness Unto Death?

“It is time to re-order our national priorities. All those who now speak of good will…now have the responsibility to stand up and act for the social changes that are necessary to conquer racism in America,” wrote SCLC president in a 3/4/68 press release, concluding:
“If we as a society fail, I fear that we will learn very shortly that racism is a sickness unto death.”

In the same press release – “DR. KING CALLS FOR ACTION AGAINST POVERTY AND RACISM CITED IN RIOT STUDY; POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN STARTS APRIL 22 IN WASHINGTON” – MLK called racism in the U.S. a “congenital deformity.”

Visit the King Archives for the full press release. See Where Do We Go From Here? for more. Both linked from “A Song Every Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Jan 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Notes for #WhiteNESSHistoryMonth 4.4

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Reputation of Being a White Man

‘If he be a white man, and assigned to a colored coach, he may have his action for damages against the company for being deprived of his so-called property. Upon the other hand, if he be a colored man and be so assigned, he has been deprived of no property, since he is not lawfully entitled to the reputation of being a white man.’
– Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896)

“The benefits of whiteness, described in this way, throw the disabilities attached to blackness during the ‘separate but equal’ era into sharp relief. For many being white automatically ensured higher economic returns in the short term as well as greater economic, political, and social security in the long run. Being white meant gaining access to a set of public and private privileges that materially and permanently guaranteed basic needs and survival. Being white increased the possibility of controlling critical aspects of one’s life rather than of being the object of another’s domination.”

– john a. powell, Racing for Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society (Indiana Univ. Press, 2015), p.43

Notes for #WhiteNESSHistoryMonth 4.3

Extending work of @CrazyPastor. Honoring vision of @PortlandCC

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Whiteness as Property

“In James Madison’s view, for example, ‘property embraces everything to which a man may attach value and have a right’…Whiteness defined the legal status of a person as slave or free. White identity conferred tangible and economically valuable benefits and was jealously guarded as a valued possession, allowed only to those who met a strict standard of proof. Whiteness – the right to white identity as embraced by the law – is property if by property one means all of a person’s legal rights.”
– Cheryl I. Harris, “Whiteness as Property” (Harvard Law Review, June 1993), p.1726

Notes for #WhitenessHistoryMonth 4.2

Extending work of @CrazyPastor. Honoring vision of @PortlandCC
@DCSpatz

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Whiteness defined by “Common Man”

The U.S. Naturalization Act of 1790 specified that citizenship was available only to “free white persons of good moral character.” In United States vs. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) SCOTUS argued that whiteness was defined by the understanding of “the common man.”

“In other words, the Court conceded that definitions of whiteness are predicated upon common acceptance, or rejection, of demographic groups.”
– john a. powell, Racing for Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society (Indiana Univ. Press, 2015)

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Notes for  #WhiteNESSHistoryMonth 4.1

Extending work of @CrazyPastor. Honoring vision of @PortlandCC

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