Discrimination

American Exceptionalism Made Possible by Exceptional Africans

President Donald Trump

(Photo Credit: USA Today)

When President Donald J. Trump favors lily-white Norwegian immigrants over those abject, wretched, in his view, black African and Haitian immigrants, he exposes his historical amnesia and attempts at black historical erasure. When white invaders arrived in America to rob Native Americans of their land, and, unfortunately, were successful in this theft, they soon captured and forced many Africans to come to America as slaves.

Most foundational phenomena crucial to the evolution of American exceptionalism were developed by these Africans, including the White House, however. Essentially, most celebrated historical buildings were built by Africans. Africans built America, and the nation flourished through a slave economy, an economy based on the free or cheap labor of exceptional African slaves. White folks didn’t build America; exceptional Africans did.

Africans Gave Real Meaning to the Declaration of Independence and Constitution

Even the cherished Declaration of Independence and Constitution, penned and conceived by white men, failed to achieve their true power, beauty, and significance while Africans were enslaved—and even while official Jim Crow existed. It was African humanity, African resistance, African rebellion that gave authentic meaning to the eloquent words expressed in those aforementioned founding national documents.

Through African “fightback,” to quote one of the greatest minds in world history and leading public intellectual Dr. Cornel West, whites were compelled to begin putting those words into action, action for all people—regardless of race, regardless of skin color, regardless of national origin—although all the content of those documents have not fully materialized for all. Without Africans, though, the descendants of these white men who authored these documents likely would have never completely understood the beloved documents’ real power, import, and possibilities.

Africanizing American Exceptionalism

Yes, America is exceptional. What really makes America exceptional, though? Despite every effort to efface blackness, to deny the value of blackness, to discredit the beauty and brilliance of blackness, blackness still reigned and reigns supreme. Blackness will not and cannot be defeated. Blackness speaks to what’s possible: anything. Anything for those willing to believe in and fight for possibilities, for the Blochian Not-Yet, for the principle of hope. This is what makes America exceptional. This is the real essence of American exceptionalism.  

Conservative Republicans love to promote American exceptionalism, but the centrality of Africans to the genesis of this exceptionalism is almost never mentioned. If American exceptionalism is to continue to have any power, any allure, any gravity, then the Africanness of it, the real (and not imagined) “Africanist presence” in it, to quote the incomparable Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison, must figure prominently in any discourse involving the concept.

President Trump’s racist comments about African nations and Haiti can cause conservative Republicans to lose any political efficacy in employing American exceptionalism in the future if they fail to resist him and fail to muster the moral and political courage to categorically denounce these abominable comments.

And, just a quick note on Haiti, it was the Haitian Revolution that demonstrated for blacks in America that liberation was possible. If you are a racist, a white supremacist, though, like President Trump, a pivotal historical moment in the black freedom struggle isn’t something you desire to know and remember.   

Conclusion

Instead of focusing on “Make America Great Again,” which her constant commitment to sin, to moral, social, economic, and political depravity has never permitted her to experience unadulterated greatness, let’s work on dismantling the vicious legacies of racism, white supremacy, discrimination, and injustice that persist to plague our nation.

“Make America Great Again” is coded language expressing nostalgia for the days when racism and white supremacy ruled, which, as one of the foremost cultural theorists Fredric Jameson contends, is, ironically, “nostalgia for the present.” We’ve never witnessed a day in America where “Make America Great Again” was not the ruling order, the ruling ideology.     

In short, American exceptionalism is the story of Africans ushering in the possibility of a nation and democracy as good as their promised.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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U.S. Cities With the Worst Record of Housing Discrimination

 

Downtown Atlanta

(Photo Credit: Thrillist)

 

While legislation and policies like the Fair Housing Act and the Housing and Community Development Act have criminalized housing discrimination, it is still a subtle but stark reality in today’s market. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that, on average, minority tenants are informed about 10% to 12% fewer units than white tenants. Furthermore, the homeownership rate is 30% higher for white Americans than black Americans. A report from the National Fair Housing Alliance found that about 1 in 5 formal complaints about housing discrimination are race-related. It is second only to disability-related claims, and the number of race-related claims is thought to be low because many incidents are not reported.

Tenant screening, whether systemic or subconscious, is a real issue that not only affects the ability for minorities to access housing but also has a market effect. With all other qualifications being equal, studies show that prospective minority tenants are shown fewer options than prospective white tenants. Based on a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report, the cities below have the worst track record when it comes to tenant screening-related metrics:

Detroit

7.3% more white tenants than non-white tenants were told any units were available. On average, non-white tenants were informed of 0.23% fewer available units.

Atlanta

5.4% more white tenants than non-white tenants were told any units were available. On average, non-white tenants were informed of 0.46% fewer available units.

Miami

2.3% more white tenants than non-white tenants were told any units were available. On average, non-white tenants were informed of 0.11% fewer available units.

Houston

1.55% more white tenants than non-white tenants were told any units were available. On average, non-white tenants were informed of 0.3% fewer available units.

Dallas

1.5% more white tenants than nonwhite tenants were told any units were available. On average, non-white tenants were informed of 0.23% fewer available units.

New York

1.1% more white tenants than non-white tenants were told any units were available. On average, non-white tenants were informed of 0.155% fewer available units.

Chicago

0.95% more white tenants than non-white tenants were told any units were available. On average, non-white tenants were informed of 0.14% fewer available units.

Riverside

0.8% more white tenants than non-white tenants were told any units were available. On average, non-white tenants were informed of 0.17% fewer available units.

Conclusion

Discrimination is an ugly thing, and recent years have seen more than their fair share. But there is reason to be optimistic! As more and more neighborhoods integrate and neighborhood bonds form across racial bounds, ties of understanding and acceptance will continue to be forged. It’s important that we engage each other with civility and understand our shared goals as we seek to further these conversations.

References

https://www.huduser.gov/portal/Publications/pdf/HUD-514_HDS2012.pdf

http://www.jdpalatine.com/services/tenant-screening/

http://time.com/money/4665272/mortgage-homeownership-racial-gap-discrimination-inequality/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/business/economy/discrimination-in-housing-against-nonwhites-persists-quietly-us-study-finds.html

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Is Your Last Name Affecting Your Job Search?

 

What’s in a name? Apparently, if you’re job hunting, it can mean everything.

Implicit Biases

As a nation and as individuals, implicit biases inform every aspect of daily life, from which neighborhoods we’re willing to visit to our job hiring practices. A good job correlates directly to improved living conditions, happiness, health, and a plethora of other positive incentives. However, as a minority, obtaining a quality job in a country rooted in predominantly white history and culture can be tough. Even people who are white-identifying, but have an ethnic-sounding surname, face this problem: they receive less callbacks and less offers for interviews, despite their resumes clearly indicating they’re qualified for the job. Why?

Otherness and Race

This phenomenon has been studied extensively in academia, whereby surnames that fall outside of an established norm (i.e. a culture of whiteness) inevitably elicit a knee-jerk response of distrust and “otherness.” A study conducted in 2003, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination,” by Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, evidences this point.

In this study, fictitious resumes were sent out in response to wanted ads in Boston and Chicago. Each resume was rife with references, relevant experience, and deftness of form—the only difference was the name attached to each. Resumes had either stereotypical white-sounding names or stereotypical African-American names. The results were staggering.

For white-sounding names, callbacks for interviews occurred at a rate 50% greater than African-American names. And that wasn’t all: even when African-American names were attached to glowing resumes, they still received incredibly low levels of interest. White-sounding names attached to similarly stellar resumes received a 30% increase in callbacks. The conclusion? The amount of discrimination is uniform across all occupations and industries, and when an applicant has a white-sounding name, it is the equivalent of having eight more years of experience.

Unfortunately, phenomena haven’t changed since 2003. In 2014, another study was conducted that substantiated the findings of the 2003 study—proving that employers, in their hiring practices, are inferring something apart from race in a potential employee’s name.

In fact, it seems employers are making several assumptions based on preconceived notions about the cultures attached to ethnic-sounding surnames. When a white-sounding name is held as the golden standard, anything that falls outside of that realm finds itself faced with accusations of being unreliable, a less productive worker, or incompetent (i.e. an untrustworthy, “othered” individual). Certain ethnic names might carry with them the weight of assumed criminal responsibility, too, and be subject to excessive background checks or even more scrupulous Google searches for social media accounts.

Names Do Matter

In a culture like this, names are everything. Employers want the best candidate possible, and in that search, it is difficult, if not impossible, to detangle oneself from the web of preconceived notions and implicit biases that inform our culture of whiteness. As such, white-sounding names, names that are “easier to pronounce,” “more familiar,” and, most importantly, “non-other,”  unfortunately, take precedence, and equally talented minorities struggle to find a job they are more than qualified for.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Don’t Exploit the Orlando Pulse Nightclub Tragedy

Pulse Nightclub Victims

(Photo Credit: New York Daily News)

The proper response from the Church is to show the Orlando Pulse Nightclub victims, their families, friends and associates love as they confront tragedy. Yes, it’s always the right time to offer salvation but never the right time to spew condemnation, shame, guilt, and hate (all forms of venom). When one condemns another, he or she condemns himself or herself: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:1). This isn’t the time for you to advance your anti-LGBTQ agendas; it’s the time for you to demonstrate to members of the LGBTQ community and those affected by the Orlando mass shooting how much God loves them.

We will never be effective in winning souls for Christ by coming from a place of hate, emerging from a toxic spirit of self-righteousness. As a minister of the Gospel of Grace, I have a righteous indignation toward those members of the clergy and professing Christians whom pervert the Gospel with their prejudices and hateful and violent rhetoric, making the propagating of the Gospel troubling and ineffective for many.

I have heard a preacher attempt to camouflage his attack on the LGBTQ people involved in the Orlando massacre. He posited that they were responsible for their own deaths because of how they were living and what they were doing. Hmm…was he in this nightclub too? How does he know what they were doing? Was he in the bedroom with these folks also? Hmm… To be fair (insert sarcasm), he did add, “We are to show them love.” Sorry, sir, those folks didn’t walk into that gay nightclub to be killed. How ignorant of you! For the record, on the night of the heinous mass shooting, heterosexual people were in attendance also.

Did those Christians at the Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina go to Bible Study to be murdered by Dylann Roof? Exactly. No. Victims in both tragedies went to enjoy life, the pursuit of happiness.

Pastor Bobby Wright of The Back to the Bible Holiness Church (sorry, the name of this church makes me chuckle for several reasons—but, I digress) in Buford, Georgia posted a sign outside of his church, stating, “God created man and woman. Satan made gays & transgender.” First, this epitomizes postmodern cooning. Umm…I thought Scripture teaches that God created everyone and everything (Genesis Chapter 1; Colossians 1:16-20). The blind leading the blind. Smh. Although people have already spray-painted the sign, it wouldn’t surprise me to see folks burn down the sign and the church. I, of course, don’t support such criminal acts. We must, however, understand how mean-spirited expressions can incite undesirable responses.

Regardless of a person’s race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation, Jesus has called us to love him or her: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). Do what pleases God: love people! Get your theology right; get your call right; get your witness right; get your message right. Love everyone. True love, God’s love, does no harm.

Again, don’t let your personal agendas cause you to be a useless witness for and follower of Christ. Love is what brings people to Jesus—not hate, condemnation, self-righteousness, shame, guilt, and sin-imputing: “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Let love and peace abound all over the world!

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity’s Unremitting Hypocrisy and Discrimination

Black Greek Lettered Organizations

(Photo Credit: Mase TV)

On October 28, 2013, Erica Green, a writer for The Baltimore Sun, reported that a Morgan State University undergraduate student, Brian Stewart, asserted that he was rejected membership into Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. because he is openly gay.  When it comes to discrimination based on sexual orientation, Kappa Alpha Psi arguably has the worst record of all Black Greek Lettered Organizations.  Brian Stewart has an impressive academic record and a demonstrated record of service.  Kappa Alpha Psi was founded for the sole purpose of achievement.  Unfortunately, many chapters of the Fraternity are not living up to its founding purpose.

Brian Stewart’s case is not an anomaly—it’s exponentially becoming the norm. 

Many Black undergraduate and graduate males who have outstanding records are being denied membership into Kappa Alpha Psi for bigoted reasons, especially if some Kappas know or suspect that they are gay.  This Fraternity was founded in response to the unsettling racial discrimination experienced by Blacks on the campus of Indiana University in 1911.  Today, many of the organization’s chapters are embracing discrimination and employing it as a tool of oppression to prevent diverse candidates from joining.

While many Kappas claim that they are committed to achievement, they are voting against candidates who have strong records of demonstrated achievement, and they are voting for candidates who have poor academic records and limited community and extracurricular involvement.  Some of the fundamental reasons why these candidates with poor records are being voted into the Fraternity are they agree to be hazed, they are not noticeably or openly gay, they do not have records that make the corrupt members envious, and they represent the type of inadequate achievement that numerous extant members champion.

Many Kappas are devoted to the good of the Fraternity and do not discriminate against any candidate.  They vote based on what the Founders have delineated as the qualities of effective Kappa Alpha Psi members.  Those expressed qualities do not excluded candidates who are gay or who are thought to be gay.  Kappa Alpha Psi has numerous openly and undercover gay and bisexual members.  With this being the reality, why do many members in various chapters across the nation have such hostility toward gay candidates?  Are the heterosexual members of the Fraternity afraid that they will have sexual intercourse with new gay members? Perhaps.

Many current members of Kappa Alpha Psi were rejected for discriminatory reasons, including being openly gay or being suspected as gay, as undergraduates and had to find alumni chapters at other institutions to be admitted into the organization.  By no means does this indicate that alumni chapters do not discriminate—they do.  This means that the only way they became members was they had to locate an alumni chapter that did not discriminate. 

One of the most unacceptable cases of an alumni chapter of the Fraternity discriminating against an exceptional candidate occurred at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The Madison Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi rejected a candidate who had credentials that were superior to most of the members of this chapter.  Unfortunately, this great candidate is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in a department with two professors who are members of the alumni chapter and who are also envious of this young man.  They worked tirelessly to sabotage his candidacy for membership by telling blatant lies about him, including that “he is gay,” “a crazy Marxist who will blow the building up,” “does not complete his work,” and “does not do good work.”  One of these two professors told the other that the candidate “was talking bad about him” and told him that the candidate said that “he cannot teach.” 

This lead to the two aforementioned individuals (with the help of another graduate student in the same department who is a Kappa) convincing enough members to reject this young man.  When this young man informed the National Headquarters of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. about what happened, he was told the Fraternity’s leadership would investigate the situation and contact him.  It has been over three years and he has not received a response, although he has contacted the national officers several times each year to follow-up about his case.

Similarly, the alumni chapter at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia rejected an excellent candidate for membership because enough members suspected that he was gay.  This candidate even had recommendation letters from a couple of the leaders of the alumni chapter, but they wrote the recommendation letters only to fool him that they were going to support him and vote for him.  This young man with a fine academic and community involvement record was rejected because he “looks like he’s gay,” “is feminine” and “acts like he’s gay.”

At Albany State University in Albany, Georgia, an undergraduate student with a remarkable record was rejected by the undergraduate chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi because “he’s gay,” “he already thinks he’s a Kappa,” and “he ain’t gonna pledge.”  All of these were assumptions made by some of the undergraduate leaders of the chapter who influenced enough people to reject him.

The aforementioned cases highlight the hypocrisy and discrimination that is taking place in many chapters of Kappa Alpha Psi across the country.  Without higher education administrators intervening to stop discriminatory practices used by many Black Greek Lettered Organizations, including Kappa Alpha Psi, this egregious discrimination will persist.  It’s time for higher education administrators to require that candidates for membership into Black Greek Lettered Organizations be voted on solely by national officers at their respective national headquarters.

More people who have been discriminated against by Black Greek Lettered Organizations should come forward and share their stories and evidence.  You can fight effectively against this discrimination by promulgating your experiences to higher education administrators and state and national politicians. 

Today, call upon Kappa Alpha Psi and other Black Greek Lettered Organizations to change the way that membership voting takes place.

Contact Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.’s national officers right now.  Let the national officers know that no form of discrimination by any of their chapters and members is acceptable.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison