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

Make Racism a Bankrupting Phenomenon: The Donald Sterling Case

Donald Sterling

(Photo Credit: Salon)

The odious, hurtful and racist comments uttered by Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, warranted the immediate action taken by the National Basketball Association (NBA).  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life from the NBA. He cannot have any association with the Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA, and he’s not allowed to attend any NBA games.  Silver gave Sterling the highest fine possible, and Silver has vowed to do all that he can do to have Sterling voted out as owner of the Clippers.  The Clippers’ players have cleverly protested the hateful remarks of their racist owner, and several businesses and sponsors have withdrawn their associations with Sterling and the Clippers.  NBA fans and the American people in general have expressed their great outrage in response to the racist comments made by Sterling.  The collective response to the Sterling case offers a promising window of opportunity to move us closer to making those who choose to be racists suffer tremendous economic losses, bankrupting them if possible.

Donald Sterling is a horrible human being, and the things he said evince that he has a slave master mentality.  If Black people and other minorities are going to weaken the power of racism, then they must use a case like the Donald Sterling case in subversive ways to launch potent attacks on the enduring post-slavery racism and remaining vestiges of Jim Crow that are deep and powerful parts of the American political, economic and social system.  Without the collective outrage of minorities and Whites conveyed throughout the country in response to Sterling, the likelihood of Commissioner Silver rendering the decision he did yesterday would have been slim to none.  Although many people want to characterize the vociferous groundswell of national opposition to Sterling as insufficient, and many have harshly criticized the Clippers’ players for not doing enough to protest Sterling’s racism, these critics fail to see the strong utopian energies at work in the collective response to Sterling.  Before Mr. Silver’s decision, the collective response to Sterling was primarily communicated through words only.  The verbal outrage divulged by numerous Americans across the nation and NBA players, including the Clippers’ players, served robust and important functions: it made racism even less desirable and it placed intense pressure on Mr. Silver to reach the type of decision he did.

This collective outrage primarily communicated through words must transition to a collective language of resistance that then materializes into impactful collective action.

Those who highly oppose racism need to use Donald Sterling as a symbol of fear for current racists and those who will choose to be racists in the future about what can happen to them.  Although Donald Sterling will remain an incredibly rich man even if the NBA’s Board of Governors votes to force him to sell the Clippers, a resounding message will be disseminated to other racists: you may pay a prohibitive political, social and economic price for your racism that could inevitably lead you to being bankrupt.

NBA fans and the American people in general must place significant pressure on the NBA’s Board of Governors to mandate that Sterling sell the Clippers.  There must be a willingness by NBA fans to boycott NBA games, team and league sponsors and businesses that support the league and its teams if the Board of Governors does not vote out Sterling.  This message must be communicated to the Board of Governors in various ways, including through social media, television, radio, newspapers, letters, protest rallies across the nation, and etc.  The Clippers’ players need to involve themselves actively in influencing the decision of the Board of Governors.  Players from all other NBA teams and from across all teams in other sports need to demand that the Board of Governors vote out Sterling.  The members of the Board of Governors love money and NBA fans, as consumers, have to use their money as a weapon against the members of the Board of Governors and their strategic interests.

Again, Sterling will be a very rich man no matter what the members of the Board of Governors decide, considering he made a highly lucrative and clever investment in the Clippers and made many auspicious investments in the real estate industry.  The Board of Governors can, however, discontinue his ability to increase his wealth through his ownership of the Clippers and greatly diminish his power and prestige in the real estate industry and other industries he may attempt to pursue. He will no longer be able to increase his wealth from the labor of Black male bodies in the NBA.  Sterling’s personal use of plantation ideology in the NBA will be extinguished.

When we are able to expose other racists in the same or similar ways as Sterling was, we should make every effort to cause them to face bankruptcy.  If you want to cause a serious decrease in the power and prevalence of racism in America, then you must significantly reduce the economic and social incentives of it.

Let’s not become so consumed in discourses specifically about Donald Sterling and the venom he spewed out of his corroded mouth; let’s use his case to inaugurate a new movement against racism.

Bankrupting racists must become a grand political strategy employed by individuals of all political persuasions and ideologies.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madision

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

Political Correctness Threatens Free Speech and Dissent

At the recent Fellowship Foundation National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Benjamin Carson gave a speech that has received tremendous national attention because it critiques President Obama’s handling of the national debt, healthcare, education, taxes, and etc. in ways unfavorable to him.  What should not get lost in the responses to the speech, however, are the powerful comments he makes about America’s current insistence on political correctness.  Political correctness is threatening to diminish one of most important purposes of the First Amendment: protect unpopular speech.  While the First Amendment still protects unpopular speech, many people in positions of power are finding ways to create conditions where dissenting voices will face serious repercussions.  While it was not the politically correct thing to do, Dr. Carson did not allow a burgeoning American penchant for political correctness to keep him from disagreeing with President Obama on substantive issues while at this event that traditionally has not been a place where dissent has been accepted and while being in close proximity to President Obama.

When one elects to defy political correctness, he or she must be ready for backlash.  Many employers will establish a hostile agenda against employees when they voice disagreement with their policies and practices.  Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with the responsibility of protecting employees from this type of discrimination, employees are not always safeguarded from this discrimination.  Many employees are too afraid to exercise their First Amendment rights because they fear losing their jobs.  Political correctness informs employees to remain silent and keep their disagreements with their employers private.  Unfortunately, too many people buy into this promotion of silence and end up getting crushed by the misery of their silence.

More lawyers, philanthropists, organizations, and etc. need to be willing to help individuals to combat efforts by powerful employers to mute their employees.

What good is the First Amendment if the American people are afraid to exercise the rights it guarantees?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and other organizations deserve tremendous appreciation for their offering of free legal representation to individuals to fight against employers’ efforts to abrogate their employees’ First Amendment rights.

America would have never gained her liberation from Great Britain had it not been for the value of dissent the colonists evinced.

Some employers are even arrogant enough to place in writing that they forbid their employees from using their First Amendment rights to speak in opposition to them.  We certainly need more organizations like the ACLU and NAACP to rise up and aid in striking a mighty blow against political correctness and First Amendment violations.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission needs to be much more aggressive in defending employees against employers who engender conditions where political correctness is mandated, especially when it comes to employees’ rights and requests to have religious, racial, and viewpoint accommodations.

While this piece has focused primarily on political correctness in the workplace (and a little on political correctness in general), it is crucial to understand that political correctness is present in virtually every space of American life.  We deny the dangers of political correctness and don’t engage in efforts to eradicate it at our own peril.

What did you think about Dr. Benjamin Carson’s statements about political correctness?  What did you think about his critique of President Obama’s handling of the national debt, education, taxes, and healthcare?  Do you agree or disagree that political correctness is a threat to free speech and dissent?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

Be an Advocate for Justice

Police Brutality

Love and justice are inextricably linked. You cannot love someone if you’re not willing to advocate for justice for him or her. Justice is what love looks like in public. When things are going on in your community that are not right, you need to take a stand against those things. In order to make change happen, you have to get out and do something that’s going to initiate change. You’re not going to make significant change happen by sitting up in your home hoping that it will materialize. Meaningful change happens when serious efforts are engaged in to make it occur.

As history has demonstrated, African-Americans have suffered from disquieting injustices since they have arrived in America to the present day. We have to do a better job of reporting the injustices we experience throughout the nation. All of the injustices we experience are not going to appear in the mainstream media. We have to, therefore, find ways to have our important narratives heard and read.

Through the power of social media, you can advocate for justice for yourself and others.

Social media presents us with opportunities to have our voices heard. It does not cost an individual anything to use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, and etc. to let a global audience know about injustices that have happened to you, someone you know, and someone you don’t know. More people have to learn they’re not powerless against racism, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, and etc. You can fight against injustice if you would only get up off your butt! One does not have to be rich to defeat injustice.

One person can start a revolution.

Don’t think that your efforts to pursue justice for yourself and others are in vain—they’re not. Organize people around your cause. There’s strength in numbers. When you begin to have people to join your cause, they can start to give you information about individuals and organizations that can help to maximize the power and potential of your efforts. Although it’s vital for you to advocate for justice for yourself and others, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can handle this cause on your own. You need people to assist you in advocating for justice.

If you’re supervisor is treating you unfairly, don’t let him or her continue to be unfair to you. Stand up to him or her! You can get another job. You have to understand that you need to place a value on yourself that’s greater than any job you have and/or will have.

Black people should never allow their White employers to control them. If they allow them to do this, then they’re willingly accepting enslavement. Our ancestors paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to be free from the manacles and bondage of slavery in all forms. Don’t render their work useless by being a docile body willing to accept enslavement and exploitation. Honor the legacy of our ancestors by fighting for your right to not be dominated by injustice.

Advocating for justice for yourself and others is not a glamorous job, but it is essential work that must be done for the good everyone and for the good of the global community. When you’re fighting against racism, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, and etc., you have to be willing to be in a war against those phenomena for the long haul. You’re not going to conquer those aforementioned phenomena with “microwave advocacy.” In fact, you will only reaffirm their great power.

Don’t sit back and let things happen to you and people in your community that are unfair. Commit yourself to being an advocate for justice. Black people, it’s time for us to stop settling for oppression, depression, estrangement, exploitation, discrimination, and etc. Let’s use our talents, resources, knowledge, and etc. to defeat the many injustices we confront.

Act today! Be an advocate for justice!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Black Employers and Supervisors Should Always Resist Discrimination

One would think, given the ingrained history of discrimination and prejudice Blacks have had to endure in America, that all Black employers and supervisors would be committed to ensuring that discrimination is not present in critical areas and dimensions of their organizations. While Black employers and supervisors should not be held accountable for eliminating deep discriminatory views and mindsets of their employees, they should not be the ones guilty of discriminating against anyone. They should also not be guilty of allowing others within their organizations, especially those who hold leadership positions, to discriminate against people. If you are Black and fortunate enough to earn an opportunity to lead an organization and/or hold a supervisory position within an organization, you have a solemn responsibility to make sure that you are not promoting and/or engaging in the same discriminatory thought and actions that have hindered Black people since the day they arrived in this country.

Unfortunately, too many Black employers and supervisors are afraid of hiring highly qualified Black applicants because they view them as threats. They see highly qualified Black applicants as threats who could take their positions and/or learn something while in the organization that can enable them to not only do what they do but also do what they do better. For those Black employers and supervisors who are guilty of this type of discriminatory thought and actions, they have allowed themselves to fall prey to the damaging bondage of psychic slavery.

During slavery, racist White people employed a strategy of “divide and conquer.” The “divide and conquer” strategy was a coordinated and systematic attempt to have Black people to fight against one another rather than against their true oppressors, racist Whites. By giving certain slaves certain privileges, this engendered a jealousy, envy, and division among many of the slaves. Many slaves would be against other slaves because they saw them as threats to the privileges their racist White oppressors granted them. This same phenomenon exists in the postmodern epoch. The “privileges” granted to certain slaves over others slaves have been replaced today by the opportunities that certain Black people have been given to lead and supervise organizations.

Many Black employers fear hiring highly qualified and independent thinking applicants because they have a warped view that any Black person you hire is a reflection of them, the race, and ultimately on the worth of the organization. Many Black supervisors experience a great sense of inferiority when they are supervising Black people who have better credentials than they have.  As means of not having to deal with these highly qualified Black applicants, many Black employers and supervisors are doing everything they can to not hire them and keep them out of their organizations. They suffer from such serious self-esteem problems that cause them to view people from their own racial group as threats. These highly qualified applicants are not trying to take their positions—they are simply seeking to gain employment. Some of these Black employers and supervisors feel like some powerful White people are going to come and take away their positions when it is discovered that there are more qualified Black employees than them in their organizations.

Many Black leaders in multifarious organizations need to stop discriminating against their Black employees and Black applicants. Psychic slavery is a real phenomenon that affects many Black leaders of organizations today. They are a part of the problem why Black people as a whole are not advancing at higher levels. Although the majority of the discrimination and racism that Black people suffer from today emerges from Whites, we, Black people, have to deal with the discrimination and racism that is within our own community too. In no way does this article attempt to suggest that discrimination and racism within the Black community is greater than the discrimination and racism that emerges from members of the dominant culture. This article does contend that within the Black community we do have a strong presence of these phenomena that we have to fight against just as stalwartly as we do when we fight against them when they occur from members of the dominant culture.

You need to be careful because some of the greatest threats to Black progression in the postmodern epoch lie within our own community.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison