Why do we need all those damn Asians anyway?

asian_american_republicansI can tell you one reason we need them.  Without them we would not have any Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese or Japanese restaurants.  I for one do not want to have to drive to China for takeout Chinese food!  Another good reason we need them is because they love science and math subjects. This makes them very astute when it comes to computers, engineering and some of the other hard sciences that many White kids can’t seem to handle anymore.  I could mention Chinese laundries, but I have not seen any of them since I left Brooklyn many years ago and I am not sure if they still do laundry.

We like to think that we have been more tolerant to Asians than we have to other minorities but a brief historical review of how we have treated Chinese and Japanese immigrants in this country suggest we may be kidding ourselves.  We let many Chinese in during the 19th century to help build railroads and when we did not need them anymore, we passed a law excluding Chinese from immigrating to this country.

The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. It was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in US history, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. The act followed revisions made in 1880 to the US-China Burlingame Treaty of 1868, revisions that allowed the US to suspend Chinese immigration. The act was initially intended to last for 10 years, but was renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902. It was finally repealed by the Magnuson Act on December 17, 1943. Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Exclusion_Act

Early stereotypes of Chinese have them as bumbling servants as in the old Paladin show where the hotel bell hop is called Hey Boy or cooks as in the Ponderosa show where Hop Sing with glaring pidgin English was often portrayed wielding a cooking knife and yelling at Hoss to get out of the kitchen.  The Slanted Screen is a 2006 documentary which explores many of the stereotypes that put Asian actors into a narrow range of roles that were generally stereotyped caricatures of Asian men.  It was many years before Asian men could find leading roles.  Marriage outside their ethnic background was taboo for Asians as it was for Blacks and was the subject of a series of laws.

“Anti-miscegenation laws discouraging marriages between Whites and non-Whites were affecting Asian immigrants and their spouses from the late 17th to early 20th century. By 1910, 28 states prohibited certain forms of interracial marriage. Seven states including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah extended their prohibitions to include people of Asian descent. The laws of Arizona, California, Mississippi, and Utah referred to “Mongolians”. Asians in California were barred by anti-miscegenation laws from marrying White Americans (a group including Hispanic Americans). Nevada and Oregon referred to “Chinese,” while Montana listed both “Chinese” and “Japanese” persons.”  Wikipedia

Many of our Asian stereotypes, when not depicting them as servile cooks, depict them as inscrutable, diabolical, cunning and malicious.  Do you remember the arch villain in the first Hawaii Five-O?  Mc Garrett’s recurring nemesis was named Wo Fat.  He was so cunning that he managed to return in many of the episodes of Hawaii Five-O to cause mayhem and havoc.  I still remember the early serialized Flash Gordon episodes from the 1930’s, where the major villain was a character called Ming the Merciless.  Ming was incredibly evil and used many scientific gadgets from death rays to rocket ships to Pacific Chivalry.try and capture Dale Arden and make her his unwilling bride.  What could be worse for a White woman then to be married to an evil Asian?  She of course was in love with Flash Gordon but provided a suitable excuse for being rescued about every other episode.  Back then, women were rather helpless creatures who always needed a man to rescue them.  Come to think of it, it is still a favorite role for women as noted in many movies today, but that is another story.  Another classic villain was Dr. Fu Manchu.  He was a fictional character introduced in a series of novels by British author Sax Rohmer during the first half of the 20th century. The character was also featured extensively in cinema, television, radio, comic strips and comic books for over 90 years.  He became an archetype of the evil Asian criminal genius.

Asians seem to make either very good cooks or very good villains.  I have not mentioned their role as Karate, Kung Fu and martial artists. That would take a blog of its own to cover.  Suffice it to say, that all Asians are Kung Fu experts except when it comes to portraying the role in the movies.  At that time, we can substitute White actors such as David Carradine who played the lead role in the TV series Kung Fu.  Charlie Chan, a Chinese detective had been played for many years by Warner Oland who was Swedish and by Sidney Toler who was Scottish.  But you know, you can’t really tell those Scotch and Swedes from an Asian, at least if you are Caucasian.

Animosity towards Asians increased during the Second World War.  Japanese-American citizens were stripped of their lands and most of JapaneseAmericansChildrenPledgingAllegiance1942-2their belongings and sent to forced relocation camps throughout the US.  Families were uprooted and split apart because of a national fear that those “Dirty Japs” would support their homelands and sabotage the war effort.  It is worth noting that no such disruption or internment was waged against Germans or Italians or Austrians.  Upon the end of the war, thousands of the relocated Japanese-American citizens found that their lands had been sold or confiscated and that they had nowhere to return home to.

Many Americans lump all Asians together and a variety of derogatory names can often be heard when listening to talks discussing Asian-Americans including:  gooks, slant eyes, chinks, slopes, Buddha-heads and zips.  The failure to make distinctions between Asian cultures is not only a problem for many Americans in conversation but it was a prime reason for the Vietnam War.  In the documentary “Fog of War”, the former Vietnamese war minister Võ Nguyên Giáp can be seen telling McNamara how dumb he was for not realizing the animosity that existed between the Chinese and the Vietnamese.  Part of our war assumptions was that Vietnam would go communist and ally themselves with the Chinese.  This was an assumption that as Giap told McNamara was utterly false and totally unsupported by any historical data.

We can pat ourselves on the backs and tell ourselves that these stereotypes and assumptions are all a thing of the past, but this would continue our delusions of acceptance and racial tolerance.  Even today our attitudes towards China and Japan and much of Asia tend to be condescending and arrogant. According to some experts modern anti-Chinese sentiment is the result of China’s rise as a world major power.  Self-delusion can be harmless or it can be extremely dangerous.  In this case, it is extremely dangerous.  Consider the following:

“As part of the Chinese exclusion policy of NASA, many American space researchers were prohibited from working with Chinese citizens affiliated with a Chinese state enterprise or entity. In April 2011, the 112th United States Congress banned NASA from using its funds to host Chinese visitors at NASA facilities.  Earlier in 2010, Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) had urged President Barack Obama not to allow further contact between NASA and the China National Space Administration (CNSA).”   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Chinese_sentiment_in_the_United_States#Modern

Or consider these comments and situations:

  • According to foreign media reports, on October 16th, a “kill everyone in China” remark appeared during the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” a late-night talk show program of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and shocked American public opinion. For days, over 25K people on the net petitioned on the White House website, demanding that the American Broadcasting Company cancel this program as well as apologize for the racist speech in the program.
  •  Thousands of Chinese Americans and overseas Chinese rallied Saturday outside CNN’s studios in downtown Los Angeles to protest anti-Chinese remarks by one of the network’s commentators. Cafferty (news commentator) said in CNN’s political news program ‘The Situation Room’ that goods from China were “junk,” and referred to the Chinese as being “the same bunch of goons and thugs they’ve been for the past 50 years.”
  •  It is difficult to look at a newspaper or go on the Internet without seeing another analysis or op-ed about the rise of China. These pieces often range from cautionary tales to alarmist declarations of inevitable Chinese aggression. japanese-internmentThough time will tell, the majority of these commentaries reinforce the belief that a more powerful China will be belligerent and upset the current status quo. Paradoxically, China is being led down this very path by regional actors who insist on publicly labeling China as a regional antagonist, creating an environment of suspicion and distrust, and using rhetoric that marginalizes China’s growing economic and political power.
  •  Republican candidates have repeatedly cited China as an economic threat to the United States, and some have run political ads that civil rights groups say are xenophobic and racist. Concern is growing that such attacks may lead to more discrimination, or perhaps violence, against Asian-Americans.
  •  On Super Bowl Sunday, Pete Hoekstra, a Republican former member of Congress and now a senatorial candidate in Michigan, ran a statewide campaign ad featuring an Asian actress “thanking” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., for sending American jobs to China. “Your economy gets very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs,” the actress says, accompanied by Chinese-sounding music while perched on a bicycle after riding on a path next to rice paddies. After a public outcry that the ad played on Asian stereotypes, Hoekstra stopped running it and deactivated a companion website with Asian themes.

You just can’t trust those inscrutable evil scheming Chinese.  Why give them the benefit of the doubt?  Is it to our advantage to start a war with China?  Perhaps a pre-emptive nuclear strike would end the threat of China as an emerging world power? Consider the following news headlines:  (Listen to the song We are the Children as you ponder these headlines)

Amazon has several popular books that are focused on our “inevitable” coming war with China.  The vast majority of Americans do not seem to think that there is anything wrong with this “drum roll” to war.  Then we wonder why our foreign relations with China seem to be up and down.  Imagine you were a Chinese-American living in this country, how would you feel sitting in the middle of this barrage of anti-Asian rhetoric?  Are we still looking for scapegoats because of the economic recession that hit this country, or is it simply that we cannot tolerate people who come from a different culture or who look different than we do?

Karen and I have an adopted Korean daughter who came to this country when she was 5 years old.  Within three weeks she would not speak Korean and quickly learned English and realized that to fit in she had to be like “other’ Americans.  “Other” in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, meant like Caucasians.  She never felt like she was like the rest of the family despite our best efforts to help her assimilate. In elementary school she felt angry and sad when other children called her “Chinese eyes”.  As an early adolescent she would often stand in front of the mirror pulling her eyes rounder and saying “I don’t look Korean do I?”  Later in high school and eventually when she went to college she began to accept her Korean heritage.  She relearned the Korean language and began an intense effort to find her birth mother. She was successful in both endeavors.  She not only found her birth mother but also her birth father who had left her mother early in the marriage.  021

In 2000, Karen and I went with Susan and her youngest son to meet her birth parents.  Because Sam (her youngest son)
was turning one year old, her Korean family arranged a large celebration on the occasion of his first birthday as is traditional in Korea.  At first, we were treated rather suspect, since her birthmother had thought, Susan (Hei Sook) was stolen by her American parents.   When the entire story of her adoption was laid out, attitudes changed and we had a warm reception with Susan’s birthparents.  Now Susan is raising two young Korean American sons (our grandsons) and learning some of the difficulties they are having as they try to fit into a predominately White culture.

No one has ever said it would be easy for immigrants.  Irish, Jewish, German, Italian, Polish, and many other minorities have all had difficulty fitting in.  However, White minorities have the advantage of similar ethnic characteristics.  African Americans, Mexican Americans and Asian Americans are much more easily discernible (although of course this is not always true) and therefore much easier to stereotype and discriminate against.  A recent study done at Cornell University and published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology (Vol. 60:2), reported the following findings:

“Our findings suggest that exposure to day-to-day racial micro-aggressions is common and that seemingly innocuous statements,41-kids such as being asked ‘Where were you born?’ or being told ‘You speak good English’ can have an adverse effect on Asian-Americans, in part, because such statements often mask an implied message that you are not a true American,” said Anthony Ong, associate professor of human development in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, co-author of the study with Anthony Burrow, assistant professor of human development at Cornell.”  “The combination of having one’s racial reality questioned, and having to decipher mixed messages, is a core feature of the micro-aggression experience,” Ong added.

For two weeks, 152 Asian-American college freshmen in the study completed a daily evaluation of their experiences, emotions and physical health, including a checklist of 20 racial micro-aggression events.

The researchers found that approximately 78 percent of the participants reported some form of racial micro-aggression within the two-week time frame. Overall, participants experiencing more racial bias events had more negative emotions, fewer positive emotions and more symptoms of physical discomfort (e.g., headache, stomach ache, sore throat).

For individual participants, the racial bias events were associated with higher levels of negative emotion and more physical symptoms that day and the day after, suggesting that the experience of these daily stressors may influence health and well-being over time. The researchers also found that racial invalidations (e.g., being treated like a foreigner or overhearing racially biased sexual stereotypes) were more prevalent and harmful than racial micro-insults (e.g., being told an offensive joke or comment concerning how Asians talk).  (See Cornell Chronical April 24, 2013)

Conclusions:

Prejudice again st Asian Americans is often more subtle but no less prevalent then prejudice against other minority groups.  Systemic racism against Asian Americans exists in various forms and to varying degrees at all levels of American society.  Numerous studies have documented this bias and several well-known books have been written that discuss the problem.  One of my favorite was the book:  A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki (Dec 8, 2008).  It is fruitless to deny discrimination and it is equally fruitless to ignore our biases and prejudices.  The best solution entails frank discussions of the cultures that we create in our country and more transparent attitudes that openly acknowledge our biases.  Only through honest and open dialogue can we overcome our ingrained stereotypes.  It does no good to ignore them or pretend that they do not exist.

Racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, or hatred of anyone with different beliefs has no place in the human mind or heart.”   — Billy Graham

Time for Questions:

Do you know any Asian Americans?  Do you have any Asian American friends?  How much do you know about Asian cultures?  Have you ever traveled to any Asian countries?  Have you seen any examples of discrimination against Asian Americans?  Why do you think people discriminate against Asian Americans?  What can you do to help prevent discrimination?  Do you speak out against prejudice and discrimination?

Life is just beginning.

Why do we need all those damn Latinos anyway?

Chicanos, Mexicans, Latinos, Hispanics, Mexican Americans, Spanish Americans, it’s all so confusing, what do I call them anyway?  Why can’t they just take a simple name like we do: Gringos?  You don’t see White people making it hard for others to call us names.

mexican american familyWhen I grew up in an Italian American neighborhood, we were wops, dagos, greasers, and guineas.  As in:

“You think im some goombah housewife with big hair and big jewelry??”
“You dirty wop, go back to Naples”
“You stupid Guinea, go back to Africa”
“What’s up dago?” 
by mikey ambrosio February 07, 2005

When I grew up, it was the age of cowboy shows.  The early shows were collected from old movies and brought to TV and featured such notable characters as Hopalong Cassidy, Lash Larue, Gene Autry, Tom Nix, Zorro and many others.  Early TV had two roles for Latinos:  Sidekick or villain.  Mexicans got to play the bad guy if the script wanted to use someone other than Indians.  I can still remember my first image of a Mexican.  It was a guy with a long black mustache, bandoliers crossing his chest, carrying two or more side arms.   He was adept at hiding behind rocks and ambushing my heroes.  Of course, he always wore a large black sombrero and spoke like:

“You tink you get away from Pancho?  Pancho no fool?  Pancho keel you now, you stupid gringo!”

mexican banditoThe cavalry never had to rescue my hero from the Mexican bad guys as needed to happen when he was captured by the Indians.  The Mexican bad guys were easy to outsmart:

“No, I would never try to get away from Pancho.  Would Pancho mind loaning me his gun for a minute, I would like to see what a nice gun he has close up?”

“Oh sure, gringo like to see my gun?  Here take it and see the nice ivory handle.”

“Hands up Pancho, or I’ll blow your brains out. Come to think of it, I’ll blow your brains out anyway, cause your just a wetback from over the border. You probably don’t even have any legal immigration papers.  Blam, blam, blam, take that you dirty Latino.”

The other role for any male south of the border (Latino women were always cooks and stirring a large pot.   Later on they got to play tavern whores when the shows got more risqué.) was as a sidekick.  One of the most famous Mexican sidekicks was Pancho (What else?) who was Duncan Renaldo’s sidekick on the Cisco Kid.”  Renaldo was not born in Mexico but was born in Romania but he played the Cisco Kid who apparently was of Hispanic lineage.  The Kid spoke fluent English while of course Pancho (Leo Carrillo) said things like:

The Cisco Kid: There is something Pancho and I can do.
Pancho: Yes, there is something we can do. We could – we – what is it?
The Cisco Kid: Investigate, Pancho.
Pancho: I don’t have a mind to invest in a gate. What good would that do, anyhow?

“The Cisco Kid: School Marm (#6.8)” (1955)

“Although he played stereotypical Mexican Americans, Leo Carrillo (a college graduate) was part ofcisco and pancho an old and respected California family. His great-great grandfather, José Raimundo Carrillo (1749–1809), was an early settler of San DiegoCalifornia. His great-grandfather Carlos Antonio Carrillo (1783–1852) was Governor of Alta California (1837–38), his great-uncle, José Antonio Carrillo, was a three-time mayor of Los Angeles, and his paternal grandfather, Pedro Carrillo, who was educated in Boston, was a writer.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Carrillo

Of course, it would not do to have a Mexican play a hero or anything more than a bumbling half-witted but well intentioned sidekick.

Time for some musicMexican Americans Cheech and Chong full song (Click on Link)

I live in Arizona which has a large amount of undocumented immigrants attempting to pass through.   Many people in this state have developed a higher than average intolerance of our Latino friends.  A short while ago I was sitting in the local coffee shop and the woman on the stool next to me said rather loudly “I wish those damn Mexicans would all go home.”  I said “Well, many of them are home.  In fact, many if not most of them were here before you were.”  She looked at me rather meanly and said, “What, do you mean by that?”  I said, “Well until the Gadsden Purchase, the land you are sitting on was owned by Mexico.  Mexicans living here were given the chance to become American citizens and since many of their families had been living here since about 100 years before the Mayflower came over, they decided to stay.”  She did not say another word to me.

sign for serving whites onlyMy actual first encounter with Latinos was way back in 1967.  I was doing migrant farm work for Abrahamson’s Tree Farm in Scandia Minnesota for $1 dollar an hour.  It was hard physical labor from about 7 AM to 9 or even 10 PM at night.  Many of the field workers were from South of the Border.  I was warned never to discuss wages with any of them.  This warning was given despite the fact that none of them spoke English and I did not speak Spanish.  One day, while I was sitting in the fields with some of the other workers eating lunch. one of them looked at me and said “Bull-OVA, Bull-OVA.”  I had not the slightest idea what he was trying to say and looked rather quizzically back at him.  He finally reached over and took my arm. He pointed to his wrist and my wrist.  I suddenly realized we were both wearing Bulova watches.  It was a small thing but it was a rather poignant connection that we shared despite our lack of language.  That was my last contact with any Latinos until about 1979 when I was hired by Sister Giovanni to teach at Guadalupe Area Project in Westside St. Paul.

Nearly fifty years later and I am still discovering interesting things about our Latino neighbors and friends.  I was substitute teaching in one of the Casa Grande High Schools about a year ago when the phone rang in my classroom.  I picked it up and heard a Spanish speaking voice on the other end.  I looked at my class which is about 40 percent Hispanic and I picked out one suitably Mexican looking young girl and said to her:  “Maria, would you take this call for me, they are speaking Spanish.”  She looked back at me and said “I don’t speak Spanish.”  So much for getting over stereotypes!

In 2000, Arizona voters approved a law that effectively banned bilingual education in public schools.

Proposition 203, which passed with 63 percent of the vote, prohibits native-language instruction for most limited-English-proficient children in public schools. Using the electoral process to micromanage the schools, the new law imposes a statewide English-only mandate, overruling the

  • Choices of Hispanic and Native American parents,
  • Judgment and experience of professional educators,
  • Decisions of local school boards, and
  • Sovereignty of Indian nations trying to save their languages from extinction.

This mentality reminds me of the efforts by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in the early 20th century to eradicate the Native American cultures in this country by prohibiting Indian students from speaking their native language.  Many Americans now look back on the history of Indians and say how unfair our treatment of them was.  We say that we wish we could do it over.  But we are trying to do the same thing to the Latino speaking cultures in this country TODAY.  This is not happening 100 years ago.  In 2010, Arizona passed a law banning Ethnic and Multi-Cultural Studies in schools.  The ostensible reason was to insure that the government of the United States was not overthrown by these multi-cultural radicals.

But Mexicans are good for one thing.  Many of my compatriots in Arizona love to go to the border towns in Mexico to get their dental work done or their prescriptions filled.  The town of Algodones is on the Mexican border of California and Arizona.  It is filled each day with people from the USA who cross over to take advantage of the lower prices for both dental and eye work.  The prices can be as much as a third lower than in the USA. The popularity of both inexpensive prescriptions and medical care catering to Canadian and US senior citizens has prompted a virtual explosion of pharmacies and dental offices.  We may not want these Mexicans to live near us but we don’t mind if they will fix our eyes and teeth at discount rates.

stereotypesSo what drives this antipathy and sometimes out right hatred towards our Latino neighbors?  Why after 300 years of sharing our border have we reached this sorry state of anti-immigration and intolerance towards the Latino culture?  Some would say fear.  Others would say it is a reflection of hard times in the USA and the difficult economy.  Who needs more competition for jobs and work when millions of United States citizens are suffering with unemployment and a high cost of living?   But is this any reason to take it out on the poor of other countries who want a chance to escape their poverty?  Why can’t we look for a win-win in this scenario?

What further exacerbates this problem is the sorry state of leadership in this country.  Instead of looking for solutions that would appeal to the best in human nature, too many of our political leaders seem intent to stoke the fires of race hatred and cultural intolerance.

Resistance to a sweeping immigration overhaul is moving from conservative talk shows to the corridors of power.  The Republican-controlled House of Representatives on rejected President Obama’s policy to stop deporting young people brought to this country illegally as children. With all but six Republicans voting against funding a policy that lets hundreds of thousands of law-abiding but undocumented youth enrolled in high school or the military to stay in this country, the vote spotlighted the long odds facing the much broader Senate bill to allow 11 million illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.

 The House vote came two days after Republican Gov. Rick Scott of Florida vetoed a bill that would help young people whose deportations were halted by the Obama administration get driver’s licenses. And on Wednesday, a key immigration leader in the House, Republican Raul Labrador of Idaho, defected from bi-partisan talks.  http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/mounting-signs-of-gop-rebellion-against-immigration-reform-20130607

 We seem to have forgotten that this country was settled by people from many other countries.  Perhaps our greatest strength has come from our diversity and our ability to assimilate people from diverse cultures. The assimilation was not accomplished and has never been accomplished by laws or politicians. The assimilation happened because we were all able to share in the mexican_march_californiaAmerican dream of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  This vision of what could be has been the fuel for the vast melting pot that this country has always represented.  Without this fuel, we have no ability to assimilate diverse cultures.  People are not assimilated because of anti-language or anti multi-cultural study laws.  People are assimilated by a common dream and a common vision.  We have always pointed our country out as a beacon for the forlorn and hopeless of other lands.  Are we going to give up on this role and the dreams that millions of people have for freedom, justice and prosperity?  Will we diminish ourselves by denying this dream to others?  What happens to such a dream if we do not share it with others?

 “Cruelty is all out of ignorance. If you knew what was in store for you, you wouldn’t hurt anybody, because whatever you do comes back much more forceful than you send it out.”  — Willie Nelson

 Time for Questions:

When did your grandparents come over? How were they treated? What if they were trying to come over today, how do you think they would be treated? What if you lived in a poor poverty ridden country, what would you do to escape or make your life better?  Documented or undocumented immigrants, should we have more opportunities for immigration to this country or less?  Why?  How much charity should we extend to people from other countries?  Can we extend too much?

 Life is just beginning.

 

 

 

Why do we need all those damn Black people anyway?

“Einnie, meanie, miney moe, catch a nigger by the toe.  If he hollers, let’em go.  Einnie meanie miney moe.”   

Portrait of Happy Family In ParkBetween 1868 and 1969, 3,446 African Americans were lynched in the United States.  Some for looking at a White woman, some for being uppity, some for not getting off the sidewalk when a White person was coming, some for smiling, some for laughing and some for no other reason than they were Black.  Today of course, we point with measured pride to the fact that the President of the United States of America is an African American man.  I say with measured pride because President Barack Obama is perhaps one of the most reviled and hated men to ever hold the office.  Gun sales have gone through the roof since his election along with an increase in hate groups.  If Obama says the “Sky is blue today,” he is called a liar, thief, scoundrel, socialist, anti-American and worse.

“Einnie, meanie, miney moe, catch a nigger by the toe.  If he hollers, let’em go.  Einnie meanie miney moe.”  

Abraham Lincoln was reported to have investigated or at least contemplated the idea of resettling newly emancipated slaves in another country.   Thomas Jefferson freed some of his slaves but not all of them and had a slave mistress by whom he had a number of children.   Strom Thurmond, a US Senator from South Carolina who long opposed desegregation and civil rights had a child by his Black maid.  The list of hypocrisy concerning the value of Black folks in America is as long as the Mississippi river.  Is it a fair question to ask “What is the value of Black people?”  One could well ask the same question for White people.  Would the answers differ?  Is there some inherent value for the color of a person?

“Well” some would say:  “Look at how those Black people can play football, baseball and basketball.”   We managed to make the Russians look bad in many of the Olympic Games through the contributions of Black Americans.  African Americans have made numerous contributions to science, humanities, arts and literature.  The list of African Americans in any of these categories would take up more room than I have in this blog and would be insulting to even think of listing.  For those White folks who see no value in Black people, a list as numerous as the stars would not change their minds.

“Einnie, meanie, miney moe, catch a nigger by the toe.  If he hollers, let’em go.  Einnie meanie miney moe.”  

The Black Holocaust generally refers to the persecution, enslavement and murder of millions of Africans during the period of legal slave trade that existed from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century.  It is estimated by some scholars that over ten million Africans were killed in this period by murder, beatings, malnutrition, disease and other tortures suffered during their enforced imprisonment and transportation to slave pens and slave auctions.quincy-auction

“Some Afrocentric scholars prefer the term Maafa to African Holocaust, because they believe that the indigenous African terminology more truly confers the events. Other arguments in favor of Maafa rather than the term African Holocaust emphasize that the denial of the validity of the African people’s humanity is an unparalleled centuries-long phenomenon: The Maafa is a continual, constant, complete, and total system of human negation and nullification.” [1]  — Wikipedia

Well, you say, all this was a long time ago.  “My daddy didn’t own any slaves.”  “Black people should be held to the same standards as White people.”  “What about reverse discrimination.”  “Why don’t they just act like White people?”  “I’m not prejudiced; I just don’t want to live with a bunch of Black people.”  “Why should I have to pay for something that happened long before I was born?”  “When are they going to start taking responsibility and put this slavery business behind them?”  “They all want special treatment.”  “They always play the ‘race card’ when things get tough.”

“Einnie, meanie, miney moe, catch a nigger by the toe.  If he hollers, let’em go.  Einnie meanie miney moe.”  

You know they didn’t really have it so bad.  Many of the slaves down on those plantations were happy and proud to have a White master and three square meals a day.  They make it sound like things were really awful but they had it better than many White folk in the good old South.

“Old Black Joe” (Click on the Link and listen to the song)

Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay,
Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away,
Gone from the earth to a better land I know,
I hear their gentle voices calling “Old Black Joe”.
Chorus
I’m coming, I’m coming, for my head is bending low:
I hear those gentle voices calling, “Old Black Joe”.

“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” ― Abraham Lincoln

The following is a description of routine slave treatment from “A Runaway Slave.”   © 2003 This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.

lynching“One night towards the last of the week, our allowance was gone and we were very hungry.–So I and two others went into the musk-melon patch and took three or four melons apiece. The next day they measured our tracks and then measured our feet, and whipped some of us, till one told who did it. There was a man and woman besides me. The man’s name was Reuben. They carried the man into the woods, where they had four stakes driven into the ground, and stretched him out and fastened him there. The driver whipped him for a long time. Afterwards they washed him down with brine and then put him in the stocks. I was tied round a log. They tied me as close as possible with strings round my neck and hands and feet.–They put a cap on my head and drew it down closely over my face. It covered my whole face, and was tied under my chin, and was not taken off till the whipping and washing were all over. After whipping I was put into the stocks. They tied the woman up to a tree, and made her hug round it. She was whipped more than I was, though I was whipped badly enough. They put her into the dungeon, a dark hole under the house.”

So much fun, it makes you wish that you too could have been a slave and lived on a plantation.  I can imagine working in the cotton fields with the other children from 5 in the morning till 9 at night.  Getting a chance to sing and dance for my White masters before drifting off to sleep and then waking up at 3 in the morning to the tune of a whip snapping across my back and my White master gently singing “Get your Black ass out of bed and into the fields.”  So much fun!  I don’t understand why we just don’t start some new plantations and allow White folks who think they were cool to take vacations there.  Instead of going to a spa, White folks who think plantations were fun spots could book a vacation at a plantation.  They would all be run by Black people who were descendants of slaves and had some first-hand knowledge of plantation life.  White people could get a chance to experience plantation life first hand and pay for the privilege.  All the proceeds could be donated to a Black scholarship fund and then we would not need any Affirmative Action quotas.  It would be a win-win for everyone:  more scholarships for Blacks and more fun vacations for Whites.

“Einnie, meanie, miney moe, catch a nigger by the toe.  If he hollers, let’em go.  Einnie meanie miney moe.”  

I started this blog with the intent of identifying the worth of a “Black person.”  Once upon a time one of my students said that “life was invaluable and
you could not put a value on the life of a human being.”  I cried “Bullshit, insurance companies do it all the time.”  So if we can put a value on the life of a human being, why not subdivide humans into categories or minority groups and ask what each of the members of these groups would be worth?  Something like this:

White Person:             3, 000, 000 dollars

Black Person:             2, 000, 000 dollars

Latino Person:            1, 500, 000 dollars

Asian Person:             1, 000, 000 dollars

African American HistoryI suppose we could argue about these numbers some but I suggest them simply as a starting point.  Perhaps there could be subcategories to help narrow things down: Tall people versus short people or old people versus young people.  With such a value system we could even initiate trades.  I could trade you two old White persons for one young Black person or a few tall Latinos for one short Asian.  A system like this might make trades between sports teams easier.  It would certainly be embraced by insurance companies when it came time to paying out death benefits.  I am also sure lawyers would gravitate to the system when civil lawsuits for damages were unclear.

“Einnie, meanie, miney moe, catch a nigger by the toe.  If he hollers, let’em go.  Einnie meanie miney moe.”    (Listen to the song War by Bob Marley)

These dam Black people.  They act like prejudice still existed.  Don’t they know that prejudice, racism, discrimination and race hatred are things of the African American Soldierpast?  Us White folks have now become racially indifferent, non-prejudiced, non-racist and extremely tolerant of Black people.  Why some of us even let our daughters date Black men.  Just listen to some of the ideas that you can now hear said about Black folks by our elected leaders.  I am not talking about out and out racists like the KKK, Aryan Nation or Rush Limbaugh.  I am talking about elected political leaders who hold office and have responsibility to represent all the citizens of this county.

  • Texas Governor Rick Perry is an ambiguous bigot whose records and affiliations are not blatant enough to call him racist, yet the racist tone of his politics straddles the line. Just recently, Perry came under fire after it was learned that his family’s leased hunting compound in West Texas was named: “Niggerhead Ranch.”
  • Minnesota US Senator Michele Bachmann endorsed a pledge that claimed Black families were better off during slavery. She also railed against a government settlement paid to Black framers, who claimed the federal government discriminated against them for decades. In another instance she claimed, “Not are cultures are equal, not all values all equal.”
  •  Mississippi State Representative John Moore has ranted about the special interests of “one group of people,” and has advocated against a bill to make teaching civil rights mandatory in Mississippi schools. Moore has also given speeches at various rallys sponsored by the Council of Conservative Christians, a group that has worked hard to deny its racist sentiments, but who the Republican National Committee has openly condemned in 1999 and that the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as a crudely white supremacist group whose website has run pictures comparing pop singer Michael Jackson to an ape and referred to Blacks as “a retrograde species of humanity.”
  •  Arkansas State Representative Loy Mauch, a former head of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, proved the present day political clout of white supremacists, winning a seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives.  Never one to back away from his white supremacist views, Mauch declared the Confederate flag a symbol of Jesus Christ, and has even said he believes Abraham Lincoln did not follow the Constitution.
  •  South Carolina State Sen. Jake Knotts went on a racially motivated tirade against then-gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and President Obama. “We already got one raghead in the White House. We don’t need another in the Governor’s Mansion.”

So what is a Black person worth?  I guess the answer would depend on whether he was a good Black or a bad Black.  A good Black is a Black person put the white back in the white housewhom I know, like and trust.  He or she might be someone I work with, a neighbor or a friend whom I have met through some mutual activity.  A good Black person has a lot in common with me.

A bad Black is a Black person whom I don’t know.  I don’t have much in common with these bad Black people.  There are many more bad Blacks in this country (since by default we all know fewer Black people than we don’t know) then there are good Blacks.  That makes it hard for most White people to feel kindly towards Black people, since there are so many more bad Black folks.  What can we do about this situation?  If only we had some universal skin dye that could make those bad Black people all White that could help solve the problem.   Of course, us White folks could all move back to Europe and leave them Black folks here.  That would fix them.  The Indians might appreciate this latter idea as well.

Time for Questions:

How do you treat people who are different from you?  What do you value in a human being?  Does it depend on the color of their skin?  Does it depend on whether or not they belong to the same groups as you do?  Does it depend on whether or not they belong to the same church as you do?  Who are the “good” people in your life?  Are your “good folks” based on character or race?

Life is just beginning.

“Einnie, meanie, miney Joe, catch a Honky by the toe.  If he hollers, let’em go.  Einnie meanie miney Joe.”  

I think the lyrics to Marley’s song are worth thinking about.  Following are the lyrics for those of you who might want to print them out.  I am guessing Mr. Marley would not mind more widespread distribution of his song.

“War” Lyrics and Music by Bob Marley

Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And another
Inferior
Is finally
And permanently
Discredited
And abandoned –
Everywhere is war –
Me say war.

That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man’s skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes –
Me say war.

That until the basic human rights
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to race –
Dis a war.

That until that day
The dream of lasting peace,
World citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
But never attained –
Now everywhere is war – war.

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
that hold our brothers in Angola,
In Mozambique,
South Africa
Sub-human bondage
Have been toppled,
Utterly destroyed –
Well, everywhere is war –
Me say war.

War in the east,
War in the west,
War up north,
War down south –
War – war –

Rumours of war.
And until that day,
The African continent
Will not know peace,
We Africans will fight – we find it necessary –
And we know we shall win
As we are confident
In the victory

Of good over evil –
Good over evil, yeah!
Good over evil –
Good over evil, yeah!
Good over evil –
Good over evil, yeah! 

 

 

 

 

Why do we need all those damn minorities anyway !?!?!?!?

immigrantsThis blog is best read while listening to the following song:  South Park – Minorities at My Water Park song  (Eric Cartman)

Ever since this country (USA) began, we have had to deal with the problem of immigration and immigrants. You know those lazy shiftless dirty ignorant people from other countries who want to come here to steal the “better” life we have.  Of course, some (those Black folks) came over unwillingly, but that’s not our fault right?  The vast majority of immigrants have been let into the American Dream by laws designed to allow a certain amount of legal immigration each year.  This legal amount has been supplemented by a large amount of illegal immigration or undocumented immigration that takes place because of our porous borders (Read no large brick walls) or perhaps force fields.

Each year seems to bring a new “minority” group to this country.  I can remember in St. Paul when the Hmong come over, then the Somalians, then the Russians.  Many of the Latinos had come over before I moved to St. Paul.  If my history is correct, much of the Mexican migration to the Twin Cities took place in the 40’s and 50’s.  Of course, before that it had been those dirty Italians, lazy Swedes, and mean spirited Germans among others too numerous to mention.  It is a wonder that St. Paul is still basically a White country.  My adopted Korean daughter used to refer to White Bear Lake as “White Boy Lake.”  There were not too many Asians in her high school.  Oh, did I forget the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese who live in the Twin Cites?  No matter, what’s few more or less minorities?  And you know those Asians, they all look alike.

I suppose before I go any further, I should mention those dam Indians.  I know, they were here first!  And they let us know everyCavalry_and_Indians chance they get.  But let’s face it.  They don’t really count.  After all, they were primitive people who had no law, no writing, no books, no libraries, no Mc Donald’s or anything else you need for a real civilization.  You can’t really take their claims to this country seriously.  Why, they sold Manhattan for only 40 bucks.  Their lack of business acumen is testimony to their inability to manage a large endeavor like the USA.  They should be happy we “Treatied” this land from them.  “Treatied” is a word that I made up to denote the process we followed with these indigenous people.  It works as follows:

  • Befriend Indians
  • Encroach on their land
  • Skirmish with angry Indians
  • Make treaty with Indians for peace
  • Break treaty with Indians to take more land
  • Make new treaty with Indians
  • Break treaty to steal more land
  • Kill Indians that complain
  • Take more land
  • Make new treaty

As you can see, this process worked pretty well. We (The White people) now own most of the good land and the remaining Indians (those we did not kill) got put on the Bad Lands (now called reservations.)  That is because we “reserved” those Bad Lands for them.   Well, actually, we only loaned those lands to them, since whenever, gold, copper, water, oil or anything else of value was found on them, we sort of took the lands back and moved those Indians who complained to a new reservation.   I told you earlier Indians were never really very good businesspeople.

Ann coulter on illegalsSo, now that I have briefly reviewed the history of immigration to this (the “Greatest Country on God’s Green Earth”), I would like to look individually at the various minority groups that we (read White folks) have more recently had problems with.  I want to see if perhaps there are solutions to dealing with “those” (non-White) people.  I will look at one minority group in each of my next blogs to review in terms of history, culture and potential contributions to our country.  Based on my findings, we will have a better means of answering the question: “Should we let any more of those people in or should we toughen up our immigration policies to make sure they cannot find a way in?”   I would like to discuss the following groups:

  • Black people
  • Latino people
  • Asian people
  • Disabled people

I am going to skip Indians since they were already here and they pose little threat in terms of immigration.  I know a few Eskimos and Natives from Alaska have tried to come down to the “lower” 48, but their numbers are too low to really matter and besides, Alaska is already a state so legally they are not immigrants.

The first of the minority groups that I will look at have been called Africans, African Americans, Blacks, Negros and other more pejorative terms.  This group is composed of people who were tribal in origin but now may lay claim to being descendants from such new nations as Somalia, Uganda, Nigeria and Rhodesia.  The large majority of early slaves who found their way to North America came from West Africa, mainly the region that now has the countries of Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal and Cote I’voire. Traders often referred to this part of Africa as the “Slave Coast”.  Many bought or captured slaves would have come from the Yoruba, Oyo and Ashanti people. The main slave trading countries of Europe were England, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.  Slaves were brought to this country and traded at slave markets for money, rum or other goods.  It goes without saying that slaves did not come over to America willingly.  I suppose most of them were undocumented but so were most Europeans back in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

You might question my qualifications to write about Black people in America.  If so, I can only defend myself by saying that some of my best friends have been Black.  How many of your have had some best friends who were Black?  Perhaps, I would be more qualified if my sister or niece had married a Black man but that did not happen.  I have known quite a few Black people in my life and I have been to several sessions (sponsored by my company) on “diversity.”   So there, my qualifications are unchallengeable.  Diversity training, Black friends, and I have even read a few books about Black people.  If you still do not find my qualifications acceptable, then I suggest you read the book:  “Black like me” by John Griffin and skip my blog.     japs keep moving

Time for Questions:

Are you a minority?  What makes a person a minority?  Is it color, ethnicity or ideology or all of them?  Have you ever felt like an outsider?  What do you do to help people feel included?  Do you think America is for Americans?  What is a real American?  What should we do about immigration?  Do you think building more walls will help? What about building “walls of hate?”

Life is just beginning.

Lyrics:  Minorities at My Water Park Song:  Eric Cartman

What has happened to this place?
I don’t recognize it anymore.
It used to be so fun and special.
What is life worth living for?
The dream is dead, our land is gone;
There’s a hole in my heart and I can’t go on.

There are too many minorities (minorities)
At my water park (my water park).
This was our land, our dream (our dream)
and they’ve taken it all away.
They just keep coming and coming (minorities).
I tried to go and tell the police,
But even the authorities
Are minorities
At my water park.

There’s no place for me to sit anymore,
And the lines just keep getting crazier.
There are Mexicans all around me.
The lazy river has never been lazier.
It’s a 40 minute wait to go down one slide,
And the instructions are in Spanish on the Zip Line ride!
(Guarden los brazos y piernas dentro del paseo)
Just do it in English!

There are too many minorities (too many)
At my water park (somebody do something).
Where did they all come from?
Why can’t they leave this land alone?
And it’s such a tragedy (feel a bit like dying).
We looked the other way too long.
We’ve got to change our priorities
And get all these minorities
Out of my water park

(Minorities) Mexicans and Asians,
(Black people), I think I even saw Native Americans (gross).
God I’m asking please, get all of these minorities
Out of my water park (my water park).

 

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