I live in a seaside town, not too far from San Francisco. As many conservatives will immediately assume, we are known as a “liberal” enclave. We sport a lot of health food stores, organic farms, a Black mayor (our first), a highly active Democratic Socialist chapter, a lot of Bernie supporters, an Extinction Rebellion chapter … and we’ve got a lot of hippies living in our woods, running on solar, marijuana and hu-manure. Our city police department helps organize the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march, along with the NAACP.
Given all this, I used to think we were quite “progressive.” These days, I’m not so sure. Pulling back the covers on what really goes on here, over the last year or so — as I’ve been doing — has been revealing. California is not the solid liberal block a lot of “Red State” folks and voters might think we are. Our rural communities are still quite conservative, and when the Black Lives Matter protests hit en masse this spring, a number of incidents proved the point that racism is not over here. Not by a long shot.
I realize, as a mixed race, Asian woman who “passes” as white, none of what I write here is going to be big news for black, brown or indigenous people. I don’t write this for these folks. They already know.
I write this for all the white folks in this country who think racism is “over there” somewhere, like, in the Deep South. Or those who believe it is in the distant past. Or that calling out racism is upsetting our peaceful, connected “good feelings”— this is a refrain I’ve heard coming from many of my spiritual circles.
Here is one African-American woman’s recent comment about her participation in a Three Principles (3P) group (this is not indicative of all 3P groups, but certainly this one):
“I get so very tired by it all. In my 3P’s group, the spiritual bypassing is exhausting. Bullying “intellectuals” gather to ask ‘whataboutisms’ whenever the issue of structural racism is raised. Then, when they are done bullying, they crawl away until any issue of race re-emerges. I made a statement that when the percentage of black people in jail EQUALS the percentage in the community only then would racism be defeated. It is SO obviously true, but these white apologists will argue until rivers run dry … and I am done with trying.”
All this needs to stop. I’ll try to share why. And I ask you to think about your own community, your town, your city as you read this. I respect your intelligence and I know you are compassionate. I am asking you to read, and as you read, to truly listen. To open your heart.
A Tale of Two Cities: For Whites … and For Blacks
Just up the road from our beachy, surfing community, a series of much smaller towns dot the redwood forest along Highway 9, a winding two-lane highway that twists its shady way from Santa Cruz to Silicon Valley. We call this the San Lorenzo Valley, after the river that defines our watershed. The river was named by the Spanish Portola expedition, a colonialist enterprise that established the Mission system in California, and initiated the cruel genocide of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who called this “state” their home.
It’s pretty white all up in these mountains. Not all white, pretty white. The Scottish founded a lot of these towns, including (obviously) Scotts Valley, a Silicon Valley bedroom community. Faith Brown, a young Black Lives Matter activist, has lived all her life up here, and went to school here.
She was asked by an officer (also local) to step out of a car she was riding in with another, white passenger and then searched and repeatedly shouted at: “Where is your gun?!! Where is your gun?!!”
She also organized the first Black Lives Matter Protests here. At the most recent march, two-and-half miles up Highway 9 from the high school to Ben Lomond Market, she led the charge, having set up water stations with donated granola bars and 400 sandwiches (!) to pass out along the way.
When Brown spoke at the little park in Ben Lomond where we landed to rest and rally, it was about her personal history in the Valley. She was first called a “nigger” in elementary school. This was kindergarten. When she went home to ask what this meant, she got “the talk” from her parents — the one most of us have heard a lot about now — getting your young, sweet child ready for the racism, and often, the terror to come. She was bullied constantly and told she should commit suicide throughout her school days in the Valley. The school district never stopped this, although she reported it. When her locker at San Lorenzo Valley High School was defaced with the words “Nigger” and “Kill yourself!” she reported this to the school administration. Nothing was done, and she was made to clean this up herself.
“This is when I started to go into depression,” she said at the rally in Ben Lomond. It’s a depression she now seems to have pulled herself up out of. But the racism in the Valley, Brown says, remains. “People around here just grab my hair. Out of the blue. Without asking. They grab my hair, and they say ‘Is this real?’ ‘What do you do with this?’ … I love my home and I want to stay here. But it has to change. And we need to change it.”
Faith’s family was threatened by a man wielding a knife at a Felton gas station for being black. She was asked by an officer (also local) to step out of a car she was riding in with another, white passenger and then searched and repeatedly shouted at: “Where is your gun?!! Where is your gun?!!” She was wearing a summer jumper with no pockets. The white passenger, who was driving, was not asked to even get out of the car.
Now, I am going to confess something here. When she told this story, I visualized it happening somewhere else. In some other state. Why?
When she said this was all local — local officers, local police, local gas station attack with knife — my brain did a flip. This is how we, as white people — or people with other forms of racial privilege — do not know and understand racism, and how it lives here, with us, among us, daily. We live in a distinct and separate reality.
Please remember, this was an African-American, young teenager in that car. To look at her now is to see, actually, a seeming vision of gentleness and sweetness. “I am going to remain peaceful and non-violent” she said, after some more rebellious young folks made firey speeches at the open mic and hijacked the stage for a moment. But Faith’s gentleness and non-violence is just one aspect of an overall ferocity of purpose you can feel from her now, even at a distance.
When her locker at San Lorenzo Valley High School was defaced with the words “Nigger” and “Kill yourself!” she reported this to the school administration. Nothing was done, and she was made to clean this up herself.
After Faith spoke, an older black woman, a mother, who lives in the Valley too got up and told similar stories. Once, as she was crossing the street, a man in a large truck stopped in front of her and told her she should “Go back where you came from, you goddamn nigger!” Another time, at an intersection in the Felton-Scotts Valley area, a man rolled down his window to cuss her out with all kinds of not-so-pretty-words, and also to call her a “nigger.” In neither case had she provoked anything that might trigger anger, and certainly there is no justification at all for these kinds of hateful, racial attacks, at any rate.
“I was born here. I am a U.S. citizen,” this woman said at the rally. “I don’t need to go back anywhere. I have every right to be here. And anyway, white people brought all the black people here in the first place!”
Faith related an incident — which many of us had heard — about a noose hung by a group of young people at a busy intersection at the entrance to the University of California at Santa Cruz. An African-American man here was brutally beaten last month, as his assailant called him “nigger” several times. The victim ended up in the hospital.
Before that, at the “upscale” Alderwood Restaurant, a group of drunk white people allegedly unleashed racial epithets at a Filipino employee of the restaurant, seated nearby and using his employee gift card. They knocked a dividing wall into his table several times, and justified their actions, saying “We are spending more money than you!” When the the altercation became violent, witnesses said, the white folks began yelling, “White America!” as well as other, homophobic slurs.
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If anyone was under the (really, very odd) impression that “upper class” people might have more actual “class,” we have been disabused of this notion here in the Monterey Bay Area. Alderwood is known as a high-end eaterie, affordable mostly only to the high-tech wealthy, whose jobs and fortunes are rooted in the mountains of money that are Silicon Valley. The owners of this restaurant fired their employee, rather than stand by him and condemn the racism and classism. Several other employees, including a manager, quit in protest.
This is 2020, people. In a “liberal,” Californa town. I am asking you to please wake up to current racism in all our cities and communities. Maybe in you, and in me. Certainly in many of our friends. Probably in our families.
As I mentioned above, a friend of mine who is part of a spiritual Facebook group just reported that many members in that group are denying racism still exists. People of color are being left to their own defenses there; moderators are not stepping in to protect her.
I wonder how it feels to be a person of color in a space that once brought you peace and insight — and is now a place where you must defend and justify your own reality, repeatedly. I understand this phenomenon better now, and what is sometimes called the “emotional labor” of it— having had to explain multiple times to people who can’t understand why Donald Trump’s use of the term “Chinese Flu” (not to mention “Kung Flu”) is racist and dangerous. It is exhausting to keep repeating yourself, and frustrating — especially as your Asian brothers and sisters are being physically attacked around the world. You spend time and energy to speak and write to people who are often being unkind and insenstive to the fact that you are an Asian person; and who are not believing nor willing to believe you for some reason. Perhaps because they have used this term themselves, and feel defensive — or are actually racist?
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Spirituality is not a weapon to be used to deny the reality of people who face racial violence and insults on a daily basis. To continue to use spirituality as a way to avoid uncomfortable feelings that may arise from looking more deeply into real-world oppressions is not, actually, “spirituality,” but ignorance and denial. And as my first spiritual teacher, Sydney Banks, used to say: “Denial is not a healthy state.”
Spirituality is not a weapon to be used to deny the reality of people who face racial violence and insults on a daily basis.
Cut to: Carmel Valley, a wealthy, gorgeous, mini-wine-country of rolling hills and expensive spas, just east of Carmel and the famous golf course at Pebble Beach. In July of this year, Michael Lofthouse, CEO of a San Francisco high tech company called “Solid8,” began hurling insults at an Asian family dining at yet another high-end eatery. They were not far from his table. His slander escalated from muttering about “fucking Asians” to giving them the finger to getting up and shouting at them that “Trump is going to fuck you, you fucking Asian piece of shit. Get out of here!” This family had said and done nothing to Mr. Lofthouse. They had no interaction with him at all before this.
Why did he say this (besides his obvious racism)? And, why, particulary that bit about Donald Trump?
Now, I understand many conservatives and even possibly some good “religious” folks don’t think Donald Trump is actually racist. Look at Kanye, they say! The Black folks at rallies! Look at Candace Owens!
But let’s look a little deeper, here. I am asking you to please come with me on this very short journey in your lifetime of decades, if you have been supporting Trump until today — if only because perhaps some small part of you now has doubts.
In June of this year, the Trump-Pence campaigns purchased 88 ads on Facebook which featured Nazi symbology (see article below). This is one of a long series of racist/white supremacist/Nazi dog whistles from this Administration — going back at least four years — which have become much, much louder since the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement.
As a former, award-winning, investigative journalist, I have been tracking the dog whistling since 2016. Here is my recent analysis:
The choice to hold the first Trump rally in Tulsa, on Juneteenth, was quite deliberate. For those who don't know (and we all should know), Tulsa was the site of massive white-on-black massacre in a thriving black part of the city that was known for its independence, wealth and self sufficiency. Juneteenth, as many may now know, is a holiday celebrated by U.S. African-Americans as a mark of the end of slavery (and this too is a long and sad story). Perhaps — “perhaps” — all this was not known by Trump, but by his handlers. I believe Trump knew in the end as well. I do not believe they expected the intense blowback this decision generated. This is actually a hopeful (for lovers of democracy and humanity) miscalculation on their part about where the hearts of most American people are at this moment. 💜
Tulsa Race Massacre
During the Tulsa Race Massacre (also known as the Tulsa Race Riot), a white mob attacked residents, homes and…
The decision to hold the GOP convention in Jacksonville on the anniversary of “Ax Handle Saturday” — another sad and awful day of white-on-black murder and mayhem— I am sure was also deliberate. It will be interesting to see how the GOP attempts to deflect criticism about this decision. As of this writing, many Republicans are opting out of going to this convention, either for this reason, or due to fears of Coronavirus. Probably both. The other news is that Jacksonville, FL was the site of a famous KKK induction ceremony in the 50s.
Florida Frontiers "Ax Handle Saturday"
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I find it heartening that the heartfelt struggle for racially equality today is shining a light on this dark and important — and largely supressed — history of the United States, as well as so much else. (I include some other, important milestones of black-white U.S. history in resources below.)
I mention the deliberate nature of these decisions because the dog whistling has been happening since before the 2016 election, and has never stopped. It actually doesn’t take a lot of digging to find out what all the dog whistles amean. There were 88 ads placed on Facebook by Trump-Pence with the Nazi symbol, and 88 stands for “HH,” or “Heil Hitler” in white supremacist, dog-whistle parlance (H is also the 8th letter of the alphabet).
Additionally, there was a 14-word sentence in the ad itself, and 14 is another significant number for white supremacists. The 14 words reference a sentence made famous by a white supremacist who died in jail, actually. Here is his now famous quote: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
Disturbingly, 14 is also the number words in the first sentence on the Department of Homeland Security website home page, which features a similar refrain: “We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again.” This was posted in February of 2018 (!) and may be removed soon if this dog whistle gets more publicity.
The list goes on: The “OK”/perfect hand signs, “Pepe the Frog” (a hate symbol) posted by one of his sons, the yellow, Nazi-created Jewish star, and endless references to the “global cabal” — not just via “QAnon,” but as a veiled reference generally to Jews as controllers of the world, or at least, world finances.
While those inside the Trump bubble will say, and have said, all of this is “just a joke,” the first question to ask is: Why would anyone in their right mind joke about any of these things? For any reason whatsoever?
The truth that is relatively obvious is that Trump wants to hang onto all of his “I am not a racist” and POC supporters while at the same time hanging onto and goading his white supremacist/Nazi base.
Do you know who coined the term “alt-Right”? Richard Spencer. Do you remember when, shortly after Trump’s election, this man came out with the “Hail Trump!” salutes in New York at a public event? If you are going to support Donald Trump, at least know who you are supporting — both directly as Trump, and as his web of supporters, which includes the alt-Right now in Europe, and elsewhere.
The Alternative Right, commonly known as the "alt-right," is a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals…
If we can be grateful for anything, it is this: People’s true colors are being revealed, it seems, as never before. To understand what Trump’s true colors are, you need only understand he has been a “eugenicist” all his life, like Adolf Hitler, and in alignment with his father, Fred Trump*. He accepts “some Blacks” as perhaps “exceptions.” (And because he needs to.) And he will, frankly, accept support from anyone. The Black president in the White House was obviously such a huge thorn in his side. To this day, he cannot get over Obama, and so much of his policy has been to simply overturn anything positive Obama has done.
While those inside the Trump bubble will say all of this is “just a joke,” the first question to ask is: Why would anyone in their right mind joke about any of these things? For any reason whatsoever? What would the purpose of such “jokes” serve?
For more on Trump and eugenics, as well as early influences, watch the Frontline documentary, “The Choice.” Also there is plenty to document his reported history of reading Hitler’s books and speeches, as reported by Mother Jones and Trump’s biographer, among others (including court-related documents). While we might say that many politicians and historians read Hitler for educational purposes, please remember, Trump is not a reader (and also not a politician, nor historian, really) … Trump’s very public and loud campaign against “The Central Park Five” in the 1980s included calling for the death penalty for five black youth accused of raping a white woman in Central Park. (Now referenced in a Ken Burn’s documentary, focused primarily on the tragic story of those five innocent boys).
Home | Ken Burns
Learn more about The Central Park Five, a film from Ken Burns, which tells the story of the five black and Latino…
The lineage of white supremacy in this country and also in Nazi Germany is so terribly violent, systemic and genocidal that to associate with either the KKK or the Nazis is horrific, and cannot be justified by references to “humor,” nor cryptic insider messaging — as even black Trump supporters will do. Either it shows evil intent or terrible ignorance or both. The President of the United States and his administration should in no way be involved in anything related to white supremacy or Nazi-ism; and should be denouncing it all unequivocally.
Rather, Trump is upping the ante. One of his recent tweets was this:
Fourteen words, two H’s.
I write this to appeal to the hearts and minds of many I know who are good people — possibly, possibly with racist tendencies, due to their own upbringings, “white bubbles” or ignorance, maybe even past negative encounters with people of color — but, who still would not want to go down the road this Administration is goose-stepping down now, with banners unfurled and flying.
I am writing this because it is clear that now is the time to wake up, to racism in our country, in our hometowns, maybe in our own hearts, and “most def,” as my kids would say, in the White House. If you can still say you support Donald Trump after all of this, then you are saying you do not care how many continue to be hurt, or attacked; or how many brown children will be and are now likely damaged for life by Stephen Miller’s cruel, alt-Right family-separation disaster; how many Asians will be vilified and attacked as we proceed with Trump’s “Kung Flu” invectives; how many blacks will be lynched (six so far this year, as it looks today) and beaten and killed, how many humans with real lives, real souls, will suffer.
If so, my friend, I cannot help you. And I pray God finds some other way to reach you, before it is too late.
Note 1: I am happy to receive factual corrections on any aspect of this essay. I will do my best to update content if there has been any error in reporting of actual facts. Matters of interpretation are best confined to comments.
Note 2: *Recent social media posts have accused Trump’s father of being a member of the KKK. After some research into his arrest at a New York KKK rally, I conclude it is likely, but not verifiable unless a credible source comes forward.
Fact Check: Fred Trump was detained at KKK rally but there's no evidence he was supporter
Numerous posts to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have resurrected a claim that the president's father was arrested…
I am including this Wikipedia article on Fred Trump as a point of reference and view into the current President’s backgound and character. I also recommend “The Choice,” by Frontline. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Trump
Resources, videos, articles:
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Please watch or read the following regarding educating yourself around current and historical U.S. racism. More to come.
Must watch … And FREE:
The Rosewood Massacre: How a lie destroyed a black town
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A Timeline of the Trump Administration's Family-Separation Policy - American Oversight
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