How the GOP Nearly Became the Anti-Racist Party

August 26, 2020

There was a moment in time (not too long ago in my life) when the political party of off-the-cuff intolerance, misogyny, homophobia, White supremacy, unbridled capitalism and perpetual lowering of taxes for the wealthy seemed verged to become the party of just unbridled capitalism and perpetual lowering of taxes for the wealthy, with a smattering of homophobia and misogyny.

The year was 2002. Trent Lott, the powerful Republican senate majority leader, had praised fellow sitting Mississippi Republican senator Strom Thurmond at Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. Thurmond had won Mississippi in his 1948 run for president as a segregationist. Lott’s exact words were, “We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years either.”

Lott had actually said pretty much the same thing in 1980, but back then he experienced no pushback. In 2002, things were different. In 2002, President Bush, a fellow Republican, condemned the remarks. Trott went on a TV apology tour, most notably to BET. Nobody was publicly supporting Lott. He was forced to step down from his position as Majority Leader. He resigned from the Senate in 2007.

And I was like, “Oh my God. What if the Republican Party is going to become a fiscally conservative party that doesn’t tolerate, let alone promote, racism?” Of course, that didn’t happen and instead we have President Stephen Miller, er, Trump. Now, if anyone criticized a politician for racism, Fox News would call it “cancel culture.” But for a brief moment, it seemed like a distinct possibility, which would have shifted the political landscape of the nation dramatically.

The fact that the Republican Party came to embrace racism to begin with was a fluke of history that didn’t have to be. The Party only solidified its identity as the protector of White men afraid of losing power in Nixon’s 1960 presidential run against Kennedy. Martin Luther King Jr.’s father appreciated that Kennedy had called Coretta Scott King to express his sympathy while her husband, MLK Jr., was jailed in Georgia. The influential pastor, King Sr., switched his party allegiance from Republican to Democratic and supported Kennedy. Nixon’s Republican Party chose the other route. It embraced the Southern Strategy, courting segregationists and positioning itself in opposition to the Civil Rights Movement. After that followed decades of entrenchment, with the Republicans ceding the politics of human rights to the Democrats and, eventually, in 2016, giving up on any effort to court voters who were other than White.

The Lott affair did not occur in a vacuum. The country was poised at a possible inflection point on race. I remember several politicians having to apologize around that time for casual racist statements. This was in the wake of the intense tide of racism and state terror against Muslims and people from the Middle East after 9/11. Issues of bigotry and stereotyping were heightened in public discourse. 

The Republican Party did not choose a path which would have benefitted them as the country’s demographics continued to challenge White dominance. Instead, they clutched their pearls in their comfort zone, and doomed us all to a party who’s only chance of maintaining control is through gerrymandering and other blatant efforts to disenfranchise growing numbers of people. 

But for a minute, just a minute, the portal to an alternate universe was opened.

Today’s Post is a Petition

July 23, 2020

Tell Traditional Medicinals to change the racist name of the Gypsy Tea.

“Gypsy” is widely accepted as an ethnic slur for the Romani people. I brought up the troubling name of their tea to Traditional Medicinals. the owner of the health food store where I worked communicated with them. They claimed that their founder was “Gypsy” and they made vague promises to look into the matter and to consider changing the product name. In other words they blew us off.

But now, things are different. Now Aunt Jemima is dead. Now, a petition from a teenager forced Trader Joe’s to drop product names like “Trader José.”

The time has come to change this product name. And if you are confused or unsure about the offensiveness of the word, that’s OK. Click on the daisy, below, for a blog post I wrote in 2010.


How to Easily Avoid Perpetuating Micro-Aggressions Toward Customers

June 25, 2019

What Micro-Aggressions are:

Micro-Aggressions are those common slights that people can perceive throughout the day and that appear to be the result of racial or other bias. For example, a Black, Indigenous or Person of Color may notice that they are being singled out for extra scrutiny while shopping, or that a salesperson is making assumptions about them based on their race, ethnicity or religion. Each slight may seem small, but they add up and cause great harm to an individual.

No one is immune! Even if you self-identify as the same race, ethnicity or any other descriptor of the customer, you still might be perpetuating micro-aggressions. This is true regardless of what’s in your heart and conscious mind.

Luckily, there are some simple habits that we can all develop to help avoid unintentionally inflicting pain on others.

Read the rest of this entry »

Disconnected Thoughts

September 5, 2016


Here are some things I’ve been thinking today. If we were eating a meal together, I would probably figure out a way to inject them into the conversation. But because I have no social life, I am sharing them here, in this blog post, with random strangers, lurkers and family members checking up on me.

  • Why We’re Hearing More Racist Comments in “Polite Society”
    • I believe that future social scientists will come to the conclusion that one result of Barack Obama’s presidency was a resurgence in public sphere racist dialogue. Not just as a reaction to Obama, but Obama gave racists an opportunity to say racist stuff that heretofore had been discouraged in public, under the guise of complaining about a President, and it just grew from there.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Persistence of Stereotypes

February 5, 2013

woman-in-boxLike all of culture, stereotypes have to be learned. But once they are, they are extremely difficult to purge from one’s mind, or even to subdue into cultural curiosities that have no power over our behavior or thinking. Neuroscientists have long known that it takes much longer to unlearn incorrect information than it takes to learn it in the first place. Holding on to stereotypes is especially easy because evolution wired us to look for patterns as a survival skill. Successful hunting, gathering, farming and escaping predators all rely on forming patterns from our observations.

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Groups It’s OK To Make Fun Of

February 26, 2010

In the year 2010, in the United States, it’s acceptable to make fun of some groups of people. To find out which groups, you only need to turn on a children’s TV station, such as Nickelodeon, or wait until Halloween and see how people dress up. In fact, you, dear reader, may occasionally be promoting some cultural stereotypes without the slightest awareness that you are hurting anyone. I certainly don’t blame you, since some of the most wonderfully open minded people I know engage in this behavior. This post is an opportunity for you to contemplate cultural stereotypes that might at first seem like innocent fun, without being confronted directly. What you take from it is up to you, of course, but I hope that you realize that my feelings are genuine; these things bother me and they may upset other people who generally remain silent about them in public.


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Poverty, Race, and Education in a Capitalist Nation

December 8, 2009

The following essay is adapted from a paper I wrote in 2006. One can only imagine how much more dire the situation is in the wake of the recent recession. The original paper, with references, may be downloaded from the box labeled, ACADEMIC PEACE PAPERS, to the right of this post; click on the “Central High School” link.

Central High School: The Failure of a City

Providence: A City of Contrasts

Central Career and Technical High School is located in and draws its students from Providence, Rhode Island. The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce boasts of Providence’s recent inclusions in three major lists of top places in the United States to live or do business. Providence was Rhode Island’s first permanent settlement, on land purchased from the Narragansetts, and was later established as the state capital. The city is home to several universities and has long been a center of wealth and commerce in New England. However, even with the loudly touted downtown improvements of the last several years, the rate that children under the age of 18 lived in poverty in providence was a shocking 40.5% in 2000. Read the rest of this entry »

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