Friday Reads: Sins of the Fathers

A photo from the Delta Kappa Epsilon page in the Tulane University 1987 yearbook depicted members in blackface.

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I struggled yesterday and today about sharing my experience Thursday morning with you. I had to go in for labs at the clinic of the hospital I’ve used for years. It’s a regional hospital and attracts people from all over SE Louisiana. It also sits within blocks of where Orleans Parish becomes Jefferson Parish. As such, it’s part of Congressman Steve (‘David Duke without the baggage’) Scalise who appears quite cozy in today’s Republican Party.  You can never crawl away from history here. It’s a lesson I relearn frequently.

Now, I had the usual orders of not eating or drinking before these tests and I was loopy from lack of coffee. The minute they were done I headed straight for coffee at the snack bar.  Relieved, I sat down, drinking, snacking on a cinnamon roll, and just sort of watching people come and go.  Mostly,  I saw a lot of elderly people being attended by a lot of what Mr Roger’s would call “the helpers”. This quote has stayed with me a long time.  It’s always wonderful watching how nurturing people can be and how many take jobs where they patiently nurture and help all day.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

You can’t help but notice that the helpers in a hospital these days are quite diverse but in a big city you get to see all of humanity.  I was sitting next to a helper whose job it is to see to any one needing assistance to get their destination.  She was also watching every one come in the clinic door. At one point, an elderly white woman came in the door with her daughter who was probably a bit younger than me but could’ve been a lot younger.  It was hard to tell.  She immediately grabbed a wheel chair and began the process of getting her mother situated.

It was then I saw the black t shirt with white lettering and an equally white image.  The top of shirt displayed “Get Bent” boldly.  It was easy to read.  The bottom lettering I never managed to get to because the image caught my eye and I started going through the “No, it can’t be. I can’t be seeing that” exercise in my head.  “It’s a spoon!”  I thought!  “Yup. Bent spoon ! That makes sense right?”  But, no matter how much I tried to talk myself out of seeing what I was seeing I had to admit my eyes were not lying to me.  There was the twine of a rope. The twisted knot. The telltale loop.  It was definitely a noose.

As that woman began pushing her mother’s chair by me, I turned to the black woman beside me, the helper, mouthing “Do you see that?”  Again, I was hoping she could tell me I was seeing things.  She said what?  By that time the woman and chair were well behind us and I fought the urge to go snap a picture just so I could tell myself over and over that my eyes weren’t lying. “There’s a noose on her t shirt. A noose”.

The woman said, “Well that’s the sort’ve thing that is looking to start something.” She could tell I was fighting my instincts to chase down that wheel chair for a reason I cannot yet figure out.  She saw me and suggested I take a few deep breaths and she started actually taking me through that process. She was a professional helper in patient care who was used to calming down nervous people in a clinic. She repeated my story to two other people while I was there and they looked at me.  I told them, yes that’s what I saw and I am so sorry because I really have no idea why any one could be so openly cruel.  My mind silently added, so openly cruel in a place where your mother needs help from every one whose job here is to give it to her and this is how you thank them.  Every one employed at a hospital clinic is in the helping profession.  Every person.

Today, I woke up to doing my usual coffee and reading of the newspapers in my own bed. The NYT had that picture of Tulane that’s up top there. I immediately recognized it but again, kept trying to tell myself that I’m just seeing things.  I wasn’t. The date is 1987 and that’s clearly Tulane University.  Again, Tulane kicked this frat out a long time ago but the students continue to join and go to school there and some subset of “grown ups in the room” let that picture get posted to a yearbook.

“Black people in general have had to deal with a lot of these things that have happened,” said Dr. David Randolph Sr., an oncologist in Richmond, Va., who graduated from Mr. Northam’s medical school in 1983 and recalled going to a party in the early 2000s and seeing a white couple dressed in full blackface as Venus and Serena Williams. “Everybody except me and my wife kind of looked at them as a matter of course.”

The frantic apology that Dr. Randolph received from the couple underscores what seems obvious: Blackface now and from its beginnings has been known to be offensive, “the filthy scum of white society,” as Frederick Douglass called it in 1848. That did not hamper its popularity. For more than a century it was in the mainstream of American pop culture, in Broadway plays and in Bing Crosby movies, before receding as the civil rights movement ascended.

But blackface has lingered, withdrawing into certain white settings cordoned off from public view.

Henrietta Hilton, front left, and her fellow students in their ninth grade classroom in Summerton, S.C., in 1954. The classroom was at the center of a controversy which led to one of four cases involving “separate but equal” facilities.

I’m struggling with how I can best play a role in alleviating and eliminating racism in our society. Today, I feel like I’m clueless and inept.  I guess my best response right now is to just turn to the black person next to me, let them know what I see and what I feel which is basically awful. I will let them tell me how best to respond or if I should respond.  I just apologize endlessly a lot which really seems empty. I need to listen more.

Here’s some news headlines. I’ve been following including the Bezo/Pecker thing.

This link is from Allyson Chiu and Kayla Epstein at The Washington Post: “Ronan Farrow says he also received ‘blackmail’ threat over reporting on the National Enquirer and Trump”.

Last April, Farrow published a story in the New Yorker about the Enquirer’s “catch and kill” practice — in which stories are buried by paying off sources — that benefited Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

AMI did not immediately return a message from The Post about Farrow’s claim.

The allegations from Bezos and Farrow have since prompted other journalists and media outlets to come forward with claims that they too had been targeted by AMI for reporting on the Enquirer.

In response to Farrow, former Associated Press editor Ted Bridis tweeted a similar story.

Bridis claimed in a separate tweet referencing Bezos’s Medium post that AMI, the Enquirer and its lawyers “tried to shut down public interest reporting on tabloid’s work on behalf of Trump.”

The Daily Beast also reported that attorneys for AMI responded aggressively to two stories published last week that detailed Bezos’s investigation into the Enquirer. In its story about Thursday’s Medium post, the Daily Beast disclosed that during the process of that reporting, the publication “and a member of its staff were threatened by AMI’s attorneys.”

From The Boston Globe Op Ed page and Margery Eagan: “Race, not abortion, was the founding issue of the religious right”.

Here are some facts that might surprise you.

In 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, the biggest white evangelical group in America, the Southern Baptist Convention, supported its legalization. The group continued that support through much of the 1970s. And the late Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, did not give his first antiabortion speech until 1978, five years after Roe.

Though opposition to abortion is what many think fueled the powerful conservative white evangelical right, 81 percent of whom voted for Donald Trump, it was really school integration, according to Randall Balmer, chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth. The US Supreme Court ruled public school segregation unconstitutional in 1954. In 1976 it ruled against segregated private schools. Then courts went after the tax exemptions of these private all-white Southern schools, or so-called segregation academies, like Falwell’s Liberty Christian Academy.

The late Paul Weyrich, whom Balmer called the organizational genius behind the religious right, had long tried to mobilize evangelical voters around some hot-button issue: feminism, school prayer, pornography, abortion. But nothing lit a fire like the federal government’s threat to all-white schools. Only in 1979, a full six years after Roe, did Weyrich urge evangelical leaders to also crusade against abortion, Balmer said in an interview. That was, after all, a far more palatable, acceptable crusade, one with a seeming high moral purpose, unlike a race-based crusade against black children.

Louis Armstrong, in ZULU blackface, as King of the Zulus on, Mardi Gras Day, 1949

The powers that be always work to divide us.

From the Washington Post: “‘My whole town practically lived there’: From Costa Rica to New Jersey, a pipeline of illegal workers for Trump goes back years”.  We continue to find out that Trump’s fascination with undocumented works seems to be purely political and purely related to race baiting.

At his home on the misty slope of Costa Rica’s tallest mountain, Dario Angulo keeps a set of photographs from the years he tended the rolling fairways and clipped greens of a faraway American golf resort.

Angulo learned to drive backhoes and bulldozers, carving water hazards and tee boxes out of former horse pastures in Bedminster, N.J., where a famous New Yorker was building a world-class course. Angulo earned $8 an hour, a fraction of what a state-licensed heavy equipment operator would make, with no benefits or overtime pay. But he stayed seven years on the grounds crew, saving enough for a small piece of land and some cattle back home.

Now the 34-year-old lives with his wife and daughters in a sturdy house built by “Trump money,” as he put it, with a porch to watch the sun go down.

It’s a common story in this small town.

Other former employees of President Trump’s company live nearby: men who once raked the sand traps and pushed mowers through thick heat on Trump’s prized golf property — the “Summer White House,” as aides have called it — where his daughter Ivanka got married and where he wants to build a family cemetery.

“Many of us helped him get what he has today,” Angulo said. “This golf course was built by illegals.”

So, if you’re really into farce, turn on the TV and watch what passes as an Acting Attorney General discuss what’s supposed to pass for a President of the United states.

So, I hope you have a great weekend. Remember to do something nice for the Helpers if you get a chance.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

44 Comments on “Friday Reads: Sins of the Fathers”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Not one day has gone by in the last 3 years that has not been loaded with “sleaze”.

    This will be the one word that will describe the Trump administration in years to come.

    It is amazing how far the GOP will go to defend and support this corruption, soulless man.


  5. dakinikat says:

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      Tom Jones is one of my favorite films – especially the dinner scene – lol. Finney is one of those actors you know if he’s in the film it’s got merits. R.I.P.

  8. dakinikat says:

    • Gregory P says:

      Roberts has been surprising me lately. I think he is a true believer in our constitution and is not as radical as I previously thought; however, that Citizen’s United decision was absolutely atrocious. The only way that this giant mess gets cleaned up is if good people like him put aside political affiliation and do what is the right thing to do for the country.

  9. Gregory P says:

    Great write up today as always. I guess I am fortunate that I’ve always been curious and liked to seek out different life perspectives. As such I had the privilege to buy, read and keep to this day astounding works by Richard Wright such as Black Boy and Native Son. In my teens/young adulthood he was by far and away my favorite writer. Along the way I’ve read speeches by Frederick Douglass, read books by Alice Walker and Nora Zeale Hurston and in the 90’s was privileged enough to go back to school and start earning my degrees where I took a variety of classes that really focused on diversity. Probably the best class I ever took was called multiethnic literature and focused on Asian American and African American literature. As such, I think that I have a really good grasp on racism and the other -isms that plague our society; however, it is very, very difficult to understand racism and bigotry until it is directed at you so we’ll never fully comprehend how devastating it is for those who experience these things. I will say that as a full time college student in the late 80’s and then in the 90’s I thankfully never saw any of those dreadful actions. Just one of the many benefits of actually going to a diverse college campus that was void of rich people. I think that one of our problems is that racism was neatly tucked away but still very prevalent. Charter schools and private schools are certainly popular because of racism. The bad thing about this abomination of an administration is that racists feel emboldened and empowered.

    • dakinikat says:

      Thanks. I read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man in High school. I also loved Ernest Gaines. We read some of his short stories from Bloodlines.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Ever notice how people look around to see who is listening before they tell a dirty joke or make a really ugly comment about management?

      There you go. If you think THEY are not listening you drop your filter. On a public university campus you consider your audience before you pop off with something crazy. Private and segregated, not so much.

      It is complicated.

      Many times we find things funny that we know have the potential to hurt others and since we have no desire to do so we filter ourselves. We either don’t make the joke or we limit the audience. It is human nature.

      Other times we absolutely wish to hurt, but we lack the courage to have the fight that saying or doing that hurtful thing will inevitably bring. We may even lie about whether hurt was even the intent.

      A racist is bad. A racist coward is worse.

      I know that I have no beef with any race, religion, gender, orientation, nationality , nothing. However, I do think I am funny. I many times find humor in things that are risky offense wise. The fact that II know within myself that there is no hate in it I only goes so far. I am not willing to hurt anyone for a laugh. Cant take a joke doesn’t even enter into it.

      I use the asshole test.

      Basically, taking whatever “ISM” out of it, is this something that only an asshole would do or say in this time or place.

      A while back here in Georgia a shopkeeper or restaurateur of some sort put out on a sign in front of his store, it said ”Obama wants to nigger-rig healthcare.”

      When challenged he swore up and down that it was “just a common expression in the south I didn’t mean nigger nigger…”.

      Not having the ability or desire to read what passes for his mind,I can only say this, only an absolute asshole would do something like that in front of a public business.

      Would you put “Great fucking food!” In front of your store if you cared at all about your community?

      I cannot say whether the Tulane students were racists or not but I question the character of someone who wants to go there in 1987.

      We already had a King holiday at that point. The civil rights movement was common knowledge.

      they call it “politically correct” instead of “polite” for this reason. If you are going to go there…to take the hit to image and reputation, make sure that you mean it.
      If you are going to say some that is going to bring heat down on your head because of your choice of words, make sure that if you MEAN something else WITHOUT baggage then use those words. Only take the hit if you mean it right?

      Don’t say faggot when you mean gay, don’t say darkie when you mean black, only an idiot wants unnecessary trouble.

      I would submit that most if not all college students, and people in general really, still entertaining black-face in our generation are looking for trouble.

      Offending is part of the bargain. Tomi Lahren and Laura Ingraham will say monstrous things and pretend that it is the politically correct and overly sensitive libs who read race into things they meant innocently. I say fuck those bitches! Yeah, willing to take the hit on this one.

      • dakinikat says:

        Offending does seem to be at the bottom of it. i think these people think so little of themselves that tearing down others is some act designed to make them feel better in a sick way.

      • Gregory P says:

        Yes, I have noticed. Another thing I noticed is that a lot of racist white people assume that I think like them and get really offended when I call them on their bull crap. Somehow they are always the victim even when they are highly inappropriate and vile. This was especially true when Obama became President. At my former job people in the break room would say all kinds of horrible things and then I would stand up to them and they’d just be appalled. But I’ve always been a firm believer in standing up to bullies and hateful people.

        • RonStill4Hills says:

          I heard he term cry-bully today for the first time. Can’t velieve I never heard it before. It describes the MAGATs to a T.

          Poor little privileged class.

  10. dakinikat says:

    With the law now on hold, nothing is expected to happen in the case until the providers file their petition for review, which is due in mid-April. If the justices decide to take up the case, which seems likely because the prospect that the Supreme Court will grant review is one of the criteria that the justices considered before granting the stay, oral argument would likely be held in the fall of 2019 or winter of 2020, with a decision by the end of June 2020.

    Justices grant stay, block Louisiana abortion law from going into effect

  11. dakinikat says:

    Fill this under What the ACTUAL FUCK?

    “But if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine. The problem is that he wanted, he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize.”

    —Candace Owens, of the Trump-recruiting organization Turning Point USA, speaking this afternoon in London

    • NW Luna says:

      “Hitler just wanted his genocide program to go well…” They weren’t dreams, they were nightmares he wanted to globalize.

    • quixote says:

      Whuuut? So she’s okay with Nazis not globalizing, so long as they’re murdering only “their” Jews? What? What, what, what, what, what?

      Crimes against humanity are a different order of bad from mere obnoxious politics. Right? ??

    • Gregory P says:

      She sounds great giving her total bs answer. Apparently she’s bought the kool-aid line that Hitler was a socialist. These people are so odious in their attempts to re-write history to their liking. And yes, Candace being proud of one’s country is a good thing while being a nationalist can be a very bad thing. Nationalism can lead to very bad outcomes.

  12. quixote says:

    Dakinikat, I’m not sure about this in your post: ” I guess my best response right now is to just turn to the black person next to me, let them know what I see and what I feel which is basically awful. I will let them tell me how best to respond or if I should respond.”

    Isn’t that putting some weight on the black person, who’s probably already expending energy trying to ignore the situation, and have her/him allay your worries about being thought complicit?

    I think maybe, if it’s a situation where you can do anything (lots of them aren’t), it might contribute more to the cosmic fund of not tolerating crap, to walk up to the person and say something like, “I don’t know if today is laundry day and that tshirt was the only one left, but perhaps next time, wear it inside out.”

    Isn’t it generally the case that the best thing to do with privilege is to call out your co-privileged? Men should call out men, whites call out whites, etc.

    I know the maddening part is feeling embedded in the shit and unable to really change anything.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      He wanted everyone not German dead or subjugated exactly like white nationistsctoday. Is this woman dumb or lying, oh wait who cares.

      • Gregory P says:

        Yeah, I was going to post something similar. Hell, the guy even used his hatred of Jewish people and others as part of his platform. Once he got in power he did the things he said he would.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Here we go again, that comment was for Candace Owens.

      Adrdressing this actual post, I had the same thought. It is putting a lot on Blacky. We don’t know either. We don’t know what to say or how to prices the utter ignorance of haters.

      Calling out strangers is hard, possibly dangerous and also probably what they want.

      But when you do know the person, it probably is worth it to tell them what an ugly and bleak thought that noose represents.

      I remember a few years back when a black female co-worker and friend of mine pull a few of us aside to say that she had gone the HR to complain the she was grossed out using the water fountsin behind a gay guy that also worked with us.

      I blurted out how incredibly ironic and disgusting that in the hometown of MLK that a black woman could think much less say something like that.

      She got very angry, she said “I don’t bite my tongue!” A bunch of times. We were never quite friends the same way after that but I think we knew who each other was. I was also never inside her whisper circle afrerchat either. I was fine with that too.

      I don’t know if I had any effect, she is long gone, but I was glad I drew a line even if only between us two.

    • dakinikat says:

      I have no issues calling folks out and I really don’t know if this was the situation or the place for it. I try to read the situation and take some cues from people around me. I think if I was at nieghborhood bar I’d have gone off because I would have plenty of back up and I wouldn’t be in a place where someone could lose a job.

  13. RonStill4Hills says:

    Second accuser in the Fairfax case. I think he is done.

    • dakinikat says:

      Yeah.This is getting real. She’s got outcry witnesses too.

    • Gregory P says:

      Honestly, this is going to be like watching a train wreck. Professor Tyson is extremely credible. Therefore, it stands to reason that if she is telling the truth then there will be more. Probably a lot more. These guys who do this kind of stuff never stop.

  14. NW Luna says:

    “I’m just going to submit the Constitution for the record.” — Rep. Lieu

    • quixote says:

      Ted Lieu is another one who I’d be delighted to vote for President. Sharp, heart in the right place, and enough courage for fifty Congressfolk.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thank you for that link. I wrote about the new “her emails” attacks on women presidential candidates this morning.