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An Evening with Mawi Asgedom — Thursday, August 26, 2010

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Of Beetles and Angels

~~~~~~~~Special Event~~~~~~~

An Evening with Mawi Asgedom
Thursday, August 26, 2010
6:00 p.m. – 8:00p.m.
Shaw Middle School
4106 N Cook
Spokane, Washington
(Just north of Empire and Cook – map)

Internationally acclaimed author and motivational speaker Asgedom Mawi fled civil war in Ethiopia as a child and survived a Sudanese refugee camp for three years. He overcame poverty, language barriers, and personal tragedy to graduate from Harvard University. He wrote the inspiring book Of Beetles and Angels.

Mawi is the president of Mental Karate, an organization that has helped youth take over 100,000 inspired actions across the U.S. and Canada. Mawi’s experiences relate to Spokane Public Schools continued focus toward family involvement, socially just teaching practices, and meeting the needs of all students, including refugees, ELLs, students of color, and families of poverty.

Media outlets that have featured Mawi include:

– The Oprah Winfrey Show, “One of the Twenty Best Moments of Oprah’s Career”

– ESSENCE, “One of the 40 Most Inspiring African-Americans”

Learn more about Mawi’s work with youth at www.MentalKarate.com.

Seating is limited. Reserve your seat with Janice Abramson (JaniceA@Spokaneschools.org)

Written by Arroyoribera

August 20, 2010 at 10:44 am

America’s False Ideology of White Supremacy

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Oct 30, 2008 By Seth Sandronsky

Seth Sandronsky’s ZSpace Page / ZSpace

Recall the woman who told Sen. John McCain at a recent Minnesota rally that his opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, is an Arab and therefore not to be trusted? McCain “defended” Obama by contrasting Arabs and Americans as separate groups of people in a kind of hierarchy of trust.

That exchange speaks volumes on the ideology of white supremacy. It has been and continues to be a mirage of unity between Caucasian lower and upper classes. That has been so in varying degrees since America’s colonial days of black and Native people’s dehumanization and subjugation. The same ideology drove Chinese, Filipino and Mexican people’s exclusion from the U.S. mainstream. Also in this outcast mix, seen initially as non-whites, were Irish, Jewish, and southeastern European immigrants to the U.S.

Cut to today. For white supremacy to help sustain the widening income and wealth gap in the U.S., elected leaders can and do conjure an “Other,” a darker and dangerous sub-human to build up and put down for reasons of public safety and security. McCain’s Minnesota rally illustrates domestic and foreign threads of this ideology.

I turn here to Diana Ralph of Canada. She has an important chapter on “Islamophobia” in The Hidden History of 9-11-2001. Ralph shows how anti-Muslim bigotry, a demonization of the “Other,” works for the U.S. political class in mobilizing a grass-roots anger and fear after the East Coast attacks of Sept. 11. One result has been a sort of silent consent for the torture of prisoners of the war on terror, mainly non-white Muslims.

On that note of armed repression, Islamaphobia dovetails with the U.S.’s “peculiar institution” of white supremacy. That ideology is the wellspring for much of the Obama character assassination rhetoric of McCain and especially Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, his vice-presidential pick. An unclear number of their backers ape this vision, sadly.

I suggest that the tactic of baiting Obama as a racial Other comes in part as a response to the crumbling illusion of market competition’s benefits trickling down to the American people. Further, this approach seeks to defuse the short-lived rebellion from the populace of all backgrounds against Washington’s bailout of big creditors. The threat of a racially inclusive uprising from below of small debtors beset by a rising rate of home foreclosures, plus under- and unemployment, is real to upper class power. What horror!

Accordingly, McCain and Palin offer some white wage earners and pensioners a re-play of what African American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois called the “color line,” the main contradiction of U.S. democracy. From this ideology of skin-color inferiority and supremacy emerges the straw man of Obama as a reputed Arab and all-around danger to America.

Transcending the class and race contradictions of U.S. democracy, Du Bois noted, could yield to the American people a truly popular politics. That is the future, a very difficult thing to discuss, indeed. Yet discuss and act on it we must, in the present moment. This process, I maintain, would create a logic of more class and skin color equality and unity where too little exists now.

Such a reformation of U.S. society has high hurdles to clear. One is the economics and politics of locking down the throwaway people who employers no longer need to produce wealth. Crucially, this trend of caging and politically weakening the nation’s low-income blacks and Latinos foreshadowed the Bush II administration’s creation of Muslim “enemy combatants.” Together, the uses of these incarcerated populations serve the agenda of economics and politics as usual at home and abroad.

Now is the time for more rational discussion of the reasons for and results of white supremacy in domestic and foreign affairs. Laboring women and men of America have much to gain here. This holds true no matter which candidate, McCain or Obama, becomes the next resident on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Seth Sandronsky lives and writes in Sacramento ssandronsky@yahoo.com

Written by Arroyoribera

October 30, 2008 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Commentary, History, Racism

Did the Secret Service set up Barack Obama for assassination?

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Elections & Voting
Did the Secret Service set up Barack Obama for assassination?
By Larry Chin
Online Journal Associate Editor

Feb 25, 2008, 00:55

According to the Dallas Star-Telegram, the Secret Service gave an order to stop screening for weapons for a full hour before the February 20 Barack Obama rally in Dallas. Metal detectors were turned off, and bags were not checked, as hundreds were allowed to file into Reunion Arena. This bizarre activity “ordered by federal officials,” was immediately reported by an alarmed Dallas Police Department, which knew that it was a “lapse in security.”

The Secret Service (which has been assigned to Obama since August 2007) has denied the allegations, declaring post-facto that the event was secure. However, the Secret Service has provided no detailed explanation about this blatant security stand-down. It is not known who gave the orders. The Obama camp itself has issued no statement.

While this story has been vastly underreported by major corporate media, independent liberal media, particularly Democratic Party and Obama faithful, have expressed astonishment and outrage. President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination in Dallas, Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1968 (which came on the eve of his California presidential primary victory) were also facilitated by Secret Service “lapses.”

While there is no doubt that Barack Obama, bankrolled and sponsored by political elites, appears to be closing in on the Democratic Party nomination, and is an enthusiastic imperial war facilitator, this does not eliminate the real danger he faces from political adversaries.

It goes without saying that Obama is viewed as a bitter enemy (at the very least a symbolic one) by the Bush-Cheney-McCain-neocon gang. Obama not only faces threats from fanatical right-wing and racist elements, but the desperately power-hungry rivals within the more conservative neoliberal wing of the Democratic faction, led by the Clintons. The incendiary Karl Rove-esque attacks launched against Obama by the Clinton apparatus have become increasingly bitter, personal, and below-the-belt in recent weeks.

Obama is also competing with Hillary Clinton for the support of John Edwards. Edwards, the calculating emissary of Bilderberg Group interests, who was, according to Daniel Estulin, author of The True Story of the Bilderberg Group, handpicked by Henry Kissinger to be John Kerry’s vice presidential partner in 2004, may be positioning himself for the same powerful seat this year. Kissinger (who is lurking in McCain’s camp for 2008) and other leading elites already have control of the entire process, from both sides.

Obama’s supporters, and congressional allies such as Senator Dick Durbin, have been concerned for Obama’s safety for months.

It must be noted that the Clintons’ longtime criminal connections, which both tie to, and parallel, those of the Bush family/faction are well-documented (but roundly ignored) fact. The Clintons and Bushes have been full partners across official and unofficial power agendas, co-rulers of the United States, for over two decades. The body count that can be attributed to these two cooperative factions is long and gruesome.

The Clintons’ love of presidential election-season intimidation and dirty tricks are well-known. During the 1992 race for the Democratic Party nomination, Jerry Brown repeatedly accused the Clintons of resorting to tricks worthy of Nixon. As noted by Michael C. Ruppert in Crossing the Rubicon, Ross Perot withdrew from the 1992 presidential contest, pressured into assuring a Clinton victory, after Perot and has family received death threats. (Ruppert, who worked for the Perot campaign, witnessed this firsthand.)

Any prominent political figure who dares vary an inch from the imperial geopolitical script faces threats; first to their reputations and careers, and then their lives. In the “godfather government” that is the United States, this is the rule. This same criminal stranglehold prevents “change” — even the slightest variance from establishment consensus. And even high-level representatives who operate well within the consensus must still defend themselves from “colleagues.”

No government can be trusted. Nor can government officials and elites trust each other.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

Written by Arroyoribera

March 1, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Millions without a Voice — Amy Goodman on Felony Disenfranchisement

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Millions Without a Voice

By Amy Goodman

As I raced into our TV studio for our Super Tuesday morning-after show, I was excited. Across the country, initial reports indicated there was unprecedented voter participation, at least in the Democratic primaries, several times higher than in previous elections. For years I have covered countries like Haiti, where people risk death to vote, while the U.S. has one of the lowest participation rates in the industrialized world. Could it be this year would be different?

Then I bumped into a friend and asked if he had voted. “I can’t vote,” he said, “because I did time in prison.” I asked him if he would have voted. “Sure I would have. Because then I’m not just talking junk, I’m doing something about it.”

Felony disenfranchisement is the practice by state governments of barring people convicted of a felony from voting, even after they have served their time. In Virginia and Kentucky, people convicted of any felony can never vote again (this would include “Scooter” Libby, even though he never went to jail, unless he is pardoned). Eight other states have permanent felony disenfranchisement laws, with some conditions that allow people to rejoin the voter rolls: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee and Wyoming.

Disenfranchisement—people being denied their right to vote—takes many forms, and has a major impact on electoral politics. In Ohio in 2004, stories abounded of inoperative voting machines, too few ballots or too few voting machines. Then there was Florida in 2000. Many continue to believe that the election was thrown to George W. Bush by Ralph Nader, who got about 97,000 votes in Florida. Ten times that number of Floridians are prevented from voting at all. Why? Currently, more than 1.1 million Floridians have been convicted of a felony and thus aren’t allowed to vote. We can’t know for sure how they would have voted, but as scholar, lawyer and activist Angela Davis said recently in a speech honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Mobile, Ala., “If we had not had the felony disenfranchisement that we have, there would be no way that George Bush would be in the White House.”

Since felony disenfranchisement disproportionately affects African-American and Latino men in the U.S., and since these groups overwhelmingly vote Democratic, the laws bolster the position of the Republican Party. The statistics are shocking. Ryan King, policy analyst with The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C., summarized the latest:

About 5.3 million U.S. citizens are ineligible to vote due to felony disenfranchisement; 2 million of them are African-American. Of these, 1.4 million are African-American men, which translates into an incredible 13 percent of that population, a rate seven times higher than in the overall population. Forty-eight states have some version of felony disenfranchisement on the books. All bar voting from prison, then go on to bar participation while on parole or probation. Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow prisoners to vote from behind the walls, as does Canada and a number of other countries.

The politicians and pundits are all abuzz with the massive turnouts in the primaries and caucuses. There are increasing percentages of women participating, and initial reports point to more young people. The youth vote is particularly important, as young people have less invested in the status quo and can look with fresh eyes at long-standing injustices that disenfranchise so many. In this context, one of The Sentencing Project’s predictions bears repeating here: “Given current rates of incarceration, 3 in 10 of the next generation of black men can expect to be disenfranchised at some point in their lifetime. In states that disenfranchise ex-offenders, as many as 40 percent of black men may permanently lose their right to vote.

The Sentencing Project’s King said: “We are constantly pushing for legislative change around the country. But public education is absolutely key. There are so many different laws that people simply don’t know when their right to vote has been restored. That includes the personnel who work in state governments giving out the wrong information.”

I called my friend to tell him he was misinformed. He hadn’t been on probation or parole for years. “You can vote,” I told him. “You just have to register.” I could hear him smile through the phone.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 650 stations in North America.

© 2008 Amy Goodman

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080206_felony_disenfranchisement/

Written by Arroyoribera

February 21, 2008 at 9:33 pm

“The Karen Boone Incident”

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Do people in Spokane still remember what, according to Spokesman-Review writer Doug Floyd’s 1997 article in the American Journalism Review, “continues to be referred to in Spokane as ‘the Karen Boone incident’ “?

Do people remember the concerns about mistreatment of minority groups and racial profiling in Spokane expressed loudly by Spokane communities of color in 1997 and 2001 and 2003 and as recently as the summer 2007, mistreatment and profiling experienced, felt and discussed on a daily basis up until today?

Does anyone recall in 2001 former Spokesman-Review editor Ken Sands writing: “In Spokane, racial profiling by police is accepted as fact in the small minority population, and greeted with much skepticism by the vast white majority”?

Do you think that the experience of racism described over and over by minority members of this community and the sentiments unleashed in 1997 against courageous community members like Karen Boone simply disappear overnight?

What about the Spokane law enforcement recently referring to a fast gas owner as a “gypsy” and a “Hindu”?

What about Spokane Police illegally strip searching a black man?

What about the police killings of boys and men from diverse Spokane communities — Eagle Michael, Jerome Alford, Otto Zehm, and others?

Is Spokane a racist town?

Can you imagine what would have been the outcome of the incident of Spokane Police Officer Jay Olsen shooting Shonto Pete in the head if Pete had been killed by Olsen rather than having survived as he did having been shot in the back of the head?

I will tell you what the outcome would have been. They would have sobered Olsen up, put him back in his uniform, strapped him into his squad car, and said, “Get back in there white boy, we need ya”.

Does a decade make any difference? How do we know? What is the report from the man and woman and boy and girl in the street? In the classroom? In the welfare office? In the opera house? In the cathedral? In the mall? In the hospital?

Do we know? Do we care? Do we think it matters?

Or would we rather it just all go away?

A Sacrifice for Civic Journalism

American Journalism Review (July/August 1997)

By G. Douglas Floyd
G. Douglas Floyd is an interactive editor at the Spokesman-Review.

Karen Boone agreed to write a column, not pull the pin on a hand grenade. Call it her sacrifice for civic journalism.

A 37-year-old African American in the 92 percent white city of Spokane, Washington, Boone was convinced to voice her opinions about her community’s diversity (or lack thereof) in the local paper, the Spokesman- Review. In a February 26 (1997) column she related a poignant tale of her participation in a community leadership group, an experience that led to her painful realization that even she had become desensitized to the feelings of ethnic invisibility faced by minorities in Spokane.

The paper’s editors felt her story was a perfect fit for the S-R’s “Your Turn” column, a feature created during a February 1994 overhaul of the editorial pages with the intention of providing a forum for Spokane citizens who felt they were being overlooked in the paper’s coverage (see “Climbing Down from the Ivory Tower,” May 1995). Boone was reluctant to contribute at first, fearing her privacy would be at stake. But eventually she decided she owed it to herself and to other minorities in the community who felt, as she did, that the local paper did not accurately represent them.

In her column, Boone described the “psychological loneliness and isolation” she experienced as a teenager growing up in Spokane, and her “diligent attempt” to adapt culturally to life in the city. “I must ultimately find a way to maintain my ethnic authenticity while seeking to find my way of life in Spokane,” Boone wrote.

The end result of Boone’s effort to enlighten Spokane’s mainstream shocked Boone and her editors alike. Her 400 words in the S-R ignited intense community debate about Spokane’s racial attitudes that continues to ripple.

The backlash took the form of an incendiary letter Boone received the day after her column ran. “You niggers really piss me off. Bitch & complain is all you worthless assholes are good for,” it began, going on to suggest Boone go “back to Africa & swing with the baboons.”

Concerned but not frantic, Boone called the paper to tell of what her column had wrought. She faxed in a letter to the editor in response to the hate mail. A local human rights group called Unity in Action got word of what continues to be referred to in Spokane as “the Karen Boone incident,” and challenged the paper to publish not only Boone’s response but the hate letter itself.

On March 11, the Spokesman-Review published both letters, along with an editorial denouncing the hateful act and telling readers how to get involved in local human and civil rights activities.

“Our responsibility was to continue what we’d started,” says S-R Editor Chris Peck. “We were trying to get real voices in the paper talking about what it’s like to be a person of color living in Spokane, and the events that unfolded added another chapter to that story.”

And another and another, it seemed to Boone. As she tried to get beyond the incident and focus her energy on her new job as head of Spokane’s Institute for Neighborhood Leadership, people kept coming to her with their personal stories of wrangling with racial issues. Blacks revealed to her their daily experiences with prejudice. Whites unburdened their long-repressed consciences.

As Spokane citizens mobilized in support of Boone, keeping her story alive by flooding the S-R with letters and calls on her behalf, members of Unity in Action organized a public rally in a downtown park and enlisted Boone as a speaker.

“We wanted to let people know we’re not going to take it,” says Robert Lloyd, one of the rally organizers and publisher of the African American Voice, an alternative paper.

Boone still feels overwhelmed with stress, and her teenage children, one of whom opened the hate letter thinking it was addressed to her, struggle with anxiety.

But the incident galvanized the community, and provided a fitting backdrop for a much-needed public discussion about racism. Lloyd, a 23-year resident of the city, says the Spokesman-Review handled the incident well. The only criticism he’s heard, he says, is the one Boone herself has expressed to the paper: Somebody should have warned her what would happen.

“I probably would have done it anyway,” she now says, “but I would have liked to have been better prepared for what happened.”

Peck says preparing guest writers for unpleasant replies is one of the reasons the paper has “interactive” editors — to serve as allies and mentors and to connect with readers. Another reason is to build bridges to sectors of the community, including minority populations that don’t feel the newspaper reflects their
interests.

Lloyd says the Spokesman-Review has made headway, but not yet enough to be widely embraced by the city’s black community. “The S-R is like a guy whose wife caught him with somebody else,” he says. “It’s going to take a long time to win trust.”

Written by Arroyoribera

February 20, 2008 at 9:26 pm

Posted in Commentary, Media, Racism

Spokane Law Enforcement harassment of Romani-Americans

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1986 — (quote) The Spokane Police Department’s Gypsy File, a document half an inch thick, has determined that crime constitutes our very culture: “scams, theft and confrontations with law enforcement officials is a way of life with Gypsies” (dated 1986, on page 9). (end quote) http://radoc.net/radoc.php?doc=art_f_bias_profiling&lang=en&articles=true

[Recently, as they harassed a Hispanic woman in the Spokane Valley, Spokane Vally Police and Spokane Sheriff’s Deputies referred to an Asian-American fast gas owner on Broadway in the Spokane Valley as a “Gypsy” and a “Hindu”. Police racism in the Spokane area is an undeniable fact, verifiable simply by speaking with members of minority communities in the area].

Written by Arroyoribera

February 17, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Police, Racism

Zero Diversity in Spokane’s Major Law Firms

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The Washington State Bar Association publication Law and Politics (June/July 2003) ran an article entitled “Gaining and Retaining Diversity: How well do law firms keep their promise of a diverse environment?” by Paul Freeman.

The article and graphic were based on a survey of Washington State law firms conducted by the Washington State Latina/o Bar Association, the Loren Miller Bar Association, and the Asian Bar Association of Washington.

Several law firms did not respond, among them Spokane based firms Lukins & Annis, P.S. (35 attorneys); Witherspoon, Kelley, Davenport, and Toole, P.S (50 attorneys); and Paine, Hamblen, Coffin, Brooke & Miller, LLC (55 attorneys).

It is not difficult to see why these firms would not have responded to the survey.

A look 5 years later at the websites for these large Spokane-based law firms shows that they have no attorneys of non-European ethnicity whatsoever. (On the WKDT and PHCBM websites you will have to click on the names of the individual attorneys.)

And this despite the presence of a well-known Jesuit law school — Gonzaga — in Spokane.

This non-diverse reality is reflected throughout the Spokane professional, political, educational, and arts communities. While more than one in ten residents of Spokane is of a diverse ethnic background, that reality is not seen in the offices of government, medicine, law, business, education, social work, religion, or virtually anything else in this community.

The consequences in the application of justice are seen in on the streets and in the court room as recently seen in a well-publicized Spokane court case revealing blatantly racist statements by Spokane jurors regarding an attorney of Asian heritage.

The consequences in the emergency room and in doctors’ offices are experienced on a daily basis by patients who do not receive language appropriate services required under the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and other provisions of law. In Spokane these failures to comply with the law happen on a daily and flagrant basis. As a result, adverse outcomes and deaths have occurred), conditions have been misdiagnosed, and much humiliation and abuse has been suffered (as in the death of 9-year-old Rocio Rodriguez, for example.)

The consequences in the class room are that non-English speaking students do not receive notice of extracurricular and enrichment activities and access to musical instruments in their parents’ languages and thus talented and worthy children are excluded from participation. Beyond that, the larger community and society is denied the fruits of their talents and abilities.

Given that most, if not all, of these matters of access, equity, and justice must be adjudicated in the final instance through the legal system, the lack of diversity in the Spokane legal profession, from law school, to law practice, to public service law agencies, to court room has long-lasting repercussions on the lives of people in Spokane and raises fundamental questions of access to justice which should be matters of major concern for everyone involved in civil rights in Spokane and the betterment of our minority communities.

The time for change in Spokane is long since past. Why has change not come?

Could the answer be “entrenched racism”?

*******************************

Spokane County Bar Association diversity page

Written by Arroyoribera

February 10, 2008 at 11:21 am