2018-APR/MAY : Recent U.S. events
-- pro and con -- related to Racism:
Racism involves thoughts, statements, or actions that discriminate against a person or group, because of their perceived race.
2018: This year is the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission:
Lyndon B. Johnson (D) was the U.S. President 1963-NOV to 1969-JAN. He created the Commission in 1968 to investigate the causes of the country's racial unrest. The study identified "white racism" as the main cause, and concluded that:
"... our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white -- separate and unequal."
Their conclusion appears to have validity, because racism, and its effects, are still widespread in the U.S. today.
2018 and continuing: Mothers and infants dying due to a lack of care in the U.S. generally, and racial discrimination in particular:
The U.S. is arguably the most advanced countries in the world in terms of health care. But only those individuals who have access to this care actually benefit from it.
Horrendous examples of federal government failures are the country's:
- High maternal mortality rate (MMR): In 2015, the overall MMR was the worst rate among the world's developed countries: 26.4 deaths of mothers per 100,000 live births. This value has increased by 50% between the years 2000 and 2015. The MMR in some other developed countries' during 2015 varied from 9.2 in the UK, to 7.3 in Canada, and to 3.8 in Finland. The MMR has generally declined in these other countries over the same time interval. 9
- Large differences in infant mortality rate (IMR) exists between black and white newborns in the U.S.: 14,15 During 2014, the death rate was 10.9 deaths per 1,000 live births for black newborns, and 4.9 for white newborns -- a ratio of 2.2!
Webmaster's opinion: (bias alert):
IMHO, the high MMR is inexcusable for a country as scientifically and medically advanced as the U.S. It reflects the widespread belief that people should receive only the type of medical care that they can afford, not what they need. When it comes to health care, the Golden Rule and the criterion for personal salvation given by Jesus in the "Sheep and Goats" section of Matthew 25 appear to be ignored.
I sent an email to twelve of the largest national pro-life/anti-abortion groups in the U.S. on APR-26:
"Recent data (2011-2013) show that, for every 100,000 live births in the U.S.,
11.7 black newborns die during childbirth, while only 4.8 non-Hispanic white newborns die.
Is your group addressing this loss of life among babies?
Do you know of any pro-life group that is?
I received two responses. A dismal response, perhaps partly caused by the word "tolerance" in this website's name.
2018-APR-12: PA: An incident in a Starbucks in Philadelphia PA:
Two black men entered a Starbucks store on Sunday, sat down, and waited for a third person to join them. They asked an employee for permission to use the washroom and were refused because they had not purchased anything at the store. After a while, an employee asked the two men to leave. They refused. The police were called. They arrested the two men on suspicion of trespassing.
Part of the incident was recorded on a cell phone video which was posted on the Internet. It very quickly accumulated over eight million views by the next morning: 1
By the time that the police had arrived, the third person, Andrew Yaffe, -- a white man -- had joined the two. One of the police officers asked him whether he was "with these gentlemen." He said that he was. Referring to the police, he said:
"What did they get called for? Because there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?"
Shortly thereafter, after the two black men refused three police requests to leave Starbucks, the police handcuffed them and escorted them out of the store. They were released almost nine hours later 2 after:
- Starbucks said that they didn't want to press charges, and
- Benjamin Waxman, a spokesperson for the local Prosecutor's Office, said that there was no evidence that a crime had actually been committed.
Kevin R. Johnson, the CEO of Starbucks 2 promised to investigate the incident and to:
- "Meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology." with a goal of doing whatever we can to make things right.
- "Investigate the pertinent facts and make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again."
- "Reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling. ..."
He also commented that:
- "The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks Mission and Values. Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store." 2
On APR-14, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said that he was "heartbroken" when he heard of the incident which he feels exemplifies:
"... what racial discrimination looks like in 2018."
He asked the city Commission on Human Relations to examine Starbucks' policies and procedures:
"... including the extent of, or need for, implicit bias training for its employees."
On APR-17, the company announced its plan to close down more than 8,000 Starbucks store on MAY-29 and require its almost 175,000 employees to attend a racial-bias training course, with the goal of preventing future similar incidents. 3 They may extend this program later to the more than 14,000 Starbucks employees in Canada.
Jacey Fortin, writing for the New York Times on MAY-02, said that Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, the two black men who were arrested by police at Starbucks, reached an agreement with the city. The two will receive $1.00 each from the City of Philadelphia, and the city will invest U.S. $200,000 in a program to help young entrepreneurs. 18
Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement saying:
"I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the City in this productive manner. This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our City, pain that would’ve resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation." 18
2018-APR-16: TX: An incident in a Texas bar that was widely covered in the media:
Sometime during 2016 to early 2018, a customer at Jim's Rodeo Tavern in Fort Worth, TX, posted a sign on the bar's wall with a racial slur:
"SHUT UP NIGGERS.
RIP Theresa Kidwell 1.5.16." 5
Theresa was a white woman who liked to repeat this saying. She died in early 2016. James Emerson, the owner of the bar, said:
"It was kind of a joke. It was never indicative of anything racial."
On 2018-APR-16, Owen McGrath and Jesse Bunting, who owned other bars in the area, visited the Rodeo Tavern. McGrath later posted a photograph of the sign on Facebook, and commented:
"I need everyone to know that this is unacceptable, under any circumstances. ... I wanted to remain anonymous for my business sake, but I realized that I don’t want the business of people who find this acceptable. This is not something that can be condoned, it’s not something I’m willing to stay quiet about either. This does not represent my city." 5
The bar had a Confederate flag and an old rifle hanging beside the sign.
McGrath also mentioned that:
"As the story progressed, and as others made actions to talk to the people at Rodeo Tavern, it became really clear they didn’t see anything wrong with the sign, and removed it exclusively because the news called them. The idea that anyone thought it appropriate to memorialize someone in such a way is shocking to me."
Bunting posted a photo and added his comment on Facebook:
"So as myself and Owen Beto McGrath, we’re making our rounds today casually having a beer at a few local establishments in our area. ... We came across one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in a bar. It was unbelievable at first sight and made us take a second look to make [sure] it [was] real. For an establishment this day in age to have something like this displayed is taking a step back in time. First off I will never step foot in there again and encourage the same out of anyone else. This is down right disrespectful. ... this is totally against my beliefs. ..."[It] is racist and absolutely uncalled for and should be dealt with accordingly. ..." 6
James Emerson, the bar owner, quickly removed the sign after the photo was posted. He said that the sign was intended to be a humourous reminder of Ms. Kidwell, a frequent female customer to the bar who died in early 2016. Apparently, she used this racial slur frequently.
2018-APR-25: The Westmoreland News published a KKK recruitment flyer:
The newspaper in Westmoreland County, VA, published a story about the distribution of recruitment flyers by the Loyal White Nights of the KKK in Colonial Beach, VA. They posted a complete copy of the flyer on their front page. It said in part:
"wake up WHITE AMERICA. .... these third world savages walk all over YOUR people."
Brittlynn Powell, the newspaper editor, said that she wanted to show people that racism exists in their town. The newspaper received widespread condemnation from local readers for including the flyer. 16
2018-APR-26: The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opens:
A quotation by Maya Angelou:
"History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again."
A statement on the wall of the National Memorial:
"For the hanged and beaten.
For the shot, drowned, and burned.
For the tortured, tormented, and terrorized.
For those abandoned by the rule of law.
We will remember.
With hope because helplessness is the enemy of justice.
With courage because peace requires bravery.
With persistence because justice is a constant struggle.
With faith because we shall overcome." 17
The National Memorial and the associated Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration opened on Thursday, APR-26 in Montgomery, AL. It has been led by civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson., who said:
"Most of us have no understanding about the legacy of slavery, we have no understanding about the era of lynching. Black people were routinely pulled out of their homes and hanged, and burned, and drowned, and mutilated, and tortured, sometimes on the public square with thousands of people cheering on that torture and violence. ..."
"It’s only when we find a way to talk about these things, when we tell the truth about these things, that we can create new relationships. That’s what truth and reconciliation is about. We are constrained by the smog created by this history and to deal with that we’re going to have to clean the air. We’re going to have to talk about some things we haven’t talked about before." 17
The memorial is the result of thousands of hours of research and documentation by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) about lynchings during the 73 year interval between 1877 and 1950:
"[The number of documented] ... terror lynchings in the twelve most active lynching states in America [were]: Alabama (361), Arkansas (492), Florida (311), Georgia (589), Kentucky (168), Louisiana (549), Mississippi (654), North Carolina (123), South Carolina (185), Tennessee (233), Texas (335), and Virginia (84)."
The eight states which were next in terms of the number of lynchings were: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
Campbell Robertson, writing for the New York Times, described the facility:
"At the center is a grim cloister, a walkway with 800 weathered steel columns, all hanging from a roof. Etched on each column is the name of an American county and the people who were lynched there, most listed by name, many simply as “unknown.” The columns meet you first at eye level, like the headstones that lynching victims were rarely given. But as you walk, the floor steadily descends; by the end, the columns are all dangling above, leaving you in the position of the callous spectators in old photographs of public lynchings.
The magnitude of the killing is harrowing, all the more so when paired with the circumstances of individual lynchings, some described in brief summaries along the walk: Parks Banks, lynched in Mississippi in 1922 for carrying a photograph of a white woman; Caleb Gadly, hanged in Kentucky in 1894 for “walking behind the wife of his white employer”; Mary Turner, who after denouncing her husband’s lynching by a rampaging white mob, was hung upside down, burned, and then sliced open so that her unborn child fell to the ground."
Bryan Stevenson, the director of EJI issued a statement, saying:
"Our nation’s history of racial injustice casts a shadow across the American landscape. This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color, and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice." 7
EJI has documented 4,084 racial terror lynchings in twelve Southern states listed above between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and 1950. This total is at least 800 more than previously reported in other studies. EJI has also documented more than 300 racial terror lynchings in other states during this time period. 7
Their book, "Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror" reports that:
"The largest numbers of lynchings were found in Jefferson County, Alabama; Orange, Columbia, and Polk counties in Florida; Fulton, Early, and Brooks counties in Georgia; Caddo, Ouachita, Bossier, Iberia, and Tangipahoa parishes in Louisiana; Hinds County, Mississippi; Shelby County, Tennessee; and Anderson County, Texas." 7
The terror created by the lynchings was largely responsible for a mass migration of black people from the U.S. South to Northern cities during the 20th century. 12
One example of racism still persists in the U.S.: school segregation by race. For example, a study of schools in New York City found that 839 schools had a student population between 76% and 100% black, while only 109 schools had a racially representative student body, between 50 and 75 percent Black and Latino. 13
2018-MAY-05 & 06: Two synods of the ELCA elect Black Women as bishops:
2018: USA: On MAY-05, the South-Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -- a liberal denomination -- elected Rev. Patricia A. Davenport, to be the denomination's first female African-American bishop. The following day, the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin followed suit by electing the Rev. Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld as bishop-elect.
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton referred to the denomination as the "most white" of all of the U.S. mainline Protestant denomanations. She said:
"We claim, over and over again, what God is calling us to be is a diverse, inclusive, multicultural church. We’ve been stuck for over 30 years, and I hope this is the start of a trend where God opens our eyes to see the giftedness of people who are not of European descent." 19
Rev. Leah Schade, assistant professor of preaching and worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, KY said that:
"This is a turning point for the ELCA. It is incredibly important that, at a time when our society needs to see women of color reach the highest levels of leadership, that it’s the church where this is happening."
Luis Gutierrez posted a comment to the article in the Religion NewsService, saying:
"Good for the ELCA. In the Catholic Church, we also need women priests and women bishops. Apostolic succession is not contingent on masculinity. Religious patriarchy is a cultural tragedy that is becoming a doctrinal travesty and a pastoral disgrace." 19
Bruce Robinson, the coordinator of this web site, couldn't resist posting a comment:
"It is sad that religious denominations are so often the last institutions to rid themselves of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. They should play a leadership role to the rest of society."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Matt Stevens, "Starbucks C.E.O. Apologizes After Arrests of 2 Black Men," New York Times, 2018-APR-15, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
- "Starbucks CEO: Reprehensible outcome in Philadelphia incident," Starbucks Newsroom, undated, at: https://news.starbucks.com/
- "Starbucks to close more than 8,000 U.S. stores May 29 for racial-bias training," The Toronto Star, 2018-APR-17. at: https://www.thestar.com/
- Rachel Siegel & Alex Horton, Prescotte Stokes III, "Fort Worth bar ripped on social media for hanging a sign with a racial slur," 2018-APR-17, at: http://www.star-telegram.com/
- Jesse Bunting, Facebook posting on 2018-APR-16, at: https://www.facebook.com/
- Teri Webster, "Texas bar removes sign with ?N-word’ after customers complain on Facebook," The Blaze, 2018-APR-21, at: https://www.theblaze.com/
- "Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror," 3rd edition, LynchingAmerica, at: www.lynchingamerica.eji.org/
- "Slavery, Lynching and Racism in America Will Be Inescapable at EJI's Memorial and Museum," You Tube video, 2017-NOV-14, at: https://www.youtube.com/
- Nina Martin, "U.S. Has The Worst Rate Of Maternal Deaths In The Developed World," National Public Radio, 2017-MAR-12, at: https://www.npr.org/
- "Infant Mortality and African Americans," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017-NOV-05, at: https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/
- "Black Mothers Keep Dying After Giving Birth. Shalon Irving's Story Explains Why," National Public Radio, 2017-DEC-07, at: https://www.npr.org/
- "A Lynching Memorial Is Opening. The Country Has Never Seen Anything Like It," New York Times, 2017-APR-25, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
- Separate But Unequal: NYU Metro Center Report Examines Segregation in NYC Schools," New York University, Steinhardt, 2017-OCT-24, at: https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/
- "Healthy People 2020 Health Disparities Data Widget," Health and Human Services, 2017-JUL-25, at: https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/
- Jessica Firger, "Black and White Infant Mortality Rates Show Wide Racial Disparities Still Exist," Newsweek, 2017-JUL-03, at: http://www.newsweek.com/
- "KKK Recruitment Ad in Local Virginia Newspaper Shocks Community, Tribune Media Wire, 2018-APR-27, at: http://wnep.com/
- Jeffry Brown, "A national memorial confronts the terror of lynching," PBS News Hour, 2018-APR-27, at: https://www.pbs.org/ (Warning: This article contains disturbing images.)
- Jacey Fortin, "2 Black Men Settle With Starbucks and Philadelphia Over Arrest," New York Times, 2018-MAY-02, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
- Mark A. Kellner, "In historic votes, Lutherans elect two African-American women bishops," Religion News Service, 2018-MAY-07, at: https://religionnews.com/
How you may have arrived here:
Original posting: 2018-APR-22
Latest update: 2018-MAY-03
Author: B.A. Robinson