PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “James Baldwin and the Meaning of Whiteness” / truthdig / Chris Hedges / 02.19.2017 ☮

james_baldwin_37_allan_warren_590Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro” is one of the finest documentaries I have ever seen—I would have stayed in the theater in New York to see the film again if the next showing had not been sold out. The newly released film powerfully illustrates, through James Baldwin’s prophetic work, that the insanity now gripping the United States is an inevitable consequence of white Americans’ steadfast failure to confront where they came from, who they are and the lies and myths they use to mask past and present crimes. Baldwin’s only equal as a 20th century essayist is George Orwell. If you have not read Baldwin you probably do not fully understand America. Especially now.

To see a trailer for “I Am Not Your Negro,” click here. Click here for a longer version.

History “is not the past,” the film quotes Baldwin as saying. “History is the present. We carry our history with us. To think otherwise is criminal.”

The script is taken from Baldwin’s notes, essays, interviews and letters, with some of the words delivered in Baldwin’s voice from audio recordings and televised footage, some of them in readings by actor Samuel L. Jackson. But it is not, finally, the poetry and lyricism of Baldwin that make the film so moving. It is Peck’s understanding of the core of Baldwin’s message to the white race, a message that is vital to grasp as we struggle with an overt racist as president, mass incarceration, poverty gripping half the country and militarized police murdering unarmed black men and women in the streets of our cities.

Whiteness is a dangerous concept. It is not about skin color. It is not even about race. It is about the willful blindness used to justify white supremacy. It is about using moral rhetoric to defend exploitation, racism, mass murder, reigns of terror and the crimes of empire.

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PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “The Soldiers of Odin: Inside Canada’s Extremist Vigilante Group” / VICE News / Ben Makuch ☮

VICE News investigates the Soldiers of Odin and their declared commitment to preserving Canadian values. Amid rising Islamophobia and violence in Canada, reporter Ben Makuch explores the blurry line between nationalist pride and racist rhetoric.

RURAL, WHITE, CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM: “On Rural America: Understanding Isn’t the Problem” / Forsetti’s Justice / MUST READ ☮

White Christian Fundamentalism

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides-”Democrats failed to understand white, working class, fly-over America.”  Trump supports are saying this.  Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this.  Even  some Democratic leaders are saying this.  It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to throw attention away from the real problem.  The real problem isn’t east coast elites don’t understand or care about rural America.  The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out.  They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because the don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural, Christian, white America.  You’d be hard-pressed to find an area in the country that has a higher percentage of Christians or whites.  I spent most of the first twenty-four years of my life deeply embedded in this culture.  I religiously (*pun intended) their Christian services.  I worked off and on, on their rural farms.  I dated their calico skirted daughters.  I camped, hunted, and fished with their sons.  I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop.  I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epitaphs that were said more out of ignorance than animosity.  I have also watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure turn into a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes, and a broken down infrastructure over the past thirty years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people.  The problem is they don’t understand themselves, the reasons for their anger/frustrations, and don’t seem to care to know why.

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POLITICAL COMMENTARY: “Who Should Lead the DNC Now?” / The Young Turks / Cenk Uygur ☮

The DNC is an abject failure in every way and needs a complete overhaul. Many progressives, including Bernie Sanders, want Rep. Keith Ellison to lead it going forward. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down.

POLITICAL COMMENTARY: “Racists Emboldened by Trump Victory” / The Young Turks / Cenk Uygur, and John Iadarola ☮

The racists are coming out of the woodwork. Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“Students at a western New York college are alarmed after they found a black doll hung in effigy on campus — and they wondered whether racial harassment will grow worse with the election of Donald Trump.

The doll hanging from a noose was discovered Wednesday in an elevator at Canisius College in Buffalo, where the student government has promised to address the incident, reported WKBW-TV.

A black student-athlete told the TV station he was considering leaving the campus, saying he’d experienced similar racist bullying since enrolling at Canisius, where 71.9 percent of students are white and 6.9 percent are black.”