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Healing the Disconnect Between Race and Science

There is a planned March fo Science on the 22nd of February. Whether that march turns into another monster like the Women’s March or barely inconvenience the subway system is really dependent on the “Scientists” making alliances with other groups. Science in particular hasn’t always been good news for black folks, who were often used and abused in horrendous scientific “experiments”. Tuskegee still resounds in the psyche of many black people, who as a result have a inborn distrust of Science.

Image result for Tuskegee syphilis experiment

Race, History and the #ScienceMarch

Donald Trump is an anti-science president. In fact, his entire raison d’être — perhaps unsurprisingly — stands at cross-purposes with the scientific method, systematic inquiry, and even the basic notion of evidentiary support. In the few days since his inauguration, Trump has already prohibited scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from speaking to the public about their research. Moreover, the White House recently expunged U.S. National Park Service (NPS) Twitter content highlighting the threat of climate change. In the wake of Trump’s dictates, concerned scientists have taken to social media to plan a protest in Washington, DC that they are dubbing the #ScienceMarch. The Twitter account associated with the action — @ScienceMarchDC — has amassed over 240,000 followers since it came online a week ago.

The #ScienceMarch has great potential to underscore the need for public policy to be grounded in scientific study. Securing widespread participation, however, will require that the organizers pull together multiple constituencies in a broad-based multi-racial and bi-partisan alliance. To be sure, the coalitional nature — and, therefore, efficacy — of this fledgling movement will be predicated on the extent to which its organizers are willing to acknowledge the racialized nature of the history of science itself. That is, the organizers must understand the manifold ways in which so-called scientific experimentation and discourse have been marshaled to ratify and propagate white supremacy and to degrade the bodies, minds, and experiences of people of color.

Whereas event organizers claim that “[science] is a not partisan issue,” history unequivocally proves otherwise. Science is and always has been a function of power and politics. The historical record is replete with examples of the ways in which scientific inquiry and experimentation have sought to naturalize and rationalize the inferiority of people of color and justify their oppression through the language of pathology, deviance, and abnormality. Further, people of color have long served as laboratories for dangerous scientific experimentation. Exposing this lurid history is the first of many steps in forcing mainstream science — often implicitly racialized as white — to confront a historical past that exerts an enduring political force over our historical present.

“Because of science,” 21-year-old Black South African Saartjie Baartman was brought to Europe under false pretenses in 1810 by physician William Dunlop and paraded around London’s Piccadilly Circus as a “theatre of human oddities” on the basis of her large buttocks and protruding vulva. For years, Baartman’s body was the object of spectacle, scientific fascination, and degradation. Dr. Dunlop and other medical professionals used her large buttocks and extended labia to claim that Black people were morphologically similar to Orangutans. When Baartman died in 1815 at the age of 26 her corpse became the property of scientist Georges Cuvier. Cuvier fabricated a plaster cast of her body before dissecting it and preserved her skeleton, brain, and genitals. Baartman’s sexual organs were displayed in a Paris museum until 1974, when activists successfully petitioned to have her remains returned to her birthplace in South Africa. Baartman’s body was not repatriated and buried until 2002.

“Because of science,” Samuel Cartwright, a New Orleans physician and Confederate loyalist, argued that high rates of physical and mental illnesses afflicting enslaved black persons were products of the ostensible biologically inferior mental capacity of the “black race.” In his 1815 “Report on the Disease and the Physical Peculiarities of the Negro Race,” Cartwright introduced what he called “Drapetomania,” known as the “Disease Causing Slaves to Run Away.” Unconvinced that enslaved Black children, women, and men might naturally seek freedom, Cartwright instead claimed that Drapetomania could be cured by “kindness.”

“Because of science,” Ota Benga, a young Congolese man, was put on display in an iron monkey cage at the Bronx Zoo in 1906. Benga was brought to the United States by Samuel Verner, a well-known white supremacist from South Carolina. Benga’s captivity — justified under the impress of scientific exploration — was sanctioned by zoological society officials, the mayor of New York City, prominent scientists, much of the public, and many major U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times. Officials at the Bronx Zoo said that “Benga, according to our information, is…closer to the anthropoid apes than the other African savages…” Four years before Benga’s exhibition, Dr. Daniel Brinton published his text The Basis of Social Relations: A Study in Ethnic Psychologywhere he first claimed that Africans were “midway between the Oranutang [sic] and the European white.”

“Because of science,” Alice Jones, who had recently married Leonard Rhinelander, a wealthy white man from Manhattan, was forced to “prove her race” in a New York court in 1924. During her trial Jones was forced to expose her naked body to an all-white, all-male jury and judge. She was made to remove various articles of clothing so the jury and judge could determine her race by examining the color of her nipples, back, and legs. The court concluded that Jones was not fully white.

“Because of science,” Dr. John Cutler, a physician with the U.S. Public Health Service, deliberately infected over 400 Guatemalan prisoners and sex workers with syphilis from 1946–1948. None of the research subjects were asked for their consent. Seventy-one subjects died during the experiments.

“Because of science,” doctors and public officials deliberately withheld syphilis treatment from hundreds of black men in Alabama as part of the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.” The experiment — conducted from 1932–1972 — resulted in hundreds of deaths. To this day, there is no evidence that researchers informed the men of the study or its real purpose.

“Because of science,” the University of Cincinnati, with the help of the Pentagon, conducted experiments on 88 cancer patients from 1960–1971 by exposing them to intense doses of radiation and recording their physical and mental responses. They endeavored to answer the following question: “In the event of a nuclear explosion, how much radiation could a soldier withstand before becoming disoriented or disabled?” According to reporting in The New York Times, “most were poor; 60 percent were black.”

“Because of science,” psychiatrists Walter Bromberg and Frank Simon diagnosed Black Power as a form of “protest psychosis” in 1968. They described it as a form of “delusional anti-whiteness.” Four years later, in “Symbolism in Protest Psychosis,” they said the disorder was “a psychotic illness with strong elements of racial hostility and black nationalism [that entails] the release of previously repressed anti-white feelings, which combine with African ideology and beliefs.” In short, “[the illness is oriented toward] reversing the white supremacy tradition or stating an objection to the accepted superiority of white values in terms of an African ideology.”

“Because of science,” over 310 HIV+ Haitian asylum seekers were detained at a Guantánamo Bay prison campfrom 1991–1993. At the time, federal law prohibited individuals with HIV from entering the United States even if they qualified for political asylum.

“Because of science,” over 60,000 women and men — the majority of whom are women of color — were involuntarily sterilized from 1907–2003 in 32 U.S. states. Black and Latina women in Puerto Rico, New York, North Carolina, and California were targeted by the U.S. government for sterilization throughout the 20th century. North Carolina involuntarily sterilized 7,600 people from 1929–1974. During that time period, 85 percent of the victims were women and 40 percent were people of color. Native American women were also subjected to coercive and involuntary population control practices throughout much of the 20th century. The Indian Health Service (IHS) began providing family planning services to Native American families in 1965. According to the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, over 25 percent of Native American women were sterilized between 1970 and 1976.

“Because of science,” nearly 150 women prisoners — most of whom are Black and Brown — were sterilized between 2006 and 2010 by doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). A May 2013 state audit reported that some of the tubal ligations in that time were done illegally without informed consent.

These histories matter.

The #ScienceMarch organizers have recently written that “people from all parts of the political spectrum should be alarmed by [Trump’s] efforts to deny scientific progress.” And they are correct. We should be alarmed. Such a claim, however, seems to leave unacknowledged the ways in which communities of color — based on the histories outlined above — might not take the unqualified promise of science at face value. To be sure, the history of science is a history of power — the power to name problems and legitimize solutions, the power to dictate political agendas, and the power to hierarchize social order. Certainly, the #ScienceMarch is an idea worthy of merit. Its success, however, will depend on acknowledging the racialized histories of science itself.

 

 

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Could You Pass the Voting “Literacy Test”?

Under the Chumph and Republicans we are headed bak to the days of Literacy tests to deny minority voting rights. The following is one such test of black voters used by Louisiana, Of course there were few schools for black children, which racists insisted played no part in being able to pass the test. Remember – one wrong answer, in the 10 minutes allotted to complete the test means you aren’t smart enough to vote… This test was sourced form the Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement site which contains a lot of information as well as historical artifacts. Go there, it is well worth a visit.

Voting Test 1

 

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Historic ‘End White Supremacy’ Sign

We need to find ways big and small to fight back, disrupt, and yes – even destroy the Chump’s government and plans every single day…

Historic ‘End White Supremacy’ Sign Reinstalled In New York City

The message, referencing a 1963 civil rights protest, is shamefully relevant today.

In 1963, a protestor scrawled the words “End White Supremacy” onto a sign and carried it during a civil rights march in New York. Over 50 years have passed and, disgracefully, the message pleading for the most essential of human rights remains just as relevant.

In 2008, digging through archival photographs, artist Sam Durant found an image of the ‘60s sign. Durant creates large-scale lightboxes featuring language culled from various protests and demonstrations throughout history, often focusing on the Civil Rights Movement and Black Panther protests. He gravitates towards words whose relevance is not bound up with any one time or event, whose message resounds regardless.

The artist scanned and cropped the sign’s language to create one such text-based artwork, which was mounted on the exterior of New York’s Paula Cooper Gallery just around the time America elected its first black president until 2009.

On Nov. 29, however, the piece was restored to the Paula Cooper Gallery facade. The sign’s return is a response to the recent election of Donald Trump, who, as a candidate, was widely accused of feeding off the racism, misogyny and xenophobia lingering on the fringes of the American psyche, giving bigotry a platform and ushering it into the mainstream.

Gallery owner Paula Cooper explained the importance of using skills and resources to fight against the normalization of hate and fear in an interview with Hyperallergic.

“We should, as spaces available and open to the public, do whatever we can to resist and overcome whatever abominations are about to confront us,” Cooper said. “How we best do that is the question.”…

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2016 in Second American Revolution

 

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Alabama County Elects 5 Black Women

A glimmer of hope

This Alabama County Just Elected 9 Black Women To Become Judges

In a great stride for representation Tuesday, nine black women were elected to become judges in majority Democratic Jefferson County, Alabama, The Birmingham Times reported.

The black women who came out on top in the district and circuit courts are all Democrats. Javan Patton, Debra Bennett Winston, Shera Craig Grant, Nakita “Niki” Perryman Blocton, Tamara Harris Johnson, Elisabeth French, Agnes Chappell, Brendette Brown Green and Annetta Verin are to be sworn in next January.

French, who was re-elected to Jefferson County’s Circuit Court, told The Birmingham Times that she believes her hard work and years of experience helped to propel her to elected office.

“I think the people don’t necessarily just support you just because of your race and gender. I think voters expect more than that. They look at our qualifications and make a decision about who they can trust with the leadership position,” she said.

Tuesday night was a big night for women of color across the states ― not just in local politics, but in federal positions, as well. Three women of color, Catherine Cortez Masto, Tammy Duckworth and Kamala Harris, were elected to the Senate. Stephanie Murphy and Pramila Jayapal were also elected to the House. Next year, there will be 38 women of color serving in Congress, bringing us a little bit closer to shattering that glass ceiling.

Also on HuffPost

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Nick Cave’s “Soundsuits” – A Response to Racial Profiling

You have to see these to believe them – they are incredible!

The why of their creation, is a much darker story.

Stunning ‘Soundsuits’ Address The Realities Of Racial Profiling In America

“The soundsuits hide gender, race, class and they force you to look at the work without judgment.”

Artist Nick Cave’s work is best described as an explosion of color, texture and noise. Born in Fulton, Missouri, in 1959, Cave is known for his soundsuits ― wearable artworks that can be displayed as still objects or incorporated into wild performances as costumery.

Drenched in electric hues and hallucinatory patterns ― and marked by their ability to produce sound when individuals like Cave don the elegant objects ― it’s easy to view the suits as whimsical ware. But, according to Cave, the suits are anything but “fun.”

“They come from a dark place,” he explains in Episode #239 of ART21. In fact, the fashion-infused sculptures originated as metaphorical suits of armor in response to the brutal treatment of Rodney King in 1992. Cave made his first suit shortly after video footage captured the unlawful beating of King at the hands of Los Angeles Police Department officers.

The suit was simple, consisting of a sheath of twigs that rustled as the wearer moved. Cave has since created around 500 subsequent suits, many more decadent than the original. Most, if not all, reflect on Cave’s identity as a black man, confronting his experiences with racial profiling and police brutality.

Cave says that his suits represent his desire to “lash out” in response to personal experiences, as well as sorrowful moments in American history. “And if I do, lashing out for me is creating this,” he explains in the video above, gesturing toward his work. “The soundsuits hide gender, race, class and they force you to look at the work without judgment.”

The “Here Hear” exhibition of Cave’s soundsuits was previously on view at Detroit’s Cranbrook Art Museum, the museum connected with the artist’s alma mater. In a previous interview with The Huffington Post, Cave described the city he once called home as vibrant and alive, but noticeably different from when he last attended school in 1989. He was, he explained to ART21, the only minority there in 1988.

The ART 21 episode above is titled “Thick Skin,” referencing Cave’s suits’ ability to serve as “an alien second skin […] allowing viewers to look without bias toward the wearer’s identity.” Referred to as “vehicles for empowerment,” the suits stand out amid the 21st century’s array of creative political work, breathing new meaning into the possibility of addressing prejudice through visual art.

 

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“Walk With Me” – How Judge Damon J. Keith Reshaped America

Judge Damon J. Keith isn’t that well known, and isn’t lauded by most historians. However his impact on Civil Rights, and the Civil Rights of all Americans is incredible. Back in 1992, when the Bush Administration dragged Uncle Tommy Clarence out from under his porch such as to fill the “Black seat” on the Supreme Court left by Thurgood Marshall – Judge Keith was one a dozen or so black Jurists whose qualification far exceeded that of Uncle Tommie.

There is a lesson in courage and determination here I hope the young folks in BLM appreciate and emulate. The way things are shaping up in this country with the Chumph and his violent racist crew…We are going to need it.

 

‘I don’t scare easily’: A 94-year-old judge’s refusal to bow to racism, death threats

Long before federal judge Damon Keith became known as a “crusader for justice,” he was a new Howard University Law School graduate working as a janitor while he studied for the bar exam.

It was 1949, and Keith cleaned the bathrooms at The Detroit News, his hometown newspaper. One day, Keith recalled, he was leaning against a wall in the men’s room with a law dictionary in his hands when he was interrupted.

“What are you reading?” a white reporter asked him.

Keith, the grandson of slaves and a World War II veteran, told the reporter he was studying the law dictionary to prepare for the bar exam.

“What for?” the man asked.

“I’m going to be a lawyer,” Keith responded.

The reporter laughed.

“A black lawyer?” he asked incredulously. “You better keep on mopping.”

Keith, now 94 and still serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Detroit, recounted that story two weeks ago in a Howard University moot courtroom, where students, lawyers, his former clerks and a Supreme Court nominee gathered to watch a new documentary about his life, “Walk with Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith.”

The following day, the legendary judge sat in the front row as President Obama and black luminaries from across the country celebrated the opening of the Smithsonian’s new African American Museum of History and Culture.

Keith, one of the oldest federal jurists in the country, has been handing down important rulings on racial discrimination, presidential power and other contentious legal issues for nearly 50 years. And he shows no signs of retiring. He’s at his chambers each day by 9 a.m., where the first thing he does is read his Bible, he said. He works until about 5:30 pm.

Last month he issued a scathing 38-page dissent in an Ohio voting rights case, accusing two colleagues on the 6th Circuit Court of turning their backs on African American voters likely to be impacted by restrictions on early and absentee voting. He included photos and biographies of 36 people who died during the long struggle for civil rights and equal protection, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Emmett Till.

“By denying the most vulnerable the right to vote,” he wrote, “the Majority shuts minorities out of our political process. Rather than honor the men and women whose murdered lives opened the doors of our democracy and secured our right to vote, the Majority has abandoned this court’s standard of review in order to conceal the votes of the most defenseless behind the dangerous veneers of factual findings lacking support and legal standards lacking precedent.”

He also warned: “The unfettered right to vote is the bedrock of a free and democratic society—without it, such a society cannot stand.”

Then he created even more of a stir by giving an interview to Slate lamenting “the racist attitude of the majority” and mentioning his two colleagues on the panel, John Rogers and Danny Boggs.

He doesn’t apologize for calling them out by name.

“I thought the panel’s decision was racist,” he told The Post. He noted that his grandparents couldn’t vote in Georgia. His fellow judges, he said, “don’t know what we’ve gone through. They don’t know what I’ve gone through.”

Keith learned the power of the law — and of dissent — when he was student at Howard, where future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was one of his professors…Read the rest Here

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter, Giant Negros

 

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Roland Martin Takes Bill O’Reilly to School on Black Patriotism

This is fun!

 

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Black History, Faux News, The Definition of Racism

 

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