Tag Archives: racism

Racism and Bigotry

I still believe we are misusing the words “racism” and “racist.”

Racism is institutional, systemic, and structural. It’s insidious and buried deep in every aspect of our society and economy. Bigotry is right out in the open.

And this isn’t whitesplaining on my part. This is what I was taught by members of the Black Panther Party and the Brown Berets in 1973. I was, along with 49 of my closest friends, required to go through about 20 hours of cultural and racial sensitivity training before being allowed to travel to Cuba with the sixth contingent of the Venceremos Brigade.

I keep bringing this up because the public now conflates racism with bigotry and, by doing so, gives people an excuse for not looking closer at how they’ve unknowingly embraced or benefited from racism, by merely pointing out their lack of anger or visible anger/hatred toward people of color. “I don’t see color,” or “I have black friends/relatives.” All that means, at the most, is you’re not a bigot. It doesn’t change the centuries of economic and social injustice deeply baked into every aspect of our society.

We need to understand the differences if we’re going to erase racism and its insidious effects.

One other thing I learned from that education, and that has been reinforced in the intervening years, is that white people need to shut the fuck up and listen to people of color when it comes to understanding their lived reality. Because of racism, you don’t know squat about their experiences. Try it. You might be surprised.


Simi Protest (cont.)

It’s only been a week since the protest and march, which this young woman spearheaded, took place here in Simi Valley. Anyone who’s interested should watch the six minute video in this article, where she explains how the march came about, as well as how City Councilperson and Mayor Pro Tem, Mike Judge, tried to dissuade Mikiiya from doing anything and publicly exposed her to danger. Simi is mos def changing.

Mikiiya Foster During Simi’s BLM Protest/March

Given the reputation Simi Valley has (which is only partly deserved) I’m of the opinion this march marked a watershed moment in the history of our little burgh. Simi Valley is one of the more politically conservative areas in California. It is the home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Geegaw Emporium, as well as the venue where the police who beat Rodney King were acquitted, sparking some of Los Angeles’s worst riots.

I know many of us have been working to bring about change here in Simi, and it’s been a bit of a slog. There are some really reactionary folk here, and they’re not shy about demonstrating their anger and hatred.

PS – A GoFundMe campaign has been initiated to help Mikiiya get through college. Here’s the link, if you’d care to donate. Any amount would be appreciated, I’m sure. I just donated.


Simi Protests

As many of my friends know, I live in Simi Valley, California. Simi is known, perhaps internationally, for two main things: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Rodney King trial. Although only one of the jurors in that trial was actually from Simi, the city has the reputation of being filled with racists, and it’s not without some basis in fact.

Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful part of the world, just northwest of the San Fernando Valley and I’ve lived here for about 25 years. When I heard that a protest was being planned to support BLM and protest racism and, specifically, the murder of George Floyd, I knew I had to be there (at least for the beginning) to lend my support. I expected 40 – 50 people. Imagine my surprise when I arrived a few minutes early to find hundreds, growing to between one and two thousand by the time the actual march started. Here’s a piece from ABC Eyewitness News’s coverage of the protest.

The young woman highlighted in the article, and her friends who helped with and supported this amazing event, did an exceptional job organizing and conducting what could have been a debacle. Going back to that element of racism here in Simi, there was a contingent of residents convinced this march would end in violence and looting; so convinced they were patrolling the streets around their neighborhoods and posting in local FB community groups that they were “locked and loaded.” It was borderline comical, made tragically unfunny by the ignorant sincerity of these mental midgets. They even tried to disrupt the march with bullhorn wielding propagandists fresh from the (here’s an oxymoron) “Republican Values Center.”

The kids are continuing to organize and, happily, I’m going along for the ride. Were it up to me, I would ask they not go back to school until the election is over in November. We’re going to need a GOTV effort like we’ve never seen before. I don’t have the energy or stamina I once had but, for the first time in my sour, long life I feel assured the torch has not only been passed, but it’s been picked up . . . by millions, it would appear.


Trevor Noah on George Floyd

Thought I would share a couple of videos from Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show (currently called “The Daily Social Distancing Show.”)

Trevor on How Things are Connected
Trevor on Looting and What Really Matters


From a Friend

This is a poem a friend of mine in Ohio posted on FB yesterday. I asked her for permission to share it, as I think it’s powerful. Hope you get out of it as much as I did.

Eric Garner & George Floyd in Heaven, Before Their Black Police Victim Grief Support Group Meeting

“Hey, man.”

“Hey.”

“Nice to meet you…Well, you know what I mean.”

“I got you.”

“Philando brought you to the meeting?”

“Yeah. You know. We both from Minnesota.”

“Yeah. It’s nice to have somebody from home you can hang with… Well, you know what I mean.”

“I got you.”

“You from New York, right?”

“Yeah.”

“You must got a ton of homies up here.”

“My daughter is up here, man.”

“Oh…yeah…that’s right.”

“Yeah, man.”

“My bad…I ain’t mean….”

“It’s all right, man. You ain’t do it.”

“It’s crazy, you know?”

“Yeah.”

“I always thought about dying, you know?”

“Yeah.”

“I always knew the time would come, and I would have to go.”

“Yup. It’s the way it is.”

“I just…I never wanted one of them to be what took me out.”

“I hear you.”

“It’s fucked up.”

“Beyond.”

“You born with the white man’s knee on your neck. You die with his knee on your neck.”

“With his stick at your throat.”

“You walk around scared of your own skin and your own bones – how Goddamn breakable they are.”

“Like you toothpicks and tissue.”

“You live a whole life and never get to fucking breathe freely.”

“And then you get here and…”

“It’s better?”

“You’re safer. No more body, no more beating.”

“But?”

“Angels ain’t omnipotent, you know? We can’t do shit but put the thought into the person’s head.”

“So we gotta do it. We gotta do it, man. We gotta get them to stand up. We gotta get them to fight for it.”

“For ‘it’?”

“Freedom. They say they want it. They gotta get off they ass then.”

(c) Michelle R. Smith 2020


Thread by @djrothkopf: “Just got this via text: “You are a retarded kike. You dont want to win 2020. You enjoy complaining about Trump.” It was accompanied by this […]”

I want . . . no, I need to share this thread. Although I have been an atheist for most of my adult life, I was born a Jew and am bar mitzvah. I feel it is incumbent upon me to stand not only with my fellow Jews, but also with all those who suffer oppression, prejudice, and hatred. I am not a public figure, so I have not been attacked like David, but if this keeps up (and, especially, if Trump is re-elected) we can expect things to get worse, perhaps a lot worse. Don’t think it can’t happen because this is America. As David points out, America is responsible for the slaughter of our native peoples and the enslavement of Africans for centuries. Our hands are hardly clean. We need to be prepared for the worse, all while working to bring about a better world for all.


Thread by @djrothkopf: “Just got this via text: “You are a retarded kike. You dont want to win 2020. You enjoy complaining about Trump.” It w by this and other anti-semitic art. This is Trumpism. The instances of this & worse happening in my life […]”

Source: Thread by @djrothkopf: “Just got this via text: “You are a retarded kike. You dont want to win 2020. You enjoy complaining about Trump.” It was accompanied by this […]”


Outside Agitator

I serendipitously came across this photo a few days ago and shared it with a group that’s fighting the recall of our very first progressive Latina elected to our City Council. I shared it with them not because of the irony (which is substantial) but because the guy with the Latinos for Trump sign has shown up at our City Council meetings to agitate in favor of recalling her. I’m told he’s from Apple Valley, which is well over 100 miles from Simi Valley. There were at several other “protestors” at these meetings that are from nowhere near Simi Valley.

Morons for Stupdity

I only recently learned the Republican Party, recognizing they can’t win control of many Western States via fair elections, have taken up this tactic of recall, which they time to occur when voter turnout is historically likely to be comparatively light. One of the primary organizers of this effort is a contributor to Red State and other right-wing publications and many believe one of her goals to be self-promotion.

Simi Valley suffers from an unfortunately deserved bad reputation for racism, thanks to the Rodney King trial which, if unfamiliar to you, you should Google. When I first retired from Rocketdyne, in 2010, I did some research on Simi. At the time, a Google search turned up essentially three things the city is known for: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the worst nuclear reactor meltdown (at SSFL) in U.S. history, and the Rodney King trial. The trial was the most frequently appearing result of the three.

I tried to get some of the city’s leaders to support doing something about it via targeted blogging and social media campaigns, but they didn’t understand what I was getting at, and they weren’t really interested. Now they’re doubling down on their deep animosity for anyone who doesn’t buckle under to the weight of their limited vision.

Simi Valley’s leadership is, for the most part, highly conservative. I would label them reactionary. I’m told they’re corrupt as well, though I haven’t enough knowledge to make a judgment call on that issue. I will, however, be well-educated on it soon. Stay tuned.


Black Then | The First Massive African American Protest in U.S. History Was Led By Children Marching Against Lynching In The Silent Protest Parade

It is clear to me that racism in America will not go away if white people do not stand up and denounce it as the destructive force it is. In order to do so respectfully and honestly, white people need to listen to the voices of people of color. Only by listening to their authentic voices; to their stories and their life experiences, can we even begin to understand how racism affects their lives and why it needs to stop if we’re to progress as a race . . . a human race, that is. Here’s an interesting story that was shared with me on Facebook. Though I would share it here as well.


First Massive African American Protest in American History (July 28, 1917) were children in New York City participating in the Silent Protest Parade against the East St. Louis Riots. Between 8,000 and 10,000 African-Americans marched against lynching and anti-black violence in a protest. The march was precipitated by the East St. Louis Riot of May and July of that year, which was an outbreak of labor and race-related violence that caused up to 200 deaths and extensive property damage. The Parade was organized by famous civil rights activist and first African-American to earn a doctorate (from Harvard University) W. E. B. Du Bois and the NAACP. The protesters hoped to influence President Woodrow Wilson to carry through on his election promises to African-American voters to implement anti-lynching legislation and to promote black cases; to the great horror of civil rights activists across the country, Wilson repudiated his promises, and federal discrimination actually increased during his presidency. It was the first parade of its kind in New York and the second public civil rights demonstration of African-Americans.

The paraders assembled at Fifty-ninth Street and Fifth Avenue and marched thirty-six blocks downtown to Madison Square Park. They were led by about 800 children, some no older than six, dressed entirely in white. Following the children were white-clad women, then rows of men dressed in black. The marchers walked wordlessly to the sound of muffled drumbeats. Despite their silence, their concerns were articulated on neatly stenciled banners and signs.

The banners and signs read: “MOTHER, DO LYNCHERS GO TO HEAVEN?; “GIVE ME A CHANCE TO LIVE”; “TREAT US SO THAT WE MAY LOVE OUR COUNTRY”; “MR. PRESIDENT, WHY NOT MAKE AMERICA SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY?; AND “YOUR HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD.”

Source: Black Then | The First Massive African American Protest in U.S. History Was Led By Children Marching Against Lynching In The Silent Protest Parade


The Anger of the White Male Lie – Ijeoma Oluo – Medium

If we’re ever to truly deal with the legacy of racism in American, white people—especially white men—are going to have to step out of their comfort zone and learn a little more about history and the trappings of power, which lie at the root of our racist past . . . and present. One of the best ways to do this is to listen to Black people; listen to their stories; listen to their description of how the world works, because it doesn’t work the same for them as it does for us white folk. It just doesn’t, and it really needs to for all of us to enjoy peace and a modicum of safety and security. This Medium essay is a wonderful example of a piece from which we can glean some incredibly important lessons. Check it out . . .



White men who shoot up schools and workplaces are not murderous monsters, or mindless thugs. They are “lovesick” or “misunderstood” or “tragic.” Hundreds of thousands of words are dedicated to finding the reasons why someone with so much promise could have fallen so far.

But how much promise was there really?

How much promise is there in a life where you are told that all you have to do is exist in order to inherit a kingdom. How much promise is there in a life where your mediocrity is constantly applauded and every hero looks like you and every love interest is a supermodel, but at the end of the day you will be working in a cubicle with everyone else and your only consolation is that you will be making $1.50 an hour more than the women and people of color in your office?

Source: The Anger of the White Male Lie – Ijeoma Oluo – Medium


We’re Not What We Think We Are!

Don’t know if this will show up on the page, but I’m trying it. I want to share this sentiment posted to Instagram by Colin Kaepernick. I have seen it before and I believe it’s narrated by James Baldwin, but I may be wrong. Regardless, this is something all of us must keep in mind. Our country is not exactly the righteous, benevolent State we’ve been propagandized into believing it is. Please don’t forget what’s been done in our name.


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