Racism is not a new phenomenon. After World War II, the United Nations published a document on race and racism with the goal of debunking many of the myths and misconceptions about race. While this document was published over 66 years ago, it contains facts and ideas that are very relevant to today's events.
The statement begins with a general description of human biology, specifically that "the likenesses among men are far greater than their differences" and that what we consider to be important differentiations between "races" tends to fluctuate and is ultimately arbitrary: "What is perceived is largely preconceived, so that each group arbitrarily tends to misinterpret the variability which occurs as a fundamental difference which separates that group from all others." It goes on to say that "Unfortunately, however, when most people use the term “race” they do not do so in the sense above defined. To most people, a race is any group of people whom they choose to describe as a race."
The statement concludes that there is no scientific basis for race, nor is there any academic or intellectual difference; "The biological fact of race and the myth of “race” should be distinguished, for all practical social purposes “race” is not so much a biological phenomenon as a social myth."
It challenges us to ask ourselves why we continue with these labels considering how much harm and devastation they have caused.Read More
There have been 1448 executions in the United States since 1976.
This fact sheet covers some key facts and figures about the death penalty, from which 31 states have the death penalty, to the discrepancies between races of the defendants who are executed and the race of the victims in death penalty cases. It specifically looks at racial discrepancies within the criminal justice system overall and within certain states.
In 2016 a state of emergency was declared in Flint Michigan. What then, was the problem? The timing. Preceding this flurry of “state of emergency” activity, Flint residents had been reporting heavily discolored and bad tasting water for well over a year.
This report looks at the cause of the Flint Water Crisis from a historical and racial perspective. "We believe the underlying issue is historical and systemic, dates back nearly a century, and has at its foundation race and segregation of the Flint community. These historical policies, practices, laws and norms fostered and perpetuated separation of race, wealth and opportunity."
The reports specifically looks at implicit bias, the history of segregated housing and education in Flint, and environmental justice and the emergency management laws.
It concludes: “Was race a factor in the Flint Water Crisis?” Our answer is an unreserved and undeniable - “yes”.
The report also asks the question, if, without racist intent, a systemic problem repeatedly produces different results based on people’s skin color, how long does it take before leaving the system in place is itself racism?
On MLK day 2017 Senator Sanders gave a speech recognizing the work done by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. including issues that he fought for that are still relevant to politics today.
The Senator addresses the vision that many people have of MLK and talks about some of his less well known, but still important, initiatives. "It is easy for us today in the year 2017 as the whole country celebrates Dr. King to forget that in the last few years of his life if you think that Governors and Senators and Mayors were standing up saying what a great man Dr. King was, read history because you are sorely mistaken." Senator Sanders specifically looks at Dr. Martin Luther King's commitment to poor people and protests against the Vietnam war in the last years of his life.Read More
On Saturday January 14th, 2017, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner delivered a speech in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington D.C. at National Action Network's We Will Not Be Moved rally.
She calls on the crowd to not be discouraged by the situation that they find themselves in. Rather, they should look back at where they and their ancestors have come from and gain courage from that struggle and many of the successes that have led to a better (but not yet perfect) world.
Senator Turner also mentions other groups including the LGBTQ community as well as the hispanic and latino community that are with the African American community fighting for "social, economic, and political justice." She states that: “We may mot have gotten here on the same ship but we are in the same boat right now”
Harry Belafonte has been an activist for his entire life. He grew up in Harlem surrounded by activist leaders and went on to be a critical part of the Civil Rights Movement.
This article describes his thinking about the continuation of activism and movements in the US and around the world.
Belafonte has not stopped being an activist, even with 90 years under his belt. In fact he recently led a music festival to support his charity Sankofa.org and encourage young artists to speak out about current issues. Belafonte believes that while there is an increasing number of black artists and athletes, they have a duty to speak out about the issues in the black community.
Ultimately, Belafonte will never stop being an activist and galvanizing people to speak about issues that are important to them and their communities.: "The same things needed now are the same things needed before,” he went on. “Movements don’t die because struggle doesn’t die.”Read More
In this interview, Harry Belafonte describes his reaction to the Kaepernick National Anthem Protest - where Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem in protest against the treatment of African Americans in the United States.
Belafonte states that he thinks that Kaepernick was not only right in doing it but that it was a "noble and courageous act." He states, "It takes a lot of courage to stand up in the face of that onslaught and not bend to the wind."
The backlash that Kaepernick has received due to his protest is very similar to situations that Belafonte found himself in during the height of his career. Belafonte describes that during his most successful years, "The machinery of oppression was always trying to discredit me" by attempting to portray him as a communist and anti-American.
Belafonte ends the interview by describing his disappointment that other black athletes and celebrities have not joined Kaepernick in his protest and brought to light more African American issues.Read More