Racism by the White Left: My Reply to Ken Krayeske

This column appears in the May 15 – 22 edition of the Hartford News…
Community Update: Tuesday Black transgender teen Jane Doe was relocated to another part of York Correctional Institution in East Lyme. http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20140513/transgender-teen-relocated-within-connecticut-jail  Last week the CT Senate Democrats failed to act on a juvenile justice reform bill for the second year in a row, despite warnings from the U.S. Supreme Court to provide juveniles serving life sentences a shot at parole. http://ctmirror.org/senate-democrats-duck-sentencing-reforms-for-juveniles/  The connection between these two issues is obvious; the school-to-prison pipeline is real. The Democrats’ gutless decision will mostly impact Blacks and Latinos, who are disproportionately incarcerated in this state. Intervention by the courts will now be necessary to change the law. The Department of Children and Families is now resorting to shell games in the face of public pressure. This Black child is still in jail, even though she has not been charged with a crime. Last week Democracy Now! examined the role of race in this case. http://www.democracynow.org/2014/5/8/after_abuse_under_state_supervision_transgender  Cornell Lewis and I will talk to activist Erkki KochKetola about drafting legislation that will prohibit DCF from sending one of their clients to a correctional institution. If DCF has a client whom they feel they can’t handle, that youth should be sent to a treatment facility, where their behavior issues can be addressed clinically. Stay tuned for updates.
 
Check out the Community Party’s No Sellout blog, https://hendu39.wordpress.com/  Cornell’s DCF Plantation site, http://dcfplantation.blogspot.com/  and Northend Agent’s http://www.northendagents.com/category/opinion/  for my internet response to Ken Krayeske’s May 8 – 15 column, Rebuttal to David Samuels. As Jay-Z said, “Sensitive thugs, y’all all need hugs…” The truth hurts. Now let’s all see how Krayeske explains to his loyal readers why he went after me, but didn’t say one word about the two Hart Monitor columns by Joanna Iovino and Cornell that I referred to in my piece on racism by the white left. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/political-roundup-penn-act-city-budget-race-for-governor-free-jane-doe/  Joanna and Cornell said the same thing as I did. Krayeske had two legitimate options; a) respond to all three columns  b) say nothing. Krayeske chose c, as in coward…  We’ll share both columns in their entirety this week.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etvNHZx_Bb4 The Community Party passed a racial profiling bill in 2012. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/2012-cnn-report-on-the-community-partys-racial-profiling-bill/ Krayeske is an attorney. He could easily do what we do, which is sit down, draft a bill (which would actually be easier for him) and do the hard work that it takes to pass the legislation. However he’s not going to do that because he’s too busy talking, and talking, and talking, and talking…. Big shout out to Mary Sanders, who wrote the Trayvon Martin Act bill language. Check out our Resources section for the link to Joanna’s Hart Monitor Twitter page.
 
 
                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                  *****
 
 

                                                                                   Occupy this, b——!

 
 
Disclaimer: I wrote this article in October, when the Occupy movement first came to Hartford. It was written for an audience that was mostly non-Hartford people, which is why some of the info in it seems kind of like Hartford 101. It was originally posted on a blog that deals with racial justice issues, and received quite a bit of feedback. The site it was on is a HUGE supporter of OWS, and so most of it was negative. However, I stand by my assessment of the movement in general. I have since visited the OH site, and have met some people who were willing to dialogue about racism and privilege, but have also come across just as many, if not more, who refuse to even consider that there is racism within their movement. I have been accused of trying to bring “special interests” into the movement, of trying to “make people feel guilty” and of being an interloper. The more I observe, the more I realize that there is no hope for the movement until people are willing to address race, and admit their own complicity in a racist system. And, damn it, if I am making people feel guilty, maybe they should!!! Fighting for justice should not always be “comfortable”!
I am so damn sick and tired of Occupy Wall Street. Every so called “progressive” I know of is riding the #OWS d— like it is going out of style. Me? I can’t stand the s—. For the most part, I see most of the protests that have been inspired by Occupy Wall Street to be strictly the work of some spoiled little (previously) rich brats who can’t handle the fact that the college education that mommy and daddy paid for did not get them the high paid cushy job that they truly believe they deserve. I would be willing to bet that less than 1/4 of those who are running around with signs about being the 99% would not give a F— about economic injustice if they were not directly impacted by it in the present moment. And I bet in five years, most of them will be sitting in some multinational corporation’s headquarters shaking their heads and chuckling about the days when they were a “radical”.
 
Can someone explain to me where the hell these little towheaded recent college graduates were for all those years when there WAS no recession and it was only Black and Brown people who were getting the booty end of the stick when it came to economic justice? Oh, yeah…. they were spending thousands of their parents dollars on a college education while spending their weekends getting drunk at the frat house and never even giving a second thought to how the folks who were not born into a upper middle class suburban white bred world were busy struggling to get by. Now all of a sudden, they want to play the victims and cry about how we are ALL the 99%….
 
Sorry folks, but I cannot see a protest movement that is composed of the top 10% OF the bottom 99% as having much legitimacy at all. Take for example, Hartford. I have been living here for 6 months now. Hartford is one of the poorest cities in the nation, with a poverty rate of well over 30%. Hartford is full of Black and Brown people whose resumes do not even get a second glance when they apply for jobs in their very own city. The same companies that refuse to hire Hartford residents run out to the suburbs to hire people who run as quickly as they can out of the city when their work hours are over. I see it every day. I live in a neighborhood that is 90% POC. Each evening at 5pm, I see all of the white folks from the suburbs rushing to their cars, clutching their purses and nervously glancing around them like they are expecting an ambush.
 
The mayor of Hartford is constantly holding these meetings where he discusses “revitalizing” the city, and attracting new people to the downtown area. Of course, in a city that is only 17% white, guess where most of those white folks live??? If you guessed downtown, you get a cookie. Every time I hear some government official talk about downtown Hartford, and of the need to attract new residents and businesses to the area, it is obvious that they are using a really weak code to say… “We want more white folks!”
 
Anyway, getting back to Occupy Wall Street. There is an “Occupy Hartford” movement underway. There is a tiny little park in Hartford where the Occupy Hartford people have pitched their $1000 tents and have been “occupying” the city for the past few weeks. Occasionally, the protesters will march through downtown Hartford chanting their lame little slogans. They are actually pretty funny… The protesters, who are about 90% white and hail from the suburban areas, are marching down Main Street chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” even though they just arrived in town from the lily white surrounding towns a few hours earlier. And, oh the irony of a predominantly white crowd walking through Hartford, a majority minority city, screaming “This is what democracy looks like!” while pointing to themselves.
 
And I have heard it is like this in almost all of the “occupied” cities. A bunch of white folks who are no longer quite as advantaged as they are used to being claiming to speak up for the 99% while representing only the top 10%. And of course, the Occupy Wall Street protestors are very quick to put down anyone who dares to express the idea that the movement represents a very white, patriarchal agenda. Check out the experiences of Reena Walker, a Black woman who spoke about what she went through at Occupy Wall Street (see Resources). Adding to my disdain for the Occupy Wall Street movement is the fact that all of a sudden, they want to profess support for issues that have impacted Black and Latino communities for years yet garnered nary a second glance from these middle class white protesters. All of a sudden, the Occupy Wall Street protesters want to express support for a movement to stop the NYPD policy of “stopping and frisking” Black and Latino people on the streets for no reason whatsoever. Where were these people a year ago, or ten years ago? Why is it that NOW they are willing to throw their hats in the ring to “express solidarity” with Black and Latino people? Could it be that they have HEARD the criticisms of Occupy Wall Street leaving out people of color? Seems to me that this sudden show of support has more to do with recruiting some token Black and Latino faces for their movement than with actually supporting the movement against this police policy.
 
When I spoke with an organizer of the Occupy Hartford movement, I saw this type of thing very clearly. There have been protests against the MDC (the company that manages the water and sewage systems in the city) for about two months now. Minority contractors and Black and Latino citizens have been protesting the fact that the MDC has not been hiring enough minority workers, and is giving jobs to people from out of town and even out of state instead of hiring Hartford residents. The entire group for the earlier protests were Black and Latino. All of a sudden, when the white folks of Occupy Hartford decided to start their protest, they wanted to run down to join in the MDC protest to “show solidarity”. In truth, they were on a mission to recruit some Black and Brown faces they could put in front of the news cameras so that they could pretend to be reflective of the community of Hartford. The organizer I spoke to expressed his desire for the protests to “look like” the city of Hartford, and even tried to use an event that we were working on in the North End of Hartford (which is almost entirely Black) as a recruiting tool for Occupy Hartford. When we were attempting to plan a voter’s education forum for formerly incarcerated people in the North End of Hartford, this man had the nerve to talk endlessly about his role in Occupy Hartford and express his desire to use our event to publicize his.
 
Add to all of this the fact that often, the rhetoric used by protesters involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement is patently offensive and racist, and the only conclusion I can come to is that Occupy Wall Street is just as lily white and racist as the Tea Party. Except, of course, not quite as blatant. So, no, I will not be joining in the mindless adulation shown in progressive circles towards Occupy Wall Street. I have better things to do with my time than join up with some folks who are upset because a tiny percentage of their privilege is slipping away.
 
                                                                      
 
                                                                Do White Liberals Really Want to Work with Blacks?
                                                                                        
                                                                                               by Cornell Lewis
 
I have worked with a number of ethnic groups in the pursuit of social justice. However it is interesting to note how some white liberals cause me to wonder if working with them is worth it. I address this story to some members of the Hartford Organizing Group (H.O.G.) Recently Cassandra Donnelly and Joanna Iovino, members of H.O.G., helped organize a campaign to highlight racism within DCF and Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown. These are two ladies worthy of the name activist but they are the exception; when members of H.O.G. were asked to join a protest on February 4th in Middletown, a strange silence fell over the room, no one committed to come.
 
One white female liberal said, “I have worked with Cornell in the past, he does good work but I do not want to be told what to do.” These are code words for “if whites are not in control of the agenda, they do not want to be part of any initiative.” These same white liberals turned out 35-40 strong in support of an issue concerning Latinos. These liberals were marching in West Hartford for Latinos, could it be the liberals chose this issue due to the fact that very little English was spoken by the Latinos and this gave white liberals control of the agenda? Whether Blacks want to believe it or not, some white liberals are guilty of subconscious racism; claiming to be ABOVE racism while their actions prove otherwise. Maybe the writer James Baldwin was correct in saying, “a (white) liberal is someone who thinks they know more about your problem than you do.”
 
 
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Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin Act and Safe Work Environment Act. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1  Check out CP’s No Sellout blog for the archive of our Hartford News columns. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com                        
 
Resources
 
Richard Pryor breaks it down in 24 seconds:
 
 
The Hart Monitor Twitter page:  
 
 
Reena Walker talks about racism within the Occupy Wall Street movement:
 
 
 
Cornell Lewis Legal Defense Fund:
 
 
 
 
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
                                                                     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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