August 31, 2014

White and misinformed by the mainstream media

GUEST: Odell Winfield, cofounder and Director of the Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library, talks about Michael Brown and the End New Jim Crow Action Network in Poughkeepsie, Kingston and Newburgh. 

Odell and I had a wide ranging discussion about African American rights. We were quick to agree on many points: that young black men are targeted by white police forces, that killings like Michael Brown's expose the long standing racism that has become institutionalized in our society, and that generally, white people prefer not to see it. 

We went on to the role of our media in helping whites avoid the ugly truths about how society treats people of color. The lies published immediately after the murder that Michael Brown had attacked and injured the police officer were discussed. So were the video that seemed to implicate Michael Brown in a stealing incident prior to his being shot. Those images stay with white people, even though later disproven by more thorough news coverage. No evidence ever turned up that an officer had been injured, and witnesses dismissed these allegations. Supposed video images of Michael Brown shoplifting were also called into question. 

Yet whites remember these lies and are often unaware that they have been disproven. After the show, I asked a number of educated whites about the sequence of events. To a person, they still connected an attack on a police officer and a shoplifting video with Michael Brown's shooting. Amazing! They hadn't paid enough attention, preferring to apply a racial stereotype to avoid being too upset with his murder. 

The NY Times was complicit in reenforcing this stereotype. Our premier newspaper reported that Michael Brown was a pot smoke, had "problems," and was "no angel." Would a young white murder victim have been described that way? The NY Times also printed misleading stories from "sources," rather than revealing that those sources were the Ferguson police.

African Americans, Odell informed me, don't get their news from The NY Times. We talked about other sources, like the Hudson Valley Press. Check them out if you are white and misinformed by the mainstream media:

August 26, 2014

Who will be reading such a history book?

Guest: Amith Gupta, Palestinian rights activist and recent graduate of Bard College, talks about his work in the Rashidieh Refugee camp in Southern Lebanon.

Amith spent four years at Bard, and worked with local Palestinian rights groups to hold rallies and bring in speakers. It was gratifying to see that he hadn't left his activism at college. 

His work at the Rashidieh camp helped me understand the the plight of Palestinians who are not directly under the boot of Israeli occupiers. In a sense, they have simply traded one set of guards for another. Isolated from the Lebanese community, they face a dismal future of unemployment and discrimination. Again, one is forced to think of our own native peoples, leading broken lives in squalid reservations. That is the fate that the US and Israel have chosen for the Palestinian people. And an international conspiracy of silence enables these war crimes to be committed. 

When the US empire falls, history books will tally up the millions killed by American imperialism. Israel will have its place too, with its deadly mix of religion, and racism. This apartheid state will personify the insanity of greed and violence that characterized the late empire.   

Who will be reading such a history book?