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April 9, 2015 33

North Charleston Shooting Provokes Virulently Racist Reactions

This arti­cle includes explicit and offen­sive mate­r­ial. It high­lights part of ADL’s ongo­ing efforts to track and expose the ugly reac­tions and responses of white suprema­cists and extrem­ists to the high-profile police shoot­ing inci­dents across the United States in 2014–15.

north-charleston-posting

Com­ment from Stormfront

Michael Slager, a North Charleston, South Car­olina, police offi­cer, has been charged with mur­der after a wit­ness turned in cell­phone video of the April 4 shoot­ing death of Wal­ter Scott. The video showed Slager, a white offi­cer, shoot­ing Scott, an African-American, mul­ti­ple times in the back as Scott appar­ently fled from a traf­fic stop situation.

The graphic footage evoked strong pub­lic reac­tions at a time when police shoot­ings of unarmed African-Americans have been brought into the national spot­light. Police Chief Eddie Drig­gers spoke for many view­ers when he said, “I was sick­ened by what I saw.”

Not every­body had that reaction.

Among racists and white suprema­cists, the video pro­voked an entirely dif­fer­ent set of con­ver­sa­tions, dom­i­nated by vir­u­lently racist responses. “This cop should be applauded for tak­ing a future rapist, thief, drug dealer, nig­ger off the street,” posted American_Fascist to the dis­cus­sion site red­dit. “I like this cop’s style,” wrote Pungspark on the white suprema­cist Daily Stormer site. “Too bad [he] didn’t make sure there were no witnesses.”

Some white suprema­cists agreed, even if reluc­tantly, that the offi­cer might have com­mit­ted mur­der. “It appears that the pig did unjustly kill the jig,” allowed Joe from OH on the white suprema­cist Van­guard News Net­work (VNN) forum.

Oth­ers defended the officer’s actions, claim­ing that Scott had taken Slager’s Taser. “If a perp gets your taser, you can shoot the nig­ger,” wrote an anony­mous poster to the dis­cus­sion site Zero Cen­sor­ship. Some claimed any­body who ran away from police was guilty. “Again we have a black guy run­ning from the police which in my opin­ion is the action of guilt,” stated Scorpion4444 on the white suprema­cist forum Storm­front. On the same site, Ten­niel wrote, “It used to be that if a sus­pect ran from the cop, he was con­firm­ing his guilt…If white men still had power, that’s the way it would be.”

How­ever, many posts openly applauded the shoot­ing. “Per­son­ally, I don’t care how unjus­ti­fied the ‘mur­der’ was,” wrote Hellen on VNN. “It’s a jig, it would have gone to rape and kill numer­ous peo­ple, that’s what they do. That offi­cer pre­vented many future crimes.”

310tournad posted to Storm­front that “after bear­ing wit­ness to the never end­ing stream…of blacks rap­ing, rob­bing, mur­der­ing, riot­ing, and prey­ing on…innocent whites, I couldn’t care less about this negro.” Poster dkr77 wrote on the same site, “I say good rid­dance. Just think of the money that cop saved the tax payer.” Honor Sword wrote, “One less negro run­ning the streets.”

Some responses actu­ally attacked the offi­cer. “Typ­i­cal left­ist union thug behav­ior” was how one anony­mous Zero Cen­sor­ship poster referred to Slager’s actions. Joe from OH had a sim­i­lar reac­tion, using an epi­thet white suprema­cists reserve for police offi­cers: “Another gut­less blue nig­ger. Mur­der­ous pub­lic union thug.” Angl0sax0nknight wrote on Storm­front that “I don’t care what took place before…the cow­ardly pig shoots him in the back. Remem­ber more whites are killed by cops [than] blacks…This pig should fry!”

Many posters antic­i­pated demon­stra­tions and protests in response to the shoot­ings, some attribut­ing them to Jew­ish con­trol of the media, as did beast9 on Storm­front: “And yet the hooked nose kikes always leave out the race of the blacks killing and rap­ing peo­ple. The media jews want a race war.”

Com­mon were responses that included the cur­rently pop­u­lar racist memes “chim­pout” and “dindu nuffins.” “Chim­pout” is a racist term to describe protests from the African-American com­mu­nity in response to recent police shoot­ings. “Whether or not they have a cat[egory] 3 chim­pout in North Charleston,” wrote poster MLK_gibsmedatdream to red­dit, “the media is going to be replay­ing this for many months.”

“Dindu nuffins” is a term that orig­i­nated in 2014 in response the shoot­ing of Michael Brown in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri. It began as a hate-filled mock­ery of rel­a­tives of shoot­ing vic­tims who claimed that the vic­tims had done no wrong (as in “he didn’t do any­thing”), then evolved into a racial epi­thet for African-Americans, some­times short­ened fur­ther to “din­dus.” Storm­fron­ter WhiteWarrior79 lam­basted Chief Drig­gers, “who almost cried when talk­ing about the poor dindu nuf­fin negro,” while fel­low Storm­fron­ter SPYDERx13 asked, “When do the Din-do’s start riot­ing, ummm, protesting?”

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March 16, 2015 2

To Confront Racism, We Must Also Look In the Mirror

teenagers debateLast week, dis­turb­ing video emerged of fra­ter­nity broth­ers from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) chap­ter at the Uni­ver­sity of Okla­homa laugh­ing while singing a racist chant: “There will never be a ni**** SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me. There will never be a ni**** SAE.”

The news comes on the heels of the recent find­ings from a Depart­ment of Jus­tice inves­ti­ga­tion in Fer­gu­son, MO which, among other things, revealed a deeply trou­bling series of racist emails by Fer­gu­son offi­cials. One email, for exam­ple, in Novem­ber 2008 pre­dicted that Pres­i­dent Obama would not be pres­i­dent much longer because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”

With few excep­tions, peo­ple have denounced these inci­dents as racist. Imme­di­ately after the news broke, the pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­sity of Okla­homa con­demned the stu­dents’ behav­ior and sev­ered all ties between the uni­ver­sity and the local SAE chap­ter.  At the same time, the national SAE head­quar­ters shut down the local chap­ter. Ferguson’s munic­i­pal court clerk was fired and the chief of police and two police offi­cers resigned after the DOJ report was released.

It is cer­tainly appro­pri­ate to con­demn this racism and teach peo­ple to chal­lenge biased lan­guage, but it is not enough.  Today, thank­fully, such overt racism is much less com­mon than in the past.  Still, there is an under­cur­rent of much sub­tler, more deeply buried bias that still flows through Amer­ica.  While fewer and fewer Amer­i­cans would use overt offen­sive, deroga­tory terms, many of us—consciously or not—have implicit biases (uncon­scious atti­tudes, stereo­types or unin­ten­tional actions that we direct at a mem­ber of a group sim­ply because of that person’s mem­ber­ship in that group).

The implicit biases embed­ded in, for exam­ple, the racial dis­par­i­ties in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem or the seg­re­gated nature of the col­lege fra­ter­nity sys­tem, can be as or more harm­ful than this hate­ful and deroga­tory language.

From a very early age we learn to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between things that are the same and things that are dif­fer­ent: one of these things is not like the other one.  Sci­ence shows that we make the same snap judg­ments about other peo­ple, using what we know and what we assume to cat­e­go­rize things. While that gives us impor­tant tools in mak­ing sense of the world, when paired with soci­etal biases and stereo­types it can become harm­ful. As a result of sub­tle mes­sages through­out soci­ety, most people—whether or not they intend it, and often when they expressly do not—have some implicit biases.

Stud­ies have found, for exam­ple, that doc­tors are more likely to pre­scribe pain med­ica­tion for white patients with a bro­ken leg than African Amer­i­can or Latino patients. Law firm part­ners, when asked to eval­u­ate a memo writ­ten by a hypo­thet­i­cal asso­ciate, scored the memo lower and found more mis­takes when they were told it had been writ­ten by an African Amer­i­can.  Another study found that, in order to get a call for an inter­view, appli­cants with typ­i­cally black names (such as Jamal or Lak­isha) had to send out 50 per­cent more resumes.

It is easy to dis­miss the racism at SAE and in Fer­gu­son as an aber­ra­tion and some­thing we would never engage in our­selves. It is much harder to deny that we have any implicit bias, espe­cially if you take the Implicit Asso­ci­a­tion Test. Because implicit bias begins at a very early age and devel­ops over the course of a life­time, there are ways we can par­ent, teach and inter­act with young peo­ple to coun­ter­act these direct and indi­rect messages:

  • Make your home, class­room and school envi­ron­ment as diverse as pos­si­ble so that from an early age, you work to coun­ter­act neg­a­tive biases. This means cre­at­ing an inclu­sive and cul­tur­ally sen­si­tive class­room with books, class­room dis­plays, bul­letin boards, hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, videos, sto­ries, text­books, etc. and make sure dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives are reflected in your class­room curriculum.
  • Affirm and reflect the dif­fer­ent aspects of iden­tity rep­re­sented in your class­room and help young peo­ple decon­struct assump­tions, stereo­types and labels they have about dif­fer­ent groups of people.
  • Teach stu­dents what overt and implicit bias are and seek their par­tic­i­pa­tion in pro-actively doing some­thing about it.

 

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March 2, 2015 3

From Selma to Ferguson: Standing Together for Justice

We_March_With_Selma

What do you know about the events in Selma, Alabama in the 1960’s? What part of that his­tory speaks to you?

This year marks the 50th anniver­sary of the march from Selma to Mont­gomery, Alabama. In the his­tory books, we know this as Bloody Sun­day, where 600 peace­ful pro­tes­tors were met with bru­tal­ity. As events unfolded, the media cap­tured pho­tos and film of what would later become the impe­tus for thou­sands to become a part of the move­ment. Dr. King and his fol­low­ers focused their cam­paign on Alabama because of the sup­pres­sion of black people’s right to vote there. They knew how impor­tant it was for the world to see the vio­lence and to have those images on its con­scious­ness. They knew that those who believed in equal­ity were not going to be able to sim­ply rest on their beliefs.

The Civil Rights Move­ment  needed action from the com­mu­nity, the nation and the gov­ern­ment and that was the moment when it was needed most.  It is hard to imag­ine the level of com­mit­ment one would need to inten­tion­ally expose one­self to phys­i­cal vio­lence, but that’s exactly what Dr. King asked of them in their fight for jus­tice and equity.  Selma is part of our shared his­tory, and there is no deny­ing that notable progress has been made.  Cur­rent events of the past year are a clear reminder, how­ever, that much work still needs to be done.

Last sum­mer, there was dis­cus­sion through­out the coun­try about Fer­gu­son being the Civil Rights Move­ment for this gen­er­a­tion. We can draw some com­par­isons to Selma, while rec­og­niz­ing that the bla­tant denial of vot­ing rights in 1960 Alabama was an extreme ver­sion of racism. Nightly, we watched as news media deliv­ered images of pro­tes­tors in Fer­gu­son who were angry and frus­trated by the tragic con­se­quences of the insti­tu­tional racism which has had a sig­nif­i­cant impact on their oppor­tu­ni­ties and liveli­hood and the community’s safety. As they had dur­ing Selma, peo­ple from across the coun­try were moti­vated to join in and become a part of some­thing big­ger than them­selves.  Fer­gu­son pro­vided that moment when peo­ple could take action in sup­port of the val­ues of jus­tice and equity we col­lec­tively hold as a nation.  Activism took on many forms, as peo­ple from diverse com­mu­ni­ties descended on Fer­gu­son to add their sup­port to the protest, sim­i­lar to the 8,000 that came to Selma on the third attempt to make their val­ues and beliefs heard.

Selma, Fer­gu­son and all the other events that have raised aware­ness to issues of injus­tice serve as step­ping stones to progress. It’s not enough for us to be con­tent with the advance­ments we’ve made; we need to con­sider how to con­tinue advo­cat­ing for insti­tu­tional change. Civil rights pio­neer, Fred­er­ick Dou­glass said “If there is no strug­gle, there is no progress. Those who pro­fess to favor free­dom, and yet depre­ci­ate agi­ta­tion, are men who want crops with­out plow­ing up the ground. They want rain with­out thun­der and light­ning. They want the ocean with­out the awful roar of its many waters. This strug­gle may be a moral one; or it may be a phys­i­cal one; or it may be both moral and phys­i­cal; but it must be a strug­gle. Power con­cedes noth­ing with­out a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Our beliefs in equity and jus­tice for all peo­ple mean we may have to be will­ing to chal­lenge the insti­tu­tions that are bet­ter served by main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo than by chal­leng­ing it.  Fifty years ago, the peo­ple of Selma faced injus­tice and decided it was time to stand up. We fol­low in their brave foot­steps.  Both Selma and Fer­gu­son pro­vide teach­able moments for edu­ca­tors to share his­tory and sto­ries, teach about bias and injus­tice and inspire stu­dents to take action to cre­ate pos­i­tive change in the world.

 

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