Category: the politics of race

Challenging the New Jim Crow, Part 3

By Alan Bean

This is the third excerpt from a speech delivered on the campus of the University of Chicago.  Part one can be found here two can be found here.

The New Jim Crow comes to Jena, Louisiana

In 1991, the same year Larry Stewart was elected Sheriff of Swisher County, Texas,  J. Reed Walters became District Attorney of LaSalle Parish in north central Louisiana, winning 52% of the vote.  David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon who ran for governor that year, carried 70% of the vote in the parish, his best showing in Louisiana.  Since the LaSalle Parish electorate is 86% white, this suggests that an unapologetic racist won over 80% of the white vote that year. 

In 2008, 85.5% of LaSalle Parish voters supported John McCain; a likely indication that Barack Obama received zero support from white voters. 

When Reed Walters passed his bar exams in 1980, Speedy O. Long was still District Attorney.  Long took the young attorney under his wing and taught him the ropes.  When Speedy went to his reward in 2005, Reed Walters called him a friend and mentor. (more…)

Goodwyn: The price of speaking out

Wade Goodwyn

Wade Goodwyn’s “Reporter’s Notebook” on the NPR site deals with a curious encounter with the black principal of Clarksville High School.  I urge you to give Wade’s account your careful attention because it highlights a tension that exists within the African American community, especially in small southern towns where it is incumbent upon black professionals to remain in the good graces of the white establishment.  I could relate similar stories from my work in places like Tulia and Hearne, Texas; Jena and Church Point, Louisiana; and Winona Mississippi. 

It is easy to write off people like the principal described below as an Uncle Tom, and doubtless the shoe fits.  But the economic and social consequences of denouncing injustice can be catastrophic.    (more…)

Michael Vick dodges the New Jim Crow

Michael Vick in court

Michael Vick’s performance against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football may constitute the most impressive single game by a quarterback in the history of the NFL.  Nicole Greenfield gives the religious backstory of Vick’s remarkable post-prison turnaround at Religious Dispatches this morning. 

But Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy takes a different slant.  Quoting copiously from Michelle Alexander’s game-changing The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in an age of colorblindness, Milloy points out that Vick’s “prison was just what I needed” testimony may be sincere, but his experience is hardly typical.  The Eagle’s QB isn’t just adept at dodging would-be tacklers, his celebrity status and high-profile supporters allowed him to escape America’s new caste system.  Here’s the normal pattern:

“Once swept into the system, one’s chances of being truly free are slim, often to the vanishing point,” Alexander writes. “The fact that more than half of the young black men in any large American city are currently under the control of the criminal justice system [or saddled with criminal records] is not – as many argue – just a symptom of poverty or poor choices, but rather evidence of a new racial caste system at work.” (more…)

School board says ‘no’ to Chavez holiday

Cesar Chavez

By Alan Bean

Arlington school students will still have a holiday in May, but it won’t bear the name of Cesar Chavez.  Last night, a series of eloquent Latino activists (many of them in their teens) made the case for naming this anonymous holiday after the great labor organizer and civil rights activist.  Gloria Peña, president of the board of trustees, presented a motion in favor of the change.  I even made a little impromptu speech of my own.  It made no difference.

For me, this issue is personal and therefore emotional.  First, the local fight for a Chavez holiday is being led by Luis Castillo, am Arlington LULAC president, Friends of Justice board member, and friend.  (more…)

David Duke Woos the Tea Party

By Alan Bean

David Duke has changed his hairstyle–quite flattering, don’t you think?  He is also reaching out to Tea Party enthusiasts with a nifty new video.

Duke says the Zionist media hates and fears the Tea Party for the same reason they hate and fear a well-intentioned White Nationalist like David Duke.  The media know the Framers of the US Constitution, heroes like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, envisioned America as a European nation and were distressed by the prospect of non-European immigration. (more…)

Post-election rant exposes white liberal naivete

By Alan Bean

Tim Wise is taking heat for an anti-Tea Party, post-election screed that has been popping up on a host of Lefty websites. 

The basic idea is that, last Tuesday notwithstanding,  American conservatism has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.  Here’s the gist:

I know, you think you’ve taken “your country back” with this election — and of course you have always thought it was yours for the taking, cuz that’s what we white folks are bred to believe, that it’s ours, and how dare anyone else say otherwise — but you are wrong. (more…)

Racial resentment and the Mississippi mainstream

By Alan Bean

CCC Carroll AcademyThe Council of Conservative Citizens was founded in 1985 to: (1) defend white culture, and (2) raise money for financially strapped segregation academies. 

Trent Lott got into big trouble in 1998 when it leaked out that he had addressed a CCC fundraiser in Blackhawk Mississippi several years earlier. 

Doug Evans, the man who has taken Curtis Flowers to trial six times on the same evidence, was a regular on the CCC circuit in the early 1990s. 

State Senator Lydia Chassaniol (who is based in Mr. Flowers’ home town of Winona) is a proud member of the CCC and spoke to the organization’s annual conference in Jackson, MS in the summer of 2009. 

The Council of Conservative Citizens rose from the ashes of the old Citizens Councils which sprang to life in 1954 to oppose the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.  Alexander vs. Holmes County, the case that finally ended segregated public schooling in the South in 1969, was filed in the heart of Mississippi’s segregation academy belt.  If a county’s black population exceeds 20% in Mississippi you will find segregation academies. (more…)

The ‘southern strategy’ and the 2010 election

It is perfectly normal for the minority party to score impressive gains in an off-year election.  But it could be argued that the almost unprecedented success of the GOP in Tuesday’s election is an extension of a trend that has been unfolding since the civil rights era.   

In the early 1960s, it was virtually impossible for a southern Republican to win election for any post.  Memories of “Yankee misrule” replete with “carpetbaggers” and “scalawags” made the Party of Lincoln anathema in the South during the first half of the 20th century.  As this article from the New York Times reminds us, Roosevelt’s New Deal was popular in the Jim Crow South, largely because FDR accommodated southern racists.  (more…)