Monday, September 25, 2017

NFL Players The Nation's Least Pampered Millionaires

When people mock NFL protesters as pampered multi-millionaires, they forget that among the many multi-millionaires in this country, NFL players are the only ones:
1. Who grew up in poor and working class families and got into the ranks of the wealthy through hard work and sacrifice, unlike the vast majority of multi millionaires- like Donald Trump- who grew up in wealthy families and benefited from class privilege and "affirmative action for the rich," the major form of affirmative action in the nation's top colleges
2. Who sacrifice years off their life, and their future health, by playing a dangerous game that crushes their bodies and damages their minds.
NFL players are acutely aware of where they came from and the fragility of their health and economic status, which makes their protests all the more risky and meaningful

Why This White Man Takes A Knee

 
Black people have been in this country since its creation. They have been enslaved, sold, whipped, beaten, raped, Jim Crowed, lynched, segregated, deprived of every civil liberty this country prizes, stripped of wealth and property when they acquired it, and finally when, through years of struggle, they achieved full civil and political rights, found themselves facing a criminal justice system that weighs on them far more heavily on them than it does on most other Americans. Given what Black people have gone through, and are still going through to get where they are now, it is astonishing to watch the President of the United States think he can intimidate Black men and women, in the NFL or anywhere else, who are standing up, or kneeling, for their rights
. This white man, who has studied US history  for fifty years, and who has grand children who are Black and Latino, will not let Black protesters stand alone. To quote my friend Timothy B. Tyson, another white scholar who has grappled with how racism and white supremacy have deformed the history of the United states, he will stand, or kneel with his Black sisters and brothers, as circumstances require

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review of John Gennari's "Flavor and Soul"

“With the publication of Flavor and Soul- Italian America at its African American Edge,"John Gennari has written an eloquent book about Italian Americans and race that carves out new space in our increasingly polarized national debate about whiteness and racial identity. Gennari, like me, is a white race scholar who is  frustrated by a reductionist  discourse on white privilege that erases class differences and history,  while being appalled by the re-emergence of racism and xenophobia as a force in national elections. His deeply personal, and evocative portrait of spaces where Black and Italian American culture and style intersect does two important things: it complicates the national discourse on whiteness, and gives Italian Americans a way of affirming their love for their culture in ways that link them to African Americans rather than separate them. It is a powerful work of healing and imaginative reconciliation that is even more important now than it was when it was first published, especially in the light of the orgy of ethnic stereotyping that followed the  appointment of Anthony Scaramucci to a position in the Trump White House. Gennari, writing about things that most of us hold dear, music, food, film, and sports, rescues Italian Americans from the box many Americans have placed them in (and some Italian Americans have placed themselves)  to point the way for people to cross racial boundaries in a spirit of joy and mutual discovery.”

Look for my review of Flavor and Soul in a forthcoming issue of the Italian American Review—here’s a link to the journal: http://qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/calandra/publications/publications
Excerpted by permission of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College, City University of New York.
The book is available now from all booksellers. Here’s a link to it at the publisher, the University of Chicago Press: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/F/bo25094688.html

Saturday, August 26, 2017

If Fordham is Any Example, Millennials are not "Dictatorship Material"


One of the reasons I am confident that Donald Trump will not take us on the path to dictatorship or authoritarian rule is the refusal of young people to be intimidated by authoritarian figures in their lives, be they parents, teachers or school and university administrators
I have seen this first hand at my own university in the past year. In three separate instances, students have mobilized to protest what they consider unfair or inappropriate action by different wings of the university, risking suspension to get their point across.
The first example took place when Dean of Students Office refused to give club recognition to "Students for Justice in Palestine" after every student and faculty committee which evaluated the matter suggested it be given such recognition. Students not only organized rallies, vigils, and protest marches to challenge the decision, they brought the matter to the press and are now suing the University in court to challenge the decision.
The second example took place when the University refused to recognize or negotiate with an organization of contingent and adjunct faculty and even claimed a religious exemption from such negotiation. Students not only organized rallies and marches in support of contingent faculty, they tried to march on the President's office and demand he begin negotiations, an action which led to a confrontation with Fordham security guards that led to some injuries and disciplinary action against the students. Following the incident, which caused widespread distress among faculty as well as students, the University changed its position and agreed to negotiate with the faculty group
Finally, and more recently, the Dean of Students made a presentation on Campus Sexual Assault to Resident Advisors that some found so offensive that they interrupted the presentation and walked out of the room. Following the protests, several students issues a public statement on the presentation demanding that remedial action be taken and last night, the University said it was launching a formal investigation
In all my years of Fordham, I have rarely seen students challenge actions by the administration so forthrightly and effectively.
I suspect this is part of a national, and generational pattern. If Fordham is any example:
Millennials are Not Dictatorship Material!.

Friday, August 25, 2017

How I Respond to Critics of My "White Supremacists by Default" Comments on CNN


  

 In the last two years, I have watched Neo Nazis and the KKK rise to a level of influence and visibility that they have not had since the 1960's, possibly not since the the Great Depression. And  I have been horrified
that they have given credit to Donald Trump as both candidate and President for their renewed influence
'
 I count many Trump supporters among my tennis partners and people I work with the national anti-testing movement. And I have some Trump supporters in my family. When I saw this happening, I begged them to speak out and get Mr Trump to decisively repudiate this array of extreme racists who were using his candidacy to elevate themselve

 With few exceptions they declined to give this matter much attention, either because they wanted to prevent Hillary Clinton from being President, or because they saw the issue as tangential

 However, to many people in the country, especially African Americans, this matter was hardly tangential as it brought up tragic circumstances in their history which they hoped they had left behind

 Now we are facing a face off in many of our communities which has reach dangerous proportions.

Following the election of Mr Trump, there were numerous incidents in schools in Eastern Long Island, Ohio and other places where white students chanted at their Latino classmates " Build A Wall" and "We Will Deport You."

I have also witnessed racially provocative behavior on the part of white students at Fordham that we have not had since the late 1980's. In fall of 2015, when Mr Trump was starting his candidacy, a group of white students at a swimming team party chanted, so that other students in their building could hear them "White Power"  "Barack Obama is a Nigger" and "Martin Luther King is a Nigger"

 I used this forum of the CNN article to raise the alarm about a rising tide of White Racism  which is anything but abstract to Blacks, Latinos, Muslims and other targets. I am hoping that decent people of all political persuasions, but especially conservatives, clamp down hard on the Neo- Nazis and White Supremacists who have sought cover in their movement.

Turning away and ignoring the powerful impact of this on our social fabric will only make things worse

 I see some signs that people are waking up And am willing to take the heat for ruffling some features to get things moving in the right direction

All the Best

Dr Mark Naison

PS  This survey was brought to my attention recently.  It suggests that I was not exaggerating

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Kaepernick, Charlottesville and National Anthem Protests


The NFL owners who have collectively refused to sign Colin Kaepernick in the hope of avoiding protests which divide their fan base may have miscalculated or misread the political climate.
Following the Charlottesville "Unite The Right" rally where Neo Nazis and White Supremacists came out in the open in ways which frightened and appalled many people, the National Anthem protest which Kaepernick initiated- and few NFL players initially followed- has started to spread.
First sixty current and former NY City Police officers- including 81 year old Frank Serpico- took the knee during the National Anthem at a ceremony in a Brooklyn Park.
And then yesterday, nearly a dozen Cleveland Brown players-
including tight end Seth DeValle, who is white-took a knee in prayer during the National Anthem during their pre-season game with the Giants.
Given the growing sense of revulsion, not only with the Charlottesville protests, but the President's response to them, I have every expectation that the National Anthem protests will grow in size and number, especially if Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned.
I may be wrong about this, but as someone who has sensed growing anger among friends and colleagues about Kaepernick's exclusion from the NFL, I fully expect my prediction to hold.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why There is a Movement to Remove Confederate Monuments


The movement to remove Confederate monuments is only one part of a much larger project forcing the country come to terms with the legacy of slavery, something it never has done. This also involve exploring how some of our major universities were built on proceeds derived from slavery and the slavery trade ( as Fordham Grad Craig Steven Wilder did in his book "Ebony and Ivy"); exposing how prevalent slave markets were in almost every major Southern city; and creating exhibits throughout the South and the nation which explore how central slavery was to the economic development of the nation and how cruel it was in its daily functioning, especially in terms of the systematic breeding and sale of slaves. This movement is being driven by the brilliant young race scholars who are now on the faculty of almost every university in the nation. It is not going away. It is only going to gather momentum in coming years. And it is likely to lead to local, and possibly national efforts, to compensate the descendants of its victims