Anti-Mexican Graffiti at UC San Diego: Towards a Structural Analysis and Solution

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On the morning of Saturday April 9, 2016, members of the University of California San Diego (UCSD) community woke up to the following message drafted by a fellow student: Last night at approximately 10.00pm, five hooded White male adults were seen writing pro-Trump propaganda as well as violently racist and xenophobic quotes such as “build the wall”, “deport them all”, “fuck Mexicans”, “Mexico will pay”, and “make America great again”. The placing of these chalk quotes and timing means that these five men knew exactly what they were doing: targeting the Chicanx and Latinx community by placing them outside the Raza Resource Centro – partaking in a larger system of violence where Chicanx and … [Read more...]

A Truth that Had to be Told: Uncovering the History of School Segregation in El Monte

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In memory of Olga Gutiérrez, 1937-2016 The professor started talking about segregation in the South, of blacks, of Brown v. Board of Education … so after class I went up to the professor, and I said, “Hey professor, were you aware of the segregation of the Mexican-American students all over the Southwest, including California?”… He said, “I know nothing about it.”[1] Olga Gutiérrez, a Mexican-American teacher and activist in El Monte, California, was working on a Master’s degree at California State University, Los Angeles. It was 1980, 26 years after the Supreme Court had ruled that segregation, or the policy of dividing children into different schools on the basis of race, was illegal in … [Read more...]

Here and Away: African Americans, WWI, and Civil Rights

Florine Stettheimer , "New York City/Liberty, 1918" Whitney Museum of Art, Photo by Ryan Reft

In 1925, General Robert Lee Bullard, Commander of the U.S.’s Second Army during WWI in Europe, retired and released a book of memoirs: Personalities and Reminiscences about the War. Bullard had enjoyed a fairly distinguished career in the military peaking during the Great War. Yet, like many of this day, he harbored prejudices; most notably his dismissive attitude toward African American soldiers. In his memoir, he described America’s black soldiers in WWI as cowards – “Couldn’t Make Negroes Fight says Bullard” read one New York Herald Tribune headline - inferior to white troops, and generally unsuited for service. “All this constructive equality I regarded as an injustice,” Bullard … [Read more...]

Los Angeles Black Worker Center Pushes for Inclusion

Workers learn about apprenticeship, training and job opportunities. The LABWC addresses the black job crisis by actively working to increase access to quality jobs, reduce employment discrimination, and improve industries that employ Black workers through action and unionization. Photo courtesy of the LABWC.

LeDaya Epps grew up in foster care until adolescence. When she finished high school, bouncing from job to job with no real career path, she struggled to land steady employment. By 2010, she had three children to care for as well and prospects looked tough. Then in 2013, the Los Angeles Black Workers Center along with a coalition of partners including LA County Federation of Labor and LA/OC Building and Construction Trades and LAANE, successfully negotiated an employment agreement with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA,) her life changed. For years, the city had been expanding its subway and light rail systems; the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Train that runs through several … [Read more...]

The Rise and Fall of an African American Inner City: The Case of Parramore, Orlando

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When driving around a city it is easy to overlook the erosion of the historical factors that have shaped a neighborhood. Such is the case when considering the trajectory of urban development in the postwar racially segregated American South. The historical timeline of Florida’s modern development contains objectionable incidents of violence, disenfranchisement and disparity among social classes. The hidden story of the intersection between racial oppression and urbanization became clear to me as I explored the social, cultural and economic decline of the African American community of Parramore in Orlando, Florida. In order to do that, I have analyzed the differences and similarities between … [Read more...]

Fatalism, Policy, and Conclusions: Reflecting on Between the World and Me (Part II of ToM’s roundtable)

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Evan Thomas-Arnold  When I started reading Ta-Nehisi Coates, sometime when he started writing for The Atlantic, I was struck by the energy in his writing, and the seriousness with which he addressed his topics, be they wresting, hip-hop, or more traditionally “serious” topics. Through his blog and feature pieces I was shown that major fixtures in our collective understanding of U.S. history were false, and easily dismantled through study of readily available scholarship. I appreciated his rigor and zest, and could relate to his admissions of being an under-performer in the past. Coates’ writing has, for me, been about empowerment – empowerment against prevailing myths and convenient … [Read more...]

Existential America in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me

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Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me has been rightly celebrated as a profound and thoughtful meditation on the problem of race* in America—a concept that, thankfully, Coates asterisks, with his frequent locutions of “those who believe themselves to be white,” instead of the ordinary, brain-dead parlance of “whites” and “blacks” and “race relations” that historian Barbara Fields has spent her entire career trying to debunk. It crackles with the intensity of a father talking to his son about matters of literal life and death. Coates marshals his own biography and a deep understanding of history to impart some kind of wisdom—anything, even, will do, as you sense the father’s desperation … [Read more...]

Selma, George Wallace, and the Real Legacy of White Resistance

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George Wallace, Jr. wants you to believe that his father was unfairly represented in the Hollywood film Selma. The movie – produced by Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt, and directed by the outspoken Ava DuVernay – has generated significant controversy since its December 2014 release. Former White House staffer Joseph Califano and others have taken issue with the film’s not-as-flattering-as-they-would-like portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson (and have even absurdly suggested that staging protests in Selma was LBJ’s idea). And Spike Lee and many others cried foul over the snub of both DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo at last year’s Academy Awards. Oyelowo masterfully embodies the film’s … [Read more...]

Black History Month Part V: “Race” and Its Kid Brother, “Whiteness”

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Every summer, ToM contributors revisit works that influenced them and meditate on how they've held up over the years as part of our Dog Days Classics series. These works have included everything from John Brooke's study on the roots of Mormon esoterica to Mike Royko's epic book  on Chicago mayor Richard Daley. But a quick look at our category cloud makes it clear that "race" stands out as a major theme at ToM, with "whiteness" not far behind.  While we've spent a good deal of time looking at Asian-American and Latino/a studies, African-American history has been a frequent subject for the site as well, so it's no surprise that Dog Days pieces have also touched on the idea of "race" and its … [Read more...]

Black History Month Part IV: Compton as bellwether for urban America

Kendrick Lamar performs a medley of songs at the 58th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 15, 2016.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni - RTX273N1

Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy performance of “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright”, with its #BlackLivesMatter theme and political overtones, struck a chord with many viewers. In a night of standout performances including the Lady Gaga tribute to the late great David Bowie and the John Legend/Demi Lovato led multi-artist homage to the artistry of Lionel Richie, Lamar sent a clear message to viewers in an election year in which the African American electorate – both in the democratic primaries and general election – will exert a pronounced influence on the ultimate result. More so in regard to his second album, good kid, m.A.A.d.city, but to some extent his first, Section 80 as well, Lamar’s own … [Read more...]

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