• DOUBLETAKE 08: “Taking a second look at race and racism in the 2008 presidential elections”

  • Campaign Events

    Sat, October 25th, 3-6:30pm
    The Ballot Box and Beyond
    UCLA Labor Center
    675 S Park View St [map it]
    Los Angeles, CA 90057

The Ballot Box and Beyond: Community Event in Los Angeles on Race in the Elections

We are one day away from this important community event! If you are in Los Angeles, please join us!!

Come one, Come All! Join AWARE-LA, the labor Community Strategy Center, Community Coalition, Youth Justice Coalition and more TO MAKE RACIAL JUSTICE HISTORY!

This election season has brought us a historic opportunity to take the conversation about racial justice to the next level. No matter who wins on November 4th, the real work for change is in organizing our communities!

Join AWARE-LA for workshops and a community panel in how race and racism is REALLY playing out in our communities and on the ballot…. and how we sustain the excitement to “make a change” beyond election day.

See you on October 25th!!

Reject the Hate in ’08! – Don’t fall for the racist tactics.

Dear Readers,

The past week has revealed a startling amount of hatred and racist prejudice
emanating from the McCain/ Palin campaign and their supporters.  This is a
pivotal moment for the history of this country and for racial justice.  Its
important we are able to look back at this time and say that the people of
this country did the right thing – expose the Right’s tactic of racist
appeals and reject it!

The following video contains an important message that we need to get out to
communities (especially white communities) across the country.  WE NEED YOUR
HELP!  Please forward this video link to ALL your contacts.  Youtube videos
can take on a “life of their own” and go “viral” (i.e spread exponentially)
if forwarded enough times…  This is a video that all of the country needs
to see:

The video was produced as part of AWARE-LA’s “The Ballot Box and Beyond”
campaign and was created in collaboration with an allied multi-racial
organization, Community Coalition.  Visit www.DoubleTake08.org for more info
about the campaign.

No matter who you are voting for on November 4th…. REJECT THE HATE IN 08!

In Solidarity,
Active Resistance/ AWARE-LA

Allies in the Racial Justice Struggle!

AWARE-LA is in good company this election season! The Center for Social Inclusion also has a website to document racism in the 2008 election, called Stop Dog Whistle Racism. Collectively lifting our voices, we can cultivate new narratives of racial justice… harnessing the energy and exitement surrdouning the presidential elections and invigorating our grassroots work for change for the long-haul

We commend the Center for Social Inclusion for their work to decode “Dog Whistle Racism” or “symbolic racism. From their blog:

Dog Whistle racism – also known as symbolic racism – is political campaigning or policy-making that uses coded words and themes that appeal to conscious or subconscious racist concepts and frames.

All too often, images, symbols and language are used intentionally and unintentionally in our political elections and policy debates. These trigger unconscious racial stereotypes. The viewer or reader isn’t even aware that he or she is responding to unfounded judgments based on stereotypes rather than facts.

For example, the concepts ‘welfare queen,’ ’states’ rights,’ ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘uppity,’ ‘thug,’ ‘tough on crime,’ and ‘illegal alien’ all activate racist concepts that that have already been planted in the public consciousness and now are being activated by purposeful or accidental campaign activities, media coverage, public policy and cultural traditions.

But when symbolic racism is exposed, many people reject it and return to a debate on real issues, not imagined fears. Both research and experience makes clear that when made visible and conscious, symbolic racism loses its power.

The “Obama as Muslim Terrorist” Problem

There’s been a LOT of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric throughout the election season this year. The idea that Barack Obama is a “Muslim Terrorist” is spreading rampant throughout right-wing circles, and countless photoshopped images of Obama in Arab garb can be found in a quick google image search. The implication in these images, of course, is that being a Muslim or being Arab MUST mean he is also a terrorist. Even if Barack Obama WAS Muslim, which he is not, what’s the problem? But anti-Muslim/ anti-Arab racism is so deeply held in this country, that using the term “Muslim” has come to be code word for “evil.” Check this image…

Senator John McCain’s campaign has done little to offset these stereotypes. In fact, in some instances, the Republican campaign reinforces or encourages this racist thinking. For example, Governor Sarah Palin last week suggesting that Obama has been “palling around with terrorists,” referring to a long-ago and vague connection between the Senator and former 60’s radical William Ayers

Or in this clip here, where a woman at a McCain rally says “I don’t trust Obama. He’s an Arab,” and John McCain responds: “No, ma’am, he’s a decent family man and citizen.” As if being an Arab and a decent family man and citizen are somehow mutually exclusive! The rage at McCain rallies in the last week often centers on this assumption that Obama is connected to terrorism and that he is a Muslim.

Don’t fall for these racist tactics and rhetoric. We at AWARE_LA encourage everyone to reject the hate in 08. No matter who you vote for, we must stop this racist rhetoric and thinking.

Fortunetaly, others are working on this issue. A non-partisan organization called FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) has launched an important campaign to look at anti-Muslim rhetoric in the news media.

Continue reading

Remember the “Terrorist Fist Jab?” What about the “White Power Grab?”

Earlier this summer, Fox News reported on a simple gesture between Barack and Michelle Obama on stage. It was a fist bump, but the Fox News reporter questioned, “A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently.”

Fox News’ coverage of the Obamas’ fist-bump raises serious questions about the implications of such coverage. Why do we need such an elaborate analysis of, what essentially amounts to a goodbye/ good luck send-off gesture? Do we do the same thing when it comes to handshakes?

Of course we don’t because handshakes are the primary greeting among white folks, so therefore they are normal, but “the fist bump” is something that, within the lens of whiteness, is odd or peculiar: it is outside whiteness. More accurately, it is cast as something specific to black folks; not something the majority of white folks would do, much less understand.

Fox’s report sets up the experience of black folks as foreign to what is normal, where normal is equated with whiteness. And the assumption that whiteness is normal is thoroughly racist.

We made this video to point out what it would look like to flip the script on the racist assumptions of Fox’s report. While there are some subtle critiques of white supremacy, we primarily wanted to point out how patently absurd Fox’s coverage of “the fist bump” is, not to mention have a little fun in the name of white anti-racism!

White Democrats and “Obama’s Race Problem”

Let’s tease out some of the information offered to us in the recent interactive AP/Yahoo Survey on race and the elections.

What’s helpful about this poll, from a white anti-racist perspective, is that it focuses on various attitude of white Democrats in particular, how they view the experience of African Americans and how that impacts their vote. As someone who cares about building a culture free of racism among white people, it’s helpful to know how many liberal to centrist Democrats view race.

The survey provides statements about “the Black experience” and tests how much white democrats agree:

“Irish, Italians, Jews and other minorities worked their way up; blacks should do the same without any special favors.”

42 % white Democrats AGREED with this statement;

61% of those are voting for Obama.

“Over the past few years, blacks have gotten LESS than they deserved.”

20% white Democrats agree;

90% of them are voting for Obama.

“Generations of slavery have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way our of the lower class.”

27% of white Democrats agreed with that statement;
93% of those are voting for Obama.

These numbers communicate that most white Dems see racism as a Black person’s problem, and only a minority of white Dems view racism as a systemic issues. The title of the survey itself reflects this “race-as-a-personal-issue”: it’s called “Barack Obama’s race problem.”

I think “the race problem” actually belongs to white people. Such variant responses and perspectives among white Democrats, and also the general denial about the realities facing Black communities across the nation, speaks to the way institutional and cultural white privilege distorts many white people’s understanding of race relations in the U.S.
Continue reading

Can Obama win over the white working class?

Commentary by Organizer KD

Can Obama win over the white working class? This is a question the media has devoted a lot of space to. In just one example worth looking at an Washington Post article asks, “Can He Be a Working Class hero?” But if the title was accurate it would read, ‘can he be a WHITE working class hero?’ The primary issue is related to the racism emanating from a sizable section of the white working class and the other issue is the unwillingness to point out whiteness in a prominent way within the title of an article whose main focus is the white working class.

The framework of debate around this question has narrowly focused on what Obama and the Democrats have to do to court the white working class. This isn’t necessarily strange considering that is exactly what politicians do to gain potential votes, but a question that isn’t being asked is why would the white working class vote in their racial interests and what compelling reason is there to continue another term of Republican rule? George W. Bush has clearly shown himself to be an enemy of working people; whether it was the Enron scandal, his bloated military budget and creation of a new federal department, Homeland Security (funneling tons of money into costs like offices, supplies, etc.), the continued lay-offs of workers and rising unemployment, the current housing crisis, where many people are losing their homes to foreclosures due in part to predatory lending practices, or the proposed 700 billion dollar bailout of Wall Street and finance capital. So why would any working person vote for John McCain, whose voting record was the same as Bush’s 90% of the time, not to mention his recent comment about the fundamentals of the economy being strong. I can understand if large sectors of the white working class were rejecting both political parties, but the majority of the white working class is not necessarily liberal, forget about radical (unless perhaps you’re talking about right wing radicalism).
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