• 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

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.

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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!

“Polls Indicates Racism Will Reduce Obama Vote by Four to Six Percent”

Two recent polls both indicate that white racism will significantly reduce the number of voters for Obama in the November 4 election. The polls were conducted by AP/Yahoo (Aug. 27-Sept. 5) and the other by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. (Aug. 29-31), but the results were publicized only on September 22 by CNN.

The AP/Yahoo showed that 6 percent of voters will not vote for Obama because of racism, while the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll demonstrated that 4 percent of Democrats who will vote for McCain were persuaded by racial factors. Both polls indicate that racism will tilt the election against Obama by a margin larger than the margin of victory in the 2004 presidential campaign.

The Celebrity Factor

News Analysis by Organizer JB

Comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton is racist? To many folks, at first blush, the silly McCain ads may not have seem racialized, but NY Times columnist Bob Herbert sheds some interesting perspective of how White America still is “…freakishly hung up on the idea of black men rising above their station and becoming sexually involved with white women.”

Mr. Herbert also makes astute observations on the broad racist overtones to the Right’s response to Mr. Obama’s campaign:

The racial fantasy factor in this presidential campaign is out of control. It was at work in that New Yorker cover that caused such a stir. (Mr. Obama in Muslim garb with the American flag burning in the fireplace.) It’s driving the idea that Barack Obama is somehow presumptuous, too arrogant, too big for his britches — a man who obviously does not know his place.

Here’s a news piece on the “Obama Celebrity Ad” for those who missed it.

“Leftists to destroy white male power structure,” says Bill O’Reilly.

At least he’s got something right. We could probably dedicate a whole blog to O’ Reilly’s racisms… but what stands out about this one is … Senator John McCain’s response. McCain had the opportunity to say “Now wait a minute, Bill. I’m running to represent this nation- and that includes everyone, not just those who fit the the ‘white christian male power structure.'” Another anti-racist opportunity lost by our white leaders.

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

Thank goodness for Tim Wise. Very important read… a laundry list of blatant white privilege playing out in the election.

White Privilege, White Entitlement and the 2008 Election

by Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

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