Headlines The Face of Racism

A New Museum Chronicles Niagara Falls’ Pivotal Role in the Underground Railroad

Millions of visitors a year come to Niagara Falls. And many of them go to see the famous water crashing over the cliffs and not much else, observed Bill Bradberry, a native of the place and former city manager.  Many tourists, and even residents, don’t know the key role that the city of Niagara Falls played in the history of the Underground Railroad.  Now, with a museum dedicated to this history opening May 4, Bradberry, the chair of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, aims to change that.

Source: A New Museum Chronicles Niagara Falls’ Pivotal Role in the Underground Railroad

The Face of Racism

Ida B Wells: the unsung heroine of the civil rights movement | The Guardian

Some 4,075 African Americans were lynched in 12 southern states between 1877 and 1950, according to the Equal Justice Initiative’s 2015 report, Lynching in America. Some were witnessed by big crowds who brought children and picnic baskets, as if at a public entertainment.

While Ida B Wells was out of town, a mob destroyed her printing press in Memphis and threatened to kill her if she returned. She stayed away from the south for more than three decades but toured the US and UK, raising awareness through public speaking.  In 1895 she published a pamphlet, the Red Record, the first statistical record of the history of American lynchings, a forerunner of data journalism projects such as The Counted, the Guardian’s project to document people killed by police.

Source: Ida B Wells: the unsung heroine of the civil rights movement | World news | The Guardian

Quote: They made their little kids watch human beings be burned. That has created a disease. We have to treat that disease… –Bryan Stevenson

Originally published in the 1909 National Negro Conference
The journalist and agitator Ida B Wells dispenses with the notion that the lynching of black men was a means of protecting white women, in a furious, lucid diatribe against the practice – and the federal government’s reluctance to put a halt to it.

Guardian Selects, curated by our editors, brings exceptional content from across the web to our readers.

Headlines The Face of Racism



Amy McQuire tears away the facade on the Commonwealth Games currently under way in Australia, on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Australia has a long history of presenting a sunny, sporty picture of itself, complete with Indigenous icons and ‘celebrating’ native people. There is rarely a hint of the greatest theft of land in recorded history and the brutality that accompanied it, especially in Queensland, the bloodiest state, and which goes on today…


The Face of Racism

‘Cruel Adversity’ mural still a source of controversy in Durham | New Hampshire

“These were difficult and cruel times, with atrocities committed by all sides.  In 1676, Maj. Richard Waldron of Dover invited the local Wabanaki tribes to a peace conference. Hundreds answered his call — he double-crossed them.  About 200 Indians were apprehended and sent to Boston: some were killed, while others were shipped to the Caribbean in slavery,” the poster says.

“Every time I ask a person who does not identify as white about their perception or reaction to the mural, they point not only to the panel we have been discussing, but to the entire piece of art as essentially ignoring native peoples — not to mention blacks and others — except for the one panel showing an indigenous person with a torch. They all know what it means to not be white in a white culture, and too often have their identities portrayed in negative ways,” Brickner-Wood said.

Source: ‘Cruel Adversity’ mural still a source of controversy in Durham | New Hampshire

Headlines The Face of Racism

When Rape Kits Go Untested – Documentary of the Week #HBO

The HBO documentary “I Am Evidence” investigates the crisis of hundreds of thousands of rape kits that went untested across the United States. Actress and advocate Mariska Hargitay teams with directors Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir to focus on the crusade of Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy and others who campaigned to rescue kits from storage. Their work led to identifying hundreds of perpetrators.

Racism is an issue!

Source: When Rape Kits Go Untested – Documentary of the Week – WNYC

MYTH OF RACE The Face of Racism

TRIPLE EVILS | The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change


The Triple Evils of POVERTY, RACISM and MILITARISM are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the Beloved Community.

When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils.

To work against the Triple Evils, you must develop a nonviolent frame of mind as described in the “Six Principles of Nonviolence” and use the Kingian model for social action outlined in the “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change.”

Some contemporary examples of the Triple Evils are listed next to each item:

Poverty – unemployment, homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, infant mortality, slums…

“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it. The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty … The well off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and deprivation in their midst. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.”

Racism – prejudice, apartheid, ethnic conflict, anti-Semitism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, ageism, discrimination against disabled groups, stereotypes…

“Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for life. It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission. It is the absurd dogma that one race is responsible for all the progress of history and alone can assure the progress of the future. Racism is total estrangement. It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably it descends to inflicting spiritual and physical homicide upon the out-group.”

Militarism – war, imperialism, domestic violence, rape, terrorism, human trafficking, media violence, drugs, child abuse, violent crime…

“A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war- ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This way of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Source: “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Boston: Beacon Press, 1967.

Source: The King Philosophy | The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

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Judge blocks eBay sale of R.I. Colonial court records

The documents — long missing — offer a raw and rich glimpse into Colonial life in Rhode Island. They reveal how women, Native Americans and African Americans were treated, as well as prevailing societal values.

Judge blocks eBay sale of R.I. Colonial court records

Katie Mulvaney, March 16, 2018, Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The pages are delicate, frayed and browned with age, covered in elegant looping script. They document the comings and goings in Providence County court some 270 years ago, telling of a Native American man being sentenced to 15 lashes at a whipping pole for stealing paper money while drunk and other cases. They are peppered with some of Rhode Island’s most prominent family names: Greene, Arnold, Perry, Angell and Lippitt.

Long missing, the Colonial court records recently made their way back to the custody of the state thanks to a Superior Court ruling. Judge Maureen Keough issued a temporary restraining order last week blocking the sale of the historic documents on eBay.

It was a legal history researcher at the University of Pennsylvania who alerted Rhode Island state archivist, Ashley Selima, that Rhode Island Colonial court records dated 1746 to 1749 were being auctioned off on eBay.

J. Stephen Grimes, now retired judicial archivist for the state Supreme Court, contacted the attorney general’s office, and the state moved to block the sale by Frederick Schroeder Jr., 61, of Providence.

“I was thrilled to know it still existed,” Grimes said. “You still need the records of the people.”



Source: Judge blocks eBay sale of R.I. Colonial court records – News – – Providence, RI

Headlines The Face of Racism

Through the Repellent Fence


A review of Sam Wainwright Douglas’s 2017 film Through the Repellent Fence discusses some of the hottest artists right now, the Postcommodity collective: The Repellent Fence simultaneously denaturalizes and socializes the US-Mexico border, working against its common misrepresentation as an evacuated no man’s land.  It draws our attention, instead, to the dense social relations and operations that characterize “the most geospatially contested area in [the] Hemisphere,” especially as they pertain to indigenous people, who are both divided by the border and erased from discourses about it, yet persist nonetheless.  While Postcommodity has created other works that engage this same geography—most notably, A Very Long Line (2016), which was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial—Chacon, Martínez, and Twist don’t consider themselves to be “border artists” per se.11   Rather, such pieces get at the structural and ongoing forms of dispossession tied to “the militarization of ancestral homelands,” wherein the border fence acts as a “filter of bodies and goods—a mediator of imperialism, violence, market systems, and violence capitalism.”

As such, his documentary not only relays a highly layered and timely contemporary artwork to the wide art and non-art audiences that it deserves, but also provides a rich tool for the classroom.

While the US-Mexico border has long been a locus of cultural and geopolitical struggle, it has come under renewed limelight with President Trump’s calls for banning immigrants and completing a wall to run along its almost two-thousand-mile length (currently, only 650 miles are built). Aside from the obvious relevance of this subject matter, The Repellent Fence arrives at a moment when indigenous cultural practices—from activism (e.g., at Standing Rock) to art making by a “generational vanguard of Native artists that has refused to be ghettoized or confined to identity politics or traditional mediums”34—are becoming more visible within Western art and academic contexts.

Source: Required Reading

Headlines The Face of Racism

Trump’s Language Is Similar to the 1920s Ku Klux Klan #MAGA

Maybe Trump just needs a quick historical primer on the 1920s Klan—and their vision for making America great again (or #MAGA.)

In 1915, William J. Simmons, an ex-minister and self-described joiner of fraternities, created a new Ku Klux Klan dedicated to “100 percent Americanism” and white Protestantism.  He wanted to evoke the previous Reconstruction Klan (1866-1871) but refashion it as a new order—stripped of vigilantism and dressed in Christian virtue and patriotic pride.

Simmons’s Klan was to be the savior of a nation in peril, a means to reestablish the cultural dominance of white people.  Immigration and the enfranchisement of African Americans, according to the Klan, eroded this dominance and meant that America was no longer great.

Simmons, the first imperial wizard of the Klan, and his successor, H.W. Evans, wanted Klansmen to return the nation to its former glory. Their messages of white supremacy, Protestant Christianity, and hypernationalism found an eager audience.

By 1924, the Klan claimed 4 million members; they wore robes, lit crosses on fire, read Klan newspapers, and participated in political campaigns on the local and national levels. (and killed people…)

To save the nation, the Klan focused on accomplishing a series of goals.

A 1924 Klan cartoon, “Under the Fiery Cross,” illustrated those goals: restricted immigration, militant Protestantism, better government, clean politics, “back to the Constitution,” law enforcement, and “greater allegiance to the flag.”

… For the KKK, Americans were supposed to be only white and Protestant. They championed white supremacy to keep the nation white, ignoring that citizenry was not constrained to their whims.

Source: Donald Trump’s Language Is Similar to the 1920s Ku Klux Klan: Nationalism and Anti-immigration – The Atlantic

The Face of Racism

Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade (book) – AAIHS


Slavery and the Atlantic slave trade are among the most heinous crimes against humanity committed in the modern era. Yet, to this day no former slave society in the Americas has paid reparations to former slaves or their descendants. European countries have never compensated their former colonies in the Americas, whose wealth relied on slave labor, to a greater or lesser extent. Likewise, no African nation ever obtained any form of reparations for the Atlantic slave trade. 

MORE: Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade: A New Book on the Idea of Reparations – AAIHS

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The Trump Movement: How it All Began | The Most Revolutionary Act

Trump is the ultimate troll, drawing attention to himself by insulting people and generating outrage – a trait supporters fed up with “political correctness” particularly adore about him.

Source: The Trump Movement: How it All Began | The Most Revolutionary Act

Headlines The Face of Racism

The Overpass | Robert Moses | Failed Architecture


Dozens of students hurt when bus roof sheared off in overpass crash

The impact of the bus hitting the overpass was so forceful, state police and others who saw the damage say they doubt the driver knew what was coming.

“I don’t think he had any awareness because if you look at the damage, it’s a high impact strike,” Candelaria said. “He made it all the way through.”

Multiple ambulances and firetrucks responded to the scene.

The 38 students from various Long Island high schools, along with five chaperones, had just returned from John F. Kennedy International Airport and were heading to a shopping mall to meet up with parents, police said.

Police said the driver was being evaluated and did not seem to be familiar with commercial vehicle restrictions on the parkway.

The minimum clearance on the parkway is 7 feet, 10 inches and accidents involving vehicles striking overpasses is not uncommon on the parkway.  In 2017, there were reports that an electronic alarm system would be installed on the parkway to warn drivers of vehicles too high for the overpass.

Hostile Architecture? Yes, the Overpass! And it was for a reason – to restrict buses and poor people from moving to Long Island, New York.

…hostile architecture is purposely designed to appear unremarkable, often concealed behind mundane or apparently aesthetic aspects of the urban landscape.

Skateboarding, for example, is discouraged with ‘pig-ears’ placed on objects which could be used for grinding, throwing any potential mounts off balance, while flat, sloped surfaces, used by skaters as ramps, are segmented and depressed in areas, making cruising impossible. Although hostile architecture has been criticized for unfairly discriminating against skateboarders, and by extension teenagers, its most controversial target is undoubtedly the homeless.

… hostile architecture is claimed to displace behaviour rather than prohibit it, forcing targeted communities to other areas of the city.  Moreover, homelessness and skateboarding are not inherently illegal, and local governments have been accused of expelling already underrepresented individuals.

Unlike (racist) Robert Moses’ civil works these structures have not been allowed disappear into the landscape, with the growing scholarship on hostile architecture resolutely documenting their effects on public space.

Perhaps as recourse authorities have begun openly admitting their use of hostile architecture.

Source: Robert Moses, Pig-Ears and the Camden Bench: How Architectural Hostility Became Transparent — Failed Architecture

MYTH OF RACE The Face of Racism

60 Minutes: Oprah Winfrey goes inside the memorial to victims of lynching

Oprah Winfrey: There are so many crimes committed against African Americans. Why focus on lynching?

Bryan Stevenson: At the end of the Civil War black people are supposed to get the right to vote. And the only way people who were white could maintain their political control was to intimidate black people. And lynching was especially effective because it would allow the whole community to know that we did this to this person. It was intended to send a message that if you try to vote, if you try to advocate for your rights, if you insist on fair wages, if you do anything that complicates white supremacy and white dominance and political power, we will kill you.


Oprah Winfrey: Is there usually newspaper evidence or documentation?

Sia Sanneh: Often there were public reports, because people acted with impunity. And so there would be newspaper reports, sometimes in advance, saying, “A man will be lynched later this afternoon.”

Sia Sanneh: This is an article about the lynching of a man named Jesse Washington, who was accused of a crime in Waco, Texas.

The newspaper headline read: “Burn young negro in public square as 15,000 look on.”

A mob dragged Jesse Washington, a teenager who was convicted of murder after a one-hour trial, from the courtroom to the public square.

Sia Sanneh: There’s a remarkable photograph of the crowd. And it’s people dressed in their Sunday best–

Oprah Winfrey: Sunday best.

Sia Sanneh: –with their hats on.

Oprah Winfrey: (READING) “His clothing oil-soaked. He is strung to tree. Fire is set under him. And he is dropped into flames as 15,000 people look on.”

Sia Sanneh: I think it’s incredibly revealing that death was not enough. That it wasn’t enough to kill people. People would be killed, and then shot. And then set on fire. And then even, after that, there are cases where the body was dragged to the heart of the black community.

“The National Memorial for Peace and Justice,” which was paid for through hundreds of private donations, will open to the public .

“I don’t think we get to pretend that this stuff didn’t happen. I don’t think you can just play it off. This is like a disease. You have to treat it.”

It contains 805 steel markers: one for each county where lynchings took place. And on each marker, the names.

The markers are suspended to evoke the horror of being strung up and hanged from a tree.

Oprah Winfrey: So you start with them at eye level, and then on this corridor, they begin to rise.

Bryan Stevenson: And then you get to this corridor, and this is when you begin to confront the scale of all of these lynchings.

Oprah Winfrey: Whoa.

Oprah Winfrey: This is something.

Bryan Stevenson: Yes, yes. We wanted people to have a sense of just the scale of what this violence, what this terrorism was.

Oprah Winfrey: So, this is over 4,000 that have been documented, but of course, there are more.

Bryan Stevenson: Thousands more. Thousands more–

Oprah Winfrey: Thousands more.

Bryan Stevenson: And–

Oprah Winfrey: Will we ever even know how many?

Bryan Stevenson: We will never know.


Source: 60 Minutes: Oprah Winfrey goes inside the memorial to victims of lynching – CBS News

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On Stanford’s All White Male History Conference – AAIHS

Women, black people, and Native Americans saw their conditions worsen, their liberties restricted, and rights of citizenship denied after the Revolution. The broadening of the study of the American Revolution beyond the merchant class and wealthy elites, for example, yields a more inclusive history. Resulting debates about how radical the revolution was has also led to the reconceptualization of American history and democracy.

Source: On Stanford’s All White Male History Conference – AAIHS

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Coalition Pressures Brooklyn Museum to “Decolonize”


The letter outlines seven points for the scope of the “Decolonization Commission” the groups envision:

1. Territorial Acknowledgement of Indigenous land occupied by its buildings and giving material effect to such an acknowledgment in curatorial practices, programming, exhibitions, and day-to-day operations.

2. The deep diversification of curatorial staff and executive leadership whereby the lived experience of oppressions — including patriarchy, white supremacy, and poverty — are valued and factored in.

3. A decolonial inventory of colonial-era objects of both African and Indigenous people with a view to settling the long-pursued claims of reparations and repatriation.

4. An upgrade of working conditions and pay of ground staff — who are disproportionately employees of color — in security, food service, and janitorial divisions.

5. The replacement of Board president David Berliner and other trustees who are real estate tycoons with a broad cross-section of artists and community organizers.

6. The undertaking of a de-gentrification initiative to examine and mitigate the museum’s role in boosting land value and rents in the borough.

7. An institutional commitment to address the issues raised by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in recognition of the debate among Brooklynites about the central role played by segments of the borough’s population in the settler movement in Palestine.

Source: Coalition of Anti-Gentrification Groups Pressures Brooklyn Museum to “Decolonize”