Tag Archives: racism

Public Transportation is a Must, But Not a Solution to Racism

6 Sep

Reading All Aboard? by Ben Campbell brought up conflicting emotions for me.

I felt excited about a public transportation system that might be effective, affordable, and improve the lives of so many low income people in Richmond. I was also excited by Campbell’s accurate, historical look at the loss of good public transit in Richmond, and how he identified racism and bigotry as the reasons why we ended up with the terrible transit we currently eke by with,

So, to get a few things straight before I go into a slight critique-

1- I am for a larger, better thought out, more affordable, multi-jurisdictional public transit system for the Metro Richmond Area.

2- I am against racism, segregation, and policies, institutions and practices that reinforce racism.

The part of Campbell’s article that I think deserves challenging and a more in depth discussion, is the seeming underlying assumption that developing a better public transit system would be anti-racist, and a step towards changing Richmond’s long, dirty legacy of racism. Racism is complex. Racism is not a flag we can change out front of City Hall and move on. Racism is an issue that all Richmonders will have to do a lot of work around for us to take steps forward as a city.
The loss of public transit in Richmond was a symptom of the underlying disease of racism.

Treating the symptom is not enough to solve our problems.
There are some really great things about a better, less segregationist public transit system- the possibility for people to interact more outside of their race, better opportunities for jobs and recreational activities for low income people of color, and more.

But without a more holistic approach to the issue of racism in our city and society, we won’t be “solving” racism. One complicating factor I can think of is simply that a change in our City’s ranking, without a change in real estate practices, might just exacerbate issues of gentrification. As Richmond grows in popularity, low income people, many of whom are People of Color, are forced out of their homes and neighborhoods in response in increasing real estate values. Gentrification represents a systematic problem, out of any individual’s hands to stop. But until this process, poverty, and racism are actively being addressed, I don’t want to see Richmond’s ranking go up.

An improved public transit system would be a marked difference in City policy and programming. Many of the urban renewal projects over the years have been pretty clearly directed towards improving the desireability of Richmond to people who might visit or might one day move here. Consider the tourist aspects of many of the recent projects and events. First Fridays which attracts many people from surrounding counties, and has difficulty when low income youth of color from surrounding neighborhoods in the city start attending in mass. The Canal Walk, where I’ve only ever gone with my grandma (love you grandma). The Convention Center. The upcoming 2015 cycling event. Richmond’s urban planning efforts have been fairly pitiful, and seem to reflect the racism and classism of the City government.

Richmond does need to focus more on keeping current residents, helping current residents, and developing ways to make our daily lives better. Jobs, housing, access to healthy food, and transportation are some really great places to start.

Some questions Richmonders should be asking themselves in the mean time are:

What are we doing to make Richmond a better place for the people who are currently living here?
How can we make sure we take care of the current residents before visitors or potential new residents?
What do low income people want and need?
What do people of color want and need?
How can we listen to low income people and people of color more?

If Richmond really does want to shed our racist reputation we’ve got some work to do. Let’s get a better public transit system, but make sure we don’t lose sight of the whole disease of racism while we ride around on some buses.

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Book review: Against Equality

26 Oct

I picked up a copy of Against Equality at the 2010 Richmond Zine Fest. I had heard about it, and was too busy to go see a presentation about the book at U of R a couple weeks ago.

I just wanted to let people know that Against Equality is really worth reading. Even if you have been keeping up to date with the radical queer response to the mainstream Gaygenda to legalize Gay Marriage, Against Equality manages to collect essays and interviews from a wide variety of sources, some of which you probably missed.

The essays in general do an excellent job of bringing issues of intersectionality, social justice, and privilege to light in regards to the Gay Marriage campaigns.

The discussion about immigration and immigrant rights in regards to gay marriage explains very well how it is not enough to support imimgrant rights only in the context of one type of partnership. Gay marriage is diluting the immigration issue. Continue reading

On Racism- from CPHP#5

19 Oct

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Racism

My collective and roommates Kayla and Eric and I went to Diversity Thrift the other day to see if they had halloween decorations and to get some more clothes for the cold weather. We checked out the LGBTQ book section and I found some really cool murder mysteries with LGBTQ characters. I love crappy mystery novels and so it was super good to read some that were not supporting the patriarchy. One of the books was pretty awesome, called Murder in the Collective by Barbara Wilson. It talked about collectives and consensus and queers and dealing with alcoholism and more! And there was a really awesome quote which I will repeat here! Page 133,

 

you worry about being called racist as if it were syphillis or something. Like you were accused of carrying some dread, disfiguring, incurable disease. But I think it’s more like telling someone or being told, “Hey, you’ve got snot hanging out of your nose.’ You say thank you and wipe it off. Though that doesn’t mean the snot’s not ever going to drip again.”

I think that is soooo good. And I want to reproduce it a lot, and would encourage other people to as well. It is such a good way to talk about racism (or classism, sexism, etc.) and point out why there is no need to be defensive. Of COURSE being oppressive or racist/sexist/classist etc. is fucked up. But of COURSE we all fuck up all the time. These things are not good, and they do need to be called out, but people need to realize that trying to avoid being called out is counterproductive. No one is perfect.

*An addition that was not in the zine but that ought to be thought about by white people- prejudice+power= racism. POC are not racist towards white people, because they do not have the backing of institutional powers.

Also, letting someone know they have proverbial snot hanging out of their nose is not the same as saying that you yourself have never had snot hanging out of your nose. Frankly, I think a lot of the reason people are ABLE to point out to others when they have been racist or sexist etc. is because they recognize their own previous behavior. Getting called out can make your ego feel bad. Getting defensive and attacking the person who called you out is not a productive or appropriate means of dealing with the situation. Someone calling you out is NOT them saying they aren’t fucked up. Someone with privilege can call out others on their privilege- it does not mean they are denying their own privilege or problems. Allowing guilt or defensiveness to get in the way of dealing with the snot hanging out of your nose is not going to lead to positive things for yourself or your community.

Keep Monroe Open- Video and Petition

12 Oct

Food Not Bombs Statement Regarding Monroe Park

10 Oct

Richmond Food Not Bombs has been sharing food in Monroe Park for over sixteen years now. We have developed many connections and friendships over the course of our existence, helped provide healthy food to many individuals who may not have had access to it otherwise, and become a staple of social activity for many people’s Sunday afternoons.

The proposed renovations to Monroe Park are an attack , a judgement on who the park should and shouldn’t be for. It is an attack on the homeless, the “homeless-appearing” (whatever that means – it’s in the Monroe Park Advisory Council’s renovation plans), and groups and individuals who don’t judge people by their social status or whether they have conventional means of acquiring shelter.

We will not stand for it.

The only change that the park really needs is for the city to do its job when it comes do doing maintenance on the bathrooms, as they are functional but one of the water pipes to the sinks has corroded away. Other improvements, such as installing permanent chess tables, or a playground area for kids would be nice, but NOT at the cost of driving out the folks who currently congregate in the park, shutting the entire park down for 18 months, or privatizing the security of the park. Continue reading

Thanks to all Anti-Racists

10 Aug

To preface this, I am white- just to let you know if you don’t know me.

And where I was born and raised (Hanover and Richmond Virginia) the issue of racism is not dealt with particularly well. When I went to college in Massachusetts I found myself very out of my element. I did not want to be a racist, but back in Virginia had never encountered anyone challenging me on issues of race, privilege, appropriation, prejudice etc.

I had a hard time learning to deal with being called out on my behavior. I had a hard time coming to understand the difference between racism and prejudice. I was very difficult and I’m sure seriously upset and traumatized and angered people who were fighting racism and privilege. I’m sorry for any tears, sleepless nights etc. that my insensitivity contributed to.  I’m sorry it takes me being in your shoes to be able to even begin to understand the shit you have to deal with.

Now that I am going through the ordeal that is trying to explain to people what racism and prejudice are and are not etc., I have a serious appreciation for how much upset and strife I no doubt caused everyone who called me out in the past. I wish there was a better way to let everyone know how sorry I am for being so ignorant/resistant/defensive.

I am trying to not be so ignorant/resistant/defensive. I think working on privilege and race are life long tasks, so I am sure I am going to be making more mistakes.  I want to try not to, but I also want to try to be open to criticism and to avoid getting defensive. Please do call me out, preferably in a non-attack manner.  Genuine attempts to call me out will be met with a ready listener.

May 21st: Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo

25 May

Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo (April 11, 1925 – March 25, 1965)-

Viola was a civil rights worker who was murdered by the Klu Klux Klan in Alabama. She was a mother of 5 in Michigan, who was moved by the Civil Rights movement. She travelled down south to take part in protests and marches. She was helping to drive local marchers home after the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. In her car was 19 year old Leroy Moton, who was an African American. Driving home, they were forced off of the road by another vehicle. The Klansmen shot into the car, hitting Viola twice and killing her. Leroy played dead when the Klansmen came to inspect the car. After they left he ran for help.

The murderers were quickly apprehended. The reason this case can be said to involve the state is that one of the 4 men in the car was an informant for the FBI. The four Klan members in the car, Collie Wilkins (21), FBI informant Gary Rowe (34), William Eaton (41) and Eugene Thomas (42) were all arrested.

A series of all white juries acquitted and mistrialed the case for a while. In the mean time 2 of the Klansmen died from other accidents and natural causes before they ever served time. They were eventually all found guilty and sentenced to 10 years. Gary Rowe, the FBI employee, was put into the Witness Protection Program, because of Death threats from the KKK.

The Klansmen received a lot of community support, even having a parade in their honor.

On December 28, 1977 the Liuzzo family, filed a lawsuit against the FBI. They charged that Rowe, as an employee of the FBI, had failed to prevent Liuzzo’s death and had in effect conspired in the murder. Which would make the state culpable for the murder. Later, the ACLU filed another lawsuit on behalf of the family.

Rowe was indicted in 1978 and tried for his involvement in the murder,but the first trial ended in a hung jury, and the second trial ended in his acquittal.

Ultimately the folks who were accountable for this murder were not truly held accountable. The state and the Klansmen got away with the murder of Viola Liuzzo.