Biden apologizes for controversial ‘you ain’t black’ comment

As reported by Quint Forgey and Myah Ward in the Hill on May 27, 2020:

African American support was crucial to former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 primary victory, and his ability to turn out black voters in November could make or break the general election for Democrats. So after comments to a popular black radio personality Friday morning induced queasiness among some of his allies, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee eventually apologized later in the day.

In an interview on “The Breakfast Club” that aired Friday morning, Biden responded to a question from the show’s co-host, Charlamagne tha God, by saying that, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” He walked back those remarks hours later, acknowledging in a campaign call with black business leaders that he had perhaps been “much too cavalier.”

“I know that the comments have come off like I was taking the African American vote for granted. But nothing could be further [from] the truth,” Biden said. “I’ve never ever done that, and I’ve earned it every time I’ve run. I was making the point that I have never taken the vote for granted. And in fact, I know in order to win the presidency, I need the African American vote. And it was the driving force, as I said, in the beginning of my campaign [a] year ago, to my being able to win in the first place and win the primary. And it is going to be critical to my winning the presidency.”

Biden’s eyebrow-raising initial statements came during an at-times contentious virtual conversation with Charlamagne, during which the candidate was challenged over his decades long record on racial issues and current contemplation of a black, female running mate.

“I’m not acknowledging anybody who is being considered, but I guarantee you, there are multiple black women being considered. Multiple,” Biden said of his search process for a vice presidential nominee.

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This is an illustration of a politician playing the demeaning game of identity politics for the black vote.

From Lefticon:

Identity politics the political pursuit of the special interests of an oppressed group.

Identity politics benefits the oppressed group, the individuals within it, and the politician or political party that represents it. It works well in geographic areas where there are large numbers of oppressed, but best where an oppressed minority is a local majority. It can be a tool of the reformer, the revolutionary, or the demagogue.

To maximally benefit from identity politics, a politician who belongs to a small but influential minority must publicly identify as a member of the oppressed group. If previously undisclosed, it means “coming out of the closet” and revealing one’s oppressed identity. Politicians with hybrid identities can identify with the oppressed part of their personal identity, however small.

Identity politics began with the Industrial Revolution and the recognition of classes that were newly oppressed (the proletariat), traditionally oppressed (the peasantry), and their obvious oppressors, the industrial capitalists (bourgeoisie) and the agrarian land-owners. In countries with a monarchy, the monarch and aristocracy were also held as oppressors. Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Monaco were exceptions because of the lovability of their adorable Royal Families.

In their successful deployments of identity politics, socialist parties used labor movements to mobilize large segments of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. The most successful were the Bolsheviks in Russia and the Nazis in Germany. Once in power, the Bolsheviks eliminated an entire class of agrarian land-owners, the kulaks, and the Nazis perpetrated the Holocaust against six million Jews.

In recent years, identity politics lost some of its raison d’être. The proletariat is far less oppressed than during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In developed countries, they enjoy a high standard of living and, in some fields, an income comparable to that of the bourgeois professional or small-business capitalist. Many became bureaucrats and petty oppressors themselves. Feminism and the major struggles against racism and sexism were largely successful.

Despite these advances, identity politics has retained its effectiveness largely due to the powers of presentation of the legacy media and the powers of dissemination of the New Media. However, with the recognition of identity as a social construct, the number of personal identities increased markedly, which resulted in the fragmentation of large groups into internally competing subgroups or factions, each requiring its own political advocacy.

In its struggle for recognition, each oppressed group or faction must often compete with other oppressed groups and their special interests for media coverage and access to power. Much like the rent-seeking crony capitalists, who compete for a bigger slice of the economic pie, each special interest group or subgroup often competes for their slice of an oppression-victimization-special favors pie. As with all rent-seeking behavior, the special favors they seek are from government with its powers to legislate and regulate rights; to selectively define and criminalize hate speech and its symbols; and to take from one and give to another.

In the end, identity politics is self-destructive.  As a case in point, Communism—whether under Lenin, Mao, or Castro—used identity politics to seize power, but once established, an oppressed identity became an unnecessary encumbrance to the system. Any individual or group claiming oppression became de facto a reactionary, revisionist, or counter-revolutionary, an enemy of the people, and was dealt with accordingly.

There’s an unconscious bias in virtual meetings

In MSUToday, the blog of Michigan State University, Caroline Brooks wrote on May 14, 2020:

While employees use videoconferencing now more than ever, there’s an issue happening beneath the surface with platforms like Zoom, Teams and Skype beyond stress and mental health that’s affecting its users.

Amy Bonomi, a social science researcher from Michigan State University, and Nelia Viveiros from University of Colorado, said that these platforms are a ripe setting for unconscious bias — or, attitudes towards people or associated stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge. These can be related to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etcetera.

“Unconscious bias can intersect with language, symbolism and nonverbal cues that reinforce normative social identities with respect to gender, race, sexual preference and socioeconomic status,” Bonomi said. “For example, when the virtual background of a Zoom meeting attendee has pictures of his or her wedding, it unintentionally reinforces the idea that marriage is most fitting between opposite sexes.”

In fact, even a simple icebreaker — common for videoconferencing settings —can be a pathway for unintentionally reinforcing dominant social norms and identities.

“In a recent videoconference, we were asked the ‘most fun thing you’ve done with your family during quarantine.’ Participant answers ranged from ‘gardening with my husband’ to ‘dance parties with my family,’” Viveiros said.

While these experiences are valid and we celebrated them, Viveiros said that the way the ice breaker question was phrased unintentionally crowded out the experiences of people with minoritized social identities. For example, afterwards Viveiros learned that asking about “fun family things” prevented several Latinx attendees from sharing their experiences of losing family members and community members to novel coronavirus.

Additionally, microaggressions are also communicated in virtual meetings just as they are in face-to-face meetings, Bonomi said. Microaggressions are brief, commonplace verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative slights related to race and other identity points.

For example, during a recent virtual meeting, the white facilitator lamented that there weren’t any diverse people to help with an analysis. Yet, when several participants clarified that they were persons of color, the facilitator said, “I mean someone who can speak eloquently about this topic.” …

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From Lefticon:

Implicit bias – bias against certain minoritized and marginalized groups that is subtle, hidden in unconscious attitudes and stereotypes, and becomes manifest in the actions of the biased individuals or groups. Also called unconscious bias.

Implicit bias and microaggression are closely related, with the former being the substrate of the latter.

Note:  Implicit bias is especially prevalent in law enforcement, and accounts for the disturbing incidence of police shootings of unarmed black youths.

Microaggression – a hidden form of hostility or derogation against a member of a minority group, revealed through unintentionally offensive words or deeds that are perceived by another as a slight, insult, or insensitivity.

This concept was first described in 1970 by Chester M. Pierce, MD, psychiatry professor at Harvard, who was black, and later expanded by Columbia psychologist Derald Wing Sue, who is Asian.

Microaggression is the manifestation of long-standing, systemic inequality in privilege and power that has become so much a part of the dominant culture that it occurs effortlessly, without conscious input or awareness. In most cases, it is directed by privileged whites at marginalized people of color, or white males at women of any color. It can be a sign of implicit bias, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and white male supremacy. Its detection requires the cultivation of hypersensitivity to offensive speech and behavior, a microsensitivity so to speak. Once this microsensitivity is acquired, one can detect microaggression in its most deceptively innocent presentations.

There are many kinds of microaggression, including but not limited to microassaults, microinsults, microinvalidation, and microrapes. A man opening a door for a woman, or offering her his seat in public transportation, can be manifesting any or all of these variations. A teacher mispronouncing a minority student’s name is committing a microinsult; if accompanied by laughter, it is a microassault. When Vice-President Biden described then-presidential-candidate Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” it was clearly a microinvalidation of other blacks based on low expectations—an implicit racial bias—even though it was claimed to be a compliment.

Another example was when a black White House correspondent asked President Trump “Will you meet with the Congressional Black Caucus?” Trump responded, “I would. You want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?” For this offensive reply, he was denounced by numerous journalists and social-media critics. The AP headline read, “Trump exchange with black journalist sparks outrage.” In this incident, the low threshold of the media for outrage, or more likely faux-outrage, was a nearly perfect complement to their faux-microsensitivity.

In retrospect, many of the gestures of gallantry of bygone times were microaggressions. By today’s standards, Sir Walter Raleigh would never have dared to muddy his cape for Queen Elizabeth I, and perhaps would have been hung, drawn, and quartered if he did.

It was once held that only members of the dominant culture are capable of microaggression, and only minorities can be the victims. However, people with hybrid identities, intersecting one or more privileged, oppressor identities with one or more that are oppressed, can commit microaggression by virtue of the privileged component of their identity, e.g., a black who is heterosexual against a black gay. This is called bidirectional microaggression, which may be a misnomer if the aggression still flows from one individual to another and is not reciprocated. On the other hand, true bidirectionality could occur, with an exchange of aggressions between individuals, if each has conflicted components within their respective identities, e.g., between a black heterosexual and a white gay.



Portland anti-fascists are making hand sanitizer for essential workers, homeless residents

This was reported by Samantha Swindler on April 16, 2020 in the Oregonian/OregonLive:

Popular Mobilization, or PopMob, is probably best known by Portlanders for their counter protest activities against right-wing groups. They drew headlines most recently for their 2019 milkshake party, after Portland police tweeted a claim that some of the milkshakes contained concrete – a claim PopMob disputes and which ultimately had no evidence.

Now, the collective of activists and anti-fascists has moved from making vegan milkshakes to hand sanitizer.

PopMob members, with the help of the Rosehip Medic Collective, have produced more than 9,500 bottles, or about 225 gallons, of homemade hand sanitizer to distribute to frontline workers and helpers, and homeless residents. They’ve got a small assembly line of volunteers, working six days a week at donated space in the Q Center in North Portland, mixing and bottling the product.

Effie Baum, a spokesperson for PopMob, said free bottles have been distributed to groups such as Sisters of the Road, Outside In, Meals on Wheels, Portland People’s Outreach Project and VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project. Bottles have also been given to TriMet drivers, delivery workers, domestic violence shelters and individuals doing outreach work, Baum said.

“It is actually quite a bit of a side-step from our usual mission,” Baum said. “However, as we’ve seen with this pandemic, everybody has had to make really drastic changes in their life … and for PopMob, what we normally do isn’t feasible. We are very active about being anti-fascist and encouraging people to be everyday anti-fascists, and a big part of anti-fascism is community defense and supporting your community. This was a way to provide supplies to communities who had no other way of getting them.”

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From Lefticon:

Antifa – contraction of anti-fascist; an ad hoc movement of the far left in the United States that purports to be opposed to fascism.

Antifa is not related to the anti-fascist AFA movement in Germany which is against any resurgence of the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini. The American antifa concept of fascism is rather vague and more like Orwell’s “something not desirable.”

The media depict antifa demonstrators as idealistic, bourgeois, white millennials who oppose hate in all its forms. Emerging from the security of their safe spaces and dormitory rooms, they fight “fascism” by toppling Confederate statues, disrupting right-wing speakers, and harassing attendees at the rallies of Donald J. Trump.

There is ample corporate fascism in the United States, which our antifa players ignore. They rather settle for opposition to whatever else they call fascist: white supremacy, nationalism, racism, homophobia, hate speech, the flags and monuments of the Confederate South, and any neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan extras who show up at staged demonstrations. They dress in black, wear black ski-masks, and wave black flags. They come armed with batons, brass knuckles, milkshakes laced with cement, and mace, and deliberately provoke violence. Ironically, their tactics are a lot like those of the fascists they deride—the Blackshirts of Benito Mussolini and the Brownshirts of Adolf Hitler.

Similarities exist between Antifa and the campus radicals of the 1960s and 1970s, such as the SDS and the Weather Underground, but those were actual student organizations with identifiable leaders. Antifa warriors try to be anonymous and have not yet progressed to the bombing of police stations and public buildings, as their grandparents did in the SDS. In many ways, they are more like a white version of Black Lives Matter (BLM), but not prone to looting because their scripts preclude it. (Any bourgeois college student already owns most lootables.) Their actions are consistent with those of paid agitators recruited specifically to create violent disruption, chaos, and fear. Like Black Lives Matter, antifa is funded, at least in part, by the noted philanthropist and provocateur, George Soros, through a network of multiple NGOs.