A Tarrant County Republican activist has a new idea for a club at Tarrant County Colleges: a student union to celebrate and promote white interests.
Richard Railey, a 56-year-old seeking an Associate of Applied Science in IT, calls himself "Mstr Rick" and is currently seeking a school charter for the White Student Union of Tarrant County Colleges. On its website, Railey deems the group "a confederacy of like minds united in pursuit of common political, cultural, educational, and social interests relative to our unique White Heritage". In the past, the Tarrant County GOP has appointed Railey as an election judge and elected him as a precinct chairman.
This is BOR's Video of the Day, or VOTD, our nightly video clip segment highlighting must-see content. If you like today's video and want more people to see it, share it on Twitter and Facebook!
On Friday, the Texas Democratic Party released footage taken by a Lubbock Democratic Party Volunteer who was harassed by four men who were caught vandalizing Democratic and "Lubbock Supports Obama 2012" signs. This has been a widely reported problem for Obama signs in Lubbock in which racial slurs, graffiti, and other forms of vandalism have been reported of in neighborhoods.
Warning: the video contains inappropriate and racially-charged language.
There has been a great deal of hatred throughout this election, and Republicans have repeatedly refused to address it. We applaud the volunteer for his bravery and the state party for recognizing these issues of hate, while working to promote equality within our communities across Texas.
Check out all of our BOR videos of the day on the VOTD tag.
As of Fall 2011, 20% of UT's student body is Hispanic. But that isn't stopping a couple of sororities from throwing a party chock full of racist stereotypes about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.
Last night, two sororities, Zeta Tau Alpha and Delta Delta Delta, hosted their annual "Zeta-Tri Delt Fiesta Party" at Recess Bar on 6th street. They rented the bar out until 12:30p.m. for their hundreds of guests, many of whom wore ponchos and other stereotypical Mexican garb of a bygone era.
Now, I don't believe that wearing tradition Mexican attire is inherently racist. But I do know that you have to be classy about it. Laying down some ground rules for attire would have been a much better step for the sororities, instead of encouraging hundreds of drunk Texas Greeks to parade around 6th street in clothing which suggests that this is what Mexicans and Mexican-Americans wear. Anyone who's been to a modern-day fiesta knows that this isn't how people dress.
Unfortunately, having no rules led these two sororities to host a party which also accepted, and obviously encouraged, outright racism. See the picture in this post, taken from the event. What the hell does an undocumented immigrant and a border patrol officer have to do with a fiesta party, which is supposed to be a celebration of Mexican-American culture? The "illegals" are clearly what some students thought this party was a referendum on. If you're not an "illegal" - a crude, dehumanizing term suggesting that a person's entire existence is defined by the status of their papers - then you're an ancient Mexican stereotype divorced from today's society. This type of dress should absolutely have been banned by two sororities claiming to be stand-up members of the UT and Austin communities.
It's not that these two sororities are racist, nor that all their guests are. It's that there are bounds of reasons in everything - themed parties included. Your right to free speech doesn't mean others can't critique the way you use it. There are 600 undocumented UT students in the same community as these revelers and they should be able to expect respect from their Longhorn peers. In their efforts both to study on Texas's DREAM Act, while politicians debate ridiculously over a national DREAM Act, it's not right for them to have to put up with this public display of antipathy.
Northwest Austin homeowner Bud Johnson has taken down the empty chair he lynched to a tree in his yard, seemingly owing to the local and national media attention that his racially charged tableau created.
Traffic was reported backed up to the entrance of his subdivision yesterday as rubberneckers drove by for a chance to see and photograph the chair in person. Several media outlets were able to interact with Johnson -- who manages to out-do even Clint Eastwood's best Cranky Old Man routine -- reported that the man said people were "getting the wrong idea" and that he meant it as a show of support for Eastwood's speech. He said he didn't have anywhere else to put the chair so he hung it from a tree. The chair is now sitting on the Johnson's lawn with the flag still attached.
If he meant it as a show of support, why did he lynch the chair in the first place? Why not simply place the chair on the lawn as he has done now?
Let's break it down.
Johnson admits the chair was a sign of support for Eastwood's speech, in which an empty chair symbolized President Barack Obama.
Johnson hung that symbol -- the symbol of an African-American -- from a tree in a manner identical to how white Southerners once lynched thousands of African-Americans.
Johnson now claims lynching a symbol of an African-American isn't racist, but rather a show of support for Eastwood's speech.
Excuse me if I'm a teeny, tiny bit skeptical here.
Local CBS affiliate KEYE was there as Johnson cut down the chair. It's worth taking the time to watch the unedited 5-minute video of a KEYE reporter confronting Johnson.
While plenty of folks are still trying to dismiss this as unimportant, claim it's not racist, or suggest it's not even worthy of coverage, public racism needs to be confronted and called out. It's hard to interpret the lynching of a symbol of an African-American as anything other than racist, and Johnson's explanations do little to mitigate that interpretation.
This isn't the first lynched chair we've seen since the RNC. I do hope it's the last, but given the desperate and frenetic flailings of those who cannot accept an African-American president, I'd be surprised if we made it to November 6 without even more overt public displays of racism. Each of those need to be called out, too. The Republican Party has become the last respite for those who cling to antiquated opposition to equality for all Americans. While plenty of people want to stick their heads in the sand and take comfort in the myth that we've "solved" racism, the truth is much uglier -- as ugly as a neighbor pretending to lynch the President on a leafy suburban lawn.
I'm heartened, however, by the force and volume of the castigating response to Johnson's displays, accelerated by digital media and transmitted by a younger generation of Americans that are vastly more accepting, who celebrate our pluralistic and multi-cultural society, and who value the diversity that makes America great. As my former State Senator Barack Obama said himself in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention, "in no other country on Earth is my story even possible."
So let's work hard these last seven weeks to re-elect President Barack Obama and Democrats up and down the ballot, not merely to show folks who share Bud Johnson's views that they're wrong, but to demonstrate again that as Americans, we're committed to moving our country forward.
Last night we broke the story of a man in Northwest Austin who lynched an empty chair from a tree in his front lawn, seemingly intended to represent the first African-American president.
We've since received an updated photo from a neighbor that should clarify whether the homeowner meant the display to make a political statement. The image is here.
The homeowner has attached an American flag to the chair. If anyone wasn't clear before that he meant the President, hopefully this decorative addition will make it clear: the homeowner is suggesting that Barack Obama be lynched.
This image should curdle the blood of all patriotic Americans regardless of partisan leanings. Our flag is a symbol of our great country, and the ideals of diversity and opportunity that make us a beacon of hope and democracy around the world. Generations of service members have fought and died to protect what that flag represents.
Yet because one sad, old racist can't handle the fact that the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, is African-American, he ties that same flag to a public display calling for that President's violent, racially charged death.
Unfortunately, our Austin neighbor is not the first person to come up with the "clever" idea of lynching a chair. A man in Virginia lynched a chair with a "Nobama" sign on it over the weekend, as reported by our friends at Blue Virginia.
Meanwhile, this story is garnering national attention across the blogosphere, and will unfortunately only confirm the worst stereotypes of Texans as intolerant racists. We're not all crazy bigots, and that's why we've got to push back strongly against displays of racism both overt and subtle. Texans, do you really want this kind of imagery to represent our great state? We're the home of LBJ, signer of the Civil Rights Act, and we have a proud history of African-American and Hispanic civil rights efforts.
Demographically, this dude's time is limited. He's 73. Across Texas, the majority of our public school students are Hispanic and African-American. According to the Census Bureau, most children younger than age 1 are minorities.
The Republican Party continues to visibly brand itself as the last respite for public racism, and thankfully it won't win them many elections much longer.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that "We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term." That isn't stopping the angry demographic from raging against the dying of their white majority.
Incidents like this remind us that we've still got a long way to go, and that far from "solving" racism, the election of our country's first African-American president only revealed the festering, backwards beliefs clung to by those who fear the increasingly diverse future of our nation.
As of the time of this post's publication, the chair was still hanging in effigy in Northwest Austin. Neighbors report that the homeowner had a "guard" on his lawn yesterday protecting his installation. If the homeowner wanted to draw attention to his backwards views about the President, he appears to have succeeded beyond his wildest imagination.
Today, Burnt Orange Report received the photo at right, taken in front of a home in Northwest Austin. The resident, a Republican, lynched an empty chair from a tree in his yard, which one can easily interpret to represent a racially motivated act of violence against the President.
Now, one could easily argue "it's just a chair, what's the big deal? That's not racist!"
However, in light of Clint Eastwood's speech at the Republican National Convention, in which he had a largely one-sided conversation with an empty chair he pretended was Barack Obama, this imagery is now associated with the President.
The image of the chair is associated with the President. Now, lynch that chair from a tree, and you've got a pretty awful racist sentiment calling for lynching the first African-American President!
Lynching was a horrific and commonplace act in Reconstruction-era Texas and continued until the mid-1940's, spurred on by Ku Klux Klan groups. Texas is third amongst all states -- behind Mississippi and Georgia -- in the total number of lynching victims between 1885 and 1942. Of those 468 victims, an overwhelming number were African-American.
Perhaps the most well-known and horrific lynching in Texas occurred in 1916, when Jesse Washington was accused of raping and murdering a woman near Waco. He was sentenced to death, and lynched in front of a crowd of onlookers, after which members of the mob castrated him, cut off his fingers, and hung him over a bonfire. Pieces of his body were sold as souvenirs. The gruesome event became part of the NAACP's anti-lynching movement.
Most recently, in 1998, James Byrd Jr. -- for whom the Texas Hate Crimes Prevention Act is named -- was lynched by being dragging behind a vehicle in East Texas.
We have a sad and awful history of white people lynching African-Americans in Texas, and this history is exactly what this Republican's front yard display taps into.
There are folks who will claim that this isn't "racist." Republicans, especially the Tea Party types, like to claim that liberals think every attack on the President is racist. Folks like to claim that hanging a noose up as decoration is "honoring the past of the South," blithely ignoring the context in which those same nooses were used during the pre-Civil War and Reconstruction eras -- by white men to hang African-Americans. Some folks will undoubtedly point out the burning of Bush effigies throughout his administration, especially during anti-war protests.
This is different. This is the specific and deliberate use of a racially charged act of violence -- lynching -- perpetrated by white men against African-American men and women. When you add a Republican symbol for the first African-American President into the mix, you get a pretty awful picture -- the one you see at right, and one that can be seen on a front lawn here in leafy, quiet Northwest Austin.
We're a state that has a horrific history of hate crimes, and given the new context of the "empty chair" created by the Republican Party during their own convention gives this image of a chair hanging from a tree a decidedly sinister, and yes, racist, meaning.
It's awful. Republicans should call out this imagery and the racist rhetoric that has come to pervade their party. But I'm not holding my breath.
Updated 6:28 p.m. Wednesday I called the homeowner to ask about his display, citing my concerns as a fellow Austinite. He replied, and I quote, "I don't really give a damn whether it disturbs you or not. You can take [your concerns] and go straight to hell and take Obama with you. I don't give a shit. If you don't like it, don't come down my street."
Ironically, the homeowner in question, Bud Johnson, won "Yard of the Month" in August 2010 from his Homeowners Association. I guess his display was a little different that month?
This is BOR's Video of the Day, or VOTD, our nightly video clip segment that hopefully provides you with a laugh or a chance to think at the end of the day.
It was a big day for really ugly Southern racism. An ugly bumper sticker spotted on a car in Williamson County went viral. At an NCAA game today, the Southern Miss band chanted a racial slur at a Hispanic player, asking where his green card was. (The player was Puerto Rican, and thus a citizen.)
And making the rounds thanks to Andrew Sullivan is a clip from Bill Maher, a series of outtakes from a set of interviews by Alexandra Pelosi conducted in Mississippi. It's jaw-dropping, and it's got the Republicans in a bit of a snit for showing who their base really is in this day and age. And by "this day and age" I mean "these people want to take us back to the 1800's."
(If the video doesn't play, hit refresh, or click here to go to Andrew Sullivan's blog and try it there.)
"Adam and Steve?" Check.
Confederate imagery? Check.
Failure to separate church and state? Check.
Overt white supremacy? Check.
Illogical opposition to public assistance? Check.
The GOP is increasingly becoming the party of these people. That's why Mitt Romney is pandering to these folks, and that's why Rick Santorum performed so well in Tuesday's primaries. And that's why educated swing voters need to take a good, hard look at what Republicans really stand for these days and think twice about whether these sad, uneducated, ignorant Southerners should really be setting the direction for our country.
Check out all of our BOR videos of the day on the VOTD tag.
(Introducing Bryan Case, candidate for the Travis County 167th District Court. We invite all candidates to post diaries and introduce themselves to our readers! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Formation of a Passion for Justice (Part 1 on Why I am running for 167th District Court)
My commitment to fairness and equal treatment for all our people is rooted in my family's values of legal and social justice. It was during my Junior High days in the piney woods of Rusk, Texas that I first remember taking a strong stand for principle-- when I first personally encountered the ugliness of racism and bigotry of which I had not been aware existed in the small, East Texas town. Seeing racism from afar does not prepare one for the personal and emotional close-up experience. My own budding awareness of right and wrong in the 7th grade led me to slap an "LBJ for the USA" sticker on my school notebook. It had never crossed my mind that this would prompt some of my friends to throw racial slurs my way. Too ridiculous to warrant reply, I thought.
After weeks of laughing at them, one morning waiting for the bell to ring near the end of recess three friends and I were together. One started it, then the next, and the next; the laughing taunt, then the taunt followed by a quick jump and retreat, with me turning toward each in turn. This incident ended with quick dispersal of the taunters upon the hardest blow a skinny sixth-grader could land on a kid's shoulder/chest. It is to this day the only time I have slugged someone with all my strength out of anger. Later, in the 8th grade with the first black kid in our classroom, these same 100 students nominated and elected me class president, and thereafter through the 12th grade. Seems as though my class wanted someone with principle, willing to risk exclusion and friendship in order to get us through the coming tumultuous years. Several Democratic Clubs have heard this little story, thinking it quite quaint, I imagine, but never really understanding its significance.
Now, the rest of it. My father was a pastor in the small community of St. Amant, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, in the summer of 1955 when I was 3½ years old. Dad's family had all grown up about four miles from the small community of Caseyville, in western Lincoln County, Mississippi, 100 miles south of St. Amant.
Recently there has been a national conversation about race and racism, but this conversation has been inadequate at best and detrimental at worst. The problem is that the conversation has not been about racism as a systemic and institutional problem, but the conversation has been about whether or not individual acts of prejudice constitute racism. This conversation then completely ignores the structural problems that create racial disparities, and therefore completely misses the point of what our national conversation about race should be about. Perhaps the most significant source of structural racism is the United States justice system, where justice is not always blind.
According to a recent study, a defendant accused of killing a white person in North Carolina is nearly three times as likely to get the death penalty than someone accused of killing a black person. This study looked at death sentence in North Carolina over a 28 year period, and examined 15,281 homicides in the state of which 368 resulted in death sentences. The results of the study where that the odds of receiving a death sentence in cases where the victim was white were 2.96 times as high as the odds in cases with black victims. This finding is not unique. According to another study, blacks who kill whites are significantly more likely to face the death penalty in Maryland than are blacks who kill blacks or white killers
Race is not only one of the determining factors in who receives the death penalty, but in who is stopped by the police, especially when police are racially profiling. In New York 575,304 people stopped and frisked by the New York Police Department last year, and information was gathered on individuals being detained to build a database on citizens who had not committed any crime. According to a report by New America Media, 87% of those who where detained where people of color. While Governor Paterson recently signed a law that made it illegal for police to randomly detain and frisk individuals and to compile their private information, this illustrates another example of the structural racism that exists in the justice system.
The debate over immigration has been pushed into the national conversation since the Arizona state legislature passed Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, otherwise known as SB1070. Since Arizona Governor, Republican Jan Brewer, signed SB1070 into law there have been seven separate lawsuits filed against the law, including a lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice. In federal court last week Judge Susan Bolton heard arguments from both sides of Salgado v. Brewer, and this week Judge Bolton will hear arguments in the case brought by the Justice Department. These lawsuits argue that the law is unconstitutional on different grounds including that it violates civil liberty, that it causes racial profiling and that it is an unlawful regulation of federal immigration law.
This law has come at a significant price to Arizona. While the state is facing a budget deficit of more than $4.5 billion dollars, the law is going to cost the state millions of dollars. In addition to the $10 million in initial cost of implementing the law, county and municipal law enforcement agencies will be forced to spend millions of dollars enforcing the law. According to the Immigration Policy Center law-enforcement agencies in Yuma County alone will have to spend between $775,880 and $1,163,820 in processing expenses; jail costs would be between $21,195,600 and $96,086,720; attorney and staff fees would be $810,067-$1,620,134; and additional detention facilities would have to be built at unknown costs. Arizona will also be affected by Latino and immigrant populations that may migrate to states with less hostile environments towards these populations. According to a 2008 study by the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona, the Latino and immigrant generated $10.2 billion in state economic output, and generated tax revenues of roughly $776 million.