Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Thomas Sowell Retired: Bye Felicia

“But, to the race hustlers, black lives don't really matter nearly as much as their chance to get publicity, power, money, votes or whatever else serves their own interests.”                                                
Thomas Sowell

When I logged on Twitter and saw Thomas Sowell trending I thought he had passed away; I was relieved to find out he was just retiring. That relief was replaced with joy, which was then replaced with apathy. I hope Thomas Sowell enjoys a long and fruitful retirement. I don’t wish him any ill will. I hope he gets to snap pictures for another decade, but I won’t pretend like his career benefited the masses of Black people. Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Ward Connerly, and Larry Elder are my Mount Rushmore of Anti-Black-Black academicians and media personalities. In my opinion, their collective efforts to sabotage anyone fighting systemic racism, coupled with their innate ability to attack Black victims of police brutality make them just as dangerous to young Black men as the Trap Rappers who make millions selling the illusion of drug game fame and fortune. The latter have succeeded in profiting from gangster imagery that may or may not be grounded in reality, but the former provide cover to racist elements in the conservative media who portray Black people as willful accomplices to many of the injustices we face. 

I know Black Conservatives who've used Thomas Sowell’s work to ground much of their economic and political philosophies. I can’t and won’t deny his impact on some of my contemporaries. He is an iconic conservative thinker and writer, but I part ways with him when it comes to his commitment to the Black community. Thomas Sowell has always chosen white conservative acceptance over justice for Black people. I know Black conservative writers who will never make it big because they choose their people over their politics. The cardinal sin for a Black conservative is defending Black people from truncated racist tropes. To make it big as a Black person in the conservative media one must deny the racism that exists in too many Human Resources departments, you must defend the police in instances of police brutality (no matter how egregious their behavior), and when in doubt: blame problems in the Black community on the destruction of Black family or Black on Black crime. There are a number of industries where being on that, “Black sh*t” doesn't fly, but I haven’t seen any industry as intolerant of pro-black rhetoric as the conservative media. I can’t think of one prominent Black conservative with a national platform who has routinely called out racism. You can't advance in that system by challenging the conservative media's position on issues related to the Black community.

Putting a Black face on white supremacist ideology and rhetoric is a tactic rooted in slavery. Contrary to the profit centered "race hustling" myth perpetuated by conservatives, the overwhelming majority of Black activists I've come in contact with haven't benefitted monetarily from supporting the Black community. Most have been blackballed at one point or another from predominantly white institutions because of their outspoken support for Black people. Dr. Michael Parenti once said, "a  journalists who writes for any publication can feel free to write what they want, as long as what they write pleases their editor's wishes." This holds true for Blacks on conservative platforms; even some liberal platforms have a threshold for excessive Black content. Black conservatives talk about freedom, but many aren't free to speak out against systems of white supremacy if they wanted to. A majority of conservatives avoid subject matter that challenges their view of America.

I will remember Thomas Sowell as a man who denied the plight of Black men in America when he wasn't too busy ignoring it. He was, after all, one of George Zimmerman’s most prominent Black defenders. I did a quick Google search to see if he's defended any Black Person in any of the high-profile cases of police brutality over the last few years: I couldn’t find one example of him doing so. Dr. Sowell’s retirement isn’t anything for the Black community to celebrate or mourn. He never used his intellect or platform for our benefit. He leaves and opens a space for a new Black face to rise up the conservative media ladder. 

Almost 25 years ago, Dr. Sowell gave a full-throated defense of the L.A.P.D. officers who nearly beat Rodney King to death. In the last few years Black conservatives have been on television and radio defending the N.Y.P.D. officer who choked Eric Garner to death, blaming Freddie Gray for his severed spine, and defending Michael Slager’s character to the detriment of Walter Scott’s life. There will always be a seat at the table for anyone promoting or normalizing anti-Black sentiments (see Tomi Lahren). If Black conservatives ever want to ditch the label of “Uncle Tom” or “Coon” it would behoove them to start supporting Black people in public. I’ve never heard a Black person call someone a sellout because they believed in supply side economics, but I have seen people disown public figures for their silence. When Black conservatives learn they can’t ignore the plight of Black people and build a legacy with us at the same time they might be able to come home, but until then: Bye Felicia!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Cardwell Charge Dismissed

Cardwell charge dismissed in General District court

WARM SPRINGS – A misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct against Danny Cardwell of Hot Springs was dismissed by Judge Gregory Mooney in Bath General District Court Wednesday.
Judge Mooney heard the case, which was prosecuted by Alleghany commonwealth’s attorney Ed Stein and, after closing arguments from Stein and defense attorney Taylor Baker, dismissed the charge.
The case stemmed from an Oct. 5 incident at Fast Break in Mitchelltown. According to Carl Chestnut of Hot Springs, who filed a complaint against Cardwell, Chestnut was inside Fast Break about 8:45 a.m., and Cardwell came in, talking to Richard Hise. Hise manages the local radio station where Cardwell is employed.
Cardwell said he went inside Fast Break to pay for his gas and buy some juice. When he left the store, Chestnut followed him outside and asked if he could ask Cardwell a question.
Chestnut testified, “He (Cardwell) done a taping of me of a meeting I had (at the Hot Springs firehouse in September). I asked him why he left a man out (of the video). He told me it was none of my (expletive) business… He got into my face.”
When Stein asked, Chestnut held his fingers about two inches apart. “(Cardwell) was this close to my nose,” he testified. Chestnut also said Cardwell threatened to “kill my (expletive) ass … He said, ‘I know I am going to have to go back to jail, but I am going to do it.’”
Chestnut said when Cardwell reached into his pocket, “I didn’t know what the hell was in his pocket,” he said.
“Excuse me?” shouted Judge Mooney, referring to the vulgarity.
“Sorry,” said Chestnut.
Chestnut said Cardwell took out his cell phone and began filming, saying, “I got your ass, homeboy.”
About that time, store manager Patti Trout came outside and asked both men to get in their cars and leave the premises.
Chestnut said he drove to the sheriff’s office later that morning and reported the incident.
Cardwell’s attorney, Taylor Baker, then asked Chestnut if he was “upset” about the video.
“Yeah,” he said. “I wasn’t mad; I just asked him about it.”
“Were you scared of him?” Baker asked.
“Why were you upset there was a portion of the video missing?” asked Baker.
Stein objected, citing relevance. Mooney sustained the objection.
“When you reported it to the sheriff’s office, did they bring charges?” asked Baker.
Stein again objected, which Mooney sustained.
Chestnut said he later spoke to Sheriff Robert Plecker and Virginia State Trooper Tim May about the incident. They directed him to go to the magistrate and swear out a warrant.
Next, Stein called Trout to the stand. She said she was busy with store duties, and at first did not pay much attention to the two men in the parking lot, between the door and the gas pumps.
“The next thing I know, my assistant told me things were getting a little excited out there,” she said. “I went outside and asked them to please stop; this isn’t the place for it … I asked Danny to please put his phone away … I did hear Danny call Carl a homeboy,” she said.
Asked if she ever thought there was “going to be any violence,” Trout said she did not.
Trout said the store is equipped with a surveillance camera that records what occurs in the lot and at the pumps. She watched the recording, she said, and then saved it, because she figured the sheriff’s office would want to see it at some time.
“Carl told me he was going to file charges against Danny… (The) sheriff’s office came a couple days later and got it.”
There is no audio on the store video, which recorded about three minutes, 50 seconds of tape.
Baker keyed up the recording on his computer, and the judge watched it carefully.
The tape clearly shows the two men outside the store. Each is pointing a finger at the other from time to time; however, at no time did Cardwell get within a few inches of Chestnut’s nose.
The commonwealth rested its case after Trout’s testimony, and the airing of the store tape.
Baker immediately moved to strike testimony by the complaining witness. He noted that, in the opinion of the defense, what Cardwell did “was not disorderly conduct.”
Stein disagreed, stating that, “even though there may have been a few more words exchanged than Mr. Chestnut re- membered,” there were sufficient words and conduct to support the charge.
Baker countered, “Mr. Chestnut instigated the entire conversation. Mr. Cardwell had every right to take out his phone and record” the incident.
Judge Mooney overruled Baker’s move to strike.
Baker called Sheriff Plecker as his first witness. Plecker said he and May advised Chestnut how to contact the magistrate to obtain “whatever warrant he was trying to get.”
“Did you take any further action?” Baker asked.
“No, we did not,” Plecker replied, noting Trout had “asked me to tell both men that they were welcome to come back into the store at any time.”
Then Baker put Cardwell on the stand. He testified about going inside the store to pay for his gas and buy some grapefruit juice. Once inside, he said, he encountered his boss, Hise, and they had a conversation. “We walked out together. Mr. Chestnut approached and asked to ask me a question. That leads up to what I’d call a gray area,” Cardwell said.
Cardwell digressed a little about what his job at the radio station entails – “It is an audio medium … there is no video.” He noted the video he made of the meeting at the firehouse was not done as part of his radio station job. He also noted he has “no idea” how to manipulate, change or delete a live-streaming video.
Outside Fast Break, Cardwell said, “Mr. Chestnut accused me of willfully trying to make him look stupid … I was arguing, but finally figured out we were not going to get anywhere … It was plain there was some kind of confrontation he was looking for … I decided I’d better pull out my phone.”
He added, “There is one thing Mr. Chestnut and I agree on: He followed me outside when I was leaving the store.”
“Did you say you were going to kill him?” Baker asked.
“Did you make any threat of violence?”
“Did you make any reference to going back to jail?”
“No … I did say, ‘Carl, you need to get out of my face.’”
Stein cross-examined.
“You stepped toward Mr. Chestnut to tell him to get out of your face?”
“My intention was to get him out of my face.”
“You could have gone toward your vehicle at any time? You made no threats?”
“I asked him to get out of my face.”
“How many felony convictions are on your record?”
Cardwell mused a moment, and then replied, “Three.”
Both Baker and Stein made closing arguments reiterating various points that underscored those that had been testified to as evidence.
Then, Judge Mooney took the case under advisement for a few minutes, making notes on a pad. Finally, he spoke.
“The burden of proof rests with the commonwealth,” he began. “I have a degree of doubt. I am going to dismiss the charge. We have two competing versions; neither tops the other.”
He added, “I found the video very significant. I observed it very carefully. I watched the timer, and it took 90 seconds … That was sufficient for me to conclude … what I saw was a vehement disagreement, that very clearly leads to uncivil behavior on … both parts. I see two people who are close to each other; I don’t see much in terms of advancement. I see finger-pointing by both parties. That leaves a significant degree of doubt in my mind.”
The judge suggested either party may ask the court to rule that the other party have no contact. Both Stein and Baker asked for that no-contact order. It prohibits contact in person, by phone, letter, notes, email, or any other means, in public or private, directly or indirectly.
The small downstairs courtroom was packed with spectators, most of whom filed out after the verdict. They gathered in groups at separate ends of the hallway, Cardwell family and supporters on one end, Chestnut family and supporters on the other. Deputies stood in between the two groups, who dispersed peacefully.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Hug Heard Around The Country

"Next time we may have to kill him."

                                                      John McGraw

On December 15th 79-year-old John Franklin McGraw plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of assault that stemmed from the well-timed forearm shiver he delivered to 26-year-old Rakeem Jones at a Trump rally in March. He was charged with a misdemeanor for a crime that had felonious intent. North Carolina state law allows such offenses to be classified as misdemeanors, so I can’t blame him, but let’s be honest: he was sentenced to unsupervised probation for committing an assault captured on video. If you're reading this and believe Rakeem Jones would have received such a lenient sentence had their roles been reversed I would suggest you do a quick google search of this country's history.

Donald Trump created a “Stone Cold Steve Austin” like confidence in some of his most ardent supporters. After months of denying the violence we saw with our own eyes president-elect Trump finally acknowledged his supporter’s behavior during one of his thank you tours, “You people were vicious, violent, screaming, ‘Where’s the wall? We want the wall!’ Screaming, ‘Prison! Prison! Lock her up!’ I mean you are going crazy. I mean, you were nasty and mean and vicious and you wanted to win, right?” He went on to say his supporters have since calmed down, but none of the data I’ve seen supports that notion. There has been a spike in hate crimes since the November 8th election, but some of these tensions have been brewing since the earliest days of the campaign.

Donald Trump's campaign successfully emboldened a racist subset of geriatrics longing for the good old days. These seniors see it as their duty to protect America from those of us born a little less “American” than them. This gets particularly dangerous when you consider how militarized some of these people are. We have de facto slave patrols in America again. This sounds like hyperbole to people who don’t have to worry about stand your ground laws being distorted to justify the extrajudicial killing of people who look like you, but the evidence is out there. A few weeks ago, in Charleston, West Virginia, a few hours from my home, William Ronald Pulliam murdered 15-year-old James Means. Pulliam claimed Means bumped into him at a convenience store before brandishing a firearm. Pulliam murdered a child and then went home and ate dinner. No gun was found. 

These kind of situations are happening more often than our national media is comfortable with. I had a man in his 70’s threaten me.  I’m 6’1” and 240lbs; I’m probably one of the last people a senior citizen should provoke into a physical altercation, yet my size and strength didn’t deter someone from provoking me. This is a real phenomenon with real world consequences. In the last few years we’ve seen militia members aim firearms at federal agents and another group take over a wildlife refuge. This isn’t just grumpy old men. These people pose a clear and present danger to society. It was all laughs and giggles when Uncle John was just repeating the crazy things he heard on Fox news, but now that he’s been arming himself for the last 8 years it isn’t funny.

America has changed so much in the last 50 years. Some of the belligerent behavior we're seeing from disgruntled seniors is their last gasp effort to derail the train of history. Some of these 70 and 80-year-old men have had front row seats to three generations of Black people destroying the lie of white supremacy. Many openly say "their" country has been stolen from them. Many of them have always viewed equality as their enemy. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, global capitalism created a new class of people. 

Here's a truth that goes contrary to the religious principles I fail trying to adhere to: I don't care that "real America" feels bad about what’s happening to them. When my parents, grandparents, and every ancestor I had on this continent were working like dogs to build this country and provide for our family many of these same "good ole boys" did everything in their power to make their lives worse. I won’t spend a minute trying to better understand people left behind by a system built on the backs of Black slave labor. I’m not one of these happy go lucky Negroes going out of my way to forgive people for failing in their attempt to destroy me. Black people are the only people on Earth routinely called on to forgive those who would cheer our destruction. I won’t be Rodney King; while I believe most of us can get along I’m not na├»ve enough to believe all of us can. My faith and religious conviction isn’t as strong as the family members of the Emanuel Nine who forgave Dylann Roof.

When Rakeem Jones hugged John McGraw I knew that image, like the image of the crying young boy hugging a Portland police officer, would be used by well-intentioned people to shift the focus from what happened to the promise of a utopian future; America has way of pivoting from potentially painful conversations about race. Rakeem Jones and John McGraw’s hug, and promise to “heal America” is as American a response to racial tensions as apple pie. Twitter and Black Twitter’s response to the hug heard around America couldn’t have been more different. My timeline was filled with overly optimistic White people wanting to turn the page, and Black people in disbelief at how lenient the sentence was. How many more of us have to forgive White people for senseless acts like this before that same spirit of forgiveness translates into America collectively treating us better? Don't Answer that!

Mountain (In)justice

A Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia is the highest of the misdemeanor classifications. It's punishable by up to 12 months in jail, as opposed to prison, and is punishable with a fine of up to $2,500.

All of the links in this blog are redirects to videos, audio, and an independently published article supporting my claims. This is the true story of what happened to me.

On October 5th 2016, I was charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor and served with an Order of Protection. The incident that lead to the criminal complaint occurred just before 9am outside of a Mitchelltown, Virginia convenience store. I was stopped in the parking lot by the plaintiff who, per his sworn statement to the Magistrate and the court, "followed me out of the store." The content of our conversation is still disputed, but no one disputed the fact that I was leaving the store when the plaintiff followed me and provoked our confrontation. The plaintiff's initial statement to the police, his statement to the court, the store surveillance video used at my November 16th trial, and eyewitness testimony confirmed this.  

I was accused of threatening to kill man (in public) and creating a public disturbance. In his statement to the Magistrate, the plaintiff said, “He then reached in his pocket; not sure what he had I turned and walked ‘by’ into the store.” What I reached for was my phone. I thought he was going to say I hit him, so I started recording. When I ended the recording I had 25 seconds of video. I left the store thinking everything was over only to be visited two hours later during my live radio show by a member of law enforcement who gave me a chance to tell my side of the story. At the completion of our talk I was assured nothing more would come of this situation. I look back and regret not letting the official know about my video. I didn't let anyone associated with law enforcement see the video I recorded. Approximately 13 hours after the incident I was told by a coworker at my 2nd job that I needed to stop by the Sheriff’s Office before I went home. Before I went inside the Sheriff’s office I used my phone and some recording equipment to wire myself. I left with a 19-min mp3 that further complicated an already frustrating situation. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, it's legal for citizens to record conversations with law enforcement. Once I got home, I made copies of the audio and video files I recorded and emailed them to a few people I trust. The misinformation I received from the deputy who processed my paperwork made me feel like I was being set up. I was so paranoid that I mistook his ignorance of the law with malice. The very next day (Thursday) I made a video detailing the events from the day before, and on Friday I retained legal counsel: a local attorney I trust and a Black woman from Richmond connected to several civil rights organizations.

On October 19th, two weeks after the incident, the protective order against me was dropped and replaced with a no contact order. I was given a strict warning not to be in the immediate proximity of the plaintiff ahead of my November 16th trial. In the two week period between the accusation and my first court appearance I was treated like I was already guilty by many people in my community. I had a cadre of very supportive people: young, old, rich, poor, black, and white, but they were indeed in the minority. There were people I worked with on various projects over the last few years who treated me like I was Hannibal Lector. My wife and I traveled every weekend just to get away from the constant questions about that morning. For 6 weeks, I lived under a presumption of guilt. I was (incorrectly) told by the deputy who served my warrant that I wouldn’t be able to attend county government meetings because of the protective order: thus limiting my ability to participate in some very important local issue. On several occasions before my preliminary hearing Bath County Sheriff's Deputies publicly and privately admitted they knew the plaintiff had been causing problems with other citizens, but felt powerless to act. When I asked what was being done to protect other citizens from this kind of abuse I was told, “We know what’s going on.” They truly believed their knowledge of the problem was a viable remedy to it.

In the weeks before my confrontation with the plaintiff I faced incredible harassment: I had horse manure delivered to my day job multiple times, I received a threatening phone call from an elected official the day before I was confronted, and I had another elected official threaten to cut funds to a non profit organization I'm affiliated with. For as bad as the harassment was in the weeks before the confrontation, things proceeded to get worse. Someone close to the plaintiff contacted two venues I was scheduled to give talks at and tried to get my speaking engagements cancelled. I had to suspend a business opportunity that was planned for November due to the loss of revenue that came from canceling speaking engagements and the legal expenses I incurred. Even though the case was dismissed, my family and church suffered immensely: my mother lost close to 20 pounds worrying about the outcome of my trial, my wife spent six weeks answering questions about my mental stability, and our church came under undue scrutiny for having ordained someone like me.

This story really got confusing after I was found not guilty. The Commonwealth’s Attorney for Bath County didn’t want to prosecute the case: he thought it was ridiculous. A special prosecutor from another county was tapped to prosecute me. I learned that the magistrate didn’t want to issue the misdemeanor warrant. The Sheriff met with me a number of times to assure me that neither he nor anyone in his department was out to get me, yet I had my life spun upside down by someone with too much free time on their hands, a grudge, and the support of elected officials. The overwhelming majority of people representing the legal system in our area didn’t want this issue to go further than it had, but I still found myself in court facing a criminal charge.

In the time since my charges were dropped I’ve asked myself two questions over and over: what if there wasn't a surveillance video of this incident? What if this happened to someone passing through town who didn't have access to a proper legal defense? During my trial I was questioned in a very vindictive and mean-spirited way. It was more than a ferocious prosecutor doing his job; It was personal and condescending. At one point during my cross examination the prosecutor wanted the judge to find me in contempt of court. I had all of the evidence on my side, over thirty people showed up to support me, the sheriff testified on my behalf, the manager at the convenience store testified she never felt the situation created a public disturbance, and I still had to fight like hell to prove my innocence. This is what justice looks like for too many people in our society. Even with all of the evidence supporting me, I had to be perfect to get the benefit of the doubt necessary for a flimsy case like this to be dismissed.

I've spent the majority of my adult life pointing out and fighting against systemic inequalities in society and our legal system. I use the platform I have to highlight the injustices I see. I’ve lost employment opportunities and speaking fees because of my public stances on issues related to the Black community. A lot of people are shielded from the subtle kinds of racism black people deal with on any given day, so they are often surprised when they hear claims of racism. Just because a Black person has caring and supportive white friends doesn't mean they can't be touched by racism. This is a reality Black people need to stay in touch with. When your skin color is enough to warrant suspicion there's no amount of intellect, wealth, or success that can protect you. If my situation occurred somewhere else I can't say with confidence that the outcome would have been the same. We live in a country where too often Black victims of crimes are talked about worse than their killers. My situation was steeped in ignorance, but race played a part in the way I was treated. I have audio and video of people doing worse than I was accused of (in front of law enforcement) and their actions were ignored. I was one of the lucky ones.
There's a sequel to this piece chronicling the disturbing behavior of our elected officials. 

Click the link below to read the full article from The Recorder


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hegemony, Shifiting Demographics, and "Populism"

"And before we knew it we were totally outnumbered at the family gatherings and consigned to a corner of the sectional, whispering and ducking among the flying hands, feeling rather small and blind, like moles or voles trembling in the shadows of the raptors."

When I first heard Paul Hostovsky's poem "Hegemony" I was so caught up with the in-group out-group role reversal narrative that I completely missed the poems lesson: communication. In the poem the protagonist has three deaf cousins who were largely ignored by the rest of their family, but through a series of marriages, births, divorces, and new marriages the biblical narrative of "the first shall be last and the last shall be first" was manifested. The deaf cousins found themselves the center of attention. The "small and blind" feeling the new minority of the hearing felt was based solely on their response to their new position within the family. The majority's willingness to ignore the minority left them on the outside looking in. Maybe we need to start communicating better and read more poetry? 

It's another week and I find myself in the familiar position of sitting in front of my computer with the option of writing about things that, for one reason or another, seem to only happen to people who look like me. Last week provided a wealth of material. I could write about the American legal system failing another black family: the Michael
Slager mistrial. I could definitely write about Joe McKnight being murdered and the shooter (Ronald Gasser) being released only to be "strategically" arrested days later. How about that press conference Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand gave? I could drone on for days about his use of threatening messages and profanity as a vehicle to diminish the legitimate concerns people of color have about these types of investigations.

I am very distrustful of anyone who downplays or attempts to diminish the lived experiences people of color talk and/or write about. We inherited an America that wrote a Declaration of Independence and a Preamble to the Constitution that willfully excluded Africans. From a historical perspective, we are far enough from the most egregious forms of racism that even the conservatives admit slavery, Black Codes, and Jim Crow were wrong, yet too many of these same people (and even some liberals) refuse to address the racial inequities of today. It's like being a passenger in a car with a driver who admits to swerving erratically twenty miles ago, but refuses to acknowledge the two left tires in the center rumble strip now. The past is a great whipping boy for anyone trying to deny structural racism today; The past allows nostalgic Americans to ditch their responsibilities to the next generation by pointing out how bad past generations were. We're constantly reminded: "No one alive owned slaves." "You people are represented in every field." "This isn't the 1950's." Statements like these do two specific things; they offer absolution to those making them, and create resentment inside the people hearing them. People of color haven't been spared from economic hardships, so why are we only talking about working class whites?

America was created for white people. I don't know how this easily locatable fact has been turned into a controversial statement. If one were to honestly connect the dots between the actions America has taken in the name of the flag or the idea of American "
exceptionalism" you'd come to this conclusion. What it means to be white has changed since the 19th Century, but the goal of controlling contested resources is the same. Black freedom movements combined with the increased migration of Hispanics and other people of color changed the rules that governed who was considered white. Germans, Italians, and Polish people gained full acceptance into the American family. The Irish faced terrible discrimination when they got here, Italians were called every racially insensitive name in the book, and Polish people are the butt of some of the worst jokes ever told, but none of these people were systematically excluded for the first 60 plus years of the 20th Century. The collective economic pain many white Americans are feeling is rooted in economic decisions younger than me. There's always been pockets of poverty, but economic despair combined with the potential end to white hegemony have created a fear that passes for "anger".  

White inclusion has historically been strong enough to unite people of different socioeconomic backgrounds, but like the dollar: inflation has limited its purchasing power. The last decade has been marked by populist movements on both sides of the political spectrum. Donald Trump's underlying message of restoring whiteness was the electoral glue Bernie Sanders' economic message lacked. Scholars and political pundits on the left and right have worked incredibly hard to explain the overt racism we've seen as if it's a by product of the economic anxiety and not a constitutive part of it. We're told to focus more on what automation and globalization have done to working class whites than the racists and racist organizations they've embraced. America is changing fast. Extreme wealth is the only insulation from "New America", ane there's a shortage of cash. Whiteness isn't a blessing or a curse. I'm not trying to create anger, guilt, or sympathy. I'm suggesting we be as honest about this moment in history as we are about the past. 

Pathways to the middle class have narrowed, but economics alone doesn't explain why the old Tea Party/Trump coalition hates the old Occupy Wall Street/Fight For Fifteen crowd. If it were just about money the party fighting for higher wages would have won the election. I'm not willing to waste time circling the square about Bernie being screwed by the DNC. I won't engage hypothetical situations in which Trump isn't the president-elect. Donald Trump represents the hopes and wishes of millions of people who advocate for a return to authoritarian white hegemony. I can't afford to waste my time psychoanalyzing these people or parsing their words. Since the Rodney King beating I've watched dozens of courts across this country reaffirm the fact that I don't have the same rights as my white peers. The fairy tale is that all of these issues are separate from each other. People work harder to deny the existence of  causal links than to accept them and attempt to correct them. I don't care if someone has a personal prejudice: we all have them; I care that their prejudices are allowed to influence the daily experiences of others. As America undergoes more racial and cultural shifts we will see more whites only populist movements. We will be told these movements are based on creating opportunities, but if you listen closely you can hear the desire to reshape America into the country she always was. The family in the poem is a great metaphor for the new minority's fear.