Book Of The Month: The New Jim Crow

 

It seems we are having a moment in America. Let me correct that it seems we are having a Moment with a capital M in America. What the activists and commentators on social media are doing is raising awareness to the level that traditional media has been forced to respond and in some cases alter the narrative that reinforces white supremacy in the majority of these cases.

But sometimes we need more than the immediate reaction to current events. Before we can start to think of solutions to our current standing in society we must accurately diagnose the problem. Michelle Alexander has done a pretty good job articulating one of the more pressing issues in her book The New Jim Crow : Mass Incarceration In the Age Of Colorblindness .

In this book she advances the premise that the disastrous war on drugs and the “tough on crime” mentality in the national consciousness since at least the 1980’s is actually a root cause of the problems plaguing the black community in America and not a result of a pre-existing affinity for crime among the urban poor as the common media narrative would have you believe.  It’s empowering to finally have someone exhaustively examine this topic. When discussing the idea that blackness has inherent criminality in the view of society you rarely find someone who can succinctly articulate the valid points that support your reasoning.

But when confronted with statistics and some general facts about our current state of mass incarceration one with a firm grasp on reality would be hard pressed to deny the inequity  that exists in our judicial system. Explored in depth in this book is the execution of the drug war itself. Although drugs are used at almost identical rates by white and black youths the drug war has almost exclusively been waged in neighborhoods of color.  The prison population that hovers at nearly 50% black despite the fact that we never make up more than 14% of the US population should be a clue that some sort of unnatural selection is being made. And although the media makes a big deal about the arrest and prosecution of violent criminals the majority of African-Americans branded felons by the state have been convicted of non violent drug offenses and are subject to harsh mandatory sentences that even some prosecutors and judges fear are too harsh.

Also explored is the stigma attached to someone labeled a felon in this country. If you are an African-American convicted of a felony your role as a functioning member of society is essentially over. The harsh truth is that another system of control has been constructed in America. Slavery and Jim Crow existed to exploit and expand inequity. Mass Incarceration is nothing short of genocide. A society actively working to weaken an entire population without implicitly invoking race so that it can sleep at night believing that it somehow has realized Martin Luther King’s dream.  But for most of us reducing MLK to platitudes about colorblindness isn’t a solution it’s actually part of the problem. Read this book for the rest of the diagnosis.

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Racism is America’s Greatest Weaknes

If The United States Of America were a nation of robust empathy and moral temerity then no amount of racist agitprop would have had any noticeable effect on our election.

Last week we learned that a company called Cambridge Analytica used some dubious methods to collect and sell data from Facebook for profit. Most of the reporting on this story has been about the unethical way in which this data was collected and exploited. But what troubles me more personally is what the data suggested. America’s failure to grapple with the legacy of race has metastasized into a terminal cancer that has the potential to kill us all. It was so easy to stir the seeds of racial resentment among not only the least educated whites but among large swaths across every single segmentation to the point where a plurality of white voters are ensnared in the delusion. And thus begat Trump.

If The United States Of America were a nation of robust empathy and moral temerity then no amount of racist agitprop would have had any noticeable effect on our election. However we are extremely weak in that area. America’s obsession with race is surpassed only with its need to appear to not be racist. Even as study after study after study empirically confirms what all people of color know in their hearts to be true: that American racism is a malevolent force making our nation weaker. You will read a lot in the press about “racial resentment” but let’s be clear here what they mean is out and out racism. And the levers of power and privilege are such that in this case the moral crime must be reported timidly as to not offend the perpetrators. Because they represent a sizable portion of the audience.

It’s incredible how racism works in our society. Racism isn’t just about attitudes and actions, it’s about language, it’s about power, and it’s about the lens through which interpret all of the above. The 2016 serves a serious case study in which all the ways racism has made our country vulnerable. All throughout the election you heard about the travails of the “white working class”. The media never interrogated our society to ask what the most important part of that phrase was. What is so remarkable about white people that they need their own special subset of the working class? Why would their interests be any different than that of the Latino working class or the African-American working class? The answer to those questions which the media never got around to asking are simple. The culture of whiteness has been shaped to view the economic upliftment of non white people as being at the expense of white people. The forces of tribalism, nationalism and racism have conspired to create a toxic, entitled, and embittered population. This is so clear that when turned into a statistical model Cambridge Analytica, Russia, and the Republican Party are able to deftly exploit it. They don’t need to know anything about Trump other than that his rise upsets Blacks and Latinos that’s not a bug, that’s a feature.

The same Republican Party that touted family values in the wake of Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct in the White House have largely acquiesced control of their party to a man who bragged about sexual assault and had multiple affairs throughout his 3 marriages. Racism is a cancer and Trump is a tumor. He has weakened our resolve. He has exploited the divides in our country and he is governing a nation for the 1 percent while exploiting the unique ignorance of his supporters.

If Americans stopped being racist we would be safer as a country. Sure both political parties might still be in the thrall of special interests and corporate lobbyists. But those lobbyist themselves would be demanding policies that actually helped us economically. A sensible immigration policy not based on xenophobia and fear mongering but on the net economic benefit of immigration would be a start. A school reform policy that saw black and brown and even poor white children as the raw material for a new tech based economy. (Teach these kids how to code) would be next. A new GI bill that served to rectify the inherent injustice of the WWII era where white veterans came home to create the middle class and while black veterans were deposited in slums and ghettos. Imagine a non racist America where these ideas were feasible based on face value alone.

Knowing that the resentment and hatred of minorities is a prevalent force in our politics is only half the battle. The other half is to find and support candidates who will openly acknowledge and address this. As such for me any candidate mentioning specifically the “white working class” will get an automatic side eye from me. There you again making exceptions and pleas for the hateful to drop their psychological bags and join the rest of us. I need a candidate to learn from the failures of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. You can’t work with people who hate you. You have to work around them. We must stand fast in what we believe in even as the opposition wavers.

In a way we are lucky it is Donald Trump and not someone with more class, dignity and sophistication. Someone with the charm of Ronald Reagan, the false piety of George W. Bush or the sheer sinister maneuverability of Richard Nixon might do more serious permanent damage to our world. No Trump is the accidental president. Someone who probably didn’t even want the office but most likely has been blackmailed by a foreign government into taking it. He’s a rich con artist, a vain fool, a sexual abuser and an unrepentant racist. And he’s sitting at the highest seat in the land. Every second he sits in that chair he exposes the lie that his supporters care about anything or anyone but themselves. I’ll sign off by repeating one of my everlasting truths: to the greedy, the ignorant and the hateful Trump is all of you.

My Thoughts On Black Panther

My spoiler free reflection on the most important Superhero movie ever.

After seeing Black Panther for the first (but certainly not the last) time last night I was struck by how appropriate this film is for this moment in time. The black power fantasy of an African nation untouched by European colonization and therefore able to thrive as the most technologically advanced nation on our Earth is revolutionary based on its premise alone. But that is the story we comic book nerds have been reading for decades. It’s a powerful story in print but to see it played out on the big screen is like nothing I could have imagined.

In many ways Black Panther shares so much DNA with other Marvel Studios films. This is definitely the same world created in Iron Man and The Avengers. But in so many other ways this is something I have never witnessed before. Black people almost exclusively dominate every single minute of the screen and yet it’s a superhero story for everyone. People who love movies whether they are Black, Latino, Asian or other will have to concede that you can’t expect to go all year long without seeing one movie that is almost exclusively about white men saving the world. Black Panther foretells the day when people who love movies concede that you won’t be able to go a year, or 6 months, or one month without one movie dominated by a cast of color in any or all genres.

The movie itself hits the right beats for an action movie but it also grapples with the moral conundrum of responsibility for a nation versus responsibility to all of the world’s oppressed people. This is the first Marvel movie where I kind of agree with the bad guy. This movie raises complex questions about black revolution, isolationism, racism and human suffering but doesn’t ram any lessons down your throat. Overall the film knows where its responsibility lies so for those seeking deeper analyzation of what the implications of a place like Wakanda would mean in the real world the film starts the conversation but makes no attempt to finish it.

Without getting into spoilers I will say that Black Panther supersedes the hype train. Performances from Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyongo and especially Michael B. Jordan encapsulate a who’s who’s of the next generation of Black Hollywood. (Seriously the only people missing are Donald Glover, Tessa Thomposn and John Boyega). The director manages to convey the scope of the world of Wakanda and inch the Marvel Universe one step closer towards its next climax this summer. As one reviewer put it the movie manages to do what these superhero movies are supposed to do while also managing the burden of showcasing black excellence.  In some ways that’s the perfect metaphor for the black experience not just in America but globally.

If you stick around for the first post credit scene you’ll hear a message written loud and clear to confront the times we live in. Some may view this as a Disneyfied dumbing down of the Resistance. But in Trump’s America we have to take these messages and sow them into the imaginations of children. There is a vacuum at the top of the moral universe if only there was really a T’Challa to fill it.

Book Of The Month: Black Panther

What I notice immediately near the beginning of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ iteration of Black Panther was that this wasn’t a hard reboot of the character. While this may be counterintuitive for non-comic book readers nowadays when Marvel starts with a number 1 issue we start with a story that’s pretty much already in progress. I had not read a Black Panther comic in about 10 years so I was pretty unfamiliar with where the character was in the context of the current Marvel Universe timeline.

Coates does a great job getting you up to speed. T’Challa is currently the King of Wakanda (there have been times in the continuum where he has abdicated the throne or otherwise been usurped either by a family member, friend, or foe) and his sister (who has ruled as Queen at some point) is currently in the spirit world. The head of his royal guard (an all-female elite fighting force known as the Dora Milaje) has gone rogue to free her lover who was about to be executed for treason. If you read any online critiques of comic books you’ll know that Marvel’s books have had more success with diversity than its Cinematic Universe. But the film universe’s introduction of Black Panther is probably the main reason this book exists right now. That the editors at Marvel had the idea to get respected Atlantic columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates to try his hand at the complicated mythology of Wakanda is a gift for the significant overlap in their two fan-bases. This is not to say that everyone who reads Coates grew up as a Black Panther fan. But if you are the type of person that follows a writer like Coates and a comic book fan there is a chance that you fall in that sector on the Venn Diagram.

Coates background as a poet serves him well in this endeavor. While expectations may be unreasonably high, Marvel fans are typically used to the interweaving story arcs in comic books. Coates here is threading the needle with three separate character arcs. We follow the rebel Dora Milaje lovers ( whose very existence is making a statement denouncing homophobia) as they free women and children from modern slavery, there is also the Panther’s sister Shuri as she continues her journey through and eventually out of the spirit world and of course there is the main event T’Challa himself as he stamps out the last seeds of rebellion and attempts to make amends to a citizenry that is understandably skeptical because of recent government sanctioned atrocities.

Over the first year and a half of Coates run we’ve seen the Black Panther universe expand to three books and then contract back to one. If you are looking for consistency stick with the main story told by Coates. In it he grapples with the concept of a benign monarchy and the unifying power of an external threat. He doesn’t have to go out of his way to weave political statements into the narrative as Black Panther’s very existence is a political statement. Hopefully the spotlight shined on T’Challa by this Friday’s major film release will see this book get the props it deserves.

Book Of The Month: Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House

When 63 million people made the decision on November 8, 2016 to vote for Donald J. Trump to become the forty-fifth President Of The United States the rest of the country, indeed the rest of the world was understandably shaken. Whether you loved or hated Trump you could agree on one thing we would be getting something in The White House the likes of which we had never seen. Donald Trump is a man with no boundaries, no sense of decorum, no true ideology except a pathetic need for approval and a more transparent capitulation to white supremacy (I mean more transparent than a normal Republican which is already pretty translucent).

In “Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House” journalist Michael Wolff takes advantage of the chaos of the amateurish and discordant Trump Administration to observe and confirm what many of us have suspected. The President and his minions are a house of fools and the entire world is much worse for their usurpation of actual power.

Among the characters profiled in this story you will find no heroes. If you were searching for a “protagonist” I guess you would have to go with Steve Bannon which is odd because he’s done so much to agitate and amplify the worst things about America. But rather Bannon than the feckless Jared Kushner, the ineffectual Reince Priebus, the sycophantic Kellyanne Conway or anyone who’s last name is Trump.

Wolff starts with The Trump Campaign in 2016 through to the ouster of Steve Bannon and weaves a narrative around much of what we already learned through leaks. Throughout the book based on whatever subject or character he is currently expounding on Wolff will sometimes flashback to earlier periods either from the campaign or earlier in Trump’s life. While those of us who have been political news junkies won’t find many new facts it is interesting to hear direct quotes from the principals involved in the story. One thing that is more clear I will say is that even most of the Trump Administration believes their was collusion with Russia and Trump’s family made it worse by obstructing justice and firing Comey.

What I find most disconcerting is the cynical opportunism of the “adults” in the room. The serious Republican operatives who at times are baffled by Trump’s ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence and who privately express concerns about his mental health. Most can’t quite decide if he’s crazy but a running theme throughout the book is that they all agree that he’s a fucking moron. And yet rather than spare us they all put party before country and are playing politics at a time when the geopolitical ramifications could be staggering.

The most troubling thing about Donald Trump himself is that his blatant expression of racial animus is basically his only truth. He hasn’t made a dogged effort to follow through on any of his other campaign promises and as Wolff pulls back the curtain you understand why. The only thing he craves is the accolades, the applause and the attention. Where he actually believes in anything it is the racist, anti-semitic, and sexist stew that has transfixed much of the consciousness of the Make America Great Again crowd.

Trump isn’t the most hardcore believer of course. That would be Steve Bannon. But at times Steve Bannon comes across as a pragmatic and flawed mastermind. You quickly find that only in a room full of mental midgets does he loom as an intellectual giant. This book is interested in telling a very particular story about the ins and outs and political machinations in the Trump Administration. What you will come to understand is that these people are as objectively terrible at being human as any villain in a comic book movie. As a matter of fact I sympathize with the motives of Loki more than any of the people presented in this book. These people are so uniquely despicable they don’t even like each other.

What is pertinent and what gives me most hope as a political partisan but most dread as a citizen of the United States is that by the end of this book (which concludes some time in the fall of 2017) the most competent, and effective political operators have essentially been neutralized in favor of Trump’s incompetent, and extremely corrupt family. While they may not have the same exact nationalist agenda as a true villain like Bannon they do intend to pilfer the Treasury and use their plunder to reward the Republican congress and their donors (many of whom won’t be re-elected as a result). What’s worrisome is that their inability to reign in the worst impulses of Donald Trump could find us on the brink of a nuclear crisis. As Donald Trump, a man who is easily wounded, grapples with the fact that one of the United States’ most bitter enemies doesn’t like him very much and isn’t afraid of him.

As much as the election of Donald Trump gave me existential dread about the United States I still believe there are people here worth saving. Are there enough good people here to stop Trump and his flunkies from destroying our country? That remains to be seen.  Maybe the “adults” in the room will invoke the 25th amendment and deal with the political fallout as opposed to you know… a nuclear one.

 

Kevin Hart Probably Shouldn’t Be Married..But Neither Should Most Of You

Marriage is for you if you know that no matter what happens you’ll be the person your spouse needs you to be forever.

Kevin Hart is just the latest in a long string of celebrities that have been caught in compromised positions or otherwise had their extramarital dalliances exposed for the world to see. It seems the higher profile the celebrity the bigger and more salacious the story. There’s the messiness of T.I. and Tiny (They’re having another kid). The career re-defining incident between Beyonce and Jay-Z (which between Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Solange produced three albums) and most recently we have Kevin Hart.

Overall I’m not that invested in the gossipy aspects of this story but here it is just so you know what I’m talking about: Kevin Hart got married to his first wife Torrei before he blew up. He cheated on Torrei and got divorced. He then married Eniko whom he cheated on his first wife with. Eniko is currently pregnant. Now there is a sex tape with a Vegas stripper named Montia and someone tried to extort him for the ludicrous amount of 10 million dollars. The potential extorter obviously knows nothing about marriage as I don’t think there’s a wife in America who would be more upset about you cheating than they would be about losing 10 million dollars.

When trying to deconstruct Hart’s predicament we have to examine the institution of marriage and what it means to most of us. Marriage for people of a certain age is largely an aspiration. But most people don’t see it for what it truly is. Strip any pretext of romance from the idea and marriage is a financial agreement. (And of course I’m speaking of legitimate government recognized marriage not when two hipsters get tattoos on their ring finger and move into a studio apartment together.) You sign paperwork and your fates are tied together in a way that will bond your fortunes in this world for eternity. That’s the practical aspect.

Now for the emotional aspects. First and foremost we have this concept of romantic love. That became intertwined with marriage somehow, someway and now it’s supposedly the most important thing. If you don’t love someone then you probably won’t marry them. Built on top of that romantic love there is the familiarity. The establishing of a sort of order between you and your partner. What roles do you fulfill for each other? To paraphrase Jerry Maguire how does that person “complete you” and vice versa. This is the most complicated part of marriage. Because broadly speaking men and women do different things for each other. We have different instincts and different expectations. Everyone is unique of course and there are situations that require divergence with gender norms. What do women want from a man that they can’t get for themselves? They want someone to think of them for a change because they’ve been socialized to think of others sometimes to their detriment.

Most men start out aloof and not proactive when thinking of their partners. We will not inquire about your health, wealth and career prospects when we are just dating for instance (that usually comes later if at all). I’m speaking very generically here and I know you reading this will probably have a 1000 examples of where this is not true but when it comes to relationships one thing women do better than men is care. I’m not quantifying it. I’m not saying they care “more”. I’m qualifying it, I’m saying they care “better”. A man meets a woman and sees her for what she is and doesn’t consciously participate in making her better. Unless it’s for selfish reasons. A man will encourage you to do the things that make him happy and then afterwards will look at that and see “growth”. That is not to say that men don’t validate women’s emotional needs because we definitely do but that’s mostly up to the women if they tolerate anything less, then we’ll give less.

What do women get out of this arrangement? Well besides the obvious I would say they are hoping to get back a small fraction of the effort they put into it. A man’s ability to restrain his indulgences and modify his behavior in some way is usually part of the deal. If you like to drink a lot, she wants you to drink less. If you like to smoke a lot, she probably wants you to smoke less. If you spend money frivolously, she probably wants you to spend less. Think about the fact that at the point of marriage the man chose this woman to commit to (forever!!) so on some level he knows he needs to do these things and she believes that he can do it. Another thing women want from men is some semblance of ambition. And above all women want to be secure in the knowledge that they have a partner. If exclusivity is a condition of that partnership they want a man who will honor that.

When it comes to fidelity again this is where the situation is as simple or complicated as the people in the relationship. If both parties have agreed tacitly that the nature of their commitment is to be in exclusive monogamy usually that has been established well before the point of marriage. In that case a partner would have to refrain from any outside sexual relations or otherwise conceal them for the relationship to progress. (Although there is a sad “all men cheat” acceptance of infidelity that some women subscribe to in order to extend a privilege to men that no man would ever extend to a woman). When you get married you stand up in some sort of official ceremony whether it be just the two of you at City Hall or in a lavish ceremony surrounded by extended family and friends (or any sized group in between) and you promise to commit to the standards you have set for each other forever, no matter what. You promise that no matter what happens you will remain committed to each other and honor the conditions of your marriage for the rest of your lives….NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. But who knows what’s going to happen? All you know for certain is that some things will happen. Because even if you just sit there on the couch life continues to happen.

Celebrities are a different breed of course. They live in some of the most extreme conditions that human beings endeavor on. With both fame and wealth the preponderance of willing and able sexual partners increases. Yes they are still human beings and they still have the same basic needs of love and security that the rest of us have. But when the volume of temptations increases so does the opportunity to act on them. Whenever one of these famous men gets caught out here cheating I hear two different types of criticism. The first is the base moral judgement. Cheating is wrong, famous man A cheated therefore he’s wrong his wife should leave him and take a gazillion dollars a month in alimony. The second type of criticism is “damn you dumb how you get caught”. The people with the least to say about it though tend to be married people because we know two things. A younger version of yourself promised to do the right thing forever no matter what happens and also things that you can’t possibly account for happen.

Maybe Kevin Hart (or Jay-Z or T.I.) didn’t realize that traditional marital concepts such as fidelity weren’t necessarily compatible with their vision of success. But that’s highly unlikely. The way our culture treats women has to be reconciled for anyone on a career track that will make them wealthy. Women are objectified and treated as accoutrements to success. You get more money you get a bigger house, you get a nicer car, and you get “women”. In Kevin Hart’s case his success is the manifestation of everything he worked for. He feels entitled to these benefits. It is for this reason why his apology rings false. What Kevin Hart is sorry about is the public embarrassment. The cheating in and of itself isn’t the problem to him. He has female fans though. The majority of his films are solid date movies. Could he withstand the scorn of his female fanbase? I don’t know if enough of them subscribe to the “all men cheat” philosophy. I don’t know how many care that a comedian/actor treats his wife like trash.

When judging Kevin Hart though maybe we should check ourselves first. If you are unmarried try to imagine making the most intense commitment you’ll ever make with nothing to stop you from violating it but your own principles. If you are married try to imagine a world where beautiful women are aware that you’re rich and part of your job is being out in the world alone without your wife for weeks and sometimes months at a time. Marriage is for you if you know that no matter what happens you’ll be the person your spouse needs you to be forever.

In Defense Of Jemele Hill

Jemele Hill is right but we live in America where the worst racial slur is “racist”. 

I realize that not everyone wants to blog or tweet. I realize that not everyone is articulate or social. I recognize that there are many people who simply want to go to work, pay their bills, and send their kids to college. They don’t understand the compulsion to share their innermost thoughts and opinions on these interwebs. Some people feel as though they have the privilege or as they would say the “right” to ignore politics. It doesn’t matter to them. They want to watch the game, drink a beer and..wait.. what’s this? Why isn’t that guy standing for the national anthem? That’s disrespectful to our military! That ungrateful ni- uh errr that spoiled anti-American athlete.

A lot of people don’t seem to connect their aversion to political engagement with the stance our black athletes are taking. By exercising the privilege to ignore the metastasizing racial divide in America you have ceded enough power to White Supremacy to allow black men to be summarily executed routinely by law enforcement with little to no repercussions. Your unstated détente with the “real racists” has allowed them to elect the most temperamentally unfit person on Planet Earth to the highest office in the land. To be fair I’m not calling you a racist. You are actually much worse than a racist. You are a person who hears a woman screaming outside your window and just assumes someone else will call the police. You are the person who sees a lost child in a public place and reasons with yourself that their parent is nearby. You are the person who thinks affirmative action probably isn’t necessary anymore because anyone can make it if they try hard enough I mean look at all the successful black people.  Not necessarily racist but a racial bystander someone who has resigned the fight because it’s not personal enough.  You are the type of person most likely to tell a commentator to stick to sports and you are the people that ESPN apologized to yesterday after Jemele Hill stated an essential fact about Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is in fact a white supremacist. He appeals pretty nakedly to white supremacist orthodoxy. He retweets white supremacist memes on Twitter. He popularized the White Supremacist birther theory that President Barack Obama was not born in America. He evoked talk of 2nd Amendment solutions last year in regards to the prospect of Hilary Clinton winning the election. He has made a crackdown on nonwhite immigration a pillar of his agenda. His presidency thus far has been unnaturally obsessed with erasing the accomplishments of the nation’s first black president. Talks of border walls and muslim bans are still the fundamental proposals on his agenda. And all this is before his weak response to the incident in Charlottesville, VA last month. Maybe America is afraid to reckon with the fact that Donald Trump is a white supremacist because it’s an indictment about what it means to be an American in 2017.

Yes White Supremacy is popular enough in the present day to win a major party nomination. Yes White Supremacy is popular enough to win a Presidential Election. Trump’s political appeal has always been rooted in white resentment. Sadly while this makes him a poor human being it makes him an excellent Republican. Deal with it America. Now you have these quislings calling for Jemele Hill to be fired from ESPN. If you are more offended by someone pointing out that the President is a White Supremacist than you are by the fact that the President is a White Supremacist than you are exactly the kind of mediocre senseless moron that’s destroying America with your passive “lets all just get along” rhetoric.

You so-called “moderates”, you people who want your public figures to sacrifice existential truth at the altar of politeness get to act fake outraged every time Trump says something impolitic but won’t concede to accurate descriptions of his behavior. You people are worse than offensive you are increasingly irrelevant. You can’t be neutral on a moving train. I’m not saying you all have to hold up banners and march in the streets for equality because if we’ve learned anything about your ilk it’s that you’ll never ever do anything to upset the status quo of America’s racial hierarchy. (Hell, most of you would proudly claim to not recognize race). But at the very least you have to have an accurate description of White Supremacy.

Donald Trump isn’t catering to White Supremacist as part of some shrewd political machination. He’s one of them and to state that fact should not be controversial. Jemele Hill by virtue of her honesty has transcended corporate sports media for the same reasons that Colin Kaepernick has transcended the NFL. For those on the right side of racial justice walking around the offices of ESPN must be akin to the astronauts walking around the original  Planet Of The Apes. For Kaepernick would signing with an NFL team even be a win? Would any one of consequence be willing to work on the hard problem of police brutality in the black community? Certainly not Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions. And that’s what we’re dealing with in America a bunch of grown adults who have the same understanding of racism that third graders have. “Things were bad but then MLK came along and now black people can drink from the same water fountain, The End.”

What Jemele Hill does on her immensely popular twitter feed is to respond to trolls with the truth. There just so happens to be a huge overlap with the people trolling her and those that support Donald Trump and this in itself is not a coincidence. Is there any better starting point for trolling than White Supremacy? It pisses off all the right people. The whiny liberals that trolls hate. The minorities, the immigrants, the Muslims, the gays, the Jews. Trolling is the next best thing to violence. It’s a non-prosecutable hate crime and Trump himself has mastered it. Jemele tweets “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” And that should be as non controversial as saying “Toyota Prius’s get excellent gas mileage”. But we live in America where the worst racial slur is “racist”.

What I find absurd beyond the point of irony is that White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders has called for Jemele Hill’s firing from ESPN. So we are holding ESPN anchors Twitter feeds to a higher standard than we hold the President of The United States? The reckless vitriol and untruths unleashed by Trump on a regular basis are just fine. He can call Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas, he can threaten North Korea with Nuclear War, he can retweet an account called “White Genocide TM” with  an explicitly false racist meme. He can verbally insinuate that a Mexican-American judge is inherently biased against him. He can advise law enforcement to rough up suspects at the point of arrest. All of this speech is fine. But to call someone a racist is beyond the pale? I think if conservatives got any more hypocritical my head would explode.

Jemele Hill is right of course. Trump has had numerous occasions to just outright disavow white supremacy. Every single time he prevaricates, hesitates, obfuscates, and then if he manages to say anything mildly challenging to the forces of evil he bends over backward to undercut it and let the KKK and Nazis know that he stands with them. The sad truth is a lot of people stand with them. You might have passed one at Walmart. You might see one at a Red Sox game. They came out in droves to put their guy in the White House and he knows he owes his baseline 40 percent approval rating to them. He stands with them. He is them. Jeff Sessions is one of them. Stephen Miller is one of them. Sebastian Gorka is one of them. Steve Bannon is one of them. Michael Flynn is one of them. So let’s review for the slow kids : Trump is in fact a White Supremacist, and he has surrounded himself with White Supremacists. America is lousy with white supremacists it turns out. It’s never been easier to advocate hate in America. Let’s not start making it harder to state that essential fact.