“America is Not a Racist Country”

“It took America a while to get that right.”

Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is quoted several times as saying, “America is Not a Racist Country.” I’m inclined to believe that what she says is sincere. So, I read this THR interview with her with great interest.

She notes that she spent much time discussing race relations in a recent interview with Charlemagne. “What I said was, I’m not denying that there is racism in America.” She noted, “We should stomp it out every time we see it, and I did that as governor, and I did it as UN ambassador, and I will do that in everything I ever do.”

Here’s her nuance on the topic. “I said America is not a racist country, and my reasoning for that is I don’t think that America was intended to be a racist country. All men were supposed to be created equal with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It took America a while to get that right.”

Ah, that’s an interesting take on the Founders. My rhetorical question: And when was the point she believed that the goal was achieved? I’m not trying to be pedantic here.  Was it after the Civil War, maybe with the Civil War amendments? (And BTW, I didn’t care much about her muddled comment about whether slavery was the cause of the Civil War.) Or perhaps a century later? Or 2008?

The discussion is relevant about how we see our nation and what we should address if there are things to fix. Unfortunately, that question was not asked.  But I think we’re dealing with definitional differences.

Try that in a small town.

She noted, “As a brown girl who grew up in a small rural town, if my parents had told me that ‘you were born into a racist country,’ I would’ve always felt like I was disadvantaged. Instead, my parents always said, ‘You may encounter racism, but there’s nothing you can’t do, and you should work twice as hard to prove to everybody that you deserve to be in the room.'” Hmm. That sounded like the message that black kids of my generation always heard. So, she experienced individual racism.

In The Breakfast Club discussion, she stated that the division of the people over race started with Barack Obama because he used executive orders extensively. Since the Tea Party and its ilk arose, the Republicans failed to compromise or work with him. They wanted to make him a one-term president.

My take is more in keeping with what William Spivey suggested, that Obama’s election sparked the “fourth wave of white supremacy.”

“The general election [of 2008] removed any pretense that race was not a factor. Surrogates for John McCain depicted Barack and Michelle as monkeys. Obama faced birtherism charges of being born in Nigeria, Kenya, or maybe both, led by Donald Trump. Racist memes flooded the Internet… One might think things would have calmed down [after he was elected], but there were outbreaks of racism and race-based attacks throughout the country well before Obama took his oath of office.”

I give Nikki Haley props for “removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House following the racially charged murder of nine Black parishioners at Mother Emanuel Church” in 2015, after defending the flag as part of the state’s “heritage” five years earlier. But I find her thoughts on race in America less compelling than I had hoped.

Color blindness as “the best form of antiracism”?

Wendell Phillips

On the first day of Black History Month, the Boston Globe posted a piece entitled “Color blindness remains the best form of antiracism.” It may be behind a paywall.

“Coleman Hughes is an author and podcaster. This essay is adapted from his book ‘The End of Race Politics: Arguments for a Colorblind America,’ to be published on [February 6] Tuesday by Thesis, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House.”

The subtitle of Hughes’ article was, “Of course we all see race. But it’s a bad basis for determining how to treat people or craft public policy.”

Part of his argument points out an earlier definition of color blindness, which is better enuciated in a TED talk called The Case for color blindness.

He notes that the adverse “reaction to color blindness is actually a fault of its advocates. People will say things like, ‘I don’t see color’ as a way of expressing support for color blindness. But this phrase is guaranteed to produce confusion because you do see color, right? “

An observation here. Small children likely see race and pick up cultural values about it much earlier than we might have believed. This is why I believe discussing race is essential, just at the point that there are forces in the United States that want to ban books dealing with race, gender identity, and the like.

19th-century roots
Hughes is correct when he says we should eliminate the phrase “I don’t see color.” Instead, we should “replace it with what we really mean to say, which is, ‘I try to treat people without regard to race.'”

He makes an interesting historical observation. “The philosophy of color blindness… actually comes from the radical wing of the antislavery movement in the 19th century. The earliest mentions of color blindness come from Wendell Phillips, who was the president of the American Anti-Slavery Society and a man whose nickname was ‘abolition’s golden trumpet.’

“He believed in immediate full equality for Black Americans. 

And in 1865, he called for the creation of a ‘government colorblind,’ 
by which he meant the permanent end of all laws that mention race.”

Of course, we know that did not happen. Jim Crow, sunset laws, Plessy v. Ferguson, restrictive housing covenants, etc., etc.  And actions that didn’t have to mention race, such as lynchings.

Speaking of Plessy, I’ve discovered that John Marshall Harlan’s dissent in that case was rather narrow. From this journal article: “The consensus
regarding the then-extant legal understandings of ‘rights’ in post-Civil
War America are on display in Justice Harlan’s opinion.” In other decisions, “Justice Harlan recognized and accepted the legal distinction between civil rights and social rights, a distinction ‘mark[ing] a sphere of associational freedom in which law would allow practices of racial discrimination to flourish.'”

And “in a passage containing his well-known metaphor of a
colorblind Constitution, he stated:
“[I]n view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this
country no superior, dominant ruling class of citizens. There is no
caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor
tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all
citizens are equal before the law.

“This call for civil-rights colorblindness was immediately preceded by this
“‘The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country.
And so it is, in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth,
and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it
remains true to its great heritage, and holds fast to the principles of
constitutional liberty.” Thus, the definition of the term color-blind was not universally understood.

I think Hughes’ point that having policies meant to reduce inequality be executed based on class instead of race has merit. But maybe it is more of a “both-and” thing. How do we address the loss of generational wealth resulting from previous discrimination? The risk to pregnant black women’s health when dealing with the medical establishment appears to be irrespective of the prospective mother’s socio-economic status.

Coleman Hughes has added to the discussion. I haven’t fully embraced his POV, but that’s okay.

August rambling: it does matter

Roger Green reviews John Green (no relation)

392 “Educational Intimidation” Bills Have Been Introduced in the US Since 2021

How the Myth of Colorblindness Endangers France’s Future: The refusal to gather data on race and ethnicity is exacerbating inequality, increasing social segregation, and preventing badly needed reforms.

How did Frederick Douglass become a conservative spokesman?

A New Monument to Emmett Till Doesn’t Measure Progress, But It Does Matter?

A raid on a Kansas newspaper likely broke the law, experts say. But which one?

Is Mental Health a Workplace Issue?

Ingenious librarians: A group of 1970s campus librarians foresaw our world of distributed knowledge and research, and designed search tools for it

The little search engine that couldn’t. A couple of ex-Googlers set out to create the search engine of the future. They built something faster, simpler, and ad-free. So how come you’ve never heard of Neeva?

India lands a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole, a first for the world as it joins an elite club. WAY cool.

Brain-reading devices allow paralysed people to talk using their thoughts. Two studies report considerable improvements in technologies designed to help people with facial paralysis communicate. But the devices must be tested on many more people to prove their reliability.

Why do upstate New Yorkers call it city chicken when it isn’t even made of chicken?

Now I Know: The Translator That Sucked The Life Out of Dracula and  Ulysses Subtracting (Land) Grant? and You Can’t Eat Here (And Don’t Really Want to Anyway) and The Man Who Lives on Cruise Ships and The Fans Who Saved The Day (For the Bad Guys) and The River Race that Doesn’t Like Water


Jerry Moss, A&M Records Co-Founder and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member, Dies at 88

Clarence Avant, ‘Godfather of Black Music,’ and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member, Dies at 92

Bob Barker, Famed Game Show Host, Dies at 99

Plus, people I’ve known IRL:

Billie Anderson, 93, a pillar at Trinity AME Zion Church in Binghamton, NY, the church I grew up in, died July 23. Then  her daughter Penny Sanders, a contemporary of mine, passed c. August 17

Dwight Smith, 93, a longtime member of my current church, choir, and Bible study, among other things, died August 7

Marilyn Cannoll, 93, who was the head of the Schenectady Arts Council when I worked there in 1978, died on August 9

John Wolcott, 90, a “rebel with a cause, a purveyor of justice and the truth,” died on August 17

Jacqui Williams, who I knew from Filling in the Gaps in American History, died on August 22. She spoke at my church in 2015; though the website is defunct, the Facebook page has lots of information

Matthew 5 is too “woke”

From Newsweek: Evangelical leader Russell Moore said that he saw Christianity in “crisis” because the teachings of Jesus were being viewed by a growing number of people as “subversive” to their right-wing ideology. The idea of “turning the other cheek” and other teachings of Jesus are being rejected as “liberal talking points.” Theologians described it as a rift within the conservative Christian faith that had come to be defined by support for djt.

It’s a dichotomy between theological evangelicals concerned primarily with Christian character and “political” evangelicals intent on winning the culture war, experts told Newsweek. See also: Daily Kos.

The Georgia indictments

djt has a “plan” for America called Agenda 47, and it’s a helluva thing.

Albany Public Library

Proceeds from the event benefit library programs and services. Purchase tickets here.

Tuesday noon book reviews at Washington Avenue large auditorium: I suppose I should plug September 12 | The Anthropocene Reviewed:  Essays on a Human-Centered Planet by John Green.  Reviewer:  Roger O. Green, MLS, retired librarian, NY Small Business Development Center, & current board member, FFAPL.


September 5 | Two Photography books:  Uncommon Places by Stephen Shore & Empire by Martin Hyers & William Mebane.  Reviewer:  David Brickman, exhibiting photographer, art critic, & FFAPL treasurer.

September 19 | The Heat Will Kill You First:  Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell.  Reviewer:  Richard King, retired attorney.

September 26 | A Conspiracy of Mothers, a novel by Colleen Van Niekerk.  Reviewer:  Miki Conn, author, poet, artist, storyteller.


Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door– the PFC Band, in memory of Robbie Robertson

Coverville 1453: The Gamble & Huff Cover Story and 1454: The Robbie Robertson Tribute 

Peter Sprague Plays Coltrane’s Giant Steps

My Home by Antonin Dvorak

Brahms: Academic Festival Overture (Solti, CSO)

Peter Sprague Plays Badge featuring Leonard Patton

The Boy From… – Linda Lavin, written by Esteban Río Nido

March rambling: something dumb


“Good morning, friends. That awful feeling of shame and panic when you remember saying something dumb years ago is your nervous system trying to protect you from perceived danger. Try telling your body, ‘Thank you for wanting to protect me. We’re safe now. It’s okay to let it go.'” from Good Morning, Friends: Gentle Suggestions for the Start of Your Day. I have been there!

US Secretary of State Denounces Uganda’s New ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill

‘Legal Lynching’: ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws reflect legacy of white supremacist vigilantism in Deep South

A right-wing judge takes aim at medication abortions

Book ban attempts hit a record high in 2022, the American Library Association says

Teaching on Eggshells

Devin Stone, the “Legal Eagle,” explains the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege and how it applies to djt’s lawyers 

Ten True Stories of Dutch Colonial Slavery

Can the anti-woke mob define ‘woke’?

4-year-old girl shot dead by 3-year-old sister with semi-automatic pistol


Can Movie Theaters Survive? It’s the Most Enduring Question In Hollywood

Stephen Sondheim’s Final Musical to Premiere Off-Broadway This Fall

Aaron Sorkin Reveals He Had a Stroke Last November: “A Loud Wake-Up Call”

How Toy Companies Bribe YouTube Channels

Artificial Intelligence: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

These Are the World’s Happiest Countries in 2023. Finland is #1, and the US is #15.

An 85-year Harvard study on happiness found the No. 1 retirement challenge

Connection Between Alcohol and Sleep

How Loneliness Reshapes the Brain

What Does Blue Light Do to Your Eyes?

Why green might be the most important color for humans. But of course!

Understanding Your Form 1099-K. “The law is not intended to track personal transactions such as sharing the cost of a car ride or meal, birthday or holiday gifts, or paying a family member for a household bill.”

Mark Evanier’s Tales From The DMV

Former Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder, a pioneer for women’s rights, dies at 82

The indomitable spirit of Willis Reed. I watched that Game 7 NBA Finals game in 1970 on TV. It was remarkable. He died at the age of 80.

‘Fosbury Flop’ high jumper Dick Fosbury dies at 76

John Jakes, Author of the Miniseries-Spawning ‘North and South’ Trilogy, Dies at 90

The attempts to make a modern Little Nemoin Slumberland film

Now I Know: The Slave Who Shipped Himself to Freedom and A Cute Way to Prevent Traffic Deaths and Why Movie Theaters Have Red Seats and The Problem With Living in the Center of America and I Guess You Could Say They… Excel and The Little Bit of P-Word in the Coke and This Cupcake Recipe Isn’t The Bomb


Please keep voting for the niece Rebecca Jade at the San Diego Music Awards in categories 20, 21, 25, 26, and 27. Also for Peter Sprague in category 4 for an album that features Rebecca.

Dry Bones – Delta Rhythm Boys.  A recent Old Testament scripture was Ezekiel 37:1-14. By coincidence, I was playing that week the soundtrack of the movie Rain Man, which included a version of Dry Bones by the Delta Rhythm Boys, though not precisely that take.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture

Let It Burn from Paradise Square the Musical, featuring Tony Award Winner Joaquina Kalukango

Tchaikovsky’s Symphonic Fantasia, The Tempest

Life’s a F***ing Fantasy for Santos – Randy Rainbow

Coverville 1436: Cover Stories for Poison and Sugar Ray

Woody Woodpecker theme

Music from the Emerald Isle

What’s The Name of That Song from Sesame Street

Franz Von Suppe’s Light Calvary

Imprinted: Illustrating Race

Kadir Nelson

imprintedImprinted: Illustrating Race is a current exhibit at the  Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, 45 minutes from Albany, NY. I’ve written about visiting there a few times. In 2017, Rockwell and Warhol; in 2015, Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs; and in 2013,  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The current show, running from June 11 through October 30, 2022, “examines the role of published images in shaping attitudes toward race and culture. Over 300 artworks and objects… will be on view, produced from the late eighteenth century to today, which has an impact on public perception about race in the United States.

“The exhibition will explore stereotypical racial representations that have been imprinted upon us through the mass publication of images.” Many of these involve formerly enslaved people, but also Chinese would-be immigrants. These are generally from the 18th to the early 20th century.

But some creators took on the bigotry in that period. “William J. Wilson published the ‘Afric-American Picture Gallery’ under the name of Ethiop in the Anglo-African Magazine.” He wrote: “we must begin to tell our own story, write our own lecture, paint our own picture, chisel our own bust.”

Later, “The Harlem Renaissance… inspired pride in Black life and identity following World War I through the Great Depression. Artists associated with the movement conveyed a rising consciousness of inequality and discrimination and an interest in the rapidly changing modern world, many experiencing a freedom of expression through the arts for the first time.”

Modern times

“Illustration, Race, and Responsibility: 1950s to Now will explore activism through art from the Civil Rights movements of the mid-20th century to the racial unrest of present-day…

George Floyd.New Yorker“Concurrent to the Imprinted exhibition, In Our Lifetime: Paintings from the Pandemic by Kadir Nelson will be on view… Featuring recent works which have never been exhibited publicly. These are large pieces all created between 2020 and 2022.” You may recognize one work, his George Floyd piece, that was featured as a New Yorker cover.

My wife and I also went on a tour of Norman Rockwell’s studio, a short walk away. The docent was very informative. One thing I had never noticed was that on Rockwell’s cover featuring Ruby Bridges walking with the marshalls, they are all walking in step, signifying their unified purpose.

If you are anywhere near Stockbridge, MA, I recommend a trip to the Norman Rockwell Museum, especially in the next month.

Oh, on the same trip, we also saw a Rodin exhibit at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Unfortunately, that show has concluded, but there are other fine things to see there.

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