December rambling: Tread carefully

new Rebecca Jade music!


Spotlighting The Black And Missing Foundation’s Commitment To Locating Missing Persons Of Color

Hillary Clinton was right about the “deplorables” — and about the end of Roe v. Wade. Still hate Hillary’s guts? Fine. But let’s admit that she saw all this coming — and way before the rise of Trump

The Roe v Wade Death Watch

But the Cancer Was “Indolent” — Doctors: Tread carefully when offering patients an optimistic outlook

What Is a Surgeon ‘Supposed’ to Look Like?

Instead of Travel Bans, Let’s Defeat Omicron Variant With Global Vaccination

Horse-paste enthusiasts are threatening hospital workers.

Dr. Oz Has A Long History Of Promoting Quack Treatments

Alden Global Capital, which has gutted newsrooms, desires to acquire
Lee Enterprises, the owner of the Glens Falls Post-Star as well as the Buffalo News and the Auburn Citizen


Barbados Bids Farewell to British Monarchy as It Becomes a Republic. It is actually the only country I’ve ever been in besides Canada and Mexico.

The End Game (dealing with Stuff)

Louis Vuitton Designer Virgil Abloh Dead From Cancer At Age 41. Abloh “chose to endure his battle privately” and underwent “numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture.”

How to Identify What You Enjoy. Arthur C. Brooks and Lori Gottlieb discuss the importance of fun and the cultural distortion of emotions as “good” or “bad”

College Students Write Children’s Book About Their Inclusive Friendship, Raise Awareness for Down Syndrome

Anne Rice, the gothic novelist who wrote ‘Interview with the Vampire,’ dies at age 80

Ken Levine remembers Shari Lewis, interviewing her daughter Mallory

Cara Williams, RIP

The Best of Trevor’s Accents – Between The Scenes | The Daily Show

Why younger people say ‘no problem’ instead of ‘you’re welcome.’

The Automat

The history of the blinking cursor 

Themself or themselves as a singular form? I’m leaning toward the former; cf yourself and yourselves.

A snowflake photo

 The history of paintings of dogs playing poker 


I never voted for the longtime Republican Senate leader. He was elected to the House in 1960 and the Senate in 1974. He became Senate majority leader briefly in 1980s, then in 1994.

Gerald Ford picked him as his Vice-Presidential partner in 1976, but they lost to Carter/Mondale. He was the unsuccessful GOP nominee for president in 1996 against the incumbent Bill Clinton.

But I didn’t find him loathful. His right arm was left permanently paralyzed from World War II, and that gave him some perspective, to help veterans and those with disabilities. He is the first “real” person, as opposed to an actor, to promote pills for erectile dysfunction. (So THAT was what ED was.)

Redlining, continued

In response to a post of mine about redlining, Bankrate wrote to me. “Although housing discrimination is an illegal practice, its impact remains in mortgage and lending practices. Our experts created a guide explaining the lasting effects of housing discrimination, how it impacts the mortgage industry, and how to combat these issues.” Here’s the link

Subsequently, I read this.  To prove lowball appraisal, Black couple ‘white-washes’ home—value rises by nearly $500K. The CBS News story referred to a 2018 Brookings report: The devaluation of assets in Black neighborhoods – The case of residential property.

Also, When a Hyundai is also the family home 

The Racial Gap in Financial Literacy

Now I Know

The Road With a Toad-Away Zone and It’s Better to Be Afraid Than Embarrassed? and The Best Reason for a Delayed Flight? and Giving the Train a Slip and The Horse Hide


What’s It Gonna Be – REBECCA JADE: link and video

Jimmy Fallon, Ariana Grande, and Megan Thee Stallion release pro-booster It Was A Masked Christmas 

November Woods by Arnold Bax 

Mary Of Silence  · Mazzy Star

Batman TV show theme sans the word “bat”

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick – Ian Dury and the Blockheads, because
1. Sondheim would love that rhyme that’s spelled differently:
In the wilds of Borneo
And the vineyards of Bordeaux
Eskimo, Arapaho
Move their body to and fro
2. Someone is “in the wild”, but “in the wilds of” a place. Why IS that?

Michael Nesmith — considerably more than a Monkee — dies at 78; a loose salute

 The Sting Interview by Rick Beato

Salon satire: Deleted scenes from “The Beatles: Get Back” we’ll never see

Redlining and The Color of Law

author Richard Rothstein

Redlining.HOLC_map_AlbanyA few months ago, CBS News did a piece on redlining. That is the discriminatory practice in which “a mortgage lender denies loans or an insurance provider restricts services to certain areas of a community, often because of the racial characteristics of the applicant’s neighborhood.”

More amazing, though, was the report in February 2021 when CBS’s Tony Dokoupil reflects on how “his family benefitted from government housing policies that were denied to Black Americans.” And he spoke to some of the neighbors with whom he grew up. One said, essentially, that what’s past is past and we’ll do better in the future.

The problem is that the wealth gap shows “evidence of staggering racial disparities. At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150) in 2016.”

It’s rather like running a 10K race, with the competition already at the 9K mark. It’s impossible to catch up.

The issue is not just with redlining. I’m in the midst of reading an important book entitled The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. It shows in excruciating detail that the segregation in American cities is de jure rather than de facto. It is the deliberate product of “systemic and forceful” government action, and so the government has a “constitutional as well as a moral obligation” to remedy it.

More than the month

This is why I support, more than ever, Black History Month. Not that it should be limited to February. Indeed, black history should be “taught in all schools—especially those with a small Black student population.” I’ve heard a number of times people trying to create racial awareness, only to receive pushback in their work or organizational environment. “We don’t have that many minorities here.”

My perception is that a lot of people think they know about slavery. They may be oblivious to rebellions or underestimate the brutality, but it’s on the radar. The period after the Civil War from Reconstruction to the imposition of the Black Codes, Jim Crow, and lynching, is less familiar. Stories about Wilmington, NC, and Tulsa, OK, for instance, are just now being heard in the broader population.

And of course, at least some kids have heard about MLK, Rosa Parks, and Jackie Robinson.

But the systemic governmental and institutional (banks, unions, real estate agents) forces that limited the creation of wealth in the black community in the 20th century have been largely a hidden phenomenon.

The maps don’t lie

Check out, for instance, Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America. It shows maps from all over the country reflecting the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation policies between 1935 and 1940. The areas in red were considered economically “hazardous.” The map shown is of Albany, NY, with Arbor Hill, West Hill, and the South End in red. (Note the city actually points more to the northwest.) But it’s hardly unique. Search YOUR city.

“HOLC assumed and insisted that the residency of African Americans and immigrants, as well as working-class whites, compromised the values of homes and the security of mortgages. In this they followed the guidelines set forth by Frederick Babcock, the central figure in early twentieth-century real estate appraisal standards, in his Underwriting Manual: ‘The infiltration of inharmonious racial groups … tend to lower the levels of land values and to lessen the desirability of residential areas.'”

I may write about the book The Color of Law. Or I may let my friend Alison do so since I know she took nine pages of notes when she read it.

This month, the House of Representatives held hearings on H.R. 40 – a bill that would set up a commission to examine the institution of slavery and its impact and make recommendations for reparations to Congress. Note the effects of slavery did not end in 1865. Jim Crow segregation and enduring structural racism are endemic to our society.

1865-1965: black codes, Red Summer

pogroms against black people

An End to Police Brutality
USED BY Dr. Samuel Y. Edgerton, Jr., on
August 28, 1963 in Washington, DC
With all the talk about Juneteenth 1865, it’s important to note how awful the NEXT century was for black Americans. I would posit that the century (1865-1965) was arguably worse.

My view is certainly affected by white compatriots in the 1970s and later. They would say, often genuinely, “Why are black people doing so poorly? Slavery ended over a century ago!” As though there was a light switch from enslavement to freedom. As though it were suddenly a level playing field. Here are some of the factors. Of course, they naturally overlap.

The 13th Amendment, ratified in December 1865. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. This provision is why one should watch Thirteenth.

Reparations. The formerly enslaved people generally did not receive the promised 40 acres.

Black codes: their primary purpose was to restrict blacks’ labor and activity, including “strict vagrancy and labor contract laws… Blacks who broke labor contracts were subject to arrest, beating, and forced labor… Passed by a political system in which blacks effectively had no voice, [they] were enforced by all-white police and state militia forces—often made up of Confederate veterans of the Civil War—across the South.” The federal government turned a blind eye.

You can never get out from under

Peonage, also called debt slavery or debt servitude: a system where an employer compels a worker to pay off a debt with work. Those hundreds of White men, were hired by several southern states as police officers.

“Their primary responsibility was to search out and arrest Blacks who were in violation of Black Codes. Once arrested, these men, women, and children would be leased to plantations where they would harvest cotton, tobacco, sugar cane. Or they would be leased to work at coal mines or railroad companies. The owners of these businesses would pay the state for every prisoner who worked for them; prison labor.” In other words, it was…

Slavery by Another NameSlavery by Another Name: Douglas A. Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, made into a documentary. “Tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible ‘debts,’ prisoners were sold as forced laborers…" [Compare this with the current discussion on bail reform.] Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude.”

A couple of examples: “In Louisiana, it was illegal for a Black man to preach to Black congregations without special permission in writing from the president of the police. If caught, he could be arrested and fined. If he could not pay the fines, which were unbelievably high, he would be forced to work for an individual or go to jail or prison where he would work until his debt was paid off.

“In South Carolina, if the parent of a Black child was considered vagrant, the judicial system allowed the police and/or other government agencies to ‘apprentice’ the child to an ’employer’. Males could be held until the age of 21, and females could be held until they were 18. Their owner had the legal right to inflict punishment on the child for disobedience and to recapture them if they ran away."

“It is believed that after the passing of the 13th Amendment, more than 800,000 Blacks were part of the system of peonage, or re-enslavement through the prison system. Peonage didn’t end until after World War II.” And unlike a slave, who was considered property, the prisoner, if they died, could just be replaced by another prisoner to work in the factory.

Federal abandonment

The end of Reconstruction: the federal response to Reconstruction, often spotty, ended with the compromise that made Rutherford B. Hayes President.

The Ku Klux Klan: a terrorist organization of vigilantes designed “to intimidate Southern blacks – and any whites who would help them.”

Jim Crow Laws – a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation. They were meant to marginalize African Americans by denying them the right to vote, hold jobs, get an education, or other opportunities. Those who attempted to defy Jim Crow laws often faced arrest, fines, jail sentences, violence, and death.” It was codified by the Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). This was the period when those hated Confederate statues were being built in large numbers.

Elaine, AR, et al.

Pogroms: “There is a long history of white terrorism destroying Black communities.” So it’s “not just Tulsa.” Here are Five Other Race Massacres That Devastated Black America. Some of the worst of it were in the …

Red Summer. Between April and November of 1919,, there were “approximately 25 riots and instances of white mob violence [and] 97 recorded lynchings.”

In the small town of Elaine, Arkansas, racial tensions turned brutally violent after African-American sharecroppers tried to unionize. A staggering 237 people were estimated to be hunted down and killed in what is now known as the Elaine Massacre. The bloodbath made its way all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.

Birth of a Nation: “D. W. Griffith’s disgustingly racist yet titanically original 1915 feature film.” It and the presence of returning black WWI vets inspired both The Red Summer and a resurgence of the KKK.

Federal wealth theft

Redlining: In 1933, “faced with a housing shortage, the federal government began a program explicitly designed to increase — and segregate — America’s housing stock.” Richard Rothstein’s book, “The Color of Law, examines the local, state, and federal housing policies that mandated segregation. He notes that the Federal Housing Administration, which was established in 1934, furthered the segregation efforts by refusing to insure mortgages in and near African-American neighborhoods.”

The G.I. Bill. It “provided financial support in the form of cash stipends for schooling, low-interest mortgages, job skills training, low-interest loans, and unemployment benefits. But many African Americans who served in World War II never saw these benefits.” And not just in the South. This lost potential for creating wealth had generational implications.

This is a very cursory view of 1865-1965. I left off the last 15 years, the “classic” Civil Rights era of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, et al. In any case, it should be clear that the century after the Civil War, black people were hardly “free.”

Debby Irving on power, privilege, anti-racism

In the “land of the free”, systemic racism existed

Waking Up WhiteOn the first weekend in May, I attended workshops power two days on the topic Power, Privilege, and Anti-Racism, sponsored by Capital District Intersectional Feminists, the YWCA and Helens Against Racism.

Debby Irving, author of Waking Up White (2014) initiated the conversation. There are several people in my church, most of them white, who have read her book for the adult education class. I have yet not done so.

The first part was Debby Irving’s story, how she grew up in an upper-middle-class enclave in New England, all but bereft of any people of color. So she could live in her bubble, believing the American myth of justice for all and the TV show Father Knows Best.

It wasn’t until she took a class in 2009 that discovered “white people [were] being kept in a clueless state of what racism is, how it operates, and how it shapes our perspective.”

As I’m told she mentioned in the book, she was shocked to discover that the GI Bill, which helped so many veterans after World War II get homes, was often bypassed black soldiers.

Part of the issue was a concept called redlining. Irving specifically cited Richard Rothstein’s 2017 book The Color of Law, which “examines the local, state and federal housing policies that mandated segregation.

“He notes that the Federal Housing Administration, which was established in 1934, furthered the segregation efforts by refusing to insure mortgages in and near African-American neighborhoods — a policy known as ‘redlining.’ At the same time, the FHA was subsidizing builders who were mass-producing entire subdivisions for whites — with the requirement that none of the homes be sold to African-Americans.”

Thus, in the “land of the free”, systemic racism existed. Buying a home meant capital that could be passed on to others. (I had wondered why my dad, WWII vet, lived in a rented home owned by his mother-in-law until 1972.)

Note that Debby Irving’s book is Waking Up White. This is not some flip on Black Like Me. It’s that she has continued to learn since her book was published. She knew nothing about the “Tulsa riots”, which I wrote about three years ago, until recently.

She’d be the last person to say she was “woke”, that she’s got it all together. She admitted that in 2014, there were a number of famous people including Frederick Douglass and Angela Davis she was unaware of. Even she, who was born c. 1960, wondered, “How could I NOT know who Angela Davis is?”

When we broke into discussion groups, there were some apparently “woke” white people who thought the same thing, which frankly irritated me. She owned up to it, and I’ve discovered that you know what you know.

There’s a lot more to unpack here, perhaps at another time, but check out Debby Irving – resources.

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