Friday, July 7, 2017

The Roots of Racism, Part II: Science

Before the founding of the United States of America, racism was already established as a persistent human conflict, based on the behavior of elitism. Scientific ideas like Darwin's 'survival of the fittest'; and Hernstein and Murray's, The Bell Curve, published in 1994 provide a foundation for racial hierarchy.

Scientific racism is particularly influential, because of its claim on objective legitimacy.


New York University put together a timeline of scientific racism, aptly sorted into their 'Haunted Files.' Check it out:

"1759: Botanist Carl Linnaeus publishes the 10th edition of Systema Naturae, which is the first to fully describe the four races of man.
1770: Dutch naturalist Petrus Camper begins developing his “facial angle” formula, basing his ideal angle on Grecian statues.
1795: Anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach names the five races of man.
Early 1800s: Franz Joseph Gall develops “cranioscopy,” which is later renamed phrenology by his disciple Johann Spurzheim.
1810: John Caspar Lavater publishes the foundational text Essays on Physiognomy.
1828: George Combe publishes The Constitution of Man Considered in Relation to External Objects, linking phrenology and racial comparison.
1830s: Orson Fowler opens his Phrenological Cabinet in the heart of downtown Manhattan.
1832: Johann Gaspar Spurzheim invigorates the American phrenology movement with his series of lectures in Boston.
1839: Samuel George Morton introduces his theory of craniometry in Crania Americana.
1844: Scottish publisher Robert Chambers releases his Vestiges of the Natural History of Mankind, the most popular work of natural history prior to Darwin’s Origin of Species. Chambers argues that each race represents a different stage of human evolution with whites being the most evolved.
1852: American physician James W. Redfield writes Comparative Physiognomy, which equates each type of people with a specific animal.
1853: French thinker Arthur Comte Gobineau publishes An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Race, arguing for the primacy of the Aryan race.
1859: Charles Darwin release the first edition of On the Origin of Species.
1864: Herbert Spencer coins the phrase “survival of the fittest” in developing his theories of social Darwinism.
1865: French anthropologist Paul Broca develops his “table chromatique” for classifying skin color.
1866: Physician John Downs defines “Mongolian idiocy” which he argues is a regression to the “Oriental stage” of human development.
1869: Francis Galton publishes Hereditary Genius, outlining his theories or human breeding.
1876: Italian psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso releases Criminal Man, which outlines his theory of criminal anthropology.
1877: Richard Dugdale publishes The Jukes, which links crime and heredity.
1882: The Chinese Exclusion Act is passed, excluding Chinese laborers from immigration for ten years.
1883: Galton coins the term eugenics.
1886: Chief of the New York City Detective Bureau Thomas F. Byrnes publishes Professional Criminals of America in which he collects the mug shots of notable criminals.
1892: The Chinese Exclusion Act is renewed for ten more years under the Geary Act.
1893: The World’s Columbian Exposition opens in Chicago with country pavilions organized according to scientific theories of race.
1889: Andrew Carnegie pens “The Gospel of Wealth,” justifying the extreme wealth of the robber barrons.
1900: Gregor Mendel’s theories of inheritance are “rediscovered.”
1902: The Chinese Exclusion Act is made permanent.
1904: Curator of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian Institute Ales Hrdlicka publishes Broca’s “table chromatique” in the U.S.
1905: The German Society for Racial Hygiene is founded.
1905: Alfred Binet invents the IQ test for measuring intelligence.
1907: The Eugenics Education Society is founded in Britain.
1907: The first American compulsory sterilization law goes into effect in 1907 in Indiana with dozens of states following suit.
1910: Zoologist Charles Davenport founds the Eugenics Record Office at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory with a grant from Mrs. E.H. Harriman.
1911: The Joint-Congressional Dillingham Commission recommends reading and writing tests to slow “undesirable” immigration.
1911: Franz Boas publishes The Mind of Primitive Man arguing for the role of environmental factors in the apparent differences between races.
1912: The First International Conference of Eugenics is held in London, presided over by Charles Darwin’s son Leonard.
1913: Eugenicist Henry Goddard introduces the IQ test at Ellis Island.
1916: Madison Grant publishes The Passing of the Great Race, splitting Europe into three racial groups: Nordics, Alpines, and Mediterraneans.
1917: The Immigration Act of 1917 includes the Asiatic Barred Zone, which excludes nearly all immigrants from Asia.
1920: Lothrop Stoddard writes The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy.
1921: The Emergency Quota Act is signed into law, heavily restricting immigration from Eastern & Southern Europe.
1921: The Second International Congress of Eugenics is held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
1923: Carl Bringham publishes A Study of American Intelligence, which uses the IQ testing done by Robert Yerkes to support differences in intelligence between races.
1924: The Immigration Act of 1924 becomes law imposing a quota system that favored Northern & Western Europe and excluding immigration from all of Asia.
1924: U.S. Congressman from New York Emanuel Celler gives his first major speech on the House floor against the Immigration Act of 1924.
1927: The Supreme Court upholds compulsory sterilization in Buck v. Bell.
1932: The Third International Eugenics Conference is held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. ERO Director Charles B. Davenport presides.
1932: The Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences is released with many of the anthropology articles written by Boasians, not Grantians.
1933: The Third Reich enacts the first German compulsory sterilization law.
1935: The Carnegie Institution of Washington orders an external scientific review of the ERO, and finds its records “unsatisfactory for the scientific study of human genetics.”
1937: Madison Grant dies.
1937: The Pioneer Fund is founded by Wickliffe Draper to support racial research. ERO superintendent Harry Laughlin serves as its first president.
1939: The Eugenics Record Office shuts down.
1943: Chinese Exclusion is repealed and a quota is given of 105 immigrants per year.
1952: The McCarran-Walter bill is passed, revising but not eliminating the quota system of immigration.
1965: The Hart-Celler Act repeals the immigration quota system and establishes a new system based on skills and family relation.
1994: Richard J. Hernstein and Charles Murray release The Bell Curve which argues for racial difference in IQ.
1998: The American Anthropological Association issues a statement on race, concluding that contemporary science makes clear that human populations are not “unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups.”
2003: North Carolina finally repeals its compulsory sterilization law.
2014: New York Times journalist Nicholas Wade argues for race-based science in A Troublesome Inheritance."




Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Roots of Racism: Part 1, Religion

Why is there racism in American Culture? Racism is not a unique American phenomenon, but there are cultural roots we can trace racist ideas to, like media, religion, science, politics and law. 


Religion 


Discrimination against blacks, or those with dark skin, and those of Arab descent is woven into biblical stories of Ham and Ishmael. Religious texts have been used to legitimize discrimination and exclusion in many cultures. In the US, Christian interpretations of religious texts were used to legitimize slavery, and is still apparent in racist sentiments today. It is incumbent upon religious leaders to negate these stories, and the disfavor laid upon 'others' that flow from them.


The Story of Ham, Genesis 9

"In the biblical account, Noah and his family are not described in racial terms. But as the story echoed through the centuries and around the world, variously interpreted by Islamic, Christian and Jewish scholars, Ham came to be widely portrayed as black; blackness, servitude and the idea of racial hierarchy became inextricably linked.
By the 19th century, many historians agree, the belief that African-Americans were descendants of Ham was a primary justification for slavery among Southern Christians." - Excerpt from Noah's Curse to Slavery's Rationale by Felicia Lee, New York Times, 2003

The Story of Ishmael, Genesis 16:12

“a wild ass among men; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell over against all his brethren”

 "Of special interest, though, is the foreboding indication that the descendants of Ishmael would be a fierce people — “his hand against every man, every man’s hand against him” (Genesis 16:12). Moses wrote that the Ishmaelite “abode over against all his brethren” (Genesis 25:18; cf. 16:12b). Many scholars believe that this language reflects a hostile disposition (cf. NIV)....

"The “Prophet’s” system involved an aggressive “bloody-sword” ideology. No longer content to persuade by words, “the sword” became “the key of heaven and hell,” and whoever died in battle received pardon from all sin and entered into the joys of a sensual Paradise (see McClintock, 6.407). Mohammed’s “heavy hand,” and those of his violent successors, were felt in nation after nation. Even today, in countries where Islam is the prevailing political force, persecution against non-Muslims is fierce (see Duin)
Muslim terrorist attacks like that of September 11, 2001 are not an expression of aberrant radicalism; it is Islam in its purest form. And it is but a further commentary on “his hand against every man”!" -Excerpt from Ishmael: His Hand Against Every Man by Wayne Jackson in The Christian Courrier

Religious texts are bedrocks of cultural ideology, and these stories are roots of racism in America today.  It is incumbent upon religious leaders and followers in the US to examine the religious roots of racism, and act to change racist patterns born from these texts.

  Further Reading:



 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Why focus on racism?

Why focus on racism specifically, if racism is really just a pattern of elitist behavior? Because focusing on racism can help our society reflect on our worst behaviors of elitism, while paying down the debt our society owes to empirically disfavored groups.

Addressing racism can help address other political and social issues, but not vice-versa:
Addressing racism can teach us how to solve our most pressing social inequities in education, the economy, and our communities. But, we cannot address racism if we do not specifically name it.  Addressing racism can help us to address other forms of elitism, including political extremism, sexism, tribal, and LGBTQ issues. However, the reverse is not true: we cannot address racism by addressing political extremism, sexism, tribal or LGBTQ issues. 

In fact, political extremism, sexism, LGBTQ, and tribal issues have gotten special attention over the years, while addressing racism remains taboo and risky. 

Independent movements across the nation have risen to challenge extremism in politics, but racism remains a problem in every political movement right, left, and middle. Racism is often lobbed as a weapon -- used as a tool to manipulate support for or against 'the other side' without ever solving any racial disparities or inequalities. 

Women have had celebrity power from Hillary Clinton, Emma Watson, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Kate Winslet etc. CEO Tory Burch just started a campaign for 'women's ambition' with several celebrities male and female. 

LGBTQ communities have had major legislative wins in the past few years, and an entire sport boycotted the state of North Carolina to support the trans community. 

Standing Rock had presidential pressure, a celebrity concert from Neil Young, and thousands of veterans show up to support their fight against the XL pipeline. 

Yet, where is the support for black Americans, who suffer the most from elitism in our culture?

Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality against black Americans -- fans boycotted, the backlash was so severe, Kaepernick was pushed out of his place as a quarterback for the 49ers. The Black Lives Matter movement has been labeled 'terrorist' by several public officials. No celebrities organized a show of support for black Americans who have been systematically killed and criminalized in Ferguson. A concert on Broadway to support Black Lives Matter was canceled, because of the Black Lives Matter stance on the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel's treatment of Palestinians.  The BDS movement is supported by several Jewish organizations, national church organizations, and labor groups, but Broadway felt comfortable punishing BLM for their support of Palestinians.

Black Americans are at once asked to stand up for feminism, LGBTQ communities, and other minorities, while their movements are continually co-opted, marginalized, punished, and ignored. Why? 

We refuse to face our racism head on, and find every way to deflect and deny that which is so clear: 


Racism against black Americans is ubiquitous, accepted, and even fervently guarded/violently reinforced by leaders in our communities. This leads to poverty, crime, and violence in our culture. 

How we treat the least favored among us shows our true character. If we want to change our culture of bullying, exclusion, and elitism -- let's start with addressing racism toward our black citizens and work from there. Addressing racism against black Americans can heal our culture. It can help us see our elitist behavior in the most pronounced relief. 

Facing, and changing our behavior toward black Americans will affect how we treat others facing bullying and exclusion. Black American movements for equal rights are continually co-opted, swept under the rug, punished, and ignored. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Analysis of Internalized Superiority, and Anti-Racism work in Lewisburg

In the last post, I broke down 'whiteness' and internalized superiority a little bit. I mentioned that internalized superiority has a hierarchy, and that black Americans are on the bottom of that leading to enormous debt to our black citizens in opportunities and resources like education, wealth, jobs, and leadership.

Further up the hierarchy, however, the same behavior exists among 'white' people as well, and can be a significant barrier to white anti-racist work. Not surprisingly, the same elements of internalized superiority are components to negative behaviors like elitism and bullying. The end effect often perpetuates systems of inequality, toxic culture, and weak communities.

Elitism -
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their superiority, as in intelligence, social standing, or wealth.
2.
a. Behavior arising from or indicative of such a belief.
b. Control, rule, or domination by the members of an elite.

Adult Bullying (experienced by nearly half of all adults) -
Some key examples of Adult Bullying (from NoBullying.com): 
Repeated hurtful and hostile actions 
Actions which are intended to mistreat or control people 
Hurtful verbal and non-verbal communication  
Actions which decrease someone’s intrinsic self-worth
The repetition of insults 
Verbal conduct which any reasonable person might see as humiliating or threatening 
Shouting 
Sabotage work tasks 
Assigning tasks that have impossible deadlines 
Removing responsibility in favor of trivial tasks 
Taking undue credit 
Spreading rumors 
Undervaluing effort on a consistent basis 
Non-productive criticism that never ends

Some Elements of Internalized Superiority -
Demanding conformity, and creating a hierarchy of power to maintain the comfort levels of one section of the population, over others.

Taking credit for other people's work
Dismissing consequences of decisions/actions to 'others'
Focusing on maintaining power for the favored group
Blaming the victim
Hording knowledge
Abusing hierarchy (power) to punish/lock out 'others'

I have seen elitism, bullying, and internalized superiority play out in my interactions with 'diversity' group leaders who are part of the same network from Lewisburg:

From the outset, I was very clear about giving The People's Institute credit when talking about Undoing Racism (R) and the knowledge we gain from their work, because they had relayed to me that they have problems with people stealing their work and not giving them credit. However:

  • Cynthia Peltier of the CommUnity Zone, in a meeting that was supposed to be about me volunteering, instead interrogated me about my personal life, and insisted that we don't need another training, and that Undoing Racism (R) won't be useful. The CommUnity Zone proceeded to then plagiarize Undoing Racism's (R) web material as the foundation for new programming called Race Matters. I had specifically told Peltier in this meeting about the troubles the Institute has with plagiarism. 
  • The United Way Diversity and Inclusion Council touted 'a training' as part of their new programming, but did not name the program, or give credit to The People's Institute. Their description took credit for 'sending several people' to the training, when in fact they sent two people, and were invited and given scholarships by Inequity Analysis, with the understanding that they would help in efforts to build support for others leaders across the region to have the same educational experience. Instead, no credit was given to anyone and the experience is being used to bolster the GSV United Way and their affiliates. The United Way claims that the training gives them authority to 'talk about racism in the community,' when the purpose of the training is to internally examine ones own institution to do a power analysis of whether an organization is serving itself, or its mission. 
  •  
  • Immediately after attending the training together, I was kicked out of the Council for 'disagreements with the chair' which were never explained. They refused to voice any public support for Undoing Racism (R) and Inequity Analysis. Again, I stress, GSV United Way removed me, unethically, while emulating what I, and Undoing Racism(R) training brought to the table.
  • Inequity Analysis asked groups to help with fundraising activities, and offered to help raise money for the Inequity Analysis fund with Art Auctions and concerts around the area. In a conspicuous correlation, The United Way's new initiative The Valley Together has started a new series, "Art in Bars," connected to their new programming to foster diversity. Not that I mind them doing so -- but in context of the situation, it shows disrespect, and further display of internalized superiority.

Additionally, folks from this group continually tried to control and monitor my speech:

  • I was yelled at at a Meet Up! at the Wesleyan Church coffee shop to 'change my mind about Penns Commons' because Jim Buck had worked on it for so long. I had made my opinion known about Penns Commons on an email list conversation. I am still of my own mind about the issue, but it was a real problem for this group in Lewisburg. 
  • I had actually met with Jim Buck for two hours to check out the site of the housing development, where I was told that my opinions 'were along the same racist lines as conservatives.' I assured him that I am not a conservative. He scoffed at me (!), and stated that 'I sound like one.' 
  • When I brought up issues I encountered with Peltier, Buck, and this exchange at the Meet Up, with Susan Jordan (the Chair of the GSV UW Diversity Council) over the weekend when we took Undoing Racism (R) training together, she yelled at me, pounding her fist, telling me that I have a 'messaging problem,' and a 'listening problem' because of my opinion about Penns Commons. I was told that "I talk like I know what I am talking about," and as if "what I say is true." I do have a background in sustainable community development, and my opinion is similar to that of County planners -- but this group was livid about my opinion, and pressured me to stop voicing my point of view -- which I did, and asked to be removed from the email list, because I don't live in Lewisburg. I was added to the email thread, without request, because of my anti-racism work.
  • When I asked Sam Pearson, who was working with Inequity Analysis, but moved to the Diversity Council in sync with my ousting, about this 'messaging issue,' she also was upset with my Penns Commons opinion, and added "Who knows what you are saying when we are not listening." 
  • There were other disagreements Susan Jordan had with me over our training weekend -- about identity issues. The day after our training, Jordan sent me an email asserting that my opinions that she did not agree with compromised my integrity to work on anti-racism issues with Undoing Racism (R), because they don't align with the 'curriculum.' (There is no 'curriculum.' I had been coordinating with The People's Institute for over a year)
There is so much irony in what happened next: I was kicked off of the council because of 'disrespecting Susan,' 'disagreements with leadership,' and 'disrespecting the hierarchy of the council.'  I was silenced and told to speak with no one -- not the public, not the board, not the actual council about anything of my experience with the United Way Leadership. You can read my initial blog about being removed from the council here. It seems impossible to hold GSV United Way Leadership accountable, as they have continually refused to address my concerns; the board has also refused to respond to any concern; and the larger United Way says local issues must be dealt with by the local board. As well, the Daily Item who regularly prints pieces favorable to the GSV UW, has refused to report on this story, or publish my letter to the editor.


The reason that Inequity Analysis asks for a statement of support from those who accept training scholarships is because properly ensuring accountability requires what The People's Institute calls, 'a net that works': a network of leaders, across fields, and the larger community (cops/teacher/healthcare/social services etc). This 'net that works' is essential to maintaining accountability.

It is counterproductive, and unethical, for one organization to accept scholarships to the training and shut down efforts for the larger community. Undoing Racism (R) is meant to be experienced by a wide range of community leaders -- and again, the program focuses on helping community leaders analyze their own institutions and programs for racial disparities.

What the GSV United Way has done, is to continue on with the patterns of internalized superiority: taking credit where it is not due (and away from the black centered Undoing Racism (R) training); assuming to 'know better'; copying others work; demanding conformity with their leadership; and loyalty to their hierarchy (of course with their leaders at the top); hording information; denying accountability; double standards etc.

This really comes back to power, and abuse of power (even small amounts of power). The United Way leadership abused what power they could to ensure that they would benefit from my efforts, over myself, and the larger 5 county region.

I deserve an apology from the United Way. Inequity Analysis deserves statements of support about the training -- considering that it is the basis of the United Way Diversity and Inclusion Council's new programming. I also think they need to change leadership, and work on their organizational culture. 

Other concerns I have about the leadership at the United Way, the Community Zone, Sustaining Diversity, and other groups rooted in Lewisburg that deal with 'diversity':

I regularly heard bigoted statements against conservatives, like "conservatives are wired to be racist." A lot of action was around "confronting" conservative ideas, things conservatives had said etc., like holding a rally outside of someone's house who has a confederate flag, and trying to get a conservative teacher out of the school system. Most of the understanding around racism was focused on blaming someone else -- especially conservatives. In the last meeting I had with Sam Pearson as part of Inequity Analysis, she asked me to look at an article about 'Talking to Middle Americans about Progressive Issues,' which assumes that 'liberal' ideas are right, and that others just need to be nudged little by little into the 'right' way of thinking.

Racism is not a partisan issue, it is a cultural issue, and we need perspectives from across the political spectrum to properly analyze the issue. 'Liberals' need to look in at themselves, before blaming 'the other side.'

The fight between white people, in an effort to maintain power and comfort, perpetuates racist actions and prevents us from solving problems of racism in our communities.


I had seen conflict with this group coming for quite some time. If you look back through these blogs, you will see mentions here and there of bubbling petty conflict. I offered, as a resolution to the problem, that the council talk about the conflict in the context of the Undoing Racism (R) training we just had -- that we look at our bias against conservatives, and internal bickering and how we might be contributing to the perpetuation of racism in the process. Unfortunately, instead, I was quickly told to never return, and to never talk to anyone about the situation ever again.

One way or another, this pattern of superiority has to be addressed before we can effectively address the perpetuation of racial inequalities. I am still open to an apology from this group, and afterwards, a sharing of our experiences and partnership to bring more understanding to other leaders in our area about how we can 'undo racism' together.



Further reading:
Distancing Behaviors
Racism is not a mental illness
Breaking Down the Non Profit Industrial Complex
Toxic organizational structure vs. Community Centered
Political Exclusion Breeds Extremism and Inhibits Respect 
Dynamics of Power, Inclusion, and Exclusion 

'Whiteness' and Internalized Superiority

What is 'whiteness'? It is a flawed concept, but useful to a degree in explaining racism in the USA.

'Whiteness' is a reference to 'power' more than race.

'Whiteness' is a normative political power (rooted in law, religion, science, and the media), crowned with the ability to distribute wealth, resources, and opportunities. You can see this in US history in laws like the 1790 Naturalization Act, which were influenced by other embedded political institutions like religion and science. For instance, some interpretations of biblical stories like 'The Curse of Ham', and Ishmael created disfavored groups of blacks, and Arabs.

Why is 'whiteness' a flawed concept? It is a flawed concept because it links oppressive power to 'whiteness' as a racial construct. When used in extreme rhetoric like George Ciccariello-Maher, associate professor of politics and global studies at Drexel, in his Christmas Eve tweet for a 'white genocide,' it can perpetuate cycles of racial violence, and misunderstanding.

The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond call this 'whiteness' internalized superiority, which I think is a much more appropriate, widely applicable, and accurate label.

The Institute connects internalized superiority and 'whiteness' with the history of power dynamics and social norms in the USA.

Internalized superiority in the USA centers norms and power in 'white' spheres of influence. It is a power structure that only 'whites' are born into. Internalized superiority is 'a way' of acting that perpetuates favoritism and inequality. In the USA, the favored group, the group in power, the social norms, are centered on 'whiteness.' In other countries or historical contexts what is considered 'white' might not be the group in power, or the norm.

This way of acting superior affects American culture beyond racism. In fact, in the workshop, facilitators focused on how 'white' people treat each other -- and how internalized superiority creates abusive, inauthentic, and dehumanizing social interactions based on ego in 'white' spheres of influence.

These interactions -- this way of behaving -- is counterproductive to addressing issues of equality/inequality. Internalized superiority is a number one reason why the USA has made such little progress in the area of racism, according to the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond's co-founder, Ronald Chisolm:





This is reflected in my experience with the GSV United Way, and other leaders from Lewisburg, while trying to work with them on anti-racism efforts in our community. You can see an analysis specifically about my experience with this group and internalized superiority in the next blog here.

So, what is 'whiteness' again, or internalized superiority?


'Whiteness' as rightness: social and cultural norms in the USA are centered on what seems 'right' to 'white' people. For instance, black professionals are often asked to straighten their hair, and are asked to not wear cornrows or afros; 'Americans' don't want to hear a 'foreign' accent when they call customer service; covering the head or wearing certain dress is taboo in the workplace.

If we look, we can see this pattern in smaller ways within 'white culture' itself -- restrictions on died hair, piercings, tattoos, dress codes -- basically demanding conformity, and creating a hierarchy of power to maintain the comfort levels of one section of the population, over others.

There are other, more nefarious, patterns of behavior that tag along with 'power always being right,' and it is not surprising that these patterns line up with bullying and toxic organizational culture.Things like: taking credit for other people's work; dismissing consequences of decisions/actions to 'others,' and focusing on maintaining power for the favored group; blaming the victim; hording knowledge; assuming to 'know better'; using hierarchy to punish/lock out 'others'; double standards; etc.

The end result is an inability to form authentic and meaningful relationships with 'others,' and a breakdown of community. What The Institute conveyed to us in the workshop was that internalized superiority is harmful, not only to disfavored 'non-white' groups, but to 'white' groups as well.

In a racialized context, because the pattern favors those at the top of the hierarchy, those at the bottom come out with the least access to power, resources, and opportunities -- hence institutional disparities for black Americans are the worst in our culture. 

Examples of Acceptable dress/behavior/ideology: 
Suits/slacks and button down shirts/shaved (men and women)/
trimmed hair of natural color (even died 'natural')/
compliant to conforming/light skinned/
speaks without an accent, and with 'proper' English (even 'American' accents like from Boston/Wisconsin/Texas are discriminated against)/
Christian/'American' as European Centered/
more education should correspond to more power

Who meets these descriptions?: 'Professionals,' Christians, descendants of European culture, and those who will follow these standards/norms/requirements to be 'accepted.' So, at the top here, we have 'proper whites.' Well educated, light skinned, professionally dressed, 'well' spoken, Religious (Christian)  

Are citizens with these characteristics afforded more access to opportunity and resources? Should they be? Are citizens who do not meet these norms denied access to opportunities and resources? Should they be? Does it align with American values, to answer yes to any these questions?
 
Another poignant question is: should we blame those who do fit this description and/or those at the top? I argue no. Our Undoing Racism (R) training also tried to relay that 'white' people are not to blame, but are subject to the same cultural requirements. Looking at the roots of these requirements in history, religion, science, and media can help us to understand how social stratification has been perpetuated.

This is why Undoing Racism (R) focuses on institutions, and leaders of institutions as change agents. It is difficult to challenge norms in our textbooks, or organizational/institutional culture, and indeed, The People's Institute notes 'resistance to institutional change' as one of the greatest challenges to 'undoing racism.' Institutional leaders are uniquely positioned to implement change -- by taking down the arbitrary boundaries of 'norms' concerning dress/lifestyle/culture/religion/ideas; by becoming more democratic vs. autocratic in management; by examining their own institutions history, mission, work, and outcomes; identifying racial disparities; naming where internalized superiority may have blocked the right leadership, or  contributed to racial disparities in their work's outcomes.


When power is an end, when power is continually put in the hands of one homogeneous normative character, inequity is inevitable.

All people have value, all people in our communities have something to give -- different perspectives, different strengths, different knowledge. Our country, and indeed our All-American ideals are what have made the US the envy of the world. We lose community, profits, innovations and more by having a narrow definition of what is 'acceptable' and required before someone is a valued member of society -- worthy of equal respect to those who are 'Well educated, light skinned, professionally dressed, 'well' spoken, and Religious (Christian),' or otherwise part of the 'in group.'

Too often those in our communities who fall away from this norm, are less valued, and denied access to equal legal protections, voting access, jobs, leadership roles, investment etc. Those who fall away from the norm are asked to prove more, to be 'exceptional exceptions' in order to gain respect and equality in our communities. Conversely, those who fall away from the norm are judged more harshly, often characterized, and dehumanized -- all of which can lead to harm for the disfavored individual/group.

Connecting internalized superiority to 'whiteness' as a racialized concept is wrong, and harmful. However, reflecting on how internalized superiority has benefited 'whiteness' historically in the USA, religious texts, science, and laws, is vital to understanding what racism is, and how we can stop it.


http://cdn8.openculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/13203512/Superman-All-American-Color.jpg
EXTRA:

How too much education can lead to ignorance
Asset Mapping-- there are many excellent resources about this online.
Double Standards of reactions to riots