Brown? In London? Papers please.


(Photo: NRBrizzle)

In London today, members of the UK Border Agency were stopping people of color at various tube stations and demanding that they show identity papers. Several eyewitnesses confirmed that the patrol officers were singling out brown people, that they were intimidating in demeanor, and that they threatened to arrest passers-by who asked what was going on. At least one officer is reported to have removed his badge number. This comes as the UKBA began to blitz London's neighbourhoods with vans threatening undocumented migrants with arrest and deportation and exhorting them to turn themselves in.

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Long-lost diary of Nazi racial theorist and Hitler confidant recovered


Photo: ICE HSI. Click to enlarge.

In Washington today, US officials and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum representatives announced the seizure of a long-lost diary maintained by a close confidant of Adolf Hitler.

The recovery of this historical document was the result of an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The author of the so-called "Rosenberg Diary" was Alfred Rosenberg, a leading member of the Third Reich and of the Nazi Party during World War II.

Rosenberg was one of the intellectual authors behind key Nazi beliefs, including persecution of Jewish people, expansionist “lebensraum” (living space) ideology, the "master race" theory, and the rejection of modern art as "degenerate." He was tried at Nuremberg, sentenced to death, and hanged on October 16, 1946, after having been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The diary will eventually be displayed in the Holocaust Museum. More photos, video from the press conference where the seizure was announced, video of Rosenberg speaking, and more of the story behind this important historic artifact are below.

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Shell's racist pesticide ad, 1957


From 1957, a disturbing, patronizing, racist Shell ad for pesticides, selling the superiority of big agribusiness.

Weekend Event - White

Documentary on hidden victims of Greek austerity that's crowdfunded, free & CC-licensed

Into the Fire writes, "Into The Fire is a film with a difference. Besides being a hard hitting documentary which shows the plight of refugees and migrants amidst a collapsing Greek economy, it's also an experiment in new film production and distribution techniques. A year ago, we made a first, crowd-funded trip to Athens. We filmed shocking levels of racism, police brutality, and right-wing extremism - as well as the courageous and inspiring people who are organising against it.

"Into the Fire will be released on 21st April on the internet. We crowd-funded the film and crowd-sourced the subtitles: it's been translated into eight languages using the open subtitler Amara. We are also using crowd-sourcing as the release and distribution strategy for the documentary: anyone who signs up to participate will receive embedding details ahead of time, and the film will be released on various websites simultaneously. The audience becomes the distribution network."

Django Unchained: "A white revenge fantasy"

Noah Smith (who is white) saw "Django," and loved it. "Not for the cartoonish violence (which was OK, nothing special) or for Tarantino's trademark witty banter (which was a bit subdued)," he says, but for its politics. "I'm pretty sure that for all its elements of blaxploitation, Django's politics are all about white people," writes Smith. "It's not a black revenge fantasy; it's a white revenge fantasy." Django isn't black people's story of slavery: it's white people's.

Database documenting payouts to UK slave-owners to be launched for public use

The British government paid out £20 million to compensate 3,000 slave-owning families for the loss of their "property" when slave ownership was abolished in Britain's colonies in 1833. At the time, that sum amounted to 40% of the UK's annual spending budget; today, one could calculate the total value of the 19th-century payouts to be around £16.5 billion (=USD $25 billion; the actual sum can vary, depending on how you calculate).

In The Independent, an article digging in to the data, which will be released this week in the form of a publicly accessible database.

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"The blue eyed people get 5 extra minutes of recess, while the brown-eyed people have to stay in"

https://youtu.be/8bWlTZZN3DY

Over at Dangerous Minds Melissa Sweat wrote about the 1968 "blue eyes/brown eyes" classroom experiment.

The class of third graders are told that blue-eyed people are smarter and better than brown-eyed people. Blue-eyed people get an extra five minutes of recess, and the two groups aren’t allowed to play with one another on the playground. The brown-eyed children wear fabric collars so they can be identified from a distance. When, during recess, one of the children calls the other “brown-eyed” as an epithet and the child retaliates by slugging the taunter, Jane Elliott does what any good teacher would do: the child is reprimanded, but the overall exercise continues.

It was the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968 that Elliott ran her first “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise in her Riceville, Iowa classroom. In 1970, Elliott would come to national attention when ABC broadcast their Eye of the Storm documentary which filmed the experiment in action. Below, is a portion from the 1985 PBS Frontline documentary A Class Divided which features the ABC footage as well as clips of a class reunion.

Blue eyes/brown eyes: Jane Elliott’s controversial classroom experiment on racism, 1968

Stupid sorority insults Mexicans

NewImage Members of the Chi Omega sorority at Penn State posed for this photo during a "Mexican-themed" party. Chi Omega's president apologized and the university is "taking the matter very seriously." (CNN)

Report: Black mother who sought help as sons drowned during Sandy was denied

Two brothers, ages 2 and 4, were swept away Monday night when waves of water crashed into an SUV driven by their mom in Staten Island. They were later found dead. A story now emerging: their mother, who is black, went door to door begging for help—and was turned away. (via Steve Silberman)

San Francisco's Travelodge on Market Street accused of racism

My friend Jason Perkins, who owns several nightclubs in the San Francisco Bay Area and has an impeccable reputation, says that he and legendary guitarist Leo Nocentelli of The Meters were treated to some ol' fashioned hardcore racism last night courtesy of the Travelodge on Market Street near SF's Mission District. Jason writes:

"I bought 4 rooms for the band and prepaid for them on debit card. After sound check, Leo and the band went to the hotel and tried to check in. The manager refused to accept 3 of 4 members credit cards for incidentals (4th member is Rich Vogel/white dude). Leo called me and (my family and I) drove to the hotel at 7:30 pm. I asked what the hell and manager pointed at 3 members and said he wouldn't accept credit cards and "those people" need to pay cash deposit. When I asked what did he mean by "those people" - he pointed at Leo and said "black people."

I felt like I was hit in the face. It was stunning. I called the police and when they arrived, the police went through it with him and then he caught himself and said that they cannot check in any longer as he didn't feel "safe." He then refused to talk. Leo and Bill Dickens then had to console ME as I was beyond upset and they explained that as older fellows who grew up in the South, they understood this happens....

The manager refused to give his name until Police instructed him to give a contact reference and that is when I received a card for "Ginger" (Latu) who now supposedly does not work there!

I have called the hotel five times. No one will respond."

I called Travelodge myself and was told by the person answering the phone that a man named Matthew is the manager, and that he is in a meeting. He said he did not know Matthew's last name. I left a message for Matthew and also with the media relations department of Wyndham Hotel Group, franchisors of Travelodge.

There is an active thread discussing this on the Facebook page for The New Parish where Nocentelli is performing this weekend.

UPDATE at 12:39pm: Rob Myers from Wyndham's media relations department just called me back. He said he is aware of the story and that "all of our hotels are franchised, meaning they are independently owned and operated, so certainly this is not our policy, these allegations that exist here, but it wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on it. It would be more appropriate for the hotel owners to comment on it."

Myers said he will ask the hotel to respond to my request for comment. He also asked for the names of those involved so that he can reach out to them. I sent him a link to this post and forwarded his contact info to Jason Perkins.

UPDATE at 1:28pm: Just posted on the Travelodge USA Facebook page:

Thank you to everyone who has brought this to our attention. We are deeply troubled to hear of this allegation. This is not in line with the quality of service that we expect guests to receive when staying at one of our franchised hotels. Please know that we are looking into the matter.

UPDATE at 1:45pm: Someone posting at The Examiner apparently reached the Travelodge's "Mr. Matthew":

Travelodge Central manager who identified himself only as Matthew W., claims hotel policy is to deny access to those whose credit cards reflect insufficient funds.

When asked if Mr. Nocentelli’s credit card had been run through for a credit check, Mr. W. responded, “there are cameras in the hotel.” Mr. W. then stated he was being harassed and hung up the phone.

"The Meters' Leo Nocentelli denied lodging for being black"

UPDATE at 4:35pm: The New Orleans Times-Picauyne interviewed Leo Nocentelli who went into greater detail about what happened before Jason Perkins arrived at the hotel. According to Nocentlli, the hotel clerk demanded $100 cash for incidentals from Leo and the other band members who hadn't yet checked in, and an argument ensued. "Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli's confrontation at San Francisco motel making waves"

UPDATE Sunday 10/21: From the East Bay Express:

Perkins told us he argued with the manager through a hole in a plastic window, pressing him as to why he would not even let the band into the lobby. The manager told Perkins the hotel "didn't take credit cards from those people," finally admitting that by "those people" he meant "black people."

When Perkins called the police to the scene, they said this was not the first time they'd had similar complaints about that Travelodge. The police tried to negotiate a full refund for Perkins, which the hotel denied him.

"An SF Travelodge Allegedly Denies Guitarist Leo Nocentelli Lodging, New Parish Management Calls It Racism"

Violentacrez exposé should be taken on its own merits

Freddie deBoer doesn't like Gawker's publication of an exposé on infamous internet creep Violentacrez: "I'll take honest depravity over depravity masked as righteousness."

It's not sympathy for ViolentAcrez that moves me, but rather contempt for the deep hypocrisy of Gawker, along with its always-hilarious sanctimony of convenience. I would argue that, in fact, Gawker's writers and audience partake in essentially the same thing that many Redditors who frequent the uglier sub-Reddits do: being titillated, in various ways, by content that they simultaneously disclaim and enjoy.

Without casting aspersions on deBoer's motives here, I can't help but notice that this looks a lot like the oldest steering trick in the book: if you don't like something that someone has written (or the journalist who wrote it), try and associate it with the publisher.

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What it's like to be a black man working in a tech startup where white guys are free to be racist

This first-person account of Qu33riousity's experience of racism in a Bay Area startup will no doubt ring familiar to other "others" who've been there, too. And, it will no doubt inspire some number of privileged white guys to post comments about how wrong he is. The startup is not named, but it would appear to be this one, a place that practically invented "brogramming." There's a lot of talk this week about how great a recent recruitment ad from this company is (video link).

Update: the author has removed his post from public view. A person claiming to be the author contacted Boing Boing today and asked us to take down this blog post linking to it, because he is pursuing legal action against the company. A Google cache remains.

Thomas Jefferson, enthusiastic, brutal slaver

Update: Be sure to read Annette Gordon-Reed's rebuttal to Wiencek's biography.

Marilyn sez, "My historian friend Henry Wiencek was distressed when he found, halfway into his research on Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves a new book about Thomas Jefferson, that generations of historians had been covering up Jefferson's dark side: he wasn't the lenient, soft-hearted, reluctant slave owner that he'd been made out to be. He found he could make money by raising slaves and selling them, and he allowed the littlest boys who worked under miserable conditions in his nail factory to be beaten if they were disobedient. Preview of the book in this month's Smithsonian Magazine."

We can be forgiven if we interrogate Jefferson posthumously about slavery. It is not judging him by today’s standards to do so. Many people of his own time, taking Jefferson at his word and seeing him as the embodiment of the country’s highest ideals, appealed to him. When he evaded and rationalized, his admirers were frustrated and mystified; it felt like praying to a stone. The Virginia abolitionist Moncure Conway, noting Jefferson’s enduring reputation as a would-be emancipator, remarked scornfully, “Never did a man achieve more fame for what he did not do..."

Once, a missing bundle of rod had started a fight in the nailery that got one boy’s skull bashed in and another sold south to terrify the rest of the children—“in terrorem” were Jefferson’s words—“as if he were put out of the way by death.” Perhaps this very bundle was the cause of the fight.

...The critical turning point in Jefferson’s thinking may well have come in 1792. As Jefferson was counting up the agricultural profits and losses of his plantation in a letter to President Washington that year, it occurred to him that there was a phenomenon he had perceived at Monticello but never actually measured. He proceeded to calculate it in a barely legible, scribbled note in the middle of a page, enclosed in brackets. What Jefferson set out clearly for the first time was that he was making a 4 percent profit every year on the birth of black children. The enslaved were yielding him a bonanza, a perpetual human dividend at compound interest. Jefferson wrote, “I allow nothing for losses by death, but, on the contrary, shall presently take credit four per cent. per annum, for their increase over and above keeping up their own numbers.” His plantation was producing inexhaustible human assets. The percentage was predictable.

In another communication from the early 1790s, Jefferson takes the 4 percent formula further and quite bluntly advances the notion that slavery presented an investment strategy for the future. He writes that an acquaintance who had suffered financial reverses “should have been invested in negroes.” He advises that if the friend’s family had any cash left, “every farthing of it [should be] laid out in land and negroes, which besides a present support bring a silent profit of from 5. to 10. per cent in this country by the increase in their value.”

...And this world was crueler than we have been led to believe. A letter has recently come to light describing how Monticello’s young black boys, “the small ones,” age 10, 11 or 12, were whipped to get them to work in Jefferson’s nail factory, whose profits paid the mansion’s grocery bills. This passage about children being lashed had been suppressed—deliberately deleted from the published record in the 1953 edition of Jefferson’s Farm Book, containing 500 pages of plantation papers. That edition of the Farm Book still serves as a standard reference for research into the way Monticello worked.

...It was during the 1950s, when historian Edwin Betts was editing one of Colonel Randolph’s plantation reports for Jefferson’s Farm Book, that he confronted a taboo subject and made his fateful deletion. Randolph reported to Jefferson that the nailery was functioning very well because “the small ones” were being whipped. The youngsters did not take willingly to being forced to show up in the icy midwinter hour before dawn at the master’s nail forge. And so the overseer, Gabriel Lilly, was whipping them “for truancy.”

The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson [Smithsonian]

Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves [Amazon]

(Thanks, Marilyn!)

Shit White People Do, part umptybillion: "Les Indes galantes—Les Sauvages" (video)

[Video Link]

BB Community moderator Antinous (the person who nukes your comments at Boing Boing when you act like a dick) plucked this gem from the jaws of YouTube and says,

I could watch this a hundred times and find something new to be horrified at every time. I love Rameau's music, but who thought that it was a good idea to have the singers doing the chicken dance in front of a giant turkey cloaca while clenching corncob pipes in their teeth?

You need to see it on a proper monitor to appreciate the full cavalcade of racialist nuances.

The opera-ballet shown, "The Noble Savages" is by French Baroque era composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. More about its history here, and you can buy the music on Amazon if you're so inclined. I can maybe give the dude a break, seeing as how it was all, like, 1725 when he wrote it and stuff, man. But there can be no forgiveness for any of the contemporary humans involved in this production.

Delta refuses boarding to Poop Strong man for flying while brown and wearing the security theater shirt I designed


Back in 2007, I designed a shirt for Woot! that featured a screaming eagle clutching an unlaced shoe and a crushed water bottle, surrounded by the motto MOISTURE BOMBS ZOMG TERRORISTS ZOMG GONNA KILL US ALL ZOMG ZOMG ALERT LEVEL BLOODRED RUN RUN TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES. Among the lucky owners of this garment is Arijit "Poop Strong" Guha, who proudly wore it this week as he headed for a Delta flight from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport to his home in Phoenix.

But it was not to be. First, the TSA Delta agents questioned him closely about the shirt, and made him agree to change it, submit to a secondary screening and board last. He complied with these rules, but then he was pulled aside by multiple Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority cops, more TSA, and a Delta official and searched again. No one found anything untoward, but --

The Delta official told Arijit he wouldn't be allowed to board, and neither would his wife. Period.

When Arijit complained about this, the Niagara Transport cops got "aggressive," questioning him further and noting in their discussions that "he looks foreign." Now Arijit understood that the problem was Flying While Brown. The Niagara Transport cops had lots of dumb questions, like why Arijit's wife hadn't taken his last name, why he had opted out of the pornoscanner, and then they sicced the drug-seeking dogs on him.

Delta rebooked them for a flight the next day, but didn't offer Arijit and his wife a hotel room overnight -- and when they turned up at the airport, they discovered that their "confirmed" seats weren't confirmed, and unless eight passengers on the oversold flight agreed to fly later, they wouldn't be getting on that plane, either.

It turns out that Delta has a pattern of removing brown people from its airplanes when its pilots and passengers evince thinly veiled (or obvious) racist fears, too.

Having been booted from our flight, the transit police now began to aggressively question us. At one point, I was asked where my brother lives (he was the one who gifted me the shirt). A bit surprised by the irrelevant question, I paused for a moment before answering.

“You had to think about that one. How come?,” she asked. I explained he recently moved. “Where'd he move from?” “Michigan,” I respond. “Michigan, what's that?,” she says. At this point, the main TSA agent who'd questioned me earlier interjected: “He said ‘Michigan’.” Unable to withhold my snark, I responded with an eye-rolling sneer: “You've never heard of Michigan?”

This response did not please her partner, a transit cop named Mark. Mark grabbed his walkie-talkie and alerted his supervisor and proceeded to request that he be granted permission to question me further in a private room. His justification?: “First he hesitated, then he gave a stupid answer.” Michigan, my friends, is a stupid answer.

And then, he decided to drop any façade of fair treatment: the veil was lifted, this was about who I was and how I looked: “And he looks foreign.”

Well, Buffalo is pretty close to Canada, so maybe he thought I looked Canadian. What does a Canadian look like anyway? Whatever it is, I’m sure that’s precisely what he was thinking. Certainly he wasn’t implying that dark-skinned people are not real Americans and that white people are the only true Americans. (I wonder what those who settled this land well before the arrival of Europeans would have to say about that.)

Arijit Vs. Delta