Sunday, January 06, 2008

Acting White: Kenyan Riots Meet American Racism


I read the Field Negro blog. The edge is definitely hard, but usually accompanied by a naked truth. Recently Mr. Field, as he calls himself, turned his spot on a blogger, Jonah Goldberg, who heavily implies that blacks will rampage if Obama is not elected. Now if Goldberg is not a racist I do not know who is, right? Well maybe, but let’s examine this a little.

In my empirical 50 years I have not experienced riots, except for blacks. I recall Newark, Detroit, Miami, and Los Angeles. Always for a reason, but riots in the streets nonetheless, that amounted to community bloodletting. As I read the NYT about the recent riots of Kenya, I wonder of a connection to burning, looting, and using the pictured Pres. Kibaki's election turmoil as an excuse to kill ‘within’.

History tells a broader story where whites have rioted too, but usually with the strategic goal of terrorizing others for control – killing ‘without’. Thirty-plus million poor whites in this country, to my knowledge, have yet to burn, loot, and kill in their own neighborhoods as a result of mistreatment. It is also inarguable that these whites have nothing frustrating in their lives. They are perennial ‘white trash’ in the minds and acts of their brothers, yet they predictably conspire their ill feelings against their tormentors in more, rather that less, discriminating ways. I believe their behavior is not due to superior intellect; rather it is an artifact of the leading edge of the rule of law.

In the Kenya riots, as in the US, scores are being settled within black communities unrelated to the issues that sparked the unrest. The body count in LA was by far black-on-black, related to drugs and crime. So while I think racism exist, I also believe that the rule of law does not fall far from the tree - in this case the African tree. The slave trade transport was not enough to skip this social evolution reality.

While we challenge the Goldberg’s of the world, and make no mistake, I believe he is a racist; we should also examine our fears and what they say. Barack Obama is no Rodney King, but the spark and behavior that becomes a self-annihilation is definitely out there hiding in black people and their challenged views of themselves, still.

James C. Collier

P.S. In deference to ‘the Field’, I compared the annual homicide rates of Philly, Nairobi, and London. London was the lowest at 2.5 per 100,000 residents, while Philly and its close cousin Nairobi came in at 30 and 60 per 100,000, respectively. BTW, the average in the US is 7 per 100,000. Food for thought.

See Part II of this blog...

READ MORE ACTING WHITE...

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22 comments:

DJ Black Adam said...

James:

Before I begin, are you seriously suggesting that the “science fiction or race” aka the “social reality of race” is possibly a predicate for the position that Black riot or have rioted more than Whites, en masse, during the last 75 years or so? Please clarify, I may be reading this wrong…

James C. Collier said...

DJ: Not sure of your 'social realities of race' or 'science fiction'. In any event, I am suggesting that the manner of riotous 'social behavior' in Kenyans and American Blacks is curiously similar (as are adjusted homicide rates), although this does not mitigate Mr. Goldberg's racism in attaching this behavior to Mr. Obama's nomination/election outcome. Further, I suggest that the evolution of the historical rule of law of a person's LEO (location of ethnic origin) exerts an influence representing thousands of years of social evolution, regardless of more recent changes in venue.

I look forward to your comments.

Kitty Glendower said...

They are perennial ‘white trash’ in the minds and acts of their brothers, yet they predictably conspire their ill feelings against their tormentors in more, rather that less, discriminating ways.

Could you give an example of this? Just so I can get your meaning completely.

And do you think "white trash" live en masse among "white trash" or spread through out white communities, thus, making it different to band together and riot as easy as say areas in L.A. where it is mostly black?

James C. Collier said...

Kitty: At their mean, poor whites simply suffer in silence, with no 'good' excuse for their plight and too embarrassed to fight back. Their consolation is to blame activist minorities who achieve, they believe, at poor white expense. At the other end they join covert extremist organizations that fantasize and plot the overthrow of the gov't.

As for where they live, economics is the greatest segregation tool there is. They live invisible all around us in their own neighborhoods, but have no social agenda or leaders to band them together.

Kitty Glendower said...

Well in a way that would be pitting the disadvantages of class with the disadvantages of race, both under the white supremacist society in which we live. Perhaps not pitting the two against the other but it seems to suggest that the two possibly should/could foster the same reactions.

There are some who will argue that once wealth is achieved the burden of class is no longer a burden, unlike the burden of race. Could one live with a burden more easily if he or she believes it is just a matter of what he or she does or would there be more internal anger when one believes no matter what he or she does they will always be the race/colour that falls at the bottom of the current structure.

None of this however disputes your point or adds anything to it, -----just working through it.

Anonymous said...

Intriguing blog. "I shall return."

Shirley Buxton
www.shirleybuxton.wordpress.com

homelandcolors said...

The riots in Kenya and in the African American community are very different. You are right when you show that African American riots tended to be focused inward, however the riots in Kenya are not. In Kenya the issues are political and ethnic. They are not looking at the world in racial terms but in cultural and tribal terms. Because of this the riots taking place are closer to the riots perpetrated by Whites rather than African American riots. The rioting is against the "other" rather than within. Even that oversimplifies the many complex factors that go into the issues of the nation. There are some parallels between the nations of Africa and the African American population, but I don't think that the rationale behind the rioting is one of them.

James C. Collier said...

Homelandcolors: I do not deny the differences of Black America and Africa, but the similarities where an election result sparks a community to turn on itself, employing seemingly minute differences, be they tribal history or gang colors, begs scrutiny. If Goldberg is being racist in suggesting black people who barely vote will riot nonetheless, if Obama loses, we need to understand the similarities to Africa - the differences are academic. My problem with Goldberg is that he fails to distinguish the theft of leadership versus a bona fide defeat. But make no mistake, perceived theft, in this case, holds the danger of a community turning on itself.

Diocletian said...

"Their consolation is to blame activist minorities who achieve, they believe, at poor white expense. At the other end they join covert extremist organizations that fantasize and plot the overthrow of the gov't."

James, just curious, what would you consider to be the the equivalent "ends" in consolation, so to speak for black Americans. (Taking the above as towards poor white Americans). Am I assuming right that one end is rioting?

P.S. Love your writing, sir.

James C. Collier said...

Diocletian: If one end of consolation for blacks is self-sacrificial rioting, the other end is acquiescence, which I characterize as the 'sweet-by-and-by' response. That is, however mistreated I am by 'the man' in this life, will be rewarded by the good Lord in the next - and mind the offering plate as it passes.

DJ Black Adam said...

Hello James:

You wrote:

“DJ: Not sure of your 'social realities of race' or 'science fiction'.”

I am sorry you are not familiar with my terminology regarding the actuality that race, as defined in the United States socially, is a scientific fiction, meaning that the shared genetics that African Americans have with some Kenyans (due to their Bantu, Nilo or Cushite ancestry) would not account for similar behavior based on race the “scientific fiction”, however in regard to tern “social reality” you posited that similar social circumstances could account for similiar behaviour between these two groups. Which could be true; however, I fail to see what similar social circumstances in the historical rule of law between African Americans and Kenyans you are bridging.

However, you seem to clearly summarize your position here:

“Further, I suggest that the evolution of the historical rule of law of a person's LEO (location of ethnic origin) exerts an influence representing thousands of years of social evolution, regardless of more recent changes in venue.”

Oh come on. First, you have to start from a common origin point. Africa is a bit vast and very diverse in people (as you have stated before).

Sure, Bantu people can be found in East Africa (where Kenya is and some slaves of taken to the Ameircas from the Diaspora are from) as well as West & South Africa (where most of the descendents of the slaves taken to the Americas originate), but what common history are you talking about in regard to the “rule of law”?

Are you speaking of the shared history to that African Americans and many Kenyans have to the Bantu and Nilo people, since the Bantu and Nilo arrived in Kenya around 1st millennium AD?

Are you referring to some of each population who have ancestry from the Cushites, and as such does this go back to the “rule of law” in ancient Cush? If not how far back should we be going?

What was the “rule of law” like from where they Bantu came before the reached Kenya?

What followed in East, West and South Africa that could have coalesced in African American’s from their common Bantu ancestry?

Do African Americans who have Kenyan ancestry from the Diaspora or from Kenya within 1 generation or more now have a greater propensity for these types of actions based on your study of the subject?

I am just curious as to what “history” and what “rule of law” you are referring to. I look forward to your answers.


Toda

James C. Collier said...

DJBlackAdam: The UN Development Program computes a current Rule of Law (ROL) index for most countries of the world, representing all historical regions. This index reflects the historical social advancement of the people of country-based regions over the course of at least the last 5,000 years. BTW, they compute a technology achievement index, as well.

As for defining the ROL"...in its most basic form, it is the principle that no one is above the law...the ROL is the principle that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedural steps that are referred to as due process."

The ROL for Sub-Sahara Africa is fairly consistent country-to-country, with S.Africa slightly ahead, but with the entire continent near the absolute bottom of the index. The rate of advancement was/is a function of many factors having to do with the region and the people.

Individual and group historical ROL influences follow us, as we move about the globe, influencing our interactions and behaviors. This explains why the ROL character of urban America more closely resembles Africa, rather than Eurasia.

FYI...while I use the term race in discussions, the distinctions I make are ethnic, not based on skin color, and describe the regions from which people originated.

DJ Black Adam said...

James you wrote:

“The UN Development Program computes a current Rule of Law (ROL) index for most countries of the world, representing all historical regions. This index reflects the historical social advancement of the people of country-based regions over the course of at least the last 5,000 years. BTW, they compute a technology achievement index, as well.”

O.K., briefly, over the last 5000 years, in regard to the people groups you are comparing (African Americans and Kenyans) there have been numerous Kingdoms and societies, some utilizing laws based on Judaic Laws predicated on the Torah, others Islamic Sharia Law and some Tribal (Nation) based on many different indigenous religious and social systems.

How do you use the information you have gotten from the United Nations, to determine the common denominator, that can be applied to African Americans and the people of Kenya? Surely you can’t mean this is predicated on the primary constant of shared Bantu ancestry, as both groups have a great deal of diversity of ethnic make up beyond that.

That being said, you were kind enough to continue with a definition:

“As for defining the ROL"...in its most basic form, it is the principle that no one is above the law...the ROL is the principle that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedural steps that are referred to as due process.”

I appreciate the break down, though I am familiar with the term, this definition does not answer the central question of how you bridge or utilize a “Rule of Law” index as some sort of common denominator that would apply to Kenyans and African Americans to explain the rioting you mention.

Historical, regions developed independently for some time during the last 5000 years before there was significant interaction between West, North and East Africa.

When there was communication and trade from the empires of the West, North and South, at varying points of history they hade sometimes similar and sometime quite different laws upon which they were ruled by and respective societal governing systems.

For example, the Rule of Law in the East African Kingdom of Axum during and after the 1st century was predicated on Royal decree and partially on Christian doctrine, which was very different than the laws of the Kingdom of Ghana, which were described by Islamic writers who often commented on the social-political stability of the empire based on what they perceived as just actions and grandeur of the king.

Later during the 14th century The crown jewel of West Africa, the Empire of Mali was the center of Islamic, legal, and scientific scholarship.

Bottom line, diverse continent, perhaps the index would be more forgiving of Africa in comparison to Europe, if for most of the last 2000 years there was a constant of Western law being written in line with a predominate influence on church canon law and western philosophy? Homogeny can skew the numbers.

“The ROL for Sub-Sahara Africa is fairly consistent country-to-country, with S.Africa slightly ahead, but with the entire continent near the absolute bottom of the index. The rate of advancement was/is a function of many factors having to do with the region and the people.”

I am not surprised by their computation of the data, my question for you again, is since we know that there is quite a bit of diversity in culture and society from West to East Africa (Kenya having people from sub Saharan Africa as well as Arabia and the North Africa) compounded further by the fact that the Diaspora slaves brought to the Americas and subsequently their descendents have ancestry not only diverse from all over the African continent (not just sub Saharan Africa) as well as Europe, Asia and from the indigenous people of the Americas, is how you bridge behavior in Kenya to African Americans, further how this can be used as any type of methodical technique to predict “riots”, or to attribute such behavior to shared ethnicity OR shared continent of origin based on statistics that are questionable in intent at best?

I’m sorry; it just doesn’t make sense if you look at the diversity of the continent and the two people groups you are referring to.
You continued with:

“Individual and group historical ROL influences follow us, as we move about the globe, influencing our interactions and behaviors. This explains why the ROL character of urban America more closely resembles Africa, rather than Eurasia.”

You have got to be joking. The ethnic diversity of African Americans alone makes such a statement ridicules to any one with a cursory knowledge of world History or sociology, when you throw in the very different histories of the people of Kenya and their very different ethnic make up in this equation it only makes it more ridicules. UNLESS you just are claiming that skin color and the fact that they both have ancestors from the LARGE continent of Africa as the common denominator, not their histories of Rule of Law in their societies.

If that is the assertion, then it is even more ridicules.

James, I don’t know how much you have traveled, HOWEVER, I have traveled a great deal, and from my observation in the places I have traveled internationally Urban America, or more forwardly Black Urban America, has the same problems as Urban Hong Kong, Urban Bangalore, Urban Calcutta, Urban Bangkok, Urban Cairo, Urban Munich, Urban Mexico city, Urban Rome. Poverty, Gangs, etc, etc. are an URBAN thing, regardless of ethnicity (seeing as many of the places I mentioned, have people who are not Bantu, Cushite, Nilo or Khosai), predicated most often on poverty and social classes.

I’m just saying…

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Goldberg is an anal pore who rode his moms coat strings to where he is....I have another take on the primaries America.... poor mr or mrs next president

homelandcolors said...

I still think you're misreading the Kenyan situation. If you're simply comparing that violence is used in both situations then you're right. But your brief exploration of the reasoning behind White led riots shows that you are reaching beyond the simple use of force. People of different tribes or ethnic groups in Kenya speak different languages and have different customs and beliefs, especially in the traditional tribal lands. The tribal issues don't even begin to go into the political and economic issues of the nation or the fact that a blatant act of vote rigging and what amounts to a civilian coup has taken place. To compare this to gang members fighting over territory is disingenuous.

James C. Collier said...

Homelandcolors: While I am concerned with similarities of context - election response - between Kenyans and Black Americans, it is the similar propensity to apply, or ignore, laws and kill each other that has captured my attention. The use of the ROL index simply allows a denominator for comparative purpose against crime/murder rates in both places.

Anonymous said...

Black Americans will not riot. I truly believe they won't. Deep in their hearts they do not believe Mr. Obama will win in racist white America. They know he is giving them a 'run' for their money but although we (in a perfect world) all would like to dream of a President with intellect, dignity and genuinely good intentions for the people of America, corruption is stronger and will always prevail. Blacks will go in droves to churches and pray as they always do. They also know that it doesn't change anything but they continue to hope.....and pray.
That said,
I truly believe that a lot of Black Americans will not vote for Mr. Obama because they are lackies and like to give their vote to the white man. They are afraid of dreaming and hoping so they vote white and keep quiet.
So these are my 2 reasons to believe that Black Americans have no interest in rioting. Simple but true. Tomorrow I will read the rest of the comments posted here. Now it is bedtime where I live.

Hathor said...

Whites always have the KKK, a white supremacy or neo-Nazi group. No need to riot when you think you are better than n*gg*rs.

Ana said...

There is no history of blacks here in the United States rioting whenever their candidates lose an election.Kenya is a young developing nation ; and in developing nations with a very weak political culture,people riot whenever their candidates lose because the elections are often rigged.

There is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. 2000 elections were rigged. Americans, including blacks accepted the results. Blacks did not engage in riots. Most developing nations would have had riots.Only a fool would compare African Americans with people from the developing world where there is a total different politcal hitory.African Americans participate in this political system and they have embraced and are part of the political culture.

Saludos.

ItAintEazy said...

White's haven't rioted in recent history, eh? I guess we can't count the numerous sports riots or Woodstock '99 because they haven't produced the necessary body counts.

something2say said...

I find this blog post incredibly simplistic and rather offensive. Do you really believe that black people have an innate tendency towards violence?! What nonsense!

I'm African (Nigerian), born and bred in London, now living in the US. What you will find is that oppressed people tend to riot or act out with violence when they have exhausted all other means or when they have no other means of being heard. TERRORISM is a form of rioting - it is a violent acting out in order for a cause to be heard.

Who told you that white people don't riot, or commit acts of violence against each other in times of trouble?? England was subject to many years of terrorism from the Irish Republican Army (IRA), who killed many of their fellow white people. Ok, so this is not en-masse rioting, but its causes are the same. Have you not heard of revolutions in Latin America?? Or about revolutions that took place in England in time past? Why aren't white people rioting en-masse now? Because many have no need to... but believe me, there are individuals who are doing their own mini-riots in order to get their points across. Speak to Spanish people about ETA bombing and violence against them. Is this to do with Spanish self hatred? No, it's to do with one group wanting to get their point across and feeling that they have no other way to do so because noone is listening to them or cares unless they do something serious and unfortunately life threatening.

The people in Kenya are rioting because they have NO other way to be heard. They are fed up. And of course they will hurt and affect other black people - because it is a majority black country!! They are also acing out against other Kenyans - those who insist on oppressing them. They happen to be black too.

You are incorrect to say that Kenyans are settling scores on issues that are not to do with the unrest. There have been ethnic and tribal tensions in Kenya since the colonists came - and they are very much related to what's going on now.

Also, you have to understand something about racial identity in Africa. I'm Nigerian, but there are hundreds of tribes in Nigeria. My own tribe Yoruba does NOT identify with the others. We may all be the same colour, but we see difference. So to some people killing someone from another tribe is not 'self annihilation' because they do not just lump themselves into the 'black' category as you expect them to.

James C. Collier said...

something2say: Yes, I believe that the point of social evolution governing most blacks, be it in Africa or urban America, is less adherent to the leading edge of the rule of law, resulting in relatively more violent and crime-ridden communities (as the data shows).

The tribal bloodletting of Kenya is a illustrating example of behavior relative to the influence of earlier instantiations of our social evolution. It matters not why men and boys kill each other, including women and babies, but only THAT they do it with so little restraint.

And let us not lose track that my point was to reveal a relationship between the disparate venues of senseless violence in Africa and urban America. My goal is not to blame, but rather the search for understanding beyond simply pointing a finger at someone else. It is the blame-game that is too simple and unworkable.