News stories emerge almost daily in the US about police being called over black Americans doing nothing more than being black. Writer Barrett Holmes Pitner explains why he thinks American racism is unique.
Last week in California, three black people – a Jamaican, a Canadian of Nigerian descent, and a London native – were confronted by seven police cars as they checked out of their Airbnb because a white American thought they were robbing the house.
Though they were not American, they were still subjected to racist American stereotypes – and being confronted with tense, potentially life-threatening altercations with police without ever committing a crime.
I’ve travelled a fair amount around the world, but America’s racist status quo remains unique and alarmingly oppressive. American racism is entirely complexion-based and monolithic. One’s nationality is immaterial.
Years ago during one of my trips to France, a woman at La Poste refused to sell me stamps because she thought I was African.
When she learned that I was American, she apologised and sold me the stamps. The racism I experienced in France is totally unacceptable, but it provided an escape not afforded last week to these three visitors to America.
In France, nationality usurped race, and while that can have its own problems, it was still very different from the racism back home.
When I was in London, I lived in Bethnal Green during the 2011 riots, which started after London police officers killed Mark Duggan, a black man.
As teenage vandals looted and set my neighbourhood ablaze, I remember casually walking down the street during the chaos and having a London police officer politely ask me to return to my flat. There was no tense exchange, I was not arrested, and I never feared for my life.
During the week of the riots, Londoners openly discussed how black people might receive different treatment from law enforcement, but conversations focused on analysing policing techniques, discussing ways to keep teenagers off of the streets during the summer when they do not have school, and catching looters via CCTV.
In the American discourse, a supposedly inherent danger or criminality of black bodies would have been used to justify the police’s killing of Duggan and present the riots as an inevitable by-product of a “culture of crime”. The killing of Michael Brown and the riots in Ferguson followed this all-too-familiar American script.
Racism towards black people in America has largely nothing to do with immigration or nationality. There is no home country for African-Americans to connect to. Instead it is essentially a status quo of domestic alienation, dehumanisation, criminalisation, and terror. European racism is bad, but it was still more welcoming than America’s.
America’s systemic racism starts with slavery and the various slave codes – state or federal laws created that codified the inhumane practice of chattel slavery into law. The American South was a “slave society”, not merely a society with slaves. However, following the abolition of slavery, laws similar to the slave codes continued to oppress black people.
Following the Civil War, these “black codes” had the explicit purpose of depriving newly freed black Americans of the rights they had won. Black codes varied from state to state, but their legal foundation centred on vagrancy laws that allowed for an African American to be arrested if he was unemployed or homeless. They applied to countless blacks because housing and employment opportunities for freed blacks in the South were almost non-existent after the war.
Supporters of Virginia’s Vagrancy Act of 1866, one of these measures, stated that it would reinstitute “slavery in all but its name”.
White Southerners would report blacks for vagrancy, and law enforcement would arrest them and sentence African-Americans to up three months of forced labour on public or private lands.
The federal government fought against black codes during Reconstruction by electing former abolitionists and freed blacks to public office, and creating laws and adding amendments to the US Constitution to protect the rights of black Americans.
But following the collapse of Reconstruction in 1877, Southern states brought them back. Black codes became the bedrock of state constitutions. Poll taxes and literacy exams to prevent African Americans from voting soon became the norm. Jim Crow and racial segregation, which governed the South until the 1960s, are outgrowths of those laws.
As black families fled the South in the 20th Century during the Great Migration, black codes followed them to Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and elsewhere. Black Americans – who were domestic refugees fleeing state-funded terrorism – allegedly brought crime, unemployment, vagrancy, and drugs. Police departments across America responded with more black codes and aggressive policing of black communities.
Black life has always been criminalised and dehumanised in America. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and countless other unarmed African-Americans were killed by police, but with a black president many Americans felt progress was attainable. Social media raised awareness of these injustices and helped create the Black Lives Matter movement.
Under President Donald Trump, we have the same type of violence that America has always had, but now we have, at best, an indifferent federal government, and at worst a racist president. Due to this change, more white Americans are emboldened to re-employ black codes.
Under Obama, social media championed our desire for progress, and today it documents our obvious regression.
Last week in New York City, a black lawyer and her 19-year-old daughter were handcuffed and detained by police after being falsely accused of shoplifting. During the same week, the police were called by a white student at Yale University because a black Yale student was sleeping in the common area in their dormitory. In late April, an African-American family had the police called on them by a white woman for having a cookout in a public park.
Following the arrest of two black men for sitting in a Starbucks, and the increased awareness of similar injustices, the world can more clearly see the racist applications of the law that black people constantly face in America. Their arrest was black codes in 2018, but without the three months of forced labour.
Trump’s presidency has exacerbated the problem and social media has raised awareness, but employing black codes and masquerading oppression against black people as democratic justice and fair law enforcement has sadly always been America’s status quo.
Barrett Holmes Pitner is a writer and journalist based in Washington, DC.
Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that Trayvon Martin was killed by police.
WORLD PEACE EARTH DAY CELEBRATION Thursday April 22, 2021
Produced by Andrew Kaen
Hello Friends, Students, all—another Earth Day Celebration is upon us, and we’ll be celebrating, honoring, and learning together…it’s free, fun, sobering, yet uplifting….with some dynamic speakers & performers. Our second On-line, free event to honor our Mother Earth. Link below. I’ll be guiding the spaceship…hope you can join us. Mitchell
WORLD PEACE EARTH DAY CELEBRATION
7 – 10:40pm EST GLOBALLY ONLINE (FREE)
Watch the Broadcast LIVE or Watch the Recording on
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Celebrating our Planet, Healing Our Heart
Come join us for Special Event with our Conscious Community as we Gather in Unity
Honoring Mother Earth. Listen to Inspirational Talks and Experience Live Music Performances,
Celebrations & Prayers for World Peace, Planet Earth & All Inhabitants. All are Welcome!
HOST/MC Mitchell Rabin: International speaker, environmentalist, holistic coach and Host of A Better World Radio & TV ABetterWorld.tv
Rick Ulfik: Founder of We, The World, We Campaign, co-creator of 11 Days of Global Unity, WE.net
Hazel Henderson: World-Renowned Futurist, Evolutionary Economist, a Worldwide Syndicated Columnist
Dr. Leslie Field: Materials Scientist, Founder & CTO of the Arctic Ice Project
Dahr Jamail: Renowned journalist, Author of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption
Henk Rogers: Entrepreneur, Blue Planet Foundation’s Founder and Chair Emeritus
Patricia Anne Davis: Choctaw-Navajo/Chahta-Dineh Wisdom Keeper Indigenous International Speaker and Healer
Monica Willard: Charter Member of the United Religions Initiative (URI)
Intergenerational Panel on Climate with Adrian Alvarez, Brianna Rain Skildum, Grandmother Shannon Crossbear, Jim Graywolf Petruzzi and Sue Blythe
Laurelle Rethke: Bestselling Author, Spiritual Teacher and Crystal Expert
Kathryn Davis: Host of Heart of Mind Radio, Master Teacher of Qigong Form; an Energy-Vibrational Healer
Premik Russell Tubbs: Composer, Arranger, Producer and an accomplished Multi-Instrumentalist
Heidi Little: International, award-winning Singer-Songwriter, Self-Love and Empowerment Educator
Laurell Eden: High Vibration Recording Artist and Health Coach
Missy Galore: Shamanatrix of Lovelution, Galactivator of Goodness, Servant of Cosmic Love
Poems for the Solar Age by Hazel Henderson
Kosmos | Dear Hazel, everyone knows you as a futurist and as an evolutionary economist, an author and a consultant, but I don’t think many people know you as a poet.
Hazel | I knew, for my mission in this lifetime, I would have to do battle with all the alpha males who run the public and private bureaucracies in most countries, and also run most of the academic scene and the silos and the boundaries between disciplines and all the competition and so on. I knew I would have to shift to my left brain and document everything very deeply. So the poetry was when I came home after doing battle in Room 100 under the Capitol Dome for six years as a cabinet level science policy advisor. I would get home and all I wanted to do was to write poems.
Exciting Kelp Update from 2040
The Australian Marine Permaculture Project is bringing seaweed solutions to life
Marine permaculture is the practice of regenerating kelp and seaweed to reforest our oceans
and is being pioneered by Dr Brian von Herzen and his team at the Climate Foundation.
Establishing Australia’s first offshore seaweed platform
In an innovative initiative to bring the seaweed solution to life, The Intrepid Foundation partnered with ‘2040’ and the Climate Foundation to launch a public crowdfunding campaign and raised A$600,000 in 2019.
We were blown away by the outpouring of support for this exciting pilot project. And, with this support, we can now build and deploy the first marine permaculture platform in Australian waters, located off the coast of Tasmania in Storm Bay.
Progressing the project
In December 2019, Damon Gameau (Director of ‘2040’ film) had the opportunity to visit the team at the University of Tasmania with Dr Brian von Herzen to see the kelp breeding program first-hand. At the Phase 1 site at Storm Bay, test lines had been successfully populated with kelp bred in the lab. The baby kelp was grown from spores collected from ‘wild’ specimens in remnant populations.
It’s now one year since the microscopic kelps were outplanted adjacent to salmon pens and the largest of them is now a spectacular 10 metres in length! Other kelps outplanted at the same time in the same area, but further away from the salmon pens are considerably smaller (<3m), reflecting the importance of nutrient supply from the pens for kelp growth
Photographed at the end of October 2020, these kelps were0
microscopic when they were first outplanted a year ago at the
Storm Bay salmon lease as part of the collaborative project
Climate Foundation,IMAS, and Huon Aquaculture. Photo credit: Cayne Layton.
Other key project findings include identifying family lines of kelp that are tolerant of warm water. The project team has also developed a cold storage technique to enable long term storage of kelp in its microscopic stages, producing a kind of ‘seed bank’ that doesn’t require demanding husbandry.
The successes of the project so far, including finessing techniques around kelp husbandry and lifecycle management have laid the foundations to greatly expand the scope and scale of the work.
In 2021, the project team is planning to submit a collaborative research proposal with the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre to take the next steps towards growing kelp offshore for commercial and environmental benefit. This collaboration will involve the University of Tasmania (Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies and Australian Maritime College), Climate Foundation, CSIRO and the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water & Environment.
Like most major research projects, the project has also encountered some challenges. When trialling methods to restore kelp beds on natural reefs, initial plantings at the three restoration sites had limited success and the primary method of planting – using twine carrying kelp seedlings – resulted in poor survivorship. Encouragingly, a secondary method trialled at the same time using small 50 x 50 mm plates seeded with micro-kelp, resulted in good survivorship. In 2020, the three restoration sites were replanted with plates densely seeded with tiny kelp seedlings and, at each site, 100 plates were bolted to boulders that comprise the reef substratum.
The University of Tasmania and the Climate Foundation have been working closely on the development of methods of natural reef restoration and in the coming months, the project team will apply for the permits for upwelling water and irrigating seaweed in Australia.
Damon gets up close and personal with remnant Giant Kelp in Storm Bay, TAS
Prototype testing gets underway in the Philippines
While the Tasmanian nutrient trial demonstrated the strong response of kelp to sufficient nutrients, concurrently the Climate Foundation has been testing seaweed responses to restoring overturning circulation and irrigating seaweed forests with the upwelled water – deeper, colder water which rises to the surface.
The team have successfully irrigated red seaweeds with upwelled water at a deepwater marine permaculture platform testing site in the Philippines. Below are some images of the Philippines trial site where the Climate Foundation team built two troughs for the platform, successfully deploying the system into water over 1,000 feet deep.
While the work that Brian and his team have been doing in the Philippines hasn’t been directly funded by the Australian Marine Permaculture Project, the new findings and technological advancements being prototyped in the Philippines are now informing the Tasmanian project – ready to enable the Australian team to progress with Marine Permaculture deployment in Australia.
The Climate Foundation team deployed a prototype trough-based marine permaculture system in the Philippines. Photo credit: Sam Donohue
Prototype trough-based marine permaculture deployed in the deep sea in the Philippines. Photo credit: Sam Donohue
Red seaweeds grown in surface water (right) and in upwelled water (left) with the darker colour indicative of greater seaweed health. Photo credit: Sam Donohue
Close up comparison of the baseline seaweed (tan) with deepwater irrigated seaweed (dark) shows the robust response of this red seaweed to deepwater irrigation.
While Brian and the Climate Foundation team await the results from the trial in the Philippines, early indications show that the seaweed has benefited from the deepwater irrigation, as can be seen in the above image. While neighbouring seaweeds outside the test irrigation site have been shrinking during the summer season, the irrigated seaweeds are growing dark and healthy.
As Dr Brian von Herzen states, “from the Philippines to Australia, Marine Permaculture irrigation is proving itself to be the key to growing strong, healthy seaweed forests that provide habitat for forage fish and may be essential to regenerating life in the ocean.”
If you can, please help with
a Climate Foundation financial donation by going
Storage news: US electric sector is halfway to zero carbon emissions
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Are you an industry expert, innovator or trail blazer with insights to share with the energy market? If so, submit your speaking idea for next year’s POWERGEN International, taking place January 26-28, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
April 28-29: Optimizing Plant Performance • Online [POWERGEN+]
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