Harriet Tubman Might Replace Andrew Jackson on the Twenty; Should That Matter?

Twenty Dollar Bill

There has been debate for some time about who, if anyone, should replace President Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill. For years people have floated the idea of having the late civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. replace the slave-owning despot responsible for the Trail of Tears. Recently, however, an organization called Women On 20s began a campaign to replace Jackson’s grim visage with the face of an accomplished, influential woman from America’s history. In that regard, there was no shortage of choices. The campaign’s website held an online contest in which readers could vote for such feminist luminaries as Susan B. Anthony, Patsy Mink, Margaret Sanger, Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan, and Eleanor Roosevelt. In the end it was escaped slave and Underground Railroad architect Harriet Tubman whom voters selected by some 7,000 votes.

There’s no doubt that representation matters, especially for folks who are politically powerless and underrepresented in contemporary culture — women, people of color, religious minorities, and LGBTQ people come to mind. It’s very easy to dismiss the racial and sexual homogeneity of the images on our currency, or the superheros in our comic books, or the characters in our television shows and movies when you’re a member of the majority or dominant political class.

That being said, this well-meaning effort to introduce some much-needed diversity to our currency, if carried out, may appear more disingenuous than anything, especially given our country’s historic and ongoing mistreatment of women and people of color — especially for women of color who faced barriers due to race and sex.

Women’s reproductive rights have been, and continue to be, under assault. Since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) which enshrined the abortion as a constitutional right, religious zealots and far-right lawmakers have tried various strategies to chip away at a woman’s right to choose in the name of saving zygotes and fetuses. The state of Tennessee not only passed an amendment to its constitution declaring that nothing in it “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” it also passed a law which allows for the arrest and prosecution of pregnant women suffering from drug addiction. In Indiana 33-year-old Purvi Patel was arrested and recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for having induced her own abortion. Arizona lawmakers passed a law which would allow doctors to lie to women, for instance by telling them that medically induced abortions are “reversible,” in order to dissuade them from undergoing the procedure. Not to be outdone by our various state legislatures, our Republican-dominated Congress is attempting to pass a draconian 20-week abortion ban inspired by faulty science on fetal pain.

Women also face discrimination in employment. The gender pay gap, despite what conservative blowhards and antifeminists say, is a very real and very serious problem for women nationwide. In 2014 the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that women, on average, earned 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. While critics point out that such a disparity could be explained by job choice or some other benign factor, according to the available data this is highly unlikely. A 2003 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office examined the gender pay gap and concluded that it cannot merely be explained away by factors such as “industry, occupation, race, marital status, and job tenure.” The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has also found that this pay gap exists regardless of what industry a woman works in or what job she takes. Contrary to popular belief, this includes jobs which have historically been dominated by women (e.g. nurse, secretary, social worker).

When race comes into the equation the gender pay gap becomes even more pronounced. While African American women earn 91 percent of what African American men earn, they earn just 64 percent of what similarly situated white men are paid. Even more disturbing is the gap for Hispanic and Latina women as well as American Indian and Alaska Native women, who make 54 percent and 59 percent of what white men make respectively.

Racial discrimination is similarly pervasive from the courtroom to the boardroom and beyond. A 2004 study examined racial bias in hiring by sending out applications in response to some 1,300 classified ads in the Chicago area. The resumes were divided by race, with half of the fictitious applicants being given “White-sounding names” (e.g. Emily Walsh or Greg Baker) and the other half being given “African-American-sounding names” (e.g. Lakisha Washington or Jamal Jones). Apart from their implied races, the study also examined the impact of prospective applicants’ credentials, with the examiners “experimentally vary[ing] the quality of the resumes in response to a given ad.” Typically they sent out four resumes in response to each ad, two “higher-quality” resumes and two “lower-quality” ones. They then randomly assigned an African-American-sounding name to one of the higher-quality resumes and one of the lower-quality resumes. The study’s results were striking:

We find large racial differences in callback rates. Applicants with White names need to send about 10 resumes to get one callback whereas applicants with African-American names need to send about 15 resumes. This 50-percent gap is statistically significant. A White name yields as many more callbacks as an additional eight years of experience on a resume. Since applicants’ names are randomly assigned, this gap can only be attributed to the name manipulation.

Moreover, the study found that applicants whose postal addresses were situated in wealthy neighborhoods tended to do better than applicants who lived in poorer neighborhoods. Specifically, they found that “living in a wealthier (or more educated or Whiter) neighborhood increases callback rates,” but that “African-Americans are not helped more than Whites by living in a ‘better’ neighborhood.”

As the New York Times reported in 2009, a similar study was conducted on New York City restaurants looking to hire waiters. According to the study’s results, nonwhite job applicants were “54.5 percent as likely as white applicants” to receive a job offer, nonwhite applicants were “less likely than white testers” to receive a job interview, and the work experience of white applicants was “less likely to be subject to scrutiny.” In addition, white applicants with “slight European accents” were “23.1 percent more likely to be hired than white testers with no accent,” although accents in nonwhite applicants “made no difference.”

2014 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) revealed that black job applicants, more than any other racial group, are routinely turned away by U.S. companies due to the assumption that they are using illicit drugs. This is, of course, in spite of the fact that white Americans are just as likely, or even more likely, to use drugs as black Americans. As Abigail Wozniak, the study’s author, told the Huffington Post, “The results [of the study] don’t look like what you would call typical old-school racism. The research in the paper suggest that the bias is coming in more subtle ways.”

These subtle biases and stereotypes about nonwhite criminality and drug use may be the root cause of the frequency at which police officers stop and search black and Hispanic drivers. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, in 2013 black and Latino motorists in Chicago were more than four times more likely to have their vehicles searched during a traffic stop than white motorists. Statewide, black and Latino motorists were nearly twice as likely as white motorists to be searched during a traffic stop, even though whites were 49 percent more likely to have contraband found during a search than blacks.

Illinois is far from alone in this regard. Researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill analyzed some 1.3 million stops and searches made by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department from 2002 to 2014. Chief among their findings was that black drivers account for 60 percent of “vehicle equipment” stops in Charlotte, and that young black men between the ages of 16 and 30 are three times more likely to be searched as the average driver. Researchers at the University of Kansas, meanwhile, found that while black drivers were no more likely than white drivers to be pulled over for a routine traffic safety stop, black drivers are three times more likely than white drivers to be pulled over for a so-called investigatory stop — where officers “drag the stop out as they try to look at the vehicle’s interior, ask probing questions, and ultimately seek consent for a search.”

And then there’s the recent spate of high-profile killings of unarmed black men and women, usually ending with their killers receiving no punishment at all: Sean Bell, Kathryn Johnston, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, Michael Brown, Natasha McKenna, Tamir Rice, Tony Robinson, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott. The list drags on and on, and most of these victims were in fact murdered by law enforcement. Especially chilling is the fact that black men are roughly 21 times more likely to be on the receiving end of deadly force in a police encounter than white men. Throw in the fact that black criminal defendants — or even defendants with “black features” — are more likely to be given a death sentence than white defendants, and it’s no wonder why the United Nations raked the U.S. over the coals in a recent human rights assessment.

Bearing these kinds of injustices in mind, The Root‘s Kirsten West Savali was blunt in her assessment of the decision to place Harriet Tubman on the twenty: “That’s not progress. It’s hush money.” In fact, it is a slap in the face — an insult — to women of color, considering how much the deck is stacked against them:

When nearly half of all single African-American women have zero or negative wealth, and their median wealth is $100—compared with just over $41,000 for single white American women—it is an insult. When black women are the fuel for the prison-industrial complex, with incarceration rates increasing 800 percent since 1986 and black girls being the fastest-growing population of a corrupt juvenile-criminal system, it is an insult. When African-American women earn on average 64 cents (pdf) for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, compared with the 78 cents that white women earn for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, it is an insult.

Not only would the government be slapping a Band Aid on a bullet wound by putting a black woman on our currency, but Women On 20s’ timing — petitioning the White House to make the change by the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment — is rather tone deaf, considering that many women still could not vote after it was passed. “Let’s be clear,” Savali wrote, ” Not all women are white. Not only did African-American women face discrimination within the women’s suffrage movement, but we most certainly did not attain the right to vote 95 years ago. After decades of literacy tests and other disenfranchisement tactics, it was the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that finally allowed African-American women to vote somewhat freely—the same Voting Rights Act that in 2014 was gutted by the Supreme Court.”

So, at the end of the day, is it a step forward to honor Harriet Tubman or Rosa Parks by placing their faces on our money? Would it be an insult to their memory by linking their images with the physical representation of American capitalism — a system which owes much of its success to the blood, sweat and labor of black slaves? Is it an insult to women, black or otherwise, considering the discrimination they face on a daily basis? Is it a slap in the face to men and women of color? I readily admit that I do not have the answers to such questions, but at the very least it represents but one facet of a conversation on race, sex, and gender that women and the black community is having right now. White men should add to this dialogue, too, but more than anything we should learn to listen.

Random Headlines — 5/15/15

The New Civil Rights Movement – The Southern Poverty Law Center designates four more anti-gay organizations as hate groups.
Hatewatch – Anti-abortion extremist Neal Horsley has died at age 70.
Think Progress – Bill Cosby’s incoherent response to rape allegations.
AlterNet – 25 ways anti-choice warriors are playing doctor.
Media Matters – Bill O’Reilly complains after his anti-poor rhetoric was exposed.
Mother Jones – It’s been 6 months since Tamir Rice died and the cop who killed him still hasn’t been questioned.
Jacobin – The New York Times goes to war again.
VICE – This misogynist* wants you to boycott Mad Max: Fury Road because he doesn’t like feminism.

*It seems as though Aaron Clarey was incorrectly identified as a Men’s Rights Activist. I sincerely sort of regret the error, given that 1) MRAs and other strands of misogynists often overlap with similar woman-hating rhetoric, and 2) there were, in fact, MRAs on the website A Voice for Men voicing support for a boycott of the new Mad Max film because of its strong female protagonist. As far as slip-ups go, this is relatively minor considering that both Clarey and the folks at AVfM are sexist dicks.

Paul Elam Warns of a Feminist Zombie Apocalypse

Gender equality will destroy us all!
Gender equality will destroy us all!

A Voice for Men founder Paul Elam has an urgent message for us: innocent men and boys are under assault by ravenous “Gynocentric Zombies”! Yes, in an allegedly humorous article by Elam and fellow AVfMer Tom Golden — yes, it took not one but two adult men to write this — they liken feminism to a full-blown zombie apocalypse, and demonstrate that they have probably never taken a creative writing class:

The world, the real one filled with real people, is already filled with real zombies. Gynocentric Zombies, or, if you prefer, Gynozoms. They are automatons who feed on the flesh of men and boys in order to satisfy the needs, real or imagined, of women and girls.  It’s pretty simple really.  Just imagine decaying, tooth snapping extras in The Walking Dead and adjust it – slightly — with the zombies of both sexes only attacking men and boys, as they do the zombie shuffle right past women and girls in perfectly good culinary condition.  That about sums up our present state.

. . .

So, are you a Gynozom? It is easy to find out. Just a few questions will suffice.

Do you think that it’s okay for boys to be circumcised/mutilated as infants without any anesthesia while any cutting of infant female genitalia is forbidden by law? If so, you’re a Gynozom.

Do you do a twitchy shrug and shuffle on when you hear that men are 80% of the victims of suicide?  93% of workplace deaths?  Then we need to call Michonne to pay you visit with her trusty katana.

Do you think that women are inherently good and superior to men, while men are inherently bad and inferior to women? Then your rank smell should be filling the empty space where your nose used to be before it rotted off.

Do you think that female victims of domestic violence deserve help while male victims don’t exist?  Gy-no-zom!

Are facts immediately lost on you because your brain is now as functional as a head of cauliflower that has been laying in the hallway of a gender studies department for two weeks? Move toward the light! For the love of everything holy move toward the light!!

First of all, since when does Paul Elam care about male suicide or workplace deaths? Not only has the man done fuck-all to help prevent these tragedies, he’s written that feminist blogger Dave Futrelle should kill himself. Yes, Paul Elam is very much concerned about male suicide rates and the like. Much more concerned about that than harassing random women. Yup. It also looks as though Elam is attempting to fight off these zombie hordes with an army of strawmen. Who, for example, says that women are “inherently good” and men “inherently bad”? Who is saying that male victims of domestic violence “don’t exist”? Any names? No?

This is the real Zombie apocalypse. And is happening right now directly in front of societies, dull, greying eyes.

It’s time we start calling people the zombies out.  Our politicians are all Gynozoms.  They only make laws to help women and forget the men and boys. And they make laws to attack men and boys. Remember, Gynozoms are everywhere and not only the acidic and lethal types. No, the Gynozom Invasion come in all sizes and flavors. The worst are probably the politicians but our academicians are staggering and limping just a few steps behind.

Then there is the media.  Oh yes, the media.  Nearly all are media (who were already zombies to begin with) are willing to attack and consume men and boys whenever they need a bit to eat. Bonus! They get fed and they also get to pat each other on their decomposing backs for “working hard” to protect women and girls.  Yes, the media is overrun with Gynozoms.  Swarming with them.

The most frightening aspect to Gynozoms is that you can’t identify them by the way they look.  They look just like everyone else.  In the Zombie movies it is easy to tell them from those who are fully alive.  You can’t miss it. But in real life you can’t tell a Gynozom from a Gandhi just by looking.  At any moment a Gynocentric Zombie who looks just like everyone else may come and take a bite out of you.  If you are a man or a boy, no one will care. The other Gynozoms certainly won’t.

Politicians and academia and the media are all colluding against men and boys? Gosh, if only we lived in a world where men were equally represented in academia, business, and Congress. Maybe then the men and boys who are so persecuted and maligned in America will have a chance. Perhaps someday.

American Thinker: Michelle Obama Gave ‘Black Power Speech’ to ‘Clueless Blacks’

Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes
Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes

The right-wing blog American Thinker is no stranger to racist rhetoric. It routinely publishes articles by Colin Flaherty, the author of the book White Girl Bleed A Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It, which makes the specious argument that there is ongoing racial violence against white people by angry black Americans. Flaherty attempts to “prove” this by taking every crime where the perpetrator is black and the victim is white — regardless of the motivation for the crime — and weaving this disparate evidence into the narrative of a bloody race war. (In a YouTube video promoting his book, Flaherty not-so-subtly plays rap music while showing clips of black people allegedly committing crimes.)

Thus it is only fitting that American Thinker, like other conservative news publications, savaged First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech to Tuskegee University, a historically black college.

In a newly published article titled “Michelle Obama riles up graduates with black power speech”, conservative columnist M. Catharine Evans employs racist and sexist tropes to attack the First Lady for her candid remarks on race and racism in America, referring to her as “a radical, black nationalist caught in the grip of a fanatical, anti-American, anti-white ideology” who engaged in “manipulation of clueless blacks”:

The Tuskegee University graduating class of 2015 applauded as Michelle Obama roused the spectre of  slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, and the civil rights era in a commencement speech on Saturday.

Michelle told the mostly black audience the angst they’re feeling over ongoing discrimination is  “rooted in decades of structural challenges that have made too many folks feel frustrated and invisible, and those feelings are playing out in communities like Baltimore and Ferguson and so many others across this country.”

. . .

If Michelle sounds like a radical, black nationalist caught in the grip of a fanatical, anti-American, anti-white ideology, it’s because she is one. The First Lady’s transparent manipulation of clueless blacks this past weekend in Alabama would be comical if her black brothers and sisters weren’t killing each other at alarming rates (including aborted babies).

Mrs. Obama, a former corporate lawyer raised by middle-class parents, then a University of Chicago Medical Center administrator involved in patient dumping of poor, black patients, and finally, a woman who shares power in the White House with a millionaire Chicago slumlord, had the audacity to tell the graduates:

The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me. Because while we’ve come so far, the truth is those age-old problems are stubborn, and they haven’t fully gone away.

Seven years after her husband’s grotesque “A More Perfect Union” race speech, Mrs. Obama is still whining and complaining about being an oppressed, victimized black woman trapped in a ‘down right mean’ country. Why? It’s all about getting out the vote.

. . .

In the same speech, Michelle calls out the media in faux outrage over the ‘name-calling’ she endured during the presidential campaigns. She says she was rattled when a depiction of her sporting an afro and holding a machine gun appeared on the cover of the very liberal New Yorker magazine. The cover cartoon showed a fist-bumping Michelle and Barack in Muslim garb with an American flag burning in a fireplace below a picture of Osama bin Laden.

. . .

Mrs. Obama wants people to see her as an Angela Davis black radical. The fact that she chose to share her feelings about the incendiary 2008 New Yorker cover with her audience is a dead giveaway. Most in the class had probably never seen it, or forgotten about it. Better to remind them.

Michelle Obama, for even discussing race and the very real issues plaguing the black community from Ferguson to Baltimore to Cincinnati to New York City makes her an angry black radical. (I’m surprised that Evans didn’t tell her to smile.) As Blair L.M. Kelley, an associate professor of history at North Carolina State University, notes, this stereotype’s long, sordid history can be traced at least as far back as the television show Amos ‘n’ Andy. The popular program featured as a character “finger-waving, neck-snapping Sapphire” who “complained incessantly” about the shortcomings of her husband, George “Kingfish” Stevens.

Even before that, in the 1830s, Kelley points out, “the first ‘black women’ American audiences saw on the American stage were minstrel ‘Negro wenches.'” Black women were “ridiculed on the minstrel stage,” a world filled with such caricatures as the Jezebel — black women who were depicted as “fair-skinned, disloyal, greedy and hypersexual” and who “yelled at their spouses and acted loud and inappropriately in otherwise genteel, public spaces to demonstrate all the ways that they were different from white women.”

It is also telling that Evans disregards an entire class of college graduates — men and women who worked hard and succeeded in higher education and who are unquestionably brighter than most Americans — as being nothing more than “clueless blacks.” Moreover, she takes time to condescendingly lecture the black community about morality, pointing out that the First Lady’s “black brothers and sisters” are “killing each other at alarming rates” which, she believes, includes “aborted babies.”

Here’s a tip for Evans and the rest of American Thinker: Whitesplain to someone else about racism in America. Your unlettered and bigoted opinions aren’t appreciated by anyone with a functioning cerebrum.

A Voice for Men’s Dean Esmay: The Southern Poverty Law Center is a ‘Hate Group’ That ‘Helped Incite Terror and Murder’

Dean Esmay Credit: YouTube/Paul Elam
Dean Esmay
Credit: YouTube/Paul Elam

If you hadn’t caught it, Mark Potok of the SPLC — a well-known civil rights group — recently made an appearance on the David Pakman Show where he discussed misogyny and the Men’s Rights Movement. The interview was a fairly standard discussion of Men’s Rights Activists, the backlash against feminism, and sites which espouse anti-woman hatred. Websites like A Voice for Men, of course. Dean Esmay, AVfM’s managing editor, responded to the interview by, what else, calling SPLC members “hate-inciting fatcats”  who have been “directly tied to inspiring intolerance and murder” — the latter claim being an outright fabrication:

I want the world to know I have said this, and I mean it: the Southern Poverty Law Center is a multimillion $$ fraud organization that makes its money by spreading fear and hate and ignorance – mostly in the form of slanted half-truths- about innocent people who can’t fight back.

The Southern Poverty Law Center steals, by deception, from well-meaning donors and from U.S. taxpayers to spread the kind of hatred that leads to intolerance and violence. This is in part because people like David Pakman are so fucking gullible, they think that if these snakes in Dockers say they’re progressive, they’re actually living the values they claim to stand for.

Yes, David, SPLC has been directly tied to inspiring intolerance and murder, by spreading hate, instigating spin and slander indiscriminately against anyone who might deviate somewhat from mainstream opinion (or just opinions not liked by the elites who rule us).

. . .

Basic human rights, David. Do you get that? Basic human rights. That’s what your group of wealthy cronies at the SPLC are all about attacking and stopping: the march of human progress, and treating all people as if they are flawed but valuable human beings, regardless of race or sex or orientation.

And you’re helping these hate-inciting fatcats smear those working for those values, you brave young man, without having the guts to talk to us or ask us any questions let alone invite us on your show to ask him any genuinely challenging questions. Not even questions about his contemptible terrorist-inspiring organization — I expect that would be too much for you — but whether this bullshit he’s feeding you about us really paints an accurate picture.

Pakman has not so much as approached us to comment before allowing the odious hate group known as the SPLC bash the innocent men and women of the Men’s Human Rights Movement, who are incredibly easy to find and talk to…

And for you fat, wealthy, elitist, reactionary, pompous, self-serving liars at the SPLC (and yes Mr. Potok, I’m talking to you, you sociopathic, reactionary bigot): you are directly implicated in getting right-wingers murdered in this country. Which means you now have a body count sir, and that is something that, despite all your hateful bigoted lies and distortions, is something the Men’s Human Rights movement to date does not have. We’ve never been implicated in anyone’s murder, or even anyone’s assault, not by any rational standard–unlike you.

You and everybody who has given money to or supported the SPLC in the last few years most certainly has helped incite terror and murder.

And you lie about human rights activists, even as they put their lives on the line.

Do you ever wake up and ask yourself if you’re on the wrong side, David? I suspect you do.

Here’s a hint: you are.

Just a reminder: The animosity toward the SPLC by Dean Esmay and his cohorts stems from AVfM’s inclusion on a list of misogynist websites published by the SPLC in 2012. No, the SPLC has not been “directly tied to inspiring…murder.” I suppose when you don’t have much of a case against someone you might as well make something up out of thin air.

Random Headlines — 5/08/15

Mike Huckabee

Jezebel – College accused of ignoring threats before the murder of a feminist student.
The New Civil Rights Movement – A Nebraska woman is suing all ‘homosexuals’ in federal court.
We Hunted the Mammoth – A Voice for Men columnist who penned a defense of marital rape has been outed as a Holocaust denier and admirer of Adolf Hitler.
Raw Story – A recent study suggests that anti-abortion views are linked to sexist attitudes toward women.
Black Agenda Report – Anti-black racism is exposed in Israel and the U.S.
Think Progress – Six times Mike Huckabee used bad theology to support his policies.
Media Matters – Rush Limbaugh suggests black people don’t appreciate museums because they are ‘not in their cultural upbringing.’
Right Wing Watch – Focus on the Family founder James Dobson says that marriage equality will be ‘the death knell of religious liberty in America.’
Feministing – Paraguay denies abortion for 10-year-old rape victim.
AlterNet – Anti-racist activist Tim Wise on the obliviousness of White America.

Pickup Artist Roosh Valizadeh Rails Against ‘Jewish Intellectualism and Activism’ in Anti-Semitic Tirade

Roosh V, seen here pondering the Jewish question.

Pickup artist Roosh Valizadeh, better known by the pseudonym Roosh V, has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the most despised men on the Internet. Continue reading “Pickup Artist Roosh Valizadeh Rails Against ‘Jewish Intellectualism and Activism’ in Anti-Semitic Tirade”

Random Headlines — May Day Edition

Baltimore Riot

Salon – Freddie Gray’s death has been ruled a homicide; Baltimore police officers to be charged.
Jacobin – Why the city of Baltimore rebelled.
AlterNet – Internet racists pose as looting black protesters on Twitter to smear the Baltimore uprising.
The Daily Beast – See the abortion law too stupid for Texas.
Feministing – Peer reviewer says female researchers should get a male co-author to “check” their study.
The New Civil Rights Movement – Jeb Bush announces he’s a fan of the white nationalist author of The Bell Curve.
The Guardian – May Day rallies for labor broaden to address police brutality.
The Nation – The Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision all comes down to Justice Kennedy.