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http://www.cityofart.net/garlic_gulch.html

 

I hear a lot of my transplanted white colleagues and acquaintances discussing how my city’s culture is ‘too white.’ This conversation is often coded in other terminology, through ascribing WASPy characteristics to the entirety of the city’s population. Seattle, some claim, is ‘passive aggressive’ or ‘cold’ or ‘politically correct.’ It’s ‘hard to meet people’ and the culture lacks ‘color’ or ‘authenticity.’ After a few months or a few years living in the whitest available neighborhoods, new Seattleites are already inadvertently reproducing and reinforcing the historical methods of segregation in our Town.

 

As a white native of Seattle, let me just tell it to you plain: If you do not see people of color on your block, at your job, or in your schools, it is decidedly NOT because Seattle’s population is too white. It’s because your block, your job, and your school are actively maintaining racial segregation. 

 

The continued maintenance of segregation allows whites who move into the city’s whitest neighborhoods to see only a naturalized version of ‘separate but equal.’ That is, when segregation policies are successful, they themselves become invisible – as do people of color – to whites who stay within their ‘comfort zone.’ And thus it’s possible for someone a few miles away from the country’s most diverse zip code to bemoan the homogeneity of the city.

 

The policies of racially restrictive property sales contracts/covenants which were legal (all over the country, as per the Supreme Court) between 1926 and 1948 go a long way toward explaining the historical foundations of Seattle’s ‘white neighborhoods.’ You’ll notice that the most legally restricted neighborhoods REMAIN those in which one might get the impression that the city is very white. These boundaries were drawn by racist law, and are enforced by income inequity, imprisonment and disenfranchisement, the property-tax based education system, the drug war, repressive police strategies – and by white peoples’ continued willful blindness to the very existence of people of color in the city. 

 

Good news! There are things you can do to counteract this phenomenon instead of complying with it. You don’t have to integrate a neighborhood all by yourself by moving there- in fact, please don’t. When you bring your non-local money and white privilege into a community of color, you throw off the balance by driving up property values and reducing the self-sufficiency of  neighborhood. When locals are forced to cater to the tastes and habits of white people, they stop being relevant to their base and it becomes more difficult to maintain community strength. As we work towards the destruction of racist institutions, we need to recognize that people of color are doing for themselves, as they should. Their communities could use our support and allegiance, NOT our disruptive property-purchasing power or our paternalistic advice or our feelings of guilt or our self-serving demands for attention and recognition. 

 

So go explore some of Seattle’s amazing neighborhoods, appreciate the struggles of their residents, and go back to your own community to work on transforming the institutions that enforce delusions of white supremacy. Go home to your white block and start asking your neighbors why they allow racial restrictive covenants to stay in their deeds. Go back to your white job and start asking why you aren’t hiring people of color or accepting their leadership. Go into your white schools and ask why your children are getting deficient educations because they are segregated from people of color. Look for ways in which you can reduce your own use of white privilege and your own complicity with racism. Trust – this is more constructive, much more difficult, and immeasurably more important than talking with your white friends about how much you wish you lived in a ‘diverse’ city.

 

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Homework:

Checking out the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project is a great way to introduce yourself to the complexities and nuances of your new home. 

 

http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/ 

 

They have a small sample of racial restrictions in deeds around the city:


http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/covenants.htm

 

If you live on Capitol Hill, take a little field trip: Walk just a few blocks south on 12th, or cut over the hill to 23rd and head south from there, or down the hill under the freeway overpass on Jackson. If you live downtown, walk through Pike Place Market early on a weekday, and ask the growers and vendors what neighborhoods they live in. If you live in Ballard, get yourself on a bus headed south and go to the end of the line. If you live in the University District, head up Lake City Way. If you drive, go to Aurora (Highway 99) and go either north or south. When you’re taking the light rail heading north from the airport, get off anywhere before Pioneer Square and wander around a bit. Go to Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Columbia City, South Park, the Central District, the International District – for starters. Take walks, buy stuff from local businesses, eat food, be friendly. 

 

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Big thanks to Larry Neilson for the use of his photograph of the Liberation mural at Seattle Central’s wood shop.

 

http://www.cityofart.net/garlic_gulch.html

http://www.cityofart.net/home.htm

 

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These are loved ones of Humberto Leal Garcia. He was recently killed.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/08/rick-perry-texas-leal

One of the perpetrators, James Richard Perry, has gone public, announcing that he has committed, to date, 235 killings. Perry believes that he has been ordained by God and the law to oversee the killings of ‘guilty’ people. Some of his victims have been guilty of sins such as being born black or brown, or having a sub-‘normal’ IQ.

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/93948/rick-perry-cameron-todd-willingham-execution

“There has been at least one attempt to formalize a definition of serial murder through legislation. In 1998, a federal law was passed by the United States Congress, titled: Protection of Children from Sexual Predator Act of 1998 (Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 51, and Section 1111). This law includes a definition of serial killings:

The term ‘serial killings’ means a series of three or more killings, not less than one of which was committed within the United States,(1.) having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors.”(2.)

Last week, James Richard Perry announced himself as a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America, a country that has been well-known in life and in fiction as an ardent pursuer and punisher of serial murderers. He is running on platform that includes promises to reduce criminal activity along the borders, stating that “There can be no homeland security without border security.”(3.) Perry apparently intends to expand his own murderous enterprise while using the apparatus of the federal state to reduce competition from other criminal syndicates. 

Local residents of the United States are considering calling upon international human rights organizations to monitor the upcoming election, fearing that a successful Perry candidacy could destroy the few remaining vestiges of civil society and rule of law in their conflict-ridden nation. However, skepticism of such an approach is widespread: Some Americans point to past failures of the international community to prevent atrocities, or even to halt known projects of genocide and ethnic “cleansing.” Many are not optimistic that their international allies will come to their aid in these troubled times.

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1. Apparently, this definition could shield Perry from criminal culpability for his role in killings that occurred across the border in Juarez.

2. From Serial Murder: Multidisciplinary Perspectives for Investigators, Behavioral Analysis Unit-2, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, Critical Incident Response Group, Federal Bureau of Investigation. http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/serial-murder/serial-murder-1#two, accessed 20 August 2011.

3. http://www.rickperry.org/issues/national-security/, accessed 20 August 2011.

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http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/08/this-was-always-going-to-happen.html

Please click through the above photo or link, and read Andrew’s blog post on the London riots. And then come back here for a rebuttal:

Criminal opportunism? That’s called capitalism, dear. You can’t inculcate a whole (global) culture with the religion of the market, and then expect the poorest members to wait patiently outside the carnival, observing the spectacle of wealth without any prospect of partaking themselves.

Mr. Sullivan sounds confused – why would you need to draw a distinction between a race riot and a ‘social inequity’ riot? Racism is a form of social inequity, and social inequity is often a form of racism. And besides, just because Tottenham itself is relatively integrated does not mean that the pernicious effects of past and extant racism are somehow magically dissolved. That suggestion is laughable.

And if Andrew’d done three minutes of historical research (or listened to a bit of punk rock or hip hop as a youth) he would have discovered that many, many “looting” riots occur within the neighborhoods where the rioters themselves live. This isn’t because of “soft” police response, it’s because the police (or, more to the point, their bosses) are very calculating in their policies of ‘containment.’ Riots are allowed to rage on, and to burn poor neighborhoods, as long as they do not encroach too much on richer neighborhoods. Blaming the violence on unredeemable “criminals” and “sheer thugs” from “elsewhere” is a way of ignoring the fundamental problems that create BOTH ‘legitimate’ riots AND ‘sheer thugs,’ as well as the overbearing police state that strategically manipulates the threat of underclass violence.

Believe: Unless the ‘harder’ police response Andrew romanticizes would be swift and sure investigation, trial, and PUNISHMENT of cops who wrongly shoot civilians, his prescription will not help the malady. More cops with more guns and more water cannons and more rights to harrass more civilians and break up more demonstrations will not mystically mean more security, just less freedom. The Sikhs have had the right idea during the riots: if you want to protect your home and family, depend on yourself and your community, not the state.

Until and unless the police actually start behaving as trustworthy guardians of the public good, people will keep having reasons to form their own clans, gangs, neighborhood patrols, superhero squads, civil liberties unions, block watches, revolutionary cells, and other forms of what the legal profession likes to call “self help.”

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