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People fleeing slavery: Fording the Rappahannock River. Rappahannock, Virginia, August 1862. Thank you, AmericanCivilWar.com.

Drapetomania was a supposed mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright in 1851 that caused black slaves to flee captivity. Today, drapetomania is considered an example of pseudoscience, and part of the edifice of scientific racism.The term derives from the Greek δραπετης (drapetes, “a runaway [slave]”) + μανια (mania, “madness, frenzy”).

– Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drapetomania

 

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Raytheon’s recent patent application for a new choking sound-cannon has gotten a bit of attention since Gizmodo picked up the story from New Scientist.

http://gizmodo.com/5867984/future-riot-shields-will-suffocate-protestors-with…

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228425.300-riot-shields-could-scatter…

My soon-to-be-patent-attorney friend has chided me not to worry, because this is “just a patent application.” And here’s an example of how a little bit of legal education, which strictly de-emphasizes context and the analysis of power dynamics, can be a dangerous thing. There is a substantive difference between a patent application by a random would-be inventor working out of her garage and a patent application by Raytheon.

Raytheon is one of the largest arms dealers in the world. Raytheon has billions of dollars of US government contracts. Raytheon has current contracts to develop crowd control weapons, and is testing them on American prisoners. Raytheon has already developed crowd-control weapons from battlefield technology and sold them to domestic prisons for use here in the States.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129630188

Raytheon is girding itself for shifts in US government defense spending, partly by selling more war-weapons to other countries…

http://www.defenseprocurementnews.com/2011/12/01/saudi-patriot-deal-receives-…

…but also by increasingly marketing to ‘non-military customers.’ Such as the Department of Homeland Security and prisons, public and private. These ‘non-military’ customers buy a lot of crowd-control weapons.

http://technorati.com/business/finance/article/raytheon-illustrates-diversifi…

Another sonic weapon, developed by LRAD, has already been deployed against first amendment-exercisers here in the States.

http://gizmodo.com/5860592/what-is-the-lrad-sound-cannon

It’s really not a giant leap of logic to imagine that this particular patent application might be something nasty, deployed for nasty purposes.

Oh, BTW? Raytheon has been repeatedly sanctioned for illegal and unethical practice – it’s the 5th-worst government contractor, according to the Project on Open Government’s misconduct database. Competing, of course, with the OTHER four major defense contractors.

http://www.contractormisconduct.org/index.cfm/1,73,221,html?ContractorID=46&r…

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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.

Few voices go deeper into my core than Carl Sandburg’s. I think that few voices went deeper into Carl Sandburg than that of Abraham Lincoln. So let the words, then, be magnified, prismatic, by the generations who have attended upon them and been moved.

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