Racism Is Dead In America

December 25, 2008

From the Nation:

Herrington shouted at the other men to run and turned to face his attackers: three armed white males. Herrington says he hadn’t even seen the men or their weapons before the shooting began. As Alexander and Collins fled, Herrington ran in the opposite direction, his hand pressed to the bleeding wound on his throat. Behind him, he says, the gunmen yelled, “Get him! Get that nigger!”

* * *

Facing an influx of refugees, the residents of Algiers Point could have pulled together food, water and medical supplies for the flood victims. Instead, a group of white residents, convinced that crime would arrive with the human exodus, sought to seal off the area, blocking the roads in and out of the neighborhood by dragging lumber and downed trees into the streets. They stockpiled handguns, assault rifles, shotguns and at least one Uzi and began patrolling the streets in pickup trucks and SUVs. The newly formed militia, a loose band of about fifteen to thirty residents, most of them men, all of them white, was looking for thieves, outlaws or, as one member put it, anyone who simply “didn’t belong.”

* * *

Over the course of an eighteen-month investigation, I tracked down figures on all sides of the gunfire, speaking with the shooters of Algiers Point, gunshot survivors and those who witnessed the bloodshed. I interviewed police officers, forensic pathologists, firefighters, historians, medical doctors and private citizens, and studied more than 800 autopsies and piles of state death records. What emerged was a disturbing picture of New Orleans in the days after the storm, when the city fractured along racial fault lines as its government collapsed.

Herrington, Collins and Alexander’s experience fits into a broader pattern of violence in which, evidence indicates, at least eleven people were shot. In each case the targets were African-American men, while the shooters, it appears, were all white.

The new information should reframe our understanding of the catastrophe. Immediately after the storm, the media portrayed African-Americans as looters and thugs–Mayor Ray Nagin, for example, told Oprah Winfrey that “hundreds of gang members” were marauding through the Superdome. Now it’s clear that some of the most serious crimes committed during that time were the work of gun-toting white males.

Please read the entire thing. Will we ever overcome our history of slavery?

11 Responses to “Racism Is Dead In America”

  1. JLK Says:

    I’m sad and incredibly angry after reading that article. I wish there was something that could be done about it. Those fuckers are bragging about what they did! It makes me sick. In my sheltered liberal New England life, I tend to forget that those ignorant fucks still exist and in numbers I can’t even begin to fathom.

    I don’t get it. When Katrina happened, I watched the news and cried my eyes out for days. I wanted to go down there and help in whatever way I could. Had it not been the beginning of my first semester at MRU I probably would have. Regardless, I just wanted to help. It pisses me off that the people who had the ability to do so instead chose to arm themselves with weapons and shoot anyone who looked “like they didn’t belong.”

    It just makes me sick.


  2. Unfortunately, what happened in the aftermath of the hurricane was just a heightened version of what’s going on all the time in a lot of large urban areas, particularly in the south. Having lived in one such city, I found the racial divide to be truly astounding and the level of ignorance and sheer racist attitudes of seemingly rational white individuals was mindblowing. Racism and segregation are alive and well in the US and it makes me angry to the core that this has been allowed to continue.

  3. juniorprof Says:

    Thanks for pointing out this horrific story. Like PIT I have lived in a highly segregated southern city and, as I grew older, found it to be an unbearable place to live. It is often easier to just leave than to try to do something about it and when you try to become active from your little liberal haven I fear that it makes little difference in the places that are most backwards.

  4. leigh Says:

    i live in a city with explosive racial tensions too. when the shit hits the fan, that’s when the true colors come out of everyone. ugly things go down accordingly. tragic, but very much true.

  5. vegofish Says:

    And when the television news helicopters showed film of the looting, vandalism and theft occurring during
    that event, which folks was it perpetrating those crimes? Sheltered New England liberals? Mid Western academics? Not from what I saw. Those property owners had every reason to be concerned for their property and their safety.


  6. ‘S funny, isn’t it, vegofish? Those news helicopters running footage of black people looting.

    And yet, oddly, not of racist white militias gunning down dark people.

    I bet the reason is because the racist white militias didn’t exist at all, just made up for that liberal Nation article. I mean, why would white reporters and white television crews with majority white audiences have any interest in focusing on black/brown crime if there was white crime to report on?

    thanks CPP.


  7. Nice one, vegofish. I guess we are all overlooking the fact that all the nice, friendly, charitable, white people had driven their big-ass fancy cars out of town and the neighboring white communities barricaded the roads entering their towns in order to separate themselves from those nasty poor black folks that just wanted to rob and kill them, huh? The ones that drowned or were shot probably deserved everything they got, right?

    I guess that means one of my closest friends also deserved nearly getting lynched by a truckful of white rednecks back in the 70′s just because she was black. She probably had it coming too.

    To answer PP’s original question: maybe, eventually, a long, long time in the future, but not in our lifetime.

  8. vegofish Says:

    actually y’all are overlooking all the nice friendly charitable white people who volunteered for days, trying to help the folks in trouble, and all the honest hard working, black people who also protected themselves and their property by force if necessary.

  9. eibhear Says:

    Hmm, Vegofish, as I (rather imperfectly) recall, the white people trapped in the floods with no supplies were merely “borrowing” from the abandoned shops, whereas the blacks were clearly “looting”.

  10. vegofish Says:

    Come on man, If they were stealing they were stealing, black or white makes no difference. The sooner you liberals quit pointing out the differences between peoples skin color the sooner it will be the non issue it should be.

  11. eibhear Says:

    Ahem, vegofish, the words, “pot”, and, “kettle” suddenly spring to mind.


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