Liked Tech companies caring about Black Lives Matter is too little, too late (Fast Company)

What is happening is an example of what is sometimes called “performative wokeness.” These companies issuing a statement that they “stand with the Black community” is the absolute least they can do. It would be better to remain silent rather than reveal their rank hypocrisy. Many of these companies generate profit either by exploiting Black labor and/or by amplifying hate and extremism that directly harms Black folks. If Amazon truly felt that Black lives matter, its executives would change the way they treat their workforce, stop selling their facial recognition software Rekognition, and dismantle their Ring Doorbell and Neighbors programs. If Facebook truly stood with the Black community, it would eliminate the widespread organizing of white supremacy on its platform. But it’s unlikely that those changes will happen anytime soon.

Bookmarked Do Protests Even Work? (The Atlantic)

Movements, and their protests, are powerful because they change the minds of people, including those who may not even be participating in them, and they change the lives of their participants.


In the long term, protests work because they can undermine the most important pillar of power: legitimacy.

Zeynep Tufekci explores the potential of protests to challenge the legitimacy of those in power. As she explains, what would have taken years to coordinate in the past can now be organised in days with apps and digital platforms. This lack of friction can subsequently dilute the impact of such movements. However, what can make a protest more pertinent is the level of risk associated with it. As Tufekci highlights with the current situation in America.

The current Black Lives Matter protest wave is definitely high risk through the double whammy of the pandemic and the police response. The police, the entity being protested, have unleashed so much brutality that in just three weeks, at least eight people have already lost eyesight to rubber bullets. One Twitter thread dedicated to documenting violent police misconduct is at 600 entries and counting. And nobody seems safe—not even a 75-year-old avowed peacenik who was merely in the way of a line of cops when he was shoved so violently that he fell and cracked his skull. Chillingly, the police walked on as he bled on the ground. After the video came out to widespread outrage, and the two police officers who shoved him were suspended, their fellow officers on the active emergency-response team resigned to support their colleagues. Plus the pandemic means that protesters who march in crowds, face tear gas, and risk jail and detention in crowded settings are taking even more risks than usual.

The challenge with any protest is the fear repression. This is what stopped the Chinese protests in 1989 and the Egyptian protests in 2013. However, such measures have their limits.

Force and repression can keep things under control for a while, but it also makes such rule more brittle.

The challenge to power and repression is overcome by changing the culture and conversation. This is required to undermine the legitimacy.

Legitimacy, not repression, is the bedrock of resilient power.

This is why Anne Helen Petersen argues that small protests in small towns matter because there have been a lot of them, therefore the bedrock is crumbling.

Rebecca Solnit uses the metaphor of a waterfall to describe such change:

The metaphor of the river of time is often used to suggest that history flows at a steady pace, but real rivers have rapids and shallows, eddies and droughts. They freeze over and get dammed and their water gets diverted. And sometimes the river comes to the precipice and we’re all in the waterfall. Time accelerates, things change faster than anyone expected, water clear as glass becomes churning whitewater, what was thought to be impossible or the work of years is accomplished in a flash

When they are a consensus idea, that’s the end of the insurrection, or the waterfall, and politicians are smoothing things over and people have accepted the idea that they at first resisted, whether it’s the abolition of slavery or the right to marriage equality

Although she suggests there are groups who deserve credit for escalating the current situation.

One more group deserves credit for the present moment: the police. They themselves have made a fantastic case for defunding or abolition—at least as they currently exist. Nationwide, with the whole world watching, these civil servants showed they use public funds to brutalize, murder, and deny the constitutional rights of members of that public. One might imagine they’d have wanted to be careful in the wake of the Floyd murder, but they went on a spectacular display of their own sense of immunity by—well, shooting out the eyes of eight people with “sublethal” weapons, managing to blind a photojournalist in one eye; attacking and arresting dozens of members of the media at work, especially nonwhite ones; San Jose police shooting their own anti-bias trainer in the testicles; knocking over an old man who’s still in critical condition as a result (yeah the one Trump theorized must be Antifa); teargassing children; pointing weapons at other small children; and generally showing us that the only people the police protect are the police. They struck the match that lit the bonfire. Because they thought they could not themselves burn, and that they were indispensable. They’re wrong on both counts.

The Black Lives Matter movement itself has been building since 2013.

However, as Stan Grant highlights in regards to the recognition of Australia’s indigenous people in the consitution, such success can be a long time coming. This is something Doug Belshaw touches on in his reading of Guy Debord’s Comments on the Society of the Spectacle

Here is the problem for the person, or group of people, wishing to smash the spectacle, to dismantle it, to take it apart. It must be done in one go, rather than piecemeal. Otherwise, the spectacle has too much capacity to self-repair.

Bookmarked Why must Indigenous claims for justice always be cast as an attack on the state? (abc.net.au)

Why would young Indigenous people entrust their futures to another generation of politicians — black or white — who keep telling them to wait, asks Stan Grant.

Stan Grant discusses the long history of waiting to be recognised in the Australian constitution. The crisis is therefore a critical test for democracy. As Grant explains:

We walk the same fault lines here. Why would young Indigenous people entrust their futures to another generation of politicians — black or white — who keep telling them to wait?

Bookmarked John Oliver: US policing is ‘a structure built on systemic racism’ (the Guardian)

The Last Week Tonight host traces the history of America’s police culture, one ‘deeply entwined’ with white supremacy, and what’s obstructing change

John Oliver responds wave of protests sweeping America with a deep dive into policing in the USA. He explains that too often black communities are treated disproportionately.

“For any viewers sitting at home shocked by the scenes of police brutality, I get it – I’m white, too,” said Oliver. “But it’s worth remembering: that’s the tip of a very large iceberg. It didn’t start this week, or with this president, and it always disproportionately falls on black communities.”

This history can be traced from capturing escaped slaves to the policy of stop and frisk. Associated with this, police have become heavily armed.

On top of that, America has armed police “to the fucking teeth”, a subject Oliver and his team investigated six years ago. This has promoted a sub-industry of training seminars to reinforce the idea of the police at war, such as the “killology” training, a haunting clip of which showed an officer telling fellow cops to think of themselves as “predators”. “You know, the problem with telling someone that they’re a predator is that it primes them to see the rest of the world as potential prey,” Oliver said. “And of course cops who went through this training would end up on edge. You wouldn’t train a barber by saying, ‘here are your scissors, snip like this, and oh yeah, this is how you puncture the carotid artery.’”

Often this spending is in place of other social and health services. This is something that Douglas Rushkoff touches on.

Civil servants can only exist in a civil society. And a civil society requires servants trained in civility.

Oliver explains that at the heart of all this is a culture of systemic racism.

“If you’re not directly impacted by it,” Oliver concluded, “it is tempting to look for a reason to feel better about the world, to look at pictures of cops kneeling and think oh, well, we just need more of that! But we need so much more than that. Because ours is a firmly entrenched system in which the roots of white supremacy run deep. And it is critical that we all grab a fucking shovel.”

Elsewhere on the web, Stephen Ceasar reports on the military weapons being used to protect schools.

The Los Angeles School Police Department, which serves the nation’s second-largest school system, will return three grenade launchers but intends to keep 61 rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle it received through the program.

Cory Doctorow rightly calls out the absurdity of this.

If you think that “facilitating education” involves an AR-15, you should not be allowed within 10 miles of any educational institution, for the rest of your life.

Mariame Kaba argues that reform is not enough and what ‘defund the police’ actually means.

We should redirect the billions that now go to police departments toward providing health care, housing, education and good jobs. If we did this, there would be less need for the police in the first place.

We can build other ways of responding to harms in our society. Trained “community care workers” could do mental-health checks if someone needs help. Towns could use restorative-justice models instead of throwing people in prison.

Speaking from a local perspective, Marcia Langton used her Queen’s Birthday honour to call for urgent action. Responding to the fact that since the royal commission’s final report in 1991 432 Aboriginal people have died in prison, and the Indigenous incarceration rate is double what it was 30 years ago.

I would have thought it’s pretty straightforward. Do not kill Aborigines.

Liked Black Lives matter; We matter (EduResearch Matters)

Just so that you are clear, I cannot speak for a whole race of people, but I will give you some ideas from me.

  • We can no longer be the only ones fighting for change, we need your voice in it. Change it.
  • Any workplace that you are in, make sure you engage with us from the beginning, and make our employment meaningful and long term. Change it.
  • Our voice should be in decision making from the start. Change it.
  • Read anything you can get your hands on written by us, recorded by us. Our voices. Learn. Change it.
  • Many of us still live in poverty. Change it.
  • You also need to fight back for curriculum change, and ways of teaching for all kids. If you are a teacher please read the amazing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and First Nations people that write in Education. Like anything else you don’t know, you research it. Go to your schools and ask the hard questions. Support them. This is a big one, because this could bring about systematic change at the highest level and could bring about the greatest change.  Change it.
  • Don’t just stand back and be a bystander. Change it.
  • We know the cultural interface place is hard, guess what? It is also hard for us. Be brave. Be open to learn. Change it.
  • If you ask Elders or our people for advice, actively listen. Make the change. Change it.
  • Understand not everyone sees the world like you do. To many of us, going out into the world feels like walking into an aliens’ land, in our own Country. Our worldview is different. And we prefer it. Understand this. Change it.
  • Treat our Elders with respect. On this Country their word is lore/law. Change it.
  • And lastly, but not least. Don’t see us as disadvantaged. We are strong. We are proud. We love. We honour family. We honour Country. And we will continue to fight and fight until we do not have breath. And then we will fight and fight some more. Understand this. Change it.
  • Have your declaration and commitment ready. We want to hear from you.
Liked And They Never Would by jonharper70

Sometimes there are stories inside of us just waiting to be told. This is my attempt at telling one through the genre of realistic fiction. I imagine each reader will come away with something different. This week I am telling the same story as last week, just from the perspective of a different character. I’ve never done this before, so I welcome any and all feedback in the comments section below.

Replied to Do The Work (W. Ian O’Byrne)

The purpose of these reading and discussion groups are to strive to understand the history of pervasive structural and systemic racism in America, and how this impacts the present, the future, and ourselves. We intend to create safe, brave spaces to facilitate discussions as we co-investigate anti-racist texts and their role in our individual and collective contexts. You can participate with the groups even if you don’t want to collaborate and co-investigate. We’d like to leave the door open for those that just need the extra push to read these books and question themselves.

Ian, I am left wondering if the work that I need to do is in my own backyard, being an advocate for Australia’s indigenous people.
Listened BBC Radio 4 – In Our Time, Frederick Douglass from BBC

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Celeste-Marie Bernier
Interviewed Guest Karen Salt
Interviewed Guest Nicholas Guyatt
Producer Simon Tillotson

An important discussion about slavery with an extensive reading list too.
Liked I Can’t Breathe: Braving Tear Gas in a Pandemic (The Atlantic)

And that’s the most remarkable part of these protests, now in their second sustained week nationwide. It’s not that the protesters are unaware of the risks; it’s that they are out there in spite of these risks, to say that black lives matter. Eric Garner couldn’t breathe. George Floyd couldn’t breathe. And now, by showing up day after day, even amid a widespread crackdown, the protesters are facing the risk of not just the tear gas that will cut off their breath, but also the very disease whose hallmark is dyspnea, the inability to breathe.

Replied to Sometimes We Must Interfere

Courtney Ariel provides guidance for white friends desiring to be allies.

  • Listen more, talk less;
  • Try to listen and sit with someone else’s experience;
  • Educate yourself about systemic racism in this country. Use your voice and influence to direct the folks that walk alongside you in real life (or follow you on the internet), toward the voice of someone that is living a marginalized/disenfranchised experience;
  • Come into a place of awareness. Please take several seats;
  • Ask when you don’t know, but do the work first;
  • Stop talking about colorblindness.
Thank you for your links and coverage Ian. I am interested in your book club.

In regards to Run the Jewel, I thought NPR’s decision to scrap New Music to focus on RTJ4.

Liked Implicit Bias is Real (and Sneaky). Here’s Proof. by an author (The Tempered Radical)

I want you to realize that when equity advocates talk about the impact that bias has on students, they aren’t talking about the overt actions of openly racist people that are easy to spot. They are talking about the unconscious actions of good people like me and you.

Liked Why Are Pregnant Black Women Viewed as Incompetent? (Time)

Pain, like pregnancy, is inconvenient for bureaucratic efficiency and has little use in a capitalist regime. When the medical profession systematically denies the existence of black women’s pain, underdiagnoses our pain, refuses to alleviate or treat our pain, healthcare marks us as incompetent bureaucratic subjects. Then it serves us accordingly.

Bookmarked Friction-Free Racism — Real Life by an author (Real Life)

The end game of a surveillance society, from the perspective of those being watched, is to be subjected to whims of black-boxed code extended to the navigation of spaces, which are systematically stripped of important social and cultural clues. The personalized surveillance tech, meanwhile, will not make people less racist; it will make them more comfortable and protected in their racism.

Chris Gilliard unpacks the inherent racism encoded into the operations of the surveillance state. See for example Spotify’s recent announcement to add genealogy data to their algorithm. As a part of this investigation, Gilliard provides a number of questions to consider when thinking about such data.
Bookmarked White, Male, And Convincing Myself I Am Doing Good With Technology (kinlane.com)

Technology is a trip. Web technology is a delusion-ally virtual trip. It really seems to have many of us by the balls (pun intended), and working us like a puppet. I still perform this act on a daily basis via API Evangelist. Why? Because it makes me money! Of course, I’m always working to minimize the bullshit. Something I’m continuing to do by eliminating the mission driven rhetoric, but I just can’t quit API Evangelist. I’ve assumed this persona, and can’t seem to shake it. As I keep working to understand the beast I’ve created, I will continue to tell the story here on the blog.

Kin Lane reflects on the addictive nature of technology and the way in which he has convinced himself over time that he is actually doing good. This touches on the some of the ideas around ‘automating inequality’.