Sunday, February 10, 2008

Prelude to a Race War

Prelude to a Race War

Min. Paul Scott

Durham may have its problems but the one thing that we really don't have to worry about is being shot because of the color of our skin.

The color of our baseball caps, maybe. But not the color of skin.

Not yet anyway...

For the last few weeks, the Durham Herald Sun has been on overdrive promoting the idea that black folks are targeting Latinos for robbery because of race.

While anyone, with any knowledge of Durham's history or a fair amount of plain old common sense, would immediately write this off as hogwash, as it is said, if you tell a lie long enough....

First, it is problematic to insinuate that black people can be "racist."

To quote writer Neely Fuller, author of "The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept,"

"The only form of functional racism that exists anywhere in the known universe is white supremacy."

To suggest that African Americans have the social, economic or political ability to be "racist" is just evidence of those who have the power to define reality though their media organs to spread false propaganda.

In recent weeks, the Durham Herald Sun has published two articles in which members of the Latino community have been quoted as saying that they are being targeted for robbery because of "racism" via "blacks."

In the 1/22 issue under the caption "Hispanics fear rash of crimes is racism: String of robberies committed mostly by black men", it was reported by Dan Way (metro editor of the Herald Sun) that several Hispanic Durham residents were raising the question whether the 30 robberies of against Hispanics during the first two weeks of January were "racist hate crimes."

A few weeks later in an article written, again, by Dan Way, a Mexican woman is quoted as saying,

"The problem in this neighborhood is with the blacks."

Also a "Honduran national" is quoted as saying,

"The "gringo's" don't bother you The Hispanics don't bother you. It's the blacks."

He later says that while his sandwich truck serves black customers, both attempts to break into his vehicle were by black men.

The article ends with the quote,

"How are we going to defend ourselves ? We don't have any help."

Now, there are several things that are very problematic about these two articles.

The first being that both of these articles were not written by some college intern or some kid fresh out of journalism school. These articles were written by the metro editor of the Herald Sun who should know better than to spread these accusations.

Secondly, the terms being used. As stated earlier "racism" would not be the proper term here nor would "hate crimes." When you use these terms you are alleging that those black men who are robbing Latinos are doing it strictly to deny Latinos of their rights. You also assume that these thieves only rob Latinos and have no prior histories robbing any other race, including other African Americans.

The term "gringo" is also used. In the article there is no attempt to define the Spanish term "gringo." Even, when researching the word via other sources the term is hard to define. Taken out of the context of the story, one can assume that the interviewee is using the the term to differentiate European Americans from African Americans, which is disturbing in and of itself. Since most English speaking people, including African Americans, do not use the term "gringo" it can be rightly stated that the article was only meant for a community that understands the lingo or code word.

Also, one cannot help but notice that no African Americans were interviewed in either article to refute the charges of racism. It must be noted that the way the stories are written, it is not a condemnation of a few black thieves but an indictment of the entire black community.

Not only does the Herald Sun's coverage defy logic, the assertion of black racism against Latinos goes against studies such as the one started a few years ago by Duke professor Paula McClain.

In her study "Racial Distancing in a Southern City: Latino Immigrants Views of African Americans" it is said that Latinos have a more negative view of blacks than blacks have of Latinos. According to news reports her study said that 59% of Latino immigrants felt that few or almost no blacks are hard working, one third said that blacks are hard to get along with and 57% said that few or no blacks could be trusted."

Yet, this local study by a local professor was not used in either Herald Sun story.

One must, of course, question the motives for promoting brown on black violence.

A strong argument could be made that Durham is experiencing a strong surge in gentrification. What better way to rid the community of "undesirables" than to have them kill each other off. The out of town business developers could then come in and buy what is left of the neighborhoods dirt cheap and put up high dollar developments. Also, there has been a lot of attention in the national media lately over the political divide between African Americans and Latinos.

This is not the first time that a local newspaper has been accused of inciting violence against African Americans. Josephus Daniels, former owner of the News and Observer has been accused of using the paper to encourage violence against African Americans and he was, also, accused of helping to incite the Wilmington Race Riots of 1898.

It could also be argued that the Herald Sun played a major role in the popularization of local street gangs because of the extensive coverage which it has given the issue over the last decade.

Durham does not have a major brown on black race problem yet, that is still a problem that plagues West Coast cities such as Los Angeles. One cannot help but wonder what role the LA media played in promoting the tensions and if the same could happen in Durham, NC.

Columnists like the LA Time's Gregory Rodriguez bemoaned the media's exploitation on the black vs brown conflict. His 10/7 column, "The Fantasy of LA's Race War " ends with the chilling words:

"I can't help thinking that there is some sort of wish fulfillment in the black-versus-brown fixation.",0,1767378.column

The Durham community must rise up and stop the spread of this false propaganda before it escalates into a conflict that will neither benefit the black nor Latino community.

We must heed the words of the late great Malcolm X when he said :

"The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make a criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal…. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

Min. Paul Scott's blog is He can be reached at (919) 451-8283