Race relations in Cuba
A murmur began in May around Berkeley and the surrounding Bay Area as posters appeared overnight on the sides of buildings and wrapped on poles. Adorned with images of statues of antiquity, these classical images of European men depicted as gods were intended to light a spark of memory in the mostly white faces that passed by them. With lines like “Let’s become great again” printed on them, the posters were blatant in their calls for European “pride,” clearly connecting romanticized European empires of the past to the populism of Donald Trump today.
The posters were put up by Identity Europa, one of the lesser-known organizations amid that esoteric constellation of reactionary groups and figures known as the “Alt Right.” They were part of a campaign around the country enticing college-age white people to join a new kind of white nationalist movement. While similar posters emerged elsewhere on the West Coast and Midwest, in central California they pointed toward a public event — one directed specifically toward the tradition of free speech at the University of California at Berkeley.
The incredible litany of publicly exposed incidents of police use of force against African American males in the past two years is both a testament to the power of social media and an exposé of the deficits of state, local and federal government accountability. Yet, the brutalization of African American males by law enforcement agents is not a new phenomenon. It was chronicled after the riots of the 1960s in the Kerner Commission Report and remains a historical legacy of the power of law enforcement agencies over the lives and bodies of black men. Whereas W.E.B. DuBois used his brilliant essays published in the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine to expose the horrors of lynching in early 20th Century America, contemporary movements such as Black Lives Matter and their allies have used Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, FaceTime and related social networking platforms—along with the ever-present video phone—to expose police excesses.
Do differences in appearance matter more than differences in DNA? In America, perhaps the answer is Yes.