The Sad Truth About Pacifica Foundation
Debby Irving, a racial justice educator and writer, defines the difference between prejudice, bigotry, and racism.
Prejudice is when a person negatively pre-judges another person or group without getting to know the beliefs, thoughts, and feelings behind their words and actions. A person of any racial group can be prejudiced towards a person of any other group. There is NO power dynamic involved.
Bigotry is stronger than prejudice, a more severe mindset and often accompanied by discriminatory behavior. It's arrogant and mean-spirited, but requires neither systems nor power to engage in.
Racism is the system that allows the racial group that's already in power to retain power. Since arriving on [America's] soil, white people have used their power to create preferential access to survival resources (housings education, jobs, food, health, legal protection, etc.) for white people while simultaneously impeding people of color's access to these same resources. More information found here.
Irvins goes on to add that reverse racism has never existed this country. White people are the only racial group to have ever established and retained power in the United States.
There is a protracted battle going on with a media foundation known as Pacifica. It has gone on for years, but it didn't start off this way. It is now a microcosm of the prejudices, bigotry, and racism that exists in this country, but more, it has sank its perfidious teeth into the soul of what once was progressive radio. And while this protracted battle has raged for years, the current battle has gained momentum with little reason to pretend. They have created a system that is unfair mostly to people of color, but make no mistake, they include white people who disagree with them, too.
What do you call it? The conversations that take place to try and stir others into protesting that this person or that person is not bigoted or racist because they treat you just fine, is the same argument to justify sexism, classism, etc. Who are you going to believe? But, if you can't see the forest for the trees, racism, the ruling class and its unlimited resources will prevail. That is why we have a certain person in the Oval office. But, it's not racism, some say. Or, I admit that he or she is privileged (another misunderstood word), but he or she is not racist or even bigoted. With this, we collude with the power that is racist. We are told that it doesn't exist person by person, but we can't be privy to all that white people say or do. We can only look at the outcomes.
Taking a page from James Baldwin's writings, this is what is happening at KPFT (specifically) and the Pacifica Foundation (overall):
Baldwin states that "we (all people) can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist." The ability to silence, ignore and disenfranchise those who disagree with you is oppressive and denies their humanity. Perhaps I can offer some examples.
Pacifica National Board: Does my calling a system racist offend your sensibilities? Well, using a communication system that is rooted in silencing people is patently unfair, but more against the rules of engagement as board members. When the people in charge of the system (communication), gave the ability to mute without giving you the ability to unmute yourself, then the system is unfair. Some might call it racist when the people who are often muted are black or brown.
KPFT: When you allow a white man fifteen years to poorly manage a station, run it into the ground, pay his friends, ignore fairness, you might not want to call it racist, but poor judgement. But, when a black man is put into the same position and in less than three months fired for not fixing the problems that the white man helped to create, you might not call it racist, but few will believe you.
Pacifica National Board: Your cry of financial crisis might sell to some your reason for taking control of the board, but with no checks and balances, it is dictatorial in nature, Moreover, when some of those same individuals were the cause of some of this financial crisis, including a someone who is owed $200K negotiate with other debtors, it smells to high heaven. When people vote against you, knowing that something ain't right, you immediately create narratives to paint these individuals as obstructionists. But, why not debate? Why not open the books? Why all the backroom dealings? When a person votes for something knowing that their vote doesn't count, that's not obstruction. That's protest!
KPFT: After firing said black manager, and people began to speak out against it and stand for the individual fired, they are labeled occupiers and obstructionists. But, throwing up a Nazi salute is just a simple reaction in the heat of anger. Our protests and challenges to tactics deemed unfair is narrated as angry (mostly) black people, but when you are able to get white policemen to lie and say that the District Attorney's office said that the black man had to leave and give up his keys, it certain isn't justice. However, even if you don't want to call it racist. know that we don't believe you.
Call it what you like to your friends, but don't pee on me and call it rain. In the end, Baldwin tells us that if "[y]ou're playing the game according to somebody else's rules, [know that] you can't win until you understand the rules and step out of that particular game, which is not, after all, worth playing."
I will not play your game anymore, which means that I will call it as I see it. Don't like being called a bigot or racist? Stop being one. Stop using the system that supports bigoted and racist behaviors. Know that the numbers are shifting and that your one or two black friends don't get you a pass. Which, now leads me to the second phase of the sad truth of Pacifica.
People of Color Unite
More and more people of color wrestle with the differences between us, and in the midst of our own wrestling, we are being polarized to be afraid and wary of one another. How short sighted is this thinking? Let's give credit where credit is due. The people who benefit from us not working together don't look like us (mostly) and the people who look like us that collude with them are sell-outs. The reason I say that is not to say that a person of color has to side with another person of color. That's ludicrous. We know that individuals can have problems with one another. Family or friends know this. But, what bothers me the most with racism is its clear and present danger, and that is not something that we can afford to be divided on.
How do we work together? I think mostly it is about understanding that as people of color, we are not the referee for white people we like or respect. Someone can clearly be clueless as to the harm they are causing with the system of racism in place. If that is your friend or colleague, and you have their ear, it is important to state facts and do so in a manner that is not dehumanizing to them. However, they need to understand that racism dehumanizes, disenfranchises, and supports inequality without a doubt. You can't say that because they are supportive of you that they are supportive of all people of color. And, if you haven't talked with that person of color, you are doing a disservice to both you and that person.
When certain people smirk that this or that black person sided with them, that should be a clue to that person's motivation. You can justify it. You can say, "I know this person is not whatever." But, you don't and you can't. The man who rapes women, but is good to his wife, is still a rapist. If he lets you have a job or puts you in a position of power that benefits you, ask them to take you to the backroom meetings and see how far that gets you. If you say that a person never lied to you, I have some backwater property I'd like to sell you.
In the end, we either unite in integrity and truth, or we can continue to fall victim to this system that permeates societies. Unplug. You can still be friends with whomever you want, but remember this ... if they are doing it to someone else, they will do it to you. And when they do, you will realize this once and for all ... they are not and have not ever been your friend.