Saturday, October 23, 2021

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King Speaker Talks ‘White Rage,’ Racial Divide

Included in her talk were the 1999 police fatal shooting of unarmed Amadou Diallo, the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri riots in the wake of Michael Brown’s death and the 2015 racist shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina that left nine worshippers dead.

But Anderson, an African American studies professor at Emory University, did not limit her thesis to extreme examples, but to subtle systemic racism.

She said voter suppression was exemplified in Ferguson where 67% of the population is black and only 6% of the black community voted in 2013. Anderson added that Ferguson police have targeted black motorists for minor traffic violations, not white drivers, to bolster city coffers.

WestportNow.com Image
Students from Regional Center for the Arts performed at the celebration. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

She even took aim at the “war on drugs,” saying it came on the heels of the civil rights and voting rights acts as a means to deny African Americans the right to vote.

“We have locked up those who are the least who use and sell drugs,” she said. “If you have a felony conviction, you can’t vote, and you can’t get a student loan.”

She said what while the media often portray “black rage in the flames” of riots, such as those in Ferguson, “white rage is the kindling.”

“With white rage, the target is black people with ambition, those who demand their full citizen rights,” Anderson said.

Even the 2008 election and 2012 reelection of Barack Obama as the 44th president, did not negate the presence of white rage, Anderson said.

“People ask, ‘How racist can America be?’” she said. “We put a black man in the White House.”

Anderson, however, credited the votes of 15 million black, Latino, Asian, poor and young people for Obama’s victory. She said white Americans have not overwhelmingly voted for a Democratic president since 1964.

“It’s time to defuse the power of white rage,” she said.

Though Anderson’s speech was far from celebratory for an event that had been billed as a celebration of King, the program did have its high points.

WestportNow.com Image
It was almost a full house today for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at the Playhouse. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomuscio for WestportNow.com

Helena Brown, a soprano accompanied by Jill Brunelle at the keyboard, brought several rounds of applause for her operatic “Ride On, King Jesus” and later “Balm in Gilead.”

Applause also filled the room following a dance performance titled “Need You Now” by students from the Regional Center for the Arts.

The 15th annual event, though listed as the 14th in promotions and programs, was a joint presentation by the Playhouse, TEAM Westport, the Interfaith Council of Westport and Weston and the Westport Library.

Included in her talk were the 1999 police fatal shooting of unarmed Amadou Diallo, the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri riots in the wake of Michael Brown’s death and the 2015 racist shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina that left nine worshippers dead.

But Anderson, an African American studies professor at Emory University, did not limit her thesis to extreme examples, but to subtle systemic racism.

She said voter suppression was exemplified in Ferguson where 67% of the population is black and only 6% of the black community voted in 2013. Anderson added that Ferguson police have targeted black motorists for minor traffic violations, not white drivers, to bolster city coffers.

WestportNow.com Image
Students from Regional Center for the Arts performed at the celebration. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

She even took aim at the “war on drugs,” saying it came on the heels of the civil rights and voting rights acts as a means to deny African Americans the right to vote.

“We have locked up those who are the least who use and sell drugs,” she said. “If you have a felony conviction, you can’t vote, and you can’t get a student loan.”

She said what while the media often portray “black rage in the flames” of riots, such as those in Ferguson, “white rage is the kindling.”

“With white rage, the target is black people with ambition, those who demand their full citizen rights,” Anderson said.

Even the 2008 election and 2012 reelection of Barack Obama as the 44th president, did not negate the presence of white rage, Anderson said.

“People ask, ‘How racist can America be?’” she said. “We put a black man in the White House.”

Anderson, however, credited the votes of 15 million black, Latino, Asian, poor and young people for Obama’s victory. She said white Americans have not overwhelmingly voted for a Democratic president since 1964.

“It’s time to defuse the power of white rage,” she said.

Though Anderson’s speech was far from celebratory for an event that had been billed as a celebration of King, the program did have its high points.

WestportNow.com Image
It was almost a full house today for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at the Playhouse. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomuscio for WestportNow.com

Helena Brown, a soprano accompanied by Jill Brunelle at the keyboard, brought several rounds of applause for her operatic “Ride On, King Jesus” and later “Balm in Gilead.”

Applause also filled the room following a dance performance titled “Need You Now” by students from the Regional Center for the Arts.

The 15th annual event, though listed as the 14th in promotions and programs, was a joint presentation by the Playhouse, TEAM Westport, the Interfaith Council of Westport and Weston and the Westport Library.

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