If you were a supervisor, would you carry out retribution against an employee who defied you when you got out of line?
attitude, forming humiliating roles and approving of people only as
long as they can be viewed as fitting that role, continued during the
Jim Crow and segregation era including in Harrisonburg:
What does it mean to be offensive? It means to aggressively attack, damage, brutalize, humiliate, as the above linked obituary does to this man even in his death, denying his life in freedom and writing him back into slavery. The authors probably thought they were being nice, just as we do when we check ourselves to see if we are saying something with a feeling of hate and claim we are 'not racist' when we find we feel normal, not hateful. In a culture where the norm is white supremacy, it may take moving beyond what feels normal to thinking about what effect we are having on the other person to see the violence. Thinking in terms of individuals prevents this, because it blinds us to the role of power.
It turns out, this Reuben Dallard was one of the founders of Newtown. He had defended himself with physical force when he gained his freedom, and the community apparently showed outrage over this obituary. See more at: resistance.
Compare this description of Elon Rhodes as someone whose example was more worthy than Dr. King's to the above obituary:
"He was the first Black to serve on city council. ... Elon worked for the betterment of the entire community, both black and white. His work and effort were significant and without drawing praise or attention to himself. There are many who would do well of themselves if they fashioned themselves after Elon and Elon's principles. I have been told that he did not want recognition, he certainly did not seek recognition. ... I guess you could say Elon Rhodes was my Martin Luther King."The statement was read by an opponent of renaming who was interrupted by the mayor after 10 minutes and was finally cut off after 15. She was followed by a little Latina primary school child who could only cry after a middle-aged white man tried to force his way ahead of her. The little girl was followed by an 86 year old woman who had been at the March on Washington, and powerfully finished in exactly one minute. She said:
"Mr. Mayor, council citizens of the city of Harrisonburg, my name is Dorris Allen, I am a naive of Harrisonburg 86 years ago. 50 years ago my son Robert Harper and I went to the march on Washington in 1963 and we rode the buss, the two of us were the only blacks, and what a day. And I well remember and when I talk to Robert, he does too." "I am here tonight because I am proud of that fact and I stand before you because I feel like naming Cantrell avenue after Martin Luther King, humanitarian to all man kind would be an enlightenment for James Madison University, would be an enlightenment for James Madison University and would be a positive impact on our younger generation of the friendly city of Harrisonburg Virginia, which shares brotherly love, the love portrayed by Dr. Martin Luther King. Two minutes, thank you." [actually, exactly one minute.]She walked back with an arm raised in salute.
She was followed by a young Latina, a young Latino and a veteran with his service dog, all speaking in favor, before the next man with white skin privilege, who dedicated to his wife his presentation in favor of graciously accepting the honor brought to the community by the re-naming-- reverently marked up to exactly 2 minutes in red pen as he stood in line.
"'Collegiality' is another criterion that is creeping into more and more faculty evaluation processes. Collegiality can be a code word for favoring candidates with backgrounds, interests, and political and social perspectives similar to one's own. This vague and subjective criterion can be used against faculty members whose work and ideas challenge traditional orthodoxy in their departments or institutions."How to Recruit and Promote Minority Faculty: Start by Playing Fair
Angela Davis on diversity:
"When people call for diversity and link it to justice and equality, that's fine. But there's a model of diversity as the difference that makes no difference, the change that brings about no change."The difference that makes no difference.
Ready to act? From the organization Southerners on New Ground : Being an Ally/Building Solidarity
For an illustration of how African Americans felt economic pressure and of the diversity within the African American community, see Nina Banks on domesticity and uplift during the time of the great migration just after the period of the street naming.
And it continues today: see an illustration of the racist concept of 'culture of poverty' in an article by Steve Reich.
White supremacists are pleased with African Americans and others who stay in their place. The pervasiveness of white supremacy confronts individuals and communities with choices for survival that fall far short of freedom and justice. Do we perpetuate these attitudes?
An African world view: Hunger for Culture.