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Added a post  to  , islamophobia

The horrific events of a mass shooting fueled by white supremacy...again.  The mass shoot in New Zealand has the world in mourning yet again over hate-fueled act of mass violence.  White supremacy strikes again. 

Islamophobia is Deadly.

Hate Kills.

White Supremacy is Terrorism.

We should be precise in our definition of white supremacy; it is both a sick and twisted ideology held to maintain power and privilege of white people; and it is the system of power and privilege that we white folks often benefit from even if there isn't a racist bone in our whole bodies.  How the ideology and the systems of power manifest to support each other is for another discussion, but suffice it to say that such acts of terrorism maintain the system through fear.

Racist ideologies are prevalent in our society starting with the President and an increasingly emboldened set of white folks who are either out and out racists or others with racist proclivities.  Almost daily we see another racist white person spouting hate at an African American or a police officer using excessive force.  These moments are now captured on camera and shared widely on social media.  Our awareness of such racism is heightened and for whatever progress has been made, it sure seems as though we see much more overt racism than at any time in the last three decades.  

Racism rears its head in ugly ways locally for each of us, whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not.  We recently bought a house in a neighborhood within Philadelphia that borders the wealthy main line suburbs to the West and to the East the decidedly less-affluent West Philadelphia.  My neighborhood is ethnically mixed, though traditionally the neighborhood has been white.  My white and Panamanian family lives in between a Jamaican family and a Ghanian and African American family, across the street from a Japanese church (they were hoping we were Japanese speakers).  The oldest African Episcopal church in the country is a block down.  Walking through the neighborhood though I would guess we are still about 60-70% white.  

I just joined the neighborhood list-serve and someone commemorated the 4th anniversary of a neighbor that had been shot walking his dog in between neighborhoods.  From what I could gather, the victim was a white man in his early 50s while the assailants were 3 African American teens.  In the events, the victim appears to be pleading for his life before being shot to death.  

The email commemorating this tragedy ended with something about "the real hands up - don't shoot!"  I notice another email or two affirmed this positioning.  I had a choice to make.  Let these kind of comments go or confront racism where I see it.  I chose the latter.  My note is below.


hi all, 

I'm fairly new to the neighborhood and this is my first post to this list.  I am deeply saddened to hear about this tragic, senseless violence that took an innocent life of a neighbor simply walking his dog.  It certainly gives me some concern over safety of myself, my family and my neighbors as I'm sure it does many of you.  I can't imagine the pain of the family that will never go away.

I also don't understand this is the "real hands up" comments.   The hands up - don't shoot rallying cry is based on a legitimate set of concerns from African Americans who are concerned about being racially profiled and potentially also subject to police violence.  There are plenty of real world examples and empirical evidence that validates these set of concerns.  

Violence against the innocent is always tragic.  Using the occasion of such tragedy to compare the plights of other victims of violence doesn't seem like a fitting way to honor the victim and potentially deepens the divides that are all too real in our city and world.  

Take care, 

Steve Rockwell


A number of neighbors sent positive responses thanking me for speaking out and sharing their agreement.  Some noted that there is often veiled racist language on the list-serve.  Having lived with racist family members, my inclination is always to confront racism when I hear it.  There may not be many other folks in their lives attempting to dissuade them from such hate.  Making those perpetuating racism should be made uncomfortable and reminded that it is socially unacceptable to hold such beliefs.  When hate manifests, its logical end is violence so confronting words, may save confronting guns at another point. Stop white supremacy ideology where you see it. 


Added a post  to  , islamophobia

is deadly.
 is .

#praying for our brothers and sisters in Christchurch New Zealand and around the world.

Added a post  to  , islamophobia

Like most of you, I was shocked with the election results. Election night, my stomach turned with the almost immediate realization that Hillary wasn't winning this thing. For the next few days and sleepless nights, I struggled to come to grips with fundamental questions about what I thought I knew about my country.

  • For all the division and rancor, for the institutionalized racism and vast economic inequality, wasn't there at least some modicum of decency that would preclude people with any sense of goodness about themselves to vote for a blatant xenophobic racist?
  • How could 53% of white women voted for a misogynist who brags about sexual assault and has acted like the skeevy guy you ran from your whole life?
  • Wasn't it just eight years before that I was jubilant in the Obama victory which seemed like a rebuke of pre-emptive war and a small step of progress towards ending racism?

Hillary was not a candidate I was excited about given her embrace of neoliberal economics and overly hawkish foreign policy, but Good Lord. Compared to the alternative of a Trump Presidency, this seemed like a no brainer.  People aren't stupid generally. This isn't about intelligence, it is about hardened hearts. People vote against their interest when fears and prejudices are played upon in ways that reject others humanity.

For all my personal reckoning about this election, I am still a person of tremendous privilege. In comparison, some of my black friends say to me, "I'm scared. Half of the country literally hates me." Undocumented mothers share their fears of being ripped from their children at any moment. Indeed, many parents have been. In the days leading up to election, my brother, who came out about 7 years ago, was door knocking for HRC and a couple of Trump guys drove by yelling "Go Trump, you Faggot!" There have been racial shootings. The displays of anti-Semitism in the blooming of swastikas and the making of bomb threats to Jewish institutions strikes a unsettling fear into our society. In a new turn for my white self, I fear what my Latinos kids now face as other Latino kids are being yelled at "Build the Wall" and "go home". We've seen similar hate against an Asian American kids and certainly seen a good deal of scorn and hate directed at Muslims.

America. In 2017. Racism. Xenophobia. Antisemitism. Islamophobia. Misogyny. Homophobia.

Yes, economics of white working class folks is a huge set of issues that must be addressed. But don't fool yourself, racism never went away and remains one of the major drivers of political activity including voting. Dehumanizing others is again en vogue. Trump has brought lots of ugliness out of the woodwork and into the open. Education and economic dislocation are real issues but how do you get a working class white person to vote against their own economic interest? Gin up racism and xenophobia. Talk about those immigrants taking your jobs. Get tough on those black protesters. Speak English! Ban Muslims because they might be terrorists. Terrorists! This old playbook has been around a long time. We thought we might just be past some of this because we had a black President. Stupid of us.

Turning this around in any sense will be difficult, especially with another round of supply side (tax cuts for the rich) economic policy that actually created much of the inequality in the first place. We are going to have to do two things at once: engage white working folks in a way that takes their legitimate economic concerns seriously while addressing and not tolerating hate.  We will need to reset the economic discourse through economic education measures that build support for unionization, living wages, universal health care and tuition free college. We also need to hold folks accountable for dehumanizing someone based on their sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or country of origin. Yes, I want your vote. But I’m not going to tolerate hatred and dehumanization in any form in order to get that vote.  

More to come...

Added a post  to  , islamophobia

Over 700 incidents of hateful intimidation have occurred since the election, many in Trump's name. Trump must rescind his appointment of Bannon which emboldens the white supremacists. Link to petition on Civic Action Center. #civicaction #nazis #bigotry

Added a post  to  , islamophobia

Pledge to Sign Up for any Muslim Registry that the Trump administration seeks to implement.   #notmypresident

Added a post  to  , islamophobia

Given the Trump win and the acts of racism we are seeing throughout the country, I pledge to act. I pledge to engage our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, friends and colleagues, parents and grandparents who are white to discuss issues of , , , , and .

I will do so with the humility that we are all at our different places in our understanding of racism and diversity issues and that we all face tough issues in our lives in which we need healing.

I understand that in order to make a change I have to take the risk of creating discomfort and receiving the scorn of others.

Stephen Rockwell 

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