Colorlines - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 13:12
"The Whiteness Project," one of POV's new digital-only series, begins in Buffalo, New York, with 21 men and women in front of a white background speaking candidly about how they experience their whiteness. Not everyone sees the value in the series, which launched last Friday. Countless articles have questioned the purpose of the project. Others slammed it. "Good gosh, just what we need; a bunch of pasty-faced, pudgy, fugly attention whores spouting nonsense. Way to go, Buffalo!," wrote one commenter. "Everyone's always saying they want an honest conversation about race." says Whitney Dow, the documentary filmmaker behind the project. "When you have one, you can't punish people when they speak their minds."
Despite the strong reactions, Dow, who is white, wants to take the film cross-country, to "engender debate about the role of whiteness in American society and encourage white Americans to become fully vested participants in the ongoing debate about the role of race in American society." On the phone the filmmaker fell into an easy and honest--there's that word again--conversation about race, his childhood, his many critics and how much he's still learning.
You produced Marco Williams' "Banished" (2006) and co-directed "Two Towns of Jasper" (2002), so you're no stranger to discussing race in America. How is "The Whiteness Project" similar to your earlier work?
The similarities go back to the original premise of "Two Towns of Jasper" where Marco and I used segregated crews. I had a white crew and I just shot white people. He had a black crew and he just shot black people. We felt that white people would feel more comfortable talking to a white crew [about the murder of James Byrd] and [the same for] black residents. We also had a broader idea, though, which was that black and white people live in such different realities that when you're trying to have dialogue across race, actually, many times they're talking about different things. And perhaps you can have a more constructive dialogue by letting white people and black people listen in to each other's honest thoughts instead of trying to have them talk about something cross-race. So [with this project] me and a white crew talking to white people about whiteness is done very much in that spirit.
And how's "The Whiteness Project" different?
I've wanted to do something on race that is not oppositional. Race tends to be covered as us-against-them, or, something happened and there's a victim and perpetrator--like in "Two Towns of Jasper," which was about a horrible racial murder. And I really felt [that oppositional construct] had always allowed white people to put themselves outside the racial paradigm and not try and recognize themselves and their own issues with race and ethnicity. So the idea of doing something that didn't give [white people] [that] crutch [and] where they would have to talk directly about whiteness--that's what I wanted to create. Now of course the ironic thing is that when you ask white people about whiteness they start talking about black people.
You touched on that in yesterday's New York Magazine interview. Go into that a bit more.
This has been one of the big learning experience for me.* Some black people--and a black woman who's been in touch with me put it this way--understand their blackness in relationship to whiteness. I didn't realize, until people started contacting me that whiteness is the same thing. We understand our whiteness in relationship to blackness. And I really think that goes back to our sense of ourselves as Americans and how this country was founded as a contradiction, on this idea that all men are created equal--except if you're black. ... We have this very complicated history and I think it complicates our sense of ourselves.
What's wrong with how white folks, either in your life or in the media, talk about race, now?
That's a really good question. In documentary film where I work, what I see is that oppositional or victim-perpetrator construct. And in mainstream media, race is either not acknowledged or it's acknowledged in a way that's not accurate. I learned back in Jasper, that there's a difference between non-white voices in media who get their power to speak from a white power structure [and] those who get the right to speak through their own power base. [In the media] you have some very loud voices that aren't white. But a lot of them are dependent on a white power structure so, I wonder, if they are really able to speak their minds.
How does whiteness come up for you, not just in your work but, in your family life or where you grew up?
I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the '70s. It was a very, very white, homogenized place but it was during the era of busing. There was all this racial tension and there were riots and busses getting turned over in Boston. I remember my first experience of having to grapple with all of that. I was 15 years old and I was a counselor at the YMCA in Central Square. Most of the kids I was counseling were 10, 11 or 12 and most of them were black or Puerto Rican. It was a hot summer day and we decided to go to the North End to the public pool. The kids go to get changed in the dressing room and five large white men cornered me and said, "I understand what you're doing. We don't want any trouble. But if any of those niggers go in the pool, somebody's gonna get seriously hurt."
What'd you say to them?
I didn't know what to say. I said, "OK." And I then--as a 15-year-old boy who never really had to think about this stuff--had to try to explain to these kids, without any words or experience, why they couldn't go in the pool. It was a humiliating and devastating experience. And it's really stuck with me to this day.
Who in your family or friendship circle did you share that with at the time?
No one. We didn't have the language to talk about it. I probably joked about it with my friend Nicky, like, "Holy shit, I almost got my ass kicked!" But I didn't know how to talk about it. I didn't know how to process it. One of the great things about today is that people do have the language to talk about it now. It's a much better situation than when I was growing up.
Is 2014 a more receptive time for the conversation you're trying to have with white people, compared to when "Two Towns of Jasper" came out in 2003?
Yeah, I think it is. Did you see [Wednesday] night on Jon Stewart? He says to Bill O'Reilly, "I'm not interested in your book. I have one thing I want to do in this interview and that is to get you to admit that white privilege exists." The whole show was on that. Right afterward, Stephen Colbert has the director from "Dear White People" on. There's something out there now. I think people are ready and interested in that debate and I like seeing two white people having that debate. Bomani Jones talked about "The Whiteness Project" in his recent webcast [:34-:41]. He said, "I get asked to go on shows all the time to talk about the black experience and about race. I'm so happy to see white people going on shows to talk about the white experience and race." He breaks "The Whiteness Project" down in a very sophisticated way.
I'm going to be frank. I'm not really interested in hearing white folks talk about race or whiteness. I've been a minority in majority-white spaces since I was 12 years old. I feel like I know what your subjects are going to say. Why should I take the time to watch?
I would say that people like you and me who have thought about race a lot and have been around and processed it, maybe that's not who this project is for. But, again, I go back to all these women of color who've written me from Albuquerque to Australia, who've said it was really painful but incredibly cathartic to hear what white people say when they're not in the room. That's all I can say.
Are you afraid that you'll end up creating caricatures of white people? How will you avoid that?
I certainly hope not; that's not my intention. I think that's an issue every time you do a project on race: People always try not to see themselves in the people up there on the screen. One of the reasons why I did it in Buffalo is because when people think about race they think about the South. When I did "Two Towns of Jasper," people would say, "That's not me. That's the South." But you'd be in denial as a white person if you didn't admit that you hold some of the most discomforting things [said in "The Whiteness Project"]. When Deanna says white people think black men are inherently violent, she's not saying something that people don't know. And I'm not sure why I'm getting attacked for saying something I'm getting attacked for saying something [about what white people believe].* All she's saying is something that's representative of 40 percent of white Americans. I don't think it's that radical to acknowledge it.
You can caricature ["The Whiteness Project"] but you'd be missing an opportunity to examine perhaps for yourself why and how what's being said relates to you--as opposed to attacking person saying it. It's not about these particular individuals. They represent common views. I don't want people tying this whole thing to those particular 21 people in Buffalo. I commend and respect them. And I am incredibly grateful that they agreed to participate.
Have you talked to anyone involved in the series since it went live last Friday?
Yeah. One person told me he values and believes in what I'm trying to do. But he also says he's nervous about the effect it'll have on everyone. You know, I'm happy to become the punching bag for this project but I really hope these 21 people don't become the punching bag. They took a leap of faith about being honest and it's terrible to think that then you get punished for it. Everyone's always saying they want an honest conversation about race but then when you have one, you can't punish people when they speak their minds--especially if they're not attacking you. And certainly if you want to bring someone along [in their understanding of race] and make progress, attacking them does not advance the conversation.
In the responses you've gotten since last Friday, what're the three common themes you've picked up?
One: "This is amazing, Thank you for doing this, This is the most incredible thing I've seen." Two: "I don't understand it." Three: "You're a fucking asshole"--and, "You all just should die."
What's been most encouraging about the response you've gotten so far?
The personal letters. There are insanely personal comments being posted on the website and I'm just blown away that people are sharing. One woman with a white boyfriend talked about being rejected by his family, for example. People also find my email and send me long heartfelt letters. Again, it reaffirms that people are hungry for this discussion. People are also spending on average, six minutes on the site, which lets me know they're watching a number of videos. That's really encouraging because I'd rather have one person go and spend an hour than 50,000 people go and spend 10 seconds.
And the most discouraging?
There are certain people who seem to refuse to engage me or acknowledge the legitimacy of my position. I don't expect you to agree with me or like what I'm doing. But I've been caught off guard by people who write or tweet about the project, and when I want to talk, they just insult me. It seems like all they want to do is generate interest in fact that they're fighting with me. And I don't understand that. I understand people want to hate the caricature of a white guy named Whitney B.* Dow making a project about white people. I get it. But I believe if you engage me, it will be valuable for both of us. I'm disappointed in some of those interactions. Those bother me more than the people who say, "You should go die."
*Post has been updated since publication for clarity and to correct Dow's misstated middle initial. It's "B," not "D."
New America Media - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 13:06
EnglishUC ???? ? ??? ???? ??? ?? ??? ?? ??? ?? ?? ?? ?? UC ???? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ? ?? 4? ???? ???? ? ?? ???. ?? ??? ???? ?? ? ??? ?? 'DREAM' ??? 'SB1210'? ??... Katherine Tam http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Hyphen Blog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 12:13
The Visibility Project tour launches at last!
New America Media - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 10:32
English?? ????? ???? ?? 1?, ????? ? ?? ????? ???? ???? ??. ?? ???? ???? ?? ??? ??? ??? ???? ??? ?? ????? ?? ??. ??? ??, ??? ??? ????? ? SBS ??? “???, ????” ?? ?, ?? ??? ??... YeoJin Kim http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 09:44
For 17 years, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has been collecting data on domestic violence in LGBT communities. They started in 1997 with a report that was the first-ever look at intimate partner violence among LGBT couples. It was an important intervention in the domestic violence movement largely defined by the ways that cisgender men physically or emotionally abused their wives.When NCAVP released what ultimately became its annual report, it helped expand the movement within the federal government and departments of public health. Like most statistics on domestic violence, the reported cases were generally thought to be an underestimate because many victims don't actually report their assaults. But the problem was especially hard for LGBT folks because, in 1997, 21 states had enforceable sodomy laws on the books that could put a queer person behind bars. Since then, the language has changed, but the problem has not. Domestic violence, which in this report is also called intimate partner violence, is a catchall phrase that refers to "a pattern of behavior where one partner coerces, dominates, or isolates another intimate partner to maintain power and control over the partner and the relationship," according to researchers. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data on intimate partner violence that included sexual orientation, but left out gender identity. Still, the results showed that LGBT partnerships were not immune to violence: 44 percent of lesbian women and 61 percent of bisexual women have experienced physical violence, stalking or rape in their intimate partnerships. In this year's report on intimate partner violence, NCAVP reports that 2013 was an especially deadly year for LGBT victims of domestic violence. By their researchers' estimates, there were 21 homicides due to intimate partner violence, the highest number ever recorded. More than 28 percent of those victims were people of color. Of the 21 victims in 2012, 10 were identified as cisgender men, eight as cisgender women and three as transgender women. What's more:
LGBTQ people of color were more likely to report experiencing physical violence, discrimination, threats or intimidation, and harassment as a result of intimate partner violence.
- LGBTQ and HIV-affected people of color were more likely to experience incidents of intimate partner violence in streets or public spaces.
- Bisexual survivors were 1.6 times more likely to experience sexual violence and 2.2 times more likely to experience physical violence as a result of intimate partner violence.
- Transgender people of color were 2.6 times more likely to experience discrimination within intimate partner violence.
Transgender survivors were 2.5 times more likely to experience incidents of intimate partner violence in public spaces.
- More than eight percent of reported victims were undocumented (of the more than 83 percent who disclosed their immigration status).
Osman Ahmed, one of the report's authors, told me by phone that "how you identify is an important factor in terms of how abuse can happen [because] your identity can be used against you within intimate partner violence."
Colorlines - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 09:16
From access to health care to health-care coverage and health outcomes, women of color in the U.S. have distinctly different experiences than their white female counterparts, according to a new 50-state report card released Tuesday by the Alliance for a Just Society.
Black women have worse health outcomes than women overall in unique areas, like hypertension and infant mortality. For all 38 states that self-reported data on the topic, black women have an infant morality rate that's at least 20 percent higher than it is for women overall, according to the report. In seven states, black women post an infant mortality rate double what women overall experience. Diabetes in particular is a problem that has a disproportionate impact on Latinas and Asian women, and Native American women experience higher rates of asthma than women overall do.
Inequities extend to access to care and healthcare coverage. In more than half of U.S. states, black women are uninsured at rates that are at least 10 percent higher than the uninsured rate for women overall, according to the report. In one-third of U.S. states black women are uninsured at rates 20 percent higher than women overall. In 17 states, Latinas are uninsured at rates double the rate uninsured rate of women overall.
These problems stem from 21 states' refusal to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income residents, concludes the Alliance for Justice Society, whose executive director LeeAnn Hall serves on the board of Colorlines' publisher Race Forward. Those states that refused Medicaid expansion performed especially poorly in AJS' report card. Boosting Medicaid expansion tops the organization's policy recommendations.
"While many states are making critical progress on women's health thanks to the Affordable Care Act, this report card underscores that we must do more, starting with getting every state to cover low-income women through Medicaid," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said in a statement, echoing the report card's findings.
For more, read the Alliance for a Just Society report card here.
Colorlines - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 09:12
It's impossible to ignore the racist undertones in much of the world's Ebola coverage. Just yesterday, the United Nations huaman rights chief warned against anti-African discrimination over the disease. But it's already happening. Stassa Edwards over at Jezebel offers this:
African illness is represented as a suffering child, debased in its own disease-ridden waste; like the continent, it is infantile, dirty and primitive. Yet when the same disease is graphed onto the bodies of Americans and Europeans, it morphs into a heroic narrative: one of bold doctors and priests struck down, of experimental serums, of hazmat suits and the mastery of modern technology over contaminating, foreign disease. These parallel representations work on a series of simple, historic dualisms: black and white, good and evil, clean and unclean.
The Western medical discourse on Africa has never been particularly subtle: the continent is often depicted as an undivided repository of degeneration. Comparing the representations of disease in Africa and in the West, you can hear the whispers of an underlying moral panic: a sense that Africa, and its bodies, are uncontainable. The discussion around Ebola has already evoked--almost entirely from Tea Party Republicans--the explicit idea that American borders are too porous and that all manners of perceived primitiveness might infect the West.
Edwards goes on to give a brief history of racist moral panics around disease.
In the United States, where the first Ebola-infected patient, Liberian-born Thomas Eric Duncan, died, the disease is increasingly becoming a stand-in for blackness. As Hannah Giorgis writes at the Guardian:
[Duncan] - and the West Africans to whom he is tied by both birth and cause of death - have become nothing more than disease vectors responsible for infecting innocent western health workers, tarnishing pristine nations by importing the blemish of an African scourge. And yet, American citizenship alone does not sanitize the blight of blackness; Amber Joy Vinson, the second healthcare worker diagnosed with the virus, is already being met with scrutiny as Nina Pham's quarantined dog receives anoutpouring of support.
Colorlines - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 06:59
Here's what I'm reading up on today:
- President Obama may name a new czar to oversee the country's Ebola response. Meanwhile, a nurse from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital detailed just how underprepared the staff was to handle the virus.
- And speaking of Ebola, here's a brief history of racist moral panic over disease.
- There's no end in sight for California's drought.
- 40,000 voter registration forms submitted by black and Latino would-be voters magically disappeared in Georgia.
- The San Francisco Giants will meet the Kansas City Royals in this year's World Series.
- The inmate population at Rikers Island is the lowest it's been in decades. So why have costs to run the prison risen so dramatically?
- Before gentrification, New York City was covered in graffiti -- Hua Hsa writes in the New Yorker about the 1981 documentary "Stations of the Elevated."
- Pharrell Williams has gone Kanye West on us.
- Junot Diaz writes about food.
- Sleep? You're doing it wrong.
New America Media - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 00:05
SAN FRANCISCO – Many Asian-American voters are undecided on key candidate races and ballot measures in the lead-up to the Nov. 4 election, according to a new analysis by the Field Poll’s Mark DiCamillo. The trend tracks with other surveys... Ngoc Nguyen http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=70
Colorlines - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 14:59
Keep the national policing conversation sparked by the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford and more going. They're the subject of a town hall panel in Brooklyn tonight that will livestream for two hours, beginning at 7 p.m. E.S.T. Panelists include: Esmeralda Simmons, Center for Law & Social Justice, Medgar Evers College; Lumumba Bandele, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Jumaane Williams, City Council Member; Rinku Sen, Race Forward (publisher of Colorlines); Linda Sarsour, Arab American Association; and Anthony Miranda, Latino Officers Association.
Watch livestreamed video above. Join the online conversation and Tweet questions to panelists: #BHeard.
And read ProPublica's latest on police killings and black men: in recent years, young black men were 21 times more likely than young white men to be killed by police.
Colorlines - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 12:56
Elizabeth Peña, the Cuban-American actress who starred in several treasured films and on the hit show "Modern Family," died on Wednesday in Los Angeles of natural causes. She was only 55 years old.
Before "Modern Family," Peña was known for her memorable roles in "La Bamba," "Tortilla Soup," and as a voice actress in "The Incredibles." In a moving memorial at Latino Review, Peña's nephew, the writer and director Mario-Francisco Robles, remembered his aunt's accomplishments:
I didn't call her Elizabeth, or Liz, or Leechy. She wasn't Aunt, Auntie, Tia, or Titi. To me...she was Ñaña. That was the name I assigned my aunt when I was just a baby, and it's the name I continued to refer to her as when I visited her in Los Angeles last week. She was our star. She was my star. We celebrated her triumphs. We sweated through her struggles. As a family, even when we didn't always talk, we would all do whatever we could for one another. When I got married 3 years ago, despite their being some logistical hurdles, she flew herself, her husband, and both her kids to attend my special night in New York's Hudson River Valley. Dancing with her, my uncle, and my cousins under the stars that night is a memory I've always cherished, and it's now one that I'll have to hold onto for the rest of my life.
My Ñaña is gone.
Read more at Latino Review.
Colorlines - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 12:46
Justin Simien, the director of "Dear White People," stopped by to chat with Stephen Colbert this week to talk about his debut film, which is in theaters nationwide this month. It's a fun segment -- Simien talks about the premise of his film and is noticeably unimpressed by Colbert's black friends.
New America Media - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 10:36
Traducción al inglésImagen: Alex Camacho sostiene la foto de su hijo Brandon Xavier. El joven se quitó la vida el año pasado. Hoy día, Alex y su esposa Iraida ayudan a prevenir el suicidio a través de su fundación Brandon’s... Johanes Roselló http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 10:17
Why do whites live where they live? Why do blacks live where they live? "In 1968, Larman Williams was one of the first African Americans to buy a home in the white suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. It wasn't easy." That's the beginning of Richard Rothstein's "The Making of Ferguson" in the fall issue of The American Prospect. As any St. Louisan will tell you, you can't talk about what's wrong with Ferguson without first understanding the region's patchwork of municipal boundaries--holdovers from the Jim Crow era, Rothstein says. He emphasizes that current residential segregation is not just a result of choice or the private prejudices of white homeowners. It's also, "the explicit intents of federal, state, and local governments to create racially segregated metropolises"--not only in St. Louis but throughout the country.
That government, not private prejudice, was responsible for segregating greater St. Louis was once widely recognized. In 1974, a federal appeals court concluded, "Segregated housing in the St. Louis metropolitan area was ... in large measure the result of deliberate racial discrimination in the housing market by the real estate industry and by agencies of the federal, state, and local governments." The Department of Justice stipulated to this truth but took no action in response. In 1980, a federal court ordered the state, county, and city governments to devise plans to integrate schools by integrating housing. Public officials ignored the order, devising only a voluntary busing plan to integrate schools, but not housing.
Read the rest, including the Jim Crow-era experiences of pioneering black homeowners, now at The American Prospect. Looking for even deeper analysis? Check out Rothstein's paper at The Economic Policy Institute.
Colorlines - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 10:15
Erykah Badu, who's known for doing silly things in public, performed incognito last Friday in Times Square. It wasn't quite silly, according to the artist. "I kinda always wanted to see what it would be like to sing for money on the streets," she said in the self-made iPhone video.
She wound up taking home $3.40. New York City just ain't right.
Colorlines - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 08:38
Archie Panjabi, the actress who plays the gun-toting, ass-kicking investigator Kalinda Sharma in the CBS drama "The Good Wife," has signed on to headline a new pilot with 20th Century Fox TV. From Deadline:
Panjabi had been thinking about moving on from the show for a while. "Archie is an amazing actress who helped build Kalinda from the ground up as an enigmatic, powerful, and sexy character," The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King said in a statement. "It's been a pleasure to write for her, and we'll be sad to see her go; but we still have her for the rest of Season 6, so let's not exhaust our good-byes yet. We look forward to meeting all the wonderful new characters Archie brings to the screen. But either way, we're keeping the boots."
Panjabi won a 2010 Emmy for her role on the show, becoming one of the most recognizable actress of South Asian descent in Hollywood. The new pilot is tentatively set for the spring or fall of 2015.
Colorlines - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 07:39
This is what I'm reading up on today:
- Dallas' Texas Presbyterian is in damage-control mode, but lax U.S. guidelines may be to blame for the hospital's failure to stop the spread of Ebola.
- RIP Elizabeth Peña, 1959-2014.
- Remember that awful video of tech bros kicking brown kids off of a San Francisco soccer field? Longtime residents of the city's Mission District rallied on Wednesday to change the city's Park and Recreation reservation policies.
- Lucas may be able to use Venmo to send cash to friends, but Ahmed apparently can't.
New America Media - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 00:30
Traducción al españolPictured above: Alex Camacho holding a photo of his son, Brandon Xavier. The young man took his own life last year. Today, Alex and his wife Iraida are helping prevent suicide through their foundation Brandon’s Key 4 Life.... Johanes Roselló, Translated by Elena Shore http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 00:05
LOS ANGELES -- The real-life story of José Osuna -- like the character Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables -- gives credence to the idea that a second chance is sometimes all you need to turn your life... Julian Do http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=23
Colorlines - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 15:40
The United States is just three weeks into the latest phase of its effort in Iraq against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria--the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group--but already there are calls for it to escalate.
This past Sunday on CNN, Senator John McCain (R-Ala.) advocated for a greater number of U.S. ground troops to get directly involved in fighting the group. ISIS is "winning, we're not," McCain complained. McCain is not alone. His sentiments have been echoed by others in Congress and among key American allies around the world such as the United Kingdom and Turkey.
The problem is that the unfinished business in Iraq and Afghanistan shows us that scaling up the military campaign against ISIS will create severe costs that won't be shouldered equally by all Americans. Sadly this fact is lost on many involved in the debate.
Before launching headlong into a third Iraq War it's important to step back and review the costs of the past 13 years of combat. Not surprisingly, the sacrifice of war, monetary and otherwise are disproportionately borne by people of color and the young.
According to The Costs of War project at Brown University, the total costs for the second Iraq War and the ongoing one in Afghanistan is $4.4 trillion. Cost-wise, these two conflicts should be considered as one because it has long been established that the war in Iraq prolonged the one in Afghanistan by drawing away resources from it and causing it to drag on. Everyone in the country could go to college for nearly a decade free of charge with $4.4 trillion.
What's astounding is that this eye-popping price tag could very well be the tip of the iceberg. As Costs of War points out "each additional month and year of war adds to that toll. In fact, total costs could stretch as high as $6 trillion in the coming years as veterans benefits and the like tally up.
Beyond the monetary issues there are others that are beyond measure.
Nearly 7,000 Americans have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. But these numbers exclude military contractors, the private paramilitary outfits hired by the government to supplement the work of the armed forces. Folding them into official casualty figures nearly doubles the number of U.S. deaths.
Fifty thousand American men and women were wounded in action, with another 330,000 having suffered some variation of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by their time at war. Added to these dramatic impacts is the grim fact that nearly 200,000 Afghani, Iraqi and Pakistani civilians have been killed in these conflicts since 2001.
Although the deaths and injuries cause unconscionable pain, the ramifications of these casualties are not spread evenly throughout society.
Nearly half of all those who've died in the war are under the age of 25. When it comes to race, close to two out of five of those serving in the U.S. armed forces is black or brown. And once they return from the battlefield, according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, black veterans are more likely than their white counterparts to be unemployed (PDF).
The war has also impacted historically marginalized communities in other ways. Iraq and Afghanistan diverted the nation's attention and financial resources from investments necessary to ensure that the working poor have an economic shot. For instance, additional capital promised to schools identified as struggling by No Child Left Behind wasn't delivered as planned. In fact, during some of the Iraq War's most active years, No Child Left Behind school assistance was half of what the law pledged. Schools serving the nation's poorest children were hung out to dry for low test scores but were not provided the help needed to turn them around.
The two wars have done more economic damage than underfunding. The sky-is-the-limit approach to military spending since 2001 created the massive debt that's been used to justify the rolling back of economic opportunity programs that helped build the middle class. The entire cost of Iraq and Afghanistan were not paid for directly, rather they were charged to the nation's credit card. Concern over this mounting debt is what fueled the Tea Party. Once in office, conservative members of Congress went about slashing everything from food assistance, to housing help to pre-school education under the banner of getting the nation's fiscal house in order.
As I have written before their arguments don't hold up to scrutiny. The nation is nowhere near broke, but that was never the point. A wing of the Republican Party has always sought to run up the nation's debt and then use it as an excuse to shrink the government programs they oppose. This even has an unfortunate name: "starve the beast." Yet the money being shoveled out the door for the two wars was the sort of justification for which they'd worked for so long. They've spent most of President Obama's time in office using it to advance their aims.
The United States is not fully into a third Iraq War, but its important to remember that there students on the verge of entering high school who've never known a time when the United States is not a war. Hopefully as decision-makers and the national security establishment will consider what's next in the Middle East they will recall the staggering economic, political and social costs that continue to reverberate across the nation from the last set of wars in the region.
Work We <3 | FDP
Instead of spending all our time calling out journalism that doesn't work, we want to find work we like. We'd like to encourage our readers to submit links to content that is moving or challenging and that goes beyond the standard narrative either at the level of form or content. In other words, we want to see journalism that works.
We're particularly interested in work at the nexus of the following categories:
- Please include a comment explaining why the content you're sharing works.
- Comments can be as short or long as desired.
Find us on Facebook
- US-Russia Journalism Teachers Exchange @ The Russian and East European Institute (REEI) of Indiana University
- Assistant Professor - JOURNALISM / Broadcast @ California State University, Northridge
- Assistant Professor - JOURNALISM / Digital media entrepreneurship or digital public @ California State University, Northridge
Dori Maynard tweets on Diversity, Media & More
@JamilSmith The distorted #media depiction of African American men & boys has real life consequences, again. #mediadiversity #Tremaine