Posted on October 17, 2022

A Revealing Racist Rant in L.A.

Charles Blow, New York Times, October 12, 2022

I have a theory about the future of America that I don’t want to come true.

It is a theory that worries me and that I have written about: that with the browning of America, white supremacy could simply be replaced by — or buffeted by — a form of “lite” supremacy, in which fairer-skin people perpetuate a modified anti-Blackness rather than eliminating it.

The racist comments revealed this week on a recording of Latino leaders in Los Angeles — three City Council members and a labor union leader — did nothing to allay those fears.

In the recordings, the Council president, Nury Martinez, who resigned as Council president on Monday and resigned from the Council on Wednesday, offered the most egregious comments. She insulted people in the crudest, most racially offensive ways, comparing a colleague’s Black son to a monkey and appearing to insult Oaxacans — people from the disproportionately Indigenous Oaxaca region of Mexico — by calling them “little short dark people” who are “ugly.”

But what disturbs me most is the racial, ethnic tribalism of her political calculations. After all, the recording is of a meeting to discuss the city’s once-in-a-decade redistricting process. This is a meeting about power, about who can be helped — or hurt — by how districts are drawn.


As Paul Barragan-Monge, the director of mobilization for the U.C.L.A. Latino Policy and Politics Institute, explained this week about Hispanic power in California, “Despite making up 39 percent of the state population, they only constituted 18.4 percent of executive appointments in the governor’s leadership cabinet.”

That imbalance must be remedied. The problem this recording poses is that the people on the call seem to see power among the city’s constituents as a zero-sum game, and in that game, they openly disparaged other groups because of their identities.

Instead of allying with other disadvantaged groups, they diminished them. Their discussion was anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, anti-Jewish.

They were doing the work of white supremacy. {snip}


The unfortunate reality is that anti-Black white supremacy is not confined to white people or to Republicans, even though they court it and coddle it. Martinez is a Democrat in an overwhelmingly Democratic city.

The fallacy is to believe that every person in every community that has been oppressed by white supremacy will reject it. That’s simply not true, for some see oppression as having a perch: You must be elevated to perform it. In that way, being in a position to oppress becomes aspirational; being anti-Black — and being able to skirt most anti-Blackness — becomes a sorting device. {snip}