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Author Carol Anderson: Anti-Blackness Drives U.S. Gun Culture & Right-Wing Assault on Democracy

Race, Guns, and Gerrymandering: Youth Push for Multiculturalism in Tennessee, Mississippi

  • Carol Anderson is an Emory University professor and author whose work focuses on race, guns, voter suppression and racial divides
  • Justin Jones and Gloria Johnson, two of the youngest black lawmakers in the Tennessee House of Representatives, were reinstated after a protest against guns on the floor of the house following a school massacre
  • Gerrymandering creates legislatures that are not representative of the people and limits their ability to address their needs
  • The power of youth is pushing for a society that celebrates multiculturalism which scares those in gerrymandered districts
  • Charlie Kirk argued last week that gun deaths are necessary for access to Second Amendment rights
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest is being celebrated in Tennessee despite his involvement in slave trading, leading a Ku Klux Klan chapter and commanding at Fort Pillow Massacre
  • Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has declared Confederate History Month while Jackson works to remove police control from its judicial system.

Widespread Attacks on History, Knowledge and Democracy: Young People Pushing Back

  • The clip from the trailer of Professor Anderson’s documentary, I Too, discusses the Hamburg Massacre in which two white men demanded the disbandment and guns of a black state militia
  • It links to the January 6th Insurrection and the coup in Wilmington North Carolina where a multi-racial government was overthrown by white supremacists
  • Rhonda Santis is running for president on an anti-blackness, anti-LGBTQ and anti-women platform, pushing for a six week abortion ban, abolishing an African American Studies AP course and attacking Disney for its acceptance of LGBTQ folk
  • These all demonstrate a pattern of attack on history, knowledge and democracy, as well as access to reproductive care and voting rights by raising barriers with the subtext of blackness. Young people are pushing back against this authoritarian recipe with a vision of what America could be.

Tennessees White Rural Counties: Disproportionate Power and the Ignoring of Major Legislation

  • Professor Carol Anderson discussed the issue of gerrymandering in the United States
  • She pointed to Tennessee being an example of a state where white rural counties have disproportionate power due to gerrymandering
  • She also shed light on how this has resulted in gun safety legislation, reproductive rights, and the right to vote being ignored despite majority support for them
  • Anderson highlighted the need for response from legislatures when young people are calling for gun safety legislation, noting that their responses were instead concerned with maintaining order and decorum.

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to talk more about the debate over guncontrol Republican attacks on Democracyacross the country and much more we'rejoined by Carol Anderson professor atEmory University author of the secondrace and guns and a fatally unequalAmerica the paperback edition has justbeen published she's also the author ofone person no vote how voter suppressionis destroying our democracy and the bookWhite rage the unspoken truth of artracial divide her new documentary namedafter a Langston Hughes poem is titled Itoowelcome back to democracy Now ProfessorAnderson it's great to have you with usso you have both Justin's the youngestblack lawmakers in the Tennessee Houseof Representativesbeingreinstated to this Tennessee legislatureafter leading with Gloria Johnson aprotest against guns on the floor of thehouse after the Nashville schoolmassacre talk about the significance ofwhat's taken place over the last weekwith the overwhelmingly whitelegislature expelling these twolegislatorsuh you are seeing a convergence of somany of the multiple streams in Americansociety right there so on one hand whatyou're seeing is the the the power ofgerrymandering to create a legislaturethat is not representative of the peoplethat is not one person one vote butinstead is that extreme partisangerrymandering so that you have theneeds of the people not being able to beaddressed by that legislature but you'realso seeing is the the power of theyouth who are pushing forward for adifferent vision of America it is avision that is multi-racial multi-ethnicmultilingual Multiculturalmulti-religious and that Vision scaresthose who are in those gerrymandereddistricts scares the bajeebers andthat's the scholarly term out of thembecause it is the a way of being a wayof thinking a way of being ofrecognizing people's Humanity a way ofknowing that those are there areresources incredible resources in thisnation that should be available to allbut instead you've got this hoardingthat's happening a hoarding of power ahoarding of a way of of wanting to beable to control and in that control thisis why we're also seeing thisvalorization of the Second Amendmentand as I laid out in the book The SecondAmendment emerged really fullyum out of a concern about black peopleout of a fear of black people and sothis is what the role of the militia wasand so yes we hear the thing aboutdomestic tyranny they really weren'tgood at that we heard this thing aboutbeing able to the militia being able tofend off a um a foreign invasion theyreally weren't good at that but whatthey were good at was putting down slaverevolts and so when you're having thedebates about the Second Amendmentyou're having the battles over theratification of the Constitutionthe second amendment was the bribe tothe South to not Scuttle theConstitution of the United States inorder to have control of that militia tokeep the enslaved in checkand so this this stream that comesthrough is what we're consistentlyseeing is and I think about Charlie Kirkum who said last weekum that you know unfortunately they'regoing to be gun deaths but that's theprice you have to pay in order to havethe Second Amendmentand so what it's saying is because ofthe inherent fundamental fear of blackpeople in this nationwe are willing to be unsafe in ourschools in our churches in our grocerystores in our amusement parks on ourstreets in our parking lots we arewilling to be unsafe in order to be ableto have the the the access to toWeaponry where we can't even thinkthrough it in terms of what is logicalwhat is logical is that weapons of wardo not belong in the hands of civilianswhat is logical is that you havebackground checks what is logical isthat you have red flag lawsbut all of those because of thegerrymandering that has happenedpolitically and the the barriers thathave been put up for access to TheBallot Box you've got a political systemthat is not responsive to the needs ofthe people and that is what you saw inTennesseeProfessor Anderson I wanted to go to whoJustin Jones is one of the two blacklegislators who are expelled wasreinstated on Monday but there still hasto be a special election with Untoldamount of money having to be spentbecause of the overwhelmingly whitelegislature expelling them but JustinJones before he was elected in Novemberwas a well-known activist and one of thethings that he did in the last years oneof his targets was the bust of theConfederate Lieutenant General NathanBedford Forrest he wanted it removedfrom the state capitol now this is veryinteresting going to who Nathan Bedfordwas the first Grand wizard of the KuKlux Klan sold slaves in Memphis was incommand at The Fort Pillow MassacreCameron Sexton the Speaker of the Housein Tennesseevoted against the removal and of courseeach time Justin Jones speaks he is nowcalling for him to resignto about the significance of this umthis push ultimately of course they didsucceedand gunsand so part of what you're also seeinghere is the the kind of againvalorization of those who who weresteeped in anti-blackness those who init and to put that in a public spacesaying this is this these are our valuesystems right herethat speaks volume it speaks volumesabouthowintricately woven the anti-blackness isin the the operating code and how youhave this this has been a consistentpush to to open up this nation to youknow so we hold these truths to beself-evident the push that you're seeingwhat we heard from Justin Jones what weheard from Justin Pearson was to makethose truths self-evident and that is toto break apart this notion that you'vegotum that you would you embrace theConfederacy you embrace the treason ofattacking the United States of Americayou Embrace slave holding and so I thinkabout Tate Reevesum the governor of Mississippi bringingthis out as Confederate History Month inin Mississippithe same Mississippi that is is removingthe control of the police and of thejudicial system from Jacksonagain it's part and parcel of the samethe same pattern part and parcel of thesame drive to put black folks back intheir place I mean that's what NathanBedford force was about black folksthought they could be freeblack folks can't be freeblack folks thought that they were equalblack folks can't be equal and so whenyou think about that as the signal asthe public-facing signalwhat it says to the rest of thecommunityis is a is a is a kind of violence ofviolence on your own Humanityand and this other Vision that theJustins are talking about is a visionthat recognizes and Embraces ourhumanity and that that that finds a wayfor us to be able to live into that fullHumanity not to have this exclusion thiscontrolum because part of what you're seeing inthese these legislatures is is a drivefor control to put all the things backin their place so black folks need to goback in their place women need to goback in their place immigrants need togo back in their place the lgbtqcommunity needs to go back in theirplacethat drive to put things back in theirplacethe push the counterweight has been nono and you heard it when they said noguilty guilty guiltyProfessor Anderson I want to ask aboutyour new documentary I too I want toplay first a clip of the trailerwere you taught the Hamburg massacre inschool noyou looked across the river all youcould see is a jungleas African-Americans you got to go findit yourself you got to go research itbecause you're going to miss it becausethey're not telling youthat's the original cross the bulletholesso you have this church that isproviding sanctuary and protection tothose who are being chased out of theirhomes now that is biblical when ithappened he hit underneath the streetcarand so you can look underneath the carand see people hitting the streethere they're sitting in this circle andthey would grab someone and they'd takethem over a hill and you'd hear gunshotwe have no idea how many black peoplewere murdered some of these records wereintentionally not kept and some thingshave oddly enough Gone Missing[Music]so that is the a clip of the trailer forthe new film about you I too you'retalking there about the Hamburg MassacreI'm wondering if you can elaborate onthat and also the attack onAfrican-American history on Americanhistory across this country where youhave Missouri the house voting to defundthe libraries because if they can't havetheir Books banned they don't want thelibraries open as in Llano Texas they'resaying if a judge forces them to putthem back just close the libraries yourecently wrote a piece in the WashingtonPost titled Florida's pass paints Rondesantis's war on wokism in a dark lightput it all together for us ProfessorAndersonso a part of this pattern that we'retalking about there's also the attack onHistory the attack on knowledge becauseof people who knows their historyoh then they're thinking in in very newvibrant ways when you know what whereyou come from when you know the violencethat has been rained down on communitiesit begins to shatter those those verytraditional political narratives so oneof the things we did in that film was tolink the January 6th Insurrection withthe coup in Wilmington North Carolinawhere you had a multi-racial governmentin the late 1890s that was overthrown bywhite supremacists where you had blackfolks slaughteredwhere you had the the the the thenewspaper for the the black newspaperburned down and trashedwhere in Hamburg you had black the blackmilitia marching on January 4th DownMarket Street and you had two white mencome up behind them just angry thatblack men were in uniformand and demanded that that they disbandand then demanded that they hand overtheir guns to themthis is a state militiaand and when the black soldiers said nothey were massacred massacred but whenwe don't know these histories then we'reable to talk about we're able to seeAmerican as as white and male uh aspatriotism as white and male as as asthe folks who are fighting for thiscountry as white and male but what we'rereally seeing is that you have had blackfolks believing in America even whenAmerica didn't believe in them you hadblack folks fighting for America whenAmerica wouldn't fight for themand you have black folks just justpushing this nation to be stronger to bebetter to live up to its ideals and thatis what you saw in Tennessee in thelegislature when the Justin stood up andspoke the truthand Rhonda Santos if you can talk aboutthe significancies not only of coursegovernor of Florida but is probablyrunning for president and he's runningon that platform of basicallyanti-blacknessanti-lgbtq and anti-whim anti-woman soyou've got him pushing for the six-weekabortion ban I believe he signed off onthat you had the the scuttling of theAfrican-American studies uh AP coursebecause it lacked educational valueum and you had the attack on Disneybecause Disney said you know lgbtq folkare folkum and that is a radical idea and so yousee him attacking attacking attackingbecause the marginalizedapparently in his world view don't havethe power to fight backand that platform is soracist homophobicand disgustingand it is part of that that Narrative oftrying to bring back control I thinkabout the old Archie Bunker songum the days when men were men and girlswere girls and you knew who you werethenum wouldn't we like to go back to thosegreat old days again it's hearkeningback to a past that wasn't so greatbecause it was violently exclusionarybecause it undermined democracy and sowhat we're seeing is a full-blownassault on Democracy we're also seeingthat full-blown assault on Democracy bygoing after the rule of law threateningjudges threatening prosecutors who aretrying to bring Justice to those whohave allegedly broken the lawso all of these are factoring in theassault on education The Assault onknowledge The Assault on access toreproductive care The Assault on on onon on the right to vote by raising thesebarriers and thenopening up full-blown access to guns tothe violence that those guns bring andto craft it in that language of crimecrime crime which has that sub-tone ofBlackness Blackness Blackness it's it'sit's it's a it's a a formula it's arecipeand it's a it's an authoritarian recipeit is an anti-democratic recipeand it is a recipe that you have youngfolk pushing back fighting back and andand one of the things that is consistentin American historyis that that right-wing authoritarianismis always met with a larger bettervision of what America could be and thatis what we're seeing right now a battlefor that Vision there's the Ron DeSantisvisionand then there's the Justin Pearson andJustin Jones visionand finally going back to Justin Pearsonand Justin Jones I couldn't helpcontinually this past week of but thinkof the title of your book one person novote the issue of gerrymandering allover this country these hyperum uh super majorities in states whereactually the state itself is evenlydivided but because of gerrymanderingand what you have in Tennesseethese men it was not only they who wereexpelled it was all the people who votedfor them this wasn't like getting firedfrom your employment in a store theywere electedright and and oddly enough or orironically enough Tennessee was the siteof that massive Supreme Court decisionthat laid out one person one votebecause of the ways that white ruralconservative counties haddisproportionate power in the statelegislature vis-a-vis Nashville andMemphisand because of a series of Supreme Courtdecisions subsequent Supreme Courtdecisions particularly Shelby CountyBeholder in 2013 these states have beenable to hyper partisan gerrymander againand this is the result so when you havesomething like 70 percent or so of ofAmericans wanting to have sensible gunsafety legislation but you have alegislature that is built on Extremepartisan gerrymandering where theyappear to be immune from the will of thepeopleyou don't you're not getting that kindof legislative response and that is whythe bullhorn came up because you hadyoung folk saying to theirrepresentativeswe need gun safety legislation we do notneed to be in a space in our workplacewhere we are being gunned downand the response from that legislaturewas they were concerned about theirdecorum being disrupted because peoplewere responding to the needs of thosepeopleto the needs of those young folk whowere out in the Hallsso extreme partisan gerrymandering isit is so anti-democratic so anti oneperson one vote and the result is isthat you've got a society that believesin Reproductive Rights a society thatbelieves in the right to vote a societythat believes in gun safety legislationand you have legislatorswho aren't responsive to the wants andthe needs and the desires of the peoplewell Carol Anderson I want to thank youfor being with us we'll continue thisdiscussion Carol Anderson is professorat Emory University in Atlanta author ofthe second race and guns and a fatallyunequal America the paperback editionhas just been published also author ofone person no vote how voter suppressionis destroying our democracy and the bookWhite rage the unspoken truth of ourracial divide