Maine is the Whitest State in America

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Dec 28, 2007.

  1. Principessa

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    Threat in Maine, the Whitest State, Shakes Local N.A.A.C.P.

    By ABBY GOODNOUGH

    BANGOR, Me. — In October, the N.A.A.C.P. chapter for northern Maine got shocking news. A man from a nearby town had threatened to shoot “any and all black persons” attending the group’s meetings at an old stone church here, and state prosecutors were worried enough to seek a restraining order.

    Such remarks are not unheard of in Maine, the nation’s whitest state, which has fewer black residents — 10,918 in 2006, or less than 1 percent of the population, according to the Census Bureau — than some neighborhoods of Chicago or New York. But nor are they usually so blunt. The chapter has since held meetings at police stations and canceled its annual Kwanzaa celebration, which normally draws people from up and down the coast of Maine.

    “It’s discouraging and it’s heart-wrenching,” said Joseph Perry, president of the chapter, which has 175 members from Augusta to the Canadian border. “There are still people who aren’t comfortable, who don’t feel safe.”

    The man who made the threat was Kendrick Sawyer, 75, whose doctor at a veterans hospital in Augusta reported it to the police. Mr. Sawyer also said that Maine “should be a ‘white’ state,” according to court documents, and that he owned a .45-caliber handgun. No criminal charges have been filed, but law enforcement officers removed the gun from Mr. Sawyer’s home in Brewer, across a river from Bangor, and the Maine attorney general’s office filed a civil complaint against him.

    “This man’s threat was shocking in its specificity and the anger it contained,” said Thomas Harnett, the assistant attorney general for civil rights education and enforcement. “It’s not often you see something articulated so clearly and so filled with acknowledged prejudice.”

    Still, Mr. Harnett said his office received 250 to 300 reports of bias incidents every year from around the state, most of them racially motivated.

    Many come from Lewiston, where more than 3,000 Somali immigrants have settled in recent years. In July 2006, a group of Somalis were worshiping in a storefront mosque there when a white man rolled the head of a pig, an animal considered unclean in Islam, across the floor. And last month, a Somali student at Lewiston High School said, a white man threw sand and dirt in his face as he ran at a cross-country meet.

    Last year, a white man shouted racial slurs at a pregnant black woman in Hancock, near Bangor, and kicked her in the abdomen, according to Mr. Harnett’s office. And in March, Assata Sherrill, a black resident of Bangor, told the police that three white boys had thrown stones and shouted racial epithets at her as she walked her dog near the city’s waterfront.
    Ms. Sherrill — who lives here with her teenage daughter, a high school senior who “hates every minute of it” and wants to attend historically black Spelman College in Atlanta — says she moved to Maine from Detroit in search of tranquillity. After the attack on her, she organized a series of community forums to discuss race issues in Maine. This month she held an alternative Kwanzaa celebration after Mr. Sawyer’s threat led the N.A.A.C.P. to cancel its larger version.

    “I’m not about to stop living and holding celebrations because somebody else is sick,” Ms. Sherrill said. “As long as your skin is black and you live in the United States of America, you are going to be confronted.”

    This month a state judge signed an order barring Mr. Sawyer from threatening, using violence against or even speaking to any of the chapter’s members. It also requires him to stay at least 150 feet away from anywhere the N.A.A.C.P. meets. A hearing has been delayed for six months while Mr. Sawyer gets medical treatment and counseling, Mr. Harnett said. Ms. Sherrill said that from her perspective, Mainers were not so much racist as insular and suspicious of anyone from, as they put it, “away.”

    “Anybody from away, regardless of color or whatever, is different,” she said.

    Mr. Harnett said that he did not think Maine “more hateful” than other states but that it was perhaps better at encouraging people to report bias incidents.

    “Because we have these systems in place,” he said, “we are more aware of what’s happening and more responsive to what’s happening.”

    Mr. Harnett’s office provides civil rights training to more than 3,000 student volunteers a year, organizing them into teams to address incidents of bias and harassment in the state’s public schools. Many of the state’s hate crimes are committed by young men in their teens and early 20s, he said, so the training starts in elementary school.

    Bangor, a city of 31,000 people, does not yet have a civil rights team at its high school, the largest in the state.

    “I find that rather amazing,” said Mr. Perry, the local N.A.A.C.P. official.

    Mr. Perry said his chapter had been inundated with supportive calls and letters since the October threat. He thinks membership may even rise as a result. Only about 35 percent of the chapter’s current members are black, he said, and he wants to see more.

    “We’re active,” Mr. Perry said, “but not as active as I would like. We want to get more people involved, do more things.”

    Next year, he said, the Bangor chapter may hold a joint Kwanzaa celebration with its counterpart in Portland, which covers the state’s southern region. Until then, he will search for ways to get people talking more frankly about racial tension in Maine.

    “Something like this pops up,” he said, “and you realize you have a longer way to go. You can’t just say it was one of those crazy things that will never happen again.”
     
  2. tal94

    tal94 New Member

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    Jeez! :eek: What is the NAACP anyway?
     
  3. Sixofspades

    Sixofspades New Member

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    Yeah, I went to UMaine, they sure were pale up there. Not me though. I, uh, tan well.
     
  4. sjprep06

    sjprep06 New Member

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    [SIZE=-1]National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

    www.naacp.org

    Somehow, I'm really not surprised to hear that....[/SIZE]
     
  5. Principessa

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    N.A.A.C.P.

    Our Mission

    The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.
    Vision Statement

    The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination.
    Objectives

    The following statement of objectives is found on the first page of the NAACP Constitution — the principal objectives of the Association shall be:
    • To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens
    • To achieve equality of rights and eliminate race prejudice among the citizens of the United States
    • To remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes
    • To seek enactment and enforcement of federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights
    • To inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination
    • To educate persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action to secure the exercise thereof, and to take any other lawful action in furtherance of these objectives, consistent with the NAACP's Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution.
     
  6. tal94

    tal94 New Member

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    Ah OK. Am not trying to be a smartarse, so don't take this the wrong way but in England it is considered taboo to use the word 'coloured'. Is that different in the US, or is just that this organisation is a historic body, so its name predates that?
     
  7. Principessa

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    Yes, that is correct they were started back in the early 1900's when colored was an acceptable term.
     
  8. tal94

    tal94 New Member

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    that makes sense
     
  9. D_Sir Fitzwilly Wankheimer III

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    So what's your point?
     
  10. tal94

    tal94 New Member

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    just never heard of NAACP and was interested in it, no fuss. surely better if people learn about these things
     
  11. Principessa

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    That's what I figured. Most people are shocked to find out the horrible race based crimes that still go on in America.
     
  12. tal94

    tal94 New Member

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    Sadly not. A young Asian lad got murdered the other day in England in a hate crime
     
  13. Principessa

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    I heard about that on the BBC America. So tragic:frown1:
     
  14. B_cigarbabe

    B_cigarbabe New Member

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    This kind of shit happens everywhere,everyday.
    It happens in places where, you'd think the people would be civilised and know better,and it happens in rural,backwater counties down south.
    I believe, it happens in all countries not just against blacks,but against whomever is the minority in any given environment.
    I also find it to be especially despicable, in this day and age, when you only have to be ignorant, if you desire to.
    cigarbabe:saevil:
     
  15. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Uh.... Blacks comprise only .6&#37; of Vermont's population. That's 2,495 black people living in Vermont per the US Census Bureau. Maine has more black people than Vermont.
     
  16. SpeedoGuy

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    We can thank the Right Wing Noise Machie for persistently demonizing the NAACP and spreading mis-information about it whenever, whereever, however.
     
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