deport the pilgrims

April 30, 2008 at 8:21 pm (anti-oppression)

Like to go visit voxunion.com every once and a while. Especially since I am back in the DC metro area. And believe it or not my northern VA country was represented. So shout outs.

Also have listened to my brother’s new (to me) album. It is hot. Maybe we will start selling it on the website.

Prince William County, VA, USA, Earth

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news from the land of katrina

April 28, 2008 at 5:23 am (anti-oppression, new orleans, prisons, racism)

Dear God,

What is going on in this world?  How are they ever going to be able to give this much money 35, 000, 100,000, 150, 000 dollars back to the government?  They want to take away their homes so that a corporation keeps it stock prices nice.  Nice.  I am so sad.  And how can Nagin look at the incredilbe homeless population and say that the answer is to make it illegal to sleep in public areas?  How does that solve the homeless problem?  I cant imagine how can he sleep at night?  Well, I guess he is sleeping in a house.

10. KATRINA VICTIMS MAY HAVE TO REPAY MONEY ( GULF COAST , U.S. )

By John Moreno Gonzales
The Associated Press
Sunday 30 March 2008

New Orleans – Imagine that your home was reduced to mold and wood framing by Hurricane Katrina. Desperate for money to rebuild, you engage in a frustrating bureaucratic process, and after months of living in a government-provided trailer tainted with formaldehyde you finally win a federal grant.

Then a collector calls with the staggering news that you have to pay back thousands of dollars.

Thousands of Katrina victims may be in that situation.

A private contractor under investigation for the compensation it received to run the Road Home grant program for Katrina victims says that in the rush to deliver aid to homeowners in need some people got too much. Now it wants to hire a separate company to collect millions in grant overpayments.

The contractor, ICF International of Fairfax, Va., revealed the extent of the overpayments when it issued a March 11 request for bids from companies willing to handle “approximately 1,000 to 5,000 cases that will necessitate collection effort.”

The bid invitation said: “The average amount to be collected is estimated to be approximately $35,000, but in some cases may be as high as $100,000 to $150,000.”

The biggest grant amount allowed by the Road Home program is $150,000, so ICF believes it paid some recipients the maximum when they should not have received a penny. If ICF’s highest estimate of 5,000 collection cases – overpaid by an average of $35,000 – proves to be true, that means applicants will have to pay back a total of $175 million.

One-third of qualified applicants for Road Home help had yet to receive any rebuilding check as of this past week. The program, which has come to symbolize the lurching Katrina recovery effort, is financed by $11 billion in federal funds.

ICF spokeswoman Gentry Brann said in an e-mail Friday that the overpayments are the inevitable result of the Road Home grant being recalculated to account for insurance money and government aid given to Katrina victims.

Brann said there was a sense of urgency in paying Road Home applicants, and ICF and the state knew applicants would have to return some money.

“The choice was either to process grants immediately or wait until the March 2008 deadline (for submitting Road Home applications) before disbursing any funds,” Brann said in her e-mail.

Brann pointed out that 5,000 collections cases would represent a 4-percent error rate for the Road Home that is “quite good for large federal programs.”

Frank Silvestri, co-chair of the Citizen’s Road Home Action Team, a group that formed out of frustrations with ICF, sees it far differently.

“They want people to pay for their incompetence and their mistakes. What they need to be is aggressive about finding the underpayments,” he said. “People relied, to their detriment, on their (ICFs) expertise and rebuilt their houses and now they want to squeeze this money back out of them.”

The prospect of Road Home grant collections comes less than two weeks after the Louisiana inspector general and the legislative auditor said they were investigating why former Gov. Kathleen Blanco paid ICF an extra $156 million in her waning days in office to administer the program. With the increase, ICF stands to earn $912 million to run Road Home, a contract that also sweetened its initial public stock offering, and helped it buy out four other companies. It now reaches into government contracting sectors that include national defense and the environment.

Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state body that asked for the Blanco-ICF investigations, acknowledged the collections could be painful for applicants, many of whom have used up their nest eggs to rebuild.

“The state must walk a fine line of treating homeowners who have been overpaid with fairness and compassion and ensuring that all federal funds are used for their intended purpose,” said Rainwater, an appointee of new Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Upon receiving money from Road Home, grantees sign a batch of forms, including one that says they must refund any overpayments.

Melanie Ehrlich, co-chair of Citizen’s Road Home Action Team, which has documented Road Home cases that appear littered with mistakes, said she had no confidence that ICF had correctly calculated overpayments. She charged that the company was more likely using collections as retribution against people who had appealed their award amounts in effort to get the aid they deserved.

“I think they are looking for ways to decrease awards and that’s part of dissuading people,” she said.

Brann said applicants are told an appeal could boost or diminish their award. She called Ehrlich’s charge “a totally unfounded assertion.”

=====================================================

11. NEW ORLEANS HOMELESS RATE SWELLS TO 1 IN 25 ( NEW ORLEANS , LA )

By Rick Jervis, USA TODAY

NEW ORLEANS — The homeless population of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina has reached unprecedented levels for a U.S. city: one in 25 residents.

An estimated 12,000 homeless accounts for 4% of New Orleans ‘ estimated population of 302,000, according to the homeless advocacy group UNITY of Greater New Orleans. The number is nearly double the pre-Katrina homeless count, the group says.

‘ROUGH GOING’: Homeless still feeling Katrina’s wrath

The New Orleans ‘ rate is more than four times that of most U.S. cities, which have homeless populations of under 1%, said Michael Stoops, executive director of the Washington-based National Coalition for the Homeless. The cities with homeless rates closest to that of New Orleans are Atlanta (1.4%) and Washington (0.95%), he said.

A USA TODAY 2005 survey of 460 localities showed one in 400 Americans on average were homeless.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin appealed to federal lawmakers this past week to provide funds and housing vouchers to help the city’s homeless problem.

The percentage of New Orleans’ homeless is one of the highest recorded since U.S. housing officials began tracking homelessness in the mid-1980s, said Dennis Culhane, a University of Pennsylvania professor who has studied homeless trends for more than 20 years.

“In a modern urban U.S. city, we’ve never seen it,” he said of New Orleans ‘ homeless rate.

Many of the homeless are Katrina evacuees who returned to unaffordable rents or who slipped through the cracks of the federal system designed to provide temporary housing after the storm, said Mike Miller, UNITY’s director of supportive housing placement.

There are also out-of-state workers who came for the post-Katrina rebuilding boom but lost their jobs, and mentally ill residents in need of services and medication, he said. Many of the city’s outreach homeless centers and public mental health services have been closed since Katrina.

Nagin has pledged to move the homeless from encampments around the city to more permanent shelters. Last year, the city and humanitarian groups found shelter for nearly all of the 250 people living in an encampment across from City Hall.

Nagin has suggested reinstating a city ordinance that would make it illegal to sleep in public places. Homeless advocates say the law would just crowd the jails.

“It just shows a real disconnect” between the city and the problem, said James Perry, head of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. “The answer is not going to be jails.”

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rape and race

April 28, 2008 at 5:09 am (anti-racism, anti-sexism, women of color)

RAPE AND RACE: WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT: REMIXING THE RACIAL RULE OF SILENCE

Rape and Race: We Have to Talk About It
April 10, 2008 — Remixing the racial rule of silence.
By Melissa Harris-Lacewell
TheRoot.com
Updated: 12:29 PM ET Apr 9, 2008

I witnessed something truly astonishing on Monday night: a public discussion of black women’s experiences of sexual violence at the hands of black men.  It was an intergenerational group of black men and women, gay and straight, survivors and perpetrators, all grappling with the legacy of rape and race.

The experience was unusual because black people rarely talk about sisters being raped. We talk about all kinds of things: trivial, critical, humorous, serious, political, painful and frivolous. But as we observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, I am reminded that there are things we don’t talk about.

We are silent about black women as victims and survivors of sexual assault by black men.

In African American communities rape narratives are not women’s stories.  They are men’s stories.  Rape is tied to the historical legacy of white terror.  Strange fruit hanging from Southern trees has led to a legacy of disbelieving women who report sexual violence and intimidation.

Black women raped by black male perpetrators often remain silent because they are alone. They don’t want to confirm white racial stereotypes; their own families and communities tell them to shut up; they have little reason to think that authorities will take their cases seriously; they fear the devastating ramifications of a manhunt in black communities if they are believed; and in the history of lynching, white women have been adversaries, not allies, on the question of rape.

Recovering from rape is burden enough without having to shoulder this vicious legacy.

I do not want to diminish or deny the pain, agony, recovery and triumph of survivors who are not black women.  I do not want to claim that all black women survivors have parallel experiences or that all black women experience the same traumas in the aftermath of rape. I only want to claim there is often a different dynamic that operates for black women who have been violated by black men.As a sexual assault survivor and advocate I know the debilitating effects of silence.

That is why I was so moved by Monday night’s gathering in Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn , NY .  Together we watched Aishah Shahidah Simmons’ NO! The Rape Documentary. Then Simmons, who is herself a rape and incest survivor, talked with us and answered questions to help us process the grief, anger and confusion that her exquisite film provoked.

But here was the most surprising part of all: the gathering was organized by a community group called Black and Male in America. Under the leadership of writer, activist and Congressional candidate Kevin Powell, this group of men arranged a screening of Simmons’ powerful film.  Let me say this again.  A group of black men arranged for an honest, difficult, intense, public discussion of intra-racial rape.

Filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons revealed that it has been difficult to find wide distribution for her film because so few people want to grapple with black women’s sexual victimization.  Simmons was joined on the panel by Kevin Powell and Quentin Walcott from ConnectNYC.  Sitting next to these men, Simmons acknowledged that brothers from the hip-hop generation, a generation that has been critiqued as universally commercial and misogynist, have been among her strongest supporters.

Simmons said, “It’s also very important for me to note that this and many other community-based screenings that have been organized by Black men are men from the hip-hop generation. I share this because there are many justifiable critiques of hip-hop. However, hands down, the overwhelming majority of the men who have supported NO! and spread the word about NO! are from the hip-hop generation.”

Organizer Kevin Powell is certainly a central figure of the hip-hop generation.  As a first season Real World cast member, Powell helped usher in the age of reality TV. As a writer and poet he has reflected on and critiqued hip-hop. Powell also has his own difficult past as a perpetrator of domestic violence.  But rather than being silent and demanding silence from others, Powell has written movingly about his own awakening from violence.  On Monday night he and other men of this Brooklyn organization helped provide space for sexual assault survivors to speak and be heard.We are right to focus on and criticize the elements of hip-hop that are complicit in the violence, abuse and degradation of black women.  But we are also compelled to acknowledge the possibility that some men of the hip-hop generation just might have something to teach their elders about passing the mic and being quiet while sisters share their stories. Maybe, just maybe, this generation of men will create a different path.

Reflecting on what this new path might look like Powell said,

“What we’ve found in our work with black males is that many of us brothers are completely clueless about what manhood should be. So we swallow whole what society, our communities, our families, our fathers, and, yes, our mothers, tell us it is, even if that definition leads us to hurt or destroy black females or other black males. Or ourselves. There is a growing recognition, now, among many hip-hop generation black women thinkers, leaders, and artists, and a growing number of us black male counterparts, that if we do not deal with the multiple insanities we as a community have internalized, then we are doomed as a community. It is really that serious.

“Monday night’s event helped us to remember that rape is complicated by race.  For many black women there is a sense of betrayal that exists alongside the personal humiliation, pain and fear. Intra-racial rape can feel like a rift between a woman and her people. The survivor is cast into silence not so much a by a desire to protect those men who perpetrated, but to protect the black men in her life who she loves, respects and trusts. As Simmons’ NO! reminds us, survivors often feel that by fingering the attacker we might somehow accuse our own fathers, husbands, friends and sons of possessing this same capacity for violence.

So it makes a huge difference for black men to stand with us and encourage us to tell.  The Brooklyn gathering was a model of how black men can help create safe spaces for us.  It was a reminder that men can exert power and reclaim manhood by standing with black women, bearing witness to our stories and holding one another accountable. It was a testament to the reality that men can stop rape by saying NO!

Melissa Harris-Lacewell is associate professor of politics and African American studies at Princeton University .

URL: http://www.theroot.com/id/45744

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resonance of racism

April 25, 2008 at 2:44 am (anti-racism)

and once someone says an accusation that just resonates so clearly with their audience…they keep using that accusation and the racism keeps perpetuating itself…
los angeles times…
In a nation steeped in stereotypes, candidates’ words can hit a nerve.
By David K. Shipler
April 16, 2008

Whether by calculation or coincidence, Hillary Clinton and Republicans who have attacked Barack Obama for elitism have struck a chord in a long-standing symphony of racial codes. It is a rebuke that gets magnified by historic beliefs about what blacks are and what they have no right to be.

Clinton is no racist, and Obama has made some real missteps, including his remark last week that “bitter” small-town Americans facing economic hardship and government indifference “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” Perhaps he was being more sociological than political, and more sympathetic than condescending. But when his opponents branded him an elitist and an outsider, his race made it easier to drive a wedge between him and the white, rural voters he has courted. As an African American, he was supposedly looking down from a place he didn’t belong and looking in from a distance he could not cross.

This could not happen as dramatically were it not for embedded racial attitudes. “Elitist” is another word for “arrogant,” which is another word for “uppity,” that old calumny applied to blacks who stood up for themselves.

At the bottom of the American psyche, race is still about power, and blacks who move up risk triggering discomfort among some whites. I’ve met black men who, when stopped by white cops at night, think the best protection is to act dumb and deferential.

Furthermore, casting Obama as “out of touch” plays harmoniously with the traditional notion of blacks as “others” at the edge of the mainstream, separate from the whole. Despite his ability to articulate the frustration and yearning of broad segments of Americans, his “otherness” has been highlighted effectively by right-wingers who harp on his Kenyan father and spread false rumors that he’s a clandestine Muslim.

In a country so changed that a biracial man who is considered black has a shot at the presidency, the subterranean biases are much less discernible now than when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. They are subtle, unacknowledged and unacceptable in polite company. But they lurk below, lending resonance to the criticisms of Obama. Black professionals know the double standard. They are often labeled negatively for traits deemed positive in whites: A white is assertive, a black is aggressive; a white is resolute, a black is pushy; a white is candid, a black is abrasive; a white is independent, a black is not a team player. Prejudice is a shape shifter, adapting to acceptable forms.

So although Obama’s brilliance defies the stubborn stereotype of African Americans as unintelligent, there is a companion to that image — doubts about blacks’ true capabilities — that may heighten concerns about his inexperience. Through the racial lens, a defect can be enlarged into a disability. He is “not ready,” a phrase employed often when blacks are up for promotion.

When Clinton mocked Obama for the supposed emptiness of his eloquence, the chiding had a faint historical echo from Thomas Jefferson’s musings in “Notes on the State of Virginia” that “in music they are more generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune and time,” but “one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid.”

This slander that blacks had more show than substance was handed down through later generations as a body-mind dichotomy, with physical and mental prowess as opposites. Overt “compliments” — they’ve got rhythm, they can dance, they can jump — were paired with the silent assumption of inferior intellect.

Clinton surely had no racial intent, but none is needed for a racial impact. In a society long steeped in stereotypes, such comments reverberate. The incessant loop of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. cursing America and repeating old conspiracy theories has revived fears of black anger among whites whose threshold of tolerance for such rage has always been low. No matter that Obama seems anything but angry. A few sentences from his pastor are enough to incite such anxieties.

The nation is testing how its racial attitudes have evolved. As the campaign continues, we are likely to be both pleased and disappointed with ourselves.

David K. Shipler is the author of “A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America” and “The Working Poor: Invisible in America.”

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doll test

April 24, 2008 at 11:09 pm (anti-racism)

I would be really interested to see the results of a similar doll test done in various countries of Africa.  I am wondering if the black children would still choose the white doll for all the positive words.  I know people are supposed to be outraged by the results of the doll test.  But I am not.  We are constantly surrounded by the association of white with good and pretty.  I remember it growing up with my white best friend who reiterated that Black was negative, dirty, unfavorable.  Honestly I cant imagine that alot of people in the black community in the States could be surprised by the results.  I wonder if in the eastern Congo little kids would rather play with the white doll than the black one.  How deep is global racism?

And then thinking about raising a daughter in this pernicious culture.  I remember coming out of toddlerhood and into elementary school (predominantly white) and realizing early on that my parents did not understand the social rules that we lived by in school.  It felt like there was one set of rules inside my home and a completely different set in school.  And that it was important that I know which rules applied to which situation.

And when it came to rules around race, the rules in school were that white was better than black.  prettier than black.  more appealing than black.  But, haha!, I had a natural curiosity and genius and even though my teachers treated whites as if they were smarter than black, I was determined that I was smarter than anyone, white or black.  Looking back I can see how that sometimes caused resentment in my teachers who became miffed when I outshone their chosen favorites.  But I didnt care.
Well, flash forward and I am now a mother and I hope my daughter is steeped in the beauty of dark baby dolls and dark skin people.  I hope that at the ages when I was becoming so aware of the social hierachy  she sees that beauty is real, beauty is important, and beauty is  goodness is truth and even white supremacy cannot destroy beauty.

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ecoliving

April 22, 2008 at 10:34 pm (anti-oppression, Motherhood)

damali ayo’s ecoliving.  i would definitely appreciate a lot less classist suggestions on her list for ‘going green’.  but some of teh suggestions sound like fun.  i would like to learn more about permaculture and have a reason not to rake leaves.

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black brown green

April 22, 2008 at 10:09 pm (anti-oppression)

The BBG Philosophy partners the 12 principles of Permaculture with the 6 principles and 6 steps of Nonviolent Social Change to create an outline for living the best lives we can and creating the healthiest future for our world. We don’t reinvent the wheel. We build connections between cooperating wheels to create smooth-running, interconnected, powerful gears. To this end, we don’t re-write or re-create. We pair and partner to bolster communities, combine goals and strengthen our culture as a whole.

The 12 partnered principles are:

1. Observe and Interact + Gather Information.

2. Catch and Store Energy + Educate Others.

3. Obtain a Yield + Choose Loving Solutions, Not Hateful Ones.

4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback + Remain Committed.

5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services + Peacefully Negotiate.

6. Produce No Waste + The Entire Universe Embraces and Deserves Justice.

7. Design from Patterns to Details +Take Action Peacefully.

8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate + Defeat Injustice, Not People.

9. Use Small and Slow Solutions + Reconcile.

10. Use and Value Diversity + Seek Friendship and Understanding Among Those Who are Different from You.

11. Use Edges And Value The Marginal + Suffering Can Educate and Transform People and Societies.

12. Creatively Use And Respond To Change +This Is A Way Of Life For Courageous People.

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goodnight aime cesaire

April 22, 2008 at 9:50 pm (africa, anti-oppression, anti-racism, democratic republic of congo, poetry)

Aime Cesaire is dead/  His movement: negritude  was the philosophic and poetic expression of black self-love and self-pride.  And he was one of the messenger across continents maintaining our as blacks cultural discourse among the diaspora and Africa.  Cultural workers sucha as Aime throughout the centuries, especially in the post-slavery twentieth century created languages and fed communities throughout.  He was inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, born in the Carribbean-Martinique, and wrote about the Congo and Lumumba.

His writing gave me my first glimpses of Blackness and even though I disagree with some of articulations and interpretations of Black identity, i am grateful for the language the images the voice of a fierce Romanticism of the Black experience.

So goodnight.

check out The Root

and below: the Associate Press

Martinique poet Aime Cesaire dies at 94
By HERVE BRIVAL
From Associated Press

FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique (AP) — Aime Cesaire, a poet honored
throughout the French-speaking world and a crusader for West Indian
rights, has died at 94.

Cesaire died Thursday after at a Fort-de-France hospital where he was
being treated for heart problems and other ailments, said government
spokeswoman Marie Michele Darsieres.

He was one of the most celebrated cultural figures in the Caribbean
and was revered in his native Martinique, which sent him to France’s
parliament for nearly half a century and repeatedly elected him mayor
of the capital.

Cesaire helped found the “Black Student” journal in Paris in the
1930s that launched the idea of “negritude,” urging blacks to
cultivate pride in their heritage. His 1950 “Discourse on
Colonialism” became a classic of French political literature.

French Culture Minister Christine Albanel said Cesaire “imbued the
French language with his liberty and his revolt.”

“He made (the French language) beat to the rhythm of his spells, his
cries, his appeals to overcome oppression, invoking the soul of
subjugated peoples to urge the living to raise themselves up,” she
said.

His best known works included the essay “Negro I am, Negro I Will
Remain” and the poem “Notes From a Return to the Native Land.”

Cesaire was born June 26, 1913, in Basse-Pointe, Martinique and moved
to France for high school and university studies. He graduated from
one of the country’s most elite institutes, the Ecole Normale
Superieure.

Cesaire returned to Martinique during World War II and taught at a
high school in Fort-de-France, where he served as mayor from 1945 to
2001, except for a blip in 1983-84.

Even political rivals paid him homage.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy successfully led a campaign last
year to change the name of Martinique’s airport in honor of Cesaire,
despite the poet’s refusal to meet him in the run-up to the 2007
French elections. Cesaire endorsed Sarkozy’s Socialist rival,
Segolene Royal.

Cesaire complained that Sarkozy had endorsed a 2005 French bill
citing the “positive role” of colonialism. Cesaire spoke ardently
against the measure’s language, and it was later removed after
complaints from former French colonies and France’s overseas
territories.

“I remain faithful to my beliefs and remain inflexibly
anti-colonialist, ” Cesaire said in a statement at the time.

Sarkozy on Thursday praised Cesaire as “a great poet” and a “great humanist.”

“As a free and independent spirit, throughout his whole life he
embodied the fight for the recognition of his identity and the
richness of his African roots,” Sarkozy said. “Through his universal
call for the respect of human dignity, consciousness and
responsibility, he will remain a symbol of hope for all oppressed
peoples.”

Royal called him “an eminent symbol of a mixed-race France” and urged
that he be buried in the Pantheon, where French heroes from Victor
Hugo
to Marie and Pierre Curie are interred.

“A great voice has died out, that of a man of conviction, of
creation, of testimony, who awakened consciousness throughout his
life, blasted apart hypocrisies, brought hope to all who were
humiliated, and was a tireless fighter for human dignity,” Royal said.

Cesaire was the honorary president of her support committee during
the presidential campaign.

Cesaire was affiliated with the French Communist Party early in his
career but became disillusioned in the 1950s and founded the
Martinique Progressive Party in 1958. He later allied with the
Socialist Party in France’s National Assembly, where he served from
1946-1956 and 1958-1993.

Associated Press writer Angela Doland in Paris, France, contributed
to this report.

You can compromise on strategy and tactics, but not on principles.” (Barack Obama)

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happy earth day

April 22, 2008 at 9:29 pm (anti-oppression, mexico)

So Happy Earth Day folks! It is rainy here in Washington, DC. The Pennsylvania primaries are happening. And now…a little inspiration to continue envisioning and enacting global justice….

interview with majora carter here

and cynthia mckinney below:

Cynthia McKinney
> Earth Day Celebration
> California State University, Northridge
> April 15, 2008
>
> I would like to thank the students at Cal State University,
> Northridge for inviting me to speak on campus today. I have just
> returned from an exciting trip to Mexico City and I’d like to share
> some of my observations with you this afternoon.
>
> First of all, it is important to note and ask the question why is it
> that the corporate press are not even touching the events playing
> out right now in the capital city of our neighbor to the south and
> their importance to us? Had I not actually been there myself, I
> would be hard pressed to convince any audience that events of this
> magnitude were actually taking place anywhere in the world, let
> alone in a country as important and close to us as Mexico.
>
> A quick review of today’s press shows us that we are currently being
> titillated by news of sex tapes featuring Marilyn Monroe and another
> such tape featuring an unnamed British Royal. The top of the news
> hour greets us with information of an intemperate statement made by
> a former television executive about a current Presidential
> candidate; video is plentiful of the contorted Presidential
> theatrics around the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in Beijing. We
> were treated today to the visual of the Pope descending from the
> Alitalia jet. But, while we have more television stations that feed
> us 24-hour news, we are less informed. We have more and more
> political pundits feeding us, what Fred Hampton described as
> “explanations that don’t explain, answers that don’t answer, and
> conclusions that don’t conclude.”
>
> CNN even tells us in a feature story who suffers as a result of a
> choice made by our policy makers to emphasize ethanol as a preferred
> method of weaning a hulking, overfed economy off its petroleum-based
> consumption habit. But they forgot the other half of that equation:
> who’s winning? And it’s the “who’s winning” part that is just about
> always the key piece of information, that could guide us, especially
> when the choices of our elected leadership diverge from the core
> values of the voters who elected them.
>
> And yet, as we speak, the Mexican Senate Chamber has been occupied.
> The massive rally held today has probably just ended, and some of
> the opposition Members of the Mexican Congress are inside the
> building on the dais and have announced a hunger strike. Days ago,
> one of the leading papers in Mexico City had a photo of the Chamber
> of Deputies of the Mexican Congress with an unfurled banner covering
> the Speaker’s Rostrum, proclaiming the Chamber “Closed.” The banner
> was hung by elected Members of the Mexican Congress who constitute
> the Frente Amplio Progresista that has dared to draw a line in the
> sand against U.S.-inspired legislation just introduced to allow
> foreign corporate ownership of PEMEX, Mexico’s state-owned oil
> company.
>
> Mexican women are energized around the idea of nation. The idea of
> patria. I wrote my Master’s Thesis on the “Idea of Nation.” And to
> see the women, in their t-shirts and kerchiefs, so committed to
> their country, their nation, their identity. To them, that’s
> Mexico’s oil, natural gas, electricity, land, and water and it ought
> to be used by the Mexican people first and foremost for their own
> national development. But sadly, it’s the public policy emanating
> from Washington, D.C. that threatens that.
>
> But to tell that story accurately, would also require that the U.S.
> corporate press expose why this citizen outrage exists in the first
> place. And to tell that story, they would have to expose the fact
> of a stolen Presidential election, where a private U.S., Georgia,
> corporation, possibly played a role in stripping citizens of their
> right to vote and have their votes counted. Well, while that might
> sound like what happened in the United States, centering in Florida,
> in the U.S. 2000 Presidential election, I’m really talking about the
> 2006 Mexican Presidential election in which the popular candidate
> didn’t win because all the votes weren’t counted.
>
> According to Greg Palast, the U.S. corporation involved in the
> Mexican move was none other than that now infamous Georgia-based
> company: Choicepoint. We know that in Florida, Choicepoint, then
> doing business as DataBase Technologies, constructed an illegal
> convicted felons list of some 94,000 names, many of whom were
> neither convicted nor felons. But if your name appeared on that
> list, you were stopped from voting. Greg Palast tells us that for
> most of the names on that list, their only crime was “Voting While
> Black.”
>
> Under a special “counter-terrorism” contract, the U.S. FBI obtained
> Mexican and Venezuelan voter files. Palast learned later in his
> investigation that the U.S. government had obtained, through
> Choicepont, voter files of all the countries that have progressive
> Presidents. Many Mexicans went to the polls to vote for their
> President, only to find that their names had been scrubbed from the
> voter list, and they were not allowed to vote. So now, not only in
> the United States, but in Mexico, too, one can show up to vote and
> not be sure that that vote was counted, or worse, one can show up
> duly registered to vote, and not even be allowed to vote.
>
> I guess this is the way we allow our country to now export democracy.
>
> Unlike in the United States in 2000, Mexico City was shut down for 5
> months when Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s Al Gore, refused to concede and
> instead, formed a shadow government.
>
> The issue in the 2006 Mexican election was privatization of Mexico’s
> oil; it is the riveting issue taking place in Mexican politics
> today. Teachers on strike at the same time as the Presidential
> elections in Oaxaca, one of the poorest states in Mexico, began
> their political movement as a call for increased teacher salaries
> and against privatization of schools. Due to heavy-handed tactics
> used by the government against the teachers, tens of thousands of
> citizens joined them and took over the central city area of that
> state. Today, after Mexico has added teachers and those who support
> teachers to its growing ranks of “political prisoners,” teachers are
> still protesting their conditions, the reprisals taken against them
> for striking, and now, the teachers’ union is a committed part of
> the national mobilization against privatization of PEMEX.
>
> I was invited to participate in the Second Continental Workers
> Conference. The first meeting was held in La Paz, Bolivia. And so,
> people from all over Mexico and eight different countries told of
> their struggles, their hopes, their ideals, their values, their
> patriotism, their desire for peace-no more war.
>
> Representatives from Chiapas, another one of Mexico’s poorest
> states, told us of the indigenous struggle for land and self-
> determination, the low-intensity warfare waged against them, and how
> now they, too, count themselves a part of the national mobilization
> against PEMEX privatization.
>
> While I was there, mine workers had taken over the mines, and so,
> could only send a handful of inspiring representatives. They are
> pressing for the right to unionize, denied to them by the
> Government. And the mine workers are a part of the solid front
> forming in Mexico to protect this powerful idea of nation.
>
> I participated in one of the many rallies organized by opponents of
> the government’s plan to offer up Mexico’s patrimony to the
> insatiable multiple U.S. addictions. One woman removed her
> brigadista t-shirt and gave it to me-proud that a citizen of the
> United States came to stand with them.
>
> Today’s front page of La Jornada says that the women, who marched
> 10,000 strong on the day that I was there, have renewed their
> protests and civil disobedience. The threat of violence and
> bloodshed is very real.
>
> Now, why should this massive social, political, and economic
> upheaval in Mexico, aside from its human rights implications, be
> important to us up here in the United States?
>
> Because the sad truth of the matter is that, in many respects, it is
> our military and economic policies that are causing it. Of course,
> I recognize that all the way back to the practice of Manifest
> Destiny and the declaration of the Monroe Doctrine, U.S. policy
> decisions have at times sent shock waves to places outside our
> borders. You could say that the modern version of that is NAFTA.
>
> In 1993, the Democratic majority in the United States Congress
> supported then-President Bill Clinton’s push for passage of the
> North American Free Trade Agreement. The stated purpose of the
> legislation was to remove barriers to trade and investment that
> existed in North America. The propaganda had it that the objective
> was to lift all boats, in Canada, the United States, and Mexico
> through trade and investment. The result is the stripping away and
> transfer of Mexico’s patrimony in terms of their natural and human
> resources. And the Mexican people are taking a stand against it.
> They are taking the same stand that the little people in Haiti,
> Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Argentina
> have taken. With the power of the vote, the people of these
> countries dared to believe that they could peacefully defeat the
> colossus to the north. And they did.
>
> And so, in a way, now, I guess I understand why the corporate press
> can’t tell you and me the truth about the valiant stand for dignity
> that’s going on in Mexico, because to truly cover the story, they’d
> have to uncover and point out some inconvenient truths.
>
> One of those inconvenient truths particularly meaningful to me:
> There comes a time when silence is betrayal.
>
> We, the little–and yet so powerful–people in this country have
> been way too silent for way too long on all the issues that mean so
> much.
>
> Dr. King also said that our lives begin to end the day we become
> silent about the things that matter.
>
> On one of my early days in Congress, I was late for a vote. I
> looked up on the board and only saw green votes; I presumed that the
> vote was a non-controversial item on the calendar. Since I was
> among the last to vote, there was no time to inquire. I pressed my
> green button. Afterwards, I learned that the vote might have been
> what others would have called an “easy” yes vote, but for my
> conscience it was a no vote. Later that night, my heart sank as I
> watched the news. One man of 78 years was so angered by that vote
> that he threw stones. Only thing, he had a heart attack throwing
> stones, and died.
>
> My heart sank. I felt personally responsible for that man’s death
> and vowed that I would never cast what they call easy votes, again.
> My one vote would not have changed the outcome of the tally on the
> resolution. But my one vote would have been true to my values and
> my ideals that everyone is entitled to human rights that are to be
> respected.
>
> I got into trouble often after that, because I recognized my
> responsibility to read the legislation, think analytically, question
> critically, and vote independently.
>
> That was while I was in Congress. But now that I’m not, does that
> mean that the responsibility is gone? No.
>
> I happened to vote against NAFTA, and I’m glad for that. But
> imagine if the all the voters in the entire United States understood
> that something as simple as a vote in a federal election might
> determine who lives and who dies in another country. Imagine, if we
> in the United States were as certain of the possibility of peaceful
> change through the vote as were the people of Haiti, Mexico-despite
> having their election stolen from them, Venezuela, and the rest.
> Then we would vote Members of Congress out of office who support
> Plan Colombia. We would vote Members of Congress out of office who
> support Plan Mexico-which like its Colombian counterpart, is the
> military answer to the cry of the people for dignity, self-
> determination, and that idea of patria. We would not vote for any
> political party that did not have as its agenda extending the same
> respect and love of life to all others as we reserve for ourselves.
>
> And so I come to the additional meaning of Earth Day, today. I met
> people in Mexico City who are willing to die in this struggle-But
> they shouldn’t have to because the United States wants their oil.
> Let us express our respect for the planet that sustains us by first
> showing love to our brothers and sisters beside us. We voters in
> the United States do have as much power as the voters in all those
> other countries. All we have to do is believe in ourselves and use
> it.
>
> Finally, I’d like to recognize the role of student activists in
> promoting change. Of course, it was high school students who faced
> the water hoses and the dogs in the civil rights movement. It was
> the university students who faced the riot gear and the bullets in
> the anti-war movement. The current anti-globalization, pro-peace
> rallies are all organized and led by young people. Keep it up and
> don’t ever give in.

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oprah: black women and politics and gratitude

April 21, 2008 at 10:13 pm (anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, women of color)

So it turns out that Michelle Obama has an edge, something like a chip on her shoulder.  She has that Black woman problem.  In the way that she expresses herself…it is something.  Cause black women need to be careful how they express themselves or else they might appear to have an ‘attitude’ or be ‘angry’.  It is something in her personality, she is not as relatable as she could be.

My contention is that any Black woman who enters politics is going to have this stereotype attached to her.  Especially if she is dark skin and successful.  Name a Black American woman who is a face in politics who does not have this ‘personality’ problem…

Not even Oprah can pull it off.  Not even Oprah can back Obama without losing favor with white folks.

Mainstream white folks love us black folks as long as we are grateful for how much they love us.  They will support us, praise our intelligence, our generous hearts, our insight, our talents but we must always make sure that we are as grateful as they want us to be.  In other words, when white folks feel that their self-interests are being threatened by Blacks, they call in all that support they have given to their Black friends, because it is time for Blacks to step up, support whites and act grateful.

And Black women carry all the stereotypes of women plus all the stereotypes of blacks.  so they are angry, irrational,  uneducated, bitter, resentful, lazy, hypersexual, etc.  And even if the woman presents herself as educated, calm, rational, hard-working, sexually responsible…most whites are constantly looking for the ‘real’ black woman to reveal herself.  And the second that she smirks, rolls her eyes, stumbles while talking, expresses anger, presses her lips together, misspeaks, makes a mistake, etc.  most white people nod their heads in recognition that the ‘real black woman’ is finally coming out.  In other words white folks are looking for, waiting for the stereotype to become real and see the overwhelming evidence that denies the veracity of the stereotype as window-dressing.

I mean just look at what happened to McKinney.  Thank god for the Green Party.

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