so iguess the democratic nomination is over and i feel…sad

May 25, 2008 at 2:09 am (anti-classism, anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, prisons, women of color)

here’s the thing.  i will be so happy ot have the first black president.  i think that is awesome.  and i would have been happy to have the first woman president.  (but i have to say that i became quite disenchanted with the clinton campaign after south carolina…really, bill, barack won sc, jesse j won sc, and so did you win sc, pres clinton…but you didnt bother to mention that…) and there have been moments when watching barack (ok i admit it) i tear up.   i mean i think he is…well…sincere.

but this latest kerfuffle that hillary want barack dead is just ridiculous.  of course she wants barack dead.  if i were her i would want barack to die.  whateva the path to nomination is, she has no doubt, and i have no doubt that she would beat mccain and frankly if barack died it would be easier to beat mccain.  i mean acually barack dying is one of the surest ways to the white house.  we blacks (and yes i am speaking for all of us) would flock to her campaign and to the polls with a level of unmitigated grief and love that would be unprecedented in general elections (this is my theoretical secret to dems winning the whtie house…not that i am a democratic…people underestimate the black vote to their peril.  we may not be many but we come to the polls in incredibly low number…and when we come to the polls in high numbers we turn an election…and we will come out for barack…that is what barack is betting on…a couple of percentage points in a couple of key states with afr-am pop’s that normally cant be counted on…white working class is one thing…but the black working class remembers revolution…heard it on the laps of their parents and grandparents…and we had a dream…and that dream is about to come true…if we vote…the first black president…i will address the idea of the first woman pres in a second)

and she the clinton, who yes insulted us, but we liked the nineties better than the aughts (or atleast financially i did) and we should be angry about our great black hope covered in the morass of assassinations blood and we would be energized to change the election…

so of course she wants barack to be killed in a hail of bullets.  it is romantic.  violent.  beautiful. i mean when bobby kennedy died that was a ‘moment’ in the course of history.  it changed people’s lives.

and of course it cropped her mind.  when the msm calls barack the next kennedy.  well, we know what happens to kennedys.

so ted kennedy is in the hospital.  or just out of it.  and she thought bobby.  barry. barack.  evolution?  im not sure.  a path to the white. house.  god damn suree boy!

i aint hating.  i am a writer.  and as for violent. beatiful. romantic. nothing beats the assasination of a dream.  the murder of hope.  and another hope blooming in its place.

and it would rock if we had a woman represented as president.  even more exciting if i felt a kinship with her.

which brings me to a tiny side point.  the racism and the sexism has been awful in this campaign.  but honestly as a black woman it was hard for me to feel as empathetic about the sexism that hillary endured as opposed to the racism.  and i have been wondering why.

here is the closest i got:  because the sexism that i saw in reference to hillary was so different from the sexism i have encountered as a black woman.  because white folks and black folks (okay all folks) view black women as diametrically opposed to white women.  a white woman when she is seen as not following the gender script is seen as angry, masculine, aggressive, hypersexual, which is the normalized version of black woman identity.   the darker you are the more aggressive (especially sexually) and angry you are seen.  you are masculinized.  not seen as vulnerable, feminine, soft, reserved.  i tried to ask macon d over at stuff white people do why this was….i have seen the phenomena but i dont understand the underlying causes.

so hillary crying and that being sympathetic… i wonder if a black woman had done that if she would have been seen as sympathetic (ok hillary got slightly chocked up she didnt cry…but damn msm had a field day with it)  or would she have been seen as deficient, ‘as not being strong’.  and who would have been the women who would have flocked to the polls to support her.  would white women have flocked to the polls to support her?  yes, oprah cries and ‘gets emotional’ but oprah aint running for president.

and i feel like what white women want from black women is for black women to represent and inspire them to ‘strength’ towards a ‘manliness’ and a ‘go gett-m-ness’ that white women feel like they lack. attitude.  a sort of diva self-appreciation.

how easy is it to empathize with someone who is from a different social group with you and still see her weakeness as strength? then speak out for michelle obama.

so racism/sexism that i experience is different than the sexism that white women experience.  because you know that dichotomy that says that women can only be a virgin or a whore?  yeah, black women for the most part get to experience the ‘whore’ part.  so aggressive.  so hypersexual.  so experienced.

and i feel sad.  because the idea that hillary wants obama to die.  is to be expected.  but the fact that t he only good black leader is a dead black leader.  that has me sad.  and the fact that ‘oppression olympics stands in the way of: when we advance we can all advance–is sad.

i guess the question i should have asked was: why is it that no one notices that black women vote overwhelmingly for obama and not hillary.  and our votes ( and the majority of black folks voting for obama are black women.  too many black men are not allowed to vote.  that is the effect of the prison industrial complex) are not counted by msm.  when folks say that women overwhelmingly vote for hillary.  well, black women do not overwhelmingly vote for hillary.  and even though ‘working class white men’ vote for hillary and that is the sort of statistic that accounts for too much of msm’s analysis.  the fact that working class black women vote barack…means what?  not worthy of comment.

if i thought that hillary would make my life as a working class black female easier.  i would vote for her.  no really i would.

but the idea that she wants him dead.  well, i mean, that is just obvious.  you dont run for president without having entertained the thoughts of ordering an assasination or two.

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and i still think that zion is a beautiful word

May 17, 2008 at 12:07 am (anti-oppression, middle east, prisons, west bank)

When I was younger I was in love with the idea of Zion.  I associated it with the old reggae song -Dreamland- that still puts me in a good mood, the Idea that Einstein proposed when he called himself a Zionist,  aplace of refuge for refugees around the world.  I place that was a beacon of peace in a world of division.  A glowing model to the world on how people could live.  I traveled to the West Bank in 2003 and 2004.  Lived there.  And saw what the  dream of Zion had becomeby the Israeli government.  A nightmare of checkpoints, economic isolation (that Israel feeds off of by controlling theborders) dying children, graphic images, indignity, the daily toll of survivng under occupation.   We had a little saying: Its the occupation stupid.

So the candidates are fighting over who is more pro-Israel, which is translated as more pro Israeli government.  Even Barack has a hypocritical stance.  Hel’ll talke to anyone without conditions, except Hamas.  Hamas is a legally internationally-observed elctions, elected government.  By democratic choice of the people of the West Bank and Gaza.  It is the Palestinian government.  And Israel’s response is to lock the government up.  REally, during the spring and summer o f 2006, before and during the scuffle with Lebanon, they stole most members of the Hamas government and put them in jail.  We cant even pretend that is legal under international law or our agreed upon ideas of justice.

Then the Hamas injailed members said dont release us until you listen to the Palestinian Political Prisoners Movement.

The only countries that are allowed to be a democracy are the ones that the US supports.  And the US supports Israel.  unconditionally.

And so Barack, who wont talk to Hamas until the agree to a vague set of guidelines, guidelines which are more accusatory than achievable,

Look I dont agree with the vision that Hamas has set forth for Palestine.  I am an outsider looking in.  But really to say that Hamas has to say that Israel has the right to exist is ridiculous.  Chavez does not think that the US has a right to exist.  No empire has the right to exist.  No country has the right to colonize another people.

But to say that because the US representative of Hamas (who is this guy?  Does he live in the States?  Why is he not in jail?  Maybe he lives in Canada.  Or Timbuktu.) endoresed Barack means that he wont be staunchly pro-Israel is ridiculous.  The majorit of people around the world love Barack.  They invest in his message of HOPE and cHANGE more than I do.  But honestly after the past decade or two, we are all looking at the bottom of Pandora’s box.

What they  love more is that he is Brown.  That his father was African, that he spent his childhood in Asia.  That he knows the thirdworld with a first love, sweet, innocent, open.

Maybe he will cut them a break.

But this is why I love Palestine.  Or at least part of the reason.  Because they are the great unloved.  Even Barack cant treat their democratic choice as legitimate.   It is so popular and powerful to demean Palestine.

They are my hope.  All of the righteous underdogs.

And I still think that Zion is a beautiful word.

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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.


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.”



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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u.s. seeks silence on cia prisons

November 8, 2006 at 4:52 am (middle east, prisons)

this is what it has come to.  the government is erasing people.

The government, in trying to block lawyers’ access to the 14 detainees, effectively asserts that the detainees’ experiences are a secret that should never be shared with the public.

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