Activism, Immigration, Refugees, Uncategorized

Do What You Can For Refugees

Here is a list (from Think Progress) of some protests going on throughout the country against the fascist Trump’s illegal & immoral executive order banning refugees & migrants from the nations of Syria, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia, all nations the US has bombed, invaded, or sanctioned. Do what you can: if marching or protesting is not your thing, write or create art, or call your congressperson, spread information through your social media or blog, volunteer to help refugees, or donate to a reputable charity helping refugees, like the UN Refugee agency  (https://donate.unhcr.org/us-en/redirect/). Do what you can.

Atlanta, Georgia

January 29, 4–6 p.m.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport
https://www.facebook.com/events/370576413312630/?active_tab=about

Bloomington, Indiana

January 29, 4–5 p.m.
Court House Lawn
https://www.facebook.com/events/141181763054369/

Boston, Massachusetts

January 29, 1–3 p.m.
Copley Square
https://www.facebook.com/events/1808560036070492/

Canton, New York

January 29, 12 p.m. — 1:30 p.m.
Park St. and Main St.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1877987165813906/

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

January 29, 12 p.m. — 2 p.m.
Peace and Justice Plaza
https://www.facebook.com/events/1830257140581355/

Chicago, Illinois

January 28, happening now
O’Hare International Airport

Denver, Colorado

January 28, 5–7 p.m.
Denver International Airport
https://www.facebook.com/events/1416101161753999/

Detroit, Michigan

January 29, 3 p.m.
Hamtramck City Hall
https://www.facebook.com/events/1754583231524900/

January 29, 4–6 p.m.
DTW- Macnamara Termial- Intl Arrivals
https://www.facebook.com/events/959584757476881/

Houston, Texas

January 28, 7 p.m.
IAH Terminal E
https://www.facebook.com/events/771992316298993/

January 29, 1–4 p.m.
Discovery Green
https://www.facebook.com/events/386770058353091/#

Louisville, Kentucky

January 29, 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office
https://www.facebook.com/events/175651122918583/

Minneapolis, Minnesota

January 28, happening now
Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport
https://www.facebook.com/events/1626807780957019/

January 31, 4:30–6 p.m.
Minneapolis Federal Building
https://www.facebook.com/events/294911630924576/

Newark, New Jersey

January 28, happening now
Newark Liberty International Airport

January 28, 5–8 p.m.
LAX, Tom Bradley International Terminal
https://www.facebook.com/events/1655523898074718/

January 29, 1–4 p.m.
LAX, Tom Bradley International Terminal
https://www.facebook.com/events/1876148372629363/

Nashville, Tennessee

January 29, 3–4:30 p.m.
Sen. Bob Corker’s office
https://www.facebook.com/events/1782511105404931/

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2016 Election, News, Race, racism, Republicans, Uncategorized

Bullshit Sessions

Riddle me this: how can a man rejected by the Senate for a Federal Judgeship in the 80’s for being a racist anti-voting rights Southern Good Ol’ boy suddenly be not TOO racist to be the Attorney General of the US? The answer of course is that when the GOP control the Senate, racism on the job is a plus, but that is besides the point.

What has Sen. Jeff Sessions said that would lead so many people to vigorously denounce him and his candidacy? Well, let’s check the record, shall we?

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing 1986:

Jeff Session was asked  about a white attorney he knew in Alabama, and what was allegedly said about his working for Civil Rights cases representing black clients:

“Trying to recollect on it the best I can recall was, and I say, well, he’s not that popular around town. I’ve heard him referred to as a disgrace to his race.”

This answer so rattled the Committee that he was called back for a second time a month later to “clarify” his remarks. Mr. Sessions, aware of how bad this moment of truth made him look, suddenly started whistling a different version of Dixie entirely:

“I am absolutely convinced that I did not call Mr. Blackshear [the attorney in question] a disgrace to his race, and I did not acknowledge it in any form.” 

During the same process, Mr. Sessions did a similar 180 on his admission he had once called the NAACP and the ACLU, both organizations renowned for their work fighting for the rights of African Americans, “un-American” and “communist-inspired” organization, first stating that it he hadn’t “mean[t] any harm”, but once more when given a second bite at the apple, denied he’d ever said such terrible, no good, dirty rotten things, mah word. (1)

Mr. Sessions interesting views on race and civil rights do not end there, however. Here a sample of Mr. Sessions, the man who is expected to represent ALL Americans as the number one law enforcement officer in the US, more “unconventional” views and thoughts and actions:

He voted to for the blanket BAN women in the military from receiving abortion services on their military base (2)

He “did not disclose his ownership of oil interests on land in Alabama as required by federal ethics rules”(3)

In response to Donald Trump’s admission he’d molested, assaulted, and grabbed the genitalia of women he said “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch. I don’t know what he meant.” (4)

Sessions, while prosecuting a case of the lynching of a black man in Alabama, made the following “joke” (which at the time he apologized for but now denies ever having said, contradicting the testimony he made to the Judiciary Committee in ’86): 

“I thought those guys [the Ku Klux Klan] were OK until I learned they smoked pot.” (5)

As a State’s Attorney in Alabama, Mr. Session said “I intend to do everything I can to stop” a conference on LGBT issues and civil rights by the Southeastern Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual College Conference from taking place at the University of Alabama, a stance that was in conflict with a Federal Court ruling. (6)

Sessions called the Federal Voting Rights Act “intrusive […] because you’re only focused on a certain number of states”, namely states with a long  history of violating the civil and voting rights of African Americans. (7)

Sessions claimed that efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from statehouses and public monuments across the South was an attempt to “delegitimize the fabulous accomplishments of our country.” (8)

***

I could go on (and on and on and on…) but I think you get the picture. Sen. Jeff Sessions has shown through his words, opinions, and actions that he does NOT respect the rights of all Americans equally and CANNOT be trusted to represent ALL Americans as the Attorney General of the US

Sources Cited

  1. http://www.npr.org/2017/01/09/509001314/jeff-sessions-previously-denied-federal-judgeship-amid-racism-controversy
  2. http://www.ontheissues.org/SenateVote/Party_2000-134.htm
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sessions-failed-to-disclose-oil-interests-as-required-ethics-experts-say/2017/01/09/56fdce24-d67c-11e6-b8b2-cb5164beba6b_story.html?utm_term=.80595b1c0acc
  4. http://www.weeklystandard.com/jeff-sessions-behavior-described-by-trump-in-grab-them-by-the-p-y-tape-isnt-sexual-assault/article/2004799
  5. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/12/02/jeff-sessionss-comments-on-race-for-the-record/?utm_term=.8ecea749ad83
  6. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-ag-jeff-sessions-fought-derail-gay-rights-conference-article-1.2895887
  7. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-voting-rights-act_us_587520a2e4b099cdb0ffc2c1
  8. https://theintercept.com/2015/06/29/push-remove-confederate-flag/
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Civil rights, Politics

We White Liberals Need To Listen & Learn

Marissa Johnson, left,  Mara Jacqueline Willaford and Sen. Bernie Sanders, far right  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Marissa Johnson, left, Mara Jacqueline Willaford and Sen. Bernie Sanders, far right (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

I will say upfront that I like a lot of what Bernie Sanders says he stands for: I support his position on student debt relief and free college tuition, he says the right things and supports the relevant bills regarding financial regulation and the breaking up of the big banks. He seems to be supportive of LGBT Rights and has a relatively sane point of view when it comes to foreign policy (with the exception of a little too friendly attitude to Israel, who I actually see as an enemy to the interests of our country). I will consider voting for him in the Illinois Primary next year, and I probably will end up voting for him as I will cut off my own hand before voting for that hawkish corporatist shill Hillary Clinton…

Here comes the “But”…

I am concerned about the response Bernie Sanders has had to the black activist movement in particular and the Black voting bloc in general. African Americans are THE key voting block that lets the Democratic Party get into power at all. Without the almost unified Black Vote in presidential elections, every President after Lyndon Johnson would have been a Republican. Bernie Sanders seems to have the “all lives matter” mentality when it comes to his policy prescriptions i.e. if we reform the economic and regulatory systems of the US everyone will benefit and advance equally. US History has shown that is never the case. From the New Deal to Federal Housing Assistance to the Great Society to Welfare Reform in the 90s, every upgrade or expansion of the welfare state has either passed black Americans behind, ignored them entirely, or in the case of Housing actively held them back. I am not saying that Bernie Sanders’ remedies will have the same issues, but there is no historical or logical reason to believe they will be any different. If Sanders wants to really address the true institutional racism problem in the US he will embrace the Black Lives Matter movement’s values totally, and start an ongoing dialogue with the black communities across the US in order to understand what THEY think must be done to address the deeply racist United States government and society. He is a older, White, Upper Middle Class, man in a position of power.That is a fact, not a condemnation, and this fact comes with its fair share of privilege and biases. Take his tone deaf response to the Black Lives Matter disruption of his appearance at the Netroots conference:

Instead of addressing the actual concerns of the Black Lives Matter protesters or even debating them on the merit of their positions, he let his privilege get the better of him and he scolded the activists. A quote from a Salon article on the Netroots debacle quotes Sanders as saying this in response to the Black Lives Matter disruption: “But I’ve spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights. If you don’t want me to be here, that’s okay.” He then went on to “remind” people that he “marched with MLK” and was a big supporter of Civil Rights back in the good ol’ days of white liberal activism. This is the political rhetoric equivalent of the “but some of my best friends are black” argument against examining ones own privilege. Sanders repeated this sort of defensive white liberal guilt speak when he was confronted once again at his speech in Seattle. When interrupted by protesters who said they were with the Black Lives Matter Movement (which is very much a grassroots and decentralized movement) he reacted like a deer caught in the headlights and eventually left the stage. Instead of saying he respected the fact that they were outraged over institutional racism and that he would devote his campaign to addressing the concerns of the one voting block he CANNOT afford to alienate if he wants the nomination, he harrumphed off stage and muttered aloud “I guess I’m not wanted hear.” One could almost hear the collective black political activist head slamming into the desk. Black voters are savvy, perhaps THE most savvy political bloc in the entire country (Black Women especially vote at a higher rate than any other group in the nation). They know when they are being pandered too, and also when they are being taken for granted. The response of White Bernie Sanders supporters online is not helping. When I deigned to criticize (rather gently) Sen. Sanders’ response to the disruption, I was inundated with dozens and dozens of responses saying that black voters should “know why their real friends are” and that “Bernie is the ONLY person” who can “solve” structural racism. Some even said that “those people” are not acting intelligent and don’t know how to protest “the right way” so as not to “force” white voters to not support black issues. Talk about taking a group for granted…

Political activism is messy, it is often annoying to outsiders and unpleasant. It is rarely polite or even civil. That is exactly the point though: activism is never effective unless it galls and disrupts, especially those with authority, especially those who actually have the potential to do something and the willingness to listen if pestered enough. Black Lives Matter doesn’t bother protesting Donald Trump or Rick Santorum for the same reason SNCC or MLK didn’t bother showing up at Strom Thurmond or George Wallace rallies: those on the racist and bigoted Right and Far Right will NEVER care what black protesters and activists have to say, not matter what they do or how much they disrupt or protest. They have already decided that black people are the enemy and nothing will change them. It is a waste of time, creativity, and energy to try and get the attention of folks who already see you as less than human. You make REAL change happen by embarrassing, manipulating, disrupting and petitioning moderates and liberals, people who may actually do something concrete if they see that the political stakes are too costly to ignore. But no establishment leader, no matter how progressive, will act on the issues important to a oppressed minority, even a politically essential one, unless they are MADE TO. This was proven over and over again during the Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ and Clinton administrations. Black activists have never gotten the desired results for themselves and their communities by “playing nice” with the white liberal savior of the moment. Bernie Sanders is on point with a lot of things, but he is not the “only person who can save us” or the “solution to institutional racism”. SNCC and MLK had to agitate against and antagonize liberals all over the country, from the White House and the Justice Department on down, before they deigned to do things like send in the national guard to desegregate schools or sign the Voting Rights Act. These things did NOT come about because of the beneficence of White Liberal politicians.

The great political commentator and activist Imani Gandy  got right to the heart of the issue of White Liberal privilege and political entitlement in an article on her “Angry Black Lady Chronicles” blog (which I will link to at the bottom of this post):

“As a white liberal of adult age in the 1960s, [A White Liberal was] politically required to do these things, right? And if the answer is yes—and we all know that it is—why the hell are you tossing Bernie Sanders’ record of doing them in Black people’s faces in order to shut down conversations about structural racism, police brutality, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement?”

White Liberals may have good intentions and many good ideas, but they DON’T understand what is “best” for the black community and black activists, who are as varied and diverse in their interests and issues as any other segment of the population. We have to realize that it is not Black Lives Matter who needs white liberals, but white liberals who need Black Lives Matter.

Here is a Link to the positively genius article Imani Gandy wrote about Bernie Sanders and his supporters response to Black Lives Matter: http://rhrealitycheck.org/ablc/2015/07/22/youre-white-marched-dr-king/ 

UPDATE 8/10/15

At his 27,000 person rally in L.A. tonight Bernie Sanders opened by inviting #BlackLivesMatter activists onto the stage to speak to the crowd. This information comes from Los Angeles Times politics reporter Kurtis Lee. I have to say, that is a very impressive and prompt response to the criticism leveled against him by #BlackLivesMatter and people on the far left like me. Very Impressive.

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Civil rights, LGBTQ

flaglll

MARRIAGE Equality is now the law of the entire United States! A great day for civil rights & for the LGBTQ community. Not the end all and be all of the fight for dignity and equality, but a historic step forward and a HUGE confirmation of the 14th Amendment and a great day have full access to civil marriage protections and privileges. Amazing.

“It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality . . .”—Justice Kennedy

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Uncategorized

Why Are So Many People Wearing Orange Today?

wearorangelogo People all over the US are wearing Orange today to promote National Gun Violence Awareness Day, a day set aside to contemplate the damage done to our society by mass gun ownership and the gun culture that fuels the cycle. Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton was shot dead while taking cover from the rain, allegedly by gang members who mistook her for a rival. Who shot her is not so much at issue as the fact that is WAS shot, and killed, by a tool that has become the near universal way of solving problems in the streets of our cities and neighborhoods by gangs and police and private citizens alike. National Gun Violence Awareness Day is being observed and promoted by MomsRising and Amnesty International, among many others, in order for the US to take time and reflect on what gun violence and reliance on guns as a solution to social problems has done to our culture. This is not “take away all guns” day or “guns are the cause of all of our problems” day, it is a day to be AWARE of the nature of gun violence and how our laws, media, and culture help to promote it. This scares the NRA so much that it has gone out of its way to declare the entire movement “pointless”. Why would the largest Gun Lobby organization in the nation go out of its way to denounce a movement if it was, in fact, on its face pointless? The forces that want a perpetually armed and scared populace are themselves worried. They see the writing on the wall, so often in the blood of innocents, and it is telling them that their time in power may be coming to an end. What is gun culture in this country? Why does it seem to be so inextricably linked to race and racism? Gun culture is a phenomenon prevalent in middle class and upper class white men, and often women, and propagated by the culture and media controlled by the same. A continuation of fears/hatreds/interests that emerged from the chattel slave era of US History followed by the criminalization of black bodies from the Jim Crow to the modern era. A “sanitized” form of lynching that treats gut feelings, common knowledge of “the real world”, and a sort of pessimism about human nature regarding the inevitability and all encompassing nature of crime (mostly a property based frame of reference for crime i.e. property damaged, threatened, or made to be/seem less valuable by unwanted others, “your” daughter threatened, “your” family at risk). Lynching is not a thing of the past in this nation; it is less lynching violence overcome then lynching culture so well assimilated into the white American psyche that it has become an ethical stance and an accompanying way of living and seeing the world, a way that has been folded into the larger, ostensibly non-racist on the surface, “gun culture”.  Gun culture today is a new paradigm in the expression of the lynching impulse by white America against black America. It can be seen in the rates of gun ownership by white families (those who have the least to fear from crime have the most guns to protect against it), the use of stand your ground laws in circumstances where whites have shot blacks, the failure of many black citizens to be able to pursue a stand your ground defense, the rate of gun violence against blacks by the various police forces of the nation, and the vilifying in the media and the popular culture of black people who use guns versus the deification of white people who do. Gun culture is a white power culture, it always has been, and it will be until measures are taken to restrict unlimited ownership and use of weapons as a matter of course.

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Uncategorized

What Does Memorial Day Mean?

vietnam-war-01

“Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.”

—-Howard Zinn

There has been a campaign on social media to promote something called the “Go Silent” campaign. As to this “Go Silent” campaign to ask for a moment of silence on memorial day; I will not be taking part because I find this request insulting and condescending to the people of the US. We The People have the right to free speech, we have the right to speak out against the injustice being perpetrated against innocent people all over the world by the US Military in the service of US Government/Corporate interests. I will use tomorrow to speak out against the glorifying/deification of war dead, which only serves as a way to silence and shame discontent and dissension from the people against the crimes being done in their name.

No war or military operation the US has fought has been just or warranted, not since at least WWII, and since the end of the Vietnam war we have had a volunteer force so anyone who has died since then has died because of a choice THEY made to be a part of an armed forces in services of a government that has perpetrated slaughter on a massive scale, especially in the Middle East. Why, why does the “protection” of our “freedom” and “liberty” and “way of life” seem so often to require the wholesale destruction of other nations and peoples?

This memorial day I will be honoring not the US war dead (they have plenty of people celebrating their cause) but instead the victims of US imperial brutality in the name of “freedom”. Also remember, the best way to honor the war dead, veterans, and those who are still serving is to make sure they are never again sent to fight a war of aggression in the name of national security, corporate interests, or plain old fear. The holiday has also become yet another excuse for Americans to self-righteously congratulate themselves, to worship the military for the sake of it being the military, and also an excuse for retailers to sell cheap foreign made goods to eager consumers. I am not asking that you believe what I believe or act how I act, but I am asking that you take a long hard look at what it is exactly that we are memorializing this day, and why.

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Civil rights

Baltimore is Burning

Freddie Gray Protest in Baltimore

Baltimore is burning, but not because of the fires set by a few protesters. It is on fire with the passion and rage of the people, who have had enough of a gestapo police force that re-enforces the unequal, bigoted, exploitative status quo. Baltimore, Ferguson, New York, the police torture in Chicago, the police state in Oakland, the lynching of black men by the police and by vigilante minded white men. CNN b**ches and moans about the burning of a CVS and the cutting of a hose as though this is some sign of the collapse of Western Christian society, but the murder, by having his spine severed in custody, of a young black man by the police is cast in a moral shade of grey. Freddie Grey is just a new name on a long list of black men terrorized and murdered by mob justice, vigilantism, and police authority. The bodies of black men are considered weapons, are seen as dangerous, a threat. The black mind is dismissed as cultish, brutish, without thought or nuance, by pigs in blue who barely understand the Constitution they swear to uphold. The intelligence and wisdom, the genius, of an entire people is dismissed because of skin hue, and a history that white hands and white minds set in motion.

Baltimore is burning, but the fires were set 400 years ago when the first white man dragged the first black man in chains from HMS White Lion. The flames were stoked by 250 more years of chattel slavery, rape, torture, white supremacy and greed. The nation that was created “by the people, for the people” was actually an empire forged “by the slave, for the rich and white”, a fact acknowledged and enshrined in the Constitution of this country. The moral cowardice, and avarice, of our Founders extended the holocaust of American slavery for another hundred years. The craven political whims of the post-civil war generation helped to extend the terror of white supremacy long after slavery was officially abolished. Rights were issued in name only, while in fact black bodies found themselves re-categorized from property to vermin, and this in a nation that was BUILT by black bodies. The entire history of the United States has been one long, ongoing larceny perpetrated by whites against people any color but white, any gender but male.

Baltimore is burning, but the powers that be, and their pet media, do not weep for the people, do not strive to sooth their pain. They instead seek to protect property, to preserve the same order that is nothing but a boot on the necks of the black people of Baltimore, of the US. The media act as those peace and calm have been disrupted. The people of Baltimore, especially the people of color, know that there was never any peace to interrupt, there never has been. Every day another insult to dignity, every interaction with the capitalist owned government and with their police army another punch in the gut, a reminder that people of color indeed have “no rights which the white man was bound to respect” (a reminder from on high, straight from the mouth of one of the members of our sainted Supreme Court). White eyes watch black bodies act out in rage, desperation, pathos and righteous fury, and the only question on their lips is “what do those people have to complain about?”. “They” destroy “their” own neighborhoods, an unwitting admission by white citizens of the continuing presence and reality of Jim Crow in our cities, towns, and villages. What the law now condemns the culture denies, a reality of pain and hate and repression that is justified because “we” gave “them” what “they” wanted back in the 60’s…as though dignity and respect and justice were something whites must bestow upon blacks, a belated gift that arrived late but “just in time” to be a salve for white liberal guilt. Baltimore is burning, but is the hearts and minds and souls of the people that are on fire now.

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