Saturday, May 30, 2009

Guns Don't Kill, People with Guns Do

I don't know what the problem here is: the shooter; Oklahoma's Make My Day and Stand Your Ground laws; the interpretation of thpse laws; and/or, the general devaluation of black life. At least this kid was an attempted robber, not a police officer. With sympathies to the boy's mother, that does make it a little easier for me to accept. But . . . it's still impossible to accept. You should read the entire article. I mean, I don't begrudge anyone the right to protect themselves. But they have to be in danger. This guy was not in danger. Having "his adrenaline flowing" is no defense.

Druggist Arrested for Killing Holdup Man


- Confronted by two holdup men, pharmacist Jerome Ersland pulled a gun, shot one of them in the head and chased the other away. Then, in a scene recorded by the drugstore’s security camera, he went behind the counter, got another gun, and pumped five more bullets into the wounded teenager as he lay on the floor.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Crime of Blackness, and Sometimes, Torture

Update: h/t to commenter jwbe for bringing this to my attention. Apparently, there have been white officers accidently killed by other officers. Though it does seem rare.

Yeah. I got two stories. One is here from Basically, an off-duty black cop was killed by a white cop basically because he's black. Yeah . . . I guess someone could argue the same thing would've or could've happened had the off-duty cop been white. But then, of course, I must ask - why doesn't it happen that a plain clothed white officer is killed by mistake by fellow officers? Cause it's not clear that the white cop was even on duty, or had identified himself before shooting, and Edwards, the black cop, was apparently shot in the back.

The other is about Dick Cheney. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich) says that the memos don't show what Cheney says they do. Between the two of them, I'm inclined to believe Levin.

She Blamed the Black Guy(s)

Typical. Sorry I didn't look into this until now. I had read a few news headlines, but not the actual story. I hope posting this from will make up for it. ~ No1KState

It Lives: The Image of Me Constructed by You

Posted by Dr. Terence Fitzgerald on May 28th, 2009

“Come on boy; you know the routine. Assume the position.”

Yes, unfortunately in these here United States of America, my skin is my sin. The luck of possessing a hue associated with Africa and the ownership of a Y chromosome carries a heavy burden. The burden was front and center this week within the story of Bonnie Sweeten of Feasterville, Pennsylvania . Ms. Sweeten made a frantic phone call to 911 from Philadelphia, on May 26th from the trunk of a car where she told authorities that she and her 9 year old daughter were, after being rear ended earlier. She went on to say that after the accident, after exiting her SUV, she and her daughter were then kidnapped. The story caught national attention from NBC to Fox news. The police, the amber alert system, and the FBI all pulled their efforts together to save them damsels in distress from the “evil doorers.”

You might ask yourself, who would commit such a disreputable deed? Well it was “two Black men” of course! And of course they were driving, of all cars, “a Cadillac.”

Well today, we found out it was all a disgusting hoax. In fact, the two were bound for Disney World. After taking out thousands of dollars from her family account and buying two tickets to Florida, mother, with her child, were later spotted boarding a plane in Tampa which led the local police to their hideout with Mickey at the Grand Floridian Hotel in Orlando. On Thursday, May 28th, the Today Show discussed the issue of Michelle Henry; District Attorney for Bucks County Pennsylvania, who was asked by the newscaster whether this was a case of racial profiling. Ms. Henry avoided the question raised.

My frustration observed in writing this entry is not without merit. For this country has a long history of feeding a stereotype of Black males as dangerous, oversexed, with out a moral compass [See the book, The Assassination of the Black Male Image by Earl Ofari Hutchinson]. Where again you might ask?

  • Examples can be traced from the stereotypical, controversial, and influential 1915 film, Birth of a Nation,
  • March 25, 1931, Alabama with the death of what the media called the Scottsboro Boys.
  • October 24, 1989, Boston—Pregnant Carol DiMaiti Stewart, 30 years old died, from a gun shot to the head. Her husband, Charles, 29 years old reported to police that a Black man claiming to be an undercover policeman pulled their vehicle over and shot he and his wife; killing his wife and later after two weeks of survival, their eight week premature unborn child. Later the police discovered that the husband actually killed his wife and unborn child.
  • October 24, 1994, Union, South Carolina—In order to win the affection of a man with whom she had been having an affair, Susan Smith placed her three year and 14 month old children into the safety devises in her car and rolled the car into John D. Long Lake. She claimed to the police that she and her children were carjacked by a Black man. During the nine days before she had confessed her merciless crime, a number of Black males were harassed and seen as possible perpetrators in the crime.
  • July 11, 2007, Tituville, Florida—Bob Allen, a Senior Republican, and former co-chairman of the campaign of Senator John McCain arrested for attempting to solicit oral sex for 20 dollars from an undercover police officer in a men’s toilets facility. Mr. Allen has a long record of being a proponent of ant-gay legislation in Florida. When arrested, he attempted to avoid prosecution by declaring that the undercover police officer, who happened to be a large black man, intimidated him and Allen felt he had to do whatever it took to survive.

Within the 21st century there is an effort to still demonize the Black male and depict them as a threat to society. Black males have been historically and presently seen as a sexual, physical, and emotional threat to Whites. Some Blacks and other people of color have also helped to feed the stereotype. It is time for us all to bash this image when it is presented.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Catch Racism Every Night, Primetime on the CW

I actually meant to say this earlier and it slipped my mind. This whole pattern from the CW/UPN just goes to show why African Americans maybe need to develop more TV networks dedicated to the African American community. TVOne can't do it all alone. And BET is now more or less minstrel shows.20. So when you think of black empowerment in terms of black businesses, or my dreams, a black Wall Steet (or at least a collection of companies on the level of the DOW Jones), you have to remember to include black-owned and operated media for a black audience.

You know what really pisses me off about this? The CW, and before that, UPN, built itself on black comedy. First, In the House, LL Cool J/Todd Smith's initial sitcom. UPN bought the rights to it from NBC. But at least In the House ended with some sense of closure. But Half and Half, Girlfriends, and now Everybody Hates Chris and The Game are being ended abruptly in the middle of a plot line. I mean, does Lynn ever get it together? And Joan married? Maya adopting? And the Toni-replacement a mother? "Yes, more please." Sorry. Not a regular viewer of Everybody Hates Chris, but the last episode I saw had him taking the GED because his teacher wanted to hold him back a year for all his tarties. Whatever becomes of him? And, so okay. Melanie and Derwin get married. I'm almost sure of it. Rick Fox and Tasha get back together. But what about Jason and Kellie Pitts, huh? What? The white girl can't get no love? (Okay, so I'm not as open to interracial dating as popular culture kind of demands, but that's neither here nor there.)

I know what you're thinking, right? Aliens in America was cut after 2 seasons and it was a white sitcom. Tell you the truth, I actually liked the show. But, come on. One "counter-example" to a demonstrated pattern? What's The CW gonna do when it loses viewers en masse? I'll tell you. It's gonna turn right back to urban comedy. And I hope this time, nobody watches.

We should all be reading and working in our communities, anyway.

And for the love of all that's good and holy, will somebody please tell me who Mona (half of Half and Half) ended up with! ~ No1KState

"In just three years, The CW has become TV to talk about, with culturally current, quality programming," Ostroff said in a statement. "We have a full slate of great programming to keep our viewers watching, chatting, texting and tweeting all next season."

Maybe some viewers.

The other African American-targeted sitcom 'Everybody Hates Chris' won't be returning in the fall either.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm Joining In

I really haven't studied up on Judge Sotomayor, so there's nothing I can tell you that you can't find somewhere else. Which is why I'm sharing this NY Times link: "Obama Chooses Sotomayor for Supreme Court Nominee."

What I will say is that I like this pick. I like the added diversity of enthnicity, background, and perspective. I also like what I've read about the decisions she's made on the circuit court. The conservative poo-poo by Wendy E Long in the article is just ridiculous and nonsensical; hense, why I'm calling it poo-poo.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just One Reason to Kill the Death Penalty

I've known about this for a while. You should know about it to.

In the Absence of Proof

By Bob Herbert
The New York Times
May 23, 2009

The options are running out for Troy Davis, a man who
has been condemned to death for killing a police
officer in Georgia, but whose guilt is seriously in

It's bad enough that we still execute people in the
United States. It's absolutely chilling that we're
willing to do it when we're not even sure we've got the
right person in our clutches.

Mr. Davis came within an hour of execution last fall.
His relatives and his attorney, Jason Ewart, had come
to the state prison to say goodbye. Mr. Davis had eaten
his last meal, and Mr. Ewart was ready to witness his

The mind-numbing tension was broken with a last-minute
stay from the Supreme Court. The case then made its way
to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th
Circuit, in Atlanta, which ruled 2-to-1 last month
against Mr. Davis's petition for a hearing to examine
new evidence pointing to his innocence.

The countdown to the ghoulish ritual of execution

Mr. Davis was convicted of shooting a police officer to
death in the parking lot of a Burger King in Savannah,
Ga., in 1989. The officer, Mark Allen MacPhail, was
murdered as he went to the aid of a homeless man who
was being pistol-whipped.

I'm opposed to the death penalty, but I would have a
very hard time finding even the faintest glimmer of
sympathy for the person who murdered that officer. The
problem with taking Mr. Davis's life in response to the
murder of Officer MacPhail is the steadily growing mass
of evidence that Mr. Davis was not the man who
committed the murder.

Nine witnesses testified against Mr. Davis at his trial
in 1991, but seven of the nine have since changed their
stories. One of those seven, Dorothy Ferrell, said she
was on parole when she testified and was afraid that
she'd be sent back to prison if she didn't agree to
cooperate with the authorities by fingering Mr. Davis.

"I told the detective that Troy Davis was the shooter,"
she said in an affidavit, "even though the truth was
that I didn't know who shot the officer."

Another witness, Darrell Collins, who was a teenager at
the time of the murder, said the police had "scared"
him into falsely testifying by threatening to charge
him as an accessory to the crime. He said he was told
that he would go to prison and might never get out if
he refused to help make the case against Mr. Davis.

This week Mr. Davis's lawyers, led by Mr. Ewart of the
Arnold & Porter law firm in Washington, filed a last-
ditch, long-shot petition with the Supreme Court,
asking it to intervene and allow Mr. Davis's claims of
innocence to be fully examined.

An extraordinary group of 27 former judges and
prosecutors joined in an amicus brief in support of the
petition. Among those who signed on were William
Sessions, the former director of the F.B.I.; Larry
Thompson, a U.S. attorney general from 2001-2003; the
former Congressman Bob Barr, who was the U.S. attorney
for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990;
and Rudolph Gerber, who was an Arizona trial and court
of appeals judge from 1979-2001.

The counsel of record for the amicus brief is the
Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree. The brief
asserts that the Supreme Court should intervene
"because Mr. Davis can make an extraordinary showing
through new, never reviewed evidence that strongly
points to his innocence, and thus his execution would
violate the Constitution."

The very idea of executing someone who may in fact be
innocent should also violate the nation's conscience.
Mr. Davis is incarcerated. He's no threat to anyone.
Where's the harm in seeking out the truth and trying to
see that justice is really done?

And if the truth can't be properly sorted out, we
should be unwilling to let a human life be taken on
mere surmise.

There was no physical evidence against Mr. Davis, and
no murder weapon was ever found. At least three
witnesses who testified against him at his trial (and a
number of others who were not part of the trial) have
since said that a man named Sylvester "Redd" Coles
admitted to killing the police officer.

Mr. Coles, who was at the scene, and who, according to
witnesses, later ditched a gun of the same caliber as
the murder weapon, is one of the two witnesses who have
not recanted. The other is a man who initially told
investigators that he could not identify the killer.
Nearly two years later, at the trial, he testified that
the killer was Mr. Davis.

Officer MacPhail's murder was a horrendous crime that
cries out for justice. Killing Mr. Davis, rather than
remedying that tragedy, would only compound it.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A House Divided . . .

. . . cannot stand. You know the saying. Well, here's my point. The Latin and African American communities have to work together to end structural and systemic racism. We all face the same pro-white, anti-us bias. We can't have this:

Published: 5/21/09, 3:26 PM EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Latino street gang waged a racist campaign to eliminate black people from a Southern California city through attempted murders and other crimes, according to federal racketeering indictments unsealed Thursday.

"(Varrio Hawaiian Gardens) gang members take pride in their racism and often refer to the VHG Gang as the `Hate Gang,'" the main indictment states. "VHG gang members have expressed a desire to rid the city of Hawaiian Gardens of all African-Americans and have engaged in a systematic effort to achieve that result by perpetrating crimes against African-Americans."
Read the article.

What the . . . !!

Douglas J. Besharov, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, says: "There are social costs of being poor, though it is not clear where the cause and effect is. We know for a fact that on certain measures, people who are poor are often more depressed than people who are not. I don't know if poverty made them depressed or the depression made them poor. I think the cause and effect is an open question. Some people are so depressed they are not functional. 'I live in a crummy neighborhood. My kids go to a crummy school.' That is not the kind of scenario that would make them happy." Another effect of all this, he says: "Would you want to hire someone like that?"
The quote comes from a Washington Post article - one of the recent articles I've seen out on the web detailing the ways in which you have to be rich to afford being poor!

I just used to quote because conservatives and their "economics" really angers me. That quote displays classic conservative apathy towards the poor. "It's not clear where the cause and effect is . . . Would you want to hire someone like that?" Yeah, it's not the fault of the invisible hand or anything like demonizing unions and deregulating the financial market that people who're poor pay more for stuff everyone else takes for granted. Take having a checking account. Initially, in can cost to open an account, but in the end, it's cheaper. But, what if you can't afford the initial cost?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Republican Judicial Arrogance

Oh. My Lord.

Two opinions from the Washington Post caught my eye today. One from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and one from regular Wash Post op-ed columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. One is an example of the Republicans' hypocrisy and the other an example of liberal confidence.

The reason I'm looking for Higher Help today is Sen. Sessions's op-ed, "The Right Person for the Court." No, I'm not kidding. How this freudian slip past by Sessions and his congressional assistants is beyond me. It's clear that the Republicans really, really wish Pres. Obama to nominate someone in the line of Justices Roberts and Alito. But they just can't come out and say that. And even if he does, they're gonna fight tooth and nail against his nominee. But they can't say that, either.

So here's what they say:

But if the president nominates an individual who will allow personal preferences and political views to corrupt his or her decision making, he will put before the public a central question: Are we willing to trade America's heritage of a fair and neutral judiciary -- anchored in the rule of written law that applies equally to all people -- for a high court composed of robed politicians who apply the law differently based on their personal feelings toward a particular person or issue?
As though that's not exactly what W Bush did. And then, to have the unmitigated audacity to say this:

With such high stakes, the American people rightly expect greatness in our highest jurists -- the greatness personified by John Marshall and Felix Frankfurter and anticipated from John Roberts.
Yeah! He sites Justice Roberts as someone with judicial restraint. Meanwhile, Justice Roberts shows every indication of at least really, really hoping Sec 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which, by the way, was just reauthorized 3 years ago, is overturned.

And then, with only the irony of the freudian slipped title, Sessions writes these "necessary" qualifications of the next Supreme Court justice:

-- Impartiality. The nominee should demonstrate an ability to fulfill the oath to "administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich," regardless of the judge's personal feelings toward the parties in the case or the political groups to which they belong.
. . .
-- Legal Expertise and Judicial Temperament. The nominee should demonstrate a mastery of the law, an ability to apply the law to complex facts, and the skill to craft plain and enduring opinions that lower courts, lawyers and the people can understand. The nominee must also demonstrate the humility necessary to be subordinate to the law that he or she will interpret. Great justices recognize the limits of their own power and defer to the wisdom of the people, effectuated through elected representatives and expressed in the written law.
It's almost enough to make you sick on the stomach. "Heurrr!" (My attempt at articulating that sound people make just before they get sick. You know, so just imagion in your head.)

Here's the thing, or, at least, my thing. We're we told just a few years ago that "if a president's picks were formally qualified and intelligent -- and both Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito were -- that should be enough?" My problem with the two wasn't their intelligence (Though, in my opinion, Alito doesn't look all that bright, but looks can be deceiving.). No. My problem was that they had tried to re-write the law as lawyers in the Reagan administration and would undoubtedly try to do and have done the same on the Court. Don't get me wrong. I understand that part of political differences is having opposite understandings of the Constitution. Liberals think it applies to everyone equally; and, conservatives think the Founding Fathers would only benefit rich, white, men/corporations. I understand that. But let's not pretend conservatives haven't been "judical activists" , as they were in the Ledbetter case; and hope to undo judicial precedence, as in a woman's right to privacy. Let's not pretend they're anything but partial.

Now. While I do think Sessions is a blithering racist hypocrit who would attack Pres. Obama for sleeping on the left side of the bed if he could, I do agree with him on this:

The Senate's examination of the nominee's impartiality, integrity, legal expertise and respect for the rule of law will be rigorous and fair. Senators should refrain from making political attacks on the nominee's character, leaking background materials or taking quotes out of context to create a caricature of the nominee.
Though, now that he's said it, I find it least likely that he'll actually live up to his own standard.

On the other side of things, I do agree with Dionne that "liberals should welcome a real debate -- and win it. But this means that such matters as a nominee's sexual preference should not be a consideration and that an authentic debate would involve ideas, not slogans -- notably "judicial activism," "legislating from the bench" and "strict constructionism."" How this would work with conservatives glibly throwing around such slogans and making personal attacks every which way. I certainly don't know if or how Democrats could make use of the kindness principle. But they shouldn't be unprepared for a fight.

Cause with a blithering racist hypocrit like Session leading up the 'publican challenge, you know one's coming.

Monday, May 11, 2009

More Stats and Facts on the Impact Racism Has on the Lives of People of Color

Kinda tired. So you'll have to do without my witty commentary. Sorry, guys. ~ No1KState
By Michelle Chen
May/June 2009

From the bleak poverty of the Delta to the tatters of the Gulf Coast, many Mississippi residents suffer from pervasive income inequality and broken social services. Now, a new study reveals that the color line cuts through nearly every basic measure of human welfare, making the state a freeze-frame of the country's brutal legacy of racial injustice.

According to researchers, Black people's median earnings in Mississippi are about $10,000 less than whites, which in effect means that even the poorest whites typically are better-off than the majority of Blacks in the state. And on average, Blacks die four years sooner than whites in Mississippi.

New research shows how deep the racial fault lines run. The study's authors conclude that Black Mississippians "on average, experience the level of access to choices and opportunities of the average American in 1974." Geography complicates the picture: whites in Hinds County have higher development scores than the country as a whole, while Blacks in Pike-Adams County live at the same level as the average American did in 1960.

The statistics are laid out in A Portrait of Mississippi: Mississippi Human Development Report 2009, published by the research group American Human Development Project. [moderator: the complete report can be found here(pdf file~No1KState)]

Drawing on the United Nations Human Development Report, the study tracked three fundamentals of well-being: health, education and income. The report follows a national study published last year, The Measure of America, which ranked Mississippi last among all states on human development criteria.

"There's a large constituency in Mississippi that believes that these disadvantages come largely from people's personal decisions and choices," said Kristen Lewis, codirector of the American Human Development Project. "And part of our work is to try to document how and where policy does make a difference."

The study parses structural factors underlying the disparities. Researchers link Black women's limited access to healthcare to high infant mortality and also point to a connection between incarceration trends-with a disparity of more than three-to-one between Black and white imprisonment rates-and lifelong barriers to social advancement. The state currently spends twice as much to house each prisoner as it does to keep each child in school.

Of course, Mississippi doesn't have a monopoly on such racial disparities. According to the American Human Development Project, there was a more than five-fold disparity nationwide in the economic "net worth" between whites and people of color in 2004. In urban centers, about four in 10 Black children and five in 10 Latino children are kept indoors, unable to play outside, "because of parental perceptions of neighborhood danger."

The Project sees the index as a rough barometer. Though it omits many nuanced social factors, like cultural and civic engagement, Lewis noted that income, education and health are widely accepted around the world as "the basic building blocks of a life of choice and value."

With the nation's ongoing economic decline threatening to deepen racial fault lines (the mortgage crisis has devastated Mississippi, hitting Black households especially hard), advocates are pressing lawmakers to target issues that acutely impact communities of color: affordable housing, children's healthcare and predatory lending. A Portrait of Mississippi offers a stark backdrop for the new legislative session, as activists seek to reframe the discussion around race and inequality.

"Our hope is that in seeing the image of a very ugly picture of the state," said Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, "policymakers would be more willing to take actions to change the image they see in the mirror."

Something to Consider


Posted by Adia Harvey on May 10th, 2009 2009
May 10

Recent political news has focused extensively on whether modern times are sounding a death-knell for the Republican party After bruising losses in the mid-term elections of 2006 and in the presidential election of 2008, near record-low numbers of individuals who identify as Republicans, and an extraordinarily popular Democratic president, many commentators and pundits have questioned whether the Republican party is facing a crisis of being. Even some Republican leaders have acknowledged the peril they face as a party, giving rise to debates over whether they should become more moderate and create a “bigger tent” that includes a broader coalition of supporters, or stick to their principles and align themselves even more strongly with their remaining conservative base.

In my mind, these debates reveal a major problem for the Republican party and highlight the ways in which narrow racial framing is limiting their future opportunities and success. When Republicans debate whether to “stick to their guns” (pun intended) or establish a “bigger tent,” they are thinking short term and avoiding some very real racialized realities that have an impact for their future and ultimately their continued existence. This is perhaps unsurprising for a party whose only engagement with racial issues over the last half century has been creating coded language to justify their opposition to civil rights advancements (“states’ rights,” “urban crime,” “welfare queens,”), or appealing to racialized fears (Willie Horton, fabricating links between immigrants and swine flu, blaming “unqualified minorities” for the housing crisis) as a way of maintaining and consolidating reliable votes. So it’s not especially shocking that Republicans would be oblivious of what—and who–they are ignoring when they think only in terms of going more moderate or staying conservative.

The racial issue that I refer to is this. All demographic data indicates that within a mere 30 to 40 years, this country will no longer have a clear white majority. What we are headed towards, whether Republican elites like it or not, is a nation that is mostly multiracial and where whites are irrevocably becoming a numerical minority. I don’t think many Republicans have really taken that fact in, perhaps because it is hard to imagine in a nation that has been run by a white majority for centuries. But it’s happening, and evidence of the implications of this were even present in the last election. While some commentators like to pretend that Obama’s election is indicative of the fact that we’re past “all the racial stuff”, the reality is that most whites did not vote for Obama. It took a multiracial coalition of African Americans, Latino/as, Asian Americans, and a small but important minority of whites to get Obama into the White House. Ultimately, however, he won without the support of most whites, because there are finally enough Americans of color to have a significant, determining impact on electoral outcomes. Had Obama not had the foresight to appeal to a broad variety of racial groups, we would be dealing with President McCain and Vice President “I Can See Russia From My House” right now. Republicans would do well to think about how this dynamic plays into their “more moderate or more conservative” dilemma.

What I think it means is that if they want to “stick to their roots,” that in itself needs to involve a fundamental paradigm shift. Of late, the Republican roots haven’t just been small government and tax cuts, those roots have also included appealing to white racism and demonizing groups of color. Even though he broke with his party to champion immigration reform, McCain paid the price for his party’s thinly veiled anti-Latino/a sentiment when they went decisively for Obama. If Republicans want to stay relevant in an America that looks less and less like their base, they need to consider strategies that will endear them to the voters they’ve been excluding from that base. Suggesting that these voters carry swine flu or are responsible for the housing crisis is not the way to do this.

This does mean Republicans will have to make some changes that will probably be painful for them. They can’t just do what has been comfortable in the past, like appealing to those charming folks who show up at their rallies with sock puppets that suggest Obama looks like a monkey. If Republicans want to stay a viable political party, it is time to drop the racist ideology, language, and imagery that has too often been a part of their “core values.” This alienates voters of color that they will need if they want to win at a national level. If Republicans really believe in small government, they should think about how they can make that commitment appealing to growing, important sectors of the population whose primary concerns may be to immigrate safely and easily, find work, go to good schools, and get affordable health care. If they really want low taxes, they should consider how that can win them votes from the many black women who work in low-paying jobs and struggle to find affordable child care. Instead of working themselves into a frenzy over the president’s preference for Dijon mustard (I’m talking to you, Sean Hannity!), Republicans would be better served putting serious thought into how those core principles they tout can be put to use to attract segments of the electorate that they have derided, but now need to reach, if they want to remain relevant. This may well lose them the base they have cultivated, but it might buy them a newer, more expansive base that can actually get them elected. In an America that is growing increasingly multiracial, there is no other way to win at a national level. Unless Republicans acknowledge this (other) elephant in the room, they will continue having the wrong discussion and missing the big picture.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Momma, You Know I Love You

That's the lyrics to that "Soul Food" song. Not sure I'm going to play it, though. I just refer to it because "Happy Mother's Day" is done.

Now, about mothers, let me offer a word of advice to those of you with the more strong-headed children.

My mother is an amazing woman. She's managed to take care of me, my father to some extent, and the family business all the while still being involved in church, civic and political activities. Just recently, she's decided to cut back and focus her attention on family and the business. Something I've been suggesting for years.

My mother is the one who introduced me to public life, right? She's instilled in me a sense of civic duty. A responsibility to my community and to others to help in any way I can. And for my family, due to my great-grand and grandfather, and our baby-faces, public life and political office is one of the ways in which we can help.

She's also instilled in me a sense of business acumen. Buy low, sell high. Invest and save. Manage and budget your money. Save for retirement which will need to be about 70% of your current income.

She's instilled in me a sense of excellence, or to be more honest, perfection(ism). You know, try my best at every turn. Nothing less than a best effort is acceptable. That whole thing. Because of her, I'm terribly, terribly self-motivated.

And to her great agony, she's also managed to instill in me a strong-will. She's actually okay with it when I use it against other people or situations. I managed to finish college even though the onset of CFS came my last year due to God's grace and a strong-will. She's proud of that. I'm single, but should I marry, there's no worry that I may marry someone who's abusive. She's proud of that. I speak out against sexism, even if it's to my uncle. She's proud of that. I've managed to be my own person despite all the teasing and peer-pressure I endured growing up. She's proud of that.

I'll even stand up for myself when I feel like she's disrespecting my boundaries and independence. She not proud of that.

So here's my advice to mothers of strong-will children. Mothers whose children don't always take their word as gospel. Children who will let you know they think they're right and you're wrong.

You are the mother. This title and position can only change if you allow it. If you apologize when they fuss because you didn't cut the crust, the position has changed. If you let them put you in time-out, the position has changed. But, if when they fuss about the crusted pb&j sandwich, you calmly say to them, "You don't talk to momma like that," while you cut the crust, you've done two things:
  1. You've diffused the situation. Oh trust and believe, if you throw your shoulders back and straighten your back preparing for battle, your child will do the same. Oh I know you don't allow that and this poor child will have to suffer your wrath. No pb&j for little Toot-toot. Here's my question for mothers who take the battle-route: what do you think you've accomplished? Do you really think you've taught your child how to respect other people, including you? No, no, no. Listen. As iron sharpens iron, so a strong-will sharpens a strong-will. What you're doing is teaching your child how to battle.
  2. You've taught them how to respect you, themselves, and others. I know you may well think that not putting up a resistance is not the way to teach your child to respect you. But understand this. Your child can't respect you if s/he doesn't know how. How we treat others is by responding to evil words with kindness. This kindness doesn't put the other person in a better battle position than yourself. This isn't about taking licks by refusing to fight. This is about ending the other person's need to fight. This kindness, in fact, disarms, the other person. How can the other person fight when they have no weapon? Turning the other cheek isn't letting the other person know they can hit you again. It's letting the other person know you will not fight, they're making themselves look bad, and, by the way, "That first punch didn't knock me out." By killing your child with kindness, as it were, you're made them embarrassed about having had such an attitude. Your child will probably put on a sheepish face and apologize. "Sorry, Mommy. I love you."

We've gone from the child trying to boss you around to the child now seeking your approval, right? And how do you respond? You then respond by approving of their humble behavior. No, no, no. This isn't teaching your child false humility, that they're worth less than other people. This is teaching your child true humility, that everyone is worth as much as them. And this isn't approving of their bad attitude. It's approving their response to you. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You gave them what they wanted. But you've taught them that they can get that by being nice. You know, "you get more with sugar than with vinegar." Or, some such saying. Whatever.

Now, it may not go as scripted in every case and lets deal with two probable situations. Let's say your child responds with, "You better cut my crust off." Here, you take away the sandwich, which now has no crust, until they behave. Again, you're not engaging them in battle, not sharpening their strong will. In this case, you're just demanding respect. That's fair. They don't get what they want until they do what you want by respecting you. That's fair. Then, situation #2, let's say your child doesn't respond to your kindness with kindness or such. Let's say kindness has no effect on them whatsoever. No emotional response at all. They never put on a sheepish face and seek your approval. Then instead smile snarkly and just say "ok." Darling, I hate to have to be the one to tell you, you might be dealing with a psychopath.

Don't get me wrong. It's not standing up for my independence that my mother has a problem with. Here's the problem: by defending my independence, I have to challenge the idea that she's right. Her problem is with me challenging her. And she has this old-school, discredited, idea that a child should never, ever go about as though the parent is wrong. Well, on second thought, when it comes to other people and their children, it's okay. When it comes to me and her, it's not. All my life, I've felt like she's disrespected my agency of choice. Trust and believe, even children have the ability to choose and they like to exercise their ability to choose. Yes, set boundaries. Don't let your child choose what's for dinner, choose what you cook. But whether or not your child eats dinner is up to them. Let them sit there hungry. They'll eat eventually. And most important, you've let them exercise their right to choose on matters dealing with them. But you've set the boundary that they don't choose on matters under your control.

But really. If your child has realized their independence from you as a separate individual, be glad about that. That's something that has to happen for healthy human growth and to become a healthy adult. And in fact, if your child never asserts this independence as a separate adult, they will either grow up to be everybody's doormat, or they're a psychopath who can adjust as needed before they strike to kill.

When they assert their independence from you as a separate individual, assess the situation. Is this decision ultimately about you or them. If it effects you as in the previous pb&j example, diffuse the situation with kindness. If it effects your child, like what shoes they wear on any random day just to go out, again, diffuse the situation with kindness. And this kindness says, "Okay, you can wear those shoes."

Or, if they're trying to wear sandals during winter, this is what you do. You acknowledge that they want to pick out their shoes themselves be inform them, teach them, that sandals will make their feet cold. You done two things here: one is letting your child know s/he's been heard. That's very important. Everyone wants to be heard and one of the things that exacerbates an argument between my mother and me is that she never lets me know I've been heard. This also helps them understand for themselves as a separate individual that you don't wear sandals during winter cause your feet will get cold. Next winter, you have to tell them they can't wear sandals. Then, after acknowledgement and teaching, let them choose among the pairs of acceptable shoes. If you have a stubborn child you refuses you, still don't fight back. Don't sharpen their stubbornness. Just continue acknowledging, teaching, and offering alternative choices. Children's attention span isn't long enough to be stubborn for very long. And if you're pressed for time, just put a pair of shoes on their feet and toss them in the car screaming and crying. Again, a child's attention span isn't long enough to scream and cry about shoes. Just as sure as you're born, they'll notice something else and move on.

Now that I've gotten all that off my chest, let me go practice what I preach and try kindness on my mother. I ask that those of you who know the words of prayer, pray for me.

Gotta Give Wanda Sykes Her Due!

She is hilarious! But she know good'n'well she ain't got no kids!

The president wasn't so bad, either.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Completely Unacceptable

Reading this op-ed by Bob Herbert, I knew I had to go ahead and create a new post.

h/t Prometheus6

Here's just part of Herbert's "Far from Over":

For black children, you don’t want to know. But I’ll tell you anyway. The poverty rate for black kids was 34.5 percent in 2007. If the national unemployment rate rises, as expected, to the vicinity of 10 percent next year, the poverty rate for black children would rise to 50 percent or higher, analysts at the institute believe.

I'm kinda tired now so just leave your thoughts and I'll respond later.

Update: Three Interesting, if Unrelated, Items (Previously Just Two)

Update: Three Interesting, if Unrelated Items

I'm not going to write about this. This particular post, I feel, is full. But, I do strongly encourage you read this post on honoring the abolitionist John Brown's birthday.

My comments will come in italics:

I won't lie. As much as anything else, this is hilarious! But, above that, this indicates the power women have in regards to sex when we work as a group. Now. I know "Momma got needs," and so the fact that the boycott was only a week kinda worked in women's favor. It it was a year-long boycott or an indefinite boycott, maybe enough women would've fallen off the band wagon to make the other women's celibacy kind of pointless. I don't know. But women do have power in regards to sex when we work as a group. This applies to the US to the extent that, and here's something maybe politically incorrect, not all females having pre-marital and even marital sex really want to. They just want to be in a relationship. Undoubtedly this affects teenagers and maybe women in their early twenties more than it could maybe apply to other women. That said, how many of you unmarried ladies are having sex when you really don't want to, even if you do want to have sex? I guess I'm saying that more women want to wait to have sex, even if they don't necessarily want to wait till marriage. And if more women stuck to their guns, I think some of the pressure to have sex, especially on young girls, would lift. I could be wrong. I'm stating this completely from opinion with not a lot of scientific research.

I would also like to point out that this indicates the power women have when we work together, period, for anything. Sex may be the most apparent thing that occurs to women in regard to shared power, but here in the US, we have substantial political clout. Remember, women make up the majority of voters. Whatever we want, if we worked together, we could get. More days for family leave. Affirmative action. Equal pay. More vacation days. The US works more days out of the year than any other industrialized nation. The English and French don't understand how we maintain emotional and mental health with only 2 weeks of paid vacation. I don't think we do. And we certainly don't maintain any kind of political health. People are so busy and tired from one day to the next, they don't really pay attention to what's going on in their local, state, and federal governments. They don't really pay attention to policy debates. Sound bites stand in for substantative arguments.

Take healthcare, for example. The conservatives don't want public healthcare just for its own sake. Not that it's bad. Not about keeping government small. They just don't want public healthcare taking money from the large and power insurance companies. Have you heard these people? They'll go for healthcare reform so long as there's not the option to buy into government provide healthcare competing with the various private options. Two problems with this: 1) whatever happened to the concept of free market competition? 2) I thought anything provided by the government was substantially inferior to anything provided by the private sector. Why the worry about government insurance competing with private insurance? But what the publicans will say is that they don't want state beauracracy making decisions that doctors and patients should be making. If more voters would think about it, that argument is empty. First off, no one's suggesting government beauracracy make decisions that doctors should be making. Secondly, it's not like private insurance cos aren't denying claims and costing people their lives all the time. That's part of what's keep the cost of private insurance so high! Paying to have enough people to deny claims.

And speaking of healthcare and women, if enough women worked together to get single-payer healthcare, we could have it. I am woman, here me roar!

Story Highlights

  • Kenyan sues activists, claims recent sex ban affected his marriage
  • Women were urged to withhold sex to force political reform
  • Activists not worried about lawsuit, claim sex boycott worked
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- A Kenyan man has sued activists who called on women to boycott sex to protest the growing divide in the nation's coalition government.

James Kimondo said the seven-day sex ban, which ended this week, resulted in stress, mental anguish, backaches and lack of sleep, his lawyer told the state-run Kenya Broadcasting Corp.

The lawsuit filed Friday claims lack of conjugal rights affected Kimondo's marriage and seeks undisclosed damages from the G-10, an umbrella group for women's activists, KBC said.

The women's caucus caused a national debate when it urged women to withhold sex to protest increasingly frosty relations between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Citizens of the east African nation are frustrated by a shaky coalition government, which was formed after post-election violence killed more than 1,000 people in 2008. The wrangling between Kibaki and Odinga has sparked fears of more violence.

Gender activists say they are not worried about the lawsuit.

"I have not been served with the papers, but I was told they are coming and I am eagerly waiting," said Ann Njogu, executive, director of Centers for Rights Education and Awareness. "It will be interesting to see the face of a man who is not willing to abstain for the sake of his country."

Despite the lawsuit, Njogu said, the boycott was successful.

"The principal leaders met as a result of the boycott, and I understand that they are setting up reforms to look into the country's internal security," she said.

Plans are under way for women activists to meet with Kibaki and Odinga, according to Njogu.

CNN's Faith Karimi contributed to this report.

All About Kenya

CNN's Betty Nguyen sits down with Rev. Michael Beckwith about turning to God during these rough financial times.

To answer your question, you probably recognize this guy from being on Oprah.

Now, I make no secrets about my faith. And so I share this with you for two good reasons. One is that I truly believe God will speak to us if we'll only listen. And by listen, I mean sit down sometimes and listen they way you would listen to your significant other, or to your child, or to birds. I hardly think the problem is that God isn't speaking. I think the problem is that we aren't listening. And no. I'm not talking about "hearing voices," though some do. But I don't mean "hearing God," the way people make jokes that it's okay to talk to God, but not okay if God talks to you. No. I'm not talking about scizophrenic hallucinations. I'm talking about listening to God, hearing God speak in those quiet moments that we have to ourselves. Though, working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, I guess I can understand how most people don't have time for a quiet moment to hear God speak to them. But watch what can happen when you do listen:

The other reason I posted this video is to share the thought of investing your values and beliefs. Invest in green companies. Companies with unions. Companies that do right by others. That's the only way, or at least one of very few ways, we'll get Big Business to pay attention to the needs of people. And, it's a demonstration of Christianity in action. Affecting the world by the way we invest is something Christians ought to do. Now, if you ask me, this will only work if you're trying to "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." God will only bless the efforts that truly represent his call for justice and righteousness. I think the failure of abstinence-only education should serve as an indication that God won't bless efforts to force our moral standards on others. But, "forcing" people to serve and help others I believe is okay.

Friday, May 8, 2009

If This Was Only about Texas, I Probably Wouldn't Care

The really scary thing isn't that Texas is getting these books. The real scary thing is that since Texas is one of the top 2 markets for school books, publishers tailor their books for Texas and sell them to other states across the nation.

Via my email from -

Ed Board Extremists Target Social Studies

Having done what they could to muck up the state’s science curriculum standards, fringe right-wingers on the Texas State Board of Education are now moving to politicize the social studies curriculum for public schools. Texas Freedom Network just sent out the following press release:

The Texas State Board of Education is set to appoint a social studies curriculum “expert” panel that includes absurdly unqualified ideologues who are hostile to public education and argue that laws and public policies should be based on their narrow interpretations of the Bible.

TFN has obtained the names of “experts” appointed by far-right state board members. Those panelists will guide the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. They include David Barton of the fundamentalist, Texas-based group WallBuilders, whose degree is in religious education, not the social sciences, and the Rev. Peter Marshall of Peter Marshall Ministries in Massachusetts, who suggests that California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina were divine punishments for tolerence of homosexuality.

It gets worse.

Barton, former vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, is a self-styled “historian” without any formal training in the field. He argues that separation of church and state is a “myth” and that the nation’s laws should be based on Scripture. He says, for example, that the Bible forbids taxes on income and capital gains. Yet even such groups as Texas Baptists Committed and the Baptist Joint Committee have sharply criticized Barton’s interpretations of the Constitution and history.

Barton also acknowledges having used in his publications and speeches nearly a dozen quotes he has attributed to the nation’s Founders even though he can’t identify any primary sources showing that they really said them.

Some state board members have criticized what they believe are efforts to overemphasize the contributions of minorities in the nation’s history. It is alarming, then, that in 1991 Barton spoke at events hosted by groups tied to white supremacists. He later said he hadn’t known the groups were “part of a Nazi movement.”

In addition, Barton’s WallBuilders Web site suggests as a “helpful” resource the National Association of Christian Educators/Citizens for Excellence in Education, an organization that calls public schools places of “social depravity” and “spiritual slaughter.”
And what in the world is the point of putting a right-wing evangelical minister on a social studies panel?

The Peter Marshall Ministries Web site includes Marshall’s commentaries sharply
attacking Muslims, characterizing the Obama administration as “wicked,” and calling on Christian parents to reject public education for their children.

Marshall has also attacked Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. In his call for a spiritual revival in America last year, he called traditional mainline Protestantism an “institutionally fossilized, Bible-rejecting shell of Christianity.”

Says TFN’s Kathy Miller:
“It’s absurd to suggest that Texas universities don’t have accomplished scholars in the field who are more qualified than ideologues who share a narrow political agenda. What’s next? Rush Limbaugh on the ‘expert’ panel? It’s clear now that just appointing a new chairman won’t end this board’s outrageous efforts to politicize the education of our schoolchildren. It’s time for the Legislature to make sweeping changes to the board and its control over what our kids learn in public schools.”
“With Don McLeroy’s confirmation hanging in the balance in the Senate and Lawmakers considering 15 bills that would strip the state board of its authority, these board members continue trying to push extremist politics into Texas classrooms. It’s as if they’re daring the Legislature to call them on it.”
The full press release is available here. You can learn more about Barton here and Marshall here.

This entry was posted on April 30, 2009 at 10:08 am and is filed under Uncategorized

Obama Supports a Union!

This is good news for those of us who care about economic justice. People should be pay the true value of their work; not the value of other people's concern for what they do. ~ No1KState

Here, via Huffington Post -

Obama Vs. Schwarzenegger: White House Threatens To Rescind Stimulus Funds

Rachel Wiener, 5/8/09

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been one of the prominent Republican defenders of President Obama's stimulus plan. He's called the California governor "one of the great innovators of state government" and "an outstanding partner with our administration." But their relationship has hit a rough patch.

The L.A. Times reports that the Obama administration is threatening to rescind stimulus billions of dollars in federal stimulus funds if wage cuts to unionized home healthcare workers are not restored.

Schwarzenegger's office was advised this week by federal health officials that the wage reduction, which will save California $74 million, violates provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Failure to revoke the scheduled wage cut before it takes effect July 1 could cost California $6.8 billion in stimulus money, according to state officials.
The Service Employees International Union, which represents the workers, requested the opinion from Obama's Department of Health and Human Services.

"The Obama Administration has made it clear that the State cannot cut the homecare workers' wages. Now we need our counties to follow suit and take all the cuts off the table," said SEIU Executive Vice President and SEIU UHW Trustee, Eliseo Medina.

"I am glad that President Obama stood up for us," said Greg Price, a homecare worker and SEIU UHW member in Fresno County. "Now it is up to the County to stand up for workers like me."

Schwarzenegger, however, has said the state doesn't have the money.

"Neither the Legislature nor I make decisions to reduce wages or benefits lightly, but only as a last resort in response to an unprecedented fiscal crisis," Schwarzenegger wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. He urged the administration to reconsider.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Police Brutality

I won't lie. This is good info and I want quick and easy access to it. The best way to do that is to post here what was posted at The Root.

h/t Joe at Racism Review ~ No1KState

Returning Police Brutality to the National Agenda
By: Sherrilyn A. Ifill
Posted: April 27, 2009 at 6:50 AM

Federal Efforts to Address Police Brutality

A recent videotape of a drunk police officer mocking a black murder victim pales in comparison to a recent spate of killings of black men at the hands of police. But it underscores the need to refocus federal efforts around police training.

It’s one of the depressing ironies of black life that in the Obama era, black mothers and fathers must continue giving their teenage sons “the talk.” I’m not talking about the birds and the bees. I’m talking about the “how to act when the police stop you” talk. Rule 1. Don’t talk back to the officer. Rule 2. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t doing anything wrong. Rule 3. And this is critical, don’t reach for your wallet without asking the officer first. Supplemental rule. Carry a pink cell phone if you can. A black cell phone may look like a gun to a nervous cop.

Such is the ongoing reality of the tense and too often violent encounters between black men and white police officers. Of course, the vast majority of interactions between black men and white cops don’t turn violent. But the cases in which they inexplicably do are disturbing and frequent enough that learning how to deal with the cops is a rite of passage for young black men, from the ’hood to the suburbs. The recent case involving the cell phone video of a drunk, white, off-duty police officer in Erie, Pa., [1] making crude jokes about a black murder victim and ridiculing the victim’s grieving mother, illustrates part of the problem. The insensitivity of the officer reveals how some white officers—most of whom often reside far from the black communities they patrol—devalue the lives of black men and their families. In the case of the officer in Erie, he joked that he and his partners regarded the murdered black man as just “one less drug dealer”—even though there’s no evidence that the murder victim was involved with drugs at all. The NAACP has called for the dismissal of the officer [2] and for a more direct and comprehensive apology than the tepid one offered by the Erie Police Department.

But of even greater concern than one officer’s drunken tirade is a spate of deaths of black men at the hands of police over the past few months, in locations as diverse as Oakland, Calif., and Winnfield, La.

In Oakland, cell phone camera videotapes seemed to confirm eyewitness accounts of the shooting of Oscar Grant [3] III, an unarmed and apparently unresistant 22-year-old black man, in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Lying on his stomach on the platform of a BART subway station platform, Grant reportedly pleaded for his life, telling the officer, “I got a 4-year-old daughter.” Grant was shot in the back and died on the scene. The incident led to weeks of unrest in Oakland.

Louisiana has turned up a pair of disturbing police killings, including that of Bernard Monroe, a 73-year-old man who was shot and killed in his front yard by police [4] as his family looked on in horror. The local NAACP branch vice president contends that the police in Homer, La., routinely harass black residents. “People here are afraid of the police,” she concluded. In response, the Homer police chief reportedly stated that he wants young black men walking down the street “to be afraid [that] every time they see the police . . . they might get arrested.” Presumably elderly black men walking in their front yard should be similarly intimidated.
The 2008 Taser death of 21-year-old Baron Pikes [5] in Winnfield is particularly grisly. Tasered nine times within 14 minutes by a 21-year-old white officer, Pikes may well have been dead – handcuffed and unresponsive in a police cruiser—when the last two 50,000-volt charges were delivered directly to his chest. The officer reportedly admitted that he began using his Taser on Pikes when the handcuffed black man responded too slowly to the officer’s demand that Pikes get up and walk to the police car.

In Dallas, 23-year-old Robbie Tolan, a minor league baseball player and the son of former Major League Baseball player Bobbie Tolan, was shot in his own driveway [6]in an affluent white suburb on New Year’s Eve. White police officers, purportedly believing that the SUV driven by Tolan and his cousin was stolen, approached the young black men and ordered them to lie down on the ground. The car belonged to Tolan’s parents, and the officers reportedly did not identify themselves. When Tolan’s parents came outside to find out what was happening, one of the officers allegedly shoved Mrs. Tolan against the garage. Robbie Tolan yelled to the officer to stop pushing his mother, and that, witnesses say, is when he was shot by one of the officers. Tolan was recently released from the hospital with the bullet still lodged in his liver.

One needn’t walk through the serial incidents of innocent black men killed at the hands of New York City cops over the past 10 years. If you don’t know about Sean Bell [7], the young man shot and killed by police outside his bachelor party, or Amadou Diallo [8]—shot at 41 times by police—you’ve been living under a rock.

The results of these incidents are depressingly predictable. Outrage. Marches. Most often no indictment. Sometimes an indictment. Always an acquittal. More marches. Next incident.

The stunning lack of change suggests that our protest-oriented approach to police brutality must focus less on punishment for individual officers, and more on systemic institutional changes within our police academies and departments. Real police training in the areas of racial sensitivity and diversity is woefully insufficient in many academies. But such training should be mandatory and intense for all officers who patrol our streets and highways armed with deadly weapons. The fact that many white officers do not come from or live in the black communities they patrol produces potential problems as well. We need to increase dramatically financial incentives to officers who live in, or at least adjacent to the neighborhoods where they work.

Being a bigot ought to be a disqualifying factor for police recruits, and more rigorous personality testing should be employed to flesh this out. Most importantly, police department leaders should impose zero tolerance on discrimination and bigotry in the ranks. Even something as seemingly tangential as stricter tests for physical fitness tests for officers might be called for. One of the excuses offered for the Pikes incident was that the officer’s partner had just returned to patrol after triple bypass surgery and couldn’t assist his partner in subduing Pikes. But a high-powered Taser in the hands of a young, inexperienced officer is not an appropriate replacement for a physically fit partner. In fact, the increasing use of tasers by police departments across the country should be fully examined and reviewed.

As the Justice Department continues to reshape itself under Attorney General Eric Holder, we need to return some federal attention to the issue of police brutality. The incidents we’ve seen over the past months are reflective of a pattern, and not an unfamiliar one. Often they involve white cops, but some black cops also engage in police brutality. The victims of excessive force are disproportionately black or Latino. It’s time we take up again a national dialogue about police misconduct and offer financial incentives to jurisdictions whose departments undertake rigorous diversity training programs, vigorously investigate and punish officers for wrongdoing, and significantly improve their records with civilian complaint review boards.

In this period of new beginnings and change, we should take up the issue of race and police brutality with candor, respect and with an eye toward solutions. Then maybe “the talk” black parents have with their young sons can focus more exclusively on how to avoid the pitfalls of criminal life (and, of course, the birds and the bees), and not how to avoid getting killed by the police.

Sherrilyn A. Ifill is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and a civil rights lawyer.

If They Are So Scared, How Come We're The Dead Ones? [7]
The Untimely Death of Oscar Grant III [3]
The Race Police Need to Lay Off Imus [9]

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reverse Discrimination or Employment Fairness?

Update: I should've place this a couple of days ago. But, better late than never, I hope. I learned watching Hardball with Chris Matthews that 2/3rds of the oral examiners were people of color. So at this point, I really, really hope the black officers just didn't study.

All right. Here goes.

I've been silent about the case of the 20 white firefighters suing the city of New Haven for essentially reverse discrimination largely because I didn't know what to think. I felt conflicted. I felt bad for the 20 white firefighters, especially the lead plaintiff, who has dyslexia. But, I won't like, race solidarity and awareness of racism made me wanna make sure I knew as much as possible. I've come to two basic conclusions.

What happened is this:

The 20 plaintiffs, one of whom is Hispanic and also identified as white, claim that the city's decision to scrap the examination results before any promotions were made violated their rights to be employed in an environment free from racial classification.

All 20 plaintiffs would have qualified for promotion to lieutenant or captain had the test, which the city purchased for $100,000 from a consultant, been used by the city civil service board. No blacks scored high enough to qualify for promotion. The test was divided between written and oral questions.
I wasn't too sure about the tests being thrown out. There are lots of issues surrounding test taking that go beyond the glib, "just study and you'll be fine." There is a such thing as stereotype anxiety, and it's real. Now, I feel absolutely sure about the questionability of the tests. Oral questions? That's what sunk it for me. Now. If there're records of oral examination that someone could go back and look over, and after getting some experts it's found that race didn't impact that section of the examination, fine. Until then, what's up with that portion of the exam. The problem I have with oral examinations is that it seems hard to get around the grading being subjective. And please don't make me go into how looking black and sounding black has a negative effect on the employment prospects of black people, cause without knowing exactly what happened, subjectivity equals racism.

My biggest apprehension with this case is that conservatives are trying and, not knowing how Justice Kennedy may side, may be successful at undoing all affirmative action legislation or policy. This is from the L.A. Times:

The problem is that some conservative justices clearly see the New Haven case as an opportunity to advance their plan to outlaw all race-conscious decisions by government. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. pressed that view during arguments last month when he wondered aloud what would happen if a city abandoned a test because black firefighters had scored disproportionally well. The implication was that taking race into account to advance minority participation is the moral and legal equivalent of Jim Crow laws.

That long has been Roberts' view. But for the full court to embrace it in this case would oversimplify the issue of racial equality and create new national standards from the unusual facts in one fire department. The court shouldn't use this hard case to make bad civil rights law.
And here's a suggestion. When it comes to resolving the conflict between "workplace diversity and the prohibition against race-based decisions in hiring and promotion": specifically prohibited the hiring and promotion of whites and males, yes, some people are both, on the basis of race or gender. The problem this country is facing is white supremacy and privilege. This is not a pro-black country. I think Pat Buchanan can relax.

Killing Black Business

I am just ripping off Btx3 today! Sorry. You should be getting my own original brand of checking the racism very soon. ~ No1KState

crossposted at dangerousNegro:

Farbeit for me to become another of those black liberals just finding things to hang around white folks and Republicans' necks like fiery cross-shaped albatrosses. Though, they do give us a lot of material to work with. I mean, they have an entire cable news channel we can dress down every day!

But. It is important that we offer policy proposals and other ideas to move us as a community and the nation forward. And here's one idea: the government should actually help keep black business strong and not collaborate in its destruction!

Via my new black blogosphere friend, Btx3:

President Obama wasn’t kidding about the demolition of small business under the Bushit administration. This data derived from statistics kept by the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies pretty much says it all.

The Shrinking Small Business Pie - SBIC Investment Under Bush

Look at that bottom right number, and as part of the “Shrinking pie” - it isn’t hard to discern whose shorts got hit the hardest.

Look at the bottom line - that was the shrinking percentage to Women and Minority owned businesses, down from 26% in 1998.

When you consider that only about 3% of the commercial Venture Capital money goes to women owned businesses, and .03% goes to black owned businesses - you begin to understand the “problem”.


Please read the entire article.

American Extremists Aren't Allowed in the UK!

This gives me endless delight and amusement. The UK ain't allowing us to spread racism and homophobia. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

To our credit, we do allow free speech here in America. But there are some things I wish people weren't allowed to say. ~ No1KState

Anyway, h/t to Btx3 via a comment at jjp and from

U.K. Denies Entry to Islamic, Baptist Preachers, Michael Savage

By Kitty Donaldson

May 5 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. radio broadcaster Michael Savage and the pastors of a Baptist church are among those barred from entering the U.K. for allegedly stirring-up hatred and fostering extremism, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said.

Savage, whose real name is Michael Alan Weiner, has authored books such as “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” and was one of 22 foreigners named by Smith as ineligible to visit Britain. She published a list of those banned between October 2008 and March 2009 for “fostering extremism or hatred.”

Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, which preaches against homosexuals, and fellow church spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper (They're website is You can go there if you like, but I'm not going to link it.) were also banned for “unacceptable behavior” that might stir up “inter-community violence” in the U.K.

“Coming to the U.K. is a privilege, and I refuse to extend that privilege to individuals who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life,” Smith said in an e-mail today. “I will not hesitate to name and shame those who foster extremist views. They are not welcome here.”

Britain has toughened measures to exclude so-called preachers of hate after the bombing of the London Underground and bus network in 2005. The rules also target Islamic clerics and people with links to the al-Qaeda terrorist group.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government now is banning about five people a month under the current policy, more than double the previous rate.

Preachers Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal, Yunis Al Astal, Safwat Hijazi and Amir Siddique were also banned, the U.K. said. Also on the list were Mike Guzovsky, the leader of a violent group, and the creator of a white supremacist Web site Stormfront, Stephen Donald Black.

Web radio broadcaster Eric Gliebe was also denied entry as was Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, who lead a gang accused of beating migrants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at

Last Updated: May 5, 2009 06:58 EDT
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Racism in Session(s)

On the eve of Pres. Obama's crucial nomination of a justice to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court, the Republicans have chosen Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to replace Sen. Arlen Spector (presently D-PA) as ranking member on the senate's judicial committee. I think it's important to know what we're getting so we can begin thinking of how to respond. And also because I think what we're getting sucks.

Closed Sessions
The senator who's worse than Lott.

Sarah Wildman, The New Republic Published: December 30, 2002

Trent Lott must think he's living in a nightmare. More than one week has passed since his segregationist cheerleading at Strom Thurmond's century celebration, and the chorus of anti-Lottism has swelled ever louder. Conservatives in particular can't scream loud enough. William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, called Lott's comments "thoughtless" and told CBS's "Early Show" audience on December 12 that "Trent Lott shows such a lack of historical understanding that I think it would be appropriate for him to offer to step down." And conservative pundit Peggy Noonan told Chris Matthews this Sunday, "I am personally tired of being embarrassed by people ... who don't get what the history of race in America is, what integration has meant, what segregation was. I'm tired of being embarrassed by Republicans ... who don't get it."

It's a nice sentiment, and, if conservatives are serious about it, they might want to direct their attention one state to Lott's east, home of Alabama Republican Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. His record on race arguably rivals that of the gentleman from Mississippi--and yet has elicited not a peep of consternation from the anti-racist right.

Sessions entered national politics in the mid-'80s not as a politician but as a judicial nominee. Recommended by a fellow Republican from Alabama, then-Senator Jeremiah Denton, Sessions was Ronald Reagan's choice for the U.S. District Court in Alabama in the early spring of 1986. Reagan had gotten cocky by then, as more than 200 of his uberconservative judicial appointees had been rolled out across the country without serious opposition (this was pre-Robert Bork). That is, until the 39-year-old Sessions came up for review.

Sessions was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. The year before his nomination to federal court, he had unsuccessfully prosecuted three civil rights workers--including Albert Turner, a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr.--on a tenuous case of voter fraud. The three had been working in the "Black Belt" counties of Alabama, which, after years of voting white, had begun to swing toward black candidates as voter registration drives brought in more black voters. Sessions's focus on these counties to the exclusion of others caused an uproar among civil rights leaders, especially after hours of interrogating black absentee voters produced only 14 allegedly tampered ballots out of more than 1.7 million cast in the state in the 1984 election. The activists, known as the Marion Three, were acquitted in four hours and became a cause c?l?bre. Civil rights groups charged that Sessions had been looking for voter fraud in the black community and overlooking the same violations among whites, at least partly to help reelect his friend Senator Denton.

On its own, the case might not have been enough to stain Sessions with the taint of racism, but there was more. Senate Democrats tracked down a career Justice Department employee named J. Gerald Hebert, who testified, albeit reluctantly, that in a conversation between the two men Sessions had labeled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "un-American" and "Communist-inspired." Hebert said Sessions had claimed these groups "forced civil rights down the throats of people." In his confirmation hearings, Sessions sealed his own fate by saying such groups could be construed as "un-American" when "they involve themselves in promoting un-American positions" in foreign policy. Hebert testified that the young lawyer tended to "pop off" on such topics regularly, noting that Sessions had called a white civil rights lawyer a "disgrace to his race" for litigating voting rights cases. Sessions acknowledged making many of the statements attributed to him but claimed that most of the time he had been joking, saying he was sometimes "loose with [his] tongue." He further admitted to calling the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a "piece of intrusive legislation," a phrase he stood behind even in his confirmation hearings.

It got worse. Another damaging witness--a black former assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama named Thomas Figures--testified that, during a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he "used to think they [the Klan] were OK" until he found out some of them were "pot smokers." Sessions claimed the comment was clearly said in jest. Figures didn't see it that way. Sessions, he said, had called him "boy" and, after overhearing him chastise a secretary, warned him to "be careful what you say to white folks." Figures echoed Hebert's claims, saying he too had heard Sessions call various civil rights organizations, including the National Council of Churches and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, "un-American." Sessions denied the accusations but again admitted to frequently joking in an off-color sort of way. In his defense, he said he was not a racist, pointing out that his children went to integrated schools and that he had shared a hotel room with a black attorney several times.

During his nomination hearings, Sessions was opposed by the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, People for the American Way, and other civil rights groups. Senator Denton clung peevishly to his favored nominee until the bitter end, calling Sessions a "victim of a political conspiracy." The Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee finally voted ten to eight against sending Sessions to the Senate floor. The decisive vote was cast by the other senator from Alabama, Democrat Howell Heflin, a former Alabama Supreme Court justice, who said, "[M]y duty to the justice system is greater than any duty to any one individual."

None of this history stopped Sessions's political ascension. He was elected attorney general in 1994. Once in office, he was linked with a second instance of investigating absentee ballots and fraud that directly impacted the black community. He was also accused of not investigating the church burnings that swept the state of Alabama the year he became attorney general. But those issues barely made a dent in his 1996 Senate campaign, when Heflin retired and Sessions ran for his seat and won.

Since his election as a senator, Sessions has not done much to make amends for his past racial insensitivity. His voting record in the Senate has earned him consistent "F"s from the NAACP. He supported an ultimately unsuccessful effort to end affirmative action programs in the federal government (a measure so extreme that many conservatives were against it), he opposed hate-crimes laws, and he opposed a motion to investigate the disproportionate number of minorities in juvenile detention centers. Says Hillary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau, "[Sessions's] voting record is disturbing. ... He has consistently opposed the bread-and-butter civil rights agenda." But it has been on judicial nominees that Sessions has really made a name for himself. When Sessions grabbed Heflin's Senate seat in 1996, he also nabbed a spot on the Judiciary Committee. Serving on the committee alongside some of the senators who had dismissed him 16 years earlier, Sessions has become a cheerleader for the Bush administration's judicial picks, defending such dubious nominees as Charles Pickering, who in 1959 wrote a paper defending Mississippi's anti-miscegenation law, and Judge Dennis Shedd, who dismissed nearly every fair-employment civil rights case brought before him as a federal district court judge. Sessions called Pickering "a leader for racial harmony" and a "courageous," "quality individual" who was being used as a "political pawn." Regarding Shedd, he pooh-poohed the criticism, announcing that the judge "should have been commended for the rulings he has made," not chastised.

And yet, despite his record as U.S. Attorney, attorney general of Alabama, and senator, Sessions has never received criticism from conservatives or from the leadership of the Republican Party. President Bush even campaigned for him in the last election. It's true, of course, that Sessions isn't in a leadership position, like Lott. But, if conservatives are serious about ending the perception that the GOP tolerates racism, they should look into his record as well. After all, if Noonan and friends are really "tired of being embarrassed" by this kind of racial insensitivity, they can't just start yelling once the news hits the stands.

Sarah Wildman was an assistant editor at The New Republic from 1999 to 2003.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Update on Section 5

h/t P6

Yep. Just as I suspected. The conservative judges seem to want to overturn "the political judgment of lawmakers." It appears that they're on the brink of . . . judicial activism!

From the Washington Post:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. appeared extremely skeptical about Congress's conclusion that such an extension was needed. "Obviously no one doubts the history here and that the history was different," he said, referring to the history of discrimination in the states covered by Section 5. "But at what point does that history . . . stop justifying action with respect to some jurisdictions?" The chief justice apparently gave little credence to the information gathered by Congress over 10 months and 21 hearings that contemporary -- not just historical -- discrimination exists and justifies the extension.
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