Sunday, November 29, 2009

You Just Too Damn Fat!!

Lincoln University, an HBCU in rural Pennsylvania, is getting international attention and coverage, and lots of heat for requiring students with BMI over 30 to take a specific PE in order to graduate.

Okay. Let's deal with some particulars. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to both adult men and women. BMI Categories:
Personally, I'm just on the edge of normal weight. Whew. You can calculate your BMI at the link. Remember, though, the muscle weighs more than fat, so you could have a high BMI and still be considered normal weight.

People with a BMI over 30 are obese and at risk for lots of health problems including diabetes and heart disease. Now, perhaps with the exception of white women, there is nothing definitive that weight has a negative impact on income. But, a higher BMI, with its associated health risks, in the end costs more.

As for the university, they don't have the resources to offer this course to everyone, which is what they'd like to do. So they make a requirement for people with BMIs over 30 not to be discriminatory, but to target the class to those who need it most. And there's no doubt they could've done a better job communicating the specifics to students and others.

That said, I completely agree with the universities decision to make this a requirement. The health risks to our community of obesity are too large and have too much of an impact to big ignored. Now sure, some of the problem in the Black community is related to poverty and urban planning, ie lack of access to healthy food. And of course, the older you get, the less likely you are to lose weight, and policies like these would have a greater impact on school children. But college students aren't exactly adults, sorry. Though, this is more about whether or not you're set in your ways than it's about being qualified to vote. And regardless of the neighborhood, we need to empower ourselves to make healthier decisions. If you can't run outside because it's not safe, I'm not suggesting you by a bullet-proof vest and go jogging; but maybe you can do some jumping jacks or push-ups in your house?

And, I don't know. I just think the black community stands to gain a lot by improving our overall health. First off is the lives that'll be saved not to mention money spent on on health care! It's important to send the message that healthiness is important. And who knows? Once we're healthier, maybe we'll have the energy and time to invest in anti-racist activities. We don't know the impact this can have, yet.

Even if they change the particulars, Lincoln definitely needs to keep the idea. Definitely. Go Lions!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Let's Just Bring Everybody Home

h/t SNCC listserve ~

via We've had enough.
You can add your name by writing to

Open Letter from the Peace Movement to President Obama on His Upcoming Decision Regarding the Afghan War

Dear Mr. President:

According to press reports, you intend to decide sometime in November whether or not to send tens of thousands of American soldiers to Afghanistan. We are writing in advance of that decision to add our voice to those of Sen. Feingold, many House Democrats, and of a clear majority of Americans in urging you not to escalate this war, but rather to announce an immediate cease-fire followed by a withdrawal of all US troops in the fastest way consistent with the safety of our forces. We urge you to end the policy of using Predator drones to assassinate Pakistani civilians on the territory of their own country, in defiance of all concepts of international law. We also call upon you to cease all covert CIA and Pentagon operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
(Click here for rest of post.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

They Did What to Their Own Kids?

I think it's not talked about a lot, though Macon D does on occasion, but racism is bad for white people, too. Especially white kids. Now, let's be clear. Child abuse knows no racial boundaries. And so the truth as truth doesn't surprise me, it grieves me.

Michelle Chen
“Good White Stock”: Child Refugees of the British Empire

Forced migration, displacement, and racial social engineering are ugly modern phenomena that we typically associate with the denigration of oppressed racial and religious groups.

But we recently got a glimpse of a colonization effort that in some ways inverted the brutality of the imperial project. From the 1940s through the 1960s, the British government sent thousands of children—many of them from poor and distressed homes—to Australia in a program that blended social reform with manifest destiny. The massive migration was part of a scheme to transplant“good white stock,” to outer territories, including New Zealand, Canada and Rhodesia, because, as one clergy official reportedly explained, “we are terrified of the Asian hordes.”

In personal narrative on the “Lost Children of the Empire,” Eileen Fairweather recounts stories of forced migration in language that smacks of the child welfare crisis in communities of color:
Only a third of the child migrants were actually orphans - the rest had been abandoned by their parents or effectively stolen from them. As was common at the time, some parents put their children into care during hard times - a situation they hoped would be temporary. But when they returned for them, they were often told the children had died.

To make matters worse, the young migrants' documents were frequently destroyed, so they did not even know their parents' names and had no way back into the lives from which they had been ripped....

Michael's worst tormentor enjoyed holding him naked upside-down over a river while beating him, so that the water drowned out his cries. 'He told me it was easy to drown and accidents happen all the time.' Another enjoyed setting his dogs on him.

So this was where Britain's great experiment in replenishing the colonies had led. It was a brutal yet predictable outcome for the little boy abandoned to predatory priests.
The wholesale removal of children from their communities and into alien homes condemned many to devastating physical and sexual abuse. They were captives in a land to which they were supposed to deliver civilization and the great white hope. We'll never know exactly how many children and families were harmed. But the Australian government's recent, long-awaited apology for inflicting this trauma (coupled with apologies to others institutionalized by the country's cruel, discriminatory child welfare policies) suggests that the scope of the injustice, generations later, has barely begun to come to light. As with other struggles to redress historical grievances, demands for reparations haven't brought recompense for survivors.

The child migration system reveals the monstrous consequences of British imperialism's white-supremacist ideology, not only for indigenous peoples but for the colonizers' “own kind” as well. Mythologies of race privilege corrode society from within and dehumanize everyone--even “good white stock”--in the name of the grand hypocrisy of empire.

Posted at 5:47 AM, Nov 26, 2009 in Child Welfare | History | Immigration | Youth | Permalink |

Day of Mourning: Who's Really Giving Thanks?

No, this isn't about American consumerism. This is about historical fact. ~ No1KState

On Thanksgiving: Why Myths Matter
By Matthew Hughey

The Myth:
The Pilgrims landed in 1620 and founded the Colony of New Plymouth. They had a difficult first winter, but survived with the help of the Indians. In the fall of 1621, the grateful Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving Day and invited the Indians to a big Thanksgiving-Day feast replete with turkey and pumpkins.

The History:
In 1614, a band of English explorers landed in the vicinity of Massachusetts Bay. When they returned home to England, they took with them Native slaves they had captured, and left smallpox behind. By the time the Puritan pilgrims sailed the Mayflower into southern Massachusetts Bay, entire nations of New England Natives were already extinct or greatly disseminated due to disease.

There was indeed a big feast in 1621, but it was not “Thanksgiving.” It was a three-day feast described in a letter by the colonist Edward Winslow. Moreover, it was a shooting party; there was neither a “Thanksgiving Day” proclamation, nor any mention of a 1621 thanksgiving celebration in any historical record.

The history of the colony was chronicled by Governor William Bradford in his book, History of Plymouth Plantation (written circa 1650, republished in 1968 by Russell and Russell publishers). Bradford relates how the Pilgrims set up a “geoist” system (a merger of what we now understand as libertarianism and communism). The land was owned in common and could not be sold or inherited, but each family was allotted a portion, and they could keep whatever they grew on that portion. As Governor Bradford describes it, “At last after much debate of things, the governor gave way that they should set corn everyman for his own particular… That had very good success for it made all hands very industrious, so much [more] corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” Yet, poor harvests prevailed, especially over the summer as the rains stopped. In response the Pilgrims held a “Day of Humiliation” in which they fervently prayed. The rains finally came in the fall and the harvest was saved. Many of the Pilgrims saw this as a sign that God blessed their new economic system and Governor Bradford proclaimed 29 November 1623 a “Day of Thanksgiving.”

This was the first proclamation of thanksgiving found in Bradford’s chronicles or any other historical record. Much later, this first “Day of Thanksgiving” was confused with the shooting party of 1621. Until approximately 1629, there were only about 300 Puritans living in widely scattered settlements around New England. As the numbers of Puritans grew, the question of ownership of the land became a major issue. It was clear to the new Puritans that there was no definite claim on the land because it had never been subdued, cultivated, and farmed in the European manner. The land was seen as “public domain.” This attitude met with great resistance from the original Puritans and so they were summarily excommunicated.

The excommunicated Puritans and others that wished to find new lands, decided to push further West away from the sea. Joined by British colonizers, they seized land, took Natives as slaves to work the land, and killed the rest. When they reached the Connecticut Valley around 1633, they met a different type of force. The Pequot Nation, a large and powerful nation that had not entered into any peace treaty as other New England Native nations had done. When two slave raiders were killed by resisting Natives, the Puritans demanded that the killers be turned over. The Pequot refused. What followed was the Pequot War, the bloodiest of the Native wars in the northeast. Pequot villages were attacked and Pequot were sold into slavery in the West Indies, the Azures, Spain, Algiers and England; everywhere the Puritan merchants traded. This rather forgotten aspect of the trans-Atlantic slave trade was so lucrative that boatloads of 500 at a time left the harbors of New England.

In 1641, the Dutch governor of Manhattan offered the first scalp bounty; a common practice in many European countries. This was broadened by the Puritans to include a bounty for Natives fit-to-be-sold for slavery. The Dutch and Puritans joined forces to exterminate Natives from New England. Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now Stamford, Connecticut, the churches of Manhattan announced a “Day of Thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the “heathen savages.” This was the second Day of Thanksgiving that was officially celebrated. It was marked by the hacking off of Native heads and kicking them through the streets of nearby Manhattan.

The killing took on frenzied tone, with days of thanksgiving held after each successful massacre. Even the relatively friendly Wampanoag did not escape. Their chief was beheaded, and his head placed on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts—where it remained for 24 years. Each town held thanksgiving days to celebrate their own victories over the Natives until it became clear that an order for these occasions was needed. It was George Washington who brought a system and a schedule to thanksgiving when he declared one day to be celebrated across the nation as what we now know as “Thanksgiving Day.” And it was Abraham Lincoln who decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War (on the same day he ordered US troops to march against the Lakota nation in Minnesota).

Why Myths Matter:
That we believe in such myths is not, in and of itself, shocking. And that the US has achieved “greatness” through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not news. These arguments have been well-rehearsed and mud-slinging for its own sake does little. This myth matters because it can serve the purposes of unethical and anti-democratic interests.

A key vehicle for taming history toward such narrow interests, remain our various patriotic holidays, with Thanksgiving at the heart of our social myth-building. From an early age, we are taught a wonderful story about the hearty Pilgrims, whose search for freedom took them from England to Massachusetts. There, aided by the friendly Indians, they survived in a new and harsh environment, leading to a harvest feast. It is a disturbingly pleasant fiction.
Since history is not stable, but open to protestation and debate, I propose we replace our social practices of remembering “Thanksgiving Day” with fasting and/or service to the homeless and hungry, done together with our families and our friends. Some indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 many have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.

Matthew W. Hughey, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Mississippi State University. His current research investigates racial identity formation, racialized organizations, and mass-media representations of race. He can be reached at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christian Side Hug

I just think it's funny. I still give Christian side hugs unless I'm trying to, you know, flirt.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oh, Yes He Did! (Updated)

Yes, there're other things in the news; and yes, I gotta give big props to the Congressional Black Caucus as black America is officially in an economic depression; and yes, this happened almost a month ago. But there is no excuse for
to be on an 8th grade pre-algebra assignment!

The good news is that some of the kids complained. The bad news is that one child teased the only black student in the class. Personally, I don't know what's more racist: that the teacher decided to use the picture, or that the teacher claims to have seen nothing wrong with it. Trust and believe, he had other options. I had to get to page 6 to find the picture myself.

In trying to find more information on the matter, since it did happen almost a month ago, I came across one blogger who commented that the fact that the mother went to the NAACP hurts her credibility, even though it was the county office. Don't get me wrong, this particular blogger ultimately decides what the teacher did is racist, but he also disagreed with the mother of the only black student in the class keeping her child out of school. So, I think I'm gonna have to do some of my best work.

Now, if you don't find the picture offensive, then I don't know what to say about that. I can hardly stand to look at the picture myself. I'm only displaying it to grab your attention.

But here's the thing. Blacks in Bucks County, PA where this happened make up just 3.2% of the population there, 10 points less than the national average. Now, there's a general feeling of vunerability among black Americans. Being less than the national average can only make things worse. I don't blame the mother for bringing in her county's NAACP office or keeping her child out of school. And this is allegedly one of the best schools in the nations. It's not about fear of physical danger. It's about the psychic toll such an assault can have on the child. It's not an emotionally safe place to learn. As someone who's had to learn under similar circumstances, I can tell you it takes extra mental juice to overlook something like that and learn. Think of it the same way you think of sexual harrasment. Would you have your daughter in class with a teacher who plastered Pamela Anderson on a homework assignment?

Listen. We're not going to solve race by colorblindly acting like it doesn't matter any more. So stop denying that it exists. And if it shows up in an 8th grade math teacher, it's probably down at those tea party rallies, too.

That's my first point.

Here's my second. Studies have shown that allowing someone to tell a sexist joke leads to an environment where sexism is tolerated and women are discriminated against. Other forms of "disparagement humor," whether they're about racial minorities or a lower socioeconomic class, also have the "potential to be a powerful and widespread force that can legitimize prejudice in our society."

And so this teacher gave us a perfect example of how this operates. He pastes this picture on a math worksheet. He probably really didn't see the problem with this disparagement humor. (Hint to white people and men, if your "joke" puts someone down, it's offensive. Don't get me wrong, I can understand how white people would find jokes about smelling like wet dogs offensive. But, first, I feel quite safe in saying you don't know our white jokes because you haven't heard very many. After all, Bernie Mac and the man from 227 went through a list of "nicknames" for white people, but Ashton Kutcher told 4 jokes. And if your anti-black jokes work the same way our yor-mama jokes do, then I know there are hundreds of other jokes, maybe more; and, the ones Ashton told have are probably no longer in fad.) White people rarely do, even if the only way to get the "joke" is to already be familiar with the historic racist stereotype of black people and watermelons. (If you're not, I mean really not, please watch this mockumentary.) I guess that's because if you tell the same joke dozens of times around white people, it may never occur to you that others would be offended.

Wow. That's privilege.

So, there are some students who protest the picture, but the teacher hands out the worksheets still. Then, one classmate turns to the only black child and asks if that's his daddy, cause we all know most black kids don't know who their father is.

This teacher doesn't mean a class on tolerance or sensitivity. He needs a history class and an, pardon my languagne, ass-whooping.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What the what!?!?!

I hardly know what to say about this, people using Psalm 109:8 as an anti-Obama slogan. I mean, did they miss the W Bush years or the part about loving your enemies? And what is it that they're accusing Pres Obama of anyway. If you're one of these haters, please let me know. And being specific. Don't go into bland, political ideological talking points about healthcare reform or the bail out. No, I want you to be specific. Did you not receive your share of the stimulus? Perhaps he aborted your baby. Maybe he started one war and then forgot about it, or maybe he lied us into a completely unnecessary war and let contractors defraud the country out of billions, maybe even trillions of dollars.

Really, I wanna know. But I want specific descriptions of what he did and why it warrants this reaction. No accusations about destroying America. Tell me how he's destroying America, allegedly. Understand? Less adjectives and adverbs, more nouns and verbs. I mean, if it's that bad, I want to know. So what is he doing that you find so abominable that you advocate violence against him?

Good News for NOLA

Apparently, the government is going to appeal, but I should hope Pres Obama will do the right thing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This Is Why Healthcare Should Never Be Left to the Free Market

. . . er, duh!

Goldman To Private Insurers: No Health Care Reform at
All Is Best

Sam Stein

The Senate Finance Committee bill, which Goldman's
analysts conclude is the version most likely to survive
the legislative process, is described as the "base"
scenario. Under that legislation (which did not include
a public plan) the earnings per share for the top five
insurers would grow an estimated five percent from 2010
through 2019. And yet, the "variance with current
valuation" -- essentially, what the value of the stock
is on the market -- is projected to drop four percent.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The More Things Change . . .

On the one hand, the House passed healthcare reform legislation. Fantastic. On the other hand, in order to secure support from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, no company participating in the exchange will be allowed to cover abortion. See, even though there are 2 or 3 amendments already in place that prevent federal funding for abortion,  they were so concerned about the few pennies that might slip over to cover abortion due to the fungible nature of things.

What a load of crap. It wouldn't be so bad if there were no federal funding for groups to lie and coerce and con women into having unwanted babies, but there is. It wouldn't be so bad if there were no federal funding for groups to lie about the efficacy of contraception and side effects of abortion, but there is.

It's bad enough that we aren't moving to a single-payer system or even a "robust" public plan. We didn't have to participate in bullshit masquerading as religion.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Oh, My Allah!!

If you think that just because this guy's last name is "Hasan" this was probably an act of psuedo-Islamic terror, you are an awful, awful person.

That said, you gotta give it up to POW Shoshana Johnson! I've mentioned her before. She was captured along with Jessica Lynch, the white girl who got all the media and money love. I'm not mad at Lynch. I'm not. I just think Johnson deserves the same.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Now That You Mention It . . .

Courtesy Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post ~

A World of Change in 287 Days
By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's been a year since a healthy majority of American voters elected Barack Obama to change the world. Which is precisely what he's doing.

Like many people who desperately want to see the country take a more progressive course, I quibble and quarrel with some of President Obama's actions. I wish he'd been tougher on Wall Street, quicker to close Guantanamo, more willing to investigate Bush-era excesses, bolder in seeking truly universal health care. I wish he could summon more of the rhetorical magic that spoke so compellingly to the better angels of our nature.

But he's a president, not a Hollywood action hero. Most of my frustration is really with the process of getting anything done in Washington, which is not something Obama can unilaterally change, nimbly circumvent or blithely ignore. One thing the new administration clearly did not anticipate was that Republicans in Congress would be so consistently and unanimously obstructionist -- or that Democrats would have to be introduced to the alien concept of party discipline. It took the White House too long to realize that bipartisanship is a tango and that there's no point in dancing alone.

Step back for a moment, though, and look at Obama's record. His biggest accomplishment has been keeping the worst financial and economic crisis in decades from turning into another Great Depression. Yes, the $787 billion stimulus package has been messy, but most economists believe it was absolutely necessary -- and some believe it should have been even bigger. Yes, Obama continued the Bush-era policy of showering irresponsible financial institutions with billions in public funds. Yes, the administration bailed out the auto industry -- and we actually heard the president of the United States reassure Americans that General Motors warranties would be honored.

But these and other actions convinced the financial markets that the White House would do anything to avoid a complete meltdown. The economy grew at a rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter and, while unemployment may not yet have peaked, the odds of a strong and fairly swift recovery have greatly improved.

Responding to the crisis required creating an enormous fiscal deficit that Obama will spend years trying to reduce. But not even the most conservative economists recommend attacking the deficit before the economy is stabilized on a path of growth. Only Republican demagogues think that's a good idea.

On national security, Obama moved at once to categorically renounce torture -- a big step toward removing the ugly stain that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney left on our national honor. It looks as if Obama will miss his self-imposed one-year deadline for closing the Guantanamo prison, but a delay of a few weeks or months will be worth it if the administration succeeds in developing a comprehensive legal framework -- consistent with our ideals and traditions -- for bringing terrorism suspects to justice.

Obama should have supported a full-blown investigation into apparent Bush-era violations of national and international law. And, at a minimum, he should allow the limited torture probe ordered by Attorney General Eric Holder to follow the evidence wherever it might lead.

But at least the administration is on schedule in withdrawing combat troops from Iraq. I don't think Obama knows the right answer on Afghanistan; I'm not sure anybody does.

Obama's months in office have been so action-packed that it's easy to forget some of the historic steps he has taken: nominating Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court. Going to Egypt and speaking directly to the Muslim world about cooperation rather than conflict. Embracing multilateralism as the template for U.S. foreign policy in the new century. Accepting the scientific consensus on climate change. Investing in "green" jobs and education reform as key engines of economic development.

And then there's health-care reform. I've been impatient with Obama's strategy of letting Congress take the lead on writing legislation, but he's brought us to the brink of truly meaningful reform much faster than anyone could have imagined a year ago. We still have some fighting to do over two words -- "public" and "option" -- but it looks like the principle that everyone is entitled to health insurance, a Democratic Party goal for at least six decades, is about to become law.

Quite a record for 287 days: All that, and a Nobel Peace Prize, too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The New Racism on Television

The was posted on youtube a year ago, so I'm way, way late! But better late than never.

Share your thoughts, and I'll share mine.

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But Don't Jack My Genuis