Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stop Corporate Funded Voter Suppression (Updated)

Update (h/t Credo Mobile - That's their Facebook page.) -
Advocates: Companies can’t support black consumers and those pushing restrictive voting laws 
An online advocacy group is urging corporations that market to African-Americans to stop giving money to a conservative organization working for stricter voting laws. The group, ColorofChange, is targeting companies that support the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a nonprofit that has helped states pass photo ID laws, which are criticized by minority and civil rights groups. Its members include legislators and corporations, who pay higher fees to join.

This is really important.

via Color of Change

For years, the right wing has been trying to stop Black people, other people of color, young people, and the elderly from voting — and now some of America’s biggest companies are helping them do it. These companies have helped pass discriminatory voter ID legislation by funding a right wing policy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

ALEC’s voter ID laws are undemocratic, unjust and part of a longstanding right wing agenda to weaken the Black vote. Major companies that rely on business from Black folks shouldn’t be involved in suppressing our vote. Please join us in demanding that these companies stop funding ALEC.

Here's the letter we'll send to the leadership of corporations that support ALEC, on your behalf. You can add a personal comment using the box to the right.*

Dear President/CEO and Board,

I want to alert you to the fact that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – which your company funds – is pushing discriminatory voter ID legislation that suppresses the votes of blacks, the elderly, youth and other minorities. Bills based on ALEC’s model legislation have been introduced in 34 states, and have already passed in seven states.

Although proponents of voter ID laws claim the goal is to reduce voter fraud, there is no evidence that such fraud occurs with any regularity in this country. What is clear is that these voter ID laws unreasonably increase barriers to voting access for large numbers of people and could disenfranchise up to 5 million people across the nation. These laws are part of a long history of racist and discriminatory restrictions on voting designed to disenfranchise African Americans and other underrepresented groups.

I presume your company does not want to support voter suppression, nor have your products or services associated with discrimination and large-scale voter disenfranchisement. I urge you to immediately stop funding ALEC and issue a public statement making it clear that your company does not support discriminatory voter ID laws and voter suppression.


[Your name]

*A comment box is provided on the petition webpage.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Reading, Writing, and Walking Out!

After the Washington state government proposed in a special legislative session to cut education funding as a way to close a $2 billion budget gap, hundreds of students from Garfield High School walked out of class in protest, the Seattle Post Intelligencerreports.
See what happens when you stop funding education? You start losing R's.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Occupy Your School! What!

Vanilla ice cream, Cadillac car.
We're not as dumb as you think we is!
     -black comedian whose name I can't remember. I would've made that the title, but you can see how long that is.
Bronx Students Occupy Public Education, Release 10-Point Plan
       A group of young activists from the Bronx called say they’re being deprived of a quality education, and they’re prepared to fight for something better.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Has Columbus Just Discovered Injustice, Too?

Yes, it could be that I've spent too much time discussing global capitalism's reliance on racism and the oppression and exploitation of people of color. Organizations and people who advocate for people of color and the poor, like ACORN, have been dismantled, disparaged, and dismissed. The Rev. Jesse Jackson led a march on Wall St as early as December 2007. (Boy, has it catch on!)

But now that the shit has hit the fan, and white unemployment is as high now, during this economic crisis, as black unemployment was low in 2007, you see fit to organize and Occupy Wall St. Now that even you, average white American, can be knocked around - but not shot and killed while handcuffed - by the police, you want to protest police brutality.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"The Help": the True Story

What is needed is a book by a maid or a group of maids on the white people they work for.
I know, right! I came across this via the sncc listserve:
No thanks Kathryn Stockett, I don't want to be "The Help"

I was a maid in high school. I cleaned white peoples houses on Saturdays and after school. I cleaned, washed and ironed clothes and waxed the kitchen floor for $3.00 and twenty cents, the latter being for bus fare. I came from a family of nine children so this was the only way I could make spending money. There were no fast food places like McDonald's during the fifties for had they existed I would have had a part-time job at one of them to get spending money.

There is nothing glorious about cleaning up after dirty people and nothing like being exploited by people who don't give a damn about you. I have written about this in my memoir that I am almost finished writing. Maids are invisible and their lives are invisible to their white employers. When I was fourteen, I quit a job when the white girl who was my age DEMANDED that I wash her blood stained underwear from her menstrual period. When her mother came home from work she told her that I refused to do so and her Mother lit into me saying I thought I was too good to wash these clothes. Before I left that day I made sure that the pancakes Jo Lee demanded that I make for her included dirty dishwater instead of water or milk, and I fried them with the ring of grease around their nasty kitchen sink instead of lard. Jo Lee praised me for making what she described as the best pancakes she'd ever eaten.

As I stood there and watched her eat, I felt vindicated because I had gotten her back in the only way I felt I could. Had I verbally lashed out at her in a tit for tat her mother could have had me arrested for being uppity or she could have done so on some trumped up charges. It was not inconceivable that her mother could have had some mean men torch our home. I never took pride in what I did but as I held back my salty tears that Saturday morning I couldn't think of any other way to fight back for being called a Nigger and being told that I "had" to wash her soiled underwear. "Who do you think you are?" she had demanded. "You think you too good to wash my clothes? You're just a Nigger!" she shouted. My regret that day was that I couldn't tell her that I had fed her dirty dishwater and grease from the sink.

A year later when Jo Lee and I were fifteen years old , I heard from my neighbor who sent me to work at Jo Lee's home that she had gotten married because she was pregnant. She and her high school drop-out husband were living in a shotgun house in the white people's poor section of town. Can you imagine Jo Lee writing a book about me, my feelings, dreams, thoughts, aspirations and goals? Can you imagine Jo Lee being able to step out of her role of racial superiority long enough to give voice to me and my family? Could Jo Lee ever be interested in where and how I lived, went to school, who my friends were, what we did for recreation, what I studied in school, etc.? Absolutely not. The culture did not allow for a bi-lateral relationship in which this could have occurred. Therefore, how can Kathryn Stockett get inside the head of her characters and truly understand them except from her unilateral and imaginary perspective? She said as much when she said she didn't know anything about her family's maid outside the work environment when she was growing up, and she didn't question it.

It was a rare white employer who had enough humane interest to know the backgrounds and interests of their maids and other black employees. My grandmother was a case in point. For as long as I can remember she worked for a white family. They owned a furniture store. The woman stayed at home and the man operated the furniture store. My grandmother cooked, cleaned, and raised their son and daughter. I was so humiliated as a child when my grandmother went to the daughter's wedding and was seated alone in the balcony. She bought a new dress, hat, purse, shoes and gloves for this occasion and was as proud as a biological mother because she had been the mother to these two children--Joann and Johnny. I remember telling her that I was going to college so I wouldn't have to be a maid. I loved my grandmother very much and I respected her. She was a kind, decent, caring and giving woman to all of us kids and to everyone else.

But my grandmother was stuck in the role of maid because that was the only kind of work she could get. She made $3.00 a day plus bus fare. I was astounded to learn that from this small salary she saved enough money for my cousin that she raised to attend nursing school at Dillard in New Orleans. My grandmother was very disappointed and sad when my cousin chose marriage over college. You see, my grandmother wanted my cousin to achieve what she hadn't been able to accomplish. She wanted to have the vicarious satisfaction of achievement and she wanted my cousin to have a better life than her own. I always regretted that she was denied this because of my cousin's personal choice. So many of our forebears sacrificed so that we could be nurses and teachers instead of maids. Which brings me back to Jo Lee and her racist mother, who called me a Nigger when she got home from work because Jo Lee told her I refused to wash her underwear. She threatened to fire me but that was unnecessary because I had no intention of going back to that job. Although their words stung but didn't break me. I knew I was not a Nigger and I knew that they were one step up from being poor white trash even though the mother was a secretary for a lawyer. She was also his paramour. If anything, their actions caused me to have a stronger resolve to go to college so that I would not have to be a maid.

As I read Kathryn Stockett's book, I was reminded that I knew a lot about Jo Lee and her divorced mother and they knew nothing about me because their white skin privilege made them view me as invisible, a non entity, and if they had to consider me at all, they saw me as inferior, as a nobody. All the maids I knew were familiar with the intimate details of the families for whom they worked. This has been the case since slavery when black women worked in the houses of white people....cooked, cleaned their houses, wet nursed their babies...then their employers turned around and called them dirty and lazy. How can you entrust someone with cooking your food and raising your children and then, like a schizophrenic, make a 180 degree turn and look on them as inferior, alien, and not worthy of knowing anything about them, or humanizing them? This is the history of black people in America... it is the history of black domestic workers. It is why my father told my mother that she would never work for white people. He saw how his mother's employers tried to dehumanize her by commission and omission.

What is needed is a book by a maid or a group of maids on the white people they work for. Now that's a book that would probably be a lot more accurate and insightful, and the dialect would be correct too. Every time I read one of Kathryn Stockett's "I'm on" instead of Imma, or I'm gonna" I got irritated. I hated it when she spelled "Eula Mae" as "Yule Mae". I got downright angry when she described the husbands of at least three maids as no count men who had gone off and left their families. At the same time, the white men in Stockett's world aren't absent or "no count" because they have professional jobs, leisure time, and they have enough money to build separate toilets for their maids. God forbid that a black maid who cooks their food would ever be allowed to use the same toilet the white people use. I guess this explains the fixation segregationists had with toilets.... for in so many public places there were four. One each for black women, black men, white women, and white men. It's no wonder they didn't have money for libraries and good schools. It was all spent making sure that no black person would ever sit on the same toilet a white behind had graced.

I have thought about my conflict with Jo Lee over the years. I have never taken pride in watching her eat pancakes made with dirty dishwater. It was not my finest young hour but racism had a way of dehumanizing everyone. In the absence of racism she and I could have been equals and friends. But discrimination allowed me to be exploited and her to behave in the worst way. I was too young to be a maid and she was too young to be giving me orders. Kathryn Stockett didn't deal with the dirty and raw outcome of discrimination. The people who populate her book and movie are viewed through rose colored glasses where everyone gets along.

Stockett's book has sold millions of copies and made her a very wealthy woman. The movie will make her even more wealthy and will bring her greater status. However, Hollywood would never have given this opportunity to a black author who wrote about black maids in white households especially in the turbulent South during the struggle for civil rights. Moreover, there is no reason to rejoice in the good old times black servants and white employers. The national marketing frenzy for The Help movie has gone wild. It even includes a full day of marketing products on the Home Shopping Network (HSN). The New Orleans chef Emeril has a new line of cooking pots and pans in honor of The Help. Think of how silly this is: to celebrate maid-ing and maid-hood when women made $3.00 a day toiling over pots and pans on hot stoves. No thanks Miz Stockett. I refuse to go back there.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

An Open Letter to Fans of The Help (Updated)

Update - Here's another explanation of how I feel: “The Help,” a feel-good movie for white people.
Like the novel on which it’s based, the movie adaptation of “The Help” will likely be a huge hit with white audiences. But for black viewers it is condescending and frequently insulting, despite admirable performances by Davis and Spencer, who bring a measure of complexity — actual flesh and blood — to the characters of Aibileen and Minny. It speaks volumes about the ongoing racial chasm in this country that a feel-good movie for white people will leave many black filmgoers feeling sad — and pessimistic that America can ever become anything more than “a nation of cowards.”
Thank you, Valerie Boyd.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oh, yeah! Wells-Fargo Under Investigation

I was dejected the other day after learning that the wealth gap between blacks and whites has widened. With the whole, ignorant debt-ceiling debate, I just wasn't in the mood for bad news.

But finding out Wells-Fargo is indeed being investigated for steering minority customer towards sub-prime loans, even if they qualified for prime rates. It's no secret that the black community has lost billions in wealth due to the bursting of the housing bubble. And Wells has already had to settle with the Federal Reserve. And this isn't the only bank involved in unscrupulous behavior. But learning that the government is gonna do something about this is . . . well, heartening.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Extra, Extra! It's Not So Bad When White People Do It

Here what you need to know:
Upper classes are marrying late, while poorer women are deciding that they’re better off single.
You can read the article analyzing a recent Census report yourself.  But the basic gist is this: due to a changing economy, middle- and upper-class individuals are marrying later than before while working- and lower-class singles may not marry at all.

It's good that people are marrying later, and indeed, the divorce rate has gone down. These are people who're taking the time to establish themselves financially before marriage and children.
The changes of the last quarter century indicate that marriage is increasingly becoming a marker of class — the delayed marriages of the middle class produce steadily lower divorce rates, very few non-marital births, and substantial resources to invest in a falling number of children. For the rest of the country, the statistics may simply confirm a greater move away from marriage altogether.
What about everybody else? The working- and lower-classes?
Working class women, however, have become more likely to have children without marrying. If the father is chronically unemployed, uncommitted to the relationship, immature or simply unreliable, young mothers may decide that they are better off on their own.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Douthat, Really?

h/t portside:

Carl Bloice starts his blackcommentator column like this (I got it via portside):
On April 17, conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote on the opinion page of the August New York Times:
Historically, the most successful welfare states (think Scandinavia) have depended on ethnic solidarity to sustain their tax-and-transfer programs. But the working-age America of the future will be far more diverse than the retired cohort it's laboring to support. Asking a population that's increasingly brown and beige to accept punishing tax rates while white seniors receive roughly $3 in Medicare benefits for every dollar they paid in (the projected ratio in the 2030s) promises to polarize the country along racial as well as generational lines.
I'm not a Douthat reader, and I've been trying to avoid overdoing politics again. My nerves can only take so much stupidity. But the title of Bloice's, "Beware of the Racial Demagoguery & the "Middle Ground," caught my attention. I couldn't finish his take before letting out my on aggression.

First of all, Douthat's right that the more homogonous a country is, the easier it is to pass social programs. Think of this - everything was going fine with America's social safety net, labor, and even the tax system right up until the social movements of the 60s and 70s. Then, the white South abandon the Democrats, joined, the Republicans, and have been refusing to pay for "welfare queens" every since. That is no coincidence.

Second and most importantly, isn't this country, one of the most racially and ethnically diverse in the world, already racially polarized? Nothing new is gonna happen by the 2030s. So I can't believe he had the audacity to come accusing future workers of color of racism. Like white folks ain't racist - just people of color? As though a whole bunch white folks ain't right now trying to undo the FDR's New Deal. As though white folks haven't been alleging that "taxes = white slavery."

Where has he been? I mean, is he serious with this? Aren't people of color the base of the Democratic party? The ones trying to keep and strengthen the social safety net?

I really wanna scream!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rose vs Hill? Nigg*r Please!

Believe you me, I made sure to understand what both Jalen Rose and Grant Hill said and had to say before launching into the deep end of this pool myself. And first, let me say that Grant got it all wrong. Jalen was not disparaging black kids from two-parent homes. The tale-end of Jalen's comments explain his thoughts quite nicely: ". . . I looked at it as they are who the world accepts and we are who the world hates." It's not coming from a two-parent home that Jalen disparaged. As I've explained here (and other places), what's at issue isn't one's fidelity to certain standards of blackness; the issue is one's fidelity to equality for all blacks and not just the acceptable ones. Don't sweat it, I'll explain it again soon at some point.

Cause that's not the point.

Here's the point. There's a point in the documentary where they discuss all the racist hate mail they received. Even some Michigan alum were livid and ashamed that Coach Steve Fisher, now with San Diego State, had dared to start five "niggers." Apparently, that just wasn't the Michigan way.

So why exactly is the "Uncle Tom" comment more important than all the hate mail they received . . . in the 1990s! I'll tell you. It's "important" because it served as another avenue for whites to avoid self-examination and focus on perceived problem within the black community.

To wit, I call bullshit!!

White folks would do well to stop being such cowards and start facing their own demons. Cause until you address your issues, white America, race will be an issue. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

So Slavery is "The S-Word" Now

And to all y'all who complain that (white people) paying taxes is equivalent to slavery, I say this: at least your dumb ass can vote. You do have some control over the situation. Not unlike the control Lebron James (even though I'm not a Prince J fan) and Carmelo Anthony (of whom I am a fan) took this past year. Have no misconception of confusion about it, I'm 100% for the NFL union. And Wisconsin's AFSCME, too, for that matter!

Dumb ass.
It’s a league where collegiate players hoping to be drafted show up to the NFL combine to be poked, prodded and have various body parts judged and measured. Teams basically do everything short of having someone run their finger along the players’ gums.
Oh! And I agree with Jalen Rose, too. I first heard of black Duke ball players being called "uncle toms" from a professor who had attended Duke as an undergrad. It has nothing to do with their living in two-parent homes or anything else so superficial to the issue. My professor pointed out the servile-like acquiescence black players, and even some white players, displayed towards Coach K. So get off that, too, white sports fans.
Slaves to the Game? Adrian Peterson and the 'S' Word
Dave Zirin | March 16, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Defending the Dream

Just remember, the full name of the 1963 event was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Dr. King was in Memphis to support the AFSCME Memphis Sanitation Workers' strike.
Republicans in Congress are holding the middle class hostage—proposing a federal budget that would would cut 700,000 to 1 million jobs from our communities and slash funding to support preschool and college students, pregnant women, unemployed workers, and much more. This isn't a budget, it's a slap in the face to the public workers, services, and institutions making the American Dream possible. We have until the March 18 budget deadline to push Congress in another direction.

Prosperity Gospel?

If this is prosperity gospel, then let's all prosper. Now I understand most folks are concerned with Japan, and rightly so. If I were watching the news as much as I have in months pass, I'd be all over it myself. But, I've been sitting on this clip of Pastor Joel Osteen for a week now, and this is as good a time as any to go ahead and publish this post.

Before I do, though, a few words. Now of course, the issue of race in the US goes beyond individuals. It's societal, structural, cultural, I could go on.

And of course, racism among blacks ain't the issue. We aren't anti-white nearly as much as whites would like to think. And even if we were, there's not enough of us to form some sort of "ebony" ceiling.

That said, a society is only a collection, however large, of individuals. For any particular -ism to exist, something has to be going on fundamentally at the individual level. In my experience, one obstacle preventing an end to racism is white US-Americans' refusal to do any self-examination, collectively or individually. To wit, Joel Osteen's message is one that should be heard across the country.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gone Fishin'!

Okay, no, I haven't gone fishing. But . . . I don't know. I just need a break. I invite you to check out my archives. My analysis is rarely limited to the day's news, so I'm sure you'll find something you like.

I'll be back as soon as I can.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"If you're not watching, you're losing!"

I feel soooo appreciated.

Actually, I considered that as a post title. Others in consideration for post title:

I decided against "Suck CW!" cause I thought it was too crude.

What's most exciting is that that's not all folks!

The new show "Let's Stay Together" premieres same day, same channel at 11p.

And the second season of "Love That Girl" premieres tomorrow, Monday the 10th, at 9p on TVOne.

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