We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…
I’m tired of men arguing about women’s bodies, health, etc. as if it is theirs to control. Hearing the President argue for comprehensive health insurance coverage, and the GOP leaders argue against it leaves the involved people – Women – out of the coversation.
Women should have access to birth control, and the Catholic Bishops are simply hiding their patriarchy under their vestments, and hoping no one lifts them. It’s not a religious issue, it’s not a first amendment issue, it’s a power/dominance issue. And for all the “get government out of our lives” rhetoric, conservatives are hypocritically very comfortable extending that government into uteruses across the country.
President Obama was correct two years ago, in his State of the Union address to Congress, to state that “the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign companies — to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said. “Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”
They’re being criticized, though, because he and the Democratic Party are working with the Democratic SuperPAC Priorities USA Action. Another specious argument that doesn’t deal with the reality of politics in the modern age. Just as when then-Senator Obama opted out of public financing of his presidential campaign, his political opponents and detractors want him to compete without the same resources that they are entitled to. In today’s post, the Latino Rebels attempt to say that the President’s use of fundraising (that has proven so effective for the GOP candidates as they bash each other in the primaries) through SuperPACS “just confirms what is still wrong with Washington”.
As long as it is legal to raise money, whether through individual donors or SuperPACs, the President should use every means at his disposal to win reelection. He is still working, at the same time, to have the Citizens United decision negated legally, even if that means a Constitutional amendment.
It is important to recognize that the President doesn’t magically appear on ballots, and votes don’t magically appear for him. Just as he asks his supporters (in emails, lots and lots of emails!) to work each day, so is and should he for his reelection. It is fantasy to think that he should not take part in the politics of politics.
He is the President of the United States. And he’s working to get a second term. Fundraise away!
“Yet another story of a person of color saving millions and contributing to mankind, only to have to glory and paychecks stolen. If she was compensated fairly, the compound interest could have built many institutions in black neighborhoods. But as usual, only the white folks benefit. Ahhh..the benefits of lying, cheating and stealing. Gotta love America’s history. ” – Lybroan James
It is often said, by African American intellectuals (and sincere students of the history of the United States) that the economic foundation of America was built firmly on the backs of enslaved Africans. Brought to work (and codified in the Constitution) as unpaid cogs in the economic gears of the fledgling democratic republic, the bricks of today’s political institutions were literally and figuratively mortared together with the blood and spirit of black folk. But this is a book review.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a poignant, detailed journey reflecting that same sacrifice of an African American woman and her family, benefitting humanity with absolutely no recompense. Though I began the book ignorant of the contribution of HeLa cells to science, medicine and humanity, their impact in scientific research cannot be denied. The author, Rebecca Skloot, crafts a wandering tale through white privilege and black bodies ending with (yet again) another example of black folk expanding the definition of individual rights to cover more people than they previously did. But, again, this is a book review.
I can honestly say that I read very little fiction nowadays. With fierce historical writing like Skloot’s work, there is no need. Fantasy cannot convey the joy or wonder that Deborah Lacks exhibited (and the author captured beautifully) at discovering the truth about her mother or the absolute breathtaking awe when Zakkariya Rahman actually watched a HeLa cell divide before his very eyes.
I highly recommend this book. Rebecca Skloot has paid homage to the sacrifices of the Lacks family with great insight and sensitivity, conveying their lives clearly and with honor. She has brought to light in a definitive manner the contribution Henrietta Lacks has made to the world.
“Strumming my pain with his fingers/
Singing my life with his words/
Killing me softly with his song/
Telling My Whole Life, With His Words/
Killing me softly/
With his song…”
-Killing Me Softly, The Fugees
Touré’s Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness: What It Means to Be Black Now is simply amazing. Not in a fireworks-exploding blinding way, but in a post-coital, languorously intimate way. Having been out of graduate school for fifteen years, I don’t find it necessary nowadays to highlight when I read, or to take notes in order to remember salient passages. When I turned the first pages of Post-Blackness, though, I started highlighting and note-taking with a passion.
Growing up upper-middle class, in a lifestyle which allowed my parents to send me to private schools for most of my educational career, I found the lives and paths depicted in Toure’s work to be echoes of my own experience and experiences. I also found him trying to answer questions and address feelings that I’d never (or rarely with only trusted friends) shared out loud:
“The fight for equality is not over but that shift from living amid segregation and civil war to integration and affirmative action and multiculturalism – and also glass ceilings, racial profiling, stereotype threat, microaggression, redlining, predatory lending, and other forms of modern racism – has led many to a very different perspective on Blackness than the previous generations had.” (p. 50)
“Black America’s Greatest Generation: those who fought in the streets and the courts to desegregate and force America to give Blacks greater access to the American dream. Because of their struggles and successes my generation had new opportunities as well as a certain survivor’s guilt: We wanted to fight but there were no longer battles as fierce and overt as those they’d already confronted.” (p. 119)
Growing up, I often felt an internal struggle to maintain “the struggle” that my parents fought, that my grandparents fought out of necessity. But when we can sit at the front of the bus the responsibility to live up to those opportunities (while not having obvious racism and discrimination to fight) is real for those of us who grew up on stories of “what it was like.”
This book spoke to me in whispers.
Even with it’s underlying thesis that “Post-Black means we are like Obama: rooted in but not restricted by Blackness”, it reflected a definition of blackness that allows me to be at peace with not having existed in the world that O’Shea Jackson, Eric Wright, André Young and others painted as the reality of young, Black men growing up through the nineties.
In literally dozens of places I had to stop, feeling like Touré had been a fly on the wall listening to conversations I’d had growing up, and then written them down.
I recommend this book because it is an opening line in the much-needed conversation about race that the United States desperately needs. I recommend this book because it poses questions and posits theses that I have asked myself for forty years. I recommend this book because, while I haven’t done the power of its questions, its solicitations, its depictions and definitions of blackness justice, I have awakened the possibility that it will move you, too.
While I have read your statements (and your company’s tweets) that it wasn’t your intent to injure or discriminate by pulling your ad-buy from TLC’s “Al American Muslim”, I’m sorry to say that is exactly what you did.
Your choice to buy advertising, then remove it under threat of prejudiced boycott by bigots, communicates a complicit agreement with that hatred. Moreover, the express purpose of the show is education, displaying the very American nature of these families though they are a religious minority in the United States. Your corporate cowardice serves to further erode the progress toward the fulfillment of the first amendment freedoms all citizens should enjoy.
Personally, I will not be shopping at (or in any way supporting) your business from now on.
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a covenant between equals.” – Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ
- CAIR Asks Lowe’s to Address Anti-Muslim Hate Prompted by TV Ad Pull-Out (prnewswire.com)
- Lawmaker: Lowe’s ‘bigoted’ for pulling ‘All-American Muslim’ ads (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Lowe’s pulls ads from ‘All-American Muslim’ (abclocal.go.com)
Update: Maybe this is why the media hasn’t been covering the story. The police and the politicians won’t let them. Media Can Avoid NYPD Arrest By Getting Press Pass They Can’t Get.
The MSM is beginning to cover the occupation of the United States by many of its own citizens with greater regularity and veracity since police officers in their zest to clear space are providing television and print outlets with gestapo photos of jack-booted policemen pepper spraying and assaulting individuals whose sole offense is sitting in one space too long. Prior to the use of force to arrest people for closing their own bank accounts, the usurpation of public (and some private) spaces in protest of the unequal siphoning of resources was only being detailed by modern journalists without credentials, the bloggers and tweeters and tumblrs, snapping pictures with iPhones and digital elphs and uploading those to the cloud where they shot around the world in a flash thanks to “social” media.
The ability of individuals to broadcast their experiences from tablets and cell phones is remaking journalism, citizenship, and government, from Tahrir Square to Washington, D.C. And though the corridors of power remain hallowed halls tread by elites with the good fortune to have been handed the keys, this new democratization of world citizenship is ushering in a new era of accountability which will transform who is being represented by legislators, and who is giving the orders to the aforementioned jack-boots.
Whether #OccupyWallStreet maintains its momentum remains to be seen. Whether the movement of individuals which has catalyzed the occupation of Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Barcelona, Madrid, London, San Francisco, Athens, Chicago, Atlanta, San Diego, etc. But the power of the people to document and distribute is real and is quickly calling into question the abuses of authority which until the advent of television were incidents isolated by locale. With the advent of television, those images, like the Edmund Pettis Bridge were broadcast, but it was still simply one-way distribution. From Davey D’s live-tweeting of the violence at Occupy Oakland to the video of students being pepper-sprayed at Occupy UCDavis, social media is creating an interactive, quick-response culture which empowers the oppressed, the silenced, the citizens to speak out, to speak truth to power, to shift the very nature of power itself.
As Efrain Nieves’ tweet heard round the world said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Yes, he was quoting Dr. King. But the fact that this sentiment has been retweeted across the globe in a matter of hours gives us a glimpse into the changing tide of communication, into the power of social media that is changing the world.
- Tracing the Roots of #OccupyWallStreet (greatfinds.icrossing.com)
- #OccupyUCDavis: Police in Riot Gear Use Chemical Agent on Students (crooksandliars.com)
- How the Occupy Wall Street Protesters Can Defeat the Corporate Elite (alternet.org)
As a teacher, I have often wondered how best to involve parents in the education of their children. In my school experience, I’ve often heard that children learn from what we do, as well as what we say. And a couple of recent experiences in my own home, with my own children, have shown me exactly how important it is to be actively teaching my children, as my parents did for me, by being the type of involved parent in their curricular and extracurricular education: I need to educate them by my example.
A few days ago, in conjunction with the national observance of Columbus Day, my children were exposed to what I felt was a one-sided, celebratory portrayal of Colón. For reasons too numerous to mention here, it was important to me to address the presentation with the person who spoke, and to speak with and teach my own children that evening. I talked to them both about what was missing from the presentation they witnessed, and about my speaking up and meeting with the presenter.
The lessons I hoped to impart were at least two-fold: first, that Columbus was an explorer who brought knowledge of the new continents back to Europe at a time when they could exploit that information, and then took slavery, disease and oppression back with him on his second journey to colonize in the name of Christianity; second, and more important, is that I taught them how to speak up, even to people who have authority over them, when they believe that something is wrong, or someone is wrong.
I’ve written before about the importance of teaching children that they can change the world only if they speak up, and that they have a moral responsibility to make the world a better place by speaking truth to power when necessary. As a parent, it’s imperative that I make this lesson clear by acting in the same way I expect them to act.
The second event was a sixth-grade science project which landed (to my surprise) on our dining room table late the night before it was due. Tired as I and my wife both were, we both realized that this was an assignment that our son would need our assistance to complete, a truth that was confirmed by the title of the assignment, “The Family MythBusting Project”.
Knowing nothing about the project (my wife had a little more information that I did), I had to read the directions and help him navigate his academic work. By working with him – running to get supplies, asking him questions to see what he had learned, having him teach me what he knew, letting him stay up a little past his bedtime to finish and staying up with him working – we showed him that his education, that his work was important. While the veracity of Power Balance Bracelets isn’t life-changing (he determined that they don’t really work), the memory and impression of his parents spending the time with him, challenging and learning with him, supporting him as he educated himself will.
I started this blogpost by saying that I am a teacher. Todos los padres son maestros. All parents are teachers. We teach children by our example what is important, what they should focus on, how they should interact with each other and others, and how they impact and affect the world.
If we complain about teachers, but don’t speak to the teachers themselves, then we are teaching them cowardice. If we have issues with their schools, and we take those issues to the schools, we are teaching them to be assertive and have an impact. If we speak Spanish at home but make sure they learn English, we are teaching them to have more tools in their toolbox. By speaking up for bilingual education in schools, for smaller class sizes, for qualified teachers, for equitable distribution of education resources and attention from local and national governments, for Mexican American Studies Departments and Curriculum, for Indigenous People Day and whole host of other issues, we are teaching our children that they have value, that their education has value, and they should raise their voices to secure their birthrights.
When we do that, that is the moment they learn. Es el momento en el cual entienden. We are educating them by example.
- Toronto Schools Promote Multicultural Teaching and Learning (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Barack Obama on Education (education.com)
A principal in Massachusetts is being attacked and disparaged because she had the audacity to acknowledge more than a single story. Far from the “e pluribus unum” approach she wants to take toward celebrations of Columbus over Indigenous People Day, or her aversion to celebrating ghouls and goblins instead of All Hallow’s Eve at school, her detractors have no response or ideas except to simply hurl insults at her womanhood, intellect, citizenship and person.
They fear a not-white planet.
One of the comments on the article even proposes a “Hate White Male Europeans Day”, sarcastically offering that only that group is responsible for any and all advancements in the United States since they first set foot on it some five hundred plus years ago.
Sorry, it is a Not White planet.
Apologies, there is more than one story.
The reality check is that far from being “politically correct” (when did that become an epithet?) this principal is adhering to the most basic of American Ideals – that we are a nation of millions, multitudes of different hues and cultures, but out of the many, we are one.
- The Single Story of Christopher Columbus (powerfulbeyondmeasure.wordpress.com)
- All Hallows’ Eve (theonlinephotographer.typepad.com)
- Indigenous People’s Day at OccupyMN (redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com)
- Indigenous Peoples’ Day (fulcrumbookblog.com)
“What’s so great about discovery? It’s a painful, penetrative act. What you call discovery I call the rape of the natural world.”
–Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park
Sitting in a presentation the other day, listening to the speaker extol the virtues of Columbus to students, it struck me that his presentation was exactly what Chimamanda Adichie calls “The Danger of A Single Story”. He talked about the bravery, the fortitude and the moxie of Columbus in setting out into unknown waters and the benefits that his journey [to the Americas] had for Europe. He gave what Europeans and white Americans have hailed for centuries as THE story of Columbus, overriding consideration of how it would play out for the students with indigenous heritages, or the students with African heritages, whose ancestors and families have been living with the burden of Columbus’s “discovery” for five centuries, whose ancestors were “honored” with disease, with murder, with chains…
He told a single story which instilled pride, and lied by omission.
I sat there quiet, struck dumb and mute by the fact that Columbia, British Columbia, the District of Columbia and Columbus, Ohio all bear the name of a man whose acts led directly and indirectly to the murder and massacre of millions. Where was that part of his legacy discussed?
It was not.
I felt trapped. This is the dilemma people of color face daily. “Do I disrupt this huge assembly? Do I have to educate the adults and children, publicly pointing out “their innocent ignorance”? Do I take this chance, risk what I’ve gained, to stand up, be heard and seen, to fight against being silently trampled?”
Sitting in a predominantly white audience, I saw my story omitted in favor of Columbus. The stories of my indigenous and African ancestors were erased in order to “honor” the architect of their degradation and demise. (Much like, upon reflection, my forebears were when the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria landed). What did my black and brown children see and hear? Did they feel themselves negated from the sacristy in the plainspoken words of a thoughtful man who sought to educate, but only succeeded in elevating because he told a single story? What did the white kids get out of the presentation? That the glory of Columbus is the THE story…
I grow tired of experiencing privilege from the under-side.
I grow tired of seeking the company of people who understand there is more than one story.
I grow tired of being the voice of balance, of cultural democracy, of inclusion simply because it is so easy for the inheritors of white privilege to travel on the path built on my back rather than to stop, look around, and notice there are other travelers, too.
I realize that Columbus introduced Europe to a land full of less-technological people, of abundant natural resources, and that that introduction is a source of pride and sustenance. That story is true.
However, for too long that has been the single story told of Columbus – no mention of theft from his own crew; no mention of rape and pillage which occurred when his ships set aground; no mention of infection and disease he and his unwashed brought with them from Europe; no mention of the millions who died immediately and in the years following when Europe “opened up” the Americas after “discovery”.
Those stories muddy the reflection of Columbus, chip away at the pedestal on which he stands even today. Those stories force a reevaluation of cultural values that is uncomfortable for those who benefit from his cultural legacies. But when those stories are told, they include me, and those like me, in the inheritance. Those stories allow all of us to assess the positive along with the negative. Those stories make all who hear them more inclusive, more understanding, more mature.
I’ll tell those stories in my classroom. There are no single stories there. But that’s not as powerful, which is perhaps my true frustration, as telling those stories out loud, giving them the power of the microphone, including them in the fabric of our schools and nation the way Columbus was that day.
That’s the discovery I’m working for.
Testimony: young African-Americans on self-discovery and Black identity (“White Friends by Jennifer L. Vest”, p. 137)
- Twitter Users Send Ironic Columbus Day Wishes (huffingtonpost.com)
- Columbus Day 2011 (andrewconard.com)
- Columbus Day (davidscommonplacebook.wordpress.com)
- Think You Know The Real Christopher Columbus? (npr.org)