robertogreco + blacklivesmatter   22

Ibram Kendi, one of the nation’s leading scholars of racism, says education and love are not the answer
"“We have been taught that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas, lead to racist policies,” Kendi said. “If the fundamental problem is ignorance and hate, then your solutions are going to be focused on education, and love and persuasion. But of course [Stamped from the Beginning] shows that the actual foundation of racism is not ignorance and hate, but self-interest, particularly economic and political and cultural.” Self-interest drives racist policies that benefit that self-interest. When the policies are challenged because they produce inequalities, racist ideas spring up to justify those policies. Hate flows freely from there.

The self-interest: The Portuguese had to justify their pioneering slave trade of African people before the pope.

The racist idea: Africans are barbarians. If we remove them from Africa and enslave them, they could be civilized.

“We can understand this very simply with slavery. I’m enslaving people because I want to make money. Abolitionists are resisting me, so I’m going to convince Americans that these people should be enslaved because they’re black, and then people will start believing those ideas: that these people are so barbaric, that they need to be enslaved, or that they are so childlike that they need to be enslaved.”

Kendi boils racist ideas down to an irreducible core: Any idea that suggests one racial group is superior or inferior to another group in any way is a racist idea, he says, and there are two types. Segregationist ideas contend racial groups are created unequal. Assimilationist ideas, as Kendi defines them, argue that both discrimination and problematic black people are to blame for inequalities.

Americans who don’t carry tiki torches react viscerally to segregationist ideas like those on display at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one young counter-protester dead. Assimilationist ideas are more subtle, seductive and coded.

“You can be someone who has no intention to be racist,” who believes in and fights for equality, “but because you’re conditioned in a world that is racist and a country that is structured in anti-black racism, you yourself can perpetuate those ideas,” says Kendi. No matter what color you are.

Anti-racist ideas hold that racial groups are equal. That the only thing inferior about black people is their opportunities. “The only thing wrong with black people is that we think there is something wrong with black people,” a line that Kendi uses like a mantra.

The Blue Lives Matter (the problem is violent black people) Black Lives Matter (the problem is the criminal justice system, poor training and police bias) and All Lives Matter (the problem is police and black people) arguments are extensions of the same, three-way debate (segregationist, anti-racist and assimilationist) that Americans have been having since the founding of the country.

“We’ve been taught American history as a steady march of racial progress,” but it’s always been a dual march of racial and racist progress, which we see from Charlottesville to “their Trump Tower,” Kendi says.

This is the jump-off Kendi uses to frame the most roiling issues of the day. But before he could build that frame, he first had to deal with his own racism."
racism  history  ideas  2017  ibramkendi  via:ablerism  assimilation  inequlity  blacklivesmatter  bluelivesmatter  alllivesmatter  self-interest  capitalism  politics  culture 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Final Boss Form — We produce, learn, adapt, repeat, and perpetuate...
"We produce, learn, adapt, repeat, and perpetuate ways not to have to think or to act consistently, from one context to the next. New York’s “stop and frisk policy,” which regularly subjected minorities to arbitrary humiliation and abuse in the name of public safety, was considered reasonable until very recently, not only by the Bloomberg mayoral administration but also by many white people who felt “safer” because of it. The Black Lives Matter movement has had to insist on the value of black lives, as opposed to “all” lives, because black lives have not registered as valuable, in the manner of “all” lives, to the white majority. When I taught at a large, private, urban university, all of the food court workers in the student union building and all of their student clientele were in their late teens and twenties; strikingly, and yet somehow invisibly, all of the food servers were black, and most of the students were white. Closer to home, most of the universities I know of, including my own, rely on the labor of adjunct professors whose names we never learn because they are not “really” our colleagues.

We are incredibly good at not knowing what we know, and so were the Victorians. The same culture that developed and embraced modes for representing inequality and injustice could be horribly blind to its own oppressive practices. The same Dickens who wrote humanitarian epics wrote deeply racist essays. The same narrator in Jane Eyre who famously makes common cause with slaves describes Bertha in stock racist terms. Elizabeth Gaskell undercuts her representation of the suffering working classes in Mary Barton with caveats about the “dumb and inarticulate” masses. There are many, many examples any of us here could cite of Victorian disjointedness – so many that we tend to expect them. “Blind spots” like these are so normal that they themselves have become easy to ignore.[i]"

—Carolyn Betensky, “Notes on Presentism and the Cultural Logic of Dissociation”

[full text here: http://www.boundary2.org/2016/10/carolyn-betensky-notes-on-presentism-and-the-cultural-logic-of-dissociation/ ]
carolynbetensky  race  racism  context  transcontextualism  oppression  inequality  discrepancy  injustice  blacklivesmatter  elizabethgaskell  janeeyre  victorian  disjointedness  blindspots  doublebind  highered  highereducation  adjuncts  labor  universities  colleges  servicework  2016  us 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Verso Books - David Roediger's Class, Race, and Marxism...
"David Roediger's Class, Race, and Marxism

David Roediger in conversation with Jordan T. Camp, Christina Heatherton, and Donna Murch

Since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the political fault-lines opened up by the 2016 US elections, the question of the relationship between race, class, and politics in modern societies has dominated the media landscape.

In Class, Race, and Marxism, Roediger argues that racial division is not only part of the history of capitalism but is fundamental to the nature of work and capitalism itself. Class, Race, and Marxism is an essential guide to current discussions about race and class that provides useful histories for forging solidarity."
davidroediger  jordancamp  christinaheatherton  donnamurch  blacklivesmatter  race  class  marxism  labor  work  us  history  whiteness  neoliberalism  versobooks  capitalism  politics  society  solidarity  2017  webdubois 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Problem with Philanthropy | Public Books
"In her richly told historical analysis, Kohl-Arenas interrogates the longstanding tension between philanthropic funders and their grantees: “Can the surplus of capitalist exploitation be used to aid those on whose backs this surplus is generated?” Considering the Central Valley as a test case, one would have to assume the answer is no. Farmworkers continue to face substandard housing, food insecurity, dangerous working conditions, underemployment and overwork, lack of health care, endemic racism, and the threat of deportation. While the lack of “outcomes” from philanthropic investments suggest a simple systems failure, Kohl-Arenas’s close examination of the negotiation of power over decades offers a deeper lesson, providing key insights into the nonprofit sector’s role in American society and beyond.

The “myth” Kohl-Arenas identifies is the belief that individuals and communities can change their material circumstances in the absence of any change to the systems and policies that govern those circumstances. In the US, our national narrative places the lion’s share of responsibility on individuals: responsibility for poverty on the poor, for mental illness on the mentally ill and their families, for incarceration on the incarcerated. As a wealthy, developed nation, we are a bewildering outlier in our refusal to take more communal responsibility for our brethren. When people do organize to care for one another, and in doing so discover that life struggles are linked to structural problems in need of policy solutions, they are often demoralized to find that funders shy away from any work that would promote policy change.

Historically, such structural change has proven hard to come by. In 1962, Cesar Chavez, fresh from a Community Service Organization training (funded by the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation), moved to the Central Valley and began to organize farmworkers. When he joined Dolores Huerta in founding the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) later that year, they chose to support themselves only through member dues to avoid the unwanted political influence that external funds might carry. But by 1965 they were applying for such funding. Chavez and Huerta had realized that many other organizations were receiving large sums of money, and that they could not promote their vision for the NFWA without outside funding of their own. Their initial instinct to resist outside funding, however, proved justified: the philanthropies redirected work toward self-help projects that required communities to focus inward and away from the labor organizing that sought to address longstanding power imbalances.

By funding many organizations, philanthropies also created competition among indigenous leaders who had been working collaboratively to empower their communities; this caused conflict and distrust, driving Cesar Chavez out of his role as community leader and into the refuge of a nonprofit. Four decades later, philanthropists are funding a “win-win” model of community development, in which workers themselves bear the responsibility for the survival of the agricultural industry while the company abdicates all responsibility for the workers’ well-being. The philanthropist’s role has thus moved, over the course of four decades, from that of labor organizer to that of arbitration board trying to negotiate productivity increases for the good of all.

The subtitle of Kohl-Arenas’s work, How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty, may undersell the point; much of the evidence presented in the narrative suggests that philanthropic intervention actually perpetuates poverty. This is primarily achieved by distracting social movement leaders from the task of systemic change. Leaders’ connection to funders takes the form of endless paperwork: grant applications, reports, logic models, data collection, and evaluation.

And then there is the deeper, more fundamentally problematic influence of the philanthropic relationship on social movement organizations. In the constant renegotiation of tactics and goals—away from structural change and toward individual and community change—there can develop, on both sides, a cognitive dissonance. The stated goals of the partnership can never be achieved through the agreed-upon work, leaving grant makers frustrated and grantees burnt out. Funders abandon one failed initiative for the next, churning organization after organization in their wake of largesse and disdain. This system makes liars of us all.

Considering alternative pathways, Kohl-Arenas singles out the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter as historical standouts of effective organizing for social change in the past two decades. Emerging from two different traditions of social change—one with anarchist roots, the other originated by queer black feminists—these movements have no centralized leadership, no significant ongoing funding sources that require reporting, and no single spokesperson or list of demands. They both would likely subscribe to the Ella Baker motto, “Strong people don’t need strong leaders.” Her book prompts the question: can activists and philanthropists ever successfully collaborate?

This question has been complicated by recent hiring trends in philanthropy. Today, philanthropies are not the cloistered, family-run institutions they once were. No longer restricted to the grantee side of the equation, activists, people of color, and people from affected communities are being hired as program officers responsible for giving out the money that once funded their own innovative work. Beginning with innovators like the Soros Foundations, bolstered by some of the newer health conversion foundations, and epitomized by the 2013 hire of prominent philanthropy recipient Darren Walker to head the Ford Foundation, philanthropy is experiencing its own revolution.

This trend muddies the waters. Who will be setting the agenda for the next generation? Will it be traditional philanthropists, with this ever-growing cadre of program officers and board members? Or economically disenfranchised communities? Written out, the question sounds rather preposterous: a David-and-Goliath battle for the ages, in which Goliath is played by a sea of people looking, with each passing day, more and more like David.

I feel a generational kinship with Erica Kohl-Arenas. She beautifully articulates the promise of equality that seemed woven into the social contract for those of us born to parents of the ’60s, raised as we were to believe that social change was attainable in our lifetime. By the time we emerged as young adults, that childhood dream had faded, replaced by the stark realities of rising economic inequality, exploding incarceration rates, and persistent structural racism and sexism.

The Self-Help Myth raises the gaze of poverty research to focus on the lived experience of the nonprofit sector. Her account is refreshingly accessible, in part because it is embedded in local examples rather than abstract theories. Intellectually honest, Kohl-Arenas doesn’t claim to have answers or provide a roadmap for the future—instead she offers readers a critical resource for thinking through the intractable problem of wealth."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  systemsthinking  systemicchange  change  poverty  ericakohl-arenas  occupywallstreet  ows  blacklivesmatter  socialchange 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Everybody Hates Cornel West | Jacobin
"We live in an era in which Clinton — who proudly supported mass incarceration and the obliteration of welfare — declares that a social-democratic program of financial reform and single-payer health insurance “won’t end racism.” A recent WikiLeaks publication of internal Clinton campaign emails reveals another line they were testing out against Sanders: “Wall Street is not gunning down young African Americans or denying immigrants a path to citizenship.”

It’s a sentiment that would’ve bewildered civil rights veterans like A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr, John P. Davis, Bayard Rustin, and Lester Granger, all of whom were committed to social-democratic politics as a crucial means of putting racism on a path towards ultimate extinction. The tragedy of West isn’t that he’s “full of bitterness,” as his liberal detractors claim. It’s that the politics of West’s “black prophetic tradition,” try as he might to wield them for socialist ends, will today find their strongest, clearest articulation in the same old quest of “interpreting the drums” for a mostly white ruling class.

Earlier in the primary season, during an interview on the Real News Network, West directly called out the black elite — whom he calls “the lumpenbourgeoisie” — for abandoning “the black prophetic tradition” for “individual upward mobility” and the “formation of the black professional class.” As he put it, “Black folk for the most part became just extensions of a milquetoast neoliberal Democratic Party. But Adolph Reed and a host of others told this story many years ago. It’s becoming much more crystallized. We have to be willing to tell the truth no matter how unpopular it is.”

West didn’t hesitate to proclaim that his biggest left-wing critic had been right all along. But the fact that he felt betrayed by this “lumpenbourgeoisie” in the first place only shows the limits of this political vision and the power of Reed’s original critique. After all, why would a “lumpenbourgeoisie” act different than any bourgeoisie? A vision of a harmonious insular black “community” without any internal class tensions might sound appealing to some in 2016 — particularly to the Democratic Party — but it’s a delusion no serious leftist can afford to entertain.

But as tragic as West’s crusade can appear, the sincerity of his commitment to a more just and egalitarian world — and the righteousness of his passion — cannot be called into question. Those who, like Michael Eric Dyson, claim that West’s political commitments now derive from nothing more than hurt feelings over unreturned phone calls to Barack are either not paying attention or shamelessly projecting their own guilty consciences onto West.

As soon as Sanders laid down his arms and endorsed Clinton, West was already on the trail for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, telling Bill Maher that “the Clinton train — Wall Street, security, surveillance, militarism — that’s not going in the same direction I’m going . . . she’s a neoliberal.” And while many criticisms of the Green Party’s electoral myopia are warranted, it’s impossible not to respect West’s drawing a line in the sand against the Democrats — a party he sees as irredeemable. If his break with Obama made him “sad and bitter,” one can only wonder what his elite critics think of him now.

The truth is that Cornel West is being punished for choosing a genuine commitment to a more egalitarian society over the faux radicalism (and career opportunities) of the DNC and MSNBC black intelligentsia. On an appearance on late-night television a couple years ago, David Letterman pitched him a softball question on the overall improvement in “race relations.” Instead, West chastised Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for their inaction on police violence: “It’s a question of what kind of persons do you have, not just black faces.” After Letterman pointed out how at least things had improved for the LGBT population, West countered: “The system is still structured in such a way that one percent of the population owns 43 percent of the wealth, you end up with an embrace of gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, especially upper–middle class and above, but the gay poor, the lesbian poor, they’re still catching hell . . . It’s not just black. It’s white. It’s brown. It’s the structure of a system . . . it’s worse [than ever].”"



"Because for the first time in years, it seemed like something really was happening. And the man on stage was the perfect one to give voice to that excitement, to that first hint of a lifelong passion and commitment. I remember looking around the auditorium: the young, this new generation who would soon file out in Occupy and, a few years later, join the Sanders campaign, were hanging on his every word as they listened to West define what it meant to be radical, what it meant to be on the Left. “That means we cut radically against the grain of the last forty years, especially in the American empire, where we have been told lies. Unfettered markets generating self-sufficiency, prosperity, and justice is a lie!. . . Wall Street oligarchs and the corporate elites are sucking so much of the blood of American democracy in such a way that more and more people are just useless, superfluous. And they don’t care! They think that they can get away with it because there’s been no resistance of large scale! And they think in the end, the chickens don’t come home to roost, that you don’t reap what you sow . . . we simply say at Left Forum,” and here he backed away from the mic, lowered his voice and smiled, “We stand for the truth.” People were on their feet, exploding in applause.While West’s reputation has suffered greatly among liberals, it has never been better among socialists. And while still marginal, after the Sanders challenge to the entire liberal class, ours is a corner with some confidence now. West is a longtime member of the Democratic Socialists of America and his reputation for generosity among younger members is unparalleled. He seemingly has time for everyone. Especially those who offer him nothing in career opportunities or elite respectability."
cornelwest  politics  race  2016  hillaryclinton  berniesanders  connorkilpatrick  democrats  michaelericdyson  joanwalsh  jonathancapehart  jillstein  adolphreed  blacklivesmatter  us  socialjustice  inequality  socialdemocracy  economics  barackobama  bobavakian  elitism  elites  aphiliprandolph  martinlutherkingjr  johnpdavis  bayardrustin  lestergranger  socialism  lumpenbourgeoisie  democraticparty  bourgeoisie  egalitarianism  radicalism  racism  racerelations  radicalization  occupywallstreet  ows  capitalism  statusquo 
november 2016 by robertogreco
A Small Needful Fact | Academy of American Poets
"A Small Needful Fact
by Ross Gay

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe."
ericgarner  altonsterling  blacklivesmatter  poems  poetry  rossgay  breathing  gardening 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Seeing and killing with police robots | Javier Arbona
"Much more will need to be studied in the weeks, months, and years ahead. However, I wanted to touch on a question about how “unprecedented” this case was, given how oft the words “first” and “unprecedented” are being thrown around. Anyone familiar with the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia should not be so surprised by this supposed “first”. More recently, the outcome of a standoff with Chris Dorner, a Black officer, ended with a robot shooting smoke bombs that burned down the cabin Dorner was hiding in. So, since it was not unprecedented, in effect, how come ‘we’ (what we?) are caught by surprise, playing catch-up with the ethics and capabilities of the police? Perhaps this raises more questions about the culture around policing with a certain lack of critical memory, than about the policing itself."



"I’m curious about these two goals for the robot; one as a ‘seeing’ entity, and another as a killing machine. These separated endeavours, anticipated more than a decade-and-a-half ago, bring up many questions about the nature of identification and violence. As a relative of mine put it, they did not send a robot to capture or kill, for an example, white supremacist Dylann Roof, the suspect in the mass killing inside a Black North Carolina church. So, thinking about the writing of Simone Browne here, in the very same context of the Black Lives Matter protests that were going on in Dallas in the wake of more police killings this past couple of weeks, it’s impossible to separate who becomes targeted by automated or semi-automated killing machines, and who is taken alive, and how are the visual regimes of each sort of operation organized."
javierarbona  dallas  police  blacklivesmatter  automation  robots  seeing  simonebrown  lawenforcement  us  militarization  2016 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Wicked Liberalism — Medium
"What does your city look like?

Think of your city. What does it look like? If you live in a city that you consider liberal, how liberal is it really? What do you see take place on the ground and in the maps? What disconnects do you see?

Pittsburgh, where I now live, is deeply segregated. While one in eight Pittsburgh residents live in poverty, one in three African-American residents do—the greatest poverty level of any group, according to an Urban Institute report. Nine out of ten children living in poverty are African-American. 90%. But at least the Pittsburgh Public School District is making gains in high school graduation rates: the male rate increased from 56% to 71% and the female rate from 69% to 78% between 2011–13 alone (the overall 2015 graduation rate for African-American students is 74.6%, and the district average is 77.4%, due in part to a program called the Promise Readiness Corps, which supports cohorts of ninth and tenth graders as they enter high school). High school graduates tend to find better jobs and earn more money. Perhaps these gains will help to break the cycle of poverty and begin redrawing the map more fairly.

What differences are there between the narrative of your city and its reality? I’m looking at you, Madison. And St. Paul. And Pittsburgh. And San Francisco. I don’t know what changes I can affect, but what I can do is read the map. I’m reading and witnessing what you write onto your residents and citizens."
mollysteenson  blacklivesmatter  race  racism  history  us  cities  urban  urbanism  maps  mapping  development  madison  wisconsin  stpaul  minnesota  inequality  liberals  poverty  oppression 
july 2016 by robertogreco
On Making Black Lives Matter: The Way Forward from Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Alva Braziel
"Last week, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and St. Paul, Minnesota. Five police officers were killed in Dallas, Texas and seven others were injured. And then, on Saturday, Alva Braziel was shot and killed by police in Houston, Texas. To bear witness to so much senseless violence, so much senseless death, is unbearable.

On social media, people are grieving and hurting and raging. On the streets of cities across America, people are protesting. They're saying, "Enough." In Baton Rouge, the police force has become a small army, replete with SWAT teams and officers in full riot gear. There is a new iconic image reflecting these turbulent times: Ieshia Evans, a young black woman in a flowing summer dress facing a militant line of Baton Rouge police officers.

Against the backdrop of a contentious election cycle, it is easy to feel like the world is coming apart, like the world is coming to an end. It is easy to feel unsafe, helpless, hopeless. I am feeling all of these things while also trying to resist such defeat. I am trying to recognize that the world is not coming to an end, the world is changing.

I was talking to my mom on Friday, when things seemed especially hopeless. She asked, "Why should I have to wake up every day and address God about the safety of my life?" She told me about how she and my dad had talked to my brothers, my nephew, reminding them, reminding all of us to be careful when we're out in the world. She told my nephew to keep his wallet out, in the center console, so it is visible and easily reached if he's pulled over by the police. As we spoke, I thought about my own obsessive ritual when I get in my car—making sure I have my license, registration, current proof of insurance—because if pulled over for Driving While Black, I cannot afford any missteps. They might cost me my life.

This is no way to live, this is not freedom, always holding your breath, always feeling like a target, always worrying about the men and women you love, hoping they won't run into a police officer who cannot control his fear.

As is often the case during times of social upheaval, most of us are wondering how we can productively contribute to positive change when change feels impossible. There are no easy answers. For white people, being an ally to the black community is often framed as a way forward. Allyship is a nice idea, certainly. It's a way for people to say and demonstrate that they care and (want to) help even if they cannot fully understand the lived experiences of marginalized people.

But in the wake of last week's violence and unrest, I've seen what often happens during difficult times—people who consider themselves allies, well-meaning people, to be clear, ask what they can do to help. They ask for guidance, as if black people, in this instance, have the solution to the ongoing problem of systemic racism, as if we have access to a secret trove of wisdom for overcoming oppression.

I've seen allies share their laments in a way that focuses on their emotional needs. I've seen them demanding the emotional labor of people who have nothing left to give.

The problem with allyship is that good intentions are not enough. Allyship offers a safe haven from harsh realities and the dirty work of creating change. It offers a comfortable distance that can be terribly unproductive.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2015, upon the release of his book Between the World and Me. When I asked him about allies, he said, "I think one has to even abandon the phrase 'ally' and understand that you are not helping someone in a particular struggle; the fight is yours." I mulled his words over for weeks because they were so pointed and powerful. Those words began to inform the ways in which I try to support other marginalized people—making their fights my own because that's the only way forward.

Black people do not need allies. We need people to stand up and take on the problems borne of oppression as their own, without remove or distance. We need people to do this even if they cannot fully understand what it's like to be oppressed for their race or ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, class, religion, or other marker of identity. We need people to use common sense to figure out how to participate in social justice.

Don't tell us about your racist uncle or grandfather or sister or cousin. Don't try to unburden yourself of guilt that isn't yours to carry. Actively listen when marginalized people tell you about their oppression—don't offer your pity (which only helps you) and don't apologize. Listen and do your best to understand what it feels like to live with oppression as a constant. Speak up when you hear people making racist jokes. Speak up when you see injustice in action. Inform yourself about your local law enforcement and how they treat people of color. Vote. Take a stand instead of waiting for absolution from people of color. We don't have that kind of time. We're fighting for our lives."
roxanegy  2016  race  racism  allies  allyship  blacklivesmatter  ta-nehisicoates  oppression 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Processing — Race Condition — Medium
"I am sitting in the Library at Slack.

I plan to leave work today at 3pm because that’s when someone has the Library booked and I can’t be at work today unless I am in the Library.

The Library is my shelter and solace from the smiling, happy, faces of my coworkers. The Library protects me from their good cheer and protects them from the stew of negative emotions currently on a low boil inside me. The Library prevents them from stoking the flame.

Last night I learned that yet another black man was murdered by a police officer. There was video. I was unable to watch the video. I tried, but immediately broke down in tears when the police pinned Alton Sterling to the ground. I gathered bits and pieces from the endless tweets about it, from people close to me who had watched it, from the video of the store owner, Alton Sterling’s friend, who talked about it.

Alton Sterling was selling CD’s in front of his friend’s store. Somebody called the police. The police tackled him to the ground, held him there restrained, and then shot him point blank. They did not immediately call for medical assistance. Two 28 year old men, hiding behind the badges given to them by the city of Baton Rouge and the power given to them by the system that says white is right, murdered a black man, a husband, a father.

***

This morning on my way to work, I scrolled through Twitter while riding BART to work. I encountered a video of a press conference of Alton Sterling’s family. His 15 year old son was visibly and vocally destroyed. His father, doing nothing wrong, was suddenly ripped away from him. This young black man, who lives in this society where young black men are conditioned to be “hard” and “tough”, could not help but to bawl at the loss of his father. My heart broke. I closed the video and looked up at the ceiling in an attempt to hold my tears back.

I got to work and made a beeline for the Library. Headphones on, so I could pretend not to hear the cheerful greetings. Head down, so I would not make eye contact. I did not want to invite a discussion that would almost certainly include the sort of banter wherein I would be expected to be pleasant and smiling and say “Fine, how are you,” in response to a query about how I’m doing. In therapy I learned that I shouldn’t lie to people about how I’m feeling to protect them, but sometimes, I don’t want to deal with the emotional weight of having to explain my feelings to someone who couldn’t possibly understand them, no matter how hard they tried. This morning was one of those times.

***

Though many black folks joke about it, there is no such thing as “calling in black.” To call in black would be a radical act of self care, were it available to most black people. On the day after we have watched yet another black body be destroyed by modern day slave patrols, it would be helpful for us to be able to take a day away to process. To grieve. To hurt. To be angry. To try to once again come to grips with the fact that many people in this country, especially those in power, consider us disposable at best.

It would be equally helpful to be shielded from the smiling, happy, faces of those oblivious of what it is like to watch someone who could easily be your brother, cousin, auntie, or nephew be murdered in cold blood. To not have to force a smile when a coworker greets you with anything but grim remorse. To not have to think about the what it must be like to be so shielded, so protected, so blissfully unaware that you are able to utter the words “good morning” when the morning is anything but. To avoid the inevitable “Oh, I hadn’t heard,” belying that person’s “commitment to inclusion,” as to include me is to know that my people continue to be systemically marginalized and brutalized, to include me is to go out of your way to make yourself aware, to include me is to speak up about it. And today I don’t want to be reminded that I’m not really included.

But because most of us work in companies largely helmed by non-black people, there is nobody in a position of power who would even understand the need to “call in black” and so it does not exist, at least in my workplace.

And so I sit at work, in this Library, in my shelter, with my headphones on, as removed from anyone else as I can possibly be, while I process, and grieve.
Rest in Power Alton Sterling. You, like all those before you, did not deserve to be added to the list of hashtags.

***

Update: Yesterday after I published this, Stewart reached out to me to say this: “You, or anyone else, can call in Black any day.” Not 3 hours after that, I learned of yet another brutal and senseless shooting of a Black man by a police officer. I did not watch that video either. I cannot. I cannot continue to watch Black people die at the hands of police. And like yesterday, I am grieving, hurting, mourning, aching, worrying, angry, and scared. Unlike yesterday, I will do this in a safe space. Today I am calling in Black.

Today I will give myself the space to grieve for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and every other Black person that has been executed and all those that will be executed by the police, until we finally say enough is enough and put an end to the terrorism that we call modern day policing. There has to be a better way. This way that criminalizes blackness is destroying families, communities, and cultures. So while I encourage Black folks to call in Black today, I am encouraging everyone else, especially White folks, to stop shaking your heads, and moaning about the tragedies. I am specifically asking you, White people, to police your police.

I am encouraging you to speak up, to rise up, to ask questions, to shine the same spotlight on your local police department that is shining on Baltimore, Ferguson, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Oakland. I am encouraging you to educate and inform yourselves about the police force in your area. How frequently do they pull over and arrest black people? How often are officers put on leave with pay for excessive force? How many people have they killed? What are they saying on social media? Dig. Look into every record, into every background. Leave no stone unturned. I don’t want your thoughts and prayers. Your thoughts and prayers are clearly not helping. I want you to do something that will prevent another Black person from being summarily executed for merely existing."
ericajoy  self-care  2016  blacklivesmatter  policbrutality  altonsterling  philandocastile  racism  trauma  stewartbutterfield  slack  work  leadership  administration  callinginblack  mourning  safety 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Campaign Zero
"We can live in a world where the police don't kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.

CLICK THE CATEGORIES BELOW FOR POLICY SOLUTIONS (DOWNLOAD THIS GRAPHIC)"
blacklivesmatter  policing  policy  police  activism  lawenforcement  2016  campignzero  oversight  brokenwindows  force  violence  bodycams  demilitarization 
july 2016 by robertogreco
How an Archive of the Internet Could Change History - The New York Times
"A few years ago, the Brooklyn Museum put on a Keith Haring exhibition, with a focus on his early career. There were videos of Haring at work, feverishly painting his way across an enormous scroll, and a room filled with drawings he illegally chalked in subway stations. But most stunning, at least to me, were Haring’s notebooks. They were displayed under clear cubes, their well-worn sheets pinned open for visitors to study.

The notebooks were sublimely surreal, filled with dogs crawling beneath bulbous U.F.O.s and penises ejaculating alongside concave cylinders that looked like nuclear cooling towers. By the time I first encountered Haring’s work as a teenager, his artistic legacy had been reduced to catchy imagery of colorful, blocky bodies hugging and dancing on T-shirts. But the notebooks showed what nagged at the artist, what motivated him. I saw someone so suspicious of government surveillance that he often wrote in secret code, someone obsessed with the subversive power of gay sex and someone working to merge his skepticism of capitalism with a deep-­rooted desire for fame and commercial appeal.

I left with an urgent curiosity about what sort of artifacts we would display a few decades from now, for future generations to discover. Our contemporary analogues to the personal notebook now live on the web — communal, crowdsourced and shared online in real time. Some of the most interesting and vital work I come across exists only in pixels. Tumblr, for example, contains endless warrens of critical theory about trans identity politics and expression, one of the few havens on the web where that sort of discourse exists. Many of the short videos on Vine feel as though they belong to an ever-­evolving, completely new genre of modern folk art. Some of the most clever commentary on pop culture and politics is thriving deep in hashtags on Twitter. Social media is as essential to understanding the preoccupations and temperature of our time as Haring’s notebooks were for his. But preserving materials from the internet is much harder than sealing them under glass.

Building an archive has always required asking a couple of simple but thorny questions: What will we save and how? Whose stories are the most important and why? In theory, the internet already functions as a kind of archive: Any document, video or photo can in principle remain there indefinitely, available to be viewed by anyone with a connection. But in reality, things disappear constantly. Search engines like Google continually trawl for pages to organize and index for retrieval, but they can’t catch everything. And as the web evolves, it becomes harder to preserve. It is estimated that 75 percent of all websites are inactive, and domains are abandoned every day. Links can rot when sites disappear, images vanish when servers go offline and fluctuations in economic tides and social trends can wipe out entire ecosystems. (Look up a blog post from a decade ago and see how many of the images, media or links still work.) Tumblr and even Twitter may eventually end up ancient internet history because of their financial instability.

There are scattered efforts to preserve digital history. Rhizome, an arts nonprofit group, built a tool called Webrecorder to save parts of today’s internet for future generations. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has archived hundreds of billions of web pages. But there’s still a low-grade urgency to save our social media for posterity — and it’s particularly urgent in cases in which social media itself had a profound influence on historic events.

In August 2014, Bergis Jules, an archivist at the University of California, Riverside, traveled to Washington for the annual meet-up of the Society of American Archivists. The day before the conference began, Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Jules, along with millions of others, found himself glued to Twitter for news, reactions and commentary. In the days that followed, hashtags like #IfTheyGunnedMeDown challenged the narratives presented by the mainstream media and prompted a national dialogue about racial stereotypes and police brutality. Jules teamed up with Ed Summers, a software developer in attendance, and started collecting tweets that included the word “Ferguson.”

As an archivist, Jules was struck by the way Twitter — and all social media, for that matter — is permanently altering the way we think about history. “We’re thinking ahead to how we’ll look back,” Jules says. He offered the example of how their project, DocNow, collected tweets tagged with #SayHerName, a campaign that emerged within the Black Lives Matter movement to make the movement more gender inclusive. For now, DocNow is focused mainly on Twitter, but Jules hopes it may be built out in the future to work elsewhere.

Social media might one day offer a dazzling, and even overwhelming, array of source material for historians. Such an abundance presents a logistical challenge (the total number of tweets ever written is nearing half a trillion) as well as an ethical one (will people get to opt out of having ephemeral thoughts entered into the historical record?). But this plethora of new media and materials may function as a totally new type of archive: a multidimensional ledger of events that academics, scholars, researchers and the general public can parse to generate a more prismatic recollection of history.

In March, I participated in a talk at the Museum of Modern Art about racial and gender disparity among Wikipedia contributors and how it influences the texture of the site. (Roughly 80 percent are men, and minorities are underrepresented.) Print out everything about the “Star Wars” universe, and you’ll have a heavy tome, but many notable abolitionists and female scientists are practically nonexistent. Considering that Wikipedia is the sixth-­most-­visited site in the world and increasingly treated like the encyclopedia of record, this problem seems worth considering. After the discussion, Kyra Gaunt, a professor and social-­media researcher, approached me. In her spare time, she maintains the “twerking” entry on Wikipedia, which is embroiled in a never-­ending debate about how to define the dance move. Is it more crucial to highlight its roots in black culture or Miley Cyrus’s impact on its mainstream popularity? Even new historical records like Wikipedia can be derailed by old biases reasserting themselves. At least Wikipedia publishes each page’s edit history, so as long as it can keep its servers running, there will be a rich catalog for future historians to see what we argued about and why.

The internet is pushing us ­— in good ways and in bad — to realize that the official version of events shouldn’t always be trusted or accepted without question. And historians are constantly updating the record by looking for primary sources that were overlooked in earlier eras, often from marginalized figures. These days, such omissions will still happen, but we can catch them faster. Oversights that would have taken decades to correct are now resolved in weeks, even hours. We now get a kaleidoscopic view of events as they unfold, often in real time, on our screens and devices. History is not neutral or synonymous with truth, but the internet affords us a newfound vantage on the totality of passing time — the profound implications of which we are just now beginning to grasp.

Last year, two scientists presented a theory in quantum mechanics that they called “entangled histories.” They argue that the existence of a particle in space is fractured along many alternate timelines, all of which must be considered to understand the full chronology of its life cycle. It is baffling and exhilarating in the way only quantum physics can be, but one idea stood out as particularly resonant. Jordan Cotler, an author of the paper and a graduate student at Stanford Univer­sity, has said, “Our best description of the past is not a fixed chronology but multiple chronologies that are intertwined with each other.” We’ve long known that this is how human history works — an unimaginable number of small stories, compressed into one big one. But maybe now we finally have the ability to record and capture them all, and history can become something else entirely: not a handful of voices, but a cacophony."
jennawortham  internet  web  archives  internetarchive  twitter  socialmedia  keithharing  history  preservation  technology  2016  revision  bergisjules  blacklivesmatter  docnow  tumblr  wikipedia  controversy  cacophony  blogs 
june 2016 by robertogreco
[Easy Chair] | The Habits of Highly Cynical People, by Rebecca Solnit | Harper's Magazine
"In April 24, 1916 — Easter Monday — Irish republicans in Dublin and a handful of other places staged an armed rebellion against British occupation. At the time, the British Empire was the strongest power on earth; Ireland was its first and nearest colony. That the puny colony might oust the giant seemed far-fetched, and by most measures the endeavor was a failure. The leaders were executed; the British occupation continued. But not for long: the Easter Uprising is now generally understood as a crucial step in a process that led, in 1937, to full independence for most of the island. A hundred years on, some view 1916 as the beginning of the end of the British Empire.

This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the Arab Spring. It seems to be taken for granted that these uprisings, too, were a failure, since many of the affected countries are now just different kinds of dire than they were before. But the public display of a passionate desire for participatory government, the demonstration of the strength of popular power and the weakness of despotic regimes, and the sheer (if short-lived) exhilaration that took place five years ago may have sown seeds that have not yet germinated.

I am not arguing for overlooking the violence and instability that are now plaguing North Africa and the Middle East. Nor am I optimistic about the near future of the region. I do not know what the long-term consequences of the Arab Spring will be — but neither does anyone else. We live in a time when the news media and other purveyors of conventional wisdom like to report on the future more than the past. They draw on polls and false analogies to announce what is going to happen next, and their frequent errors — about the unelectability of Barack Obama, say, or the inevitability of the Keystone XL pipeline — don’t seem to impede their habit of prophecy or our willingness to abide them. “We don’t actually know” is their least favorite thing to report.

Non-pundits, too, use bad data and worse analysis to pronounce with great certainty on future inevitabilities, present impossibilities, and past failures. The mind-set behind these statements is what I call naïve cynicism. It bleeds the sense of possibility and maybe the sense of responsibility out of people.

Cynicism is first of all a style of presenting oneself, and it takes pride more than anything in not being fooled and not being foolish. But in the forms in which I encounter it, cynicism is frequently both these things. That the attitude that prides itself on world-weary experience is often so naïve says much about the triumph of style over substance, attitude over analysis.

Maybe it also says something about the tendency to oversimplify. If simplification means reducing things to their essentials, oversimplification tosses aside the essential as well. It is a relentless pursuit of certainty and clarity in a world that generally offers neither, a desire to shove nuances and complexities into clear-cut binaries. Naïve cynicism concerns me because it flattens out the past and the future, and because it reduces the motivation to participate in public life, public discourse, and even intelligent conversation that distinguishes shades of gray, ambiguities and ambivalences, uncertainties, unknowns, and opportunities. Instead, we conduct our conversations like wars, and the heavy artillery of grim confidence is the weapon many reach for.

Naïve cynics shoot down possibilities, including the possibility of exploring the full complexity of any situation. They take aim at the less cynical, so that cynicism becomes a defensive posture and an avoidance of dissent. They recruit through brutality. If you set purity and perfection as your goals, you have an almost foolproof system according to which everything will necessarily fall short. But expecting perfection is naïve; failing to perceive value by using an impossible standard of measure is even more so. Cynics are often disappointed idealists and upholders of unrealistic standards. They are uncomfortable with victories, because victories are almost always temporary, incomplete, and compromised — but also because the openness of hope is dangerous, and in war, self-defense comes first. Naïve cynicism is absolutist; its practitioners assume that anything you don’t deplore you wholeheartedly endorse. But denouncing anything less than perfection as morally compromising means pursuing aggrandizement of the self, not engagement with a place or system or community, as the highest priority.

Different factions have different versions of naïve cynicism. There is, for example, the way the mainstream discounts political action that proceeds outside the usual corridors of power. When Occupy Wall Street began five years ago, the movement was mocked, dismissed, and willfully misunderstood before it was hastily pronounced dead. Its obituary has been written dozens of times over the years by people who’d prefer that the rabble who blur the lines between the homeless and the merely furious not have a political role to play.

But the fruits of OWS are too many to count. People who were involved with local encampments tell me that their thriving offshoots are still making a difference. California alone was said to have more than 100 Occupy groups; what each of them did is impossible to measure. There were results as direct as homeless advocacy, as indirect as a shift in the national debate about housing, medical and student debt, economic injustice, and inequality. There has also been effective concrete action — from debt strikes to state legislation — on these issues. Occupy helped to bring politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Bill de Blasio, and Elizabeth Warren into the mainstream.

The inability to assess what OWS accomplished comes in part from the assumption that historical events either produce straightforward, quantifiable, immediate results, or they fail to matter. It’s as though we’re talking about bowling: either that ball knocked over those pins in that lane or it didn’t. But historical forces are not bowling balls. If bowling had to be the metaphor, it would be some kind of metaphysical game shrouded in mists and unfolding over decades. The ball might knock over a pin and then another one in fifteen years and possibly have a strike in some other lane that most of us had forgotten even existed. That’s sort of what the Easter Rising did, and what Occupy and Black Lives Matter are doing now.

Then there is the naïve cynicism of those outside the mainstream who similarly doubt their own capacity to help bring about change, a view that conveniently spares them the hard work such change requires.

I recently posted on Facebook a passage from the February issue of Nature Climate Change in which a group of scientists outlined the impact of climate change over the next 10,000 years. Their portrait is terrifying, but it is not despairing: “This long-term view shows that the next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.” That’s a sentence about catastrophe but also about opportunity. Yet when I posted the article, the first comment I got was, “There’s nothing that’s going to stop the consequences of what we have already done/not done.” This was another way of saying, I’m pitting my own casual assessment over peer-reviewed science; I’m not reading carefully; I’m making a thwacking sound with my false omniscience.

Such comments represent a reflex response that can be used to meet wildly different stimuli. Naïve cynicism remains obdurate in the face of varied events, some of which are positive, some negative, some mixed, and quite a lot of them unfinished.

The climate movement has grown powerful and diverse. On this continent it is shutting down coal plants and preventing new ones from being built. It has blocked fracking, oil and gas leases on public land, drilling in the Arctic, pipelines, and oil trains that carry the stuff that would otherwise run through the thwarted pipelines. Cities, states, and regions are making stunning commitments — San Diego has committed to going 100 percent renewable by 2035.

Remarkable legislation has been introduced even on the national level, such as bills in both the House and the Senate to bar new fossil-fuel extraction on public lands. Those bills will almost certainly not pass in the present Congress, but they introduce to the mainstream a position that was inconceivable a few years ago. This is how epochal change often begins, with efforts that fail in their direct aims but succeed in shifting the conversation and opening space for further action.

These campaigns and achievements are far from enough; they need to scale up, and scaling up means drawing in people who recognize that there are indeed opportunities worth seizing.

Late last year, some key federal decisions to curtail drilling for oil in the Arctic and to prevent the construction of a tar-sands pipeline were announced. The naïvely cynical dismissed them as purely a consequence of the plummeting price of oil. Activism had nothing to do with it, I was repeatedly told. But had there been no activism, the Arctic would have been drilled, and the pipelines to get the dirty crude cheaply out of Alberta built, before the price drop. It wasn’t either-or; it was both.

David Roberts, a climate journalist for Vox, notes that the disparagement of the campaign to stop the Keystone XL pipeline assumed that the activists’ only goal was to prevent this one pipeline from being built, and that since this one pipeline’s cancellation wouldn’t save the world, the effort was futile. Roberts named these armchair quarterbacks of climate action the Doing It Wrong Brigade. He compared their critique to “criticizing the Montgomery bus boycott because it only affected a relative handful of blacks. The point of civil… [more]
rebeccasolnit  2016  cynicism  change  time  occupywallstreet  ows  hope  optimism  idealism  perfectionism  obstructionism  simplification  oversimplification  possibility  economics  justice  climatechange  keystonepipeline  patience  longview  blacklivesmatter  civilrightsmovement  politics  policy  conversation  easterrising  power  community  systemsthinking  standards  metrics  measurement  success  failure  dissent  discourse  uncertainty  opportunity 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Cornel West on state of race in the U.S.: "We're in bad shape" - CBS News
[via: "Showed kids 60 Minutes with Cornel West last night. ("I'm unimpressed by smartness.") http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-cornel-west-on-race-in-the-u-s/ "
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/711908596540379136

"+ See also West on Mandela: "a militant tenderness, subversive sweetness and radical gentleness." http://www.cornelwest.com/nelson_mandela.html "
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/711908847695368192 ]

"Cornel West is a different kind of civil rights leader. His below-the-radar presence at racial flash points across America recently, stands in stark contrast to many of the more traditional civil rights leaders and their bright light press conferences.

Some of the new generation of African-American activists seem to be gravitating towards West, a charismatic academic scholar who doesn't lead an organization or have an entourage.

Cornel West has a message about how poor and disadvantaged Americans are being treated today and he can be searingly provocative on matters of race, never more so than when he criticizes President Obama.

Cornel West: When I call the president a black puppet of Wall Street, I was really talking about the degree to which Wall Street had a disproportionate amount of influence on his policies as opposed to poor people and working people.

James Brown: Why use such harsh language with-- showing no respect for the office of the president?

Cornel West: I tend to be one who just speaks from my soul, and so what comes out sometimes is rather harsh. In that sense I'm very much a part of the tradition of a Frederick Douglass or a Malcolm X who used hyperbolic language at times to bring attention to the state of emergency. So all of that rage and righteous indignation can lead one not to speak politely sometimes.

Eight years ago, Cornel West was a fervent supporter of candidate Barack Obama. Today, he blames the president for not doing more on issues like income inequality and racial justice. A product of the turbulent sixties, West has joined protests led by civil rights groups like Black Lives Matter. Here in Ferguson, Missouri, he was one of many arrested for civil disobedience.

James Brown: The young people who are leading the Black Lives Matter charge, you're all behind them?

Cornel West: Oh, very much so. I think that's a marvelous new militancy that has to do with courage, vision. The fundamental challenge always is will their rage be channeled through hatred and revenge or will it be channeled through love and justice. You got to push 'em toward love and justice.

James Brown: Why do you think you have that kind of currency with young people?

Cornel West: They know that I take their precious lives seriously. When I go to jail in Ferguson and say quite explicitly, "I'm old school, and I want the new school to know that some of us old folk love y'all to death" and they hear that and say, "Well, dang, you know, we might not always-- agree with this brother, but this Negro looks like a fighter for justice."

[March: This is what democracy looks like. Justice!]

Nyle Fort: I think a lot of young people really gravitate towards him not only because he's a giant of an intellectual, he is somebody that you want to be around.

Nyle Fort is a 26-year-old activist and religion PhD student at Princeton. He first saw West speak at a rally four years ago.

James Brown: The manner in which Dr. West has been criticizing the president. Your reaction?

Nyle Fort: I think it's important for us to listen to the substance of his argument. And I think that his critiques not just of President Obama, but of our current state of democracy in this country, the current state of the world, is something that we need to pay attention to.

A favorite on the lecture circuit, we were with him at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, when the crowd of 1,500 broke into applause before he said a word.

Then, for more than an hour, an extemporaneous journey filled with biblical passages and quotes from philosophers and poets about decency and virtue. All in support of West's warning about the dangers of inequality.

Cornel West: I have nothing against rich brothers and sisters. Pray for 'em every day. But callousness and indifference, greed and avarice is something that's shot through all of us.

Cornel West has diverse influences to say the least; crediting jazz giants John Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan with helping him understand human suffering. West sees civil rights pioneer, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel as one of the great treasures of the 20th century.

Cornel West: It's never a question of skin pigmentation. It's never a question of just culture or sexual orientation or civilization. It's what kind of human being you're going to choose to be from your mama's womb to the tomb and what kind of legacy will you leave.

Cornel West was born 62 years ago in Oklahoma, but grew up in Glen Elder -- a predominantly black neighborhood near Sacramento, California. He is the second of four children. His father, Clifton was a federal administrator and his mother, Irene was a teacher. They were a close-knit, church-going family.

Cornel West: I feel as if I have been blessed to undergo a transformation from gangster to redeemed sinner with gangster proclivities.

James Brown: You actually were a thug when you were a youngster?

Cornel West: Oh absolutely, I got kicked out of school when I was seven-- seven years old.

James Brown: Doing what, Dr. West?

Cornel West: I refused to salute the flag because my great uncle had been lynched with the flag wrapped around his body. So I went back to Sacramento and said, "I'm not saluting the flag." And teacher went at me and hit me, and I hit back. And then we had a Joe Frazier/Muhammad Ali moment right there in the third grade.

Clifton West: He was the only student I ever knew that came home with all As and had to get a whipping.

Clifton West is Cornel's brother, best friend and was his role model growing up. He says behind his little brother's bad behavior, was a relentlessly curious mind.

Clifton West: We had this bookmobile. And we would come out, and check out a book, and go on back in the house and start reading it. So Corn, at one point, I don't know how long it took, he had read every book in the bookmobile.

James Brown: Excuse me?

Clifton West: I don't know it had to be 200 books, easy. And the bookmobile man, who was a white guy, went to all the neighborhoods, little chocolate neighborhoods, saying, "There's this guy in Glen Elder that read every book in here."

Anecdotes like that convinced teachers to give their troubled student an aptitude test. West's recorded IQ: 168.

Cornel West: I got a pretty high score. So they sent me over all the way on the other side of town. Mom used to drive me all the way to school and then drive back to her school where she was teaching first grade.

The new school had a gifted program that challenged his mind and changed his behavior.

James Brown: Was that when you first grabbed hold of the notion that you were smart?

Cornel West: You know, I never really thought I was that smart. Because there was so many other folk in school that I was deeply impressed by. But I'll say this, though, that I've never really been impressed by smartness."
cornelwest  barackobama  race  2016  via:ablerism  love  activism  socialjustice  blacklivesmatter  generations  inequality  values  nylefort  jamesbrown  cliftonwest  eddieglaude  decency  virtue  callousness  indifference  greed  avarice  jazz  suffering  humanism  abrahamjoshuaheschel  life  living  legacy  religion  belief  ferguson  racialjustice  racism  civildisobedience  wallstreet  intellectualism  intellect  curiosity  poverty  policy  language  malcolmx  frederickdouglass  rage  indignation  civilrights  johncoltrane  wisdom  smartness  sacrifice  conformism  sarahvaughan 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Black America and the Class Divide - The New York Times
"The economic gap within the African-American community is one of the most important factors in the rise of Black Lives Matter, led by a new generation of college graduates and students."



"Consider them, instead, the grandchildren of Du Bois’s “talented 10th,” taking their cues, wittingly or unwittingly, from the challenge that he and the civil rights activists of the ’60s issued to black leadership. Many of today’s black activists are the children of middle- and upper-middle-class parents — the affirmative action generation — and may be realizing, as Charlayne Hunter-Gault put it to me, “that privilege doesn’t always translate as they thought it would.”

Despite the highs — the escalating successes in finance, business, public service, education and entertainment (think beyond President Obama and sports figures to the American Express C.E.O. Kenneth Chenault, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, and the queen of Thursday-night TV, Shonda Rhimes) — there have been far too many lows, too many moments in which we as a country have come face to face with the deprivation, disenfranchisement, marginalization and flat-out abuse of African-Americans at the socioeconomic bottom.

The disparity of opportunity plagues Black America perhaps even more starkly now, given its extremes, than the economic reality that motivated Dr. King to transfer the focus of his movement from civil rights to economic justice, as exemplified in his last, tragically aborted effort to mount a “Poor People’s Campaign.”

The childhood poverty rate for African-Americans remains stubbornly close to what it was the day Dr. King was assassinated; unemployment for black Americans runs nearly double that of the national average; and the distrust between impoverished communities and the police continues to spiral (helped in no small part by the fact that blacks make up more than a third of the prison population, compared to only 13 percent of the overall population).

And we still confront the question that arose the moment the first slave ships arrived: Do black lives matter?

It is into this whiplash environment of economic inequality that college students have come of age. They were youngsters when Hurricane Katrina engulfed New Orleans — for a time the ultimate symbol of inequality of income and opportunity — and teenagers when George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. They have been consumed by a roster of recorded police killings of unarmed black men and boys since August 2014, when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo., followed by similar assaults in Staten Island, Cleveland, Chicago and North Charleston, S.C.

Black women and girls haven’t escaped injustices, either. We need think only of the young girl in the Mall of America who was restrained by a security guard or the teenager in South Carolina who was thrown from her desk by a school resource officer, or the 13 black women who testified against the former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, who was convicted of rape.

The nation’s African-American students are searching profoundly and visibly for a definitive end to racial injustice. College campuses, Du Bois’s proving grounds for the training and testing of social responsibility and leadership, have once again become a primary front in the battle against inequality — from “I, Too, Am Harvard,” a concept that has spread from Berkeley to New York University, to the principled protest of football players at the University of Missouri against racial insensitivity, to demonstrations at Brown and Brandeis, Princeton and Yale.

A number of administrators have voiced strong support for these protests as well as an institutional will to change, be it renaming buildings or re-evaluating the makeup of their student body and faculty.

Change, even at the symbolic level, is difficult, of course, and it remains to be seen what this current wave of protests will accomplish. Will the fight against police brutality, symbols of the Confederacy and society’s plethora of micro-aggressions become the basis of a broader movement for the improvement of underfunded public school education, for the right to a job with decent wages, and for the end of residential segregation that relegates the poor to neighborhoods with murder rates as alarming as those on the South Side of Chicago?

What is certain is that the outrage that led to Black Lives Matter and its spinoffs will be with us for years to come unless these legacies of slavery and Jim Crow become remnants of a racist past."
henrylouisgatesjr  race  us  class  blackamerica  education  blacklivesmatter  history  webdubois  jimcrow  civilrightsmovement  highered  highereducation  socialjustice  racism  economics  inequality 
february 2016 by robertogreco
An Xiao Mina at Biased Data - An Xiao Mina - Open Transcripts
"Just to close, as we think about the role of lan­guage on the Internet, it really biases our expe­ri­ence, and there are a lot of risks and chal­lenges there, espe­cially as peo­ple from the Global South are com­ing online. The abil­ity for them to access con­tent and for them to con­tribute to impor­tant con­ver­sa­tions online will be severely lim­ited. It’ll look more like this, and I think some of the most impor­tant work we can do in tech is to bring it out into lan­guages that they can under­stand."
anxiaomina  language  languages  internet  online  web  2016  mikemcdandless  translation  blacklivesmatter  umbrellamovement  crowdsourcing  machinetranslation  sarahkendzior  russian  uzbek  opentranslationproject  aiweiwei  meedan  inequity  socialjustice  wechat  audio  chinese  china  bias  experience 
february 2016 by robertogreco
EXCLUSIVE: Bree Newsome Speaks For The First Time After Courageous Act of Civil Disobedience
"You see, I know my history and my heritage. The Confederacy is neither the only legacy of the south nor an admirable one. The southern heritage I embrace is the legacy of a people unbowed by racial oppression. It includes towering figures of the Civil Rights Movement like Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers and Ella Baker. It includes the many people who rarely make the history books but without whom there is no movement. It includes pillars of the community like Rev. Clementa Pinckney and Emmanuel AME Church.

The history of the South is also in many ways complex and full of inconvenient truths. But in order to move into the future we must reckon with the past. That’s why I commend people like Sen. Paul Thurmond for having the courage to speak truth in this moment.

Words cannot express how deeply touched I am to see how yesterday’s action inspired so many. The artwork, poems, music and memes are simply beautiful! I am also deeply grateful to those who have generously donated to the defense fund established in my name and to those who have offered to cover my legal expenses.

As you are admiring my courage in that moment, please remember that this is not, never has been and never should be just about one woman. This action required collective courage just as this movement requires collective courage. Not everyone who participated in the strategizing for this non-violent direct action volunteered to have their names in the news so I will respect their privacy. Nonetheless, I’m honored to be counted among the many freedom fighters, both living and dead.

I see no greater moral cause than liberation, equality and justice f­­or all God’s people. What better reason to risk your own freedom than to fight for the freedom of others? That’s the moral courage demonstrated yesterday by James Ian Tyson who helped me across the fence and stood guard as I climbed. History will rightly remember him alongside the many white allies who, over the centuries, have risked their own safety in defense of black life and in the name of racial equality.

While I remain highly critical of the nature of policing itself in the United States, both the police and the jailhouse personnel I encountered on Saturday were nothing short of professional in their interactions with me. I know there was some concern from supporters on the outside that I might be harmed while in police custody, but that was not the case.

It is important to remember that our struggle doesn’t end when the flag comes down. The Confederacy is a southern thing, but white supremacy is not. Our generation has taken up the banner to fight battles many thought were won long ago. We must fight with all vigor now so that our grandchildren aren’t still fighting these battles in another 50 years. Black Lives Matter. This is non-negotiable.

I encourage everyone to understand the history, recognize the problems of the present and take action to show the world that the status quo is not acceptable. The last few days have confirmed to me that people understand the importance of action and are ready to take such action. Whether the topic is trending nationally or it’s an issue affecting our local communities, those of us who are conscious must do what is right in this moment. And we must do it without fear. New eras require new models of leadership. This is a multi-leader movement. I believe that. I stand by that. I am because we are. I am one of many.

This moment is a call to action for us all. All honor and praise to God."
breenewsome  civildisobedience  civilrights  racism  blacklivesmatter  2015  activism  freedom  resistance  morality  liberation  equality  justice  inequality  us  southcarolina 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Mimi Zeiger asks why architects are silent on Ferguson
"Architecture as a practice sits at the juncture of hegemonic structures and the community it serves. It's an uncomfortable position and architecture's social agenda is often viewed as a failure when compared to its formalist counterpart. At times it seems easier to retreat into academia or simply pick one side of the spectrum: tactical urbanism or Dubai high-rises, senior centres or luxury condos, community-based processes or computation. Polarisation, however, hurts the whole discipline.

In 2011, Occupy Wall Street and Cairo's Tahrir Square protests sparked the publication of a spate of architectural texts on the use of public space, the rise of a democratic network culture, and the rethinking of public policy. Perhaps some processing time will produce something similar this time around. Indeed, there is a growing interest in the political as an area of architectural thought.

Recently the Architectural Association hosted the event How is Architecture Political? It featured political theorist Chantal Mouffe in conversation with a quartet of top architectural thinkers: Pier Vittorio Aureli, Reinhold Martin, Ines Weizman and Sarah Whiting. But the deaths of black citizens in New York, Florida, California, Missouri, and others, have yet to incite architectural discourse."



"What about this time? I asked her. At first, McEwen pointed me back to her text where she rallied designers to take on issues of race, violence, and inequality with the same attention that is given to other problems outside the direct scope of architecture, such as climate change or stormwater run-off. And then she weighed in:

"Architects and urban designers can take the #BlackLivesMatter campaign as an opportunity to look deeply into the ways that the tools of the discipline have been defined through attempts to erase black people from American cities," she said. "I don't mean 'in conjunction with', but actually the tools of the discipline emerging through the very acts of controlling, erasing, and displacing black bodies."

These are embedded structural issues that need to be addressed within architecture and design from all sides. Body cameras are not the solution, nor are the smart, tech-centric urban fixes they represent. Koolhaas may have noted that we are past the time of manifestos, but that's no reason to play dumb."
mimizeiger  remkoolhaas  design  3dprinting  architecture  smartcities  urban  urbanism  manifestos  blacklivesmatter  ferguson  2014  surveillance  tacticalurbanism  power  control  security  displacement  police  lawenforcement  force 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Is It Bad Enough Yet? - NYTimes.com
"Then, of course, there are the matters of justice and morality. It simply isn’t right to pay people a sub-living wage with no potential for more, and as the comedian Chris Rock says, employers would pay even less if they could get away with it.

The #blacklivesmatter movement — there’s no better description — is already having an impact as well. Don’t think for a second we’d be having a national debate about police brutality (one that includes many on the right), or a White House plan to examine and fix law enforcement, without demonstrations in the streets.

The initial Obama plan is encouraging but lacking, and that’s all the more reason to keep demonstrating. (What good are body cameras, by the way? The videotape of Rodney King’s beating was seen around the world yet resulted in acquittals; Eric Garner’s choking death, viewed millions of times online, didn’t even lead to a trial, even though police chokeholds are banned in New York City.) Besides, as Sanders says, “Even if every cop were a constitutional lawyer and a great person, if you have 30 percent unemployment among African-American young people you still have a huge problem.”

I have spent a great deal of time talking about the food movement and its potential, because to truly change the food system you really have to change just about everything: good nutrition stems from access to good food; access to good food isn’t going to happen without economic justice; that isn’t going to happen without taxing the superrich; and so on. The same is true of other issues: You can’t fix climate change or the environment without stopping the unlimited exploitation of natural and human resources (see Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything”). Same with social well-being.

Everything affects everything. It’s all tied together, and the starting place hardly matters: A just and righteous system will have a positive impact on everything we care about, just as an unjust, exploitative system makes everything worse.

Increasingly, it seems, there’s an appetite and even unity to take on the billionaire class. Let’s recognize that if we are seeing positive change now, it’s in part because elected officials respond to pressure, and let’s remember that that pressure must be maintained no matter who is in office. Even if Bernie Sanders were to become president, the need for pressure would continue.

“True citizenship,” says Jayaraman of Berkeley — echoing Jefferson — “is people continually protesting.” Precisely."
markbittman  2014  blacklivesmatter  justice  socialjustice  inequality  mininmumwage  chrisrock  protest  economics  racism  race  us  economicjustice  politics  policy  unemployment  lawenforcement 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Interdome - Race and Capital
"Separating economics from racism is something that I’ve been hearing lately. There are numerous good reasons for this. Economic oppression is not the same as racial oppression. The experience of suffering economic oppression is not the same as suffering racial oppression. Even if a component of racial oppression is suffering a disproportionate amount of economic oppression, the two are not equal and will never be. And while protests against economic oppression have followed a certain trajectory over the last few years, protests against racist oppression are following a different trajectory, bringing new protests and new leaders to the foreground, who have different experiences because of the context that is bringing them into the street.

However, let’s not forget that economic oppression is used as racial oppression, and is its lifeline. Nothing happens in this country without money spent to support it. The fight to raise the minimum wage, while benefiting all workers everywhere, will most initially support a class of workers who are disproportionately of color. Economics is indivisible from racism. This is the entire argument for monetary reparations.

People have been saying that #BlackLivesMatter isn’t about anti-capitalism—and this is correct, because anti-capitalism is not the reason these protests have started, and anti-capitalism is not the motivation, or the goal. But, the fight against racism in this country is about capitalism, because capitalism is the perpetuating force of the racism we are fighting.

The militarization of the police exists because of the military-industrial profiteers of the defense industry. They are the reason the weapons were made, and they are the reason the weapons will continue to come to police departments. Congress dropped its efforts to stop the flow of weapons. Think about who has money in the congressional races to stall that. It’s not the KKK.

The lack of oversight for police forces across the country stems from similar economics. The District Attorney who purposefully botched the grand jury in Ferguson has long ties to the police and to Democratic party politics in the area. There are rumors about even more troubling ties than that. But what is the machinery that keeps him in office? Local donors to the political machine, who want their police force and courts run the way this man is running them. Local businesses pay for the police. That they are local, does not make their money any less harmful. The same goes for any other city. Our government and police forces run on money, and the money tells them which way to turn their heads.

Nearly every stereotype about black people (and it holds true for other minorities as well) has an economic anchor. What is the bigoted view of black people in America? They are “thugs”, “lazy”, “angry”, “on drugs”, and “violent”. What are these demons, if not economic demons? They don’t work hard enough, they take your stuff, they are too emotional to be productive in the workplace, they waste their money, they can’t be counted on, which is the essence of a contract. Therefore, black people are hired less, paid less, fired more often. There is redlining, there is gentrification. There is abuse at the hands of a for-profit medical system. There is the prison system, a system filled with people of color because they don’t have the resources to fight back legally, because they can be sapped for what resources they do have and no one will stand up for them. These long-held, deep-seated bigotries that white people have against people of color cannot walk the face of the earth without kicking over the stacks of money that they generate, that props up these bigotries, that keeps people holding the worst of these bigotries in positions of power.

So yes: let us remember and repeat how this current movement is not about anti-capital. But let us also remember that the history of American racism is entirely inseparable from capital. If we are going to do something about the former, we will eventually have to tangle with the latter."
racism  capitalism  2014  ferguson  economics  blacklivesmatter  race  us  policy  militaryindustrialcomplex  oppression  schooltoprisonpipeline  protests  adamrothstein 
december 2014 by robertogreco

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