Our Thoughts on last Nights Debate Between Farouk Shami and Bill White-Think Outside the Box

Like many throughout the state, last night I tuned into to watch the Democratic debate between business owner Farouk Shami and former Houston mayor Bill White. White is favorite among the Dems and for a state that is politically and culturally changing in many areas, he symbolizes that potential. However, while I’d take White over Mr Good Hair Perry and Cheerleader Kay Bailey, I feel he came across way too cautious and I know I’m definitely not alone in my feelings.

Like it or not.  personality, enthusiasm and just good ole fashion straight from the hip plain talk can go a long way in waking up, inspiring and exciting the legions of people who don’t vote because they feel candidates are not about the business of sincerely addressing their issues and concerns. Far too often people are left feeling like they are being treated as statistics and or part of a voting demographic to be conquered and not engaged. And while I recognize there are policy wonks who will insist that playing to the  pool of ‘likely voters’ is a tried and true method, there’s rapidly coming a day when that won’t work.  That pool is shrinking and politicians especially someone like White is going to have to step out his comfort zone just a bit and connect better with the people. What do I mean by that?

White doesn’t need to show up in fancy clothes or adopt new slang and pretend to be someone he isn’t. But it does mean he has to have a better sense of what large portions of the people he wants to govern are thinking and earnestly address them. A certain part of him has got to be he’s the guy who wanna have that proverbial beer with.  But he also has to be the guy you wanna play basketball with, go shopping with,shoot pool with,  go to the car show or rap concerts with or simply hang out on the corner with.. etc. He has to expnad and understand not everyone in Texas drinks or wants to drink beer.

Governor Rick Perry

 Here’s the bottom line.. Rick Perry excites his base better than White is exciting his right now.. That’s not good.  If White wins the March primary he’ll have lots of people voting for him because they can’t stand Perry or the Republicans in general and not because people who are ready to seriously ride hard for him.. Thats gotta change or its gonna be wrap come November.. It’s that serious and that simple. 

People like to take shots at Farouk Shami and say he’s quirky because of his accent and all that, but lets keep it real. He excited people last night. His straight ahead talk and sincerity made people sit up and watch. He connected big time on two important issues, immigration and the death penalty.  He talked about treating those who are undocumented as ‘Human beings’. In fact he used that word ‘Human’  2 or 3 times… I don’t know what the so called policy experts said or how it polled , but Faraouk connectedwith people who often feel as if they are seen as invisible and even treated as second class or a burden to the rest of society.  Farouk talked about building bridges and not walls with our neighbors in Mexico, much like we do with Canada.  Again that connected. Lots of people in Texas and in fact all over the country can and do relate to that statement.  It went a long ways. It made people in the room I was at sit and pay attention. It made folks go look up Farouk and see what his other policies were. 

Farouk Shami

After Farouk spoke on immigration, as predicted there are the racist types who immediately started making their objections known by talking and texting crazy..There was one Neandertal type woman who immediately started tweeting how incredulous she was at Farouk’s suggestion of us working with and seeing our neighbors to the south as fellow human beings who are often in dire need and not some foreign enemy who needs to be spit upon. ‘Build a Bridge with Mexico? How about sending them to Jail’ she tweeted..   

 Is this the crowd we wanna play to? Isn’t this an outdated way of thinking? Isn’t this very 1980s? Bill White’s response on immigration seemed to suggest that he was playing to that crowd.. Not in policy obviously, but in the sense of him trying to minimize critcism and pushback. That’s not riding for your supporters.. That’s called playing them and people can sense that. As I said earlier, people in Texas are tired of being played.. We say let such people holding attitudes like that woman go back to their caves and let’s build with the people who see the world differently.

 Memo to politicians: Millions of people throughout the state DO NOT see their family, friends, neighbors and the people of Mexico as enemies. It doesn’t matter how many Border Patrol shows they run on TV or how many reports of drug cartels we air on the evening news.. The average person sees things very differently.  If we can get to that point in our thinking we can start to craft meaningful legislation that is benificial for everyone involved. 

Even though Bill White is currently the  favorite, if Farouk’s words  start to get out to the millions who didn’t bother to watch last nights debate, he may get a few folks to go to the polls and give White a serious run for the money. As the former mayor of one of the largest and most diverse cities in the country, White should’ve have echoed similar sentiments as Farouk in an unabashed, undaunted way versus trying to cover all his political bases. Immigration is a human thing at the end of the day, not a policy thing… Its best we recognize that now, before we’re  forced to in the near future… 

 On the issue of the death penalty, Farouk came out the box swinging when he pretty much said ‘Hell naw- we need a moratorium’.  He said too many innocent people have been executed and it’s time for a pause.   That drew loud applause where I was at. His remarks drew praise on the Facebook and Tweeter feeds I was on… When pressed by the lame ass reporter who was trying to play ‘Gotcha’ versus simply asking questions, Shami didn’t waver, he boldly restated his position.. ‘We need a moratorium to on the death penalty’

Meanwhile on the other side of the room, White was again trying to cover all the bases.  He said something about respecting the voters, respecting the process, respecting the courts blah blah blah. He came across wishy washy, like he was kinda, sorta,  maybe willing to let someone off if he/she was innocent.. You could literally see his brain working in overdrive to see how he could best say the ‘right thing’ without offending the over-the-top tea party types who would take him to the woodshed for saying anything less than ‘People on death row need to die’… 

 Taking bold steps and earnestly speaking to various audiences is not being reckless. It’s called being a leader and as far as I can recall, Texas Governors like them or not and trust me I haven’t  liked the last two, have been known to speak directly to their constituents and get them reved up..  White has the advantage of appealing to a larger audience of folks who are currently turned off..and turning them on. It seems like he has yet to go after them, but Farouk did.. and that’s a good thing.. He needs to continue down that path.. 

 One topic that both candidates seemed to miss was on the issue of jobs. Yes, lots of people need jobs. The economy is bad, bills need to be paid , many are barely making it..Everyone understands that. However, what was missing in the discussion was evidence of conversations with communities and people who are out of work as to exactly what they need. It’s more than just having a  job.. It’s about what type of job and whether or not it fulfilling.  Are we talking about entry level  manufacturing jobs, office jobs, green Jobs?  Is this what people are saying they want?

Sound leadership says we go beyond giving people something to do just for a paycheck..  Part of the reason America hasn’t been as competitive as we could in the global economy is because folks feel uninpsired by the work they do. Why not take the bold step of creating jobs that will be here for the long haul because folks working them feel they have a stake in them? We ideally should be playing to their strengths and hopefully developing something that has richer meaning.

For example, to this day, I am hard pressed to find anyone who really knows what is a Green Job.  The common answer I get is ‘installing solar panels’. My mom is who is older and out of work and not in the best of health is not interested or capable of installing solar panels. So what are we really talking about when you say ‘Green Jobs’? Are these entry level positions or something with mobility? Can I one day make partner? Move into management? Be the Solar panel provider versus installer? 

One thing that has always stood out is the entrepreneurial spirit of folks in places like Houston. Known and admired all over the country for its thriving music scene, there are a couple of generations of people who’ve grown up in H-Town wanting to ‘run their own businesses and many do.. I have to wonder if any candidate have tapped into this resevoir of talent  and taken into account their perspectives when crafting job policy?  Have any of these candidates spoken to the entrepreneurs of today’s generation?  What ideas do iconic figures and leaders like a Trae, Bun B, Matt Sonzala, Slim Thug, K-Rino, J Prince, Chingo Bling, Brother Jesse and so many others have to say?

Yes, I realize some of these people are artists, but many those same artists not only have created and provided jobs for the people around them. In addition prior to becoming well known and finacially able to live solely off their craft, many had  to hustle and make do with their own jobs. These individuals have set examples for many who look up to them all over the country. Are we talking to them here in Texas? 

Take a popular artist like Chamillionaire. He was recently in California’s Silicon valley where he  give a keynote about new technology and digital media. He was there opening people’s eyes about new job possibilities. Has anyone running for governor in Texas tapped him to see what suggestions he has?  This is an especially important point  in the age of social media, computers and digital devices. I know people who can flip computers and make them do things they weren’t initially designed to do.. Should we be looking in that direction and finding ways to enhances those skill sets?  

Annisse Parker

In a recent  interview with new mayor Annisse Parker, she talked to us about how Houston is rapidly becoming a destination place for the arts and how she wants to continue moving things in that vein. What does that mean for new jobs? Does Houston become Hollywood South? Do we start crafting new facilities and exploring what opportunities exist in that arena. Do we become a destination place for film festivals, indy media etc..? Its gotta be more than solar panels.. The job I have is writing, broadcasting and basically communicating.. I’m not trying to install some panels.. But I might be willing to work at crafting important messages form a company or agency.. Again we have to think outside the box here in the new Texas and part of that is recognizing what people are needing and enthusiastically embracing.

All in all, there is a great opportunity to tap the untapped and bring them into the process of electing Texas’ next governor. One can play the same old game and go for the so called likely voters.. or we can appeal to those who feel disconnected.. The choice is yours

Immortal Technique: (Reflections on the Haitian Revolution & Present Condition)

(Reflections on the Haitian Revolution & Present Condition)
By Immortal Technique

http://www.everydropchi.com/

Since the recent tragedy that has befallen the proud and persevering nation of Haiti, there has been an outpouring of support followed by a few disturbing falsities being spread about the history of the island and its people. I wrote the following to shed some light on events during and around the Haitian Revolution. Please remember memorizing and reiterating should never pass for learning. Deciphering the significance of individuals and events is what truly teaches us not just about history, but also about ourselves.

There is a wide spectrum of beliefs behind what has caused Haiti to suffer ceaselessly over the years. Some see the problem as being mostly political, bad governance, modern day colonialism, and the perceived necessity to make an example to the world of what a successful slave revolution will get you. There are even those on the fringe who cling to an ancient superstition that the island was freed by a mythological pact with Satan (video) In order to shed light on the issue I am forced to go back in time. Obviously not to the beginning of occupational history, but far enough to give others a realistic perspective on Haiti and it’s struggle.

We join a story centuries in the making. It is the year 1794 and the scent of musket powder blows over all of Europe. The French Revolution may have changed the face of the world, but its unintended consequences that influenced its colonies would come to overshadow France’s own glory. It was during this year, on the 4th of February, that France’s First Republic Convention (under pressure from massive slave revolts) decided it had to transcend the stumbling efforts of the ‘enlightened monarchs’ of Europe and abolish slavery. Yet in the customary fashion of our own Declaration of Independence’s “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal,” the gesture, much like these words, became a glaring example of self-righteous insincerity. Equality, the fraternal twin brother of Independence, was aborted at the fetal stage of development and the Revolution came to betray itself.

Francois-Dominique Toussaint

Known then as “Saint Domingue” (French for Santo Domingo,) the colony that we now call Haiti, yielded great fortune to those who possessed her. It was rich with sugar, cotton, tobacco, cocoa and other valued resources. So much so that the European Superpowers of that day fought bitterly against each other to control the island and her inhabitants. After all, the African slaves living on Saint Domingue were the proverbial engines that ran the machine. From among them appeared a man who was born a slave but who would become free and lead all his countrymen toward that same destiny. He was a glitch in the matrix, an act of nature, and a mistake to be corrected in the eyes of the islands autocratic semi-feudal society. His name was Francois-Dominique Toussaint soon to be heralded, “L’Overture.”

As a former servant and carriage driver, he had abstained from participating directly in previous uprisings stemming from the refusal of slave masters to honor “The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.” He had waited patiently and then allied himself with other rebel leaders who had risen to the task of overthrowing colonial rule. His ideas were innovative and his guerrilla tactics highly disciplined. No wonder then that he rose through the ranks of the rebellious forces so quickly.

Before fighting alongside the French against other colonial powers, Toussaint had been in league with the Spanish, who along with Great Britain were at war with France. The Spanish were used as a support system for his designs when white colonials refused to endorse the full rights of citizenship to free blacks given by the French edict of 1792. In other words, for Toussaint they were there to serve his vision rather than him serving theirs. Having so many different nations vying for a piece of the pie proved a difficult task to navigate. To his credit, Toussaint had managed to out-maneuver them all, cleverly using their own tactics of pitting one against another. But when Spain and England did not follow through with their promises to free slaves, he discarded his allegiance to them.

After grueling and hard-fought campaigns against the Spanish and British, he took control of the French Colony. Toussaint promoted reconciliation among the races, which wasn’t any easier then than it would be now. He also engaged and renegotiated better terms of trade with Britain and the new American Republic alike. Catholicism was adopted as the national religion and slavery was abolished. The news traveled around the world like lightning- the African Slaves were undergoing the course of reversing 300 years of domination.

As news of the Independence of Haiti was circulating, the reaction was mixed. Toussaint’s actions openly received the approval of Alexander Hamilton, who saw Europe’s weakening in the West as an opening for America’s bid for commercial supremacy. He even aided in the drafting of the precursor to the island’s first constitution in 1801. However, when Thomas Jefferson came to power, American support was reined in. Jefferson openly own slaves and had even fathered children with the now famous girl he owned, Sally Hemmings. But much more than his personal stake in legitimized servitude, it was the perceived international threat that most likely shaped his opinion. The surrounding colonies and his new Republic being destabilized by the idea of a successful slave revolt obviously frightened him. His assertion being that their freedom would suddenly cripple the economy built around them. He is quoted as saying that it was necessary at all costs to “confine the plague to the island.” I guess “My emancipation / don’t fit your equation.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

By 1801, Toussaint was in full control of Saint Domingue. In a moment of perhaps self-preserving foresight and/or genuine altruism, he advanced onto the Spanish side of the island. His army defeated the remaining white colonial powers and freed all the slaves, showing the people of color the first glimpses of freedom they’d known practically since the time of Columbus. He rejected the ancient custom that dated back to the Middle Ages, of sending his children as hostages to his ‘Suzerain’ as a symbol of fidelity. He further declared his intentions in a famous letter addressing Napoleon himself. It was titled: “From the First of Blacks to the First of the Whites.” In it he pledged his loyalty to France. He stated firmly that slavery would be utterly annihilated; that he (Toussaint) would remain governor indefinitely (a suggestion from Hamilton and then Sec. of State Pickering). Furthermore Saint Domingue would be a free and independent state. The correspondence must have come as a shock to then Consul Napoleon. It was probably the sheer audacity of a former slave proposing terms of independence, albeit in the most polite and articulate manner, that struck him. This man was obviously more dangerous than he could have ever imagined. Toussaint and his people represented something that had to be proved false no matter the cost.

See the very existence of their independence showed the entire human race a side of history that we are only now truly rediscovering. European society had relied mainly on creating divisions and the spread of epidemics, not simply superior military prowess to overcome the indigenous populations of Africa and the Americas. The Haitian Revolution exposed the façade of European invincibility, and it tore away at their justification for invasion on the grounds of Christianization. The mythology of racial superiority began to take the shape of an ancient death mask from classical antiquity.

Napoleon would hear no more and dispatched his brother in law Gen. Charles LeClerc to the island with a huge force of infantry troops and warships. His stated intention was to secure the new state. At first confrontation ensued, but they arrived at a truce once Toussaint promised that the French would not attempt to reinstate slavery. However, the moment he let his guard down he was almost immediately betrayed. Toussaint and his entire family were arrested. Restoring the island to France’s control, LeClerc had Toussaint sent to prison in France. But this was just the beginning. He quietly moved to begin the process of re-enslavement. “Since terror is the sole resource left me, I employ it…destroy all the mountain negroes, men and women, sparing only children under twelve years of age,” read his report to Napoleon.

The Mulatto

The French now shifted their focus on using the former so called “Mulatto” people who Toussaint had defeated in previous military campaigns to maintain control of the island. They, the “Mulatto’s” had been at odds with elements of the Revolution earlier although they had suffered almost equally from the torments of slavery. The very concept of the “Mulatto”, that still to this day plagues the African, Latin American, Caribbean, and so Called West Indian world, merits an explanation all to itself.

The Latin ‘mulus,’ became the Old Spanish or Old Castillian ‘mula,’ finally evolving into the Spanish and Portuguese “Mulatto,” that symbolized the reverse anthropomorphic semblance of a human being. A mule is the physical combination of a horse and a donkey. This part is simple enough. But the symbolic nature of this has a racial connotations that tear apart our society even today. The horse symbolizes the White European, elegant, regal and highly valued. And the donkey embodies what they thought the purpose of an African/Indigenous slave should be; a beast of burden to be worked until the day that ‘it’ dies.

The combination of a horse and a donkey create a species that rarely if ever is capable of reproducing. The male is always born sterile, and the female is exceptionally similar in this way. Hence the idea that nothing good can come from them. This concept then became permeated in the portrayal of the “tragic mulatto” in 19th century American literature, leading into classic Hollywood cinema. It is a theme symbolized by the downfall of a “Mulatto” or “Quadroon/Octoroon” attempting to pass for white. It also focused on the conflict of those trapped between two races. Those who despised and pitied their darker half and their own skin color, while needing the approval of whites to validate themselves. In most of the stories peace is only found for the said main character in death. The very definition of its existence solidified the role of White and Black in the American caste system, whose remnants we all still presently reside in. It also laid out the role of Blacks to themselves, without many of them even to this day understanding the loaded straw man argument about race posed within the terminology.

It was the Haitian Revolution that challenged the very idea of slavery and the existence of a lesser man. It put the “enlightenment” of Europeans on trial, and forced America to confront what she was becoming as opposed to what she was supposed to be. The usage of concepts like the “Mulatto” were necessary for late 18th century white society to put institutionalized racism on life support for another 150 years, and create a violent split in the psychology of Mother Earth’s first children.

They had used a traditional stratagem inherited from the Romans/Byzantines of understanding an empire’s limited capacity for multi-dimensional warfare on a global scale, and employed the service of a smaller state to outflank its opponents in conflict. Only this time it was not using the Visigoths to fight the Huns (Battle of Chalon, 451 A.D.) or the Cumans to fight the Pechenegs (Levonium, 1091 A.D.). Napoleon and those that served his court were innovators of the worst kind. They perfected what other colonial powers beforehand had only begun. They created virtual new age “foederati” for their designs by ripping a subsection out of the very people they sought to subjugate. In return for cooperation, the French promised the desperate “Mulattos” more rights and more privileges in what they painted as a new Saint Domingue. Effectively this action created a safe haven for racism that is even now nestled like a neonate Viper storing the poison of generation after generation. The idea built itself within the conscious and subconscious mind of an enslaved people, to keep them in bondage psychologically even if they found themselves physically free. This is evident not only in the continued degeneration of Black and “Mulatto” relations well into the mid 1800’s under Jean Pierre Boyer, but in present Black & Latino society’s obsession with skin color.

In other words, the French colonization efforts efficiently solidified adding dimensions to racism and the notion of racial superiority by creating a different “race” in our own minds. It was wicked and brilliant in its service to the cause of reducing man to property as it was to being duplicitous to the so-called ‘Mulatto’ himself. For in the end he was closer to his Master in his eyes only. To the French he was still little more than an animal, subject to an active and de-facto ‘Code Noir’.

(The cruel logic of the seemingly schizophrenic reflections in King Louis XIV’s Code Noir of 1641, is regarded as a predecessor to the U.S.’s Black Codes, which shaped the legal standing of former African slaves in the post civil war Era. It covers everything from the immediate persecution and expulsion of Jews, to laws concerning a slave’s position, methods of torture and capital punishment that could be implemented.)

Click to read the Code Noir http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/335/

Jean Jaques Dessalines and Black (Slave) Rage

Tricknowledge, is a late 20th century Harlem terminology for an old cosmopolitan strategy. It is used to describe an imperial power not having the physical force to conquer a people, and therefore resorting to the art of deception to achieve victory. Calculating lies are used to manipulate the target into compromising positions before it is attacked. Yet even with all of her elegantly worded deception, sweet-accented mandates, and counter-mandates, France would only hold the beautiful island prisoner for a few more fleeting moments of history. Once the Revolution was set into motion there was no opposing inertia capable of stopping it. Toussaint may have been taken under arms to France where he lived incarcerated, in a frozen fortress near Bensancon (eventually succumbing to pneumonia although some suspected poison), but the Revolution rolled on. In fact, right before Toussaint’s death, a perhaps karmic parting gift of yellow fever swept Saint Domingue weakening the French garrison and even claiming the life of Charles LeClerc.

Jean Jaques Dessalines

Napoleon’s Saint Domingue police state barely lasted a year, until it became blatantly evident that slavery was to be reinstated just as it had been on Guadeloupe. In the end, after watching the brutal conflict and horrific mistreatment of his own people, it was one of Toussaint’s young General’s, Jean Jaques Dessalines (who had ironically allied himself with LeClerc when Toussaint was captured), who decided to emerge as the leader that would avenge his people. Truthfully though, and perhaps more important to his own soulful vanity, he really sought to avenge himself. To hear him described by the contemporary European authors of his time, he sounds like the very manifestation of chaotic violence. But every scar has a story, and Dessalines had many scars. In fact a large percentage of his body was covered in painful grooves, partially healed lacerations and whip marks that made some of his skin look like it had melted over itself. He had received some of these in very visible places, and even the most sensitive areas of a man, for his perceived ‘insolence’ as a slave.

It is said General Dessalines would look upon his scars in the mirror and cry out in rage before battles. Then crashing into his enemies he fought with the valiant nature of a man seeking freedom, and persistent fury of a heart that would only be quenched by vengeance. His aim became to ensure the small Revolution’s continued success at any military cost. He was determined to maintain it by implementing the same campaigns of terror that the slave owners had recently utilized on him and his people. And this is what terrified white Europeans to the core of their being. Provoking most landowners and slave masters to flee. Some of them though, daring to look, must have surely seen a piece of themselves in him and been rattled. This is thought to be what initially led to the invention of stories about his pact with the devil and deals with voodoo spirits, as these then served the impertinent need to differentiate his actions from theirs.

To better understand how the slaves were treated and what exactly he sought to repay to his former masters for, I chose this famous quote from Henri Christophe‘s personal secretary. He, who was once a slave, describes in sick details the daily torture inflicted on the enslaved Africans of Saint-Domingue by the French.

“Have they not hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars? Have they not forced them to eat shit? And, having flayed them with the lash, have they not cast them alive to be devoured by worms, or onto anthills, or lashed them to stakes in the swamp to be devoured by mosquitoes? Have they not thrown them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup? Have they not put men and women inside barrels studded with spikes and rolled them down mountainsides into the abyss? Have they not consigned these miserable blacks to man eating-dogs until the latter, sated by human flesh, left the mangled victims to be finished off with bayonet and poniard?”

His preferred mechanism for punishing European colonials, many of whom were former slave masters, was indeed ruthless. He implemented “Black Rage” as both his foreign and domestic policy, which meant the absolute destruction of the white colonists, soldiers, and civilians. Before him others had angrily suggested this sort of retribution but none had the gall to carry it out. After all, ideologues may design a Revolution and dismantle an empire verbally, but ideas are powerless without the hand that wields them mercilessly. In the end a combination of this, and allowing remaining whites to live without owning any property and having little say in government, was the result.

I make no attempt here to justify the actions of Jean-Jaques Dessalines, but a person cannot be made a slave unless they are terrorized and de-humanized. Unless they are mentally, spiritually and in many cases physically castrated, unless their women are raped before them and children are sold and tore from the womb in front of their eyes. He did in essence what he was taught to do by those that shaped his world.

His collective punishment & scorched earth policy frightened the remaining white colonials to such a degree that most migrated en masse to the other side of the island or to the mainland. General Dessalines fought many battles and eventually claimed the independence of Haiti on January 1st, 1804. During this time period he had ravaged the Eastern side of the island and having swept away all opposition, made himself Emperor in 1804. His absolute rule inspired anger and resentment, and only 2 years after his coronation he was assassinated. The country divided itself between North and South until power was consolidated again. The legend of Dessalines came to life upon his death. Stories grew out of the resentment of the white exiles that had once owned his people and now happily welcomed his demise. Even the “Mulatto” section of Haiti that never received his trusting and felt shunned by him. His immediate demonization followed in these circles, without a thought or a backtracking moment in history to consider what were the circumstances caused him to be. No context that showed the nature of the slow functional genocide of his people.

Just silence. And that silence without context continues even today while people suffer one of the worst natural catastrophes that has ever be known to mankind.

Extortion of Haiti

Not a word from proud France who defied the American War machine over Iraq, but has kept silent over these two centuries when concerning the 150 million gold francs it extorted from Haiti in 1838. The number was later lowered to 90 million gold francs but the factual story behind the extortion goes as such. Under the guise of a cessation of hostilities (a promise to curb re-invasion), repaying indemnities and for the loss of “property” (slaves) during the Revolution, France demanded payment. And of course since Haiti had no such sum in their treasury at the time, French bankers eagerly paid the first 30 million gold francs at exorbitant almost mafia-inspired interest rates. So high that it was not until 1947 that Haiti was actually able to repay THAT particular “loan”. By the mid to late twentieth century the IMF’s policy of changing it’s agricultural focus and conditional foreign aid had since indebted the island nation beyond ruin. In the wake of this current tragedy, I believe France should immediately repay the blood money it stole years ago no matter its legal apprehensions of reparations. This isn’t about reparations for slavery it’s about the over 20 billion dollars in the modern equivalent paid to a reinstated tyrannical king. It is not the pinnacle of restoring Haiti, but the beginning of repair.

Jean Betrand Aristide

I would be remiss to not pause here and point out that this was written as a moderately detailed historical account of events in and around the Haitian Revolution. It is not the entire history of the island and does not go in depth into the modern self-defeating racial and political schism between Haiti and the Dominican Republican during the mid 20th century. I purposely steered clear of recent events concerning Jean Bertrand Aristide because it deserves an article on it’s own. I also cannot and will not lay the blame solely on Europeans for the condition of Haiti. The French themselves cannot be demonized anymore than the Spanish, English, Portuguese or Belgians, etc. for their role in colonization. Although to rule out foreign intervention for Haiti’s condition would be ignoring a huge amount of independent variables that affect the equation. While military backed World Bank policy has always kept the island as an economic vassal, the mismanagement of resources and corrupt leaders also bled the nation dry.

At some point we have to accept the personal responsibility for repairing the framework of society ourselves, and not relying on the people that ruined our indigenous civilizations to fix them all the time. Brutally repressive dictators, such as Duvalier, who were allowed to exist by the U.S. because of their stance against Communism, must be put into their proper context as well. They are not simply a Western invention, but rather the natural order of bequeathing absolute power to an agent of “stability,” an experiment that could easily be repeated in our own Republic. And so we as a nation cannot claim ignorance in our understanding of this political formula anymore, whether at home or abroad. The sad truth is that we as a public entity or a people may understand this relationship and dissect it now, but our own government has recognized it since the founding of the nation.

We may sometimes point to these historical figures and attribute superstitious characteristics to them in order to either justify or vilify their position. My main problem is when it starts becoming obvious that our own government uses complete and utter falsities to promote a military objective. The following is an account written by a Soldier who participated in the ousting of then President Aristide, it sheds light on the deliberate dissemination of such information:

http://www.ibiblio.org/prism/May96/haiti.html

If he (Dessalines) really made a pact to deliver his nation to absolute evil then why only the leader of the one successful slave revolt on the hemisphere? Why just him and not every other military commander throughout history that faced insurmountable odds? And when is that sort of such vindictive and violent force ever justified? See, that my friends- is at the very core of what Haiti and it’s historic Revolution truly represent. That undiluted tactic of delivering oneself from slavery and oppression through physical force. The French Revolution beheaded their King they did not pay his family restitution. The American Revolution gave Britain no reparations and in fact collected the land of it’s Indigenous allies after England ceded it without so much as a word to the Native American’s still living there. Yet only in modern history have enslaved people of color been trained to think suffering through the worst of what an oppressor can punish them with is the only way to gain legitimacy or victory.

Are we tragically “Mulatto?”

Are we as Black and Indigenous people only noble and righteous in an emasculated form of confrontations against such a fate? Are we only correct in our undertaking of a non-violent approach to confronting Imperialism or Fascism? More of white America praises Martin Luther King Jr. as peacefully resistant and the preferable alternative to Malcolm X’s truth without modesty. More would rather hear the scholarly Fredrick Douglas than experiencing the fear-invoking Dessalines. I do not seek to discredit the legacy of either Douglas or King. We are all indebted to the vital parts of the struggle for freedom that they played historically. But why are Europe and American spared the same constant criticism by present day historians. Would we turn the other cheek to Hitler? What would a non-violent march and a hunger strike against the Confederate South have accomplished? Without colonial militias, Native American Warriors, and the French & Spanish Armadas, wouldn’t the (U.S.) Constitution have ended up as British toilet paper? As a matter of fact, if Ghandi’s tactics had been used in the American Revolution, wouldn’t he have been lying in a ditch in Virginia some 234 years ago? Without the purchased attention of a global media outlet is shaming the world even possible? And even if we managed to procure one, how could a profit margin be replaced by a soul, when that’s the one thing that a multi-national news corporation will never have?

I believe a balance is always necessary, and that might never makes right. It just makes right now. Having the power to take land, force payment or enslave others doesn’t make your cause justified. In fact I would argue that an oppressor who lies to his slaves about their ten thousand year old history, and presents them as a fraction of a human being to all, is in truth more savage than that which he has reduced his fellow man to. Strength and power are the tools that can reinforce a document, a government, a people and a nation. Without them there is only the word, and unfortunately we are not as evolved as we would like to believe because we do not respect words, not even the words of God when we write them in our own image. We are taught to only respect fear and violence.

I am not arrogant enough to claim to have all the answers, but I come rather humbly myself to pose these questions so that you may discover the answer. May we repay the slave master by acting like the slave master? Or have we already gone this route before? Perhaps in our forgotten history we have already employed these strategies amongst ourselves. Can it be that we treated each other this way when Rome was yet to be conceived and Greek civilization was still an adolescent student of Egypt? Why is violent Revolution coupled with diplomatic conflict settlement only the recourse of the Super powers alone? Why is it presented to us as fruit from the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden? Perhaps it was our oppressor’s pact with the devil that made it so. These are question that are easy to answer only if a personal bias already exists within us, they are harder to answer when they speak to all of humanity, and what it reflects about the future of our species.

The earthquake itself did not discriminate by skin color when deciding who would die in the collapsing buildings. It cared nothing for their religion, family connections, or politics. Corrupt diplomats have perished within the same epicenter as innocent hardworking families and dedicated public servants. The old and the young perish together subtracted from both sides of the equation. Our evolution is the rediscovery of the past not an invention of a mythical future. Will we always be a petty small people as a complete and single human race that we do not look beyond what is obvious in our faces as opposed to what is obvious in the actions that our hearts strive us towards?

As I look at the proud, resilient and suffering nation of Haiti. I have heard every sort of theory for this tragedy, an act of God, HAARP, and even superstition backed by the hands of social senility wielding faith. In the end I am left to ponder what role did the world’s super powers play in burying Haiti before the Earthquake, and what sort of role will we now play in digging her and our own collective human soul out of the rubble?

Beyond this though I think we should begin to seriously change the way that we look at each other around the world. We are a global community, a single race of people who might one day all become Haitians.

To all my brothers & sisters, those that have lost family and are suffering.

My Condolences along with Revolutionary Love & Respect,

Immortal Technique

Felipe Coronel

Check out the website...Every Drop Counts is a grassroots organization assembled in response to the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti….A group of young artists and activists in Chicago came together with the goal to raise funds in order to send filtration equipment that will provide sustainable, clean bathing and drinking water (Thus, the name Every Drop Counts.)

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Recent Supreme Court Decisions is the Result of Conservative Stacking which will Haunt us for Years to Come

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling coupled with their recent decisions to pretty much put political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal on a fast track to death and to disallow cameras in the historic same-sex marriage hearings in San Francisco, underscore what I have long noted about electoral politics.

Say what you will about the Presidency and whether he’s living up to all his promises, whoever sits in that chair gets to appoint justices to the Supreme Court and a bunch of judges in the lower Federal Courts. Throughout our history, many of our victories in the areas of Civil Rights have come via court decisions or through the President signing into a law after being pressured by the people. Unless you have an army or some sort of paramilitary outfit thats equipped to go the long haul and stage some sort of coup, many of the things we say we want and need in today’s society is going to come via political decision. This means we have to bone up on our political awareness. Know the key players, vulnerable touch points and play to win.

Having long-winded conversations about conspiracies, and the so-called elite and how small victories were won once upon a time before many of us were born is just plain foolish, at least in 2010. The decision made by the Supreme Court to allow corporations unlimited free speech is part of the Bush Sr legacy of court appointments he did over 20 years ago. I recall many of my activist colleagues back then talking the same stuff as now. ‘Voting doesn’t matter’, ‘don’t support evil‘, ‘the lesser of two evils is still evil’..blah blah blah.. We’ve heard this talk forever..and now its come back to haunt us..

20+ years ago many sat out the election when George Bush Sr took on Michael Dukakis and one of the end results was Bush Sr winning and then appointing Clarence Thomas to fill the seat vacated by Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Courts first and then only African-American Supreme Court justice. Since then Thomas has been that crucial ultra conservative vote on an ideologically divided court where a variety of important Civil Rights and social justice issues have been defeated or overturned in 5-4 decisions. Thomas’s decisions for the most part have been direct smacks in the face of the Civil Rights legacy of Marshall.

Sadly Thomas is just one of several super conservatives sitting on the Supreme Court. Back in 1986, many talked a good game about how voting didn’t matter when Ronald Regan won a second term and promptly appointed Anthony Scalia who is considered the leader of the court’s conservative wing.

20 years later we are still haunted by the appointment of Clarence Thomas

Fast forward 10-15 years to the start of George W Bush-era. First, we saw first hand how those appointments from 20 years ago came back to haunt us when the Supreme Court handed “W’ the White House seat over Al Gore in that historic hotly contested 2000 election, where Florida, hanging chads and accusations of suppressed votes took center stage. That alone should’ve been an eye opener. But it then again maybe it wasn’t, because Bush won a second term and appointed Justice John G Roberts who led the charge and wrote the majority opinion that took away any sort of constraints or corporations to speak and advocate during an election. We have yet to see what sort of unthinkable damage that can potentially do…

We already have enough challenges than to have to worry about multinational corporations jumping in the fray with no restraints. As we still have these long drawn out discussions about whether or not we should or should not vote or Obama and anyone else, I suggest folks take along hard look at who is sitting on those courts and start stepping up our game to make sure new appointees are not as conservative as their predecessors. The lesser of two evils may be all the difference in the world on who sits on the bench. We’ve seen judges decide on everything from Sean Bell‘s police killers being get to go free to yesterday’s landmark Supreme Court decision. We know that the judge presiding over the Oscar Grant trial in California Robert Perry was appointed by conservative Governor Pete Wilson and of course we now know how Roberts showed lots of love and leniency to the corrupt officers involved in the Rampart scandal. You really can’t go take it to the streets and get meaningful change when it comes to judges.

It was a decision by San Antonio District Judge David Berchelmann that allowed fellow Judge Sharon ‘Killer’ Keller to get off for her horrific actions of closing her doors before a 5 o’clock deadline thus deny a death row appeal. This resulted in a man being put to death. But of course we have some who will say politics matters not.

We have to give voters in Houston/Harris county who obviously understood the importance of this and in 2008 swept out all but 4 judgeships. More of that needs to happen as a crucial step toward change

How does this new ruling impact Texas politics? Well according to The Dallas Morning News, it will change one part of the law but leave another in place.

Texas is one of 24 states that drew a line prohibiting corporations or unions from running ad campaigns that directly attacked or promoted a candidate.

In effect, a lot of businesses in Texas get around that by framing their ads and mailings as issue-focused. Though they might mention a candidate, they wouldn’t advocate his or her election or defeat. Under the Supreme Court’s ruling, corporations can be more direct in their appeals.

Unchanged, though, is Texas’ prohibition on corporations or unions donating money to individual candidates or coordinating their efforts with politicos.

The ruling probably doesn’t affect the state’s most famous pending campaign finance case, against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. He stands accused of money laundering by taking corporate money, siphoning it through the Republican National Committee in Washington and then distributing it to Texas candidates.

During the hey day of the Civil Rights struggle, the Federal courts were our friends..Today they are the institutions that are haunting us 10, 15 and 20 years down the line…What’s even more problematic is that nowadays those who have an ultra conservative agenda are moving in a direction where they are pushing to take their fight out of the legislative arenas and into the court system stacked with conservative judges…

I suggest people to take a look at Supreme Court rulings and than multiply them by 10 as you look at rulings made in lower courts and then you decide if you can afford to ignore politics..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_United_States_Supreme_Court_case

-Davey D-

Supreme Court’s ‘Radical and Destructive’ Decision Hands Over Democracy to the Corporations

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted January 21, 2010.

“The Supreme Court has just predicted the winners of the next November election,” Sen. Chuck Schumer announced this morning. “It won’t be Republicans. It won’t be Democrats. It will be Corporate America.”

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/145322/supreme_court%27s_%22radical_and_destructive%22_decision_hands_over_democracy_to_the_corporations/

Indeed, in a momentous 5 to 4 decision the New York Times calleda “doctrinal earthquake,” the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an unprecedented ruling today that gives new significance to the phrase “corporate personhood.” In it, the Roberts court overturned the federal ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns, ruling that forbidding corporations from spending money to support or undermine political candidates amounts to censorship. Corporations, the court ruled, should enjoy the same First Amendment rights as individuals.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the Supreme Court rejects “the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not ‘natural persons.'”

In other words, as Stephen Colbert put it last year, “Corporations are people too.”

On a conference call with reporters following the decision, critics could not overemphasize the enormity of the ruling, whose implications will be visible as early as the upcoming midterm elections. Bob Edgar, head of the watchdog group Common Cause, called it “the Superbowl of really bad decisions.” Nick Nyhart of Public Campaign called it an “immoral decision” that will make an already untenable mix of money and politics even worse.

“This is the most radical and destructive campaign finance decision in the history of the Supreme Court,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21. “With a stroke of the pen, five justices wiped out a century of American history devoted to preventing corporate corruption of our democracy.”

Writing about the ruling, Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy described it as “a revolution in the law,” one that has been in the works for years thanks to conservative activism.

“Today’s decision is a huge gift to corporations from a Supreme Court that has been radicalized by right-wing ideology, whose political agenda was made obvious in the Bush v. Gore case and whose very political decision today only makes things worse.”

Of course, corporate cash has long had a corrupting influence on our politics, but never before has it been seen as some sort of fundamental freedom.

“This court has said it’s the constitutional right of a corporation to spend as much money as it wants to influence an election,” said Wertheimer.

The potential “fear factor” for politicians when it comes to the way they vote is huge. Members of Congress, who already spend a disproportionate amount of time fundraising to stay in office, now have reason to worry that their re-election chances will be derailed by corporations whose limitless funds can be aggressively used to protect their interests.

Writing for AlterNet last month, Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, argued that President Obama might never have been electedwith these new rules on the books:

Candidate Barack Obama was one sharp speaker, but he would not have been heard, and certainly would not have won, without the astonishing outpouring of donations from two million Americans. It was an unprecedented uprising-by-PayPal, overwhelming the old fat-cat sources of funding.

Well, kiss that small-donor revolution goodbye. If the Supreme Court votes as expected, progressive list serves won’t stand a chance against the resources of new ‘citizens’ such as CNOOC, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. Maybe UBS (United Bank of Switzerland), which faces U.S. criminal prosecution and a billion-dollar fine for fraud, might be tempted to invest in a few Senate seats.”

The case before the court, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, centered around a rabidly anti-Hillary Clinton documentary produced by the right-wing group Citizens United. In a statement, Citizens United called the ruling “a tremendous victory, not only for Citizens United but for every American who desires to participate in the political process.”

Meanwhile, President Obama, whose critics on the left have accused him of being beholden to Wall Street, has called upon Congress to “develop a forceful response to this decision.”

“With its ruling today,” he said, “the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for Big Oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

Return to The Southern Shiftr

Tina Bell Wright: Wake Up Everybody! Seize, don’t cede OUR Power…

Tina Bell Wright: Wake Up Everybody! Seize, don’t cede OUR Power…

by Guest Blogger Professor Tina Bell White

Other than posting messages to support Haiti, I have been pretty silent the last few days on politics, but i have been reading a lot of posts..and i gotta say a couple things…lol.

From the despicable comments of Pat Roberston and Rush Limbaugh and their obvious disregard for [black] humanity, to Fox’s scant coverage of the Haiti earthquake to instead promote Sarah Palin and hate on President Obama, to “progressives” questioning motives of the U.S. government & NGOs, and already complaining about the corporate takeover of Haiti, to maligning the character of Haitian born Wyclef Jean and his efforts (while he himself digs out bodies from collapsed buildings), a few things are seriously bothering me about the politicalization of this issue when thousands of people are still under rocks.

…And the only way to really explain my concern is the lack of focus we (progressives and human rights advocates) seem to possess…this lack of focus I believe is because many let ideology blind them from certain realities…and when ideology alone determines our focus, we can easily be manipulated by those that are in the business of distraction and yanking chains.

We become conspiracy theorists although when we take a look at reality, our problem has less to do with any conspiracy and much more to do with our preoccupation with conspiracy over reality; debate over action.

I know I have said this a number of times but really believe to be true…this is the root of our miseducation. Masses were taught powerlessness. And hence, when we are easily distracted or yanked by the latest political hoopla, we prove our powerlessness by falling for the hype…Chuck D said it best: “don’t believe the hype”

The enemy of justice and sustainability for humanity is the concentration of power, and the only antidote to that concentration is for THE PEOPLE to seize power and stop ceding it (to conspiracies, corporations, govt’, big banks etc.) Folks that know and read Marx understand that the alienation of workers is what keep capitalism viable…when workers understand there is NO BUSINESS NO CAPITAL NO CONSUMER without THE PEOPLE and THEIR POWER, you will no longer see that exploitation.

Here is an example of the correct strategy we should be following:
Campaign = Move your Money
Link = http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/stop-the-abuse-its-time-t_b_422068.html

EXCERPT:

It’s a pretty simple idea: If enough people who have money in one of the Big Six banks — that is, JP Morgan/Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs — move it into a local community bank or credit union, then collectively we, the people, will have taken a big step toward fixing our broken financial system.

It’s easy, and painless, and will send a powerful message to Wall Street and to our leaders in Washington.

Face it: Real change is not going to come from Congress. It’s not going to come from the White House. And it’s certainly not going to come from the lobbyists Wall Street hires to make sure their special interests keep beating out the public interest.

We’ve got to do it ourselves. And moving your money is a great way to start.
This is not a conservative idea or a liberal idea. It’s not left or right. It’s populism at it’s best —

This is what I want to see us all do…Seize our power…don’t cede it.

But often, instead of having faith in ourselves and our ability to prevent exploitation [stopping corporate exploitation of Haiti for example], we are often outsiders looking in and see the takeover as inevitable…we not only empower corporate fascists when we check ourselves out of the equation, we actually do their bidding for them, by teaching generations the LIE that it is THEM that controls things, and we all are just pawns…there is no deeper miseducation we can teach.

So, I say all this to say: if corporations with government complicity exploit us and this situation in Haiti, it is OUR fault not theirs…they do what they do to maintain their power…if we keep letting them maintain our powerlessness too, they win twice over.

Along with posts to support Haiti, I have been remembering Mr. Teddy Pendergrass and the gift of music he gave us…so to end this note, here is a message from Teddy Pendergrass to us all…

The World won’t get no better
if we just let it be
the world won’t get no better
we gotta change it
just you and me…

RIP Brother

Tribute to Haiti

Wake UP Everybody 2008 remix
“Wake Up Everybody” feat. Mary J Blige, Wyclef, Babyface, Brandy, Missy etc

Wake up everybody no more sleepin in bed
No more backward thinkin time for thinkin ahead
The world has changed so very much
From what it used to be so
there is so much hatred war an’ poverty
Wake up all the teachers time to teach a new way
Maybe then they’ll listen to whatcha have to say
Cause they’re the ones who’s coming up and the world is in their hands
when you teach the children teach em the very best you can.

Chorus
The world won’t get no better if we just let it be
The world won’t get no better we gotta change it yeah, just you and me.

Wake up all the doctors make the ol’ people well
They’re the ones who suffer an’ who catch all the hell
But they don’t have so very long before the Judgement Day
So won’tcha make them happy before they pass away.
Wake up all the builders time to build a new land
I know we can do it if we all lend a hand
The only thing we have to do is put it in our mind
Surely things will work out they do it every time.

Repeat Chorus

It’s not enough, but it’s progress. Progress is possible. Don’t give up on voting. Don’t give up on advocacy. Don’t give up on activism. There are too many needs to be met, too much work to be done. Like Dr. King said, “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.”
– President Barack Obama 1/17/2010

“Make a career of humanity – and you will make a greater person of
yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live
in.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Official Motto of Haiti: L’Union Fait La Force. Union Makes Strength.

Haitian Proverb: Sa ou fe, se li ou we. What you do is what you see.
..we reap what we sow.

WAKE UP EVERYBODY.

Return to the Southern Shift

Pimp of the Week Rush Limbaugh-The Big Fat Pig

There’s a nasty stereotype about Americans that unfortunately gets reinforced from time to time by people who personify the ugliest of traits. One understands the art of political posturing. One also understands that in trying to get a point of view across, less than flattering things will be said. The rule of thumb has always been when playing politics you can go hard on the issue but not the people. When tragedy strikes as was the case with 9-11, relief from suffering and grief is the order of the day. People are ideally supposed to band together and work for the greater good.

Sadly radio host Rush Limbaugh didn’t get that memo. It’s either that or he’s so desperate for attention.. that he refuses to play by the rules. In less than 60 seconds the beleaguered island lost more than an estimated 100 thousand people. Kids were in a moment orphaned. In a second parents became childless. In a moment a million or so people were homeless. Human decency suggests that when something of that magnitude occurs you put away the politics and you work to prop up a fellow human being.  Limbaugh in the mist of this took to the airwaves and spoke to his 30 million listeners and said that Obama was responding to the tragedy in an attempt to win favor with the light skin Black community.

The irony here is that it sounds like Limbaugh was pimping this tragedy for his own shallow political gains. Maybe he didn’t want to see people come together. Maybe he didn’t want to do the right thing and work alongside his political foes. maybe he was high on all the illegally gotten pills he’s been known to pop in the past. Maybe he’s just a plain ole Big Fat Pig who has no common sense. We think it’s the latter.

Here’s Limbaugh’s remarks

http://www.swift.fm/mrdaveyd/song/14708/

Return to the Southern Shift

Harry Reid, Michael Steele, Negro Dialect & Political Grandstanding on the Backs of Blacks

Harry Reid, Michael Steele, Negro Dialect & Political Grandstanding

by Davey D

By now everyone has heard about the racial firestorm that has brewed because of some remarks attributed to Senate majority leader Harry Reid in a new book called Game Change. They were made in a private conversation during the 2008 campaign where Reid noted that then Senator Obama might be successful because he was light-skin and didn’t speak with a ‘Negro Dialect’. Obama in typical fashion avoided the mess that can come when discussing race by quickly accepting Reid’s apology, downplaying the remarks and announcing ‘the book is closed’ on the subject.

Of course Obama’s Republican counterparts seeing that Reid is in a tight re-election race have been trying their best to blow this issue up. The party of Ronald Reagan who supported South African Apartheid, the party of John McCain who said ‘No to a Martin Luther King holiday are suddenly getting all Jesse Jackson-like and riding hard for all those who have been on the receiving end of racial insults and oppression.. Thank you Republican Party-I guess…Not! LOL

Reid’s remarks have been the lead story on every news channel with news directors feverishly pouring through their rolodexes, seeking to get a Black pundit, seemingly any Black pundit to come to a studio where they would normally never see the light of day except during Black history month. Here they’re asked to wax poetic about Reid’s remarks. Some of these outlets have gone so far as to have two or three Black folks on at the same time thus violating the unwritten ‘one-Black-on-set-at-a-time’ rule.

It was good to Black scholars like Marc Lamont Hill weighin in on Harry Reid's remarks, but it would be good to see him and others weighin in on Sunday morning talk shows

To me I was more offended seeing a Professor Tricia Rose, Professor Marc Lamont Hill, BET’s Jeff Johnson and the dozen of other Black faces invited to discuss an old white man using the word ‘Negro’ versus seeing them invited on a regular basis to discuss a variety of other topics that have arguably more impact. I would’ve like to have seen some of those Black voices on the Sunday morning talk shows earlier this year dragging Harry Reid’s ass through the coals around the Healthcare debate when single payer and later public option got snatched off the table. To me the insult was seeing Black intelligence limited to just this topic whereas I might see a dimwit like Ann Coulter invited to weigh in on everything from the War in Afghanistan to what Chris Brown did to Rihanna.

I suppose I shouldn’t blame Harry Reid for that lack of Black visibility on these news outlets, but I will. As the Senate majority leader, I want him pushing for legislation that de-consolidates media and makes it more accessible to the wide array of voices and perspectives in the community. I want him to be leading the charge to undue the damage he helped create when he voted Yes for the infamous 1996 Telecommunications Bill.

Reframe the Debate and Hold Reid Accountable

In any case, while this Harry Reid saga runs its course, I think its important that folks push the envelop a bit and reframe the debate away from the narratives seemingly designed to fit the agendas of media outlets, disingenuous politicians or media darlings trying to blow up their names. I wish people who went on these shows were more aggressive in dismissing the Harry Reid vs Trent Lott angle which has resulted in wasteful discussions about who was more offensive and whether or not double standards are at play. That discussion is a trap.

Comparing Harry Reid to Trent Lott is a trap. It only serves the purpose of media outlets looking for conflict and GOP folks trying to stay in the news cycle

The thing we needed to be focused on was the rationale behind Harry Reid‘s remarks and his political relationship to an African-American community that votes to the tune of 96% for the Democrat political party that he leads in the Senate. Our discussion needed to be centered on us evaluating whether or not one of the most powerful lawmakers in the country was setting policy that met the needs and wants of our community.

What caught most people’s attention about Reid’s remarks was him using the phrase Negro Dialect. It was used in a private conversation and it raised eyebrows because as far as most of us know Senator Reid has never publicly called Obama a ‘Negro’ Senator or President. We haven’t heard him call his African American colleagues in Congress, Negroes.. So where did this phrase ‘Negro dialect’ come from? Why did he use such an out of date word? Was his use of the word just a bad habit or was it reflective of old-time thinking filled with whatever baggage and stereotypes that many whites had stuck in their heads back in the 50s and 60s when the use of that word was pervasive?

Sadly too many pundits were falling over themselves making ding dong excuses for Reid. Some were saying he’s elderly and thats how old folks talk. Others were jumping through hoops talking how we have the United Negro College Fund, the NAACP-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and how the word is used in the 2010 Census therefore it was ok for Reid to go there.

All thats fine and dandy, but last I checked Senator Reid is not a historic 66 year old or 100 year Civil Rights old institution. Last time I interviewed NCAAP head Julian Bond, he didn’t call me Negro and neither had Ben Jealous. I’ve hosted events sponsored by UNCF and no one walked up to me and handed me a script that would would’ve had me addressing our people as ‘Negro’. If these folks stay up to date so can Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

When I first heard of Reid’s remarks the first thing that came to mind was ‘How often does he interact with Black folks on the Capitol Hill’? Cause I’m sure by now someone would’ve checked him. He would’ve had to run into a Maxine Waters, Keith Ellison or someone else who was outspoken who would’ve said; ‘Look Senator, I know your 71 years old, but its 2010 and if my 90 year grandmother from the backwoods of Mississsippi ain’t using the word ‘Negro’ therefore you too Senator Reid can stop using it ‘.

Now unless someone is covering for him, we haven’t heard that such conversation took place. Hence that makes me think, that Senator Reid knows all about speaking multiple dialects? I guess during the day when he’s in in the Senate chambers, he has a distinguished ‘US Senator-dialect’ by night when he’s kicking it in private he loosens up a bit and becomes more Archie Bunkerish with his language?

So again, just to make sure…since Senator Reid used Archie Bunker type language then our primary concern should be examining his voting record to make sure the Senator’s not pushing Archie Bunker type policies. His slip up gave us an extra excuse to hold him politically accountable.

We need to see if Harry Reid's outdated words are reflected in outdated policies

For example, earlier this year Senator Reid voted to prohibit funding for ACORN, an organization that played a key role in helping get President Obama elected. Was Reid’s vote a calculated political decision or did he come across one too many folks from that organization who he felt spoke with a ‘Negro dialect’ thus getting him to draw some far gone conclusions that ‘Negroes can’t be trusted to do things right’ so hence no funding?

2 or 3 years ago Reid voted to make English the official language for the country. What was going on in his head? Was there no room for Negro dialects? Did he want people to speak only ‘good ole American English’ thus inspiring to cast a vote to make sure?

Just like his political enemies we need to be looking at his voting record and making sure his private conversations of insensitive language was used is not matched by his votes and the agenda he sets for the Senate. You can peep his voting record here: http://www.votesmart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=53320&category=13

Dealing with Republican Hypocrisy

Moving beyond Reid, one needs to look closely at the how the Republicans are handling this. I found it funny to see RNC chair Michael Steele express his supposed outrage for Reid’s remarks when he himself was chin checked by disgruntled members of his own party who felt like he was tarnishing the Republican brand by going on televison talk shows trying to be hip by using Hip Hop jargon which isn’t too far removed from what some might call Negro/Black dialect.

RNC Chair Michael Steele is gonna have a Jesse Jackson moment, he needs to tell Rush Limbaugh to stop playing the Barack the Magic Negro song

Steele said he was trying to make the party more attractive and more Hip Hop like. That whole thing got shut down with the quickness. If you recall, Steele got a verbal ass whupping from radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh who was annoyed and later outraged by Steele’s behavior. It all reached a boiling point when Steele went on the now defunct DL Hugley show which aired on CNN. Sitting between Hughley and Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, Steele got jammed up about why he would hang with a political party that had leaders like Rush Limbaugh who at the time was underfire for saying he ‘wanted President Obama to fail’. Those remarks were coming at the heels of Limbaugh enraging African Americans by repeatdly playing a song during Obama’s campaign called Barack the Magic Negro.

Steele tried to laugh it off, talk a little hip hop slang and assure critics that Limbaugh was ‘just an entertainer’. When Limbaugh heard Steele tried to play him, he went off and smashed on Steele in the tirade of tirades. Limbaugh took to the airwaves and publicly reminded Steele he had 20-30 million listeners and that if he doesn’t start showing some loyalty to the party he might discover that conservative will not wanna talk to him when he came calling. Limbaugh told Steele that he needed to stop going on TV and start raising money for the RNC. It was a brutal tongue lashing, that resulted in Steele apologizing to Limbaugh and being a lap dog ever since..

We won’t even mention that Steele didn’t have the guts to tell Rush to retire when he was playing the Barack the Magic Negro song. He didn’t even tell him to stop. In fact not too many of the outspoken GOP members stepped up and expressed outrage for racial insensitivity expressed by someone who claimed to be advocating for them.

Just to show you how meeley mouth Steele and his people are let’s see the lack of reaction in April 2009, one month after he got the verbal beatdown by Rush Limbaugh. In the great state of Texas, during a televised session on voter protection fellow GOP party member state rep Betty Brown said Asian-Americans need to come up with more accessible names.

She said;“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?”

Brown went further when she told Chinese-American community organizer Ramey Ko, “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Here’s the video of that incident…

Perhaps Senator John Coryn should clean up his own backyard and ask Texas State Rep Betty Brown to resign before stepping to Harry Reid

Like I said Steele was nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t on TV calling for Brown’s retirement. And not to make this a partisan issue but facts are facts, the Democrats in the Texas House asked only for an apology. They did not ask for her to resign. To this day you don’t hear too many Republicans talk about this infamous incident. They try to downplay it. But I guess we’ll have to bring this up now that Texas senator John Cornyn went and opened his big mouth by demanding that Harry Reid resign.

This is the same Senator Coryn who resides in a state that is 30% Latino voted ‘No’ to confirm President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Sonia Satamayor. Coryn was all up in arms, being pompous and showing outrage at remarks Justice Sonia Satamayor made that he considered racially insensitive. I guess I can understand that if he was consistent. He said ‘No’ to Sotomayor, but not once did he ask representaive Betty Brown to step down… Coryn has no creditibility thus nothing more needs to be said. I guess Steele, Coryn and that whole cabal are only willing to do the Jesse Jackson thing to a point.

On a somewhat lighter note one has to wonder if Senator Reid expressed concern about the use of ‘Negro Dialect’ when Senator Hillary Clinton broke it out during her campaign. In the same vein did Michael Steele, Senator Coryn or any of their ilk ask Hillary to step down and resign for her ‘Negro speaking moments’? This of course raises the question to which the answer should be more than obvious, ‘Is what we seen expressed over this past week, righteous indignation, a genuine response to racial insensitivity or political opportunity’? As they say in the hood It’s all politics-It’s all politricks.

Return to the Southern ShiftCorner

What’s Next: Muslim-Only Lines At Airports?

What’s Next: Muslim-Only Lines At Airports?
New America Media, Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson,

Are Muslim-only lines at airports next? The thought is offensive, disgusting, and blatantly unconstitutional. But it’s hardly far-fetched.

Three years before suspected Nigerian airline terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was hauled off a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with a powder and liquid explosive device stuffed in his underwear, British Department of Transportation officials openly discussed corralling men of South Asian or Middle Eastern appearance at airports for intense questioning, checks and searches. The plan outraged Muslim leaders and British officials backed off the systematic profiling of Muslims.

However, single men of South Asian and Middle Eastern appearance were still subject to intense checks and searches. Britain was not alone. France and the Netherlands had already imposed de facto profiling of Muslim-appearing young men and families at airports since the September 2001 terror attacks. Polls showed that a substantial majority of Europeans agreed that racial profiling was not repugnant if it made airline travel safer and thwarted a possible terror attack.

The clamor for a racial crackdown was first heard in the United States after the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1996. Then President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno had the good sense not rush to judgment and scapegoat Muslims. The swift arrest of Timothy McVeigh squelched the building mob hysteria against them. But it didn’t squelch public suspicions that all Muslims were potential terrorists. The federal building bombing propelled Clinton’s 1996 Anti-terrorism Act through Congress. Civil rights and civil liberties groups had waged a protracted battle against the bill. The law gave the FBI broad power to infiltrate groups, quash fundraising by foreigners, monitor airline travel, and seize hotel records and trash due process by permitting the admission of secret evidence to expel immigrants. The implication was that present and future attacks would likely be launched by those with an Arab name and face rather than by men like McVeigh.

President George W. Bush, as Clinton, took the high ground after the 9/11 attack. He did not reflexively finger-point Muslims. The Bush administration publicly assured that profiling was reprehensible and violated legal and constitutional principles, and that it would not be done. But the attack stirred tremors among Muslims that they would routinely be targeted, subject to search and surveillance, and profiled at airports.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

The profiling alarm bells went off again after a soldier with a Muslim name shot up the military base at Ft. Hood back in November. The Council on American-Islamic Relations wasted no time and issued a loud and vigorous denunciation of the mass killing. The Council didn’t know at that moment whether Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged shooter, was a Muslim by birth, a converted Muslim, or even a Muslim at all. The name and the horrific murder spree was enough to drive the group to quickly distance itself from the rampage. Other Muslim organizations instantly followed suit and issued their own equally strong disavowal of Hasan.

This didn’t stop the pack of Fox Network commentators, conservative radio talk show hosts, writers, and some officials from again openly clamoring for even greater scrutiny of Muslim groups. Terror suspect Abdulmutallab has simply raised the decibel level on their call for transportation officials to openly profile Muslims at airports, train stations, and even on the open highways.

Some elected officials have even jumped on the profiling bandwagon. Congressman Peter King, ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, predictably loudly called for the profiling of Muslims. New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind went further and announced he’d reintroduce the bill he first introduced in 2005 to let police stop and search anyone they deem to be suspicious. Hikind didn’t specifically finger Muslims, but the intent of the bill was unmistakable, namely to target Muslims.

The New York Assembly will reject Hikind’s bill again. But the rejection isn’t likely to be unanimous. Legislators read the papers and the polls. Informal online polls taken immediately after Abdulmutallab’s failed terror attempt found that a majority of Americans are ready to turn a blind eye to law, the constitution and just plain human decency to target Muslims, any Muslim, for special scrutiny. No matter that a potential terrorist can come in any shape, size, color, gender, and disguise. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights noted that convicted terrorist John Walker Lindh was white, and Richard Reid was Jamaican and British. Abdulmutallab is Nigerian, but from all appearances he could just as easily be mistaken for a young African-American hip-hop artist.

Broad-based ethnic profiling creates in turn panic and the false sense of security that airlines are actually preventing terrorist attacks. It also causes law enforcement resources to be squandered chasing the wrong targets. Worse, it’s a witch hunt against a group based solely on their religion and ethnicity. This fuels even greater racial division, fear and hysteria. The public whispers and the right wing’s open talk of Muslim-only airport lines do the same.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Speaks on Gay Marriage & Undocumented Immigration Issues

In pt 3 of our interview with Houston’s new Mayor Annise Parker she talks frankly about what sort of signal her being gay and elected mayor of  Houston sends to the rest of the country. Of particular note is the signal her election sends to traditional liberal enclaves like California and New York where gay marriage was rejected by voters and the legislature.

 Parker notes that we are in a changing world and that people are not as sheltered from gay people as they were in the past and as a result, its not as big of an issue in many circles as one might think.  She also noted that there is a difference between how people may react to her running for Mayor and the types of issues andunique set of circumstances that arise when you talk about gay marriage. There’s alot of religious and social borders that hve to be crossed.

Parker speaks on her opponents attempted to spark a backlash by making her  sexual orientation be an issue. She explains that she had a strong lead in the race which narrowed once her sexuality was tossed in the mix.  She also notes how proud she is of Houstonians for not falling into the trap and voting for her as they have 6 other times when Mayor Parker has run for office.  Parker also  talks about other gay elected officials in Texas and how Texas voters in general have been tolerant. She also talks about being a role model for people in the GLBT community and what sort of issues she hopes to put forth.  Click the link below to hear interview

http://www.swift.fm/SouthernShift/song/11701/

In pt4 of our interview we talk with Mayor Annise Parker about how she will handle issues around Houston’s large immigrant population, in particular those who are undocumented. She says she will not allow Houston police to question people’s immigration status if they call the police. However, she said the controversial 287 G program will be used if you are incarcerated. We also talked to her about the role ICE will play.. We concluded by talking to about a program called Citation Option which would have police give tickets instead of arrests for minor offenses. She said Houston has laws on the books  that ease with jail overcrowding… You can peep the interview here

http://www.swift.fm/SouthernShift/song/11706/

Return to the Southern Shift

We say Booo! to Dick Cheney…Stop Being a Hater

Looks like we have to start off the new year by tagging former Vice President Dick Cheney as a straight up ‘Hater’ who is doing what many people think he and the rest of the Bush administration did best over the past ten years-Pimp the 9-11 tragedy. For those who haven’t been keeping up, Mr Cheney has been running around blasting the Obama administration for the attempted Christmas Day terror attack by Al Qaeda operative Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Cheney’s been laying blame on President Obama stating: “As I’ve watched the events of the last few days, it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think that if he has a low-key response to blow up an airliner …we won’t be at war.”

Now say what you want about President Obama, we certainly have had our share of criticisms but here’s a guy (Cheney) who help put forth all sorts of policies including the disastrous ‘weapons of mass destruction’ lie that led this country into War with Iraq which in turn wound up being a major recruiting tool for Al-aeda. After 9-11 Cheney and his ilk were quick to label anyone who questioned even ew laws they wanted passed in the war on terror as ‘unpatriotic’. They stressed that during these unprecedented times whenour country was at risk it was important that all Americans  no matter what their political persuasion fall in line and support the efforts to combat terrorism. I guess Mr Cheney forgot all about his advice. Shame on you Dick Cheney.. We salute and wholeheartely agree with Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) who stated in a video that he thinks  Dick Cheney has “lost all of his credibility, the way he’s been conducting himself.”

Anti-War Activist Cindy Sheehan: Dear President Obama-I am a Charity

Dear Mr. Obama,

I hear that you were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize recently in Oslo, Norway and that, in addition to that spiffy medal, it comes with 1.4 million tax-free dollars that you are going to “donate to charity.”
I just want to let you know that there are still some of us in the US who oppose the wars, even though you are president, and its nothing personal, but I vehemently oppose your wars and especially oppose the escalation of troops to Afghanistan and the fact that there has been no de-escalation from Iraq.

It has been super-tough being a peace activist since you took office, because a lot of my colleagues supported your candidacy and gave you a “wait and see”and “give him a chance,” while I have been working against these policies since Bush was president and have never stopped.

Well, I don´t know if you have heard, but I am planning on setting up a Camp right across the street from your house on the lawn of the Washington Monument called–Camp OUT NOW–Not only will it be an anti-war Camp, but it will also be a community for people who have lost their jobs and homes during the past years of the Goldman Sachs depression. Also, while the need is rising, the city of Washington, DC is cutting back on services for the poor.
Mr. Obama, Camp OUT NOW will provide services to these people AND be the launching pad for what we hope will end the mad wars for profit and imperial power in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan.

You proposed a “Just War” theory during your Nobel acceptance speech and I just want to also let you know that we don´t think, and never have thought, these wars are “Just,” but we think what we are doing, beginning March 13th is extremely, “Just.” I think if you thought about it really hard, you would agree. We are saving the lives of Americans and our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

Well, Mr. Obama, the reason that I am writing to you is to apply for part of that money that you will be donating to charity. We don´t need all of it, but my coalition–Peace of the Action–could use a couple of hundred thousand of it!

Please go to www.PeaceoftheAction.org for more info about our efforts, which we are hoping will, “Make you do it.”
You can go to www.Paypal.com and put in my email address: Cindy@CindySheehansSoapbox.com to make a donation online, or mail a check to:

PO BOX 6264
Vacaville, Ca 95696
You did say, time and again, during your campaign that we the people had to “make you,” and Peace of the Action will do just that! We just want to be of service to show you the way to Peace.

Thanks for your consideration,
Cindy Sheehan
Director of the Peace of the Action Coalition

« Older entries