Monthly Archives: December 2014

December 23, 2008

We were out during last Christmas week but this was in our inbox, better late than never, especially considering that the struggle of retail workers all across the country for fair wages and even compliance with existing labor law continues daily.

Today in Labor History

Schuhrke_Compton_Back_Pay_Walmart_WarehouseA class action lawsuit brought by 63 workers against Walmart is settled when the company agrees to pay plaintiffs between $352 million and $640 million for unpaid overtime and failing to allow workers to take breaks. Walmart said in a press release that the claims made “are not representative of the company we are today.” However, the company continues to actively engage in wage theft.

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Mentally Ill Man Fatally Shot In Petworth

Please read through and click on his link at the end. An excellent piece of written art by Aaron Goggans of The Well Examined Life.

The Well Examined Life

*this work is a piece of fiction by the author Aaron Goggans (who is alive), an attempt to process the pain of recent events.*

The Suspect Posing for a Photo [taken from Facebook] The Suspect Posing for a Photo [taken from Facebook] Earlier today DC police fatally shot a mentally ill man in Petworth after a brief stand-off in front of the man’s home. Police are reporting that Aaron Goggans, 26, was shot multiple times in front of his house after getting in a verbal altercation with two veteran police officers.

The Metropolitan Police Department [MPD] is not releasing the names of the two police officers but in official statement Police Chief Cathy Lanier said “based on the statements of the two officers and the statements of friends of the victim it’s pretty clear that the victim, who we have since learned had a history of mental illness, has stopped taking his medication.”

Witnesses say that police stopped the…

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Dear White Protesters

Came across this from a link on Facebook from a group posting for another protest about the murdering of black folks by cops.  We’ve been silent here for multiple reasons but not because we haven’t noticed what’s going on.  There’s a lot to say, but right now it seems the time is appropriate for voices not often heard in New Hampshire to be heard; especially when many people in New Hampshire are showing up to show their support for the struggles in the black community — which really are everyone’s struggle, as the previous post Why I Hate Anti-Racist White Allyship so eloquently explained.

“White hipster Ferguson protesters, also known as the worst people in the world, are now just randomly showing up at places and screaming about Michael Brown because when you have a trust fund and a six figure degree in community organizing, this is what you do.” from InDepthAfrica

From Tamil Gresham:

Dear White Protestors

As I walked through the streets of Berkeley tonight listening to the overwhelmingly white crowd chant things like “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” I felt uncomfortable. I passed white people holding signs that said “I can’t breathe” and I felt uncomfortable. Then, when we were instructed to sit down in the middle of the main street that runs through downtown Berkeley and were made to listen to a white person on a bullhorn declare “All lives matter!” I felt invisible. Ignored. Forgotten.

Dear white protestors, this is NOT about you. 

“Whose streets?” As a Black person in this country, I am well aware that the streets belong to white people. I am not empowered or made more safe by hundreds of white people chanting that the streets belong to them. The street in Ferguson where Mike Brown was murdered and lay dead for 4.5 hours should have belonged to him, but it didn’t. He’s dead. He’s not coming back. That’s because the streets belong to white people.

Dear white protestors, this is NOT about you. 

“This is what democracy looks like?” You’re right. Democracy has always meant that (for reasons you’re well aware of but like to pretend you don’t remember or don’t matter anymore) black people are a consistent minority in this country and thus must petition white people for our basic human rights. Democracy means voter ID laws and poll taxes. Democracy in America is a white majority dictating whose voice matters. Democracy is white liberals telling black folks to calm down and go the polls (and vote for Democrat) as if Bob McCulloch isn’t a “democrat.” As if Jay Nixon isn’t a democrat. As if our president isn’t Black and it hasn’t done shit to lower the ever mounting body count of Black people gunned down in the streets by police and vigilantes. As if any Black politicians in a non-majority Black district can get elected, much less reelected, without catering to white people’s feelings. I know what democracy looks like and it hasn’t done very much for people who look like me.

Dear white protestors, this is NOT about you. 

“All lives matter?” NO THEY DON’T AND THAT’S THE FUCKING POINT! Black people’s lives don’t matter, that’s why I’m out in the streets, to get people to realize that my life has worth. I have to protest to get people to even think about the possibility that if the police or some vigilante gun me down, it’s not because the genetic defects believed inherent in my blackness finally manifested and I had to be put down before I became more of a threat to white america. White america doesn’t need a reminder that “all lives matter,” it needs to be made to recognize and respect that Black lives matter.

It’s Black bodies that are bleeding and dying in the streets. It’s Black bodies that can’t breathe. It’s Black bodies that are seen and treated as threats to whiteness as we shop in Wal-Mart, play in parks outside our homes, walk home with a pack of Skittles, sleep in our beds. It’s Black bodies that have hung like strange fruit from the trees of this nation for centuries.

Dear white protestors, this is NOT about you. 

Stop whitewashing our movement. Stop pretending that “All lives matter” means anything other than “HEY ME TOO! WHAT ABOUT MY WHITE FEELINGS! DISREGARD THE ACTUAL REALITY OF BLEEDING AND DYING BLACK PEOPLE AND CATER TO THE HYPOTHETICAL AND EXTREMELY RARE POSSIBILITY THAT POLICE OR VIGILANTES WOULD BE ABLE TO EXTRAJUDICIALLY MURDER A WHITE PERSON AND FACE NO CONSEQUENCES!” Black people know our lives don’t matter because white people’s hypotheticals matter more than Black people’s reality.

Dear white protestors, this is NOT about you. 

Stop cannibalizing our movements with hashtags about every other life but ours. Stop plagiarizing Black people’s actual struggles for fictionalized white pain (I’m looking at you Hunger Games, with your whitewashed protagonist. “The Hanging Tree?” For real?). Stop scrambling to stand atop the growing pile of dead Black bodies to use it as your makeshift platform to secure more privileges and status for yourself. Stop using protests that should be about Black lives to exercise your white angst, break shit under the cover of darkness, and then bask in the bright light of white privilege while Black lives are declared to be worth less than the windows you broke.

Dear white protestors, this is NOT about you. This IS about making Black Lives Matter.  

Our streets shouldn’t be burial grounds for Black people. Black people’s rights shouldn’t be put to a vote. Black people should be allowed to breathe, walk, exist, without fear.

So, if you’re actually here for making Black Lives Matter, put down your “I can’t breathe” signs (because you can, and that’s the point) and pick up one that declares Black Lives Matter (because right now they don’t, and that’s the point). Get off the ground and stand in solidarity as Black people “die-in” (because it’s not white bodies lying dead on our nation’s streets, and that’s the point). Hand over the bullhorn to a Black person (because your voice doesn’t need a bullhorn to be heard, and that’s the point).

And please, stop saying #AllLivesMatter…until they actually do.

Tamila Gresham is a third year law student at Berkeley Law and the co-founder and CEO of The Box Scene Project, a nonprofit organization working to reach equal media representation for the LGBT community, women, people of color, people with disabilities, and those that live at the intersection of those identities.  She has a tumblr page Young Gifted and Black

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Why I Hate Anti-Racist White Allyship

While enjoying all the the glorious world has to offer, Eunice occasionally takes the time to help out the coloreds.

Sometimes one just runs across nuggets of truth and beauty in the most unexpected places, hiding in small corners, waiting to be discovered.  Such is the way in which we ran across the musings of Kathryn Brown.

In New Hampshire where the population diversity in most of the regions runs about 1% it has traditionally been easy for most in New Hampshire to assume racism happens elsewhere.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Racism happens as an attitude; its an American construct that none of us can escape and therefore, all of us have a responsibility to root out if we want the just society we claim to want.

Kathryn Brown advises white folks, from her perspective on how to begin to assist in deconstructing racism and also, why sometimes that struggle needs to stay within the ‘white’ community because ‘white’ folks have plenty of work to do.  She isn’t saying she hates white folks or their wanting to share in the struggle and their desire to fix things; just don’t assume you are of a special class of person (becoming a more privileged person actually) because you want to do this work.  Its our responsibility anyway as citizens of planet earth and members of the human race.

Why I Hate Anti-Racist White Allyship

I keep hearing conversations, reading online and in my own inboxes questions from white people about allyship relating to Ferguson and issues of race. “What can I do?” “Why not all lives matter?” “Is this only for black people? Why?” “Do you even want support from white people? If so why is everything prefaced with Black?”

I appreciate this dialogue. I appreciate the support. The improvements we have made as a country and the battles we have won would certainly not have happened without multi-racial support. Including white support. Freedom summer is one example. Many white people have told me this is the first time they’ve grappled with these issues on a daily basis. Thinking about race and feeling attacked or excluded because of it can be maddening. If there is anything we can all agree on it’s that. Thank you for your support and reflection.

However, I hate the notion of anti-racist white allyship. I actually hate the notion of allyship all together- it implies that attacking oppressive systems is the natural duty of oppressed populations. Have you ever heard anyone say black anti racist? No because it’s implied and accepted that someone black would be against racism. Why? Because it’s assumed that’s a natural by product of their day to day reality. Nothing chosen or worth of exaltation.

Thus, It also implies that to be a white person against oppressive racist systems means being an exception (read exceptional). It norms NOT being anti racist.  It gives credit and recognition to whites who choose to engage in anti- racist work. There is no place for ego or exceptions in anti-racist work. [italics editor]

To be black means daily having difficult conversations and grappling with the realities of systems and institutions at best not designed for you to win and at worst designed for you to fail. It is not a choice. It is not an exceptional Facebook worthy experience. It’s a byproduct of birth.

A recognition of white privilege is not condemnation to hell. Privilege takes on many forms and comes as a result of choices we make and choices we didn’t make.

I was on an airplane about to miss my connecting flight. So was the lady sitting next to me. She was in a wheelchair. I wasn’t. As a result of nothing I did my privilege in this case meant being able to sprint off the plane and catch my flight. She couldn’t. She didn’t. She had been traveling over 24 hours. It sucked.

The thing that sucks about privilege is that sometimes you have it, you benefit from it and there’s nothing you can do about it. I wasn’t trying to prevent her from catching her flight. I wasn’t trying to rub it in her face when I sprinted up as soon as wheels touched down. I was just operating within my normal context . My normal privilege and the ableist systems designed for me to win.

At times, white privilege is oppressive and undermining to people of color. Even from those with the best intentions and efforts to check it. It just is. So yes- I think it’s important to have all black spaces to organize. I think it’s important to have multi- racial coalitions as well.

I also think it’s as important if not more important for white “allies” to organize in white communities. To talk to their co-workers, family members and friends. I find it frustrating that many whites seem to enjoy the exceptional status that commonly accepted notions of anti-racist white allyship encourage but refrain from difficult conversations and confrontations with those who are not of color.

True solidarity in my mind means leveraging your privilege to improve the spaces and communities you’re a part of black or otherwise. True solidarity means continual reflection on white privilege without co-opting conversations about black oppression to make it about the inclusion of whites.

True solidarity means a recognition of universal humanity. We will never move beyond divisive systems if we continue to celebrate white anti-racist allyship as exceptional.

I’ve ranted enough- check out David Leonard (often writes for the root) if you’re interested. He writes about this a lot .

Kay Bee
Kathryn Brown lives in Atlanta, Georgia, is a writer and lover of the finer arts and has a blog, Musings of a Quarter Life Gypsy.

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NYC Prosecutors explain and critique Michael Brown Case : “For Real Though”

Two former prosecutors, Nicci and Nicole from New York City do the traditional sitting on the front stoop to give a critical chat about how the Ferguson police department and then the grand jury bungled the case from the beginning.  Applying their knowledge and experience both give a breakdown of the process in layman’s terms.

While many may be experiencing emotional overload about the Micheal Brown case, these ladies present a very cogent and factual argument and detailed breakdown of the typical process for a criminal investigation (which is what the act of shooting someone should have triggered immediately even in the case of law enforcement).

Nicci and Nicole have a Youtube show “bgirlmovement” that posts regularly on Youtube.

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