Category Archives: Undoing Racism

A Cause for Celebration – momentarily

Image from Newsweek magazine.

Certainly not the only thing in this struggle, in fact just a symbolic act.  But oftentimes symoblism has its place and its meaning.  What’s most telling is the crowd’s chanting and its increase in excitement when the guards enter the gated area around the flagpole, which rises in intensity as they get closer to the pulling it down.

All the pomp and circumstance of the military, its worth nothing also, is likened only in ritual, ceremony and archaic superstition, to that of religious ceremonies across the world.  Think about that for a minute.

http://www.foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/160736-Barricades-up-ahead-of-Confederate-flag-removal.shtml#.VaGv7EbK9Ox

We have presented here for your pleasure and contemplation, not only the video of the flag lowering, but also a fitting song, from The Band.  While one would consider their song “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” with the telling lines,

” … there goes Robert E. Lee!
Now I don’t mind chopping wood and I don’t care if the money’s no good,
Ya take what you need and you leave the rest, ‘
but they should have never taken the very best.”

Which encapsulates the sacrifice that young ‘white’ men gave and even slaves who were forced into fighting against their own interest.  No poor white in the south had a chance to make it the strict social order that demanded they sacrifice their lives in whatever way necessary to protect the interest of the plantation owner, including mustering in the town square to subvert rebellion; often rebellion of people they traded chickens and vegetables with during the evening, people they cheated when they could because of course, they could.  People they were ordered to treat like animals in a brutal social order that dehumanized everyone.

And with that thought, I give you the song by The Band known as “The Weight” which seems to describe the chaos, hell and confusion that must have ran through the south after Sherman burned his way through.  The burning of a social system that most people would think could only spring from the mind of some creature of hatred and hell has yet to happen though.  We have the weight to deal with, we have a broken social order with injustice that points at the fact that in many ways this country was formed to favor a small minority at the expense and sacrifice of the majority.  While through struggle and rebellion some portion of this country has scratched some portion of justice (however fragile), many still live under the weight of the old regime; the old order.  From public funding allocations to the judge and jury box to neighborhood, from birth to death, this country still thrives on a system an individual’s skin color is the final determinant of what end of the social order they will exist on; the final determinant of their humanity.

Lowering that flag only will begin the process that this country and so many people must undertake to take responsibility for the lives shattered and broken through three hundred years of living hell.  We all must come to terms with the truth.  The southern states that seceded did so to preserve a system in a few could live like aristocrats on the backs of the many to whom they arbitrarily parsed out roles which laid out who would toil for crumbs and who would toil to avoid the lash.

And does not this system still persist, wherein Americans gleefully climb the existing social hierarchy in which the mark of ascension is the number of people one has a right to reduce to nothing?  How can we claim to be the land “of the free” when we continue to hold people hostage inside a system where privileges are handed out to a few and handed down from generation to generation without question or any social obligation.  Where heirs can now become the new crowned princes and princesses, earned on the backs of the American working person, who too often and too increasingly sinks into the depths of poverty likened as a type of wage slavery we have been assured would never happen here.

Many people in New Hampshire and most of northern New England like to think themselves far away from any trace of responsibility for the sins of the south; but the fact remains that any utterance of hatred or racism from anyone anywhere makes that person and anyone who condones such, just as culpable as anyone below the old Mason-Dixon line.  Possibly even the sin of utterances and actions that replicate the old social order consummates an even greater sin as in fact, ignorance of the suffering and the pain of the south should at least cause some restraint in attitude.  But many have seen such isn’t true and people in the north hold just as much virulent racism as those in the south.

It needs to end.  We must lift this weight, this weight of hell, this weight of hate and replace it with redemption, cleansing, reparations and healing.

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Stephanie McMillan nails it again….

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So Why Isn’t the NRA Supporting This Open-Carry Group?

Humm.  Now what do you think might be different about this group, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club as opposed to the traditional hunt club/country boy NRA affiliated gun groups?

We don’t want to cause any readers the temptation to draw conclusions, but also consider that the mainstream media covers open carry protests that have people that look a lot different than these folks.

In addition we’d like readers to consider the differences in rhetoric between the traditional NRA related groups (and the NRA itself), these groups speak about policing their own communities, they speak about protecting themselves against police violence.  Why not the same kind of talk about the mythical ‘other’ that the traditional gun crowd likes to talk about? You know, the violent thugs that invade pristine communities and threaten the women and children.  Again, we see a stark difference; one talks about protecting their community from establishment while the other talks about protecting themselves “in their homes” (a favorite phrase reflecting a culture of individualism) against those outsiders (reflecting also acceptance of a desire to preserve socially segregated communities).

It serves well to note who’s nervous in what setting.  While police have repeatedly been shown being respectful some citizens that open carry, even when they may potentially threaten the public safety, it doesn’t take much for cops to get real jumpy about the wrong people and some perceived threat these wrong people pose to their person.

Contemplate.

Black Open Carry Protesters Are Marching On Capitol Against Police Brutality

From counter current news, link to story at bottom

capitol-march-huey-p-newton

They call themselves the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, named after the co-founder of the Black Panther Party For Self Defense. Like the defunct organization which called for reform of community policing, demanding that police come from the neighborhoods they serve, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club says they are marching “to promote self-defense and community policing” in response to the recent high profile stories about police shooting unarmed African Americans across the country.

To the protesters, “community policing” is more than just a word. Communities should be protected by members of the community, and held accountable. Ironically this was the original vision for community policing, articulated in 1812 by Sir Robert Peel. That’s right, it may surprise many to discover that our communities have only had police as we know them for a little over 200 years. Even then, it took a little while for Peel’s concept of police forces to make its way to the United States. Since then it has become a norm that many cannot imagine a time before.

In Texas, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club are following in the footsteps of Newton, who was a law major, striving to stay within the bounds of legality. Though the historical Black Panthers had a notable slip-up which led to then Governor Ronald Reagan signing the Mulford Act which prohibited carrying loaded guns in public space. The goal of the Panthers, as they explained it, was to assert the rights of the people to defend themselves against corrupt police, within the bounds of the law. The Huey P. Newton Gun Club says that’s exactly what they are doing today with their open carry protests.

Police have kept a close eye on the protesters, while also trying to keep their distance. One officer we talked to said “there’s really nothing we can do about it. Open carry protests are not against the law.”

Others refused to comment.

For rest of story visit Countercurrentnews

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The African-American roots and Civil War origins of Memorial Day

So let the truth be told that was never told to you in school and let it be remembered that Memorial Day never stood for commemorating any war; it stood for celebrating the United States’ achievement in overcoming the most inhumane socio-political-economic system practiced in Western civilization at that time.

How unfortunate that the later devolution of the reconstruction effort by President Andrew Johnson re-enslaved African-Americans in a horrible culture of Jim Crow. How horrible still that we have yet to pluck out it out of our system.

Telling the true stories our of our history drive the hoe that will pluck those weeds.
h/t Carlito Rovera and Blue Street Journal

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‘I can’t breathe,’ Alesia Thomas told police before she died, prosecutor says

More stories on police brutality.

Fusion

A 35-year-old black woman named Alesia Thomas uttered the words “I can’t breathe” after getting kicked in the throat and groin in the back of a patrol car in 2012, according to a Los Angeles prosecutor.

Deputy District Attorney Shannon Presby is arguing the case against police officer Mary O’Callaghan who along with two other officers is charged with assault under the color of authority.

Thomas stopped breathing in the back of the patrol car that day, and was pronounced dead later a nearby hospital. No officers were charged for her death. According to NBC Los Angeles, a coroner could not determine a cause of death, but cocaine intoxication played a “major” role and her interaction with the officers “could not be excluded.”

In a video of the trial featured on a local L.A. news station, the prosecutor says, “The evidence will show Alesia Thomas was telling the truth when she told the defendant…

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France’s refusal to pay Haiti reparations is a symptom of an even wider issue

The fear of discussing reparations at all in America seems shared by other European countries.

Media Diversified

by Halimat Shode

Last Tuesday, President Hollande arrived in Haiti – the first French president to make an official visit since Haiti’s independence – and declared that France had a ‘moral debt’ to the Caribbean country. Yet his declaration avoided any mention of the debt that France has enforced on Haiti since 1825, and which has crippled Haiti economically for almost 200 years.

Haiti became the world’s first black republic in 1804 after a slave revolt and a gruelling twelve-year war with the French. However, they were isolated from the international community for 21 years following their independence. To gain recognition from the international community, they were forced to negotiate an unfair, unbalanced settlement with France in 1825 which involved compensating French plantation owners for their loss of ‘property’, including slaves – in other words, paying France for having enslaved and oppressed them for centuries. Haiti did not finish paying…

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Liberatarians Shown Once Again to be a White Boy Bigot Club

h/t susanthebruce

Two police brutality surveillance and reporting groups have officially distanced themselves from the libertarian-based Cop Block.  Reported by the Austin based Peaceful Streets Project, the groups say that they find the bigotry and overwhelming white male privilege among Cop Block leadership to be problematic and unresolvable.

In particular, as quoted below and in the statements from WeCopWatch and Anti-Media, key players in the New Hampshire libertarian, Free State Project group are named, in particular the founder of Cop Block Adam Mueller of Manchester (aka Ademo Freeman) and Chris Cantwell who moved to Keene to be a part of the Free Keene libertarian commune in Keene, New Hampshire.

Adam Mueller came to New Hampshire sometime around 2010 and started Cop Block, as a fellow from the Koch Brothers funded anarchy-capitalist training school, The Institute for Humane Studies based at George Mason University.  With Koch money in hand, Adam founded a group to harass Manchester’s city police, in particular with a juvenile incident of “chalking” the city police department building and putting up a stink when arrested.  His arrest for resisting arrest called attention to the anarcho-capitalist call to annihilate the “police state” and also made Mueller a small-time folk hero.  For awhile he had a web page with his letters from the Valley Street Jail posted by friends to further his martyrdom. [Editor’s Note: anyone can search the internet for more information, we prefer to not promote their pages here]

Cop Block attracted a lot of press and negative attention in Manchester during 2010 from their antics.  Many Manchester residents and the police department who have worked hard to undo years of bad relations between the police and the Manchester community had mixed feelings about Cop Block and its bent on pushing libertarian ideology and not confronting deeper social issues.  The disassociation of the Cop Block group was inevitable as the foundation of the libertarian ideology is one based on the denial of systemic oppression of any sort.  Libertarians believe that one’s failures in life or society can only be explained by one’s own personal failures.  Therefore libertarians consistently claim that the calling out of racism, sexism or other bigotries has no root in reality.  Libertarians only recognize “state based” oppression.  They target their critique most sharply on institutions founded to address social oppression and systemic inequality claiming that this in and of itself causes oppression and thus should be deconstructed.

Naturally the outcome of such a worldview would be that an organization such Cop Block would eventually be called out to be a fraud on its face.  Cop Block and its founding member with Koch Brothers financial support, has demonstrated the key weaknesses within anarcho-capitalism and libertarianism in that they believe the only really oppressed groups are white males whose hegemony of the existing social system is being challenged by “special interest groups”.  Thus its no wonder that as the article below describes, Cop Block supporters and founders would be silent on the core issues of police brutality; systemic racism and classism.  Its also no wonder that Cop Block founders and supporters would promote and display open and shameless contempt against women and non-white peoples.

This distancing shows a real developing maturity and growth among cop-watch groups across the country and also their committment to fighting the systemic social problems that cause police brutality and increased militarization.

WeCopwatch and Anti-Media distance themselves from Cop Block

Cop Block is a largely libertarian police accountability organization that was an initial supporter of the Peaceful Streets Project. From the beginning, many members of Cop Block (especially Pete Eyre) supported the Peaceful Streets Project. Their initial support was very helpful in allowing us to spread awareness of our efforts to take on police abuse, corruption, crime, and misconduct in Austin and in select other cities. However, in the past few years both the Peaceful Streets Project and Cop Block have changed in some pretty remarkable ways.

First, the Peaceful Streets Project was started with a vision of helping to bring about a society free of state-sponsored institutionalized violence. Never were we about making friends with the police, nor were we very concerned about non-state violence. Although some of the lead organizers wanted to, as an organization we deliberately shied away from many of the social factors that help feed aggressive and violent policing, as well as the social factors that helped feed violence in the streets. In particular, we avoided issues of race and gender. Our willingness to stand up to the police state while ignoring racism and misogyny allowed many unsavory people to rally around us. Many of those people; who were eager to focus on DUI checkpoints, marijuana laws, and SWAT raids; surprised us when they inexplicably but vigorously rallied behind white people who killed unarmed black people. This became most obvious in their rabid support of George Zimmerman who killed Trayvon Martin in 2012.

By 2013, Antonio Buehler began to acknowledge more and more what co-founders Harold Gray, John Bush, and especially Kaja Tretjak had been concerned about when it came to non-state forms of oppression. Buehler used his position of relative influence to begin speaking out about issues of race and gender, and soon found that many of the followers of Peaceful Streets Project were attacking him. Many supporters encouraged him to disregard these issues in order to keep harmony among police accountability activists, but Buehler had come to recognize that opposition to only state oppression, and not the social oppression that helps fuel the ability of the state to harm people, was a fool’s errand. The police are a problem only to the extent that the structures and hierarchies in our society allow them to be.

Things came to a head later in 2013 when Bush called out a homophobic facebook post, and then Buehler called out some racist and sexist facebook posts. This brought out vicious attacks from many who were at the intersection of some or all of the following groups: Cop Block, anarchocapitalists, Men’s Rights Movement, and Neoconfederates. One semi-popular libertarian blogger named Christopher Cantwell led the charge against the “White Knight,” “Social Justice Warriors” who dared to take offense at overt forms of bigotry. Soon, Buehler had hundreds of racist and sexist people attacking him for taking a stand against racism and sexism. Buehler responded by disassociating with everyone who was willing to associate with Cantwell, and this included Cop Block founder Ademo Freeman and many other members of Cop Block. Buehler was also forced to sever ties with people who had set up Peaceful Street Project facebook pages in various parts of the country.

Since then, the Peaceful Streets Project has gone to great lengths to acknowledge how bigotry helps fuel oppression, and how we (as a largely white male group) can use our privilege to help undermine that oppression. We have sought out other groups that better reflect the populations being most abused by police (such as the Austin Justice Coalition) so that we can ally with them and support them in the struggle. Further, we are much more proactive in calling out bigoted behavior within our group, as we recognize that wonderful contributors had left the Peaceful Streets Project in the early years because it had previously been an unsafe space for them.

Cop Block, however, seems to be going in the opposite direction. Instead of calling out bigotry in the ranks, they have tended to ignore it. While Cop Block claims that as a decentralized organization they cannot control the actions of their members, they do allow unilateral decisions if those decisions are made by the founder, Freeman. Further, while they claim they cannot do much of anything about the bigots in their ranks, as libertarians and anarchists they know very well the power of ostracism. Instead of ostracizing the bigots, they choose to embrace bigots such as Cantwell. And while they may try to claim that they don’t concern themselves with social oppression, and only state oppression, many members of Cop Block became silent when it came to the killings of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, and they instead focused all of their outrage on people who rioted or looted in response to police executing unarmed people.

In recent days it has come to our attention that Ademo Freeman has gone completely off the rails. There is plenty of information circulating on the web about some extraordinarily disgusting behavior that has personally harmed individuals who did not seek to harm him, that we will not rehash here. WeCopwatch and Anti-Media, both of who were collaborating with Cop Block, have publicly distanced themselves from the organization. We commend them for doing so. Fighting the police state and holding police accountable cannot be done if we don’t hold each other accountable, first. We hope that other groups will do the same, and that the many decent people in Cop Block will push the bigots out of the organization.

At Peaceful Streets Project we are less concerned about what happens on the internet than we are what happens in the street. We look forward to continuing to engage in direct action tactics that will help change the culture of society. We look forward to continuing to partner with organizations who want to end the police state – and who are willing to be smart enough to strike out against all forms of oppression that stand in the way.

And yes, we also distance ourselves from Cop Block.

WeCopwatch statement: http://wecopwatch.org/wecopwatch-cuts-ties-with-copblock-org/
Anti-Media statement: http://theantimedia.org/behind-our-decision-to-leave-cop-block/

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Remembering Malcolm X

The legendary leader of the rise of black power in the 20th century would have been 90 years old today had he not been gunned down by three members of the Nation of Islam, he was just 39 years old.

Read more about Malcolm X’s life and legacy at the site dedicated to his memory: Malcolm X.com

Some quotes from Malcolm X:

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.”

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

“Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”

“You don’t have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.”

“Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds. I have always kept an open mind, a flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of the intelligent search for truth.”

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

“I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong. Than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.”

“You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.”

“If you are in a country that is progressive, the woman is progressive. If you’re in a country that reflects the consciousness toward the importance of education, it’s because the woman is aware of the importance of education. But in every backward country you’ll find the women are backward, and in every country where education is not stressed it’s because the women don’t have education.”

“I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won’t let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion.”

– Malcolm X aka El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (born May 19th, 1925)

h/t Reg Clark

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Cornel West: Why Malcolm X Still Speaks Truth to Power

From Smithsonian online
by Cornel West

Fifty years after his death, Malcolm X remains a towering figure whose passionate writings have enduring resonance.


Malcolm X was music in motion. He was jazz in motion, and, of course, jazz is improvisation, swing and the blues. Malcolm had all three of those things. He could be lyrical and funny and, in the next moment, he’d shift and be serious and push you against the wall. The way he spoke had a swing to it, had a rhythm to it. It was a call and response with the audience that you get with jazz musicians. And he was the blues. Blues is associated with catastrophe. From the very beginning, from slavery to Jim Crow, that sense of catastrophe, of urgency, of needing to get it out, to cry out, to shout, somehow allowed that fire inside of his bones to be pressed with power and with vision. He never lost that.

 The button bearing an image of Malcolm X—created after his death as an act of commemoration—is in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, a talisman of his loss. 

Let me talk about that loss. Just before he was shot in New York on February 21, 1965, Malcolm was setting up his own mosque. He was a Sunni Muslim leader. When we think what it means to be a revolutionary Muslim in this day, when people are looking for ways Islam can be compatible with democracy, his assassination robbed us of that. He could have been a model of what it means to be a revolutionary Muslim, in the way in which Martin Luther King Jr. became a revolutionary Christian.

It’s a fascinating development that could have taken place, and both perspectives could have begun to overlap.  In fact, Malcolm was a Muslim but he invoked Hebrew prophets, Isaiah, Amos. He invoked Jesus, emphasizing that perspective of looking at the world from below, echoing the 25th chapter of Matthew: What you do for the least of these—the prisoner, the poor, the stranger, the widow, the fatherless, the motherless, the weak, the vulnerable—has lasting value. 
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/why-malcolm-x-still-speaks-truth-power-180953976/#LQe4ChZEixhpgsqR.99
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image: http://thumbs.media.smithsonianmag.com//embedly/index.jpg.300x0_q85_upscale.jpg

Preview thumbnail for video 'Black Prophetic Fire

Black Prophetic Fire

In an accessible, conversational format, Cornel West, with distinguished scholar Christa Buschendorf, provides a fresh perspective on six revolutionary African American leaders: Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida B. Wells.

h/t Reg Clark


 

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