Sunday, July 29, 2007
I'm mid-trip, loaded up, and ready to head for the high country at the crack of dawn. Since I'm on someone else's vastly unfamiliar computer, I'm not even going to try to respond to my recent comments, but know I'm seeing them and hungry to be back in more direct contact with you all again. The only key on my key ring now is my car key and, according to Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, it's the key to the highway. The next time I post, I'll be there instead of here. And ready for a new adventure.
Friday, July 27, 2007
"I know," the European-American questioner will invariably begin, "that race relations in this country are far from what they should be..."
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Kyle de Beausset of Immigration Orange wrote a thought-provoking piece on the practice of importing and adopting children of color from poverty-stricken settings as if they were products on Ebay or something, while purporting arrogantly that it's an act of kindness. Similarly, U.S. slaveholders used to tell mothers and fathers of African-descent that the children snatched away from them and sold could be easily replaced by simply making another baby. And more recently, it's clear by the way African-American children are typically allowed to languish helpless and hungry in the poorest neighborhoods, pushed into the worst schools, and early routed into the criminal justice system that they are not as yet seen as fully human beings either.
At least partly because of this, young African-Americans are being increasingly actively recruited to "serve" in the military with offers they virtually cannot refuse, given the nature of their other opportunities. XicanoPwr at Para Justicia y Libertad! outlines how undocumented immigrants are also invited to "serve" (even though they're not citizens) with a green card hanging out in front of them for motivation. Assuming, of course, they don't die.
And despite the way Naomi Shihab Nye (a poet and novelist who is a U.S. citizen, but whose father was Palestinian) reminds us that one-on-one, most of us know how to get along, this YouTube video featuring a Palestinian rap group to which I was first introduced by Sokari at Black Looks challenges our perceptions concerning who, exactly, the terrorists are. If it's not immediately apparent to you how this relates to the situation of African-Americans, I suggest that you look back over the past five hundred years, then ponder the last two or three stories you heard about African-Americans dying at the hands of law enforcement officers or others enforcing the norms that still hold sway in this country, recalling this post and this one and the one on the Jena Six. And then ask yourself what terrorism is.
NOTE: The poster above is by Ricardo Levins Morales and is available from the Northland Poster Collective.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I just found out that the house I was to move into in twelve days has been sold out from under me. And yes, it was legal. So now I've spent an hour on the phone talking to people that sound like they could have pulled bit parts in the movie "Deliverance" (trying not to wind up having to call my daughter for help with the rent). AND the small town I'm moving to is having an influx of students snatching up every affordable space in sight even as I write this--while I can't run right over and hold my own.
Then I remembered this video of young people who also are looking for a home. They're being shut out of the process they have worked so hard to deserve, but their dreams are still in their eyes and their difficulties are much greater than just me finding a place to hang my hat.
One way or the other, I'll have a home in two weeks, but the process is going to be much longer for these kids, who will actually need legislation for them to know they're home. Think about it. Consider their situation. And do what you can.
Thanks to Kyle at Immigration Orange for tipping me to this one.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I'mahna paint my mailbox blue. Me and Taj gonna kick it on my porch with tall frosty glasses of sweet tea with mint. I'll wear my white straw Southern lady hat with the lavender ribbon. And he'll bring his guitar. Two weeks and counting...
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
One of them involves the fact that street drugs are the basis of an industry the proceeds of which are estimated at upwards of $80 billion annually. Sociologists have found that most of the profits go to mainstream White male businessmen who have the ability to make massive investments in any arena – legitimate or otherwise – without suspicion because of their standing in the community and often with the knowledge of police, prosecutors, and even judges who are bought off as a business expense of sorts. Additionally, multiple sources have told us that four out of five cocaine abusers are also White.
Unfortunately, however, the many African-American men who are summarily blocked out of the employment arena find themselves relegated and, in fact, welcomed and encouraged to become foot soldiers in the army to line the pockets of their much lighter-skinned bosses by delivering the “product” to their much lighter-skinned customers, where the bulk of the risk is taken by the middle-man. The effects of the policy that prevents convicted felons (and most particularly Black male convicted felons) from being hired for other jobs further exacerbates their desperation and increases their willingness to “volunteer” for this role, however dangerous it may be.
To make matters worse, the law enforcement practice of rousting Black male children as young as eight-years-old for no reason and photographing them on the street with numbers across their chests to “build a file,” just in case they ever do cross the line can cause youth to accept their “master status” as “criminals” before they graduate from middle school, ensuring that the prisons will stay full and the Wall Street investment dividends flowing.
The end result, of course, is that many people in very poor neighborhoods have at least one member of the family in pushing “product.” These very poor neighborhoods are disproportionately marked for toxic dumps, sewer treatment plants, and a lack of decent schools or other services, and have been virtually abandoned by legitimate job-providing industries. It shouldn’t be a surprise that they wind up becoming the battlegrounds of the wars not on drugs but over drugs and law enforcement not only can’t, but doesn’t necessarily want to control it in any real sense. Police officers themselves have reported to me that some of them shakedown petty dealers for payoffs. And that’s barely the tip of the iceberg.
So why would the African-American community “cooperate” with law enforcement? It’s a set up. The law enforcement community knows it. The dealers know it. And little girls that catch an occasional bullet in the face are just collateral damage.
Monday, July 09, 2007
TheFreeSlave has spoken and, being as he's got it like that, I respond accordingly with eight random facts about myself or habits (ahem!) to which I am attached.
First, the rules:
1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
Second, the "secrets":
1. I'm getting ready to move in three weeks to a state even more known for its "Southern-ness" than the one I've been in for the past eighteen years. This is a major move for me, as you can imagine, and I'm nervous about it on maaaaany levels.
2. I've only had a mind or mood-altering substance in my body three times in the past sixteen years -- twice right after major surgery and once six years ago when I lost my mind for a minute.
3. My only son died seven years ago (two weeks before his twenty-third birthday) as a result of his addiction to heroin. I suspect it was murder, but I'll never know.
4. My favorite form of physical exercise is swimming laps. It used to be sex, but that was before I got tired of all the drama. I don't do relationships well. Or maybe I just pick badly. It's been a while, so I really don't know. Maybe I've/it's changed. In any case, I haven't yet been willing to take a risk and find out.
5. An audience of nearly four hundred African-Americans gave me a standing ovation two years ago when I performed a spoken word piece entitled "You Called Me A What?!?" The word "what" stood for "nigger-lover." It was raw and I'll never do another spoken word performance because that was my first time and when you start at the top, you can only go down from there.
6. I decided this week to begin looking into the possibility of finishing my Ph.D. and publishing some things I've had in a file cabinet for-ever.
7. I've already written a book on race. A couple of authors who are highly published on the topic of race liked it very much, but it crosses genres and I don't know who would publish it. The working title is Reduced to Equality: My Odyssey to Renounce Racial Privilege ~ and Find Myself.
8. The last thing I bought hasn't even arrived yet. It's a collector's item: one of only three hundred copies of an epic poem published in 1964 and written by a man who eventually became my friend, Calvin Hernton. If I'm not mistaken, Calvin, who died a few years ago, once told me he was only nineteen when he wrote "The Coming of Chronos to the House of Nightsong," the story of a White woman thinking on her hundredth birthday about her Black once-lover for whom she bore a child. The lines that knock me out: "The double dying of she who rides in the middle of the wind will reign in the world like an idiot fire and every woman sees in whichever man she gives her sex the potentiality of her whorehood." Whew! I first read these lines more than twenty years ago and they still make me think.
Lastly, the eight bloggers I tag. This meme has been around to most of the bloggers I read, I think, so if I tag you and you've already done it, you can just let me know, pass on the tag, or do it again (you know you've thought of eight more things to tell us!). In no particular order, I'm tagging:
Charles at Kill Bigotry!, dna at Too Sense, Sokari at Black Looks, Stephen Bess at Morphological Confetti, M.Dot at Model Minority, Kyle de Beausset at Immigration Orange, Professor Zero, and The Angry Black Woman.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
To Mychal Bell, Robert Bailey Jr., Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, and the still unidentified member of the group, we say: Hold On! We won't rest until you're home where you belong.
And to their families, we say: You do not stand alone.
Worshipper of a black cross, cross upside down,
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Monday, July 02, 2007
When Marshall spoke with the dean at the University of Maryland School of Law in 1930 about his applying there, he was instructed that he would not be accepted because he was African-American and the school was established on the principle of racial segregation. So he went to Howard University instead, graduated, and returned to Maryland where he represented another deserving young Black would-be law student -- Donald Gaines Murray -- and won (see photo above). As sweet as that must have been, it only applied to Maryland, which is why Marshall went on to press for the subsequent ruling in Kansas that gave the legal precedent national scope.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Yesterday, I got caught in a downpour. Instead of fighting it, I surrendered to the rain, standing with my face to the sky while rivulets ran down my cheeks and into my clothing and -- maybe -- healed my soul just a bit. In a world where people I love and respect are locked into cells, where people are being blown up only because they are on one piece of ground instead of another, where children are terrorized into killing other children, where parents despair and babies starve, I sometimes forget that there is reason to wake and celebrate and even dream. This planet, including the faces of its people (as are so deliciously presented in this film), is truly most beautiful. And my heart rushes out this morning to each and every one of you, singing a new world into existence, exhorting each of us to be our fullest, most joyful selves. Don't quit five minutes before the miracle.