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Posts tagged "politics"

This month, long time friend of the blog Rebecca Traister wrote a stunning profile of candidate Lucy Flores for Elle Magazine. Flores, the Democratic hopeful for Lieutenant Governor of Nevada decimates other political origin stories – she’s Mexican-American, one of 13 siblings, the child of immigrants, and former gang member. She turned her life around, started at community college, became a lawyer, and decided to run for office. She’s unapologetically pro-choice (and one of the rare candidates that will share her own story.) Domestic violence shaped her world – and her life experiences lead to a very pro-populist platform.

But what really gives Flores’ story bite is her unique position in politics – not only who she is, but what she represents for the Democratic party:

"When a governor steps down in the state [of Nevada], the lieutenant governor, who’s not necessarily of the same party, assumes the post. Nevada’s current governor is the immensely popular Republican Brian Sandoval, whom Politico Magazine dubbed “The Man Who Keeps Harry Reid Up at Night.” That’s because many believe he’ll challenge the majority leader for his Senate seat in 2016, if, that is, the person who’d take his place is a fellow Republican: Flores’ opponent Mark Hutchison. Which makes Flores, to use Politico-speak, “The Woman Who Could Save Harry Reid’s Hide—and Keep the Senate in Democratic Hands.”

Go read it. Read it all.

Latoya Peterson today on the R, encouraging you all to go read Elle’s profile of Lucy Flores.



Hipster racism, a term coined around 2006 in an article by Carmen Van Kerckhove, is described as the use of irony and satire to mask racism. It is the use of blatantly racist comments in an attempt to be controversial and edgy. Its irony is established in a somewhat post-racial belief that…

Well dear readers, I have been watching a lot of documentaries lately (the product of waiting to go back to work) so I thought I would share the one’s I have seen and my thoughts with you. However, the list alone is a multi-page word document (when I commit, I commit; Oops) so I will start with the list of African American specific documentaries and go from there:

4 Little Girls (1997)

A Man Named Pearl (2006)

A Question of Color (1992)

A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs & Freedom (1996)

African American Lives (2006)

African American Lives 2 (2008)

All of Us: Protecting Black Women Against AIDS (2009)

America Beyond the Color Line (2005)

BaadAssss Cinema: A Bold Look at 70s Blaxploitation Films (2002)

Banished (2006)

Bastards of the Party (2005)

Between Black and White (1994)

Black American Conservatism: An Exploration of Ideas (1992)

Black Is – Black Ain’t: A Personal Journey Through Black Identity (1995)

Black Like Who? (1997)

Black on Black (1968)

Blacking Up: Hip Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity (2010)

Breaking the Huddle (2008)

Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (2002)

By River, By Rail (1998)

Chester Himes: A Rage in Harlem (2009)

Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004)Citizen King (2004)

COINTELPRO: The FBI’s War on Black America (2009)

Color Adjustment (1991)

Crisis in Levittown (1957)

Dorothy Dandridge: An American Beauty (2003)

Ethnic Notions (1986)

Eyes on the Prize Series (1987)

Fannie Lou Hamer: Voting Rights Activists (2009)

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (2008)

Freedom Riders (2009)

Good Hair (2009)

Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971)

Half Past Autumn: The Life and Work of Gordon Parks (2000)

Hoop Dreams (1994)

It’s a Damn Shame: Homosexuality in Hop-Hop (2006)

Jazz (2001)

Just Black?: Multi-Racial Identity (1992)

Ku Klux Klan: A Secret History (1998)

Lady Day Sings the Blues (2005)

Malcolm X: Make It Plain (1994)

Midnight Ramble: Oscar Micheaux and the Story of Race Movies (1994)

The N Word: Divided We Stand (2006)

Passin’ It On: the Black Panthers’ Search for Justice (2006)

Prom Night in Mississippi (2009)

Racism in America: Small Town 1950s Case Study

Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man, Celebrated Writer (2009)

Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (2004)

Roads to Memphis: the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (2010)

Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (2005)

Secret Daughter (1996)

Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change (2007)

Slavery and the Making of America (2004)

Slavery by Another Name (2012)

Soul Food Junkies (2012)

Soundtrack for a Revolution (2009)

Strange Fruit (2002)

The Abolitionists (2013)

The Black List: Volume 1 (2008)

The Black List: Volume 2 (2009)

The Black List: Volume 3

The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975 (2011)

The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords (1998)

The Black Wall Street

The Central Park Five (2013)

The Darker Side of Black (1996)

The Language You Cry In (1998)

The Loving Story (2011)

The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry (1991)

The Mirror Lied (1999)

The Murder of Emmett Till (2003)

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow (2004)

The Two Nations of Black America (2008)

Two Dollars and A Dream (1989)

Unchained Memories: Readings From the Slave Narratives (2003)

Underground Railroad: the William Still Story (2012)

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2005)

Wattstax (1973)

We Shall Overcome (1988)

When the Levies Broke (2006)

With All Deliberate Speed (2005)

(via seanpadilla)


Kenyan people victoriously pressure legislators to agree to lower pay after outcry against unfair self-promoting politicians
June 12, 2013

Kenyan legislators have agreed to lower salaries, a government commission said Wednesday, after weeks of demanding higher pay which sparked off public outcry and protests. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission said they have agreed with parliament that its members will get around $75,000 and not the around $120,000 a year salary that legislators of the previous parliament earned.

The legislators also will get a one-off $59,000 car grant to buy a vehicle of their choice and can claim mileage under the local Automobile Association rates. According to a statement from the salaries commission, the agreement was reached Monday.

Average income in Kenya is about $1,800 a year, which has fueled rage over the legislators’ salaries.

On Tuesday, activists spilled cow blood outside parliament buildings, calling members of parliament or MPs, MPigs and branding parliament “a piggy bank.”

Activists celebrated the agreement between parliament and the salaries commission.

“It’s people power. The people have won,” said activist Boniface Mwangi who has organized protests over the pay dispute. “This battle was a fight between the 349 legislators and the 42 million Kenyans and the Kenyans won,” Mwangi said. “I don’t think they are going to try and raise their salaries again.”

The legislators, who were elected on March 4, had threatened in April to disband the salaries commission for reducing their salaries. Last month, MPs voted to overturn a directive that reduced their pay, hoping it would force the government to pay the higher salaries earned by the previous parliament whose term ended in January.

But the salaries commission warned government officials not to pay the higher salaries saying it was illegal, and that anyone who authorized the payment could be charged with abuse of office.

Kenya adopted a new constitution in 2010 that intended to remove parliament’s powers to set their own pay, instead giving the remuneration commission the power to determine salaries for all public servants. Earlier this year, the commission cut the president’s annual pay from around $340,000 to $185,000.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has argued that although Kenya was among the world’s poorer economies, its legislators were earning more than those in France.

Many Kenyans see their legislators as lazy and greedy in a country where hundreds of thousands live in slums. Legislators often argue that they need high salaries to give hand-outs to poor constituents for school fees and hospital bills.

The efforts by the members of parliament to raise their salaries sparked public protests including one last month in which pigs were released outside parliament.

In January, Mwangi organized the burning of 221 coffins outside parliament to protest the attempt by the MPs to give themselves a bonus at the end of their term.

The decision to reduce the pay for legislators came after a public outcry when the previous parliament attempted to raise their salaries to $175,000 annually and award themselves a $110,000 bonus at the end of their terms.

The salaries commission says Kenya can’t afford the bill for government salaries, especially since parliament expanded from 222 to 349 members in March, and new positions of 67 senators and 47 governors and their staff were created.

When newly elected President Uhuru Kenyatta opened parliament in mid-April, he told legislators that the bill for government salaries came to 12 percent of GDP, above the internationally accepted level of 7 percent. Kenyatta said 50 percent of revenue collected by government went to pay government salaries.

Kenyatta urged the MPs to grow the economy before they demand higher salaries.


(via danielextra)

From Univision:

“Can I touch your hair?”

It’s a question that makes many black women cringe and one they hear all too often from non-black folks. 

The white fascination and black frustration inherent to these encounters peaked the interest of sisters Antonia and Abigail Opiah who run a website devoted to hair called un’ruly (the pair are all too familiar with the question.)

Antonia wrote a blog for The Huffington Post on the topic, and the sisters decided to organize a public art exhibition aiming to spark a dialogue about and satire the phenomena. 

On Thursday afternoon, three black models with natural hair held signs in New York City’s Union Square that read “YOU CAN TOUCH MY HAIR. The event has been fairly contentious  on Twitter, with some critics likening it to a “slave auction” or a “petting zoo.”

But, Julee Wilson, the Style & Beauty Editor at HuffPost BlackVoices attended the event, describing it as an interesting “social experiment.” While in attendance, a white woman asked Wilson if she could touch the editor’s hair. Wilson made an exception, she said, in the spirit of the art exhibit’s experiment. 

“This was not an open invitation for white people to go around touching black peoples’ hair from now on,” Wilson said.

“It was almost like a public service announcement, like okay you can touch my hair today, but don’t come up any other day and ask to touch my hair, or I will tell you why this is wrong in the first place,” she added. “But get it out of your system today, and tell your friends.”

Two employees at a Whole Foods Market store in Albuquerque say they were suspended last month after complaining about being told they couldn’t speak Spanish to each other while on the job.

Bryan Baldizan told The Associated Press he and a female employee were suspended for a day after they wrote a letter following a meeting with a manager who told them Spanish was not allowed during work hours.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Baldizan, who works in the store’s food preparation department. “All we did was say we didn’t believe the policy was fair. We only talk Spanish to each other about personal stuff, not work.”

He said Whole Foods officials told them about company policy and issued the suspensions.

Ben Friedland, Whole Foods Market Rocky Mountain Region Executive Marketing Coordinator, said the Austin, Texas-based company believes in “having a uniform form of communication” for a safe working environment.

“Therefore, our policy states that all English speaking Team Members must speak English to customers and other Team Members while on the clock,” Friedland said in a statement.

“Team Members are free to speak any language they would like during their breaks, meal periods and before and after work.”

Friedland said the policy doesn’t prevent employees from speaking Spanish to customers who don’t speaking English nor does it prevent them from speaking Spanish if all “parties present agree that a different language is their preferred form of communication.”

Whole Foods Market spokeswoman Libba Letton told the AP that in addition to safety reasons, the policy is in place so employees who don’t speak Spanish don’t feel uncomfortable.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved an immigration reform bill last week that would gradually make citizenship possible for as many as 11 million undocumented immigrants. The bill is widely described as sweeping in scope. In fact, it is not quite sweeping enough, as it leaves the plight of another group of would-be Americans unaddressed.

Although by birthright, children born out of wedlock to an American father and a foreign mother are entitled to United States citizenship, they must file paternity certifications no later than their 18th birthday to get it. But since the military bases in the Philippines have been closed for over 20 years, virtually all Filipino “Amerasians” — a term coined by the author and activist Pearl S. Buck to describe children of American servicemen and Asian mothers — have passed that age.

Amerasians in the Philippines substantially outnumber those living in neighboring countries, with recent estimates as high as 250,000.

The large numbers are explained by our military’s 94 years in the Philippines, from the Spanish-American War in 1898 to its withdrawal in 1992. During the cold war, the United States leased military installations throughout the archipelago, including Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base, the United States’ two largest overseas bases at the time.

Around them emerged bars and clubs, where servicemen were encouraged to find “rest and relaxation.” While some Amerasians were conceived through prostitution, many were born out of committed relationships. Soldiers’ limited tours of duty — and, later, the abrupt closures of the bases — tore couples apart.

The closures dealt a serious economic blow to many Amerasians. A 1999 study commissioned by the nongovernmental organization Pearl S. Buck International showed that Amerasians had disproportionately suffered from underemployment, poverty, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

They also face relentless discrimination. In a Catholic society that stigmatizes illegitimate children, Filipinos deploy an arsenal of slurs against Amerasians: iniwan ng barko (“left by the ship”) and babay sa daddy (“goodbye to Daddy”) among them. Black Amerasians are often called “charcoal,” or worse.

For these reasons, most Filipino Amerasians dream of coming here for a better life. But despite their American blood, it is very difficult if not impossible for them to immigrate legally and eventually become naturalized citizens.

Some members of Congress have tried to rectify the omission of the Philippines. On several occasions between 1997 and 2001, Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, who died last year, introduced a bill to extend the Amerasian Act to the Philippines and Japan. But the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected it, claiming that Filipino Amerasians were not victims of discrimination, that they were conceived from illegal prostitution, and that, unlike Amerasians in South Korea and Vietnam, they were born during peacetime. But none of these are conscionable grounds for selectively preventing Filipino Amerasians from coming to this country.

Christopher M. Lapinig, “The Forgotten Amerasians,” NYT.com 5/27/13


On May 28th, 2013 during a Q&A session at the University of New South Wales, Bill Gates, co-Founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, made some shocking and inappropriate ad-hominem attacks against me and my book Dead Aid.

In this video excerpt, Mr. Gates answers a question about Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is A Better Way for Africa by claiming that I “didn’t know much about aid and what it was doing” and that my work is “promoting evil”.

I find it disappointing that Mr. Gates would not only conflate my arguments about structural aid with those about emergency or NGO aid, but also that he would then use this gross misrepresentation of my work to publicly attack my knowledge, background, and value system.

I would like to take this opportunity to address both of Mr. Gates’ claims here:

I wrote Dead Aid to contribute to a useful debate on why, over many decades, multi billions of dollars of aid has consistently failed to deliver sustainable economic growth and meaningfully reduce poverty. I also sought to explicitly explain how decades of government to government aid actually undermined economic growth and contributed to worsening living conditions across Africa. More than this, I clearly detailed better ways for African leaders, and governments across the world, to finance economic development. I have been under the impression that Mr. Gates and I want the same thing – for the livelihood of Africans to be meaningfully improved in a sustainable way. Thus, I have always thought there is significant scope for a mature debate about the efficacy and limitations of aid. To say that my book “promotes evil” or to allude to my corrupt value system is both inappropriate and disrespectful.

Mr. Gates’ claim that I “didn’t know much about aid and what it was doing” is also unfortunate. I have dedicated many years to economic study up to the PhD level, to analyze and understand the inherent weaknesses of aid, and why aid policies have consistently failed to deliver on economic growth and poverty alleviation. To this, I add my experience working as a consultant at the World Bank, and being born and raised in Zambia, one of the poorest aid-recipients in the world. This first-hand knowledge and experience has highlighted for me the legacy of failures of aid, and provided me with a unique understanding of not only the failures of the aid system but also of the tools for what could bring African economic success.

To cast aside the arguments I raised in Dead Aid at a time when we have witnessed the transformative economic success of countries like China, Brazil and India, belittles my experiences, and those of hundreds of millions of Africans, and others around the world who suffer the consequences of the aid system every day.

In conclusion, I am disappointed that Mr. Gates would choose the route of personal attacks rather than a logical counter argument about the role of aid in modern Africa. Such attacks add no value in the important discussions on the challenges the world faces to deliver economic growth, eradicate poverty, combat disease, and reduce income inequality, to name a few.

As I have always maintained, I respect the views of others and am open to having logical and meaningful debates with the ultimate goal of finding sustainable solutions to Africa’s economic problems.

Thank you,

Dr. Dambisa Moyo


Educators in Indian country are working feverishly and creatively to deal with the cuts to federally funded preschool-to-grade 12 programs mandated by the so-called “sequester.” The sequester, a series of automatic federal spending cuts totaling $85 billion in 2013 and $9 billion for each year from 2014 to 2021 for a total over $2 trillion, was authorized by the Budget Control Act of 2011. It went into effect in March because Congress could not agree on a budget that would reduce deficit spending by $2.4 trillion over the next decade as part of the effort to deal with the country’s nearly $7-trillion debt.

Head Start, intended to promote school readiness in children from birth to five years old from low-income families by supporting their cognitive, social and emotional development, serves 1 million children a year nationwide. The program was developed in the mid-1960s as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. Sequestration is expected to knock out five percent of Head Start funding across the board, even though most Head Start programs cannot currently accommodate all families who apply, according to the Health & Human Services Department’s Administration for Children & Families, under which Head Start operates. 

Approximately 70,000 children are expected to lose access to the program because of these cuts. In 2013, Head Start programs nationwide will take a $406-million hit as a result of the sequester. Of that amount, nearly $2 million will come from Indian Head Start, according to the National Indian Education Association.

Melissa Harris, director of the Catawba Indian Nation Head Start in South Carolina, is proud of her program, which serves 80 children, most of them from the tribe, at one center on the reservation, for the full year. She says the sequester is devastating her program. “Right now, we’re downsizing from five days of service to four days for the summer.” Not only will this reduction affect the children’s preparation for school but, Harris adds, “we’re concerned about meals. We serve two meals a day. On Fridays, will the children have a meal? Will they be watched by siblings or adults? Every weekend this summer will be a three-day weekend and we’re not sure the children’s basic health and safety needs will be met…We recognize the responsibility to get the U.S. budget in order, but this is not where you start, at the foundation of our children’s lives.”

Of the $2 million in cuts Indian Head Start must deal with, more than one-tenth, or $.4 million, will come from the Navajo Nation’s program, which serves 2,115 children in Early Head Start and Head Start and through home-based education activities. Director Sharon Singer notes that it costs more to serve rural areas, which often do not have accessible services and where transportation is always a challenge. “We’re looking for ways to cut costs and still serve our children and families,” she says.

The Navajo Nation began restructuring its Head Start program in November 2012 to build a high-quality program. That initiative will help cope with the funding cuts. “As part of the restructuring program,” says Singer, “we expect to reduce employees by 30 percent. We’ll combine positions and hire highly qualified teachers who can each be responsible for more children. And we’ll streamline our program, cutting out middle management and offering direct services to children and families.”

For now, says Singer, the Head Start program will be able to continue serving the same number of children, but further funding cuts will affect services. “Head Start provides a continuous program from Early Head Start to Head Start to kindergarten, which is so critical now that Common Core standards require that children be able to read by third grade or not be promoted. Our job is so important. It provides the foundation in learning and literacy for our children.”

The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon’s Head Start program will take a much smaller cut—$48,000, but its program is smaller and the impact will be serious. DeAnn Brown, director of the program, says they will close one week early this year and start two days later next, and they will need to cut supplies to classrooms and teacher training dollars. Brown says her program serves 112 children and about the same number of families. It is a center-based Head Start program with seven classrooms. The program operates 3.5 hours a day, 4 days a week during the school years and serves both breakfast and lunch. “The cuts will be felt by everyone,” she says. “It’s only a week, but families are still dependent on Head Start for childcare. They’ll have to make other arrangements for that week. A week’s worth of childcare is a lot for our families.” Another concern, again, is nutrition. “Children rely on Head Start for two-thirds of their nutritional needs four days a week. Some kids might not get the nutrition they count on when Head Start is not operating for those days…We hope there are no further cuts. As it is, we still don’t serve all the kids we could. Further cuts would impact our enrollment. We hope there aren’t any.”

The 2 million in cuts to American Indian Head Start programs is not just a matter of consequence for the nation’s tribes. National Indian Education Association President Heather Shotton says, “When the federal government does well by our Native children, it does well by everyone’s children…. When budget cuts hurt the education of Native children, they harm education for everyone’s children.”

What we now know as Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. It was a tradition initiated by former slaves to celebrate emancipation and commemorate those who died for that cause.

These days, Memorial Day is arranged as a day “without politics”—a general patriotic celebration of all soldiers and veterans, regardless of the nature of the wars in which they participated. This is the opposite of how the day emerged, with explicitly partisan motivations, to celebrate those who fought for justice and liberation.

The concept that the population must “remember the sacrifice” of U.S. service members, without a critical reflection on the wars themselves, did not emerge by accident. It came about in the Jim Crow period as the Northern and Southern ruling classes sought to reunite the country around apolitical mourning, which required erasing the “divisive” issues of slavery and Black citizenship. These issues had been at the heart of the struggles of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

To truly honor Memorial Day means putting the politics back in. It means reviving the visions of emancipation and liberation that animated the first Decoration Days. It means celebrating those who have fought for justice, while exposing the cruel manipulation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members who have been sent to fight and die in wars for conquest and empire.

Ben Becker, “How Memorial Day Was Stripped Of Its African American Roots,” Dominion Of New York 5/27/13