Repost inspired by this commentary from Sis. Carolyn Moon:
“The difference that I’m noticing more now and it’s a perception which I’m sure can be debated but there is this extreme animus towards the various countries on the continent of Africa and their historical role in promoting the triangularity of the slave trade that culminated in a diaspora seriously adrift. We’ve encountered at times, a dismissive or condescending attitude towards American blacks by those who were born and reared in the various countries on the continent. This became painfully apparent when the dialogue about describing ourselves as ‘African-Americans’ became the topic on various blogs and if that is truly an accurate description. There seems to be a grace and forgiveness for those who provided a market (Europeans & western whites) for the selling and purchasing of human beings and also promoting one of the most virulent and devastating forms of slavery that the world has ever witnessed.”
Powerful commentary by Nigerian writer, poet, playwright and 1986 Nobel Laureate in Literature, Wole Soyinka, on Africa’s role in the slave trade and it’s consequences. These are 2 must read articles posted in the online magazine theRoot:
Submission from Sis. Ana
The Story of St Josephine Bakhita, a remarkable woman born in Sudan who was kidnapped by slavers. Despite slavery, rejection, the loss and separation from her family, discrimination and hardship, she kept the faith and retained her dignity as a human being. She is considered by many as the Universal Sister and was canonized by the Catholic Church. There is a movie made about her by the Italian movie industry entitled “Santa Bakhita”.
“Democracy is a proposal (rarely realised) about decision-making; it has little to do with election campaigns. Its promise is that political decisions be made after, and in the light of, consultation with the governed. This is dependent upon the governed being adequately informed about the issues in question, and upon the decision makers having the capacity and will to listen and take account of what they have heard. Democracy should not be confused with the “freedom” of binary choices, the publication of opinion polls or the crowding of people into statistics. These are its pretense. Today the fundamental decisions, which effect the unnecessary pain increasingly suffered across the planet, have been and are taken unilaterally without any open consultation or participation.” ~ John Berger
I. Dance, reconstrueism [rek-kun-stroó-ism], dance!
My impulse used to be to dismiss it. But nearly six years after returning here to my hometown of Detroit after my decade living in Miami, it has become more and more difficult to go on living and working in a post modern, post industrial, casebook ‘capitalist endtime’ city like Detroit, ignoring the hyper-reality and the hype of American rust belt era gentrification and post gentrification; to go on ignoring the post industrial situation: the poverty, loss, and disintegration in weird concert with the outlandishly enthusiastic, intrusive media junkets that spin across the dance floor in disco mode even though the music is a mournful dirge.
While local Detroit’s news media have steadfastly ignored for two decades now the steadily growing din of community protest and outrage, the gulf between politicians and the governed, between the suburbs and the city, between the haves and the never-will-haves again, between official public media and real life has grown into an ocean; and the two continents are drifting. Citizen outrage over both a political establishment’s and media establishment’s practice of treating community voices and groups as if they were invisible, is as the feeble complaints of Hebrews in the work pits of ancient Egypt, cutting stones for pyramids they will never see the end of. The same newspapers, radio broadcasts, and so-called ‘alternative’ media that have steadfastly ignored post-civil rights, post-nationalist, and post mass culture complaints of racism and abandonment lodged by the mostly Black, mostly poor populace, are peculiarly attentive now to the interests, ideologies, and the dogmas of the forces of Republican triumphalism. They are likewise quick to lick the hand of the interests of ‘urban renovation’ politics, and of what I call ‘settler chic’.
‘Settlers’– the slowly increasing trickle of returnees from suburbs, and new arrivals from other cities (of which I was one, six years ago) are a new dispensation, but all these forces and interests make up ‘the media junket’: journalism at its worst. Nothing covered by American Journalism, or rather, nothing that is blipped, blurbed, byted, and blurted, is presented with adequate depth, meaning, or critical content. The two major city newspapers, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, cover the city either sensationally through a blanket fascination with crime and petty corruption (as opposed to deeper, more far-reaching corporate corruption), or else in so diffident a way (emphasis upon what Miami cultural critic Dr. James Nadell sarcastically calls ‘that local media life-giving, all important, precious sports coverage’) that all the city’s greater complexity is flattened out into purely entertaining, descriptive, lurid and titillating ‘copy’ for creation of a salable commodity by a media that abhor political, economic, cultural, and ethnic diversity and legitimacy. Thus, the rot, the collapse, the poverty, the slow
disintegration of a city center and of its neighborhoods, is the daily commodity that turns the profit motive. With a few human interest and ‘poor folk make good’ stories sprinkled in for plausible deniability’s sake, pathos, suffering, and rot are the papers’ real bread and butter, and crime is the spice. News is wrapped like liver and sold slightly bloody with little meaningful, ongoing attention to the past and its economic and political causality. In Detroit, ‘if it bleeds, it leads’, and that motto controls the daily fare (‘crime reporting’ being a perfect avatar for it all) of TV, radio, and print journalism. It’s a corporate standard, a nationally pervasive style of media coverage of cities that is shallow in focus, stereotyped, smug, and presumptuous–not just because it leaves citizens uninformed, which it does, but because it leaves citizens altogether: it has fled us; or it floats above our heads, unconcerned with our real, material lives as it arbitrarily selects what it chooses to spill down upon us–information as scat. If this is what has become of ‘the watchdog of democracy’ then Detroit has what is more accurately described as a cadaver dog of complacency. The media, conglomerated by Gannett (newspapers), Clear Channel (radio and satellite access), and New Times Corp (‘alternative publication weeklies), and their subsidiaries, have long ago broken democracy’s leash, to root through the details of the dead, the unburied casualties, with no concern for or memory of democracy as John Berger defines it, and even less concern for democracy’s discontents (sudden gun battles at police precincts notwithstanding).
Lately in fact, a characteristic of inappropriate playfulness, even of exuberance, is being displayed by the current incarnation of those junkets ridden by suburban settlers touring the inner city, assessing property values, and planning renovation. These excursions are peopled by ‘creative class’ types [see Richard Florida further down this page]. The tone of their safaris has veered, nauseatingly, over toward the extreme of what some call ‘ruins porn’ (a growing fascination, nationally, with American cities’ shattered, disintegrating architecture and that dying architectures ‘antique’ quality; fascination with the even more fetishistic practice of doing ecstatic and politically mute photographic ‘studies’ of urban wreckage shots offered as aesthetic objects and as visual commodities).
The corporate ghouls–the land developers, real estate vampires, expensive condo prospectors, and strip mall developers, are only some of the many junketeers who have for years now been descending upon modern dying cities. However, when a city that has lost its industrial basis and its economic base begins to die, and also happens to have a high percentage of people-of-color, of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Arabs, or members of the working poor, the ghouls are double in number and strength, and even more easily can they buy access, authority, and fiat from easily bought-off, corruptible local public and elected officials who fail to protect constituents from these revelers at The Ball. Their claim, the caption that scrolls across their faces calls them ‘rescuers’ of dying urban space. Continue reading »
Submission from educator, writer and AfroSpear Googlegroup blogger José Luis Vilson
Click on image for article:
Updated repost of one of my favorites. Thanks to Sister Anna for bringing it to my attention again after 3 years.
I remember watching a couple of the Sherlock Holmes movies when I was a kid. I never thought much of them as the story lines didn’t really hold my interest, plus they were shown in ”black and white”…lol! I do remember though the line Sherlock Holmes gave his sidekick, Dr. Watson when he was ready to solve the case and explain how he came to his conclusions. He made it all seem so obvious after he proclaimed: “elementary my dear Watson, elementary,” and then broke it all down. I would wonder why Watson, being a learn-ed “Doctor”, hadn’t figured it out also and would ask the detective dumb questions. hmmmmm
This week another Dr. Watson garnered media attention, not for asking dumb questions, but for making “dumb” comments. Dr. James Watson, biologist, geneticist, Chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and 1962 Nobel laureate in science, made some controversial statements regarding “Race” in an interview he gave to The Sunday Times. The interviewer shared these beliefs of Dr. Watson’s in the article:
“He says that he is “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”, and I know that this “hot potato” is going to be difficult to address. His hope is that everyone is equal, but he counters that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”. He says that you should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because “there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level”. He writes that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so”.
This is not the first or only time the “good doctor” has made controversial statements, especially regarding race. During a lecture tour in 2000 he hypothesized that there were scientific links between skin colour and sexual prowess, specifically that “dark-skinned people have stronger libidos”. He has also hypothesized that if you could detect babies with “gay genes” pre-natally, women should then have the right to abort the baby “because women want to have grandchildren, period.” He also agreed with what he refers to as the “unpopular but by no means unfounded” theory of ex-Harvard president Larry Summers (recently President Obama’s director of the National Economic Council and chief economic policy co-ordinator), who lectured that the low representation of tenured female scientists at universities might be due to, among other things, “the innate differences between the sexes”. Due to the furor caused by his latest comments, he has had to cancel a book tour, scheduled lectures and he has also been suspended from his administrative duties at the Laboratory.
So here’s the deal. I believe the issue isn’t so much with the statements he made…. but that he made them publicly! He simply stated what is the widely held belief among those in the dominant “white” society. It is not the first time (nor the last) that science has been utilized to assert the inferiority of the so-called “Black Race”. Scientists are forever coming up with hypotheses and theories either contending that “whites” and/or “Europeans” and their culture is superior to everyone elses, or that “Blacks” and/or “Africans” and their culture are inferior to all others. However, because it is no longer “socially acceptable” nor “politically correct” to make such assertions publicly, “the rule” now is to do it within private (i.e. where Black people aren’t allowed) confines of the backrooms, the social clubs, the boardrooms, the executive offices… hell even in the bathroom…. but never, never out in the open and certainly not to the media! If you break this rule…. you are on your own!
Dr. Watson has made the usual apologies, claimed the statements don’t reflect what he meant, “and there is no scientific basis for such a belief.” Interestingly he also stated: “I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said.”
“Elementary my dear Watson, elementary…. you’re a racist.”
Meet John Barr; Ypsilanti Township, Mich racist.
I met John this past Tuesday (Nov 2) when I went to my polling location to vote.
Over the last few months, I had been debating how I would vote for Mich governor. I was or torn between voting for a republican whom I felt was competent and a needed change for the state or voting for the democratic option who reminded me of Rod Blagojevich that makes my skin crawl.
Tuesday: Day One
The day of the vote I kinda just said fuck it all. I can’t vote for any of these fools. Why does it always seem like we have to choose between two evils? With that said, I decided not to vote.
Yeah, I said I decided not to vote.
OK, so now, I’m leaving work headed home and I get near my polling place and did an about face and decided to vote.
I guess karma was on my side because the location was not super busy and I got a parking space right at the door.
As I’m getting out my car, I was approached by a man passing out literature for candidates that he was supporting. Then he took it a step further and said let’s get Virg Bernero (the democrat) in the governor’s office. I explained that there was no way that I was going to vote for him.
After I made my statement, his tone changed and he started acting like he was my real daddy or something breaking down how republicans are not for us, the greater good of Negro people, how he would be better for business blah blah blah!
Then he went on to tell me that he owns a liquor store and funeral home. I was like really? Then I asked if he laid to rest any of his alcoholic customers from his store. I was just being an asshole…
Minutes later, I’m in line to vote.
I hand over my ID and the person looks me up then she hands me my voter application to get my ballot.
I then move to the ballot line, which is where John Barr and I 1st made contact.
I approach John with my ID and voter application in hand and greeted him with a hello. He extends his hands to take my information and reciprocates my greeting.
As he was looking me up, he asked “how is your gangsta’ rap group going?” Taken aback, I said excuse me. He then repeated the question looking me dead in my eyes. I then asked John what made him think that I was in a gangsta’ rap group. He exclaimed “everyone with hair like that is a gangsta rapper!”
At this point, I shouted back “are you racially profiling me as I attempt to vote? Are you serious? Do you really mean to intimidate me at the voting poll in the year 2010?”
All I got back from my line of questioning was a dumb ass blank stare that only an imbecile could give.
I then demanded to see someone in charge!!!
Moments later, a very sweet woman approached me and I explained what happened. All the while she was in utter shock. At the end of my rant, she asked me to not leave so that she could process me personally as she dismissed John.
As she handed me a ballot, she requested that I not leave so that she could get me in touch with the township clerk.
So I now have my ballot and I’m in the booth PISSED off.
As I stated before, I was going to vote for the republican gubernatorial candidate but then I started having civil rights flashbacks and said fuck that, I can’t go that way.
After the ballot was completed, I handed it back to the sweet lady (she had be to in her 70s). She thanked me for my patience and told me that the township clerk; Karen Lovejoy Roe was waiting to see me at her nearby office.
As I was leaving, I spotted John pacing back and forth. I wanted to cuss him out but I kept it moving.
Now I’m at the clerk’s office and Karen walks right up to me, introduces herself and apologizes profusely as we walked to her office.
As we talked her office, I gave my accounting of events and she listened in disbelief. After I was done, she informed me that she spoke with John and he was like yeah, I said it. Then it went a step further by him telling her that I obviously wasn’t in management because people in management don’t look like me.
Really bitch? Are you serious?
I’m just done at this point….. I stayed composed although pissed off and was like so now what.
Karen informed me that she needed to call the state elections board to see what her next move should be and that she would be in touch to keep me posted.
She then explained that this has never happened before and assured me that John would never work for her again.
So as we wrap, she makes a pitch to recruit me as a poll worker and gives me two applications. She then stated that she always needs qualified poll workers who are computer savvy.
I took the applications but in the front, back and middle of my mind, I’m like are you serious. I was just assaulted/insulted and you’re trying to recruit me. Ummmm, no boo.
Wednesday – Next Day:
I get to my day job and tell a co-worker what jumped off and she was like you need to contact the NAACP with the quickness. Before she mentioned the antiquated group I was wondered what else I needed to do.
So now it’s 930am and I call my local office and I got no answer. I then call another nearby office and got no answer. I then call then the Detroit office and got no answer.
I kept called all three offices for the next 4 hours and got NO ANSWER, just a raggedy voicemail.
On my last try at the Detroit office, I finally got someone and explained my issue. The young man requested that I hold the line………. After holding briefly, I was transferred to a voicemail box. Great another roadblock. This time I decide to leave a message.
Thursday – Two Days Later:
I get a status update from Karen telling me that she is still waiting to hear back from the state about the issue and that she would get back with me ASAP. I appreciated her call.
And still no response from the NAACP
Friday – Three Days Later:
No follow up from Karen Lovejoy Roe at all. I’m disappointed. It has been 3 days…
Still no response from the NAACP and I again made repeated calls that all went unanswered.
At this point, I’m disappointed that I have not heard back from Karen but I’m pissed the fuck off over not hearing from the NAACP.
To deal with my pissed offness, I call the state bureau of elections my damn self. Wound up talking to some guy who told me that I could send in a complaint letter or send an email detailing my experience. He then stated that if I wanted a response back that I needed to indicate that in my correspondence.
Really? I have to tell you that I want a response back? No, really? Should you just fucking respond?
I hung up the phone frustrated and turned off.
Lastly, I posted this on the NAACP’s Facebook Page:
“I’ve been upset over the fact that I was racially profiled and intimidated at my polling location this past Tuesday by a poll worker. My frustration has been compounded after I called three local Detroit area NAACP offices whom all failed to return my call after leaving a message. Additionally, I have not been able to reach anyone in an office as the phones ring continually. This cannot be how you conduct business in 2010…”
I feel like I have no advocate, no attention etc. Just not cool!
Next election, I’m voting absentee.
For the record:
- Yeah, John did smile from me when I took the photo.
- I called the ACLU & Urban League & they were not into my issue.