Oliver Willis is one of the few black bloggers who has commented even obliquely on the current debate on spending in Iraq on Capitol Hill. The filibuster might seem dramatic in DC but how is this really playing outside of DC? It’s nice that the Dems have finally decided to take some action and that a handful of GOP senators are actually putting their votes behind their mouths on changing course in Iraq.

However, I guess I remained stunned that this is even a debate. The President’s strategy is not working. Most Americans understand this and want a change. This filibuster should have come a couple of years ago, so I guess it’s super that the Dems have finally decided to do something that indicates a shadow of something close to the same sense of urgency that anyone who knows someone impacted by military service in Iraq has.

As I’ve written here before, African-Americans saw the truth about this war before it started. We didn’t support going in and the majority of us strongly support getting out. As soon as possible. For a lot of different reasons but mostly because our loved ones’ lives and our hard-earned tax dollars must be a whole lot more precious to us than the sleep of a few Members of Congress. No one ever points that out though on TV. It’s as if the interests of a major and decisive demographic that also happen to comprise about 25% of the military (and their families) are just totally irrelevant in this debate. Hmmm.

Yawn. Sigh. I refer you to Jack Turner’s recent post to get a flavor of how black people talk amongst themselves about the Iraq war at this point. We talk about the future cost to our society. We talk about the damage done and the damage yet to come. The cost of this unnecessary, poorly managed and immoral war will be paid by generations of Americans in ways we are only glimpsing now.

‘Nuff said.

RaceWire has the story of a white North Carolina mayor, his statement about black youth and the NAACP effort to get him to apologize (hopefully not to Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson). Here’s what the man said:

Mayor Pat McCrory, who is white, said he was accurate when he wrote that “too many of our youth, primarily African American, are imitating and/or participating in a gangster type of dress, attitude, behavior and action.”

And the questions posed by the RaceWire folks:

First, do you agree with these comments? Second, are they racist? And if you think so, is it because whites who say things like this are reluctant to critize the “gangster behavior” of some white communities and institutions?

I’ll take a crack at this, having no additional background on the situation.

Do I agree with the comments?

Yes, but there’s more. The mayor has a point, but it falls well short of the complete truth. He would have done a better service had he said, “too many of the multi-billion dollar entertainment and marketing efforts of large corporations force a gangster type of dress, attitude, behavior and action upon our youth.” I agree that too many of our young folks of color are caught up in these false images. I also agree that too many of our youth of any color are caught up in this.

Our art form, hip hop, has become a highly profitable product in the hands of corporations who have skillfully, slyly and selectively sold back to us the most destructive images imaginable. They accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive. They set dysfunctional expectations in the minds of the wider community and ourselves of not just what it means to be black, but what it means to be.

The answer is more complicated. Companies are responsible. Parents are responsible. A police force which assumes that a black kid is a criminal is responsible.

Second, are they racist? And if you think so, is it because whites who say things like this are reluctant to critize the “gangster behavior” of some white communities and institutions?

I’m loving the second part of this question. “Institutional white gangsterism” has a nice ring to it. The mayor could have made his same statement about “too many of our CEOs, primarily white” are engaging in gangster type behavior. After all, when a company gets reporters fired for publishing studies critical of its products, that’s mad gangsta.

Yet we don’t roll into the headquarters of Monsanto on a regular basis

Please throw down your responses in the comment section here or at the original RaceWire post, and see what folks are saying over there.

Update @ 19:10:
The first commenter on the post at RaceWire asks a good question in his response and followup on his own blog:

Black people, is it important whether or not this cat is racist? Or, is it more important to impact the racial-mindset behind his statements (i.e. his perception about Black youths and gangs)?

See the rest here, and again, toss up your responses.
(cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK)

Another day, another tragic story from this war on Iraq and this war on our own American child soldiers. From CNN, “All Iraqi men viewed as insurgents

A corporal testifying in a court-martial said Marines in his unit began routinely beating Iraqis after officers ordered them to “crank up the violence level.”
Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo testified Saturday at the murder trial of Cpl. Trent D. Thomas.
“We were told to crank up the violence level,” said Lopezromo, testifying for the defense.
When a juror asked for further explanation, Lopezromo said: “We beat people, sir.”

Trent Thomas is black, BTW. It gets worse. When this unit was hunting for an insurgent, here’s what went down:

Unable to find him, the Marines and corpsman dragged another man from his house, fatally shot him, and then planted an AK-47 assault rifle near the body to make it appear he had been killed in a shootout, according to court testimony.

<snip>

Lopezromo, who was not part of the squad on its late-night mission, said he saw nothing wrong with what Thomas did.
“I don’t see it as an execution, sir,” he told the judge. “I see it as killing the enemy.”
He said Marines consider all Iraqi men part of the insurgency.

This is a frighteningly familiar and popular refrain issued by every oppressive power that ever was. All Palestinian boys are terrorists, right? All African-American boys are gang members, right? Let’s continue with the carnage:

Lopezromo said a procedure called “dead-checking” was routine. If Marines entered a house where a man was wounded, instead of checking to see whether he needed medical aid, they shot him to make sure he was dead, he testified.
“If somebody is worth shooting once, they’re worth shooting twice,” he said.

Our soldiers, many of whom are barely of legal drinking age, are not monsters by nature, but war does this to people, and we always either forget or don’t care. The trauma inflected by and on these young people doesn’t end when they leave Iraq, and it doesn’t stop with their own families. Our neighborhoods and streets will soon be flooded with highly trained killers who say things like “if somebody is worth shooting once, they’re worth shooting twice.” We’re building the foundation of domestic terrorism every day.

It’s time to end this thing.

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Hat Tip to Racialicious

I posted about the Hollywood’s affinity for adopting black children from other countries, and their aversion to adopting black children from the United States months ago. Apparently more and more people are finding out that if you’re a white couple looking to adopt a poor black child, you don’t have to go all the way to Africa.

When Allison Darke goes out in public with her adoptive son, Ethan, people notice certain things.

“They notice he’s a baby and cute,” she said. “They think my husband is black.”

Ethan was born to black parents in Chicago, but will spend most of his life growing up with Darke and her second husband, Earl Stroud, a white couple living in the Canadian capital.

The State Department says the number of Americans adopting babies from overseas has more than doubled in the last 10 years, with couples often citing a dearth of American babies.

But there are plenty of American babies who need homes — African-American babies. And more and more of those children are finding homes abroad, especially in Canada, according to people who work in the U.S. adoption field.

“I just don’t understand why American couples go to China and Romania and places like that,” Stroud said, “when they have kids in their own back yards.”

Well it’s pretty simple. Hundreds of years of racist cultural conditioning has been pretty effective in convincing the American people that black lives are not valuable, especially not if the black folks in question are Americans.

“It’s incredible,” she said. “It’s no different than if it was your own. It’s all the same joy, all the same love, all the same desires and dreams and wishes right from the beginning. It’s just instant — the bond is just instant. And then there’s the bond that you have with the woman as she goes through a very painful experience, a very joyous but also a very sad moment for her, because now it’s the beginning of an end.”

Margaret Fleming, who runs Adoption Link, a service in Chicago specializing in placing African-American babies, said the group in recent years has placed Ethan and more than 700 children — many of them with overseas families in Germany, Switzerland, England and Canada.

How desparate are Americans NOT to adopt black children? Pretty freaking desparate. And guess which children are the most sought after?

For every Caucasian child in the United States, there are at least 200 families in line, waiting two to three times as long as they would if they adopted a black baby, according to Adoption Link.

“At the very top of the adoption hierarchy are white, blue-eyed, blond-haired girls,” Fleming said. “And unfortunately, at the very bottom of the hierarchy are African-American boys.”

Is there anything more revealing about what society considers beautiful or valuable than which children we would choose to have, if we could choose?

Troy Davis faces execution in Georgia for the 1989 murder of a police officer, despite the fact that key witnesses from his trial have recanted, some claiming to have been coerced into implicating Davis by the police.

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A Georgia man is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday for killing a police officer in 1989, even though the case against him has withered in recent years as most of the key witnesses at his trial have recanted and in some cases said they lied under pressure from police.

Prosecutors discount the significance of the recantations and argue that it is too late to present such evidence. But supporters of Troy Davis, 38, and some legal scholars say the case illustrates the dangers wrought by decades of Supreme Court decisions and new laws that have rendered the courts less likely to overturn a death sentence.

“Too late”? Half their case has fallen apart because their witnesses have either admitted to lying or being coerced by the cops into fingering Davis, but prosecutors believe that an innocent man should be executed for a crime he didn’t commit because it’s “too late”?

Three of four witnesses who testified at trial that Davis shot the officer have signed statements contradicting their identification of the gunman. Two other witnesses — a fellow inmate and a neighborhood acquaintance who told police that Davis had confessed to the shooting — have said they made it up.

This is a case for a pardon if we’ve ever seen one. Unfortunately, politicians tend to save those for their friends rather than people who have been wrongly convicted of a crime. If the case of Assata Shakur has taught us anything, it’s that the flimsiness of a case against a black person for killing a police officer is not enough to supercede the state’s desire to murder someone in response, especially if that person is black.

For those angered by the Jena Six,
you should understand; this is the way criminal justice still functions in the United States in the new millenium. The strongest evidence any individual can have for or against their innocence is the color of their skin.

Especially in front of George Bush’s Supreme Court, which has approved the state-sponsored lynching of Troy Davis. From Amnesty International:

Amnesty International is deeply disappointed with today’s Supreme Court ruling that permits the execution of Troy Anthony Davis in Georgia. The organization maintains that evidence in his favor, which has never been heard in a courtroom, is enough to demonstrate that Davis should be granted a new hearing.”

The Supreme Court decision is proof-positive that justice truly is blind — blind to coerced and recanted testimony, blind to the lack of a murder weapon or physical evidence and blind to the extremely dubious circumstances that led to this man’s conviction,” said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). “At times there are cases that are emblematic of the dysfunctional application of justice in this country. By refusing to review serious claims of innocence, the Supreme Court has revealed catastrophic flaws in the U.S. death penalty machine.”

What? You thought that the Supreme Court’s hostility to African Americans was limited to education? This is America. We don’t do anything halfway here.

What I want to know is given that conservatives have shown how concerned they are recently about excessive sentences and fair trials, where are the calls for Troy Davis’ presidential pardon?

UPDATE: Howling Latina has been blogging extensively on the subject of Troy Davis.

Taking a break

14 Jul 2007

I’ll be hosting friends this week, so I’ll be offline. See you all next week.

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Truly, Truly Disturbing

13 Jul 2007

So I’ve noticed that many people have come to my site recently by searching for “Genarlow Wilson Video”.

Imagine how disturbed I am to find out from P6 that they’re literally looking for footage of the party where Genarlow Wilson received consensual oral sex from a fifteen year old, before Georgia locked him up for “aggravated sexual assault”.

These people are looking for child porn.

Why is the video even available?

Thank Georgia DA David McDade.

ATLANTA (AP) — District Attorney David McDade has handed out some 35 copies of a video of teenagers having sex at a party.

McDade says Georgia’s open-records law leaves him no choice but to release the footage because it was evidence in one of the state’s most turbulent cases — that of Genarlow Wilson, a young man serving 10 years in prison for having oral sex with a girl when they were teenagers.

McDade’s actions have opened him up to accusations that he is vindictively misusing his authority to keep Wilson behind bars — and worse, distributing child pornography.

“This has been a ferocious, vindictive prosecution of Genarlow Wilson,” said state Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat. “What is going on is a vendetta.”

McDade, who is district attorney in Douglas County, in suburban Atlanta, did not immediately return calls Thursday.

The Genarlow Wilson story is already disturbing enough as a miscarriage of justice without adding to it the element of a government official spreading around child porn to help him convict someone who clearly isn’t guilty of the charges leveled against him.

Where’s the outrage from conservatives? or is porn, even child porn okay as long as you’re using it to put a black man in jail for something he didn’t do?

Free The Jena Six Now

11 Jul 2007

I’ve been in my share of fights. It’s something that happens when you’re a young racially ambiguous kid thrust into the public school system in Washington D.C. A few of them I still have scars from.

The most consistent theme in my many trips to the Principal’s office is the fact that this answer, given by the parents of the white student who was allegedly beaten by six young black men (One of whom, Mychal Bell, has already been convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy and faces possibly 22 years in prison.) who are now charged with attempt to commit second degree murder and conspiracy, would never, ever fly. And that’s not just because my middle school Principal was like Shaft in retirement. From a July 1st segment on CNN:

KELLI BARKER, VICTIM’S MOTHER: He was getting kicked and stomped.

ROESGEN: Why?

BARKER: I don’t know. You tell me.

ROESGEN: For the first time, the parents of Justin Barker, the victim, agreed to be interviewed exclusively by CNN.

BARKER: Several lacerations on both sides. Both the ears was kind of really damaged. And both the eyes. His right eye was the worst. It had blood clots in it.

ROESGEN: Kelly and David Barker say Justin has no idea why he was attacked. But his injuries have cost $12,000 in medical bills and his parents do believe it was a case of attempted murder.

The answer “I don’t know” is simply dishonest, but shrewd, since it relies on the racism of the listener to fill in the blanks. “I don’t know” is reason enough for black people to become violent, because that after all, is our nature.

CNN tells the story of the Jena Six thustly:

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Reporters are not welcome these days at Jena High School where racial tension has led to charges of attempted murder. Back in September, black students sat under this tree in the school courtyard, where traditionally only white students sit. The next day, three white students hung nooses from the tree and were suspended. What the nooses meant divided the town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a couple boys made a mistake, you know, but I, you know, I think it’s all being blown out of proportion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very offended because that’s a racial slur against us.

ROESGEN: From there, things got worse. In November, someone set fire to the school, destroying one of its main buildings. Though police don’t know if there’s a connection to the nooses. Then in December, a school fight. A white student, Justin Barker, was knocked unconscious and kicked as he lay on the ground. Six black teenagers were accused of beating him.

A noose is not a slur.

A noose is a threat.

A noose says “nigger, I’m going to hang you.”

And let us not gloss over the fact that CNN uncritically reports it as “tradition” that only white students are allowed to sit under a particular tree. The way in which that fact is reported is an unqualified acceptance of the idea that black students did something wrong by not heeding the orders of white students. According to CNN, it is the black students who sought confrontation by defying “tradition”.

Not surprisingly, the July 1 CNN report only briefly touches on how out of proportion the reaction of the DA was to the incident.

This is a copy of the school handbook here at Jena High School. It says the punishment for a school fight is three days’ suspension.

But in this case, five of the six black teenagers are charged with attempted murder. And they face the possibility of spending the rest of their lives in prison. Carwyn Jones, Bryant Purvis, Robert Bailey Jr., Theodore Shaw, and a student who hasn’t been identified because he’s only 16, are all charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. A sixth student, Mychal Bell, had his charge reduced to aggravated battery. But they all say they’re innocent. And one of them told us he didn’t even see what happened.

But a July 10 segment on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now reveals that there was much more that occurred between the live threats hanging from a tree in a Jena schoolyard and the fight in which Justin Barker was injured.


JACQUIE SOOHEN: A series of incidents followed throughout the fall. In October, a black student was beaten for entering a private all-white party. Later that month, a white student pulled a gun on a group of black students at a gas station, claiming self-defense. The black students wrestled the gun away and reported the incident to police. They were charged with assault and robbery of the gun. No charges were ever filed against the white students in either incident. Then, in late November, someone tried to burn down the high school, creating even more tension.

A white student pulls a gun on a group of black students, who wrestle the gun away and call the police. In response, the black students are charged with assault and robbery. A school fight occurs, and the black students involved, all lacking say, firearms, are charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

CNN also failed to report the threats that DA Reed Walters made towards black students before the fight where Justin Barker was beaten. Walters made clear that hanging from a tree wasn’t the only way in which white power could end their lives.


MICHELLE ROGERS: The kids didn’t say anything. They were listening. The kids were quiet. And so, District Attorney Reed Walters, you know, proceeded to tell those kids that “I could end your lives with the stroke of a pen.” And the kids were just — it was like in awe that the district — you know, Reed Walters would tell these kids that. He held a pen in his hand and told those kids that, “See this pen in my hand? I can end your lives with the stroke of a pen.”

As for the potential “murder” victim? He attended a school function the night of the beating. Apparently it wasn’t as vicious as his parents led CNN to believe.

Four days later, a white student was allegedly attacked in a school fight. The victim was taken to hospital and released shortly with a concussion. He attended a school function that evening. Six black students were charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, on charges that leave them facing between twenty and one hundred years in jail. The defendants, ranging in age from fifteen to seventeen, had their bonds set at between $70,000 and $138,000. The attack was written up in the local paper as fact, and DA Reed Walters published a statement in which he said, “When you are convicted, I will seek the maximum penalty allowed by law.”

The racism in the behavior of the local government is as flagrant as anything that occurred during segregation. The institutions of government in Jena, Louisiana are operating on de-facto Jim Crow; they carry out through cultural practice what was once law. And the mainstream media has felt absolutely no obligation to cover the story with appropriate depth.

The New York Times has not covered it at all. Neither has the Washington Post, whose vast website carries a single AP article on the subject. CNN was presumably unable to adequately investigate because it was expending all of its journalistic resources attempting to fact check SiCKO and find out what Fred Thompson smells like. My mama has personally been on that ass trying to get me to blog about this and until now, I just haven’t had the words.

Consider the media attention given to Imus for his racial slurs towards the Rutgers Women’s basketball team, and consider the attention given to the Jena Six. Six young black men are about to be lynched in Jena, Louisiana, but there is no Hip-hop to blame, no “shock jock” culture, and no Al Sharpton to give the media a reason to change the subject. There is no Ray Nagin cussing on the radio, no corrupt congressmen, no looting, no lies about savagery in the Superdome.

The only thing in Louisiana waiting for the media is a mirror that shows everything that is ugly in this country that we have pretended to choke down in the name of tolerance.

And so they look away. Again.

The petition is here.

Ann Hornaday has an interesting article in the Post today, albeit with some significant omissions, about Hollywood’s failure to produce a comprehensive “Civil Rights Epic”.

Indeed, of all the social, cultural and political touchstones of the baby boom generation — World War II, the Kennedy assassinations, the Vietnam War, Watergate, feminism, gay rights, AIDS and all manner of political coverups — the civil rights movement has yet to be the subject of a pivotal, defining feature film.

If you’re like me, you said, “What about ‘X’?”. Hornaday gives ‘X’ it’s moment, omitting that it was the performance of Denzel Washington’s career, and that he was snubbed for an Oscar for playing a Civil Rights leader so he could get one a decade later for playing a drug dealing criminal who compares himself to King Kong.

So far, the closest thing audiences have to a definitive civil rights movie is “Malcolm X,” Spike Lee‘s brilliant biographical film starring Denzel Washington as the black-nationalist leader. But notwithstanding that film’s compelling portrait of one man’s extraordinary personal and political transformation, “Malcolm X” takes place largely outside the context of the mainstream civil rights movement, which at its height involved hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Hornaday’s identification of the Nation of Islam as occurring “outside the context of the mainstream Civil Rights Movement” illustrates the white privilege of perspective in history. What Hornaday means by “mainstream” is those aspects of the Movement that included white people. At the height of its power, the Nation of Islam’s ‘Muhammad Speaks’ newspaper was the most widely read black newspaper in the country.

Hornaday also omits the excellent ‘Boycott‘, which was an HBO film starring Jeffrey Wright as MLK and introduced it’s audience to Civil Rights figures like Bayard Rustin and Asa Philip Randolph, whose long careers in Civil Rights have been obscured in high school history classes by the martyrdom of Schwerner, Cheney and Goodman.

The story of Malcolm X is largely an exclusively black one. And the reason that Hollywood has failed to make a comprehensive epic about the Civil Rights movement is, despite what many Americans would like to believe, the story of the Civil Rights Movement is largely an exclusively black one. This is not to say that whites were not involved, but Hollywood, and by extension our understanding of American history, has over-emphasized the role of white activists in order to exonerate the rest of the country from its participation in, and tacit approval of, institutionalized racism.

Some people will remind me of Schwerner and Goodman. I don’t mean to minimize their efforts. My white Jewish father marched on Washington. My mother’s father taught school and sold chickens on the side in order to make enough money to move he, my uncle and my grandma out of segregated Tampa so his children could get a decent education. Looking at these two stories, Hollywood would choose to make a film about my father.

The story of the Civil Rights Movement is the story of African-American courage, dignity and suffering. Telling that story without spotlighting white heroism means engaging years of the willing participation of white Americans in institutional and cultural racism, rather than comforting a white audience with a white hero.

It’s not as if Hollywood hasn’t tried, albeit with mixed success. There was “Mississippi Burning” in 1989, followed several years later by “Ghosts of Mississippi.” Both dealt with real-life civil rights workers — Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and, in the latter film, NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers — who were murdered by white supremacists. And both engaged in a certain degree of revisionism, valorizing the white investigators of the crimes rather than emphasizing the heroic stories of their nominal subjects. Even more egregiously, there was “Forrest Gump,” which inserted its dim Candide of a protagonist into a trivialized pastiche of American social history, reducing the 1963 March on Washington to a “Zelig”-like stunt.

The Civil Rights Movement didn’t begin in 1964. It began in 1865. And the struggle for black equality from the end of the Civil War to the 1960s existed without the support of most white Americans. Perhaps the biggest lie perpetuated by Hollywood is the idea that most Americans actively opposed institutionalized and cultural racism. White Americans as a whole cannot take credit for their efforts any more than the Republican Party can take credit for those Americans who had the foresight to oppose the war in Iraq. Until Hollywood is comfortable telling black stories without white heroes, you won’t see the Civil Rights epic Hornaday is looking for.

You know how when someone overstays their welcome at a party and hints start getting aired? Or when you watch a prizefighter struggling to stay in the fight even though it’s obvious he’s going to lose and when punch after punch lands on a bloody bruised face? Isn’t it almost sickening?

I mean, must I be forced to write things like:

Liar. Liar. Pants on Fire. (emphasis mine)

As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse,” Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.

Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.

So to sum up, Gonzales’ DOJ violated constitutional protections and then proceeded to lie about it before Congress and the American people. Please Alberto. It’s almost too sad and sorry to watch. Just resign already and take your place as yet another paragon of Bush Administration bad guys. Time to stop frontin’ and get to steppin’.

A warm welcome to OpenLeft run by Matt Stoller, Chris Bowers and Mike Lux. While MyDD has a new set of writers, I’ve found the writing to remain excellent. At OpenLeft, I am certainly excited about getting a new set of spectacles through which to watch what’s happening online.

I found Stoller’s “What Is OpenLeft.com?” an interesting read. I wasn’t sure about why Stoller chose the photos of MLK Jr and George Meany of the AFL until I read the piece again. It’s a good question — who are the MLK’s and Meanys among progressives today?

Stoller says:

We want to explore various characteristics of Open Left politics. Identity, including race, notions of the ‘creative class’, and religiosity are at the root of our changing political dynamics. New Economy companies such as Google and sustainable energy businesses are a part of these emerging coalitions, and extractive industries are set against us.

I’m looking forward to hearing more about from the front page writers.

On Chris Bowers’ thinkpiece “The End of the Flat Blogosphere?“, I found the JONI Discussion Questions thought-provoking, particularly:

# Part One, The Way It Was: Many bloggers do not even wish to gain entry to the “short head” of the blogosphere. What are the comparative advantages and disadvantages of operating “short head” and “long tail” blogs?

# Part Two, The Way It Is Now: What are some successful-and unsuccessful-strategies for drawing more attention and traffic to “long tail” blogs?

I have a question of my own: Should Jack and Jill Politics endeavor to become a “short head” high traffic blog? To say yes, well, might sound a bit big for our britches. To say no, however, underestimates the interest that blacks and non-blacks have in hearing from new African-American voices online. The Old Left identity organizations have really let down people of color, especially in this millennial decade. In the face of a war killing our family members and robbing our communities of desperately needed resources, stigmatizing and life-threatening racial profiling, the rampage of HIV/AIDS, persistent poverty, environmental blight, the continuing injustice suffered by Katrina victims — the NAACP decides to bury the word “nigger” a few months after it might have been relevant to do so (during the Don Imus dust up). From CNN/AP:

The NAACP held a symbolic funeral in Detroit in 1944 for Jim Crow, the systematic, mostly Southern practice of discrimination against and segregation of blacks from the end of post-Civil War Reconstruction into the mid-20th century.

It illustrates so clearly the problem — Jim Crow was an unconstitutional and cruel apartheid that impacted all of America. No one has called me a nigger to my face since I was a small child. It simply does not impact my daily life. It is intellectual, safe, toothless and non-vital. How did this get chosen and why did it take so long to pull together as an awareness “stunt”?

The OpenLeft blogroll leaves off orgs like the Urban League, CORE, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King Center, National Council of La Raza and others that seem to stand still when we need them to strike. I don’t see any blogs linked that focus on religion and progressives though I believe Chris that Open Left is a work in progress. It’s off to a good start. One of the weak areas in the progressive movement has also been progressive religious institutions. Some of these are just now beginning to get religion (so to speak) while other newer, right-leaning faith-based orgs such as the National Association of Evangelicals are getting really interested in climate change, the Iraq war and poverty.

I found eteraz’s Open Left Diary an interesting and well-led discussion on Open Left and Minorities. The diary almost picks up where other bloggers left off to explore earlier questions and asks a question of its own:

The ultimate question is: race-conscious or race-blind; religion-conscious or religion-blind (referring only to those communities whose religion is already politicized); focus on under-represented people via minority-rights or economic-rights.

Food for thought — what do you think?

I ask this question because, from the outset, African-Americans have been more against this war than any other community. What do you want to see happen?

Me?

I want our troops out of there. Not in November 2008. Not in June 2008. I mean NOW. Like yesterday.

The Iraqis been fighting one another for nearly 1,000 years. Only our arrogance made us think that WE could control him.

Iraq=Arab Yugoslavia
Saddam=Arab Tito

What happened to Yugoslavia after Tito?

Yeah, that’s what’s happening now in Iraq.

We need to leave. Not tomorrow. Not 2 months from now.

TODAY.

Yes, there will be an unfettered Civil War.

So be it.

Yes, it will be on our hands.

So be it.

No more American lives for their carnage, and if they bring in the Saudis and the Iranians and Syrians, I could care less. If they’re bogged down in Iraq, then maybe it’ll take their minds off of trying to kill us. At the very least, occupy their time and slow them down a bit.

I’ve never said I was a dove. I’m a practical realist who knows that some very bad folks mean a great deal of harm to us as a country. Did we implement policies that created some of our enemies? Of course we did, but that’s neither here nor there. The facts are, they want to kill us, and it won’t matter to them that I never supported Bush or his friends. When they plot to kill Americans, they never sort us into ‘ good’ vs. ‘bad’ Americans – we’re all marked for death by them.

But, Iraq isn’t smart policy. It’s hideous policy that’s draining our military, our financial resources, the country’s reputation, and creating jihadists by the busload everyday. Anyway you look at it, Iraq was a loser for everyone except for Bush’s War Profiteer Buddies.

Our foreign policy should be focused on PAKISTAN – the most dangerous place on Earth.

While the Taliban is regaining more strength by the hour in Afghanistan – all they have is poppies.

Remember, unlike the lies that Cheney & Company are trying spin to get us into IRAN…
Pakistan ACTUALLY HAS NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

If Musharif falls, we (THE ENTIRE WESTERN WORLD) are in trouble.

If you have a different plan for Iraq, drop a comment below.

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A story that had me clicking away this weekend, was the revelation that the Mayor of Los Angeles -Antonio Villaraigosa- was involved in an extramarital relationship with a reporter from Telemundo -Mirthala Salinas. Ms. Salinas has since been suspended by Telemundo.

One has to wonder how this will affect the Mayor’s future political ambitions. After all, he was a rising star in Democratic Party circles.

This story has everything: politics, sex, pretty young women, power players.

The links are pretty informative, as were several other articles that I stumbled across:

1. The Los Angeles Times Section Devoted to the Mayor’s Relationship. (I kid you not).

2. The Luke Ford Blog – He gets special notice, because he published about the Mayor’s Marital Collapse in JANUARY – yes, I said January.

Women to watch
What’s New With Antonio

3. New York Daily News about The Other Woman – seems as if The Mayor wasn’t her first politician.

4. A really interesting article called Mexican American Princes. Definitely worth the read. I guess you could say it’s their equivalent of The Talented Tenth. The Article is also accompanied by a Who’s Who of Mexican American Princes – keep your eyes out in the papers for these men.

From one woman to another, I hope his wife takes full advantage of California’s Community Property Laws.

The Senate has just passed a bill that establishes an unsolved crimes section of the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department. Three of the four presidential candidates, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama have signed onto the bill, with Dodd as primary sponsor and Biden and Obama as co-sponsors.

Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act – Establishes an Unsolved Crimes Section in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and an Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Investigative Office in the Civil Rights Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Makes the Chief of the Section (Chief) and the Chief Investigator of the Office responsible for investigating violations of criminal civil rights statutes in which the alleged violation occurred before January 1, 1970 and resulted in death.

While I understand that no Democrat could have possibly voted against this act, my question is given the Bush Justice Department’s deliberate efforts to exclude black lawyers from its Civil Rights Division, its lack of interest in pursuing cases of minority vote suppression by the GOP, and its new focus on protecting the rights of religious groups to proselytize American schoolchildren, who actually believes that there will be any effort made to solve murders that are decades old when violations of people’s civil rights are tolerated every day?

In recent years, the Bush administration has recast the federal government’s role in civil rights by aggressively pursuing religion-oriented cases while significantly diminishing its involvement in the traditional area of race.


[...]


The changes are evident in a variety of actions:

¶Intervening in federal court cases on behalf of religion-based groups like the Salvation Army that assert they have the right to discriminate in hiring in favor of people who share their beliefs even though they are running charitable programs with federal money.

¶Supporting groups that want to send home religious literature with schoolchildren; in one case, the government helped win the right of a group in Massachusetts to distribute candy canes as part of a religious message that the red stripes represented the blood of Christ.

I want to know what members of Congress are going to do to provide oversight and make sure that a Justice Department that has thus far been completely hostile to defending the rights of minorities actually does what the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act mandates.

The Act is a wonderful resume padder for Democratic Presidential candidates, but I question its sincerity. These murders have gone without justice for a generation. Why does Congress care now?

The CBC’s defense of their partnership with conservative propaganda outlet Fox News Channel is becoming increasingly absurd:

“We’re moving forward no matter what. We’re definitely having a debate in Detroit in September,” said CBC Chairwoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, who serves on the institute’s board and represents Detroit in Congress. “We may change the format. We might have more than just the presidential candidates,” she said.

Debates between minor candidates are not rare. Biden, Kucinich and Gravel discussed the Iraq war at a June 6 debate at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. But it is unusual for such events to enjoy the backing of a national cable news channel.

Under such circumstances, one might expect Fox News to be making for the studio exit. But a representative said the network is “moving forward with the debate as scheduled on Sept. 23.”

So the lack of attendance at the debate is going to change the format of the debate so drastically that not just the tier 3 presidential candidates are going to be invited, but black people are still supposed to believe that a network that has gone out of its way to portray African Americans in a negative light is going to be one worth paying attention to? From what Congresswoman Kilpatrick is saying, it might not even be a “presidential debate” anymore.

Naturally, Fox is sticking to the deal. With Biden and Gravel attending, the opportunities to make Democrats look like lunatics will be endless.

Bennie Thompson (D-LA) still hasn’t quite given up on convincing the front runners to attend.

Fox has been seeking to improve its relations with African-American groups, especially after an embarrassing incident last month when it mistook Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) for indicted Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), another black lawmaker. Pulling out of the black caucus debate would likely jeopardize the network’s outreach efforts.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), head of the CBC Institute, said he still held out hope that he could convince the front-runners to attend. He preferred not to dwell on the idea of a lonely stage with Biden, Kucinich and Gravel lobbing bombs at their absentee rivals.

“We’re still working to get the other people to reconsider,” Thompson said. “Their decision to make Fox News the issue is not a good idea. Whether you agree or disagree with [Fox], they have a viewership.”

What an absurd argument. Every cable news station has a “viewership”.

As frustrated as I may be with the Politico sometimes, they manage to mention something few people discussing the CBC debate have–that there is another debate scheduled that will air on CNN, rather than FOX.

Thompson said the CBC Institute would make debate viewers aware of the no-shows.

“There will be a direct effort to put in the minds of [viewers] that every candidate had more than enough time to put this on their schedule,” he said.

But the major candidates are unlikely to face criticism from the black community for taking a pass on this one. Most have accepted an invitation to appear at another black caucus debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in January. That one is televised by CNN.

That fact preempts the kind of laughable criticism from FOX and their allies that Democratic candidates refusing to attend the debate on a racist network are simply unconcerned with issues facing African Americans. The problem, quite clearly, is the FOX News Channel.

The influence of African American voters in the Democratic primary has probably never been greater. Regardless of how one feels about Obama as a candidate, his presence alone makes competition for black votes more fierce, and forces the other major candidates to respect our concerns.


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Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell

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