Archive for November, 2008

The New York Times is looking forward to President-Elect Obama’s Administration reversing many of the draconian policies of the last eight years under the Bush Regime. Imagining the type of changes anticipated it put together a very insightful (and witty) issue envisioning home-based progressive change. It even contains some media justice info. Who would’ve thought the New York Times was even remotely interested in reforming mass media as we know it? Yeah, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one either. Though they identify some key areas for organizing, I didn’t see the Prison Industrial Complex mentioned but maybe my eyes are watering over from grading papers all day. Nonetheless, here’s the reason behind the issue from the “Fine Print” section of the Front Page. Enjoy. -CT

The Fine Print
Published: July 4th, 2009

This special edition of The New York Times comes from a future in which we are accomplishing what we know today to be possible.

The dozens of volunteer citizens who produced this paper spent the last eight years dreaming of a better world for themselves, their friends, and any descendants they might end up having. Today, that better world, though still very far away, is finally possible — but only if millions of us demand it, and finally force our government to do its job.

It certainly won’t be easy. Even now, corporate representatives are swarming over Washington to get their agendas passed. The energy giants are demanding “clean coal,” nuclear power and offshore drilling. Military contractors are pushing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. H.M.O.s and insurance companies are promoting bogus “reforms” so they can forestall universal health care. And they’re not about to take no for an answer.

But things are different this time. This time, we can hold accountable the politicians we put into office. And because everyone can now see that the “free market” has nothing to do with freedom, there is a huge opening to pass policies that can benefit all Americans, and that can make us truly free — free to pursue an education without debt, go on vacation every once in a while, keep healthy, and live without the crushing guilt of knowing what our tax dollars are doing abroad.

Following are just a few of the many, many groups working for change. Join them, support them, or start your own, and we can begin to make the news in this paper the news in every paper.

If you want to end the war in Iraq and prevent new wars: United for Peace and Justice (, a coalition of that includes CODEPINK (, Iraq Veterans Against the War (, Peace Action (, War Resisters League (, and hundreds of others.

If you want to fight for health care: Healthcare-NOW (, Physicians for a National Health Care Program (, California Nurses Association (, Private Health Insurance Must Go Coalition (, Single Payer New York.

If you want to save the environment: Climate Crisis Coalition (, 350 (, Greenpeace (, Earth Policy Institute (, Rainforest Action Network (, Earth First! (, Earthjustice (, Friends of the Earth (, Natural Resources Defense Council (

If you want economic justice: United for a Fair Economy (, Too Much (, Jobs with Justice (

If you want to protect our civil liberties, civil rights and human rights: Center for Constitutional Rights (, ACLU (, National Lawyers Guild (, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (, Global Exchange (, PEN American Center (, Human Rights Watch (, Defending Dissent Foundation (

If you want to end torture: Witness Against Torture (, Amnesty International (, Act Against Torture (, The Quaker Initiative to End Torture (

If you want to defend the rights of immigrants: New York Immigration Coalition (, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (, Desis Rising Up and Moving (, New York United for Immigrant Rights (

If you want to help eliminate worker exploitation: United Students Against Sweatshops (, Sweatshop Watch (, Wake Up Wal-Mart (

If you want to end homelessness and promote affordable housing: National Coalition for the Homeless (, National Low Income Housing Coalition (, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (, National Alliance to End Homelessness (, Coalition for the Homeless (, Picture the Homeless (, Housing Works (, Metropolitan Council on Housing (

If you want to fight for a more democratic media: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (, FreePress (, Democracy Now! (, Reporters Without Borders (, Committee to Protect Journalists (

If you want to create a more democratic media: MediaChannel (, The Indypendent (, Common Dreams (, AlterNet (, Cultures of Resistance (, Indymedia (, Video Activist Network (

If you want to fight for women’s rights: National Organization For Women (, A.C.L.U. Women’s Rights Project (, H.R.W. Women’s Rights (, Feminist Majority (

If you want to defend LGBTQ rights: FIERCE (, Radical Homosexual Agenda (, Sylvia Rivera Law Project (, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (, Audre Lorde Project (

The Ancestors welcome home one of the true great spirits who has walked the Earth. Miriam Makeba, Mama Africa, the woman with the rich voice, bright eyes and enchanting smile, passed away on Sunday in Italy. She worked till the very end. A tireless fighter of injustice, she dedicated her life to global struggles against racism and xenophobia, especially in her homeland of South Africa. Makeba suffered a great deal in her life. She was banned from South Africa for 30 years by the apartheid regime and for a time had all of her U.S. shows cancelled due to her relationship and later marriage to Pan-Africanist Kwame Ture (aka Stokely Carmichael). In his autobiography written with Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, Ready for Revolution, he recalls the almost immediate negative reaction to their union:

“It was, I’m sure, the next day after the ceremony, the next morning, Jack. I will never forget this. All that evening and morning, Zenzi [Makeba’s African name] [had] been so happy, just radiant. She went into the next room to get the phone. I was sitting on the bed. Never forget it. She came walking into the room, her face expressionless, frozen, link someone in shock. ‘Zenzi, what’s wrong? What’s wrong with you?’ I thought someone might have died. her daughter, Bongi, was pregnant. She didn’t say a word. Just came and sat next to me on the bed. I put my arms around her. I could feel her shaking. ‘Baby, what’s wrong? Tell me.’ I was convinced something terrible must have happened to her daughter. ‘Honey, whatever it is, you gotta tell me.’ ‘My Manager just told me that all my shows have been canceled.’ Her voice was flat…I knew it was me they were aiming at. She didn’t have an enemy in this country…Unfortunately, Miriam was made to suffer a great deal because of our love. I will always have a tender spot, knowing as I do the suffering she endured during our marriage. But if those jackals and hyenas intended to crush her spirit, they failed. Utterly. The American career they could destroy, but they couldn’t touch that woman’s spirit. I never once heard her complain.” (Ready for Revolution, pp. 653-655).

Another giant has left our presence, but her legacy of cultural pride, resilience and determination will continue to serve as a blueprint for those of us seeking justice and peace.

Promises and Accountability: Where Do We Go From Here?
Chris Tinson
November 5, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama was elected as the first African American president of the United States of America on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. Wow, Number 44 is Black. This is the highest of black firsts this country has ever witnessed. This moment is bursting with promise.

President-Elect Obama has made a tremendous amount of promises for change on his way to the top seat in America. Now it is time for us to make some promises; and keep them. What do we promise to do? We’ve heard from Obama for nearly two years of campaigning, now what are we going to do? What commitments are we courageous enough to make? What is the work this moment challenges us to do?

What does this victory mean for African Americans and People of Color? At the very least, it means that we can now point to the White House and say: “a Black family lives there.” One of us. And that is saying a lot considering the racist history of this country and the restrictions placed on Black lives throughout much of that history. This is indeed a moment to be proud of. My great-uncle, 80-years young, was the first person I called once the West coast results came in last night. After taking L’s (losses) for eight decades, he finally got a chance to feel like he won one. To use a baseball analogy, it’s as if he was shut out for a lifetime and finally scored. Only instead of eight innings, it’s been eight decades for him. This may be a symbolic victory for some, but a victory no less, says my uncle.

Obama scored big, redrawing the political map in the process. Changing the way that campaign funds are raised and utilizing the Internet to a masterful degree; he is a game changer. No more of the same, whether you’re thinking of the Bush regime or whether you’re talking about racism. And I’m not arguing here that Obama’s victory is post-racial in any way. No. Race and racism are woven into the very fabric of the nation. I am not arguing for transcendence where race no longer matters, I am arguing for a critical engagement with the racial history of the nation and a commitment to human principles of dignity and respect. Put bluntly, the xenophobia and hostility toward Black life has to stop. Does a black family in the White House change the day-to-day lived experiences of Black people?

People will say that now we can’t talk about race in the same way. In fact, they’ve already been saying it. That race is meaningless now that the top executive in the country is a Black man. This is usually told to Black people; “there can be no more racial grievances,” I heard someone say. No more talk of victimization, the refrain goes.

We rarely if ever demand the same of the folks who were “still undecided” on the eve of the election. Even white pollsters knew it was Obama’s blackness that held many from getting behind the Democratic candidate. What bothers me is that we don’t demand that the “Joe-the-plumber” types of the country get up off of their fear, hatred and disgust of Black people, acknowledge and rid themselves of racism, and adapt progressive social ideals. No, we hear: “no more complaining, Black folk, your man’s in office.” To the Joe’s of the country, though, Obama says last night “I’m your President, too.” I believe he was speaking to the McCain crowd, the damn near monochromatic gathering in Phoenix that booed him when he offered his congratulations to Obama. It’s not the racial grievances that Black folk complain about that need to be ignored and transcended, but rather the racial anxieties some whites hold towards black people and the structures that perpetuate racist practices (think: foreclosure crisis) that is need of attention and repair. But, like I said, that demand is rarely heard. Rest assured, the work to end racism and white supremacy did not end at the ballot box.

The only way that we can transcend race is by aggressively confronting racism.

Of course, we have issues like the economy, the environment, healthcare and, let me not forget, national security, that affect all Americans, albeit in different ways. But when it comes to race all we need to think of are the many social issues plaguing Black folk here in the U.S. to know that we have still a long way to go. The inability to acknowledge the centrality of race and the function of racism in this nation is our greatest blind spot. For example, what about the rates of incarceration that the Black community has suffered since the 1980s? Last I checked black women are four times more likely than white women to be incarcerated. And black males are five times more likely to be incarcerated than are white males, and 5.3 million are disenfranchised as a result of incarceration. What about the disparity in quality education? Indeed, this latter issue was central to the debates this campaign season. What about unemployment? What about the high occurrence of HIV and AIDS in our communities? This is not meant to rain on the hope parade, but to keep our struggle in full view. Can we stay committed to doing the work necessary to create the changes we envision? Barack Obama does indeed inspire hope. And we should embrace this moment. But this is not the end of race or racism in America.

Though I know that to be true, I believe that honoring the commitments and promises we make to ourselves and to each other, while holding Obama and his administration accountable for the numerous promises he pronounced on his way to the top (though he will no doubt have to revisit and abandon a few of them), is a way towards real change. Who knows the type of world we are going to create should we do so. President-Elect Obama has his work cut out for him, no doubt. If November 4th 2008 signals anything, it might be that the opportunity to create something different and new is upon us. The door has been pushed open, now it’s time to run through it.