I saw an interview with Barbara Harris of Project Prevention on BBC HARDtalk. Her organization offers cash incentives to women that are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol to use long-term or permanent birth control. See part of that interview here. Controversial issue no doubt.
Last week I was away from home for a few days attending a meeting in another city. I stayed at a hotel, an international chain, which is known to cater to government officials and business people. The morning I was checking out, there was no customer service person at the counter. A moment later another guest, a White male, also came to the counter wanting to check out also. I was dressed in business casual attire, while this other guest was dressed in a T-shirt and jeans. Where I was standing, I was directly in line with the office doorway where the hotel employee would have to exit to approach the counter, so I would therefore be the first person they would see. Until they reached the counter, they would not have seen the other guest. After a couple minutes, an employee exited the office, saw me standing there, smiled and said “good morning” while approaching to serve me. As she approached the counter, she saw the White male to my right and made a detour right over to him and asked if she could assist him. He pointed to me and informed her that I was there waiting before him. She then walked back over to me and asked what I wanted.
Last week, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter caused quite a stir when he claimed that “an overwhelming proportion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, he’s African-American.” Now I don’t know if this is true or not. What I observe from my perch in the Great White North, that is known as Canada, is that the intense health care debate south of our border, as well as most or “an overwhelming proportion” of the fierce opposition to President Obama’s goals, particularly from within his own party, is more complicated than just putting it down to simply “racism”. However, from my life experiences and observations, race is certainly a factor… an everyday unquestionable and unavoidable factor… in how Black people are perceived, regarded and treated by the wider White society… especially subconsciously!
Now I would not claim that the hotel employee was a “racist” (maybe she is, I don’t know her personally), nor that I was the victim of a “racist” incident. Her actions didn’t appear to even be a conscious decision on her part. She didn’t look at me … and then at the White guest… and then stop and say to herself: “I will serve the White guest before the Black guest”. In fact, I would describe her movement from me to him as being “hypnotic”… it was as if she was “conditioned” to react in a certain way to specific stimuli. It appeared that once she saw a white face, her eyes glazed over and I ceased to exist. She even appeared a little startled, like it was the first time she was seeing me, when he pointed to me and informed her that I was there.
In the Section where I work, I am the only Black person out of approximately 20 people. Within the Bureau that my Section is attached to, again I am the only Black person, although there are a couple other “people of color”… aka “brown people”… out of about 120 people in the Bureau. I have been given the opportunity to be a supervisor within and manager of my Section. In these roles, I have had my opinions and decisions questioned and even challenged openly by some of my White collegaues, including other supervisors and managers, in ways that I have never seen experienced by other White supervisors and managers. There is an underlying, I would even refer to it as a “conditioned” lack of respect, civility and adhering to protocol in regards to Black leaders by White subordinates and/or peers, which manifests itself in various ways, sometimes subtly, sometimes in uncontrollable outbursts such as the: “you lie!” outburst by Republican South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson, during President Obama’s address to both houses of Congress.
The problem with Jimmy Carter’s statement is that it’s true… but not in the way he meant it. It’s a blessing and a curse. This is the problem when White people speak as some sort of self-anointed authority or expert on issues of race, which they haven’t experienced nor perceived… which they can’t understand nor articulate… from our point of view! These so-called “white liberals or progressives”, in most cases fail to see and/or acknowledge their own “white privilege” and it’s contribution to the subtler forms of white supremacy thinking and behaviour… and even if they are that aware and honest, they rarely will give up this “privilege” for the benefit of their Black brothers and sisters.
That is why Obama can flippantly dismiss Carter’s statement. While some of the opposition to President Obama is certainly based solely on racism, those are easier to discredit and discount, although they may still pose a danger. However, most of the opposition is a conditioned (dare I say subconscious) reaction to his race. Subtle difference true, but this is more insidious and therefore more dangerous. This is what is more difficult to discredit, discount, address, much less fight against.
If I called the hotel employee or any of my White colleagues “racists” and told them that their actions stemmed from “racism”, they would reject it outright, tell me that they grew up with Black people, that they have many Black friends and how they sponsor a child in Africa through World Vision or their church mission program. On the other hand, if I tried to explain to them that they were “conditioned” to react towards me (and by extension other Black people) based on the color of my skin… due to white supremacy thinking… and that they would certainly treat me differently if I were White, they would look at me as if I had 3 heads, spoke gibberish and came from Uranus!
When President Obama states that “race” isn’t an issue in the health care debate, or that criticism of him is not based on the “color of his skin”, it is this influencing factor of “race” within the wider (whiter) society that he’s really attempting to discount. Although politically advantageous in the short term, in this he is wrong… and he knows it… which in some ways, ironically does make him a “l..r”.
I have linked this Harvard Implicit Association Test here before, which supposedly calculates biases and indicates preferences based on factors such as skin-tone and race. Follow the links to the “demonstration tests” and then proceed. I wouldn’t assert that it’s conclusions provides an accurate profile in any way, but it’s an interesting quiz to take.
What have we learned from the economic crisis? That we live in the the tightening web of a police state. That contingencies for this period have been put in place since the Clinton era. We kno that between Bill Maher, Arianna Huffington and Paul Krugman, the liberals continue to get it wrong. We kno that liberal politicians lack the resolve to put away the GOP, because that means liquidating their relationship to finance bankers who manipulated us into this crisis.
The liberal reactionary police state leaves us to ponder such philosophical questions as Eliot Spitzer. He was run out of office on ethics violations last year. So did the former governor and attorney general of New York spill the beans on the Federal Reserve because he got deposed or was he discredited in office to preempt his expose of the Fed? Spitzer recently said that the Federal Reserve is a “Ponzi scheme” that created “bubble after bubble” in the US economy and needs to be held accountable for its actions. Nobody can really say Spitzer is lying, but for millions of fence sitters, the ethics violations put him in a trick bag.
Another casualty of the financial crisis, hundreds of individual retirement accounts (IRAs) set up thru Fiserv lost over $1 billion from just three Ponzi schemes. One law professor said that tapping into IRAs “would be almost like running your Ponzi scheme through the police department.” Simple enuf, since the police remain busy arresting black Harvard professors for breaking into their own homes.
Police state, bitches. As in the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. As in the conviction and imprisonment of NPDUM organizer Ajamu Bandele. Or the execution of Oscar Grant on a BART platform. Police state, operating in a tightening web of economic foils and snags, designed to take down African people.
Some people shouldn’t even be able to own homes, let alone nice ones in blended communities. Because as the skyrocketing mortgage fraud pushes a new trend towards abandoned cities and homeless families the need for police increases. With only three percent of the world population and twenty-five percent of its prison population, the United States has anticipated the period of social turmoil headed our way.
Indeed, the Oreo prez blinks, wavers, swerves in a racist game of chicken, one gut check away from at least letting us think he thinks for himself. Skippy Gates, whose mission to “de-ghettoize black studies”, left himself as the only black scholar working on his project. But black folks kno why we came to his side when the pigs jumped him, and we will do it again. African people must no longer support neo-colonialism, yet we will always fight against racist, bloodsucking Imperialism.
Police state in the for-profit System. People get the opportunity to sue when it messes up your lives. That is supposed to provide a modicum of satisfaction. In a perfectly flawed System that eradicates our existence as social beings, suing cannot even be considered a form of reparative justice. You need to rise up. The ruling class knows that. You just aint copping to it. Wake up, people.
The Foul Legacy of Profit-Making
Healthcare is one of the most important issues in US political and social culture. Tho a catastrophic condition will not likely strike most individuals during their working lives, for those who themselves or family members have crucial health problems the matter of healthcare poses a concern.
Hospitals and nursing homes practices often leave many in the lurch. Profit making for healthcare institutions means that the bottom line means more than the old adage, “The customer is always right.” In this industry, people’s bodies have become commodities, and even if the quality of service is high, that nearly always depends on level of insurance as well as the condition for which they receive treatment.
For the most part, hospital workers remain overworked and underpaid. Short-staffing means that the institutions have nurses and aids serving more beds than is optimal. In some cases, the hospitals and nursing homes may even take more drastic measures.
In Pittsburgh, workers at two different healthcare systems recently filed lawsuits with the Department of Labor because they did not get paid for hours they worked. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) must appear in court as defendants of cases where they cheated workers out of pay:
“Court documents reveal employees of the hospitals deducted half-hour meal breaks out of their paychecks even if they worked through their meal times. The legal action filed also alleges employees were not paid for work performed before and after scheduled shifts and not paid for required training. Any employer who fails to pay employees for hours worked and does not allow for breaks as required by federal guidelines is in violation of U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) http://www.dol.gov wage laws. On Monday, a federal lawsuit for two former Pittsburgh Mercy Health System nurses was filed by their employment attorneys. The documents filed in court state the nurses were not paid for training and work they performed during meal breaks over a three-year period.” (Justice News Flash Seo Company)
In a country where doctors typically graduate from medical $100,000 in debt, the finance world dominates even in education and medicine. Pressure to make high salaries and establish a practice ties them into a complex web filled with medical suppliers, pharmaceuticals, keeping apace with scientific advances, and their relationships with employers, patients and staff. Compare this with statistics that say doctors live an average of 55 years; profit making does not afford them time to care for their own health and fulfillment.
If one of the wealthiest segments of the population cannot find time to care for its own health, health professionals themselves, what does this say for the rest of us?
Even tho the average worker does not understand how the system of capitalism bases itself on their oppression and exploitation, nevertheless the level of dissatisfaction with the capitalist system continues to mount. With the present economic meltdown weighing heavily upon workers, the middle class and business, no workable alternatives for “weaning” people off of capitalism have become popular. People talk about weaning this country away from foreign oil, however the discussion about the evil of capitalism have yet to become serious.
For this discussion to become serious, the Left has to be courageous. Black Power advocates have to sharpen their line and push the Left. We must take on this role since the problems in our communities are sharper and deeper than in the white community. Imperialist exploitation and oppression concentrates on colonized peoples.
When the wealthiest sectors of the communities receive government giveaways, we have to push the Reparations question. When we see government merging with corporate finance institutions, we must form dual and competing political power. When the unemployment lines swell at the rate of 50,000 lost jobs per month, the time for shutting down capitalism thru strikes and plant takeovers is overdue.
What effective agitational components can we bring to unions and workers, to the churches and masjids, to community centers, small businesses and athletic associations? These are questions begging to be answered, if only the Left will first ask them. All power to the people, and Black Power to the Black Community!
Obama Policy: Imperialism thru Democracy
Black workers, we who sell our labor to make a living, travail under special circumstances in capitalist America. We have the highest rates of unemployment, imprisonment, chronic health issues. On the other hand, we have the lowest rates for home ownership, capital formation, retirement security, and higher education.
The current economic crisis is marked by increasing unemployment, to the tune of 50,000 jobs lost per month. The government giveaway to the financial giants amounts to plus $1.5 trillion over the last three years. This includes “massive liquidity injections” to Wall Street bankers and the European Central Bank since 2006.
Now with all this money floating around, no mention of reparations can be made. No mention of helping the African community get back on its feet. The goliath of Imperialism has stomped the heart out of niggers thru out this country.
Just one point of clarity; before there were African slaves in the Americas, before colonialism and Imperialism, niggers never existed. A nigger is a slave who hopes for a peaceful coexistence within the Imperialist, racist system. If you go the extra mile to justify the racist cause like, maybe, Stanley Crouch or Tarik Nelson, then you’re a bootlicking nigger.
2012: The Dismal End or a New Beginning
Everywhere, a world of misery and despair surrounds me. Old folks struggling to pay their rent, bills or to get their medicine. Drug abusers whose cooked brains keep them impaired to the point where they expect the real world to fit into their delusions. From Congo to Wall Street, individuals chase worthless paper as tho it possessed more value than the lives they trample to enrich themselves.
Each of these situations take a toll on society which defies statistical analysis. No raw data can humanize the impact on the vast interwoven social fabric that wraps around the globe, because only our collective conscience can take the measure of this disaster and draw the resolve to correct it.
The soothsayers say that time runs out in the year 2012. They say that the World will come to an end in December of that year. While I do not believe in metaphysics, in no form of the supernatural, this time the stargazers and wizards just may be right. Because the current trajectory of humanity seems headed towards an intensified state of greed, mindlessness, and insensitivity.
So on that point, all prospects for extending life into the future appear dim.
Apparently, capitalism cannot possibly provide the type of leadership where humanness can spread. Modern states founded upon the violence of subjugation, the most irrational of all premises, now try to dictate morality to the former colonized world. We who are deemed savages continue to see our families, communities and lands destabilized and rent asunder by a social system that has little regard for human life but respects profit-making.
Jimi Hendrix said something which people have begun to repeat more and more these days: “When the Power of Love overcomes the Love of Power, the World will then know Peace.” The more folks who take that to heart, the easier it will be to take the big step when it comes time to make the turn away from this tragedy of a social system.
For those who think they kno the answers, the crisis in thinking strikes the sober masses as hard as it explodes upside anyone else’s head. For them who believe they have another solution and another map to the future, they must answer just one simple question.
Whose existence is more crucial to society, the banker or the farmer, the worker or the boss?
Get it right, because those are the choices the financial meltdown offers us. Save those who print the paper or help those who grow the food; hold onto these who build cities and homes, or the ones who make the profit. If we can survive without a profit motive, and if we can eliminate vice and greed for worthless paper by doing away with dollarism, we need to make a decision at the turning point in history. Ubuntu for Humanness: it sounds crazy, but it just might work.
While exploring my net news links, I spotted this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article titled “Invisible Men: Many young black males are in crisis,” and it included some disturbing statistics gathered from the National Urban League’s “The State of Black America: Portrait of the Black Male”:
African-American men are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white males, and black males who work in comparable jobs earn only 75 percent of what white men earn.
Half of black men in their 20s were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.
Black men are nearly seven times more likely to be incarcerated, with average jail sentences about 10 months longer than those of white men.
In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20s who did not go to college were in jail; a decade later, it’s grown to 21 percent.
Black males between 15 and 34 are nearly eight times as likely to suffer from AIDS as their white counterparts.
Black males ages 15-19 die from homicide at 46 times the rate of white males their age.
Black male achievement begins to decline as early as the fourth grade and by high school. Studies show, black male achievement begins to decline as early as the fourth grade and by high school, black males are more likely to drop out; in 2001, only 42.8 percent graduated from high school, compared to 70.8 percent for their white counterparts.
The article then brings up some root causes for the reasons African-American males fare worse than males in other ethnic groups, citing fatherlessness, a pervasive negative entertainment culture, racism, and multi-generational poverty in their family structures. Many of the AfroSpear initiatives and ideas involve rectifying and challenging the entertainment culture through direct petitioning to the media industry and through promotion of alternative forms of empowering entertainment, with efforts similar to the ones launched by these young women from Spelman leading the awareness and mobilization front. There are also ideas about bolstering the black community’s investment power, after disheartening reports about the systematic alternative redlining of African-Americans and Hispanics by the subprime loan industry and the economic pressures undermining and marginalizing the black-owned banking industry. Field Negro has already written an excellent piece about the impact of non-sexy racism — the kind without gaunt white faces and cone-shaped hoods — and how we need to focus our efforts on these institutional forms of racist disenfranchisement and impoverishment that kill our brothers and sisters. In the midst of these problems that directly affect the African-American community, the nationwide impact of a widening income gap between the rich and the poor and the health care crisis looms over our heads. (See Francis Holland’s initiatives for a health care position statement and his remarks in favor of prioritizing it highly among the entire African Diaspora.)
One key notion that I’ve noticed on the blogosphere and in other media is the idea of empowerment. We have to empower African-American males, endow them with the knowledge that not only are they capable of being powerful and productive human beings in whatever ways they can imagine, but also that we as a community care about them and are invested in their well-being and growth. On Eddie Griffin’s blog, he shares an article by Junichi Lockett, Jr. about this idea of empowerment that promises to be one part of many efforts to help young black males construct positive self-images and directions. The most poignant point Lockett makes in my opinion is the need for the community to turn inward and to consider our own inhibitions and limitations before reaching outward to our young brothers:
As fathers, mothers, teachers and mentors for these black boys we should have the confidence in our own ability to reach our highest potential. It is just as important for us to express to our young men our goals and aspirations and allow them to experience and be exposed to our journey to reach greatness or our “pursuit of happiness.” The first stage of life for our young black males is extremely educational, through what is seen and heard.
Think about it, if you are a dominant figure in a young brother’s life and what he receives from you is mainly complaints about your life, job, relationships and your should have, could have, and would haves, then the chances that he will connect his self-image to the possibility of success is lowered.
I highly encourage you all to subscribe to The Empowerment Vessel E-newsletter (e-mail junichi[at]successmovement[dot]org ) and to track this series as it develops. As I mentioned above, however, the journey does not stop with empowerment; we must continue to fight the system of oppression that creates these detrimental outlooks in African-American people and people of African descent worldwide. Malik at The Struggle Within is writing a spectacular series examining these external forces working to invalidate any independent empowerment efforts that we may channel with its regimented and highly contrived barriers. It’s titled “War” and there are currently four parts: one, two, three, and four. The goal is to work on all fronts and to figure out a way to implement a multi-tiered plan that restores and displays our individual and collective value.
So I guess I’m opening the floor to discussion. What specific or general actions can we all do to counter this effect on our people, particularly on our black American males? How do we separate the truth from the hype?