Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grumpiness about Democrats, and I'm an independent

I was being a curmudgeon over at Prometheus6 this morning (something about coastal fog, knowing that the sun's out elsewhere). Commenter no1kstate was lamenting those wimpy Democrats (and I so fret that the phrase is becoming redundant):

So, what's the problem with the pros? Where's Donna Brazille?

Then I sez, I sez:

We don't expect (at this point) Clintonite Paul Begala to jump in on this, as he will still be employed regardless of who controls Congress. Maybe not Roland Martin either (he's sympathetic to black farmers at least but must never have known any) but somebody should be in somebody's face. Dang, I guess it's Rachel. The first 4 minutes of this is classic and should maybe be a top-level post, ahem ahem (I said I was in a mood):

More from Facing Race via JJP

Here's another installment about Facing Race 2010 over at JJP:

an interview with Melissa Harris-Lacewell after her keynote speech. h/t to The Christian Progressive Liberal who was there and shared notes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Facing Race just happened

I was not at Facing Race 2010 and it appears we missed a good one. It seems that rising star Melissa Harris-Lacewell was the keynote speaker and knocked it out of the park, if she will forgive the sports metaphor.

The following is lifted from a post at JJP by the Christian Progressive Liberal.

Oh, my, where to start in reporting about my experience at “Facing Race”?

First off, let me say this – “Facing Race” is not your parents’ Diversity Conference. In fact, it’s not a diversity conference at ALL.

Facing Race is not for the faint of heart – nor is it for people who work in diversity and are usually mandated by your job to be in attendance. It is not for those who can’t stand to hear the painful, honest truth about race; yet these are the very imbeciles who think if they attend a diversity conference or two, that qualifies them to lead discussions on race and racial issues from THEIR perspective, and not the perspectives of the people of color who suffer and live with race on a daily basis.

Facing Race does just what the name says – FACING the Issues Regarding RACE. No “Kuubaayah” moments in this set.

And what a profound experience it was. When 800+ people attend such a conference because they want to really unite our communities; not because they are mandated; not because they are curious:

You have a conference that really does the meat and potatoes discussion of race issues, where POC cheer, and any whites not Tim Wise will wince, moan, groan, leave the room – anything to avoid hearing the hard TRUTH about Race in America, and not how the media wants to frame the issue.

This is the first part of a series of articles I will be doing on “Facing Race”, a nitty-gritty conference held every two years where practitioners attend to plan, organize, strategize and mobilize on the ground forces to facilitate true democracy and equality By Any Means Necessary.

“We don’t do “Diversity” at this conference”, said Rinku Sen, the Executive Director of Applied Research Center, and publisher of the magazine, “Colorlines”, and host of this conference. “We discuss real issues of race – this is a community of people who care about race gather, and aren’t afraid to confront issues of race in a real and forthcoming way.”

“We are trying to consolidate the base and continue to build the community,” Rinku told me. “We share are collective learning experiences in modernizing the racial justice movement. Where there is ‘motion’, we claim it as a ‘movement’”.

ProfGeo note: If you are reading this post, white, and "not Tim Wise" (which is not exactly how I would've put it, but I think CPL was in the heat of the moment) I would encourage you to click through and read the post anyway as it lays out some specifics from Dr. Lacewell that are worthwhile for discussion and maybe for wide adoption.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Net Neutrality

OK, tags are good for something. Here is an interesting selection of three "net neutrality" articles posted over at NewBlackMan. Two are recent, one not so but it still deserves a timely review due to the current election cycle. The issue across all three articles is disparate impact on minorities.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just because it'll upset some people

White House Photo of the Day for September 16, 2010:

President Barack Obama fist bumps Vice President Joe Biden, with Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett looking on, before a meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 16, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) [emphasis added]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I think Dinesh & Newt are in a fever dream about the younger Bush president

So, because G.W. Bush wanted to finish up in Iraq for his daddy, they think Obama must be up to something because of his daddy? At this point, I suspect these folks are just playing old Bush-era video, grabbing a random sentence, and applying it to Obama, all just to see if people will fall for it. (We already know Fox will run it, that's not the question.)

Sep 13th 2010, 17:11 by M.S.

I DON'T find it at all difficult to understand how Barack Obama thinks, because most of his beliefs are part of the broad consensus in America's centre or centre-left: greenhouse-gas emissions reductions, universal health insurance, financial-reform legislation, repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and so forth. Dinesh D'Souza, on the other hand, appears to have met so few Democrats in recent decades that he finds such views shocking, and thinks they can only be explained by the fact that Mr Obama's father was a Kenyan government economist who pushed for a non-aligned stance in the Cold War during the 1960s-70s. Since the majority of Democrats don't have any Kenyan parents and have no particular stake in the anti-colonialism debates of the 1960s-70s, I'm not sure how Mr D'Souza would explain their views. In any case, Mr D'Souza's explanation of Mr Obama's views doesn't make any sense on its own terms. This, for example, is incomprehensible: "If Obama shares his father's anticolonial crusade, that would explain why he wants people who are already paying close to 50% of their income in overall taxes to pay even more." Come again? Progressive taxation is caused by...anti-colonialism? Message to American billionaires and the people who write for them: many events and movements in world history did not revolve around marginal tax rates on rich people in the United States.

In other words, while I don't have any trouble understanding how Barack Obama thinks, I have a lot of trouble understanding how Dinesh D'Souza thinks...
Stephen R. Covey has oft said, "First seek to understand, then to be understood." He means shut up and listen, make sure you've got the other person's viewpoint straight before jumping to conclusions. This may be an exception. We have plenty of material on D'Souza and serial-marrier Gingrich, who by now should be in America's dustbin with John Edwards. Time to move on.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Two thought-provoking 9/11 items

Well, two and a half items. Call it a lagniappe. (You're welcome.) The first item-and-a-half involves Fareed Zakaria, who always makes my IQ go up when I listen to him. The second item is not one I totally agree with, but the writer does use 9/11 to discuss religious tolerance and national holidays in a more creative way than most I've seen.

1. Here's a video of Fareed Zakaria and Peter Bergen forcing Anderson Cooper to have a non-sensationalistic conversation for a few minutes. No shouting or interruptions from anyone. Don't watch it if you can't handle people talking in complete sentences and not frothing at the mouth:

1.5. The CNN page containing the above video has a more extensive text interview with Zakaria. Not the same as the video, but complementary. Worth the click-through:

2. The following Slate article by Jack Shafer (h/t to a JJP commenter for pointing me to it) actuallly woke me up by being a bit impertinent at the outset. But it kept me tuned in by referring to how we, as a nation, observe the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday (and a few others).

One thing that I noticed in Shafer's article was what wasn't there-- the dog that didn't bark, if you will. He doesn't discuss how the U.S. military and defense establishment treat 9/11, year after year. They mourn and observe, of course, and then get back to work. They don't make a big deal out of it, not compared with New York and politicians of all ilks. They don't claim to "own" it because of the Pentagon strike, which killed people as surely as the Twin Towers attack.

The other thing was a somewhat divergent discussion about holiday observances, including the "blanding" of the MLK holiday and others. He's more right than he knows, as I have already seen January sale ads with caricatures of King. "Content of their character, 50% off and more!" Not quite that bad yet, not like Presidents Day with idiots in Washington & Lincoln costumes, but wait for it.

And the World Trade Center site is not hallowed ground.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, at 5:36 PM ET

Every year, the custody battle over 9/11 becomes more contentious. The current furor over the proposed construction of an Islamic center a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center footprint has made this anniversary of the carnage at the towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pa., more prickly than usual... [much more at link]

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Compromise? Maybe it's time to try something else

I've been tossing and turning too much, thinking about this. A recent thread at Prometheus 6 helped it to gel.

The use of the term compromise has been bugging me more than usual since Barack Obama got elected and it became obvious that there would be no compromise on high-profile issues. So far it's resulted in gutted initiatives, the Republicans more than earning the "Party of NO" epithet and being proud of it to boot, etc.

I took formal mediation and conflict-resolution training back in the '90s and learned that even when both parties are interested, compromise is usually not good enough for either party. It's what people settle for when they can't do any better. But getting past it, to a collaborative or jointly-developed solution that benefits both parties, is exceedingly difficult.

Compromise is unlikely in the current Washington, and I would guess in many states. That means coming up with truly beneficial solutions is even more unlikely.

Compromise has been ineffective throughout American history. The compromises of 1820, 1850 and 1877 come to mind as examples that didn't do black folk any good. You could go all the way back to the original three-fifths compromise but that's a given in this space.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Black farmers getting plowed under like unwanted crops

Recent article from The Root, a story worth spreading and keeping alive. Somebody needs to remember this on November 2nd.

h/t P6 & JJP &...

Apparently, the votes of white farmers in a key state trump the USDA's settlement of long-standing discrimination complaints -- especially in an election year.
By: Frank McCoy | Posted: September 2, 2010 at 5:32 PM

The ire that black farmers and their advocates are currently feeling has two targets: the Senate's failure to vote the money to complete the farmers' settlement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and President Obama's recent generous offer to white Arkansas farmers. Both examples of political expediency are bitter reminders of black farmers' second-class status.

For five months, the Senate has blocked passage of legislation that contains money to fund the USDA's $1.25 billion settlement of the second bias suit lodged by black farmers. The agreement, called Pigford II, is supposed to redress past USDA racial discrimination cases...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I can't apologize to a blog better than this teacher did

The Grand Champion, instant classic, Hall of Fame apology for not posting regularly was on educator colleague Ms. B.'s blog a few days ago. She talks directly to the blog-- the readers are apparently independent sorts who can take care of themselves. And there is a critter cute enough to make a Sarah McLachlan SPCA ad run through your head all day long:

As I must relearn each and every semester, there will never be more time. Yes, the focus shifts, this cause or that, but the clock is really the same clock. This Paul Madonna illustration is now my desktop wallpaper (really):

Does wallpaper work?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The 2010 Black Weblog Awards

Usually I don't pay any mind to awards. However, I gotta acknowledge when someone I know wins one in a domain I personally know to be difficult to navigate, like running a consistent blog over months and years. Even if the award winner is a person I just "cyber-know" as is the case here, someone I've been reading since the hoary old listserv days when text was king and people needed you to copy/paste Web page contents for them because they only had e-mail, and weren't quite sure about that browser stuff.

In other words, from before there were blogs.

And the winner of the Aaron Hawkins Award is…

Earl Dunovant!

Earl Dunovant is a web developer and political activist who has blogged at Prometheus 6 since January 2004. Dunovant is also a member of the Media Bloggers Association, has attended presidential debates as a credentialed blogger, and has been featured on NPR as part of News and Notes‘ Bloggers Roundtable.