What I Pledge Allegiance To. "I am a black Mississippian. I am a black American. I pledge to never be passive, patriotic, or grateful in the face of American abuse. I pledge to always thoughtfully bite the self-righteous American hand that thinks it’s feeding us. I pledge to perpetually reckon with the possibility that there will never be any liberty, peace, and justice for all unless we accept that America, like Mississippi, is not clean. Nor is it great. Nor is it innocent." -- Author Kiese Laymon, Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi [more inside]
“These people performed a critique of a brutal capitalistic enslavement system, and they rejected it completely. They risked everything to live in a more just and equitable way, and they were successful for ten generations."The Great Dismal Swamp straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border. From the 1600s to about the American Civil War it was a place of refuge, largely for escaped African and African-American slaves, and an important link in the underground railway. [more inside]
Roberto Clemente was a fierce critic of both baseball and American society. "He was as likely to ruminate about civil rights as about the curveballs of Sandy Koufax or Juan Marichal." (May 31st, 2016, was Roberto Clemente Day)
...until now? "Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia used his executive power on Friday to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons, circumventing his Republican-run Legislature. The action overturns a Civil War-era provision in the state’s Constitution aimed, he said, at disenfranchising African-Americans." SLNYT: Virginia Governor Restores Voting Rights to Felons
Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses the Edward M. Kennedy Insitute for the United States Senate on the subject of inequality in the US. Transcript [but her delivery is so terrific, watch the video, really. -ed.] Slate reflects on the speech. [more inside]
Brooklyn's Afropunk festival has gone from a small gathering of friends celebrating an underground documentary to a massive, celebrated boutique fashion and mainstream music cornucopia. Some say they have sold out. But in Pitchfork, author Hanif Abdurraqib, (previously) makes a case that it still represents something very real and important to black youth culture.
Avast ye maties, it be Talk Like A Pirate Day! When ye be finished dressin up to get free donuts, take a look at this beauty of a link, where a man wonders 'bout the existence of black pirates!
Thirty years ago this month, NBC premiered "The Cosby Show" and changed the television landscape. And though people will rightly remember it as a groundbreaking show for African Americans (and sweaters), Slate's Jason Bailey argues that it was just as important in its feminism.
The importance of the culture-of-poverty approach is that it allows for recognition of the accumulated history of racism and inequality, but posits the ongoing effects of these as mediated through black cultural pathologies. It therefore permits American liberals to identify with opposition to racism while pushing them towards policy solutions geared towards the transformation of black people, and not American society.With every crisis in Black America the same pathologies the Black community supposedly suffers from -- veneration of the criminal lifestyle, lack of proper family structures, abhorrence of education as acting white -- are trotted out as an explanation, by conservative commentators as that's just how those people are, by supposed liberals as the unfortunate end product of Black history in America. There's just one problem: they're lies. The culture of poverty does not exist.
"So I'm literally walking around and talking to people, "Is there a black-owned restaurant, or a black-owned dry cleaner?" and folks are looking at me like I'm insane. And if I didn't know this, I'm sure that folks outside the black community don't have this as part of their reality or part of their picture for black America. When we talk about black people, the black situation, problems in the black community, you know, we start with, "Black kids are least likely to graduate from school; black unemployment is four times higher than the national average," all these numbers. But why can't we include that over 90 percent of businesses in the black community are not owned by black people or local residents? If we were to add that to the conversation, maybe folks would say, "Oh, well no wonder things are so bad there," and start thinking about things in a different way instead of allowing those awful numbers to be a reflection of our propensities. Why is it that my people are just supposed to be the perpetual consumer class, and everyone else is supposed to benefit from our money?"
The Other Mad Men. It's been accepted more or less as a truism that black people didn't work on Madison Avenue in the 1960s. But facts are stubborn things. There were black people in advertising even then, some (a few) in high places. Contrary to the popular assumption, blacks in that era met with success and challenges on Madison Avenue, like everywhere else.
Categories as fundamental as fact and fiction, news and entertainment, gender and sexuality, have eroded away. In literature and architecture, in cuisine, in music, in fashion and furnishings, everywhere, everything—it’s fusion and mix. Barack Obama emerged as a literal embodiment of this age. To educated people, especially younger people with generally progressive views, other candidates suddenly looked parochial by comparison—or simply outdated. In his ethnicity and biography and in his personality and politics, Obama, the conciliator, was above all a combiner. Because he was from virtually everywhere—Kenya, Indonesia, Honolulu, Harvard, Chicago’s South Side—he was also from nowhere. The pastiche of his persona made him “his own man” in a new sense of the term.On the Politics of Pastiche and Depthless Intensities: The Case of Barack Obama
Whites believe they are victims of racism more often than blacks. Researchers at Harvard Business School and Tufts University have published a study (PDF) that concludes that "many Whites believe ... the pendulum has now swung beyond equality in the direction of anti-White discrimination."
February is Gay Black History Month. [SLYT]
On June 15th, 1920 in Duluth, Minnesota, three young, black circus workers, Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Issac McGhie, were lynched. The Minnesota Historical Society has a great site devoted to the terrible event, Duluth Lynchings Online Resource. I'd especially like to point out the Oral Histories section, which has short interviews with African-Americans who lived through the event. In 2001 Minnesota Public Radio covered the story, inspired by a campaign to build a memorial to the three men, which was dedicated in October of 2003. The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial has a fine website which is well worth visiting.
In 1865, after the end of the Civil War, Col. P. H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdon Anderson, asking him to return to work for him. In reply, Jourdon Anderson told Colonel Anderson exactly where he could stick his offer. This letter was part of The Freedmen's Book (full download in many different formats) which was distributed to those freed after and during the Civil War, so that they would know stories of other freedmen who had done well, including Touissant L'Ouverture, Phillis Wheatley and Frederick Douglass. The book was put together and published by Lydia Maria Child, abolitionist, women's rights activist, Indian rights campaigner and all around awesome person. She became famous in her own time for her cookbook The Frugal Housewife, but today her best known work is Over the River and Through the Woods. The Freedmen's Book was part of an effort by abolitionists after the war to educate freed slaves. The American Antiquarian Society has a great website about that movement, Northern Visions of Race, Region and Reform, which has plenty of primary sources and images galore.
Wayne Miller's compelling B&W photos of Chicago 1946-1948 set to Muddy Water's "I feel like going home." (flash alert; via bifurcated rivets)
If you hadn't heard of Jim Crow before, this is where you can find a brief history on the subject (along with a radio broadcast of some of the people who were involved). Bayard Rustin's Journey of Reconciliation: America's First Freedom Ride (You Don't Have To Ride "Jim Crow") was a precursor [audio and video] to the Civil Rights Movement of the 50's and 60's. (Also, a look at the Jim Crow Museum and a walk down Jim Crow Road today.) [previously*]
40 acres and a mule has been a slogan of African-American economic aspirations ever since the legislation creating the Freedman's Bureau promised ex-slaves parcels not exceeding forty acres each, to the loyal refugees and freedmen. General William Tecumseh Sherman's Special Field Order No. 15 decreed that the land on slave plantations be seized and distributed to freed slaves, but Andrew Johnson rescinded the order and vetoed expansion of the Freedman's Bureau. Both Henry Louis Gates and Dalton Conley have associated the failure to grant freed slaves their "40 acres and a mule" with the wealth gap between black and white Americans, but now an economics grad student, Melinda Miller, has brought important quantitative data to the debate in a new research paper. [more inside]
"Mr. President, pardon Papa Jack" In 1908 a former Texas dockworker and inventor named Jack Johnson became the first African American boxer to ever win the world heavyweight title. His victory sparked race riots and prompted a search for a "great white hope" (writer Jack London asked white fighters to "wipe that smirk off Johnson's face"). But then Johnson defeated two "white hopes", one of whom was the legendary Jim Jeffries. In 1912, authorities went after Johnson in court. His crime? Messin' with the white woman. Charges were brought against him for violating the Mann Act, a federal law that made it a crime to transport a woman across state lines for "immoral purposes." He married the woman, but he was sentenced to a year in prison anyway. Johnson fled the country, living in Europe as a fugitive for seven years, losing his title Havana in 1915 to a much younger white opponent after a 26-round fight in 100-degree-plus heat (Johnson possibly threw the fight in exchange for leniency that he never received). He returned to the U.S. in 1920, surrendered and served a year. He never again was given a chance to reclaim the title. When he died in poverty aged 68 in a car crash, not one boxer attended his funeral. Now a group of US Senators (among them Hatch and McCain), prominent African Americans (Samuel L. Jackson, Jesse Jackson, many others) and boxing writers seek a posthumous Presidential pardon for "Papa Jack". (more inside)
"Stop beating up your women because you can't find a job." Strong words from a paragon of the African American community.
Brown v Board of Education 50 years after a "landmark" decision not a lot seems to have changed in old Milwaukee.Via The Guardian
Charges of racism have been leveled against this president in the past. But this stunt even surprised me. Then I remembered a similar scene on the Capital steps. There hasn't been much media about it, so I'm wondering...is this a regional racism, such that it slid under the radar of the east and west coast news machines, or has the myth of rubbing the head of a black man for luck thankfully faded from the cultural unconscious?
'Come Out To Vote On November 6th' In Baltimore, Republicans are accusing Democrats of paying people to canvass African-American neighborhoods on Tuesday. Democrats are accusing Republicans of intimidating minority voters by planning to use members of the Fraternal Order of Police to serve as GOP poll workers. Meanwhile, a flyer being circulated in African-American communities 'reminds' readers to vote on November 6th - but only if all outstanding tickets, warrants, and outstanding rent payments have been paid.
Reverse discrimination? Kathleen Carter, who is white, says that when she became chairman of the education department at historically black Delaware State University in 1995, she was told that she was usurping blacks' right to govern themselves and that whites in the department were trying to make blacks look bad. via Fark
Review of Nissan Car Loans Finds That Blacks Pay More A statistical study of more than 300,000 car loans arranged through Nissan dealers from March 1993 to last September — believed by experts to be the largest pool of car loan data ever analyzed for racial patterns — shows that black customers in 33 states consistently paid more than white customers, regardless of their credit histories. (Need free sign up access to NYTimes.com)
This article about the stereotyped Black man offered up by nearly every reality TV show broadcast in the US ends just as it's getting to the essence: why is this the "reality" the networks -- and damningly the audiences -- are choosing?
From the "We're in the 2000's, right?" file: Senator Jesse Helms continues to be an asshole, blocking *any* African-American judges from being appointed to the 4th Circut Court of Appeals. The court happens to preside over an area with the largest population of African-Americans anywhere in the country.