Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Ill Doctrine Exclusive: McCain’s Latest Attack Ad

Jay Smooth has posted an exclusive leak of McCain’s latest attack ad over at Ill Doctrine. Check it out:

Too funny, except in that sad “rings of truth” way…

Blacks, Latinos, and the precariousness of “middle class”

Today I listened to a segment on Democracy Now! about a new report that’s out from Demos and Brandeis University on the state of the Black and Latino middle class in the United States. The study, entitled “Economic (In)Security: The Experience of the African American and Latino Middle Classes,” finds that three-out-of-four Black and four-out-of-five Latino middle-class families are economically insecure and at high risk of slipping out of the middle class. From the report, which can be downloaded as a PDF from the Demos website:

African-American and Latino families have more difficulty moving into the middle class, and families that do enter the middle class are less secure and at higher risk than the middle class as a whole. Overall, more African-American and Latino middle-class families are at risk of falling out of the middle class than are secure. This is in sharp contrast to the overall middle class, in which 31 percent are secure and 21 percent are at risk. Specifically:

  • Only 26 percent of African-American middle-class families have the combination of as- sets, education, sufficient income, and health insurance to ensure middle-class financial security. One in three (33 percent) is at high risk of falling out of the middle class.
  • Less than one in five Latino families (18 percent) is securely in the middle class. More than twice as many (41 percent) of Latino families are in danger of slipping out of the middle class.
  • African-American middle-class families are less secure and at greater risk than the middle class as a whole on four of the five indicators of security and vulnerability [named by the report as assets, education, housing, budget, and healthcare]. Latino middle-class families are less secure and at greater risk on all five indicators.

Jennifer Wheary, a senior fellow at Demos and one of the co-authors of the report, elaborated on Democracy Now!:

And what we found was when we compared the situation of white middle-class families to African Americans and Latinos, there were vast differences. You know, and what was astounding to us was really looking at—these are, you know, African American and Latino families that, by all sense and purposes, have achieved the American dream, people who, you know, have two earners, two professional earners in the household, you know, maybe are trying to own a home or do own a home, you know, very—have achieved all the aspirations that we typically go for. But even among those people, when you look at, you know, where they’re weak economically, we found that about two-in-five Latino middle-class families are in danger of falling out of the middle class. They’re so financially vulnerable, don’t have assets. Maybe somebody in the household is uninsured. And one-in-three African American middle-class families are also in danger, so vulnerable, so weak, that they’re in danger of falling out of the middle class.

I haven’t read the report yet, but when I do, I fully expect to cry. In fact, as I listened to the segment on the bus home today, I actually found myself tearing up; not only because the larger injustices behind what I was hearing, but because it hit a very personal chord.

Continue reading ‘Blacks, Latinos, and the precariousness of “middle class”’

Convictions overturned for 2 of the Newark 4

Free the New Jersey 4 Two of the four young Black lesbians who were convicted after defending themselves from a homophobic attack in 2007 have had their convictions overturned. From the New York Times article:

An appeals court on Thursday overturned the convictions of two women accused in the beating and stabbing of a man who they said made unwanted sexual advances to them in Greenwich Village two years ago.

One of the women, Terrain Dandridge, whom a jury found guilty of second-degree gang assault, had her conviction reversed and indictment dismissed; as a result she can no longer be tried on those charges. A four-judge panel of the Appellate Division in Manhattan ruled that there was not enough evidence to support a guilty verdict for Ms. Dandridge. She had been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

The second woman, Renata Hill, who was found guilty of second-degree gang assault and third-degree assault, had her gang assault conviction vacated, but she can be retried on the charge. The court ruled that the judge’s instructions to the jury on the charge were erroneous and that therefore her conviction could not be upheld.

She was sentenced to eight years in prison, but if the Manhattan district attorney decides against further prosecution, she is likely to be released because the maximum penalty for the third-degree assault is a year and she has already been in prison longer than that.

Alexis Agathocleous, the lawyer who handled Ms. Hill’s appeal, said he was pleased and was hoping “that the district attorney’s office will also do the right thing and dismiss the remaining charge.”

The appeals for Patreese Johnson and Venice Brown are still pending, but let’s hope that they’re as or more successful than these. I also hope that, as Agathocleous says, the DA will do the right thing and drop these sham charges.

Kenyon Farrow and Jonathan Adams at Racewire both point out that in addition to the lawyers and families who have been working so hard to see justice done here, there are some awesome organizations that deserve hearty congratulations and continued support: FIERCE, Human Rights Watch, Liberation in Truth Unity Fellowship Church, and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

Also: while some elements of the NY media had a field day tearing these women apart when they were on trial, calling them things like “killer lesbians,” “a wolf pack of lesbians,” and a “seething sapphic septet,” they’ve been remarkably quiet about the overturned convictions so far. Funny, that. We should probably be thankful for that, though; one can only imagine what sort of fucked-up things they’d say if they did take up the story.

Edited to add: More info from the Free the NJ 4 blog. Their press release is definitely recommended reading.

cross-posted at Feministe

An Important Announcement from Your Neighborhood Angry Brown Butch

I think I came to an important realization today. I think it had something to do with some of the comments on this thread.

REVELATION: Believe it or not, I try to exercise restraint with white people on the internet. But I’m feeling pretty much over it. And I’m okay with that.

In that spirit,

let me tell you internet - is so hard being white

Sometimes a LOLcat says it best.

The honeymoon is officially over.

Towards the beginning of the primaries, I kinda fell for Barack Obama. I feel quite a bit harder than I ever expected I’d fall for a front-runner for the Democratic nomination. My girlfriend and I were glued to the TV during the first primaries and especially on Super Tuesday, cheering every time Obama won a state. I felt hopeful, I felt energized, I felt invested. For the first time in the eight years that make up my voting life, I actually donated to the campaign of a presidential nominee. For someone who’s quite cynical about electoral politics, these were remarkable things to be experiencing.

As the campaigns continued on, I began to grew weary. The novelty and optimism began to wear off. All of the political posturing, maneuvering and bullshit started to try my patience. Obama kept doing things to remind me that he’s still a centrist Democrat and was pretty much destined to disappoint me, annoy me, or straight up piss me off. On primary nights I barely payed attention the the television reports, if I watched at all. And if I did watch, I tuned out about one minute into Barack’s speeches, which all sounded the same by now.

When the mess about Obama’s relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright started up back in March, I was more upset by the media’s response and the Clinton campaign’s opportunism about it than I was about Obama’s response. I was angry that he’d be so pressed upon to disavow his connections to a man who was simply being honest and upfront about racism, his own experience and understanding of racism as a Black man living in this country. Obama’s response wasn’t the defiant, firmly anti-racist rebuttal that I would have loved to see, but I understood that he had few choices in this situation that wouldn’t just provide more cannon fodder for his critics and the Clinton campaign. I actually thought that some parts of his speech on race dealt quite deftly with both the Wright situation specifically and race and racism in general. Maybe his speech didn’t reflect my racial politics, but I understood what he was trying to say and appreciated that he dealt with it as well as he did.

But after yesterday’s press conference in which Obama completely threw Wright under the bus, I’m officially over him.

I get that Obama had few choices here. I understand that, American society being what it is, Obama would face political demolition if he didn’t disown Wright. I can see that the media has been happily fanning the flames of this controversy and that it’s miserable timing for Obama’s campaign. I know that politics is a game and Obama’s playing it as best he can.

The whole thing still leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. Especially this part:

But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century, when he equates the United States wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced. And that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.

The emphasis there is mine. That might be the part that angered me the most. No, Obama, not all Americans are offended by Wright’s comments. The implication that all Americans should “rightly” be offended by his comments is, in fact, offensive.

Let’s actually take the three topics Obama references.

But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS …

Why, exactly, is that such a ridiculous proposition? Let’s look at what Wright said on the topic in his speech to the National Press Club:

… based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything.

In fact, in fact, in fact, one of the — one of the responses to what Saddam Hussein had in terms of biological warfare was a non- question, because all we had to do was check the sales records. We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people.

So any time a government can put together biological warfare to kill people, and then get angry when those people use what we sold them, yes, I believe we are capable.

I don’t firmly believe that the U.S. government invented AIDS in order to kill Black people. But I also don’t firmly disbelieve it. And if you take out the part about inventing it and limit the assertion to the government allowing the AIDS virus to run rampant amongst certain communities – gay people, people of color, and poor people primarily – then I come a lot closer to saying that it’s very, very possible, if not probable.

And why not? Why would we think the U.S. government so incapable of such a thing? Wright points out the very good example of the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphillis in the Negro Male, in which the U.S. Public Health Service allowed many Black men and women to suffer from syphillis with neither treatment nor knowledge of their condition. This isn’t distant history: the study began in 1932 and continued until 1972, when it was ended as a result of a leak to the press. Had that leak not had happened, who knows how long it would’ve continued. And there are other examples of such medical violence against people of color in our country’s history, from the more distant British war tactic of giving smallpox-laced blankets to Native Americans to the much more recent forced sterilizations of Native, Puerto Rican, and Black women. (Even though I’ve known of this for a while, it took a lot for me not to cry just now when I read that “By 1968 … a campaign by private agencies and the Puerto Rican [American controlled] government resulted in the sterilization of one-third of Puerto Rican women of childbearing age.”) Given these well-documented incidents in American history, why, exactly, is it so far-fetched that the government might have had a similar hand in steering the AIDS virus and allow it to tear through some of this nation’s most oppressed communities? And moreover, why would such a suggestion be offensive? It’s beyond me.

Let’s move on.

… when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century …

Now, I won’t argue that Farrakhan hasn’t said some thoroughly fucked up things, not only about Jewish people but also about queer people. (Though I did find some Wikipedia background on his various controversies to be far more nuanced than what I usually hear and, in some cases, quite surprising.) Again, though, when you look at what Wright actually said at the National Press Club and on the Bill Moyers show, he’s basically saying that, even though he doesn’t agree with Farrakhan on all points, he recognizes his importance or impact as a Black leader. This makes sense, and it doesn’t seem all that different than Obama’s stance on Wright just a few weeks ago.

And finally:

… when he equates the United States wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses.

I’m sorry, but when you consider that more than one-hundred thousand Iraqi civilians have died since the beginning of the U.S.-led war, many directly due to the actions of the United States and its coalition, what is offensive or ridiculous about comparing this to terrorism? And what is offensive or ridiculous about pointing out that the United States should not be surprised that its long history of violence and imperialism against other nations and peoples has resulted in violence directed at the United States?

So, again, I don’t find Wright’s statements to be ridiculous or offensive. What I find ridiculous and offensive is that Obama and his campaign apparently believe that Wright should have shut up and behaved when he was being pilloried in the press. And I find it even more ridiculous and offensive that, in order to win even a shot at the presidency in this country, a Black man must disown and disparage a man he claimed was like family to him because that man was unafraid to be up front about racism in this country.

live blogging at the scene of police violence

East village. Mostly queers, lots of trans folks, lots of people of color. Peaceful celebration of a right on organization. Police called. Violent arrests of two peaceful people. Mace in many people’s eyes and throats, including mine.. At the precinct now. More soon.

holy shit.

Saddam Hussein was executed.

Immediate reaction? Now it’s time to brace ourselves for what will happen within Iraq, and beyond.

It’s huge. And somehow, just really fucking weird.


Surprise! Rush Limbaugh is a total fucker.

Yes, not the most eloquent critique, but hey, it’s 12:53am, and I haven’t blogged in months, so I’m sleepy, lazy, and rusty all at once. But anyhow, this from an ABC News article on Michael J. Fox’s commercial in which he endorses Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democratic congressional candidate who backs stem cell research:

…conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh … leveled a false and offensive charge against the entertainer.

“In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease,” Limbaugh said Monday on his radio show. “He is moving all around and shaking. And it’s purely an act. This is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has.”

Limbaugh said Fox “either didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”

After listeners contacted the conservative radio talk show host and told him it wasn’t an act, Limbaugh apologized for his statements a tad, but by that time the television spot, as well as his own comments, had become the focus of a widespread, national discussion.

Don’t really have much to say; this just made me hella mad. Finally, something that makes me angry enough to blog again!

Just kidding. Of course there have been tons of things that have made me angry enough to blog, I just haven’t gotten around to the actual blogging part. This was just the right article at the right time, I suppose. Let’s hope that happy coincidence happens more in the near future.

The Onion: spot on.

Sometimes I Feel Like I’m The Only One Trying To Gentrify This Neighborhood

When I moved into this neighborhood, I fell in love right away. Not with the actual neighborhood, but with its potential: It’s affordable, there are nice row houses all around just waiting to be filled up by my friends, there’s lot of open space to be exploited, and plenty of parking. Plus, this area has got a great authentic feel and, with a little work, it could be even more authentic. Perfect, right?

So why am I the only one doing anything about it?

random thoughts on race

  • This morning, I stopped by the Barnes & Noble in Chelsea on my way to work to see if they had any Jean Grae CDs. I walked round and round that CD section for some time until I found the miniscule “Hip Hop” section. Shelving sections upon shelving sections of “Pop Rock” and “Classical” and other genres; one paltry shelving section barely stocked with hip hop and rap. It was ridiculous. Needless to say, they didn’t have any Jean Grae. Guess it’s clear who B&N thinks its patrons will want to listen to; or, perhaps, it’s clear which patrons B&N cares about most.
  • Why, white man on the F train, were you wearing a t-shirt? Why?
  • Lately, I’ve been getting a little irked by what seems to be a rising phenomenon – certain (not all) self-proclaimed “anti-racist” white folks who seem to derive joy or pride or something from finding and decrying racism in the most random, unimportant places. Places where, frankly, even “hypersensitive” I don’t see much of anything racist going on. Did someone announce some sort of contest for which white person could dig up the most instances of racism? A “Where’s Waldo?” for anti-racist white folks? I guess that sometimes, it just seems like some white people are trying to win some sort of brownie points (pun intended) by being the self-designated Racism Police and showing off just how “anti-racist” they can be by publicly nitpicking in ways that just seem… I dunno, irrelevant given the state of things. And I’m like… wow, congratulations, I am eminently underwhelmed. I’ll refrain from naming names or, uh, linking links.