Monday 27 July 2015

The Guardian Doesn't Know Black Families

White boy, you don't know crap about how black families have been talking with each other for AGES now. Please. Go home and let a black person tell how it is.

Jean Jaurès on Workers' Power and War

Give the working class confidence in the power of progress through law. Design mechanisms by which it will have access, as a class, as an organized and united collective, to the vast wealth of modernity. Draw a broad, straight path before it...And as the republican nation makes an effort to attain justice, it will be the duty of the working class, in return, to voluntarily organize and discipline itself. It will also be in its interest. It has nothing to gain by putting its protests into a brutal form...Acts of destruction not only have the effect of betraying humanity...but by giving the illusion of immediate power, they also distract the workers from the pursuit of true power, which lies in forming ever larger groups and in taking ever more methodical action.
Jean Jaurès, L'Armée Nouvelle, p 36

"Among Europe's elite, many captains of industry speak openly of a war to end the movement for workers demands."

"Your violent and chaotic society even when it pretends to seek peace carries within it war just as rain clouds carry the storm."

"At a time when we are threatened with murder and butchery, there is but one hope of saving the peace and that is for the proletariats to join ranks, workers of France, England, Germany, Italy, Russia let us implore these millions of men to unite to dispel this horrible nightmare."

Sunday 26 July 2015

On Leading, Following, Stopping Harm, and Moderation.

EDIT 26 July 2015: I solidly and publicly condemn the publication of information about MLI Cohort III participants for the purpose of publicly identifying them.  I will never support what I see as stalking. I will continue to support efforts against MLI in other ways - which which bring as little harm as possible to anyone.

Hearing of the devastatingly bad timing of the third cohort of the Muslim Leadership Initiative and seeing new petitions and articles by Kamal Abu Shamsieh and Dr Omid Safi, I have been applying myself to listen carefully to the voices of Palestinians and their dedicated allies.

The first time that I heard of the Muslim Leadership Initiative was last January, when a flood of articles and Facebook posts filled my Facebook experience. I saw the calls to name and shame the participants and spoke out against them, calling such efforts as potentially dangerous.

Then I learned that close friends of mine were among the first and second cohorts. It suddenly became personal for me. When I saw name and shame advocacy, I saw my friend's faces, imagined them being thus outed, and considered the possible harm and even potential dangers of such a situation.

Then a video surfaced showing the faces of more than a few of the second cohorters. I was on fire. What if something happened to my dear ones on account of this video? And what the heck did people think they were doing, publishing it? I counted the days, even the hours, until everyone was home, safely ensconced inside their own walls. To this day, I avoid content written by journalists who endorsed the use of that video or who published that video.

Through all of this, there are certain things that never changed about me. I remained a staunch supporter of Palestine. Remained. Since the year 2000, when Ariel Sharon invaded the Al Aqsa compound with armed guards, I have supported Palestine. In 2002, I discovered boycott lists consisting of individual companies (many of them have continued to show their vileness in other regard, so I continue to boycott them). I followed Nora Barrows Friedman on KPFA radio as she detailled Israeli human rights abuses against Palestine. I am no friend of Israeli policies against Palestine.

I remain firm in my conviction that campaigns to name and shame MLI participants are morally wrong and potentially very harmful.

The vitriol of discussions taking place regarding MLI had serious impacts on me. Ad hominems were levelled at me and others. As far as I can tell, it is the vitriol of those discussions which eventually resulted in the loss of my Facebook account, as someone(s) reported it to Facebook for a Real Name violation in the midst of those discussions. The loss put on hold my work for two different organisations while I endured compounded, very painful waves of PTSD, depression, and other mental illnesses for three months.

Hena Zuberi of Muslim Matters addressed the negativity unleashed by MLI detractors in an op-ed:
"The world is not black and white. We have to have follow-up with discussions about how academic engagement hurts the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS). We have to leave room in our opposition for differences in opinion – that is what we ask of others and that is what we should give to them." (1)

I defended my friends as part of the whole of two MLI cohorts. I said things by which I continue to stand. I said other things which were simply untrue. I acted in ways of which I continue to be proud; and also in ways which I now know to be wrong. My dedication to my friends does not excuse that of my behaviour which was wrong. The ferocity with which I defended them does not excuse the vitriol wielded against me and others.

A review of items which feel important to me:

* Participants in the second cohort were unaware of the funding sources for MLI until sometime during their travels in Palestine and Israel. (2)

* Various supporters of MLI acted disgracefully, talking over Palestinian voices, centering themselves in place of Palestinians, denying (3) the unanimous voice of Palestinians calling for compliance with BDS. (1)

* Many opponents of MLI acted disgracefully. As I stated before, ad hominems were flung about, and I curiously lost my Facebook account in the midst of all of the arguing. Kamal Abu Shamsieh has added his own thoughts to this problem, even as he has shifted his views to opposition of MLI. (2)

* I firmly reject the application of the term "leaders" on MLI participants by other than the participants themselves - this in an attempt to justify calls to name and shame MLI participants. In this regard, I point to the wording on the MLI site itself, indicating that the programme is designed for "emerging...leaders," which is distinct from leaders.

* There is a petition available on PetitionOnline through Care2 Petitions which is, for the most part, written in a way that makes it more accessible to the mindset of a broad audience than certain previous others. (4) This petition is subsequent to another calling for an end to MLI, which is most worthy of one's attention and very generally accessible to most people's mindsets. (5)

* If MLI was designed to convince Muslims of the validity of zionism, it failed miserably. I am connected to even more MLI cohorts, and not a single one of them has posted anything in favour of the Israeli government. In fact, I have seen ferocious support from them for Palestine, especially when facts and data regarding children are published in news articles. Even while they were in the company of zionists in occupied Palestine, they challenged those zionists. (6)

* However, MLI has itself failed to impact the mindsets of the zionists with which it has interacted. (5)

* It is increasingly possible for MLI to be independently funded and to change its modus operandi, yet it continues to refuse to do so. (2)

* The third MLI trip coincides with the one-year anniversary of Israel's most recent major assaukt on Gaza. (4)

* MLI has been harmful to Palestinians. (5)

There are many parts of the latter petition by Kamal Abu Shamsieh, "Palestinians Unwelcome the Muslim Leadership Initiative," with which I agree. There are some with which I disagree. There appears to be a personal boycott on an individual level in the petition. I disagree with personal boycotts and prefer the use of dialogue to encourage thoughtful growth on the part of MLI participants. I wholeheartedly agree with the demands made of MLI directors by Abu Shamsieh and others. I find myself in agreement with just about every aspect of the former petition, "Call for Immediate Halt to Muslim Leadership Initiative." While there could be a concern regarding appropriation, the centering of this petition on Palestinian voices, the discussion by this petition of justice for a diversity of peoples, and the very respectfully worded appeal to Imam Abdullah Antepli all speak to the high quality of this petition. The one concern that I had about the former petition was heard with understanding by one of the authors; I did not request that any change be made to it.

As Muslims, we are naturally inclined towards the establishment of justice for oppressed peoples. With that in mind, I call on Muslims to carefully consider the impacts of their words and actions while they call other Muslims to justice. When we call on each other as Muslims to desist from hurting other Muslims, I think that we we need to engage with them in a way that does not harm them. I am a survivor of stalking. I know what it is like to be followed, to have my identity and safety compromised. I do not wish this on others, even those with whom I disagree. I have personally seen the results of respectful dialogue with MLI participants - results which were not obtained in the toxically vitriolic discussions which were taking place. I know the success of these kinds of conversations in which the privacy of the conversants has been preserved. I have been personally impacted in very hurtful ways by the vitriol of discussions surrounding MLI and firmly reject that style of argument. I wouldn't wish the months-long suffering which I endured on others, even my enemies.

Let us remember and honour peace as the bottom line in our interactions with others.
-Freedom ToBe

(1) Zuberi, Forward.
(2) Abu-Shamsieh, Healing.
(3) My own observations based on Facebook posts and articles written after the return of the cohorts.
(4) Abu Shamsieh at al, Unwelcome.
(5) Abu Shamsieh et al,  Call.
(6) Private conversations.


1. Abu Shamsieh, Kamal. "A Palestinian's Journey Towards Healing" Huffinton Post. 22 May 2015. Web. 25 July 2015. <>.

2. Abu Shamsieh, Kamal et al. "Call for Immediate Halt to Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), Sponsored by Shalom Hartman Institute," Care2 Petitions. nd. Web. 25 July 2015. <>

3. Abu Shamsieh, Kamal et al. "Palestinians Unwelcome the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), Sponsored by Shalom Hartman Institute," Care2 Petitions. nd. Web. 25 July 2015. <>.

4. ToBe, Freedom. Author's personal experiences. 16-31 January 2014.

5. ToBe, Freedom. Private Conversations. nd.

6. Zuberi, Hena. "Muslim Leadership Initiative: Finding the Way Forward," Muslim Matters. 04 February 2015. Web. 25 July 2015. <>.

This image for the purpose of Facebook visibility:


Thursday 16 July 2015

Muslim Apologies: We'll Get to It After You

"Asking me to condemn means you might think that I wouldn’t. It means that there is something about me, something that makes you wonder whether or not I condemn. You might get to wonder such things if I had made some crazy video, or I had given some crazy speech. But I have done no such thing.

"I have no obligation to condemn. There is nothing about me that would even remotely suggest anything different. There is no evidence, except for the fact that I happen to celebrate certain holidays, however casually. And it sounds like that is enough for you."
-Amer Zahr, "I Refuse to Condemn," The Civil Arab, 09 January 2015

Image: Have you apologised for this yet? [Image of Dylan Roof.] We'll get around to it after you. [Image of Chattanooga shooting.'

Sunday 12 July 2015


Where it is acceptable to refer to Muslim women who cover their faces as walking garbage bags or walking tents, but we MUST protect the sensitive feelings of whites. Oh, and also, where we insist that it is actually possible to be racist against whites? *rolling eyes*

Or, in short, that place where white-wannabes need to read some books.

Saturday 11 July 2015

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 11 July 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Saturday July 11: Mostly Sunny Today, High 85. Partly Cloudy Tonight, Low 62. Cloudy...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Saturday, July 11, 2015

Friday 10 July 2015

World Have Your Say Asks About Muslims and Gay Rights

The questions posed on World Have Your Say earlier this morning were inspired by the recent article "An Open Letter To American Muslims on Same-Sex Marriage," by Dr Reza Aslan and Hassan Minhaj which appeared a few days ago on Religious Dispatches. Their Open Letter and WHYS's questions got me to thinking about what has brought us here, to the point that we as Muslims can openly call each other to celebrate milestones reached by LGBTQ people - and, for LGBTQ Muslims, more openly live and celebrate our lives.

The conversation on same-gender love and Islam has been shifting for many years now. Dr Scott Siraj Kugle has been writing and speaking about same-gender love since at least 2000. In 2003, Al Fatiha International and Salaam came together to produce a conference for gay and lesbian Muslims. Faisal Alam, El-Farouk Khaki, and Daaiyee Abdullah were at the forefront of organising the conference. The backlash from the Muslim community was so severe that several different means of security needed to be established for the safety of those who attended. In 2006, in a chapter of Lahoucine Ouzgane's "Islamic Masculinities," Asifa Siraj examined the ways in which same gender-loving Muslims reconciled their sexual orientations with Islam by narrating the stories of several gay Muslims.

By 2006, LGB Muslim leaders, as well as academic allies, were gaining more visibility on the global stage and were becoming much more vocal in their support for the rights of gay Muslims. Regarding the founding of Salaam, El-Farouk Khaki said in 2006, "We [Muslims] need to recognize that there is a fringe element at the present time within the Muslim community that resorts to violence; for reasons that are multi-level. We need to isolate this element and identify what leads to this sort of alienation and this psychology of violence." That same year, Dayiee Abdullah went on to assert, "[T]he Koran does speak allegorically and very clearly that sex is an important aspect of each human being’s life.... The Koran does not say that same-sex individuals should not have loving relationships."

In 2009, El-Farouk Khaki joined with his now-husband Troy Jackson and friend Dr Laury Silvers to establish El-Tawhid Juma Circle, a mosque space devoted to gender equality and LGBTQ inclusion. At about the same time, Dr Amanullah De Sondy, now Senior Lecturer In Contemporary Islam at University College Cork of Ireland, had burst onto the academic scene, offering his support for the human rights of LGBT Muslims: "Sex, sexuality, gender - call it, construct it in whatever way you want it to be. It is wrong when it infringes on the rights, liberty, spirituality of the other and aims to take position over and above God."

In 2012, El-Farouk Khaki put his foot down rather solidly in condemning those who use religion to hate LGBT persons of faith, saying "I want to say to the religious right, you're not right. You're the religious wrong! I know of no faith tradition, mine included, that denies the inherent human dignity of every one of God's creations - if you believe in God.... So, for all those who hate in the name of God, that's your god. It's not our god. It's time for this to stop."

Meanwhile, Dr De Sondy has kept on in that same vein in which he began several years ago, to the present day, challenging people to revolutionise the way that they think about sex and sexuality in Islam. Most recently, his book "The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities," published in 2013, has compelled Muslims to turn traditional discourse regarding gender and sexuality on its head and consider new ways of thinking on the topic.

That same year, Dr Kugle, whose 2010 text "Homosexuality in Islam" broke ground in the academic discussion of reconciling the Islamic faith with a gay identity, produced "Living Out Islam: Voices of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Muslims," another narration of the lived experiences of gay and lesbian Muslims.

It was in 2012 that Junaid Jahangir began writing on Islam and homosexuality for Huffington Post - most recently calling on straight Muslim allies of same-gender marriage to "come out of the closet" earlier this month. While Reza Aslan and Hassan Minhaj did not specifically cite Junaid's article in their call to celebrate gay marriage, the timing of their article is indeed very significant. Most significant in that article is their call: "We shouldn’t be perpetuating our marginalization by marginalizing others. Rejecting the right to same-sex marriage, but then expecting empathy for our community’s struggle, is hypocritical." Reza and Hassan also quoted the same verse from the Qur'an which El-Farouk Khaki also quoted during his 2012 speech: "Be just, for this is closest to righteousness."

All of these fierce people, activists, journalists, and academics alike, have for several years cultivated an environment which is much safer for gay Muslims to live their realities and speak out about their experiences. As a gay Muslim myself, I am indebted to and tremendously grateful for the support of Dr Amanullah De Sondy, El-Farouk Khaki, Dr Scott Kugle, Asifa Siraj, Daayiee Abdullah, Faisal Alam, Junaid Jahangir, Reza Aslan, and Hassan Minhaj as we gay Muslims have struggled for recognition and validation by our fellow Muslim peers.

Sunday 5 July 2015

Buddhists Speaking Out Against Burma Violence

Buddhist Leaders Respond To Violence Against Muslims In Myanmar
Huffington Post
10 December 2010
While it is a time of great positive change in Myanmar we are concerned about the growing ethnic violence and the targeting of Muslims in Rakhine State and the violence against Muslims and others across the country. The Burmese are a noble people, and Burmese Buddhists carry a long and profound history of upholding the Dharma. We stand with you in the Dharma,

Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
President Buddhist Global Relief
(world's foremost translator of the Pali Canon)
Sri Lanka / USA

Dr. A T Ariyaratne
Founder Nationwide Sarvodaya Movement
Gandhi Peace Prize Laureate
Sri Lanka

Ven. Chao Khun Raja Sumedhajahn
Elder, Ajahn Chah Monastaries
Wat Ratanavan, Thailand

Ven. Phra Paisal Visalo
Chair Buddhika Network Buddhism and Society

Ven. Arija Rinpoche VIII
Abbot Tibetan Mongolian Cultural Center
Mongolia / USA

Ven. Shodo Harada Roshi.
Abbot Sogenji Rinzai Zen Monastery

Achariya Professor J Simmer Brown
Chairperson Buddhist Studies
Naropa Buddhist University

Ven. Ajahn Amaro Mahathera
Abbot Amaravati Vihara

Ven. Hozan A Senauke
International Network of Engaged Buddhists

Ven. Sr. Thich Nu Chan Kong
President Plum Village Zen temples
France / Vietnam

Dr. Jack Kornfield Vipassana Achariya
Convener Western Buddhist Teachers Council

Lama Surya Das
Dzogchen Foundation International
Vajrayana Tibet / USA

Ven. Zoketsu N. Fischer Soto Roshi
Fmr. Abbot largest Zen community In the West
USA / Japan

Tulku Sherdor Rinpoche
Director BI. Wisdom Institute

HH the XIV Dalai Lama*
Nobel Laureate Tibet/India

Dalai Lama Pleads for Myanmar Monks to End Violence Amid Damning Rights Report
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
26 April 2013 All the major religions teach us the practice of love, compassion and forgiveness. So a genuine practitioner among these different religious traditions would not indulge in such violence and bullying of other people. We are religious people. Buddha always teaches us about forgiveness, tolerance, compassion. If from one corner of your mind, some emotion makes you want to hit, or want to kill, then please remember Buddha's faith. We are followers of Buddha. We're in the 21st century. All problems must be solved through dialogue, through talk. The use of violence is outdated, and never solves problems.

Dalai Lama Decries Buddhist Attacks On Muslims In Myanmar
Reuters via Huffington Post
07 May 2013
"Really, killing people in the name of religion is unthinkable, very sad. I pray for them (the monks) to think of the face of Buddha. You have the responsibility to create a new world based on the concept of one humanity."

Dalai Lama to Burmese monks: Enough anti-Rohingya violence
20 September 2013
Aung San Suu Kyi calls for amendments to the Constitution to solve the ethnic problem. In the sixth anniversary of the Saffron Revolution monks call on authorities to apologize. "When resentment or anger towards your Muslim brothers and sisters emerge, please remember [ the principles ] of the Buddhist faith."

Dalai Lama to Myanmar, Sri Lanka Buddhists: Stop violence against Muslims
Tim Hume, CNN
07 July 2014
I urge the Buddhists in these countries to imagine an image of Buddha before they commit such a crime. Buddha preaches love and compassion. If the Buddha is there, he will protect the Muslims whom the Buddhists are attacking.

In May last year, he made comments at a U.S. university decrying the violence in Myanmar, and he has written to Aung San Suu Kyi, a renowned Burmese pro-democracy campaigner and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner, calling for a halt to the violence, his staff said.

Harmony among our different religious traditions is essential for world peace. Genuine harmony should be founded on...
Posted by Dalai Lama on Friday, November 28, 2014

Dalai Lama Urges Aung San Suu Kyi to Help Myanmar’s Rohingya
Thomas Fuller, New York Times
28 May 2015
I met her two times, first in London and then the Czech Republic. I mentioned about this problem and she told me she found some difficulties, that things were not simple but very complicated. But in spite of that I feel she can do something.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Happy Fourth

On this, the fourth of July, America celebrates very bombastically and drunkenly its foundation. The denizens thereof engage in much merrymaking as they commemorate such noble values as heritage, rebellion, freedom.

To honour that heritage, some familiar faces:

These are the thirteen of our Presidents who held slaves. Be a sport, now; try to name them.

Heritage lies not only in personalities, though. America is also proud of various founding documents. Here, for example, is an extract from Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence:

If you look very carefully, you should be able to discern the words, "He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither." They don't sound familiar, do they? That's because they never made it into the final version. They were, however, recorded in this book.
That paragraph was replaced with the phrase, "He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us." Here, though, is an excerpt that *did* make it into the Declaration.

The underlined part reads, "...the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions." What wholesome goodness!

After we made the Declaration of Independence a formal affair (an event which did not take place on 04 July 1776, so hop on your trust steed named Google and see where it takes you), Americans endeavoured to realise a Constitution. It was quite a bit of hard work, too. Here is one of the fruits of their labour:

Section 2 of Article 4 of the US Constitution reads, in part, "No person held to service or labour in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due."

That section is called the Fugitive Slave Clause. You probably weren't expecting that from a document which was supposed to reflect upon on our freedoms and liberties, did you? Well, there it is. The handwriting sure is pretty, though, isn't it? The 13th Amendment should have repealed that section. However, in 1988 the Supreme Court ruled that psychological coercion did not constitute a method of forcing someone into involuntary labour. Let's hope that modern anti-trafficking laws have completed that process.

Let's try another piece of American heritage, then. This is the Pledge of Allegiance, as quoted in a textbook from 1910. Just think: your grandfather or great-grandfather might have recited this pledge! This is a really exciting find.

You can't possibly mean to say that something is missing, can you? These are the words penned by the Pledge's author, Francis Bellamy himself! Bellamy was a Baptist pastor. He was also socialist.

Perhaps looking at America's heritage wasn't as satisfying as you thought it would be. A study of rebellion in America should be a happier read, then. First, here are some of the faces of rebellion in America:

This image depicts the Stono Rebellion of 1739, led by Jemmy Cato. He wasn't successful - everyone was caught and either killed or returned to slavery. Charles Deslondes, Quamana, and Harry (the latter two probably having no surnames) had a try of it in 1811 in the German Coast Uprising. In the end, everyone was captured or killed; and Charles was tortured before he finally died. Below is an artistic rendition of that rebellion.

Other rebellions were similarly unsuccessful. However, they began to lend themselves to a spirit of rebellion throughout America.

I hope that Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, and Joseph Cinqué are familiar names to you. Nat Turner led his own rebellion and was murdered as a result. Frederick Douglass successfully escaped to freedom. Joseph Cinqué led the captives aboard the Amistad to freedom.

In 1841, Madison Washington let the Creole Revolt. This rebellion was successful. It, like Joseph Cinqué's Amistad rebellion, was successful.

Surely everyone remembers Harriet Tubman. She gained freedom in 1849 and started to conduct the rebellious Underground Railroad.

Below are artistic depictions of Harpers Ferry rebellion, in which Lewis Sheridan Leary; Dangerfield Newby; John Anthony Copeland, Jr; and Shields Green rebelled and unsuccessfully fought for freedom.

Wasn't quite what you thought it would be? Let's try freedom, then. Of course, by now we know that one of the clauses in the Constitution called for the return of fugitives. One of those fugitives was Oney Judge Staines. Here is an attempt at a likeness of her:

Oney Judge Staines was enslaved by Martha Washington, who was married to George Washington. You might remember him as the first President of America. His photo is up there, at the very top - you know, because he was a slaveholder. In 1796, Oney ran away while she was with the Washingtons in Philadelphia. They were planning to visit Virginia between Congressional sessions. Since Martha had willed Oney to her granddaughter, Oney knew that she needed to get free before that trip took place. "Whilst they were packing up to go to Virginia, I was packing to go, I didn't know where; for I knew that if I went back to Virginia, I should never get my liberty. I had friends among the colored people of Philadelphia, had my things carried there beforehand, and left Washington's house while they were eating dinner." So it was that in the mid-1790s, Oney packed up and ran off. George tried to get her back by force; and he also posted a notice in the newspaper.

By this time, George had already crafted American law in his favour. In 1793, the Fugitive Slave Act became law. It required anyone encountering a runaway seeking freedom to remand that person back to the slaveholder. Oney Judge Staines remained free, however, outliving both George and Martha. After one of his failed attempts to bring Oney Judge Staines back to him and Martha, George told his emissary, "I regret that the attempt you made to restore the Girl (Oney Judge as she called herself while with us, and who, without the least provocation absconded from her Mistress) should have been attended with so little Success. To enter into such a compromise with her [that she be freed on the Washingtons' deaths], as she suggested to you, is totally inadmissible, for reasons that must strike at first view: for however well disposed I might be to a gradual abolition, or even to an entire emancipation of that description of People (if the latter was in itself practicable at this moment) it would neither be politic or just to reward unfaithfulness with a premature preference [of freedom]; and thereby discontent before hand the minds of all her fellow-servants who by their steady attachments are far more deserving than herself of favor." That really is disappointing, isn't it, coming from someone who led America to freedom himself.

 Earlier, we heard about other freedom seekers who made it: Madison Washington in the Creole Revolt, Joseph Cinqué's Amistad rebellion, and Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass as they ran away to freedom. In fact, Frederick Douglass delivered an important monologue on July 4th, 1852 - less than a decade before the Civil War. In his speech, Frederick Douglass reviewed America's history and then turned to deeper issues of freedom. The speech is as long as a small book, so here are some excerpts:
I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me.
 Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!”
 At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
 What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?
by Frederick Douglass
July 5, 1852

Thinking of a different freedom, were you? Perhaps a different colour of freedom? By the way, in case you hadn't caught on before this point, this blog post is in celebration of those Africans and Afro-descended persons who fought for their freedom. You already heard the white version, several times over, all of your life. I hope that this journey was eye-opening and educational for you. This post has attempted to expound on the concepts of heritage, rebellion, and freedom from perspectives different than those with which we all grew up.

That Racist Rag


The confederate battle flag is a racist rag, according to the very person who designed it. Trying to assign other meanings to that racist rag is futile: after that bald-faced declaration by its designer, the flag was taken up by segregationists as a symbol of rebellion against the pro-integration government. Then it was adopted by white supremacists and has been used by them ever since. The only "heritage" represented by this rag is white supremacy.

I will not support "General Lee." I cannot. Do you know who General Lee was? Robert E Lee. Use Google if you can't figure that one out for yourself. I would no more support him than Pol Pot (Google is your best friend). John Schneider has been using the same whiny tactics to defend the confederate rag that other closet bigots have been using: all-or-nothing rants, claims of "overly PC" (a term only ever used by racists, for God's sake), etc.

At a time when black people continue to experience discrimination in employment, housing, health care, and many other services; when black people continue to experience wage and income gaps which set them far behind whites; when various branches of government alternately support the Fair Housing Act and seek to destroy the Voting Rights Act; when cops are killing off black people at a much higher rate than whites - here you people are trying to keep a racist rag in the public eye.

And if you are so devoted to such an ugly symbol that you'd rather spend that much time and energy defending it rather than trying to solve real problems (real as compared to attributing some kind of positive value to that piece of smut) such as poverty, homelessness, hungry, lack of access to health care, and violence, honestly, that doesn't say anything terribly positive about your quality as a human being.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Two, Four, Six, Eight: Boy, Do We Discriminate!

My attempts at compiling information related to racist discrimination against black, bearing especially in mind the new argument that class trumps race in terms of negative impacts.

At this point, I have been reading all day long, and my eyes are burning. Forgive me for the formatting hell that ensues.

The Case for Reparations
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic
June 2014 issue
Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, studied children born from 1955 through 1970 and found that 4 percent of whites and 62 percent of blacks across America had been raised in poor neighborhoods. A generation later, the same study showed, virtually nothing had changed. And whereas whites born into affluent neighborhoods tended to remain in affluent neighborhoods, blacks tended to fall out of them.

Sharkey’s research shows that black families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families making $30,000.

The Pew Research Center estimates that white households are worth roughly 20 times as much as black households, and that whereas only 15 percent of whites have zero or negative wealth, more than a third of blacks do.

In 2012, the Manhattan Institute cheerily noted that segregation had declined since the 1960s. And yet African Americans still remained—by far—the most segregated ethnic group in the country.

The Sociology of Discrimination: Racial Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Credit, and Consumer Markets
Devah Pager and Hana Shepherd
Annu Rev Sociol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Aug 4.
Published in final edited form as:
Annu Rev Sociol. 2008 Jan 1; 34: 181–209
African Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed as whites (Hispanics are only marginally so), and the wages of both blacks and Hispanics continue to lag well behind those of whites.

Whites possess roughly 12 times the wealth of African Americans; in fact, whites near the bottom of the income distribution possess more wealth than blacks near the top of the income distribution (Oliver & Shapiro 1997, p. 86). Available evidence suggests that blacks and Hispanics face higher rejection rates and less favorable terms in securing mortgages than do whites with similar credit characteristics (Ross & Yinger 1999).

A 2005 report by New Jersey Citizen Action using data from two New Jersey lawsuits found that, between 1993 and 2000, blacks and Hispanics were disproportionately subject to financing markup charges at car dealerships, with minority customers paying an average of $339 more than whites with similar credit histories. Harris et al. (2005) analyze federal court cases of consumer discrimination filed from 1990 to 2002, examining the dimensions of subtle and overt degradation (including extended waiting periods, prepay requirements, and higher prices, as well as increased surveillance and verbal and/or physical attacks) and subtle and overt denial of goods and services. They report cases filed in hotels, restaurants, gas stations, grocery/food stores, clothing stores, department stores, home improvement stores, and office equipment stores filed by members of many racial minority groups.

African Americans were as segregated from whites in 1990 as they had been at the start of the twentieth century, and levels of segregation appear unaffected by rising socioeconomic status (Massey & Denton 1993). Although segregation appears to have modestly decreased between 1980 and 2000 (Logan et al. 2004), blacks (and to a lesser extent other minority groups) continue to experience patterns of residential placement markedly different from whites.

The weight of existing evidence suggests that discrimination does continue to affect the allocation of contemporary opportunities; and, further, given the often covert, indirect, and cumulative nature of these effects, our current estimates may in fact understate the degree to which discrimination contributes to the poor social and economic outcomes of minority groups.

Subtle Yet Significant: The Existence and Impact of Everyday Racial Discrimination in the Workplace
Elizabeth A. Deitch
Adam Barsky
Rebecca M. Butz
Suzanne Chan
Arthur P. Brief
Jill C. Bradley
doi: 10.1177/00187267035611002 Human Relations November 2003 vol. 56 no. 11 1299-1324
In this article, we argue that research concerning workplace discrimination could be advanced by considering ‘everyday discrimination,’ that is, the subtle, pervasive discriminatory acts experienced by members of stigmatized groups on a daily basis. Three studies are reported which use secondary data analysis techniques to provide evidence for the existence of everyday workplace discrimination against Blacks. In addition to demonstrating the occurrence of such discrimination, evidence is presented which indicates that the experience of everyday discrimination is negatively associated with various indicators of well-being. The implications of these findings for organizations and for discrimination researchers are discussed.

A Multilevel Analysis of the Relationship Between Institutional and Individual Racial Discrimination and Health Status
Gilbert C. Gee, PhD
American Journal of Public Health: April 2002, Vol. 92, No. 4, pp. 615-623.
doi: 10.2105/AJPH.92.4.615
Results. Individual and institutional measures of racial discrimination were associated with health status after control for acculturation, sex, age, social support, income, health insurance, employment status, education, neighborhood poverty, and housing value.

Conclusions. The data support the hypothesis that discrimination at multiple levels influences the health of minority group members.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Racism, Terrorism, and Self-Reflection

Have you looked inside and confronted what lies within?

Recently, American society has had much over which to pat its back. We have made strides in ridding our public sphere of a symbol of hatred. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Fair Housing and neutral re-districting. However, this is nowhere near enough.

In this country, black people continue to be discriminated against in terms of employment, housing, and health care access. Higher prices are quoted black people for the same, less expensive services as are accessed by whites. Black people are incarcerated at far higher rates than whites, and for offenses which are much more petty. In fact, black people are executed by the state at rates far higher than their white counterparts.

This is why the Supreme Court ruling in favour of problematic lethal injection drugs is as worrisome as it is: that torturous cocktail will be disproportionately used against black people. In addition, the Supreme Court's ruling against the EPA will allow coal plants to continue spewing pollution into mostly black communities.

We already know that there is a racism problem in America: our collective attention has been gripped by images of a white supremacist having gunned down worshippers at a black church and of the seven or eight black church burnings that have taken place since. Some of us have even heard of the KKK letters that have been sent to three female pastors of black churches. We have all been made painfully aware of the level of police violence against black people.

How many of us, though, are paying attention to these ongoing, less visible, less hyped everyday forms of racism faced by black people? How many of us follow those stories? How many of us respond by calling on our elected officials to change policies? Supporting protests? Taking direct action? How many of us have looked inside for those answers and faced that which we would much rather ignore?

The following photo of Mt Zion AME burning is contained for the purpose of Facebook visibility.

My Note:
People of Color Are Already Getting Hit the Hardest by Climate Change
Stephen Hsieh
22 April 2014
Sixty-eight percent of African-Americans live within thirty miles of a coal-fired power plant, the zone of maximum exposure to pollutants that cause an array of ailments, from heart disease to birth defects. Communities of color breathe in nearly 40 percent more polluted air than whites.