Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Progressive Forum: Fall 2008
Progressive Forum 2008
Forrest Suite: University Union. CSU –Sacramento
Oct.9 , 2008. 9 Am – 3:30 pm. Free
Join us for a dialogue on current issues facing the progressive movements and their allies in our region. The Progressive Forum seeks to bring together scholars, students, social justice and union activists, and policy makers to nurture a new kind of conversation from within the campus and the social movements.
Bill Fletcher, author . Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path Toward Social Justice.
David Bacon, author, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants.
Renee Saucedo; Immigrant Worker Organizing Centers
10:30 AM Organizing Round table :
Kevin Wehr, Eric Vega, Leisa Faulkner, Carlos Rojas, students, Duane Campbell,
Time for interchange.
Bill Fletcher. Race, Class, Labor and the U.S. Democracy.
Jim Shoch : Government Dept. Elections and the Democratic Party
1:30- 3:30. In the Summit Room.
The Struggle for Racial Justice in 'Colorblind' America
Race, Ethnicity and Class.
Bilingual/multicultural Education. CSU-Sacramento, Democratic Socialists of America, Sacramento Progressive Alliance, Progressive Student Alliance., Labor Studies:
Ethnic Studies Department. Campus 4 Obama.
For more information http://www.ProgressiveForum07.blogspot.com
contact Duane Campbell, firstname.lastname@example.org. Parking. Use daily pay lots. Buy a one day pass.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Obama: An Historic Moment
On August 28, 2008, Barack Obama made history by standing before an audience of 85,000 in INVESCO Field at Mile High stadium accepting his nomination as a presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. At least 35 million people were watching on television while Barack Obama and family stood before the world and declared a new day has arrived with a sense of hope and purpose. But for 36.4 million people of African descent, they will break down in tears of joy knowing that life in the United States has not been a crystal stair. They know that for Barack Obama and for another 36.4 million people of African descent this moment in history was not easy or clear.
Why is this moment historic?
“still press on, they still nurse the dogged hope, - not a hope of nauseating patronage, not a hope of reception into charmed social circles of stock-jobbers, pork-packers, and earl-hunters, but the hope of a higher synthesis of civilization and humanity, a true progress, with the chorus ‘Peace, good will to men”
By 1954, the Civil Rights movement exploded on the scene. Once again hope was in the air. Commencing with the Brown vs Topeka Board of Education and the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott launched a massive wave of mass protest that did not end until the Vietnam War. The passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Civil Rights Act of 1964, and affirmation action laws were all tools of hope that gave rise to the new black middle class and hope for African Descended people. The Black power movement and the rise of the Black Panther Party gave both militancy and hope for the youth. By the 1980’s, the rise of crack, gangs, poor schools, no jobs, the collapse of the inner city, the poor and working poor African Descended people were faced with new challenges – Post Civil Right capitalism. During the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s, Black youth were incarcerated at greater rates than white youth. Funding for the criminal justice system increased 600% while funding for schools increased a miserable 25%. The poor and working poor African Descended people are faced with triple trap doors of incarceration, lack of employment, and inadequate education. But in the midst of all that pain and difficulty African descended people still had hope. 2Pac said this best:
Baby don't cry, I hope you got your head up
What about false starts and failure?
By 1964, a major political re-alignment occurred when African Descended people gave 95% support behind the Democratic Party and opened a new arena for political leadership. In 1968, an unknown African Descended woman named Shirley Chisholm ran as the Democratic candidate for New York's 12th District congressional seat and was elected to the House of Representatives. Shirley Chisholm would become the first African Descended woman to go Congress. In 1972, she made a bid for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Shirley Chisholm won 28 delegates during the primary process. Shirley Chisholm campaigned hard and long but it would only become a symbolic act. Shirley Chisholm proved that running on a Democratic ticket can be done and that African Descended people do have the capacity and the ability to run a national campaign.
By 1984, Jesse Jackson understood that in order to build a national campaign he would have to build a base outside of the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson's campaign was founded on building a Rainbow Coalition as a base of support and as a vehicle to capture the nomination of the Democratic Party. During the 1984 campaign, he and the Rainbow Coalition were locked out of the Party. The Black politicians remain committed to white candidates and viewed Jackson's campaign as a one-time effort. However, Jesse Jackson came back in 1988, with the Rainbow Coalition and a national campaign (institutional structure, money, and staff) to take to all fifty states. Jessie Jackson was on his way to becoming the first serious Black contender for the nomination after the Michigan Democratic caucus. But the with his defeat in Wisconsin primary race, whites viewed Jessie Jackson as a Black candidate and white racism was not going allow a person of African Descent to win the nomination. Although Jesse had captured 6.9 million votes and won 11 contests; seven primaries (Alabama, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and Virginia) and four caucuses (Delaware, Michigan, South Carolina and Vermont), he was still a person of African descent.
Barack Obama was able to learn from these experiences. Living and working as a community activist on the South Side of Chicago, he understood that you need to have your own institutions and a broad base of support. To people of African Descent we understand that we cannot have a person of African Descent speaking only for us, but the candidate needs to understand that to obtain African descended support you have to support our core positions and serve as a defender against right wing attacks. Obama represents the culmination of failure and false starts of African Descended people's historical mission to nominate a person of African descent for president in the United States. Today, Obama is standing on the history of false starts and failures.
Most elders of African Descent carry the fears of what racism can do to Black leaders in the United States. The first and most obvious fear was that Obama would be killed before he got to the White House. White racism is very deep in the United States; African Descended people love Obama to such a degree that they prefer him alive not winning the presidency than dead and killing a dream. To many Blacks the word is “we cannot afford another Martin Luther King and Malcolm X to die”.
But an even greater fear of African Descended people is covert racism. Covert racism prevented Shirley Chisholm from having institutional resources to run a campaign. Covert racism prevented Jesse Jackson from winning the nomination by viewing Jesse as a Black candidate. Black folks did not forget the Chisholm and Jackson experiences and believe that covert racism would befall Obama as well. In the beginning, no pundits, political advisors and a many people of African Descend believed that Barack Obama could overcome all the obstacles that would be put in front of him.
Once again Bill Clinton could not keep his month shut when he compared Obama's win South Carolina to that of Jesse Jackson. On May 8, 2008, Senator Hillary Clinton made a statement that, “Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.” In other words, white electors will support a white woman before they will support a person of African Descent. Next, Obama had to pass a racial litmus test. In 1984, Jesse Jackson failed the racial litmus with his connection with Louis Farrakhan. Obama was forced to disavow any connection with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. At a news conference on April 29, 2008, Barack Obama stated that Wright's remarks were “a bunch of rants that aren't grounded in the truth”. To the white electorate he had passed the racial litmus test. The African American community understood that Rev. Jeremiah Wright was speaking truth to power. However, speaking truth to power is un-welcome in United States politics.
The Clintons, Johnson, Ferraro attacks and the dumping of Rev. Wright were all designed to undermine Obama's broad base of support. The media was on a constant drumbeat to racialize Obama. The media attempted to wrap Obama in the so-called elites, inexperienced, and not acceptable to white people cloth. The fear of covert racism gave many people of African Descent reasons to be concerned that Obama would be robbed of the nomination. Today, Obama has people of African Descent's fears on his shoulder.
When on August 28, 2008, Barack Obama walked into the convention and declared, “America, This Is Our Moment”; people of African Descent interpreted the declaration as “This is our Historic Moment”.
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Carl Pinkston, is the Education Chair of the Sacramento Area Black Caucus. Click here to contact Mr. Pinkston.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sarah Palin's Reading List - Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Fascist writer Westbrook Pegler, an avowed racist who Sarah Palin approvingly quoted in her acceptance speech for the moral superiority of small town values, expressed his fervent hope about my father, Robert F. Kennedy, as he contemplated his own run for the presidency in 1965, that "some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies."
It might be worth asking Governor Palin for a tally of the other favorites from her reading list.
From today's Huffington POST
I think my only response is something like "Gaaaah!"
Monday, September 15, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Alaskans Speak (In A Frightened Whisper): Palin Is “Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean”
This is how Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin described Barack Obama’s win over Hillary Clinton to political colleagues in a restaurant a few days after Obama locked up the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
Racial and ethnic slurs may be “just Alaska” and, clearly, they are common, everyday chatter for Palin.
No wonder the vast sea of white, cheering faces at the Republican Convention went wild for Sarah: They adore the type, it’s in their genetic code. So much for McCain’s pledge of a “high road” campaign; Palin is incapable of being part of one.
Ironically, Palin was pushed into hiring the administrator by the party poobahs who helped get her elected after she got herself into trouble over a number of precipitous firings which gave rise to a recall campaign.
As for being “ready on day one” to be commander in chief, despite the repeated public claims she’s made, the Alaska National Guard commander said that, “she has made no command decisions, other than sending some troops to help fight a few brush fires and march in parades at county fairs.”
Saturday, September 6, 2008
The Mirrored Ceiling - Judith Warner New York Times
This article links to a scary YouTube video of Sarah Palin which displays her frightening ignorance about the VP position. Check it out. While the article's tone is negative, Warner asks questions which must be answered before Governor Palin is "one heartbeat away from the Presidency".
September 4, 2008, 8:41 pm
The Mirrored Ceiling
Tags: Politics, sarah palin, women
It turns out there was something more nauseating than the nomination of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate this past week. It was the tone of the acclaim that followed her acceptance speech.
“Drill, baby, drill,” clapped John Dickerson, marveling at Palin’s ability to speak and smile at the same time as an indication of her unexpected depths and unsuspected strengths. “It was clear Palin was having fun, and it’s hard to have fun if you’re scared or a lightweight,” he wrote in Slate.
The Politico praised her charm and polish as antidotes to her lack of foreign policy experience: “Palin’s poised and flawless performance evoked roars of applause from delegates who earlier this week might have worried that the surprise pick and newcomer to the national stage may not be up to the job.”
“She had a great night. I thought she had a very skillfully written, and very skillfully delivered speech,” Joe Biden said, shades of “articulate and bright and clean” threatening a reappearance. (For a full roundup of these comments go here.)
Thus began the official public launch of our country’s now most-prominent female politician. The condescension – damning with faint praise – was reminiscent of the more overt misogyny of Samuel Johnson.
“A woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hinder legs,” the wit once observed. “It is not done well; but you are surprized to find it done at all.”
Palin sounded, at times, like she was speaking a foreign language as she gave voice to the beautifully crafted words that had been prepared for her on Wednesday night.
But that wasn’t held against her. Thanks to the level of general esteem that greeted her ascent to the podium, it seems we’ve all got to celebrate the fact that America’s Hottest Governor (Princess of the Fur Rendezvous 1983, Miss Wasilla 1984) could speak at all.
Could there be a more thoroughgoing humiliation for America’s women?
You are not, I think, supposed now to say this. Just as, I am sure, you are certainly not supposed to feel that having Sarah Palin put forth as the Republicans’ first female vice presidential candidate is just about as respectful a gesture toward women as was John McCain’s suggestion, last month, that his wife participate in a topless beauty contest.
Such thoughts, we are told, are sexist. And elitist. After all, via Palin, we now hear without cease, the People are speaking. The “real” “authentic,” small-town “Everyday People,” of Hockey Moms and Blue Collar Dads whom even Rudolph Giuliani now invokes as an antidote to the cosmopolite Obamas and their backers in the liberal media. (Remind me please, once again, what was the name of the small town where Rudy grew up?)
Why does this woman – who to some of us seems as fake as they can come, with her delicate infant son hauled out night after night under the klieg lights and her pregnant teenage daughter shamelessly instrumentalized for political purposes — deserve, to a unique extent among political women, to rank as so “real”?
Because the Republicans, very clearly, believe that real people are idiots. This disdain for their smarts shows up in the whole way they’ve cast this race now, turning a contest over economic and foreign policy into a culture war of the Real vs. the Elites. It’s a smoke and mirrors game aimed at diverting attention from the fact that the party’s tax policies have helped create an elite that’s more distant from “the people” than ever before. And from the fact that the party’s dogged allegiance to up-by-your-bootstraps individualism — an individualism exemplified by Palin, the frontierswoman who somehow has managed to “balance” five children and her political career with no need for support — is leading to a culture-wide crack-up.
Real people, the kind of people who will like and identify with Palin, they clearly believe, are smart, but not too smart, and don’t talk too well, dropping their “g”s, for example, and putting tough concepts like “vice president” in quotation marks.
“As for that ‘V.P.’ talk all the time … I tell ya, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me, What is it exactly that the ‘VP’ does every day?” Palin asked host Lawrence Kudlow on CNBC sometime before her nomination. “I’m used to bein’ very productive and workin’ real hard in an administration and we want to make sure that that ‘V.P.’ slot would be a fruitful type of position.”
And, I think, they find her acceptably “real,” because Palin’s not intimidating, and makes it clear that she’s subordinate to a great man.
That’s the worst thing a woman can be in this world, isn’t it? Intimidating, which appears to be synonymous with competent. It’s the kiss of death, personally and politically.
But shouldn’t a woman who is prepared to be commander in chief be intimidating? Because of the intelligence, experience, talent and drive that got her there? If she isn’t, at least on some level, off-putting, if her presence inspires national commentary on breast-pumping and babysitting rather than health care reform and social security, then something is seriously wrong. If she doesn’t elicit at least some degree of awe, then something is missing.
One of the worst poisons of the American political climate right now, the thing that time and again in recent years has led us to disaster, is the need people feel for leaders they can “relate” to. This need isn’t limited to women; it brought us after all, two terms of George W. Bush. And it isn’t new; Americans have always needed to feel that their leaders were, on some level, people like them.
But in the past, it was possible to fill that need through empathetic connection. Few Depression-era voters could “relate” to Franklin Roosevelt’s patrician background, notes historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. “It was his ability to connect to them that made them feel they could connect to him,” she told me in a phone interview.
The age of television, Goodwin believes, has made the demand for connection more immediate and intense. But never before George W. Bush did it quite reach the beer-drinking level of familiarity. “Now it’s all about being able to see your life story in the candidate, rather than the candidate, with empathy, being able to relate to you.”
There’s a fine line between likability and demagoguery. Both thrive upon manipulation and least-common-denominator politics. These days, I fear, this need for direct mirroring — and thus this susceptibility to all sorts of low-level tripe — is particularly acute among women, who are perhaps reaching historic lows in their comfort levels with themselves and their choices.
Just look at how quickly the reaction to Palin devolved into what The Times this week called the “Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition.” Much of the talk about Palin (like the emoting about Hillary Clinton before her) ultimately came down to this: is she like me or not like me? If she’s not like me, can I like her? And what kind of child care does she have?
“This election is not about issues,” Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager said this week. “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” That’s a scary thought. For the takeaway is so often base, a reflection more of people’s fears and insecurities than of our hopes and dreams.
We’re not likely to get a worthy female president anytime soon.
New York Times 09/04/08
Civil Rights Leaders Are Not Competing Against Obama
September 1, 2008
As Barack Obama officially became his party's presidential nominee, a great disservice to him - and to national civil rights leaders - is the notion that Obama is somehow in competition with the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
In most instances, this is couched as young Barack Obama has surpassed the outdated race-based politics of the modern Civil Rights Movement. For example, the Chicago Tribune published a front-page story a week ago under the headline: "Jackson eclipsed in the age of Obama."
The story, written by David Greising, said, "Obama's nomination will cap a period of striking change in leadership of the African-American community. And Jackson must adjust in order to remain relevant in the age of Obama."
My longtime friend Rochelle Riley, a columnist for the Detroit Free Press, wrote a column under the headline, "It's time for Rev. Jesse Jackson to retire from politics." She noted that when Jackson ran for president, people asked: "What does Jesse want?" Riley wrote her column on the heels of Jackson professing an interest in castrating Obama. She observed, "It's 20 years later, and I don't care what Jesse wants. And neither should America."
First, let's get a grip on reality. Even if Obama wins, that will not mark the end of Black politics, as the New York Times magazine recently proclaimed. Obama is the only African-American serving in the U.S. Senate. In the history of the United States, only two Blacks have ever been elected governor. And if Obama were elected president, the Senate would again be lily-White, as it has been for most of its existence. Sure, Obama's election would be a political milestone, but it would not change the fact that Blacks are underrepresented in politics and everything good and overrepresented in prison and everything bad.
Another flawed argument being advanced in connection with the possible Obama presidency is that his election would prove there is no longer a need for affirmative action and other social programs designed to help level the playing field.
For the record, affirmative action has never been limited to African-Americans. In fact, it can be argued that White women, another oppressed group, have benefited from affirmative action more than Blacks. In addition to women, other protected classes have included the disabled and other ethnic groups. So, to strike down affirmative action solely because a Black man has been elected president shows an ignorance of how the program was designed to work.
No president - not even a Black one - can or should be a substitute for agitating on behalf of people who have been locked out of society. When police shoot unarmed African-Americans in New York City, I want Al Sharpton on the scene. When Black males are being railroaded in Jena, La., I expect Jesse Jackson and SCLC's Charles Steele and NAACP leaders to show up. And while they work from the outside, I want National Urban League President Marc Morial to be working on the inside, making sure that Blacks ascend the ladder of success.
The downside to social activism is that many of your own people undervalue your accomplishments while Whites accuse you of being an ambulance chaser. To the latter, Sharpton says he's not chasing the ambulance - he usually arrives first.
As for Jesse Jackson, he deserves to be roundly criticized for saying he wanted to cut off the private parts of Obama. In addition to being crude, it came across as petty jealousy. Obama has accomplished in 2008 what Jackson failed to do in 1984 and 1988. Moreover, it was Obama who had become the face of change, not Jesse Jackson.
That notwithstanding, we should not ignore the contributions of a person who has devoted his entire adult life to the civil rights struggle. We should not minimize his two presidential runs that paved the way for many Blacks to become elected to office. Nor should we forget that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. appointed Jackson head of Operation Breadbasket to place more emphasis on economic justice. When you tally the pluses and minuses, Jesse Jackson has accumulated far more positives than negatives. That's why he shouldn't be kicked to the curb by Whites eager for a "post-racial" society or Blacks who want to supplant him as the No. 1 leader in Black America.
A dangerous game is being played out before our eyes, a game in which we can have only one Black leader. And some Black leaders are abetting the game by insisting that Jesse Jackson step aside and make room for them. There is room on the stage for more than one actor. And no one should ascend to power by diminishing Jackson's contributions. Civil rights leaders are not in competition with Barack Obama. And nor should they be in competition with one another. We need all of them.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com