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Member since: Sun Sep 11, 2016, 12:18 AM
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Our Responsibility, to Ourselves and Others, to Break Our Silences

“That visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.”

Lorde is writing shortly after her doctor discovered a tumor that turned out to be benign but forced her to confront her mortality in the agonizing three-week period of uncertainty. She reflects on the sobering urgency into which the experience shook her:

I was forced to look upon myself and my living with a harsh and urgent clarity that has left me still shaken but much stronger… Some of what I experienced during that time has helped elucidate for me much of what I feel concerning the transformation of silence into language and action.

In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence. And that might be coming quickly, now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words. And I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a perspective gave me great strength.

I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.

Turning to the audience — and, across space and time, to us — Lorde issues a clarion call for introspection:

What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? With an urgent eye to the necessity that we “not hide behind the mockeries of separations that have been imposed upon us and which so often we accept as our own,” Lorde concludes:

"We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken."

That oppressive silence and its most potent antidote are what the great Caribbean-American poet, essayist, feminist, lesbian icon, and anti-war, civil rights, and human rights activist Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934–November 17, 1992) explores in “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” — a galvanizing short paper delivered at Chicago’s Modern Language Association in 1977, later included in Lorde’s indispensable anthology Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

From dolls to magazine covers: how early black designers made their mark

In a new exhibition, the work of African American designers in Chicago is celebrated from editorial and product design to the first black-founded ad agency

The first known African American female cartoonist was Jackie Ormes, who not only penned cartoon strips throughout the 1940s and 1950s, but designed a black doll called the Patty-Jo doll, which was released in 1947.

Patty-Jo, a precursor to Barbie, which came in 1959, was based on a cartoon strip character of the same name, had an extensive wardrobe with preppy shoes, winter coats and ball gowns – and had the brains to go with it.

In a cartoon strip from 1948, Patty-Jo asks a white woman: “How’s about getting our rich Uncle Sam to put good public schools all over so we can be trained fit for any college?”

The doll is on view in a new exhibition in Chicago, African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race, at the Chicago Cultural Center. Featuring more than 50 design works, it highlights prominent black figures who worked between 1900 and 1980 in graphic design, editorial and product design, billboard ads, and created the first black-founded ad agency.

“Our thesis is that Chicago is a special center for design for African Americans because it was one of the major sites in the north they came to from the rural south in mid-20th century,” said Schulman. “It has a large, vibrant and politically powerful design community.”

Among the works in the exhibit is an original Patty-Jo doll designed and produced by Ormes, who was a cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Courier, though she lived in Chicago. The doll, in a yellow dress, was highly coveted by African American girls, though it was so expensive, parents had to pay in installments.

“The doll was noteworthy for its quality. Its facial features were hand-painted and designed from life-like materials,” said Schulman. “It was a role model for any child.”

It ties into the cartoons Ormes built around the Patty-Jo character. “She was a beautiful fictional character who was known for making witty, astute remarks about the world around African American middle-class people in the 1940s and 1950s,” said Schulman. “The doll was in production for 10 years, it had an extraordinary presence and power, and today, they’re collectibles holding an important place in American doll-making.”

Among the other designers in the exhibit, there are advertisements by Charles C Dawson, who designed the graphics promoting Slick Black, black hair color tins from the 1930's. Dawson was also part of the New Negro art movement, which surfaced around the same time as the Harlem Renaissance black arts movement in New York.


Also on view is a comic called Home Folks by Jay Jackson, a cartoonist for the Chicago Defender who won several awards for his cartoons made during the second world war. A panel on view called Debt and Taxes shows one character complaining: “What do they mean ‘income tax’? It should be ‘outgo’ tax!”

“It’s a masterpiece,” said Schulman. “It shows young, middle-class African Americans in a wonderful mid-century modern interior talking about how expensive things are, the dream of prosperity that was commonplace as a selling technique in the 1950s, this mass consumer market and postwar prosperity. In popular media, you don’t always see African Americans taking part of a stream of plenty in the 1950s.”

But ambition aside, it was tough for African Americans to break into the advertising industry, not to mention navigating the office culture once they were there. “It’s really about working in a field with so few African Americans designers in it,” said Schulman. “There are images that show how frustrating it could be in such a tiny minority in this field – there is one image of Eugene Winslow in his office with commentary that shows he was unhappy being a supervisor of an all-white staff who did not appreciate having a black supervisor.”

Study: Resilience to discrimination and ethnic-racial identity in minority children.

Minority children with a strong sense of ethnic-racial identity are more resilient to harms of discrimination, study finds

Children as young as 7 years old are able to detect racial and ethnic discrimination aimed at them, according to a recent study.

But children who are raised with a strong sense of their ethnic-racial identity are more resilient to the psychological harm that such discrimination inflicts, the study also found.

“These findings highlight the importance of reducing discrimination and its pernicious effects, as well as promoting a positive sense of ethnic-racial identity and belonging to partially buffer children in the interim,” said Tuppett Yates, one of the study’s authors and a developmental psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, in a released statement.

The study was published in the journal Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology.

Earlier research

As background information in the study points out, the negative effects of discrimination on human development have been documented many, many times in prior studies. Much of that research has been with adults, but studies involving adolescents have found that young people who report more experiences with racial or ethnic discrimination are at greater risk of depression, substance abuse and risky sexual behaviors. They are also less likely to be engaged with and successful in school.

Only a few such studies have examined the issue in children as young as 10, but those findings have been similar. One study, which involved African-American boys aged 10 to 15, found that children’s reports of ethnic-racial discrimination were linked with behavioral problems, feelings of hopelessness and poor self-concepts.

The current study is one of the first, however, to look at how children younger than 10 perceive experiences of discrimination and how those perceptions affect their development over time.

Limitations and implications
The study comes with several caveats. It involved a relatively small sampling of children, and it also depended on the children’s own reports of discrimination. Also, the study included a large number of children from multiple ethnic-racial groups, and about 10 percent of those children were unable to identify all the groups to which they belonged (based on information provided by a parent or other caregiver).

Still, the study’s results support the findings from research on older children. Furthermore, as Yates and Marcela point out in their paper, the results might be even more pronounced if the study were to be done today.

“The current data were collected between 2011 and 2013, which was well before the widespread public discourse regarding racially motivated violence that has risen to prominence over the past few years,” they explain.

“Recent events and media coverage may serve to increase children’s experiences of discrimination and/or their awareness of discriminatory experiences directly via media exposure or indirectly via parental socialization in response to these violent events,” the researchers add. “Thus, the current climate magnifies the significance of our findings, which support prior assertion that exposure to ethnic-racial bias and discrimination at an early age has negative implications for later development.”

“I think it’s pretty convincing evidence that young children are experiencing and encoding experiences with discrimination in their schools, in their peer groups, and these experiences have significant negative implications for their health and wellbeing,” Yates told Claudia Boyd-Barrett, a reporter for the California Health Report.

The resilience of Barbados counters Trump's shithole remarks.

And not Barbados alone.

Rarely stated so bluntly, this racist trope is widespread. As always, Trump gives vulgar expression to quiet prejudice, making him sound “honest” to about 40 per cent of Americans no matter how many lies he tells. As Sarah Huckabee Sanders noted after a similar revelation last year, Trump’s straight-shooting bigotry is one thing his fans love about him.Those who don’t love him need to fight back with specific examples from the real world. Time and again, we need to highlight the big, complex reality that Trump and many of his supporters call “fake news.” Otherwise, his twisted version of the truth will continue to displace objective reality.

Ground zero for slavery and racism

Settled by the English in 1627, Barbados became one of the most brutal and profitable slave regimes in human history. An astonishing 600,000 Africans came in chains to Barbados, about five per cent of all the victims of the Atlantic slave trade. Smaller numbers of Irish and Native American captives were also “Barbadoz’d,” exiled to this early jewel in the British crown.

Few of them survived for long.

The people spent their days under the tropical sun, cutting and dragging eight-foot canes to cattle-drawn sugar mills. There the stalks were crushed between heavy rollers and boiled in huge cauldrons. Many slaves had their hands caught in the rollers; others, exhausted by 24-hour shifts, fell into the cauldrons. Dental records show that the Black majority nearly starved each winter when food supplies were scarce. (Sugar monoculture left little room for corn, squash or yams.) Malnutrition led to frequent miscarriages and stillbirths. Babies crawled around in soils full of worms and tetanus, leading to catastrophic death rates for infants.

As early as 1661, well before Black slavery had taken hold in North America, the Barbados assembly passed a code describing all “negroes” as dangerous brutes, liable to the same kinds of discipline —branding, whipping, gelding —as livestock. This code was later adopted by the British colonies in Jamaica and South Carolina, and Barbadian slaves were sold to buyers as far away as Boston.


Transition to peaceful stability

Most “Bajans,” as the islanders are known, valued honest work, humility and forgiveness. Gradually and painfully, they wrested political power away from the old planter elite, forming strong unions during the Great Depression and finally breaking away from British rule in 1967.

Today, Barbados is a democracy that combines British and Bajan traditions of parliamentary supremacy, the rule of law and social justice. Prime Minister Mia Mottley leads the Barbados Labour Party, which prevailed over the Democratic Labour Party in this spring’s elections. She is the first woman to serve as prime minister. This is not to deny the nation’s many social problems, especially since the collapse of the sugar industry during the 1980s and because of the lingering effects of the 2008 financial crisis. Rather, it is to recognize Barbados as an example of human endurance and solidarity within a pitiless world.

So watch what you say about “sh—thole countries,” Mr. Trump. At the present hour, tiny Barbados inspires as much hope as the mighty United States.


The Secret Network of Black Teachers Behind the Fight for Desegregation

Missed this a few months ago.

For 25 years, the Emory University professor Vanessa Siddle Walker has studied and written about the segregated schooling of black children. In her latest book, The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools, Walker tells the little-known story of how black educators in the South—courageously and covertly—laid the groundwork for 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education and weathered its aftermath.

The tale is told primarily through the life of Horace Tate, an acclaimed Georgia classroom teacher, principal, and one-time executive director of the Georgia Teachers and Education Association (GTEA), an organization for black educators founded in 1878. Later in his career, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky; at the time, Georgia still banned black students from state doctoral programs. Walker first met Tate in 2000. Over the course of the next two years, he told her about clandestine meetings among and outreach to influential black educators, lawyers, and community members tracing back to the 1940s. He also revealed black teachers’ secret and skillful organizing to demand equality and justice for African American children in Southern schools. After Tate’s death in 2002 at the age of 80, Walker continued a 15-year exploration, relying on Tate’s extensive archives to expose the full picture of how black educators mounted civil rights battles—in the years preceding and immediately following the Brown decision—to protect the interests of black children.

Walker: To overturn Plessy v. Ferguson—the 1896 Supreme Court case upholding the separate-but-equal doctrine—you have to have access to the people in the South. But if you’re in the NAACP’s national office in New York, how do you know who in the South will be a plaintiff? How do you launch a movement when you can’t really work well in the South because of the hostile climate? At the same time, black teachers in the South have data on school conditions and teaching resources and they know the plaintiffs, but they can’t let it be known that they’re part of the movement or they’ll lose their jobs. So it’s a perfect partnership. Black educators called themselves hidden provocateurs—these are the people figuring out, on a local level, how to provoke change and maneuver to get better facilities and more funding. To have it publicly known would undermine what they were trying to do. The generations of black people who followed learned the script that they wanted us to know.

Anderson: Black citizens who challenged Jim Crow segregation by rejecting racial subordination faced violence, intimidation, and economic ruin. Talk about the personal and emotional costs borne by black educators who were fighting for black children during the civil-rights era.

Walker: There are obvious losses—black teachers were fired and demoted. Wonderful black principals were put in charge of running school buses. They were humiliated because they had once been leaders in their communities. Some of them had to relocate and move north. But there are costs that we forget—like losing control over what black children learned.

The black educators taught math and science and everything else as best as they could with the limited resources that they had. You also saw the infusion of blackness in their classrooms. They were teaching black children how to be resilient in a segregated society. They seeded the civil-rights movement with this curriculum.

Those of us who reflect on the civil-rights era naturally think about people losing jobs and status. But to me just as important is understanding that they lost the chance to instill in another generation the ability to think about racial progress. We lost things that were foundational. We have to know the breadth of the costs, to understand both how we got to present-day conditions and how to think about moving forward.

De La Soul - Stakes is High

NRA Goes on Downgrade Spree in the Wake of GOP Defections

The NRA doesn’t want its “enemies” to see its candidate ratings in one place. We scraped the data, and found a surge in Republicans docked for breaking ranks.

"Every election season, the NRA assigns letter grades to thousands of candidates in state and federal races nationwide. This grading system has become a notorious indicator of a politician’s fealty — or opposition — to the influential group. The grades can make or break campaigns.

Earlier this month, the NRA published its grades for the upcoming midterms, but they’re not easy to access: The NRA website requires users to provide a street address before returning the names and grades of every candidate in the corresponding district. It’s not possible to search by a candidate’s name, or to look up every candidate in a state. In order to see every House and Senate candidate, you’d have to plug in a full street address for each of the country’s 435 congressional districts. So that’s what we did.

We’re releasing an archive of the NRA grades for every House and Senate candidate, as well as candidates for statewide races like governor and attorney general. (Although the NRA also grades candidates for state legislative bodies, we haven’t scraped those.)

Of the 15 downgraded Republicans, more than half were docked two full grades or more. In contrast, the NRA downgraded just six Republicans in 2016, and only one of those involved a swing of more than one letter grade. The 2014 and 2012 election cycles saw eight and seven GOP candidates downgraded, respectively — only three of whom involved swings of more than one grade.

The spike in downgrades is partly due to a revolt of sorts among Florida politicians in the wake of the Parkland school shooting earlier this year. Governor Rick Scott, whose intimate association with the NRA had earned him an A and a speaking slot at the group’s 2017 leadership forum, was dropped to a C this year for signing a bill that raised the minimum age for purchasing a long gun to 21.

Brian Mast, a Republican congressman and Afghanistan war veteran from Palm Beach who was elected in 2016 with the help of an A rating — and $30,000 in campaign support — from the NRA, proposed banning AR-15 rifles and universal background checks after Parkland. He was rewarded with an F rating, and marked as a “true enemy of gun owners’ rights.” His fellow Florida Republican, Representative Carlos Curbelo of Miami, was also downgraded to an F from a B+ for endorsing a slew of gun control measures after Parkland. Curbelo has taken $7,450 from the NRA since 2014. (Mast, Curbelo, and Scott did not respond to requests for comment.)


As in each of the past four general elections, the vast majority of Republican candidates — about 93 percent — received grades of A- or higher. But the share receiving an F has begun to grow, from virtually none in 2012 to 2.2 percent this year."

Interesting read. The NRA is losing ground.

A Vanishing History: Gullah Geechee Nation

"On the Sea Islands along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, a painful chapter of American history is playing out again. These islands are home to the Gullah or Geechee people, the descendants of enslaved Africans who were brought to work at the plantations that once ran down the southern Atlantic coast. After the Civil War, many former slaves on the Sea Islands bought portions of the land where their descendants have lived and farmed for generations. That property, much of it undeveloped waterfront land, is now some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

But the Gullah are now discovering that land ownership on the Sea Islands isn’t quite what it seemed. Local landowners are struggling to hold on to their ancestral land as resort developers with deep pockets exploit obscure legal loopholes to force the property into court-mandated auctions. These tactics have successfully fueled a tourism boom that now attracts more than 2 million visitors a year. Gullah communities have all but disappeared, replaced by upscale resorts and opulent gated developments that new locals — golfers, tourists, and mostly white retirees — fondly call “plantations.”

Faced with an epic case of déjà vu, the Gullah are scrambling for solutions as their livelihood and culture vanish, one waterfront mansion at a time."

The Myth of the Lazy Nonvoter

Not sure if this has been posted yet.

"Ever since key federal protections were dismantled by the Supreme Court in 2013 – including portions of the Voting Rights Act, which required some states and localities with a history of discrimination to obtain federal permission before changing voting procedures — state lawmakers have had more latitude than ever to enact laws affecting whether, how and when one can vote in a federal election.

To explore the hurdles that voters face this election, we created five voter profiles: the voter with no ID, the procrastinator, the student, the working parent, and the convicted felon.

The Impact of Restrictive Voting Laws

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, since 2010, at least 23 states have enacted laws restricting the ability to vote in some manner, including many states with competitive midterm races. These new laws limit early voting, make registration more difficult and introduce stricter photo-ID requirements, factors that particularly affect African-American, Hispanic, low-income and young voters. The outcomes in those states this November could hinge on which Americans — eager as ever to participate — are actually able to cast a ballot.

The Brennan Center estimates that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have, and will not get, the documents required by strict voter-ID laws, and these numbers are higher for certain groups.

“Paperwork requirements are the No.1 way to suppress the right to vote,” Ms. Lang said.

Some of the states that enacted stricter voter-ID requirements after 2010 saw a significant reduction in voter turnout in subsequent elections."

Republicans have gamed the system to their advantage, but they aren't Gods - they bleed just like us. Some of our candidates are competitive in States /districts we never dreamed would be in contention just a few years ago. Dems are also fighting Republican efforts to limit the franchise at the state-level where they occur. Voter suppression and Republican disdain for democratic norms is no reason for cynicism or hopelessness, they are reasons to intensify our efforts to GOTV and vote blue.

Remember when military policy was discussed almost daily?

We are getting reports about the situation in Yemen but coverage of Foreign Policy is mostly about Trump antagonizing our allies.

Trump has increased drone use by 450%. So far he is "outperforming" Obama in civilian casualities due to foreign intervention.



Funny how that works.

I get that Domestic affairs are a mess, and deserving of attention, but there's also a lot of chasing of shiny objects ( Stormy Daniels comes to mind) while Mattis has free reign at the defense department, unchallenged and unchecked. I fear we won't know the true scale of damage until Trump and his Enablers and Cronies have left office.

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