Big Mama's Joint

Welcome to Big Mama's Joint, where Big Mama, CL and Y-Factor share their innermost thoughts and feelings and offer free advice. Take your shoes off and sit a spell...we've got a lot to tell.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Evil Is As Evil Does

Last night I watched the movie “Live From Baghdad” with Michael Keaton and Helena Bonham Carter. They played CNN producers in Iraq on the eve of the 1991 Gulf War.

Keaton played Robert Wiener, the CNN producer instrumental in getting dispatches out to US viewers as the bombs fell on Baghdad. This now famous broadcast was made from their Baghdad hotel, in the middle of the target area, with a shaky yet courageous Bernard Shaw describing the scene. It was fact-based and historically accurate. As such efforts go, it was actually a very well made movie.

At one point, the Keaton character was reviewing footage for a piece that was being put together on the atrocities of Saddam Hussein, pre Gulf War. The footage included several clips of real pictures of victims in various stages of torture, including corpses. The pictures depicted horrible scenes of anguish, misery and death. It was a solemn scene as Weiner and his associates stared numbly at the carnage that brought home the realities of the Hussein regime flowing across their video monitors.

In seeing these pictures I was struck with the realization that, what they depicted was no different than what is depicted in pictures and footage of Iraqis being tortured by Americans in Abu Ghraib. For this scene in the movie, you could substitute pictures of torture victims from Abu Ghraib, and no one would know the difference. Although the administration has not allowed any pictures to come out of Guantanamo, the descriptions of the horrors inflicted upon the prisoners there are comparable to some of the worst abuses Hussein inflicted upon the Iraqi people.

One of the excuses currently in use for justifying the war, now that the others have been exposed as lies, is that Saddam Hussein was a “horrible dictator” who “threatened his neighbors” and tortured and killed people, filling “mass graves,” and for this reason deserved to be forcibly removed from power. And yet, everything that we accuse Hussein of doing, we are doing ourselves to the Iraqi people, and neighboring countries, with comparable if not worse effect.

We are torturing prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and at other secret locations around the world. Even though the larger policy goal of the Bush administration is supposed to be the exportation of democracy, particularly in the middle east, we look the other way as we ally ourselves with dictators in undemocratic countries where we ship people to be tortured. Due process and international law is an afterthought, if ever at all.

As for mass graves, how many are we responsible for filling? The International Red Cross estimates that over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war. Prior to that, the sanctions that we imposed for the 10+ years after the first Gulf War were largely responsible for the starvation deaths of hundreds of thousands more, most of them children. How many mass graves does it take to accommodate these victims?

While it is cold and calculating, it is nevertheless argued that the civilian casualties resulting from the war are “collateral damage,” and were therefore to be expected. We thus have our satisfactory “justification,” however weak and callous it may be.

But we are running neck and neck with Hussein, in terms of torture, depravities, horrors and deaths inflicted upon the Iraqi people. They are hardly better off now that we have arrived and Saddam is gone. We say what Saddam did is “evil” and yet the justifications that we use in describing our actions do not distinguish us from Hussein. Evil is as evil does.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A Smoking Gun

Just before the elections in the UK last week, a highly classified British memo was leaked that indicates not only had Bush decided to go to war in Iraq in 2002, but that there were plans in the works to make sure the "...intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." If ever there was a "smoking gun," this is it. And yet, incredibly, there has been virtually no mention of this memo in the US media.

Imagine if all that has occured in the last four years had happened with a democrat in the white house, and imagine how this leaked memo would have been dealt with. It would be the top story on all the cable and network news programs and talk shows. Republicans would be calling for impeachment, in no uncertain terms. Some democrats would join them. Military leaders would be publicly expressing condemnation. And the media would be going after the president with junkyard dog ferocity.

We really need to think about what this means. Why is it that republican presidents get a pass on things that would be raised to the level of "national security" when it comes to democrats? Think "October Surprise" with Reagan; Bush I's Iran/Contra, and now Iraq with Bush II. If any one of these had happened on Clinton's watch, they wouldn't have needed a Monica.

Why are republicans given free reign to lie and cheat in governing, while democrats are castigated before they even get a chance to govern? And why are the distinctions and differences so stark?

Why does the media, when dealing with political leaders, treat democrats as if they have no credibility and must constantly prove themselves, while republicans in their most extreme actions are ALWAYS given the benefit of the doubt? Why is it that republican leaders such as Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Tom Delay of Texas, in their recent jihad against the judiciary, clearly undertaken to speak to the religious insanity of people like "reverends" James Dobson and Pat Robertson, are given a pass by the media, after openly threatening and justifying recent violence against federal judges?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but threatening a federal judge is still a crime. Yet Tom Delay, on more than one occasion, did just that. And Sen. Cornyn justified the recent violence visited upon judges in Atlanta and Chicago, from the floor of the Senate. Only a man who has the foreknowledge that he could virtually say or do anything as a member of the GOP, and not be held accountable, would even think to undertake such a bold and audacious assault on the Constitution. Again, imagine what would have happened if Delay and Cornyn were democrats.

Let me put on my tinfoil hat for a moment. One is considered to be wearing one to even think what I am about to say. But I believe that there is a conspiracy going on. One that involves Wall Street, the so-called military/industrial complex and extreme elements of the republican party. It thrives in an environment where legislation is for sale, and lobbyists with corporate cash pimp GOP representatives and senators to those willing to pay.

Everything that the republicans have done of late has been less about true conservative ideology and mostly about power. Trillions of dollars in tax breaks pass public wealth to the top 1%, and diminsh the government's ability to fund programs that benefit the middle class and the poor. While we castigate Kofi Annan and the UN over corruption involving the UN's oil for food program, hundreds of millions of dollars go unaccounted and missing in Iraq rebuilding funds. Industry is allowed to spill pollutants into the ground, air and water under the "Clean Skies" initiative. We are misdirected by a "crises" in social security, meanwhile HMOs and pharmaceutical companies are the reason the real catastrophe in health care goes unnoticed. Billions of dollars in tax breaks are given to pharmaceutical companies, under the guise it is for "job creation," even as they announce plans to reduce costs through cutting jobs. Debt peonage has been brought back, thanks to the new bankruptcy bill, bought and paid for by the credit card industry

If you look at EVERY action and policy of this administration, when you peel back the layers of deception and happy talk, you find that the benefit is to powerful elites and corporate wealth, to the detriment of the public good. In EVERY case. From tax cuts to Iraq to social security, EVERY policy of this administration ends in payoff to the powerful.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Bush Social Security Phase Out Plan

Bush has finally put his social security proposal on the table, and the media is giving Bush credit for putting forth a detailed plan. Never mind that statements in the plan are contradictory, numbers don't add up, facts are wrong, and it radically changes social security from a guaranted benefit insurance plan to something akin to welfare.

As is typical, Bush is credited for doing something, regardless of the fact that, as is typical, what he proposes essentially exacerbates the problem, rather than provide a solution. As usual, the MSM is as divorced from reality as is the Bush White House, and wants the public to believe that it will now be harder for democrats to oppose it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Bush is putting the plan out there under the proposition that, its now a choice of his plan, or doing nothing, and doing nothing will result in a "bankrupt" system. But the reality is far from the case when you look at the numbers:

"Under the plan that is the basis for Mr. Bush's approach, people in the lowest 30 percent of the income spectrum would get all of the benefits promised to them by current law. But the plan would reduce benefits relative to current law for everyone else, using a sliding scale that would impose deeper cuts on the upper end of the income scale than on the middle. For average-wage earners - making around $36,500 this year - the benefit cut would be 16 percent if they reach retirement age in 2045 and 28 percent if they retire in 2075. For upper-income people - making $90,000 or above this year - the benefit cut for those retiring in 2045 would be 29 percent, and for those retiring in 2075 it would be 49 percent."

The Bush plan is regressive, in that the benefit cuts increase over time, on a scale from 16 percent to 49%, depending on one's income level. Anyone making $90K THIS year, would see a benefit cut of 29 percent if they retire in 2045, and 49 percent if the retire in 2075.

The person who would retire in 2045 at 67 would be about 27 years old today. This is the age of the "young people" who Bush claims are getting a raw deal now. If nothing were done today, this young person would come out better off than under Bush's plan. Doing nothing does not result in a "bankrupt" system, but one in which 75 percent of benefits could be paid, according to the CBO, and Bush's own projections, or a 25 percent cut, as opposed to the 29 percent cut Bush is proposing.

If you throw in the 10 to 15 trillion dollars in debt required to fund Bush's stubborn insistence on private accounts, added on top of the trillions of dollars in debt we are already burdened with, this generation of young people will be much worse off, if you consider standard of living as a whole. Most likely, citizens living in that society will have the draconian choice of severely degraded public services, or drastic tax increases; some estimates as high as 66%.

Another interesting point about the Bush plan that seemed to escape the notice of much of the MSM. Given the beating the stock market has been taking of late, Bush sought to calm the fears of opponents of his plan who would be rightly concerned about gambling their retirement on the stock market, versus the guaranteed benefit social security offers today.

Bush said that people who use the private accounts will have the option of their funds being invested in US Treasury bonds, "backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government." These are the very same bonds that the social security trust fund have been invested in for decades; the same ones that Bush has been traveling all over the country, claiming they are "worthless IOUs."

The facts on social security have been manipulated this way throughout the debate. When it suits the GOP, treasury bonds are nothing more than "worthless IOUs;" when it supports their argument, they're "backed by the full faith and credit" of the government. To do nothing is to leave retirees subject to a "bankrupt system," when, according to wording in Bush's own proposal, "under current projections, the system can pay full benefits for the next 36 years, and afterward just under 75 percent;" much less of a cut than Bush's proposed solution. As long as the system is taking in money, it will never be "bankrupt." When you have this level of manipulation of the facts, and outright lying, you have to be suspicious of the motives.

Why would you trust anyone who has such a track record for lying? That is the key question voters should consider when looking at the details of Bush's social security plan, and this is why a large majority of voters opposes it. The Bush plan doesn't "fix" social security by maintaining it as a guaranteed benefit program. It puts it on a track to be phased out by radically altering it into something that produces no guaranteed benefit, proposes larger cuts than if nothing were done to the current system, and shifts a huge tax burden onto the middle class while providing yet another windfall to the brokerage houses and investment managers who comprise Bush's true base.

Social security was never meant to be a retirement program, but is an insurance program designed to guarantee a certain level of income in retirement. Knowing social security is there to fall back on, more people have been willing to put money into the stock market in higher risk investments. With the plan Bush is proposing, there is no such incentive. So not only does it meet a social need in keeping workers out of abject poverty in retirement, but it also facilitates participation in the stock market. Having social security does more to maintain and stimulate the economy, than the huge transfer of public wealth to the upper 1% that would occur as a result of Bush's plan.

Democrats have been faulted for not having a plan, and I imagine that story line will persist in the MSM now that Bush has made the details of his sham public. The conservatives and their business and corporate patrons have intentionally pushed this debate as something that is so complicated, when the reality is that what we are talking about is making up the difference that will occur in 2052, when the system will only be taking in enough money to pay 75 percent of benefits. Its time now for democrats to start putting forth their own proposals to keep the program solvent, and save social security from those who are aiming to destroy it. There are several ways to do this.

First, payroll taxes can be increased. This was done back in 1983, by none other than the conservative saint, Ronald Reagan, with the support and assistance of Tip O'Neill. The result was that it made the system solvent for the next 70 years, give or take. Another solution would be to roll back just some of Bush's tax cuts, which would be more than enough to make up the difference, and keep the system solvent for decades to come after 2052. (The Bush budget that the GOP House just approved calls for another 106 billion in tax cuts, over the next 5 years. To put this in perspective of what we are dealing with, it also proposed 15 billion in cuts to Medicare.) Social security can be made solvent, for many decades to come after 2052, without adding trillions of dollars more to the federal deficit.

Its not a question of whether or not we have the financial resources to make the system solvent. The real issue is, do we want to make the system solvent, or phase it out.

Bush was forced to admit early on in his traveling, social security road show shell game, that the centerpiece of his social security plan, private accounts, would not make social security solvent. The payroll tax money he diverts from the system to pay for private accounts, reduces the system's ability to pay current benefits. And the 10 to 15 trillion dollars he would borrow to continue to pay current benefits for those under 55, to make up for the money he's diverting from payroll taxes to fund private accounts, would drastically increase the national debt, and the burden on taxpayers.

Over time, social security, as well as all domestic spending programs, would be put in a position of having to be phased out for lack of funds, and have government "privatized" and turned over to business. That has long since been the goal of conservatives, since FDR first enacted social security.

Bush so far is losing with his social security gambit. His approval ratings are the lowest ever for a second term president, and the more he talks about his proposal, the lower his ratings plummet. The reason Bush decided to take on this political risk in making "fixing" social security the top priority of his second term, is because the conservatives have never been better positioned to phase it out. Controlling all branches of government and the media, they are able to sell phase out as a solution and implement it as law, while making the public believe what they are doing is saving a program they have intended to destroy since its inception.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

WHAT'S A FEEDING TUBE?...AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS

I had thought by now this Terri Schiavo business would have been over and done with, one way or another. Instead, it has become the latest in a long line of media fellations (Elian Gonzalez, shark attacks, Gary Condit, shark attacks, Michael Jackson, Robert Blake and, oh yeah, Spring Break Shark Attacks!) designed to give the useless piles of protoplasm called "journalists" something to do, other than their jobs. But when was the last time they did that?

But no, the VWRC saw an opportunity to make money off of the far right fringe of the "Christian Right," by giving them something to hate again. And like the cherry blossoms blooming in April, these peoples' hatred and lunacy is on display in full flower. To wit:
  • Terry Schiavo is being compared to the Crucifixion, complete with images of her on a cross. It must be so, they say, because Terry's mother's name is Mary!
  • The so-called "Culture of Life" has issued death threats against Terry's husband, Michael Schiavo, who has done more to care for this woman in the last 15 years than anyone.
  • One "Christian," unconcerned with Jesus' philosophy of non-violence and love, attempted to steal a gun from a gun shop to "save" Terry.
  • They are calling on the Bush brothers to sidestep the Constitution, yet again, and "use their power" to "seize" this woman and Forcibly insert The Feeding Tube.

I am almost afraid to ask: can it get any crazier?

Speaking of The Feeding Tube, I am so sick of the rank stupidity of those who act as if there are full course meals flowing through that tube into Schiavo's mouth. She's being kept "alive" by mechanical means with a mixture of nutrients being used to keep her body from dehydrating. The Feeding Tube is not allowing her to "eat" as we know it; she's not "feeding" in any sense. (Hey Doc, for lunch, how about mashing up a big mac and supersize some fries and send 'em on down the tube!) She has no concept of "eating," and thus no sense of starvation as the far right lunatics claim disconnection of the tube will cause.

In my circle of friends, one (who will remain nameless, because he's still a friend) has uncharacteristically gone off the deep end on this case. He told me that Terry should be kept alive, in essence, so that her husband Michael "won't be able to pursue other women." He also said that, he must have abused her because, "he teased her about her weight." This is how the 18% justify their loud and irrational arguments in support of reinserting The Feeding Tube.

My friend and others like him seek to inflict what is really the cruelest fate of all on this woman: to have her body propped up, with no signs of life beyond reflex movements and breathing, hooked to machines until the heart or some other vital organ fails, if for no other reason than to spite the evil Michael Schiavo. (Even then I could imagine them demanding an artifical heart be installed, lest they are no longer able to send out fundraising letters to "save Terry's Life!") And these people call themselves "Christians."

Instead of letting God's Will take its course, these are the same people who want to see the US go nuclear in the middle east, if only to hasten Armageddon, they sooner they go to their heavenly reward. At the same time, they would rather keep Terry Schiavo here with them, rather than for her to get her reward now in heaven. These people are the definition of hypocrisy.

The bottom line is the far right, from Tom Delay to the idiots clowning ourtside of Terry's hospice with their mouths taped, do not give a damn about the welfare of this woman. They don't care about the grief her parents, who cannot let go, are having. They've demonstrated that their concern about the sanctity of marriage was driven by homophobia, and Michael Schiavo's rights as a spouse are trumped by the propaganda value of waving around Terry Schiavo's limp and lifeless body. As Tom Delay said the other day, "God sent Terry Schiavo to us..."

Terry cannot live for ever, and eventually the end game of this latest right wing media circus will play out. I think it will go something like this: The GOP thought it had a bullet-proof issue with Terry Schiavo's condition, and a way to beat up on Democrats while firing up the lunatic fringe that is increasingly the "Christian right." They went all in, but their "strategery" proved faulty. The public is overwhelmingly appalled at how they have hijacked this woman's body and invaded a marriage clearly for political purposes. Meanwhile, the rightwingnuts are holding GOP leaders' feet to the fire, threatening that failure is unnaceptable, and if Terry dies, as pro-life pharoah Randall Terry said, "there will be hell to pay." Some are already comparing Jeb Bush to Pontius Pilate for his failure to sidestep the Constitution.

The only thing that will appease the rightwingnuts and prevent them from not supporting the God, Oligarchy and Propaganda party in 2006 and 2008, is for Frist to lead the passage of the "nuclear option" in the Senate. This will end the ability of the democratic minority to enforce advise and consent on federal judgeships through filibuster in the Senate, and force even more ideologoically extreme and religiously insane judges on the federal bench, "jurists" who will subsitute their flawed interpretation of the Bible for their even more flawed interpretation of the Constitution. If this happens, we'll witness the unheard of spectacle of 20% at best, of the public forcing its will on the nation.

Having such people on the federal courts will complete the ongoing transformation of this country into a theocracy. Allowing the religiously insane to set the agenda of this country is dangerous, and if we don't get a grip soon, it will be too late.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

THE TERRY SCHIAVO CASE AND THE GOP: A CULTURE OF HYPOCRISY

Not to sound heartless, but the Terry Schiavo case for me, up until recently, has been mere background noise in a symphonic cacaphony of "news" events. I had put it in the same mental file with shark attacks, Michael Jackson and Robert Blake. If one works for a living, has family and otherwise has a life, there simply is not enough time to pay any real attention to everything that comes acrosss the transom. But, while channel surfing Friday night, thanks to "Larry King Live," I got a glimpse of what all the fuss is about.

To be sure, the Schiavo case is a sad one; my heart goes out to the family. Here was a vibrant young woman who was struck down by the kind of everyday calamity that always seems to happen to other people, and remains remote in our own minds, lest it happens to one of our own. She ended up brain damaged to the extent that she is no longer conscious of her own mind and, to make a long medical prognosis story short, there is no chance of recovery. She is being kept "alive" by way of a feeding tube that pumps nutrients into a body she has virtually no control over.

Up to now I thought Schiavo was lying unconscious in a vegetative state, but after seeing a film clip of her, one can understand the temptation for ideological "conservatives" to call her existence life. The existence Schiavo lives cannot be considered "life" by any stretch of the imagination. Her bodily functions work -- she breathes, her body has movement and she can make incoherent sounds, however she cannot communicate nor appears to be cognizant. If Schiavo were lying in a motionless state, it might be easier for some to accept the decision to remove the tube and let this woman pass on into the final phase of the life cycle. Her husband has said that his wife told him that if she were ever to end up in this situation, that she would not want to be preserved in such a state by mechanical means, and would prefer that nature be allowed to take its course. Thus Mr. Schiavo is seeking that her desire, as expressed to him, be kept, as the right of the spouse.

In a normal situation of this kind, e.g. one that is not tainted by the media circus, the spouse's wishes would be respected. It's clear that the surviving spouse has the right to make such a decision. However, thanks to circumstances, the MSM has been able to turn the Schiavo predicament into the Lacy Peterson case of right to die issues. All the elements are there. You have high profile emotional contention between the families, with Terry's family contending that their daughter and sister had no such wishes as the husband claims. They have also cast doubt on the circumstances of her death, implying in no uncertain terms that the husband is likely a murderer, even though legally no such claim has been proven. (Could Nancy Grace be waiting in the wings?) They have so far waged a successful ten year battle to prevent him from honoring her wishes. Nevertheless, as in the case of Lacy Peterson, this is a family matter that should be left to be resolved by the families and/or state courts, and should not be reduced to an object of sick entertainment by the MSM.

But now the media circus has kicked into high gear. The GOP, led by none other than that paragon of moral virtue and "Christian" values, Tom Delay, has sensed an opportunity to cynically exploit the Schiavo family, and has positioned itself as ringmaster. The "party of hypocrisy" has once again proven why that description is so fitting. With their recent move to invoke congressional power to take the case away from the state courts and abrogate the rights of the surviving spouse, they have violated many bedrock conservative principles. But who can remember when it was that principles still mattered in the republican party?

First there's states' rights; the right of state courts to handle affairs free of federal influence and control. Congress has, in effect, in violation of the Constitution, made a law narrowly defined to specifically address the Schiavo case, in such a way that all but refers to her by name, to leave the feeding tube in place. Secondly, there's government intervention into what are essentially family decisions, and the right of husband or wife to make decisions in such cases. They are in effect banning natural death, and leaving it to be defined at the whim of a small ideological contingent of the far right wing of the republican party.

Hypocrisy abounds here. They say Schiavo has a right to "live," if one calls the vegetative state she finds herself in "life." Yet, this claim is made by those who support the death penalty, even in the case of underage children. These are also people who do not care about the "right to life" of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens, killed in the name of freedom in a war they did not ask for, and blithely written off as "collateral damage." Or people who live in places like the Sudan, who are left to die as they are of no apparent concern. They do not care about the perhaps hundreds of thousands of human embryos that are discarded every year, but once someone decides to make use of an embryo to save the lives of others, then that embryo suddenly becomes a life. Ironically, human embryo research could lead to technolgies that may one day cure someone in Terry Schiavo's medical condition, and yet the GOP's "solution" is to leave this woman in a vegetative state, tethered to a feeding tube the rest of her "life," instead of giving her and others like her a chance at having a meaningful life as we all know it.

Republicans have once again sensed a media opportunity, and are charging ahead to exploit it for pure political gain. The sad reality is Tom Delay and his GOP minions could give a rat's behind about Terry Schiavo and her family. But being the political opportunist par excellance, he knows that this will do wonders to curry favor with the ideoligically driven, "religious" right rank-and-file, who have yet to realize they too have been screwed by all of the corporate focused legislation sponsored by their leaders, such as the recently passed bankruptcy bill and the Bush tax cuts that imperil their financial well being in favor of wealthy elites. Just like with gay marriage, Delay and company know that giving them something to focus their hate on will be enough to misdirect them from the hand that is in their pockets, taking the life out of their ability to care for themselves and their families, far into the future.

But give the GOP credit; they know their people. News reports show them descending like vultures to picket, Dodo-like, outside of Florida courts and the hospital where Terry Schiavo lay. Meanwhile the bankruptcy bill that puts the payment of extortion-level interest on bank credit cards (you might do better getting a juice loan from a mob shylock than taking major bank credit card) above payment of child support, and what that may mean to the welfare of hundreds of thousand of actually living kids, gets no notice. In the 2004 election, gay marriage was used to distract them from Bush's real record on Iraq and the economy; now the Schiavo case is being used to distract them from what the bankruptcy bill will do to them.

It is clear that this naked politcal move in grabbing control of the Schiavo case is targeted at the ideological hypocrises of the Christian right, which forms the basis of support for the GOP. Its really sad that Terry Schiavo and her family are being exploited in this way. One has to wonder why it is that a group that's supposedly grounded in the Christian principles of love always mobilizes on hatred and ignorance.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

They Ain't Made the North Face Nothin' That's Worth It - Part 1

Yesterday evening, I listened to Insight on the Daily Drum, a news show on Howard University Radio. The topic of discussion was should parents rely on the schools and the police department to keep our children safe when wearing brand name clothing, or should parents stop buying such items for their children. The topic was made timely by an earlier shooting of a young boy in the buttocks (thank God it wasn't more serious) in southeast D.C. by another young man who was trying to steal his North Face coat.

As my fingers frantically dialed (I haven't been able to get through the line since 1993), I continued to tune into my radio, nodding my head in agreement with some callers' comments, and looking heavenward for strength when I was floored by other comments. Comments ranged...

Once caller said she wears nice things and therefore she likes for her to daughter to have nice things. She thought that her daughter should be able to wear what she wants without worrying about people taking her things. I didn't disagree.

A man called in and said that these gun-toting youngsters needed to have someone tell them the actual value of these jackets and maybe they would think twice before deciding to get one at any cost. I didn't disagree.

Another woman commented that North Face jackets are not new, that white people buy the "real" thing, that many black people have knock-offs. I didn't agree or disagree with her. I just didn't understand her point.

At the end of the show, I sat at my desk muttering to myself: no one answered the question. The question placed squarely on the table was should we rely on our schools and police departments to do all that they can to protect our children so that children can dress for school as they please. Every ounce of my being screams, NO!

Parents can argue until the Redskins win another championship (it ain't gonna happen, that's a separate blog) that they have the right to buy their children designer clothes; that kids want and use the status of these nice things to fit in; that we need to make these adolescent thieves understand the value of clothing versus life; and yes, that schools and the police departments have a responsibility to keep children safe.

All of these points are legitimate. But, if by buying a North Face jacket, or whatever the hot designer thing is at the moment, potentially puts a child, your child, at risk of being intimidated, threatened, assaulted, or worst, how then, does one justify taking the risk? One can't.

In the interim of addressing issues like school safety, somebody is having the shit beat out of them over a jacket. In the space of explaining to a group of would-be thieves about the value of material things versus a human life (really the discussion should be about the value of life-period, not in comparison to anything else), somebody else is staring down the barrel of some steel, getting ready to kiss his life goodbye over a fucking coat. How many young lives will we lose in a season while we try to fix what's wrong about our world and communities that create and contribute to our children equating their value with the mere cost of a North Face jacket? One life is too many.

This discussion ain't over. I've just begun...

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Marketing to children: why they want expensive sneakers

It is ultimately simplistic and judgmental to assume that the reason so many black kids want expensive sneakers is because their parents have questionable priorities. Those who are interested in doing more than dispensing harsh judgments might find out what parents are up against when trying to instill healthy values and perspectives in their children:
The public could stand to know more about the marketing strategies that fuel these desires -- and the socioeconomic implications of having consumers under a spell.

On March 11, scholars from throughout the country will gather at Howard University to share their knowledge on the subject at a three-day conference, "Consuming Kids: How Marketing Undermines Children's Health, Values & Behavior."

Alvin Poussaint, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and president of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, will moderate panel discussions on such subjects as the sexualization of childhood in advertisements, the economics of obesity and the commercial branding of children in public schools.

"Even parents who are trying to do the right thing must realize what they're up against," said Velma LaPoint, a professor of child development at Howard and one of the conference organizers. "They may be trying to promote positive child development, but at the same time, you've got a marketing industry trying to hire people like me to tell them what a child's vulnerabilities might be at certain ages. In very scientific ways, they set out to capitalize on a child's need to belong and to create in them a feeling that they must always have something new to be accepted."

And here's Sonny Vaccaro, the former Nike exec credited with the creation of the Jordon shoe craze. If you miss the cynicism here, then Big Mama can't help you:
"What we saw happen with Michael, and carry on to other individuals, was a legacy and a myth wrapped up into one thing: a shoe," said Vaccaro, now a consultant to Reebok. "It was incomprehensible, and it grew to mystical proportions. What we are seeing now is a new generation wanting to be a part of that. All humans want to be connected to greatness and glory, and now people are connecting with that, and each other, through the shoe."

When I noted that $160 seemed a lot to pay for such a connection, Vaccaro replied: "And they'll pay $260 and $270 when it's time to pay that number."

Don't get it twisted—when we as a society are ready to address the cash-driven manipulation of our kids, our kids will respond with better values:
No doubt the human need for connection is strong. Scholars at the conference on marketing to kids would do well to keep that need in mind and to consider ways to satisfy it that last longer than a shoe.

» Selling Sneakers By Violating Young Minds

DC Public Schools: Can they get any worse?

With Bill Cosby and Maureen Jagmin bitching about the failures of poor black kids, they might want to visit Cardozo High School in DC:
Cardozo Senior High School was ordered closed again today as D.C. firefighters found mercury contamination on the Northwest campus for the third time in 11 days. Tonight school officials were scrambling to come up with a revised plan for students to make up missed class time.

The surprise discovery of an additional 12 to 15 potentially dangerous mercury droplets in the school's basement came just a day after the school was declared safe to reopen for classes on Monday. On Saturday the D.C. Health Department said students could return to Cardozo, following tests conducted by officials from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Bill would have you believe that Brown vs. Board of Ed paved the way, and since that decision, poor black kids need only walk through the door of opportunity it provides. But Bill and Maureen would both do well to take a deeper look at what many poor black kids have to contend with.
In ancient mythology, Mercury is depicted as a messenger wearing winged sandals; in astrology, the planet rules intellect, voice and communication. Archetypically, Mercury is the critic and student and teacher both.

Could Mercury, by forcing yet another D.C. public school to close, be delivering a message from students at large that the real hazard to their neurological development is not some liquid metal but the school system itself?

"It's possible that it's nothing but a prank, but also possible that it's more emblematic of a larger problem that the city's high schools are having, " said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools. "Who knows what the motive and thinking of the individuals involved in the spill might be? But it's impossible for me to think that students haven't noticed the quality of education they are receiving and the conditions of the buildings where they are expected to learn and are not frustrated by what they see."

In 2003, the schools council released a report that said the D.C. school system has, as Casserly put it, "lost its instructional focus; its efforts have become fractured and incoherent; its academic moorings have loosened and its unity of purpose has splintered."

John L. Johnson, professor emeritus of education at the University of the District of Columbia, compares mercury to a broken promise.

"It's slippery, and it breaks up," he said, "like the promise to these kids that our schools would teach them to read, like the promise that they would be prepared for college after graduating from high school."

» More Mercury Found at Cardozo High School
» Mercury Scare Could Have Deeper Meaning

Bill Cosby and Maureen Jagmin: kissing cousins

How ironic that just before CL first wrote about Maureen Jagmin and her outing herself as a racist, he and I both wrote about Bill Cosby, and his tirades against poor black folks.

Some folks say Cosby was only speaking the truth, and that it was courageous of him to do so. Think that if you want to. But the day that slandering millions of people as blithely as he has, and the day that words as hurtful as his have any potential to heal, or to solve problems, is the day a fat man climbs down my chimney bringing gifts. And I don't have a chimney.

Big Mama agrees with The Black Commentator:
He played the elderly "shock jock," frothing and flailing away, spewing a sewer of abuse.
Cosby advocates a neutered black politics of individual striving within the parameters that are allowed by those in power.

For your reading pleasure, Big Mama will post Maureen Jagmin's pathetic rant below, followed by some "Bill Cosbyisms". Read them, and then tell me these folks ain't kissing cousins.
Maureen Jagmin:

Today you can't, you can't, do that anymore because you know we're so sick of it -- you know, all the Caucasian people. How much more. I look at all the housing that came down from the city and how they set up these beautiful town houses in Richton [Park], and all in Sauk Village, you know, they cost about $150,000 to build, and these people move in and have to pay a lousy $50 to live in them, per month, and don't even pay and ruin 'em, burn 'em out. And it's just a process that how many years is this going to take, to the point where give them all a free education so we can get them all off welfare and get them into jobs, because it's getting to the point where I'm tired of the welfare, tired of the mentality that poor blackie because let's give them a job so they can be supporting themselves and, be, make them work. You know, forget this I want to be a bum type of thing. I think it's a forever problem in this country, you know, it's never going to go away in this area here. It's part of . . . I watched the neighborhoods all change. The schools that used to be good like Rich Central, Rich East and Rich South are all failing schools. Why are they failing? Because of what's in 'em. One of the teachers right down the street said he couldn't wait to get the heck out from 30 years ago when he started teaching when it was just the normal kid. I mean it's a zoo."

Bill Cosbyisms:

"People putting their clothes on backwards: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong? ... People with their hats on backwards, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up to the crack and got all type of needles [piercings] going through her body? What part of Africa did this come from? Those people are not Africans; they don't know a damn thing about Africa."

I have yet to meet any kid of any color who puts clothes on backwards. In all the years Big Mama's been on this planet, she's seen exactly one ass-crack—it belonged to a white child. Piercings? What? I live across the street from a piercing shop. It isn't black kids going in there.
"Brown versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. We have to go in there – forget about telling your child to go into the Peace Corps – it is right around the corner. They are standing on the corner and they can't speak English."

Well, that might be true, if it weren't for the re-segregation of public schools. "Recent polls indicate that white students, on average, attend schools that are 80 percent white, while just 14 percent of white students attend multi-racial schools." "A Harvard University report reveals that the majority of intensely segregated minority schools face conditions of concentrated poverty and do not enjoy the same educational opportunities as their white counterparts."

"Basketball players – multimillionaires – can't write a paragraph. Football players – multimillionaires – can't read. Yes, multimillionaires. Well, Brown versus Board of Education: Where are we today? They paved the way, but what did we do with it? That white man, he's laughing. He's got to be laughing: 50 percent drop out, the rest of them are in prison."

Yeah, Brown vs. Board of Ed. Right.

"Five, six children – same woman – eight, 10 different husbands or whatever. Pretty soon you are going to have DNA cards to tell who you are making love to. You don't know who this is. It might be your grandmother. I am telling you, they're young enough! Hey, you have a baby when you are 12; your baby turns 13 and has a baby. How old are you? Huh? Grandmother! By the time you are 12 you can have sex with your grandmother, you keep those numbers coming. I'm just predicting."

This from a man who payed $100,000 to a child he may have fathered while cheating on his wife? Please.
"…with names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed [!] and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail.

And what exactly is wrong with African and Muslim names? Crap? A comment like that's supposed to help somebody? Who?
"These are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, [saying] 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"

So I guess it's okay to shoot somebody in the back of the head for stealing poundcake. And we shouldn't be outraged. Whatever. Like I said, Cosby and Maureen—kissing cousins.

Big Mama welcomes Y-Factor

Y-Factor and I met many years ago, when our now-teenage sons, who are beginning to look way too much like men for our mutual comfort, were in the same class in kindergarten. We shared more in common than our childrens' kindergarten teacher—we've both been through more fires than we can count fighting the beauraucracy that our local school system is, to make sure that teachers and administrators actually saw our children—their talents and capabilities, instead of seeing walking statistics.

The problem was (and is) that from the time they entered school, both of our boys displayed an unusually high level of intelligence. You may think it strange that Big Mama calls that a problem, but for our school system, it is. When black and brown children, particularly boys, do not fit the stereotypical mold expected, these schools do not know what to do with them.

While all the hand-wringers and head-scratchers continually give lip-service to the notion of resolving the glaring educational disparities, neither Y-Factor or I were content to wait for them to fix the unequal delivery services that is rampant in our schools.

So we fought like hell.

Over the course of many years, as we both learned the hard way how to become effective advocates for our children, our fights were similar though our styles were different. Big Mama often envied Y-Factor for her more calm and sophisticated approach to parent activism. But Big Mama has come to recognize and accept some things about herself—like, the fact that she's, let's say, a bit rough around the edges.

Stylistic differences aside, Y-Factor and I forged an eduring bond as we both struggled to negotiate what sometimes seemed like a minefield. And now, here we are, a bit more scarred than when we first met, but much wiser...and still fighting.

As any mama would be, Big Mama feels extremely blessed to watch this family grow. First, CL was gracious enough to accept the keys to my house, and now Y-Factor has done the same. This is getting to be too much fun.

And there's strange karma going on up in here. CL is from DC, and is now in Chicago. Y-Factor is from Chicago, and is now in the DC area. And Big Mama? Never stepped foot in Chicago. But one of these days, she might just have to tag along with Y-Factor for a visit, so the BMJ crew can run the streets together. Now that would be too much fun.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Greetings and Salutations from the Y-Factor

big mama of bigmama's joint recently invited me to participate in her blogging affair. having been searching for a place to write (for the purpose of my every discussion, i define write/writing as one's ability to think, challenge, and/or enlighten on paper), i jumped at the opportunity.

having been raised, i thought that blogging etiquette might require a simple introduction of an incoming blogger to bloggees... and i needed material to test since this is my very first blogging experience.

my business card (i had them made online AFTER i attempted to find a piece of paper in my purse to write my personal information on to give to someone, only to pull out a wrinkled post it note with "PICK UP PADS" scrawled in bright red sandord ink, and a pineapple lifesaver clinging to it) states that i am a poet/writer/activist. i confess; i am indeed all three. i wanted to add wannabe comedian, but space was limited to 24 characters.

as a poet/writer/activist, and even a wannabe comedian, i have much to say because i observe always, and participate often especially when the invitation to do so winds up in a usual suspect's box, rather than mine. so blogging i will do, not for the sake of seeing my postings in lights, but
for the purpose of shining a speck of light on one or five of the billions of injustices this world (mortals) hands out.

i am not an angry black woman (my not too subtle way of telling you that i am an african american woman) so i will not be shouting, cursing, or hexing in my bloggs. while those things are legitimate forms of expression, all of which i use appropriately and extensively, i will not allow my written words to be dismissed by this world because they are gauged hostile, emotional, and/or PMSal.

so get ready. i bring simple truths flavored with humor and grit.

talk to you lata'
peace

"It's not about race"

Image hosted by Photobucket.comYeah, right, and I don't have a big mouth. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard that...when "it" was often so obiviously about race as to make such statements ludicrous.

When Big Mama read about Maureen Jagmin's now infamous "poor blackie" tirade caught on tape, she noticed that those involved with the the predominantly white Chicago schools who decided to break away from SICA, were beginning to sound a bit like parrots. <squawk>It's not about race, it's not about race</squawk> As is often the case, that statement seemed to be an all-too-typical knee-jerk reaction by people who know damned well that it absolutely is about race, but lack the courage to admit it.

But, Big Mama realized...the statement is, in fact, true. It really isn't about race.

When a Chicago Sun-Times reporter listened to a foul-mouthed voicemail that Caller ID revealed came from the home of school board member Maureen Jagmin, what was the school superintendent's response? He didn't know if it was her voice. And when Maureen Jagmin was asked about what she said, her response was "I'm flatly denying it." Then she high-tailed it out of town. Then she submitted her resignation.

And after she resigned, what was the board president's response?


Jagmin's resignation was announced at the meeting and formally accepted there by her colleagues. However, Gast said he still was not certain it was Jagmin on the recording.


Okay. So two of the most powerful people in that school system, the superintendent and the school board president, people who, based on their jobs, are presumed to have at least a reasonable amount of intelligence, assume that someone snuck into Jagmin's home and made that phone call, setting her up. And, they believe that the imposter, while having a long conversation with Jagmin's husband, actually got him to refer to her as Maureen.

And, they believe that such an obvious racist, liar, and coward, didn't say what the whole world knows she said. And, they think those things, even though her husband Gary Jagmin, had this to say:

"It was an overheard conversation between possibly a man and wife," a visibly shaken Gary Jagmin said haltingly. He read a statement in a small board room packed with parents, reporters and school officials. "Should she be judged on what she says in the privacy of her own home, speaking to her husband, in a private conversation?"


It's true—this is not about race. And it's not about Maureen Jagmin. It's about the tenacity with which some people will cling to their illusions in desperate attempts to avoid reality. It's about the persistence of educational disparities, which no ones seems able to get a handle on, while school leaders such as these fine folks who express no outrage over hearing such remarks, and who are in a huge hurry to put this behind them and "move on", are the ones in the strongest positions to have an impact on educational outcomes. These are the people making critical decisions that affect all CPS students—including black and brown kids. It's about the fact that Chicago Public Schools "are doing such a poor job of complying with a desegregation agreement that the system should pay for an independent expert to monitor its efforts."

It's about the fact that it isn't only the children of black and brown folks in Chicago who suffer because of racism:

According to Minding the Gap, a 2003 report funded by the Human Relations Foundation of Chicago, the Jane Adams Policy Initiative, and the Center for Urban Research and Learning at Loyola University, Latinos and African Americans in the Chicago area continue to face disparities in areas such as housing, economic opportunity, access to public transportation, and health care. In 2001, for example, African Americans in Chicago were five times more likely to be denied conventional mortgages than whites, while Latinos were two-and-a-half times more likely than whites to be denied. While income levels grew for all racial groups in Illinois between 1990 and 2000, Latino and African-American men still earn less than half of their Asian and white counterparts. And Latinos (29 percent) and African Americans (24 percent) in Illinois have the highest rates of non-elderly persons without health insurance.


I've noticed a persistent tendency among some white people—even many who identify as liberals or progressives—having extreme difficulty even talking about issues of race. As soon as the subject is raised in conversation, a defensiveness arises, and an insistent need to dispel the idea that anything is about race. When incidents of racism are relayed, patronizing suggestions are made with all politeness, in question form..."well don't you think that's about class and not race?" Every effort is made to deny or minimize the impact of racism on the lives and psyches of people of color. A whole bunch of folks, protesting way too much. In the worldview of some white folks, absolutely nothing, is about race.

But when thousands of black kids trying to get a decent education have to hear that one of their respected leaders really thinks of them as animals, and those in positions of power continue in apathy and denial, it's not about race, but about cowardice. But if we are to ever deal with the reality that every day in this country, millions of black and brown children are being underserved and set up for failure by their schools and shool systems, at some point, it had damned well better be about race.

Wake the fuck up.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

CL in Chicago: Racism Shows its Ass

Once again, racism decided to show us its ugly hind parts. Every time this happens, and it happens far too often, I feel as if I'm caught in a racial "Groundhog Day," cursed to relive this pathetic mess over and over. Instead of writing anew every time this happens, I could just go back and cut and paste from previous posts about similar incidents. I could build a template of responses; they happen just that frequently.

The truth about how white folk really feel is usually revealed by accident. That was the case in the story I am about to share.

There's a school district in the southwest suburbs of Chicago; Lincoln-Way, that is about to be split at the request of 11 schools in the 35 school district. Of the 11 schools, nine are by far predominately white. The board members who have been advocating the split have insisted that their desire to start a new and separate (read: segregated) district has nothing to do with race.

Up to now, legislators, board members and parents have been willing to take them at their word, even though, as is typical, there is evidence, circumstantial and otherwise, that might indicate a racial motive. Predominately black schools typically suffer from a lack of funding as it is, and this move will take even more money from the schools to remain in the district, giving it to the 11 schools seeking to separate. All are concerned, as well they should be, because public funds will be used to fund this segregation from the rest of the district.

Usually when this happens, in the current social climate, anyone who dares to look at that evidence and conclude that race may play a part is shouted down as either "paranoid" or even racist themselves, all the more to shut them up.

Now we know better, as a white board member who had been advocating the split is caught on tape, sharing her true feelings. Here's the lead-in from the Sun-Times to this sad story:

"Leaders of 11 south suburban public high schools said Monday their planned split from a 35-school athletic conference had nothing to do with race."

"But a call Sunday from a school board member's home phone to a Chicago Sun-Times reporter's voice mail raises questions about racial motives because of the language -- which included the term "poor blackie" -- used in the recording."


"Poor Blackie?" Who is this, Al Jolson?

"The woman on the recording did not identify herself, but caller ID indicated the call came from Lincoln-Way high school board member Maureen Jagmin's home in Frankfort. The caller phoned a reporter, but instead of hanging up, continued to speak to someone who was with her, leaving that conversation on the reporter's voice mail."


(I hate it when people do this. Anyone this stupid who doesn't know how to use a damn phone deserves to have their dirty laundry aired.)

Here's the transcript of her call:

"Today you can't, you can't, do that anymore because you know we're so sick of it -- you know, all the Caucasian people. How much more. I look at all the housing that came down from the city and how they set up these beautiful town houses in Richton [Park], and all in Sauk Village, you know, they cost about $150,000 to build, and these people move in and have to pay a lousy $50 to live in them, per month, and don't even pay and ruin 'em, burn 'em out. And it's just a process that how many years is this going to take, to the point where give them all a free education so we can get them all off welfare and get them into jobs, because it's getting to the point where I'm tired of the welfare, tired of the mentality that poor blackie because let's give them a job so they can be supporting themselves and, be, make them work. You know, forget this I want to be a bum type of thing. I think it's a forever problem in this country, you know, it's never going to go away in this area here. It's part of . . . I watched the neighborhoods all change. The schools that used to be good like Rich Central, Rich East and Rich South are all failing schools. Why are they failing? Because of what's in 'em. One of the teachers right down the street said he couldn't wait to get the heck out from 30 years ago when he started teaching when it was just the normal kid. I mean it's a zoo."


If this ain't some of the ugliest stuff I have ever heard. But this is how many of your upstanding, "compassionate" white folk will talk in private amongst themselves, while grinning in our face and singing "We are the World," and waxing poetic about King's "Dream." I could just throw up.

This woman left no stereotype untouched. The racism aside, what about the sheer ignorance of her rant? Is it possible that someone this idiotic can actually rise to become a highly paid, and respected member of a large suburban school district? Truth be told, it just goes to show that, when you are white in America, ANYTHING is possible.

According to this cretin, we can deduct that "poor blackie:"

- Lives in subsidized housing
- is on welfare
- must be "given" a job, with the implication that its not deserved
- once hired, must be "made" to work
- schools that were once successful are now failing, because of "poor blackie's" presence

I was going to go point-by-point, and refute, in detail, with supporting statistics, her claims. But why bother? We know more whites live in subsidized housing and benefits from some form of "welfare;" everyone who works is "given" a job; educators and teachers with biased mindsets like this are the reason schools that were once "successful" when they were predominately white are suddenly "failing" when they become predominately black, because the ugly truth is they don't give a damn about the education of black children.

We are way past the point of arguing over these shopworn racist stereotypes, and whether or not what was said was meant. As Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr pointed out, the recording "only confirms our highest suspicions that the efforts to re-create the three divisions were not motivated by concerns for education, competition or fairness, but were driven by stereotypes, racial fear-mongering and animus that have no place in our nation's education system."

Indeed.

Now comes the usual damage control from white folk trying to cover this fool's ass:
"Chris Olson is athletic director at Joliet's two public high schools, which are among the 11 in the proposed new conference, South West Suburban Conference."

"'Joliet is as diverse as it gets,' Olson said. 'It's not about [race]. It's about doing what's best for our kids, preparing for the future with our growth. . . . I've never heard the race card come up. I'm pretty proud about that.'"


Can you believe that? He "never heard the race card come up?" Does he think we're that fuckin' stupid? What his colleague spewed wasn't the race card; it was the entire deck. Of course the race card never came up in public; they know not to do that, lest they reveal their real motivations.

"Lincoln-Way Supt. Lawrence Wyllie and school board President James Gast listened to the recording at the Sun-Times on Tuesday. 'I don't know if it's her voice,' Wyllie said afterward."


We know the call came from her home, thanks to caller ID; she was speaking to someone who referred to her by her first name, "Maureeen;" and she also referred to a family meber by name. Its her.

"Gast indicated his district is investigating and that a special board meeting is possible."


A "special board meeting" is "possible?" You know what this is about. Its not about determining if it really was her. This meeting is about damage control, about how they can put the bigotry genie back in the bottle, and still segregate themselves.

"Later, after seeing a transcript of the voice mail recording, Wyllie said: 'That's not Lincoln-Way.'"


Its Lincoln-Way alright; the real Lincoln-Way.

"His board members agreed. 'I think our decision was based on all the right reasons and none of those reasons that are suggested in that voice mail,' said Ron Kokal, Lincoln-Way board secretary."


All the "right reasons." And those "right reasons" were exactly what Jagmin said in what she thought was her private conversation.

They're busted, plain and simple. But they'll never apologize and own up to it, of course. They'll continue to stall and make Jagmin the fall-guy for all of them, and try to okey-doke their way out of it. Its not likely to happen though, thank God:

"Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) reiterated his call for Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office to get involved. A Madigan spokeswoman said an investigation of the SICA realignment is under way. Buckner plans to file a petition today to ask the Illinois State Board of Education to intervene."

"Maybe they should explain to legislators why they think their conference [should split off] -- we can all see through veiled racism," said Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) , vice chairwoman of the House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee. "When you get state and federal money, you can't afford to be racist. . . . These are public dollars, therefore you can't discriminate."

"Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago), vice chairman of the Senate's Education Committee, said the schools should reconsider their new conference. 'I think it would be irresponsible for this to proceed because it will always have this dark cloud hanging over its head,' he said. The kids 'will be left wondering and really will believe that the reasons for the decisions were racial, rather than decisions based on education policy.'"


This just goes to show that, whenever there is evidence that indicates an action may be racial, the sad truth is, it usually is.

In the Chicago Sun-Times:
Call berates 'poor blackie'
Racial recording being investigated

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Big Mama welcomes CL in Chicago

Big Mama is extremely tickled to welcome CL in Chicago to her house. While I have already posted writing from CL, he now has keys to the house, so he can let himself in and speak whenever he feels the urge.

CL and I met online 4 years ago on the WashingtoPost.com message boards. It's interesting that in his previous post here, CL talked about white-flighters coming back into the city in search of a "faux Bohemian lifestyle." That was the topic of discussion we participated in at WP, following a Postie's article about her not wanting Chocolate City to turn into a bland, vanilla town. As you may have guessed, all hell broke loose, as the writer broke the cardinal rule of blackness in America--whatever you do, do not speak the truth about race. Do not, under any circumstances, say what you really feel in public. And if you disregard the rule, be prepared, 'cause shit's gonna fly.

So there we were, CL and I, holding it down, trying to represent. We're both from DC (from da hood, albeit different hoods), and we'd both seen our fair share of gentrification, so this was personal for us. For me, it was more than that—it was painful, because the neighborhood I claimed as a youth, is no more. Not one of the familiar faces remains, and the ever-present sounds of go-go have been replaced by silence. Sometimes, silence ain't so golden.

Since that time when CL and I valiantly defended the virtues of our beloved city, much has happened in both of our lives. But once again, they intersect, and Big Mama is proud and happy to have CL add some flavor to BMJ.