Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
David Brook’s December 2 column in the New York Times arguing that classism, not racism, is what really ails our nation came off as one of the more racially tone-deaf commentaries so far on events in Ferguson. What must it feel like for an African-American to take in Brooks’s examination of 21st century class differences by means of a description of 19th century conditions in Britain: “The people who lived in these slums were often described as more like animals than human beings. For example, in an 1889 essay in The Palace Journal, Arthur Morrison described, “Dark, silent, uneasy shadows passing and crossing — human vermin in this reeking sink, like goblin exhalations from all that is noxious around. Women with sunken, black-rimmed eyes, whose pallid faces appear and vanish by the light of an occasional gas lamp, and look so like ill-covered skulls that we start at their stare. ‘Proper’ people of that era had both a disgust and fascination for those who lived in these untouchable realms. They went slumming into the poor neighborhoods, a sort of poverty tourism that is the equivalent of today’s reality TV or the brawlers that appear on ‘The Jerry Springer Show.’”
To be fair, later in the column it becomes clear that Brooks doesn’t buy this as a valid comparison with our own times. But that begs the question, why did he attempt it? Not only does it come across as grossly racist, but also he is grossly mistaken to assume that class not race explains the divide in our country between white and black. Most if not all of the latent classism in our country originates in the kind of institutionalized racism that the tragedy of Ferguson has brought into sharp relief.
Large Rally Planned at Arraignment for 20 Arrested Protesters this Wednesday, December 3 at 6:00 PM at Reading Courthouse
Former Elected Official and Civil Rights Activist Ruth Young will Speak; We Are Seneca Lake Will Address Questions Surrounding the Role of Local Residents in the Campaign
Watkins Glen, NY – Carrying signs identifying them as Schuyler County residents, ten local people were arrested this morning for trespassing at Texas-based Crestwood Midstream’s gas storage facility gates on the shore of Seneca Lake. These arrests follow 73 previous arrests as the ‘We Are Seneca Lake’ civil disobedience campaign enters its 6th week of blockades to stop the gas storage facility. All total, 83 arrests have now occurred at the gates of Crestwood since the campaign began on October 23. There have also been multiple rallies with hundreds of people and numerous winery owners, local businesses and health professionals.
Even with multiple, clear videos of a New York City police officer applying a choke hold that the department's own rules prohibit, a grand jury decided against an indictment Wednesday in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, who died after white police officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold.
"What further evidence is required to bring charges against Officer Pantaleo?" asked Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo. "This is yet again in-your-face verification that until the rules of engagement are changed—to include legally binding decision-making powers for ordinary citizens—killing unarmed black people is just as legal today for white police officers as it was for Officer Pantaleo's Slave Patrol forebears."
Like many in the US, I normally consider myself a staunch advocate of free speech and against most forms of censorship. I agree with a previous US court of appeals decision that determined a Facebook “like” was constitutionally protected free speech. As a long-time anti-domestic violence activist, though, I am deeply concerned about the use of social media to harass and abuse others. A decision in favor of Anthony Elonis in Elonis v. United States, expected in summer 2015, will have potentially grievous implications for the safety of persons in abusive relationships.
Elonis was convicted of making threats against his estranged wife, Tara, and also later an FBI agent. He was sentenced to 44 months in prison. He utilized his Facebook page to issue a series of disturbing rants after his wife left him. “There's one way to love ya, but a thousand ways to kill ya, And I'm not going to rest until your body is a mess, Soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts. Hurry up and die bitch.”
The American people tend to view the Republican and Democratic parties as near polar opposites, but this is far from true. Indeed, they are clearly more united on the fundamentals underpinning US society than they are at odds.
The heated legislative and political battles that characterize both parties, which are fought bitterly every two and four years in national elections and throughout the 50 states, are taking place within a much larger context of agreement between the right/far right Republicans and the center right Democrats.
We will touch upon this matter after discussing the recent trouncing of the Democratic Party in the Nov. 4 midterm elections, and posing this question: "Why are the Democrats so unpopular at a time when it was obvious that reactionary Republican obstructionism virtually paralyzed the political and legislative process?"
In 1988-1989, I taught at Humboldt State University in the redwoods of northern California. Before returning to the EPA in Washington, DC, where I worked from 1979 to 2004, I visited Carol van Strum in Tidewater, Oregon.
Carol, and her husband, a Vietnam War veteran, Paul Merrell, lived in a remodeled garage, the remnant of a huge house burnt in 1978. The burning house killed Carol's four children. She suspected that a killer employed by the industry set her house on fire.
The president she served, the president she married and the president she might become constitute the unfolding story arc of Hillary Clinton's life - an evolving narrative that will continue to capture the attention of the entire world. What does her very public trifecta-in-life tell us about the kind of world leader Madame Hillary might become? There is plenty to ponder over the span of these phases in Hillary's life, not the least of which is what can be reasonably inferred from her relationships?
If you're a questioning thinker, then you'll likely accept also that gender introduces a complex dynamic - a so-called "third-wave" feminism. A pent-up social movement that's not completely dissimilar to the movement that elected the first African-American president in 2008.
Black people cannot afford to be numb to the growing instances of police killing unarmed young black women and men in this country.
Jamala Rogers, a longtime human rights and racial justice activist with the St. Louis based Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) hit the nail on the head when she labeled the Grand Jury Report by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch “Hurricane McCulloch.” To those who demanded an indictment be brought against Darren Wilson, that is certainly what it felt like.
If the Grand Jury “No True Bill” decision was a hurricane, then the resistance in the streets currently sweeping the nation is disaster relief.
On 28 November 2014, a white, allegedly right-wing terrorist fired over 100 bullets at government buildings in the heart of Austin, Texas, before trying to burn down the Mexican consulate. USA Today indicates that the shooter, 49-year-old Larry Steven McQuilliams, likely had anti-government motives. According to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo:
Between about 2:20 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. CT, McQuilliams fired at several buildings in downtown Austin, including police headquarters and the federal courthouse. He also tried to torch the Mexican consulate using several small propane cylinders, but the fires were put out before the flames could spread.