What is Juneteenth? We explain the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery

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Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on June 19 that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Across the country, the day is marked with events and parades.

“As a Nation, we vow to never forget the millions of African-Americans who suffered the evils of slavery,” President Donald Trump said in a statement Tuesday recognizing the holiday. “Together, we honor the unbreakable spirit and countless contributions of generations of African Americans to the story of American greatness. Today we recommit ourselves to defending the self-evident truth, boldly declared by our Founding Fathers, that all people are created equal.”

Here’s everything you need to know about Juneteenth:

What is Juneteenth? 

On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas, to inform a reluctant community that President Abraham Lincoln two years earlier had freed the slaves and to press locals to comply with his directive.

Why did it take so long for the news to get to Texas? 

There is no one reason why there was a 2½-year delay in letting Texas know about the abolition of slavery in the United States, according to Juneteenth.com. The historical site said some accounts place the delay on a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news, while others say the news was deliberately withheld.

Despite the delay, slavery did not end in Texas overnight, according to an article by Henry Louis Gates Jr. originally posted on The Root. Gates said after New Orleans fell, many slavers traveled to Texas with their slaves to escape regulations enforced by the Union Army in other states.

The slave owners were placed with the responsibility of letting their slaves know about the news, and some delayed relaying the information until after the harvest, Gates said.

Where does the name “Juneteenth” come from?

Juneteenth, which is also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a combination of “June” and “nineteenth,” in honor of the day that Granger announced the abolition of slavery in Texas.

How do people celebrate? 

On social media, many shared photos and videos of their local Juneteenth celebrations.

Warming up to go live on #News4 at 6am for #Juneteenth2018 . Let’s get ready for the Strike Force Drum 🥁 Line @pgparkshttps://t.co/mlUf8D4fuPpic.twitter.com/V5PFkTn4Ie

— Molette Green (@MoletteGreen) June 19, 2018

Berkeley, Ca is BEAUTIFUL!
Black, White, Hispanic, Asian!
One Love✊🏾 #Juneteenth2018pic.twitter.com/tl8BQwvboB

— JunBug (@DaTruJBUG) June 17, 2018

#Juneteenth Parade festivities are beginning on South State St. from Dunbar Center! Cheer on the many organizations and smiling faces from all over our City and Region. #Juneteenth2018#SyracuseJuneteenthpic.twitter.com/fQEFEhVACy

— City of Syracuse (@Syracuse1848) June 16, 2018

Others called for Juneteenth — which some see as a second Independence Day — to be named a national holiday.

The end of slavery should be a national holiday with celebrations on par with July 4th. Why isn’t it? #Juneteenth2018pic.twitter.com/tOsP8KUz9E

— LaneBrooks (@lanebrooks) June 19, 2018

Juneteenth Should Be A National Holiday: https://t.co/hEe5dI95fJ#Juneteenth#Juneteenth2018pic.twitter.com/dhwrCn0VbV

— Unapologetically Us (@unapologetic_us) June 19, 2018

Many use the holiday to call attention to modern racial inequality.

Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation from slavery in the US, but the fight for racial and economic justice continues. Celebrate freedom! Yet, may we all continue the work to liberate all who are oppressed. #Juneteenth2018

— Juliana Stratton (@RepStratton5) June 19, 2018

Happy Juneteenth ✊🏾 The day the last of the slaves were freed . Although slavery ended & turned into mass incarceration. Keep fighting for justice & celebrate your freedom. #Juneteenth2018pic.twitter.com/wwS5kor11U

— Ayesha 🌻👑 (@Prettie_Dope) June 19, 2018 

From USA TODAY Editors
posted by The NON-Conformist
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NC Amendment would put voter ID in NC constitution

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Our dear General Assembly leaders(see below) here in North Carolina haven’t given up on voter ID, they recently filed a proposed constitutional amendment to ensconce a voter ID rule in the state constitution…Libergirl.

 

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, left, and House Speaker Tim Moore during a May15, 2018, news conference.

Image: WRAL.com

The bill would ask voters to decide this November whether to add this paragraph to the constitution: “Photo identification for voting in person. Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.”

Republicans have championed photo IDs as the best defense against voter fraud, but Meredith College political science professor David McLennan said instances of in-person voter fraud are “very minimal.”

“It is not a widespread issue, despite what politicians say,” McLennan said.

More from WRAL.com

Posted by Libergirl

What’s So Wrong About Roseanne Barr’s Tweet Exploring the psychology behind Barr’s assumptions.

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Roseanne Barr set off a media firestorm yesterday when she tweeted that former President Obama adviser, Valerie Jarrett, was a child of the “Muslim brotherhood and planet of the apes.” The response from ABC was swift—her hit sitcom was immediately cancelled—but the story has sparked a heated debate online. Most of the arguments bouncing back and forth across cyberspace today seem to boil down to one simple question: “What’s so wrong about comparing a Black woman to an ape?” To address this question, let’s look at what psychological science has to say.

But before we get to the science, let’s take a quick detour through history. To understand the context of Barr’s tweet, it is important to know that likening Black people to apes has a long, murky past. The idea that Black people were less evolved than White people, and therefore genetically closer to apes than Whites, was historically used to hide the justification of slavery and unequal rights in a cloak of science. Such “scientific racism” spread the false idea that Blacks are inherently inferior to Whites. As a result, the portrayal of Black people as apelike became an iconic representation in the 19th and early 20th century.

So when someone makes an analogy today, they are not just comparing an individual to an animal the way you would compare a woman with a long neck to a giraffe or a boy with large ears to an elephant. Comments comparing Blacks to apes cuts much, much deeper because they tap into a long, violent legacy of dehumanization and exploitation.

But that’s all in the past, right? I mean, people in modern society don’t actually think Blacks are apelike, do they? Work by psychologist Phillip Atiba Goff(link is external) indicates they do. In a series of studies, he found that most Americans—liberal and conservative, White and non-White—hold an unconscious association between Black people and apes. And this isn’t just among racist people; their studies found the association existed in even the most egalitarian individuals.

So despite the 50-plus years since the Civil Rights Movement, most Americans still unconsciously associate Black people with apes. But as long as those associations stay unconscious, who really cares, right? Well, as anyone who’s read Malcolm Gladwell’s book (link is external)Blink(link is external) can tell you, the problem is that unconscious associations still affect our behavior, often in ways we don’t even realize. As Goff (link is external)said himself, “Some racial associations are embedded so deeply that they are difficult to recognize, much less eradicate–and they continue to shape our behavior and ideas.”

So does the Black-ape association produce any real-world harm? Once again, let’s revisit Goff’s work. In one study, participants were shown words on a screen so quickly that they were unaware of what they saw, but their brain still processed them on an unconscious level (researchers call this technique “subliminal priming”). Half were shown ape-related words (e.g., chimp, gorilla) and the other half were shown neutral words (e.g., chair). Next, all participants watched a videotape of police officers violently subduing a suspect. Some were led to believe the suspect was White, and others were led to believe the suspect was Black. When these individuals thought the suspect in the video was White, those primed with ape words showed no difference in their judgments of police brutality. However, everything changed when they thought the suspect was Black. In that case, those primed with the ape words were more likely to think the suspect deserved the police brutality. To put it another way, the unconscious association between Blacks and apes lead to an endorsement of violence against a Black victim (but not a White victim). This tells us that the association between Blacks and apes is anything but harmless.

Interestingly, when these study participants were asked explicitly about the association between Black people and apes, not a single one reported being aware of it. So where did this association come from? Such unconscious associations likely exist because of subtle suggestions in our environment that come from jokes and comments (like Roseanne Barr’s), television, movies, and magazine covers (for example, see the controversy over LeBron James’ 2008 Vogue cover photo(link is external)). But wherever they come from, the point is that even though we are not consciously aware of these associations residing within us, they can still be activated outside of our awareness and subsequently guide our behavior.

This is why Roseanne Barr’s tweet is not just a joke made in poor taste. And neither are the other recent examples comparing Michelle Obama to “an ape in heels” or photoshopping a banana into a Barack Obama photo. These are insidious and harmful comments that reflect a deep history of socialized racism. But they are also more than that. Not only do they reflect racism, they perpetuate it.

By Melissa Burkley PHD/PsychologyToday

Posted by The NON-Conformist

How Identity Politics Has Divided the Left: An Interview With Asad Haider

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Identity politics has something for everyone — but not in a good way. In her 2016 election campaign, Hillary Clinton invoked “intersectionality” and “white privilege” as a shallow gesture of allyship to young liberal voters. Richard Spencer and members of the “alt-right” refer to themselves as “identitarians” to mask that they are, in fact, white supremacists. And for some “woke” people, wearing a shirt that says “feminist” and calling out celebrities for being vaguely “problematic” is the extent of political participation.

What was once intended as a revolutionary strategy to take down interlocking oppressions has become a nebulous but charged buzzword co-opted across the political spectrum. A new book, “Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump,” undertakes a rigorous analysis of race politics and the history of race in the United States to grapple with the shifting relationship between personal identity and political action.

In “Mistaken Identity,” Asad Haider argues that contemporary identity politics is a “neutralization of movements against racial oppression” rather than a progression of the grassroots struggle against racism. Haider, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, puts the work of radical black activists and scholars in conversation with his personal experiences with racism and political organizing. He charts out the process through which the revolutionary visions of the black freedom movement — which understood racism and capitalism as two sides of the same coin — have been largely replaced with a narrow and limited understanding of identity.

Identity, he argues, has become abstracted from our material relationships with the state and society, which make it consequential to our lives. So when identity serves as the basis for one’s political beliefs, it manifests in division and moralizing attitudes, instead of facilitating solidarity.

“The framework of identity reduces politics to who you are as an individual and gaining recognition as an individual, rather than your membership in a collectivity and the collective struggle against an oppressive social structure,” Haider writes. “As a result, identity politics paradoxically ends up reinforcing the very norms it set out to criticize.”

The concept of identity politics was originally coined in 1977 by the Combahee River Collective, a group of black lesbian socialist feminists who recognized the need for their own autonomous politics as they confronted racism in the women’s movement, sexism in the black liberation movement, and class reductionism. Centering how economic, gender, and racial oppression materialized simultaneously in their lives was the key to their emancipatory politics. But their political work didn’t end there. The women of Combahee advocated for building coalitions in solidarity with other progressive groups in order to eradicate all oppression, while foregrounding their own.

By grounding his critique in specific histories and material relations, Haider takes a multi-pronged approach to exploring just how sharply identity politics has veered from its radical roots.

Through his involvement in organizing against tuition hikes and privatization, Haider describes the missteps of movements that falsely separate economic and racial issues into identity-based “white” issues and “POC” issues. His examination of “white privilege” reflects on the development of the white race, codified in 1600s colonial Virginia by the ruling class to justify economic exploitation of Africans as slaves and preclude alliances between African and European laborers following Bacon’s Rebellion.

In his chapter on “passing,” Haider attempts to understand the case of Rachel Dolezal as an example of “the consequences of reducing politics to identity performances.” He examines the work of novelist Philip Roth, as well as the political transformation of poet Amiri Baraka, who embraced black nationalism in the 1970s and later renounced it for Marxist universalism. Finally, Haider explains how Donald Trump’s election was foreshadowed through the rise of neoliberalism in electoral politics decades before. Through the work of British cultural theorist Stuart Hall, he draws careful comparisons to how the U.K.’s Labour Party managed economic crisis and moral panic in the 1970s, which paved the way for Margaret Thatcher to take power.

Haider’s short book concludes with the paradox of rights as the end goal of mass movements. Instead, he calls for a reclaiming of an “insurgent universalism,” in which oppressed groups position themselves as political actors rather than passive victims. At turns fascinating and provocative, “Mistaken Identity” steps back from Twitter fights and think pieces to contextualize debates on identity politics and reconfigure how race informs leftist movements. The Intercept’s interview with Haider has been condensed and edited for clarity. 

Can you walk through how identity politics shifted from a revolutionary political practice to an individualist liberal ideology?

1977 was a historical turning point. First of all, it was a crisis for mass movements, which can be traced back to the civil rights movement — the New Left of the 1960s and black nationalism that came after that. These mass mobilizations and organizations ran up against their own strategic limits, they were confronted with state repression, and so their dynamism was declining. At the same time, there was what Stuart Hall called a “crisis of hegemony,” in which the coordinates of American politics were being totally rearranged — and the same process was happening in Europe — in which the economic crises of the 1970s had led to a total reorganization of the workplace, trade unions were on the defensive, and mass movements were decomposing. And so part of what happened in this period is that the language of identity and fighting against racism got individualized and attached to the individual advancement of a rising black political class and economic elites who were once excluded from the center of American society by racism, but now had a passageway to entry.

I think in the current moment, we lack a political language that can shift from division to solidarity, and that’s something that was a major question for the anti-racist movements from the ’50s to the ’70s, and that’s what the Combahee River Collective was writing about. We don’t have a language about collective struggles that take on issues of racism and can incorporate cross-racial movements. So I think part of the reason that this individualistic kind of identity politics comes up so much on the left among activists who really do want to build movements that challenge the social structure is because we’ve lost that language that came with mass movements, which could allow us to think of the ways to build that solidarity.

You write that “the ideology of race is produced by racism, not the other way around.” What does this mean?

In this book, I don’t talk about “race” in general because we could think about many different historical contexts in which divisions are introduced between groups, which become hierarchical, and some of them may be related to color of skin. But there are examples of that type of group differentiation that isn’t related to color of skin, like the case of the Irish and English colonialism in Ireland in the 13th century, which I refer to in the book. You could look at different examples of plantation slavery in the Caribbean, and you’d have to explain [race] differently because there were not only African slaves, but also “coolies” from India and China.

I talk about a very specific history of race that emerged from forced labor in colonial Virginia in the 17th century. … My argument is that the first racial category that gets produced is that of the white race, in order to exclude African forced laborers from the category that European forced laborers were placed in, which was one in which there was an end of their term of servitude, [as opposed to] the category of slaves, who had no end to their term. The white race was invented, as Theodore Allen said, in the way that the laws changed regarding forced labor, and that’s the beginning of the division of people into racial categories in U.S. history. What racism did in this case was it differentiated between different kinds of economic exploitation and ultimately became a form of social control, which divided the exploited through introducing hierarchies and privileges for some people, which prevented them from seeing a common interest [between European and African migrant forced laborers] and a common antagonism against those who were exploiting them.

Your personal encounters with racism and observations of campus activism are woven throughout the book. How have your own identity and experiences informed your understanding of race?

I always refer to a quote from Stuart Hall, who said that identity is not about returning to your roots, but about coming to terms with your routes. So in that sense, identity is not your essence or what’s inside you or at the foundation of you, but it’s about all the movement that has led to putting you where you are. I can trace my own identity back to my ancestors migrating from Iran to India, and then after the Partition, from India to Pakistan, and from there, my parents to rural Pennsylvania. That’s a story of movement across the globe and at every step, a mixing and mingling that transformed what was moving. My awareness of that has always made me skeptical of making the leap from identity to a particular kind of politics because identity can’t be reduced to one fixed thing, and when you have a politics which does that, it’s a disservice to people and to all of our histories of mixing and traveling and dynamism.

Regarding campus activism, my experience was as a person of color who was radicalized largely by learning about the Black Power movement and Marxism through the Black Power movement. So I never imagined that people would see an incompatibility between them, especially because Marxism was the powerful force that it was in the 20th century, as it was taken up and adapted in the non-Western world. That’s something that’s forgotten or suppressed today. So as a person of color getting involved in social movements, I was getting really dismayed that often, race became the source of division and fragmentation and defeat, instead of being part of a general emancipatory program. It was that frustration that led me to thinking about and writing about what went into this book.

The left is often accused of being “too white” or “too male.” How can the left begin to address internal racial dynamics?

If you have an organization or a movement that is dominated by white men, that is a political and strategic problem. If you treat it as a moral problem, you’re not going to be able to solve it. I think the important thing is to actually be able to change the situation. Anyone who has participated in activism knows that in a meeting, someone may be called out or told to “check their privilege.” There’s an interesting article that came out of the feminist movement by Jo Freeman called “Trashing” — the contemporary equivalent of “trashing” is “calling out.” The funny thing about calling out is that it doesn’t work because it centers all the attention on the white man who engaged in whatever transgression is being morally condemned. It also creates an atmosphere of tension and paranoia so that even people who aren’t white men may feel nervous about speaking because they might say the wrong thing — and get trashed. So it’s a question that people who are involved in organizing have to take seriously, that white men have to take seriously.

There was a principle that the black communist Harry Haywood said was fundamental in organizing during the anti-racist struggles of the 1930s. He said that everybody has to come to terms with their own national position. So white comrades have to oppose white chauvinism, and they have to take a leading role in opposing it. And he said black comrades have to take the leading role in opposing reactionary nationalism, which at the time was Garveyism and the like. He said that with this division of labor, which was part of actual mass movements, you could start to overcome these problems. But then he said later on, when the party dropped their actual campaigns against racism, they started policing each other’s language, and that division of labor was gone, and the problem didn’t get addressed. So that’s something that still holds. White men in movements have to take the lead in trying to overcome those hierarchies that manifest themselves in social interactions, but also people of color have to step up and say, “We don’t accept this division between racial and economic issues, between race and class, and if someone is coming in and trying to say that these issues are all ‘white’ or this is a ‘white movement,’ that’s not true because we’re here and we’re playing a role, and we believe these issues are connected and we can work on them together.”

Can you talk about the ideas behind black nationalism in the 1970s and its limitations? How has black nationalism endured in contemporary U.S. politics?

After 1965, after the civil rights movement had achieved major policy changes, it was unclear where the movement should be headed. Even leading figures in the civil rights movement were thinking that now that legal segregation had been formally undermined, they still had to deal with the fact that most black people were in poverty and that there were de facto structures of exclusion. Martin Luther King, for example, started to get interested in the Poor People’s Campaign, which is what he was working on at the end of his life. But another approach at this point was what some people called “riots” and what others called “urban rebellions” in the northern cities, revolting against the economic control of landlords and white businessmen and so on. In the northern, urban context, black nationalism as a political program was about building alternative institutions, rather than asking for integration into white society.

So there were two things happening. One was black nationalists building parallel institutions, and the other was the overcoming of legal segregation and the rise of a new black political class and economic elites, which had always existed to some extent, but the scale completely changed. And so black nationalist organizations were behind many of the campaigns to have a black mayor in a majority black city. In the case of Amiri Baraka, it was Kenneth Gibson. Part of the reason Baraka turned from black nationalism toward Marxism was the realization that once Gibson was in charge of Newark, politics as usual continued. I think black nationalism had a revolutionary role in its period — it was a very important strategic and political development — but throughout the ’70s, with the ascendance of the black political class and black economic elites, it ran into a contradiction.

Black nationalism became tied to black political and economic elites because it had an ideology of racial unity, and when people were completely excluded from governance and control over their own lives, it made sense for there to be a kind of alliance between these more elite figures and the lower economic strata because they were both confronting racial structures of exclusion. But as the process of incorporation of black elites into the existing political and economic structures continued, those interests were no longer aligned, especially in the 1970s, as politicians at every level were starting to impose austerity on their populations, cutting social programs and so on. It became the black politicians who were doing that, and so the contradictions between the black elite and the majority of black people in cities became very clear. And so what I think persists now is that division between the elites and ordinary working people, and a residual ideology of racial unity that is often used to cover up that class division. That was very much the case with Barack Obama.

How can identity politics be brought back to its radical origins within contemporary political discourse and organizing?

I think we have to be open to understanding that our identities are not foundations for anything; they are unstable, they are multifarious — and that can be unsettling. But we have to find ways to become comfortable with that, and part of how we can do that is by creating new ways of relating to each other, which can come through mass movements. The way we can overcome the fragmentation that identity seems to lead to now is precisely by recognizing what the Combahee River Collective proposed: being able to assert a political autonomy and also being in coalitions. I think that’s very practical. It’s not going to come from having endless arguments on Twitter; it’s something that has to come through political activity. It’s through working on concrete, practical projects in coalition with others. That in itself is a process in which racism is undermined, and white people who are working together with people of color can learn to question their own assumptions and overcome racist impulses.

I’m very inspired by the rapid growth of socialist organizations right now, but I am concerned sometimes that socialism gets equated with some kind of program for economic redistribution that has been the same since the 19th century. Socialists have always been engaged in coalition-building — there was always a principle of internationalism, there was never a fixed conception of the kinds of demands a socialist movement has to put forward. Sometimes a demand that may not seem to be directly related to the redistribution of wealth can be part of coalition-building and mobilizing people. If a socialist organization is at the forefront of a movement against racism — and this was the goal of certain black members of the Communist Party in the ’30s — then people are going to look around and say, “Who’s on our side? It’s these people. When we were dealing with police violence, these were the people, this was the organization that stepped in to help. And this is an organization that is multiracial, and they think that these issues we encounter in our daily lives matter, just as much as any other economic demand might matter.” So socialist organizations also have to be open to experimentation and flexibility in order to pre-empt identity as a source of division and instead, pre-emptively build solidarity.

Can you explain your vision of a universalist political framework?

We have to set aside the kind of universalism that resolves divisions and difficulties in advance by saying that we have some kind of universal foundation, like human nature or materialism like it’s some physical matter, which has nothing to do with materialism as Marx talked about it. That’s not the universalism I’m advocating for because that kind of universalism has historically been caught up with exclusion and domination — like what was put forth by the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, which were systematic with slavery, colonialism, and various forms of violence. … My understanding of universalism is when the people and groups that are excluded from this [definition of] universal rise up and claim their autonomy to produce a new kind of universality. It’s not something that pre-exists; it’s a break with the existing state of things. The classic example is the Haitian Revolution, which came after the French Revolution, which pointed out that France still held colonies in which there was slavery, despite whatever was happening there.

We’d be able to see a new universalism if these rigid divisions between so-called identity categories like race and gender and the category of class were overcome in a real, practical movement. If we were able to see organizations emerge and make real, concrete change in which they bridge those gaps — in which it would become impossible to say that “this is a white organization” or “this is a male-dominated organization” — it would necessarily involve challenging economic inequality and the class structures of American society. For a movement to arise, which tackled the fundamental structures of inequality, domination, and exploitation in American society in such a way that identity as a force of division could not exist — that would be a real universal moment.

By Rashmee Kumar/TheIntercept

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Black women candidates feel slighted by Democrats

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An illustration of a donkey blindfolded

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

There are at least 43 Democratic black women running as challengers for U.S. House seats, but only one — Lauren Underwood of Illinois — has the backing of the national campaign organization.

Why it matters: Black women are a powerful voting bloc for the Democratic Party as they work to capture the House and Senate. In 2016, 94% of black women voted for Clinton over Trump. In Alabama’s special election, they helped Doug Jones win — 98% of them voted for him, compared to just 34% of white women. Now they’re running for office in overwhelming numbers, but some feel the party isn’t investing in them.

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The big picture: Right now, there are only 19 black women serving in Congress. Only 67 women of color overall have been members of Congress since 1964.

Be smart: The conversation about the party’s support of the black community — both as voters and candidates — is not going away any time soon. Just look at Cynthia Nixon’s gubernatorial campaign in New York, where she’s getting headlines like “Cynthia Nixon’s Political Run Should Be Taken Seriously Because She Takes Black Voters Seriously.”

Black women running say their enthusiasm isn’t matched by groups like the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Even the Congressional Black Caucus is backing Michael Capuano, the Democratic incumbent in Massachusetts’ 7th district, over his challenger Ayanna Pressley, who’s a black woman.

  • There’s been a focus on the progressive vs. moderate fight within the Democratic Party, making some feel overlooked. “I think some of the other groups [like progressives] have gotten more attention than any racial group,” Kimberly Hill Knott, who’s running for Congress in Michigan, told Axios. I don’t hear the national party talking about an urban agenda.”
  • But one progressive candidate who is also black, Kerri Harris, who’s running for U.S. Senate in Delaware, said she’s had no recognition from the party. “They can keep pretending like we don’t exist or come out against us as candidates, but they’ll realize the best way to uphold our Democracy is to encourage it.”

One big challenge: Politics is driven by money. If you’re not raising a lot of it, you’re viewed as unelectable. But raising money as a first-time candidate and a black woman is often half the battle, according to the candidates interviewed by Axios.

“These are organizations that are meant to help make sure black interests are represented and yet everybody is looking at who’s more electable based on money.”
— Alabama congressional candidate Audri Scott Williams

The other side: While some candidates want more from the national party, black women were praised at the DNC’s annual Women’s Leadership Forum this year, with Democrats like Rep. Maxine Waters and DNC Vice Chair Grace Meng calling them the “backbone” of the party.

  • The DNC’s Political and Organizing Director Amanda Brown Lierman said in a statement: “While the DNC does not endorse in contested primaries, we work with our state parties to make sure first-time candidates have the tools and information they need.” She added: “African-American women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, and we know we can’t take them for granted. That’s why we’ve made meaningful investments in our state parties in order to turn out and engage women of color.”
  • The DCCC didn’t address the number of black women on their Red to Blue list, but said they’ll keep working on diversity of candidates because it’s “crucial to winning back the House.” DCCC spokesman Kamau Marshall added: “The DCCC is proud to support the historic number of women and African American candidates running for Congress, who will bring a wealth of knowledge and cultural competence to the political table for Democrats.”

By the numbers: A recent collection of polls (from the Associated Press/NORC Center and CBS News) shows the diversity among black voters. Only 1% identify as Republicans, 92% disapprove of President Trump, and the 59% who identify as Democrats is smaller than the percentage of black voters who actually vote for Democratic candidates.

The bottom line: Black women candidates want more from the Democratic Party, but Democrats might not have to worry much about how they’ll vote in 2018 or 2020.

By Alexi McCammond/Axios

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

Fraudulence in Flint: How Suspect Science Helped Declare the Water Crisis Over

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Downtown Flint, Mich. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Nakiya Wakes sat across from me in a Flint, Mich., coffee shop on one of those cloudy, dreary days symbolic of the reeling Rust Belt city.
It was March 2017, nearly two years after Wakes had the first miscarriage. After losing her first baby, she learned there was still a heartbeat—she was actually pregnant with twins, and she hadn’t yet lost her other baby. But her spirits were crushed when she miscarried again, losing the second baby.
This wasn’t the last of the devastating news for Wakes. In September 2017, she learned she was again pregnant with twins. She was hopeful but cautious, feeling deep within her gut that the lead-ravaged water she’d consumed for over a year had made it difficult to carry a baby to full term. Unfortunately, her trepidation was well-founded. She went on to miscarry this set of twins. In total, Wakes lost four babies in two years.
“I was drinking, bathing, everything since I moved to Flint in 2013. I was drinking this contaminated water,” Wakes told me.

It was far too easy for doctors to dismiss her multiple miscarriages as a result of her age: She was 42 when she miscarried for the second time. But research indicates that the lead crisis in Flint may have played a role. The crisis unfolded in 2014 when the city changed its water source from Detroit’s system to the Flint River. Because corrosion control was not added to the water supply, lead leached from the pipes into Flint’s water, causing a variety of health problems for residents.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead poisoning increases the chances for a miscarriage.

And in September 2017, health economists at West Virginia University and Kansas University released a working paper, finding a “horrifyingly large” increase in fetal deaths and miscarriages in Flint—stating that between “198 and 276 more children would have been born had Flint not enacted the switch in water.”

While mourning her lost babies, Wakes also was seeing dramatic behavioral and health changes in her two living children, then ages 18 and 8. For example, her 8-year-old received one school suspension before the water switch, but over 50 after it. Stories like this are abundant in Flint.

Melissa Mays, a leading Flint resident, activist and mother of three, has been faced with trauma in her own family. Two of her boys, Christian, 15, and Cole, 13, have had ongoing physical therapy because their growth plates hardened prematurely due to lead and other heavy metals. Her 19-year-old, Caleb, has irregular thyroid levels, blood pressure and pancreatic function, all attributable to high lead levels.

“My 14-year-old just hit 6 feet and he can’t walk. He’s hunched over, and he had to drop out of sports,” she told me last year.

I spoke with Wakes, Mays and many other residents and experts as part of a six-month investigation into the Flint water crisis. What I found was alarming.

More from Jordan Chariton/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Black Caucus Sells Out Its Constituents Again – to the Cops

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This bill will be received as yet another attack on these communities and threatens to exacerbate what is already a discriminatory system of mass incarceration in this country.”

The bigger the Congressional Black Caucus gets, the more it betrays its constituents. Last Wednesday, three out of every four members of the Black Caucus in the U.S. House voted to make assaults on police officers a federal hate crime. The Protect and Serve Act of 2018 is totally superfluous, since cops are already the most protected “class” in the nation. Nearly a million sworn officers inhabit a legal dominion of their own, where immunity from prosecution for even the most heinous crimes is the norm. As People for the American Way point out : “All fifty states have laws that enhance penalties for people who commit offenses against law enforcement officers, including for homicide and assault,” and federal laws already “impose a life sentence or death penalty on persons convicted of first-degree murder of federal employees or officers, killing state and local law enforcement officers or other employees assisting with federal investigations, and killing officers of the U.S. courts.” However, like the Israel lobby, the cop lobby demands abject, groveling obeisance from the people’s representatives — lest there be any doubt as to who rules in either of the world’s white settler states.

Nearly a million sworn officers inhabit a legal dominion of their own, where immunity from prosecution for even the most heinous crimes is the norm.”

The Protect and Serve Act, which sailed through the U.S. House on a vote of 382 to 35 , is a “Blue Lives Matter” bill that serves no other purpose than to give a giant middle finger to the Black Lives Matter movement. When the cops demanded to know, Which side are you on? three-quarters of the Congressional Black Caucus kissed the feet of the Blue Beast: “Your side, Boss!”

The Ugly

Twenty-nine CBC members paid homage to the world’s largest police state.

Alma Adams (NC); Joyce Beatty (OH); Sanford Bishop (GA); Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE); G.K. Butterfield (NC); Andre Carson (IN); Emanuel Cleaver (MO); James Clyburn (SC); Elijah Cummings (MD); Danny Davis (IL); Val Butler Demings (FL); Keith Ellison (MN); Dwight Evans (PA); Marcia Fudge (OH); Al Green (TX); Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Hakeem Jeffries (NY); Hank Johnson (GA); Robin Kelly (IL); Brenda Lawrence (FL); Al Lawson (FL); John Lewis (GA); Donald McEachin (VA); Gregory Meeks (NY); Bobby Rush (IL); David Scott (GA); Terri Sewell (AL); Bennie Thompson (MS); Marc Veasey (TX)

The Worthless

Three Black Caucus members did not bother to vote, which was the same as casting a “Yea” for the Act.

Anthony Brown (MD); Cedric Richmond (LA); Frederica Wilson (FL)

The Few That Did Not “Comply”

Below are the 11 members that stood up the police lobby, voting “Nay.”

Karen Bass (CA); Yvette Clarke (NY); Wm. Lacy Clay (MO); Alcee Hastings (FL); Johnson, E. B.(TX); Barbara Lee (CA); Gwen Moore (WI); Donald Payne (NJ); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA); Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ)

A Slap in the Face

Donald Trump and three-quarters* of the Black Caucus are on the same side, despite all the Democratic rhetoric seeking to distinguish between the two parties. When it comes to the Mass Black Incarceration State, Black Democrats are First Responders, ever ready to buttress the power, prestige and immunities of the cops and jailers.

As People for the American Way, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights put it : “Rather than focusing on policies that address issues of police excessive force, biased policing, and other police practices that have failed these communities, the Protect and Serve Act’s aim is to further criminalize. This bill will be received as yet another attack on these communities and threatens to exacerbate what is already a discriminatory system of mass incarceration in this country.”

Worse than Misleaders, the CBC is the Enemy

The advent of the Black Lives Matter movement has wrought virtually no change at all in the political behavior of the Congressional Black Caucus; collectively, they are just as treacherous as in the pre-Ferguson days. Back in June of 2014, two months before Mike Brown’s murder sparked a national movement, four-fifths of the Black Caucus voted down an amendment to halt the Pentagon’s infamous 1033 program that has funneled billions of dollars in military weapons and gear to local police departments. Twenty-seven members voted to continue the militarization of local police forces, five abstained from voting, which amounted to an endorsement of the status quo, and only eight members – one out of five — supported the Grayson Amendment. We at BAR called the Black Caucus super-majority “The Treasonous 32.” Below is the breakdown of the vote from that day of shame:

The Ugly

Karen Bass (CA); Joyce Beatty (OH); Sanford Bishop (GA); Corrine Brown (FL); G.K. Butterfield (NC); Andre Carson (IN); Yvette Clarke (NY); Wm Lacy Clay (MO); Emanuel Cleaver (MO); James Clyburn (SC); Elijah Cummings (MD); Danny Davis (IL); Chaka Fattah (PA); Al Green (TX); Alcee Hastings (FL); Steven Horsford (NV); Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Hakeem Jeffries (NY); E. B. Johnson (TX); Robin Kelly (IL); Gregory Meeks (NY); Gwen Moore (WI); Donald Payne (NJ); David Scott (GA); Terri Sewell (AL); Marc Veasey (TX); Frederica Wilson (FL)

The Worthless

The abstainers of 2014, as four years later, effectively endorsed the status quo: militarization of the police.

Marcia Fudge (OH); Charles Rangel (NY); Cedric Richmond (LA); Bobby Rush (IL); Bennie Thompson (MS)

The Few for Demilitarization

John Conyers (MI); Donna Edwards (MD); Keith Ellison (MN); Hank Johnson (GA); Barbara Lee (CA); John Lewis (GA); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA)

Are Black People Represented in the Congress?

When 80 percent of Black Democrats in the U.S. House vote for continued militarization of local police forces, and then four years later 75 percent of these same Black Democrats give “protected class” status to cops, then we must conclude that the intervening period of “Black Lives Matter” agitation had no effect on Black Democratic Party politics — and further, that the Caucus is wholly and brazenly unaccountable to its constituents.

As Malcolm X said: “You’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok.”

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

* Of the Congressional Black Caucus’ 48 members , two are U.S. Senators (Cory Booker and Kamala Harris), and two are delegates from Washington DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands, who cannot vote on the House floor. BAR does not count Mia Love, the Black Republican CBC member from Utah, in its tabulations on Black Caucus behavior. (She voted “Yea” on the Protect and Serve Act.) That leaves 43 Black Democrats with full voting privileges in the U.S. House.

By Glenn Ford/BAR

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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