Category Archives: Race

Changes coming to LA criminal justice system to reduce high incarceration rate

With the highest incarceration rate in the world, Louisiana lawmakers are taking steps to change that.

Image result for louisiana and incarceration rate and highest
Image: NOLA.com

With the highest incarceration rate in the world, Louisiana lawmakers are taking steps to change that.

The Justice Reinvestment Task Force approved five measures, amending criminal justice laws.

Rep. Terry Landry, who sits on the committee said, “What we’ve been doing for the past 20, 30 years have not worked. So, if you keep doing the same thing and getting the same results, they tell you you have to change course.”

The reform is something many have look forward to for decades.

New Orleans resident Fox Rich said, “They sentenced my husband to 60 years as a first-time felony offender in LA in a crime that no injury was sustained by any of our victims. So, this is an opportunity that we’ve waited a very long time for and we’ve worked a very long time for to make sure we have prepared ourselves for his return into society.”

More from katc.com

Posted by Libergirl

Ta-Nehisi Coates Calls for Harvard to Pay Reparations; University President Says ‘No’

In an attempt to atone for its role in human bondage, Harvard University on Friday, March 3, hosted a conference addressing the institution’s historic, and oftentimes forgotten, ties to slavery, with some participants even advocating for monetary reparations.

The conference, titled “Universities and Slavery: Bound by History,” was the latest in a series of efforts taken by the Ivy League university to confront its dark history of enslavement, The Harvard Crimson reported. The day-long symposium drew hundreds of guests from all over, featuring historians and representatives from several universities and a keynote address by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic.

University President Drew G. Faust delivered the opening remarks.

“Harvard was directly complicit in slavery from the college’s earliest days in the 17th century,” said Faust, who announced plans for the conference in March 2016. “This history and its legacy have shaped our institution in ways we have yet to fully understand. Today’s conference is intended to help us explore parts of the past that have remained all but invisible.”

Coates built upon the president’s remarks in his keynote address, describing slavery and the impacts of racial discrimination that arose from it as “systems of plunder that haunt us to this day.” As an outspoken advocate for reparations, the well-known journalist pushed the idea on conference attendees Friday, asserting that racial progress requires institutions like Harvard to pay its debts to those that it enslaved.

“I think every single one of these universities needs to make reparations,” Coates said, as the audience erupted in applause. “I don’t know how you get around that, I just don’t. I don’t know how you conduct research that shows that your very existence is rooted in a great crime, and just say ‘Well,’ shrug — and maybe, at best, say ‘I’m sorry’ — and you walk away.

“I think you need to use the language of ‘reparation,‘” he continued. “I think it’s very, very important to actually say that word, to acknowledge that something was done in these institutions.”

In the past few years, the Cambridge, Mass., university has taken a number of steps to acknowledge its connection to slavery. In March of last year, the institution bent to mounting pressure to remove the family seal of notorious slave owner Isaac Royall. The controversial seal represented the law school for nearly a century and was adopted in 1937 to honor Royall’s contribution to the university, according to Atlanta Black Star.

Months later, the prestigious university recognized four enslaved persons — Titus, Venus, Jubah and Bilhah — who lived and worked on university grounds by dedicating the official residence of Harvard’s presidents in their honor.

Harvard isn’t the only university that has come clean about the role of slavery in its establishment. Earlier this year, a history professor at Columbia University published a report detailing how the transatlantic slave trade helped finance the school in its humble beginnings, while Georgetown University extended legacy admissions privileges to the descendants of 272 enslaved workers who were sold to keep the institution financially afloat in 1838.

History professor Sven Beckert, who has investigated Harvard’s ties to slavery in the past, said the process of unearthing this bitter history started in 2007 with a self-led seminar on the history of slavery at the university. Over the years, Beckert said his students discovered stories of enslaved Blacks who worked on campus under two Harvard presidents and uncovered endowment investments tied to the slave economy. One student, who presented the findings as part of her senior thesis on Friday, revealed that Harvard had used the Caribbean plantation of a former slave-holding donor as a botanical research outpost until 1961.

“When the students began to uncover a different history, they and others who listened to them were surprised,” Beckert said. “Yet, in retrospect, it seems that the only thing that should surprise us was our surprise and that it took so long for us to allow ourselves to be surprised by that history.”

Unlike Coates, Faust has stopped short of supporting reparations. In an interview with The Harvard Crimson last fall, Faust said offering repayment or preferential treatment like Georgetown University has wouldn’t be appropriate for Harvard, since it didn’t directly own slaves.

“I am not aware of any slaves that were owned by Harvard itself, and slavery was much less of a presence and an economic force in New England than it was in Washington, D.C., and the South,” she said. “Mostly, slave records were kept as economic records, business records, and the records we have of slaves at Harvard are much scarcer and less complete.”

Coates disagreed at Friday’s conference, asserting that atonement must involve some sort of monetary repayment.

The institution’s faculty committee is expected to continue studying Harvard’s ties to slavery and plans to release a set of recommendations to the University in the coming months, according to the newspaper.

By Tanasia Kenney
Posted by The NON-Conformist

Texas: The Fight Against Vouchers Begins Again

Texas has a Lt. Governor named Adan Patrick who hates public schools. Before he was elected to the legislature, he was a radio talk show host, a small-time rightwing shock jock. Patrick’s favorite cause is vouchers and defunding public schools.

He needs to be reminded that “school choice” originated as the battle cry of white segregationists after the Brown decision of 1954. But maybe he knows that.

More from Diane’s Blog

Posted by Libergirl

[THE WAY FORWARD] It’s Time For A Different Kind Of Politics

As the political landscape changes with a new White House, so must we

I’m from Mississippi. The night Donald Trump was elected president, my first reaction was, Look at what these White folks have done. The second was, While this is certainly a moment of crisis, it is also one of possibility.

What we need to do is focus on three areas that have a bearing on the long-term future of our communities: education, jobs and criminal justice. If Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsey DeVos, is confirmed, it’s going to change the landscape of education. We’re going to have to adopt a strategy for the ballot box and one for the streets, both designed and executed by local organizers. Organizers are going to have to figure out who they’re going to run for the local school board; who they’re going to run for office that holds a vision of public education as a public good; and who they’re going to run that can push back against the forces of privatization. To bring these issues to the forefront will require wildcat strikes on the part of students and teach-ins on the part of those of us who are allied with public education. It’s going to require a kind of coalition building among progressives outside and inside public education.

We’ve got to do something similar around jobs.

Since [Trump] is talking about [rebuilding America’s] infrastructure, we’ve got to position ourselves to get some of those new jobs. We’ve got to ask what it means to organize for a livable wage . There are organizers in the South who are working hard to link White and Black workers across the tracks, such as the extraordinary work we see the Rev. William Barber II doing in North Carolina as part of the Forward Together movement. Even though that state went for Trump, its residents voted out Republican Gov. [Pat] McCrory and have been engaged in a kind of electoral politics that isn’t reducible to simply electing people. They’ve also been organizing around public education, undocumented workers, the right of women to choose, prison reform—staging a movement that cuts across a variety of constituencies and emphasizes the power of everyday ordinary people.

Which takes me to the third point: If confirmed, [Republican Sen.] Jeff Sessions will be our attorney general. So we need the best legal minds in the country to be thinking up strategies to challenge what’s about to happen. Affirmative action is about to be gutted. The Voting Rights Act will continue to be eroded. We are going to see a new legal regime impact the very ways in which we struggle. We also need to start talking among ourselves about what it means to be on juries—particularly with regard to our children. We must embrace jury nullification and declare, If I’m going to serve on a jury, I’m not going to convict a child as an adult.

Fortunately, there are already models for resistance. Color of Change started a super PAC around [district attorneys], those individuals who aren’t charging police [in cases where they kill our people]. We’ve seen Project NIA, Assata’s Daughters and Black Youth Project 100 in Chicago mobilize and organize, and what did they do? They got rid of the DA who refused to indict police officers—particularly the one who killed Laquan McDonald. And in Duval County, Fla., they got rid of [State’s Attorney] Angela Corey, who indicted and convicted Marissa Alexander [for firing a warning shot during a domestic dispute]. These organizations have shown us how adopting a different kind of local politics can have a significant impact, right where people live.

By Eddie Glaude Jr./Ebonymag

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Study Shows Deep Racial Divide on How Black, Latino and White Cops View Racial Equality, Police Brutality

Protesters and police officers seemingly have one thing in common, according to a new survey: Both agree that bad cops aren’t held accountable by the police force for poor performance. A recently released Pew Research Center survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform revealed that 72 percent of officers disagreed with the statement that bad cops are held accountable for their poor performance. Just 24 percent of respondents agreed that officers who underperform are held responsible, according to the poll.

The survey, which was conducted in 2016 and involved almost 8,000 police officers from departments across the country, offered a wide collection of data points on police attitudes about their jobs and the communities they work in. One glaring hallmark of the study is the deep racial divide police officers have on issues of Black equality. The study showed that an extremely high concentration of white officers believe that the country has achieved racial equity. According to the study “virtually all white officers (92%), but only 29% of their black colleagues, say that the country has made the changes needed to assure equal rights for blacks.” The views of white officers not only differ from their Black co-workers, but they also are at odds with the greater white population, where only 43 percent of all white adults said no more changes are needed, as measured in the center’s survey of the general public. Statistics also show that 53 percent of Black officers believed their white counterparts are treated much better in their departments/agencies when it comes to assignments and promotions. These views point to a long-held belief that the job experience for Black officers differs even when they try to fit in.

The Pew study also showed a continued racial chasm in the views of police officers over the protest movement that has swept the country over the past three years. Sixty-nine percent of Black officers believed that protesters were in part motivated by the desire to hold police officers responsible for their actions, while a mere 27 percent of white officers agreed that that was the purpose of the protests.

The differing perceptions of police officers by race continued into how they view the high-profile killings of Black people by the police. Seventy-two percent of white officers viewed these encounters as isolated incidents, while 57 percent of Black officers saw the incidents as part of a larger problem with policing. The survey also showed that white officers had a 16 percent higher probability to engage in an altercation with a suspect than Black officers.

The survey further demonstrated how Black and White police officers view the Black communities they are stationed in. Sixty-eight percent of Black officers said the police and community relations within Black communities are negative, while 60% of white and Latino officers believed relations with the Black community are positive. The study suggests that, at times, white officers are oblivious to their actions and the effect those actions have on the communities they patrol. Their concern was only for how it affects them personally. The Pew Research survey showed that the killings do indeed affect officers’ sentiments, but it’s mostly concerning their own safety. After the increased media attention to the recent string of deadly shootings of African-Americans, a majority of law enforcement personnel (86 percent) said they felt the fatal encounters between police and African-Americans have made their jobs harder. Another 93 percent said they’ve become more concerned for their personal safety as a result of high-profile police shootings of Black people.

By Tanasia Kenney/Atlantablackstar
Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

Mall of America hires its first black Santa

SAY WHAT….What took sooooo long!

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Image: Star Tribune Twitter

Santa Experience co-owner Landon Luther told the Tribune the move to hire a black Santa was a long time coming.

“We want Santa to be for everyone, period,” Luther told the Tribune.

Pat McCrory Lost the North Carolina Governorship. Now He’s Trying to Steal It.

North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, champion of the country’s most notorious anti-LGBTQ law, lost his bid for re-election on Nov. 8—at last count, by 7,448 votes. Yet nearly two weeks later, McCrory still refuses to concede. Instead, he and his legal team are baselessly alleging that the results were tainted by fraud, petitioning election boards to review the results and determine their validity. McCrory is not so obtuse as to think he can actually overtake his opponent, Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, in raw votes. His strategy is more insidious: He seems intent on delaying the formal declaration of a winner—and delegitimizing the voting process—in order to let the Republican-dominated legislature ignore the true result and re-install McCrory as governor for another four years.

This chicanery will be easier to pull off than you might expect. Thus far, McCrory has questioned votes in more than half of North Carolina’s counties. One attorney monitoring the proceedings called these challenges “silly, small in number, poorly researched and often defamatory,” which is undeniable: Republican-controlled county election boards have forcefully rejected McCrory’s challenges, concluding that there is simply no proof of widespread fraud or malfeasance as McCrory claims. Frustrated by these setbacks, McCrory petitioned the Republican-controlled State Board of Elections to take over the review process. The board refused, but it agreed to meet on Tuesday to set guidelines for how county boards should address complaints.

Despite the utter lack of evidence to support allegations of fraud, McCrory’s team has launched a misinformation campaign to cast a pall of suspicion over the results. His campaign spokesman asked, “Why is Roy Cooper fighting to count the votes of dead people and felons?” McCrory’s close ally and current state budget director, Andrew T. Heath, also tweeted that Durham County has 231,000 residents over the age of 18 but 232,000 registered voters, implying fraud. (In reality, Durham’s 2015 voting-age population was about 235,600, and the county has only 193,659 active registered voters; its Republican-controlled election board already unanimously rejected a complaint alleging malfeasance.) Now McCrory’s lawyers are targeting black American voter outreach groups for purportedly violating minor procedural rules while helping voters fill out absentee ballots. The governor has falsely accused these groups of conducting a “massive voter fraud scheme.”

McCrory can, and probably will, still ask for a statewide recount. But he must know that a recount will not close such a sizable gap. His real goal appears to be to delegitimize the results to such an extent that the state legislature—which holds a Republican supermajority—can step in and select him as the winner. North Carolina state law states that when “a contest arises out of the general election,” and that contest pertains “to the conduct or results of the election,” the legislature “shall determine which candidate received the highest number of votes” and “declare that candidate to be elected.” By alleging fraud, mishandling of ballots, and irregular vote-counting, McCrory is laying the groundwork for the legislature to proclaim that a “contest” has arisen as to “the conduct or results of the election.” At that point, it can step in, assert that McCrory received “the highest number” of legitimate votes, and “declare [him] to be elected.”

The best part? Under the law, the legislature’s decision is “not reviewable” by the courts. Republican legislators can simply step in, overturn the decision of the voters, and grant McCrory another term. The courts have no authority even to review the legality of their actions.

While McCrory works to reverse the results of his election, the legislature is contemplating a plan to effectively negate a state Supreme Court contest. On Election Day, voters ousted a conservative justice and replaced him with a progressive, tipping the court’s balance of power toward Democrats. Republican legislators so feared this result that they attempted to bar the progressive candidate from running, passing a law that was struck down as unconstitutional. Now they are floating a plan to pack the court, expanding it from seven to nine members—and allowing McCrory to name its two new members, thereby conserving its conservative majority. The legislature passed HB2 in 12 hours. It could ram through a court-packing bill just as quickly.

This scheme, of course, would directly contravene the voters’ recent decision to move the state Supreme Court in a liberal direction. But North Carolina Republicans no longer care much about the will of the voters. Instead of accepting the results of the election, Republicans are attempting to entrench their power through a series of unethical, underhanded, and constitutionally dubious maneuvers. Their corrupt disregard for basic governing norms—their blatant preference for raw power over democratic legitimacy—should alarm us all. What’s happening in North Carolina is not mere politics. It is a perversion of democracy.

By Mark Joseph Stern/Slate

Posted by The NON-Conformist