Posted in Power, Equity, Inclusion

July 24, 2009

This Week in Blackness: 2009 is the New 1952

The Brooklyn Comedy Company Proudly Presents the 4th Episode of season 2 of This Week in Blackness. In the latest episode host Elon James White talks about the past few weeks in so-called post-racial America…and this was even BEFORE the incident involving Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates that happened a few days ago, right in IISC‘s backyard. (For more on that connection and an extension of last week’s lively discussion on same,  check out Princeton Professor and MSNBC regular Melissa Harris Lacewell’s recent blog in “The Nation” entitled “Skip Gates and the Post-Racial Project”.) Read More

6 Comments
July 17, 2009

The Door of No Return

On Wednesday’s edition of the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the Rev. Al Sharpton made a poignant observation about President Obama’s recent trip to the slave castles in Ghana. While noting the psycho-spiritual-historical significance of the First Family’s visit to the infamous “Door of No Return”  his statement was that, contrary to the intent of the enslavers, indeed we (descendants of the enslaved) have returned — as President of the United States, the most important and powerful leader of the most powerful country on Earth.

Journalist Anderson Cooper will air a 1-hr special this weekend on CNN (8p, 11p on Saturday and Sunday) of his exclusive interview with the President during the First Family’s historic tour of these monuments to evil. In this clip, Cooper narrates a tour of the dungeons where captured Africans were held until they would be shoved through the Door of No Return to face their fate of either death during the terror-filled Middle Passage or a life of enslavement in the Americas.

While such observations evoke sobering, grievous as well as prideful thoughts, when coupled with my reaction to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings of the brilliant, exceptionally qualified, impeccably credentialed, and yes, wise, Latina Judge Sonia Sotomayor — I am further vexed about the state of race relations in this country.
Read More

Leave a comment
June 12, 2009

Race and Recession: How Inequity Rigged the Economy and How to Change the Rules

The American economy wasn’t created in a race-blind way and the current recession isn’t race-blind in its impacts. It stands to reason, then, that we won’t get out of the current recession fairly without paying attention to the impact of race as we create solutions.

Listen to this summary of an Applied Research Center report on the issues of race, recession, and recovery.

To read more, go to: http://www.arc.org/content/view/726/136/

Leave a comment
June 5, 2009

On, Women, Revolution and Love

I’ve never been much of a feminist. In the crucible of my political coming of age, I internalized a strong message. I could either be a ‘race woman,’ devoting myself to improving the conditions of black people, or I could ally myself with bourgeois white feminists. There were no other choices, and clearly only one was acceptable. A small group of female African American seminary students was working out a ‘wymist’ theory that took gender, race and poverty seriously but I didn’t take them seriously at the time. I constructed my identity primarily around race. Like many African American women who’ve played a prominent role in the struggle for freedom and justice, I would advocate for the community as a whole—no particular emphasis on women. Focusing on women, and especially highlighting sexism and misogyny within the black community, was an especially hard row that I didn’t want to hoe.

In the past two years, I’ve begun to take women’s work – organizing among and on behalf of women – more seriously. Why? Because I’ve begun to see a unique source of power I had missed before. I’ve worked with incredible African American and Sudanese women in the Sisterhood for Peace who working toward peace for the whole of Sudan. I’ve wept as I watched documentaries about the horrors facing women in Darfur and as I read A Thousand Splendid Suns, set in late 1980s Afghanistan. I’ve learned with great pride about Liberian organizer, Leymah Gbowee, who catalyzed the Women in Peacebuilding Network—a movement of women who were sick and tired of losing sons, brothers, and husbands to a 14 year civil war—and whose actions led to the war’s end.

From Sisterhood For Peace.

Read More

Leave a comment
May 13, 2009

The Hawt Post & Hot VIP Post Blogs – oh the balance, oh the irony

Does anyone else read the blog posts that appear in either the Hawt Post or Hot VIP Post?  I have read these from time to time and am astounded by the right wingishness of the content.  Now, I’m all for freedom of speech – and I’ll fight for anyone’s right to say something offensive to me (or to you, for that matter) – but it does strike me as odd (or perhaps, in a perfectly twisted way, balanced?) that such hateful (IMHO) material is there to read before I make the magic click into the left leaning, liberal safety of the IISC blogspot.  It is sort of like running through a grove of thorn bushes before you get to the flower riddled meadow.

4 Comments
May 13, 2009

The Hawt Post & Hot VIP Post Blogs – oh the balance, oh the irony

Does anyone else read the blog posts that appear in either the Hawt Post or Hot VIP Post?  I have read these from time to time and am astounded by the right wingishness of the content.  Now, I’m all for freedom of speech – and I’ll fight for anyone’s right to say something offensive to me (or to you, for that matter) – but it does strike me as odd (or perhaps, in a perfectly twisted way, balanced?) that such hateful (IMHO) material is there to read before I make the magic click into the left leaning, liberal safety of the IISC blogspot.  It is sort of like running through a grove of thorn bushes before you get to the flower riddled meadow.

2 Comments
April 20, 2009

On American Privilege

As a black woman in America, I know a lot about racism and white privilege. I am aware of privileges I enjoy by way of other aspects of my identity—education (graduate level), language (‘standard English’ speaker), able-bodiedness (relatively, speaking), citizenship (American). I’ve always fashioned my sense of Americanness after DuBois’s notion of ‘two-ness.’ I am black in America. That makes me American, but it makes me a “other” American who is set apart from Americanness because so much of Americanness means whiteness. When the attacks of September 11th happened, I didn’t feel like part of the “us” that was under attack. This is my country, but not completely, down to the core of my being.

Even so, I recognize certain things that are very American about me. Take my general stance that most things can be changed; that with enough energy, resources, brainpower, commitment “it can be done.” I recognize that point of view as a privilege that not everyone can partake.

I recognize the privilege of holding that little blue passport in the context of international travel. And, I know I have the privilege of freedom from scrutiny and discrimination in civic and economic processes like registering to vote or applying for a job, loan, or college.

But, there’s an even more basic privilege that I rarely consider. I carry shame and grief at the realization that I have done precious little to leverage or neutralize it. My American lifestyle and the privileges I enjoy are a direct function of genocide. On one level I’ve always known this. There were people here before the European settlers arrived. The Mashpee Wampanoag’s even helped some of them survive and learn to live here. And their repayment? Near obliteration and more than 350 years before the U.S. government would deign to recognize them as an official tribe. The unmitigated gall!

I’m ashamed of my smug progressive stance. Of course Native peoples have been oppressed and I call Columbus Day a Day of Mourning. Yet, I know so little of the history and I’ve been so unengaged in the struggle for justice for Native peoples. I’m only getting outraged in a very visceral way as I ingest spoonfuls of history. (Thanks PBS for “We Shall Remain“!) And, just as I’ve been told white people sometimes feel when they first really confront the reality of their privilege, I’m unsure what to do with the outrage and how to live inside the reality that every day my life is made possible by what has been taken from other people. It’s one thing to understand it in the abstract—to know that we’d need four planets for the entire world population to live the way we do. It’s another to know I that literally grew up on land in Massachusetts that was taken by force from people who initially acted in compassion and good faith. And that was repeated “from sea to shining sea.” And, now we’re back to the two-ness. The people who did that were not my people. And, yet, what they did accrues to my benefit daily.

Leave a comment