News Release Archive - African American

Protesting Trump’s Israeli-Gulf “Fake Peace” Deals

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President Donald Trump is holding a ceremony Tuesday at the White House for the recent deals between Israel and the small Gulf states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. See “Trump ‘peace’ deals for Israel, UAE and Bahrain are shams. They boost oppression, not amity” by Noura Erakat at NBCNews.com.

A coalition of over 50 groups are simultaneously holding a protest (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET) and a news conference (at 1:30 p.m.) outside the White House at BLM Plaza.

HUWAIDA ARRAF, huwaida.arraf@gmail.com, @huwaidaarraf
RANIA QAWASMA, raniaqawasma@gmail.com, @raniaqawasma
Arraf is a Palestinian-American human rights attorney and Qawasma is a Palestinian-American architect. They are among the activists organizing the protests.

Arraf said today: “The U.S.-brokered agreements of the UAE and Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel are predicated on sidelining the most impacted population — the indigenous Palestinian people upon whose land and lives Israel has built its settler-colonial state. These cynical attempts to paint arms deals and cyber-spying contracts as efforts to promote peace, while Palestinians continue to suffer the indignities of violent occupation, racism and apartheid, should be widely condemned.

“Israel’s systemic and systematic violations of Palestinians’ most basic rights must be sanctioned, not rewarded, as the governments of the UAE and Bahrain have done and as the US continues to do by providing Israel with $3.8 billion per year of American taxpayer money.”

The coalition of groups, which include American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, the International Solidarity Movement and the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, referred to the deals as “fake peace plans.” They also noted regarding the UAE agreement that “within a week of the deal’s announcement, a secret clause within the deal to sell tens of billions of dollars in weapons to the UAE was revealed. On September 11, 2020, it was announced that Bahrain — another repressive Gulf country involved in the brutal war in Yemen — will also sign a deal to normalize relations with Israel, also without any concessions for Palestinians. It is understood that Bahrain would not be able to make such an agreement without the tacit approval of Saudi Arabia, the leader of the war in Yemen.”

Background: See The Real News interview from 2018 with scholar As’ad AbuKhalil: “Saudi Arabia’s Unholy Alliance with Israel.”

How Racists Have Manipulated the Post Office

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Commondreams reported recently: “Postmaster General Urged to ‘Immediately Step Aside’ as North Carolina AG Backs Probe Into Campaign Finance Fraud Allegations.”

CLARENCE LUSANE, clusane@igc.org
Lusane is author of $20 and Change: Harriet Tubman, Andrew Jackson, and the Struggle for a Radical Democracy (forthcoming from City Lights Books) and The Black History of the White House.

He said today regarding Trump’s repeated attacks and statements about the Postal Service and mail-in balloting: “Regrettably, the Post Office has been used politically before by past administrations to disrupt efforts at racial justice or black progress. In the 1830s, President Andrew Jackson, Trump’s favorite predecessor, sided with local officials in South Carolina who stopped the mail distribution of abolitionist materials. … Jackson, who had been a slave trader and a slaveowner … proposed federal legislation that would ‘prohibit, under severe penalties, the circulation in the Southern States, through the mail, of incendiary publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection.’ …

“In the early 20th century, the postal service went after Nashville black activist Callie House. In 1894, she founded and led the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty, and Pension Association that sought to win pensions for African Americans who had survived slavery. The movement grew to over 800,000 according to researcher Mary Francis Berry. Like other organizations of the period, she used the mail to solicit and receive donations for her movement. Unhappy with the effort by this black group, Postmaster General A. S. Burleson charged her and other Association leaders with using the mail to commit fraud in 1915. The U.S. government argued that since black survivors of slavery would never receive a pension, her campaign was criminally misleading. After her arrest and nearly year-long imprisonment in 1917-1918, the organization faded.

“Perhaps, most famously, the same law used to go after House was used against Pan-Africanist leader Marcus Garvey. Long under scrutiny by U.S. law enforcement for his strong advocacy of black repatriation to Africa, the newly formed Bureau of Investigation searched for a means to destroy him politically. Garvey’s Black Star Steamship Line, funded in part by mail solicitations, was in financial trouble, and this became an opening for his enemies. Using informants and perjured witnesses, Garvey was charged with mail fraud and convicted. He was sent to prison in 1925, although he was released and deported two years later.”

Destroying Black Cemeteries: Development or Desecration?

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MARSHA COLEMAN-ADEBAYO, nofearcoalition at aol.com, @BethAfrCemetery
Coleman-Adebayo is the president of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition, which is organizing the largest of a series of protests on Friday at noon to “honor the dead at Moses Cemetery” in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of D.C. (Moses Cemetery 5204 River Road Bethesda, Maryland.)

Last year, the Washington Post published her piece:”I was Arrested for Defending a Cemetery in Montgomery County.” On Wednesday, she was interviewed for a major segment on “The Kojo Nnamdi” Show on WAMU, the main NPR station in D.C. Also see recent piece in National Geographic: “The Fight to Save America’s Historic Black Cemeteries,” which quotes her.

Coleman-Adebayo said today that the “Black burial site at Moses Cemetery, a historic 18th century site, is being destroyed” to put up self-storage units. “Hundreds of trucks have removed massive amounts of dirt and potential remains, funerary items, and graves. Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition has been protesting desecration of this site since 2017.

“Recent developments have influenced the protest. … Observers have photographed a gravestone being dug up and ignored by the archeologist hired” by the builders.

The group states that letters and protests directed at various political figures such as County Executive Marc Elrich and State’s Attorney John McCarthy have produced no meaningful results.

Coleman-Adebayo is also a former senior policy analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Labor Day: Tipping Point for Restaurant Workers?

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Labor Day is Monday. Many restaurant workers are increasing their organizing and their demands for ending the tipped minimum wage. Last year, the House passed a bill doing just that, but the Senate refused to consider it.

ABBY GINZBERG, abbyginzberg@gmail.com, @wagingchange
Ginzberg is a Peabody award-winning director, producing documentaries about race and social justice for over 30 years. She has just released the film “Waging Change.”

She said today: “In honor of Labor Day, we are doing a national free virtual screening of ‘Waging Change,’ which reveals a disaster hiding in plain sight — that restaurant workers in 17 states make only $2.13 an hour and have to get to minimum wage by relying on their tips. Only seven states require that workers be paid the full minimum wage plus tips. With the pandemic, the situation for tipped workers has gone from bad to horrendous as many do not qualify for unemployment due to their low wages.” The trailer is here.

SARU JAYARAMAN, saru@onefairwage.org,   NIKKI COLE, nikki@onefairwage.org, @onefairwage
Jayaraman is the president of One Fair Wage, Cole is the group’s national policy director. Jayaraman said today: “Coronavirus shutdowns throughout the pandemic have exacerbated the problem of the tipped minimum wage. Many service workers are being denied unemployment insurance because their wages were literally too low to qualify. And now they’re being forced back to work without safety protocols and paid sick days for a sub-minimum wage of under $5 an hour in most states, when tips are down 75-90 percent in most parts of the country. … Black workers are tipped less because of implicit bias, and women are subject to twice the rates of sexual harassment when they aren’t paid a base, living wage.”

CHIEADZA KUNDIDZORA, ladychikundi@gmail.com
A restaurant worker, Kundidzora said today: “As an African American woman who has worked in the restaurant industry for over a decade, I have seen and experienced the damage done to women workers who are forced to rely on tips to survive and feed their families. It is past time to end the tipped minimum wage so that restaurant workers have the opportunity to earn a living wage without being dependent on sexual harassment in order to survive.”

Ginzberg is making segments of the film available to news outlets, including clips covering the following topics: overview of tipped minimum wage by states; wage theft in the restaurant industry; sexual harassment in the restaurant industry (featuring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez); racial inequities in front vs. back of the house; reliance on public assistance; the tipped minimum wage as a legacy of slavery; and the little known fact that the House of Representatives passed a bill to end the tipped minimum wage in 2019, which has not been considered by the Senate.

Trump in Kenosha

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President Donald Trump is scheduled to travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, where Jacob Blake was shot repeatedly by police in the back.

DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein at gmail.com, @burn_stick
Bernstein is the executive producer of the program “Flashpoints” and just wrote the piece “Don’t Expect Justice for Black People in Kenosha if Sheriff Beth Has His Way.

KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY, kevinagray57 at gmail.com, @kevinagray
Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina. He co-edited Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence which scrutinizes the impunity of perpetrators of violence to African Americans in U.S. society.

He is also author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics, which connects various issues, such as the drug war, to issues of oppression of African Americans and police violence. The book also lists Confederate and other memorials.

Many of his writings — including his essays “Rolling Back the Police State,” “What It Feels Like to be Black in America” and “Back to the Jim Crow Future” are available at Counterpunch and The Progressive.

Could NBA Strike Fuel New Strike Wave? 

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MIKE ELK, mike.elk@gmail.com, @MikeElk
Elk is the senior labor reporter at Payday Report — which has featured a map showing strikes around the U.S.

He said today: “The NBA strike — which is unprecedented in many ways — could inspire a whole new round of BLM strikes across the United States, much how George Floyd’s murder sparked more than 500 strikes in less than a month. And with Labor Day coming up, the NBA strikes could open the door to a whole new round of strikes in various industries.

“The strikes come as many teachers feel unsafe about returning to teach in classrooms across the U.S. Already, both major teachers’ unions, the AFT [American Federation of Teachers] and NEA [National Education Association] have pledged their financial support to support ‘safety strikes’ over unsafe school reopenings. In June, there were hundreds of strikes.”

Elk’s past pieces include “COVID & Disaster Capitalism: Busting Unions in Baseball” and “As South Carolina Teachers Walkout, 10,000 Storm State Capitol in Columbia.”

Big Media and DNC: Distinguishing Policy Criticism from Slurs

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ROBIN ANDERSEN, andersen at fordham.edu
Andersen is professor and director of graduate studies in the department of communication and media studies at Fordham University. She just wrote the piece “Not All Criticism of Kamala Harris Is Created Equal,” part of the media watch group FAIR’s focus on the 2020 election.

She writes: “Yet emerging as a corporate media frame is a sloppy, mystifying confusion that refuses to distinguish the racist and sexist slurs against Harris from an authentic discussion of the trajectory of her political positions, and what they might mean for her as a serving vice president and a potential future leader of the Democratic Party. Within this frame, criticisms from the left and the right are treated as equally offensive.

“This was evident early on in an opinion piece penned by Anthea Butler for NBC News (8/11/20), which asserted that after the announcement of Harris on the ticket, ‘the attacks and criticisms began flying across the web from conservatives and liberals alike. She’s ‘extraordinarily nasty.’ She’s ‘a cop.’ She’s too conservative — or she’s too liberal. She changes her mind constantly.’

“Criticizing the word ‘cop’ when applied to Kamala Harris makes little sense. In fact, the word comes from Harris herself. Harris served as San Francisco district attorney from 2004 to 2011, and as California attorney general from 2011 to 2017. Amid the fanfare of winning the position of California attorney general, speaking behind a podium with a victorious smile on her face, Kamala accepted her new position by saying, ‘And I now stand before you as the Top Cop in the biggest state in the country.’ To illustrate the sloppy nature of this frame that all criticism is equal, Harris is shown calling herself a ‘cop’ on a video segment sandwiched into Butler’s piece.”

“Epidemic” of Uniform Violence at Home

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Harvard Health reports: “When lockdown is not actually safer: Intimate partner violence during COVID-19.”

STACY BANNERMAN, stacy at stacybannerman.com, @StacyBannerman
Bannerman is author of HOMEFRONT 911: How Families of Veterans Are Wounded by Our Wars. She is able to speak to issues of domestic violence by both police and military personnel. [See recent piece by retired colonel Ann Wright “Fort Hood a Dangerous Place for Women in the Military.”]

Bannerman said today: “Police violence does not stop on the streets. There is a black-and-blue line of domestic violence in the households of policemen. Research suggests that family violence is two to four times higher in the law-enforcement community than in the general population. and some 40 percent of police have reported having participated in domestic violence in the previous year.

“The uniform has protected police abuse at the expense of the spouse and family. It is the same Code of Silence that ensures the women and children who are victims of veteran domestic violence are invisible collateral damage that America refuses to acknowledge or discuss.

“According to the National Center for Women and Policing, The reality is that even officers who are found guilty of domestic violence are unlikely to be fired, arrested, or referred for prosecution, raising concern that those who are tasked with enforcing the law cannot effectively police themselves.”

The socially sanctioned horror of domestic violence by uniformed personnel is also suffered by the wives of combat veterans with PTSD, said Bannerman, who has written about it extensively and experienced it first-hand. Once married to a two-time Iraq War combat vet with severe PTSD, Bannerman said, “Domestic violence and sexual assault by military, particularly combat veterans with PTSD, is a serious problem, but these are problems among police, too. It is a hidden issue that, were it extrapolated to the general population, the epidemic of potentially lethal domestic violence in the homes of those who’ve worn the uniform would be a public health crisis.

“Research has found that veterans diagnosed with PTSD were significantly more likely to perpetrate violence toward their partners, with over 80 percent committing at least one act of violence in the previous year, and almost half at least one severe act, including strangulation, stabbing and shooting.

“Taxpayer dollars provide funds for training of police and military in use of force. It is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to constrain the use of force after the fact. Our collective failure to identify and address human-made and intergenerational trauma is especially egregious with far reaching negative ramifications.

“The issues involved are toxic masculinity, a culture centered on domination by brute force, and a process of dehumanizing and defining difference as deviance; rendering certain people ‘the other’ — typically people of color and/or women.”

Bannerman’s past articles include “High risk of military domestic violence on the home front.”

Mount Rushmore: Tip of Iceberg

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NICK ESTES, nicholas.w.estes at gmail.com, @nick_w_estes@The_Red_Nation
Estes is an assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. He is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and host of the Red Nation podcast. His latest book is Our History is The Future.

He was on “Democracy Now!” Monday morning, noting that while Trump talks about preserving history, protestors were just arrested for asserting history and standing for treaties at Mount Rushmore. One protestor, Nick Tilsen, is still being held. Estes also addressed the impact of the pandemic on native people in the U.S. and the toppling of a Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore.

Bloomberg Law reported Monday: “Dakota Access Oil Line to Be Shut by Court in Blow for Trump.” Estes is co-editor of Standing with Standing Rock — see an in-depth interview with Estes on “Flashpoints” last year.
He notes the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, also created the Confederate memorial at Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Estes recently appeared on the podcast Intercepted, stating that colonialism revolves around “God, gold, and glory,” noting: “Mount Rushmore is named after a gold prospector who had illegally entered into Lakota treaty territory to begin prospecting. … The Black Hills [where Mount Rushmore is located] were also a place of origin and a place of cultural and spiritual significance for over 50 Indigenous nations.”

George Washington “was known as ‘town destroyer.’ He was given that name by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy because he led a scorched-earth campaign against the Haudenosaunee prior to the Revolutionary War, but also during the Revolutionary War, to push them further westward. …

“Thomas Jefferson was really the architect of Indian removal as we now know it, like the Trail of Tears or the removal of the southeastern tribes from what we now know as the South, places like Georgia and North Carolina. But he was the one who really envisioned that, and that’s why he facilitated something like the Louisiana Purchase, because he imagined moving — basically creating a large Indian reserve — west of the Mississippi River. And of course, that, later on, became Oklahoma Territory. He also envisioned that the entire western hemisphere would be dominated” by Anglo-Saxons and “this was really the foundation of what we know as Manifest Destiny. …

“Lincoln himself is a very controversial figure for our people because he signed the death sentence for 38 Dakota patriots who took up arms against the United States after a breakdown in treaty obligations happened during the Civil War. … In 1862, you had the passage of the Homestead Act. … Dakota Uprising, as it’s known [happened] in 1862 … because the United States failed to live up to its treaty obligations to the Dakota people and … they took up arms. … But as the state of Minnesota reorganized itself for retaliation, they began organizing these irregular settler militias that were composed” of “recent European immigrants to basically create what we now know as the National Guard to crush the Indigenous uprising.”

The fourth face blasted into the mountain is that of “conservationist” Theodore Roosevelt. He is known for his role in the Spanish-American War with the “Rough Riders” and then for “gunboat diplomacy” during his presidency. Estes notes that even his role as “preservationist” is an ominous one for native people since “for settlers to appreciate nature, Indigenous people had to be ‘removed’ from nature.”

Estes notes that with respect to Minneapolis: “Leading up to the uprising and the killing of George Floyd, the conversation that I was hearing on the ground there, not just from Indigenous people but all people in that community … was the question of housing because housing prices were skyrocketing. So the intensification of police violence always correlates with profound inequality and we can trace that inequality in a place like Minneapolis back to its colonial origins when they expelled my ancestors.”

Intercepted played audio of Russell Means of the American Indian Movement: “And originally AIM, of course, was organized to combat police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But it grew, because the ideas of self-determination, the idea of being able to stand on your own two feet, eye-to-eye with the white man and say, ‘Wait a minute. Stop.'”

Trump and Barr Turn to Joint Terrorism Task Force to Crush Protests

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DAVE LINDORFF, dlindorff at gmail.com
Editor of ThisCantBeHappening.net and 2019 winner of an “Izzy” Award for Outstanding Independent Media, Lindorff just wrote the piece “Tear Gas and Clubs in Lafayette Square Were Just the Beginning” for The Nation.

Lindorff reports: “On June 1, President Trump ordered National Park Police and troops from the District of Columbia National Guard and some other federal law enforcement agencies to drive peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, north of the White House, to clear the way for his Bible-holding photo op. The same day, Trump and his Attorney General William Barr, along with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, also placed a call to the nation’s 50 governors.

“A leaked transcript of that taped conversation, published in full by a number of major news organizations [audio], shows both Trump and Barr referring in glowing terms to the way the Obama administration, almost nine years earlier, had crushed the months-long Occupy Movement across the country in a matter of a few days.

“Trump told the governors, many of whose states were experiencing massive protests against police brutality in the wake of the brutal videotaped police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, ‘This is like Occupy Wall Street. It was a disaster until one day somebody said, “That’s enough.” And they just went in and wiped them out. And it’s the last time I heard the name Occupy Wall Street. …’

“Trump was followed at that point in the call by Attorney General Barr, who told the assembled governors that the Trump administration planned to use the same Fusion Centers and Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) the Obama administration had relied on to spy on and then crush the Occupy Movement to shut down the current wave of urban uprisings and protests over police brutality.

“As Barr put it, ‘The structure we’re going to use is the Joint Terrorist Task Force, which I know most of you are familiar with. Tried and true system. It’s worked for domestic and homegrown terrorists, and we’re going to employ that model.’

“It’s important to remember what actually happened with the Occupy Movement, a remarkable protest against inequality, corporate power, and the corrupt Wall Street banks whose recklessness had caused the 2008 financial crisis. Occupy was a spontaneous grassroots protest that sprang up in September 2011 in Lower Manhattan with the occupation of a one-block space called Zuccotti Park located just two blocks north of the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway. That encampment was quickly replicated in over 18 cities across the nation as part of a movement that introduced into popular discourse the class-conscious notion of ‘the 1 percent and the 99 percent.’

“As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Washington, D.C.–based Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) recalls, the Occupy movement” was targeted by the government. She said, “That’s why you saw encampments wiped out by police with over 7,000 arrests.”

“PCJF, following that shutdown of Occupy, turned to the Freedom of Information Act, seeking all documents relating to efforts to crush that movement from both the FBI and the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Pentagon and other intel agencies. After appeals, the organization received thousands of pages [see BigBrotherAmerica.org] of heavily redacted documents that made it clear that even as the FBI was reporting that the Occupy movement was peaceful, it had been classified as a domestic terrorist threat by both the FBI and DHS, ‘before even the first encampments were set up in Zuccotti Park and elsewhere in mid-September,’ with the FBI already providing detailed warnings of Occupy Wall Street’s plans to Wall Street banks and US corporations as early as August, 2011.”