News Release Archive - African American

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.”

How Behemoth BlackRock Rigs Finance

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ELLEN BROWN, ellenhbrown at gmail.com, @ellenhbrown
Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling The Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free.

She just wrote the piece “Meet BlackRock, the New Great Vampire Squid,” which states: “To most people, if they are familiar with it at all, BlackRock is an asset manager that helps pension funds and retirees manage their savings through ‘passive’ investments that track the stock market. But working behind the scenes, it is much more than that. BlackRock has been called ‘the most powerful institution in the financial system,’ ‘the most powerful company in the world’ and the ‘secret power.’ It is the world’s largest asset manager and ‘shadow bank,’ larger than the world’s largest bank (which is in China), with over $7 trillion in assets under direct management and another $20 trillion managed through its Aladdin risk-monitoring software. BlackRock has also been called ‘the fourth branch of government’ and ‘almost a shadow government’, but no part of it actually belongs to the government. Despite its size and global power, BlackRock is not even regulated as a ‘Systemically Important Financial Institution’ under the Dodd-Frank Act, thanks to pressure from its CEO Larry Fink, who has long had ‘cozy’ relationships with government officials.

“BlackRock’s strategic importance and political weight were evident when four BlackRock executives, led by former Swiss National Bank head Philipp Hildebrand, presented a proposal at the annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in August 2019 for an economic reset that was actually put into effect in March 2020. Acknowledging that central bankers were running out of ammunition for controlling the money supply and the economy, the BlackRock group argued that it was time for the central bank to abandon its long-vaunted independence and join monetary policy (the usual province of the central bank) with fiscal policy (the usual province of the legislature). They proposed that the central bank maintain a ‘Standing Emergency Fiscal Facility’ that would be activated when interest rate manipulation was no longer working to avoid deflation. The Facility would be deployed by an ‘independent expert’ appointed by the central bank.

“The COVID-19 crisis presented the perfect opportunity to execute this proposal in the U.S., with BlackRock itself appointed to administer it. In March 2020, it was awarded a no-bid contract under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to deploy a $454 billion slush fund established by the Treasury in partnership with the Federal Reserve. This fund in turn could be leveraged to provide over $4 trillion in Federal Reserve credit. While the public was distracted with protests, riots and lockdowns, BlackRock suddenly emerged from the shadows to become the ‘fourth branch of government,’ managing the controls to the central bank’s print-on-demand fiat money. How did that happen and what are the implications? …”

Brown concludes: “If the corporate oligarchs are too big and strategically important to be broken up under the antitrust laws, rather than bailing them out they should be nationalized and put directly into the service of the public. At the very least, BlackRock should be regulated as a too-big-to-fail Systemically Important Financial Institution. Better yet would be to regulate it as a public utility. No private, unelected entity should have the power over the economy that BlackRock has, without a legally enforceable fiduciary duty to wield it in the public interest.”

Brown’s other books include The Public Bank Solution: From Austerity to Prosperity and most recently, Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age.

Billionaires Deforming Education?

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KEVIN KUMASHIRO, kevin at kevinkumashiro.com
Author of ten books on education, Kumashiro is former dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco and co-founder of Education Deans for Justice and Equity,

He has helped organize a statement signed by over “650 educators of color and educational scholars of color across the U.S.” calling for a “retreat from the market-based initiatives (like the so-called ‘portfolio model,’ expansion of choice, and deprofessionalizing of teaching) being foisted by billionaires upon poorer communities of color.”

The statement — “This Must End Now: Educators & Scholars of Color Against Failed Educational ‘Reforms’” begins: “The public is being misled. Billionaire philanthropists are increasingly foisting so-called ‘reform’ initiatives upon the schools that serve predominantly students of color and low-income students, and are using black and brown voices to echo claims of improving schools or advancing civil rights in order to rally community support. However, the evidence to the contrary is clear: these initiatives have not systematically improved student success, are faulty by design, and have already proven to widen racial and economic disparities. We must heed the growing body of research and support communities and civil-rights organizations in their calls for a more accurate and nuanced understanding of the problems facing our schools, a retreat from failed ‘reforms,’ and better solutions.”

Kumashiro recently wrote the piece “Corona-Capitalism and the Racialized Looting of Public Schools,” which states: “As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, proponents of market-based reforms have wasted little time capitalizing on the same two conditions that propelled privatization post-Katrina, except at a scale and level without precedent: school closures and federal funding.”

Lack of Union Jobs “Obliterated an Emergent Black Middle Class”

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WILLIAM LAZONICK, william.lazonick at gmail.com
Lazonick is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and president of the Academic-Industry Research Network.

He co-authored a new paper: “How the Disappearance of Unionized Jobs Obliterated an Emergent Black Middle Class” for the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

See summary blog post: “The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the deep-rooted racial divide that infects American society. According to APM Research Lab, the Covid-19 mortality rate for blacks has been 61.6 per 100,000 compared with 28.2 per 100,000 for Latinos, and 26.2 per 100,000 for whites. It’s another abhorrent statistic to add to the highly disproportionate number of African Americans who are poor, unemployed, and incarcerated.

“The longer life-expectancy of white men compared with black men in the United States has narrowed in recent years, but that is because of a significant drop in longevity of white working-class males, who, even before the pandemic, were succumbing to ‘deaths of despair.’ The fact is that blacks are doing terribly in a nation wracked by extreme economic inequality, which is dragging down the whole working class, irrespective of race or ethnicity. In a nation that once advertised itself as the land of upward socioeconomic mobility through equal employment opportunity, intergenerational downward mobility has become the norm.

“As a new generation has taken to the streets with demands for social transformation, we need to look back a half century to a time when the quest for equal employment opportunity gave rise to an African American blue-collar middle class. During the 1960s and 1970s, blacks with no more than high-school educations gained significant access to well-paid unionized employment opportunities, epitomized by semi-skilled operative jobs in the automobile industry, to which they previously had limited access. Anti-discrimination laws under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with oversight by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) supported this upward mobility for blacks in the context of a growing demand for blue-collar labor in the United States.

“From the late 1970s, however, the impact of global competition and the offshoring of manufacturing combined with the financialization of the corporation to decimate these stable and well-paid blue-collar jobs. Under the seniority provisions of the increasingly beleaguered industrial unions, blacks tended to be last hired and first fired. As U.S.-based blue-collar jobs were permanently lost, U.S. business corporations and government agencies failed to make sufficient investments in the education and skills of the U.S. labor force to usher in a new era of upward socioeconomic mobility. This organizational failure left blacks most vulnerable to downward mobility.

“Central to this corporate failure was a transformation of corporate resource allocation from ‘retain-and-reinvest’ to ‘downsize-and-distribute.’ Instead of retaining corporate profits and reinvesting in the productive capabilities of employees, major business corporations became increasingly focused on downsizing their labor forces and distributing profits to shareholders in the form of cash dividends and stock buybacks. Legitimizing massive distributions to shareholders was the flawed and pernicious ideology that a company should be run to ‘maximize shareholder value.’ Eventually, the downward socioeconomic mobility experienced by blacks would also extend to devastating loss of well-paid and stable employment for whites who lacked the higher education now needed to enter the American middle class. By the twenty-first century, general downward mobility had become a defining characteristic of American society, irrespective of race, ethnicity, or gender.”

Challenging Monuments to “Colonialism and Slavery”

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Several statues of Christopher Columbus have recently been brought down. In Albuquerque, Steven Ray Baca shot someone at a protest at a monument to a conquistador. Baca has reportedly been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

ROXANNE DUNBAR ORTIZ, rdunbaro pacbell.net@rdunbaro
Author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United StatesRoxanne Dunbar Ortiz said today: “As the movement for black lives protests against police violence … has spread to every part of the United States and around the world, some have turned to the glaring public symbols of the history that empowers such violence — colonialism and slavery. Statues celebrating Confederate officers and slavers have come down, as well as those of Columbus, who is best known for pioneering European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere and genocide of the Indigenous Arawaks in the Caribbean; he also brought the transatlantic African slave trade, as well as returning to Spain with enslaved natives who were sold on the European slave market.”

Dunbar also wrote the book Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New MexicoShe continued: “In New Mexico, which was first colonized by the Spanish in 1598, the descendants of those first settlers have in the past several decades erected statues of the genocidal conquistador, Don Juan de Oñate, as well as annually celebrating what they call the entrada, the arrival of the gifts of Christianity and European culture to people they considered savages. Actually, the Indigenous Peoples in New Mexico, called Pueblos, live in small city states with multi-storied communal homes made of adobe or cut granite and practiced irrigation agriculture all along the North Rio Grande River. The Spanish reduced the 98 city-states to 21 within ten years of ‘arrival.’ Today, most of the New Mexico state, county, and cities/towns, as well as the police are controlled by the Hispanos, as the descendants of the Spanish invaders call themselves. On Monday, June 15, one of these Hispanos shot into a group protesting the Oñate statue in Albuquerque, seriously injuring two protestors.”

Statues Tumble

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Sam Gillies via Storyful

ADAM HOCHSCHILD, adamhochschild at earthlink.net
Hochschild has written about the conquest of the Congo in his King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa.

He said today: “As the impact of the video of George Floyd’s killing continues to ricochet around the world, one result has been an epidemic of toppling statues. In the United States, longstanding monuments to Confederate generals have fallen. In Belgium, statues of King Leopold II, the ruthless colonizer of the Congo, have been splashed with red or taken down, and in Australia a mountain range named after him lost its name. In Britain, a statue of Edward Colston, a Bristol merchant and slave trader, was tossed into the city’s harbor.”

Hochschild specifically mentions the statue of Edward Colston in his book on the British antislavery movement, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves.

“When people get shocked by an injustice today,” says Hochschild, “it’s only natural that they look around and realize that, on all sides of us, we have symbols of injustices in the past. We would be shocked if Germany had statues of Hitler in prominent places, but Leopold, like Hitler, was responsible for millions of deaths. I sympathize with the Belgians who want to see him gone. Congo today still suffers from the legacy of its ruthless colonization, and some modern corporations — Unilever, for instance — have roots that go back to the forced labor system founded by Leopold. And in so many ways, in Britain, the United States, and other countries, we are still dealing with the heritage of slavery.”

Hochschild teaches at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of ten books.