Practicing the politics of divisiveness

A  friend who contributed the post below expresses our concern if the hateful and divisive language of President Trump’s campaign will empower some Americans to threaten and discriminate against women, Muslims, African Americans, those with disabilities and ordinary folks. Just ask around and there are more and more stories like the customer who told a sales clerk in a tech store to “speak English or the story below.

I got up this morning to have a cup of coffee and read the paper before I start a day of mostly school work and taxes. I opened the paper in the A Section and read a headline, “Man accused of attacking Muslim worker at Airport.”

A white businessman flew in from Aruba to Kennedy Airport in New York. He had a connecting flight to Massachusetts, which included a layover. He spent his layover in the Delta Sky Club. There was a woman wearing a traditional Muslim hijab. She was minding her own business and sitting in the utility room. The man saw her through the glass portal in the door. He went over to her, totally unprovoked, and slammed the door in her hitting her head against the door. He asked her if she was in there praying? He then kicked her, the woman got out of the room and away from the man. The man then fell on his knees like he was praying in a mosque and started mocking her. The man yelled, “Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kinds of people. You will see what happens.”

He thought he was going to jail just for disorderly conduct and even said so to the policeman who arrested him. Thank goodness New York airport authorities charged the man with assault and the commission of a hate crime. Much more serious than just disorderly conduct.

I think I got so upset reading this article because the article made me realize that for the past eight years we have been able to practice the politics of inclusion under President Obama. Now we are practicing the politics of division (and out right hate.) The saddest part of all of this is Donald Trump feels absolutely no responsibility for unleashing this type of venom into our society. What Donald Trump has unleashed is not patriotism; it is a malevolent nationalism we have not seen since the 1940’s.

I’m just venting over the sad state of affairs we are going to have to survive for the next four years. The only thing I know to do is to personally resist such despicable, (and yes deplorable) behavior. I will speak up and I will speak out when I see these types of injustices. I want to live in Obama’s America, not Trump’s America.

The Wizard of Fear

bwbtrumpRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump made his rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows amidst criticism that he has incited the recent violence at his campaign events. His public remarks on the campaign trail against Muslims, immigrants and others have fueled physical attacks and angry protests. In the spirit of throwing a rock and hiding his hands, his response on “Meet the Press” was, “I don’t accept responsibility…….They’re not angry about something I’m saying. I’m just the messenger”.

The impassioned anti-Trump protestors that appear to be diverse and varied are increasing as the campaign travels. There are ample photos and video footage from protests that led up to the cancellation of the Chicago campaign event due to security concerns. The violence has grown from a simmering dislike to full on hate. From protestors being ordered out of Trump events to being punched in the face to yelling obscenities and even to journalists being roughed up and thrown out of his events. This weekend, in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, there were injuries and arrests and in Kentucky, Trump reportedly promised to defend his supporters if they fought with protestors and in Chicago, he relegated his detractors to “thugs”. It is rumored that Trump may pay the legal fees for the supporter who punched the protester at his recent rally. If so, then his responsibility will be decisive and clear—he will be putting his money where his mouth is.

And in another unbelievable act of messenger amnesia, Trump warned Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that if his campaign people keep coming to his events, he would send his supporters to Sanders’ events. Whether it is threatening or bullying, Trump’s bravado has instigated flagrant and irresponsible discourse. Trump’s shameless reliance on fear and intolerance to fuel his campaign is likely the result of frustration and resentment from the crowds who support him. People who have seen their lives dramatically impacted by economic and social changes they were unprepared for. People looking for hope in small towns and big cities—desperate for a new and better future. Unfortunately, the billionaire candidate has chosen to pillage their hope with the tactics of fear. He has found acceptance as the messenger of hate but as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear”. The only question now is when will it be too much for the majority of GOP voters because it is already too late for the rest of us to believe he is more than the Wizard of Fear.

 

Flint–The Poison of Politics

flintPrior to the environmental fiasco in Flint, I would never have imagined the likelihood that an elected official would make a budget decision that would poison an entire city. It is unimaginable, yet here we are. For those unfamiliar with the widely publicized story, a brief summary is offered.

In 2011 when many cities had still not recovered from the 2008 economic recession, the financially strapped city of Flint was taken over by the state. Then Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, retained emergency managers to cut costs and manage the struggling city.

Two years later, it was decided that Flint should break away from the Detroit water system that pulled water from Lake Heron and join a new water district. In April 2014, Flint switched its water system and started drawing water from the Flint River. There are lead pipes throughout the system and in older homes with copper water pipes that were held together with lead solder, the lead corroded the water. The World Health Organization has said that lead poisoning can cause adverse neurological effects.

The problem is now headline news as reports of sick school children who now have lead poisoning, state EPA officials have resigned, truck loads of donated water arrive in Flint everyday and both the state and federal government officials have declared a state of emergency for the city.

I wish this was just about a bad budget decision, but the cries of environmental racism can’t be overlooked. And not just from political candidates hammering for sound bites. New York Times columnist, Charles Blow wrote,”An entire American city exposed to poisoned water. How could this be? It is hard to imagine this happening in a city that didn’t have Flint’s demographic profile — mostly black and disproportionately poor.”

If not racist it is clearly unjust, unfair, and unacceptable.

Ted Cruz Has Gone Too Far

Contributor, Cecelia Corbin Hunter

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

Just when I thought the national discourse had deteriorated as far as it would go in this election cycle, Ted Cruz says Hillary Clinton should be spanked and not in a playful lets get sexy way. The new Republican leaders seem to believe that (1) they can say any ugly constitution denying rhetoric that they can dream and (2) women are irrelevant and insignificant. It’s the second observation that gives me great pause. It’s become standard fare for the grand old party to discuss and legislate female innards, but a “spanking?” Oh no!!!! Ted has gone too far. Should the flogging be done clothed or should Hillary and all her “girl” supporters strip or just bare their bottoms. Should we gather in a stadium at high noon or be gathered up by Knights in white at midnight.

The days of white men spanking, flogging or beating women for having the audacity of exercising their right to be more correct, to think and unflinchingly to express their thoughts are gone. Ted can get on board or get out of the way. Hillary and the women of 2016 reject his supposition and thinking. We are here and a spanking from you is not on the agenda. Mr Cruz, spanking may be the norm in your house, but not for the woman who is White House bound.

 

Moral Contradictions Can Be Dangerous

trumpAs we celebrate this holiday season marred by a spirit of hate hanging above us like wilted mistletoe, it is worth examining Mr. Trump’s rise to radical ridiculousness.

If we allow the moral line of what is right to be moved at will, then the outcome should not surprise us but instead frighten us.

The debate on gun control in this country is not an argument for the Constitution—the Second Amendment is not an excuse to buy military-style assault weapons. However, couched under the anger and debate about guns are some contradictions that cannot be ignored.

Some obvious contradictions.

If you have legislation that allows law enforcement to determine their level of threat and fear without intermediate options then there will be countless and arguable cases of citizens being subjectively shot and killed.

If there are laws that allow private citizens to gauge their fear, based on personal stereotypical interpretations like hoodies and Skittles, then neighborhood watch programs become appealing to vigilantes.

If a US presidential candidate can, criticize his female opponent’s physical attributes, make light of Americans with disabilities, be a finalist for Time magazine’s Person of the Year, and call for the ban of any group of people, not just Muslims, but especially a group that represents 1.6 billion of the world’s population then we should be afraid of him and the crowds who eagerly support and endorse him.

Republicans today may not publicly agree with Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims from entering the US, but they seem to care more about keeping gun laws unchecked, rather than terrorists from entering the country since they are unwilling to support “no fly, no buy” gun laws.

It is no surprise that Trump continues to move the line on who is excluded from his brand of fear-based patriotism. Trump’s latest attack on Muslims reignites the words of Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller who opposed the Nazi regime and whose words are now famous……..

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Moral contradictions can be dangerous.

 

New York Times op-ed columnist, Thomas L. Friedman shares his views on the subject.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/opinion/you-aint-no-american-bro.html?mwrsm=Email

 

Remembering Julian Bond

JBond987As many of you may know, I am a visiting professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas Austin. I have had the pleasure of hosting Julian Bond twice at the University. Once this February as the keynote speaker for the annual Barbara Jordan Forum at the LBJ School and last year at the Civil Rights Summit lecture in April.

Shirley Franklin, “His life’s work and writings serve as a blueprint for all who seek social justice and equality for all Americans and peace in the world. His sharp intellect and unflinching courage in the face of obstacles and ridicule inspire each of us to stand up, speak up and act up for the principles of democracy and justice.

Julian was an inspired teacher, committed human rights activist and a courageous spokesperson for peace, equality and justice for people of color, for women, for LGBT community, for immigrants and for all Americans and people around the world.”

One of the students, Virginia Cumberbatch introduced Julian Bond at the Barbara Jordan Forum this year and her remarks are included here as well as an interview that I conducted this week honoring Bond on the Boston NPR program, Here and Now.

Julian Bond Introduction by Virginia Cumberbatch

2015 Barbara Jordan Forum

Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs

The University of Texas at Austin

UT-Austin

Julian Bond and LBJ student Virginia Cumberbatch

Good afternoon, today I have the honor of introducing a life-long advocate, activist and an architect of civic engagement in America. As the country engages in important conversations on civil rights and human rights, the voice and virtue of Julian Bond represents a model of advocacy and activism that stands to forge connection between

legacy and momentum. The life-long work of Julian Bond should not only impress us, it should also inspire us to sustained and meaningful action, as his leadership stands as a blueprint for social advocacy. As a student he challenged the status-quo through the work of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, as a politician he advocated for the voiceless, as a teacher at some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions he models the principles of conviction, as a thought leader he’s created new paradigms of engagement through his governance of the NAACP and today Bond stands to deliver a message of equality, freedom, and justice with a renewed sense of relevance.

In the past year The University of Texas and the LBJ School have reengaged the civil rights legacy of Lyndon B. Johnson and the Civil Rights movement at large – reminding us that we cannot forget the past, as it plays a vital role in informing our future. Representative John Lewis reminded us at last year’s monumental LBJ Civil Rights Summit, that “we can’t re-remember things incorrectly, or past hurts and misguidances will continue to lead us.” Such words ring true in the wake of the national headlines that continue to shake the American conscience. Likewise, these words evoke a pivotal sentiment for the millennial generation. Although decades removed from the impetus of Civil Rights moments like the Selma to Montgomery march or the March on Washington we cannot continue to live in naivety, failing to recognize that such historical travesties are indeed a part of our current realities.

As students, community members and leaders in the 21st century, we find ourselves in the crux of past and present, but Julian Bond demonstrates for us all a pivotal balance between mere historical reflection and celebration AND vigilant observation and engagement in facing current challenges of equality, access, and social justice.

Whatever the human rights issue Julian Bond has advocated for fairness and inclusion. He has been steadfast in his fight to make real the American Dream and the principles of equity and equality promised in the U.S. Constitution. Such responsibility should still rest on the shoulders of us who call ourselves policy students, community leaders, and human beings.

On behalf of my generation, thank you, Mr. Bond, for demonstrating time and time again that we cannot and must not be silent in the face of prejudice, inequality and discrimination. May today’s conversation reengage us, reinvigorate us and redirect us.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please help me welcome the 2015 Barbara

Jordan Speaker, the Honorable Julian Bond.

Boston NPR’s Here and Now 

 

Voice of America highlights Atlanta’s role in Voting Rights

VRAProtecting voting rights of all voters is as important today as it was 50 years ago when the Voting Rights Act was enacted.  In Georgia African Americans represent 30% of the state’s registered voters,60 Georgia state legislators are African American and of Atlanta’s 59 mayors, five have been African American (1974-present). Atlanta colleges have offered higher education opportunities at historically black colleges to thousands of Georgians since the early 1880’s so there is certainly no absence of educated, civic-engaged African Americans that has caused the paucity of African American elected officials prior to the Voting Rights Act. Jim Crow laws, discrimination and fear tactics kept generations of exceptional African Americans from running and serving in public office. Voice of America has a captivating documentary on the Voting Rights Act and Atlanta was featured as part of its series, it is well worth reviewing the link.

 

http://www.voanews.com/info/voting-rights-act-at-50/5421.html

We Will Not Be Fine – Stop the Devaluation of Black Womanhood

sandrabland

Sandra Bland

By Christina Perry

On July 9th, Sandra Bland left her home in Naperville, IL en route to Prairie View, Texas. Sandra, 28, had recently accepted a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M.

On July 10th, just miles away from campus, she was stopped by a police officer for allegedly failing to use her turning signal when changing lanes.

The seemingly routine traffic stop escalated as video of the incident shows two police offers forcibly restraining Bland on the ground near her vehicle. She was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer.

On July 13th, she was found dead in her jail cell.

We can honor her life — and the lives of countless other Black women killed during police encounters — by disrupting the narrative around police violence in this country and demanding equal protection of Black womanhood and Black women’s bodies from state violence.

We know that Black women are being victimized as the result of state-sanctioned violence. We know that this often gender-specific violence takes many forms and extends beyond the use of excessive and lethal force.

We know that Black women and girls are consistently rendered invisible in the discussion surrounding police brutality. Black women are hyper-visible; however, in the movement to address and reform the systems of oppression reinforcing state violence against communities of color.

However, Americans continue to dissect police brutality and state-sanctioned violence almost exclusively through the frame of Black maleness and the use of lethal force.

Enough is enough. We must be emboldened to disrupt the narrative. Yes, we must protect Black men and boys. We must encourage each other to be our “Brother’s Keeper”. But, Black womanhood must be valued and protected with the same vigor.

The devaluation of Black womanhood and Black women’s bodies through state-sanctioned violence and sexual assault is not a modern phenomenon. Black womanhood in this country has been irrevocably shaped by the collusion of two distinct forces: sexist oppression and the realities of racism. In order for Black women to be fully protected by any policy reform, this intersectionality — and how it informs police interactions with women of color — must be recognized and affirmed in the public conversation surrounding police brutality.

If the impetus for policy changes is defined by a male-specific frame, Black women will remain vulnerable to continued violence.

 

Taking the Flag Down is a First Step, Not a Giant Step for Mankind

SCflagOn Friday, the Confederate flag waved a final goodbye in the wind as it was lowered from a pole on the South Carolina statehouse grounds. But it was not without ceremony and controversy. An estimated crowd of over a 1,000 people gathered at the site and cheered the removal of the flag to its final resting place in a museum. Even as the flag removal was being streamed online and broadcasted live, the commentaries of “so what” were making headway on the information highway. There is nothing wrong with presenting multiple sides of an issue. This post is not a criticism of the dissonance but an observation of how some first steps have helped to advance our understanding of the incredibly complex issue of race in America.

History has aptly documented that legislation and legal authority do not change hearts and minds.

—The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery but did not provide citizenship nor equal rights.

—The 14th Amendment granted African Americans citizenship but not civil rights

—The 15th Amendment said that race could not be used to deprive men of the ability to vote yet voter suppression continues

—The Supreme Court’s decision in Plessy v. Ferguson confirmed the principle of “Separate but Equal” and sanctioned Jim Crow laws

—The Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education ordered the desegregation of public schools yet 61 years later segregation is still commonplace for many American school children

We know that neither the South Carolina legislature nor the US Supreme Court can order the end of hate. And as other states examine their collective responses to the removal of racist and offensive monuments and images around the country, the debate will continue. Some will argue it is not enough to simply remove these images that honor intolerance and bigotry. We agree. More must be done to begin the long overdue journey to eradicating racism. But it is important to remember historic first steps that help make the journey possible.

With all deliberate speed has not worked in the dismantling of discrimination. The removal of the Confederate flag is merely a first step— it is not a giant step for mankind. It is a subtle reminder that first steps make impressions in the sand, no matter how long the journey. Without Jackie Robinson’s first step, there might not have been a Hank Aaron; without Althea Gibson, no Serena Williams; without Benjamin O. Davis Sr., no Colin Powell; without Gwendolyn Brooks, no Toni Morrison; without the first African American Senator Hiram Revels, no Barack Obama. So while there will be no victory battle hymn sung for the removal of the flag, it is worth honoring a first step in the march toward justice and equality. This is as good a time as any for people of goodwill and earnest hearts to recommit themselves to achieving fairness and opportunity for all Americans and immigrants whose contributions are essential to America’s future.

 

150 Years is Long Enough

To celebrate the Confederacy with public displays of a flag which stood for enslavement and hateful violence against Americans 

Just in case there is any question, Blogging While Blue supports removing the Confederate flag in all its versions from every public space and facility in Georgiaimage. It is a relic of the past and is appropriate for history books and museums but not the public space. It seems odd to us that Governor Deal has called for the redesign of Georgia license tags and hasn’t taken down the flags. Tags, yes; but flags, no? He wouldn’t be an outcast even among Republican governors, if he took it down. This is a perfect chance for the Governor to lead the state into the 21st century. I recall a fair amount of discussion during Maynard Jackson’s term, some of it threatening, about whether Atlanta was obligated to fly the state flag in its buildings and on its property. Intimidation works sometimes but is never a strategy that insures compliance with the intent of the law. As mayor, Maynard Jackson resisted any display of the Confederate flag. He was both on time and ahead of his time.

This is a chance for Governor Deal to acknowledge the hurt and pain felt by many Georgians who love the state but who cannot and will not do so blindly ignoring the human rights violations perpetuated against African Americans. Slavery and Jim Crow nor their symbols should be celebrated or honored in any public forum.

Deal could follow his colleague, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley who ordered the Confederate battle flag and other symbols of the Confederacy be taken down from the Capitol grounds. He told a reporter, “it is the right thing to do.” Governor Deal has a unique opportunity to set the record straight and to act on behalf of all Georgians who are descendants of slave owners and slaves and the millions of good people who have migrated to the state expecting Georgia to represent their human rights and values.

“But, conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Deal should remove the Confederate flag from all state property and lead his party and the Georgia Republican dominated legislature to accept his actions in the best interest of all Georgians. He should insist that the Confederate Memorial Day be struck from the state holiday calendar and eliminate Robert E. Lee’s birthday as a state holiday. Replace them with two vacation days to be used at the employees’ discretion since they are already funded.

Nathan Deal left Congress to run for governor presumably because he wanted the power and authority of the position. Well now is the time to exercise that power and take down the Confederate flags.