I’m black, British and just moved to New York. After the Eric Garner decision, I can’t breathe

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-18 21:29Z by Steven

I’m black, British and just moved to New York. After the Eric Garner decision, I can’t breathe

The Guardian
London, United Kingdom
2014-12-06

Lanre Bakare, Commissioning Editor
Guardian US, New York, New York

Before I moved to the US, I knew their names: Rodney King. Michael Stewart. Trayvon Martin. Vonderrit Myers Jr. Kajieme Powell. I committed them to memory like Stephen Lawrence and Anthony Walker – young black men killed or violently beaten by police or vigilantes, black people killed in a system designed to hold them back, keep them down and then brazenly deny that was ever the intention.

Watching the aftermath of those deaths from the distance of the UK was one thing: as a black British man I identified with it, yet I never felt it. But being in America, it’s more infuriating, more frightening – and more personal, because now I walk these streets. It’s a reality. Not just something that happens in a country thousands of miles away. I have begun to understand what James Baldwin meant when he wrote: “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

On Wednesday, when a grand jury here in New York failed to find a reason to even send to trial a white police officer who choked the life out of a black man, I finally got it. As I sat on the subway to my new home in Brooklyn, the image of Eric Garner stumbling after six cops dragged him to the ground – the sound of him wheezing “I can’t breathe” – would not leave me. I got home and watched his widow and his mother talk about the lack of humanity in the man who killed him. I thought about Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, about Radio Raheem and how it was disgusting that a movie based on another killing – one that took place more than more than 20 years ago – could play out, almost frame for frame, in 2014…

Read the entire article here.

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The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Interviews, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-12-18 01:00Z by Steven

The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences

People Magazine
2014-12-17

Sandra Sobieraj Westfall


Barack and Michelle Obama (Gillian Laub)

The Obamas open up about raising their daughters, the impact of stereotypes, and what’s on the POTUS dance party playlist.

The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.

“I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years,” the first lady told People, laughing wryly, along with her husband, at the assumption that the first family has been largely insulated from coming face-to-face with racism.

“Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,” Mrs. Obama said in the Dec. 10 interview appearing in the new issue of People.

In a 30-minute conversation, the president and Mrs. Obama candidly added their stories to the national discussion of race and racial profiling that was sparked by the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.

“There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys,” said the president, adding that, yes, it had happened to him…

Read the entire article preview here.

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Mr. Obama Considers the Nationwide Protests From Three Points of View

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-14 17:43Z by Steven

Mr. Obama Considers the Nationwide Protests From Three Points of View

The New York Times
2014-12-12

Brent Staples, Editorial Writer

Barack Obama understood when he sought the presidency that a black candidate who spoke candidly about racism would never attract enough white support to win. He avoided using race as a platform for grievance, kept his distance from people who did and presented his life and career as an example of racial progress.

His optimism appealed to white voters; it asked nothing of them and implied a hopeful end to the racial hostilities that have dogged the country since its founding. But the easy-listening approach to racism was received skeptically by young African-Americans who live in communities that bear the brunt of unemployment, economic segregation and police harassment.

Anger over the police problem coalesced into a national movement after a grand jury in St. Louis County, Mo., declined to indict the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, and a grand jury in New York took the same stance on the white officer who applied the chokehold that killed Eric Garner, who was also black and also unarmed.

As the demonstrations spread, Mr. Obama must have recognized that it would be wise to make contact with the young leaders of this movement.

When he met with them last week at the White House, he had three roles to play: as the president of the United States, who must refrain from putting his thumb on the scales of justice in cases like the ones that have sparked the recent demonstrations; as an African-American man who knows the experience of being presumed a criminal by police officers who once harassed him because of his skin color; and as a former community organizer who recognizes that the demonstrations could focus the country’s attention on abusive police practices that have long been a national problem…

Read the entire article here.

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“Race”: a Political Weapon

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-14 01:40Z by Steven

“Race”: a Political Weapon

Counterpunch: Tells the Facts and Names the Names
2014-12-03

Luciana Bohne, Professor
Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania

“The racial categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically.”

US Census

According to a widely circulated statistic, the police kill a young black man every twenty-eight hours in America. Without doubt, the police have a problem with race. Moreover, the justice system appears to have a problem, too, as proven by the Grand Jury’s failed indictment of Darren Wilson in the killing this summer of young Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The failed indictment does not mean that Wilson is innocent; only that he will not be brought to trial. This is a terrible perversion of the path to justice. It suggests deliberate prevention of trial on the nearly 100% certainty that Wilson would be found guilty if tried. I am disturbed, however, by the well-intentioned flagellants among the white, non-racist community virtually calling for “America’s” white male blood, metaphorically speaking. I am disturbed because this is the wrong response to the judicial outrage in Ferguson. We should be calling for ruling-class blood, not dividing ourselves into blacks and whites. Isn’t this division a benefit that our divide-and-rule oppressors hardly deserve? Let us not play with the cards in their deck.

To begin with, is “America” racist? Real, existing Americans voted for a black candidate for president, one, moreover, who ticked off only the “African American” category on race in the US Census of 2010. In choosing the less privileged racial group than white, Obama adhered to the principle of “hypo descent,” which the US has traditionally used to determine the race of a child born of a mixed-race union. We have a black political class in the Congress; a black Supreme Court justice; two blacks have been secretary of state (one a woman). We have not one institution in which blacks don’t figure more or less prominently. Mixed marriages have been legal since 1967. In 2008, about 14% of all first marriages were mixed race; 9% of whites, 16% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics, and 31% of Asians were interracially married…

Read the entire article here.

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Justice Alito’s Dissent in Loving v. Virginia

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-11 00:40Z by Steven

Justice Alito’s Dissent in Loving v. Virginia

Boston College Law Review
Volume 55, Issue 5 (November 2014)
pages 1563-1611

Christopher R. Leslie, Chancellor’s Professor of Law
University of California, Irvine

In 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down miscegenation statutes, which criminalized interracial marriage, as unconstitutional. In 2013, the Court in United States v. Windsor invalidated Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), which precluded federal agencies from recognizing marriages between same-sex couples even if the marriages were legally valid in the couples’ home state. While Loving was a unanimous decision, the Court in Windsor was closely divided. Almost half a century after Chief Justice Warren issued his unanimous Loving opinion, the Loving dissent has been written. Justice Alito authored it in Windsor. Justice Alito fashioned his dissent as upholding DOMA. But the rationales he employed were much more suited to the facts of Loving than the facts of Windsor. In this Article, Professor Leslie explains how each of Justice Alito’s reasons for upholding DOMA applies equally or more strongly to miscegenation laws at the time of the Loving opinion than to DOMA in 2013. There is simply no internally consistent way to defend DOMA with Justice Alito’s arguments without also upholding the constitutionality of miscegenation laws. Thus, Justice Alito not only authored a dissent for the Windsor case; he effectively wrote a dissent in Loving nearly 50 years after the case was decided. His reasoning would require the upholding of Virginia’s miscegenation statute. To the extent that the legal community now recognizes that the former anti-miscegenation regimes represent a shameful chapter of American history, the fact that the same arguments used to defend miscegenation laws are being invoked to justify bans on same-sex marriage suggests that such bans are inherently suspect and probably unconstitutional.

Read the entire article here.

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Class, Race, or Ethnicity Apart? Changing Whiteness and Counting People of Mexican Descent

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Latino Studies, Law, Mexico, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-09 01:55Z by Steven

Class, Race, or Ethnicity Apart? Changing Whiteness and Counting People of Mexican Descent

U.S. History Scene
2013-10-09

Ester Terry
University of Pittsburgh

In June 2013, Sebastien de la Cruz sang the National Anthem for Games 3 and 4 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals in San Antonio. In July 2013, Marc Anthony sang “God Bless America” at the Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game. Both de la Cruz and Anthony are U.S. citizens; the family of de la Cruz descends from México, and Marc Anthony’s family from Puerto Rico. Social media backlash labeled both of them Mexican and indicated neither belonged as U.S. nationals. The United States Census currently categorizes both performers as ‘Hispanic/Latino.’…

…This heated debate over who ‘belongs’ to the United States, who is worthy of being called American, shows a longstanding contention over geography and history, race and national belonging. México, after all, once included the present-day southwestern United States. Before Mexican independence, imperial Spain claimed these lands. And before that, the indigenous peoples of Anáhuac, Mogollon, and Diné.

Neither Marc Anthony nor Sebastien de la Cruz is a Mexican national, even though the backlash pejoratively labeled them as such. The usage of Mexican in the backlash could refer to nationality or to race. Twentieth century battles over racialized school segregation policies and U.S. Census categories reveal an equally contentious history fought by people of Mexican descent over race and national belonging…

Read the entire article here.

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Female Slaves and the Law

Posted in History, Law, Slavery, United States, Videos, Women on 2014-12-08 21:16Z by Steven

Female Slaves and the Law

C-SPAN: Created by Cable
Lectures in History
2014-10-21

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan

Professor Martha Jones talked about the mid-19th century court case of Celia, a female slave who killed her master after repeated sexual assaults. Topics included what options Celia may have had, and the involvement of her fellow slaves and her master’s white neighbors in her court case.

View the lecture here (01:21:40). See also, “Celia, A Slave, Trial (1855): An Account” by Douglas O. Linder (2011).

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Mayor Bill De Blasio Speaks On Eric Garner, NYPD, And More On Ebro In The Morning [AUDIO]

Posted in Audio, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-04 18:55Z by Steven

Mayor Bill De Blasio Speaks On Eric Garner, NYPD, And More On Ebro In The Morning [AUDIO]

HOT 97, WQHT 97.1 FM
New York, New York
2014-12-04

Ebro Darden, Co-Host

Peter Rosenberg, Co-Host

Laura Stylez, Co-Host

It’s an emotional time in NYC and across the nation after a grand jury decided to not indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

There were protests all over the city last night when the news was announced; calling for change and justice, especially since this decision only comes weeks after Ferguson [, Missouri] police officer Darren Wilson was given the same ruling.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio called into Ebro In The Morning this morning to discuss the Eric Garner decision, the changes he will enforce when it comes to the NYPD, and so much more:

Download the audio here.

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On White Supremacy and Why Body Cameras Are Not Enough

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-04 18:37Z by Steven

On White Supremacy and Why Body Cameras Are Not Enough

One Drop of Love
2014-12-03

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni

I am so hopeful about the young people making their voices heard and committing their time and efforts to making real change around racism and police brutality (if you’re on Twitter, search #BlackLivesMatter to get to know these amazing activists – one example is @deray). I’m also hopeful about the white people who refuse to stay silent and are acting as allies by showing up to protests while also stepping back and listening, and exposing the privileges they have long enjoyed that others (particularly poor Brown and Black people) don’t. Some great examples on Twitter are @LisaBloom and @VeryWhiteGuy.

I’m even somewhat hopeful about President Obama’s recent announcement that the Justice Department will be allotting money towards police training and body cameras. Even better is Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that the Justice Department will “institute rigorous new standards and robust safeguards to help end racial profiling once and for all.” GOOD. However…

Read the entire article here.

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In discussing Garner, de Blasio invokes Dante

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-04 16:07Z by Steven

In discussing Garner, de Blasio invokes Dante

Capital New York
New York, New York
2014-12-03

Sally Goldenberg, City Hall/Politics Reporter

Mayor Bill de Blasio often invoked his bi-racial teenage son, Dante, during an emotional speech on Staten Island Wednesday night, hours after a grand jury there declined to indict an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner.

“I spent some time with Ben Garner, Eric’s father, who is in unspeakable pain, and it’s a very hard thing to spend time trying to comfort someone you know is beyond the reach of comfort because of what he’s been through,” de Blasio said. “I can only imagine. I couldn’t help but immediately think what it would mean to me to lose Dante. Life could never be the same thereafter and I could feel how it will never be whole again. Things will never be whole again for Mr. Garner.”

The mayor spoke for nearly 20 minutes inside Mt. Sinai United Christian Church on Staten Island, where he was surrounded by elected officials and members of the clergy. He carefully avoided weighing in on the grand jury decision not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo and left without taking questions from reporters…

…De Blasio spoke somberly about his own experience discussing policing over the years with his now 17-year-old son.

“This is profoundly personal for me,” the mayor said. “I was at the White House the other day and the president of the United States turned to me, and he met Dante a few months ago, and he said that Dante reminded him of what he looked like as a teenager. He said, ‘I know you see this crisis through a very personal lens.’ I said to him I did, because Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face.”

He called his son a “good young man, [a] law-abiding young man who never would think to do anything wrong.

“Yet, because of a history still that hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him as families have all over this city for decades in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.”…

Read the entire article here.

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