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California and the U.S.

Dr. King: Honor him with a movement, not just monuments

January 15, 2018

We must raise the query, what is the value in a monument when our country has fallen so far backwards in race relations under this president? We need a movement. In Dr. King’s honor, every American must join this movement to establish justice, peace and equality of opportunity for all. Through reasoned compromise, both sides resolve every injustice with a plan of action. Each act of reconciliation is one step closer to King’s “Beloved Community.”

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Power of law and sex

January 10, 2018

A powerful political figure asks several of his female staffers a favor: “Can either of you gals have my baby? Don’t worry – I’m willing to pay y’all …” In an era in which sexual harassments, assaults and attacks on women seem commonplace, this case seems like something out of a bad sci-fi movie. Is this real life? One wonders. The politician who propositioned his staff members, (Rep. Trent Franks, R-8th, Arizona), was a prominent conservative known for his adherence to ‘family values’.

Celebrate Black History Month by circulating Black dollars in Black communities

January 8, 2018

Once and for all, let’s get this straight. America has gotten out of the Black people business! No help is coming from Washington, D.C. No help is coming from state government. No significant help is coming from city and county municipal governments. No useful help is coming from foundations and corporations. We, Black people, are on our own. And, really, for centuries, we were always on our own.

How prisoners organized to elect a just DA in Philly

January 1, 2018

The recent general election in Philadelphia saw a former civil rights attorney running on an anti-incarceration platform elected district attorney to the country’s fifth largest city. Larry Krasner, who defended Black Lives Matter activists and indicted police officers while in private practice, promised sweeping reforms and Philadelphia voters responded. Prisoners supported Krasner’s candidacy with a robust political action campaign of voter education, voter registration, political forums and get-out-the-vote drives directed towards their families, loved ones, friends and returned citizens.

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Opposition mounts to sexual harassment witch-hunt

December 28, 2017

As the campaign over allegations of sexual misconduct has unfolded, it has become clear that what is involved is of far greater magnitude than the form in which it initially emerged – allegations against one Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. With the initial shock beginning to wane, opposition is emerging from some of those targeted. PBS personality Tavis Smiley, who was summarily suspended based on anonymous and unspecified allegations, issued a blistering statement denouncing PBS for launching a “so-called investigation” without even contacting him.

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#MeToo founder Tarana Burke, Alicia Garza of Black Lives Matter on wave of sexual harassment reports

December 28, 2017

Over the last two months, the political, media and entertainment worlds have been rocked, as thousands of women, and some men, have come forward to share their stories of sexual harassment and abuse. The catalyst was the historic disgracing of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who now is being criminally investigated, after dozens of women came forward to accuse him of rape, assault and sexual harassment. In the days after the Harvey Weinstein revelations, we interviewed Tarana Burke, Soraya Chemaly and Alicia Garza.

Musing on survival: Living in the ghetto and the near inevitability of prison

December 26, 2017

I recently read “Blood in the Fields: Ten Years in the Nuestra Familia Gang” and was taken aback by one of the main characters in the book. Mando was a young guy who grew up in a violent household, joined a gang and ended up committing a murder that would net him a sentence of 29 years to life. I became very sad and thought of one of the young men I met while visiting San Quentin State Prison in California for an educational panel, Efrain.

Coates doesn’t get it

December 24, 2017

The answers to the problems are all wrapped together in the beautiful writing of Coates, a man whose politics are still forming, but on such a large scale that these criticisms must come with an urgency, as West delivered them. I respect West magnificently for his actual work in activism, both historically and currently. If Coates is to continue being called the voice of my people, he has to move from being a traditional intellectual who walks the line of academic and objective writer into the space of organic intellectual that he likely sees himself as, who is activistic in nature.

Give Black women credit for #MeToo and the defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama

December 23, 2017

Currently, two historic events are being characterized in a manner that erases the significant contributions of Black women. The #MeToo Movement is being recast in the national narrative to fit into a more comfortable version of U.S. history. A seminal moment within this movement was when white celebrities began to use the hashtag to make people aware of the extent of sexual abuse suffered by women in this country. But this moment came 10 years after the movement was begun by a Black woman, Tarana Burke.

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FCC Chair Ajit Pai, enemy of the people

December 18, 2017

Ajit Pai is a serious enemy to the masses. He heads the FCC. He led the charge to strip the internet of net neutrality protections, and you will soon see drastic changes that will disenfranchise and strip power from millions of people who depend upon on the internet. Net neutrality is what makes the Internet such a powerful platform. It’s a democratizing aspect. We are all one click away for any user wishing to access our material. The million-dollar company and the poor blogger are accessible by all. The excuse to end net neutrality is that we should not have regulations. The long term impact is to keep the ability to communicate to the masses in the hands of a few who are rich, powerful and in position to afford full access.

The height of racial resentment: White cops

December 17, 2017

If white voters are racially resentful and if their resentments remain consequential for their selections at the ballot box, we might wish to understand who among the white population in the U.S. evinces the most racially resentful and racially conservative attitudes and why. Some recent sociological work has examined this question and found at least one primary suspect: white police officers.

Soaring thyroid cancer rates north of NYC may be caused by Indian Point nuke plant emissions

December 16, 2017

The rate of new thyroid cancer cases in the four counties just north of New York City, which was 22 percent below the U.S. rate in the late 1970s, has soared to 53 percent above the U.S. rate. This change may be a result of airborne emissions of radioactive iodine from the two Indian Point nuclear power reactors, at the crossroads of Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties, and operating since the mid-1970s. Large increases occurred for both men and women in each county.

Trump oblivious to Black history: An appeal for civil conversation about the civil rights legacy in Mississippi

December 16, 2017

The backlash against President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the new Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum underscores an issue far more significant than a polarizing president. It was further proof that the wounds from decades upon decades of racial injustice in our nation, and in Mississippi in particular, remain deep. The pain and the sensitivities are ever-present, as is the continued socio-economic oppression that has kept African Americans as second-class citizens.

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Covered California extends enrollment deadline as consumer interest surges

December 14, 2017

In response to a strong surge in demand, Covered California is giving consumers more time to sign up for health coverage that will begin on Jan. 1, 2018. Over the past three days, Covered California has seen more than 38,000 new consumers sign up for coverage, which means that as of Dec. 13 more than 182,000 new consumers have signed up for coverage since open enrollment began.

Michigan Supreme Court hears Pinkney case

December 1, 2017

In early November, Michigan’s court of last resort finally heard the oral arguments in the case of Rev. Edward Pinkney. The 69-year-old activist, free since June of this year after serving a 30-month sentence, is still pursuing the appeal on moral grounds. It’s been a long road, but he may have a receptive audience this time in the Michigan Supreme Court. There have been a large number of irregularities in Berrien County’s prosecution of Rev. Pinkney.

BlackOut for Human Rights kicks off 4th annual #BlackOutBlackFriday nationwide boycott of major retail chains

November 23, 2017

On Friday, Nov. 24, the biggest retail shopping day of the year, also known as “Black Friday,” BlackOut for Human Rights will kick off its fourth annual #BlackOutBlackFriday campaign, urging people nationwide to take part in an economic boycott of major retailers and any corporations that violate human rights standards and/or profit off the pain and suffering of others. Launched in 2014, #BlackOutBlackFriday is a call-to-action encouraging individuals to refrain from shopping to protest social and economic injustice in the U.S. and instead engage in cultural activism.

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Wiping the stain of capital punishment clean

November 20, 2017

Soon the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case with the potential to end this nation’s abominably long and freakish experimentation with the death penalty. That’s right, drum roll, please. Because, if it grants certiorari in Hidalgo v. Arizona – a case Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe describes as emblematic of “the problems with our [country’s] current capital punishment regimes” – America’s broken and vile “machinery of death” can finally be trashed in the junkyard of our dark, wayward humanity. Implore the Supreme Court to wipe capital punishment’s bloody stain away. Forever.

Healthcare is a human right!

November 9, 2017

Healthcare is a human right! I’ve heard that phrase many times in my 20 years advocating for universal healthcare. Until now, few legislators in Sacramento have spoken those words. On Oct. 23 and 24, however, California Assembly members Jim Wood and Joaquin Arambula, co-chairs of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Healthcare, said, “Healthcare is a human right.” The other Democratic members of the committee, Autumn Burke, David Chiu and Laura Friedman, all agreed.

Reclaiming our land when gentrifiers lurk

November 3, 2017

Gentrification is the process in which neighborhoods where people of color have lived for years become desirable, especially from the viewpoint of the white gentrifier. This process frequently begins, but most often ends in the displacement of long-time residents. It seems contradictory that white hipsters who support progressive movements, liberation and climate justice are the very people who contribute to the elimination of marginalized communities.

FBI says ‘Black Identity Extremists’ are the new terrorist threat

October 13, 2017

In a disturbing report leaked to Foreign Policy, the FBI manufactures threats from so-called “Black Identity Extremists” (BIE): “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence,” the report reads.

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