Posts Tagged Black

Another 1%er Event

It is becoming increasingly more evident that regular folks in this country, you know, your average taxpaying, working middle-class stiff, the ones that are keeping this economy and country, really, going – from their occupations as teachers, in the service industry to non-profit work etc., do not matter very much.

I said it before and I say it again, but for the one percent that run this country, middle class folks seemingly are nothing more than readily sources of warm bodies when you need to engage in another war for profit under the guise of security.

They are a a source of tax revenue to support and underwrite the 1%.

If, as a one percenter, they have done a good job choosing the two lousy candidates for them and then giving them the illusion that they have a “choice” on the day they go out and cast a vote (see Citizens United)  then they are a “vote” to help “elect” your candidate and if you have done a really good job, as Republicans have with their voter base, you not only give them the delusion that they have a choice between candidates but you actually get them to vote for the very candidate, and thus against their own self-interest, you put on the ballot.

Everytime there is a cut in government spending, the middle class and the poor, of course, have to make sacrifices and see the programs and policies that benefit and protect them slashed and reduced,  not the wealthy and thus the architects of our economic system that keeps the wealthy tax exempt under the guise that they are “job creators” while repeatedly requiring that cuts to government spending (because of lost revenue due to those tax exemptions) come from those very middle class protecting programs.

While the white collar criminals of Wall Street and the banking system got bailed out instead of imprisoned for the crimes they committed, poor people, and thus Wall Street’s direct and indirect victims, are sent to jail for essentially being poor.

And when our so-called leaders and politicians open the doors to let America “in” for a night of celebration, laughter good times and appreciation, the only ones invited to the table, literally, are members of the 1%.

It is, after all, no coincidence that the yearly White House Correspondent’s Dinner (WHCD)  resembles a Hollywood red carpet event and that everyone in that event, except those serving food and beverages, are members of the one percent. 

It is sad to know that the average American is not on the President’s radar even when he  decides to decide to hang out with the public. 

Instead of inviting over some of those hard working average American citizens, the ones that did the grunt work and got him elected, to shake hands with and thank them for their truly thankless jobs and positions and pressure in society, he instead surrounds himself with top members of the elite cracking jokes.

It is ironic that on the one hand we’ve got the Occupy Wall Street movement, with demands for equity and relief for the middle class, the 99%, – an event and movement the President and his wife endorse, while on the other hand any event of any significance in this country, including this Dinner, is hosted and populated by the wealthy and privileged, the 1% only.

The 99% only seem to matter in as much as they make for great talking point or otherwise help score political points and not because anyone really actually cares about changing the current paradigm, the current dysfunction with respect to structural exploitation and institutionalized greed in this country that have allowed the 1% to accumulate more wealth than the rest of us combined.

There are thousands of people who dedicate every day of their lives to not only public service but to their townships, counties, states and communities in general – one way or another. They are the backbone of America, they are the people the President allegedly works for and leads. They are the ones who, through their hard work, such as teachers, champion the very causes this Dinner is to honor and uphold – yet the only ones who once again get to benefit from all this, even if just in a celebratory manner, are rich people; the 1% – literally – as everyone at that dinner is a millionaire – without exception, because otherwise who could afford something like $50,000 a plate just to get in?

Not that I don’t love the outrage about economic injustice for us poor, hard working middle class folks when it’s politically expedient and all but it’d be nice if the actual American people – you know, the 99%  – such as the journalists meant to be holding the US government to account, the non-profit workers, the public servants, the researchers, activists and just the people on the ground who work everyday on these issues for Americans without anyone paying much attention to them –  were, once in a while,  invited to the table and celebrated by our leaders, instead of actors, reality TV stars and models – who neither represent the American people, nor have contributed in any meaningful way to the political and social world they are in,

Speak of being out of touch. Romney is not the only one.

Money begets money and at the end of the day, when all the political talking points and phony strategizing to supposedly empower the 99% have been made, rich people still only take care of and intermingle with their own.

All this talk about empowering the 99% and leveling the playing field are just that: rhetoric. No one really means it and The White House Correspondent’s Dinner is the best example to the point.

The United States would be a very different place if everyone cared about inequity when there wasn’t a presidential election in which appearing to care about inequity could score political points.

 

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On Prejudice, Vigilante Justice and the Frightened Search For A Scapegoat That Has a Fall Out All Of Its Own

Zimmerman Trial Enters Jury Dissertation Phase

1) Consequences: When you equip people with guns and instill fear and paranoia in them and encourage them to go out there and take “justice” into their own hands and “stand their ground“, someone’s gonna get hurt. This shit doesn’t happen in a void. “Stand your ground” laws have very real life and death consequences and one of its unfortunate victims today, among many others, is a 17 year old black boy named Trayvon Martin who is buried six feet deep in dirt and who will never live his life – all because he was black and some racist, unevolved swine in the form of George Zimmerman thought he was guilty of something, being black and all.

2)  This verdict makes a mockery of the justice system and justice itself, because this it not only sets a legal precedent but also tells us that Martin was, rightly, executed for “walking while black”, even though he did no wrong and that it was ok for George Zimmerman to racially profile, stalk and execute an unarmed teenager. 

3) “They always get away.” These were the words George Zimmerman uttered as he followed and later shot Trayvon Martin.

Ask yourself this question: If Zimmerman had seen a white youth walking in the rain that evening, would he have seen him as one of ‘them,’ someone about to get away with something?

Racial bias reverberates in our society like the primordial Big Bang. Some years ago, Rev. Jesse Jackson made the point in a dramatic way when he acknowledged that he feels a sense of relief when the footsteps he hears behind him in the dead of night turn out to belong to white feet. Social scientists who study our hidden biases make the same point in a more sober way with statistics that demonstrate that we are more likely to associate black people with negative words and imagery than we are white people. It’s an association that devalues the humanity of black people — particularly black youth like Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman probably saw race the night of February 26, 2012, like too many others would have. Had he not, Trayvon probably would be alive today.

Now I am not saying we should incarcerate people for hidden biases and prejudices. However, the point is that race played a role in this. A lot of people say it is not about race, but about a child dying, and that is not true. It is precisely and only about race.

George Zimmerman was out to get someone, “them”, who always get away with it. And he did. The police told him to stay put and he did not listen, he got out to get “them”. The difference between Jesse Jackson and Zimmerman is that Jackson didn’t murder anyone based on that prejudice. Thinking something and acting on it are two different things and motivation in a court of law only matters with respect to the outcome. If Martin was alive, no one would have dragged Zimmerman in front of a court of law for having prejudiced thoughts. He was dragged there because his prejudice ultimately prompted him to go after Trayvon Martin and murder him.

For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy. And the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fall out all of its own. 

Martin was a brown man and that is why he is dead today. If he was white, he would be alive. That is all we need to know and care about, everything else is just semantics. Not to mention that if people had followed the trial, they would know that Martin was the one on trial all along. Even the defense used race as a defense: “he was black”, “he smoked pot”, he did all these black things ipso facto he deserved to die somehow. That’s been the gist of the defense’s argument.

4) George Zimmerman murdered a child in cold blood and he wasn’t even found guilty of manslaughter. That is not justice. Getting out of your car, armed with a gun, to follow a teenager for no reason is reprehensible.

According to Wendy Dorival of the Sanford Police Department, the protocols under which  neighborhood watch groups operate specifically instruct volunteers not to follow  suspicious persons since that’s the job of trained law enforcement personnel. On the night Trayvon Martin was killed, the police even advised him that it was not necessary to get out of his car to pursue the suspect, yet Zimmerman ignored them and still pursued and stalked a black teenager.

This shows premeditation and racially informed pursuit which ultimately lead to Trayvon’s death. Zimmerman had a choice,  which is to not get out of the car to get “them“, but he chose to grab his gun and get out to pursue a kid for the sole reason that the child was black and thus clearly suspicious in Zimmerman’s eyes.  Had Zimmerman stayed in the car and waited, Trayvon Martin would be alive.

5) The trashing of Trayvon Martin’s character who had just been walking home and minding his own business is disgraceful and repugnant. He died not knowing who Zimmerman was and why he targeted him and jumped out of his truck in the dark of night to follow him. How was he supposed to know Zimmerman was neighborhood watch, as far as Martin was concerned Zimmerman was just criminal trying to mug and/or hurt him. 

6) The fact that people had to march and protest and bring immense media attention to the issue just to get him charged and subsequently prosecuted  is, by itself, evidence enough to the extent to which race played a role. As Michael Moore putHad a gun-toting Trayvon Martin stalked an unarmed George Zimmerman, and then shot him to death… DO I EVEN NEED TO COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE?

7) The sad truth is that if Zimmerman had shot a deer without a hunting license he would have received more punishment.

8) Unarmed  teenagers have a right to public space – without  owning armed  citizens any explanation as to their equal right to the sidewalk

9) Racism harms people, even if it is casually muttered by chubby cheeked chefs in the from of Paula Deen. When you casually make racist remarks, you have to remember that such casual statements contribute to the kind of “othering”  and dehumanizing mindset under which George Zimmerman acted. A mindset that prompted him to follow a child, a black child, at night, presume he was guilty of something because he was black and trying to “get away with it” and then subsequently shoot him.  This is why Paula Deen’s remarks and sweet-toothed racism are so dire: they add to culture of hate, paranoia and prejudice with deadly consequences for those who have to endure them, such as Trayvon Martin and his family.

10) To paraphrase Jermaine Paul, how much of a better world would it have been if George Zimmerman had offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night, instead of acting on his suspicions, fear, paranoia and prejudices and shoot him to death. 

11) This was a sad day for justice but a great onr for the gun lobby.  A great day to be a murderer in Florida. A great day for white supremacy.  A great day for vigilante justice.

The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fall outs. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices.  To be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy. And the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fall out all of its own. For the children, and the children yet unborn.”

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Review: Corrina Corrina

Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Majorino and Ray Liotta

Corrina, Corrina” is a really wonderful, sweet, from the heart movie that tackles the issue of love between two people from a different angle. It takes place in 1959 America, and thus during segregation and before the Civil Rights Acts. It is about a young white man, Manny Singer (Ray Liotta) who loses his wife and has a seven year old daughter Molly to take care of. He needs a nanny and so after several interviews with very inappropriate white candidates, he choses Corrina Washginton (Whoopie Goldberg).

Corrina is a college graduate and completely overqualified for the job, but because she is black, she has to settle for what she can get. She is repeatedly rejected for jobs and colums she wants to write because of her race and her sister tells her to stop trying.

Manny is closed-off and just like anyone who loses a loved-one, he is mostly on auto-pilot: doing what he needs to do every day but finding no joy in it.

Molly has stopped speaking ever since her mother passed away and is also closing in on herself. Manny is desperate and sad about his daughter’s situation but does not know how to get to her.

Tina Majorino and Whoopi Goldberg

All this changes, at least for Molly, when Corrina comes into their lives. Soon she is able to win Molly’s trust, who starts speaking again, and she also surprises Manny as she is not only warm, witty, and sensitive but also educated, cultured and well-rounded, able to have the kind of conversation most white folks probably didn’t think a black woman could have with her corporate-world boss.

A sort of family-dynamic between the three develops, and Corrina even takes Molly to her sister’s place and has her play with her nieces and nephews. Over time, Corrina and Manny grow closer but because this is 1950s America and racism pretty much institutionalized, a romantic relationship seems out of the question. This movie explorers these themes of racism, love and romance as well as loss in a very delicate way.

Ray Liotta and Whoopi Goldberg

I must say the best part of the movie is toward the end, when Manny just doesn’t care anymore about what other people think and hugs Corrina right in front of the house, in public. It is a warm, tight, meaningful hug in which he holds on to her. Their love for one another, or Manny’s love for Corrina, is sincere and the fact that she is played by Whoopie Goldberg, as opposed to let’s say Halle Berry or Vanessa Williams or Jada Pinkett-Smith, really is what makes Manny’s love for Corrina believable.

If Manny had fallen in love with some gorgeous ex supermodel turned actress type, no one would be surprised. I mean segregation or not, who wouldn’t fall for Halle Berry, right?

But the fact that he falls in love with someone like Whoopie Goldberg, who is not a beauty icon, really is evidence to the fact that he has fallen in love with her as opposed to her looks primarily. And that is where the strength of this movie lies: it is sincere.

The producers and writers did a great job casting Goldberg for this role. Had they cast any other black actress for the role, like those gorgeous types, the story and feel of the movie would just have come out very differently.

Unfortunately they don’t make movies with such substance anymore. Most actors cast today, even in genre and time-specific pieces, just are not real anymore. No matter what they play, you can see the Hollywood starlet in there still.

Not in this movie and that is why it is so special: it draws on and projects real feelings people can identify with as opposed to just coming across as another far-fetched, glamorous and mostly unrealistic Hollywood romance between two pretty, fit, happy people who….surprise, surprise…find each other.

Corrina, Corrina is a warm movie that never feels forced, acted or sappy – even though the theme could easily go there.  Personally I find Whoopie Goldberg nothing but pure delight. If I was a man, I would totally fall in love with this amazing woman.

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