Cornel West’s Slow Slide Into Darkness l The Domino Theory

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

If you got the cash, you can rent West and Smiley’s ashy asses. If MSNBC came calling and offered West and Smiley a show, how fast would they run, not walk to sign on the dotted line?

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"It seems the longer West hangs around Smiley the crazier he sounds.   Smiley’s enemies (Obama, Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner, Melissa Harris-Perry, Michael Eric Dyson) have become West’s enemies.  By lending his diminishing clout to Smiley, West only diminishes his own reputation and enhances Smiley."

Jeff Winbush

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The Other National Conversation? White Privilege by Esther Armah

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"This, then, is the other part to any national conversation on race: a conversation about white privilege, about the presumed innocence afforded to whiteness regardless of action and outcome – an issue which has so far gone unremarked by any elected official. It is one that I believe the Left needs to grapple with and focus on more actively. The day a major white figure speaks to white privilege – its  presence, power, when they make it personal – then we’ll be engaged in a full national conversation on race. How willing are we to engage in that conversation?"

Esther Armah

Esther Armah is the creator of ‘Emotional Justice Unplugged’, the multi platform, multi media intimate public arts and conversation series. She’s a New York Radio Host for WBAI99.5FM, a regular on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes and an international journalist, Playwright and National best-selling author. 

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Debt Inc. – The American Scam Economy -ProPublica

The 182 Percent Loan: How Installment Lenders Put Borrowers in a World of Hurt

by Paul Kiel, ProPublica, May 13

Many people know the dangers of payday loans. But “installment loans” also have sky-high rates and work by getting borrowers — usually poor — to renew over and over. We take you inside one of the biggest installment lenders, billion-dollar World Finance. More »

via Debt Inc. – ProPublica.

Revisiting the ‘Crack Babies’ Epidemic That Was Not –

The worrisome extrapolations made by researchers — including the one who first published disturbing findings about prenatal cocaine use — were only part of the problem. Major newspapers and magazines, including Rolling Stone, Newsweek, The Washington Post and The New York Times, ran articles and columns that went beyond the research. Network TV stars of that era, including Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather, also bear responsibility for broadcasting uncritical reports.

A much more serious problem, it turns out, is infants who are born with fetal alcohol syndrome.

via Revisiting the ‘Crack Babies’ Epidemic That Was Not –


he report is the third in a weekly series that will re-examine the leading stories of decades past. Videos are typically 10 to 12 minutes long and are part of a collaboration between The Times and Retro Report, a documentary news organization formed last year.

The online project was conceived of by Christopher Buck, a former television editor whose father was a founder of the Subway restaurant chain. Started with a grant from Mr. Buck, Retro Report, which has a staff of 12 journalists and 6 contributors, is a nonprofit online video news organization that aims to provide a thoughtful counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle.

Plan for Economic Sanctions Against Florida Dr. Ron Daniels

Dr. Ron Daniels Gives a Plan for Economic Sanctions Against Florida

 July 26, 2013.


by Dr. Ron Daniels

In a recent article I called for economic sanctions against Florida to compel business and political leaders in that state to change the “Stand Your Ground Law” which provided the basis for the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. There are times when there is a convergence of ideas, a meeting of minds, such that a particular strategy has the potential to galvanize a movement to achieve a major victory. It appears that such a convergence of ideas has occurred around at least one strategy to translate the anger and frustration over the Zimmerman verdict into justice in the Trayvon Martin tragedy – Economic Sanctions/Boycott Florida. The idea is not a Ron Daniels idea or Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) call but one that is on the minds of Black people all across the country.

Dr. Patricia Newton, President Emeritus, National Association of Black Psychiatrists was so outraged by the Zimmerman verdict that she cancelled a $1 million dollar contract she was about to sign for a conference in Florida. When I asked an elderly Black professional couple I met at Penn Station in Baltimore [who were returning from a conference in Jacksonville, Florida] whether they would be going back to Florida next year… Before I could get the words out of my mouth, the wife defiantly proclaimed that they discussed the murder of Trayvon Martin at the conference and had already resolved that they would not hold another convention in that state until there is justice in this case! Then music legend Stevie Wonder issued a statement at a concert in Canada proclaiming “until the Stand Your Ground Law is abolished, I will never perform there again.” Since his pronouncement Eddie LaVert, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick and Mary Mary are among the artists who have publicly come out saying they will not perform in Florida until this abhorrent law has changed. While celebrities like Stevie Wonder provide credibility for the Boycott, it will be the actions of the multitude of conscious/committed convention goers, vacationers and consumers that will make the campaign effective. Economic sanctions against Florida is an idea whose time has come.

Just as Katrina ripped the scab off and exposed the raw naked structural/institutional racism in distressed Black neighborhoods in America like those in New Orleans, the murder of Trayvon Martin has ripped the scab off the persistent phenomenon of the criminalization of young Black men, racial profiling, stop-and-frisk and the structural/institutional racism in America’s criminal justice system. The problem is that despite episodic protests and periodic mobilizations, there has not been a persistent sense of urgency in Black America about these issues. The murder of Trayvon Martin may be a decisive turning point.

One week after the Zimmerman verdict, rallies and prayer vigils were held across the country to demand that the Justice Department bring criminal charges against George Zimmerman for violating Trayvon Martin’s civil rights. While we agree that this is a righteous strategy, there is a high probability that the Justice Department will not find sufficient racial animus in the proceedings to justify bringing charges. However, even if the Justice Department does find sufficient cause to bring charges, I contend that the economic sanctions/boycott Florida campaign is necessary.

At the end of the day, not only must we seek a conviction of Zimmerman, we must also indict and fight to change the law that is so flawed that it would permit an armed adult to pursue an unarmed teenager deemed “suspicious” and permit a grown man to kill a kid who fearfully sought to stand his ground against a menacing stranger. Fighting to change this flawed law is about justice for Trayvon Martin, but it is also about all of the Trayvons in the state of Florida and across the nation who are victims of criminalization and racial profiling. It is about Black people consciously and collectively standing our ground against the attacks on the gains of the civil rights/human rights/Black power movements, the abandonment and disinvestment in distressed Black communities and the daily indignities we have quietly suffered for far too long. In his last speech the night before he was assassinated in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King urged Black people to use boycotts to achieve justice. He said, “now we must kind of redistribute the pain.” As IBW said in its Press Release on this issue, “Blacks and all people of conscience and good will should inflict some non-violent pain on the state of Florida and keep inflicting it until business leaders and the politicians scream for help and plead for the economic sanctions to be lifted.” But, to achieve our goal we need a targeted (not scattered/shotgun) approach to succeed.

The major component of the campaign should be to shut off tourism to Florida. This means Black organizations should not schedule conferences/conventions in that state until the law is changed. Groups that have already scheduled conferences six months to a year out should seek to cancel the agreements and notify the venues that Black people no longer feel safe to travel to Florida, particularly with their sons. An option is to hold conferences/conventions at a Black College/University or Black owned retreat centers. In the event that your conference is already scheduled in the next few months, resolve to spend as little money/cash in the state as possible. This campaign requires that kind of discipline.

Do not schedule a vacation in Florida until victory is won. Do not travel to an amusement park in the “tragic kingdom” or golf tournament until victory is won. At the NAACP Convention, Martin Luther King III urged the delegates not to buy Florida orange juice. In conversations with Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and George Fraser, President/CEO, FraserNet, they advised that refusing to buy Florida orange juice is an excellent way to “democratize” the economic sanctions/Boycott Florida campaign by creating an avenue for ordinary people everywhere to participate in the effort whether they had planned to travel to Florida or not. So, here’s a set of marching orders:

•             No Conferences/Conventions

•             No Vacations

•             No Amusement Parks or Golf Tournaments

•             No Florida Orange Juice

We also hope the major civil rights leaders will embrace this righteous campaign and mobilize their constituents to actively support it. The people are ready and the train is already leaving the station. IBW has posted a petition on its website where organizations, leaders and individuals can Sign a Pledge to Boycott Florida. Finally, while this campaign is spearheaded by Black people, we obviously appeal to and welcome the support of our friends and allies of all races and ethnicities who believe that “an injury to one is an injury to all,” that “an injustice anywhere to anyone is an injustice to everyone everywhere.” Economic sanctions against Florida is an idea whose time has come!

Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website and To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at



This is what a feminist professor looks like – Minnesota Women’s Press – St. Paul, MN

This is what a feminist professor looks like

“I look forward to a time when Black women will have the freedom to wear what they want to wear, speak how they want to speak and still be taken seriously.”

— Duchess Harris

This is what a feminist professor looks like - Minnesota Women's Press - St. Paul, MN

by Duchess Harris


I have taught Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies since 1994, and one recurring comment from white students is that I don’t “look” like a feminist. I find it amusing. I pretend to be confused and politely ask, “What does a feminist look like?” Their response is usually, “Less feminine.”

This is a teachable moment.

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania between 1987 and 1991, I was mentored by Professor Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. She was finishing her groundbreaking book “Righteous Discontent,” in which she argues that the politics of respectability enabled Black women to counter racist images and structures. She stated that this aesthetic of respectability should not be misconstrued as mindless mimicry of white behavior or a “front” without substance or content. Instead, the politics of respectability assumed a fluid and shifting continuum of African American resistance.

Fast forward to 2013. The reality is that when you think of a college professor, you probably do not see the image of my face. My insistence on professional dress (i.e., skirts, heels and ironed shirts) is not a subscription to patriarchy; I want to be recognized and respected. Informality, for a Black woman, can be professionally harmful.

There are currently 176,485 tenured full professors at the nation’s public and private research universities – 72 percent white men, 17 percent white women, 8 percent men of color (Black, Hispanic and Native American combined) and 2 percent women of color – combined.

In a racist society, white people hold the power of the “gaze,” and people of color are subject to interpretation.

I wear what I wear because I take myself seriously and I expect you to, also. I don’t have the privilege to “dress down.” When white women do this, they are read as earthy, edgy and intellectual. When Black women dress down, we are read as “The Help.”

I share this because my white female students feel entitled to judge my cisgender, herteronormative, feminine aesthetic; not understanding that many Blacks are proud that I don’t wear a uniform. I find that the Black service people at Macalester are glad to see a dressed up Black woman on the faculty.

Once again there is a historical context for this. In “Living In, Living Out,” Elizabeth Clark-Lewis narrates the personal experiences of 81 Black women who worked for wealthy white families. These women describe how they encountered – but never accepted – the master-servant relationship, and they recount their struggles to change their status from “live in” servants to daily paid workers who “lived out.” One of their biggest acts of resistance was to do the cleaning in their own clothes, not a uniform, and leave.

I am writing this essay in the midst of the George Zimmerman trial. I have been traumatized by the treatment of Rachel Jeantel, a friend of Trayvon Martin. The best analysis I have read of why many people could not hear her was because of what they saw.

Regina N. Bradley writes, “Jeantel’s … inability to conform to expected cultural and aural scripts of Black womanhood within the confines of the courtroom – the epitome of a hyper-respectable space – destabilizes not only racial paradigms of Black (southern) respectability but Americanized expectations of Black women’s scripts of respectability.”

I was not ashamed by her inability to conform; I was disappointed that in 2013 she isn’t read as “respectable.” I look forward to a time when Black women will have the freedom to wear what they want to wear, speak how they want to speak and still be taken seriously.

But until then I will dress up for Rachel and all the other Black women who do not have the privilege of being heard.

Duchess Harris, J.D., Ph.D., is a professor of American Studies at Macalester College. Read a selection of her published works at

via This is what a feminist professor looks like – Minnesota Women’s Press – St. Paul, MN.

Michelle Alexander: “Zimmerman Mindset” Endangers Young Black Lives with Poverty, Prison & Murder

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“Justice for Trayvon” protests are planned in more than 100 cities this weekend as activists seek federal charges against George Zimmerman and the repeal of “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida and dozens of other states.

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